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Monday, March 01, 2004
  The Great Indian Political Debate - Secularism v/s Hindutva - 1
Posted by: acharya Aug 13 2003, 12:47 AM
VACUITY OF On the Indian debate and its Western origins SECULARISM By JAKOB DE ROOVER The Economic and Political Weekly 28 September 2002 EPW Special Article September 28, 2002 The Vacuity of Secularism On the Indian Debate and Its Western Origins THE rise of Hindutva has often been interpreted as a threat to the secular state. Similarly, the recent outbursts of Hindu-Muslim conflict are said to be related to the decay of secularism. The author argues that the concept of secularism is fundamentally obscure, since it is founded upon an arbitrary distinction between the religious and the secular. The belief that religion should be separated from politics is a normative dogma that precedes all theoretical analysis of the Indian situation. Therefore, this concept of secularism prevents us from understanding the problems of pluralism in contemporary India, instead of helping us to solve them. * 7,211 WORDS SINCE the declaration of Independence in 1947, the issue of secularism has been at the centre of the struggle between the conservative and progressive forces in Indian society. With the rise of the Hindu Right and the growing intensity of Hindu-Muslim conflict in recent decades, the issue has once again become as urgent as it was in the aftermath of Partition. At least, that is what the secularists tell us. Indian society is characterised by its religious pluralism, they say, and therefore the state should absolutely be secular, that is, it should be impartial towards all religions. According to this view, the problem with the Hindu Right is that it strives to make India into a religious state. If this were done, the state would persistently take the side of the Hindu majority in conflicts between Hindus and Muslims, and it would no longer be able to curb the violence as an impartial arbiter. Shortly, the basic fear of the secularists is that India threatens to fall apart if the domain of politics is not separated from that of religion. It is this view that brings them to sweeping statements such as the following: “Secularism, for India, is not simply a point of view, it is a question of survival” [Rushdie 1990:19]. When the Indian intellectuals attach such importance to the idea of secularism, one would expect it to be more or less clear what its content is. However, whenever the participants in the debate attempt to pinpoint what secularism is, they end up in obscurity and confusion. In 1972, Mushir-Ul-Haq made the following remark: “For the last two decades Indians have been talking of secularism, yet the term remains vague and ambiguous. One may, therefore, be justified in asking: what does secularism really mean – especially in the Indian context?”[Mushir-Ul-Haq 1972:6]. Twenty years later, M M Sankhdher came to the same conclusion: “Such a commonplace concept as secularism, with which the man in the street is so familiar and so used to, tends to acquire the character of a riddle, a puzzle, an enigma amongst intelligentsia” [Sankhdher 1992:1-2]. In the last few decades, similar remarks have surfaced again and again. Some point out “the curious absence, the startling and significant vacuity of the notion ‘secularism’ itself,” and go so far as to claim that the notion has become “a sort of mantra, a quasi-religious incantation” [Rai 1989:2770-71]. Others put it mildly and say that there is a tendency among Indian intellectuals to interpret the concept in their own subjective manner [Khan 1994:373], or they use more pointed terms: “Like liberal Hindu gods who can take different forms and give a chance to the devotees to worship in any form they like, in India the concept of secularism has acquired so many interpretations and it now means different things to different groups of people” [Srikanth 1994:39]. Whether Muslim or Hindu, rightist or leftist, sociologist or philosopher, these thinkers all agree on one point: the term ‘secularism’ has so many different meanings in the Indian context that it appears to have lost all meaning. In this paper, I will argue that the semantic confusion surrounding ‘secularism’ masks a number of deeper problems in the Indian debate. Instead of being embedded in a well-structured theory, the idea of secularism consists of a number of isolated normative propositions regarding the relation of politics and religion, which are proclaimed as though they are self-evidently true. First, I will show that these tenets of secularism do not make much sense, because they are based on an arbitrary and unstable distinction between the religious and the secular. The argument continues by demonstrating that this cannot be a problem particular to the Indian context, but that secularism should be as difficult to grasp elsewhere as it is in India. Finally, I will conclude by formulating a question for future research: Why do so many intellectuals remain under the spell of the principle of the separation of politics and religion, while this principle suffers from a basic lack of intelligibility? I The Religious and the Secular NOT all participants in the secularism debate experience difficulties in making sense of the concept around which the debate revolves. Those who intend to protect the secular character of the Indian state from the onslaught of the Hindu Right often provide definitions that appear to leave no doubt as to the meaning of the term. Secularism, they say, requires the separation of the state from religion in general, from all faiths, or from any particular religious order, or it stands for the separation of religious and non-religious institutions [Smith 1963; Gopal 1993:13; Sen 1996:13; Bhargava 1998:488]. Obviously, when the secularists argue that this kind of secularism is indispensable in India, it is their burden to produce a theoretical description of the Indian situation which demonstrates that the separation of politics and religion is its only conceptual solution. At the very least, any such description has to answer two basic questions. Firstly, it should be able to tell us what the properties of religion are. If there is no theoretical clarity on what makes some phenomena of Indian culture into religious phenomena or some institutions of Indian society into religious institutions, then there is simply no point in stating that the religious ought to be separated from the political. Secondly, the belief that the secular state offers the political answer to the Hindu-Muslim strife in India derives from the underlying belief that it is the one viable solution to the predicament of religious pluralism. For this inference to hold, the description should identify the general properties of religious pluralism, and show that these properties can also be discerned in the Hindu-Muslim problem. In other words, it should describe the structure that distinguishes the predicament of religious pluralism or religious strife from other problems of human co-existence. As the cogency of the secularism discourse is fully dependent on these two issues, I will examine the extent to which they are satisfactorily addressed by some of the prominent advocates of secularism. Religion of Secularism WHEN India became independent, it was obvious to most leaders of the Indian National Congress that it had to become a secular state, because they considered this to be the only form of government that would secure the peaceful co-existence of Hindus and Muslims. This view found one of its strongest proponents in Jawaharlal Nehru, who went so far as to assert that “no state can be civilised except a secular state” [cited in Chandra 1994:79]. According to Bipan Chandra, Nehru’s definition of secularism was four-pronged: Secularism meant first, separation of religion from political, economic, social and cultural aspects of life, religion being treated as a purely personal matter; second, dissociation of the state from religion; third, full freedom to all religions and tolerance of all religions; and four, equal opportunities for followers of all religions, and no discrimination and partiality on grounds of religion [Chandra 1994:63]. Prima facie, this may appear to be a precise definition. However, when one is aware of the confusion surrounding the concept of religion, its obscurity becomes baffling. For instance, it is often said that religion in India is simply a way of life; and Durkheim’s approach defines religion as a unified system of beliefs and practices which unite into a single moral community all those who adhere to them. If secularism means the separation of religion from all social aspects of life, and religion is a way of life or a system of social unification, then the former necessarily implies the complete annihilation of religion. At the same time, secularism is supposed to stand for full freedom and tolerance of all religions. Unless one thinks it is possible to reconcile annihilation and tolerance, this shows that Nehruvian secularism becomes inconsistent when it is interpreted in the terms of some common definitions of religion. It turns out to be a scarcely intelligible idea once one tries to give content to loose talk on the separation of religion from the different domains of public life. At times, Nehru seems conscious of the lack of clarity in the concept of religion. Consider the following statement: “If religion, or rather what is called religion, in India continues to interfere with everything, then it will not be a mere question of divorcing it from politics, but of divorcing it from life itself” [Nehru 1972:233]. This statement has a rather peculiar form. First, Nehru admits that it is not clear to him what religion is, since he is not sure whether what is called religion in India really is religion. But then he suggests that religion interferes with everything and that it has to be divorced from life itself, as though it is obvious how to recognise religion and distinguish it from other social phenomena. The ambiguity is even more confusing in one of B R Ambedkar’s interventions in the Constituent Assembly Debates: The religious conceptions in this country are so vast that they cover every aspect of life from birth to death. There is nothing which is not religion and if personal law is to be saved I am sure about it that in social matters we will come to a standstill…There is nothing extraordinary in saying that we ought to strive hereafter to limit the definition of religion in such a manner that we shall not extend it beyond beliefs and such rituals as may be connected with ceremonials which are essentially religious [cited in Chatterjee 1998:356]. Religion seems easily identifiable to Ambedkar since he perceives that it covers every aspect of life from birth to death. Naturally, he should be aware that when there is nothing which is not religion, the term loses all meaning. Next, he proposes that political expediency obliges us to limit the definition of religion. Now, how will we find out what is really religion and what not? The extraordinary answer is that we shall define it in terms of beliefs and rituals connected with ceremonials which are essentially religious. When we are still striving to define what religion is, how can we possibly know which things are religious? In this quote, it is painfully clear how arbitrary the statements about Indian religion are. One can feel that ‘religion’ covers every aspect of life in India, and one can at the same time propose that ‘religion’ ought to be limited to those things which one feels are ‘essentially religious’. In the absence of a consistent theory of religion, there is no firm cognitive ground for any of these feelings, and one can perpetually continue to invent stipulative definitions according to one’s personal intuitions or one’s political preferences. The theoretical problems in the secularism discourse will not disappear when the term ‘religion’ is replaced by ‘Hinduism’, because that strategy confronts us with similar questions as to what Hinduism is, whether it is religion or not, or even whether it exists or not. Nehru himself would certainly admit that these are thorny issues: Hinduism, as a faith, is vague, amorphous, many-sided, all things to all men. It is hardly possible to define it, or indeed to say whether it is a religion or not in the usual sense of the word. In its present form, and even in the past, it embraces many beliefs and practices, from the highest to the lowest, often opposed to or contradicting each other. Its essential spirit seems to be live and let live [Nehru 1946:75]. It should be quite impossible to unambiguously identify something which cannot be defined, which is vague, amorphous, many-sided, and all things to all men. And when one does not succeed in identifying the Hindu religion, how can one even dream of separating it from the state or from the public sphere? Surely a serious problem is involved here. As R N Dandekar points out, the social scientific study of Hinduism has long accepted that this religion defies all attempts at definition: ...Hinduism does not insist on any particular religious practice as being obligatory, nor does it accept any doctrine as its dogma. Hinduism can also not be identified with a specific moral code. Hinduism, as a religion, does not convey any definite or unitary idea. There is no dogma or practice which can be said to be either universal or essential to Hinduism as a whole [Dandekar 1971:237]. Basically, the conclusion is that the Hindu religion does not have any properties – i e, any common beliefs or practices – that allow us to recognise it. This being the case, how shall we determine when an intrusion takes place of this religion into the political domain? When does a state become a Hindu state, as opposed to a secular state? When the government publicly cites Rama as the prototype of the ethical king? Or when it consults an astrologist before making an important political decision? When a puja is done in parliament? Any answer to these and similar questions will be derived from the standard that distinguishes the class of things Hindu from that of things secular. Since there is not the least consensus on such a standard, one can fix it as one chooses, and accordingly one can give one’s own interpretation as to what it means for India to be a secular state. Besides, if the essential spirit of the Hindu traditions seems to be live and let live, what then is the point of arguing for secularism in India? In the west, such great import was assigned to the separation of church and state because the Christian theocracies had been persecuting states that imposed one specific form of doctrine and worship upon the subjects. Considering that the Hindu traditions do not regard any practice or doctrine as obligatory, it is impossible that contemporary India is confronted with the same threat of a persecuting religious state, and that it is in need of the same safeguard of the secular state. Here, the objection may arise that although it is quite true that Hinduism generally has no difficulty with accommodating all kinds of practices and beliefs, the more dogmatic and intolerant form of Hindutva also exists, and that therefore the Hindu religion should be separated from the state in India. For such an objection to be meaningful, one will have to show what makes the various Hindu traditions into one ‘Hindu religion’ (or several Hindu religions for that matter), how the religious elements of this religion are present in an excessive form in the discourses and practices of the Hindu Right, and what it would mean to separate these elements from politics. These questions have not even been addressed by the secularists. Thus, one cannot but conclude that they simply presuppose that the present difficulties in Indian politics should be understood in terms of the relation between ‘the religious’ and ‘the political’, while they have no clue as to where to draw the line between these two domains. This one assumption is constitutive of the entire debate. For instance, Amartya Sen (1996: 13-14) argues that the principle of secularism does not require that the state must steer clear of any association with any religious matter whatsoever: “Rather, what is needed is to ensure that in so far as the state has to deal with different religions and members of different religious communities, there must be a basic symmetry of treatment.” The virtue of this approach, he emphasises, is that the requirement of symmetric treatment leaves open the question as to what form that symmetry should take. Two imaginary examples are sufficient to assess the consequences of Sen’s liberality. The first is that of some predominantly Muslim state, which allows freedom of religion to the minorities, but also proclaims that all women should wear full burqa. The second example asks us to imagine a time in the future at which the Indian state enacts a law that forbids the consumption of meat to all citizens. Both states are still politically secular according to Sen’s principle, since they treat the members of different religious communities in a symmetric manner. Of course, he may object to these counter-intuitive examples of secularism by pointing out that these states do not really respect the principle of symmetry because they impose the religious values or beliefs of the majority on the other communities. To make the latter point convincing, however, Sen should show that matters of dress and diet are part of the religion of the respective majorities. The validity of such an argument is dependent on including these domains of life in some definition of religion, and therefore the states in question could argue as convincingly that their measures are not related to religion in any way – provided they have another definition of religion. Thus, Sen’s formula of “basic symmetry of treatment” once again illustrates that the theoretical inadequacy of the secularism discourse is largely due to the lack of stability in the essential conceptual distinction between the religious and the secular. The resulting equivocation is not limited to the academic debates. Perhaps, its consequences are best illustrated when the Indian judiciary arbitrarily invokes a number of differing definitions of Hinduism and religion to decide whether a certain community belongs to the religion of Hinduism [Galanter 1971], or whether Hindutva is a religion or a non-religious way of life [Cossman and Kapur 1996]. As I said earlier, the principle of the separation of politics and religion is intelligible only if one provides a consistent theoretical description that clarifies what religion is and what makes the various traditions of the subcontinent into religion. These issues being as opaque as they are, the idea of secularism was bound to become an empty mantra, and such a mantra will certainly fail to counter the dynamics that are currently disrupting Indian society. Predicament of Religious Strife IT is not that no attempts at all have been undertaken to theorise the conflicts among the cultural communities in India. In fact, a specific terminology has been coined to study these conflicts, namely, that of ‘communalism’ and its cognates such as ‘communal violence’ and ‘communal riots’. What is this phenomenon of communalism? Nehru defined it as “a narrow group mentality basing itself on religious community but in reality concerned with political power and patronage for the group concerned,” or, more bitterly, as “politics under some religious garb, one religious group being incited to hate another religious group” [cited in Chandra 1994:62]. In a series of essays, Bipan Chandra has argued that communalism should be understood as an ideology which connects religious identities with secular interests, and which suggests that the secular interests of the followers of different religions are opposed to one another (e g, Cahndra 1994:148-49]. Both Nehru and Chandra argue that the problem is not so much religion itself or even the existence of various religious communities, but that it lies in the fact that the religion of these communities is being used to pursue secular interests in the political domain. Let us try to illustrate this account of communalism with an example. Imagine a leader of the Jain community who encourages his followers to offer non-violent resistance to British rule in the colonial era, or one who does the same towards the campaigns of the Hindu Right today. Arguably, both leaders use religion (Jain ahimsa) to pursue political interests, and their position implies that these political interests are opposed either to those of the Christian colonials, or to those of the Hindu rightists. Thus the position fulfils the conditions to be called communalism. However, I think Nehru, Chandra, and most other secularists would not like to condemn these acts as instances of communalism in the same way they would condemn the case of Hindutva leaders who incite their followers to destroy a mosque. One can think of many other examples which throw doubt on the above explanation of communalism. The explanation is not useful because it is based on the invalid assumption that one knows what constitutes secular as against religious interests. Does Gandhian non-violence imply the pursuit of a secular interest, a religious interest, or that of a secular interest tied to a religious identity? The communalism account should allow us to answer such questions. Since it does not, it has its own conceptual foundation collapse, and it loses all credibility as an explanation of the negative role of community in Indian politics. Rather than being the conclusion of a careful analysis of this issue, the normative view that religion ought not to be used to pursue secular interests is the pre-theoretical assumption the account starts from. It is often asserted that the most distinctive property of Indian secularism is its firm opposition to communalism. Secularism then is explicitly presented as the ultimate ideological answer to the communal tensions between Hindus and Muslims. Now, as I said, any description of the Hindu-Muslim conflict which is to prove that secularism is necessary in India, should discern the structure of the class of conflicts that can be resolved through secularism, and show the necessary connection between this structure and that of the latter concept. The account of communalism does certainly not offer such a description. When we remove its untenable distinction between secular and religious interests, all it says is that there are different communities which come into conflict because they have (or believe they have) differing interests. Of course, this is a description that can be applied to any and every conflict between two groups of people. Adding the terminology of religion gives us the impression that we are describing a specific kind of conflict; that we are referring to a specific category of conflicts that should be analysed and solved in the same manner. This would be the case if we demonstrated that the conflicts between Hindus and Muslims in contemporary India, those between Protestants and Catholics in early modern Europe, and all the other conflicts we care to designate as religious conflicts share a common structure that makes them into religious conflicts. But the predicate ‘religious’ does not refer to such a common structure in the phenomena it intends to describe; rather it appears to be a self-explanatory tag which generates the illusion that we have a deeper understanding of these phenomena. So even if Nehru wrote in 1936 that “the communal problem is not a religious problem, it has almost nothing to do with religion,” and even if some contemporary thinkers agree that the communal riots do not revolve around religion, such claims do not explain anything about the conflicts among the various communities in Indian society as long as one does not provide theoretical criteria to distinguish religious problems from those that have nothing to do with religion [cited in Chandra 1994:71]. If one does not possess such criteria, any argument one constructs in order to demonstrate that secularism is the sole answer to India’s predicament of ‘religious strife’ is bound to end up in a conceptual muddle. This is well illustrated by the work of the political theorist Rajeev Bhargava. The case for secularism is ‘overdetermined’, Bhargava believes, since the reasons in favour of the idea are ‘overwhelming’ [Bhargava 1998:488]. Of these reasons, he considers “the argument from ordinary life” to be the most convincing. This argument begins with the assertion that religious world-views are constituted by ultimate ideals. When the believers of different religions and non-believers have to live together, a clash of their ultimate ideals is always imminent. A clash of such ideals could deprive people of leading an ordinary life. Since it is the state’s task to secure a minimally decent existence for its citizens, all ultimate ideals must be expunged from the affairs of the state. Therefore, politics and religion have to be separated, the two domains have to keep a principled distance and respect each other’s boundaries. ‘To sum up’, Bhargava says, “ordinary life requires that an acceptable minimum standard exists and that it is barbaric to fall below it,” and political secularism is the only way to secure this minimum standard and to avoid barbarism [Bhargava 1998:491]. Underlying this argument from ordinary life is a view of the common predicament with which human societies are generally confronted. Both in the west and in India, Bhargava suggests, secularism was consolidated in the face of irresolvable religious conflicts and in the aftermath of sectarian violence. More generally, he concludes that “whenever conflicts became uncontainable and insufferable, something resembling a politically secular state simply had to emerge” [Bhargava 1998:497]. This simply had to happen because of the following reason: At no point in the history of humankind has any society existed with one and only one set of ultimate ideals. Moreover, many of these ultimate ideals or particular formulations of these have conflicted with one another. In such times, humanity has either got caught in an escalating spiral of violence and cruelty or come to the realisation that even ultimate ideals need to be delimited. In short, it has recurrently stumbled upon something resembling political secularism. Political secularism must then be seen as a part of the family of views which arises in response to a fundamental human predicament. It is neither purely Christian nor peculiarly Western. It grows wherever there is a persistent clash of ultimate ideals perceived to be incompatible [Bhargava 1998:497-98; my italics]. Although there is some ambiguity in this passage (societies have to develop political secularism itself or ‘something similar’ that belongs to the same ‘family of views’), Bhargava does not really waver from his main point: all cultures and societies are confronted with one and the same fundamental human predicament and secularism is the answer to this predicament. When Bhargava claims that the secular state has to emerge whenever conflicts become uncontainable and insufferable, he cannot possibly mean all conflicts since this would imply that even fights between family members, lovers, or neighbours have secularism as their solution. He is referring to conflicts between groups holding divergent religions, and he defines these conflicts in terms of the distinctive property of “a persistent clash of ultimate ideals.” This, of course, is a rather vague notion and the author never comes to explaining what makes an ideal into an ultimate ideal. Personally, I do not see why a gang-war between Latinos and Blacks somewhere in LA, a battle between the hooligans of two rival soccer teams somewhere in Europe, a separatist struggle of an ethnic minority anywhere in the world, and literally thousands of other conflicts should not fall under this heading of a clash of ultimate ideals. It sounds slightly absurd if one claims that the secular state is the solution to all of these conflicts. Still, in Bhargava’s account, whenever some kind of a compromise emerges between the conflicting parties, this would have to be understood as an instance of humanity solving “the fundamental human predicament” by stumbling upon “something resembling political secularism”. Bhargava is so keen on proving the universal scope of the idea of secularism, that he presents it as the indispensable solution to the human predicament of religious strife. Since he begins with the assumption that this predicament is a universal phenomenon of human societies, he does never really pose the question as to what properties make a conflict into a religious conflict. The consequence is that he takes recourse to some all-encompassing category – ‘clash of ultimate ideals’ – which cannot possibly refer to a well-defined set of conflicts with significant structural similarities. The same is true for the resulting notion of political secularism: if all non-violent compromises that prevent barbarism between groups holding different ‘ultimate ideals’ are termed ‘secularism’, the term becomes so all-encompassing that it loses its meaning. Thus, Bhargava’s argument from ordinary life is no more than a tautology: he wants to give secularism its due simply by stating that all peaceful and civilised pluralism in human societies is due to secularism. At this point, we can come back to the confusion surrounding the idea of secularism among the Indian intellectuals. Fundamentally, this confusion is caused by the utter lack of theoretical clarity in the religious-secular distinction. On top of that, the vacuous term of ‘secularism’ has grown to be the keyword in Indian political discourse to refer to any kind of situation in which different groups of people live together: if they get along well, this is because of secularism; if they fight and kill each other, they are in need of the antidote of secularism. Anything that allows different kinds of people to live together can be called secularism, and thus the notion has become as vague as it possibly could: it is defined as “a state of mind, almost and instinctive feeling, such as existed, by and large, for many centuries in India, when Hindus, Muslims, Christians, Parsis and followers of other faiths lived side by side in general harmony” [Gopal 1993: 19-20], or as “a respect for differences cutting across class, caste, community, and gender, in which religion is a component in the shaping of identity but not the determining criterion” [Bharucha 1998:6]. Instead of examining and theorising the ways in which the different cultural groups have succeeded or failed to live together peacefully, we automatically take recourse to this obscure concept of secularism to discuss these matters. Consequently, the secularism discourse prevents us from understanding the problems of pluralism in India, instead of helping us to solve them. The urgency of these problems today makes it all the more painful that the idea prevails that they can be dealt with by endlessly repeating that the religious should be separated from the political. II The Misfortune of Separation THE tenets of secularism have their origins in the liberal-democratic principle of the separation of church and state. Although this principle originally referred to the specifically Christian conception of the church, liberal theorists today use it to designate the separation of the state and religious institutions of any character, and thereby they aspire to give the principle a universal scope, since the assumption is that religious institutions are present in any society [Audi 2000:32]. Thus, in the contemporary western debate, ‘the separation of church and state’ amounts to a general political principle, which prescribes that the state should not interfere in religious institutions, and that religious institutions should not interfere in state policy. In this section, I will argue that such normative tenets should be as difficult to grasp in the West as they are in India, since the ambiguity is not confined to ‘the Hindu religion’, but it has its roots in the concept of religion itself. Anyone slightly familiar with the domain will know that a multitude of definitions awaits the one who tries to find out what religion is. However, let us ignore this lack of consensus for the time being, and consider two definitions of religion that at least possess a prima facie plausibility. In his famous article on the subject, Melford Spiro (1966: 91) writes that any definition of ‘religion’ should include, as a key variable, “the belief in superhuman …beings who have power to help or harm men.” The second definition of the religious we will consider is that of the anthropologist J Van Baal (1971:3): “[A]ll explicit and implicit notions and ideas, accepted as true, which relate to a reality which cannot be verified empirically.” First of all, we should note that we end up with extremely puzzling propositions when we explain the separation of state and religion in terms of these definitions. What could it possibly mean to say that the state should be separated from the belief in superhuman beings who can help or harm men, or from all notions and ideas that cannot be verified empirically? Secondly, as S N Balagangadhara (1994:276f) has argued, disputes about the definition of religion are as endless and meaningless as disputes about taste, since one cannot provide counter-examples to a definition. Let us say that I defend the principles of the secular state in terms of Van Baal’s definition, and that you want to demonstrate that I am mistaken. ‘Well’, you might point, “in the contemporary research of theoretical physics many notions and ideas relate to a reality that cannot be verified empirically at present, while they are certainly accepted as true, so do you mean to say that the state should not interfere in any institution that engages in such research?” I might reply that, according to my definition, such research is a kind of religion, and that therefore the secular state should indeed have nothing to do with it. Even if you insist that theoretical physics cannot possibly be a brand of religion, I can always reply that it all depends on one’s definition of religion. Now, there are hundreds of such definitions of religion. Each of these will fill in the idea of the secular state in a different manner, and each interpretation will seem as (im)plausible as all the others. Therefore, the debates on the notion of the secular state will necessarily be as endless and arbitrary as the disputes on the definition of religion. Naturally, religion may also be a concept embedded in a larger theoretical framework that could enable us to spell out more or less clearly what it means to separate religion from the state. Even if there were different hypotheses on the structure of religion, all of these could be tested empirically and compared in terms of their cognitive productivity. Unlike the barren clash of stipulative definitions, this theoretical competition could result in a fertile confrontation of the notions of secularism that derive from the competing theories of religion. Regrettably, such a theoretical framework is not available, since theory formation on religion has taken the form of ad hoc speculation regarding its origin in human beings or societies. Balagangadhara (1994: ch 5) has shown that all the explanations of religion have the same deficient structure: first they presuppose the truth of the pre-theoretical claim that religion is a cultural universal, and consequently they produce an arbitrary account that speculates as to why this universal phenomenon of religion has come into being. A well known example is Hume’s fear-theory of religion: religion arises because man strives to reduce his fear of the natural chaos by ordering and explaining the facts of nature through the postulation of divine beings. It is clear that such an account cannot help us in understanding secularism; it does not make sense to argue for the separation of the state from some fear-reducing mechanism which all human cultures are supposed to share. More generally, the ad hoc explanations regarding the origin of religion do not enable us to distinguish the structure of religion from that of other phenomena, and therefore they cannot solve our problem. When there is no agreement on the concept of religion, there will also be divergent opinions when it comes to the identification of religious institutions, practices, or beliefs. This consequence can be illustrated by the example of policies of ‘charity’ or ‘protection of the weak and the poor’. One could easily argue that any state which engages in such policies is inspired by the religious values of the Christian church. Or one could go even further and claim that a state which levies taxes to secure a redistribution of wealth is so deeply influenced by Christianity that it imposes this religion’s doctrines upon its citizens. In fact, why could it not be true that the welfare state which embodies these policies is itself a religious institution based on Christian beliefs and values? The conclusion of this argument would be that any welfare state could not live up to the demands of secularism. Naturally, one could just as well propose that the underlying values are not religiously inspired since they are propounded by many different ethical systems and even by atheists. Thus, according to one’s predilections in attributing the predicate ‘religious’ to certain values, beliefs, and institutions, one can give various interpretations to the idea of the secular state. To sum up, as a general principle of political theory, the separation of politics and religion prescribes the impossible, since there is no theoretical consensus on what religion is and how to distinguish it from other phenomena. Nevertheless, the nation-states of Europe and North America appear to have been quite successful at solving the problem of the peaceful accommodation of different Christian groups in one political community, and this success is often linked to the belief that they are secular states. When we have a look at the history of this issue, it becomes clear that the accommodation between the majority and the minority communities in the different European countries has come into being through a series of specific treaties and acts. That is, the dominant Christian confession and the minorities have reached a consensus with regards to the freedom of the latter to engage in a specific set of practices without risking persecution by the state. Similarly, in the US, a number of Protestant churches have at some point agreed not to let the differences among their beliefs and practices lead to political persecution or discrimination by creating a state which is constitutionally neutral with regards to these specific confessional differences. Three points have to be emphasised. First, both in Europe and the US, the consensus has never been about the meaning of terms such as ‘religion’ or ‘religious institution’, rather it merely implies that members of some (majority) community have agreed not to persecute a number of other communities because they have certain practices or beliefs. Second, when these states are confronted with new groups, which were not part of the original consensus, this often leads to severe difficulties in accommodating their practices (e g, the ‘headscarf’ issue in several European countries). And third, in most European countries, the Christian church that has been historically dominant still has a privileged political status; and in the US, the same is true for the original blend of Protestant churches. Therefore, the particular developments in the western nation-states should not be thought of as the rise of an all-encompassing principle of the separation of politics and religion. In fact, the ‘secularism’ which is attributed to these states is to be understood in the specific terms of the historical consensus that has made the peaceful co-existence of a limited number of communities possible, and not in the general terms of some universal political tenet. III End of Secularism? Again and again, the argument has brought us to the following conclusion: the secularism discourse is condemned to obscurity, because no conceptual tools are available that allow us to distinguish the religious from the non-religious. It does not come as a surprise then that “some have begun to believe that we should, in the interest of intellectual clarity, stop using the term altogether” [Beteille 1994:559]. Naturally, our predicament is not confined to one term, but it pertains to the entire language of secularism and its normative propositions concerning the relation of politics and religion. Still, so many intellectuals are deeply convinced that any civilised state ought to be a secular state in which the religious and the political are separated. Therefore, my argument generates the following puzzle: How to explain the persistence of the idea of secularism, while this idea is not intelligible in the first place? Where does this normative dogma of separation come from? As yet, I cannot provide a full-fledged answer to this question, but I will end this paper by pointing out a direction for future research. In the Indian debate, some of the anti-secularists have claimed that secularism is “a gift of Christianity,” which should not be imposed upon Indian society [Madan 1987:754; see also Nandy 1998]. The idea, they point out, derives from Protestant doctrine, and therefore it is absurd to prescribe its transfer to non-western societies. I think we should take this insight seriously. In Reformation theology, the old Christian distinction between the spiritual and the temporal became of supreme import. The Reformers claimed that the Christian was not subject to human authority in matters of faith, since no man could mediate in the relation between god and the individual believer. The freedom of the Christian was limited to the spiritual sphere, however, and he still was to obey all laws of the temporal authorities as long as they did not infringe upon his faith. This conception of Christian liberty was dependent on the belief that there is a twofold government over man, which corresponds to his twofold nature of flesh and spirit. As Calvin put it in his Institutes (1559): “There are in man, so to speak, two worlds, over which different kings and different laws have authority” [McNeill Ed, I:847]. The two worlds were conceived of as two kingdoms: the temporal or political kingdom is concerned with the present life of the body, and it is constituted by human laws that regulate the outward behaviour of man; the spiritual kingdom pertains to the life of the soul or the faith of the inner man, and here god is the only king or judge. The distinction between the temporal (or the secular) and the spiritual (or the religious) was made within the Christian tradition, and it was essential to the Protestant understanding of human life. The conceptual frame of Christian doctrine allowed one to identify the boundaries of these two domains. To put it in very simple terms: the sphere of the religious consists of all matters related to the soul and the pursuit of eternal salvation, while the sphere of the secular consists of all matters related to the bodily life in this world. Such an internal distinction makes sense only within a Christian society, where it has reference to a specific set of beliefs regarding the nature and goal of human existence, and to the institutions and practices of everyday life. The same is true for the normative conceptions regarding the separation of the temporal and the religious. Against the background of Protestant thought, the significance of such conceptions was self-evident: since god alone has authority in the religious sphere, the human laws of the secular authorities should never touch this sphere. In the secularism discourse, these conceptions have been severed from the theological frame that gave them significance, and transformed into universal precepts for the government of human societies. The belief that the religious ought always to be separated from the political has not come into being through a theoretical analysis of the predicaments of plural societies; it appears to have been derived from the foundations of Protestant doctrine. We will have to further examine this connection to find out why the notion of secularism has acquired the character of a pre-theoretical normative dogma in the Indian debate. Of course, this proposal for future research generates more questions than it answers. How come Protestant beliefs have been transformed into the tenets of western political theory? Why have the Indian intellectuals adopted these tenets so easily? What has been the role of the British colonials in this process? Even more important than these questions, however, will be that of developing alternative theory on the pluralism of Indian society and the way it can be managed. I hope to have shown that any such endeavour should dispose of the vacuous concept of secularism rather than accept it as a starting point. References Audi, Robert (2000): Religious Commitment and Secular Reason, Cambridge University Press, Cambridge. Balagangadhara, S N (1994): ‘The Heathen in His Blindness…’: Asia, the West, and the Dynamic of Religion, E J Brill, Leiden. Beteille, Andre (1994): ‘Secularism and Intellectuals’ in Economic and Political Weekly, March 5, 559-66. Bhargava, Rajeev (1998): ‘What is Secularism For?’ in Bhargava (ed) (1998), 486-542. Bhargava, Rajeev (ed) (1998): Secularism and Its Critics, Oxford University Press, Delhi. Bharucha, Rustom (1998); In the Name of the Secular: Contemporary Cultural Activism in India, Oxford University Press, Delhi. Calvin, John (1960): Institutes of the Christian Religion ed by John T McNeill and trans by Ford L Battles in 2 volumes, Westminster John Knox Press, Louisville. Chandra, Bipan (1994): Ideology and Politics in Modern India, Har-Anand Publications, New Delhi. Chatterjee, Partha (1998): ‘Secularism and Tolerance’ in Bhargava (ed) (1998), 345-80. Cossman, Brenda and Ratna Kapur (1996): ‘Secularism: Bench-marked by Hindu Right’ in Economic and Political Weekly, September 21, 2613-30. Dandekar, R N (1969): ‘Hinduism’ in E Jouco Bleeker and Geo Widengren (eds), Historia Religionum: Handbook for the History of Religions, Vol 2, Religions of the Present, E J Brill, Leiden, 237-345. Engineer, Ashgar Ali (1994): ‘Secularism in India - Theory and Practice’ in Heredia (ed), 1-13. Galanter, Marc (1971): ‘Hinduism, Secularism, and the Indian Judiciary’, Reprint in Bhargava (ed) (1998), 268-93. Gopal, Sarvepalli (1993): ‘Introduction’ in Sarvepalli Gopal (ed), Anatomy of a Confrontation: Ayodhya and the Rise of Communal Politics in India, Zed Books, London and New Jersey. Heredia, Rudolf C (ed) (1994); ‘Secularism: Perspectives and Strategies’ in Social Action, 44, 1-141. Khan, Mumtaz A. (1994): ‘Islam’s Encounter with Hinduism in Secular India’ in Journal of Dharma, 19, 370-83. Madan, T N (1987): ‘Secularism in Its Place’ in The Journal of Asian Studies, 46(4), 747-59. Mushir-Ul-Haq (1972): Islam in Secular India, Indian Institute of Advanced Study, Shimla. Nandy, Ashis (1998): ‘The Politics of Secularism and the Recovery of Religious Tolerance’ in Bhargava (ed) (1998), 321-44. Nehru, Jawaharlal (1946): The Discovery of India, J Nehru Memorial Fund and Oxford University Press, New Delhi, 1988. - (1972): Selected Works of Jawaharlal Nehru, Vol 3, Orient Longman, New Delhi. Rai, Alok (1989): ‘Addled Only in Parts: Strange Case of Indian Secularism’ in Economic and Political Weekly, December 16, 2770-73. Rushdie, Salman (1990): ‘In Good Faith’ in The Independent, February 4, London. Sankhdher, M M (1992): ‘Understanding Secularism’ in M M Sankhdher (ed), Secularism in India: Dilemmas and Challenges, Deep and Deep Publications, New Delhi, 1-16. Sen, Amartya (1996): ‘Secularism and Its Discontents’ in Kaushik Basu and Sanjay Subrahmanyam (eds), Unravelling the Nation: Sectarian Conflict and India’s Secular Identity, Penguin Books, New Delhi, 11-43. Smith, Donald E (1963): India as a Secular State, Oxford University Press, Bombay. Spiro, Melford E (1966): ‘Religion: Problems of Definition and Explanation’ in Michael Banton (ed), Anthropological Approaches to the Study of Religion, Tavistock Publications, London, 85-126. Srikanth, H (1994): ‘Secularism versus Pseudo-secularism: An Indian Debate’ in Heredia (ed) (1994), 39-54. Van Baal, J (1971): Symbols for Communication: An Introduction to the Anthropology of Religion, Van Gorcum, Assen. * © Copyright 2002 The Economic and Political Weekly All rights reserved.
Posted by: Hauma Hamiddha Aug 14 2003, 02:26 PM
http:// Certain traditions cannot be easily corrected.
Posted by: acharya Aug 15 2003, 10:48 AM
HH you can post the complete article here. There is no restriction like in BR
Posted by: muddur Aug 15 2003, 12:33 PM
QUOTE (Hauma Hamiddha @ Aug 15 2003, 02:56 AM)
http:// Certain traditions cannot be easily corrected.
The link doesn't work ?
Posted by: Hauma Hamiddha Aug 15 2003, 04:10 PM
Try this link: The URL may go. 400-year-old temple set on fire Baderwah, August 13 A 400-year-old temple was set afire by some unidentified persons at a place 15 km from here in Jammu and Kashmir's Doda district early morning today, police sources said. The temple dedicated to snake god Subernag was set ablaze around 2.30 am in Subernag Ridge, they said, adding that the shrine was gutted. Soon after the news spread, shopkeepers downed their shutters in Baderwah town in protest, resulting in tension. Police and security forces have been rushed to the area, Army and police personnel are patrolling the sensitive areas of the town. — PTI
Posted by: acharya Aug 15 2003, 04:39 PM DESTRUCTION AND DESECRATION OF TEMPLES With the transformation of political power in Kashmir 1339 A.D. the temples and cultural symbols of Hindu style came under severe Muslim onslaught. The Muslim rulers steeped in Islamic orientation with commitments to the forcible expansion of Islam desecrated, plundered and despoiled the temples and shrines manifesting the character of Hindu faith and thought. As amply supported by historical evidences Kashmir with its protracted history dating back to antiquity has been a Buddhist, Vaishnavite and Shaivite seat and as such has witnessed amazing levels of cultural growth and flowering with their visible imprint on viharas, caityas and temples dotting every inch of Kashmir soil. As has been the common practice with Muslims a concerted campaign of bigotry was generated with the state apparatus in the lead role to defile and destroy temples and other cultural expressions of Hindus fascistically declaring them as un-Islamic thereby sealing any intellectual effort to probe their aesthetics and cultural value. The destructive campaign as a result of religious Repossessions and paranoia has continued with no relent with a priori objective of dismantling and annihilating a cultural ethos suffused with the ingredients of tolerance, assimilation and wider vision of understanding. With narrow perspectives in view and hate syndrome as a motivating factor no efforts have been spared to scatter the bacilli of iconoclasm to establish Muslim cultural domination coupled with obscurantism giving rise to an ethos antithetical to the ideals of harmony, coexistence and peace. It will be in the fitness of things to put that the total history of Muslims in Kashmir spans over a period of six hundred years and it has been a period of crusade chasing the twin objectives of conversion and inconoclasm which are two faces of the same operation. Jonraj as an historian of eminence was a witness to the forcible conversion of the Hindus of Kashmir and the desecration and demolition of the Hindu temples and cultural signs and symbols akin to the faith. The iconoclastic character of Islam was well within the range of his observation and experience when he with the bold flourish of his pen dilated on the desecration and destruction of Hindu temples wrought by Muslims who in obedience to their religious promptings flashed the naked weapon of force to expand the Islamic base with a view to earning the promised religious compensation. Jehad or holy war has been the instrument to desecrate and level massive stone structures of temples and to convert the Hindus to the faith of Islam. The Sayyids, the Chaks, the Mughals and the Afghans harnessed and pressed into service their political power and authority to realise the conversion and with a view to achieving the objective it became imperative to decimate and obliterate the colossal religious and cultural symbols of Hindus especially their temples and shrines. The first bacilli of iconoclasm were sown the day when the Muslim rulers under obligation to a fiat issued by a proselytizer masquerading as a Sufi resorted to the tyrannical measure of stopping the Hindus from fresh constructions of temples and shrines for idol-worship and disallowing them to execute repairs to the existing ones lying in a state of collapse and ruin.50 Startling records were set in the destruction of temples and other symbols of Hindu culture. The materials from the destructed temples were looted and wantonly utilised to build mosques and hospices and in most of the cases plinths were not ravaged but kept intact and mosques built and imposed on the temple sites. The Muslim iconoclasm did not spare the sculptural treasures amazingly creative and superb in conception and execution and reflective of an intolerant culture model it Divas pursued with religious zeal to hasten Islamisation with a view to reducing Kashmir to a Muslim ghetto. Art connoisseurs throughout the world will feel shocked to learn that gun power as a hardware of war was harnessed by Muslims to destruct and despoil the temples which religion and art wise are the churches of the Hindus. When destruction could not be achieved through the blasting material, the Jungles in the proximity of the temples were felled to use them as fuel for setting the gigantic structures ablaze. The tremendous heat generated through the burning of logs of wood split the chiselled stones and set them violently asunder with the result the massive structures fell and crumbled in a pile of ruins. The brutality was not inflicted on one temple but was heaped without an exception on the giant temples studding the gem of the valley. The ruins of Martand, Avantipur, Tapar, Parihaspur, et al are mute witnesses to the depredations and ravages wrought by Muslims. The Muslim iconoclasts, ignorant, puerile and pervert, harboured no sense of guilt when they destroyed the sparkling specimens of Kashmirian architecture signalling a new apogee through a blend of indigenous style with the Greek and Roman styles. The lofty pyramidal roofs were dismantled. The trefoiled doorways covered by pyramidal pediments were broken with hammers. Colonnades fashioned after the Greek model were removed. The said-materials were either sadistically destroyed or used in mosques where their artistic loftiness and grandeur were lost. The losses thus rendered to the mosaic of world culture were colossal and incredible. The Temple of Martand built on a plateau amidst cnthralling natural ambience is a unique marvel in stone symbolising through its distinctive style a celebrated classical order comparable to the architectural orders that have flowered as mile-stones during the whole course of evolution. Shocking as it is the same stone temple, solid and enduring, was put to the orgy of devastation through gun power and when sufficient quantities of it were not readily available, its foundations were dug deep and chiselled and skilfully carved stones removed filling the gaping wounds with logs of wood and putting them afire. Prior to the destructive process huge hammers were cruelly used for one full year to destroy and vandalise its wealth of masterly sculptural works of immense artistic merit and value. The same destruction was wrought Oil the massive stone temple at Bijbehara which was famed as the city of temples. It was pillaged and destroyed and its well carved - out stones with engraved figurines of gods and goddesses of Hindu pantheon were utilised for the construction of a hospice which is not a patch on the original temple. The temples were so massive in size and dimension that it was difficult to believe that they could be the handiwork of human endeavour. Remarks Sir Walter Lawrence, "While the old Hindu buildings defy time and weather, the Musahnan shrines and mosques crumble away. Other foreign travellers have recorded that Hindu temples were built to endure for all time. Their solidity of construction and their gigantic size strike one with wonder that puny men could have built them. They often gazed upon them with amazement and lamented bigoted Muslim fanatics who laid them to ruins with tremendous effort." The temples at Tapar (Pratap-pur) that were built by the queen of a Hindu ruler, Pratapaditya, were amazing marvels of Hindu architecture. The ruthless Muslims destroyed them with vengefulness and are novel in a dilapidated condition. What is astonishing that a Muslim ruler, Zain-ul-Abidin (1420-70) A.D. who withdrew the despicable levies on Pandits and re-settled them in Kashmir after they were forcibly expelled from Kashmir thus earning kudos for his exemplary tolerance, utilised the huge temple stones and Hindu idols to build a bund from Naidkhai to Sopore. If figurative meaning of his visit to Sharda, a centre of Hindu pilgrimage now in Pakistan, is drawn from what Jonraj writes about it, it can be averred that he was responsible for the desecration, breakage and destruction of the wooden idol of ancient origins at the highly revered place of worship. The Mughal emperors who were enamoured of the beauty of Kashmir valley have been extolled for their tolerant credentials, but on the basis of available authentic evidences it can be said that they were the same fanatic in matters of dismantling and devastating the religious places of Hindus. It is surprising to learn that Jehangir in his religious fury dismantled the flight of steps linking the Temple of Shankaracharya to the river Jehlum near the Temple of goddess Tripursundary. Nurjohan as his celebrated queen utilised the same chiselled and sculptured stones to erect a massive mosque known as Pathar Masjid. The Muslims never used the mosque for prayers not for the fact that it was built with looted materials from a temple but because it was constructed at the instance of a woman who was a Shia-Muslim by faith and creed. The same mosque was declared as property of the state by the Sikh commander, Phula Singh, on the genuine plea that it was built with the materials dismantled and looted from a temple. The Muslims raised a hue and cry as the mosque continued to be locked in Dogra times and it was under a British conspiracy that the mosque was returned to the Muslims who trumpeted its occupation by the state as a great symbol of tyranny. The Narparistan Temple built by a Hindu ruler was forcibly occupied and turned into a Muslim shrine by the installation of a grave (to sanctify the grab) in the sanctum sanctorum of the temple. The Kashmiri Pandits not taking the brutality lying down locked horms with the Muslim rebids and recovered its possession from the unlawful occupants. But Muslims mobilised their ranks, screamed Jehad to grab it away from the Pandits and installed a new grave to maintain and fortify the forcible occupation. The famous temple at Skand Bhawan at the head of a spring was desecrated and the spring of oozing waters blocked by hurling of huge stones and boulders and re-christened as the shrine of Pir Mohammad Basur. The Dedamar Temple was also levellcd and demolished and was forcibly converted into the Tomb of Malik Sahib. The temples at Amrita Bhawan were laid waste and the site was occupied and converted into shrines and burial grounds. It was Praversena II, the founder of the city of Srinagar, who had constructed a country residence for a reputed Hindu saint on the north-eastern corner of the legal Lake Bernier who accompanied Aurangzeb in his visit to Kashmir has exposed the iconoclastic activities of Shah Jehan, a famous Mughal emperor. In his travelogue Bernier records that the doors and pillars carved out of stone that were used in the Shalimar garden built on the same area of villa were looted from some temples which were demolished by Shan Jehan. And Bernier comments that their artistic grandeur and value was beyond estimate. The famous Temple of Shiva Pravareshwar was de,nolished and with its looted materials was built the shrine of Baha-ud-Din Sahib.60 The grave-yard that surrounds the shrine is a repository of many ancient remains that have been used in walls and tombs. The ruins of a gate-way lying at one corner of the grave-yard are still existing and the stone blocks of which the gate-way is built are of exceptional dimensions. As the Muslims have no strong tradition in erecting shrines with stone blocks, it is authenticity held that they are the materials of Shiva Pravareshwar Temple. The Jamia Mosque situated in the vicinity of the shrine of Baha-ud-Din is surrounded by numerous temple stones and massive pillars lending strong credence to the belief that it was built on the site of a Vishnu temple which was worshipped and adored by Kashmiri Pandits. It has been the site of a Buddhist Vihara as well which must have stood close by it. The Buddhists from the region of Ladakh still bow at the site with a deep sense of veneration. The temple of Vishnu Ranaswamin which as per the noted historian Kalhana was erected by Ranaditya was subjected to the Muslim fury of desecration and destruction and ultimately suffered the orgy of its conversion into the shrine of Pir Haji Mohammad. The Muslim shrines situated at Zakura (Juskapur) are built out of the materials from temples that were destructed. Again the shrine of Farrukzad Sahib is constructed at the site where there stood a massive temple dedicated to Amareshwar, and contains the remains of the destructed shards of temple. There were temples built on an inlet of Anchar Lake which were demolished and their looted materials utilised in the construction of tombs and shrines. The shrine of Khawaja Khizar is built with the ruins looted from a temple. The temple of Vishnu-Padamaswamin of considerable fame at Pampore was plundered and levelled and its delicately chiselled columns and ornamented slabs were utilised in the erection of the shrine of Mir Mohammad Hamadani and other Muslim shrines standing in the same locality. The ancient site of Parihaspur on the plateau of Paraspur was vandalised and destroyed by the Muslim vandals. As is historically established the site was littered over with Hindu temples and Buddhist Viharas and caityas. The places of worship consecrated to gods and goddesses of Hindu and Buddhist religions were built by the great conqueror Lalitaditya who is also credited with the completion of the Martand Temple of considerable repute. The same saga of destruction is connected with the temples and shrines dotting the Hariparbat Hillock which were demolished grabbed and converted into shrines and mosques. The temple grab and destruction as the rallying point of Muslim Jehad failed to abate in its tidal wave even under the rule of the Dogras who professed Hhldu faith and belief. The Islamic forces having a distinct narrow and communal stream continued their onslaught on temples and Hindu-style cultural symbols. Brute force was let loose to forcibly occupy the temple at Sahyar in the capital city of Srinagar. Blatant attempts were made to grab the Bhairav Nath Temple at Chattabal but in face of Kashmiri Pandit resistance the Muslim Communal forces had to beat a temporary retreat. The bigoted elements in the police force came down heavy on the Pandits who were vigorously vociferous in their demand for handing over the Laleeshwari Temple back to them as it was unlawfully grabbed and occupied by the Muslims. The Glancy commission constituted by Maharaja Hari Singh in 1931 unjustifiably rejected the Pandit demand for the restoration of the possession of Hariparbat and Shankaracharya Hillocks to the Kashmiri Pandits on the flimsy and untenable ground of the consistence of some graves on their foot-hills. The Buddhist sites with established historical background were not returned to the care the possession of Pandits who had to be punished for their anti-British stances and sentiments. The momentous event of Jammu and Kashmir acceding to the Union of India in 1947 did not bring spectacular cheer and relief to the native Kashmiri Pandits. Instead a new storm of destruction gathered for them leaving them bereft and beleaguered. As hapless victims to a tyrannical order the state governments of all political hues vigorously worked out the single-point programme of marginalising and edging them out of their natural habitat for ethnic cleansing. Besides political and economic oppression and elimination they had to face governments under tight leash of the Muslims who contrived aided and abetted the bigoted arts of laying claims to the temples and their properties. The temple lands cremation grounds and holy springs reinforced by relevant documents as properties of Pandits faced immediate onslaught and were first held in dispute by resorting to tampering of records and other fraudulent methods and subsequently usurped by whipping up religious frenzy with a view to expanding Islam and its reigning sway. In 1978 various SROs issued by the government not only fortified and strengthened the Muslim Auqaf Act but also Fated the Muslims to grab the temple lands without check and constraint for their transmission to Muslim Trusts. Not fewer than 70 temples and lands attached with them were cruelly confiscated from the possession of the Pandits who proffered their claims supported by relevant revenue records but were arbitrarily dismissed and rejected. The temples of historical importance were aggressed and huge portions from them sliced away to be offered to the Muslims as booty in a platter. The Spot of Vethavothur as the source of Vitasta worshipped by the Kashmiri Pandits as manifestation of Siva's grace was pushed into a dispute and encroached upon through generation of mass frenzy. Lok Bhawan with its mention in Rajtarangini was turned into a hot spot by grabbing the lands attached with the Temple from hoary ages. The holy spring at Anantnag was wantonly aggressed and huge chunks of land attached with it were fascistically sliced away for transfer to the Muslims. Lands measuring 55 kanals belonging to the Durganath Temple as the precious property were straightaway grabbed only to beef up the landed wealth of the Muslim Auqaf Trust. The lands attached with the Hariparbat Hillock were never offered protection by various governments from the concerted Muslim onslaught and were subsequently grabbed and confiscated from the helpless Pandits. The path for Parikrama around the Hillock which is central to the theme of Kashmir's birth and its cultural history was dug out and the earth carried to fill the Muslim Auqaf lands. The Dewan Shiva Temple of Fateh Kadal has borne infinite scars stabbed on it by noisy mobs of Muslim intolerants. Its outer walls facing the road-side have been felled and damaged umpteen times. Whenever there is a volcanic eruption of violence mostly on superficial grounds, the said temple emerges as the prime target of desecration, demolition and arson. On 26th of January 1989 the minority community of Kashmiri Pandits was held in a total grip of fear and panic when a thousand strong mob of Muslims wielding weapons desecrated and damaged the Dewan Shiva Temple. The strong door of the temple refused to give way and the Muslim mob indulging in vandalism removed the idols in the open worship enclosure quite adjacent to the main temple and hurled them into the running gutter. All attempts were made to put the temple on fire. The government playing its tune to the unison of Muslim storm-troopers had advance information about threat to peace on this day, but no arrangements, stiff or lenient, were made to provide protection to the minority community and its culture symbols. The attack on the temple was led and organised by the pro-Pakistan cadres of people's League, Kashmir Liberation Front, Muslim Students Federation and Islamic Students League thriving under tremendous patronage from the government headed by Farooq Abdullah and his cohorts. The Hanuman Temple at Hari Singh Street, Srinagar attracting large crowds of Hindu, for worship has been subjected to the worst forms of desecration and plunder at the hands of Muslim marauders. It is not once but numberless times that the presiding idols in the temple have been desecrated, lifted and hurled into the Jehlum at the shores of which the temple is situate. The latest brand of violence inflicted on the temple was when the Muslims and the Sikhs forging an alliance at the behest of two secessionist leaders, one from the Punjab and the other from Kashmir, organised a massive procession against the Kashmiri Pandits. Starting from the Gurudwara in Lal Chowk, Srinagar the procession was immediately joined by the Muslims as per the pre-meditated plans and crossing the old Amira Kadal Bridge it ran amok and desecrated, looted and plundered the Hanuman Temple. Replicating the history of vandalism the main idol visas plucked out from the sanctum sanctorum and thrown despicably into the flowing waters of the Jehlum. The procession yelling "Muslims and Sikhs are brothers. Where from have Pandits come? " forged ahead towards Hazuri Bagh and put the Arya Samaj Mandir to flames. And ultimately the Muslims and the Sikhs in a joint operation burnt down the Nirankari Bhawan. Be it put that the Nirankaris are bete noire of the Sikhs. The Temple at Ganpatyar in Srinagar consecrated to the god Ganpati with its history embedded in the misty past has a woeful saga to relate as it has suffered scares of defilement and demolition at the hands of so-called rational nationalists and sinister communal elements day in and day out. Zulfikar Ali Bhutto as a result of the eratic political rivalries in Pakistan was brutally hanged and Muslims of Srinagar with a deep streak of pathology in their collective personality lost their shirt and pelted stones at the Ganpatyar Temple as a tactic to keep the Pandits on tenterhooks. The Arabs lost a war to the Jews and with a view to boosting the morale of the fleeing soldiers the Muslims took out a massive procession yelling out trenchant anti-Jew slogans. While passing by the side of the said emple standing calm and tranquil, they ran berserk, pelted the temple, damaged its gates and walls with all the Islamic vigour. Desecration to some pages of the Muslim Holy Book manipulated by some political miscreants to arouse public wrath sparked off demonstrations massive in size and scale, and the Ganpatyar Temple fell a victim to the Muslim fury. Farooq Abdullah won an election and his Muslim supporters frantically celebrating his victory by flaunting V-signs pelted the entire Hindu habitation including the temple. The Muslim marauders, violent and highly aggressive, supporting the agitation that was unleashed at the behest of Srinagar Bar Association in thick contacts with the powers that be burnt the entire shopping complex of the Somvar Temple of Habbakadal. The shop-keepers suffered enormous losses and also lost their source of livelihood. The government of Farooq Abdullah discernibly in cahoots with the swelling tide of Muslim insurgency did not bat an eye-lid at their plight as the victims involved were all Kashmiri Pandits who had been scored off its slate of policy and planning to meet the ends of ethnic cleansing. A reign of terror was let loose against the Bandit community. Their houses were set ablaze. The temple at Sathu Barbarshah was torched. The Pandits protested, demonstrated and clamoured for security and pleaded for justice, butt all in vain. A mammoth public meeting of Kashmiri Pandits held within the temple precincts to lodge a protest against the outrage was stoned by the Muslim rabids. Scores of protectors were injured and the police posse failed to act. All the Kashmiri Pandit fora sensing the holocaust that was in store for them forged a joint front to fight the government discrimination and apathy towards the community. Peaceful protests were organised, dharnas held and representations shot. But nothing concrete could emerge. In its editorial date-lined 20th Nov. 1987 the Martand as the official organ of the Kashmiri Pandit ethno-religious minority has recorded, "The community had not fully recovered from the shock of Shri A.K.Ganjoo at Sathu Barbarshah on Tuesday, the 10th of November, when we had to suffer the burning of minority shops in Habbakadal and a temple at Barbarshah on Tuesday the 17th of November, in the wake of the second day of the bandh sponsored by the Srinagar Bar Association. The terror and vandalism let loose on Tuesday resulting in the total destruction of property worth lakhs of rupees and burning of one temple at Sathu Barbarshah speaks well of the organisation and tenancity of mischievous elements trying to stir up communal tension in the valley. The violent mobs who held the city as hostage for the whole day were ably supported by police indifference and apathy. These mobs were so to say freely allowed to damage and destroy whatever came their way. It appeared that the entire civil administration was not only drowsy and inactive but in total disrepair. We have often referred to the tact that whenever leaders of various political parties are at loggerheads with one another or whenever they have to cover up their inadequacies or incompetence they find it convenient to turn to this tiny minority and make them scapegoats for their own misdeeds. We are constrained to say that the system which surrounds us is totally rigged against the minority community. We cannot be happy at the frequent eruption of violence in the state and the minority is the main victim in majority of cases whenever such violence breaks out. We have often cited concrete instances of loot murder burning of property of the minority community and of governments inability to bring the culprits to book in such instances. We are not certain whether we should call the attitude of the government towards the agitation sponsored by the Srinagar Bar Association as political amateurism or sheer complicity. During the ten days of the Srinagar Bar's boycott of courts in support of the government s Barber Move order of October 7, the state government never cared to issue an appeal to the Srinagar bar to call off their boycott.
Posted by: acharya Aug 15 2003, 04:40 PM
The captain crews of Pro-Pakistan forces operating under a religious veneer never relented in their unmitigated campaign to capture and devastate the temples and shrines with their origins in the ancient past of Kashmir. The sacred shrine of Muran in Pulwama fell victim to the Muslim bigotry and three sacred springs of this historical shrine of ancient origins were filled with stones and boulders and captured and occupied with maximum support from broad sections of Muslim populace. The government of the day already in the lap of fundamentalist forces did not bother to act and respond though protests were lodged and petitions submitted. Swami Nandlalji as a spiritualist of great standing with acceptability among large sections of Muslims had established an ashram (hermitage) at Tikar in north of Kashmir. The Muslim storm-troopers burnt it to ashes with absolute vengeance. The total assets of the hermitage were lost in the devastating fire. The law-enforcing agencies allowed law to be torn to tatters and shreds. The arsonists with established records in loot, murder and arson were never chased captured and put on trial. The loot plunder and destruction of temples and shrines was not the handiwork of thieves and burglars but as borne out by irrefutable facts had the connivance and complicity of various brands of politicals chasing the secessionist agenda which seemed to have state sponsorship and patronage. A gangster was caught red-handed witl1 incendiary material on his person at the highly venerated shrine of Chakreshwar on the Hariparbat Hillock. The police posse mounting vigil on the shrine did not report the incident to the relevant quarters. On getting the wind of it the devotees at the shrine raised hue and cry contacted the government authorities and impressed on them the dire necessity of curbing the looters and arsonists. However some arrests were made though reluctantly and persons involved were charged with theft burglary and violation of Arms Act. It came as a rude shock to the Kashmiri Pandits when politicals strained their every nerve to secure their sate release. The vandals were none other than the Muslim youth operating under political patronage to undermine communal peace and amity with a view to expelling the Pandits from their native land. It is pertinent to put that the Al-Jehad activists pledged to the mission of destruction of Pandits and their properties were the front-rank workers of National conference with its dominant membership from the Plebiscite fronters. The Muslim rabids in their relentless and untiring campaign for the grab of the Hindu shrines suddenly generated Muslim frenzy for constructing a mosque on the strip of land that legally belonged to the Papaharan shrine. The government authorities were contacted and apprised of the sinister plans of the Muslim fanatics who harbour least respect for law of the land. They perhaps had given them go-ahead signals became apparent when the rabids were not stopped in their tracks of building a mosque on the land-area attached with the shrine and encroachment, already made, was not cleared. The Superintendent of Police and Sub-Divisional Magistrate, Anantnag who were forced through the intervention of a Hindu Minister to arrive on the trouble-spot were shown and given the copies of the revenue records relevant to the case thereby debunking the Muslim claims. Being Muslims of the treacherous stock they declared to the Muslims that revenue records had neither relevance nor sanctity. Such a declaration on part of the two government officers expected to be fair and equitous boosted the morale of the law-breakers who conceived and coined every coercive measure to stop the Pandits from fencing the land area with the result that it was left open to trespass and grab. A land area of 15 kanals and 10 marlas as was buttressed and reinforced by revenue records was attached with the shrines The Additional Secretary of Farooq Abdullah said to be a pimp or a tout was found feting, wining and dining in the company of a Muslim girl in a particular house at Anantnag. The Muslims got the wind of it and felt extremely enraged. Their wrath should have visited on the persons involved in lechery, but in their rabid hate they targeted a temple which was desecrated, pillaged and looted. Its glass-panes were pelted and broken. The photographs of gods and goddesses worshipped by Kashmir Pandits were destructed in Islamic fashion. The assets of the temple were looted as booty. The formality of contacting the police was carefully observed and as usual no notice was taken of the acts of vandalism indulged in by the vicious Muslim elements. Prior to this vandalism the Nandkeshwar shrine at Wanpoh was desecrated and plundered and a temple at Danois village in Kulagam Tehsil was ransacked and looted in similar fashion. The Martand date-lined 26th July, 1985 carried an article by P.N. Bhat who had observed, "Kashmiri Pandit community stand on cross-road of historic with all evil forces poised against it. Not a single day passes without report from some village, town or mohalla in the city regarding an assault here or theft of an idol there. Land grab of the community has become the order of the day. During the last three months historical holly shrines of Kashmiri Pandits in Vetesta verinag, Tehsil Guru, Siligam Shivala, a shrine in Tehsil Pahalgam and Lok Bhawan in Duru Tehsil have been desecrated. There is a planned conspiracy to harass this unfortunate community by patronised anti-social elements who have, it seems, earned the anticipatory clemency of ruling parties since 1947. It has been established beyond any shadow of doubt that in this orgailised assault, be it Vetesta, Siligam, Lok Bhawan or Tral, all the political parties, Jammaat-i-Islami, National Conference (F), National Conference (K) and Congress (I) join hands and have not even a word of condemnation against these encroachments, abuses and attacks on the members of the minority community. It is a matter of police and intelligence record that all important leaders of National Conference (F) and Congress (I) have given their tacit approval and active support to these lawless lizards for belabouring the minority community at Siligam and Lok Bhawan. The local administration is directed on telephone not to execute the warrants against the known miscreants and pressure is mounted on them to exact concessions from the minority community. This community is being asked to surrender even what is left behind by the encroachers at the point of gun." Gautam Nag associated with the highly revered name of Gautam Rishi has been sacred to the Kashmiri Pandits and other Hindus who take a dip in its holy waters before they resume their march to the cave of Amar Nath in the mountainous region. Motivated by the same hate syndrome Qazi Nissar, the Mirwaiz of South Kashmir, with deep pledges to the Muslim secessionist politics based on sheer bigotry operating under the protective wings of Mufti Mohammed Sayyid, the then Congress Chief, added a new chapter to the Islamisation campaign and communal tension which he ably and tenaciously orchestrated and heightened by issuance of Friday calls to capture Gautam Nag shrine. He rose like a meteor in the skies of communal politics in Kashmir when he himself cut a ram on a day sacred to the Hindus and issued Friday calls to the Muslims purporting to aggress the Hindu shrine for grab and occupation. Not only did he coin a new etymology of Gautam Nag but also concocted a story that a Muslim saint, a neo-convert to Islam, used to sit at the site for peace and rest. The Muslim Auqaf declaring that all Muslim properties were under its protective care and management had no impact on Qazi Nissar who through his rude deportment and fanatic rabble-rousing came to be seen as the pale version of Sikandar, the iconoclast. Qazi Nissar said to have risen from rags to riches went on giving Friday calls to the Muslims to fortify their ranks for aggression on the shrine. The process continued with no relent with a view to keeping the communal cauldron on non-stop simmer. On every Friday call as could be observed droves of Muslims got collected in unprecedented numbers, fretting and fuming, bespattering and inveighing, ready on a nod to maraud, plunder and capture the shrine. To deter the Pandits from building a response they were reviled and humiliated and their residential quarters were pelted and they were subjected to physical assaults. The government of the day sunk in pathetic negligence and inertia appeared at the fuelling end and had given ample signals that it had a common cause with terrorism. Ultimatclv the Gautam Nag shrine was aggressed, its dharamshallas were burnt to cinders and the Mahant living within the premises of the shrine was cruelly beaten and spat at. The government under the helmsmanship of Farooq Abdullah declared the shrine as disputed and appointed a petty Assistant Commissioner for adjudication of the title. The Kashmiri Pandits not only in Anantnag but throughout the length and breath of the valley were deeply anguished and shocked and immediately opened up channels of communication with the government authorities inside and outside the state. The relevant and authoritative records and documents were culled and gleaned and submitted for perusal. Qazi Nissar acting in tandem with the government authorities did not relent in his vicious campaign for adding momentum to communal discord and tension, strife and disorder. The lawless elements under patronage of the political class were in the process of proliferating their base on ground for hiving Kashmir from the political organisation of India. The Anantnag Prabandhak Committee in its emergency session on 21st of February 1989 was unequivocal and forthright in its condemnation of the wave of commtulalism unleashed by Qazi Nissar and rejected his utterances about the Gautam Nag shrine as false and spurious. The committee also resolved to apprise the Chief Minister of the state and the Central govermnent about the strengthening of communal forces as a result of thinning of securalist ranks. The deluge of resolutions passed and issued out by the Kashmiri Pandit organizations and tore expressed their explicit intent to contact the Sadhu Samaj at Allahabad that is committed in word and deed to the safe-guarding of Hindu interests all over the country. The communal politics with its pointed thrust against the molecular minority of Pandits was highlighted by the Martand, date-lined 24th of March, 1989 under the caption "will Qazi Nissar-Farooq Abdullah collusion set Kashmir ablaze"? The government was openly charged with a conspiratorial nexus with the monsters of rabid hate who were doggedly working to the nefarious end of disseminating inter-community hatred and disaffection. The mullahs of varied brands that were imported into Kashmir Acre preaching Jehad for the achievement of political objectifies with their sharp thrust against Kashmiri Pandits. The armed battle between the Iranian Hajis and the Saudi security forces and the explosion at Faizabad ammunition dump provided grist to the mill of Muslim violence against the religious enemies. The communal propaganda that Was politically motivated and officially regulated was invested with vigour and stridency to realise the goal of denuding Kashmir of Hindu culture symbols with the implicit underpinning that Kashmir had ceased to be a cup of tea for the Pandits. The Muslim onslaught on temples and Hindu culture symbols touched a new water-mark in the wake of Muslim terrorism sweeping the valley. Heinous crimes were committed in grabbing, desecrating, demolishing and setting ablaze the Hindu places of worship. Alarm bells were tolled when hundreds of temples and shrines in the district of Anantnag were razed to the ground, their properties looted and pillaged. Despite the disinformation campaigns launched by B.G. Vergese and Harvinder Baweja through the columns of "India Today" the fact remains that the Muslin insurgency holding aloft the banner of Muslim Jehad against the miniscule minority of Pandits has destructed and plundered temples and shrines of historical importance with a view to exterminating infidelity from the soil of Kashmir. There is hardly a village or a town where temples and shrines have not been destructed, desecrated and demolished. Some temples desecrated and damaged in Kashmir from 1990 onwards are under:
Posted by: muddur Aug 16 2003, 11:34 AM
First Lalloo kicked out Togadia, and now the Giriraj. In essense Lalloo is targetnig a particular community for harrassment. BTW who is Lalloo to STOP other Indians stopping from entering Bihar ? IMO, this is a dangerous dictatorial development and SHOULD be stopped at any cost. What lalloo is doing now can do more harm to the country if not addressed immediately. IMO, definitely not a good development on behalf of the SECULAR parties. This should be stopped at any cost. It is SAD that such an IMP development can't be discussed on the Bharat-Rakshak forum ! Acharya Giriraj to approach Supreme Court
Posted by: Viren Aug 17 2003, 12:29 PM
Some of the links provided aren't working muddur - may have been recycled. Unless there's a law-n-order concerns, can a politican prevent a citizen from entering/leaving a particular state unsure.gif ?
Posted by: muddur Aug 18 2003, 04:25 PM
Viren, the links do work. Please try again. BTW that was my question too... Can a single MAN using his WIFE (CM of Bihar) power, threaten and keep away the Indians entering Bihar ? Do they need VISA to enter Bihar ? What ever the reason, the very idea of not allowing a person to enter the state is not right, IMO. He should have allowed the guys to enter Bihar and arrested them on any violation of LAW. Lalloo has set a BAD precedence.
Posted by: Krishna Aug 18 2003, 04:49 PM
Muddur, This is all vote-bank politics. In the name of secularism, protecting minorities go bash the majority. I agree with ya. Togadia should have been allowed to enter. If he violated any laws then the judicial system should take it's own course but not some Lallo / Ulloo can decide who would or wouldn't be allowed to enter Bihar. Bihar kisi ke baap ki jaagir nahi hain!
Posted by: Shashi Aug 19 2003, 09:41 AM
QUOTE (Krishna @ Aug 19 2003, 05:19 AM)
Muddur, This is all vote-bank politics. In the name of secularism, protecting minorities go bash the majority.
True, but I dont blame Laloo, Mayawati, or Mulayam for indulging in such politics. They are a direct result of divide and rule vote-bank politics of Congress for over 4 decades, and the adament and arrogant forward castes who refuse to let the "untouchability" issue go. It happened in Tamil Nadu even before the indepedence of India in the form of DMK. A good thing for Hinduism in the long run. No one is asked the hindu society to become clan/community/caste blind. But this mistreatement has to stop.
Posted by: Gill Sep 3 2003, 11:39 PM
What exactly is Secularism? Simply put this word derives from England when the queen snatched the power from the church and laid the foundations for protestants. The word means monarchy shall rule, not the Church. How can this be applied in India? Indian Constitution says, We the people...freedom to practice religion... Why the need to inject "Secualr"? If India is truly a democracy, then it means that majority rules. Look up any dictionary, the meaning is same, rule of majority. Simply put, Hindus are in majority. Ask yourself a simple question, since independence, what action or actions of Hindus caused such alarm that India's secularism was at stake or there was a communal war? Simply put when law begins to undo the basic foundations of law itself, when it begins to harrass and manipulate laws to benefit a particular community, there will be a reaction from the majority. Take the case of Shah Bano, Supreme Court, the highest court of the land made a judgement which nullified the Sharia Law. Its ruling set a precedent that no religious law is higher than the Indian Constitution. Congress-I under Rajiv passed a legislation overriding the court's ruling. Law, by the people, for the people was manipulated. The Muslim leaders rejoiced, never for once thinking about social fabric of the country or what harm it will cause in coming years. Naturally, Congress divided the country on communal terms. An Indian Muslim can now challenge all rulings by Indian Courts by simply saying he does not recognize the Constitution. For him/her Sharia is law, LAW OF GOD. And today these same people cry wolf and speak of communalism. Shame Shame. If Congress was truly sincere, it would have taken steps since Shah Bano's case to rectify the situation. But it never did. The ills of their power play are felt by innocent, poor citizens. These two words, secular & communal have no place in India or the Constitution. People of India by themselves are tolerant people. We did not nor do we need a Nehruvian words. Its not as if this one word change the thinking of Indians. By nature Indians of all beliefs are in majority tolerant and secular, but there is no need for beliefs to be governed by govt as the case with "secular" in Indian Constitution. Every year the PM takes an oath. Yet he swears to the constituion, not to god. Isnt it ironic? Are all politicians athiests? Is it wrong to ask GOD bless India, or Allah bless India or Ram Bless India? One place where god never wanted to be, the previous regimes have made sure that it is instilled in the govt. BJP though a nationalist party is also representing the Hindus [or as it claims] what exactly is wrong with that? Hinduvata..oh the evil word, no, it means nationalism, what exactly is wrong with that? India media and others love to ignore the basic truth, they love to argue with the truth, simply becuz they all have lost morality. India is not secular. India is religious country, and a country which accepts and allows freedom to express and practice all beliefs. Hey Leftist, you dont believe me? Ask any Indian Jew, Parsi, Hindu, Sikh, Christian, Muslim, Suffi, Jaini, Buddhist, etc. But please dont ask a politican or a report, here come a spin doctor. wink.gif Gill
Posted by: Mudy Sep 4 2003, 03:16 PM
Gill, Excellent article. specool.gif
Posted by: Viren Sep 5 2003, 09:09 AM
Second that Mudy - great post Gill. >>Gill: Hinduvata..oh the evil word, no, it means nationalism, what exactly is wrong with that What exactly is 'Hindutava'? And why is it is bad word? Coz our p-secs say so? I'm not too religious and always considered Hinduism a way of life (respect for guru, parents; your duty is your dharma; do your good deed without any expectation of rewards; more than one way to god etc) more than anything else.
Posted by: acharya Sep 18 2003, 03:48 PM
The social engineering of Gujarat The ongoing violence and its broadening social and geographical base in the state is a consequence of the political recasting of social identities. by Hemant Babu The winter moon had already risen over the Taranga hills, when a group of men and women stopped our vehicle on the road from Ambaji to Baroda in the western Indian state of Gujarat. The women were dressed in brightly coloured half sarees, worn in the typically western Indian tribal style. A man in the front was carrying a photograph of Hanuman, the monkey god and lieutenant of the Hindu deity Ram. The light of the full moon bathed the hills on both sides of the road, and the exchange that followed was as pleasant as the surroundings. “Donate some money,” said a woman from the group. In the tribal districts of Gujarat it is customary to stop passing vehicles and collect money around the time of Holi and other festivals that western Indian tribals celebrate. Only, this was not the month of Holi, or of any other festivity. Queried about the purpose of the collection they replied, “We are collecting money for the bhajan mandali” (the collective singing of hymns celebrating deities). The bright red image of Hanuman that they carried was most certainly not native to their original spiritual repertoire. Neither was the idea of the bhajan mandali, which is a characteristically Hindu institution. The image and the ritual had come from somewhere else. This was in early 1993 when several parts of India, including Gujarat, were burning in the aftermath of the demolition of the Babri Masjid at Ayodhya. But, the violence had not yet touched the tribal belts of Gujarat. A month ago, in the aftermath of the Godhra incident and the subsequent riots, a friend, who sports a vandyke beard, was accosted on the same road by a group of men who live on the gentle slopes of the Taranga hills. But, there was nothing gentle about these men. Armed to the teeth, they snatched his wallet and then grilled him about his religion. He was allowed to proceed unmolested only after he furnished proof of his Hindu bona fides. Newspapers the next morning reported the killing of Muslim highway travellers, who were perhaps fleeing the riots. An end to the violence of the last two months is not in sight, and, the end of it will not be the last of it either. The first incident of 1993 was not the starting point of a process that culminated in this second incident, almost a decade later. Both events and all that happened in the interim are merely stages in the acceleration and amplification of a process that has been in the making for some decades. In Gujarat, where it is today imprudent to wear a beard and a misfortune to be a Muslim, a pervasive communalisation has been cultivated even among communities marginalised by Hindu society. The participation of tribals in the brutal enterprise of Hindutva is an index of this communalisation. The collection for the bhajan mandali was only the more benign aspect of a development whose logical intent was the killings on the road from Ambaji to Baroda and elsewhere. The arrival of Hanuman in the Gujarat hills has a cultural and political significance. It is also a mytho-logical metaphor for the arrival of tribals in the militia of Hindutva. The military prominence of Hanuman and his army in the epic, Ramayan, has been understood to signify the martial services rendered by some forest dwellers for a Hindu purpose of the remote past. Likewise, the adoption of Hindu symbols and rituals by the tribals of Gujarat suggests their subordinated absorption, as a regiment of foot soldiers detailed by the Hinduised polity to kill on command its ‘enemy’ of the moment. And as in the mythology, all they get in real terms is an honourable mention for services rendered. In both the myth and the current reality (a distinction that often has no meaning in the recent politics of India), the labours of the aboriginal under-class are directed towards the almost exclusive benefit of the caste-Hindu leadership that commandeers it. ‘Normalcy’ in a normal state Both the violence and its expanding social base have been commented on at length. What is forgotten in all the rhetoric for and against the politics that engineered it is the historical-political context in which this engineering took place. The context may not be the direct cause of the psyche that produces such extreme forms of violence but it nevertheless merits description, if only because it may help identify and explain the direct cause, besides dispelling misconceptions about both Gujarat and the riots that seem to have found purchase in the media. Ever since the outbreak of violence, there have been frequent expressions of surprise that such events could ever happen in the “land of Gandhi”, in a state that is the most industrialised after Maharashtra, in a society with such a “strong mercantile mentality”, and in a polity that has seen such “stable governments”. These vaunted attributes are not a necessary impediment to organised violence and in any case this is not the first, worst or longest riot recorded in the state. In fact, any or all of these factors could cohabit with or even produce such violence. Perhaps the idea of riots in Gujarat will be less bewildering if it is kept in mind that during a riot organised under an extremely stable government with resources garnered from industrial and mercantile sources among others, the Sabarmati Ashram in Ahmedabad, founded by Mahatma Gandhi, no less, shut its gates and turned its back on Muslims fleeing certain death. If the political process can so easily erode the historical legacy of ahimsa in the ashram in which the concept was elaborated, optimistic assumptions about the restraining influence of Gandhi, commerce and industry do not place Gujarat under a special compulsion to be less violent than any other state in India’s degenerating polity. As Achyut Yagnik, the well-known social worker and researcher from Ahmedabad, notes: “Gujarat is as normal as any other state.” A sign of this normalcy is the number of incidents of communal violence in the state as recorded officially. Judicial commissions of inquiry, the Justice Reddy Commission and the Justice VS Dave Commission, were instituted after two major riots, of 1969 and 1985 respectively. Both commissions referred in some detail to Gujarat’s history of communal violence. The Justice Dave Commission traced the history of communal violence in Ahmedabad as far back as 1714 when a bloody riot was sparked off during the Holi celebrations. The city then was still under Mughal control. Subsequent riots broke out in 1715, 1716 and 1750. The Marathas, who succeeded the Mughals in Gujarat, were described by the Commission as being “instrumental in creating a riot in Ahmedabad” after the city was occupied by them. Hindu-Muslim violence continued in the centuries that followed, with the pace and intensity picking up in the second half of the twentieth century. When communal riots broke out in 1941, curfew had to be imposed for over two-and-a-half months. The Justice Reddy Commission identified as many as 2938 instances of communal violence in the state between 1960 and 1969, that is, an average of approximately three riots every four days during this ten-year period. It is perhaps more than just a coincidence that this was the period when the Jan Sangh, the first overtly political front of the Rashtrya Swayamsewak Sangh (RSS), and the organisational precursor of the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), which by all accounts is responsible for sustaining the current riots, became active in the state. During this period, riots began to spread over a much wider geographical area of the sate, affecting towns like Veraval, Junagadh, Patan, Godhra, Palanpur, Anjar, Dalkhania, Kodinar and Deesa, all of which have been hit by the ongoing violence. Immunity of social conscience Violence of the communal variety staged in urban and semi-urban venues, besides rural violence directed against agricultural labourers, particularly dalits, was thus as routine an aspect of Gujarat as it is of most other states in the country. But violence of a different, more systematic and sustained order was inaugurated in 1969. The Hindu-Muslim riots of that year mark a major break with the hitherto prevalent pattern of steady if unspectacular social conflict. More than two years of hectic Muslim and Hindu fundamentalist activity preceded the outbreak of these riots. Communal violence in the state acquired a more organised form against the backdrop of the India-Pakistan war of 1965. The Jana Sangh stepped up the level of patriotic mobilisation and secured a toe-hold among the urban middle class. This mobilisation cashed in on the shelling of the area near the Dwarka temple in Gujarat by the Pakistan Navy, and the death of the incumbent Congress chief minister of the state, Balwantrai Mehta, when his plane was brought down by the Pakistan air force. Muslim mobilisation too was simultaneously taking place. The Jamiyet-Ulema-e-Hind tried to rally Muslim support, perhaps with the tacit consent of the Congress Party, which was then going through a phase of organisational and political crisis. In June 1968, the national convention of the Jamiyet was organised in Ahmedabad. Though it professed to be a nationalist organisation which supported the Congress, the convention showed very clearly that the Jamiyet was drifting towards communal politics. Its firebrand leaders, Maulana Asad Maad and Yunus Salim delivered provocative speeches. A booklet called The communal riots and the harm that they have done to the country and Hindu religion, authored by the president of the Jamiyet, Maulana Aqualak Husain, was circulated during the convention. The booklet gave grossly exaggerated accounts of atrocities on Muslims in communal riots elsewhere in the country. This spurt of Islamic activity prompted the Jan Sangh to found the Hindu Dharma Raksha Samiti. It also brought the RSS chief MS Golwalkar to the city. At a rally in Ahmedabad in December 1968 Golwalkar attacked Muslims as invaders who the country could not tolerate for too long. The idea of Muslims as invaders has been repeatedly used by Hindu fundamentalists to a point where it has become the received wisdom, all cogent arguments to the contrary notwithstanding. The riots that ensued in 1969 left some 1500 people dead. A riot of this magnitude, unprecedented in both scale and duration, had a foundational significance for the politics of the state and the techniques of mobilisation and orchestration that increasingly came into use. The discrete and scattered violence of the preceding period can be presumed to be manifestations of everyday class, caste and community struggles arising from socio-economic conflicts of a more or less local nature. To that extent, their individual histories and repercussions were confined to the respective localities of incidence. The 1969 riots had the critical mass that lent it state- and nation-wide visibility and gave it a prominent place in the historical inventory of community grievances. This riot could now be invoked at will, not just in Gujarat but wherever else tension had to be engineered. In effect, this was the first explicit politicisation of both communalism and public violence in the state. Most importantly, the riots of 1969 took Gujarati society past the psychological threshold of normally tolerable public violence, and this not just of the communal variety. Once the barrier to the use of violence in inter-party conflicts was crossed, its repeated use acquired a tacit legitimacy as the social conscience became gradually more immune to the incremental doses of it that the polity administered. The two instances of extended public ferocity that Gujarat witnessed after these riots, the 1974 Nav Nirman movement, launched by the opposition parties to oust the Congress state government, and the 1981 riots against public policy designed to benefit lower castes, involved a high level of violence, including in the latter instance, the burning alive of dalits. Both these instances of extra-parliamentary ‘politics’ were remarkably successful in their objectives. Violent street politics had made an impressive debut in Gujarat and presented itself as a model worth investing in and emulating. Making of a pattern There were two aspects to these agitations that had long-term social and institutional consequences. One was the induction of middle class youths into a form of politics not normally associated with them. The other was the emergence of the incipient social and financial networks that sustain prolonged violence. The issues involved in both the 1974 movement and the 1981 riots, though they affected a much larger segment of the population, were articulated most vigorously by the middle class through its traditional channels. But the urgency of the objective, particularly in reversing affirmative state action in favour of the lower castes, caused dissent to spill out of the traditional channels. Middle class, upper caste youths played a leading role in the anti-reservation riots, and the focus of conflict here belonged solely to the matrix of Hindu social relations and its hierarchies of caste. A middle class, consisting predominantly of caste Hindus who saw themselves as the true repositories of merit, was defending its privileged access to professional education and government service. The high level of violence was justified as a legitimate expression of thwarted merit and one more barrier to muscular Hindu middle class street politics was crossed. The BJP was active in the 1981 riots as were its professional front organisations, notably the university and secondary school teachers associations. The classroom, the family and many other institutions which crucially shape social and political values had succumbed to the pressures of protecting the elite monopoly of state privileges and public resources. The 1981 riots were replayed in a more drastic form in the 1985 anti-reservation movement. In many ways, this sequel marked the beginning of a new phase. Although it partook of features of all the antecedent riots, it also had a novel dimension. The roots of Gujarat’s radical communalism can be detected here. Methodical violence from now on became a more regular instrument and expression of electoral politics, recurring with increasing frequency and refinement of technique and exhibiting remarkable similarities of character. Soon after it commenced, the riot of 1985 was annexed to the exigencies of the BJP’s political constituency-building drill. The seemingly undirected ‘riot from below’ was given a purposeful leadership by the present dispensation in the state, notably the current Chief Minister Narendra Modi, acting then in his capacity as a senior functionary of the RSS. By 1985, the Hindutva cadres had acquired considerable experience in disruptive politics, many of its leaders having participated in the ’81 agitation. The BJP’s active influence on the 1985 agitation explains many of its more curious features. The riots began on 19 March, the day after the newly-elected Congress government assumed office, and was directed against a policy measure declared more than two months prior. In January, the Congress government had announced an increase in the quota of jobs in government and seats in public educational institutions reserved for backward castes. The riots lasted six months, much after the policy had been revoked by the government. The fact that a riot could start two months after the cause that provoked it, and end as suddenly as it started, points to a high level of coordination by an existing command structure. It cannot be a mere accident that the violence extended beyond Ahmedabad to smaller towns and villages, particularly in those areas where the BJP had acquired influence, notably in central Gujarat and some tribal belts. South Gujarat, which had previously been unaffected, now found itself on the riot map of the state. The social base of the violence expanded to include gangsters, bootleggers and professional killers. Various reports of the period quote doctors who described the stab wounds they attended to as the work of trained hands. The agitation finally degenerated to a point where sections of the state constabulary abandoned their uniforms and relin-quished their responsibilities to join the riots. The beginnings of social engineering But there is another compelling aspect of this riot that overshadows all others. The 1981 riots sharpened the conflict within the ‘Hindu’ community, between the upper and lower castes, the victims being primarily dalits. By contrast the 1985 agitation, though initially directed against caste-based affirmative action, transformed itself very quickly into a gratuitous attack on the Muslim community, which had nothing to do with the reservation policy of the government. In the final reckoning, an extended riot led by upper caste Hindus that succeeded in revoking a policy that benefited lower caste Hindus eventually managed to inscribe itself into the social memory as one more gory episode in the deteriorating history of Hindu-Muslim relations. Perhaps the danger to a conceptual and potential ‘Hindu’ unity from a conflict internal to the community was being minimised by quietly diverting the focus of the agitation. If its similarities with the Sangh Parivar’s current modus operandi are anything to go by, then the 1985 riot was the real crucible of Hindutva politics in Gujarat. A kingpin of that agitation is the kingpin of the current spate of pogroms; the only difference is that today he officially rules the political roost with a popular mandate of 55 percent. There are many crude calculations in the social engineering formulas of the RSS, but the last 15 years have proved that, given a polity degenerating in the appropriate manner, these calculations can yield the desired outcome. From 1990 on, Gujarat has witnessed riot after riot, varied in scale, but similar in character and equal in significance for the BJP’s rise to political power. The late 1980s witnessed an escalation in the tempo of the Ayodhya movement and this furnished the climate for the orchestration of events that would culminate in the party’s emphatic electoral victory in 1995. The pattern of the first riot of 1990 is interesting, though not necessarily symptomatic. LK Advani’s rath yatra from Somnath in Gujarat to Ayodhya in Uttar Pradesh came in the immediate aftermath of widespread and violent upper caste agitations across north India against the affirmative action principles in favour of backward castes, adopted at the national level by the United Front in New Delhi. These agitations had intensified socio-economic conflict between upper and lower castes at a time when the plural constituency of a potential Hindutva was being assembled through the politicisation of Hindu symbols and myths. This was the period when imagined grievances, culled from an imagined history, were being assiduously broadcast, accompanied by the shrill denigration of parties which allegedly indulged Muslim treachery. The rath yatra did manage to rally large numbers, particularly from the lower castes, and the arrest of Advani en route to Ayodhya provoked riots in many states, including Gujarat. Gujarat again witnessed riots in 1992 when the disputed Babri Masjid at Ayodhya was razed to the ground a few hours after kar sevaks stormed the monument. Surat experienced intermittent disturbances over a six-month period. In 1993, more riots followed, after the blasts in Bombay, allegedly masterminded by the Muslim underworld. Perhaps these riots were attempts at forging a Hindu unity that, on the face of it, seemed impossible. Whatever the intention, there is no denying that the rath yatra precipitated a political crisis in which the existing intra- and inter-party equations began to break down. And, there is no getting away from the fact that, though not uniformly successful across India, the BJP from the 1991 general elections has secured more than 50 percent of the votes cast in the state. Remarkably, for three years following its assumption of office in Gujarat in 1995, the state was free from communal riots. The BJP was clearly living up to its boast of ensuring a riot-free administration, prompting critics to cite this as proof of the party’s monopoly of organised public violence. At any rate, this peaceful interim was part of the established pattern of violence erupting and subsiding according to the clearly discernable designs of politics. The inference, therefore, that violence had become a crucial raw material of electoral politics controlled by a cartel is unavoidable. New tribe of kar sevaks The brief interlude of social peace came to an end in 1998, with the attacks on Christian missionaries and establishments in the Dangs, a forested tribal belt on the southern edge of Gujarat bordering Maharashtra. This was a new theatre of conflict in terms of both the region and community involved. This was the first instance of organised violence after the BJP came to power and the context once again is instructive. Cracks had developed in the carefully crafted socio-economic balance in the BJP soon after it came to power in the state. Hindutva once again confronted a crisis of caste. An influential segment of backward castes in the BJP legislature party had revolted against its upper caste leadership, on the lines of what was subsequently to happen in the Uttar Pradesh unit too. Social engineering had failed in the face of an old caste conflict and a substitute social group had to be found to take the place of the departing backward castes. Tribals make up 14 percent of the states population. Christians, who are largely concentrated in the tribal districts, add up to less than 1 percent of Gujarat’s population. Even in the Dangs, they do not exceed 5 percent. On the night of 25 December, under the auspices of an RSS front organisation called the Hindu Jagran Manch (HJM), churches, educational institutions and houses were attacked in Ahwa, Subir, Jamlapada, Gadvi, Divan Temrun, Madagkhadi and Padalkhadi. Over the next four days attacks spread to other tribal areas in Bharuch, Surat and Vyara districts of south Gujarat. This orchestration of violence by the HJM had been preceded by a decade-and-a-half of patient mobilisation by another RSS front organisation, the Samajik Samrasta Manch, founded in 1983 to assimilate those segments of society marginalised by Brahmanic Hinduism. Whatever else the RSS fronts have been doing, it is clear that within four years of those attacks, tribals from both north and south Gujarat have been recruited in large numbers as kar sevaks for both the construction of the Ram temple and the destruction of the Muslim community. The similarities between the broad context of the riots is striking. Any crisis internal to Hindutva inevitably leads to violence against well-defined ‘enemies’. If the 1998 violence was necessitated by the social crisis of Gujarati Hindutva, the present and continuing violence comes on the heels of a comprehensive political rout of the BJP across several states in India. Gujarat is its last bastion, and reports and analysis in the media indicated that defeat stared the party in the forthcoming elections in the state. The prominence of tribal participation is the common element between 1998 and the ongoing violence. Perhaps, in the social engineering calculus of the RSS, a fresh massacre of the old enemy by new recruits will add to the prowess of Hindutva, enrich its folklore, expand its social base and thereby forestall a defeat in the nursery of its politics. A tribal population of 14 percent is electorally significant enough to justify the slaughter of several hundred Muslims. Secularism and silence Clearly then, from the mid-1980s political violence in Gujarat had become more organised and more numer-ous, had increasingly begun to manufacture its own provocations, and was directed at minorities, particularly Muslims. This last development coincided with the BJP’s Hindutva agendas in a period when the party was systematically cultivating overarching Hindu nationalist sentiments. In 1985, the Congress party was at the peak of its electoral strength, enjoying the support of 55 percent of the electorate. By the 1991 general elections, the BJP had secured 55 percent of the vote and in 1995 rode to power in the state with an overwhelming majority. In this violent ten-year period the Congress Party, which ruled the state for most of the past four decades, had crumbled and out of the ruins of the existing polity the BJP had emerged triumphant. There seems to be a prima facie correlation between the violent politics of the state and the BJP’s rise to power. Numerous studies, by the Centre for Social Studies, Surat, by the sociologist Ghanshyam Shah, the historian Jan Breman, the political scientist Atul Kohli and many others, have chronicled some of the micro-level processes in the party’s rise to power. But there has not been any real synthesis of explanation, based on these studies, that describes the precise mechanics at a state-wide level. Perhaps, that exercise is precluded by a lack of uniformity, and even an organic unity, in the strategies of the RSS and its offspring. The intricacies of refabricating a complex socio-economic demography may well require multiple, even mutually contradictory, local strategies within an overall climate of communal strife. But even if there are not too many identifiable and overt statewide strategies, barring of course the assault on minorities, the BJP’s success has been statewide and not all of it can be attributed to just the ingenuity of the party’s political techniques. After all, identical experiments by the BJP in other states have not fetched the same dividends. It would seem therefore that conditions specific to Gujarat’s history, society and politics have facilitated the cultivation of Hindutva politics. These specific circumstances may help penetrate the air of inscrutability that surrounds the BJP’s covert strategies and successes, if only by questioning many well-meaning but untenable secular-ist assumptions about Gujarat and the riots, which actually impede an understanding of Hindutva’s politics in the state. In the secular intelligentsia’s description of the gory events of the last two months, communal violence is the handiwork of a violent minority of fundamentalists. In this view, the secular majority is silent and can only watch helplessly as the state administration actively abets the Hindutva lumpens. This is not an entirely accurate description of the reality. True, there are many who have actually gone to the aid of the victims and prevented more unspeakable brutalities than have been committed. It is also true that there are many localities where irreproachable community relations, fostered by shared concerns of a more fundamental and material variety, have ensured that provocateurs have been unable to incite murderous passions. But it is equally true that there are many others who silently approve of the carnage. The violent minority and silent majority of Gujarat do not constitute separate and distinct social fragments. The silence of a sizeable part of the silent majority is not the speechless shock of numbed bystanders. It is the conspiratorial silence of willing spectators, remote witnesses to a Roman holiday, whose public silence is a private roar of approval that is clearly audible to the architects of the violence. There are those who cannot speak and those who will not speak. How else are we to explain the seeming paradoxes of the riots in Ahmedabad? We have seen educated girls and boys from middle and upper middle class families who do not actually participate in the killings but follow in the wake to loot Muslim establishments. We have seen couples on two wheelers bring home consumer durables scavenged from the debris of retail outlets. The cell-phone wielding rioters are not isolated elements who have taken control in a social vacuum. They roam about so brazenly because they know they have a silent social mandate. This is the clear conspiracy of silence among many of the so-called silent majority and it has many manifestations – the son of a bureaucrat who gets away with murder, a government official who demands bribe, the worker who looks at unions as an instrument of personal gain, the trader who cheats at one go the marginal producer and the small consumer. We have seen the faces of this silent majority at various places. Sometimes they are at a safe distance behind the rioting mob, sometimes they are in the air-conditioned cabins of newspaper offices. They are always there where it matters and they are always silent when it matters. We have seen them outside Gujarat too, in 1984 in Delhi when Sikhs were being butchered, in the 1992 Bombay riots, in the Dangs, in Orissa, in Madhya Pradesh, in Uttar Pradesh and many other places too numerous to be listed. And now we are told that the VHP in Ahmedabad has a team of 50 lawyers who will, without payment, legally defend the Hindutva rioters. Secular optimism should not blind us to the reality of communalism’s expanded social base. Anatomy of a Hindu state Gujarat is a visibly Hinduised state today, and not just because of the 55 percent that voted the BJP. Even if that 55 percent were to vote in other ways, the ideology of Hindutva that has sunk roots will continue to pervade society. What this means in effect is that even if the Congress were to return to power, it will have to mould itself more openly to the agendas of Hindu politics. In fact, it is more than likely that the state Congress unit has itself already been Hinduised. Reportedly, Congress-run municipalities have extended infrastruc-tural and other assistance to the rioters, particularly in destroying evidence of demolitions. Even casual observers of politics have noted that the Gujarat Congress has been less than tepid in its response to the riots, being more keen to defend Sonia Gandhi’s credentials than to protect Muslim lives. The state administration has been so extensively contaminated that even if a Congress government were to allow some residual secular instinct to surface, it is unlikely to get much support from the bureaucracy. This is the most impressive achievement of fundamentalist politics – that it has recast even the opposition in its own image. Some traces of how a caste-divided state can achieve an overarching Hindu unity, even if only briefly and at extraordinary moments of stress, are to be found in aspects of the state’s social, political and demographic history. Gujarat came into existence in 1960 after the States Reorganisation Act of 1957, which carved out states on a linguistic basis. Two broad regions – mainland and peninsular Gujarat – make up the territory of the state. Peninsular Gujarat consists of Kutch and Kathiawad, now known as Saurashtra. Prior to Indian independence, numerous kingdoms, principalities, and jagirs dotted the territorial landscape of present-day Gujarat. Saurashtra alone had 499 political units. Kutch was a princely state while parts of mainland Gujarat were directly administered British territory incorporated into the Bombay Presidency. In 1948, all these units were consolidated and Kutch, Saurashtra and the mainland were added to Bombay state in 1956, where they stayed until 1960 when, through linguistic division, the states of Maharashtra and Gujarat were created. This territorial consolidation gave the future politics of Gujarat several institutions, forms, values and characteristics that made it easier for Hindutva to take hold. Among the more useful heritages was the myth of the Somnath Temple. The temple complex is located in the port town of Veraval on the southern coast of Saurashtra just a little below Porbandar, were Gandhi was born. The myth of Somnath left Gandhi untouched. But it excited many others who formed the cream of the Congress leadership in Gujarat, mainly because in AD 1026, Mahmud of Ghazni (in Afghanistan) raided the temple of Somnath and broke the idol. The temple was situated inside a fortress in which wealth accumulated from the brisk maritime trade of ancient and medieval Saurashtra was stored. Before Mahmud’s raid, this amassed wealth had attracted the notice of many other rulers, some of whom, like the Chudasama, Ahiras and Yadhavas, had attempted to make off with it. But the attack of the Mahmud from Ghazni has been singled out for special attention and presented as proof of Muslim insolence. Eminent historians like Romila Thapar have argued very eloquently against simplified narratives of the Somnath raid. But the matter long ago passed from the hands of professional historians and into the arsenal of practised politicians such as Rajendra Prasad, the president of India in the 1950s, Vallabhai Patel, the first union home minister, and KM Munshi, a senior minister in successive union cabinets. Among the Congress leadership, Somnath was a Gujarati preoccupation. It was only the objections of Jawaharlal Nehru and some of his secular colleagues that prevented the repair of the temple under state auspices, but that did not stop the president of India from participating in the ceremonies of the privately funded restoration. Somnath was the Gujarat Congress Party’s gift to Hindutva and is an early example of the politicisation of temple related trauma. Such is the pedigree of the Somnath myth, and the extent of its popularity in Gujarat, that it was absorbed and given prominence in the politics of the Ayodhya myth. Thus it was that the rath yatra that symbolised the spiritual conquest of India by vaishnavite Hinduism began its journey from this shaivite monument. Shackles of faith and caste The appeal of such religious themes is not difficult to understand in a society permeated with strong orthodox vaishnavite traditions. The absence of a serious bhakti movement in Gujarat’s history is perhaps a reflection of and reason for this potent institutional vaishnavism. Mythological religiosity has been an integral part of Gujarat society and continues to be fostered by bardic performances. Kathakars, who recite stories from the Ramayan, have an important role in collective social life and in recent years have been active in the BJP’s political cause. According to Ghanshyam Shah, in the 1991 elections kathakars like Morari Bapu were involved in the party’s campaign and “attracted a cross-section of society both in urban and rural areas”. Mass politics right from the Gandhian phase has been unable or unwilling to break the shackles of this public religiosity. In fact, as the historian David Hardiman points out, Gandhi and his followers were themselves not above using the idioms of caste and religion in political mobilisation. As early as 1920, Gandhi was to appeal to fellow members of his bania caste to, as good ‘vaishnavites’, abstain from courts and schools run by the British government, whose rule he likened to ravanraj. Patel, likewise, played on caste traditions, and laid stress on themes like kshatriya martial virtues. It is not surprising at all that Gandhi should have harped on ramrajya as a political ideal. Vaishnav, kshatriya, ravanraj, ramrajya, all popular currency in the BJP’s rhetoric, have a long and respectable history in the mass politics of Gujarat. The state did not really witness the emergence of a politics that seriously tried to purge the public arena of its religious inflections. As is to be expected, orthodox faith and values were nurtured within the bounds of an entrenched caste system. The mass politics that emerged in Gujarat could not escape the dynamics of caste and so chose by and large to be confined within it. Although caste divisions did not fully coincide with class divisions in the state, socio-economic power was predominantly in the hands of a few castes, i.e. patidars, brahmins and baniyas – and to a much lesser extent the kshatriyas. Caste associations, some of them active in party politics, are a common feature of Gujarat’s public life. They include the Gujarat Kshatriya Sabha and the Gujarat Kshatriya Sangh, the Patidar Yuvak Mandal, the Khedut Sangh and the Khedut Samaj, which are basically patidar organi-sations, the Prajapati Mandal and numerous others. These caste associations, besides undertaking welfare measures, function also as lobby groups seeking to influence politics in addition to manoeuvring for control of resources. Of these organised castes, the most powerful are the patidars, who in much of the state practically control the rural economy. Brahmins and baniyas, though insignificant as a proportion of the population, are economically and politically powerful by virtue of their dominance in professional services, industry and trade. The politics of Gujarat has been based on the alliance between castes. The Congress party’s near monopoly of power was based on a patidar-brahmin-baniya leadership that brought together under a broad umbrella the dalit, tribal and Muslim electorate. The weak opposition in the state in the early period, the Swatantra Party, was primarily a kshatriya enterprise, allied to the leadership of dissenting patidar groups. Through the 1960s, the state legislature was dominated by a highly organised Congress party well-versed in the practice of an accommodative politics that did not fundamentally affect the socio-economic structure. As an efficient organisation that functioned both as a civic institution and a political machine, it perfected the technique of herding a large electoral constituency without altering the overall status quo. The patidars, brahmins and baniyas continued to dominate the economy while the dalits, tribals and Muslims continued to vote the Congress. The moment of accommodation In 1969, by the time the Swatantra Party was beginning to make inroads into the state legislature, the Indian National Congress experienced a nationwide split. The two groups that emerged were the Congress (Organisation), which inherited the party’s organisation, and Congress (Requisition), which had Indira Gandhi and a large part of the influential ‘left-lean-ing’ leadership of the parent party. A new political alli-ance slowly emerged, with the Swatantra Party and the Congress (O), both with orthodox social and economic programmes, align-ing with the Jan Sangh, which had no real policy to offer other than Hindu Rashtra. The split in the Congress is that moment when the public accommodation of Hindutva politics by the larger polity begins. The existing caste-political equations also began to break down. The two numeri-cally significant castes that were politically influential, the patidars and the kshatriyas became internally divided along political lines. Over time, both the Swatantra Party and the Congress (O) disappeared, having merged, along with the Jan Sangh, into the Janata Party during the period of unstable politics that followed the split in the Congress. With the political opposition uniting against it and itself lacking any real organisation to combat the trend, the Congress, under Indira Gandhi, adopted a populist economic and political course. While that helped secure a wide base for the party at the electoral level, the lack of an organisation meant that the Congress was unable to deal with the growing forms of extra-parliamentary agitations that commenced with the Nav Nirman Movement of 1974. That movement unseated the Congress government and brought the combined opposition, including the Jan Sangh, to power. Hindu politics had tasted office for the first time in the country in the company of like-minded organisations. The Congress returned to power after the Emergency of Indira Gandhi, once again without any real organisational structure, but with an infusion of new lumpen cadres. The caste-leadership of the post-Emergency Congress changed hands as the kshatriyas became more dominant. A peculiar aspect of kshatriya politics in Gujarat is that in the course of political mobilisation it redefined itself to include a large backward caste component, notably the kolis. This was to be of some significance in the nature of Congress politics, which in turn influenced to some extent the rise of Hindu politics. By the 1980s the Congress social alliance was based on what has come to be called the KHAM formula, ie an alliance of kshatriyas, harijans (dalits), adivasis (tribals) and Muslims. (see page 24) Through the period that the Congress held power this was the combination that gave Gujarat its gov-ernments. And through the period that these gov-ernments were in power the patidars, baniyas and brahmins continued to control the economy and some crucial nodes of the public sphere, such as the various levels of the state administration. And when the Congress, as part of its ‘welfare populism’ went through the motions of announ-cing measures that would benefit its socially and economically mar-ginalised constituency, the real managers of the economy and the public arena drifted towards an opposition that was gradually being dominated by the BJP. This was the period that the agitational politics mounted by social groups increasingly backed by the BJP, left the Congress governments in a state of political crisis. Organisational weakness obstructed substantive civic response on the part of the Congress to these agitations against benefits directed towards backward castes. As a consequence, the government simply retracted its policy measures. Welfare populism antagonised the elite. Its retraction and failure disillusioned the dispossessed. The Congress could not herd its own constituency. That constituency was now available to be politically recruited, at a time when the flavour of Hindutva was being systematically imparted to the society and polity by the hydra-headed Sangh Parivar, through its numerous organisations. The Gujarat polity had been in an organisational vacuum from the time of the Congress split till the rise of the BJP. The seeming stability of Gujarati politics was to a large measure based on a stable sub-stratum of caste networks. That stable network which enabled the Congress Party to recruit its caste base also enabled the BJP to recruit its constituency. Welfare populism had given way to spiritual populism, the crucial difference being the latter’s level of organisational capacity. The BJP, through the Ram Janmabhoomi movement, had created a dense complex of agitprop organisations that could engage in sectional caste-specific propoganda and simultaneously season it with the larger Hindutva ideology of the caste-Hindu leadership of the RSS and the BJP. The process by which a tribal population of 14 percent is conscripted into Hindutva’s ranks also renders an 8 percent Muslim population completely dis-pensable to an electoral politics many of whose rules have been redrafted by a vaishnavite orthodoxy. When reluctant Hindus become majoritarian enthusiasts, minorities too large to be ignored and too small to make a difference have no place under the protective umbrella of competitive politics. In the 50 years after Indian independence, Gujarat has been transformed. It has been the laboratory of Gandhian politics, of civic institutions, the cooperative movement and the Hindutva campaign. It has become more urbanised, more industrial, has seen more social mobil-ity, and become more prosperous. It has also seen the re-emergence of an organised mass politics. The earlier phase of that organised politics, under the Congress, consciously divided the polity of the state along caste lines. The second phase, under the BJP, consciously divided the polity along communal lines. A state predominantly of Hindus had become a state predominantly of Hindutva. In 50 years a ‘Hindu unity’ had been engineered in a caste-divided state, and Muslim life had become as dispensable as the Muslim vote. The map of Gujarat in 1947 and the map in 1991 tell a chilling story. The price, paid and yet to be paid, cannot be counted.
Posted by: acharya Sep 19 2003, 08:39 PM
Vajpayee visits Turkish shrine Istanbul, Sept. 19. (PTI): On a day when Ayodhya stole the headlines back home, Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee visited the Hajia Sophia shrine symbolising the essence of Turkish secularism and the Topkapi Palace which houses a relic of Prophet Mohammad. Originally a Byzantine church, it was converted into a mosque by Sultan Ahmed. After Kemal Ataturk proclaimed the Turkish Republic it was made non-denominational, neither Christian nor Islamic, and is today widely revered. The Topkapi Palace, the seat of the Ottoman Turkish empire, also houses the original doors of the Kaba at Mecca and a throne of Persian ruler Nadir Shah who had plundered India. Vajpayee spent half-an-hour visiting these two places.
Posted by: Kaushal Sep 21 2003, 06:19 AM
cross posted from Politics of History It is high time the secularism debate is out in the open and is debated vigorously in India. Such a debate should include topics such as ; 1. what is secularism - definition and scope 2. does it mean appeasement of minorities and does it preclude saying anything adverse about religions other than the Indic (Dhaarmik) religions. 3. does it include Hindu bashing or exclude saying anything good about the Dharma. 4. Is it healthy for the nation to view almost every action (diplomatic, historic, cultural, political) in a secularist framework. 5. Why does building a temple in Ayodhya violate the secular fabric of India (presuming there is such a fabric currently in place in India. Sanjay Singh/ New Delhi Friday's verdict by the Special Court in Rae Bareli has provided the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) with an agenda which it, perhaps, had all along been wanting to raise: Hindutva in all its dimensions, including the Ayodhya issue and a debate on secularism vs pseudo-secularism.
Posted by: Kaushal Sep 24 2003, 08:09 AM
Some of the questions asked here are similar to the ones i have listed in the previous post. It would be interesting to see or hear the actual transcript of Prof.Balagangadhara's talk. Prasthutha: Relevant Thoughts for Responsible People Indian Institute of Science, Bangalore 560012, India. Invites you all for a lecture on Is Indian Secularism Bankrupt? A Cultural Analysis by Prof S N Balagangadhara Ghent University, Belgium Date: 29 Jan 2003 Wednesday Time: 5:45 PM Venue: CSIC Auditorium (Prof Satish Dawan Auditorium) ALL ARE WELCOME ------------------------------------------------------------------------ Secularism is the most frequently used term in the Indian political arena. Its use has been so rampant that variant of secular like 'pseudo-secular' (psec in short) has been coined in the last decade. The usage has become so shallow that anybody aligning with the BJP, RSS and VHP is termed as communal and hence the rest secular. In turn, the BJP, RSS and VHP have termed anybody opposing them as pseudo-secular. Are secular and communal antonyms? What is the meaning & history of the word secularism? Is being secular a virtue? Is secularism relevant in the Indian context? Prof. S. N. Balagangadhara is a faculty at the department of the Comparative Science of Cultures in Ghent University, Belgium. He has authored many pieces, including a book titled, "The Heathen in His Blindness" on the nature of religion. His central area of inquiry is to develop a description of the western culture against the background of the Indian culture. He is currently working on a book about ethics: comparing Indian ethics with the western one. P.S. The speaker has promised to answer all questions on this topic after the lecture.
Posted by: rajesh_g Sep 24 2003, 10:04 AM
Kaushal, I didnt attend the lecture. I dont have the transcripts either. But from my past interactions with Dr Balagangadhara, his thoughts would be something like this. - secularism is xtianity in hiding. - it is not a neutral word. - xtianity (or a religion) spreads itself through (1) proselytisation. (2) secularism. All this from his basic questioning of the word 'religion'. Religion , according to the Prof. , is an explanatorily intelligible account of the universe. A religion has to provide explanations and the intentions for the universe and itself as a narrative. As I said in earlier post he considers xtianity, judaism and islam as the ONLY good examples of religion. His book goes through the origins of xtianity, through the 'renaissance' to where we are at. Someone has compiled his responses on Sulekha to various questions into a document. I can forward that to anybody who wants it or if there is an upload area I can upload the document. Regards.. PS : I can also cut and paste the entire document here. But its 20 pages in a PDF file.
Posted by: acharya Sep 24 2003, 11:13 AM
QUOTE (rajesh_g @ Sep 24 2003, 05:04 AM)
- secularism is xtianity in hiding. - it is not a neutral word. - xtianity (or a religion) spreads itself through (1) proselytisation. (2) secularism.
This is very true. The secularism is a creation developed in the last 400-500 years to cinrease commerce across the world by the colonial powers. Project of the jesuits which started before the independence of USA laid out various methods to make sure that the anglo-saxons and the christian world was dominant across the whole world as the world becomes aware of the rest of the world. Secularism was born during that time to make sure that the rest of the world do not get offended by a dominant christian world. Currently the dominant west has a facade of secularism only to facilitate trade and commerce for keeping their high per capita income. Now in 2003 they are still dominant and they have the major share of the mindshare also with extensive control over the media and the education. The only way to make sure that they are dominant in future is to convert the non-chritian world to think like them and accept their view of the world. THis can be done only by convertion and political control of seat of learning and religion.
Posted by: acharya Sep 25 2003, 12:46 PM The Arun Shourie Site The place to find all works of Arun Shourie on the web Hideway Communalism A case in which the English version of a major book by a renowned Muslim scholar, the fourth Rector of one of the greatest centers of Islamic learning in India, listing some of the mosques, including the Babri Masjid, which were built on the sites and foundations of temples, using their stones and structures, is found to have the tell-tale passages censored out... more
Posted by: Sudhir Sep 26 2003, 06:52 AM
Who is afraid of Sonia Gandhi? Jaya Jaitly 26th Sep 2003 Dear Soniaji - Recently you asked the Government a series of questions,using the instrument of the no-confidence motion. You seemed to have expected the Prime Minister alone to give you the answers, exactly as you wanted them. Your complaint is that the treasury benches gave you no answers. Subsequently, from a platform in Rajasthan, you also derisively accused the Government of being afraid of you. Millions must have watched the televised debate in Parliament. All those who do not understand English would not have understood your "charges" since they do not have the benefit of simultaneous translators as you did. They would, however, have understood the reply from those who spoke from the Government's side, particularly when it was in Hindi. After four years in Parliament, five years in politics, and 33 years in India, we Indians would like to know if you can manage a 10-minute extempore speech or participate in a debate on any subject spontaneously among a panel of speakers. You still continue to seek permission from the Honourable Speaker of the Lok Sabha to read your speeches, whether they are written for you in English or in Hindi. Since your complaint about an unsatisfactory reply from the Government was made in Hindi, I hope you will allow me to present a response from the general public in a manner with which you are familiar. Aapki shikayaten videsh neeti, suraksha neeti aur shiksha neeti par thi. Aap ne desh ko yeh bataya ki is sarkar ke kaaran Bharat duniya ki nazaron mein gir gaya hai. Iska jawab Shri Advani aur Smt Sushma Swaraj ne vistaar mein diya. Bahut se vaktaon ne gayi Congress sarkaron ki kamzoriyon aur galtiyon ko ginaya aur sarkar ki uplabdhiyon ko bhi ginaya. Uplabdhiyan to thi, kyonki jab aap ne uske shrey lene ki koshish ki, to Sushmaji ne sahi jawab diya ki NDA sarkar bhi aap hi ki den hai. Rajneetik sawal jawab, jisko angrezi mein "cut and thrust of a debate" kehte hain, aise hi hote hain. Shayad aap samjhi nahin. Of course, English is not your mother tongue, either. You went to Cambridge, England, to learn English with a local family. However, you formally informed the Parliament Secretariat that you had your education at the Cambridge University. The town of Cambridge does not give degrees in English. If an Italian girl lives with an Indian family in Delhi to help with the housework and learn Hindi in return, she cannot later claim to have a degree in Hindi from the Delhi University, can she? Misleading people on degrees and pedigrees may be unimportant. However, when you deliberately ignore published facts and evidence on matters concerning the defence establishment and security matters of India and impinge on the sentiments and morale of soldiers at the front, playing with the truth becomes unforgivable. Everyone heard you make accusations about Rs 3,000 crore worth of scams in defence purchases. Since the Raksha Mantri was allowed by the Opposition to be heard on that occasion after 22 months, the whole country listened to his reply carefully. In case you did not understand what was said, I repeat it here. Since there were no specific instances or evidence offered by you in the way of scams, no specific responses or clarifications could be given to such a wild and general accusation. So he said: "Mujhe khareedne wala admi abhi tak paida nahin hua hai." This means that there is no man born yet on earth who can purchase him, that is, shake his integrity. Rhetorical, maybe, but categorical in his rejection of your contention. To finally nail the lie on the "coffin" matter, he did go into the fine details of its history, the total worth of the order for the reusable caskets and the sequence of events that has held up their use till today. These facts have all been published, yet you still make it an issue. You prefer no one should know that: a) The caskets were first identified and proposed for purchase in 1995 when the Congress was in power and you were not in politics; cool.gif They were ordered by the Army from the same supplier who gives them to the US Army at a higher cost; c) A typo or error of understanding caused the specifications to be written by the Army as 18 kg instead of 18 gauge, so when the caskets arrived weighing 55 kg they were promptly rejected. A foolish set of mistakes, if you ask me. But no one can see why Mr Fernandes has to be crucified for "drinking the blood of martyred soldiers", when he does not even come into the loop when orders are placed for amounts under Rs 5 crore in the Defence Ministry. It is secondary that these caskets, which can be reused for 30 years, were not ordered against the backdrop of the Kargil war. There is nothing wrong in challenging the CAG's contentions publicly with a view to correct wrong impressions, especially if sentiments about blood and martyrs are being bandied about using his document. The Raksha Mantri challenged you in Parliament to furnish proof to support your accusations by 6 pm the next day or apologise to the nation. The nation saw you do neither. Shouting "Sharmnaak!" and misleading the public about the caskets for the martyrs affects India much more than misinformation about your educational history. As for your belief that the ruling establishment is afraid of you, here is a story: Ek gilehri ne haathi ke upar chadh kar usko takleef pahunchane ke liye chhedkhani aur badmaashi kari. Haathi ko kuch nahin pata chala. Achanak haathi zor se cheekha, jaise veh kabhi kabhi karte hain. Gilehri ati prasann hui aur apni takat ka garv karte hue usne haathi se poochha: "Kya aapko zyaada dard to nahin ho raha hai?" If you ask your colleague Salman Khurshid, who made a public speech about ants and elephants in Uttar Pradesh politics, he might explain the meaning of this story to you. ----------- Are there any serious candidates for PMs post if BJP/NDA doesn't make it next year sad.gif Surely in a country of one billion there are people better than this Sonia who's only qualification seems to be the 'Gandhi' last name.
Posted by: fanne Sep 26 2003, 11:28 AM
The Kamasutra of Secularism Guys, I am not a great writer and hate writing long articles. But I think I have been quiet perspective in my life (I have few ‘things’ to prove this assertion). I have been chewing on this secularism business (In India) for long and here are some random thoughts. If anyone of you people find this offensive, please let me know and I shall edit it, but as I would say, this not being any other forum, tolerate my view and if you disagree write a counter argument. Keep in mind that these are generalizations and from each of these groups you have people who are very pro-india Random thoughts 1. Most English paper publishes ‘secular’ news. Which means that most thing Hindu are bad and anything otherwise is good. 2. You will find Bengalis (and nothing against them, you have an Arindam to show that there are many patriotic Bengalis around), be it in Media or Academia or Politics very pseudo-secular. I believe Communist party being in Power in WB has to do a lot with it. When India exploded the Shakti Series of bombs, there was a big sign in protest at IISc in Banglore, 90% of signatories were Bengalis. If you see most of the Academia in US of Indian origin, against IDRF are Bengalis 3. You will also find many Tamils (Is it because of Dravidian movement) which is deep into P-sec business 4. You will find many Punjabi Hindus into this P-sec business 5. CPI(M) and CPI openly professes that Majority Communalism is bad while Minority is OK. (There logic being that Maj Com is more dangerous). This statement is article of faith for Psecs. This assertion has never been analyzed, discussed or debated. Every discussion you will have with a communist would finally boil down to this and then you can go no further 6. As casts, I have found Brahmins to be more P-secs than anyone. Is it that they have more visibility in opinion making or is it that finally Maculay has succeeded? 7. Some Christians/Muslims editors of Indian Newspaper are violently anti-Hindu. Few have that slant and it is very subtle. 8. Most History/Social department in India are P-sec 9. Beaurocrats/Judges that fall within the above categories are more likely to go out of their way to pass stricture that are against Hindu interest. 10. Of course political parties, we know where they stand 11. Most NGO’s that are foreign funded (but run by Indians) are more likely P-sec 12. Having read in a convent school and visited many I will club them of being very derisive of Indian/Hindu culture. 13. Muslims (The elites) have a very dim views of the natives 14. Indian Movies having certain directors/actors somewhere show a bias that is very anti Hindu (though most of the time it’s correct, but these movies then never show shortcoming of certain other religions) Now attack them if it is incorrect. If it is correct, please show more more proof and if you understand the reason, please tell me why is it this way. Lastly how can this be changed.
Posted by: fanne Sep 26 2003, 12:01 PM
And guys don't take it in a different way. When I have generelized, it doesn't mean everyone from that community is involved, and in most cases the staunchest critics of these people are from the same group/community etc. rgds, fanne
Posted by: acharya Sep 26 2003, 02:23 PM
Muslim League demands separate electorate August 6, 2003 *Syed Shahabuddin, for example, was honest enough to write in 2002 that Muslim Indians will "not accept a trade-off between identity and development". *It is this pusillanimity of India's liberal- secularist elite that emboldened the Muslim League's G.M. Banatwala to move a private member' s bill in the Lok Sabha on July 25 seeking separate electorates for minorities. Though visibly embarrassed, the 'secular parties' shied away from attacking the divisive proposal frontally. Hindustan times Ghetto blaster Swapan Dasgupta August 4 If the legal debate over the non- implementation of a uniform civil code is instructive, far more revealing is what the controversy tells us of the state of Indian politics. In particular, it exposes the fragility of what constitutes the liberal-secularist consensus and its craven willingness to play courtier to the most regressive forces in public life. Additionally, it is another case study of how a determined minority can successfully impose its veto on India's evolution as a just, equitable and modern society. The manner in which the skirmishes over the uniform civil code have played out since the Shah Bano judgment is well-known. First, an exasperated Supreme Court reminds the political class of the unfulfilled Article 44 in cases where iniquitous personal laws are used as cover for blatantly unjust practices. Second, the BJP - the only major party to be officially committed to a uniform civil code - cites the court judgment to press a political point. This in turn propels the 'secular forces' to respond that the time is inopportune and that the demand for change must come from 'within' the religious communities. Finally, the secularists are complemented by theological bodies such as the Muslim Personal Law Board that asserts the separate personal laws are a badge of religious identity and cannot be compromised. Syed Shahabuddin, for example, was honest enough to write in 2002 that Muslim Indians will "not accept a trade-off between identity and development". The latest debate - which followed a Supreme Court judgment on a matter of succession involving Christians - has witnessed a new twist to the tale. The theological bodies have, by and large, abstained from what appears to be a one-sided battle against Chief Justice V.N. Khare's espousal of 'national integration'. Leading the charge against a uniform civil code are stalwarts of the liberal-secularist establishment. Today, they constitute the new praetorian guard of the religious orthodoxy and separatists. The new arguments proffered against any attempt to legislate a uniform civil code combine the worst facets of political correctness and electoral expediency. Packaged in the language of trendy sociology, they prescribe the institutionalisation of a minority political veto to derail the emergence of a composite, modern Indian identity. Like the Islamist terrorists who found unlikely allies in the peaceniks in the western democracies, the backward-looking custodians of minority ghettos have been conferred respectability by the liberal-secularist establishment. Bodies like the Muslim Personal Law Board don't need to react; their job is being more effectively done by those who flaunt the tag of progressive, non-sectarian politics. To begin with, the goal of national integration that motivated the stalwarts of the Constituent Assembly into wishing a uniform civil code has been peremptorily contested. Under the cover of promoting diversity, the crucial distinction between rituals and rights has been submerged. Uniformity and, by implication, equality in the eyes of law has been sought to be equated with common cultural practices. This is a specious and alarmist argument and about as ridiculous as the belief that membership of the WTO will make the consumption of hamburgers obligatory for Indians. A uniform civil code will not undermine a marriage solemnised in a mosque or before a maulvi. It will merely ensure that any possible separation and future inheritance will be governed by the same laws as applicable to those who got married in a temple or - as a latest fad suggests - underwater. In short, a uniform civil code will ensure that laws are secularised and made pan-Indian. Secondly, a uniform civil code has been opposed on the ground that the timing is inopportune. It has been held, particularly by the Left, that in an environment of Hindu-Muslim polarisation on issues such as Ayodhya and the Gujarat riots, the minorities will be loath to accept any initiative of a BJP-led government in good faith. The implication is that the principle of justice for all has to await a day minorities feel secure and get a government they desire, not one resulting from a collective choice of all communities. This is a dangerous argument and suggests a total contempt for the ground rules of democracy. Imagine the outcry if some saffron-robed sadhu declared his unwillingness to obey a law in West Bengal because it was enacted by a party of unbelievers. Yet, this brazen declaration of apartheid - in effect, it questions the legitimacy of a democratically-elected government - has been meekly stomached. It is this pusillanimity of India's liberal-secularist elite that emboldened the Muslim League's G.M. Banatwala to move a private member's bill in the Lok Sabha on July 25 seeking separate electorates for minorities. Though visibly embarrassed, the 'secular parties' shied away from attacking the divisive proposal frontally. Finally, it has been suggested that the issue is essentially one of ensuring gender justice, a problem that affects all communities in India. Therefore, rather than attempt something that fails to pass political muster, it would be prudent to focus energies on securing women's rights in all the separate personal laws. On the face of it, this seems a compelling argument, one which addresses the central issue of equity and justice without getting embroiled in the sloganeering that accompanies a uniform code proposal. Taking heart from recent court judgments, legal experts believe that by a process of creeping encroachment the provisions of Articles 13, 14 and 21 can be used to mitigate some of the more antediluvian features of the different personal laws. The problem with this well-meaning gradualist approach is that it skirts the key reason why India needs a uniform civil code. It is indeed possible that judicial intervention will ensure more equitable treatment for the vast majority of Indian women who happen to come under the sway of Hindu, Christian and Parsi personal laws. Despite odd imperfections -and an unwarranted tax haven provided by the Hindu Undivided Family cover -these laws correspond to modern norms and prevailing standards of ethics. The Christian and Parsi personal laws have only recently been updated following a wide process of consultation involving both clergy and laity. Tragically, no such changes have taken place in Muslim personal laws. Ever since the Muslim League negotiated the 1937 Shariat Act to forge a political community to act as a counterweight to the Congress, Muslim personal laws have remained by and large frozen in time. Even the codification that was promised during the passage of Rajiv Gandhi's Muslim Women's Bill of 1986 has never been seriously attempted. Nor for that matter has there been any sustained initiative by India's lawmakers to address the disabilities of Muslim women that flow from the provisions of poly-gamy, triple talaq and maintenance. The Waqf Boards which have responsibility for destitute Muslim women beyond the 100-day iddat period have, for example, never bothered to address the problem, despite an abundance of resources. Instead, a self- perpetuating Muslim Personal Law Board (created in 1972 by the Deobandi ulema) has used the regressive laws to foster backwardness and emotional separatism. The 'gender issue' in abstraction is a red herring in the uniform civil code debate. At the core is a problem of Muslims, particularly Muslim women. The Muslim personal laws that operate in India violate the tenets of human rights and justice. They are not laws that impact on the ritual practices and core beliefs of the faith - many Muslim countries have enacted progressive legislation which hardly makes their citizens guilty of apostasy. This blot on Indian jurisprudence has to be removed. Yet, the political numbers game argues against the possibility of a uniform code being enacted in the short-term. Is that an excuse for doing nothing and allowing a caricature of Muslim intransigence becoming bazaar wisdom? It's time the BJP recognises that the road to the fulfilment of Article 44 will be marked by temporary halts. The first objective of the government should be giving the hapless Muslim women immediate relief. That involves amending the existing gamut of personal laws - including outlawing polygamy and peremptory divorce - to bring them on par with the Special Marriages Act. The problem of separateness will not be addressed but at least a measure of equality and justice will have been guaranteed. Such legislation will be in keeping with the spirit, if not the letter, of the Constitution's Directive Principles. The liberal-secularist classes have spouted progressive rhetoric, even as they play retainer to those who ensure bloc votes during elections. It is time their bluff was called.
Posted by: acharya Sep 26 2003, 02:27 PM
Muslim demands - Pre- and post-partition -From Dr. Ambedkar's book, "Pakistan or the partition of India" - - - Muslim behavior in residual India regarding cow slaughter, vandemataram, Urdu, Muslim personal Law are IDENTICAL to Jinnahs demands. In addition take a look at the muslim obstinacy on Ayodhya etc. Here they are demanding return of Sahidganj mosque (taken over during sikh rule). - - - But these demands have come to the surface in the correspondence that passed between Pandit Nehru and Mr. Jinnah in the course of the controversy and they have been tabulated by Pandit Nehru in one of his letters to Mr. Jinnah. His tabulation gives the following items as being matters of disputes and requiring settlement 33 [f.33]: (1) The fourteen points formulated by the Muslim League in 1929. (2) The Congress should withdraw all opposition to the Communal Award and should not describe it as a negation of nationalism. (3) The share of the Muslims in the state services should be definitely fixed in the constitution by statutory enactment. (4) Muslim personal law and culture should be guaranteed by statute. (5) The Congress should take in hand the agitation in connection with the Sahidganj Mosque and should use its moral pressure to enable the Muslims to gain possession of the Mosque. (6) The Muslims' right to call Azan and perform their religious ceremonies should not be fettered in any way. (7) Muslims should have freedom to perform cow- slaughter. (8) Muslim majorities in the Provinces, where such majorities exist at present, must not be affected by any territorial re-distribution or adjustments. (9) The ' Bande Mataram' song should be given up. (10) Muslims want Urdu to be the national language of India and they desire to have statutory guarantees that the use of Urdu shall not be curtailed or damaged. (11) Muslim representation in the local bodies should be governed by the principles underlying the Communal Award, that is, separate electorates and population strength. (12) The tricolour flag should be changed or alternately the flag of the Muslim League should be given equal importance. (13) Recognition of the Muslim League as the one authoritative and representative organization of Indian Muslims. (14) Coalition Ministries should be formed.
Posted by: Mudy Sep 27 2003, 12:45 PM
After reading above I am happy we are seperate nation. Muslim league objective was to continue Muhgal/Muslim rule in free India.
Posted by: muddur Sep 27 2003, 11:15 PM What according to you would be an ideal solution to the Ayodhya issue? Talekana Krishnadas We are of the view that the best course is through negotiations between both the communities or through a court verdict. Any delay in not resolving this long-pending dispute is not in the interest of the country. After the ASI report, the claims of the majority community for building the Ram temple has gained weightage. Under the new evidence and circumstances arising out of the ASI report, it is desirable that related parties should leave aside their prejudices and narrow political gains and come with an open mind for negotiations, which can will help in resolving the dispute in one hour. Another Sir Syed is needed to convince Indian Muslims that politics is not going to benefit them at all, that politics will only divert their attention from the real educational and economic problems... Prof Mukhtar Ali Naqvi Yes, I do agree with you that the political parties, especially those parties which are called the champions of secularism, are exploiting the socio-economic and educational backwardness of the Indian Muslims in a well-planned manner to suit their political agenda. Most of the political parties are not interested in resolving the real problems of the Indian Muslims because of their narrow political gains. The result has been that after Independence if one looks at the ratio of the Muslims in the administration, police, government jobs and representation to the constitutional system of democracy like Parliament or legislative assemblies it’s clear that the numbers have steadily declined or one can say is becoming invisible. On the other hand their population has grown many folds. Thus there is a strong need for a social and educational reform among the Muslim community. I am of the strong belief that this cannot be a cup of tea for political parties. Yes, we do need some one like Sir Syed to start an educational revolution amongst the Muslim community of the country. But I wish to underline a word of caution towards the suspicious and anti-reform role played by the Muslim League and Congress so that the Indian Muslims are deprived of development and remain committed to their political requirements when Sir Syed started his noble revolutionary educational work. Godhra was a heinous crime, no doubt... but on the first week of March last year, when 1000 Muslims were burnt to death in a state ruled by your party, what was going in your mind? Avinash Khare The Godhra incident and (what happened) after that were not only heinous crimes but a blot on humanity. However, one should understand the role of the main opposition parties particularly of Congress after the Godhra happenings in the Parliament and outside Parliament. They never spoke a single word against the Godhra incident and this attitude of theirs angered the majority community of Gujarat. However, we don’t support the view and neither justify that any anger should be converted into violence. I thought BJP would be party with a difference but it now appears you are putting the party above the country.... Venkataraman Yes, we are a party with a difference and are proud that because of our strong nationalist ideologies and commitment towards national interests we stand out differently amongst the other political parties in the country in the current circumstances. Why do you rake up the Ayodhya issue during elections times? Ashwin Digvi We have never treated Ayodhya as an election issue and never want Ayodhya to be an election issue. But, unfortunately, the other political parties, due to their own political agenda during elections, rake up Ayodhya issue thus compelling BJP to give a befitting reply. You should honestly judge the role played by the Congress Party — from opening the locks to Shilanyas and from Shilanyas to demolition and after demolition to their Prime Minister announcing from the ramparts of Red Fort about reconstruction of the mosque. Also, Rajiv Gandhi starting his election campaign from the Ayodhya by giving a slogan of ‘‘Ram Rajya’’. Why is the BJP giving you only this ‘Muslim face’ role, while Shahnawaz Hussain enjoys Cabinet power? Varkey Thottathil We are all party soldiers and we all perform different responsibilities assigned by the party with full dedication and commitment. People are fed up with agendas like Ayodhya... What’s the BJP’s plan to fight terrorism? Vipul Patel One should not relate Ayodhya to terrorism. Ayodhya is a matter of faith and terrorism is an issue of destruction of country. While the world is facing the wrath of terrorism now and particularly after 9/11 the US and EU countries have realised the danger of terrorism where as India had been facing it for over two decades. Despite their efforts, terrorist organisations have never succeeded in making a centre in India. One can say that their nefarious designs to have a safe heaven on Indian soil has been crushed. From Parliament to Akshardham we have crushed all their challenges and given a befitting reply to the terrorist outfits and their sponsorers. You are considered as the Muslim voice of BJP... do you think you have represented the Muslim voice in the right direction? Zamir After Independence, people of India rejected parties like Muslim League and Hindu Mahasabha since they did not want to be related to politics on the basis of Muslim or Hindu voices. Now the need is of a nationalist voice in both the communities which can help in the over all growth of the country. Of course, my sincere and honest endeavour would always be to work towards the socio-economic and educational upliftment of the Indian Muslims. I feel that these are the real issues of the community, which can help them to join the mainstream of progress of the country.
Posted by: Kaushal Sep 28 2003, 06:38 AM
Comment on Kamasutra of Secularism As a general rule one must be careful in applying inductive logic (going from the particular to the general, from anecdotal evidence to generalizations) as opposed to deductive logic (A implies B, B implies C, therefore A implies C)in order to arrive at conclusions. Mathematical probability and statistics is a precise way of making such generalizations. IOW, a correct way of making a inductive inference is to do so using probability , e.g. there is a thirty percent chance that a Bengali is a communist. Intuition is not sufficient to make generalizations. There are also faulty examples of inductive logic. For example to say that most terrorists in the world today are muslims and therefore most muslims are terrrorists is not correct. In the same way to say that(for example) most communists in India are Bengalis does not necessarily mean that most Bengalis are communists(even in the state of WB). In the case of secularism in India the situation is more complex. The process of Macaulayization (switching to a English medium education at the expense of the native language and Sanskrit) had a longer history in Bengal and Madras presidencies. It is natural that these states (Bombay became a presidency - a British ruled state - much later) have had a higher proportion of English educated individuals who are more prone to think like a Brit. This is not surprising since that was the express aim of Macaulay when he introduced english medium instruction in India in his famous minute. As a general rule wherever there is a higher proportion of english (only) educated folks the degree and extent of secularism has been higher That is one reason why there may be a preponderance of Bengalis and perhaps tamilians (although i am not sure either of these statistics is true today)who have adopted secularism as their defining dogma. My suspicion is that the proportion of secularists among predominantly english educated persons is no different in these two groups than the general population. It is possible however,that the proportion of english educated persons (in these 2 groups) is higher than the rest of India. The situation is similar in the case of Brahmanas. Brahmanas (and Kshatriyas) were the first to adopt english medium instruction. Those among them that simultaneously abandoned native language education or were made to by the actions of their parents, were prone to secularist dogma. Nehru was of course a perfect example. acharya has made an indepth study of the reasons why the Brits consciously set out to remake the thought processes of the Indian and i believe he has started a thread in the Indian History and culture forum. Interestingly and perhaps not surprisingly, one of the communities that has been least influenced by Secularist dogma has been the Muslim community. It is one thing for them to lambast the Hindus for their lack of secularist principle, but it is rare to find a genuine secularist among the Muslims, and in fact the percentage of secularists among Muslims remains small even today. Of course the communists never direct their ire against the Muslims, since their sole aim is to drive a wedge between the 2 communities, so that they will emerge victorious as they have done in WB. In reality the subject of secularism and its growth in India is a complex subject, and it is high time the country had a full fledged debate along the lines that i have suggested in the thread on 'secularism and communalism' - see my post dated Sep 24 2003, 08:39 PM in that thread. In fact i suggest the 2 threads be merged.
Posted by: Mudy Sep 28 2003, 01:09 PM
Kaushal, I am unable to locate Secularism and Communalism thread. Is it possible to repost articles.
Posted by: Kaushal Sep 28 2003, 03:08 PM
Mudy, the thread is actually called Political debates, but underneath it says 'secular and communalism'. It is in the same forum as this one.
Posted by: Kaushal Sep 28 2003, 03:19 PM
from post by acharya Sep 27 2003, 02:53 AM in this thread
*It is this pusillanimity of India's liberal- secularist elite that emboldened the Muslim League's G.M. Banatwala to move a private member' s bill in the Lok Sabha on July 25 seeking separate electorates for minorities. Though visibly embarrassed, the 'secular parties' shied away from attacking the divisive proposal frontally.
This simply reinforces my contention that the vast majority of IM do not subscribe to secularism (among which is the injunction is that all religions should be treated equally and that people should respect the adherents of other religions). They do not have the slightest intention of being treated equally, which is why they are asking for separate electorates. Of course Congress fought tooth and nail against separate electorates before independence. I wonder what their response is this time. My suspicion is after much hemming and hawing they will agree to this demand, which is the kiss of death for the Republic that is the Union of India.
Posted by: muddur Sep 29 2003, 02:37 PM
I don't know if we need to discuss UCC with this thread. But I am posting it for now, unless we need to discuss UCC independently. Uniform Civil Code essential: Kalam Chandigarh: President APJ Abdul Kalam said the uniform civil code was essential for a country like India with a billion people as any law has to be uniformly applicable. The Presidents comments on the uniform civil code came during an interactive session with school children in Chandigarh on Monday. Stressing on the need to make India a developed nation by 2020, he hailed the launch of INSAT-3E on Sunday as another milestone in the country's space communication. He said India's moon mission and mars exploration would be another area where success would be achieved. "We have to make India economically strong, technologically advanced and prosperous," Kalam said. Asked what was the most important thing that would help India earn a place among the worlds developed countries, he said education for all and employment generation were the key factors. "Education, particularly girls education, is very important We must also generate employment for several of our unemployed. I believe these are the two most important factors," he said. The cost of education has to come down to make it affordable for all, the President said. On the reservation policy, he explained to the students, drawn from 120 schools in the Union Territory, that in the Constitution there is a provision that certain people need help. However, he said "I believe in due course of time merit will have to play an important role."
Posted by: muddur Oct 1 2003, 12:39 PM By François Gautier Tuesday, 30 September , 2003, 12:24 When James Lyngdoh, Chief Election Commissioner of India, won on July 30 the Ramon Magsaysay Award, Asia's equivalent of the Nobel Prize, he did proud to his country. After all, had he not defied Government pressure for an early election in riot- torn Gujarat and overseen fair polls in Kashmir ? Most western correspondents applauded the prize. Business Week wrote: “In spite of the sweep of the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party's ‘fundamentalist’ candidates in the riot-torn state of Gujarat in December, Mr Lyngdoh is being recognised for his convincing validation of free and fair elections as the foundation and best hope of secular democracy in strife-torn India." As the Assembly elections are nearing in Delhi, MP, Rajasthan, Chattisgarh and Mizoram, another western correspondent has remarked that “Lyngdoh rose from relative anonymity in 2002 when he rejected the ruling ‘Hindu nationalists' plans for a snap poll in Gujarat, where more than 1,000 people died in Hindu-Muslim bloodshed, on security grounds. The move prompted bitter and sometimes personal criticism of Lyngdoh, a Christian, by Hindu hardliners”. The words ‘Christian’ and ‘Hindu hardliners’ make me cringe and prompt me to take a closer look at his credentials. Is Lyngdoh’s prime value the fact that he is a Christian, with qualities of honesty and fairness, which are much superior to Hindus, who have a tendency to be ‘fundamentalists’? Is this why the Ramon Magsaysay award, a Christian prize, awarded by a Christian country (the Philippines), was given to him? I am born a Christian and was brought–up on the values of Christianity: love compassion for the others, charity… At the same time, my 34 years in India have told me that you cannot find in the world a people, the Hindus, who are more tolerant of others, who accept the fact that God can be Krishna, Christ, Buddha or Mohamed. I also know that Christians still believe, today in the 21st century, which should be the century of acceptance of others, that Christ is the only true son of God and that all other beliefs – particularly those of the Hindus, who adore a multitude of ‘heathen’ Gods, are false. This is why Christian missionaries are still at it in India, converting thousands of innocent tribals and Harijans, with the millions of dollars that gullible westerners donate, so as to ‘alleviate poverty in the Third World’. There is no doubt that James Lyngdoh is an upright honest man, who is trying to discharge his duty as best as he deems it possible. After all, Christians missionaries, whatever you can say about them, are doing service to the poorest of the poor, whereas one of the curses of this country is that many rich Hindus do not look after their less fortunate Hindu brethren, leaving hereby the space to Christian missionnaries. But the question which must be asked to Lyngdoh is this one: Does he also think that Jesus Christ is the only saviour? If he does, that could explain the fact that he delayed elections in Gujarat, a State which, whatever happened during the recent riots, has a long tradition of democracy and tolerance - while allowing them immediately in Kashmir, a region where 3,50,000 Hindus have been forced to flee through terror, for no fault of them and which has seen terrible strife in the past 15 years, without speaking of the centuries of terrible oppression upon Hindus by Muslim rulers. Could it also explain suspicions of a favourable bias towards Sonia Gandhi, she being also a Christian, thus possessing the same qualities of inborn fairness and secularism, which might save India from the ‘pagan fundamentalist’ Hindus ? Don’t laugh: I see many western correspondents who honestly think that Sonia Gandhi is the sane, balanced ‘civilised’ solution to an 'uncivilised Hindu India' (this is what Jean Leclerc du Sablon wrote once in Le Figaro)… Lyngdoh, thanks in greater part to the redoubtable T N Sheshan, possesses today a lot of power and does Indian Christians proud. Here in India, I often hear that Christians only comprise two percent of the population and that their impact on Indian life is thus minimal. I am not so sure about that. If you cross Bangalore for instance, you will realise that the primmest property is in the hands of churches, although they have minimal attendance in comparison with temples or mosques. The same is valid in many cities of India, where you find that churches, presbyteries and Christian schools, sit tauntingly in the best places, thanks to British colonial favours. But above all, Christians still control to a large extent the best colleges in this country and thus shape the minds of the future elite of India in a thousand subtle ways, which are not always discernible. Many of the schools of journalism in India are also controlled by Christians and produce good Christian journalists, who unfortunately sometimes use the power of the pen for a certain anti-Hindu slant (there are, of course, notable and brilliant exceptions such as T R Shenoy). As a result, the presence of Christians in newspapers is often disproportionate with their numbers. If you take the magazine, The Week for instance and take a close look at their editorial credits on the second page, you will find that out of the 21 senior editors, 14 are Christians. Wow, that’s 75 percent! It would be impossible in my country, which is predominantly Catholic, to have a mainstream national magazine with 75 percent Hindus or even Muslims, although the French have also a 10 to 12 percent Muslim minority! It reminds me also of the time when I used to write a column for The Indian Express (the Ferengi’s column). A Christian, A J Philip (no longer with Express), was then in charge of the edit page and invariably, he would censor a little bit my columns, taking out a word, a phrase here and there and sometimes, when he very strongly disagreed (with Pamela Philipose, another Christian in Express), he would not publish it a all. I stopped after some time, when I discovered that the editor, Shekhar Gupta, sided with them. The Graham Staines story is also an eloquent testimony of the subtle and not-so-subtle influence that Christians have on this country. The murderer, Dara Singh, has been convicted to death. His was a horrible deed: to burn a man and his innocent children does deserve the capital punishment. Justice is thus done and the entire press - Indian and foreign - rightly rejoiced. But one may ask this question: What happens to the murderers of thousands of innocent Hindus who have been burnt, lacerated, bombed, raped, their eyes gauged, their homes ransacked? Why don’t their widows get the same sympathy as Mrs Staines? Because they are brown and Hindus and Mrs Staines is white and Christian? Don’t dismiss this again lightly: I remember a few days after Graham Staines was killed, 14 Hindu labourers were murdered in Himachal Pradesh by Muslims separatists. The entire English speaking Indian press devoted page after page of outrage on the killing of Staines, but the murder of the Hindus in HP only warranted a few lines in most newspapers without condemnation. I can understand that Western correspondents based in India show such a slant – even if it does not speak much for their fairness – but Indian journalists, most of them Hindus at that! And if Lyngdoh was really fair, he would have seen to it that the NDTV of Prannoy Roy and Rajdeep Sardesai, two brilliant journalists no doubt, was brought to the book for inflaming communal passions during Gujurat riots by constantly showing burnt people and broken bodies. In my country, France which is truly secular in the sense that the State and the Church are separated, because at some point the Church controlled enormous amount of land and political power, I doubt that a non-Catholic could become Election Commissioner (a post which does not exist anyway). It is a tribute to India’s openness and liberalism that a Christian holds that post, and that a Muslim is President of India at the moment, although Christians and Muslims often complain that they are discriminated against in India. Recently, French President Jacques Chirac asked every Frenchman, specially the French Muslims, ‘to be French first and Muslims second’. In India, one often finds that people put their religion before their nationality, particularly the Muslims and to a lesser degree the Christians. So Lyngdoh, are you a Christian and then an Indian? An Indian and then a Christian? Or simply an Indian? (François Gautier is a French journalist and writer, who was for eight years the political correspondent in India and South Asia for 'Le Figaro' and now works for Ouest-France, the largest circulation daily (I million copies) in France and LCI, France's 24 hour TV news channel. He has written several books prominent among them being 'Arise O India' and 'A Western journalist on India' and 'India's Self Denial.
Posted by: Kaushal Oct 2 2003, 07:21 AM
crossposted from HICAD NEW DELHI: There is no such thing as a fundamental right to convert any person to one's own religion, and the government can impose certain restrictions keeping in view public order, the Supreme Court has ruled. The court's ruling came while dismissing a petition challenging an Orissa law requiring police verification of all religious conversions. Citing the SC's landmark 1977 ruling in Rev. Stanislaus vs Madhya Pradesh, a Bench of Chief Justice V N Khare and Justice S B Sinha said that "what is freedom for one is freedom for the other, in equal measure." At dispute was a 1999 provision added to the Orissa Freedom of Religion Act, 1967, stipulating that a person wanting to convert to a particular religion must make a personal declaration which would be verified by the police also. Petitioner's counsel Janardhan Das said this provision was unwarranted as it makes a person wanting to convert to a religion of his choice a suspect in the eyes of law. As early as 1976, the Orissa High Court had struck down as unconstitutional the Orissa Act. It quashed all criminal proceedings against those who were alleged to have resorted to conversion through inducement or by "force" or "fraud." It had also held that the Act violated Article 25 (1) of the Constitution which guarantees propagation of religion and conversion -- something the petitioners had argued "is a part of the Christian religion." On appeal, however, the SC in 1977 overturned the decision. Recalling that judgment by a Constitution Bench headed by the then Chief Justice A N Ray, the apex court said on Tuesday: "What Article 25(1) grants is not the right to convert another person to one's own religion, but to transmit or spread one's religion by an exposition of its tenets." Thus, the court said, it must be remembered that Article 25(1) guarantees "freedom of conscience to every citizen, and not merely to the followers of one particular religion." It said: "The Article postulates that there is no fundamental right to convert another person to one's own religion because if a person purposely undertakes the conversion of another person to his religion, that would impinge on the freedom of conscience guaranteed to all the citizens of the country alike." VedPChaudhary Ved P. Chaudhary, Ph.D. President - HICAD Hindu International Council Against Defamation A non-profit 501©(3) Civil Rights Organization Dedicated to Removing Prejudice against Indic Traditions and Promoting Diversity, Pluralism and Tolerance
Posted by: rajesh_g Oct 2 2003, 03:44 PM
Mr. Frattini said secularism was a principle underlying political institutions. "A reference to the Christian tradition is a historical value uniting all the European peoples."
Posted by: acharya Oct 2 2003, 06:55 PM
Justice in a secular society By Rajeev Dhavan Confronted with communal terrorism from within, India's justice system is in danger of losing its secular soul. JUSTICE IN a secular society can be neither blind nor blindfolded. The slovenly breakdown of India's legal system has produced amazing ironies. After the Bhopal gas tragedy, the Government of India hired the American `India' expert, Marc Galanter, to file an affidavit in New York that India's civil justice system could not deliver justice to the victims. Subsequent events have made this startlingly amazing confession mild by comparison. In 2000-01, Nadeem who took refuge in London from being tried in the Gulshan Kumar murder case almost succeeded in convincing the British courts that a Muslim could not get justice in India. He escaped extradition because the case against him was not credible. On July 15, 2003, Abu Salem who was wanted in the Bombay blast cases of 1992 pleaded before a Portuguese court that he would be victimised by Indian courts because he belonged to the minority community. If this plea succeeds — as it nearly did in Nadeem's case — India's criminal system will suffer yet another shameful reprimand. On September 13, 2003, a dramatic confrontation was reported. B.N. Kirpal, former Chief Justice of India, offered expert testimony for a Japanese company that its case should be heard in New York and not New Delhi. On the other side was A.M. Ahmadi, another former CJI, who refuted Mr. Kirpal's depressing but accurate prediction that the case in India would take 20 years, to counter predict that a case in Delhi would take one year. The former CJIs sparred with each other in a foreign jurisdiction to denigrate or defend India's justice system. Earlier in 2000-01, S.P. Bharucha, another former CJI, made an oft-quoted remark that 20 per cent of the Indian judiciary (that is 1 in every 5 judges) was corrupt. In response all kinds of solutions have been offered: fast track courts, summary procedures, draconian anti-terrorist legislation like POTA and the Malimath Committee proposals for adopting a brand new criminal justice system. While we grope for a solution, the justice system declines in credibility to produce strange dichotomies. Its Supreme Court and some High Courts enjoy an enviable international reputation for imagination and courage. The rest of the justice system lapses into disrepair. What are we to make of all this? Is the system just over-burdened? Does the answer lie in pumping in more resources? Or in restyling procedures? This is what successive Governments, Law Commissions or specialist committees say. But while more resources and more courts may change things a bit, there are new challenges, which pose threats that go to the root of governance. There are very severe indictments that India's justice system is class-based, communal, anti-women, anti-Dalits and the oppressed. Cases of Dalit and tribal oppression are on the rise. Violence against women goes unpunished. The minorities are scared that they will not only not get justice, but will also be brutalised. Beyond equality before the law lies equality of treatment and an equality of expectation. A multi-cultural secular state needs to view justice in terms of the confidence it inspires. Following the anti-Sikh riots of 1984 and the destruction of the Babri Masjid in 1992, the crisis of confidence in India's justice system has deepened — all the more so after reviews of the working of the anti-terrorist legislation (TADA and POTA) have shown that these measures were wilfully used against the minorities. In 2003, we witness remarkable contrasts, which present the `communal' crisis confronting justice. At the end of June 2003, the judgment in the Best Bakery case produced the worst of justice. The judgment is a tour de force of strange insights wholly out of place in a criminal case. The National Human Rights Commission had to take the case to the Supreme Court because the Gujarat Government failed to move on incontrovertible indications that the Muslim witnesses were threatened into submission. In the Supreme Court, the Chief Justice, V.N. Khare, was forcefully forthright in exposing the rotten state of affairs. Tenaciously getting to the truth, he condemned the Gujarat Government for its inaction asking it to quit if it could not govern fairly. On September 19, 2003, the Chief Justice went further to record the statement of the State's Director-General of Police that the Best Bakery casewitnesses had been "won over" to expose the worst endemic tendencies in which communal injustice in India is enmeshed. What the Supreme Court proceedings have done is to restore confidence that the Indian justice system has the capacity to correct itself in communal cases of a failure of justice. As if to reinforce the confidence, on September 22, 2003, a trial court in Orissa sentenced Dara Singh to death and 12 persons to life imprisonment for the murder of Graham Staines and his children in 1999. I do not support the death penalty. But the death penalty in this case was consistent with the Supreme Court's principle that it can be imposed in the "rarest of rare" case of extreme depravity. But what astounds is Dara Singh's decision that he will not appeal, and face the gallows to become a "martyr" in the cause of communal killing. He does so on the confident assumption that there are many who regard his cowardly killing as an act of `Hindu' heroism. Behind the face of `secular' justice lurks a frightening monster, which exalts communalism as an act of grace. The third major recent case is that of the Babri Masjid demolition, in which several BJP leaders were charged by the Rae Bareli court for various offences connected with the destruction of the mosque in 1992. But the Deputy Prime Minister, L.K. Advani, was let off because of some evidence that he might have tried to restrain the miscreants. But surely this was a matter for trial. Mr. Advani was on the same terrace as the others. Having arrived there after several provocative `rath yatras' (celebratory processions), his segregation into innocence required a probe through a trial. But instead of representing the triumph of secular justice, the case was twisted into political controversy. The Law Minister, Arun Jaitley, treated the destruction of the mosque as a political case concerned with public order offences. Murli Manohar Joshi resigned from the ministerial post but with equivocal party political results. Mr. Joshi's judicial appeal threatened Mr. Advani by claiming similarities with the latter. What should have been an occasion for reinforcing secular justice was converted by the BJP in power and its other supporters into a tamasha (spectacle). It seems amazing that those who rule India seem to make a virtue of communal atrocity. Surely, the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) should appeal Mr. Advani's case to obviate the charge that political pressure has elevated India's Deputy Prime Minister above the law. Even more ironical is Mr. Advani's, Mr. Joshi's and others' plea of innocence of a crime they make political capital of. Surely they should declare that they had nothing to do with the destruction of the Masjid, and that they disapprove of the destruction and support making amends by re-building the mosque. But the BJP White Paper on Ayodhya (1993) gives a truer picture of the hate underlying this wanton act. What do we make of a system of governance in which the top leaders who run India take a silent pride in communal destruction, treat — as Mr. Jaitley does — the 1992 event, which shattered peoples' faith in Indian secularism, as a public order problem and are unable to publicly apologise for this act while they profess their innocence. Poor management, delays and insufficient resources are not the only things wrong with India's system. There is something more that robs the system of its credibility and legitimacy. There is a declining faith in India's justice system on the part of the minorities and the deprived. When the system succeeds in delivering secular justice, it is mocked at by politicians in positions of power. When the system fails, it shocks to undermine peoples' faith. If India is to stay together, it cannot be a random communal democracy unbounded by the rule of law. Confronted with communal terrorism from within, India's justice system is in danger of losing its secular soul.
Posted by: Kaushal Oct 5 2003, 08:36 AM
QUOTE (rajesh_g @ Oct 3 2003, 04:14 AM)
Mr. Frattini said secularism was a principle underlying political institutions. "A reference to the Christian tradition is a historical value uniting all the European peoples."
Posted by rajesh This is a very interesting quote, especially as it comes from the country of birth of Soniaji. What it says is that reference to Europe's christian roots does not negate the principle of secularism in Europe. In reality of course reference to Christian faith are embedded in the laws and constitutions of many countries in Europe and now there is a proposal to do the same for the constitution of the EU. The question then becomes why not make the same argument for India and accept the Hindu roots and ethos (e.g. Hindutva) of the Indian subcontinent while remaining wedded to the principle of equal treatment of all religions (which is of course not inherent in the Indian version of secularism and is in fact just the opposite).
Posted by: rajesh_g Oct 5 2003, 05:54 PM RSS flays Digvijay Singh for 'supporting' Dalit conversion Press Trust of India Nagpur, October 4 RSS chief K Sudarshan on Saturday denounced Madhay Pradesh Chief Minister Digvijay Singh for his reported call to Dalits for coming out of Hindu fold and converting to Christianity. Addressing RSS cadres in Nagpur, Sudharshan reacted sharply to Digvijay Singh's statement that "unless the Dalits completely come out of Hindu fold, no struggle for emancipation can ever be won. The ideal of Dalit movement should be carried out under the leadership of Christians." The RSS head said, "Some Church-sponsored elements, who had attended the Dalit conference in Bhopal on January 12-13, 2002, have been running a similar campaign for long." It has been their sinister motive to alienate the so-called Dalit section from the Hindu society "so as to facilitate their conversion to Christianity," he said. "What is significant is the open support of Madhya Pradesh government to these elements. It highlights the fact that the government is least bothered about the looming terrible consequences for the society in its petty political gamble for mean electoral gains," he said. Sudarshan also ridiculed the Chief Minister for his knowledge of history with reference to Singh's preface to 'The Strategy for 21st Century to Build Up Future Dalits', published by his government as 'Bhopal Declaration' last year. Singh had claimed in it that "Dalits do not have any written history of theirs. Both Dalits and Vanavasis who together constitute 25 crore of population in the country, are in search of their history." Taking a strong exception, Sudarshan said, he (Singh) should at least know how Rani Durgavati (the Gond queen from the region) had fought Mughals and attained martyrdom?
Posted by: rajesh_g Oct 5 2003, 06:38 PM
Not sure if this is the right place to post this, so admins can move this to some other thread. Its an old interview of Christopher Hitchens - a sulekhite just posted this in the comments section. Has anybody read Hitchens' book ?? For now am posting in full since I am not sure about the reliability of the link but admins may remove the content if its too long.
Free Inquiry: According to polls, Mother Teresa is the most respected woman in the world. Her name is a by-word for selfless dedication in the service of humanity. So why are you picking on this sainted old woman? Christopher Hitchens: Partly because that impression is so widespread. But also because the sheer fact that this is considered unquestionable is a sign of what we are up against, namely the problem of credulity. One of the most salient examples of people's willingness to believe anything if it is garbed in the appearance of holiness is the uncritical acceptance of the idea of Mother Teresa as a saint by people who would normally be thinking - however lazily - in a secular or rational manner. In other words, in every sense it is an unexamined claim. It's unexamined journalistically - no one really takes a look at what she does. And it is unexamined as to why it should be she who is spotlighted as opposed to many very selfless people who devote their lives to the relief of suffering in what we used to call the "Third World." Why is it never mentioned that her stated motive for the work is that of proselytization for religious fundamentalism, for the most extreme interpretation of Catholic doctrine? If you ask most people if they agree with the pope's views on population, for example, they say they think they are rather extreme. Well here's someone whose life's work is the propagation of the most extreme version of that. That's the first motive. The second was a sort of journalistic curiosity as to why it was that no one had asked any serious questions about Mother Teresa's theory or practice. Regarding her practice, I couldn't help but notice that she had rallied to the side of the Duvalier family in Haiti, for instance, that she had taken money - over a million dollars - from Charles Keating, the Lincoln Savings and Loans swindler, even though it had been shown to her that the money was stolen; that she has been an ally of the most reactionary forces in India and in many other countries; that she has campaigned recently to prevent Ireland from ceasing to be the only country in Europe with a constitutional ban on divorce, that her interventions are always timed to assist the most conservative and obscurantist forces. FI: Do you think this is because she is a shrewd political operator or that she is just naïve and used as a tool by others? HITCHENS: I've often been asked that. And I couldn't say from real acquaintance with her which view is correct, because I've only met her once. But from observing her I don't think that she's naïve. I don't think she is particularly intelligent or that she has a complex mind, but I think she has a certain cunning. Her instincts are very good: she seems to know when and where she might be needed and to turn up, still looking very simple. But it's a long way from Calcutta to Port au Prince airport in Haiti, and it's a long way from the airport to the presidential palace. And one can't just, in your humble way and dressed in a simple sari, turn up there. Quite a lot of things have to be arranged and thought about and allowed for in advance. You don't end up suddenly out of sheer simple naïveté giving a speech saying that the Duvalier family love the poor. All of that involves quite a high level of planning and calculation. But I think the genius of it is to make it look simple. One of Mother Teresa's biographers - almost all the books written about her are by completely uncritical devotees - says, with a sense of absolute wonderment, that when Mother Teresa first met the pope in the Vatican, she arrived by bus dressed only in a sari that cost one rupee. Now that would be my definition of behaving ostentatiously. A normal person would put on at least her best scarf and take a taxi. To do it in the way that she did is the reverse of the simple path. It's obviously theatrical and calculated. And yet it is immediately written down as a sign of her utter holiness and devotion. Well, one doesn't have to be too cynical to see through that. FI: You point out that, although she is very open about promoting Catholicism, Mother Teresa has this reputation of holiness amongst many non-Catholics and even secular people. And her reputation is based upon her charitable work for the sick and dying in Calcutta. What does she actually do there? What are her care facilities like? HITCHENS: The care facilities are grotesquely simple: rudimentary, unscientific, miles behind any modern conception of what medical science is supposed to do. There have been a number of articles - I've collected some more since my book came out - about the failure and primitivism of her treatment of lepers and the dying, of her attitude towards medication and prophylaxis. Very rightly is it said that she tends to the dying, because if you were doing anything but dying she hasn't really got much to offer. This is interesting because, first, she only proclaims to be providing people with a Catholic death, and, second, because of the enormous amounts of money mainly donated to rather than raised by her Order. We've been unable to audit this - no one has ever demanded an accounting of how much money has flowed in her direction. With that money she could have built at least one absolutely spanking new, modern teaching hospital in Calcutta without noticing the cost. The facilities she runs are as primitive now as when she first became a celebrity. So that's obviously not where the money goes. FI: How much money do you reckon she receives? HITCHENS: Well, I have the testimony of a former very active member of her Order who worked for her for many years and ended up in the office Mother Teresa maintains in New York City. She was in charge of taking the money to the bank. She estimates that there must be $50 million in that bank account alone. She said that one of the things that began to raise doubts in her mind was that the Sisters always had to go around pretending that they were very poor and they couldn't use the money for anything in the neighborhood that required alleviation. Under the cloak of avowed poverty they were still soliciting donations, labor, food, and so on from local merchants. This she found as a matter of conscience to be offensive. Now if that is the case for one place in New York, and since we know what huge sums she has been given by institutions like the Nobel Peace committee, other religious institutions, secular prize-giving organizations, and so on, we can speculate that if this money was being used for the relief of suffering we would be able to see the effect. FI: So the $50 million is a very small portion of her wealth? HITCHENS: I think it's a very small portion, and we should call for an audit of her organization. She carefully doesn't keep the money in India because the Indian government requires disclosure of foreign missionary organizations funds. I think the answer to questions about her wealth was given by her in an interview where she said she had opened convents and nunneries in 120 countries. The money has simply been used for the greater glory of her order and the building of dogmatic, religious institutions. FI: So she is spending the money on her own order of nuns? And that order will be named after her? HITCHENS: Both of those suggestions are speculation, but they are good speculation. I think the order will be named after her when she becomes a saint, which is also a certainty: she is on the fast track to canonization and would be even if we didn't have a pope who was manufacturing saints by the bushel. He has canonized and beatified more people than eight of his predecessors combined. FI: Hence the title of your book: The Missionary Position. HITCHENS: That has got some people worked up. Of the very, very few people who have reviewed this book in the United States, one or two have objected to that title on the grounds that it's "sophomoric." Well, I think that a triple entendre requires a bit of sophistication. FI: And your television program in the United Kingdom was called "Hell's Angel." HITCHENS: Yes, very much over my objection, because I thought that that name had not even a single entendre to it. I wanted to call it "Sacred Cow." The book is the television program expanded by about a third. The program was limited by what we could find of Mother Teresa's activities recorded on film. In fact, I was delighted by how much of her activity was available on film: for example, her praising the Albanian dictator Enver Hoxha. There is also film of her groveling to the Duvaliers: licking the feet of the rich instead of washing the feet of the poor. But "60 Minutes" demanded a price that was greater than the whole cost of the rest of the production. So we had to use stills. FI: How did Mother Teresa become such a great symbol of charity and saintliness? HITCHENS: Her break into stardom came when Malcolm Muggeridge - a very pious British political and social pundit - adopted her for his pet cause. In 1969, he made a very famous film about her life - and later a book called Something Beautiful for God. Both the book and the film deserve the label hagiography. Muggeridge was so credulous that he actually claimed that a miracle had occurred on camera while he was making the film. He claimed that a mysterious "kindly light" had appeared around Mother Teresa. This claim could easily be exploded by the testimony of the cameraman himself: he had some new film stock produced by Kodak for dark or difficult light conditions. The new stock was used for the interview with Mother Teresa. The light in the film looked rather odd, and the cameraman was just about to say so when Muggeridge broke in and said, "It's a miracle, it's divine light." FI: Are we all victims of the Catholic public relations machine? Or has the West seized upon Mother Teresa as salve for its conscience? HITCHENS: Well, you are giving me my answer in your question. For a long time the church was not quite sure what to do about her. For example, when there was the Second Vatican Council, in the 1960s, there was an equivalent meeting for the Catholics of the Indian subcontinent in Bombay. Mother Teresa turned up and said she was absolutely against any reconsideration of doctrine. She said we don't need any new thinking or reflection, what we need is more work and more faith. So she has been recognized as a difficult and dogmatic woman by the Catholics in India for a long time. I think there were others in the church who suspected she was too ambitious, that she wouldn't accept discipline, that she wanted an order of her own. She was always petitioning to be able to go off and start her own show. Traditionally, the church has tended to suspect that kind of excessive zeal. I think it was an entirely secular breakthrough sponsored by Muggeridge, who wasn't then a Catholic. So it wasn't the result of the propaganda of the Holy Office. But when the Catholic church realized it had a winner on its hands, it was quick to adopt her. She is a very great favorite of the faithful and a very good advertisement to attract non-believers or non-Catholics. And she's very useful for the current pope as a weapon against reformists and challengers within the church. As to why those who would normally consider themselves rationalists or skeptics have fallen for the Mother Teresa myth, I think there is an element of post-colonial condescension involved, in that most people have a slightly bad conscience about "the wretched of the Earth" and they are glad to feel that there are those who will take action. Then also there is the general problem of credulity, of people being willing - once a reputation has been established - to judge people's actions by that reputation instead of the reputation by that action. FI: Why do you think no other major media before you had exposed Mother Teresa? HITCHENS: I'm really surprised by it. And also I'm surprised that no one in our community - that of humanists, rationalists, and atheists - had ever thought of doing it either. There's a laziness in my profession, of tending to make the mistake I just identified of judging people by their reputation. In other words, if you call Saudi Arabia a "moderate Arab state" that's what it becomes for reportorial purposes. It doesn't matter what it does, it's a "moderate state." Similarly for Mother Teresa: she became a symbol for virtue, so even in cartoons, jokes, movies, and television shows, if you want a synonym for selflessness and holiness she is always mentioned. It's inconvenient if someone robs you of a handy metaphor. If you finally printed the truth it would mean admitting that you missed it the first, second, and third time around. I've noticed a strong tendency in my profession for journalists not to like to admit that they ever missed anything or got anything wrong. I think this is partly the reason, although in England my book got quite well reviewed because of the film, in the United States there seems to be the view that this book isn't worth reviewing. And it can't be for the usual reasons that the subject is too arcane and only of minority interest, or that there's not enough name recognition. I believe there's also a version of multi-culturalism involved in this. That is to say, to be a Catholic in America is to be a member of two kinds of community: the communion of believers and the Catholic community, which is understood in a different sense, in other words, large numbers of Irish, Italian, Croatian, and other ethnic groups, who claim to be offended if any of the tenets of their religion are publicly questioned. Thus you are in a row with a community if you choose to question the religion. Under one interpretation of the rules of multi-culturalism that is not kosher: you can't do that because you can't offend people in their dearest identity. There are some secular people who are vulnerable to that very mistake. I'll give you an interesting example, Walter Goodman, the New York Times television critic, saw my film and then wrote that he could not understand why it was not being shown on American television. He laid down a challenge to television to show this film. There was then a long silence until I got a call from Connie Chung's people in New York. They flew me up and said they would like to do a long item about the program, using excerpts from it, interviewing me and talking about the row that had resulted. They obviously wanted to put responsibility for the criticism of Mother Teresa onto me rather than adopt it themselves - they were already planning the damage control. But they didn't make any program. And the reason they gave me was that they thought that if they did they would be accused of being Jewish and attacked in the same way as the distributors of The Last Temptation of Christ had been. And that this would stir up Catholic-Jewish hostility in New York. It was very honest of them to put it that way. They had already imagined what might be said and the form it might take and they had persuaded themselves that it wasn't worth it. FI: So your film has never been shown in the United States? HITCHENS: No, and it certainly never will be. You can make that prediction with absolute certainty; and then you can brood on what that might suggest. FI: What was the response in Britain to your exposé of Mother Teresa? Did you get a lot of criticism for it? HITCHENS: When the film was shown, it prompted the largest number of phone calls that the channel had ever logged. That was expected. It was also expected that there would be a certain amount of similarity in the calls. I've read the log, and many of the people rang to say exactly the same thing, often in the same words. I think there was an element of organization to it. But what was more surprising was that it was also the largest number of calls in favor that the station had ever had. That's rare because it's usually the people who want to complain who lift the phone; people who liked the program don't ring up. That's a phenomenon well known in the trade, and it's a reason why people aren't actually all that impressed when the switchboard is jammed with protest calls. They know it won't be people calling in to praise and they know it's quite easy to organize. A really remarkable number of people rung in to say it's high time there was a program like this. The logs scrupulously record the calls verbatim, and I noticed that the standard of English and of reasoning in the pro calls was just so much higher as to make one feel that perhaps all was not lost. In addition to the initial viewer response, there was also a row in the press. But on the whole both sides of the case were put. Nonetheless, it was depressing to see how many people objected not to what was said but to its being said at all. Even among secular people there was an astonishment, as if I really had done something iconoclastic. People would say "Christopher Hitchens alleges that Mother Teresa keeps company with dictators" and so on, as though it hadn't been proven. But none of the critics have ever said, even the most hostile ones, that anything I say about her is untrue. No one has ever disproved any of that. Probably the most intelligent review appeared in the Tablet, a English monthly Catholic paper. There was a long, serious and quite sympathetic review by someone who had obviously worked with the church in India and knew Mother Teresa. The reviewer said Mother Teresa's work and ideology do present some problems for the faith. FI: But in America the idea that Mother Teresa is a sacred cow who must not be criticized won out and your book and your critique of Mother Teresa never got an airing? HITCHENS: Yes, pretty much. Everything in American reviews depends on the New York Times Book Review. My book was only mentioned in the batch of short notices at the end. Considering that Mother Teresa had a book out at the same time, I thought this was very strange. Any book review editor with any red corpuscles at all would put both books together, look up a reviewer with an interest in religion and ask him or her to write an essay comparing and contrasting them. I have been a reviewer and worked in a newspaper office, and that is what I would have expected to happen. That it didn't is suggestive and rather depressing. FI: The Mother Teresa myth requires the Indians to play the role of the hapless victims. What do the Indians think of Mother Teresa and of the image she gives of India? HITCHENS: I've got an enormous pile of coverage from India, where my book was published. And the reviews seem to be overwhelmingly favorable. Of course it comes at a time when there is a big crisis in India about fundamentalism and secularism. There are many Indians who object to the image of their society and its people that is projected. From Mother Teresa and from her fans you would receive the impression that in Calcutta there is nothing but torpor, squalor, and misery, and people barely have the energy to brush the flies from their eyes while extending a begging bowl. Really and truly that is a slander on a fantastically interesting, brave, highly evolved, and cultured city, which has universities, film schools, theaters, book shops, literary cafes, and very vibrant politics. There is indeed a terrible problem of poverty and overcrowding, but despite that there isn't all that much mendicancy. People do not tug at your sleeve and beg. They are proud of the fact that they don't. The sources of Calcutta's woes and miseries are the very overpopulation that the church says is no problem, and the mass influx of refugees from neighboring regions that have been devastated by religious and sectarian warfare in the name of God. So those who are believers owe Calcutta big time, they should indeed be working to alleviate what they are responsible for. But the pretense that they are doing so is a big fraud. FI: You mention in your book that Mother Teresa is used by the Religious Right and fundamentalist Protestants who traditionally are very anti-Catholic as a symbol of religious holiness with which to beat secular humanists. HITCHENS: Yes, she's a poster girl for the right-to-life wing in America. She was used as the example of Christian idealism and family values, of all things, by Ralph Reed - the front man of the Pat Robertson forces. That's a symptom of a wider problem that I call "reverse ecumenicism," an opportunist alliance between extreme Catholics and extreme Protestants who used to exclude and anathematize one another. In private Pat Robertson has nothing but contempt for other Christian denominations, including many other extreme Protestant ones. But in public the Christian Coalition stresses that it is very, very keen to make an alliance with Catholics. There is a shallow, opportunist ecumenicism among religious extremists, and Mother Teresa is quite willingly and happily in its service. She knows exactly who she is working for and with. But I think she is happiest when doing things like going to Ireland and intervening in the Divorce Referendum, as she did recently. By the way, there is an interesting angle to that which has not yet appeared in print. During the Divorce Referendum the Irish Catholic church threatened to deny the sacrament to women who wanted to be remarried. There were no exceptions to be allowed: it didn't matter if you had been married to an alcoholic who beat you and sexually assaulted your children, you were not going to get a second chance in this world or the next. And that is the position that Mother Teresa intervened in Ireland to support. Now shift the scene: Mother Teresa is a sort of confessor to Princess Diana. They have met many times. You can see the mutual interest; I'm not sure which of them needs the other the most. But Mother Teresa was interviewed by Ladies Home Journal, a magazine read by millions of American women, and in the course of it she says that she heard that Princess Diana was getting divorced and she really hopes so because she will be so much happier that way. So there is forgiveness after all, but guess for whom. You couldn't have it more plain than that. I was slightly stunned myself because, although I think there are many fraudulent things about Mother Teresa, I also think there are many authentic things about her. Anyway, she was forced to issue a statement saying that marriage is God's work and can't be undone and all the usual tripe. But when she was speaking from the heart, she was more forgiving of divorce. FI: A footnote in your book criticizes Mother Teresa for forgiving you for your film about her. HITCHENS: I said that I didn't ask for forgiveness and I wasn't aware that she could bestow it in any case. Of all the things in the book, that is the one that has attracted most hostile comment - even from friends and people who agree with me. They ask why I object to that, what's wrong with forgiveness? My explanation is that it would be O.K. if she was going to forgive everyone. When she went to Bhopal after the Union Carbide industrial accident killed thousands, she kept saying "Forgive, forgive, forgive." It's O.K. to forgive Union Carbide for its negligence, but for a woman married to an alcoholic child abuser in Ireland who has ten children and no one to look after her, there is no forgiveness in this life or the next one. But there is forgiveness for Princess Diana. FI: There is a Roman Catholic doctrine about the redemption of the soul through suffering. This can be seen in Mother Teresa's work: she thinks suffering is good, and she doesn't use pain relievers in her clinics and so forth. Does she take the same attitude towards her own health? Does she live in accordance with what she preaches? HITCHENS: I hesitated to cover this in my book, but I decided I had to publish that she has said that the suffering of the poor is something very beautiful and the world is being very much helped by the nobility of this example of misery and suffering. FI: A horrible thing to say. HITCHENS: Yes, evil in fact. To say it was unChristian unfortunately would not be true, although many people don't realize that is what Christians believe. It is a positively immoral remark in my opinion, and it should be more widely known than it is. She is old, she has had various episodes with her own health, and she checks into some of the costliest and finest clinics in the West herself. I hesitated to put that in the book because it seemed as though it would be ad hominem (or ad feminam) and I try never to do that. I think that the doctrine of hating the sin and loving the sinner is obviously a stupid one, because its a false antithesis, but a version of it is morally defensible. Certainly in arguments one is only supposed to attack the arguments and not the person presenting them. But the contrast seemed so huge in this case. It wasn't so much that it showed that her facilities weren't any good, but it showed that they weren't medical facilities at all. There wasn't any place she runs that she could go; as far as I know, their point isn't treatment. And in fairness to her, she has never really claimed that treatment is the point. Although she does accept donations from people who have fooled themselves into thinking so, I haven't found any occasion where she has given a false impression of her work. The only way she could be said to be responsible for spreading it is that she knowingly accepts what comes due to that false impression. FI: But if people go to her clinics for the dying and they need medical care, does she send them on to the proper places? HITCHENS: Not according to the testimony of a number of witnesses. I printed the accounts of several witnesses whose testimony I could verify and I've had many other communications from former volunteers in Calcutta and in other missions. All of them were very shocked to find when they got there that they had missed some very crucial point and that very often people who come under the false impression that they would receive medical care are either neglected or given no advice. In other words, anyone going in the hope of alleviation of a serious medical condition has made a huge mistake. I've got so much testimony from former workers who contacted me after I wrote the book, that I almost have enough material to do a sequel. FI: I have a question as one Englishman in America to another. You are a secular humanist Englishman who is a leading commentator on American culture and politics. Tell me, what is it about Americans and religion? Why is it that religion, often very primitive forms of religion, is so powerful in perhaps the richest, most advanced, most consumerist nation on Earth? HITCHENS: I'm an atheist. I'm not neutral about religion, I'm hostile to it. I think it is a positively bad idea, not just a false one. And I mean not just organized religion, but religious belief itself. Why is the United States so prone to any kind of superstition, not just organized religion, but cultism, astrology, millennial beliefs, UFOs, any form of superstition? I've thought a lot about it. I read Harold Bloom's book The American Religion: The Emergence of the Post-Christian Nation (1992) about the evolution of what he thinks of as a specifically American form of religion. There was a book by Will Herberg in the 1950s called Protestant, Catholic, Jew where he speculated that what was really evolving was the American way of life as a religion. And that this was a way of life that wasn't at all spiritual or intellectual but in a sense believed that all religion was valid as long as it underpinned this way of life. Somehow religion was a necessary ingredient. In other words, religion was functional. I think that's true but it's not the whole story. Maybe - and this is a conclusion that I am reluctant to come to - it is because there is no established church here. A claim that is made for established churches is that in a way they domesticate and canalize and give a form and order to superstitious impulses. That's why they usually succeed in annexing all local cults and making them their own, etc. Part of their job is to soak up all the savagery around the place. I think from an anthropological point of view, that's partly true. In a country that very honorably and uniquely founded itself on repudiating that idea and saying the church and the government would always be separate, and also a country that many people came to in the hope of practicing their own religion, you have both free competition and a sense of manifest destiny. I think it's out of that sort of stew that you have all these bubbles. Chesterton used to say that, if people didn't have a belief in God, they wouldn't believe in nothing, they would believe in anything. The objection to that of course is that belief in God is believing in anything. But there's still a ghost of a point in there: if people are licensed to believe anything and call it spirituality, then they will. FI: I think maybe it's not so much not having an established church as not having a dominant church. In France you have strict separation, but the Catholic church is dominant. Yet France has very high levels of nonbelief, like countries with an established church. But in America you have free competition of churches, and lots of competing cults, and much more energy as a result. HITCHENS: I'm not sure that people in the United States are as devout as the statistics suggest. The statistics are extraordinary if you believe them: something like 88 percent of Americans regularly attend church, and 90 percent of them believe in the devil. I would like to have a look at how the questions are formulated in these polls. FI: We have done our own polls - scientifically selected samples - in which we framed the questions ourselves, and we got very similar results to the other polls we had read. It may be that the question is not, Why do people believe this? - because perhaps they don't - but, Why do people say they believe this? There's obviously a social conditioning. HITCHENS: Yes, that's right. People obviously feel they owe the pollsters that kind of answer. I wonder whether the onset of the millennium is going to be as awful as I sometimes fear. There will be uneasiness among the feeble-minded and the emotionally insecure. FI: Especially in America. HITCHENS: American fundamentalism has one huge problem which is that the United States is nowhere pre-figured in the Bible. It worries them a lot, they keep trying to find it there, they try to interpret prophecies to refer to the United States, but they can't succeed - even to their own satisfaction - in getting it to come out right. FI: You have to go to the Book of Mormon? HITCHENS: Yes, and the Seventh-Day Adventists, who descended from the Millerites. I can see that Scientology now enjoys charitable status as a religion, which I think is a real triumph. I can't get over that. You can set some idea of what it would have been like to live in third-century Nicea when Christianity was being hammered together - an experience I am very glad I did not have. Religious diversity is confused with pluralism. Because of multi-culturalism and what is called "political correctness," religion has a certain protection that it couldn't expect to have if it was a state-sponsored racket like the Church of England. FI: A lot of people who aren't religious think religion should still be beyond criticism. HITCHENS: Certainly, because it's people's deepest and dearest beliefs, and because they are communities as well as congregations. And I suppose that in the minds of some people the feeling is "Well, you never know, it may be true and then I will go to Hell." A lot of people every now and then are visited by fear. It seems that as animals we are so constituted. At least we can know that about ourselves, but it is such a waste of the knowledge to interpret in any other way. On the other hand, I'm also impressed by the number of people who manage to get by - often without any help or support - not believing. FI: The great thing about humanism is that so many people reach the position independently, because it is not about teachers and doctrines. You just end up a humanist by following your own questions. HITCHENS: That's true. And it doesn't have any element of wishful-thinking in it, which is another advantage. Though it's the reason why I think it will always be hated but never eradicated. FI: Look at the situation in Western Europe: in Holland about 55 percent say they are humanist or non-religious; and in Britain it's up to about 30 percent and among teenagers it's 50 percent. So there's an enormous movement in Western Europe towards secularism and humanism. Yet in America it seems to be getting just more and more religious. Which, considering the convergence of culture in other areas, seems quite anomalous. Sociologists are just beginning to address this issue but haven't done so properly yet.
Posted by: Kaushal Oct 5 2003, 10:47 PM Rajeev Srinivasan
Posted by: rajesh_g Oct 5 2003, 11:54 PM
This link definitely doesnt belong here but it might be helpful for people to read quotes of Martin Luther the architect of the xtian renaissance. Its got some real gems..
Posted by: rajesh_g Oct 6 2003, 01:17 PM
Posted by: Kaushal Oct 8 2003, 12:14 AM
I am not sure this is the right thread for this, but it is late and i am ready for some shut eye and i think this is a very throught provoking article. FRONTLINE India's National Magazine From the publishers of THE HINDU Vol. 14 :: No. 16 :: Aug. 9-22, 1997 -------------------------------------------------------------------------------- The pangs of change Indian democracy is a secular miracle of the modern world, but the quality of our democracy is poor. M. N. SRINIVAS AFTER he ceased to be President of France, Charles de Gaulle retired to a village where the day began with the perusal of the morning's newspapers, an exercise which usually so angered him that he would crush the offending papers into a ball and hurl it into the fire, and then turn to writing his memoirs. These days the ordinary Indian feels similarly incensed when he reads the morning's papers. Apart from news of various disasters, local, national and international, there are endless reports of scams and investigations, of the absurd antics of our leaders and their self-serving comments on various public issues. The country's fortunes are on a continuous slide, but the leaders do not seem to care. But pessimism with the immediate should not prevent us from noticing the good things that have happened since 1947. India is emerging, albeit slowly, as a major power, and in spite of its leaders. It is a vibrant democracy, and democracy is becoming deeper through the Panchayati Raj and Nagarpalika Acts. Indian democracy is one of the secular miracles of the modern world, and a model for other developing countries. DEBABRATA BANERJEE A mother and child. A total attack on mass poverty will involve tackling major ills such as the failure to make primary education universal, lack of primary health facilities, clean drinking water and sanitation, neglect of the girl child, and failure to empower women. However, decentralisation of power to the districts, tehsils and villages, and to towns and cities, has not come a day too soon. This should make for speed, efficiency, more openness, and greater accountability of officials to the people, qualities which are conspicuous by their absence in the government today. But while celebrating democracy and decentralisation, it ought to be realised that panchayati raj will not be problem-free. In fact, taming the rural dominant castes will be a major task for panchayati raj, if not the country. The dominant castes occupy a privileged position in the rural hierarchy and are used to making certain that other castes, including the "high", carry out their wishes. Also they are used to receiving a number of services from members of the Scheduled Castes which the latter nowadays consider demeaning. But refusal to perform these services will bring down the wrath of the dominants on them. Bloody clashes between the dominants and Dalits are certain to increase and spread and are perhaps inevitable in translating the constitutional commitment to equality to reality. The police, the law courts, the media and public opinion all need to support consistently the Dalit demand for equality if the dominant castes are to be made to accept democratic values and practices. WE may pat ourselves on the back for being a democracy, but we have to admit that the quality of our democracy is poor. Fortyeight per cent of the people are illiterate at the national level, and in the BIMARU (Bihar, Madhya Pradesh, Rajasthan, Uttar Pradesh) States, illiteracy is even higher, and female literacy, abysmal. This has happened in spite of the fact that the Constitution required all children in the age group 5-14 to be in school by 1961. According to media reports, 63 million children are currently out of school, and political parties are now considering making education a fundamental right. Perhaps the hope is that once elementary education is a fundamental right, public interest litigation will goad the States to implement it. Another achievement that needs to be mentioned is the banning of untouchability (Article 17) by the Constitution of India (1950), and later, making its practice in any form a cognisable offence under the Civil Rights Act, 1975. Banning untouchability may be viewed as incidental to the constitutional assertion of the equality of all citizens before law (Article 14). Other Articles concerned with implementing the commitment to equality are Article 15, which prohibits discrimination against any citizen on any matter at the disposal of the state on any of the specified grounds, namely, religion, race, caste, sex or place of birth, and Article 16, which prohibits discrimination on the ground of religion, among other things, in the matter of employment under the state. Reservation of seats in legislatures and in education and employment in government for the Scheduled Castes and Tribes is a continuation from colonial rule, and is intended to protect and promote the interests of groups which thought that their interests would suffer under conditions of open competition. The Scheduled Castes and Tribes have each reservation in legislature in proportion to their numbers to the total population. As of now, Scheduled Castes enjoy 18 per cent and Scheduled Tribes 5 per cent reservation at the national level. Reservation in legislatures is designed to empower Scheduled Castes and Tribes and through legislatures a few become Ministers, which enables them to work for the betterment of their communities and constituencies. The fact that representatives of Scheduled Castes and Tribes are Ministers symbolise the opening of doors which had remained shut historically. Reservation of government jobs and seats in educational institutions for the backward classes was a feature of peninsular India during British rule, and this practice continued in independent India. In South India, the princely state of Mysore introduced reservation for the backward classes as far back as 1870, but it was in the 1920s that reservation became a feature of public life all over South India and the regions included in the Bombay Presidency. But while the empowerment of the backward classes occurred largely in the pre-Independence years in South India, it began in North India only in the 1950s. The gap between North India and South India in this respect is a fact to be reckoned with. Job reservation for the OBCs in the government developed into a national issue in 1990, ten years after the Second Backward Classes Commission (Mandal Commission) submitted its report. It was a national commission and it made several recommendations for the improvement of the backward classes (3,743 among Hindus alone) including reservation of 27 per cent of jobs in Central and State governments. The report, along with many others, was gathering dust in the Central Government's warehouses till 1989 when the Janata Dal, under the leadership of V.P. Singh, included in its election manifesto the implementation of the recommendations of the Mandal Commission. In August 1990, V.P. Singh's Deputy Prime Minister, Devi Lal, resigned from his post and announced his decision to hold a rally of his followers in Delhi on August 9. Devi Lal, a Jat from Haryana, was reputed to have a large following among the backward classes. However, on August 7, V.P. Singh announced that his Government would implement the Mandal Commission's recommendation of reserving 27 per cent jobs in the government for the backward classes. The decision caused considerable unrest among the upper castes in North India, with several youths committing suicide by setting fire to themselves. V.P. Singh had, by his decision, thrust caste-based reservation to the forefront of national politics, with parties with the avowed aim of promoting the interests of OBCs, Scheduled Castes, Scheduled Tribes and minorities, thereby receiving a shot in the arm. "Social Justice", which was first adopted as a slogan by the Justice Party of Madras in the 1920s, became the slogan of these parties. Nehru's aim of establishing a "casteless and classless society" gave way, under V.P. Singh's leadership, to "socialism with a caste face", an ideology whose exponent was the Nehru-baiter, Ram Manohar Lohia. Many progressive people hailed V.P. Singh's decision to implement Mandal as a "secular revolution" while others regarded it as extremely divisive. Predictably, V.P. Singh's decision led to litigation, and eventually, in November 1992, the Supreme Court, in a landmark judgment, gave its approval to 27 per cent reservation in government jobs to OBCs but decreed that the quantum of reservation should in no case exceed 50 per cent. It also decreed that the "creamy layers" in each backward caste should be excluded from eligibility for the benefits, a decision which has met with opposition from all the backward classes. The Kerala legislature even passed a resolution denying the existence of "creamy layers" among the OBCs in Kerala. In the same judgment, the judges rejected poverty as a criterion of backwardness, restricting reservation benefits to members of "the socially and educationally backward classes", which in effect meant backward castes. The idea of reservation as a means to obtain access to education, employment and power has become popular in recent years. Reservation is being demanded either for Muslims as a whole, or for the backward sections among them. Dalit Christians want to be accorded the same status as Scheduled Castes among Hindus, Sikhs and Buddhists. During British rule many former untouchables got converted to Christianity in the hope that conversion would result in shedding untouchability and obtaining access to education and employment. But the converts found Christianity to be caste-ridden, with caste-based discrimination rampant in the Church. But the demand of the Dalit Christians for reservation is strongly opposed by the Scheduled Castes as it will cut into their quota. However, they are not opposed to Dalit Christians being accorded reservation outside their quota. Women, who have been accorded 30 per cent reservation in panchayati raj institutions, are now demanding 33.3 per cent reservation of seats in Parliament and State legislatures. This has turned out to be an emotive issue, further complicated by a demand for "sub-reservation" for women from the OBCs, Scheduled Castes, Scheduled Tribes and minorities. This will involve introducing political reservation for OBCs and minorities, both new and radical measures. In April 1995, the Congress party, under the leadership of P.V. Narasimha Rao, then Prime Minister, called an all-party conference to raise the quantum of reservation from 50 per cent to 62.5 per cent, a move requiring an amendment to the Constitution. The aim of the proposed hike in reservation was to make sure that OBC candidates were adequately represented in Central government services, and to provide 10 per cent reservation for the very poor among the high castes. Another proposal was to protect reservation in promotions for Scheduled Caste and Tribe candidates, and to provide promotion quotas to the OBCs. The Congress party called the conference in anticipation of the general elections that were held early in 1996. IT is unfortunate that reservation is widely regarded as a panacea for ills such as poverty, and lack of access to education, government employment and political power. Reservation has its uses but only up to a point, and there is no way by which it can become an instrument for restructuring society. First, the benefits tend to be appropriated by the more advanced in each group at the expense of the more deserving. Further, the category OBC is heterogenous, comprising rich and politically influential groups at one end, and numerically small, very poor groups at the other. The latter, who are often as poor as the Scheduled Castes but are not categorised as such, become bitter and extremely antagonistic to the Scheduled Castes. Envy of the Scheduled Castes, is, however, not confined to the very poor among the non-Scheduled Castes. Such envy is widespread, and the land-owning dominant castes in particular resent what they regard as "uppity" behaviour of the Scheduled Castes. They seem unable to adjust themselves to the fact that Scheduled Castes now have easier access to education and high-income and high-status jobs, and to the assertion by the more militant Dalits that they are equal to the high castes. Clashes between the dominant castes and Scheduled Castes are becoming frequent everywhere. Such conflicts are only likely to increase as education spreads among the Scheduled Castes and as more of them are politically mobilised. The country is in for increasingly frequent outbursts of local violence. India's revolution will not be a swift and bloody one but a long and bleeding one. When a caste manages to obtain the label "backward", it fights to retain it. And when dominant castes manage to get labelled as "backward" it means that the size of the cake diminishes significantly for the Other Backward Classes. Karnataka provides a striking example of this with both the Lingayats and Vokkaligas, being tagged "backward". (Between them they account for nearly a third of the State's population.) Further, reservation, as implemented in India, seems to be regarded as a total solution to backwardness. Those in power seem to think that once reservation is given to a group the government's responsibility towards it ceases. For instance, students from Scheduled Castes and Tribes and OBCs get admission in professional colleges where they have to compete with very talented and hardworking students from the middle classes who score very high marks. But very little attention is paid to provide coaching for students who get in through reservation. Nor is there any monitoring of their progress, or provision for counselling when they need it. It is all terribly sad. There does not seem to be any awareness among those in power of these problems. But the gravamen of the charge against reservation is that it is tokenist, and that it fails to address the most important problem before the country, namely, mass poverty, and the many ills associated with it. A total attack on mass poverty will involve tackling other major ills such as the failure to make primary education universal, lack of primary health facilities, pure drinking water and sanitation, neglect of the girl child, and failure to empower women. All these matters have to be attended to in any attack on poverty. Only the elimination of poverty will release the creative energies of the people of this country and the present situation, which taps at best the resources of only 15 or 20 per cent of the population, is not only unjust but terribly wasteful. Finally, a striking but not sufficiently noticed phenomenon is the great gulf that exists between the leaders of the country and the people. The former, each with a sycophantic coterie, say and do things which seem grotesque in the context of the horrendous problems facing the country. Long ago Gandhi said: "My people are ahead of me, I must run and catch up with them for I am their leader." Today's leaders are not even aware that the people are far ahead of them.
Posted by: rajesh_g Oct 8 2003, 02:43 PM
Posted by: Kaushal Oct 12 2003, 11:12 PM
The late Ram Swaroop was one one of the great intellects of the Hindu renaissance. He combined knowledge of the Dharma with an equally intimate knowledge of Semitic faiths (in particular Christianity and Islam) . His writings are free of cant and spurious assumptions and always refreshing with revealing insights. Here is his view of the Hindu renaissance. Hindu Renaissance (by Ram Swarup) India has been under attack for a thousand years. The new attacks were not like the old raids known before; these were buttressed by an ideology of heavenly sanction, a permanent motive and system of ideas. Long before Europe of the "white man's burden" appeared on the scene, Asia was witnessing in the birth of Islam an ideologically fortified imperialism commanded by Allah. Any economic and political gain - and it was in on very small - was merely a just reward for an activity which was essentially religious. In a way, Islamic imperialism was nothing new. It had a model to follow in Christianity which had a similar mandate, but it too made significant contribution to the doctrine of imperialism. It gave us the concepts of darul-harb (non-Muslim world) and darul-Islam (Islamic world), the former subject to permanent jehad (holy war), subjugation, enslavement and even slaughter of the latter, other important concepts were booty (al-ghanimah), zimmi and jazia, etc. Islam believed that the world belonged to the believers and the infidels were mere squatters, it had to be repossessed. Then came the Europen Era. India's contact with Europe was not negative. Through it, India came to know a world it had to know. It also received from this source unintended political help. Islamic powers in the middle-east and Central Asia and denied them sea lanes; this weakened Islamic encirclement of India gave local freedom forces a better chance to assert themselves. India's first major contact began when Vasco da Gama landed with gunboat and priests. The newcomers were not only pirates and merchants but also believing Christians; they had the pope's mandate to convert heathens in the lands they took possession of. They found that the natives had a flourishing religion of their own. They took to destroying their temples in earnest. Within decades of their occupation of small coastal parts, they had destroyed according to their own records 601 temples in 131 villages - all important Christian Orders taking part in this pious work. Franciscan friars destroyed 300 temples in Bardez, Jesuits 280 in Salcete. St. Francis Xavier who fully participated in this meritorous work wrote back home: "As soon as I arrived in any heathen village ..... When all are baptised I order all the temples of their false gods to be destroyed and all the idols to be broken to pieces. I can give you no idea of the joy I feel in seeing this done." Hindus got relief from the active religious persecution when the British came. But they too were not without a powerful missionary lobby of their own whose aims were no different from other Christian missions. Though the missions were not allowed to apply their usual muscular methods, they were free to propagate their religion. Their aim was conversion of heathens to the true faith and to that end they began to attack Hinduism in different ways. They attacked it for having too many gods, not one of them the right Biblical God; they attacked it for being idolatrous; they attacked all its leading ideas - karma, incarnation, moksha, compassion for all being, etc. The attack on Hindu religion was supported by attack on the Hindu people and society. Hindu rites, customs were all evil, and their morals and manners even worse, if that were possible. With so much depravity around and and with such fine and disinterested teachers at hand, they looked forward to a Christian India in not too distant future. The colonial administrator was not unsympathetic to the missionary attack. Though he discouraged its excesses, he found it useful. He knew that Hinduism was India's definition and its deepest and also its principle of unity and regeneration and unless this principle was attacked, India could not be necessarily ruled; he knew that what upheld Hinduism also upheld India and its political struggle. A people who had lost pride in themselves, who were demoralised were welcome to him. Colonial scholars reinforced the missionary attack by their own from another angle. They taught that India was not one country, that it was a miscellany of people, that it had never known independence, that it had always been under the rule of foreign invaders. The rulers had a clear motive, a clear goal. They wanted an India which had no identity, no vision of its own, no native class of people respected for their leadership. They were to be replaced as far as it lay in their power by a new class of intellectual comparadores. Meanwhile, the concerted attacks succeeded. They were internalised and we made them our own. There was a crop of "reformers" who wanted India to change to the satisfaction of its critics. Above all, there appeared a class of Hindu-hating Hindus who knew all the bad things about Hinduism. Earlier invaders ruled through the sword. The British ruled through "Indology". The British took over our education and taught us to look at ourselves through their eyes. They created a class Indian in blood and colour, but anti-Hindu in its intellectual and emotional orientation. This is the biggest problem rising India faces - the problem of self-alienated Hindus. The missionary-colonial attack was reinforced by another attack - Marxism. Its source too was Europe and it was even more Eurocentric than regular Imperialism. It used radical slogans but its aims were reactionary. It taught that Europe was the centre and rest of the world its periphery - not by chance but by an inherent dialectics of History. Marx fully shared the contempt of British Imperialists for India. He said: "Indian society has no history at all, at least no known history. What we call its history, is but the history of succesive intruders." He also said that India neither knew freedom nor deserved it. To him the question was "not whether the English had a right to conquer India, but whether we are to prefer India conquered by the Briton." This also became the faith of his Indian pupils. In India, Macaulayism prepared the ground for Marxism - early Marxists were recruited from Macaulayites. Marxism in turn gave Macaulayism a radical look and made it attractive for a whole new class. While Marxists served European Imperialism, they also fell in love with all old Imperialist invaders, particularly Muslim ones. M.N. Roy found the Arab Empire a "magnificient monument to the memory of Mohammad." While the Marxists found British Imperialism "progressive", they opposed the country's national struggle as reactionary. They learnt to work closely with Muslims both during and after Independence. i wrote extensively on MN Roy the granddaddy of Indian communists and rattled the cages of some the ubiquitous leftists in another forum It is widely agreed that India's independence struggle derives from Hindu Renaissance, but it is not equally realised that it can also only be sustained by it. Hinduism is the principle of India's self-renewal. Anything that hurts that principle hurts India, hurts its civilisational role, therefore, hurts future religious humanity. "Organiser", Dec. 10th, 1995
Posted by: rajesh_g Oct 14 2003, 10:34 AM Crisis of Christianity [ MONDAY, OCTOBER 13, 2003 11:59:26 PM ] After a lull, there appears to be a renewed attack on the Christian community from various sections. Many have taken upon themselves the onus of exposing the real motives of Christian missionaries who, they claim, have done immense harm to this nation through their coercive tactics of converting the poor and illiterate tribals and backward castes of India, thus destroying in the process, their age-old customs, traditions and values. On the face of it, nothing could be nobler than to rescue these hapless tribals and scheduled caste people from the clutches of missionaries. Every effort must be made to rectify this historical wrong done to them, according to these self-appointed custodians of the tribals and scheduled castes. If the Christians are left unhindered in their conversion work, then India with its ancient cultures, traditions and religions may soon lose its identity and even existence. A closer look at reality, however, shows all that is being portrayed about Christianity is far from the truth. They are, at best,distortions fine-tuned to suit the taste of those they would want to cater to. The agenda is not difficult to understand even for a casual observer, for they refuse to see any good that Christianity has done for this country. While it is true that Christianity came to most of India during the last 300 years, it had already reached India nearly 2,000 years ago and had integrated into the very ethos and environment of this country. The harm that Christianity has caused to the tribals and scheduled castes in India, as many claim, has in no way reduced their quality of life; in fact, they have been assisted, primarily through education, to get absorbed into the mainstream of national life. If the literacy rate in some of the north-eastern and other parts of India where the Christian educational institutions are operating is comparatively high, then one shouldn’t hesitate to give credit to the yeomen services rendered by Christians. And if there is a qualitative difference in the health indices of those who receive healthcare from Christian institutions, then why not accept this as something valuable to the nation? But then it calls for a certain magnanimity and openness of mind to accept that the nation has received a heritage shapedby a host of people belonging to a variety of religious and cultural traditions. The very concept of conversion out of coercion is a fundamentally flawed one. If someone were to say that he was forced to be converted, then, in effect, he is claiming that he possesses no free will of his own. While this may be true in a totalitarian regime, where one has no freedom of speech and expression, or in an ultra-orthodox social milieu, where opinions are dovetailed to the precepts of orthodoxy, the same cannot be said about a democratic country where everyone is guaranteed the freedom of opinion and expression, including the freedom of choosing one’s religion. And this freedom is not only the prerogative of the wealthy and literate, but everyone, including the economically weak and less literate. Why is it that when a celebrity chooses to change his/her religion, no one raises any objection, but when a poor person converts, there is a hue and cry. This smacks of a bias against certain sections of society, when they begin to assert themselves, be it in the social, political, economic or religious realm. If coercion had been employed as the chief means of converting people to Christianity, then everyone in India should have already been a Christian since the British, the French and the Portuguese occupied this nation and ruled for over 300 years. That Christianity spread in a very modest manner to a small segment of Indians, and today it remains at 2.4 per cent of the Indian population, goes to show that the colonial powers did not resort to any dubious means to convert people. It is true that Christian missionaries catered to people in dire need; in times of drought, flood, plague and famine. India earlier had many such disasters and if some who were fortunate to survive such calamities chose to follow a religion that showed them compassion, is there anything terribly wrong with it? That Christianity has been and will continue to play a significant role in the social transformation in India as well as in other parts of the world is not in dispute. For Christianity has assiduously promoted social equality, economic justice, political freedom, and personal well-being of the people. If the Christian countries in the world have, to a large extent, fought the ills of poverty, illiteracy, oppression, and raised the standard of living qualitatively and quantitatively, then it is worth emulating. It is this enviable achievement that most nations are looking for, including India, which has been demanding that economically better-off countries open their doors to absorb its skilled workforce. Attempts to malign a community’s image may be expedient to propel anti-minority sentiments among some sections of people. Nevertheless, by constantly picking on one community, a sense of disquiet is bound to set in among its members, and it is this that must be countered vigorously. (The author is spokesperson, Catholic Bishops Conference of India, New Delhi)
Posted by: rajesh_g Oct 14 2003, 11:17 AM Zion versus jihad Priyadarsi Dutta Mirza Nehal A Baig's article, 'Zionism's excess' (Oct 7) shows where the shoe pinches-the wrong foot. The contention of my article, 'Shalom, Sharon' (Sept 11), was against the double standards practised by so-called secularists. The forcible occupation and Russofication of Latvia, Lithuania, Estonia and Moldavia by the Soviet Union were non-issues whenever Khrushchev-Bulganin, Brezhnev or Gorbachev visited India. The grotesque violation of territorial, environmental, human and religious rights never posed a problem when Zhou Enlai or Zhu Rongji came calling. As to Zhou Enlai, we conferred the Desikottama Puraskar to former Turkish Prime Minister Bulent Ecevit who, in 1974, had ordered aggression against Cyprus-an act that led to spawning of two lakh Greek-Cypriot refugees, destruction/conversion of 500 Byzantine churches and occupation of 37 per cent of Cyprus. But the writer will not condemn Mr Ecevit who even invoked the Bhagvad Gita before the July 1974 invasion to justify extending the iconoclastic sword of Islam in a Christian land! He also refuses to criticise the butcher of Bangladesh, Tikka Khan, the martial law administrator in East Pakistan whose reign saw decimation of 25 million of Hindus (more than the Palestinian population then). He would probably also spare AAK Tiger Niazi, despite the nine-month long genocidal operation of the Pakistani Army in East Pakistan in 1971. Or co-religionist Idi Amin, for that matter, who was provided a safe refuge in Saudi Arabia. It is not my purpose to insist that Mr Baig be apologetic about these great servants of his faith. I only wish he had been more candid about what seems to be his sympathies for jihadis who want Israel to be wiped off the face of the globe. Mr Baig says Zionists colluded with Nazis to kill three million Jews. Was it for this reason the Grand Mufti of Jerusalem, Haj Amin al-Husseini, escaped to Nazi Germany from where he made his infamous broadcast on March 1, 1944: "Arabs! Rise as one man and fight for your sacred rights. Kill the Jews wherever you find them. This pleases God, history and religion." Earlier, he was visited in 'Palestine' by Eichmann. The Mufti became a paid agent of the Nazi Abwehr and was put in charge of counter-intelligence and sabotage. In 1941, the Mufti inspired a pro-Nazi coup in Iraq led by General Rashid Ali. Collaborating with his masters in Berlin, he declared jihad against Britain, which he called "the greatest foe of Islam". In Europe, he organised Bosnian and Albanian Muslims into military units called the Hanschar divisions, to carry out atrocities against Yugoslav Jews, Serbs and the gypsies. Declared a war criminal at Nuremberg, he spent the rest of his life in opulence in Cairo. Is it a coincidence Al Amin was the granduncle and first political mentor of Palestinian demagogue Yasser Arafat? Who assassinated Jordan's King Abdullah in East Jerusalem in 1953 who wanted to sign a peace-treaty with Israel-the Nazis or the Zionists? Let me also remind Mr Baig that the PLO is responsible for causing civil wars in Jordan (1970-1971) and Lebanon (1975-1990). One is surprised that Mr Baig could find the exploits of Mr Ariel Sharon to be "spine-chilling" when he doubtless knows how many Jewish tribes were massacred and eliminated by the army of Prophet Muhammad-Kuraiza, Nadhir, Kainuka, etc. Was not the Prophet's pronouncement- "Two religions may not dwell together in the Arabian peninsula"-put into practice by Abu Bakr, Omar I and others?
Posted by: rajesh_g Oct 14 2003, 03:05 PM
A sulekhite has posted this recently on newshopper..
Posted by: rajesh_g Oct 14 2003, 03:54 PM Welcome MSD, but be focused by Arvind Lavakre October 14, 2003 On Gandhi Jayanti this year, a group of educated urban Muslims crossed the Rubicon: they decided to take on the hardliners in their community and, in their words, 'call the bluff of the fundamentalist Shahi Imams and mullahs' through a national alliance called 'Muslims for a Secular Democracy.' (The Times of India, Mumbai, October 3, 2003).
Posted by: Kaushal Oct 14 2003, 04:33 PM
In their 565-page book, The Proudest Day -- India's Long Road to Independence (Pimlico, 1998), which was described by The Financial Times, London, as 'One of the profound epic tales of modern world history,' the authors Anthony Read and David Fisher have set the record straight. On page 78 they write: 'Many nationalists blamed the British for fomenting trouble between the two communities, claiming that, before they came, Hindu and Muslims had always intermingled happily in cities, towns and villages throughout India. This is pure myth. The British may have utilised the division between Hindus and Muslims, but they certainly did not invent it; there had been communal friction since at least the time of Aurangzeb -- the time, incidentally, when Sikhs became sworn enemies of Muslims.'
This is basically a correct assessment. The Brits definitely utilized the differences and may even have fomented them but they certainly did not invent them. Communal riots have been the rule rather than the exception since almost the day the Muslim landed on indian shores and did not begin with the advent of the RSS. Furthermore, such riots have been almost wholly confined to Hindus and Muslims and has never been a factor with other communities and religions. IOW, Muslim participation (and in most cases initiation) is a necessary condition for a communal riot in India . we have documented evidence that such riots have been going on for centuries. see for instance Banu, Zenab. Politics of Communalism. Bombay: Popular Prakashan, 1989. The author of the book is a Muslim lady and she has exhaustively documented all riots during and after British rule (the Brits whatever else their shortcomings, were good record keepers) I agree with AV. MSD has little to gain by doing an 'equal equal' kind of moral equivalence , meaning we will improve but you must do so too. This sort of conditional attitude to reform will lead nowhere. Muslims must reform because their ideology is in severe need of reform and it has little to do with the RSS. The reform of islam and the consequent rejection of islamism as a political ideology must happen globally and the RSS is irrelevant to this process.
Posted by: Viren Oct 15 2003, 08:29 AM Specially laws based on religion? Surely it won't be the first time.
Posted by: Mudy Oct 15 2003, 07:25 PM
Cross post from Ayodhya thread: In some other forum one idiot secularist from AP now lives in US, declared that Muslim ruled period was best period in Indian History, wish they would have stayed and rest of population would have embraced Sufism. SHivaji only objective was to become King. Well lot of people went gang ho on him. My concern is there are people who still think this way. How to change these idiots’ concepts? frusty.gif One muslim contributor came up with his own concept stating Hinduism is a philosophy not a religion. frusty.gif
Posted by: acharya Oct 15 2003, 08:20 PM
extracted from 'Science and Secularism,' a paper by T. Jayaraman, a theoretical high-energy physicist working at the Institute of Mathematical Sciences, Chennai, India). ``Vedic Mathematics'' Additional insights into the Hindutva perspective on science are provided by the track record of the four states captured by the BJP in the 1991 elections: Uttar Pradesh, Madhya Pradesh, Rajasthan and Himachal Pradesh. All four BJP State Governments introduced Vedic Mathematics (VM) into the school syllabus and intended to do the same in the syllabi of engineering colleges and polytechnics. Strangely, the sneaking of pseudo-science into publicly-funded education triggered very little debate in Indian scientific circles. What is this `Vedic Mathematics'? It is somewhat difficult to define as the very terminology is used only by a small set of authors and a handful of mathematicians. The purveyors of `Vedic Mathematics' are agreed, however, that the landmark work in this ``discipline'' is the text ``Vedic Mathematics'', written by Jagadguru Swami Sri Bharathi Krishna Tirthaji Maharaja, Sankaracharya of Govardhan Matha, Puri (he died in 1960) and published in 1965 (Jagadguru, 1965). It is instructive to examine this text in some detail. The title page has the interesting sub-title, ``Sixteen Simple Mathematical Formulae from the Vedas (For one-line answers to all Mathematical Problems).'' Passing through diverse prefatory remarks by various personalities (none of whom is a mathematician), we come to the author's preface, arranged in numbered paragraphs. After explaining the meaning of the word the `Veda'(paragraph 2), the author continues in the following vein (paragraph 3) :`` In other words, it connotes and implies that our ancient Indian Vedic lore should be all-round complete and perfect and able to throw the fullest necessary light on all matters which any aspiring seeker after knowledge can possibly seek to be enlightened on.'' In paragraph 9 the reader learns that ``we were agreeably astonished and intensely gratified to find that exceedingly tough mathematical problems (which the mathematically most advanced present day Western scientific world had spent huge lots of time , energy and money on and which even now it solves with the utmost difficulty ...) can be easily and readily solved with the help of these ultra-easy Vedic Sutras ...contained in the Parisista (the Appendix-portion) of the Atharvaveda in a few simple steps and by methods which can be conscientiously described as mere mental arithmetic.'' Having informed us that he has regularly lectured on the subject at Nagpur University (paragraph 11), the author unfolds his `revolutionary' findings in paragraph 14 (vi): ``As regards the time required by the students for mastering the whole course of Vedic mathematics as applied to all its branches, we need merely state from our actual experience that 8 months (or 12 months) at an average rate of 2 or 3 hours per day should suffice for completing the whole course of mathematical studies on these Vedic lines instead of 15 or 20 years required according to the existing systems of the Indian and also of foreign universities.'' After all this introduction, we find inside the book mathematics of the middle and high school level, where the emphasis is throughout on a series of tricks (whose origins are explained) to solve various problems: for example, faster ways of dividing, multiplying and factorising numbers, and ways of dealing with problems in conics . Some readers may find the book diverting; some of the methods described may be actually be useful somewhere in school teaching (though this needs detailed investigation). The real issue, however, is not so much the level of the contents as the additional philosophical baggage that is provided. How are we to take the assertion that the Vedas provide the answers to all questions of mathematics? Is there any scientific sense in which a particular body of knowledge can be said to contain the answer to all questions of mathematics? The contents of the book seem far-removed from this goal; comprising as they do elementary mathematics; even the list provided of the subjects intended to be dealt with by the author in later volumes (which were never published) does not rise above this level. In fact, mathematics from the high school level indisputably requires material that cannot be provided by the `Vedic' or for that matter `Islamic', `Greek', or `Babylonian'. Modern mathematical teaching requires considerable input that cannot be traced back to antiquity. The book ``Vedic Mathematics,'' seeks constantly to prove the superiority of various methods to those used in the ``Western'' methods, the reference point often being English texts long fallen out of use, presumably dating to the author's youth. Nor is the book of any use in studying the history of mathematics in India; it is simply unequal to the task. What, in fact, is ``Vedic'' about the mathematics set out in the book? Some of the examples cited are already well known to historians and adequately described elsewhere. As for the appendices to the Atharvaveda, the alleged source of the Vedic mathematical riches described in the book, they appear to be totally non- existent. No authoritative edition of the text of the Atharvaveda contains the appendices referred to. The game is given away in the General Editor's Foreword, where it is noted that these ``appendices'' are not part of the established texts but should be regarded as new and the `discovery' of the author himself! The General Editor also notes that the style of language makes it clear that the `appendices' are the author's own discovery and that the book should be judged on its own merits - where of course the book fails miserably from the standpoint of science. Despite its absurd claims and transparently bogus status, Jagad-guru Swami's book became the focus of a National Workshop on Vedic Mathematics held at Jaipur in March 1988 by the Rashtriya Veda Vidya Pratishthan and various other Government bodies and universities. The proceedings were published as ``Issues in Vedic Mathematics'' (Khare, 1991). The seminar enjoyed the official patronage of the Ministry of Human Resource Development and the objectives of the seminar were spelt out in a letter to all participants by the Special Secretary, Department of Education. The papers presented at the seminar scarcely rise above the level of the book that inspired them. There is much talk of applying the ``Vedic'' methods to developing algorithms for computers (some participants opt out and claim that these methods render calculators and computers redundant) and some of the articles indeed are, to put it charitably, nonsense from any scientific viewpoint. The seminar ends with recommendations to the Government: a second seminar to be held on VM, in which traditional and modern mathematicians are to study the introduction of VM at different levels; a committee to study the introduction of VM in schools; research in VM; multimedia strategies for awareness of VM; the Department of Electronics to be sounded out on VM applications to computer technology. One interesting whistle-blowing paper (Shukla, 1991, page 31) brings to light the fact that the Sankaracharya's book is not based on what is in the Vedas. Clearly the BJP-led Governments rushed in where others feared to tread and introduced this material in the schools. Any doubts about their reasons for doing so were dispelled by the BJP Education Minister of Uttar Pradesh at a workshop in Allahabad in April 1992, he simply declared that ``whatever is very ancient for India, that precisely is most modern for the world'' (see Seminarist, 1992). The efforts of Hindutva in respect of the exact sciences would indeed be laughable were it not for the potential for serious damage at the school level.
Posted by: acharya Oct 15 2003, 08:23 PM
Please do some analysis on this
Posted by: Kaushal Oct 16 2003, 09:57 AM
This is what whois tells us about Need to find out more about Delhi Science Forum. Delhi Science Forum B1, IInd Floor, LSC, J Block Saket New Delhi, Delhi 110017 IN Domain Name: SECULARINDIA.NET Administrative Contact Mukesh Arora-> KLGsystel Ltd. Plot No.24, Sec 18 Gurgaon, Haryana 122015 IN Phone 91-124-6345963 Fax Technical Contact Mukesh Arora-> KLGsystel Ltd. Plot No.24, Sec 18 Gurgaon, Haryana 122015 IN Phone 91-124-6345963 Fax Record updated on-> 2003-03-12 06:22:38 Record created on-> 2001-03-03 Record expiring date-> 2004-03-03 Database last updated on-> 2003-10-16 12:54:35 EST Domain servers in listed order: NS1.PLESK82.COM NS2.PLESK82.COM
Posted by: k.ram Oct 16 2003, 10:10 AM
Posted by: acharya Oct 17 2003, 04:47 PM
Muslim leaders warn of `counter-terrorism' By Our Special Correspondent MUMBAI Oct. 16. Muslim leaders warned here today of Islamic "counter-terrorism" in response to the "Hindu terrorism" of the VHP, RSS and threatened to move the United Nations to carve out a `safe haven' for Muslims in India on the lines of the Kurdish area in Northern Iraq. Maulana Saiyad Musannah Miyan, chief patron of the Jamia Qadria Ashrafia, alleged in a statement circulated at a press conference that the Prime Minister was according "tacit endorsement" to the VHP and the RSS. "It would be a mistake to imagine that Muslims in India are not capable of self-defence against religious terrorists," they said. They were reacting to the reported statement of VHP leaders that the Government action against its proposed rally in Ayodhya could start riots. The statement, also signed by the Tanzeem Aimmae Masjid president, M. Khalilurrehman Noori, and the general secretary of the Raza Academy, Mohammed Saeed Noori, said: "Hindu terrorism would breed Muslim counter-terrorism, making India the largest breeding ground of terrorism in the world. It seems that the `War on Terror' initiated by the U.S. may have to be extended to India to fight Hindu terrorism." It praised the Uttar Prades Government and the Chief Minister, Mulayam Singh Yadav, for the crackdown on the VHP activists. The statement applauded the Hindus who opposed the VHP and the RSS.
Posted by: Kaushal Oct 18 2003, 04:32 PM
More on Delhi Science Forum. Sounds innocuous from a cursory look But if you look a little harder it has Prabhir Puryakastha and Vijay Prashad (of IDRF fame ?) connected to the enterprise. Seems like a front organization for leftists.
Posted by: rajesh_g Oct 18 2003, 04:34 PM
Recently posted on Sulekha newshopper.. Anatomy of the future Indian Muslim political leadership Leadership, in modern times, is all about money and patronage. So why should Muslim leadership remain an exception. In the words of the Deep Throat, ‘follow the money’ and you will always find your query. It is narrated that when a young Shaukat Hayat from the famous Punjab Unionist Chief Minister’s family sought lawyer Mohammed Ali Jinnah's advice for forming a separate Muslim party, Jinnah asked him to first make his own fortune of at least a crore as Muslims will not accept as leader anybody without a big fortune behind him. Jinnah himself was not a mainstream practising Muslim; however he was personally a very successful and wealthy lawyer and had the full backing of his own Aga Khani Khoja community’s spiritual leader, the formidable Aga Khan. It is not a big secret that from the time when Jinnah assumed the leadership of a tottering Muslim League, he had overt and covert support of the British colonial power; who had their own political compulsions to divide! India and separate the strategic northern part as the base to maintain a presence in the sub-confidence to ensure the security of their interest in the Gulf oil areas as well as to counter Soviet Russia's relentless pressures to advance South towards the year round open ports of the Arabian Sea and the Indian Ocean. The British King was to relinquish a jewel in his crown, but he will not prepared to relinquish the role of a kingmaker as far as his colonies were concerned. So the ‘Muslim Secular Democrat’ Jinnah's leadership's was maneuvered in the same manner as that of today's Afghani 'leader' Karzai and Iraqi 'leader' Ahmed Chalabi. It is well said, that the more things change the more they remain the same. In today's India, after 56 years of independence from the British rule, the stage is now clear for the coronation of a new version of a Muslim secular democrat leadership that may or may not be either a Muslim or Secular or Democrat. In the age of modern advertising and spin doctoring, proper branding is the first step for marketing success. The new leadership will be imposed by powers that be, either from within the country or without an will be provided with ample finances and ground support to come out with a solid Muslim identity, water downed sufficiently to reflect the current acceptability criteria of the New World Order. The ordinary member of 150 million strong Muslim community will be required to put its thumb impression to confirm the choice. There are any numbers of candidates jockeying for the throne of Muslim leadership. Practically all of them are known for their sponsors and backers. This, for all practical purposes, should be accepted as par for the course. Mainly because 150 million Muslims in India do not have any organised political presence which can come forward and represent them together with their compatriots, as claimants to the 1000 year long Muslim rule over India. The key players in this ‘Great Game’ are all quite familiar identities with long past record of interaction with the large Muslim minority either as handlers and tormentors by turn. The most obvious and familiar operator that has been carrying on a love-hate relationship with the Muslim community one in India for last 114 years is of course none other than the Indian National Congress, now headed by a foreign-born bahu of the Nehru family. In the absence of a Nehru dynasty member at the helm of Congress affair, In a brief moment of indiscretion or deliberate subversion, an old RSS sawayamsevak, once becoming the Congress Prime Minister, through a fluke of fortune, P.V. Narasimha Rao sat throw the entire six December watching on TV the demolition of Babri Masjid being carried out by his erstwhile seven sevaks now converted and known as Kar Sevaks, thronging the victimized 500 year old Masjid ---- as defense-less as 150 million Muslims themselves throughout the length and breadth of their own country. As a result, Congress decisively lost it most precious and long cherished Muslim vote bank that had ensured its continued electoral majority to rule ov! er India for over a period of its first 40 years. Now with Sonia Gandhi as the new Congress leader and the old political strategist Arjun Singh in the back-rooms, a new political identity is being thrashed out around the Muslim 'leadership' of Jamiatul Ulamae Hind. Jamiat had a long history of struggle against the British colonial powers and had been on record diligently and ideologically against the creation of Pakistan, has been selected to become the new nucleus, to once again gather the scattered Muslim vote bank for the sole benefit of the Indian National Congress. Just like General Motors or Ford, coming out with new models of car, the new model of Muslim-led political party is being processed to take care of all Muslim, secular, socialist and democratic credentials to present a new Muslim face to counter the arch-Muslim baiters, the BJP. The strength of this group is its long held grass-roots underpinning in the Muslim masses, the political organization capability of a battle! -hardened Congress Party, the funding and resources in the name of Indian Muslims, to be gathered by the old fund-raisers of the Jamiat and Congress combined. The second distinct group emerging to command Muslim loyalties is again sponsored by regional political parties, with their own 'Muslim' leaders performing very crucial role in their respective party organizations. The two in UP can be easily identified as Azam Khan from Mulayam Singh's Samajwadi Party and Rashid Alavi from Mayawati's Bahujan Samaj Party. This group can be categorized with the old congress Muslim leadership, which had a face, though hardly any say in the working of the party. However, it can be said, that in as much as both these parties are in the younger stage of their development, they need Muslim votes and would be ready to 'appease' their Muslim voters, though again the same with slogans and cosmetic exercises. The fund-raising for both parties are yet to develop to any stable and dependable source; though under Amar Singh, corporate world has been roped in the join the joint-venture in the manner of the current arrangements that is hallmark of pol! itical scene in the US. The Laloo dynasty, like the Nehru dynasty, has been developing the old sycophancy model for Muslim representation and has yet to give any quarters to Muslim voices to be effectively empowered in Bihar. The prospect for this group of leadership directly depends on the fractured polity of Muslim masses. The more they are fractured, the more they will be courted --- though through the same exploitative mechanism that has characterized the political scene for last 56 years. A third category that is emerging is sponsored by none other than the Sangh Parivar. By giving a go-ahead to BJP's Muslim general secretary, Mukhtar Naqvi, to arrange a BJP Muslim Minority Cell meeting, where the arch-Muslim baiter, Pravin Togadia, was allowed to vent his poisonous harangue to the captive Muslim audience, while a BJP Maulana was allowed to confront Togadia with some tame advice. The media splashed the event as a major step by BJP to come to grips with the contradictions of its Muslim ideology and its dire needs to broaden its vote bank constituencies. The public debate appears to carry the message that only Muslim with BJP can confront BJP extremists from within. So join BJP bandwagon. A fourth category that has surfaced after much soul-searching is grouped around die-hard Marxist party hangers-on like Javed Akhtar and Hasan Kamal, both well-established film script-writers from Bollywood. After overcoming their long-held allergy to everything Muslim or Islamic, the opportunist Leftists have finally succumbed to the need to accept 'Muslim' word as describing their new identity with the newly formed Muslims for Secular Democracy. Essentially a pressure group, to herd Muslims around Leftists, the funding seems to be provided by outside sources, with Communist and Jewish affiliations. The Committee for Justice and Peace headed by Teesta Setalvad and Javed Anand who were in the forefront of the historical move by Supreme Court to castigate Gujarat Chief Minister Modi with the warning to quit if unable to provide justice, seems to have at least some name-sake relationship as well as common modes operandi, with The World Committee for Justice and Peace! , that had filed charges of murder, incitement to genocide and crimes against humanity, in Brussels, against Yasser Arafat and 19 other leaders of the PLO / PA. This same committee's Parisian Jewish leader had recently come out with a documentary record of alleged Palestinian terror TV footage to prove that Palestinians are nothing but terrorists in the guise of freedom fighters. In all their relief and rehabilitation work for the Muslim victims of Gujarat Riots, the Leftist groups have strictly kept their distance from other Muslim relief organizations, probably under ideological pressure from their handlers abroad. However, this is only the beginning and they are determined to carve their own constituency, to leverage political power in coalition politics of the future. And last but not the least, is the joker in the deck of cards ---- the US itself that is terribly worried about the second largest Muslim community in any country, after Indonesia. Though long held, more or less as of dead wood, the recent stirrings in certain unorganized 'cells' or 'modules' within Muslim communities, has so alarmed Colin Powell and Jack Straw, that while they had remained unconcerned when Maharashtra suffered a series of bombings during the last few months, the intelligence reports of the August 25 twin bomb blast has forced them to put in a call same day to their Indian counterpart Minister of External Affairs, Yashwant Sinha, apparently to sympathize, but more to register their extreme concern on the grave possibility of radicalization of Muslim youth in India due to extreme provocations from the ruling party's affiliates in Sangh Parivar. A multi-pronged action plan seems to have been in the process to study how Indian Muslims representation in the democratic framework of Indian politics could be encouraged. The country that is long regarded as the source of funding and strategies for the Sangh Parivar to topple Nehru dynasty and bring about a regime change through empowerment of Hindutva forces, is now worried about the international ramifications of a chain of Muslim hate reaction to Sangh Parivar's private agenda, not necessarily looked with favour by the US authorities, as it distorts their own priorities of fighting the same Muslim Umma, through their own strategies. With articles by Alex Parry in TIME magazine and Pankaj Mishra in New York Times, American perspective analyses the sudden upsurge in the radicalization of unorganized grass root individual groups, that can be prone to exploitation by the international terrorist organization. A flurry of media articles stressed the alienation of Muslims in India and their pathetic representation in Indian democratic polity that has to be addressed. There is every possibility that US will select its own partners from among the Muslim political groups and give them full financial and strategic backing to pacify and insulate them against becoming a part of international terrorism, while promising them a place in the Indian sun. At this stage, it will be a cheap buy ---- by any standard. GHULAM MUHAMMED, P.O. BOX: 16685, BANDRA WEST, MUMBAI
Posted by: muddur Oct 20 2003, 03:34 PM
Pseudo seculars threat to country: Venkaiah SACHCHIDANAND JHA TIMES NEWS NETWORK[ MONDAY, OCTOBER 20, 2003 07:47:02 PM ] PATNA: The BJP national president M Venkaiah Naidu on Monday said that the pseudo seculars were the biggest threat to the country as they were afraid of calling a spade a spade just to project a secular image. Addressing the valedictory function of the JP birth centenary programme organised by the Patna Mahanagar unit of the BJP, Naidu that the pseudo secular people described the BJP as a communal party just because it believed in Hindutva and was in favour of construction of a Ram temple at Ayodhya forgetting the fact that Hindutva was just a system not a religion. Naidu said that the pseudo seculars were reluctant to even pronounce the word Rama and Ayodhya just for the sake of their image. On the other hand, he said, a road is named after Lord Rama in Bangkok while a bank goes by the name of State Bank of Ayodhya there. He said that in Indonesia, which had the largest population of Muslims in the world, the government had named its airlines after 'Garuda', the carrier of Lord Vishnu. Paying tribute to Jai Prakash Narayan, Naidu said that despite keeping poor health the former led a movement to dislodge the dictatorial government of Indira Gandhi. But, RJD chief Laloo Prasad Yadav, a product of the same JP movement, had now joined hands with the Congress party. He held the Congress party responsible for all the problems facing the country including corruption, unemployment and poverty. Naidu also visited JP's Kadamkuan residence and JP roundabout to pay tribute to him. Naidu gave a clarion call to the students to launch an agitation to rid Bihar of the one family rule saying it had pushed the state into 'jungle raj' era. Lashing out at Rabri government for not organising any function to mark the birth centenary of JP, Naidu said that it had not organised any function as it was neck deep in corruption itself while JP was dead against it. The leader of Opposition in the state assembly Sushil Kumar Modi said that he was planning to write a book to expose the role of Laloo during JP movement. The union small scale industries minister C P Thakur lashed out at the RJD government for its failure to promote industries in the state. Describing the BJP workers as the true heirs of JP, Naidu said that during the five year rule of the NDA foreign exchange reserve had reached 95 billion dollar and India had provided loan to 12 countries through the IMF. Earlier, addressing the BJP legislators, Naidu asked them to work hard to improve upon party's performance in the 1999 Lok Sabha polls. The BJP aimed to bag at least 300 seats in the next LS polls, he told them. The Union Textiles Minister Syed Shahnawaj Hussain said that riots were not the correct yardstick to judge a government's secular credentials. One should not forget the fact that 13 lakh people were killed at the time of partition when Jawaharlal Nehru was the prime minister of India and yet no body called him a communal person. The per capita income of Muslim is highest in Gujarat and lowest in Bihar, he said. The union junior agriculture minister Hukumdev Narayan Yadav emphasised on the need of a people's movement against the RJD government. The BJP president Gopal Narayan Singh and his predecessor Nand Kishore Yadav too echoed similar sentiments.
Posted by: muddur Oct 20 2003, 03:36 PM
Looks like Alex Perry is an ANTI Indian .. Notebook | India Hindu Backlash Is India's Hindu nationalist government taking steps to rein in its own hardliners? BY ALEX PERRY | NEW DELHI AND SARA RAJAN | AYODHYA,13673,501031027-524518,00.html Is India's nationalist government finally losing patience with its Hindu extremist allies? Last Friday, Hindu hardliners staging a protest in the northern Indian town of Ayodhya found themselves under fire from an unexpected quarter: state and federal police wielding wooden lathes and batons and firing rubber bullets and tear gas. By day's end more than 1,000 Hindu activists were in custody and another 15,000 had been loaded on to buses and trains and sent away. An outraged Ashok Singhal, leader of the rally's organizer, the militant Hindu group Vishwa Hindu Parishad (VHP), was moved to declare: "They treat Hindus like animals in this country." Few Indians would agree. Usually, it's the Muslims who feel like victims. The presence of a coalition government in New Delhi led by the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), which draws support from the VHP, has prompted many Muslims to cry foul. They claim the BJP is anti-Islam, discriminates against Muslims in the civil service, and ignored last year's rampage in Gujarat state, when Hindu mobs killed 2,000 Muslims and injured and raped thousands more. Initially it seemed state prosecutors would convict few Hindus for their part in the riots. But last month India's Supreme Court ordered a retrial. And last week's events signaled an apparent further widening of the gap between the Indian establishment and the VHP, when months of rancor over the BJP's delay in building a temple to the Hindu god Ram at Ayodhya spilled over into the streets. The seeming split has huge significance. It was Hindu chauvinists—galvanized by a BJP campaign to undo brick by brick the 16th-century Mughal invasion of the subcontinent—who in 1992 ripped down a mosque supposedly built over a Hindu temple at Ayodhya; that helped propel the BJP to power on a wave of violent Hindu assertion. But upcoming polls may be forcing the BJP to distance itself from the VHP. With four state elections taking place on Dec. 1, and a general election due within the year, the BJP's more moderate coalition partners are pressing it to adopt a less sectarian line in order to appeal to more voters. Says political analyst Praful Bidwai: "The relationship between the VHP and BJP looks bad, and it seems like the two will drift apart further." The implications for the region are no less important. While the bloody dispute over Kashmir has many causes, the stridently nationalist line adopted by the BJP government toward Pakistan has proved a major obstacle to dialogue. But the country's Hindu-Muslim troubles, an animosity that dates back hundreds of years, are hardly over. A bombing campaign by Islamic extremists is ongoing in Gujarat and Bombay, while the Hindu hard right, including the VHP, is now promising a national protest campaign over Ayodhya. Moreover, Bidwai points out, the VHP's overseas Indian members are big donors to the BJP. So while India may be witnessing a trial separation within the Hindu nationalist camp, no one is yet predicting a divorce.
Posted by: Kaushal Oct 20 2003, 08:34 PM
Alex Perry is a Hindu hater , not because he knows anything about being a Hindu (au contraire he probably knows diddly squat except for the drivel that he writes) but because it happens to be the majority religion in the Indian subcontinent. In this respect he has joined the unholy alliance of communists, Rabid right wing Indian Muslims who form most of the leadrship of the IM community and congresswallahs who are incapable of making a living any other way. If the majority religion happened to be Buddhism he would rail against Buddhism. Recall that the American press was uniformly against the Buddhists in South Vietnam (who had never hurt a fly let alone an American) during the Vietnam war. It is all contextual. Support the US President when he imprisons vast numbers of Muslims and the deportation of even larger number of Muslims from the US under the guise of Homeland security. But at the same time cast aspersions on the BJP/NDA government which has hardly killed a single Muslim unlike the US which has done so in Afghanistan (i am talking civilians) and Iraq. But then what do you expect. Alex Perry comes from the same Island that gave us 180 years of colonial rule with not a whiff of democracy and would not let a single human rights organization within 100 miles of Indian shores. But suddenly immediately after 1947 the Brits overnight are transformed into the ardent human rights observers that they now portray themselves to be. It is no wonder that the American Indian wisely observed that the Gora speaks with forked tongue.
Posted by: muddur Oct 21 2003, 12:29 PM
thumbup.gif Francois Gautier Where's India's holocaust museum? October 21, 2003 The massacre of 6 million Jews by Hitler and the persecution Jews suffered all over the world in the last 15 centuries has been meticulously recorded by the Jews after 1945 and has been enshrined not only in history books, but also in Holocaust museums, the most famous one being in Washington, DC. It has not been done with a spirit of revenge -- look at Israel and Germany today -- they are on the best of terms; yet, facts are facts and contemporary Germany had to come to terms with its terrible actions during World War II. Hindus, Sikhs and Buddhists have also suffered a terrible holocaust, probably without parallel in human history. Take the Hindu Kush for instance, probably one of the biggest genocides of Hindus. There is practically no serious research ever done about it and no mention in history books. Yet the name Hindu Kush appears many times in the writings of Muslim chroniclers in 1333 AD Ibn Battutah, the medieval Berber traveller, said the name meant 'Hindu Killer,' a meaning still given by Afghan mountain dwellers. Unlike the Jewish holocaust, the exact toll of the Hindu genocide suggested by the name Hindu Kush is not available. 'However,' writes Hindu Kush specialist Srinandan Vyas, 'the number is easily likely to be in millions.' A few known historical figures can be used to justify this estimate. The Encyclopaedia Britannica recalls that in December 1398 AD, Taimurlane ordered the execution of at least 50,000 captives before the battle for Delhi; likewise, the number of captives butchered by Taimurlane's army was about 100,000. The Britannica again mentions that Mughal emperor Akbar ordered the massacre of about 30,000 captured Rajput Hindus on February 24, 1568 AD, after the battle for Chitod, a number confirmed by Abul Fazl, Akbar's court historian. Afghan historian Khondamir notes that during one of the many repeated invasions on the city of Herat in western Afghanistan, which used to be part of the Hindu Shahiya kingdoms '1,500,000 residents perished.' 'Thus,' writes Vyas, 'it is evident that the mountain range was named as Hindu Kush as a reminder to the future Hindu generations of the slaughter and slavery of Hindus during the Moslem conquests.' Or take the recent plight of the Kashmiri Pandits. Over 400,000 Kashmiri Pandits have been forced to flee their homeland. Many Pandit men, women and children have been brutally murdered. About 70,000 still languish in makeshift refugee camps in Jammu and Delhi. Scores of temples in Kashmir have been desecrated, destroyed, looted, more than 900 educational institutions have been attacked by terrorists. Properties of Pandits have been vandalised, businesses destroyed or taken over, even hospitals have not been spared. Did you know that this huge human tragedy is taking place in Free India? Burning books, looting culture is a very important part of the plan as we have seen during early Muslim invasions, where Buddhist centres of learning were ruthlessly burnt and razed to the ground. Kashmir was also the crucible of knowledge, spirituality, a hallowed centre of learning and the cradle of Shivaism. It was known as Sharda Peeth, the abode of learning. Kashmiri Pandits excelled in philosophy, aesthetics, poetics, sculpture, architecture, mathematics, astronomy and astrology. Sanskrit was studied, propagated and spoken by women and men. Scholars like Kalhan, Jonraj, Srivar, Abhinavgupta, Somanand, Utpaldev, Somdev and Kshemendra created an intellectual centre of unrivalled repute. Fundamentalism and terrorism have been ruthless in their assault on Sharda Peeth, zealous in ravaging its heritage, and consistent only in bloodthirsty intolerance. The destruction of Hindu places of worship, forced conversions of Pandits and death and ignominy to those who resisted, were accompanied by a savage assault on literary activity. This process has been going on since centuries. As a correspondent covering India for more than 20 years, I have witnessed the terrible damage terrorism in Kashmir has inflicted upon people's lives, their families, their culture, the very fabric of society, not only of the Kashmiri Pandits, but also Muslims in the valley, who after all, are victims too of Pakistan's bloody designs. Hence, with two journalist friends, we started a Foundation: FACT -- Foundation Against Continuing Terrorism. The first task of FACT has been to mount an exhibition on terrorism, focussing on the plight of the Kashmiri Pandits, so that the people of India, who do not suffer directly from terrorism understand, what it does to others. This exhibition, which opened at the Habitat Centre, New Delhi, on July 18, was a great success. More than 25,000 people visited the exhibition till its closing day, on July 23. Among them were Deputy Prime Minister L K Advani, Chairman of the National Human Rights Commission Justice A S Anand, Rajya Sabha MP Dr Karan Singh, Union Minister Murli Manohar Joshi... It was covered by most English and Hindi national newspapers and reported on the television channels. Our aim is manifold: we would like to take the present exhibition all around India and all over the world, particularly the United States, where most symposiums on Kashmir, including some organized by the US State Department, are peopled mostly by Pakistanis, Muslims and US-based Indians who are anti-Hindu. We would also like to start another exhibition on forced Christian conversions in the Northeast. Ultimately, we would like to build a Hindu/ Sikh/Buddhist Indian Holocaust Museum based in New Delhi, or in Bangalore. It will record not only the genocide of Hindus Sikhs and Buddhists at the hands of Muslim invaders, but also the terrible persecution of the Portuguese (hardly mentioned in Indian history books) and British -- nobody knows for instance that 20 million Indians died of famine between 1815 and 1920, because the English broke the agricultural backbone of India to get raw materials like cotton, jute etc. We need your support for this Indian Holocaust Museum.
Posted by: Kaushal Oct 22 2003, 08:15 PM
Mohammad Currim Chagla was a quintessential Indian Nationalist and patriot to the core during an era when patriotism was not derided as jingoism. His views on various topics such as secularism are expounded in this book Recommended Book : "Roses in December An Autobiography" by M. C. Chagla, Published by Bharatiya Vidya Bhavan. Shri M. C. Chagla was Chief Justice of the Bombay High Court when India gained Independence. Later he also served as Ambassador to the U.S., High Commissioner to U.K. and as Minister for Education and later Minister of External Affairs in Union Cabinets led by Jawaharlal Nehru, Lal Bahadur Shastri and Indira Gandhi. He had led Indian delegations to the U.N. Among other things he also represented India at the UN Security Council on Kashmir (not the session in 1948 but in February 1964 and September 1965), sat as an AdHoc Judge at the International Court of Justice on the dispute between India and Portugal on Daman and Dadra and Nagar Haveli between 1957 and 1960 and, later represented India at the same court on the UN Assembly and Security Council resolutions on South Africa in 1970. He wrote his autobiography in 1973 -- however he updated it in 1978 with an Epilogue section on the Emergency. There are a very large number of passages which I would like to quote from his book. I shall restrict myself to only a few quotes on the Partition, Secularism and Minorities, a Uniform Civil Code, the Congress and the Muslim League, Communal Riots, Kashmir, and Bhutto In the chapter on Politics, talking of the Partition, "I think it is wrong to equate religion with nationality. A nation has many more attributes than a religion has. The fact of worshipping in the same place, or believing in the same religious tenets, does not by itself go to create a sense of nationhood. .... Religion should never be allowed to intrude into public affairs. Public affairs are by definition affairs in which the public as a whole are interested." Further, "Patriotism should always be territorial and not communal or religious. One loves one's country, one loves one's motherland, and that is the essence of patriotism. One may love one's religion, but that cannot override the love that one has for the land of one's birth." "I have always taken the view that the partition was a tragedy and a calamity, and I also hold the view that it was not unavoidable. Partition has solved no problems; on the contrary it has created more problems and very serious ones too. I remember once asking Jinnah: "You are fighting for Pakistan mainly in the interest of the Muslim majority states. But what happens to the Muslims in the States particularly like Uttar Pradesh, where they are in a small minority ?" I will never forget the answer he gave me. He look at me for a while and said: "They will look after themselves. I am not interested in their fate" ". "Of course, we on our side also made many mistakes. I do not know whether we were in a hurry to take power, or whether we were genuinely convinced that it was impossible to work with the Muslim League in governing a free country. I do not think Jinnah really expected that the Congress would ever concede Pakistan. To him it was more of a bargaining counter, and if we had bargained properly, he would have given up the idea of Pakistan and accepted a United India." "At least as far as Punjab was concerned, it could be said that we presented the province to him on a platter because of our wrong policy. We also did not play our cards well in the NWFP. There too Jinnah had a formidable opponent in Khan Abdul Ghaffar Kahn, better known as the Frontier Gandhi. There was also the press interview that Jawaharlal Nehru gave after Jinnah had practically agreed to the proposals of the parliamentary delegation. In the interview Jawaharlal suggested that the proposals were not binding and conclusive. After that interview Jinnah backed out of his agreement, and we missed the last chance of settlement." "I also think that the alliance between Mahatma Gandhi and the Khilafatists considerably accentuated the communal and religious aspects of Indian public life. Ghandhiji was essentially a religious man, and it is very natural that he should feel that he could bring about unity on the basis of religion. As I have already stated, as soon as the Khilafat cause disappeared from the picture, the Khilaftaists went back to their original fanatical and religious outlook on life. It also resulted in a great set-back both for Jinnah and men like him and for the Muslim League, which was working on secular lines." "To my mind, however, one of the most potent causes which ultimately led to the creation of Pakistan was what happened in Uttar Pradesh. If Jawaharlal Nehru had agreed to a coalition ministry and not insisted on the representative of the Muslim League signing the Congress pledge, perhaps Pakistan would never have come about. .... Uttar Pradesh was the cultural home of the Muslims. Although they were in a minority in that State, if Uttar Pradesh had not gone over to the cause of separation, Pakistan would never have become a reality." "But all that is past history. Whatever may be the causes, whatever may be the reasons, whatever may be the mistakes committed on either side, partition did come about and India was divided. I myself think that Jinnah never expected that the Congress would accept Pakistan. I also think that if we had held out and refused to surrender on the issue of unity, perhaps India today would be a united country." "As I am writing this, Bangladesh has come into existence. The emergence of this nation not only means a great victory for democracy and the right of the people to determine their own future, but it is also final and conclusive proof that the evil doctrine of two nations was false and had no relevance either to a rational conception of citizenship or to any enlightened standards of public life." " .. If dead men turn in their graves, Jinnah could not but have turned violently in his grave at the events that have taken place. His dream of a homeland for the Muslims has been shattered and now lies in ruins. Far from there being a Pakistan which is a home of the Muslims, the home of the Muslims [referring to the fact that there were more Muslims in Bangladesh than in Pakistan] now is Bangladesh which does not believe in religion as the basis of nationhood; and the other home is India which obviously and patently is a secular country." When writing of secularism or the status of minorities in the same chapter on Politics, he says : "... Every public question must be judged from the point of view of national interest. It always felt, therefore, that the Muslims, or a large majority of them, were making a great mistake in continuously emphasizing their minority status. They should join the mainstream of national life. They should not forget that they are as much Indians as their Hindu fellow citizens; that they have as much right to be proud of India as the Hindus; that they have inherited the same traditions and the same legacy from common ancestors going back to hundreds of years." "I have always resented the suggestion that because I am a Muslim I am less of an Indian than a Hindu. To me, Pakistan is as much a foreign country as Turkey or Iran or the United Kingdom or the United States. ... I have, therefore, often strongly disagreed with the government policy of constantly harping upon minorities, minority status and minority rights. It comes in the way of national unity, and emphasizes the differences between the majority community and the minority. Of course, it may well serve as a vote-catching device to win Muslim votes, but I do not believe in sacrificing national interests in order to get temporary party benefits such as getting a few more seats in certain constituencies." I couldnt have said it any better "The Congress Government has also often followed what I can only call the old British policy of communalism. In my view, if it is communalism to pass over and ignore a man with merit simply because he happens to be a Muslim or a Christian or a Parsi, it is also communalism to appoint a person merely because he happens to be a Muslim or a member of some other minority community. It is injurious to the interests of the minorities themselves to have posts and offices filled by men who have no merit, merely because they want representation in high offices. The minorities come to expect that they will get certain posts whether the men deserve to get them or not. It is much better that they learn to work hard and deserve the post." "When I am told that there is no minority representation in a particular post, I often ask the question: Is there any deserving person who has been passed over? If so, it is injustice, and we must fight against it. But if there is no deserving person, then to clamour for a post is really to be communal. And to yield to the clamour is also to betray a communal spirit. It amounts to a reproduction of the bad old days and of discredited British policies. Such policies result in bitterness between majority and minority communities, and lead to a sense of frustration on the part of a member of the majority community, where legitimate claims were overlooked in favour of a less deserving member of a minority community." On the Uniform Civil Code, he says "Consider the attitude of the Government to the question of a uniform civil code. Although the Directive Principles of the Sate enjoin such a code, Government has refused to do anything about it on the plea that the minorities will resent at imposition. Unless they are agreeable it would not be fair and proper to make the law applicable to them. I wholly and emphatically disagree with this view. The Constitution is binding on everyone, majority and minority; and if the Constitution contains a directive, that directive must be accepted and implemented. Jawaharlal showed great strength and courage in getting the Hindu Reform Bill passed, but he accepted the policy of laissez-faire where the Muslims and other minorities are concerned. I am horrified to find that in my country, while monogamy has been made the law for the Hindus, Muslims can still indulge in the luxury of polygamy. It is an insult to womanhood; and Muslim women, I know, resent this discrimination between Muslim women and Hindu women." On the Muslim League, "But one grievance about which I felt deeply arose from the indifference shown by the Congress and even Mahatma Gandhi to the Muslim nationalists. Jinnah and his communalist following seemed all important. In comparison we counted for nothing. It was Gandhi who have Jinnah the appellation of Qaid-e-Azam -- one which Jinnah gratefully and proudly accepted. It was then assumed -- and I do not know what the basis of the assumption was -- that the Muslim masses were behind Jinnah. I knew the affairs of the Muslim League well and I knew that its membership did not number more than a few hundred, or at most a few thousand. Its leaders, apart from Jinnah, were reactionary Nawabs and Zamindars whose only interest was to preserve their position and status in public life." "I have always felt that the real opinion of the Muslim masses was never elicited by any democratic method, before agreement was arrived at regarding the partition of the country, and that the Congress had no right to assume that what Jinnah said and did was acceptable to all his co-religionists. ... Although publicly they praised us, in reality the Congress leaders ignored and neglected Muslim nationalists for all practical purposes."Chagla should know he belonged to the ML at one point in time and knew Jinnah very well when they were pracicing lawyers in the Bombay Bar On communal riots, "To my mind, riots are generally started with something being done by the members of one community to which strong exception is taken by members of the other community. There is soon a fracas, sometimes serious and sometimes insignificant, and the matter would end there and then, if the police were to appear immediately on the scene and arrest the lawbreakers, whichever community they belonged to. But the police are always late in coming to the scene of trouble. In the meantime the anti-social elements get their opportunity. They join in the fray in large numbers, and what would have been a solitary episode becomes a regular riot, and the flames spread all over the city. Passions are rouse, and these passions are vented in assaults and even murders of innocent members of the other community. Very often political parties then seek to take advantage of what has happened instead of impartially condemning both sides for breaking the law and committing a breach of the peace. Thus a solitary incident assumes the proportions of a Hindu-Muslim conflict and is quoted as evidence of basic Hindu-Muslim antagonism." He has included a seperate chapter on Kashmir and his representation of India's position at the UN in 1964 and 1965. "The debate in the Council was necessitated by a complaint by brought by Pakistan, to the effect that Kashmir was in open revolt and that India was responsible for bringing about a crisis in the State by her attempt to integrate it with India." On the 1948 resolution [our position in 1964]: "The promise given that we would ascertain the wishes of the people through a plebiscite no longer held good for two reasons: first, the promise was conditional upon Pakistan vacating her aggression, which she never did. Even today a part of Kashmir remains in the occupation of Pakistan. Secondly, a resolution passed in 1948 cannot be permitted in international law to hold the field indefinitely when conditions under which the resolution was passed had materially changed. Kashmir had already expressed its clear intention through three general elections, and a plebiscite had no greater sanctity than a general election held through a secret ballot where the whole adult population went to the polls. Further, a plebiscite on a narrow communal issue was bound to rouse communal frenzy and passion, and to disturb the life of the Sate, which had remained peaceful and undisturbed." Here he clearly mentions a strategic reason for our stand on Kashmir : "Politically a new dimension to the problem had been added by the collusion between Pakistan and China against India. Kashmir was our life-line for the defence of our country against possible Chinese aggression in the north-west, and it would be national suicide on our part to give up that life-line." "... I dealt with the question of accession. I repudiated the Pakistan Foreign Minister's charge that India had obtained the signature of the Ruler on the Instrument of Accession at a time when the people of Jammu and Kashmir had risen in rebellion against the Ruler, and had ousted his authority from the State. I argued that this was a complete distortion of facts. It was the tribal raiders and Pakistan nationals, aided and abetted by the Pakistan Government, who carried fire and sword into Kashmir, and compelled the Rule to turn to India in an hour of extreme peril." In his statement to the UN Security Council, he said, "Pakistan's perpetual harping on a plebiscite in Jammu and Kashmir is not an outcome of its faith in democratic principles. I should have thought thath democracy, like charity, begins at home, and before Pakistan preaches to us how we should ascertain the wishes of the people of a part of our country she should first make at least a beginning in establishing democratic institutions at home. I need hardly say that since the State's existence it has never sufficiently trusted its own people to permit them to participate in a general and direct election for the creation of legislative and parliamentary bodies." "To Pakistan everything is communal. She cannot understand how Hindus and Muslims can live peacefully in Kashmir and have best of relations. Her philosophy is that in the very nature of things Muslims must Hague the Hindus and the Hindus must hate the Muslims." " ... The whole burden of the Foreign Minister of Pakistan's song has been that the only thing which poisons relations between Pakistan and India is the Kashmir problem; and, if the Kashmir problem is not solved, relations between the two countries will not improve, and communal troubles will continue. This, to my mind, is an open threat to the Security Council. Pakistan is telling you, Mr. President, in strong, strident and threatening notes, that if the Kashmir problem is not settled, there would be bloodshed and war." "The representative of Pakistan has repeated the slander against India that Kashmir is under India's colonial rule'. Kashmir became part of India not as a result of conquest, nor is it a case of one ruling over another; Kashmir has been part of India since time immemorial, and the people of Kashmir and the rest of India are racially and ethnically the same." "... The Foreign Minister of Pakistan has taken pride in the way the Government of Pakistan has treated its minorities. Now, there are various ways of treating minorities, and the one that Pakistan has adopted is perhaps the most effective. It has driven out all but a few Hindus from West Pakistan, and it is resorting to policies which aim at gradually driving out the Hindus from East Pakistan." ".... This is a war between two ideologies. Let us face it. On the one hand, there is a religious State, and on the other a secular State. This is the conflict; it is not Kashmir. Kashmir is merely the symptom; it is not the disease." "... it would be a very serious thing for the Security Council, it would be a very serious thing for international relations, it would be a very serious thing for international peace if Pakistan could get a settlement of the Kashmir problem, could get a plebiscite, at the point of the gun or bayonet. I call this blackmail. You invade a country, you spread terror in the country, you bomb civilians, you do everything that is in your power, and then you turn around and say: "I agree to a cease-fire, provided you settle the problem of Kashmir and hold a plebiscite in Kashmir." Drawing his conclusions on the debates, Shri Chagla says, "The broad conclusion I drew from these debates in the Security Council was that it was futile for the Security Council to try to interfere in Indo-Pakistan relations. The nature of these relations must be left to be settled bilaterally between the two countries without any intervention from any outside power. Undoubtedly, the Council has to play its legitimate role when hostilities have broken out, but the Council should not site on the fence, ignoring admitted or patent facts and refuse to pass judgements and condemns the aggressor, when it sees one. Failure to take a stand is simply a way of stultifying onself." Writing of Bhutto, then Pakistan's Foreign Minister and representing Pakistan's case at the UN in 1964 and 1965 : "There probably never has been another case in which a man holding such an important portfolio displayed in his speeches such complete absence of a sense of responsibility as Bhutto did. He was incapable of sober, dignified speech and could indulge in mob oratory of the worst type. At Security Council meetings he ranted as though he was addressing a crowd in Hyde Park, rather than so august a body as the Security Council. He had great fluency with the language, and that, unfortunately, led him to be carried away by the flow and exuberance of his own oratory. His words very often had no relevance to the issue under debate or even to truth or admitted facts. He could be grossly rude and discourteous if it suited him, and he had no respect for the standards to be observed in a solemn debate affecting the destinies of two vast countries. He was inconsistent and thoroughly unreliable; and if cornered on any point, he would seek escape by flying off at a tangent to something wholly different or irrelevant. .... Bhutto had no fixed convictions that I could discover except a burning inflexible hatred of India. In his diplomacy he specialized in creating difficulties for India in her relations with foreign powers." "... I referred to the statement made by Bhutto before the Security Council that he had lost his patience, and that he was prepared to fight for a thousand years in order to take Kashmir. Yet today (1972) this same Bhutto wants a durable peace with India, calls the Prime Minister, Mrs Gandhi, his sister although, at the same time he is prepared to vilify her in interviews given to European papers, and wants India to help him consolidate his regime in the country. Can anyone trust a man who speaks with so many different voices, one voice completely contradicting another ?" "... The B.B.C. had referred to Bhutto's speech in the Security Council as the greatest speech ever delivered in the United Nations. I do not know what standards of oratory the B.B.C. accepts. But if a speech which is flamboyant, vitriolic, threatening, a speech characterised by tricks like the ones adopted in rabble-rousing, and punctuated by cheap dramatics, signified the high water mark of oratory, then, undoubtedly the B.B.C. was right."
Posted by: acharya Oct 23 2003, 04:36 PM Title: The Intellectual Scene in Post-Independence India Author: S. Gurumurthy, Text of an after-dinner talk delivered at IIT-Madras Date: Tue, 17 Jun 2003 - A critical review of strengths and weaknesses ... Defeat and anger go together. Abuse and defeat go together. So, it is in this norm and with this understanding of what an intellectual debate means, I would like to place before you some of my thoughts today. Some of may find it provocative. I am confident that the audience is competent enough to absorb this and think rather than get into the mood which all of us have got used to in the last 30-40 years abuse. Background: India before Independence Let us see the pre-independence background, the intellectual content of India. See the kind of personalities who led the Indian mind Swami Vivekananda, Sri Aurobindo, Gandhiji, Tilak- giants in their own way. Most of them were involved in politics, active politics, day-to-day politics, handling men, walking on the road, addressing meetings, solving problems between their followers. And, meeting the challenges posed by the enemy, the conspiracies hatched against them. They were handling everything, yet, they were maintaining an intellectual supremacy, and a record and an originality which history has recorded. Let us look at the academic side. Whether it is a P. C. Ray who wrote on Indian Chemistry in 1905 or Sir C. V. Raman who wrote about mridangam, tabala, and violin, and saw the Physics in it (this was in 1913); whether it was R. C. Majumdar or Radhakumud Mukherjee who saw greatness in the Indian Civilization; trying to bring up points, instances, historical evidence to mirror the greatness of India, to the defeated Indian race, they were all building the Indian mind brick by brick. Sri Aurobindo spoke of Sanatana Dharma as the Nationalism of India. He didn"t rank it as a philosophy. He brought it down to the level of emotional consciousness. Swami Vivekananda spoke of spiritual nationalism; it was the same Swami who spoke of Universal brotherhood. For them philosophy was not removed from the ground reality. The nation was at the core of their philosophy. Swami Vivekananda was called the "patriot monk". Mahatma Gandhi spoke of Rama Rajya. Bankim Chandra wrote Bande Maataram. The song, the slogans in it, the mantra in it made hundreds of people kiss the gallows smilingly and many others went to jail. It transformed the life of the people; this was the intellectual scene, this was the content. This is what powered the intellectual as well as the mass movement in India. This was the core of India, the soul of the Indian freedom movement. The symptoms: India immediately after Independence Imagine what happened in 1947 and after, India was able to intellectually lead not only Indians but also the whole world because of the intellectual assertion that the freedom movement brought about. Let us look at post Independence India. The persons who led post-Independence India were also trained in the same freedom movement. They went to jail, but they were not rooted in the intellectual content of the Freedom movement! The first Prime Minister of India, he was in jail for 7 years. He was a great intellectual himself, purely in the sense of his capacity to reason, understand, read, and expound a thought. He told Galbrieth once, "I would be regarded as the last English Prime Minister of India. See the intellectual capability of the man, the enormously competent mind. But intellectualism doesn"t exist in a vacuum. It has to be rooted in something concrete. Vivekananda"s universal brotherhood was rooted in India"s greatness as a civilization, which proclaimed it. The concept of "Vasudaiva Kutumbakam" cannot exist without a living form, a population which believes in it and believes in itself. You need to have a society, which believes in it. That is why India could invite the Jews who were butchered, raped, all over the world. In 107 out of 108 countries, this race was butchered. At least they had the courtesy and the gratitude to publish a book, the Israeli govt. published a book that out of 108 countries that we sought refuge, the only civilization, the only country, the only people, the only ideology that gave us refuge was the Indian civilization. They published a book, which most Indians are unaware of. And we invited the Muslims. The refugee Muslims first landed in Kutch. And they are called the Kutchy Memons even today but not the Memons who bomb Bombay. But the Memons who lived with us. In the year 1917, many of you might be aware, a case went to the Preview Council, equivalent to the Supreme Court now. The Kutchy Memons went and told the Preview Council that we are Muslims in name, but we follow only the Hindu law. Please don"t impose the Shariyat on us. The Preview Council ruled that they are Muslims but the only sacred book they have is called "Dasaavathaara", it is not Koran. In fact they knew no language other than the Kutchy language. And in the "Dasaavathaara", nine were common between Hindus and Kutchy Memons. We call the tenth avathaara "Kalki" and they call him "Ali". The Preview Council ruled that the Shariyat law is not applicable to them. The All India Muslim League took up the case, went to the British and told them that this finding is dangerous to Islam and requested them to pass a law which will overrule this judgement; the British Govt. passed the law in 1923, called the "The Kutchy Memons Act" which declared, " If a Kutchy Memon wants to follow the Shariyat, allow him to do so". Please understand. It doesn"t mean a Muslim must follow the Shariyat. Between 1923-1937, before the All India Shariyat(AIS) Act was passed, not a single Kutchy Memon filed an affidavit with the plea that he wants to follow the Shariyat. That was the integration prevalent in India. In 1937, when the AIS Act was passed, the preamble to the act mentioned that this was being passed by a demand made by the AIML leader Mohammed Ali Jinnah. Today, the Shariyat has become a part of Muslim consciousness. The purpose behind making you aware of this background is that 99% of the people who speak about the constitutional rights of the minorities or the distinctiveness of Muslim life are unaware of the ground level facts. Till the year 1980, in Kuch Bihar district, the Shariyat law was not applicable. In 32 instances between 1923 and 1947 by legislation, the Shariyat law was not applicable to the Muslims. This is the extent of the intellectual gap in India. Secularism: A Reversal and perversion of the Indian mind. And now, coming to what the position is today. Everything that drove the freedom movement- everything that constituted the soul of the Freedom movement, whether it is the Raamaraajya of Gandhiji or Sanaatana Dharma as Nationalism of Sri Aurobindo or the spiritual patriotism of Vivekananda or the soul stirring Vande Maataram song, came to be regarded not only as unsecular but as sectarian, communal and even as something harmful to the country. Thus, there was a reversal, a perversion of the Indian mind. How did it occur? Today, the intellectualism of India means to denigrate India. There are mobile citizens and there are non- citizens deriding India, go to the Indian Airlines counter, you will find people deriding India. Go to the post office, they will deride India. Go to the railway station, they will deride India. It is the English educated Indians" privilege to deride India. When I was talking to an audience of Postal employees in Madras, in the GPO (a majority of them who heard me were women). I told them the basic facts about the Post Office. I said it is one of the most efficient postal systems in the world, one of the cheapest in the world, one of the most delivery perfect postal systems in the world. For one rupee, you are able to transport information from one end of the country to the other. And you have a postman, no where in the world this happens the postman goes to the illiterate mother and reads out the letter, he is asked to sit there and shares a cup of coffee and comes away. M. O. s are delivered to the last paisa. It is an amazing system, one of the largest postal systems linking one of the most populous nations, one of the most complicated nations with so many languages. Somebody writes the address in Tamil and it gets delivered in Patna! It gets delivered to the Jawaan at warfront! When I completed my speech many of the women were wiping their tears. I asked why are you crying, I have only praised you. They said, "Sir, this is the first time we"ve been praised, otherwise we"ve only been abused!" You know how many people the Railway transports in India? A million people which is equivalent to the population of Australia! And we have only abuses for them! Have we any ideas of what this country is? The best in India have compared our country with Singapore, HongKong, Korea, Japan and Taiwan. You can walk across many of these countries in one night (laughs)! The best politicians, intellectuals, sociologists in India have compared us with them, because, we have never understood what we are and unless you do that, you can never relate us with others. Demonising India: Projecting a negative image. This enormous intellectual failure, to the extent of being intellectually bankrupt, did not occur over night, it was no accident. There is a history behind this enormous erosion. And I told you about these mobile citizens, what they have done to us. Every country has problems. There is no country without any problem. Are you aware of what is one of the most pressing problems in America today? It is incurable according to the American sociologists; even American economists have begun to agree with them. American politicians are shaken, one third of the pregnant women are school going children. And mothers mix the anti-pregnancy pill in the food without her knowledge everyday. But this is not the image of America. The image of America is a technologically advanced country etc. etc. Ours is the only country where the mobile citizens of India have transformed the problems of India into the image of India-its identity. Go to any country and the same negative stereotype is echoed that India is suffering from poverty and malnutrition. India has no drinking water. Indian women are all burnt. If they are married, they are burnt, if they are widows, they are burnt. See the image that has been built about this country. Who did this? The English educated Indian. And one Kaluraam Meena (have you ever heard of him? Asks the audience to raise their hands if they have), only a small fraction of this large audience has heard of him. When Clinton came to India, he went to a village called Nayla where the villagers interacted with him. And one of the Panchayat board members asked him, "Sir, I am told that in the West, all of you believe that this country is a rotten country, a backward country, a poor, hungry country. Do you also think like that?" Clinton was shaken, because he might have thought that this person might be approaching him for some favour. This is the image of India. I will relate my experience when I went to the Carter Centre in 1993. They were talking about dispute resolution and all that. I went there to meet somebody, if not Carter, somebody else at least. His Deputy, a lady, was very hesitant to receive me. "Mr. Gurumurthy", she said, "Mr. Carter is not around, anyway, I can spare seven-eight minutes for you." I said three or four minutes of your time would do. Even before I could start, she said, "Mr. Gurumurthy, we don"t have funds, we will not be able to help" (laughter from the audience). I replied, "Let us assume you have a hundred billion dollars, how much will you give me? One billion? One million?" She kept quiet, "I don"t need your money. I came here to discuss whether community living is an answer to disputes. I have come to discuss this because you have suggested electoral means to resolve problems in communities which have no damn idea of what an election is; whether community living is an answer because you don"t what that means. She sat and discussed this with me for two hours. This is the image we have projected that anybody, who comes from India, comes to beg. Ordinary Indians did not create this impression; educated Indians created it. This is the work of civil servants, NGOs. Christian missionaries during the freedom movement created this. Indians are filthy, rotten, dirty and unhealthy, advertising abroad these are the people who need to be saved. We have to Christianise them, enlighten them, and give us money. I can understand that because it is their business. But what did we do after 1947? We repeated the same mistakes. We projected India as a country of unending problems. As I said, every country has problems. Only in India, problems become identities. How many dowry deaths take place in India in a year? Yet, India is projected as a country burning its own daughter-in-laws. And we also talk about it. Every damn newspaper will be writing about it. We believe in self-deprecation. And this goes on in the guise of intellectualism in India. And one woman, she attempted to take a film of the widows. I wrote an article, asking her to go to Lijjat Paapad. A widow brought me up. Millions of widows have worked to bring up their children. It is a nation, which believes in Tapasya. You may not believe in it but you are an exception. Compare Deepa Mehta"s attitude with Sarada Maa"s who was the wife, who became a widow after Sri Ramakrishna Paramahamsa"s passing away. She went to the very same place where Deepa Mehta went and saw the widows She said, "These widows are so pure, they are an illustration and an example to me." Deepa Mehta saw them as prostitutes. The widows have already been hurt once. Why are you sprinkling salt on their wounds? I am very sorry to speak about this, but I have to, this audience is enlightened enough to understand me. Indian women are sexually unsatisfied and so they are becoming lesbians? This is one bloody story against us, about us. This is the image of Indian men and women, and this film is in English. Catherine Mayo wrote a book and Mahatma Gandhi said about it, " I have no time to read this filth. But I am under a compulsion, under pressure because this has been published abroad. The image of India has been rubbished and I have to counter it. With this introduction, he wrote about the book and said that this woman is a gutter inspector (laughs). The intellectualism in India is gutter inspection- people are of this kind etc. Understand the level of erosion. Indian Politics: Weaknesses and Pitfalls Let us look at the post independence scenario from the macro level. We installed a system of governance and it postulated all the important goals for the Indian society and polity, which was gulped by the Indian academia, by the Indian intellectuals. We will have a classless society through socialism. We will have a casteless society through equality. We will have a faithless society through secularism. We will have a modern society devoid of tradition. Instead of politics restructuring caste, caste has restructured politics today. Political parties are talking only in terms of castes. Has any Indian intellectual come to terms with caste? You must understand caste if you want to handle the Indian society. You cannot say that I want to have a very different kind of society. You have to handle the Indian sentiment, the Indian tradition, Indian beliefs. You can't clone a society of your choice in India. Social engineering has failed everywhere; the masters of social engineering have given up the communists- whether it is sociologists or economists you have to accept a society as it is. You can only increase the momentum of evolution in the society; you can't forcibly bring about a revolution today. But, Indian leaders and intellectuals, till today, keep abusing caste. They don"t know how to handle caste. Let me narrate to you how a community in Karaikudi handled this issue. The Chettiyar community assembled top businessmen, professionals from all over the world for 3 days to discuss their culinary act, how to construct houses, what languages they use, what old adages and stories their grand parents used to tell, what clothes they used to wear; not one word of politics, mind you. This was not even published in the newspapers. Intellectuals were not even aware of it. So, caste is a very important instrument in India, you may not like it. Unfortunately, every intellectual leads a caste life inside, but outside he is casteless! He is cloning an approach outside. There is no intellectual honesty at all. And what happened in the case of secularism? In India, any one who is not a Hindu is per se secular. In the year 1957, just 10 years had passed after the Muslim League demanded and got the country partitioned, the leader who voted for the resolution for the partition of India was Quazi Millath Ismail, (who was leading the same Muslim League on the Indian side), the Congress certified that the Muslim League in Kerala is secular and hence it can associate with them. The Muslim League outside Kerala is communal with the same President! Three hundred and fifty crores are spent today for the Haj pilgrims out of the funds of secular India every year. No one can raise an objection. At least I can understand why politicians don't want to do that because they want the Muslim votes. But, what about the intelligentsia. What about newspaper editors and journalists? And academicians? None of them speak out. The reason is that we have produced a state dependent intellectualism in India. We don"t produce Nakkeerans anymore, our intellectualism is a derivative of the State and the State is a derivative of the polity. And in turn the polity is a derivative of the mind of Macaulay and Marx. The Indian education system: A Legacy of Macaulay. This Macaulayian system of education is a poison injected into our system. At least I had the opportunity of schooling in Tamil and hence could withstand the corruption that this English education brings with it. This corruption begins the moment the child steps out of the house. He is told to converse in English at home. This did not happen even in pre-Independence India, even when Macaulay wrote that notorious note sitting in Ooty. How many of you know Macaulay"s formulation? Just those two or three sentences at least which form the crux " We require an education system in India which will produce a class of interpreters, who will be Indian in colour and Englishmen in taste, opinions and morals." This is the education system, which we have been continuing with, which was earlier conceived to produce clerks for the British empire. If you have to differ from an English educated person you have to differ only through the English language. If you have to abuse somebody, even that has to be done in English! If you abuse the Anglicised Indian, he will not find fault with the blame but with the grammar in your language! This is the extent to which a foreign language has possessed us. But, we must master English, that is needed, but why do we have to become slaves of the English language? We must use that language as a tool, but why do we consider it as a status symbol? This is the influence of Macaulay. If you want to understand the Macaulay/Marxist mix in India, you have to go a little back to see how Marxism grew out of the Christian civilisation. I recommend that you read the Nov 27, 1999 edition of the Newsweek, which describes how the Christian idea of the end of time called the "apocalypse", influenced the entire history, art, music, prognosis, sociology, economics, and the entire attitude of the Christian civilisation towards the non-Christian civilisations. A Christian scholar who describes how Communism grew out of Christianity has written it. In 1624, Anna Baptists, a group of Christians who believed in the basic tenets of Christianity seized power in a particular place, banned private property and use of any book other than the Bible. When Marxism came up later through the exposition of Das Capital, the Marxists began expounding their doctrine as an extension of Christianity. The thesis, antithesis and synthesis of making Christianity acceptable to the age of enlightenment was the Hegelian way demanded rationalisation of Christianity in the days of the Protestant movement. Hegel began with a disagreement, then started interacting with Christianity and ultimately ended up accepting Christianity. You can see the same phenomenon with Marxist postulates- "capitalism is my enemy, we have to deal with capitalism" and finally we have to find a synthesis with capitalism". Marx on India In fact in the year 1857, Marx wrote about India, " India was a prosperous civilisation. It had a very high standard of living. Their productivity was higher. India was an economic giant." It was so. If you look at the statistics in 1820, India"s share of world production was 19%, and England"s share was 9%, please note that Britain was deep into the industrial revolution at that time. 18% of the world trade was in Indian hands at that time whereas 8% was the figure for Britain and 1% for US. When 80% of the American population was engaged in agriculture, India had 60% of the population engaged in non-agricultural occupations. This is supposed to be an index of development. All these statistics can be found in Paul S. Kennedy"s "Rise and fall of great powers". So, Marx says, "This was a great civilisation which had produced prosperous communities." A prosperity which went deep into the villages. In the early stages, when the East India Company came and went to Murshidabad, an unknown name today in Bengal, a district level town, the Britishers were awe struck with its prosperity and wrote that it was more prosperous than London. This is no more disputed anyway, even by Indian intellectuals. Marx acknowledges the fact that this was a prosperous country and also had equality but unfortunately, he says for 2000 years the society did not change nor did it allow any revolutionary forces to enter! In his worldview human beings cannot progress without a revolution! In the two articles on British rule in India and the East India Company- history and results written by Marx, quoted in the New York daily, Karl Marx does grant though somewhat in a grudging manner that "materially, India was fairly industrious and prosperous even before the onset of the British rule. He said that India was an exporting country till 1830. and started importing because it had opened its trade to the British. Many of you may not be aware that the kings in India had no right to over the lands, which came under the jurisdiction of any panchayat. Whether it was Emperor Ashoka or Bhagavan Sri Ramachandra, the rule was the same. It was changed only during the British rule under the Ryotwari system, even the Mughals could not change it. It was also found that family communities were based on domestic industry, with the peculiar combination of hand-spinning, hand- weaving, agriculture etc. which gave them a supporting power. The misery inflicted by the British on Hindusthan is of an entirely different kind and infinitely more intense than what it had to suffer before civil wars, invasions, revolutions, conquests, famines all these did not go deeper than the surface. But, England broke the entire framework of Hindusthan, the symptoms of reconstitution are yet to emerge clearly. This loss of the Old World without the emergence of a new order imparts a particular melancholy to the present misery of Hindus and Hindusthan. Marx goes on to say that the British interference destroyed the union between agriculture and the manufacturing industry. Suddenly he remarks that the English interference dissolved this semi barbarian, semi-civilised community. He concedes that they were prosperous, that they organised their affairs well, they have a measure of independence, they have a democracy at the lowest level, all this has been conceded. Then, how does he classify us as "semi-barbarian and semi-civilised communities"? He notes that India"s social condition remained unaltered since remote antiquity. This is important, for him revolution is the core, the soul and centre of the society. This society never had a revolution; hence it cannot be modern! There is an underlying assumption, which considers revolution as a pre- requisite for being modern. Hence, he feels that the destruction wrought by the British is the inevitable revolution needed for the development of the Indian society. England had vested interests, violent interests in bringing about this "revolution". But, the question in focus is whether mankind can fulfill its destiny without a fundamental revolution in the social state? Whatever might have been the crimes of England, she was the unconscious tool of history in bringing about a revolution, "whatever bitterness the spectacle of crumbling of an ancient world may evoke, from the point of history, we have to exclaim, "should this torture torment us? Since it brings us great pleasure, were not the rule of Taimur, souls delivered without measure?" It is a creative destruction in the cause of revolution according to him. If you see Indian communism which was expounded by a man called Rajane Palme Dutt. Has anyone heard of his name? (two persons from the audience raised their hands). Two. He was born of a white woman and an Indian father in England. He was in charge of Indian communism for 25 years. He never came to India though. In his book, "India Today", he laid down the framework, the policy for Indian communists, what must be done, what is the kind of revolution needed in India, the development model etc. In those days, even good photographs of India were not available, yet this man spoke about India sitting in London. He came to India for the first time in 1946, ten years after he wrote this book and realised that he had to revise it. He stayed for 30 days! A visitor to India was the father of Indian Communism! And from that day till date, the Indian Communist has never been with India. Not only that, they took over the Indian mind in the post- independence period. It is these Marxist/Macaulayist intellectuals who will certify whether somebody is modern or traditional, backward or secular or communal, progressive or regressive. They were running an Open Air University issuing certificates every day through the press. They have branded me as a communal man. Labels: Tools for stultifying important debates Labels substituted debate in India. Simply a label- communal, that is enough. Four or five editorials will appear preaching that Gurumurthy is communal and the matter must end there. No one would even discuss what communalism is! Religious fundamentalism, RSS/Bajrang Dal fundamentalism! Anyone, who exposes the Hindu cause I India is a fundamentalist! We have seen this term being used so casually and superfluously and incessantly by politicians and newspapers. Has anyone bothered to understand the meaning of religious fundamentalism going beyond these slogans? Secularism is an intra-Christian phenomenon. It has no application outside Christianity at all. Secularism resolved the fight between two powerful persons, the King and the Archbishop who were loyal to the same faith, to the same prophet, to the same book and to the same Church. It is not a multireligious virtue. A multireligious idea, a multireligious living, a multireligious culture, a multireligious fabric or a multi religious structure was unknown outside India. There was usually only one faith and no place for any other, not even for a variation of the same faith. Fifty six thousand Bahais were butchered in one hour in Tehran! They believed in the same Koran, in the same Muhammad, the only difference was that they said that Muhammad might come in another form again. That was their only fault and they were all butchered. But we have no such problem. We can play with God, we can abuse God, and we can beat God! If I say that monotheistic religions have had a violent history, and the reply will be "you are communal." But this is exactly the same conclusion that a study in Chicago revealed, probably, the only study on fundamentalism conducted by anybody so far. This fundamentalism project brought out five volumes each volume about eight hundred to nine hundred pages. The conclusion they have reached is that, "Fundamentalism is a virtue of Abrahamic religions. It is not applicable to eastern faiths at all. What about the Indian intellectuals? Day in and day out, they keep abusing us as fundamentalists, communalists, that we are anti-secular and it is being gulped down by everyone including those from the IITs and IIMs, lawyers and police officials, journalists and politicians. Look at this intellectual bankruptcy. An inner revolution: The much needed change We need a mental revolution, an inner revolution; we need to get rooted in our own soul. There is a missing element in India today and it is this. That element has to be restored otherwise Indian intellectualism will only be a carbon copy of Western intellectualism. We are borrowing not only their language and idiom but we trying to copy the very soul of the West. So, all that we need to do is - it is impossible to share the entire depth of the subject in one evening"s lecture programme. I have only tried out point out in an incoherent way, how a completely fresh mindset has to be evolved. And unless it evolves, the Indian mind, which leads India, will be in a perpetual state of confusion, ordinary people are perfectly all right. Consider for example how thirty years before there was a question whether Tamil Nadu will be a part of India or not. The Dravidian parties have taken over the mind of Tamil Nadu. It had virtually ceased to be a part of India. And their attack was aimed at Hinduism, the moment you attack Hinduism you attack India. This is a fact. Neither politicians nor intellectuals nor academicians realised this. But, the ordinary people did. Just three religious movements- the Ayyappa movement, the Kavadi movement and the Melmaruvatthur Adi Para Sakti movement- have finsihed the Dravidian ideology to a very great extent. It is only the outer shell of Dravidianism that remains today. Tamil Nadu has been brought back successfully by Ayyappa, Muruga and Para Sakti, not by the Congress or the BJP or any other political party. How many people have intellectually assessed the depth and the reach, the deep influence of religion over the people? A paradigm shift in a study of India would be an intellectual approach to this subject. Or consider for example its influence on economics. Many of you by now would have studied economics in some detail. Take a look at the society in India and compare the figures for public expenditure for private purposes, which is called the social security system in the West. 30% of the GDP in America is spent for social security, 48% in England, 49% in France, 56% in Germany and 67% in Sweden. This private expenditure is nothing but what you and I do by taking care of parents, our wives and children, brothers and sisters and grandparents, widowed sisters and distant relatives. This expenditure is met by the society in India. And there is no law in India that people should do this. We consider it as our dharma. A person went to a court and demanded a divorce from his father and mother. The American court granted it saying that the only relationship that exists between two persons of America is their citizenship. The law in America recognises no other relationship ... In the year 1978, an interesting incident occurred in Manhattan. There was a power failure for six hours. Manhattan is in the heart of New York where you find the UN building, the World Trade Centre and the head quarters of many multi-national companies. One third of the world"s health is concentrated in Manhattan. Within six hours, hundreds of people were killed, robbed and assaulted. We don"t need electricity to behave in a civilised manner. How many intellectuals in India have ever articulated from such a sympathetic approach? We have only tarnished the image of this country. We must be ashamed of this. Conclusion I shall conclude my speech with this example. When Sri Aurobindo came to Pondicherry in search of a new light he used to get five rupees from a friend and four persons used to live on this. A cup of tea was one of the luxuries they used to have everyday in the morning, on the Pondicherry beach. Sri Aurobindo used to always look at a mystic called Kullachamy (Subramanya Bharati has written a poem about him). He used to behave like a madman, wandering here and there, throwing stones ... One, day he came near Sri Aurobindo, lifted his cup of tea and emptied it in front of him. Then he showed the empty cup to him, placed it on the table and went away. Sri Aurobindo"s friends were angry and wanted to chase him, Sri Aurobindo stopped them and said, "This is the kind of instruction I had been expecting from him. He wants me to empty my mind and start thinking afresh." That is my appeal to you.
Posted by: acharya Oct 23 2003, 05:12 PM The Struggle for India's Soul A reply to Mira KAMDAR by Dr. Koenraad ELST ________ The article “The struggle for India’s soul” by Mira Kamdar (World Policy Journal, fall 2002) exemplifies the confusions bedevilling the communalism debate, especially among avowed secularists and their NRI friends. In the present paper, I will not posit any new thesis but merely draw attention to the logical fallacies and factual mistakes so typical of secularist polemic against Hindu nationalism. 1. “Hindu fascism” Mira Kamdar tells us about a paradoxical combination of opinions in her father: “My immigrant Gujarati father is both a liberal Democrat and a supporter of Hindu fascism. This is not as unusual as one might think.” Before discussing this paradox, we need to focus on the use of a single word which does more in conditioning the mind of the non-specialist reader than any thesis developed at length in her paper: “fascism”. If the Hindu ideology under consideration were really “fascism”, then its combination with liberal anti-racism would be highly unusual and problematic, requiring a thorough explanation which Mira Kamdar’s paper fails to offer. Of course, if some of the groups concerned were to call themselves “fascists”, it would be normal if we were to do likewise. But that is not the case at all: they describe themselves as “Hindu nationalists”, “Hindu revivalists” or “genuine secularists”. So, in a scholarly paper, as opposed to a partisan political pamphlet, the decision to describe them as “fascists” can come only at the end of an analysis showing how in spite of their own self-description they really do satisfy the definition of “fascism”. But no such analysis has been given here. The term “fascism” is thrown in at the outset without any justification, in an obvious attempt to condition the unwitting reader into a mood of hatred against the targeted Hindu activists. I have analysed the discourse on “Hindu fascism” in detail in my book The Saffron Swastika (Voice of India, Delhi 2001), and will offer a few arguments against the notion below. For now, I may limit the explanation of my skepticism about it to the following observation. The Hindu nationalists, presently in power in Delhi, are not “fascists”, and the best proof is the very fact that this allegation is made so routinely. In an age in which this is the ultimate insult and the most terrible allegation, no authoritarian government would let opposition voices get away with uttering it day in and day out. Yet, for today’s Indian intellectuals, levelling grim allegations against the Hindu nationalists, including that of “fascism”, does not entail a risk of landing in prison or in a torture chamber, not even of being censored or fired. On the contrary, it is a very smart career move. It can get you a job with prestigious media and institutions, and it will earn you invitations to the American lecture circuit. Get rich quick! Farther down in her paper, Mira Kamdar continues in the same vein: “The president should condemn strongly the genocide in Gujarat and attacks elsewhere against India’s Muslims”. (emphasis added) Killing 2000 people is terrible, but in a population of millions, can you seriously call it “genocide”? This kind of hyperbole betrays a purely polemical rather than scholarly purpose behind her paper. Or the prevalence of the polemical mode against Hindutva to such an overwhelming extent that scholars sheepishly adopt it even without having the intention of straying from scholarly deontology. She also writes the following line about Ashutosh Varshney’s latest book: “Varshney presents, almost sotto voce, a secondary line of argument where, I believe, he more accurately nails the beast of Hindutva to the wall.” Another brief remark on terminology is in order here. Communism killed over 100 million people, yet, what academic journal would accept a paper describing Communism as a “beast”? Anyone using such terminology would at once be derided as “McCarthyist” and worse. But in writing on Hindutva, the normal rules are suspended. 2. Inequality, racism and Islam Mira Kamdar doesn’t seem to realize that she is providing a good entry point into a justification of the “anti-Muslim anti-racism” paradox where she details her own family’s anti-racist commitment: “Even our parents’ ‘mixed marriage’—my mother is Danish American—was to be understood not so much as a love affair as a salvo in the war on racism.” Well, there you have an excellent starting-point for a little meditation on the similarities between racism and Islam. If Mira Kamdar’s father was in favour of mixed marriages, he had necessarily to be an opponent of Islam. For, Islam forbids mixed marriages, viz. between a Muslim and a non-Muslim. Such marriages are only allowed if the non-Muslim partner first converts, so that it is no longer a mixed marriage but a purely inter-Muslim one. This rule is strictly enforced (and even in Western countries, Muslim social pressure to this effect is very strong) in case of a union between a Muslim woman and a man of non-Muslim origin: Islam as a system of domination does not tolerate a Muslim partner submitting to the authority of a non-Muslim pater familias. In the reverse case, there is more scope for accommodation: care must be taken that the resulting children are raised as Muslims, but in specific social circumstances the non-Muslim identity of the wife may be respected. This asymmetry is exactly like in the racist equation in the American Old South: no white father would ever allow his daughter to go with a black man, but he might allow himself to have a black mistress. The idea is that the natural order is respected as long as the dominant male partner belongs to the dominant class. To be sure, this attitude is not exclusive to Islam or to racism, it appears in most groups pretending to some kind of collective superiority. But at any rate, it helps explain why an anti-racist could logically also be an anti-Islamist. The combination of liberalism and anti-Islamism has recently been illustrated by the case of the Dutch politician Pim Fortuyn, murdered during his spectacular election campaign in May 2002 by a Dutch leftist. This ultra-liberal sociology professor and avowed homosexual had criticized the illiberal elements in Islam, particularly regarding women, homosexuals and non-Muslims. He was not against Muslim immigration per se (“I have nothing against Muslims, I go to bed with them”) but he favoured a controlled slowing of immigration in order to facilitate the full assimilation of the Muslim immigrants, away from their physical and mental ghettoes. When he turned this position into a political programme and stood for elections, he rapidly gained the support of a veritable rainbow of different opinion segments, including emancipated ex-Muslims, native critics of immigration or of Islam, and most remarkably, some of the non-Muslim immigrant groups, especially the Hindu community immigrated from Surinam in the 1970s. There has never been anything particularly right-wing in the voting behaviour of these Hindus, and Fortuyn was not really a rightist anyway, but they certainly were ready to sympathize with the first politician to speak out against the more unpleasant aspects of Islam. Another groups that combines liberalism and anti-Islamism is the growing circle of enlightened apostate Muslims. Unlike in India, in Muslim countries it takes a lot of courage to be a secularist. It is these brave champions of freedom and humanist values who are shot in the back by the slanderous identification of anti-Islamic positions with “fascism”. To be sure, these Muslim-born liberals probably don’t hate their compatriots who have not yet outgrown Islam (though in many cases, it is painful personal experiences with true Muslims that made them question the faith in the first place), but that makes little difference. Indian “secularists” treat any and every criticism of Islam, no matter how experience-based, no matter how factual or scholarly, no matter how humanist and liberal, as “hate” and “fascism”. 3. The perennial Aryans The following sentences appear to be an attempt by Mira Kamdar to reinterpret her father’s anti-racist sarcasms as actually an expression of secret Nazi sympathies, which in turn are implicitly linked to his anti-Muslim feelings: “More boldly, and more rarely, he would allude to the Nazis’ linkage of Indians with Germans in one vast Aryan family. I always took these remarks to be tongue-in-cheek observations that no one, least of all my father, really believed, remarks designed more to provoke than to express his true views.” The key phrase concerns Whites and Indians jointly being “Aryans”. Since the mere mention of the term “Aryan” tends to cause hysteria in the general public, and utter confusion among Indian secularists, a little explanation is in order. According to the Aryan Invasion Theory (AIT), cherished by British colonialists, Nazis and Indian secularists alike, and questioned by a variety of scholars as well as by the present generation of Hindutva activists, much of the Indian population is of “Aryan” or effectively of European origin, immigrated through Central Asia into India in the 2nd millennium BC. In the early 20th century, this theory was used by some Indian emigrants in demanding equal rights with Europeans on grounds of common ancestry or racial identity, both in South Africa and in the United States. While racial equality for all was still considered a long shot, the more limited goal of lifting Indians out of the “coloured” and into the “Aryan” or “White” category did seem feasible, at least rhetorically if not legally. That is why Mira’s father had a point in turning the concept “Aryan” against its White originators by using it to claim equality. She need have no doubts that his use of the expression was indeed “tongue-in-cheek”, for he clearly didn’t seriously accept the notion of “Aryan” as a racial concept. It had nothing to do with any secret Nazi convictions, much less with his opinion about Muslims. 4. Hate, the concept That opinion, we are told, amounts to nothing less than hate: “So it has been a great and sad shock to me to realize that my father, who loved Martin Luther King, hates Muslims. He hates them blindly, viscerally, categorically. (…) in any discussion where Muslims, the Middle East, Bosnia (not to mention Pakistan) comes up, he is wont to fly into an apoplectic rage, turn red in the face, shout until spit begins to pool at the sides of his mouth, shake his fists. The culmination of these fits is always the same. He bends over, seizes the cuff of the right leg of his pants, and pulls it up to show off a series of diagonal dents marching up his shin, scars from a back-alley encounter decades ago with a gang of bicycle-chain-wielding Muslim youths. ‘This is what Muslims did to me! This is what Muslims do!’” Here it is said without ambiguity: this man hates Muslims because he personally suffered under Muslim aggression. No Hindutva indoctrination needed, just a lesson from reality. This is not to say that hatred, even if based in real experience, should be condoned. But hatred is an emotional category, not a political one. I hope we won’t deny a rape victim the right to hate her rapist. It might be desirable if she managed to rise above this emotional reaction, forgiveness being the cardinal Christian virtue, but it is not something we can demand of her. It would have been magnanimous of Mr. Kamdar to rise above his vengeful feelings against his Muslim assailants, but his daughter is in no position to condemn him for failing to do so. As long as his hatred doesn’t lead him to violence or other illegal behaviour, his hatred is purely a matter of freedom of opinion. Likewise, most Hindus have generally restrained the expression of their indignation and even of their hatred to verbal utterances between relatives and neighbours, or in letters to the editor, rather than physically taking it out on Muslims. What is always overlooked in a discussion of the Gujarat carnage, is how exceptional this type of Hindu retaliation to a Muslim act of aggression (the Godhra pogrom, cfr. infra) turns out to be once we take a larger perspective. There was no Hindu retaliation to the Mumbai bomb blasts of March 1993; to the numerous group killings of Hindus in Jammu and Kashmir; to the mass killing of Hindu activists in Coimbatore in February 1998; to the frequent reports of pogroms on Hindus in Bangladesh; or to the attacks on the Parliament buildings in Srinagar and Delhi in the autumn of 2001. Even the Gujarat carnage remained confined to a few cities in one state, and when Islamic terrorists killed more than thirty Gujarati Hindu worshippers in the Akshardham temple in Gandhinagar only a few months later, there was no Hindu retaliation, in accordance with the old pattern. By and large, Hindus have shown remarkable self-restraint in the face of violent provocation, a fact for which they are given insufficient credit. Likewise, even Mira Kamdar’s father, for all the intense resentment attributed to him by his daughter, is not reported to have taken any kind of revenge upon the community he is said to hate so much. However, one intellectual failing in Mr. Kamdar’s opinion as conveyed by his daughter is the sweeping generalization implicit in it. From what a handful of Muslims did to him, he deduced that “this is what Muslims do”, i.e. Muslims in general, all Muslims. This is an unwarranted leap of logic, and a dangerous one too. In his case, it apparently hasn’t led him to taking out his anger on other Muslims, but in many other cases, that is precisely what happens: numerous communal riots in India start with Muslim goondas attacking Hindus, followed by (the affected as well as other) Hindus retaliating not against the original aggressors but against any Muslim in sight. But Mira Kamdar thinks there is more to the latest rioting than an expression of pent-up resentment finally boiling over: “Until quite recently, I believed my father’s hatred of Muslims to be a particular affliction, the result of an attack whose emotional scars go far deeper than the physical ones. I realized in 1992–93, when Hindu-Muslim riots raged throughout India in the wake of the destruction of the Babri Masjid (mosque) in Ayodhya by Hindu militants, that my father’s views were, if not a universal plague, at least a widespread distemper. A decade later in 2002, it has become chillingly clear that Hindu-Muslim conflict in India is no longer — if it ever was — a natural malady, the unfortunate inheritance of an ancient people beset by too much history and too many conquerors: it has become a weapon of political engineering wielded by Hindu militant leaders bent on transforming India from the secular democracy its founders envisioned 55 years ago into a Hindu religious state, sanitized of Muslims and other minority groups.” This is a fashionable view, but it is given here without any evidence. It is quite unclear how in the past decade, something has happened to disprove the impression created by Mira Kamdar’s father, viz. that Hindu hatred of Muslims is the reaction to a deep scar based in real experiences of Muslim violence. The causes of communal feelings haven’t really changed since 1992. Talk to the average Bajrang Dal activist or Shiv Sena voter, and you will verify that the hatred is real, but that it is most certainly “the unfortunate inheritance of an ancient people beset by too much history and too many conquerors”. Even a more restrained observer like V.S. Naipaul gives precisely that reason for his view that India is a “wounded civilization” and for his concomitant criticism of Islam as an alienating and destructive force. In very many cases, Hindus also have personal experiences which directly explain their hatred of Muslims,-- which admittedly is true of many Muslims vis-à-vis Hindus as well. I have interacted with and taken interviews of numerous Hindutva activists and leaders in the past fifteen years, and one constant among those who expressed anti-Muslim views (by no means all of them) was the reference to actual Muslim aggression, whether during Partition or in Kashmir or in local communal confrontations. This is not to deny that some politicians, by no means only of Hindutva parties, may have whipped up these pre-existing emotions in specific contexts where communal polarization seemed useful to them. But to explain the widespread negative feelings of Hindus about Muslims as the effect of politicians’ propaganda amounts to a far-fetched conspiracy theory. 5. The Hindutva programme Hindu nationalism is accused of aiming at “transforming India from the secular democracy its founders envisioned 55 years ago into a Hindu religious state, sanitized of Muslims and other minority groups.” But in fact, the BJP has never included anything of this kind in any of its programmatic statements, quite the reverse. Its 5-year performance in government confirms the truth of its statements: it has not even expelled any of the millions of illegal immigrants from Bangladesh, something which is perfectly within its legal power to do (every sovereign state by definition reserves itself the right to control the access to its territory); let alone the legitimate Muslim citizens of India. But a polemicist can always circumvent such refutation by the facts: “The BJP plays the role of the moderate, mainstream entity, friendly to multinational capital and mature enough to lead India onto the global stage of the great powers, against the RSS’s frankly fascist youth corps activities, the VHP’s worldwide propaganda machine, and the Bajrang Dal’s street-level enforcement and terror gangs.” So now the BJP is no longer accused of Muslim-cleansing, but the party is part of a broader network with a division of labour, so that it can leave the truly dirty jobs to other affiliates of the network. However, even “the Bajrang Dal terror-gangs” haven’t expelled any Muslims from India. Of course, the secularists can then fall back on their next line, which is that of a “threat”, a prediction that after further radicalization, this is what the Hindutva forces will do. If today the facts stand in the way of their alarmist thesis, tomorrow will prove them right, mañana mañana… But meanwhile, the stark fact is that the continuous trickle of Hindu refugees from Pakistan and Bangladesh is not reciprocated by a symmetrical phenomenon of Muslim flight from India. On the contrary, even in BJP-ruled India, even in Mumbai a.k.a. Shiv Sena City, there is a continuous influx of Bangladeshi Muslim fortune-seekers. They vote with their feet to refute Mira Kamdar’s alarmist stories. For half a century, all official statements of the BJP and its predecessor Jana Sangh have emphasized that the party does not want to “transform India from the secular democracy its founders envisioned 55 years ago into a Hindu religious state”, but that, on the contrary, it wants genuine secularism. Rather than being a hollow slogan, this position is articulated in the form of precise proposals for reform of an impeccably and undeniably secularist nature. Thus, the proposed abolition of the special status of Kashmir (Art. 370 of the Constitution) is nothing but the abolition of a religion-based privilege: no Hindu-majority state enjoys the special privileges accorded to Muslim-majority Kashmir. Likewise, any genuine secularist would abolish the existing anti-Hindu legal discriminations in matters of temple and school management and the subsidizing or taxing of pilgrimages. The BJP proposal to enact a Common Civil Code in replacement of the existing religion-based Personal Law systems is the very quintessence of secularism. Today, contrary to Mira Kamdar’s claim, India is not a secular state, for unlike genuinely secular states, India has no equality before the law regardless of religion. Thus, getting a divorce is extremely difficult for a Christian, is a matter fr judicial proceedings in the case of Hindus or of Muslim women, and is the unilateral exercise of an unfettered right of repudiation in the case of a Muslim man. What the BJP wants is to bring India in line with the secular states of the world by enacting a common law equally applying to all citizens. The qualification of the self-styled secularists as “pseudo-secularists” is definitely justified by the fact that they support the continuation of legal religion-based discrimination all while vilifying the only political force willing to secularize Personal Law. 6. The Godhra carnage In her paper, Mira Kamdar defends the well-known position of a fraction in India’s ideological landscape which calls itself “secularist”. It will be clear by now that this so-called “secularism” is a deeply flawed political identity, but I will give Ms. Kamdar credit for being rather more even-handed in her presentation than is common in secularist sources. Thus, she writes: “On February 27, a train carrying Hindu militants back from a trip to Ayodhya, where they had gone to press anew for the construction of a temple on the site of the razed Babri mosque, stopped in the small town of Godhra, near Ahmedabad, in Gujarat. What happened next is not entirely clear, except for the fact that a Muslim mob set fire to the train, killing 58 people, mostly women and children.” Most Hindutva sources, searchable on the internet but otherwise quite unreported in the Western media, have emphasized that most victims were “women and children”, implying a big question-mark over the description of the Godhra victims as “militants”. Because of this inconvenient implication, most authors propagating the “secularist” viewpoint before ignorant Western audiences have simply left out the detail that the victims were “mostly women and children”, so as to make the allegation of “militancy” more credible, along with the justifying suggestion that those fanatics had it coming to them. Well, it is to Ms. Kamdar’s credit that she didn’t play this game of deception. But it weakens her plea against Hindutva, for it amounts to an admission that the whole Gujarat carnage started with innocent Hindus being victimized. And in the blame game, it remains crucial which side is in a position to say: “You started it!” Just how crucial, is illustrated by Mira Kamdar’s attempt, later on, to depict the Muslim participation in the subsequent riots as “retaliatory”, a characterization withheld from the Hindu retaliation: “Once the violence got underway, there were retaliatory attacks by Muslims on Hindus.” (emphasis added) It all depends at what moment you start counting. That is why many “secularist” references to the Gujarat riots now simply leave the initial Godhra episode unmentioned, just as most secularist accounts of the Mumbai riots of January 1993 pass over the initial Muslim attacks in silence. This is like letting World War II start with the Allied “aggression” in Normandy in 1944, opposed by German “defenders of Europe”. But if in the case of Gujarat the Muslim initiative cannot be denied, it can at least be minimized and even, to some extent, justified: “Conspiracy theories aside, when a trainload of Hindu militants stops in a Muslim area, when taunts and insults begin to fly, it doesn’t take much to imagine how the situation can get badly out of control.” While this sentence deals with an attack of Muslims on Hindus, note how the author manages to describe the Hindus, and only the Hindus, as “fanatics”. And note that whereas the subsequent Hindu violence is attributed to the VHP, the Bajrang Dal, Chief Minister Narendra Modi and other named agents, the initial Muslim attack is not ascribed to conscious agents but reduced to an impersonal fact of life: “insults begin to fly”, “the situation gets out of control”. It seems that jihad really is the work of Heaven, not of man. 7. A pre-planned butchery? “Everyone expected some kind of act of revenge. Attacks and counterattacks between Hindus and Muslims are nothing new in Gujarat. No one doubted that some Muslims were going to pay with their lives for the Hindu lives lost. But few anticipated what happened next. (…) Truckloads of Hindus, mostly young men — many sporting headbands in saffron, the Hindu sacred color — headed for Muslim neighbourhoods. They were armed not only with homemade gasoline bombs, trishuls (the trident-shaped weapon associated with the god Shiva), and knives but also, in some cases, with printouts from government computer databases listing the names and addresses of Muslims and Muslim-owned businesses. (…) Muslim homes and businesses were looted, and then the buildings and often the dismembered bodies of the former occupants were set on fire. Neighboring Hindu homes and businesses were spared. (…) It was evident that state and local authorities not only did nothing to stop the violence but were actually complicit in orchestrating the attacks. (…) This was no spontaneous eruption of Hindu righteous outrage too deep to be suppressed, as the VHP would have it. (…) This was ethnic cleansing, designed by Hindu extremists to purge Gujarat of Muslims." Assuming that the claim of rioters using governmental population data is correct, there is no reason to deduce that the riots were organized by a government agency, much less that they were “pre-planned” in the sense of having been planned in advance of the Godhra pogrom. It suffices that one government employee, in defiance of the rules, sent an e-mail divulging governmental data to some militant friends, and the same evening riot parties could take to the streets with weapons in one hand and the printout in the other. But we may agree that there was planning involved, in this sense that the violence was not inflicted blindly but was carefully aimed at Muslims and Muslim property. At this point, we must agree with Mira Kamdar, both in acknowledging the capacity for violence in some Hindutva circles and in unreservedly condemning the initiative to riot. I have often listened with amazement and disgust to your typical Gujarati Bania (trader) who, after affirming Gandhian platitudes about the “equal truth of all religions”, waxes eloquent on how “Muslims should be taught a lesson”. It is hardly surprising that their unreflected and simplistic anger would at some point boil over into an actual carnage. In my opinion, part of the reason for this is the total rejection, both by secularists and Hindutva organizations, of any critical study of religions. The superficial approach, typical of secularism and equally practised by the would-be secularists of the BJP, merely sees Muslims staging a pogrom in Godhra. The more sophisticated approach makes the distinction between the Indians who commit the carnage and the ideology which has estranged them from and turned them against their fellow-countrymen, viz. Islam. Either you realize that the problem is not Muslims but Islam and you subject that doctrine to the appropriate critique (criticism of religion being the very start of any criticism, according to Karl Marx), or you shield Islam from criticism and remain stuck with the naked fact that the perpetrators of the Godhra pogrom were Muslims. The superficial flattering blather about Islam being a “noble faith” and “a path leading to the same goal” as Hinduism (Gandhi), about “genuine Islam” being a “religion of peace” (secularism) or a respectable form of “Arab nationalism” later unfortunately “distorted by the Mullahs” (Hindutva), paradoxically leads to the non-comprehension of the Islamic phenomenon and hence to unreflected irrational attitudes and possibly to violent outbursts against Muslims. But the capacity for violence dormant in the silly chattering of the Indian bourgeoisie is by no means confined to Hindutva or Islamist circles. Mira Kamdar herself reminds us of a secularist instance: “The attacks in Gujarat recalled quite starkly the state-facilitated, retributive attacks on Sikhs in New Delhi following the assassination of former prime minister Indira Gandhi by her Sikh bodyguards in 1984.” While Hindutva activists (including the later Prime Minister A.B. Vajpayee in person) tried to save the Sikhs, the pogrom was conducted by the youth wing of the Congress Party, secularist par excellence. Three thousand Sikhs killed, that was secularism in action. Contrary to a very common recent claim, the Gujarat carnage was by no means the biggest-ever since Partition. In death toll it was rivalled, for example, by the Bhagalpur riots of 1989. Yet, there was a new element this time around: “Certainly, the Hindu victims in the train at Godhra and those who perished or lost their homes in the subsequent violence suffered no less horrible fates than Muslim victims. These attacks are as indefensible as any other, and are to be condemned. The critical difference, however, is that there was no state complicity in Muslim attacks on Hindus.” But this remains an open question. A number of private agencies, mostly foreign-based and foreign-funded, have made and propagated the allegation of “state complicity”, and I don’t want to rule out that they may be right. However, India happens to be a democracy with separation of powers, with a judiciary that has often proven its independence from the government of the day. As an elitist and essentially despotic movement (claiming to know better than the backward masses what is good for them), Indian secularism is naturally ill at ease with democracy, which it decries as “populism”, “demagoguery” or “majoritarianism” when convenient. But much as secularist polemicists would like to privatize justice and bypass the official judiciary, only the existing courts are empowered to pass judgment on whether or not the Gujarat state government was an accomplice in the riots. In the Ayodhya temple/mosque affair, where the courts have been dragging the case for more than fifty years now, the secularists have always told the Hindus to be patient and abide by the court verdict. In the present case, there is no dearth of agencies willing to take the Modi government to court, and then it is up to them to exercise patience and wait for the judicial verdict. 8. Adivasi participation The “tribal” question is another reality check for the intellectual grip of the secularists on the communal problem: “For the first time as well, large numbers of Adivasi tribals participated in the attacks. (India terms indigenous ethnic groups who do not traditionally practice Hinduism or any other of the country’s main religions and who have no place in the Hindu caste hierarchy ‘tribals’.) They were trucked into target areas and plied with liquor to put them in the right ransacking mood. For some years, the VHP and other allied groups of the Sangh Parivar have been working to convert the tribals, who have their own animistic beliefs, to Hinduism and enlist them in anti-Muslim efforts. In Gujarat, Adivasis were reportedly used against the Muslim moneylenders to whom they were indebted, in order to eliminate the competition for local Hindu moneylenders.“ A series of allegations is made here which are all in need of proof. Clearly, secularists doubt the capacity of tribals to make their own decisions, even consequential decisions such as participating in pitched battles with Muslims. While Hindus are wily manipulators with an agenda of their own, tribals have to be “plied with liquor” before acting. In reality, enmity between tribals and Muslims is a long-standing sociological phenomenon, based on deep cultural differences (including a propensity among tribals to eat pork and drink the liquor already mentioned, unclean practices from a Muslim viewpoint) and de facto conflicts of interests, including the said problems with moneylenders. One such objective conflict of interests is the settlement of illegal Bangladeshi immigrants on tribal lands, which in 1983 in the Northeastern district of Nellie led to clashes between native tribals (many of them Christians) and Muslim settlers, exacting a death toll of thousands. In 2002, Christian tribals in Nagaland organized in the National Socialist Council of Nagalim have decreed that no further Muslim encroachment on their land, nor attempts by Muslims to marry tribal women, will be tolerated, the penalty being death. So, tribal-Muslim clashes are nothing new and don’t necessarily require the intervention of Hindutva agitators. At some point in most debates on Indian religions, secularists with Hindu names will claim the right to speak as Hindus and to be judges of what “real” Hinduism is, as against the Hindutva fanatics who have “hijacked Hinduism for their own un-Hindu purposes”. But let them continue, and you will find that they are unable to pass even the simplest test of knowledge of Indian religions. Typically, they will display all the misunderstandings which people from a Christian background bring to the debate, projecting categories from Western religious history onto the Indian situation. Case in point: Mira Kamdar claims that the VHP is “working to convert the tribals, who have their own animistic beliefs, to Hinduism” (emphases added). This is purely a projection onto the Indian socio-religious continuum of the typically Christian division of mankind into box-like groupings defined by separate belief systems, with one trying to swallow or destroy the other through conversion of its adherents. India never had the notion that “tribal animism” and “Hinduism” were separate religions. Hinduism itself has been described (e.g. in the preamble to the 1901 Census Report) as “animism refined by metaphysics”. To Muslims and Christians, even the most isolated and least “sanskritized” Indian tribals are Heathens of the same hell-bound kind as Hindus: idol-worshipping polytheists unfamiliar with Mohammed c.q. Jesus. When the Muslim invaders introduced the Persian term Hindu (originally a purely geographical term, “Indian”), they applied it to all native religionists, to all Indian Pagans, from Brahmins and Buddhists to tribal “animists”, precisely because the most important religious trait was one which they had all in common, viz. their unbelief in prophetic monotheism. The relevant definition of “tribal” is not by belief system but by sociological and geographical position. Even then, it is not true that the tribals, or rather Atavika-s, “forest-dwellers” (modern Vanavasi-s, “forest-dwellers”, or in Gandhi-speak Girijan-s, “hill people”), “have no place in the Hindu caste hierarchy”. Traditional Hindu society was conceived as a number of concentric circles, with the narrowest circles comprising the Vedic specialists, the next one the higher castes collectively, then the whole population in so far as it abided by basic Vedic norms such as the taboo on cow-slaughter, and finally the whole of India including marginal groups not observing Vedic purity rules: people performing unclean professions or suspected of having loose sexual morals, eating beef etc. Even at worst, the tribals at least fall within the last circle, peripheral but certainly part of Hindu society. In particular, the institution of caste, which secularists obsessively identify with Hinduism, is an essential feature of Indian tribal life. A tribe is an endogamous group, the very definition of caste. Indeed, it has been observed (by Dr. Bhimrao Ambedkar among many others) that caste is nothing but the continuation in literate Hindu society of tribal identities: as tribes all over India got integrated into the expanding Vedic civilization originating in India’s Northwest, they retained their collective identities as endogamous groups. The traditional Hindu term for both castes and tribes is jati, “birthgroup”, while the first British colonizers used the term “tribe” for both tribes and castes, e.g. the “Brahmin tribe”. What VHP workers perform in tribal communities is not “conversion”, meaning the abandonment of one religion for another, but that which sociologists have called “sanskritization”. The basic structure of existing tribal religiosity is left intact: ritualism, respect for the sacred, the enacted concentration of the sacred into specific objects (sacred trees, stones, idols) for worshipping purposes, these are all practices familiar to tribals as much as to Sanskritic Hindus. Into this basic religiosity, more advanced philosophical notions and values, such as meditation and non-attachment, are infused, just as they once had to be injected into the more naturalistic culture of the Vedic kings by the first seers and renunciates. The ritual and doctrinal continuity between tribal “animism” and Vedic tradition is given a practical application by the conjunction of tribal tradition with Sanskritic culture in the schools which Hindu organizations have opened in tribal areas. “Conversion” in the real sense of the term is only performed as the undoing of a previous conversion from tribal Hinduism to Christianity. These much-publicized cases of conversion are called “home-coming” (ghar-wapasi), because unlike in conversions to Christianity, the people concerned are not abandoning their native religion but are returning to it. Contrary to what Mira Kamdar intimates, the term “tribal” is by no means a Hindu imposition; it is of course a Western colonial coinage, of the same vintage as “secularism” and “conversion”. The same is true of the term she innocently uses to designate the tribals, viz. Adivasi, “aboriginal”, a term which falsely implies that non-tribals are not indigenous, or at least less indigenous than tribals. In many cases, the implication of tribal indigenousness is also untrue, e.g. the most separatist tribes in the Northeast, the christianized Nagas and Mizos, only immigrated into their present habitat from the East in the Middle Ages, quite late by Indian standards. Even the Munda-speaking tribals in Chotanagpur are generally considered pre-Harappan-age immigrants from Indochina, still the demographic point of gravity of their Austro-Asiatic language family. And the Dravidians are traced back by various scholars to Elam, Central Asia or even Africa, immigrating into India only in the early Harappan age. If the much-maligned Aryans perforce have to be described as “invaders”, they are not the only ones. At any rate, unlike the secularists, the Christian missionaries were always very clever and well-informed in religious matters, and in order to indigenize their divisive categorization of the Indian population, they invented the pseudo-indigenous Sanskrit neologism Adivasi. All by itself, this little word became one of the most brilliantly successful disinformation campaigns in modern history, falsely planting the novel notion of an aboriginal/invader antagonism into all thinking about the tribal condition. And no one is more susceptible to lapping up such false notions, provided they serve an anti-Hindu purpose, as are the secularists with their gross illiteracy in matters religious and Indian. 9. Rape and rumours Mira Kamdar is right in condemning the role played by ugly rumours in generating the sparks that set cities aflame: “The threat of the violation of women is a reliable way to fire up Hindu-Muslim passions. One of the reasons given for the Muslim mob attacking the train at Godhra was the rumor of the ‘molestation’ and ‘abduction’ of a girl by Hindus on board. Following the attack on the train, the vernacular press in Gujarat ran incendiary headlines, one of which accused Muslims of lopping off Hindu women’s breasts.” Yes, no words are strong enough to condemn the irresponsible rumour-mongering by the media. This includes the false allegations against Hindus in the Times of India or the Washington Post as much as the cruder below-the-belt allegations against the other community in the vernacular press, whether Urdu or Gujarati. But Mira Kamdar is not very careful in her choice of sources. She quotes someone who clearly hasn’t heard of the terrible treatment of women in the Partition carnage or, during his own adult life, in the Bangladesh war: "’I have never known a riot which has used the sexual subjugation of women so widely as an instrument of violence as in the recent barbarity in Gujarat’, wrote Harsh Mander, a senior Indian Civil Service Officer who resigned his post in disgust.” The number of women raped by the Pakistani army and its fundamentalist collaborators in Bangladesh in 1971 is usually estimated as 250,000, of whom many were raped dozens of times. Did our expert on communalism really not know about this? And this is not the only thing wrong with her source. For in the meantime, the truth about Harsh Mander’s “resignation” is out. Rather than resigning and forfeiting his pension, he merely took early retirement, retaining his rights and pension. Not such a terrible sacrifice for a man employed by a wealthy British NGO, Action Aid, and serving its politico-communal agenda. He is a telling example of all those private judges insinuating themselves into the debates and investigations concerning the communal confrontation, such as “Human Rights Watch, the European Union, the British High Commission, the Citizens’ Initiative of Ahmedabad, the Editor’s Guild of India, Communalism Combat, Amnesty International, and India’s own National Human Rights Commission”, all those human-rights champions who never noticed the ethnic cleansing of Hindus from Kashmir but savour their testimony of Muslim suffering in Gujarat no end. While we are on the subject of the Hindu-cleansing in Kashmir, this is how Mira Kamdar reports the matter: “In the late 1980s, Kashmiri Muslim political frustration erupted into a violent insurgency. The state’s Hindus, who were the targets of Muslim anger, fled en masse.” And she goes on to quote with approval: “‘With the resurgence of the Kashmir crisis and the migration of Hindus, Hindu nationalism received a new political impetus’, according to Varshney.” (emphases added) As if the Hindus made a choice to “migrate”, as if their “fleeing” was a personal decision and not the result of a concerted and deliberate Pak-backed Muslim campaign. But what is innocuously called a “migration” in the case of Kashmiri Hindus, is grimly called “genocide” in the case of Gujarati Muslims. 10. Gandhi “Gujarat is also the birthplace of Mohandas Gandhi, the father of independent India and the founder of a powerful political movement based on ahimsa, or nonviolence. My own grandfather—like the grandfathers of many of the young men who participated in the killing and looting in Gujarat, no doubt—was a devoted follower of Gandhi. Gandhi stood resolutely for a secular India and for tolerance—even love—for upper-caste Hindu society’s outcasts: untouchables, Muslims, landless peasants, dispossessed factory workers. His murder by a Hindu extremist discredited the RSS and the Hindu militant movement for decades. But, like the phoenix, the Hindu right has risen from the ashes of Hindu-Muslim conflict in Gujarat stronger than ever.” Indian “secularist” discourse frequently relapses into the premodern stage, where rational thought could be blocked with magical formulas. One very popular power mantra to switch off the critical faculty is “Gandhi”. At least for use against Hindus, since nobody holds it against secularists like Nehru that they betrayed Gandhi in every respect, e.g. the Mahatma’s insistence on economic and cultural Swadeshi, his opposition to industrialization and to the deployment of a combat-worthy army, his anti-secular emphasis on the role of religion in politics. But Hindus are expected to swallow their every argument once the name Gandhi is invoked against it. In defiance of this secularist magic, I propose we use our critical faculty and investigate Gandhi’s own role in the Gujarat carnage. It is very simple and clear-cut: by going to one extreme with enormous intensity and then failing miserably, he triggered a movement towards the other extreme. With all his soul-force, Gandhi could only make Hindus and British liberals desist from violence. He failed with the Moplahs (who killed or forcibly converted Hindus in Kerala during the Khilafat agitation in 1921) and with the Muslim League, or rather, he didn’t even try. It is one thing to perform a “miracle” in Calcutta during Partition, making Hindus desist from killing Muslims, but it would have been quite another and much more spectacular miracle to stop the much more massive killing of Hindus and Sikhs in West Panjab. In the event, Gandhiji didn’t try to stop it. Instead, he told Hindu refugees in Delhi to go back to West Panjab and voluntarily get killed there. This extreme case of double standards, and the abdication by the Mahatma of his original commitment to stake his life in preventing Partition, is what made Nathuram Godse decide to assassinate him. Most Hindus, including the leadership of the Hindu Mahasabha and the RSS, had never considered physically punishing Gandhiji for his failure in stopping Partition and the concomitant carnage. However, they did retain a deep scar and a resolve to avoid repeating Gandhi’s mistake. Though paying lip-service to Gandhi’s memory and though temperamentally at home in the Gandhian spirit of compromise, even Gandhi’s own community of Gujarati Bania-s has grown weary of the policy of “appeasement”. Under the blows of frequent Muslim pestering, such as the petty terror which drove Hindus out of certain neighbourhoods in Ahmedabad (as attested by a state law prohibiting inter-community sales of real estate in the wake of communal riots, a law routinely circumvented by Muslim mafia dons using stooges), they developed a strong resentment which finally boiled over after the Godhra pogrom. Had Gandhi piloted a grown-up approach to peace-keeping, including the formula of “peace through strength” implicitly applied by most democratic governments, his principles would still be used as guidelines in controlling communal conflicts. Instead, his extremism in insisting on meekness and refusing any and every application of force against bullies backfired and helped to generate an extremism in the opposite direction: a loose readiness to take to arms on slender pretexts. 11. A gift from heaven Concerning the danger posed by Hindu nationalism, Mira Kamdar engages a rival viewpoint within her secularist spectrum of opinion: “Ashutosh Varshney, a political science professor at the University of Michigan, thinks a Hindu extremist takeover of India at the national level is highly unlikely.” What follows next is an interesting discussion of a reassuring thesis developed by Varshney in his book Ethnic Conflict and Civic Life: Hindus and Muslims in India (Yale University Press, 2002). But our attention is drawn more strongly by something truly weird in the introductory sentence just quoted. As late as 2002, Varshney wrote, in Mira Kamdar’s paraphrase, that “a Hindu extremist takeover of India at the national level is highly unlikely”,-- four years after a BJP-led coalition came to power. Between the BJP’s electoral breakthrough in 1989 (from 2 to 86 seats in the Lok Sabha) and its coming to power in 1998, there had been no end of warnings about the terrible things which a “Hindu extremist” BJP government would do: abolish democracy, throw the Muslims into the Arabian Sea, open gas chambers, organize mass sati, restore untouchability, crucify the missionaries, what not. After all, once you called them “Hindu fascists”, such predictions followed with impeccable logic. But none of those things materialized. Consider democracy: Hitler came to power at the head of a coalition government, just like A.B. Vajpayee, and within a year he had neutralized parliament and assumed dictatorial powers. The BJP, by contrast, after losing a confidence vote in 1999 by a margin of one, submitted to the will of the people and called new elections. On the Hindu-Muslim riots front, things remained as quiet as they had been in the preceding years (from March 1993 onwards), i.e. at a much more peaceful level than in the 1980s under Congress rule. By contrast, terrorism continued unabated. But the ones lethally targeted with great frequency by terrorists were Hindus, mostly by Kashmir-related “militants” (to use the approved secularist term) and less conspicuously also by Christian separatists in the Northeast and Communist guerrilla bands in the interior. So, the facts after a few years of BJP rule were crystal-clear: the main victims of religious violence were Hindus and there were no BJP gas chambers for Muslims. The whole anti-Hindutva industry was secretly facing acute embarrassment by the utter failure of its predictions to come true. To offset this failure, critics of the BJP tried to make the most of a supposed wave of minor incidents between Hindu tribals and Christians in 1998-2000. There were only a handful of mortal victims, far fewer than the dozens of Christians killed in Pakistan after September 11, 2001, but with the media as amplifiers, an impression of terrible oppression of a poor hapless minority was created. Unfortunately (or rather, fortunately), the key allegations made initially under the international spotlights turned out to be untrue. Yes, an Australian missionary and his two sons died in an arson incident, but neither the governmental inquiry nor the judicial investigation could confirm the eager secularist indictment of the Bajrang Dal. Yes, four nuns in Jhabua were raped, but no Hindu activists were involved: it was an inter-tribal and inter-Christian affair. Yes, a Christian teenage girl and her little brother were assaulted, but the man turned out to be a Christian himself. Indeed, this turned out to be a pattern: all inter-Christian incidents in this period, including those between the older and quieter churches (Syrian, Catholic, Anglican) and the intruding American fundamentalist sects, were suddenly blamed on the evil hand of the Hindus. This game of blaming the Hindus for the suffering of Christians was so successful that it inspired a third party to try its own hand at it. A series of bomb attacks against churches in South India did take place, wounding some worshipers. It was duly blamed on the Hindutva forces, but the perpetrators turned out to be a Pak-based Muslim organization, the Deendar Anjuman. Please note the chain of guilt here: the Islamic terrorists are of course responsible for their own acts, but they would not have committed these but for the encouragement given to them by the secularists. After all, the latter had proven that any unpleasant incident can successfully be blamed on the Hindus, and that the blame could not be washed off by any amount of official refutation, which would remain under-reported while the original allegation would go on being repeated. This way, the secularists have blood on their hands, viz. the blood of the Christian victims of these Islamic bomb attacks. In each of these cases, the original allegations against Hindus were splashed across the front pages in India and also reported in the world press, whereas the true story, once it came out, was reported on an inside page in India and not at all abroad. Even then, Christian spokesman John Dayal repeated the discredited allegations before the US Commission on International Religious Freedom, and they keep on reappearing in secularist sources. I am not aware of a single secularist who publicly withdrew the allegations and offered apologies for his slander to the maligned Hindus. Nor of one who has drawn attention to Christian violence against Hindus in the same period, such as the abduction of four RSS activists by Christian separatists in Tripura (the four dead bodies were found two years later) or the ethnic cleansing of the Hindu Riang tribe from Christian-majority Mizoram. Even so, the propaganda line of Hindu violence against Christians is no longer pursued with the same vigour, partly because its proponents seem to be embarrassed by their crying wolf a few times too often, and partly because it remains a relatively small affair even if all the allegations had been true. So, when the dust had settled, it became clear that the BJP government still hadn’t put any minority into gas chambers. Therefore, to the anti-Hindutva campaigners, the Gujarat carnage came as a God-sent. After four years of waiting in vain for some serious BJP atrocities, at long last they could go in to photograph charred Muslim bodies and point accusing fingers at BJP politicians. The new secularist party-line was, quite realistically, that the BJP contained a moderate faction, in power in Delhi, as well as an extremist faction, best represented by Gujarat Chief Minister Narendra Modi. All the predictions formerly made about “the” BJP could now be revived as applying to the extremist faction within the BJP. And given Modi’s landslide victory during the Gujarat state elections following the riots, it stood to reason that the Modi wing represented the wave of the future within the BJP. Whether that will mean more violence or just the opposite (e.g. a firm elimination of “militancy” in Kashmir) remains to be seen; and unlike Mira Kamdar, I will not hazard a prediction. 12. Pakistan Though the Nehruvian state was always obsessed with the evil “foreign hand” (mostly meaning the USA), its votaries have no patience with Hindutva spokesmen raising the same bogey, especially when Pakistan is meant: “But the claim that Pakistan ordered the attack at Godhra is unproved and, in my view, has little credibility.” Along with Mira Kamdar, I am rather skeptical of allegations against a Pakistani hand behind communal riots, though it must be kept in mind that the Gujarat riots have indeed worked greatly to Pakistan’s advantage. Anti-Indian and pro-Pakistani lobbyists in Washington D.C., with the help of NRI secularists, have made the most of the Gujarat affair in order to counterbalance the fact of Islamic terrorism with the notion of “Hindu terrorism”, this in order to prevent the post-9/11 indignation from serving India’s and hurting Pakistan’s cause. Yet, it does remain unlikely that the Pakistani Inter Services Intelligence has masterminded the Godhra carnage. But that estimation is not typically secularist, nor is its opposite typically Hindutva, on the contrary. A reasoned anti-Islamic position would consider Pakistan as merely one realization of the Indian Muslim mind, a mentality which has remained active inside India even after Partition. Hence, in this view, there is little difference between organized Indian Islam and the Pakistani state, both being inveterately anti-Hindu and quite capable of terror against Hindus. So, when a crime has been committed by a Muslim, there is no need of claiming a Pakistani (as opposed to Indian) nationality for the culprit. Likewise, the secularist position sees little difference between organized Indian Islam and the Pakistani state: both have legitimate fears about the communal designs of the Hindus and of the Indian state which Hindus dominate, and it is up to the Hindus to be tolerant of Muslim excesses just as it is up to India to accommodate Pakistani intransigence regarding Kashmir. By contrast, the would-be secularists who fill the leadership positions in the RSS and BJP make a distinction between the Indian Muslims (“Mohammedi Hindus”) and the Pakistani state. In order to prove that they have nothing against Muslims, they will bend over backwards in order to formulate any Hindu-Muslim conflict in terms of a conflict between two states, India and Pakistan. In order to exonerate Indian Muslims, they put the blame on Pakistan, the foreign hand. Mind you, the reason behind this insistence on Pakistani guilt is not Hindutva or anti-Islamism, on the contrary: it is attempted secularism, trying to shield the Indian Muslims from suspicion. 13. The textbook controversy Inevitably, Mira Kamdar brings up one of the flashpoints in the struggle between Hindutva and the Marxist-Mullah-Missionary alliance, viz. the textbook controversy: “The shaping of young minds is something the Sangh Parivar takes very seriously. Murli Manohar Joshi, an old RSS hand and India’s minister for human resources, wants to ‘saffronize’ education in India by rewriting history textbooks to reflect Hindutva’s version of India’s history. Joshi has announced that all new school books will have to be cleared by religious leaders before publication.” What the BJP government claims to offer, what all scholarly historians want, and what is loathed by the Marxists who have dominated the cultural and educational establishment since decades, is glasnost: openness, an end to the dead hand of Marxist dogma in Indian history-writing. However, it is quite wrong to say that the Sangh Parivar takes this job “very seriously”. It took three years before relieving leading Marxists of their influential positions (Prasar Bharati, NCERT, IHC). Most of its new nominees were not up to the job, some because of ill-health (e.g. K.S. Lal and B.R. Grover, both now deceased), some because they had never functioned in an academic setting. It should not be forgotten that for decades, at least since ca. 1970 when the Marxists led by P.N. Haksar and Nurul Hasan were given a lot of effective power in this sector in return for their support to Indira Gandhi, distinctly non-Marxist young historians found their access to an academic career blocked by the Marxist hegemons. Of the new textbooks, some are impeccable and are welcomed as undeniable improvements, e.g. Meenakshi Jain’s presentation of the Muslim period, arguably the most sensitive and controversial part of the series. Some of the others, by contrast, have been criticized or ridiculed even by fair-minded observers. So far, I am not aware of any of these textbooks having been submitted to the approval of religious leaders. M.M. Joshi’s did make such a promise, but his statement to this effect has been pulled out of context. His point was not that henceforth Hindu clerics will decide on the contents of the textbooks so as to privilege the Hindu viewpoint, but precisely the opposite: after some commotion about a denial that Vedic seers ate beef, and after his concession to Sikh pressure in scrapping a negative comment on Guru Govind Singh, he tried to reassure Muslim and Christian critics that not only Hindu and Sikh sensibilities would be respected, but those of all religions. While definitely an improvement in the application of Indian “secularist” principles because of its even-handedness, this promise was scandalous from the viewpoint of historical scholarship. In a typical display of the RSS disdain for “sterile intellectualism”, it not only subordinated history-writing to religious pressures but also contradicted a long-held position of the Sangh Parivar in the Ayodhya controversy, viz. that Hindus should know the truth about the thousandfold temple destructions,-- information obviously risking to “hurt the sensibilities” of the Muslim community. All in all, Hindutva historiography is not worse than the Marxist variety, the kind taken for granted for decades on end by the same people who now profess such indignation; but it isn’t up to the mark either. To pepper her story and give it a Gujarati angle, Mira Kamdar adds: “In Gujarat, the textbooks have already been rewritten to teach a Hindu-right worldview. Students in Gujarat were asked on this spring’s final examination to join the following five phrases in a sentence: ‘There are two solutions. One of them is Nazi solution.[sic] If you do not like people, kill them, segregate them. Then strut up and down. Proclaim that you are the salt of the earth.’" As usual, the secularists take it for granted that once they use the term Nazi (or likewise, Aryan), hysteria will take over and the public will lose its analytical faculty. In this case, they assume that the juxtaposition of the words “Nazi” and “Hindu right” in one paragraph will convince the unattentive reader that the Hindu right is Nazi-inspired and openly acknowledges it. Whether that inference is justified, depends largely on the context of the sentence quoted from (or attributed to) the textbook in question. And since Mira Kamdar, for reasons best known to herself, has withheld that context from us, we are free to speculate about it. Moreover, upon looking more closely, we acquire the impression that we won’t even need the context in order to determine the thrust of the quoted sentence. For, what it says is clearly sarcastic: if we could still be led to believe that the Hindutva author wanted to tell us how he himself believes in “killing” and “segregating” as the solution, we do notice the distinctly un-Hindu identity imputed to those who “strut up and down” and “proclaim that [they] are the salt of the earth”. Those are precisely the attitudes which Hindus attribute to the monotheistic faiths. It is Christians who claim to be “the salt of the earth”, as told to the apostles by Jesus himself. In Hindutva discourse, self-righteousness is precisely the central vice imputed to the Christian and Islamic conquerors. Moreover, Hindu authors like Girilal Jain and Sita Ram Goel have often made the point that in this key respect, both Marxism and Nazism are but the secularized offspring of Christianity. So, while the quoted sentence may indeed have an anti-Muslim, anti-Christian and anti-Marxist thrust, it is not intended as pro-Nazi, on the contrary: it uses the Nazi reference as the indubitably reprehensible instance of a continuum of self-righteous doctrines which also includes Christianity, Islam and Marxism. And it is these which are deemed to offer as their solution to “kill” and “segregate” and self-righteously “strut up and down” as if being “the salt of the earth”. The textbook, far from propagating this “Nazi” attitude, is actually denouncing it. It implicitly contrasts its own Hindutva with the self-righteousness of its enemies. 14. Targeted killings Can we sense some disappointment in Mira Kamdar’s finding that there are no anti-Jewish riots in India, and that the Hindu “hate” against the so-called Semitic religions does not extend to Judaism? Especially in an attempt to equate Hindutva with Nazism, this would have been very useful, but in fact: “There have been no attacks that I know of on Jews in India, a community with a wonderful history in that country going back centuries. This is probably because there are very few Jews left in India in the wake of substantial emigration to Israel. The Jewish community in India has no political clout and no presence as a voting bloc.” Actually, even before the migration to Israel in the 1950s, the Jewish community found in India the only society which never subjected it to persecution. But since the secularists have decreed that “Hindu tolerance is a myth”, we had better not repeat this too loudly. India’s best-known Jew is a hero to all nationalists: General J.F.R. Jacob, who played a central role in the Indian victory against Pakistan in the Bangladesh war. In 1998, he joined the BJP. So let’s get back to the more eventful Hindu-Muslim relationship. Having discussed the phenomena of street riots and mass terrorism sufficiently for now, let us focus on a third form of communal violence: targeted killings of specified individuals. Like with terrorism, the vast majority of victims in this category of violence have been Hindus. In the months and years after the Mumbai riots of January 1993, a number of Maharashtrian politicians belonging to the BJP and the Shiv Sena have been murdered, mostly by assailants who were never apprehended. In Kerala in the 1990s, dozens of ordinary Hindutva activists have been murdered by the Communists, the dominant party in that state. When I visited the Hindu Munnani office in Chennai in 1996, the building was really impressive, having just been rebuilt and redesigned after a bomb blast. Shortly after, it was destroyed once more in another bomb blast. In this series of attacks on the Hindu Munnani leadership, several activists were killed. And after the Gujarat carnage, the Gujarat Home
Posted by: acharya Oct 24 2003, 10:27 AM
dated October 24, 1953: "Indian Constitution is More Islamic" Mian Iftikharuddin of the Azad Pakistan Party told a meeting of the Pakistan Constituent Assembly in Karachi on the 22nd, "Muslims are treated better in India than we treat Hindus here". Mian Iftikharuddin made this statement in the course of his speech during a general debate on the report of the Basic Principles Committee of the Constituent Assembly. He said, "judging from the standpoint of the greatest good for the greatest number, the Indian Constitution is much more Islamic than the one the Pakistan Constituent Assembly is trying to frame. The Hindu minority of Pakistan want to merge themselves with the majority of Muslims by demanding joint electorates, etc., but Muslims here are narrow-minded and parochial. This is not how things should be."
Posted by: acharya Oct 26 2003, 09:36 AM
Dictionary definition of liberal does not work in indian context. In india you must look anti-hindu in order to qualify as liberal. galibharath says on December 17, 2002 - 19:27. Why seclars/liberals perceived to be anti-hindu [Prof. Balagangadhara in his book "The Heathen in his Blindness", published way back in 1996 or earlier, propounded an ingenious theory of religion. One of its conclusions is that only Judaism, Christianity and Islam are religions. Now people, especially who refer themseleves as hindus, don't get startled and please don't jump to conclusions before reading the book. After that you can be pretty comfortable saying there are no religions in India except the three above. According to the book, hinduism, buddhism, confucianism etc are classified as religions due to secularization of christianity i.e, unwittingly accepting some of the christian ideas as secular. Few lines are not enough to do justice to what that book contains and implications of its theory. So please read the book or atleast take a look at the discussion on the book at 'indictraditions' yahoo group as well as prof Balagangadhara's articles on] I hope I do not loose the readers attention through this long post. My sole intention is to spread awareness of the Prof. Balagagadhara's work in my own small way. I wish the length of the post, mistakes in english and vagueness of explanations do not lead to neglect of prof. Balu's work. Please don't jump to conclusions that it is another work from sangh parivar or its sympathizers. FYI, prof Balu doesn't like RSS\BJP\VHP and co. I request the liberal/secular thinkers, representatives of a major portion of indian intellectual landscape, on this forum to give a serious thought to understand prof. Balu's perspective. Below are my thoughts on the above question based on my understanding of the book and of what various commentators, including prof Balagangadhara himself, said in the above forums. The hypothesis is that the problem lies in the fact that ideologies like liberalism, which is heavily based on secularism, are meant for contexts in which only 'religions' exist(or dominant) which is not the case with India. Let me illustrate this with respect to secularism/spiritualism. For example, one would find a poem in the west extolling the nation as fatherland as completly secular whereas in india vandemataram is seen as religious. Study of Greek is considered secular in the west whereas that of sanskrit in india is considered religious. Greek literature is considered to be secular whereas its counterparts in india like vedas, upanishads, bouddha sastras etc are considered religious. How is it possible ? Either i) the categories like secular/spiritual are not applicable to india or ii) its adherents are stupid to be unable to make a distinction or iii) they have an ulterior motive to see the things in the way they do. I choose (i). Unable to fit/split the indian reality into those categories, intellectuals, includes both conservative/liberal i.e, 'apparently pro/anti-hindu', come up with/accept explanantions like 'Indians mixup spirituality in everything', etc. The implicit assumption is applicability of these categories to india. Nobody questions that. Due to this inability, to seculars everything appears objectionable and to the rest they appear detestable smile.gif. Remember both seculars and their opposites are victims of this boxed mentality in the sense that neither could see the inapplicability of religious/secular categories. The latter choose (iii), ie. see seculars as anti-hindu etc, as intellectuals, by definition so to speak, can't be (ii), because they can't accept the end result of application of those categories. In the following I would try to explain what I said with an analogy. Ex: step 1) Consider a box1 of objects with random shapes. A gentleman came along and added some new objects that are of regular shapes and all are of color 'c' that is not present in the box. The color he borrowed from his father. To these new objects he gave a 'name' X and said they are most important. Note 'X' is not a description it is a name i.e, identity. Now you can split the objects in box into 'X' and not 'X'. It so happened that another gentleman came along and said 'X' aren't the important objects but 'not X'. step 2) Consider another box2 which has objects with random shapes but none with color 'c'. Can we split the objects in box2 into 'X' and not 'X'. Some objects may have same/similar shape as that of the ones in 'X' category in box1 but they still don't have the color 'c' so can't be classified as 'X'. Objects in box2 are not cateogry 'X' not 'not X' not a combination of 'X' and 'not X'. 'X' is a name/identity so can't be mixed with 'not X'. So 'X' and not 'X' classification is not applicable to objects in box2. Now lets say secular is someone programmed to accept that a box of objects can always be categorized into 'X' and not 'X' and that 'not X' is the important category. what would you do with objects in box2, whichever object you find to have some similarities to one or more of those in 'X' category of box1 you identify as 'X' and have low opinion of them because you were 'not X' is the important one. The two categories religious and not religious(or secular) are analogous to 'X' and 'not X' categories. These, and their relative desirability, when applied to indian context you would end up saying things like - 'vandemaataram' as religious and hence oppose singing that. - lighting a lamp, breaking a coconut etc to start something as religious and hence to be discarded. - saraswati vandana is religious So when the seculars do this what they are rejecting are cultural elements or traditions which irritates those who can't accept the relative desirability between the two categories. But unfortunately, neither they see why seculars act the way they do nor can they clearly explain, to themselves and others, the reason for their irritation, hence consider seculars to be their opposition or anti-cultaral or anti-hindu etc and form opposition camp to seculars, because they too are unable to break from programmed mindset which say 'X' and 'not X' are applicable every where. Now lets see whether the analogy is suitable one. Lets say box is analogous to geographic location, lets name it west. Objects are ideas, practices, actions etc of the people in west. The gentleman represents christianity. What did he add ? i) belief in 'God' toghether with an assertion that action should follow belief. ii) set of practices, things, ideas etc which are termed as spiritual,sacred, spiritual etc respectively. Here (i) & (ii) are identified with circular logic i.e, if you ask who is God - he is the one worshipped by christians, if you ask who are christians - ones who worship(believe in) God. Similarly if you ask what are spiritual practices those followed by christians and christians are identified by those practices and so on. Which means they define christian identity. what name is given to them ? religion. Collection of practices is called spiritual, Collection of christian things are called sacred and so on. Now the requirement of a church should be apparent. If God is defined in a circular fashion, how can one be sure that they are actually worshipping God. So they need physical reference points to be sure that they are actually worshipping the God. Similarly there should be someone to decide and enforce practices. So arose the church and priest. Now much behavior of missionaries appear logical. Isn't it ? For a convert neither (i) or (ii) or both are enough to be considered a christian, he/she should obey/attend the church. Nor our, I mean someone belonging to indic tradition, critisim that christians are idolatrous too because they have cross or image of jesus doesn't convince them because cross(or image of jesus) are by definition not idolatrous. With respect to the example above (i) is analogous to color 'c', (ii) is to shapes of objects. ----You may say (ii) is present in Indian traditions also. But it is not because of two reasons a) they are not as obligatory as in christianity because it is not necessary condition to be identified as one belonging to the tradition. cool.gif the insistence on (ii) is for totally different reason, it is to maintain tradition ie some form of connection to the society, ancestors etc. It is waived by explanation of its meaning, use etc of ones actions or if violator is in respectable position or some other simple reason like violator is a pampered one. Identity of someone belonging to indian tradition are totally different like the jati or sampradaya into which one is born. For example, you can invent some strange way of performing puja or just renounce all rituals or say there is no God and still be considered sanathana dharmi if you can just explain meaning of acts or considered intellectual or adhyatmik in nature(I deliberatly didn't use spiritual). --- ---- As christianity spread, (ii) varied across space-time, seems logical as it has to accomodate people from many cultures, but (i) didn't. We can say that islam is a special case in that it introduced a more radical variation of christianity. But still has (i) and (ii) and so has necessary infrastructure to ensure worshipping the God. Hence it can also be called religion. For a reason, to explain its inherent contradictions -- long story can only point to prof Balu's work, christianity assumed that every society should have religion. During renaissance period intellectuals in the west found religious ways too constraining, unimportant ..etc, and so raised importance of their other and called them secular ways. So definition of secular is 'not religious'. That is the reason why in the west they can clearly say which of their actions is religious and which secular. Their actions are split by definitions not by descriptions. But the christian idea that 'religion is present in every society' insidiously seeped into secular thought. Please refer to the book for how/why this happened. East is analogous to box2, objects in box2 various traditions,practices,ideas in east. None of the objects in box2 have color 'c' i.e, for none of traditions have (i). By the definition of secular all indian traditions are secular because they don't need/have (i). But unfortunately the colonial period resulted in our intellectuals accepting the auxiliary notion that religion is present in every society. So we accepted translation of our concepts atma, puja, devas, pavitram etc into God, worship, gods and sacred etc respectively. Matters were made worse because we progressively lost touch with our primary sources which are in sanskrit. As I said, the reality in india doesn't fit into the religious-secular categories. The intellectuals are thrown into quandary as they couldn't clearly categorize indian reality, but were compelled to do so as they accepted the notion that religion is universal. Some consequences - they experience doing puja to devas and end up saying that they worship gods thus unable to convey their experience to others(read west). - Since we(sanathan dharmis) consider our sastras to be 'pavithram' they are said to be sacred to the . So our secular intellectuals think they should be discarded or they shouldn't be taught in govt institutions or they should be private. For that matter we consider every book/paper to be pavithram and manifestation of saraswati so should we discard them all ? - According to karma yoga we can realise ourselves or attain moksha even by performing actions with detachment. moksha is translated to salvation which mean karma becomes sacred/religious, so shall we renounce karma ? - Since Manu dharma sastra is pavithram =>(implication) 'sacred' to hindus => belongs to religion of hindus => since sacred things can't be violated it is hindus law book and so followed it by the word. These are just a few that come to my limited mind. I think we can better understand many of our current problems if we deliberate on these lines. I am glad you had patience to read the complete post and am eager to see your response. CJ says on December 17, 2002 - 20:24. Interesting Galibharath - on a personal note, some of the ideas in your post are what made me quit the Religious Studies field. See also CBarwa's comments on what he calls the "semitization" of the study of India - i.e. the imposition of western categorization scehemes, and taxonomies, onto the Subcontinent. I.e. again, let's hammer and saw subcontinental cultures into our own schemes and call ourselves critical and scholarly. I disagree somewhat on the term "secular", which to me has always seemed to mean that these matters of faith or culture or "religion"/whatever we are calling it are personal matters, rather than matters of the state. And yet, the west hasn't really reconciled this for itself, either, and I think this is a major component of the issue. If we had, there wouldn't be the current calls against "axes of evil" and targeting of "evildoers" in what is supposedly a completely secular realm. In other, less polarizing instances, there are elements of so-called secular society that are in fact quite religious. Scholars have come up with a term for this, in order to account for the contradiction - they call it "civil religion" - an example would be the existence of and adherence to national holidays, complete with their own set of ritualistic behaviors. I must also take small issue with the example of Christianity here, which I believe is somewhat homogenizing. As you noted, some would consider Christianity as idolatrous because of emphasis on the cross and images of Jesus. This is also an internal debate across the spectrum of Christianity; most conservative Protestant sects do consider Catholicism and Orthodoxy's emphasis of the crucifix and the cult of the saints to be the definition of idolatry; this was one impetus behind the Protestant movements, and it remains very strong. I belive this is related to the west's failure to settle its own secular/spiritual accounts. But overall, this is an interesting way of thinking about the sec/sacred divide, and is useful in helping us question if there really is one. KABIR says on December 17, 2002 - 20:25. Galibharath Very interesting post.Thank you very much. Interesting possibilities. One clarification please. I have not read any works of Dr. Balgangadhar but obviously you have & perhaps you can tell me. Does the Dr. consider Secularism to be an equivalant of Dharma-Nirapekshata, Sarvadharma-Samabhav, Adhaarmikta,Dharma-Upeksha or Dharma-Viruddhata. There is no word equal to Secular in any Indian language for the simple reason that it is a Christian word or atleast a word coined by Christian majority countries to distinguish between functions of church & state.( If I am wrong sombody will correct me, I am sure)I am oversimplifying of course.This is similar to a situation where 'Religion" is an inadquate word to describe 'Dharma'.If you can guide me as to which of the above words were most likely to have been in Balgangadharji's mind( more importantly in your own mind) when he used the term "Secular'.As it appears to me, the discussion would be futile if we are not clear on this first.Let us leave aside, for the time being, the word as it may appear in Hindi Translation of the Preamble to the Constitution.Finally, irrespective of your reply kindly consider which one of the above mentioned words comes closest to Indian Ethos in your opinion( you may kindly add anyother if you like) Thanks once again and a hearty welcome. mpatel says on December 17, 2002 - 23:04. Excellent post: galibharat Even though i find the explanation too simplistic. Current crop of so-called indian liberals come in many varieties from marxist to maclauyites to christain clergy to islamic scholars. They call each-other liberals. Even-though some of them are second to none when it comes to hate, intolerence and bigotry. KABIR says on December 17, 2002 - 23:41. Mpatel You have already defined a liberal as "anti-Hindu" or being anti- Hindu as a necessary pre-requisite for qualifying as a 'liberal' if I have read your post#2 correctly.And that is pretty clear, concise and comprehensive. Any addition to that simple and easy to understand defination is superfluous in nature.Substantial number of non Christians, non-Muslims, non-Marxists, non-Macaulayist HINDUS are, by your defination, Anti-Hindus for their sin of being 'liberals'.Or is it that a Hindu person who does not believe in Hindutva too an anti-Hindu? Just wondering since Togadia is now the flavour of the season in Gujarat.And by his maxim a lot of "liberals" better watch out for their life & limb. mpatel says on December 17, 2002 - 23:51. Kabir: You got it wrong Why do you think i used adjectives like 'self proclaimed' or 'so-called' liberal? Substantial number of non-Marxists, non-Macaulayist HINDUS like myself are also liberals in many ways but they are crowded-out and hounded by bigoted radical leftists. For instance, sardar patel was a liberal but in eyes of this bigots he was a communalist. IndianMuslim says on December 18, 2002 - 00:19. Who comes next in the line of lofty liberals ? Big Sardar, of course, was a liberal. So who comes next ? Chotta Sardar, Togadia, Golwalkar is an awsome list of liberals. Please add OBL, Bukhari, Madani, Sharon, Hitler . CJ, request a list of christian fundoos. And now Vajpayee seems to be clamoring to be put at the head of the list of lofty liberals. Where is his rightful position ? I would say somewhere in the middle. Until the mask slips a little more. paramnsp says on December 18, 2002 - 03:51. Muslims and liberalism I have been reading this post and so many other threads about ISLAM/MUSLIMS and their status in Inida, riots , persecution, minority under siege etc etc. Uniformly i find that instead of doing something about their status, improving their community, changing their thought process and trying to bridge the gap between Hindus and muslims, they have always resorted to complaining, demanding and cribbing. There has been total lack of introspection, to find out what faults are there in them (the assumption all along has been the Majority community the HINDUS are to be blamed). This attitude has created and is mainly responsible for the situation of Mistrust and disharmony between Hindus and Muslims. I was pleseantly surprised to read an article echoing more or less the same thing, and this is from a Muslim of very high repute Dr Rafiq Zakaria A Muslim scholar's bombshell If only the Indian Muslims could get out of their ghetto mentality and practice what Dr rafiq zakaria suggests and throw up a leadership which is modern and dynamic. If they continue with the leadership of Bhukarias, sahubudins, and mullahs, then the muslims as well as hindus will be bound to vicious cycle of mistrust,unrest and disharmony. India will never attain what it can otherwise become (a major superpower of dynamic, prosperous and happy 1 billion + INDIANS). CJ says on December 18, 2002 - 03:54. IM - just for you Your comments brought this Ted Rall piece to mind. "GWB, Liberal." Enjoy! Jaya says on December 18, 2002 - 03:57. MPatel In india you must look anti-hindu in order to qualify as liberal. To use a DialogNowism this sounds like semetizing liberalism. Liberals come in different shapes and forms. They don't have to be 100% pro or anti Hindu. It is interesting that in the US some conservatives think liberals are anti-Christian. Just because people do not subscribe to trampling over minorities (minorities have more to be worried about than the majority) it does not make then anti-Hindu. If you want to make specific charges and provide proofs that is one thing but these blanket statements about not giving a penny to a saffron mendicant is a bit much. IndianMuslim says on December 18, 2002 - 04:05. CJ, Iget the picture ! GWB should be right up there in the list of 'liberals' !!. CJ says on December 18, 2002 - 04:12. Ah, Fareed's dad. Interestingly enough, this article has been referenced twice today. Somehow, though, I'm not surprised that his solution is assimilation and an emphasis on "correct leadership". Also, a question. Re: the last couple of paragraphs - is it just me, or do people seem to only mention Parsis in reference to the sort of "model minority" (most ofen e.g. Muslims) that all should aspire to, and the rest of the time they are pretty much considered insignificant? galibharath says on December 18, 2002 - 07:05. CJ and KABIR As I stated, my comment is only intended to spread awareness on the theory propounded by prof Balagangadhara. As it challenges so many implicit/unconcious assumptions to me, for so many others I have come across, it is very difficult to understand it and see its consequences. So the best person to consult is the master himself who participates in the discussion thread "The Heathen in his Blindness" in 'indictraditions' mailing list and the discussion on related articles on Btw, I don't have any ulterior motive in popularising the two forums above smile.gif. I just feel, intutively rather than due to intellectual clarity, that his thesis are ground breaking and so essential for india at the moment. More the number of voices join the discussion the better. As the old saying goes 'truth comes out through debate'. If you are interested in prof. Balu's work, according to him the best place to start is to read his 70 - page research plan paper. I requested a copy of that and I will soon forward to anyone interested or can we upload files at ? In the mean time for the curious he runs a column 'Pratyabhigyaana' at And also one can look at the discussion in the thread 'The Heathen in his Blindness' at 'indictraditions' yahoo group . For those who are not in the group already I should warn you that, as in many public forums, there will be some noise threads. But it also has high class discussion like the thread above. I always keep pointing to the prof because I clearly know I can't express completly what he is saying. With this disclaimer, I would proceed to present my thoughts on the comments. --- Mr CJ, I did read CBarwa's comments a while ago on semitization etc but don't remember. I hope he would comment in the context of this thread. As I said 'secular' is supposed to be 'not religious'. During renaissance it was decided that religious matters should be private and only secular matters can be public or followed by the state. So I don't see where you disagree with me. The reconciliation in the west you mentioned is regarding to what extent 'religious matters' should be made private. So the dispute is to what extent 'religious matters' should play the role in government but not about which are 'religious matters' and which are not. So there can be dispute whether to have 'In God we trust', which is considered religious, on american coins(on currency ?) but not whether 'In God we trust' is religious or not. My explanation is purely based on logic and some recent controversies I came across. Please bring to my notice if there are any counter examples. My answer to the question in #3 is a very simplified explanation which is based on assertions, like there is an underlying assumption that religion is present in all societies, that are argumentatively proven in the book. The book also discusses this clash between catholicism and protestantism. But it didn't lead to exposure of above assumption that religion is universal. I am not saying christianity is a monolithic entity. But each variation will satisfy (i) & (ii) and their definitions in circular way, as explained in #3, so religions. (i) is common for most(or all) of the variations so they could be grouped toghether under an umberella called christianity. To a protestant, catholics way of worship may be unacceptable but if you ask the question who is God - Ans: he/she will say he is the one worshipped by protestants. who is protestant - Ans: he/she who worships God. ie, similar answers to that of the catholic follow. So it is a religion or variation of a religion. To get a clearer picture of whom one considers a christian - consider again the example of a convert. He is not convert until he accepts 'God', he conforms to only the practices prescribed by the church. This concept is same in all, almost all I guess, variations. The ones that are different most probably are latest ones like new age stuff, I don't know. -- Sri KABIR As far as I know, in the 9 chapters or so I read out of 12 in his book, I don't remember any material that dealt with indian terms equivalent to secularism. Btw, my memory is not that great. That could be due to two reasons, i) the book assumes western audience ii) he probably deliberatly avoided discussing equivalence because the consequences I listed at the end of #3 are direct result of finding equivalence based on just some apparent similarities. In the indic tradition context, we shouldn't even say there is no word equal to secular because it indicates there could be a word that partly expresses secularity. Comparing secular with any indian word is comparing apples and oranges. Secular is by definition 'non-religious' which in turn by definition refers to some things that are non-indic(not historically originated in India). So secular includes all indic traditions. I don't know if I expressed it properly. Similar with the case 'Religion' and 'dharma'. 'Religion' is not just inadequate it is totally different from 'dharma'. Let me see if I can make it clear, take words 'solid' and 'liquid' - 'liquid' is not just inadequate to express 'solid' it is entirely a different state of matter. If You say 'not liquid' is 'solid' it is similar to saying 'secular' is 'dharma'. From my above explanation I would say none of the words you mentioned is equivalent/closer to secularism. But my hunch is that you are interested in what I consider to be the policy of government especially in the present political context. So I would explain what I understand of the words you mentioned. My sanskrit knowledge is poor i) Dharma-Nirapekshata : I guess this means detachment from all dharmas. Dharma nirapekshata doesn't decree rejection of ones traditions. ii) Sarvadharma-samabhava : Same attitude towards all dharmas. Neither this one decrees rejection of ones traditions. iii) Adhaarmikata : not dharma. It is context sensitive. Dharma to some one is adharma to others. iv) Dharama-upeksha : ? v) Dharma-viruddha : is this similar to (iii) ? So for a state policy I see only two candidates Dharma-Nirapekshata and Sarvadharma-samabhava. Which one to choose ? I need help from people like you. But let me see, from my definition, sarvadharma-samabhava also includes the case of equal oppression of all. So I would choose dharma-nirapekshata. It is detachment from dharmas but not rejection of traditions. So my uptopian idea is that constituents of the goverment should follow local traditions but should be detached from them. For example, if some one says they won't follow the tradition, government should not enforce it. But there is a problem with following Dharma-nirapekshata at the moment. It would be disastrous in the context of current intellectual landscape as explicated in #3 i.e, we may end up in loosing all our roots. So my hunch is as we slowly extract from this quandary caused by colonial constructs we would move towards dharma-nirapekshata. Somewhere I read a conversation between a kerala king and his friends in the palace. The friend shows temples, synagouges and churches and says indians are very tolerant people. King corrects him by saying it is not tolerant but indifference. While translating conversation to english probably indifference was used in place of nirapekshata which of course is not proper. My guess is based on my experience and intution only. So till our intellectuals see what Dharma-nirapekshata means, various groups would be struggling to retain their traditions and identity. So if you ask me where I stand regarding uniform civil code I am with muslims(simply because it is not my tradition and it is not my business to meddle in its affairs), if you ask me where I am with respect to saraswati vandana I would say I am with hindus with a qualification that those who are uncomfortable with singing saraswati vandana shouldn't be forced, similar with the case of vandemataram or jana gana mana. I am on the side of hindus including RSS when they speak for anti-conversion because conversion involves severing the roots to community, family and ancestors. Once you say you have a right to meddle in the affairs of a tradition/group then you embark on a civilizing mission which is what happened to us due to colonization. So no matter what horrible things happen in other tradition I wont involve because as a manifestations of paramata the constituents in other traditions have inherent capacity to improve themselves. But there is qualification though, if a tradition is endangering my tradition/community or other then I will fight it and so if terrorists/islamists want to eliminate hindus from kashmir I would definitly support hindus. Btw, my attitude didn't form entirely based on reading prof balu's work. So even if you find anything objectionable in my attitude, I request you not to attribute it to his work and so neglect it. I again repeat that his work is very crucial for us indians to come out of colonial hang over. As far as this thread is concerned my attitude will not be matter of discussion, but you can definitly enquire, as sri KABIR did, though, as long as I won't violate dialognow rules of discussion. Another lengthy post. Apologies. I wish my writing was convincing enough to make all give a serious thought to prof. Balu's work. Because every indian should break the shackles of colonial constructs. galibharath says on December 18, 2002 - 07:19. Correction When I say my attitude will not be matter for discussion I meant that I won't answer questions like 'why are you a dharma-nirapekshi'. But we cetainly can discuss what dharma-nirapeksha ? its pros and cons etc. Is there a difference between these two questions smile.gif? I feel so but can't explain. As I said earlier, also I would gladly answer questions like what is your opinion on so and so . gaurav says on December 18, 2002 - 08:01. Ghalibh, kiran bedi and platypuses Ghalibharath, great comments, I fully agree. For me the most memorable part was The friend shows temples, synagogues and churches and says indians are very tolerant people. King corrects him by saying it is not tolerant but indifference. While translating conversation to english probably indifference was used in place of nirapekshata which of course is not proper. I too don't know if indifference would fit perfectly, but I think it is quite indicative of us Indians. When we say "tolerance", we needlessly attach some sort of a virtue-like quality to it. It is from this delusion that it is 'tolerance' and hence some great virtue, that arise statements such as "We hindus have let the Christians and Muslims live here peacefully for so many years". Big deal! It kinda reminds me of what Kiran Bedi said in an interview once. She said that wherever she went, she just did her job, what she was trained to do, and did not do anything extraordinary. It is just because other police officers are not doing even their basic job that her actions are suddenly perceived as some great deeds. Doing their job properly should be the normal day to day way of life for a police officer. So "indifference" should be our way of life. We just assume that because we have "not been intolerant" we are some great people. This too, I agree arises from a tendency to accept the West as a perfect template to interpret society by and then try to explain our society in terms of that template. My exams start tomorrow, and then I head home for a week long break, so i shan't prolly be on DN for a fortnight or so. When I come back, I will definitely read Prof Balu's work. Whatever you have posted impresses me. I too have been wondering for quite a few years if "dharma" literally means "religion". I think "way of life" is a better translation, in reference to Hinduism. By the way, there is this animal called duck billed platypus you all must have heard about. It exhibits the traits of both mammals and amhpibians. I am not a bio expert, so not very sure but I think it lays eggs but still suckles it babies, or something. So one zoologist said "The duck billed platypus is an anomaly and does not fit into either the mammal or the amphibian category". To this some physicist replied, "The platypus has been around before your classifications came about. So maybe it is your classification which is anomalous, not the platypus." gaurav says on December 18, 2002 - 08:49. CJ, what does that mean? CJ, you said - is it just me, or do people seem to only mention Parsis in reference to the sort of "model minority" (most ofen e.g. Muslims) that all should aspire to, and the rest of the time they are pretty much considered insignificant? I am confused....what exactly do you mean by 'consider insignificant'? The Parsis, despite their tiny number are among the richest communities in India...and I don't just mean in per capita terms but absolute terms as well. Is an employee of the humongous "Tata and Sons" group of industries going to consider his bosses insignificant? Or the 10 year old Indian schoolkid who is taught that "If Mahatma Gandhi is the Father of the nation, then Dadabhai Nowrojee is the Grandfather of the nation" going to consider Parsis insignificant? A list of the 10 richest businessmen in Bombay was made last year and most of them were Parsis. The community is not only rich, but their women are among the most liberated. In general, they are loved, respected......and sometimes others even hold them in awe. And other than the occasional lighthearted wisecrack made about their "big noses", there are no slurs that are heaped upon them. So where does the question of 'considering insignificant' come in? The Parsis don't need the majority Hindus' goodwill to "protect" them. They are self sufficient enough to take care of themselves. KABIR says on December 18, 2002 - 10:45. To Clarify (Dharma)Upeksha is similar to Udaaseenata and I meant "Indifferance" by it. (Dharma) Viruddha is a person like, say, EVR Ramaswamy Naicker of DK who was proactively anti-religion/Hindu/Arya/Sanatan-Dharma ( all are not synonyms of course) but in essence Dharmaviruddhata is a stronger sentiment than Adhaarmikata.If the State does not follow Rajya-Dharma, that State by its lapse in practicing its Dharma becomes Adharmic.If the State carries out Progroms against ALL of its Subjects belonging to Sanatan Dharma AND other Religions that are non-indic in origin, or atleast BANS them all than it is Dharm Viruddhata.If the State does it on a selective basis then it is Dharmandhata. Kindly do not think I am reeling off some meaningless mumbo-jumbo to split hair. There is a reason behind it. The moment I look at the word Secular I understand its meaning in the Western context.As I said earlier there is no Indian word I can think of that comes close to it.Not even Dharma-Nirapeksha.Western "Seculars" are not detached from Religion.( I am not talking of defunct USSR)They do not allow the Church to interfere in day to day running of the affairs of State.The State may get 'influenced' by it just as any pressure group may influence the policies, may be a shade more.The 'religiosity' of the very same secular States come up whenever the Nation goes thru a crisis or Patriotism is called for or Jingoistic noises have to be made by the politicians.For Indians at large Secularism is an imported concept.Was it a good import?Worth wondering, isn't it?If it is a good import, the word as well as the concept, then should we follow it in toto as demonstrated by democratic countries of the West? If I were to make a statement that (forget the State/Govt) for Bhartiyas at large, the phrase " Sarva-Dharma-Samabhav" comes closest to our inheritance, would you agree?Of course, when I say Sarva Dharma I include Sanatan Dharma too. Very interesting subject, dear friend.Funnily, I am sure, many Islamic countries too must be wondering, how Secularism of the West squares with Religion of the East!The Seat on the Camel should fit the hump of the camel.What is the point in hoisting saddle of a horse on it!!I find your subject intellectually stimulating even as I wonder at its practical utility. May be IT IS practical.Open mind on the sub, as yet....Thanks KABIR says on December 18, 2002 - 11:39. Galibharath I do not agree with a view that Sarva Dharma Sama bhava would also mean oppression of all religions. That is perverting the meaning of a noble word.Samabhava can never be Sarva-Dharma-Damana.However I will go along with whatever you prefer and let us then find out, how to reconcile the various thoughts, philosophies, religious streams, castes, languages, regions, conflicting priorities etc etc so that we can have a prosperous, safe and progressive India.Isn't that the final aim of many of us here? mpatel says on December 18, 2002 - 23:05. IM: Sardar-patel is a hindu fundamentalist Time and again you have repeated this sentence without any credible reference/links and without giving any concrete reasons. CJ: It is silly to compare GWB with sardar. More-over remember we are not talking about actual liberals. In india liberal world is dominated by marxists and maculayites. In marxist eyes al gore or jimmy carter or bill clinton are not liberal. More-over US and india are two different world. For instance, in usa coservatives are pro-state but in india leftists are pro-state. Jaya: You wanted an example. Here are examples, why sardar-patel or KM Munshi are not considered as liberals ? After-all they do fit the definition of liberal:- "Favoring proposals for reform, open to new ideas for progress, and tolerant of the ideas and behavior of others; broad-minded. (The American Heritage Dictionary )" On the other hand, It is the intolerant marxists and spiteful maclauylites who donot fit the definition but proclaim them-self as liberal. IndianMuslim says on December 19, 2002 - 05:14. Maptel I was merely pointing out the fact that each extreme wishes to paint it's proponents in positive light, to extent of calling utter bigots 'liberals'. I am travelling for the next few days, and will try and put up a list of reference on Sardar at a later date. CJ says on December 19, 2002 - 05:55. Gaurav Yes, I already know those things, Nawrojee, the wealth, the Tatas, the women, the noses, etc. But I also tend to be cynical of "model minority" discourses, which trot out a certain group for the anti-model minority to emulate when convenient, and then the rest of the time nobody really hears much. Particularly of struggles the communities might be having, especially in their case with dwindling numbers (and resulting social pressures), and increasingly serious health concerns, to the extent that the WHO has gotten involved. Also, the history and path to self-sufficiency has been extremely particular in their case so I find it ahistorical and a bit unfair to make comparisons with Muslim communities. As far as the goodwill of the majority - I don't know if I fully buy that, either. Even I have heard people say some pretty nasty and demeaning things about them. I'm just very skeptical of the way they seem to often get used more or less as devices against other minorities. That's what I mean by "considered insignificant". CJ says on December 19, 2002 - 06:09. Mpatel "CJ: It is silly to compare GWB with sardar. More-over remember we are not talking about actual liberals. In india liberal world is dominated by marxists and maculayites. In marxist eyes al gore or jimmy carter or bill clinton are not liberal. More-over US and india are two different world. For instance, in usa coservatives are pro-state but in india leftists are pro-state." Mpatel you are absolutely right about comparing GWB and Sardar, but please understand that it was something of a riff on IM's post (like the Ted Rall piece itself was partly joking). But regarding pro-state, that is part of the conservative farce, and you have just exposed it for the big lie that it really is. Conservatives here claim to be anti-state/small government and accuse liberals of being pro-"big government". But the reality is that conservatives are big government when it comes to getting those government contracts and interest rate adjustments, and more recently, domestic surveillance. This, unfortunately, currently passes as patriotism. It's about to get us in a heap of trouble. When I was a young girl, just about the time I was coming into any semblance of a political consciousness, I heard a joke that has stuck with me, since: "Liberals are 'tax and spend'. But then, conservatives are 'spend and tax'." gaurav says on December 19, 2002 - 06:24. Ok, i see what you mean CJ ..did not get your point earlier. And I accept a folly I had committed weeks ago, that of comparing Muslims and Parsis. Parsis number 120,000, and most of them stay in Bombay. Muslims in India number more than a thousand times that and live almost everywhere. Apples and oranges, I guess. =-) Do remember reading about the dwindling population issue. CJ says on December 19, 2002 - 07:18. Galibharath "As I said 'secular' is supposed to be 'not religious'. During renaissance it was decided that religious matters should be private and only secular matters can be public or followed by the state. So I don't see where you disagree with me. "The reconciliation in the west you mentioned is regarding to what extent 'religious matters' should be made private. So the dispute is to what extent 'religious matters' should play the role in government but not about which are 'religious matters' and which are not. So there can be dispute whether to have 'In God we trust', which is considered religious, on american coins(on currency ?) but not whether 'In God we trust' is religious or not. My explanation is purely based on logic and some recent controversies I came across. Please bring to my notice if there are any counter examples." I'm in agreement with you in that what we know as and call "religious" is not a universal phenomenon, but a made-up category, rooted in cultural conciets. Yet, part of my point is that even by the west's own standards, there are elements of secular society, i.e. things that supposedly have nothing whatsoever to do with "religion", that would turn up on the "religious experience"/matters-of-faith dial - sporting events, romantic love, Mac-vs-PC, etc. There is also a tension between overtly religious activities and government involvement. The current controversy about Bush's endorsement of "faith-based initiaves"/"armies of compassion" etc. is another aspect of how this is playing out in the states. You have probably heard about the "under God" flap, which happened here over the summer. The dispute centered around whether the phrase "under God", which was tacked onto the pledge of allegiance in the mid-50s, is a violation of the separation of church and state. A court recently ruled that it was in violation. The ruling came as somewhat absurd, because to that point it's not been that much of an issue, especially considering the events of the past 18 mos. But the ruling underscored a greater anxiety; some people believe (i.e. it is a matter of faith for them) that the US was founded on so-called Judeo-Christian principles, which allows for the blurring of the church/state divide, so for them the question of whether something is religious or not is moot; they feel that even if something can be construed as religious, then "so what?". This was the vocal opposition to this ruling. So in this case, it is being argued that the phrase "under God" is indeed a religious statement, and one that's desirable. Pluralists would ask, somewhat literally, "which" or "whose God" - traditionalists answer "the one and only", and the discourse deteriorates from there. So the debate does go a bit deeper than the extent to which religion creep is allowed in government. "To get a clearer picture of whom one considers a christian - consider again the example of a convert. He is not convert until he accepts 'God', he conforms to only the practices prescribed by the church. This concept is same in all, almost all I guess, variations. The ones that are different most probably are latest ones like new age stuff, I don't know." The convert's experience is an interesting topic - perhaps you've seen DN's other threads on this. Yet, the convert is but one example. Recall also that out of the "book" religions, only two of the three are prostelityzing. I think this is an important element to also discuss. There is actually quite a broad range of what constitutes "Christian". Using myself as an example, I have zero faith in Christian dogma. But there is no denying that culturally, I would be considered Christian. Whether or not I'm "a Christian" is a matter of theological dogma - I've been baptised, so supposedly I'm going to heaven by some accounts; by other's I'm totally hellbound due to my rather willful disbelief. I have observed, however, that there is far less discussion of what might constitute a "cultural Christian", while the concepts of "culturally Muslim" and "culturally Jewish" are old standards, to speak with the presumption that these are the only "religions". Then, there is the question of "ethnicity" in all of this. We can get into this in another conversation, but all I'm really saying is the questions are quite complex, and terms cannot be assumed. These are strictly US-centric answers, in part because that is my area, but also because they show up the complexities of the secular/sacred divide quite well. Especially now that we have a president whose successes are due in part to his loyalty to the religious right, which is really to say Christian and Jewish Zionists. But I am interested in your point of view (don't mind the long posts) on how these assumptions are erroneously grafted onto other cultures. CJ says on December 19, 2002 - 07:37. Gaurav Yes it was not the best choice of words on my part. galibharath says on December 19, 2002 - 11:18. Sri MPatel - regarding tags 'liberal' 'anti-hindu' " #6 galibharat: Even though i find the explanation too simplistic. " My explanation is bound to be simplistic because I can't present, leave alone my ability to express I am not even well read like so many on the forum, the depth of argument and theory of prof Balu. "Current crop of so-called indian liberals come in many varieties from marxist to maclauyites to christain clergy to islamic scholars. They call each-other liberals. Even-though some of them are second to none when it comes to hate, intolerence and bigotry." I realize I should have defined the two groups in my post more clearly. The group 'liberals' are the ones who appear(emphasis appear) anti-hindu to the other which appears 'regressive','authoritarian','unhindu'..etc to the liberals. Even this is a generalization because a person's stand may not be considered, by the other, liberal on every issue. I can't define my use of the word 'liberals' with mathematical precision and I can't write without giving a commonly understood, in contrast to naming them like group 'A', tag like 'liberals'. So people on the forum please be aware my definition of 'liberals', with emphasis on the word 'appear', in the context of the thread. In the thread I am interested in understanding & discussing the current phenomenon in India where a particular group finds another particular group as its anti and the latter perceives the former as regressive, authoritarian etc. My assumption about the constituents of these two groups is that 'they are, atleast majority of them, are motivationally pure(MTP) and open to logical persuasion(OLP)'. What I mean is that some acts of 'liberals', refer to my definition, may seem anti to the other but their intention is not to be anti or hurt the other. Their reasons include 'civilizing' the other, protecting one from the other that is trying to be authoritarian, .. etc. I am excluding those who are 'not (MTP and OLP)'. For now I can't think of any method to reconcile two conflicting groups of that category. From the way the discussion proceeded, I realize, or atleast I think I understand, why prof Balu insists on understanding the phenomenon before giving a name/tag to it. If we give a tag that is already understood, like anti-hindu or regressive, to a phenomenon, behavior of liberals or sangh parivar, we will be limited by what the tag stands for. So if the phenomenon has some features that 'appear', to the group that tags the other, conforming to the meaning of the tag, then we will end up in a situation where one side denies that tag and the other insists on it. This denial/insistance could end up in emotional arguments each side trying to pick the wrongs in the other which in turn leads to solidification of perceptions about each other. That is each group gets convinced that the other is 'not (MTP and OLP)' and hence detestable. But I still am unable to express without using the tags. So please keep in mind the above qualifications for terms like liberals, sangh parivar that may arise during our discussion. Jaya says on December 28, 2002 - 17:12. Tata Ratan Ratan Tata who turned 65 today gave up all his executive posts in the Tata empire. He will become the non-executive Chairman from tomorrow which officials said would not impact the working of the group in any major way. In his new capacity, he would hold the reins of the diverse group and continue to steer it till the age of 70 when all Tata employees retire finally, group officials said. Mr. Tata would be involved in the business and the group executive office, which includes executive directors, Ishaat Hussain, R. Gopalkrishnan and Kishore Chaukar, the spokesperson said.
Posted by: acharya Oct 30 2003, 04:13 PM
Red terror gains ground By Balbir K Punj Deccan Herald I will annihilate you. — Karl Marx’s habitual refrain The Communists are always on the simmer against “injustice to people” but so can they be against justice if the decision is not in their favour. This was vindicated recently in Kerala when the Thalassery Additional District and Sessions Court (Fast Track) awarded capital punishment to five CPM workers who had brutally hacked to death K T Jayakrishnan, State vice president of the Bharatiya Yuva Morcha, on December 1, 1999. Thirty-five-year-old Jayakrishnan, a teacher by profession in Mokery East Upper Primary School, Panur (Kunnur district) in Kerala, was killed in a ghastly manner by a CPM squad of seven henchmen inside the school in front of his pupils. The scared students of the sixth standard ran helter-skelter, while others were petrified by the fearful spectacle, many later developed psychosis. District Judge K K Chandrahas said that the accused committed a heinous crime and deserved no sympathy at all. The police had to cordon off the entire district and sessions court complex sensing trouble from Marxists hoodlums. Though they could not dent the elaborate security arrangement, they shouted slogans and protested against the sentence. The verdict made history since it was the first case of a political murder where the death penalty was given. In Kerala alone, Marxist goons had killed more than 149 RSS activists between 1969 and 2000. Ironically, 59 of these killings came after the collapse of the Soviet Union and the demise of Communism in east Europe. In the corresponding period in the State, Islamic fundamentalists claimed the lives of 22 Sangh activists. Is it any surprise that in West Bengal where Communists have ruled the roost for the last 25 years, 50 Swayamsevaks have been killed by CPM goons between 1984 and 2001? Out of the 429 martyred Swayamsevaks all over India, more than half of these deaths can be attributed to the Communists. Two hundred and five volunteers were killed by CPM activists alone, in addition to 42 by Naxalites, taking the tally to 249. These martyrdoms have been documented in a book titled Martyrdom of Swayamsevaks by S V Sehagiri Rao released by Deputy Prime Minister L K Advani last year about which I have already written elsewhere. Speaking of Kerala, attacks on Sangh activists had begun during E M S Namboodiripad’s unsavoury regime in 1958, when Communists barged into a shakha and stabbed a Swayamsevak in the presence of a sub-inspector and a police party. E M S Namboodiripad was a Brahmin by birth, atheist by training and closet-Islamist by faith. In 1940, he organised massive Marxists rallies in Kerala shouting insanely “Pakistan Zindabad.” But he knew very well that Pakistan has no place for a kafir. He gave a political lease of life to the Muslim League in Kerala and carved out a Muslim majority district Mallapuram. But the Communists had very little following amongst the Muslims in Kerala and the attacks on the Swayamsevaks were one way to ingratiate with them. Large parts of India have had the experience of red terror dispensed through hydra-headed formations. Whether under the banner of Marxism, Marxism-Leninism or Maoism, they have not only unleashed an anarchic reign of terror on civil society but also endeavoured to balkanise India through intellectual and armed means. It was precisely in line with this indoctrinated approach that K M Ashraf and Hiren Mukherji had wanted India to be a federation of States rather than one country. Nor was it out of place for them to fight alongside the Razakars in Hyderabad against the Indian Army in 1948. And surely, they did not betray their creed when Naxalites under Charu Mazumdar had claimed, “China’s chairman Mao is our chairman,” letting loose a trail of macabre violence in West Bengal and playing football with the heads of the decapitated policemen. And dipping Telengana in Andhra Pradesh in gore for the last half-a-century appears to be purification by blood for them. During 1967, in the United Front government Communists shared power with Ajoy Mukherji’s Bengal Congress. The Home Department was under the inimitable Jyoti Basu, and the CPM used large-scale State sponsored violence in the countryside to take over excess land from landowners. Such was their bullying tactics that the then Chief Minister Ajoy Mukherji, a Gandhian at heart, resorted to a fast against his own government. He must have been the only chief minister in the world to do so. But the haunting question still remains: what makes the Marxists so violent? Why it is so markedly intolerant to not only its ideological competitors but also innocent human beings? It is because Marxism, in essence, is a philosophy of violence, protest and discontent against the civil society. It treats human beings merely as economic units, without spiritual needs. It doesn’t tolerate dissent and stands for uniformity. Marx himself addressing the Prussian government in 1849, threatened: “We are ruthless and ask no quarter from you. When our turn comes we shall not disguise our terrorism.” A renowned British intellectual observes, “There is nothing in the Stalinist epoch which is not distantly prefigured in Marx’s behaviour.” Marxists criticise Fascism and Nazism. But Communism is a close cousin of the two much abused creeds. Subhash Chandra Bose observed in his The Indian Struggle 1920-1934, “In spite of the antithesis between Communism and Fascism, there are certain traits common to both. Both Communism and Fascism believe in the supremacy of the State over the individual. Both denounce parliamentary form of democracy. Both believe in party rule. Both believe in the dictatorship of the party and in the ruthless suppression of all dissenting minorities.” (pp. 351-52) Marxism showed little sympathy to nationalism and prophesied in an immensely quotable quote that the “State shall ultimately wither away.” It split entire humanity horizontally according to economic status, seeking to liquidate it all. But Marxism looks at nationalism from the European point of view, which transplanted on the Indian subcontinent would mean to be a conglomeration of 25-odd sovereign countries. This proposition belies the Indian civilisational ethos but people who chose to name themselves the Communist Party of India (a chapter of Moscow-based Communist International till 1943), rather than the Indian Communist Party, so that its Indian identity plays a second fiddle to its Communist ideology, are scarcely expected to understand this. But in practice, the USSR worked against its own prediction by fortifying the State instead of letting it wither away, so did Red China. Stalin struck a different line than Lenin by dissociating from pan-Communism and concentrating on “Socialism in one country.” He promoted Russi-fication of not only the existing Soviets of the Union but forcibly coalesced the Baltic republics of Latvia, Lithuania, and Estonia into the USSR. The Constitution of the USSR that said that any Soviet has the right to secede from the Union, became literally dead after the leadership of those countries were physically eliminated in the Stalinist cult of political murders. Even in the economic sphere, the State became omnipotent in the Communist order. While Soviet Union collapsed, China has a flourishing capitalist system under a ruthless Communist dictatorship. Communism has been overtly obtrusive on the rights of human beings denying them the right to freedom of expression. Any departure from its norm is treated as counter-revolutionary, reactionary or anti-State activity. So it astonishes me to see how Marxists have got entrenched in human rights organisations and the media in India. They take pot-shots at the judiciary of the country, whereas in Soviet Union, their “only fatherland,” no free legal system existed. But why do these human rights organisations (an alternative source of employment for unemployable secularists) come forward only when the victims are Muslims? Why were the Indian Marxists concerned about the plight of 60,000 Muslim refugees spawned by the Gujarat riots (who were living in their own State) but not 3.5 lakh Kashmiri Hindus who were driven out of the Valley 10 years ago with no hope of return in view? Marxism in India is a front of Islamic fundamentalism. While Marxists indulge in iconoclastic terror against civil society where not in power; they give their own shape to everything when in power through the party cadre, as in West Bengal. A committed press, committed bureaucracy, committed police and committed judiciary comprise the mantra of Communism in power. In the panchayat elections in West Bengal, last May, the CPM won 6,002 seats unopposed out of the 58,000, whereas the Opposition could win only five seats unopposed. Whereas, in the same elections in 1988, a total of 709 Left Front candidates had won unopposed, while its opponents had managed 44 seats in that manner. So, how could the CPM explain that its ready acceptance increased by nine folds even though election results would show a consistent decline in the panchayat elections of 1988, 1993 and 1998? The answer could be anybody’s guess: to calibrate the degree of terror according to the diminishing mass base so as to get the correct outcome. If Stalin outdid Hitler in the number of persecution victims, Mao outdid both of them put together. The killing fields of Pol Pot in Cambodia reiterated that Communism has no sympathy for human lives. The true nature of Marxism was perhaps betrayed in a childhood poem by Karl Marx where he himself in the role of God says, “I shall howl gigantic curses at mankind.” His contemporary Anarchist leader, Bakunin’s final judgement on Marx would perhaps serve the best commentary on Marxism as well: “Marx does not believe in God but he believes in himself and makes everyone serve himself. His heart is not full of love but of bitterness and he has very little sympathy for the human race.” (The writer, a Rajya Sabha MP, is convener of the BJP’s think-tank)
Posted by: acharya Oct 30 2003, 04:17 PM
ADVERTISEMENT Brief Biography of Dr. M. Vidyasagar Brief Biography Dr. Mathukumalli Vidyasagar was born in Guntur, Andhra Pradesh on 29 September 1947. He received the B.S., M.S., and Ph.D. degrees, all in Electrical Engineering, from the University of Wisconsin, in 1965, 1967, and 1969, respectively. Between 1969 and 1989, he worked as a Professor of Electrical Engineering at various universities in the USA and Canada. His last overseas job was with the University of Waterloo, Canada between 1980-89. In 1989 he returned to India as the Director of the newly-created Centre for Artificial Intelligence and Robotics (CAIR), under the auspices of the Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO), Ministry of Defence, Government of India. In that capacity he built up CAIR into a leading research laboratory consisting of about 40 scientists working on various cutting-edge areas such as aircraft control, robotics, neural networks, and image processing. In 2000 he joined Tata Consultancy Services (TCS), India's largest IT firm, as an Executive Vice President in charge of Advanced Technology. In this capacity he created the Advanced Technology Centre (ATC), which currently consists of about 60 engineers and scientists working on e-security, advanced encryption methods, and bioinformatics. In addition to his academic positions, he has held visiting positions at several universities including MIT, California (Berkeley), Califomia (Los Angeles), CNRS Toulouse, France; Indian Institute of Science; University of Minnesota and Tokyo Institute of Technology. He is the author or coauthor of nine books and more than one hundred and thirty papers in archival journals. He has received several honours in recognition of his research activities including the Distinguished Service Citation from his alma mater, the University of Wisconsin at Madison. He is a Fellow of IEEE as well as the Indian Academy of Sciences; the Indian National Science Academy, the Indian National Academy of Engineering and the Third World Academy of Sciences. Independence Day Special, 2003 Why are India's Achievements So Little Known? Part I: The Purveyors of SLIME Yesterday India turned 56, accompanied by the usual introspective, retrospective and prospective analyses of what we have achieved during these fifty six years, and what the future holds for us. As I myself wait to turn 56 in another forty five days, I could not help noticing a refreshing change in this year's stream of articles. While there was the inevitable doom and gloom from the "all the usual suspects," there were several positive and upbeat articles. In particular, I would strongly recommend the three articles by the Honourable Arun Shourie, Union Minister for Communication and Information Technology, Part I , Part II , and Part III , and by Shekhar Gupta , all in the Indian Express. All these articles, as well as several others like them, highlight many little-known and little-appreciated achievements of Indian society, in particular the Indian economy and Indian technology. The reason why these facts are so little known is that, for the most part, positive news about India consistently gets crowded out in the English media, which prefers to concentrate on only negative news. In his book "India: Vision 2020," our President Dr. Abdul Kalam mentions an episode during his visit to Israel. On that day, there was a suicide bombing and many people were killed. Yet the frontpage headlines in most Israeli newspapers concerned a new drip irrigation method. Pres. Kalam contrasts this optimistic view of society adopted by Israeli newspapers with the relentless negativism purveyed by our own English media. In recent months and years, I have begun to ask myself just why our English media is so negative. When I contrast the negativism of the English media with the much more balanced viewpoint adopted by Eenadu, the Telugu newspaper from which I get most of my news nowadays, I feel that there must be some inherent reasons for the negativism of our English speaking, self-styled "elite." This article is an attempt on my part to analyze this phenomenon, and to highlight the dangers in allowing these negativists to have the stage all to themselves. Recently I was made aware of an article by Arindam Banerji entitled "Why is it so cool to hate India" and read it at once. It is an interesting article, but perhaps I don't entirely agree with the title or the premise of the article. The issue is not why it is cool to hate India. We have known the answer to that question for more than a hundred years. Ever since Lord Macaulay articulated his minute in 1835, as follows: "We must at present do our best to form a class who may be ... Indian in blood and colour, but English in taste, in opinions, in morals and in intellect. To that class we may leave it to refine the vernacular dialects of the country ...," "Macaulay's children" have been blighting the landscape of our benighted country. When India earned its political independence in 1947, we had also gained complete freedom to articulate the rules by which we wished to judge ourselves. If today we associate a convent-educated English accent with being "refined" and a down-home English accent like mine with being crude, we cannot blame anyone but ourselves. No one imposed that choice on us -- we made it ourselves. Part and parcel of being a Macaulay's child is that one has to be deeply and irremediably ashamed of everything Indian. And let us face it. While India was stuck in the grip of "Nehruvian socialism" with its all-pervasive bureaucracy and oppressive state control of all aspects of one's daily life, it was difficult for even patriotic Indians to counter the doom and gloom dished out by these Macaulay's children. But even after India has made a decisive (and I hope, irreversible) turn away from its Nehruvian past, our Macaulay's children refuse to see anything good about India. Given that they define themselves by their relentless negativism and low self-esteem, one should not expect them to change, if left to their own devices. This brings me to the point of the article. I believe the correct question to ask is not why it is so cool to hate India. Rather, we should ask: Why is it so easy to slander India and get away with it? My suggested answer is: Because one does not pay any price for doing so. Let me elaborate. I mean that the Arundhati Roys, the Dilip D'Souzas and the Praful Bidwais of this world do not pay any penalty at all for purveying their own peculiar brand of venom directed against the Indian society and the Indian state. These people are purveyors of what I call the Self-Loathing Indian MEntality, or SLIME for short. They are modern-day Macaulay's children, full of self-loathing, and the only way in which they can bear their own miserable existence is to heap scorn on everyone around them. Their day to day living depends on purveying trash. When Arundhati Roy gives a speech in the University of Texas that is so vituperative in the choice of language directed against the present government and so lacking in balance that it does not deserve to be taken seriously, the only reaction from those who disagree with her is mild tut-tutting. (This is the only latest such instance.) No one will pass a "fatwa" against her, as happened in the case of Salman Rushdie. The right reaction would be question, at the very least, her objectivity, and worst, her sanity. Look at Praful Bidwai, a communist whose ideology has been discredited everywhere, even in its cradle. How does he keep pretending to be an authority on everything, when the only notable achievement of Indian leftists has been to keep India poor for decades? By maligning his country of course. The correct reaction to Bidwai would be to point out that the Indian Leftists are aging dinosaurs, whose only role in contemporary India is to be speed bumps on the road to progress. The list goes on. Indeed, if one tries counter such negativists through any sort of rational argument, they deflect the argument to how "brave" they are to bash India while still living in India. In short, India is a very soft target, and Hindus are a soft target. There is no point saying that what such people say is "true". In a huge and heterogenous society like India, one instance of almost every kind of deviant behaviour can be found, especially if one goes looking for it. The issue at hand is one of perspective. When Catherine Mayo brought out her notorious book "Mother India," Mahatma Gandhi called it a "drain inspector's report." (I prefer the expression "gutter inspector's report," but then who am I to argue with the father of the nation?) The purveyors of SLIME are modern day Catherine Mayos and modern day gutter inspectors. Why is it important to counter SLIME? As stated above, in his book "India: Vision 2020," our President Dr. Abdul Kalam contrasts the negative attitude of the Indian (English) media with the optimistic attitude of the Israeli media. Since unfortunately much of the Indian the middle class reads and is influenced mostly by English media, SLIME causes us to lower our expectations of ourselves, and to believe the worst about our society and country. SLIME leads us to discount and deprecate our own achievements, often realized against great odds, while lauding the often trivial achievements of other societies, and of our compatriots who have emigrated. SLIME causes us to measure ourselves not against a set of standards that we have set for ourselves (as any self-respecting society should) but against often artificial standards set for us by "outsiders" who are neither objective in their assessments nor strive to be. I say "outsiders" in quotation marks since the purveyors of SLIME, though often resident in this country and indeed drawing their sustenance from this society, are implacably hostile to it and are outsiders in this sense. We make a very basic mistake if we delude ourselves into thinking that the purveyors of SLIME are well-meaning but somewhat misguided critics of India, and an even more serious mistake if we believe that they are well-wishers of India, however much we might disagree with their conclusions. We must face the truth, namely: These people are enemies of modern India. If Pakistan is the enemy without, they are the enemy within. Let me talk first about our leftists. Let us remember that in 1942, when the Mahatma launched the "Quit India" movement, the Indian leftists collaborated with the British, on the premise that Hitler was a greater danger to India than the British. During the freedom struggle, they treated Mahatma Gandhi and Netaji as their enemies. When China invaded India in 1962, they found fault with the Indian position, and sided with the invaders. To this day they have neither renounced nor apologized for either stance. In any other country, these leftists would be lined up against a wall and shot as the traitors they are. But in India they are not only considered "respectable," but they have put down deep roots into Humanities departments in all of our leading academic institutions. Thus our children continue to be taught outdated and discredited rubbish such as the "Aryan invasion theory," which has now been debunked based on both archeological and geneological grounds. When attempts are made to rectify some of these distortions, these "historians" shout from the rooftops about attempts to "rewrite history." If my readers think this is an old and/or isolated example, let me quote a more recent event, namely the killing of two aspiring terrorists in an underground parking lot in Connaught Place, Delhi. Nothing illustrates better the anti-India attitudes of our SLIME purveyors than their handling of this incident. On the day after the killings, the newspapers were full of praise for the sleuthing work done by the Delhi Police in first detecting and then foiling the terrorists' plot. But within a day, Star News led off with a story about an "eye witness," one "Dr. Srivastava," who stated that the two were not killed in a gunfight with the police, but were shot in cold blood. Not wishing to fall behind in the "India-bashing sweepstakes," Kuldip Nayar promptly filed a grievance with the Human Rights Commission on behalf of the "victims." For good measure he added a newspaper editorial piece in which he described how the two dead persons were "dragged away, kicking and screaming, to be shot in cold blood." One would have been pardoned for imagining that Kuldip Nayar was himself an eyewitness, rather than someone who was merely repeating hearsay. Star News kept up with daily bulletins containing more and more details provided by the "eye witness" whom none of the viewers of Star News could, unfortunately, witness with their own eyes. But never mind. Mrs. Srivastava was there to tell us that her husband was in hiding, because he was afraid that the Delhi Police would "liquidate" him too. The impression conveyed was that India was a lawless state where the Police were out of control. To their credit, the Delhi Police showed great restraint, and a few days later, came out with GPS data from "Dr." Srivastava's cell phone service provider, which showed that at the time of the killings he was nowhere near Connaught Place. Moreover, at this point the Agra Police got into the act, and said that (i) "Dr." Srivastava was not a Doctor at all, (ii) in Agra he had duped a number of persons pretending to be a medical practitioner, and (iii) the real reason he was in hiding was that he was running away from the Agra Police, who were looking for him on the basis of some complaints of cheating filed against him in Agra. With these developments, the accusations against the Delhi Police simply fell apart. At this point, the critics of the Delhi Police had two choices. A sincere and thoughtful critic would have simply said that Srivastava's accusations were so serious that they had to be taken at face value and investigated thoroughly, in the interests of our public image. I have no problem with that stance. A gracious critic would perhaps even have apologized for doubting their word in the first place. Now let us examine the reactions of the duo mentioned above. On the evening when the truth came out about Srivastava, Rajdeep Sardesai led off Star News making two comments: (i) "Why did the Delhi Police take so long to come out with the evidence of Srivastava's movements, if they had nothing to hide?" and (ii) "Questions still remain about the Delhi Police's version of the events." What those remaining questions were, Sardesai did not choose to enlighten us poor ignorant and misinformed viewers. Kuldip Nayar, being an occasional newspaper commentator, had an even easier escape route: He just "went off the air." In other words, he simply stopped commenting on the matter. He used the oldest trick in the book, namely: When you are losing the argument, change the topic. Are these the actions of people who wish to hold India to a very high standard of behaviour (which all of us want), or of people whose sole aim is to malign India at all costs, even choosing to believe dubious testimony from discredited sources if it suits their disreputable purposes? I leave it to the readers to determine. In short, we cannot afford to treat the purveyors of SLIME as people just like us, who merely happen to hold different views. They are out to undermine, even destroy Indian society. And we cannot eradicate SLIME unless we take radical measures. Rational debate won't do the job, for reasons mentioned above. Moreover, this is not a "dharma yuddha" -- The purveyors of SLIME are fighting a dirty war in which they don't follow any rules, so we need not either. In short, we have to fight fire with fire. It behooves us, the patriotic Indians, to find a way to make the purveyors of SLIME run for cover -- and all's is fair in (love and) war! We can begin by making life as difficult as possible for the purveyors of SLIME, by making it clear that we know what they are up to. We must demonstrate openly the utter contempt that most of us feel towards them. When one side is shrill and near-hysterical in propagating hatred, merely attempting score debating points in the style of the Oxford Union will not succeed in neutralizing the hatred. We must counter their negativism with a barrage of good news about India. Unfortunately our English media, be they dailies or weeklies, have essentially degenerated into "lifestyle" rags, since that is where the advertising money comes from. I believe therefore that conventional English media will not be of any use in countering SLIME. Fortunately, with the pervasiveness of the Internet, disseminating information is easier than ever before. Already there are several web sites operated by thoughtful groups, such as goodnewsindia and indiacause . There need to be far more such sites. We also need to spread the news about the existence of such sites amongst well-wishers of Indian society. And finally, all of us must take a solemn oath to open our eyes to all the good things that happen around us, everyday, to everyone. We must not only notice them, but we must also shout from the rooftops about them. If we merely take these good things for granted and do not publicize them, then we leave the field open to the purveyors of SLIME. As Edmund Burke said: "The only thing necessary for the triumph of evil is for good men to do nothing." Part II: Why it is Important to Fight SLIME Up to this point, I have argued that we cannot afford to treat the purveyors of SLIME (Self-Loathing Indian MEntality) as people just like us, who merely happen to hold different views. They are out to undermine our collective self-confidence as a nation, and thereby destroy Indian society. As far as I tell by looking around me in India, SLIME purveyors have had only limited success. The collective mood of the great Indian middle class, notwithstanding the best efforts of SLIME purveyors, is on the whole rather upbeat. Unfortunately, that is not a reason for satisfaction. Recently I have come to the conclusion that the purveyors of SLIME are in fact not fighting for the mind-share of Indians at all, but of those living abroad, be they NRI's or foreigners. In other words, I now believe that the very objective of SLIME purveyors is to discredit Indian society not directly the eyes of those of us living in India, but rather, in the eyes of those living outside India. They seek to do this by focusing exclusively on unrepresentative, isolated incidents, and sticking to a script that is repeated ad nauseum. With the world becoming a "global village," and given the relatively short attention span of overseas news agencies, especially when it concerns matters unrelated to their own society, the purveyors of SLIME find it easy to poison the minds of non-Indians who get only occasional strobe-lighted versions of events in India, and may not always be able to follow up later events. For example, in the case of the Connaught Place killings mentioned in Part I, one cannot blame a foreign newspaper if it carried screaming headlines about Kuldip Nayar's "bold" accusations against the Delhi Police, and did not bother to carry the subsequent vindication of the Delhi Police. In turn, those misguided, rootless individuals living in India but constantly assessing themselves in terms of what the rest of the world thinks of them are then converted to the SLIME viewpoint. Unfortunately, there is plenty of evidence to suggest that the strategy adopted by the SLIME purveyors is succeeding. During the past few months, I have been forced to spend extended periods of time in the United States on business. During these trips I have met not only business associates, but also several Indian academics as well as their American colleagues. In my conversations with them, I was struck by the enormous disparity between what they perceive to be happening in India, and what I see happening around me. All they could talk about was the rise of fascism, Hindu fanaticism (as if there is no other kind of religious fanaticism), comparisons between Lal Krishna Advani and Hitler, Mussolini, Stalin, and Torquemada all rolled into one, "exploitation of the poor," and so on. To these people, the India of the rising Rupee, falling inflation, rising foreign exchange reserves, rising current account surplus, falling unemployment, rising self-confidence, booming stock market, improving infrastructure, rapidly decreasing poverty, burgeoning IT sector, and the second fastest growing economy in the world for over a decade, simply doesn't exist. For them there is only the India of communal riots, bride burning, dowry harassment, female infanticide, corruption, decay, waste, and "human rights violations". This disparity in perceptions cannot be explained merely by the old cliche about the glass being half-full versus being half-empty. It is as if we are looking at different glasses. Or perhaps, as one interpretation of quantum mechanics states, we are simply inhabiting parallel universes. My well-meaning NRI and American friends are merely reacting to the material published in American media about India. Web searches of the leading American newspapers and magazines, even "liberal" newspapers such as the New York Times, turn up only negative portrayals of everything Indian. One rarely sees anything about success stories such as the building of the golden quadrilateral, or adult literacy movement, etc. Even our success in the IT industry is now used as a weapon against us. Our IT industry is portrayed as being somewhat evil, and putting millions of innocent American IT professionals out of work by the nefarious tactic of (horror of horrors) producing better quality work at lower cost. Sob stories about individual Americans displaced by Indians have adorned supposedly responsible magazines such as Business Week and Fortune. "Outsourcing" has been turned into a dirty phrase simply by endless repetition with vaguely sinister (but never explicitly stated) connotations. In his highly perceptive book "The Arabs", David Lamb talks about the very negative portrayal of Arabs in the US media and says "Once Jews, blacks and other minorities were subjected to similar degradation; today hardly anyone but Arabs is still fair game for media bashing." I can add that India and Indians are still fair game for media bashing. One episode illustrates this point. A few weeks ago Anneka Sorenstam, a female golfer of some note, expressed a wish to play on the men's professional tour. Vijay Singh, a Fijian golfer with excellent credentials (including a Master's title) expressed his disagreement with the idea, saying that Ms. Sorenstam should stick to the ladies' tour. His comments brought forth all the usual righteous indignation that might have been expected. But what caught my attention was a comment in the Boston Globe by a sports writer (whose name I forgot) who said that Singh's comments were hardly surprising because Singh was not really a Fijian but rather an Indian. For good measure this guy added that "India was a medieval society where women are routinely abused, tortured and otherwise mistreated." Proof of David Lamb's thesis as applied to Indians? I think so. This guy thinks it is fair game to bash Indians even when no Indian is involved in the news story at hand! The gratuitousness of the slander of an entire nation and a five thousand year-old civilization would be breathtaking in its audacity, if it weren't so commonplace. I could point out to this guy that gender-stereotyping is much more rampant in the USA than it is in India. Leaving aside obvious examples such as our willingness to vote for female political leaders, which is in stark contrast with the US society's views, I could highlight that in engineering and computer science (both of which are "tomorrow's professions"), the percentage of women in India is noticeably higher than in the USA. After so many years of "women's liberation," girls in American high schools are still made to feel "unfeminine" if they like mathematics, or express a liking for engineering. If I were to put forward any of these arguments, this sportswriter would simply throw back at me some article(s) written by SLIME purveryors and tell me "This is what your own compatriots are saying about India, so I simply don't believe you." Unfortunately "globalization" alone is not sufficient to counteract the negative tactics of SLIME purveyors. Suppose an American businessman visits India for the purpose of negotiating a commercial transaction. Even if he really believes that an average Hindu like me goes home and beats up his wife, and burns a Muslim or two before settling down to a leisurely supper, how does the fact that he is thoroughly mistaken affect his dealings with me? Whatever he might think of his Indian interlocutors, his business negotiations with Indians proceed much more smoothly and transparently than with, say, his Japanese counterparts. On these kinds of visits, there is neither time nor inclination to see anything of India beyond the air-conditioned software company offices and five-star hotels. A thoughtful visitor would know that these do not represent the "real India," but will not have an opportunity to get know the real India. Similarly, when we Indians go abroad to solicit or conduct business, there is even less of an opportunity for our overseas interlocutors to form an impression about the Indian society, again other than that it is far easier to do business with us than with many other nationalities. I am leading up to a somewhat depressing conclusion, namely: This kind of "globalization" does not help at all in correcting all the misconceptions that foreigners entertain about Indian society and culture. Thus, even as the world takes for granted the increasing prosperity and professionalism of the Indian middle class, our undoubted proficiency in anything have to do with information technology, and our increasing presence in other sectors, there is virtually no prospect that non-Indians will correct their inaccurate notions about Indian society as a whole. The reader might argue that it is not really very important what foreigners think of us. After all, if the opinions foreigners might hold about Indian society does not come in the way of our international trade or international diplomacy, do their opinions really matter? I beg to disagree. Again, I would like to quote a specific incident rather than argue in general terms. We may recall that the music director Nadeem has been holing up in the UK, and has been fighting extradition to India to face charges in the murder of fellow music director Gulshan Kumar. When Nadeem's extradition was requested by the Indian government, Nadeem's lawyer argued that if Nadeem were to be extradited to India, he would not get a fair trial as he is a Muslim. The honourable British judge, no doubt feeling that he was striking a blow for the long-departed and unlamented British empire, accepted that argument. Now I don't know whether Nadeem is "guilty" or not. But I feel deeply offended that he can get away with making that kind of argument, given that the President of India is a Muslim, the richest man in India is a Muslim, until recently the captain of the Indian cricket team was a Muslim, and so on, ad infinitum. But such are the consequences of allowing foreigners to entertain seriously inaccurate impressions about Indian society. The really ironic thing was that, while the British judge was in effect slandering the entire Indian society, the British Minister for IT was in India and stating that the doors of the UK were open to Indian IT professionals! To repeat the point, no amount of globalization and success in specific sectors will cause foreigners to make a greater effort to get to know Indian society as a whole. Again going back to David Lamb's book "The Arabs," he makes the point that the Arabs really don't appreciate the need to make a proper case for themselves. Very clearly the same can be said of us Indians as well. All too often we explain away others' objections to our own satisfaction. Another mistake we make is that we are always in a reactive mode. Why should we wait until a company puts Ganesha's image on chappals or toilet seats to react and protest? Each one of us, who cares deeply about our country, should make it a point to go out and touch someone on a regular basis. We can talk about our wonderful heritage, our contributions to world (not just Indian) culture, be it in arithmetic or astronomy. We can talk about the fact that India has had an uninterrupted civilization of more than five thousand years, now that the so-called "Aryan invasion theory" has been thoroughly discredited. We can talk about the recent deciphering of the Harappan script, which showed that, far from being a "pre-Hindu" civilization as our leftist historians would like us to believe, the Harappans were actually Hindus. (After all, if the persons who wrote the Linear B script were actually Greeks, is it so surprising that those who wrote the Harappan scritpt were actually Hindus?) We can point out, as our beloved President Abdul Kalam repeatedly does, that in our five thousand-year history we have never invaded any other country, in spite of having been invaded countless times ourselves. Aside from making a conscious effort to reach out and touch others around us, we also need to make an overt effort to become more patriotic and to promote patriotism. I have always been struck by the demonstrative form of patriotism followed by Americans. While that approach might have its weaknesses, it is infinitely superior to the stupid notion propagated by our "liberals" that we ought not to be patriotic to India but should rather strive to be "citizens of the world." This latter notion is an integral part of SLIME, and ought to be consigned to the dust heap. And for God's sake let us stop being so politically correct and start talking about ancient Hindu culture and civilization, not ancient Indian culture and civilization. For the first four thousands of our history, there were only Hindus here, for all practical purposes. Much of what defines contemporary Indian ethos has its roots in Hinduism, whatever our "secularists" might like to preach! I have identified a serious problem that, in my opinion, needs to be tackled now -- we can't wait any longer. I haven't offered any comprehensive solutions; that is because I don't have any. I have suggested only a few tentative steps towards a solution. But even the longest journey begins with a single step, as a Chinese proverb states. And I do see some signs of hope. Five years ago when the national anthem was played, most Indians stood like department store dummies. In recent times I have observed people singing loudly and proudly. But we should not rest until every last one of the purveyors of SLIME is driven back into the gutter where they properly belong! Disclaimer: I am not a member of the RSS, VHP or any other such organization. Readers wishing to know my views about these bodies are encouraged to read the recent book India in Slow Motion by Mark Tully and Gillian Wright. Pages 151-153 are devoted to an interview Mark and Gillian did with me. Dated 16th August, 2003
Posted by: rhytha Oct 30 2003, 11:22 PM
can somebody invite Shri.Vidyasagar to IF, his email Iam not very good at writing letters biggrin.gif
Posted by: Mudy Oct 31 2003, 10:25 AM
Secularists in our midst! M.V. Kamath | Friday, October 31, 2003 11:29:5 IST Secularists go to great extent to give Hinduism and Hindutva a bad name, just to show how reverential they are to other religions. On Mahatma Gandhi's 134th birthday, the Ministry of Information and Broadcasting issued an innocent advertisement that could not have been more appropriate in today's context. It was a quotation from an article that Gandhiji had written in Young India (August 11, 1920), a journal that he was then editing, soon after nation-wide violence that followed the passing of the Rowlatt Bills and the infamous Jallianwallah massacre in 1919. The quotation is as follows: "I would rather have India resort to arms in order to defend her honour than that she should in a cowardly manner become or remain a helpless witness to her own dishonour". A beautiful thought that can stand by itself, needing no embellishment. Gandhiji, as everybody knows, extolled non-violence to the skies. It was the core of his very spiritual existence. His belief in non-violence was total. And yet the Mahatma did not want his nation to indulge in cowardice. Gandhiji's quote In having these lines inserted in an advertisement, the Information Ministry added just one line in tribute to the Father of the Nation. That line said: "Grateful Nation Pays Homage to the Father of the Nation on his 134th Birthday, 2nd October 2003". It was the grandest salute that the current government could have given to Gandhiji. But it infuriated so-called Gandhians who consider themselves guardians of Gandhian thought, as if he is their exclusive property. "Gandhiji would never prefer violence to non-violence. This is a deliberate attempt to justify violence. He has been quoted out of context," fumed one Vasant Pradhan, honourary secretary of Gandhi Smarak Nidhi. "There was no need to use this quote at this time since we are not at war. Now they have started reading Gandhi and the best they could dig out was this quote which endorses violence. We are deeply pained". This sort of reaction calls for comment. Do we need a war to use this quote from one of Gandhiji's articles? Secondly, to presume that this quote implies that Gandhiji endorses violence passes all logic. How stupid can Gandhians be? The Mahatma's grand daughter Usha Gokani, who is a member of the Kasturba Gandhi National Memorial Trust is quoted as saying: "They should have explained in what context Bapu said this. This will misguide youth". Misguide youth? In what way? So great is the Gandhians' hatred of the BJP that an innocent quote raises their shackles. Two points need to be made in this connection. Gandhiji is not the private property of his so-called followers. He belongs to the entire nation. Secondly, Gandhiji has not, to the best of one's knowledge, bestowed the exclusive right to anyone to interpret him. Gandhiji was opposed to cowardice, which brought shame on the country. Given the alternative, he would rather the nation fought. To read more meaning into this innocent quote is to do injustice to him. Indian Express (7 October) did no service either to Gandhi or Gandhian thought by raking up a controversy that had, in the first place, no substance. What is shocking is the sheer hatred shown by Gandhians towards the BJP. Very unGandhian, if one might say so. In this, Gandhians and secularists have something in common. Secularists hate Hinduism like poison. To them anyone who respects his religion and tradition is a fascist. The New York Times recently carried an article by Alexander Stille on fascism. Stille quoted a scholar as saying that fascism is "a malady of failed democracies" and that "there can be no authentic fascism before democracy or outside societies whose citizens are deeply engaged in mass politics". Correct. And the New York Times pointed out that many experts on European fascism consider it inaccurate to apply the term to societies in the Middle East that have little experience of democracy and "whose modes of government spring from a different matrix". Incidentally, this information is culled from a column written by Vandita Mishra in Indian Express (20 September). The saddest part of it all is the way the word is used by BJP-haters. In this regard, apparently, anything goes. Only the other day Mainstream (11 October) carried an article by one J.K. Shukla that again reeked of hatred. One wonders whether its founder editor Nikhil Chakravartty would have used it. The manner in which latter-day Leftists hate, hound and anathematise Hinduism is to be seen to be believed. When will this hate-mongering in Leftist journals stop? Any mention of Hinduism in any context invites the hatred of our leftist writers. In an article 'Batting for the BJP' (22 September) Amulya Ganguli writing in Hindustan Times maintained that a documentary that Mark Tully recently made for the BBC supported the establishment of a theocratic state in India! Poor Tully! Of all people to be charged with supporting a theocratic state that the BJP does not even dream of! Tully was forced to write a rejoinder and he did so in style (1 October). He wrote: "Although I said almost exactly the opposite, this misinterpretation of the documentary does not surprise me. In fact, it justifies my theses - the thesis that for many secularists any mention of Hinduism implies support for Hindutva". Forget that no one as yet has not properly defined Hindutva. Everyone has his own understanding of what it stands for. Secularists go to great extent to give it a bad name, just to show how reverential they are to other religions. It strikes one as slightly odd that it requires an Englishman to put our secularists in their place. Tully in his documentary had criticised the way Nehruvian secularism had developed. Stronger medicine Our secularists and Gandhians are cowards. Gandhiji, for example, was strongly opposed to animal sacrifice in temples. How many of our so-called Gandhians will dare to go and offer satyagraha before the Kali Temple in Kolkata? And how many of our secularists would? How many of our so-called Gandhians would fight against suttee as practiced in Rajasthan? Not one. They would prefer to give interviews to reporters to damn the BJP or the RSS to win the applause of the Leftists, but there their daring ends. This country is full of hypocrites and they have the support of Leftists like Ganguli who had to be gently called to order by Mark Tully who knows his India better than detractors of Hinduism all put together. Tully has no axe to grind. He can therefore speak the truth. And since it does not meet the requirements of our Leftists, they go all out to distort it. One has to be thankful to Tully for administering a rap on secularist knuckles. The only trouble is that he is too much of a gentleman and does not know how to handle professional hate-mongers, like the Gangulis and the Shuklas. They need stronger medicine to get their blood cleansed, than kind words, and under-stated advice.
Posted by: Kaushal Nov 1 2003, 10:15 PM
Crossposted from the News folder thread re.the Hajj subsidy
"A burden of 20,000 is a huge amount," says Gulam Samdani Khan, an excise employee
But where is it written that other taxpayers should bear the burden of your Hajj pilgrimage. Feel free to go on a Hajj pilgrimage, but there is no virtue in doing it on somebody else's money. The hajjj subsidy should be completely abolished. Government should not enter into the area of religion at all.
Posted by: Mudy Nov 2 2003, 11:20 AM
Posted by: Gill Nov 2 2003, 11:57 PM
What exactly is the definition of Secularism according to Indian leftist and commies with keeping India in minds? Before this could be answered by these Indian Born Confused Souls, there is no need to bring another "ism" into the Indian psyche. mad.gif What is Hinduvata? How dare is this question being asked? Can anyone dare to question Islamization and its characteristics to a Muslim? I dont think so goddamn commies will surely see and do red. But why not answer, Hinduvata is a person who is proud of his country, his religion, his patriotism, and his history. It could be a Muslim or a Dharmi. Any comments Basu and like minded evil souls? Gill aaskull.gif
Posted by: Gill Nov 3 2003, 12:08 AM
In Mr. Mudy's post he points out that Secularists and Gandhians are against animal sacrifice in temples etc. I am also against animal scarifice. But I have no intention of imposing my views on anyone. One's beliefs and religious rituals, I cannot question neither change. But these drama actors dreaming they are Gandhians etc do impose their will on Hindus. Forget Satyagrah in front temples Mr. Mudy, can these liars, pinkos dare to stop animal sacrifice on ID or Mass at Churches? hahahah These loonies are nothing but totalitarian sobs. Gill tv_feliz.gif
Posted by: Kaushal Nov 3 2003, 12:33 AM
I am not an unadulterated fan of Mark Tully, but at least he is a genuine secularist as opposed to the pseudo variety. I dont agree with everything he says here but, he hits the mark on other points.,00120001.htm Mark Tully October 01
In an article, Batting for the BJP (September 22), Amulya Ganguli maintained that a documentary I made recently for the BBC supported the establishment of a theocratic state in India, mistook a Hindu’s reverence for his own religion as animosity for the religion of others, suggested that the primacy of Hinduism should be established in India, and was opposed to the secularism of Gandhi. Although I said almost exactly the opposite, this misinterpretation of the documentary does not surprise me. In fact, it justifies one of my theses — the thesis that for many secularists any mention of Hinduism implies support for Hindutva. That was what Gurcharan Das demonstrated in the film with his story of a friend who when told he was studying the ancient texts instantly assumed Gurcharan had become a supporter of Hindutva. I do agree with Ganguli that I have a problem with the word ‘secularism’ and this inevitably came out in the film. In the Oxford Dictionary I have kept from my school days, one of the definitions of ‘secular’ is ‘profane’. For many religious people, the word does carry connotations of hostility towards religion. I fully accept that this was not Nehru’s intention, that he regarded secularism as implying equal respect for all religions. But it does seem to me that this has got distorted in India. I well remember seeing an exhibition of posters drawn by schoolchildren to advocate secularism. One of the posters showed a Hindu priest beside a Muslim and a Christian clergyman. Underneath was written “Would you trust any of these”? For many, secularism has come to mean suspicion of all religions and sometimes downright hostility. What was the problem the documentary addressed? Not as Ganguli suggested the decline in the electoral fortunes of the Congress. It was what I repeatedly described as “the shouting match between Hindutva and secularism”. The Congress came into the picture because it is the main advocate of secularism, and because it is the party of Nehru and Gandhi. Why is this problem important? Well, for one reason because as Ganguli himself says: “The BJP was quite uninhibited in its exploitation of communal sentiments to sway public opinion. It has not been averse to using riots to win votes as Gujarat has shown.”so if somebody says it is true then it becomes true without any corroborating proof There is also a need to have some answer to the communalism being spread by people like Praveen Togadia. examples of some of his communalism please, because i bet you if the same yardstick was applied to Presiden Bush he woule be a communalist tooThis was demonstrated in the documentary with shots of him speaking in Raipur. But there can be no answer which does not first consider the reason why so many people turned out to hear Togadia on that night and applauded so enthusiastically. Some undoubtedly were there because, sadly, there are people who enjoy minority-bashing. But listening to Togadia’s speech, it was clear he was also appealing to something deeper than that, to a sense of grievance among Hindus about the way secularism had been expressed and practised in independent bet The answer to that grievance, the documentary suggested, was the very opposite of a Hindu theocracy, the very opposite of a Hinduism with animosity for the religion of others. It was the promotion of the ancient Indian tradition of religious tolerance, a tolerance which owes so much to Hinduism’s own pluralism, and which accepts there has been a tolerant tradition in Indian Islam and Christianity too.i am not so sure about the last phrase in the sentence but is anybody among the Hindus suggesting a theocracy take power This was expressed by a Muslim politician and a Christian theologian in the documentary. The embodiment of this tolerance in the documentary was Gandhi, the film started and ended with him. This tradition provides a basis for Hindus and for Indians who believe in many of the many other religions of this country to live with self-respect, in peace, and proud of their national identity. This is very much an Indian tradition, a tradition which is very different too from the tradition of countries where Semitic religions like Christianity and Islam have dominated. It is the tradition which could meet the needs of so many other countries in the world because, as Ganguli again said, “sectarian politics in the form of establishing the primacy of a religion or race or a language have led to bloodshed.”in fact one might say it is a tradition that is followed only in India and very few other places in the worldwhich have the comparable diversity of India So why did Ganguli think a film advocating a very Indian tradition of pluralism was calling for the primacy of Hinduism? I think because he has made the mistake of assuming the false alternative. This involves seeing everything in terms of opposites. It is very un-Indian because India always treats certainty with suspicion. Assuming the false alternative means being so certain of your own position that you assume anyone who differs in any way is advocating the exact opposite. False alternatives are very prevalent in journalism where everything has to be in black and white, and a fight between two radically opposed points of view is a good story. Perhaps it’s not surprising, therefore, that the false alternative is the trap Ganguli fell into. Because I criticised the way Nehruvian secularism has developed, he assumed I was advocating its exact opposite. I know from experiences not unlike Gurcharan Das’s and indeed the reaction of some, but by no means all, of my friends to this documentary, that this false alternative is a trap many fall into. On the other hand, there are indications that within the Congress itself, rethinking about its interpretation of secularism is going on. In the documentary, the Chief Minister of Madhya Pradesh, Digvijay Singh, while not in anyway embracing Hindutva or accepting my criticism that the Congress had been “against religion”, did say the party’s commitment to a multi-religious India “sometimes got blurred”. He believed the Congress should consider reverting to its practice of saying Gandhi’s prayer embracing all religions at the start of its meetings. In her address to the Congress’s Shimla Vichar Manthan Shivir in July, Sonia Gandhi said: “There has been a remarkable confluence of cultures, faiths and beliefs, that has gone into the making of a composite India, that has given India its inner vitality and resilience. We must take the leadership role in the rediscovery of that nationalism that has set India apart as a unique country in the world.” That isn’t merely mouthing secularism or indulging in the shouting match I described in the documentary, and the British Indian scholar, Bhikhu Parekh, described much better. After the Gujarat killings, he called for “a great historical project”, and went on to say: “This great historical project requires a historically sensitive imagination, a culturally attuned intelligence, and a shrewd sense of political possibilities. Sadly, none of these qualities is much in evidence, either among the fanatical BJP ideologues who are busy destroying the country they claim to love, or among their simple-minded secular opponents whose thinking has advanced little since Nehru’s death.” And what is that historical project? “An overarching notion, not of Hindutva but of Bharatiyata, one that affirms and cherishes our rich cultural and religious diversity and embeds in it those public values, sensibilities and institutions that we all do, or should, hold in common.” Parekh’s message is the message I hoped viewers would take from the documentary, it is how I interpret the message of Gandhi, and it is a message which could give Indians of all creeds a sense of pride because it is based on India’s own unique tradition. pI don’t believe India’s national pride cannot be built on a form of Hinduism which imitates militant Islam or anybody suggesting this But, equally, I don’t believe it can be built on a secularism which is not specifically Indian. Maybe, I should not criticise the word ‘secularism’ but suggest it needs reinterpreting. But then the false alternative would come into play again and I would be told I was batting for the Congress!
(The writer is a freelance broadcaster and author, and former BBC correspondent in Delhi)
Posted by: Prof. Godbole Nov 3 2003, 03:56 PM
In the chapter on Politics, talking of the Partition, "I think it is wrong to equate religion with nationality. A nation has many more attributes than a religion has. The fact of worshipping in the same place, or believing in the same religious tenets, does not by itself go to create a sense of nationhood. .... Religion should never be allowed to intrude into public affairs. Public affairs are by definition affairs in which the public as a whole are interested." Further, "Patriotism should always be territorial and not communal or religious. One loves one's country, one loves one's motherland, and that is the essence of patriotism. One may love one's religion, but that cannot override the love that one has for the land of one's birth."
Shri. Kaushal, What would have Shri. Chagla said about Hindutva given his position above?
Posted by: Kaushal Nov 3 2003, 06:20 PM
Prof G., Let me start by saying i am in complete agreement with Sri Chagla on the above mentioned quote. Religion and Governance should not mix under any circumstances. Unfortunately that is not the state of affairs persisting in Indian today. Government constantly intrudes on religious matters especially Hindu reliigious matters such as running of the Temples and the trusts. Coming to Hindutva, I will refer to the Hindu Mahasabha site since Savarkar who coined the phrase Hindutva, was also the founder of the Hindu Mahasabha. Contrary to popular belief he had very little to do with the RSS. So what is the definition of Hindutva according to the ideological descendants of Savarkar;
The term "Hindutva" is derived from the two terms 'Hindu Tattva", which literally mean "Hindu Principles". Now the question is, what are Hindu Principles and what comprises the "Hindutva" Outlook? To answer this question we would have to begin with the history of the Hindus. The history of the Hindus is the history of a civilization which has developed in its natural state, without interruption, since antiquity. Its age is dated to be between five and nine thousand years. Hence Hindu History is a prototype of how human civilization would have looked, if civilization all across the globe had been allowed to develop in its natural state. This is the relevance for us to study Hindu Civilization, Hindu History and Hindu Culture. The evolution of Hindu Civilization can be considered to be natural and continuing as there is no last messiah in the Hindu world view. In fact this is what distinguishes Hindu Civilization from the rest. And this is why Hinduism is called a Living Idea, guided by the sum total of human wisdom that is not considered to be embodied in one person, or one book, or one period of human history. Hence the term "Living". Hindutva is the articulation of this idea of continuity of freedom of thought from which emerge the multifarious Hindu Principles. Two instances of Hindu Principles that symbolize the outcome of freedom of thought are the pronouncements made not today, but four thousand years back by unnamed rishis (Hindu ascetics) that, "This world is one family" (Vasudaiva Kutumbakam) and that "The Universal Reality is the same, but different people can call it by different names" (Ekam Sat Viprah Bahuda Vadanti). In these two proclamations made in ancient Hindu India, we see the seeds of globalism and freedom of thought, four thousand years before the world was to become the global village of today.
Every country has traditions and a value system based on these tradiitions. In the US such a tradition is based on Christian values and the entire country consciously or unconsciously lives by these values and their impact on Laws, ethics, social issues. At the same time the US has also made a conscious attempt to maintain a distance between the religion of Christianity (and other religions) and the structure of government. It is nevertheless true (that) there is never any doubt when you live in the US that you are living in a country with a Christian ethos (which i have termed Christutva). In the same manner , the traditions of India are inextricably linked to the Sanaatana Dharma and the ethos that permeates our society from Kashmirto Cape Comorin, from Assam to Gujarat is the ethos of Hindutva. To assert this fact is not to deny that there is no place in Governance for religious considerations. The government must scrupulously avoid involvement in religious matters (a good example would be Ayodhya) such as running of temples. At the same time who can deny that the values, laws, ethics, customs are permeated by an ethos which we call Hindutva. My impression is that Sri Chagla would accept this viewpoint and in fact has said that almost all Indians have descended from Hindus at some point in time and the question of an Indian MUslim being against Hindusim should not arise. A part of every Indian Muslim is in fact Hindu. Another quote from Sri.Chagla is to be found in the following paragraph; "Anyone who is the national of this country, irrespective of being a Shaiva, Shakta, Vaishnava, Sikh, Jain, Muslim, Christian, Parsi, Buddist or Jew by way of his creed or mode of worship, is a Hindu. As Justice M.C. Chagla has forcefully put it, "The French, with their sense of logic and precision, call Indians irrespective of their caste or community L' Hindus. I think that is a correct description of all those who live in this country and consider it their home. In true sense, we are all Hindus although we may practise different religions. I am a Hindu because I trace my ancestry to my Aryan forefathers and I cherish the philosophy and the culture which they handed down to successive generations. IOW, Sri Chagla (like Our present President Kalam) did not see any contradiction in being a practicing Muslim while proudly asserting also that he was a Hindu. In fact most of the world referred to the residents of India regardless of their religion as Hindus till very recently. Even today in most Arab countries including KSA residents of India are always referred to as Hind, regardless of whether they are HIndu, Muslim or Christian. It is only the Brits with their penchant for discovering difference where none existed before invented the notion of Hindu as a religion and confused the whole issue.
Posted by: Prof. Godbole Nov 3 2003, 07:35 PM
Shri. Kaushal, That was an excellent post! I will have to read it a few times for it contains significant information for a short post.
In fact most of the world referred to the residents of India regardless of their religion as Hindus till very recently.
To add to that, one of my colleagues from Argentina refers to any conversation in an Indian language as so-and-so was "speaking in Hindu"! smile.gif, etc, etc. There is no doubt, India is universally associated/identified with "Hindu". Thanks for the response!
Posted by: Kaushal Nov 3 2003, 09:53 PM A weekly column by Shri Arun Shourie April 24th, 1996
In holding that not all references to religion in election speeches necessarily amount to corrupt electoral practices; that it is the soliciting of votes on the ground of the religion of the candidate or that of his opponent which is a corrupt electoral practice; that statements made by others do not have the same effect as those made by a candidate himself -- in all this, as we saw, the Supreme Court has merely reiterated what the the law itself says and what the Supreme Court has itself held on previous occasions. What then accounted for the fury of the secularists ? The first feature which offended them was precisely that the Court had treated candidates at par ! On the reasoning of secularists, when a Muslim candidate says, or when a candidate from among the forces of social-change says, Islam is in danger, get together, there is nothing wrong as it is but natural for a minority to feel insecure; but when a Hindu candidate says, Get together, Hinduism is in danger, why that is terrible, he is being communal, he is indulging in a corrupt electoral practice, his election ought to be struck down. When a Muslim candidate says, Get together and bend this government to concede X,Y,Z, in the reckoning of secularists he is just asking for amelioration; but when a Hindu candidate says, "Get together so that governments do not bend to these communalists and concede X,Y,Z,he is being communal and fomenting religious bigotry. The Supreme Court put the two at par: as asking for something -- say, a RS 500 crore bank only for non-Hindus of the kind the Prime Minister announced he was setting up -- is not a corrupt electoral practice, opposing it is not a corrupt electoral practice either; as saying that Islam ( or Urdu, or Tamil ) is in danger is not a corrupt practice, saying Hinduism ( or Sanskrit ) is in danger is not a corrupt practice. That seems obvious enough. But just as obviously the secularists are not able to stomach it : for a fundamental premise of their verbal assault has been that their has to be an imbalance in favour of non- Hindus, of Muslims in particular The second sin of the judgment for them arose from the fact that the Court accepted, indeed adopted in toto the definition of Hindu, of Hindutva which the RSS and the BJP have been maintaining is what they have meant whenever they have used these expressions. There are two different reasons on account of which this caused such offense among secularists. One is of course that the Court had seen fit to endorse the construction which the RSS and BJP have put on the words, that was anathema in itself. But as repugnant if not more so was the fact that in doing so the Court had adopted a description which is complimentary to Hinduism : Hindutva, Hindu, these words signify a culture of tolerance, a universalism, the Court had held. The Court had seen fit to treat the words as a compendium of virtues, complained the Marxist intellectual in Hyderabad. Now, that is of course unpardonable. For the secularist Hindu, Hindutva etc. signify the dustbin, the compendium of all that is shameful, and much that is positively evil. In this the secularist combines in himself two streams -- the Macaulay-missionary stream and the Marxist one. And here was the Court affirming the opposite ! The very Court whose verdicts the secularists were accusing the RSS- BJP combine of not heeding ! Naturally the poor fellows were fuming. ...
Posted by: Kaushal Nov 3 2003, 10:07 PM
Basis of secularism is Hindutva Author: Poonam Singh Chauhan Publication: The Indian Express Date: March 30, 2002 Introduction: Go over the Supreme Court's definition of Hindutva, Mr Nayar By saying that Hindutva and secularism cannot go together, senior columnist and member of Parliament Kuldip Nayar (IE, March 26) has once again displayed that his understanding of Hindutva is very poor. Or, in an attempt to launch his pseudo-intellectual assault on the BJP, he has taken the risk of maligning the very basis of Indian secularism - Hindutva. If he is willing to be honest with his readers who regard Nayar as a great intellectual, he should consult the Supreme Court observations that have defined Hindutva as a way of life. It is a way of life that evolved and prospered on the Indian subcontinent over the ages. It's not a way of worship or a religion in the true sense of the word and in the sense in which Christianity, Islam, Buddhism, Sikhism, Jainism and hundreds of other sects of Indian origin can claim to be religions. As a philosophy of life that goes beyond ways of worship and views of God, Hindutva is the name of a spirit that unites all these together. Hindutva is a cultural term and its central theme is tolerance and the spirit of co-existence. And this very spirit is the source of Indian secularism. One must not forget that we might have imported the concept of democracy from the Western world but true secularism is a purely indigenous concept that stems out of the common undercurrent that unites all the sects that were either born on this land or have grown here after dropping in from somewhere else. Had the people who worship different, say thousands of, Gods, deities or avtars been intolerant, India couldn't have remained secular even after its partition purely on communal lines. So, we must understand that Indian secularism is born out of the mindset of Indian people that had developed over thousands of years. This very lifestyle is Hindutva and both secularism and Hindutva are, therefore, synonyms. Nayar's way of looking at the RSS, one of the leading torchbearers of Hindutva in post-Independence India, also suffers from many shortcomings. He is undemocratic when he says that Vajpayee cannot remain both a swayamsevak and the prime minister of India at the same time. He should come forward and enlighten the nation about those constitutional and legal provisions that debar a RSS swayamsevak from holding this high office. Nayar, by raising such pseudo-secular slogans, has once again chosen to sing in tune with the Pakistani propaganda machinery. This language only suits the communal Pakistani media which is all out for a false campaign against us.
Posted by: Kaushal Nov 3 2003, 10:16 PM
...Thus, it cannot be doubted, particularly in view of the Constitution Bench decisions of this Court that the words Hinduism or Hindutva are not necessarily to be understood and construed narrowly,confined only to the strict Hindu religious practices unrelated to the culture and ethos of the people of India. depicting the way of life of the Indian people. Unless the context of a speech indicates a contrary meaning or use, in the abstract these terms are indicative more of a way of life of the Indian people and are not confined merely to describe persons practising the Hindu religion as a faith. Considering the terms Hinduism or Hindutva per se as depicting hostility, enmity or intolerance towards other religious faiths or professing communalism, proceeds from an improper appreciation and perception of the true meaning of these expressions emerging from detailed discussion in earlier authorities of this Court. Misuse of these expressions to promote communalism cannot alter the true meaning of these terms. The mischief resulting from the misuse of the terms by anyone in his speech has to be checked and not its permissible use. It is indeed very unfortunate, if in spite of the liberal and tolerant features of Hinduism recognised in judicial decisions, these terms are misused by anyone during the elections to gain any unfair political advantage. Fundamentalism of any colour or kind must be curbed with a heavy hand to preserve and promote the secular creed of the nation. Any misuse of these terms must, therefore, be dealt with strictly. It is. therefore. a fallacy and an error of law to proceed on the assumption that any reference to Hindutva or Hinduism in a speech makes it automatically a speech based on the Hindu religion as opposed to the other religions or that the use of words Hindutva or Hinduism per se depicts an attitude hostile to all persons practising any religion other than the Hindu religion. It is the kind of use made of these words and the meaning sought to be conveyed in the speech which has to be seen and unless such a construction leads to the conclusion that these words were used to appeal for votes for a Hindu candidate on the ground that he is a Hindu or not to vote for a candidate because he is not a Hindu, the mere fact that these words are used in the speech would not bring it within the prohibition of sub-section (3) or (3A) of Section 123. It may well be that these words are used in a speech to promote secularism or to emphasise the way of life of the Indian people and the Indian culture or ethos, or to criticise the policy of any political party as discriminatory or intolerant. The parliamentary debates, including the clarifications made by the Law Minister quoted earlier, also bring out this difference between the prohibited and permissible speech in this context. Whether a particular speech in which reference is made to Hindutva and/or Hinduism falls within the prohibition under sub-section (3) or (3A) of Section 123 is, therefore, a question of fact in each case. This is the correct premise in our view on which all such matters are to be examined. The fallacy is in the assumption that a speech in which reference is made to Hindutva or Hinduism must be a speech on the ground of Hindu religion so that if the candidate for whom the speech is made happens to be a Hindu, it must necessarily amount to a corrupt practice under sub-section (3) or sub-section (3A) of Section 123 of the R.P. Act. As indicated, there is no such presumption permissible in law contrary to the several Constitution Bench decisions referred herein.
Posted by: acharya Nov 4 2003, 06:25 PM
confused article HUM HINDUSTANI : Of sense and Sanskrit J Sri Raman Daily Times Oct 30, 2003 Politics and ideology are driving the aggressive promotion of Sanskrit and this has given the language — the mother of many South Asian languages — an image it does not deserve President A P J Abdul Kalam was recently in Bulgaria along with a mission. According to a small news item carried in many Indian newspapers on October 24, when he visited Sofia University, some students told him that they would ‘love to learn Sanskrit’. The tone of national pride was evident in most news stories and even understandable. Ever since the days of colonial humiliation, every Oriental nation takes great pride in any Occidental discovery and recognition of its cultural heritage. Pride in Sanskrit, however, has by now acquired a political and ideological dimension of an entirely different kind. India’s rich Sanskrit literary heritage was also, quite largely, a discovery of Western scholars like Max Mueller, which consequently led to a nationalist rediscovery. According to eminent Indian historians like Romilla Thapar, along with the Western tributes came other theories. The concept of a racial Aryan-Dravidian divide among the Indian people is a case in point. Westerners, however, are not to blame for what Sanskrit and pride in the language have come to symbolise today socially and politically. Sanskrit has come to symbolise a particular view of India’s past and a particular kind of pride in it. Forces that reject much of India’s history and seek to rewrite history uphold Sanskrit as the banner of the misleadingly so-labelled ‘Hindutva’, a majoritarian communalism that has little to do with the faith of millions. The language, that preserves the literature of several ancient religions and sects of India and schools of philosophical thought including atheism, is now identified with a brand of Hinduism that cannot be accepted by many of its devout practitioners. Sanskrit, in the process, is now set up against other major languages of India. Majoritarian communalism masquerading as nationalism has set it up, above all, against Urdu, the latter is a product of a composite Hindu-Muslim culture and is unfairly identified with a religious minority. This process, which finds its political culmination now, started a long while ago. In its early stages, this process took the form of concerted efforts to replace Hindustani, the people’s language in the heartland, with ‘shuddh’ (pure) Hindi. India’s first prime minister, Jawaharlal Nehru, was openly critical of the exercise and frequently deprecated the creation and development of ‘AIR (All-India Radio) Hindi’ or a heavily Sanskritised and de-Urduised Hindi that made little sense to the common man. It may have become more intelligible now, but the political process it signified has not paved the way for people’s unity that true patriotism should have aimed at. In retrospect, the development of ‘pure’ Hindi would also appear to have been an attempt to deny the divided subcontinent a common language. Some readers may be aware that a similar campaign was carried out in Pakistan. Sanskrit has also been set against another ancient, but still living Indian language — Tamil. The political votaries of Sanskrit, from the ‘sangh parivar’ and its allies, have done the language a distinct disservice by pronouncing it more sacred and hence more suitable for worship than Tamil, the language of the southern state of Tamilnadu, the birth-place of the ‘bhakti’ (devotional) movement, which some historians see as the Hindu counterpart of Islam’s Sufi stream. In social terms also Sanskrit has been made synonymous with caste-based elitism. It may no longer be possible to prohibit any one other than the priestly caste from chanting Sanskrit mantras but the sociologist’s use of the term ‘Sanskritisation’ to denote the elite in a caste society still makes eminent sense. Sanskrit is still widely associated with the upper castes. One will rarely ever find low-caste students reading Sanskrit at Indian universities. A low-caste or a tribal community ‘Sanskritises’ itself for upward social mobility. Politics and ideology are driving the aggressive promotion of Sanskrit and this has given the language — the mother of many South Asian languages — an image it does not deserve. And the people who oppose this particular ideology and brand of politics are now also opposing Sanskrit. The consequent de-Sanskritisation drive is counterproductive. In Tamilnadu, for instance, it led to a ‘pure Tamil’ movement that, many lovers of the language would now acknowledge, has not served its cause well. And when someone cast in the ‘parivar’ mould like Human Resources Development Minister Murli Manohar Joshi proposes promoting Sanskrit in the academia, there is a howl of protest against the idea of learning a ‘dead language’. This reaction is uncalled for and what I would term a mercenary argument that might later be expanded to argue that there is no reason to learn about the past which is over and no longer relevant. In another incident there is now a campaign against the schools that have been officially established for the purpose of learning the Vedas by rote: critics counter this move by projecting the Vedas as the vilest of human documents and denounce studying them as if it were a cardinal, reactionary sin! The right course for any country, of course, is to study its heritage in a historical perspective. But a fascist ideology and the politics flowing from it make this well-nigh impossible. The writer is a journalist and peace activist based in Chennai, India
Posted by: acharya Nov 4 2003, 07:10 PM
Posted by: Kaushal Nov 4 2003, 11:17 PM
It is clear from what follows that the secularist rot had set in immediately after independence and the person responsible for setting the direction of secularism was none other than Pandit Nehru. Notice the prescient words of Munshiji (he was also the founder of the Bharatiya Vidya Bhavan. I am proud that Somnath was reconstructed without using Government funds. It set the right precedent. But unfortunately the precedent was not maintained, and in innumerable instances such as the Hajj subsidy, the government bent over backwards to violate the principles of true secularism. 5.4. This is how Kulapati K.M. Munshi, who was the Union Minister of Food and Agriculture and also the head of the official committee to supervise the reconstruction recalls the Somnath renovation in his book Pilgrimage to Freedom. “When Junagadh fell, Sardar Patel, as Deputy Prime Minister, pledged the Government of India to the reconstruction of the historical Temple of Somnath. The cabinet, Jawaharlal presiding, decided to reconstruct the Temple at Government cost. But Gandhiji advised Sardar not to have the Temple reconstructed at Government cost and suggested that sufficient money should be collected from the people for this purpose. Sardar accepted this advice. The Government of India appointed me as the Chairman of the Advisory Committee for the reconstruction of the Temple, and I had also a hand in preparing the Trust Deed and participated in implementing the scheme. “Jawaharlal, more than once criticized me for working for the reconstruction of the Temple and I had to point out to him in a long letter that everything was done from the very beginning in accordance with the decision of the Cabinet taken under his guidance. When the time came to install the deity in the Temple as Sardar had passed away, I approached Rajendra Prasad and asked him to perform the ceremony, but added a rider to my invitation that he should accept it only if he was prepared not to fail us. “My correspondence with the Prime Minister was not secret to Rajendra Prasad. He promised that he would come and install the deity, whatever the attitude of the Prime Minister and added, ‘I would do the same with a mosque or a church if I were invited.’ This, he held, was the core of Indian secularism. Our state is neither irreligious nor anti-religious”. “My foreboding proved correct. When it was announced that Rajendra Prasad was attending the inauguration of the Somnath Temple, Jawaharlal vehemently protested against his going to Somnath. But Rajendra Prasad kept his promise. “His speech at the time of the installation of the deity was published in all the newspapers. The speech is a masterpiece of literature by any standard. It briefly traced the role which the Temple had played in the past, analysed the true role of religion and took a pledge for die future. I shall give here only two passages which I have translated from the original Hindi: ‘Even as the Creator of the Universe, Brahma, resides in the navel of Lord Vishnu, similarly in the heart of man reside the creative urge and faith, and these surpass in power all the armaments, all the armies and all the emperors of the world.’ ‘In the era, India had been a treasure-house of gold and silver.... Centuries ago, the major portion of the gold of the world was in the temples of India. It is my view that the reconstruction of the Somnath Temple will be complete on that day when not only a magnificent edifice will arise on this foundation, but the mansion of India’s prosperity will be really that prosperity of which the ancient Temple of Somnath was a symbol.’ (pp. 287-88) When Pandit Nehru expressed his reservations about Dr. Rajendra Prasad participating in the Somnath function, Kulpati Munshi wrote a letter to Pandit Nehru in which he said: “You pointedly referred to me (yesterday) in the cabinet as connected with Somnath. I am glad you did so; for I do not want to keep back any part of my views or activities. “Yesterday you referred to Hindu revivalism..... I cannot value freedom if it deprives us of the Bhagwat Gita or uproots our millions from the faith with which they look upon our temples and thereby destroys the texture of our lives.” In the course of this letter Shri Munshi forcefully argued against the concepts which had started taking root after Mahatma Gandhi and Sardar Patel whereby “secularism” was becoming only an euphemism for allergy to Hinduism. And describing how the word “secularism” was being distorted Kulpati Munshi said: “In its name, again, politicians in power adopt a strange attitude which, while it condones the susceptibilities, religious and social of the minority communities, is too ready to brand similar susceptibilities in the majority community as communalistic and reactionary. How secularism sometimes become allergic to Hinduism will be apparent from certain episodes relating to the reconstruction of Somnath Temple.” “These unfortunate postures have been creating a sense of frustration in the majority community. “If, however, the misuse of this word ‘secularism’ continues, if Sanskrit, the bond of unity is not given a place in our language formula, if eve” time there is an inter-communal conflict, the majority is blamed regardless of the merits of the question, if our holy places of pilgrimage like Banaras, Mathura and Rishikesh continue to be converted into industrial slums by establishing huge industries, the springs of traditional tolerance will dry up. “While the majority exercises patience and tolerance, the minorities should learn to adjust themselves to the majority. Otherwise the future is uncertain and an explosion cannot be avoided” (Ibid., p. 312). 5.5. The symbol of the conquest of the country that was built where the Jyotirlingam had been, was replaced by a grand and imposing Temple. Yet how prophetic was Kulapati Munshi! It is also evident from the conduct of Pandit Nehru after the death of Sardar Patel that allergy to any thing Hindu had become an integral part of the precept and practice of secularism in India.
Posted by: Gill Nov 17 2003, 10:29 PM
Lets continue with this debate here, even though its futile now but anyway... How many members here in this forum know their Gotra? If you seek, you can trace your lineage to what pinkoos describe as Vedic times, ha, I consider today to be Vedic times as well. Anyway your lineage begins at the soil that is called Bharat. That is Hinduvata, its my land, my faith, my way of life. Accept it or get out. Simple. With due respect how many Indian Muslims know their Gotra? Ah even this simple reasoning is not enough for red bastrons or Leftists Pigs. HMMM. Fellow Pinkoos and Leftists. You have the right to have your views and opinions, no matter how far fetched and lies they might be. Dont worry its not your ideology that prescribes to this feeling and opinion of mine, instead it democratic principles shrined in my way of life as a Hinduvata. Now now what does Communism and Leftist ideas speak about freedom? Hahahah. With my principles in mind, I ask all these pinkoos, what is a Muslim? Why is this word still being used in a secular, etc India? Isnt this a religious identity? Why cant Hinduvata be accepted without debate then? Ask yourself oh great wine drinking elities of India. Dont forget the cigars. Gill [Sarcasm, its God's gift]
Posted by: Gill Nov 17 2003, 10:34 PM
Sorry forum members, after reading my own post I realized that what I am trying to achieve in my nation, equality, no bigotry, nationalism, service to society and nation, are the hallmarks of being a leftist. Haahahahahahahah since when did commies become rightists? Only in India. Screwed up indeed. I blame media. They were so eager to potray BJP etc as Nazis. Sadly they forgot that even Nazis were socialists. I dont think Indians are aware of these "ist" and what they stand for. Gill grenade.gif
Posted by: acharya Nov 26 2003, 05:32 PM
Is Nehru's idea of India still valid today? Nehru's idea of India was a complex one, with many strands to it. In practical terms, it manifested itself in his adherence to democratic norms and practices, in his conviction that there must be a measure of economic redistribution, and in his belief that the state must protect all Indians, whatever their culture or faith. Nehru's vision is so foundational and encompassing that it would be impossible to ever comp-letely escape it, however hard we may try. None of his present-day challengers can match the intellectual range of problems he addressed, or the depth of his analysis of them. Yet, his vision is under concerted attack today — most particularly, his belief that the Indian state must protect all its citizens, whatever their beliefs. But if we abandon Nehru's commitments, we shall lose more than an idea of India — we shall lose the very reality of India as we know it. With the onset of liberalisation, even the Congress appears to have distanced itself from Nehru. Nehru was a man of principles, not an ideologue. Like John Maynard Key-nes, he was intellectually self-confident enough to feel able to change and adjust his ideas according to changing circumstances. Were he still around today, he would have revised his ideas — for example, about economic and foreign policy. After Nehru's death, the Congress often used him as a fig-leaf for policies and actions that couldn't remotely be traced back to him. This made it easier for the opponents of Congress to attack Nehru... The Congress must think through and extend, imaginatively and innovatively, Nehru's ideas on economic development and justice, on education and environ- ment, on the country's growing cultural complexity, on the extension of democracy to the lowest tiers of the system. On these vital subjects, the BJP has never had much to say of any real coherence. In that sense, the Congress is lucky in having such a rich intellectual heritage. It needs to dust this off and develop a new analytic and rhetorical aggression, which can take the message to the people. President Kalam recently said that the future generations "wouldn't remember us for the temples/mosques we gave them". Yet, India faces this choice between Nehru's 'temples of modern India ' on the one hand and the 'temple in Ayodhya' on the other. Do you see any hope? When one looks around at the rest of Asia, and sees the vast energy sweeping through it and transforming it, how the other Asian countries are seizing and making opportunities for themselves in a forward-looking way, it is chastening to find that we are still mired in self-destructive struggles over rival conceptions of the past. Arguably, we have to go through a phase of digging up archaeological sites and destroying parts of our heritage. But we are betraying the hopes and needs of future generations. That said, there are many rays of hope — fortunately, ordinary Indians are generally far smarter than our politicians, and that is a source of hope. During his recent US visit, deputy prime minister L K Advani heaped profuse praise on Nehru. What do we make out of that? Mr Advani is a calculated politician, and his words addressed to an American audience represent a bid to hijack Nehru's name for purely instrumental purposes — just as the Congress did in earlier decades. Mr Advani knows that if he wishes to be thought of as a prime ministerial candidate, he has to appear as a statesman rather than an ideologue, and what better way of doing that than to align himself in Nehru's slipstream — and hope that some of Nehru's lustre will rub off on him? Sadly, we suffer from amnesia when it comes to our recent history. Nehru's legacy, like the man himself, is complex. Its nuances can't be encapsulated in neat little sound bites, which is today's intellectual currency. And yet, like Gandhi, Nehru is too important to be left to academics, intellectuals and politicians — especially now. He shows us a way of how Indians can learn to live with one another, and how they can relate to the world — both essential skills that we need today. 'Unity in diversity'. How relevant is that Nehruvian vision of Indian identity? The phrase is originally Tagore's. Tagore, Gandhi, Nehru. What is striking about each of them is their refusal to arrive at easy answers. Based on their profound grasp of the complexity and diversity of India's past, they understood, each in their own way, that the model of western nation-state — based on the idea of one culture, one religion, one people — was far too constricting for the reality of India. It's Nehru who tried to invent a new kind of state, which drew on the pattern of the Indian past and tried to combine political unity with cultural and legal pluralism. No doubt this had its flaws and tensions, but it is more in keeping with Indian history that what the BJP would like to foist on us — which is ironically aping an outdated version of western nationalism.
Posted by: Hauma Hamiddha Nov 26 2003, 09:53 PM
Nehru, I agree, was a man of considerable breadth of vision and erudition. However, this does not necessarily mean he was right on every count. India has had no shortage of leaders who have had major flaws combined with great abilities and energy. For example take the Rajput kings Rana Sanga and Prithiviraj Chauhan. Both were brave men great leaders and good warriors, but sadly they were sexually indiscreet and not very far sighted. Nehru lived in a world of his own making. He was indeed ahead of many fellow politicians in vision, but it was mixed with flawed ideals of socialism and a thorough impracticality. In ancient India there were temples and there were industries. This was the point he deliberately avoided! He thought industries and IITs should come at the expense of temples.
Posted by: Kaushal Nov 26 2003, 10:26 PM
Nehru was a man of vision albeit a flawed individual. To say that is not to denigrate him as an individual or to take away from his accomplishments, for who among us can claim to be a flawless individual. But his flaws had a serious impact on the future of the countryand the future development of the Congress Party. For example he had a propensiy to trust Englishmen ( I can name numerous individuals starting from Mountbatten) at the expense of his own countrymen and military generals. The deep divisions between him and Sardar Patel which would have resulted in the resignation of the sardar from the cabinet had it not been for the assassination of Gandhiji are well documented. His differences from the Sardar are a matter of record and span most issues including the Somnath temple, Kashmir, Tibet, China, Hyderabad, the extent to which India ought to be a socialist economy vagairah, vagairah. The legacy of such distrust is there for all to see and is emulated by a wide cross section of the Indian public and the 'gora chamda syndrome ' isvery much alive in India today, and has become institionalized in the Congress Party whare a gora chamda seems to be a necessary and sufficient condition to be the national leader and the PM of the country. Enough said, but the earlier link where the writer seems to draw the conclusion that the DPM Advani wants to ingratiate himself to Americans is without any meaning, since Nehru is neither liked nor respected by the American elite and is generally regarded as an Anti-american. As for unity in diversity being part of his legacy, this is an ambitious and dubious claim which Nehru himself would have been far from comfortable making. The point to make here is that welcoming religious and other diversity is part of the Indian ethos , and if i might say so unique to the Hindu 'darshanas'. No other relion welcomes other religions in such unequivocal terms as does the Sanatana Dharma . This embracing of diversity is not unique to Nehru but is part of the ethos of the Indic civilization and if i may repeat myself is peculiarly unique to the Hindu.
Posted by: k.ram Dec 1 2003, 11:41 PM
'Ridiculing Hinduism is not secularism' Regretting the tendency to ridicule one particular religion on the ground of promoting secularism in the country, Sri Sri Ravishankar, the founder of Art of Living, has said spirituality is the only way to promote harmony and peace among the masses. 'Secularism means honouring all equally and respecting each other on equal terms. However, in the name of secularism, one religion/culture is being ridiculed in the country. Fortunately, Hindus have been tolerant all through. But this cannot happen in any other part of the world', he said. Citing Western countries like France as example where, he said, obtaining permission for constructing a temple was unimaginable, he said, however, 'in our country, in the name of secularism, one religion is ridiculed'. 'For example in Karnataka, the total revenue from temples every year is Rs 72 crore. Unfortunately, the government spends only Rs 6 crore on temples there, while a sum of Rs 10 crore each is being spent on churches and madarasas. To establish our secular credentials, we are doing injustice to a few, which will backfire, the spiritual leader, who organisation Vyakti Vikas Kendra has spread the world over, rendering social and spiritual service, told reporters in Chennai yesterday. Ravishankar, who has mastered the art of pranayama and sudharsanakriya, said 'one should never ignore his/her spiritual culture, especially features like yoga which flourished on this land. People look upon introducing yoga in our curriculum as something against secularism. However, yoga and meditation are part of academics in western countries like Switzerland', he said. Spirituality, he said, is not just confining oneself to any particular religion. 'It is something that brings self-confidence to the poor and gives heart to the rich to serve the poor. Service to others is part of spirituality', he added. He recalled that his organisation had adopted thousands of poor villages and conducted many free health camps. Regretting the pitting of one community against another, he said 'this has always led to problems on our land. Moreover, we have a self-blaming culture. Unless and until we stop blaming ourselves and look ahead, we cannot prosper', he cautioned. On the Ayodhya Ram temple dispute, Ravishankar said the Muslims should voluntarily and willingly hand over the disputed land to Hindus. This will provide an amicable solution to the problem, he observed. A court verdict would bring joy to followers of one religion and might lead to hatred in another and would not lead to a lasting solution to the problem, he said. 'The Hindus have been tolerant all through and if Ayodhya had been the birthplace of Prophet Mohammad, we would have gifted the land to them'. Later in the evening, Sri Sri Ravishankar gave a discourse at the Anna University Grounds which was attended by thousands of his followers.
Posted by: k.ram Dec 10 2003, 10:59 AM Chief Minister Has Urged The Center To Stop "Saraswati Bandana" At Govt. Functions Staff Reporter IN a letter, addressed to the Prime Minister, the state Chief Minister, Mr.Budhdeb Bhattacharjee has expressed his displeasure over the practice of chanting of “Saraswati Bandana” at the beginning of govt. functions and has urged him to stop the practice immediately. He has categorically mentioned that, it is unethical and unhealthy for a secular country like India, to follow a particular religious belief. He has referred to the opening ceremony of “Bharatiyam Cultural Multicomplex” at Salt Lake, where the Vice President, the Union Human Resource Minister and himself were present. He mentioned that the incident was embarrassing not only for him, but also for other secular minded people, present at the ceremony. The Chief Minister, while reminding the Center to respect all religious and cultural faiths, has requested the PM to personally look into the matter and act accordingly. frusty.gif
Posted by: k.ram Dec 20 2003, 09:55 AM
ohmy.gif -------- Friends, This is life ! take care François Gautier KASHMIRI PANDITS’ GENOCIDE AND THE ICCR ?XML:NAMESPACE PREFIX = O /> Forum Against Continuing Terrorism, which I started, strives to make known, both within India and in the world, the plight of the Kashmiri Pandits, one of the worst human rights abuses of the 20th century, which is not only totally ignored by the Western Press, but also by Amnesty International, the UN or Human Rights Watch. I heard that there was a meeting between the European Union and ?XML:NAMESPACE PREFIX = ST1 />India on 29th November and decided to show them the exhibition. I talked to Mr Advani, who had seen the show when it was in Habitat Centre, and in turn Mr Advani spoke to Mr Sibal, the then Foreign Secretary, whom I knew well when he was ambassador in Paris. Mr Sibal then requested the Indian Council of Cultural Research, which falls under the Ext Affairs Ministry, to host the exhibition in Vygian Bhavan, the Government’s most prestigious meeting hall of the capital, with the express instructions that it be shown to the European delegates. It all seemed simple and straightforward. The charter of the IICCR, which handles huge funds (it imports and exports cultural events and artists, donates scholarships and has centers all over India and in many parts of the world) and is considerably overstaffed, says that “it carries out a mandate of cultural diplomacy ». Mr Mohta, the number three in ICCR, called me the next day to say that ICCR had organized on Sunday the 23rd a wine and cheese party for the press. The Human Resources Minister, Murli Manohar Joshi and and the Vice Chairperson of the Raja Saba, Mrs Heptullah, had agreed to inaugurate the exhibition. I thought: “a wine and cheese cocktail for slain and murdered people”? But then, who was I to complain. Second surprise: when I arrived in the evening of the 23rd, Dr Rakesh Kumar, the Chairman of the ICCR, told me peremptorily that he had removed the third panel of the exhibition, which shows Maharaja Hari Singh and recounts how Pakistan invaded India before Hari Singh acceded his state to India. It notes also that Pakistan went three more times to war with India and that China, which has helped Pakistan all along, still holds Indian territory taken during the 62 war. “We want to be friends with everybody”, retorted Dr Rakesh when I objected to the removal. MM Joshi and Mrs Heptullah did gracefully inaugurate the exhibition. Flashes popped, TV cameras zoomed. But although we had invited, via the FCC, the entire foreign correspondents Club, not a single western journalist or diplomat cared to turn-up for the inauguration. The funny thing is: if I had done an exhibition on the Best Bakery Case, they would have come in masse, along with most of the ambassadors and NGO and Human Rights of the capital and written tons about it. How is it possible, I asked myself that massacres of Hindus, one the most peace-loving people of human history, who gave shelter to so many religious persecuted minorities, is no news. Whatever you can says about Kashmiri Pandits, they never held a gun in their hands. Third surprise: I was told by Pradeep Sing, the deputy Director the ICCR, that the exhibition had to be taken down on the 24th evening, as the Special Protection Group was taking over the security of Vigyan Bhavan in prevision of the Prime Minister’s visit on 29th - five days in advance ! But 29th was the only day when the delegates would get to see the exhibition ! I argued with them, but their only preoccupation was whether I could now get the PM to come, so that the Director ICCR could be photographed with him. Followed then a marathon race against time. I called repeatedly Suddhendra Kulkarni, whom I knew when he was Editor Blitz Bombay and who is now in the PMO, so that SPG could clear the exhibition and asked him if the PM could visit it, which would do great things for the cause of the KP. I called the External Affairs Ministry, Home Affairs, ICCR, Foreign Secretary’s Office... Amongst all the officials I met during that fateful week, none ever demonstrated any feeling towards their felled brethren. Finally, I was told that the SPG had “cleared” the exhibition. On the 29th, At 9 in the morning, Vygian Bhavan was swarming with hundreds of security men, dogs, machine gun totting special forces, all trying to undo each other in being rude to the foreign delegates, who were frisked, their cameras, cell phones, electronic diaries, confiscated. At 10.30 Am, Mr Vajpayee walked in, ever slowly, looking as if he might not make it to his chair. One was left wondering if so much manpower, so much money, is needed for a man, who is a Hindu, believes in Fate, Karma and Reincarnation, has lived a full life, which is nearing its end, and has changing the destiny of his country for the next fifty years. Speech after speech followed, one more empty of meaning than the other. After the last speech, Mr Vajpayee, walked back ever slowly to his car and to another ceremony, organized by the PMO, while hundreds of Security men lined-up the route and blocked traffic, creating havoc in the capital. … …The SPG had closed the doors of the exhibition hall ‘for security reasons’. Not a single European delegate got to see the plight of the Kashmri Pandits, one of the worst Human Rights abuse in Asia. And Mr Vajpayee never came-up to look at what terrorism has done to his fellow Hindus… The impression I got from one week of dealing with officials, is that the right hand of this Government does not now what the left hand is doing (specially during electioneering time), that even within the SPG, several leaderships are at cross purpose. There is also so much dilution of power: from the moment Mr Advani picked up his phone to ask the Foreign Secretary to extend all help, by the time it got down to the ICCR, all the good intents and authority of the DPM had been lost. More than that even, one gets the impression that there is no clear direction in that Government and that only the most pressing matters are dealt with - and that even is the superficial, the politically correct, what the PMO deems as important for the image of its Primer Minister. All one’s life one reads in books or sees in films instances of the self-centred, cynical selfishness of human nature, but one never really experiences it. With the ICCR, I touched that feeling. The top people of the ICCR, for whom ICCR is a stepping stone to ambassadorships, have absolutely no cultural qualifications for their jobs. In my case, they totally disregarded the DMP and the Foreign Secretary’s orders, but only concentrated on promoting themselves. I am neither a Kashmiri Pandit, nor a Hindu, nor an Indian, but only a human being with my faults and my small ego, I thought all the time… And who am I to ‘do’ something for India? The very immensity of the effort seems totally disproportionate with the results. Why can’t Hindus/Indians help themselves ? Even the Kashmir Pandits are totally disunited and most of them, except abroad, where there has been a significant support for FACT, don’t give a damn about their own community. Then, I dropped it: I will do what best I can, I thought, and leave the results to the Divine.
Posted by: k.ram Dec 21 2003, 10:34 AM It is a commie rag, so what else can we expect? Flush.gif
Posted by: Mudy Dec 21 2003, 10:42 AM
Meera Nanda is the author of Prophets Facing Backward: Postmodern Critiques of Science and Hindu Nationalism (Rutgers University Press, 2003).
Biju Mathews's university and her friend, what else one can expect from her. thumbsdownsmileyanim.gif
Posted by: vishal Dec 21 2003, 11:39 AM
No doubt, François Gautier is a good person. or should i say only some of human left on earth. smile.gif *sighhh* i m taking sanyas from this forum for some time...i need rest rolleyes.gif
Posted by: k.ram Jan 8 2004, 08:45 AM
ADVERTISEMENT Postmodernism, Hindu nationalism and `Vedic science' - II MEERA NANDA The second and concluding part of the two-part article. IN the first part of this essay I examined how Hindutva ideologues constructed the myth of "Vedas as books of science" (Frontline, January 2). I argued that the anti-science rhetoric of postmodern intellectuals has given philosophical respectability to the eclectic patchwork of science and Hindu metaphysics that goes under the name of Vedic science. In this part, I will examine the philosophical arguments for "alternative sciences" favoured by prominent feminists, environmentalists and postcolonial intellectuals and show how they converge with the right-wing's claims of superiority of "holistic" and "authentic" sciences of Hindus. I want to start by placing these debates in the historical context of Hindu "renaissance". Postcolonialism and the myth of Hindu "renaissance" The roots of "Vedic science" can be traced to the so-called Bengal Renaissance, which in turn was deeply influenced by the Orientalist constructions of Vedic antiquity as the "Golden Age" of Hinduism. Heavily influenced by German idealism and British romanticism, important Orientalists including H.T. Colebrooke, Max Mueller and Paul Deussen tended to locate the central core of Hindu thought in the Vedas, the Upanishads and, above all, in the Advaita Vedanta tradition of Shankara. Despite the deeply anti-rational and idealistic (that is, anti-naturalistic) elements of Advaita Vedanta, key Hindu nationalist reformers - from Raja Ram Mohun Roy and Bankim Chandra Chatterjee to Swami Vivekananda - began to find in it all the elements of modernity. Vivekananda took the lead in propagating the view that the monism of Advaita Vedanta presaged the future culmination of all of modern science. Since modern science denied the role of any supernatural force outside nature, Vivekananda claimed that only Vedantic monism was truly scientific for it treated God as an aspect of nature and did not invoke any force external to nature. A slight digression on the subject of Indian "renaissance" might be appropriate here. Through constant and loud repetition, neo-Hindu thinkers have created a myth that Brahminical traditions of learning represent the golden age of science and reason in early India. The Hindutva literature is replete with glowing tributes to Hindu "renaissance", which they claim to be similar to the European Renaissance that ushered in the modern age in the West. What they forget is that the Renaissance in the West re-discovered the humanistic and naturalistic sources of the Greek tradition that had been overshadowed by the Catholic Church - the Renaissance humanists rediscovered this-worldly philosophy of Aristotle and critical- realist Socrates over the other-worldly philosophy of Plato. The neo- Hindu "renaissance", in contrast, re-discovered the most mystical and anti-humanistic elements of the Vedic inheritance - Advaita Vedanta - that had always overshadowed and silenced the naturalistic and scientific traditions in Hinduism and Buddhism. Neo-Hinduism is no renaissance, but a revival. There is no denying that the neo-Hindu "discovery" of modern science in ancient teachings of Vedas and Upanishads had a limited usefulness. Since they had convinced themselves that their religion was the mother of all sciences, conservative Hindus did not feel threatened by scientific education. As long as science could be treated as "just another name" for Vedic truths, they were even enthusiastic to learn it. The Brahminical traditions of learning and speculative thought served the upper castes well, as they took to modern English education, which included instruction in scientific subjects. Those who would explicitly use scientific learning to challenge the traditional outlook were either lower down on the caste hierarchy or "godless Communists" anyway, and could be safely ignored. The great neo-Hindu "renaissance" succeeded in turning empirical sciences into the handmaiden of the Vedic tradition - the role reason has performed throughout India's history. This is the tradition that the Sangh Parivar is institutionalising in our schools, universities and the public sphere. Let us see what India's best-known contemporary public intellectuals have to say on this matter. As it happens, the emergence of neo- Hinduism in 19th century Bengal has perhaps been the most written about episode in modern India's intellectual history. All our best- known intellectuals whose names are practically synonymous with postcolonial theory around the world - Ashis Nandy, Partha Chatterjee, Gayatri Spivak, Dipesh Chakrabarty and the Subaltern Studies historians - have cut their scholarly teeth on the emergence of neo-Hindu thought in the Bengali bhadralok circles. These intellectuals stand out because they work with a post-structuralist rejection of the very possibility of the idea of dispassionate and objective knowledge of the real world in any domain, natural or social. Following the political writing of French philosopher Michel Foucault, made popular among the historians of colonialism by the writings of Edward Said, these scholars see Western sciences as serving colonial interests in defining the non-West as inferior, irrational and unscientific. Indian intellectuals have both contributed to the development of this critique of colonial knowledge and applied it to the Indian condition. By and large, these postcolonial scholars have criticised the neo- Hindu penchant for scienticising the Vedas, but for reasons that actually open the door to an even more radical defence of Vedic science that is now emerging in Hindutva literature. Ashis Nandy and Partha Chatterjee, both writers of international best-sellers on the emergence of modern thought in India, condemned the emerging Hindu modernists all across the political spectrum - from the apologists for Hinduism such as Vivekananda, Aurobindo and Bankim Chandra Chatterjee to the liberal, secular-humanist Nehru - not for so falsely and so self-servingly appropriating modern science in the service of propagating religious orthodoxy and not for confusing myth and science in order to defend their mythology. No, that kind of critique of nativism that would defend the distinctiveness of science and insist upon its potential for demystification of religious reason was considered too passé, too "positivist" by our avant-garde theorists. Rather, Nandy, Chatterjee and their followers condemned Indian nationalists for even daring to apply alien, colonial categories of thought to India's own traditions and ways of knowing. For these postmarked intellectuals, the cardinal sin of Hindu nationalists was not their defence of the high-Hindu tradition - a tradition which has for centuries contributed to the worst kind of ignorance and social inequality. Their cardinal sin was their capitulation to modern scientific thought itself, which they tried to appropriate for Hinduism (as in the case of Vivekananda, Bankim Chandra and even Nehru), or which they tried to use for secular Enlightenment (as in the case of Marxist and socialist humanists like Nehru). Incidentally, these two positions seem to exhaust the entire range of nationalism. The valiant attempts of Dalit and non-Brahmin intellectuals such as B.R. Ambedkar, E.V. Ramaswamy Periyar, Jyotiba Phule and Iyothee Thass to use the new knowledge to liberate themselves from the shackles of tradition are simply invisible in the postmodernist literature which is keen on showing modern science as an agent of oppression and mental colonialism. As long as Indian thought was being measured in modern scientific terms, whether to praise it, or to demystify it, the Indian mind was being "colonised" and it was denied the "agency" to define its own agenda and its own solutions. Both the Hindu right and the Nehruvian left, as long as they remained prisoners of modern scientific ways of thinking, were equally "derivatives" of their colonial masters. Authentic national liberation, on this account, can only come with the rediscovery of authentic traditions of India which, apparently, were only understood by Mahatma Gandhi. For all their nods to the anti-essentialism of postmodernism, Indian critics of modernity practise a sly form of "strategic essentialism" (Gayatri Spivak's term) that treats Indian traditions as unique to India which cannot be understood by outsiders. True national liberation will mean a rediscovery of India's unique gestalt, which, in the postcolonial narrative, lies in its holism, monism or non-dualism, as compared to the tendency of the Western science towards separation of objects from their context. Indian thought is not to be seen either as a copy of modern science, or somehow lacking in empirical sciences, but as encoding a wholly different kind of science altogether, which is the duty of post-secular, postmodern intellectuals to discover and cultivate. Coming from the traditions of the Gandhian and populist left, the postmodernists tend to find these alternative traditions among the non-modern habits of the heart of the humble, folk traditions of women, peasants, village folk and assorted subaltern groups. Gandhi became their patron saint of this uniquely Indian, non- modern way of life. "Real India" equals Gandhi equals "innocent traditions" of non-modern "communities". Anyone challenging any of the factors in the equation was declared to have a "colonised mind". This critique of modernist nationalism-as-mental-colonialism has come to serve as the fig leaf for the postmodernists as they scramble to dissociate themselves from the contemporary Hindutva movement, which has also nailed its colours to "decolonisation of the Indian mind". Nandy and his many admirers are trying to distance themselves from it by continuing with their critique of the Hindu nationalism as being wedded to modernism. They point to the modernist, scientistic rhetoric of Hindutva propagandists and proclaim Hindutva to be just one more symptom of modernity. The problem is that using modernist rhetoric does not make one modern. On the contrary, by framing the traditional Hindu worldview in a modernist vocabulary, Hindutva is co- opting modern ideas, giving traditions a modern gloss to make them palatable to the educated middle classes. Hindutva is a reactionary modernist movement that accepts the instrumental uses of science (that is, technology) but resists the secular enlightenment that is a necessary precondition of modernity. Hiding behind the great mascot of postmodern scholars, Gandhi - supposedly the guardian angel of the "innocent" folk traditions - does not work either, for Hindutva also claims Gandhi to be its own mascot. Hindu nationalists have no problem with Gandhi's deeply anti-secular and anti-modern world-view; they "only" dislike and disown his pacifism. Postmodernism and "alternative sciences" Yet, one could argue that just because postmodernist intellectuals have taken a position against the Enlightenment-style use of science as a cultural weapon against the authority of the traditions does not automatically make them an ally of the religious right. One could, after all, justly criticise the role of science and technology in furthering Western exploitation of the colonies and perpetuating patronising attitudes toward the natives. Science is not beyond criticism, and critics of science do not automatically deserve condemnation. The problem is that postmodernist intellectuals do not stop at criticising any specific political abuse of scientific knowledge. Instead, they attack the very idea of objective knowledge as a myth of the powerful who want to claim the status of truth for their own self-serving social constructions of reality. Likewise, postmodernist attack on the "Western-ness" of science goes beyond pointing out any specific linkages between science and Western/imperialist interests. Instead they attack the claim of universalism of science as a cover for Western dominance. Once they decry the very idea of objectivity and universalism, the critics open the gates wide to the idea of "alternative sciences". The idea is that modern science offers only one way to classify, observe and understand the regularities of nature: there is nothing inherently objective and scientific about it. Other cultures, the argument goes, if they want to really "decolonise their minds", must develop their own scientific methods which are in keeping with their own religion and culture - "different cultures, different sciences", is the postmodern slogan. Since all knowledge rests on the shifting sands of myths, models and analogies (or "paradigms", as the more technical name goes), which scientists just pick up through their textbooks, there is no reason why sciences of non-Western cultures cannot constitute new "alternative universals" that can be taught in textbooks and laboratories around the world. These radical critiques of objectivity and universalism have become so popular that they have acquired a ring of truth among social critics. But all these arguments denigrating the rationality of science are based upon a flawed understanding of science that has been rejected many times by working scientists and prominent philosophers of science. A complete debunking of post-modern misunderstanding of how science actually works and why objectivity is possible despite the deeply social nature of science will require a different set of articles. Suffice it to say, the radical denigration of science has very little following among the mainstream of scientific community and in the mainstream of philosophy and history of science. I now examine three distinct arguments that have emerged in the Indian postmodernist literature which converge almost exactly with the Hindutva's defence of the superiority of Vedic sciences. These three are the decolonisation argument, the anti-dualism argument and the symmetry argument. The decolonisation of science argument Hindutva ideologues see themselves as part and parcel of postcolonial studies. Decolonisation of the Hindu mind, the Hindu Right claims, requires understanding science through Hindu categories. Echoing the postcolonial critiques of epistemic violence, Hindutva ideologues such as Murli Manohar Joshi, Konrad Elst, Girilal Jain, David Frawley, N.S. Rajaram and others see any scientific assessment of the empirical claims made by the Vedic texts as a sign of mental colonialism and Western imperialism. Many of these Hindutva ideologues cite the work of postcolonial scholars such as Edward Said, Roland Inden, Ashis Nandy, Claude Alvares, Gayatri Spivak and subaltern studies historians with great respect. The Hindu Right combines this demand for authenticity with an essentialist understanding of culture borrowed straight from Oswald Spengler's Decline of the West, which holds that each culture has an innate nature, a temper, which must guide all its cultural products from mathematics and physics to painting and poetry. This view of the innate nature of nation - the nation's svabhava or chitti - is propounded by Deen Dayal Upadhyaya's theory of "Integral Humanism", which constitutes the official philosophy of the Bharatiya Janata Party. In fact, it is part of the BJP's official manifesto that it will use India's innate Hinduness as a "touchstone" to decide what sciences will be promoted and how they will be taught. Using this touchstone of an innate, timeless Hindu svabhava, Hindutva literature still holds on to the defunct theories of vitalism as valid science. (Vitalism in biology holds that living beings require a special vital force, variously termed prana or shakti in the Indian literature, over and above "mere" atoms and molecules. In India, Jagdish Chandra Bose first claimed to find evidence of consciousness in plants. Bose's work was falsified and rejected by mainstream biology in his own life-time. It is still touted as India's contribution to world science in Hindutva literature.) Again, it is against the touchstone of Vedanta that Hindu apologists feel justified in interpreting the paradoxes of quantum physics in a mystical manner. There are perfectly realistic explanations of quantum mechanics, which are sidelined in Vedic science literature, to claim that modern physics "proves" the presence of mind in nature, just as claimed by Vedanta. Reductionist science vs holistic science The gist of this argument, as it appears in Hindu nationalist writings on Vedic science, is simple - all that is dangerous and false in modern science comes from the Semitic monotheistic habit of dualistic and "reductionist" thinking, which separates the object from the subject, nature from consciousness, the known from the knower. All that is truly universal and true in modern science comes from the Hindu habit of "holistic" thinking, which has always seen the objects in nature and the human subjects not as separate entities but as different manifestations of the same universal consciousness. For the non-logocentric Hinduism, reality is not objective, but "omnijective", a co-construct of mind and matter together. While Western science treats nature as dead matter, Hindu sciences treat nature as a sacred abode of gods. Thus Hindutva scholars claim that traditions of yoga, transcendental meditation ™ and Ayurveda are sciences of the future, for they bring matter in alignment with the "cosmic energy" that permeates all matter. Moreover, Hindu approaches to nature are seen as ecological by definition as they do not treat nature as mere matter to be exploited for private use. This view of superiority of Hinduism's "holism" rests upon the strange and totally mistaken assumption that Hindu chauvinists share with left-wing critics of science - that the fundamental methodology of modern science, what is called "reductionism", is not just mistaken but politically oppressive. Reductionism in science simply means a bottom-up approach to understanding complex natural phenomena by first isolating the lower-level constituents and studying their interactions under controlled conditions. Reductionism seeks the explanation of the whole by eliminating the need for postulating any extra forces ( that is, consciousness, vital force and so on) over and above the relationships between the building blocks that can be experimentally tested. Far from being simple-minded or sinister, as critics assume, nearly every advance in understanding complex systems - from the DNA replication at the cellular level to ecological systems - owes its success to a reductionist approach to the fundamental building blocks of nature. Owing to a fundamental misunderstanding of how science actually works, coupled with a great deal of cynicism, many left-wing critics among feminist, environmental and anti-imperialist movements have developed a knee-jerk condemnation of reductionism. Reductionist science is considered bad science with politically oppressive implications. Feminists, including such world-renowned feminist icons as Carolyn Merchant, Sandra Harding and Donna Haraway, see it as a masculine way of breaking the unity between the object and the subject. Environmentalists, including India's own Vandana Shiva and like-mined eco-feminists, see reductionism as opening the way to ruthless exploitation of nature by divesting it of all sacred meanings. (Eco-romantics ignore all counter-examples where sacredness of nature serves to control access over sacred groves, rivers and other resources of the commons.) Postcolonial critics, in their turn, see reductionism as a result of Western and capitalist habit of thinking in terms of opposed classes of `us and them'. These kinds of ill-understood and politically motivated challenges to a fundamental methodological norm of modern science have prepared the ground for Hindutva's claims that Hinduism provides a more "holistic", more complete, more ecological and even more feminist way of relating with nature. Most of the claims of superiority of "holism" are unsubstantiated. On closer examination, they end up affirming pseudo-sciences involving disembodied spirit acting on matter through entirely unspecified mechanisms. Most of the claims of greater ecological and feminist sensitivity in the Hindu practice of treating all nature as a sacred and interconnected whole turn out to be empirically false. In fact, quite often the faith in the divine powers of some rivers and plants serves as an excuse not to care for them adequately, precisely because they are considered to share God's miraculous powers to recover and stay pure. For all the falsehoods and obscurantisms, the claims of Hindu (or Eastern, more broadly) holism thrive in the academia because of the radical academics' own mistaken and overblown critique of the reductionist methodology of science. The symmetry argument The symmetry argument claims that all local sciences are equally "scientific" (that is, rational, coherent and able to explain observed phenomena) within their own cultural contexts. Modern science, the argument goes, ought to be treated "symmetrically" with all other ways of knowing. As we have seen, this is the crux of the social constructivist and postmodern attacks on modern science. This argument lies at the heart of the theories of "Vedic physics" and "Vedic creationism". That the verses of the Rig Veda are actually coded formulas of advanced theories of physics has been recently claimed by Subhash Kak, an engineer working in the United States. And a Vedic alternative to Darwinian evolution by natural selection is being pushed by Michael Cremo and his fellow Hare Krishnas in the U.S. What sets these newer theories is their unabashed and bold defence of Vedic mysticism as a legitimate scientific method within the Vedic-Hindu metaphysical assumptions, as rational and empirically adequate as the best of modern science, and as deserving of the status of universal objective knowledge as the conventionally accepted theories of matter and biological evolution. In a barrage of books and essays, most recently summarised in the 1995 publication, In Search of the Cradle of Civilisation, Subhash Kak has claimed to find, in a coded form, advanced knowledge of astronomy and computing in the Rig Veda. According to Kak, the design of the fire altars prescribed in the Rig Veda - how many bricks to put where and surrounded by how many pebbles - actually code such findings of modern 20th century astronomy as the distance between the sun and the earth, the length of solar and lunar years and the speed of light. All the Vedic values match exactly with the values we know through modern 19th and 20th century physics. The number of bricks and pebbles, moreover, corresponds with the number of syllables in the Vedic verses. The conclusion: "the Vedas are books of physics." Finding relatively advanced abstract physics in the Rig Veda, the earliest of the four Vedas, is of crucial importance to Hindutva. There is a concerted attempt to prove that the Rig Veda was composed at least around three millennia B.C., and not around 1500 B.C as previously thought. There is also a massive effort afoot in Hindutva circles that the Aryans who wrote the Rig Veda presumably in 3000 B.C. were indigenous to the landmass of India. Under these circumstances, finding advanced physics in Rig Veda will "prove" that India was truly the mother of all civilisations and produced all science known to the Greeks and other ancient cultures. But anyone making such dramatic claims has to answer the question: How did our Vedic ancestors know all this physics? What was their method? Kak and associates (including David Frawley and George Feuerstein, co- authors with Kak of In Search of the Cradle of Civilisation) answer, incredibly, that the Vedic scientists found out the laws of physics through deep introspection. Yogic meditation allowed Vedic sages to see in their minds' eyes, the likenesses, homologies and equivalences between the cosmic, the terrestrial and the spiritual. This method of seeing analogies and equivalences may be considered magical in the West, they argue, but it is perfectly scientific within India's non- dualist, monist metaphysics which allows no distinctions between matter and spirit, between physical and the psychic, between animate and the inanimate - all are united by the same spiritual energy that is in all. Within these assumptions, yogic introspection is a method of science. Because all science is paradigm-bound, Kak et al insist, citing the authority of Thomas Kuhn and Paul Feyerabend, the much- misunderstood gurus of postmodernists, Vedic science is perfectly scientific within the paradigm of Vedic assumptions. In fact, Kak et al are not alone in defending the scientificity of yogic meditation as a valid scientific method. Maharishi Mahesh Yogi's "unified science" is based upon this logic. This kind of cultural defence is routinely invoked by those defending such esoteric pseudo-sciences as Vedic astrology and paranormal beliefs (past-birth memories, out-of-body experiences and reincarnation). A similar defence of the method of bhakti yoga as a legitimate source of holistic knowledge lies at the basis of the enormous mass of writings coming out of the Bhakti Vedanta Institute in the U.S., the headquarters of the Hare Krishnas. In a new book, Human Devolution, Michael Cremo, a devout Hare Krishna, has boldly proposed a Vedic alternative to Darwinian evolution. Cremo claims that human beings have not evolved up from lower animals, but rather fallen, or devolved, from their original unity with pure consciousness of Brahman. (In a previous book, Forbidden Archaeology, Cremo and his associates tried to prove that the fossil record actually supports the Vedic time scale of literally millions of years of life on earth, including human life.) As evidence, Cremo cites every possible research in paranormal ever conducted anywhere to "prove" the truth of holist Vedic cosmology which proposes the presence of a spiritual element in all matter (which takes different forms, thereby explaining the theory of "devolution"). This remarkable compendium of pseudo-science is premised upon the assumption that modern science is a prisoner of Western cultural and religious biases and, as a result, Western scientists have created a "knowledge filter" which keeps out the evidence that supports the Vedic cosmology. Their point is that once you remove the Western assumptions, the method of yoga can be treated as a legitimate source of scientific hypotheses. These Vedic knowledge-claims can be verified by the community of other yogic knowers who have "purified" their sense through meditation to such an extent that they can "directly realise" those signs from the spirit-world that are looked down upon by Western-trained scientists as "paranormal". Utterly incredible though they are, and utterly devoid of any empirical support, Vedic physics and Vedic creationism are being touted as serious scholarship based upon the assumption that different cultural assumptions sanction alternative methods as rational and scientific. POSTMODERN intellectuals have taken their disillusionment with the many shortcomings of the modern world into a radical denunciation of modern science itself. They have denounced the status of modern science as a source of universally valid and objective knowledge as a sign of Western imperialism, patriarchal biases and Christian dualist thinking. Many prominent public intellectuals in India, sympathetic to populist, indigenist currents in left-inclined social movements, have embraced the postmodernist suspicion of science, and called for "alternative sciences" which reflect the cultural preferences of India's non-modern masses. The question before the defenders of "alternative sciences" is this: What do they have to say to the defenders of "Vedic sciences"? For example, what reasons can they give against the supposed scientificity of Vedic astrology? Can they hold on their relativist view of all sciences as social constructs and yet challenge the scientisation of the Vedas that is going on in the theories of Vedic physics or Vedic creationism? Any erosion of the dividing line between science and myth, between reasoned, evidence-based public knowledge and the spiritual knowledge accessible to yogic adepts, is bound to lead to a growth of obscurantism dressed up as science. It is time secular and self- proclaimed leftist intellectuals called off their romance with irrationalism and romanticism. It is time to draw clear boundaries between science and myth, and between the Left and the Right. Meera Nanda is the author of Prophets Facing Backward: Postmodern Critiques of Science and Hindu Nationalism (Rutgers University Press, 2003). An Indian edition of the book will be published by Permanent Black in early 2004. She is also the author of Breaking the Spell of Dharma and Other Essays (Three Essays Collective; 2002).
Posted by: k.ram Jan 8 2004, 10:02 AM
Paper no. 883 06. 01. 2004 Call For An Intellectual Kshatriya Guest Column-by Rajesh Tembarai Krishnamachari Abstract: In the present scenario where people spend more time taking in media information than interacting with other people, media reports yield a tremendous influence on the readers' mind down to a subconscious level. Media coverage today has an inordinate impact on the views of the populace in general and the administration in particular. 10000 people perishing in a famine in Sub-Saharan Africa might go unnoticed, but the killing of 10 Israelis is given wide coverage enough to impart a 180-degree turn to the foreign policy of the world's sole superpower. It is in this recognition of the new global arena that has spurred certain vested interest groups to pump in billions of dollars to PR firms, advertisement agencies and lobbyists in an attempt to garner public support for their actions. In this regard, Indians in general and Hindus in particular have lagged behind considerably. This paper aims and hopes to provide `motivation, guidance and perhaps the inspiration' to young Indians to take up the cause of the country through the pen and become intellectual warriors or Bauddhika Kshatriya-s. Dr David Frawley had first enunciated the concept of `Bauddhika Kshatriya' in a classic article in the context of Hindu religion [1]. The present paper extends the idea to the convergent realm of Indian nationalism, Indian religion and Indian culture. Introduction: The modern era is, not without reason, called the Information Age [2]. The layman is inundated by reams of information. Perception rules over reality and packaging of the information often scores over contents. The ability of the educational system and media to mould public opinion is well recognized by the various pressure groups in the world. Both M K Gandhi [3] and M A Jinnah [4] utilized the power of the media to their maximum advantage. The media's power is further reinforced in `trust and value driven' Oriental societies where the media word is often accepted as the Biblical truth. In neighboring Pakistan, the history books were tampered with (beginning in the Zia regime) to inculcate a feeling of hatred and animosity towards the Hindus [5]. The ideology of Pakistan was projected as an Islamic one and all history preceding the advent of Islam was erased [6]. In India, the Marxist historians planted false theories like the Aryan Invasion Myth [7] to divide the people on a regional and caste basis. The Mughal era atrocities were whitewashed [8] and every indigenous effort was denigrated. Our history books of the last 50 years were modified to inculcate a sense of self- deprecation amongst the Indian youth. In the present context, the Hindu nationalists are attempting to rewrite history with two foremost objectives: [9] Indians are made aware of their glorious past and made to feel proud of their splendid heritage. The confident Indian youth are then enthused and exhorted to take India to the pinnacle of glory that once belonged to it. The mistakes committed by the Indians in the past are highlighted. An objective post-mortem examination of the same preempts committing the same mistake again in the future. As David Frawley [1] points out, other cultures and traditions have realized the power of the media to influence public opinion. Islamic lobbies invest billions in United States to obscure the realities of their faith as exposed by their more radical co-religionists [10]. Another aspect of the combat in this new arena is its degeneration into a vicious disinformation program against adversaries or groups with conflicting ideologies. `In this contest whoever puts out information first usually gains credibility by defining the field. Whoever puts out information in the most sophisticated and high tech manner has the best audience in the long run and generally the best success in promoting their agenda.' [1] Even Pakistan and China have implemented several steps in this direction to project their influence and indulge in a blatant disinformation campaign against the Indians. Pakistanis control every South Asian think-tank in the United States [11]. The very idea of a South Asian entity is abhorrent to the author [12]. All the positive points about India get transferred to this South Asian bloc and in return we are saddled with the negative connotations arising from the nefarious activities of the Pakistanis and the Bangladeshis. While China projects the notion of Greater China [13] vigorously, the notion of Greater India [14] is vituperatively dismissed. The Indian elephant becomes the Asiatic elephant [15]. The Pakistani pseudo-scholars already address the Indian Ocean as the South Asian Ocean [16]. Articles on yoga [17] and meditation [18] in the US mainstream media no more mention India. The success of the Pakistani endeavor is seen in the fact that the US administration still treats India and Pakistan on an equal footing. [19] Within India, the Resident Non-Indians [20] have done everything in their power to hamper national integration and destruct the unity and integrity of our country. Every group with the initials mentioning the words peace, justice and secularism [21] is controlled by the Marxists who have left no stone unturned to denigrate India and its people. The Marxists have displayed expert coordination in their activities complementing each other in every sense of the word. Lubricated and propelled ahead by mammon and fame, they collude in their diabolical schemes to push India to permanent ignominy and penury [22]. The Marxists' subversion of our history books [23] and the resulting damage to India's psyche is well documented. They control the English language press [24] and use it repeatedly to attack the Indian interests. The Goebbelsian Marxists through specious reasons projected the incontrovertible evidence of the Ayodhya temple as nebulous [25]. The Marxist intellectuals through another display of wizardly casuistry depicted the Narendra Modi government as anti- Muslim ignoring the fact his administration arrested (including preventive) more than 27900 Hindus as compared to less than 7700 Muslims [26]. It is the success of the untiring efforts of the Resident Non-Indians that the West views us through the stereotypes of `caste, dowry deaths, widow burning, strange cults, poverty and superstition'. [27] Indian gods are insulted as phallic cults, Indian beliefs are dismissed as animist, Indian culture is denigrated as primitive, Indian values are condemned as anachronistic, Indian heritage is ignored as worthless, Indian people are looked down upon as penurious. If ever there was a need for an intellectual warrior to guard India's consciousness, pride and national interests, it is now, it is now and it is now. Who is a Bauddhika Kshatriya? The venerable patriot-saint Sri Aurobindo defines a Bauddhika Kshatriya as follows: ""[Such a person] should be absolutely unsparing in our attack on whatever obstructs the growth of the nation, and never be afraid to call a spade a spade. Excessive good nature will never do ... in serious politics. Respect of persons must always give way to truth and conscience... What India needs especially at this moment is aggressive virtues, the spirit of soaring idealism, bold creation, fearless resistance, courageous attack; of the passive tamasic inertia we already have too much." [28] Every culture, every religion and every nation has its intellectual warriors, who articulate its cherished values, present a favorable view of it, challenge negative outlooks, define its present and lay out a grand framework for its glorious future. A Bauddhika Kshatriya would dispassionately yet aggressively defend the Indian civilizational ethos without the fear of being named a communalist or a fundamentalist. A Bauddhika Kshatriya would rise like a sun dispelling the false notions circulating about India and defend her incomparable pluralistic traditions from the onslaught of exclusivist creeds in the economic, political and religious realm. [29] India's unique heritage To define the code of conduct of such a Bauddhika Kshatriya, it is essential to understand the unique nature of India's heritage. A French Catholic has three aspects to his identity: his nationality comes from France, his religion comes from Italy and his culture comes from Greece. For an Indian religionist in India, the nationality comes from India, the religion also comes from India and the culture also comes from India. It is this understanding of the convergent nature of Indian Nationalism, Indian Religion and Indian Culture that a Bauddhika Kshatriya would seek to promote. Today this unique tradition bequeathed to us by our illustrious forefathers is under threat on all the three fronts. Indian nationalism is denunciated and labeled jingoism. Even today Ambedkarites point to the fact that Ambedkar opposed the freedom struggle and proudly acclaim their great leader of being a `true internationalist' instead of being a narrow minded nationalist like Sardar Vallabhai Patel [30]. NGOs assisting poor tribals in India are attacked and accused of funding hate campaigns [31]. Attempts are made to ruin the cracker industry by accusing it of child labor even if it had been removed from the scene [32]. Certain Marxist intellectuals even exhorted industrialists to restrain themselves from investing in Gujarat [33]. Recently a `secular Indian' English daily gleefully reported that Indians would not support their country blindly [34]. Another `secular Indian' daily labeled Vajpayee's pledge to recover PoK as populist and criticized `wanton exoneration of the army' [35]. Editors of 2 `secular Indian' English newspapers held a press conference in Islamabad and demonized the Delhi government as bellicose. [36] A `secular Indian' author recently opposed the Indian claim to obtain a permanent seat at the United Nations [37]. Another `secular Indian' author accused Vajpayee of displaying `typical Brahminical deviousness' [38]. Indian religion is also under severe attack. Demographic studies have underlined the rapid decline in the number of Indian Religionists. [39] The percentage of the Indian Religionists in the subcontinent has decreased from about 89% in the 1870s to less than 69% currently. [40] India now has the world's largest number of Christian missionaries [41] who haven't hesitated to employ any overt or covert means in their efforts to convert this land into a Christian colony [42]. To add to the misery of the Indians, the government legally takes away the temple revenues and redistributes the money amongst the churches and the madrassas [43]. This has led to the complete collapse of several temples and the resultant spiritual vacuum is being exploited by vested interests [44]. 600,000 Hindus were thrown out from Kashmir, which is the land of Kashyapa, and still no one complains of genocide or a pogrom [45]. In contrast the death of 700 Muslims in a state having 5 million Muslims was highlighted for days in the `secular Indian' media [46]. The government has failed to realize the importance of the unique socio-religio-political glue that Hinduism employs to hold India together as a single nation. Indian culture is lampooned by the `secular Indian' media. Our national song is declared `communal' and rejected [47]. Our invocation for education like the Saraswati Vandana is mocked at [48]. Our goddesses, whom we revere, are depicted in the nude to insult our sensibilities [49]. Indologists publish books with offensive language on our gods [50]. Our indigenous customs are satirized and the people are reprimanded for continuing them. The United Nations recently pointed out that the tradition of Vedic chanting is on its way to extinction in this country within the coming 30 years [51]. Our youngsters are taught the Bible before they even hear of the Gita and the Upanishads [52]. Indigenous art, sculpture, music, literature and dance are all on their way to extermination within the next 25 years [53]. Code of Conduct of a Bauddhika Kshatriya A Bauddhika Kshatriya would base his/her conduct on the great Intellectual Warriors of the past like Adi Sankara [54], Guru Gobind Singh [55], Swami Vivekananda [56] and Sri Aurobindo [57]. A Bauddhika Kshatriya would assemble a team of dedicated workers to uphold the convergent triumvirate of Indian nationalism, Indian religion and Indian culture against this information and media onslaught. `Such individuals must be above commercial manipulation and self-promotion, working tirelessly to counter this disinformation flood.' [1] A Bauddhika Kshatriya shall be adept in the ancient Indian technique of tarka or intellectual debate [58]. The individual must be a perfect combination of Brahma (spiritual power) and Kshatra (political power). The Bauddhika Kshatriya would project an articulate and compelling intellectual view that would bring back the alienated western educated Indian elite to its eternal roots. As Frawley suggests, "A true Kshatriya is devoted to Dharma and cannot be won over by name, fame, influence or money. He is not seeking office, to create a vote bank, or to gain followers, but to uphold Dharma without compromise or inflexibility." [1] Swami Vivekananda had recognized the idealism in the youth and channelised that towards the advancement of our nation. [59] Swami Vivekananda in the east, Savarkar [60] and Tilak [61] in the west and Sri Aurobindo [62] all combined religion with patriotism in gallant attempts to turn Sanatana Dharma into a world cultural force through which a notion of Greater India could be projected. The modern Bauddhika Kshatriya would embed the solutions of modern contemporary issues in a traditional mould and propel the inhabitants of this great nation toward materialistic progress coupled with spiritual fulfillment. The Bauddhika Kshatriya would think, act and influence others. The Bauddhika Kshatriya shall not escape the realities of modern mundane life. He/she would transcend it with clear visionary thinking. The Bauddhika Kshatriya would be dispassionate, calm and still argue with the precision of a missile. The Bauddhika Kshatriya would not fear or complain about adverse circumstances; he/she would take the fight to the enemy camp, set the agenda and be proactive in all circumstances. The Bauddhika Kshatriya shall be revolutionary in outlook and would correct historical wrongs committed by the people. As Frawley states, "The new intellectual Kshatriya must throw up an ethical challenge, which is the challenge of Dharma, exposing the danger of exclusivist religious cults, materialistic political philosophies, and unchecked commercialism. The West throws its ethical challenge to the world, criticizing other countries, including India, for lack of human rights. This requires a Hindu response, which is to expose the West's promotion of arms sales, environmental depredation, and projection of sensate materialism all over the world." [1] The Bauddhika Kshatriya would establish an alternate to the current western models of science, religion and politics. The Bauddhika Kshatriya would objectively analyze and explain unanswered questions like why Hindu-majority areas like Lahore, Sylhet and Chittagong were given away to Pakistan by Nehru [63]. The Bauddhika Kshatriya would be the messiah of Indians everywhere on Earth [64]. The Bauddhika Kshatriya would assist the Indians in Fiji [65], aid the Indians in Malaysia [66], enthuse the Indians in Africa [67] and inspire the Indians in the Americas [68]. The Bauddhika Kshatriya would emancipate the hungry millions of the land, yet making the ideal tradeoff in the guns versus butter choice. The Bauddhika Kshatriya would establish Ram Rajya in this country and demolish the ant-Hindu communist conspirators mouthing socialist shibboleths in the universities [69]. Challenges before the Bauddhika Kshatriya A Bauddhika Kshatriya would combat the following sections of the Indian nation.[70] 1. Mullah: This refers to the Sunni Muslim [71] elite, which insists on a separate identity than their Indian one. The present government spends more than 190 crores on the Haj travel in an action devoid of any economic benefit [72]. The imam of a certain mosque refused to pray for the soldiers at Kargil as they were combating a Muslim Pakistan [73]. The Moplah rebellion [74] and activities of SIMI [75] also fall in to this category. 2. Missionary: This refers to the Christian missionaries who openly attack Hinduism [76]. In spite of Gandhiji openly criticizing conversion [77], the activities of the missionaries have continued unabated [78]. Using deception [79], violence [80], disguise under cloak of school [81] and hospital [82] the missionaries have contributed directly to the present chaos in the Northeast [83] and the tribal hinterlands of MP and Orissa [84]. 3. Minorityist: This refers to the so called secularists dominating our landscape today [85]. The National Human Rights Commission displayed this by raking up the Best Bakery Case while turning a Nelson's eye to the Jogeshwari case where the accused Muslims were acquitted for want of evidence [86]. The Election Commission of India displayed this by postponing elections in Gujarat, while holding it in the much more disturbed Jammu and Kashmir [87]. 4. Marxist: This refers to the extreme Chinese nationalists [88] born as Indians merely by `accident of birth' [89]. They successfully transformed Calcutta from a gem to a dowager of a city within 25 years of misrule [90]. They further have left no stone unturned in any anti-national activity in the country [91]. 5. Mandalist: This category brought the Indian public sector to its ultimate downfall by implementing time bound promotions for certain Superior Castes/ Scientific Tribes also known as SC/STs [92]. They destroyed meritocracy and established anti-Brahminism as the fundamental philosophy of political life [93]. 6. Mayoist: This refers to the progeny of Catherine Mayo [94], whom Gandhi described as `a drain inspector' [95]. This category believes that everything good in India came from outside and everything bad is purely indigenous. They constitute most of our Page 3 socialites. 7. Maoist: This refers to the Naxalites [96] and their fellow journeymen who believe in a nation-less world. Their imprudent action has only served to accentuate poverty in regions they afflict [97]. 8. Macaulayite: This refers to the Convent-educated elite marinated for years in Nehruvian socialism. They have inculcated several characteristics from the above listed categories. Their legendary activities make them more Christian than the Christians themselves [98]. 9. Me, Mine, Myself: This category has never bothered itself with any development till they are directly impacted by it. But often it is too late for them to react when it actually comes to them [99]. 10. Media: This M-factor is controlled by the above 9 Ms. This so called secular device has done untold damage to the Indian nationalistic feelings, religious traditions and cultural values [100]. Conclusion The modern era is characterized by several radical developments like the deluge of information for which there appears to be no precedent in history. This provides both an opportunity [101] and a risk factor to the emergence of India as a great global power [102]. The enemies of the nation have mounted an unprecedented attack on it. Any attempt to benefit India in the remotest way is criticized openly [103] or `stifled with silence' [104]. As the soul of India wrenches in misery at the myriad knots the so called secularists weave, the weave nation as a whole awaits the emergence of a new Swami Vivekananda to lead it through these turbulent times. The hour of reckoning of the youth of the country has come. Are the youth of India ready for this challenge? The Mother is waiting… The US Supreme Court in a landmark judgement pronounced that while the American state is secular, the American country is Christian [105]. Is there one person in this vast nation of one billion where more than half of the population is below the age of 25 who could make a similar statement that while the Indian state is secular, the Indian nation is Hindu? Is there one person in this vast nation of one billion where more than half of the population is below the age of 25 who can stand up and repeat the following verse by Guru Gobind Singh with pride? "Vedahun vidit dharma pracharyun, Gohat kalamka vishva nivaryun. Sakal jagat mein Khalsa Panth gaajey, Jagey dharm Hindu sakal bhand Bhajey" (May I preach the Vedas to the whole mankind / May I remove the blot of cow-slaughter from the whole world / May the Khalsa Panth reign supreme / Long live Hinduism and falsehood perish) [106] Is there one person in this vast nation of one billion where more than half of the population is below the age of 25 who could put the interests of the nation above all provincial, parochial and regional interests? Is there one person in this vast nation of one billion where more than half of the population is below the age of 25 who could challenge the distortions about India in the media, in the schools, in the books and over the Internet? Is there one person in this vast nation of one billion where more than half of the population is below the age of 25 who could successfully lead India to a world superpower status by 2050? Are the youth of India ready for the challenge? The Mother is waiting… Notes: 1. The present paper is inspired from and based upon Dr David Frawley (Vamadev Shastri) `s classic effort titled `A Call for an Intellectual (Bauddhika) Kshatriya' at awaken_bharata/a_call_for_intellctual_kshatriya/page1.htm 2. "Information is the key to the modern age, a new age that offers possibilities for the future limited only by the boundaries of our imaginations." …Tony Blair 3. Mahatma Gandhi used the media effectively to serve the media and exhort the people of this country to his cause. See `Mahatma Gandhi and Mass Media' by Prof V S Gupta at 4. Mohammed Ali Jinnah founded the Dawn newspaper ( and used it effectively to convince the Muslim elite throughout the country to vote for a separate Muslim entity. Later more than half of those who voted for Pakistan were asked to stay back in India. 5. This fact is well documented in the report titled `The Subtle Subversion: A report on Curricula and Textbooks in Pakistan' prepared by A H Nayyar and Ahmed Salim. The document is available at 6. The role of Islam as the defining `ideology' of Pakistan is well described in `Islam and the Ideology of Pakistan' by Smruti S Pattanaik in Strategic Analysis Dec 1998 (Vol XXII No 9) 7. The Myth of the Aryan Invasion now repudiated by various scholars is discussed at various sources including here: `The Myth of Aryan Invasion of India' by Dr David Frawley at myth_aryan_invasion/index.htm The more interested reader could explore the links at ancient/aryan/aryan_link.html 8. This trend of hiding the heinous and intolerant actions of the Mughals is described in `Negationism in India: Concealing the Record of Islam' by Dr Koenraad Elst. Other related books are available online on the Bharatvani site at 9. An interesting book is `Rewriting Indian History' by Francois Gautier published by Vikas Publishing House Pvt Ltd, New Delhi. Online it is at 10. Daniel Pipes also mentions it in his article `Extremist Islam's American Lobby' at ARTICLE_ID=24567 11. The centers of South Asian studies in every major university in US are filled with India-baiters who are either Pakistani or Marxist. These groups regularly hold meetings on Kashmir where they gleefully and unanimously berate India on various counts of human rights violations. 12. Rajiv Malhotra addresses this issue in this Rediff article at titled `Does South Asian Studies Undermine India?' 13. See who Business Week talks of the rapid growth of an entity called `Greater China' at /02_49/b3811007.htm. 14. In contrast, no attempt is made by the media to show the great cultural impact of India on neighboring nations like Myanmar, Cambodia and Indonesia. E.g. Indonesia still retains Sanskrit names, Cambodia has the world's largest Hindu temple. 15. In this article, the author mentions Indian only in the first name and then goes on using a defunct term like `Asiatic Elephant'. walkers_mammals_of_the_world/proboscidea/ proboscidea.elephantidae.elephas.html 16. Rajeev Srinivasan mentions this fact in his Rediff article at titled `Why I am not a South Asian?' 17. According to one survey 98% of the yoga instructors are Americans. The Indians somehow have not got associated with this activity at all. 18. Certain individuals have projected their own variety of Meditation techniques as distinct from Sanatana Dharma or the Hindu way of living. 19. The fact that Musharraf holds many more press meetings has been described earlier also. Kaushik Kapisthalam in an article titled `Analysing South Asian Analysts' describes how US analysts often end up equating India and Pakistan. 20. The term Resident Non-Indian (RNI) appears to have been coined by Rajeev Srinivasan in his Rediff article titled `Patriot Games and Resident Non-Indians' at 21. A simple google search for the phrase `Centers for Peace, Justice and Secularism' would validate this fact. This is an alarming trend that must be tackled by the nationalists. The anti-Indian forces cannot be allowed to permanently hijack those words. 22. It is an ironical fact the very fellows claiming to be fighting poverty manage to increase it. A certain pseudo-secular party in India continues to get votes in the name of `Garibi hatao' while doing its best in retaining it in the country. 23. The Marxist historians (thoroughly exposed in Arun Shourie's Eminent Historians) perpetuated several myths that have now been exposed. At ifihhome/articles/bbl002.html BB Lal writes on `Why Perpetuate Myths?' Another article originally published in the Organiser also calls the bluff of the Marxists 24. The absolute control of the English media by a small section of anti-nationals would probably be the subject of a research study in the future. The disease, thankfully, has not spread to the vernacular media that still retains its objectivity in contents and reporting. 25. It is a wonder that in spite of monumental evidence supporting the Hindus, the pseudo-secularists managed to keep the issue burning. Posterity would definitely record the Ayodhya dispute as the greatest example of the success of the Mephistophelean Goebbels technique. For an introduction to the issue, look at 26. Prof Ramesh Rao provided an interesting analysis of the Gujarat situation in a report titled `Genocide in Gujarat or Massacring of truth' in an email circulated in the RRCC Experts Forum e-group. 27. This penurious image of India also enabled fraudulent organizations like the Missionaries of Charity to gather money for conversion activities. Several independent scholars like Christopher Hitchens, Aroup Chatterjee, and MS Srinivasan have now exposed the mask of Mother Teresa. 28. The above quote is from 'Sita Ram Goel- 80 yrs completed' Author: Navratna S. Rajaram Publication: Bhartiya Pragna Date: February 2002 29. I had taken the phrase from the text at this page: 30. The present Marxist written NCERT textbooks mainly ignores Patel's contribution to India. Some information on the Iron Man of India is available at 31. The pseudo-secularists launched a vicious disinformation campaign against the IDRF. Here is a rebuttal of the fake manufactured charges at . It is titled `A Factual Response to the Hate Attack on the India Development and Releif Fund.' 32. The drama enacted by the NGOs to ruin the Sivakasi cracker industry is well documented by S Gurumurthy in his column in the New Indian Express at EH20020222231458&P=old titled `Defaming as a profession, to doing down businesses and communities' 33. This is a double-crossed game the Marxists play. On one hand, they exhort the industrialists to restraint themselves from investing in Gujarat and on the other hand, they write articles in the media attributing the lack of investment in Gujarat to the Hindutva government there. Unfortunately for the Marxists and fortunately for India, the investments simply boomed under the administration of Narendra Modi. 34. Times of India archives, December 2003 35. In India, the RSS is perceived to pro-army as it has consistently drawn attention to the harsh conditions under they operate as opposed to the communists who seek persecution of our jawans for killing Pakistani terrorists. 36. `Mr. Ram, who endorsed the views of Mr. Aziz, said that the post-1998 tensions in the sub-continent could be directly linked to the ascendance of the Hindutva right-wingers in India and nuclearisation of both the countries'… This line is from the pages of `The Hindu' itself that has of late established a name for itself as the most anti-Hindu newspaper on the planet. See at tories/2002081502411200.htm 37. The article by the unbelievably self-hating Indian journalist Sarmila Bose is accessible at archives/2003/nov/50271103.086.asp . It is titled `Permanent Membership not for India'. The article demonstrates the extents to which these fellows can go to hinder India's interests. 38. In a shocking display of decline in journalistic standards, Deccan Chronicle columnist Seema Mustafa writes thus at seema.shtml - PM vs Sonia`He consults all for a feedback, makes up his own mind, and then acts with the Brahminical deviousness for which he is renowned.' This fact came to my notice through an email by Dr Arindam Banerji at the RRCC Experts Forum e-group. 39. An excellent study of the changing demographic trends in the country has been published by the Center for Policy Studies and is jointly authored by AP Joshi, MD Srinivas and JK Bajaj. 40. See `Demographic Changes in Border Areas: great security risk' by PM Kamath at 41. is an interesting link to start off. The Pope openly declared in India his intention to convert India into a Christian colony. 42. The atrocities of the church in India is brilliantly captured by this site 43. details how systematically the Karnataka Congress government diverted money from the Hindu temples to the madrassas. It is indeed a tragic contortion of secularism that the Congress is practicing in this country. 44. has information on major Indian temples. The Vishnu temples in Tamil Nadu are better dealt with at 45. The comprehensive review of the J&K situation is given at 46. News on the Godhra incident and the subsequent riots is available at 47. In this article, the Marxist tabloid dubs the war cry of `Bande(Vande) Mataram' as communal in a great act of insult to the majority community. 48. S Gurumurthy explores this issue further in his article in the Organiser dated Oct 24, 1998 titled `Vande Mataram then, Saraswati Vandana now' 49. MF Hussain's depiction of Goddess Saraswati and Sita in the nude provoked hurt Shiv Sena members to attack the painting in Mumbai a few years back. This prompted a backlash from the pseudo-secular class which took great pains to explain why drawing Hindu goddesses in the nude was liberal, but doing the same for Christians or Muslims was communal. 50. Paul Courtright's demeaning book on Lord Ganesha was withdrawn from the market by MLBD after a furore and controversy over its contents. 51. UNESCO recently declared the tradition of Vedic chanting as `an intangible heritage of humanity.' Less than 1500 practitioners of the ancient art remain in the country now. 52. I personally witnessed how a certain cousin of mine introduced the `Bhagwad Gita' to his 3rd grade(class) child as `the Bible of the Hindus.' He clarified to me saying that his daughter educated in a convent school knew all about Noah and Jesus as compared to nothing of our past heritage. 53. Diminishing returns and falling patronage has sounded the death knell for several forms of indigenous sculpture, art and music. 54. While the Christian west resorted to burning heretics, the Indians had employed the technique of scholarly debate to convince the heretics of the flaws in their thinking. Adi Sankara traversed the length and breadth of India propagating Vedanta using his speech as the sole weapon. life.html 55. The glory of Guru Gobind Singh, the great savior of Hindus and the Indians, is described at 56. Information on the patriot-saint Swami Vivekananda can be accessed at 57. Information on the patriot-saint Sri Aurobindo can be accessed at 58. Also called anvikshiki, nyaya-vistara, nyaya-darshana, hetu- vidya, hetu-shastra, vada-vidya, and pramana-shastra 59. Swami ji gave several inspirational speeches directed at the youth of the country. One of them is available at 60. The pseudo-secularist gang has attempted unsuccessfully to vilify Veer Savarkar. Here is an article against it 61. Bal Gangadhar Tilak was the ideological guru of both M K Gandhi and Veer Savarkar. See and 62. A short lecture on the Vande Mataram by Sri Aurobindo along with the English translation of our national song is given at 63. Nehru committed grave errors that continue to plague India. His mistakes in Kashmir are chronicled at http://www.kashmir- ConvertedKashmir/ A lot of literature already exists pointing out the `Nehruvian blunders'. A recent article by Arvind Lavakare on the same is at 64. The Indian government under the administration of Vajpayee has attempted to bring together the Indian diaspora. See 65. The George Speight controversy brought the condition of Indians in Fiji into the media glare. Here is Salman Rushdie defending the Indian community. 66. The Indian community in Malaysia is one of the poorest in that nation and the involvement of the community in criminal activites has also been high. The recent ill-treatment of Indians at Malaysian airports was highlighted by the media. See stories/01120009.htm and 67. Idi Amin rudely expelled the Indians from Uganda. See Their experience in Kenya was not too better. See /february/4/newsid_2738000/2738629.stm Indians in SouthAfrica are described in a book by Prakash Jain. 68. Indians are also found in huge numbers in Surinam and Guyana. See 69. JNU has long been regarded as the bastion of the Indian Marxists. Vishal Agarwal in his satire on pseudo-secularism at says, "Jai Jai Jai Romila Maayi, Dayaa karo Soniya ki Naayi . West Bengal ik secular samaaju, JNU hi teeratharaaju " 70. This list of the Ms is inspired from this site 71. The Shia leaders have been visibly more accommodative than the Sunni leadership. Maulana Kalbe Sadiq even allowed the Hindus to worship at the Babri site. 72. The loss to the Indian economy accruing by the subsidization of the Haj pilgrimage by the `secular' Indian government is documented at 73. Maulana Wahiduddin set an ignominious precedent in Indian history by refusing to pray for the Kargil martyrs. Sonia Gandhi and Priyanka attended his funeral later. 74. The Moplah massacre was one of the most gruesome acts of murder by the Muslims rivaled only by the Razakars in Hyderabad in 47, and the ethnic cleansing in Pakistan and Bangladesh after partition. Moplah was replayed recently. Here is a report on it by Rajeev 75. A paper on SIMI is at the SAAG site at by R Upadhyay 76. Dina Nath Mishra at the BJP site stresses for a need for a dialogue on conversion at 77. The Mahatma is reported to have said, "Every nation considers its own faith to be as good as that of any other. Certainly, the great faiths of India are enough for her people," A beautiful collection of Gandhiji's sayings against conversion is at 78. See MV Kamath's article at Parthenon/2104/kamath_challenge.html 79. The various antics of deception by the missionaries to dupe innocent gullible Indians is at /tactics_deception.htm 80. The violence by the Christian secessionists in the North-East is well known. Other instances are at 81. There is nothing secular about the missionary schools. They propogate a blatant communal propaganda. 82. The missionaries established a great lead in setting up hospitals. Their maneuvers are recorded at . 83. The church is openly supporting the secessionists in the North East. The Presbyterians are the main Church there. Some information on how they reached there is available at 84. Lamentations of the missionaries at their failure to achieve the rapid demise of Hinduism in Orissa is at indiastates/orissa.html 85. The minority rules and reigns and has power. And the majority does not even have the right to opinion. Such is the thinking of the minorityists today. Pritish Nandy chides them in 2 articles at Rediff at and 86. Balbir K Punj has written on the Jogeshwari case at printedition/110803/detPLA01.shtml titled `Mirror, mirror on the wall'. A scathing indictment of western notions of human rights is at (A talk by Radha Rajan) 87. Prof Hari Om draws attention to the partisan attitude of James Michael Lyngdog at 88. The extreme adulation and love for China amongst their paid stooges is depicted in graphic terms at Rajeev Srinivasan also dubs the Marxists `Chinese Nationalists' at 89. `Disclaiming his Hindu identity, Nehru declared that by education he was an Englishman, by culture a Muslim and by accident of birth, a Hindu' This famous statement of Nehru and some other English aspects of Nehru's identity are highlighted at 90. Rajeev Srinivasan briefly touches upon the decline of Calcutta over the times at 91. A couple of other interesting viewpoints on the Marxists are at and 92. Reservation has led to reverse discrimination rather than affirmative action. An article expressing the same view is at reservation_policy_for_backward_.htm 93. Meenakshi Jain criticizes the virulent anti-Brahminism in political parlance in an article titled `The Plight of the Brahmins' at pramod/jmeenakshi1.html 94. Catherine Mayo in his infamous book titled Mother India dubbed Indians as a world menace and sex-ridden human beings. A critique of the neo-Mayos by S Gurumurthy is at 95. Mahatma Gandhi had dubbed the Mayo book as a drain inspector's report. An article on `Why are India's Achievements so Little Known' is at 96. The Naxalite war in India is documented at /saterrorwatch/naxalites_war_in_india.htm 97. The Marxists everywhere arrive as the messiahs of the poor , but in the end they turn out to the worst oppressors of the meek and the impoverished. 98. Macaulay heralded the rise of English and the consequent decline of Oriental languages in India. A link to the infamous 1835 minute by Macaulay 99. Martin Niemoeller `s famous quote comes to my mind at this juncture: `first they came for the Communists, but I was not a Communist, so I did not speak out. Then they came for the Socialists and the trade unionists, but I was neither, so I did not speak out. Then they came for the Jews, but I was not a Jew, so I did not speak out. And when they came for me, there was no one left to speak out for me' See 12/9/31958.shtml 100. The media`s anti-national role is well described at various sources as also is self-evident to need any reference here. Francois Gautier `s comment on `A Warped Indian Media' is at warped_indian_media.htm 101. India's rise first occurred in the IT sector that was then picked up by the brick and mortar economy. An interesting analysis of the IT sector in India from an outsider's perspective is at ndia_report.pdf It is titled `India: Targeting for the Status for a Global IT Superpower.' Another interesting presentation by S Sadagopan of IIITB titled `Software and Silicon: Opportunities for India' is at 102. The by-now-famous report by Tarun Khanna and Yasheng Huang comparing the growth of India and China is available at storyID=13774 103. A section of the journalistic fraternity has consistently opposed the `India Shining' campaign by the Government of India. T N Ninan `s article censuring the government for what he perceives as over-optimism is at 104. The phrase `strangling with silence' was used by Koenraad Elst to describe how the media on failing to refute Sita Ram Goel intellectually simply blocked any report on him. The media did the same to all Arun Shourie's books. When they fail to find a fault with a report going against them, they do not change themselves. Instead they condemn the report to ignominy.105. The quotation is taken from a Rediff article at (TK Rajesh is a R&D engineer based in Bangalore and writes on the `convergent triumvirate of Indian nationalism, Indian culture and Indian religion'. email- tk_rajesh_iitm@h...)
Posted by: k.ram Jan 8 2004, 10:23 AM
Some logic this, If you understand the logic, you will be give 100 marks laugh.gif (From some other group and recvd by mail) ================================================ Sir: Creation of Bengladesh does not defy Two nations theory. Bengladesh is still a Muslim country, not a Hindu or secular country. As a matter of fact, India is declaring Bengladesh as a Fundamentalist Muslim country, actually the most fundamenta. Creation of Bengladesh implies TWO COUNTRIES but ONE NATION. 2. No one is trying to justify the two nation theory because there are human rights violations in J&K. There is no link between the two phenomenon. We are just asking you to fulfill your promise which you made to the Kashmiris, to Pakistanis and to the worl - PERIOD. 3. I am not a Muslim, but as a Parsi and a relative to Justice Durab Patel, I do say that yous there is PLEBSCITE in Islam. Prophet of Islam have done it, the Caliphs of islam did it. More over I do not understand how you being a Hindu (I am not discriminating at all) applying Islam to plebscite. Are you saying that you are not agreeing to plebscite because it is UnIslamic? Well, destroying of Babri mosque, killing thousands of Sikhs, and Muslims with the help of Government Machinery is very Islamic for you? It is Islamic, Non Islamic, we do not care. You promissed, you agreed, you signed for a plebscite in J&K, a fair plebscite under the UN authority, and you should stick with it. Please do not play game of words, come to the terms. You are a signatory of UN resolutions, hence no if then else, just action is needed. 4. What is the human Right violation in Okara? I visited Pakistan recently, and I did not get any information. Can you provide any information from free press such as BBC, REUTERS or so? How many people were killed there? More than Gujarat? More than Bombay? More than Punjab after Indra Gandhi's murder? Come on man, be honest. Do you know where is Okara? I know each and every part of Pakistan. Okara is in Punjab near Lahore. And your media always blame Punjab for human rights violation in Pakistan. It is amazing that I am getting News that there are occuring human right violations in Punjab as well. 5. Do you know what is Hadood Laws? I think rather I am sure that you do not know it. Again, as a relative of justice Durab Patel, I know it very well. Muslims pray to only Allah. They do not worship any one else except Allah, neither to Muhammad, nor to any one else. Quran is their holliest book, Muhammad is the prophet, and any one who disgrace these, will be punished under Hadood Laws. Why some one should dare to disgrace these when they know the sentiments of the Muslims? The photo of your God Ganesh is disgraced several times in the west. Some time the photo was posted on toilet papers, on toilet seats, some time on sandals, some time on some other dirty place. Do you like it? Will you not take actions against those who do this, if you have power to do so? You can not do any thing in the west, but same thing if happened in India, then the Gujarat Massacre will look like a picnic. In your society it is so easy to start a riot that you have to do nothing, just throw some beef in Mandir and that's it. In return no law will be observed, just killing will start and so many innocent human being will loose their life. Is it not true Sir? At least people do not kill that person immediately who break Hodood laws, that persons is given a chance to clarify himself. In Islam, in Christianity, and Judaism, the punishment of adultory is Stoning. Christians and Jews do not apply these rules of Bible and Torah, Muslims do in some countries. And that is the reason there is almost zero AIDS patients in Muslim countries. Look in India, it is going to surpass Africa. West is already suffering. Because of adultry, not only man gets infected, but his wife and children as well. Is it not a solution that such a person should loose his life and other innocent lives should be saved? I live it upto you to decide. This is Hodood law. Law is alright, if some people abuse it, then they should be punished severely, I however do not see any thing wrong in it. My chances of becoming an AIDS victim are very rare because I do not fool around. I have a wonderful wife and three children. I respect them, I care them, I am loyal with them, and they are every thing for me. Can you say the same about most of the people in India. The AIDS epedemic there denies it. 6. Sir: You come to my house and occupy two bed rooms. I will use all the means to get it back. This is Jihad. When you did not fulfill your promise for a plebscite in J&K for 55 years, what do you expect these Kashmiris should do? Problem is that Indian Government and Indian people very well understand BADESI SAMRAJ, but they do not see and realize their own SAMRAJ. Indian army killed and massacred those who were taking the dead people for burial in J&K. Indian army killed small children, even babies. And Indian army proved its professionalism by not able to control 3500 infiltrators! Israelis have done immense cruelty against Palestenians, but some of them have conscious, and that's why some of them refused to attack Plastenians any more. They are punished and are thrown into jail, but they stick to their decission. NONE OF THE ISRAELI SOLDIER IS INVOLVED IN RAPE. Sir, Indian army is involved in all kind of henious crime including rape. It is not just Gujarat where innocent people were massacred, it is a daily norm of Indian Politics. I was visiting Muradabd (UP) with some of my Pakistani friends. It was Eid day when suddenly Hindu Mahasabah attacked the worshippers in the Eidgah with dogs, knives, sticks, fire arms, but the worst, they brought pigs and piglets with them and they loose them free on Muslim worshipers! Police was a part of the game. Curfew was imposeed and I met my friends after 15 days when curfew was relaxed. These kind of things are not just hickups, these are the things which if happened in any civilized society, will result in a bloody revolution. In India it is a revolution that there is no revolution. Dalits, Muslims, Sikhs, and now Christians suffer every day. Even the great leader of his time Mahatama Gandhi has lost his importance in Indian society. People call him traitor. To Gandhi even Quad E Aazam did not call traitor, but your own people are giving this reward to the grat leader of his time. Pervaiz ============================================== Flush.gif
Posted by: k.ram Jan 8 2004, 03:04 PM
ohmy.gif Hindutva on the beach Why tiny Goa is the poster state for a modern BJP SAGARIKA GHOSE New Year revellers are crawling back from the beaches of BJP-ruled Goa, having cast off their clothes and inhibitions for a few days of sandy celebration. As the parties on the beach wind down, another party is being fashioned not so far away from the fun-worshippers gyrating nakedly in their shacks. In an election year, with hope in its heart and bijli sadak pani on its lips, the BJP is desperately seeking a modern identity. It is seeking an identity that is different from that frightening backward-looking anti-woman, anti-minority and anti-youth force known as Hindutva. And, curiously enough, it is in tiny Goa, where the BJP has somewhat succeeded in becoming more modern than anywhere in north India. Ten years ago, the BJP was invisible in Goa. Congress and smaller regional parties like the United Goan Democratic Party and the Maharashtrawadi Gomantak Party dominated. Defections were so astoundingly brazen that never mind the ‘Aya Rams’ and ‘Gaya Rams’ of north India, instead the ‘Aya D’Souzas’ and ‘Gaya D’Souzas’ of Goa were responsible for as many as 13 governments in a decade. Since then there has been a cataclysmic change: the BJP has entered the political scene, after first allying with the MGP and then swallowing it up. And two years ago, Manohar Parrikar, IIT-educated RSS member, became chief minister of what is fast becoming India’s party state. The armies of rappers, ravers, grinning Gujjubhais and screeching Bongs may not have recognised a young moustachioed figure posing alongside other BJP chief ministers in the prime minister’s birthday photo. Parrikar is not a Hindu warrior like Uma Bharti or Narendra Modi, nor is he royal like Vasundhara Raje. Although he is as vulnerable to charges of saffronisation as any sangh politician, he has, at the same time, brought Goa to a point where its revenue coffers and electricity are in surplus. There are many reasons why Goa can be seen as the poster-state for a ‘modern’ BJP. Parrikar may be an RSS member, but he cannot, for fear of perennial damage to Goa’s international allure and her 2 million seasonal tourists, ever forget that he leads a republic of fiesta and susegado (good living). RSS gerontocrats may be furious at bikinis and five star hotels but they can never forget that it is precisely this that brings in massive revenue, jobs and tourism opportunities for locals. So while Hindutva gangs in Mumbai can set fire to posters of lesbian movies or disrupt fashion shows in Nasik, in Goa, hindutva must play second fiddle to the birdie dance. Moreover, as every lover of Goa knows, the beach parties are a myth. The reality is a traditional and uniquely spiritual society where the romance with god is far too varied to ever be exclusively Hindu. This is perhaps the only state so far where the BJP must contend with a large (thirty per cent Catholic) minority which is sophisticated, powerful and deeply rooted. Behind the shuttered windows of the great mansions belonging to the venerable old Catholic families such as the Silva home in Margao or the Figueredo home in Loutolim breathes the spirit of “delicadeza” (delicacy) and “decencia” (decency). Hindutva must coexist with the profoundly plural Goan Hinduism of thousands of common customs. Every wayside shrine, whether a hibiscus under a crucifix or candle outside a shantadurga mandir roars out its repudiation of bigotry. In villages like Mashem Loliem, Dassehra processions stop at the homes of only certain Brahmins and certain Christians. In villages like Siolim (Remo Fernandez’ village), jagor (folk) music is played by both communities and Hindus perform ‘teatre’, drama traditionally associated with Christians. Folk humanist Christianity and gentle festive Hinduism have coexisted for so long that they have formed their own canon. Sure, the two worlds barely touch, there’s hardly any inter-marriage and a fair degree of competitiveness. Yet running through the ‘communidad’ of every village, surrounding the common kuladevatha (village deity) shrines and rising upward to the palm trees, is the whispered conviction: “Ami Bhau” (We are brother). Parrikar has been accused of saffronising primary school education. Reports say that village schools have been forced to close and then handed over to RSS-backed organisations. There are reports that he has also encouraged the saffronisation of the school syllabus, that textbooks written by the Goa examination board are advancing an anti-Christian, anti-Muslim mentality. The RSS is reportedly active among the Kunbi Velip tribes through the Girivasi Sammelan schemes. Yet there is also the inescapable fact that any one seeking to win elections in Goa simply cannot afford to play an anti-minority card. This is because out of 40 assembly constituencies, 9 are majority Christian constituencies and are located in the Christian heartland of Salcette as are several other constituencies in north Goa, or Bardez, in the Calangute Baga area. A shared history of suffering under the Portuguese means that no politician who pits communities against each other can hope to win votes. There is yet another reason why aggressive Hindutva cannot succeed in Goa. And this is the Konkani language. Konkani binds Hindu and Christian in an irreversible bond. Konkani is much more than just a language: it stands for the Goan way of life and it is the language that the Goans fought for against the waves of Marathi-speakers from the north. The BJP’s “aryan” Hindutva is seen by many as a covert attempt to impose Marathi and declare it as an official language and any administrative agenda that attacks Konkani is doomed to disaster. The defence of Konkani, so dear to every Goan, is also a defence of Goan plurality. Manohar Parrikar may be an RSS cadre but Goa will never let him become Narendra Modi. His people are too scornful of narrow-mindedness, far too close to each other’s lives to be torn asunder by vicious politics. No wonder Parrikar has turned his attention to sound financial management, roads, an excellent social security scheme for the aged, agro-based industries and subsiding exports. In Goa, the BJP has been made more tolerant, more development-oriented, far more careful about nasty rhetoric and thus more modern than anywhere else in India. Of course, your humble columnist still doesn’t know whether the sangh parivar will ever be cool enough to invite to a beach party, but, hey, didn’t Uma Bharti recently say she wanted Madhya Pradesh to become another Goa?
Posted by: Viren Jan 8 2004, 08:37 PM
Konkani is much more than just a language: it stands for the Goan way of life and it is the language that the Goans fought for against the waves of Marathi-speakers from the north. The BJP’s “aryan” Hindutva is seen by many as a covert attempt to impose Marathi and declare it as an official language and any administrative agenda that attacks Konkani is doomed to disaster
As usual another dorky article by DDM who's not bothered to check her facts before shooting from the hip. thumbsdownsmileyanim.gif A quick check on the minor border issues between regions or states of India would have showed her that back in 80s when Congress was running the nation and states, Maharashtra and Karnataka were having the same language issues in the border district of Belgaum. Remember of riots in Belgaum on this issue - personally had a narrow brush against a serious accident as hooligans were throwing brickbats at passing buses. Nobody blamed the Congress and whatever 'tutva' about it's attempt to impose Marathi or Kannada in Belgaum blink.gif BPJ govt doing well in a state with over major minority population so DDM has to invent issues where they don't exists. How typical. Damned if you do, damned if you don't. mad.gif
Posted by: k.ram Jan 11 2004, 08:46 AM
'NRIs giving money to Hindutva forces' TIMES NEWS NETWORK[ SATURDAY, JANUARY 10, 2004 11:16:08 PM ] MYSORE : Noted theatre personality and writer Girish Karnad on Saturday alleged Hindutva forces of receiving hard currency from NRIs and using those funds for spreading communal hatred in the country. Addressing a public meeting organised to mark the conclusion of a month long campaign, "Dwesh bittu desha kattu" (shun hatred and build the nation) here, Karnad came down heavily on Hindutva forces led by VHP and Bajrang Dal. "I want to know from where the funds for organising conclaves like Virat Hindu Samavesh at Bangalore on such large scale come from" he asked adding that fundamentalist forces are misleading NRIs by using funds given by them to a some good cause for wrong purpose . Tracing the origin of Hinduism and Hidutva forces, Karnad said in no scripture or text written by an Indian contains the word Hinduism or Hindutva. It is only a word started being used by Sawarkar imbibing the religious concept and principle of Israelis. We does not want to follow Swarakar’s Hinduism", he said adding people should realise the machinations of people like Togadia and Singhal who are leading VHP. Blaming the political parties for the present situation, Karnad said political parties irrespective of their ideologies and philosophies have failed to tackle these social problems and leaders in them are bankrupt of social ideas which do good for the people. Speaking on the occasion retired high court Judge Sadashiv said that Sikh riots in New Delhi and carnage of Muslims in Gujarat are the blots on the India ’s secular credentials. Many progressive writers spoke on the occasion which was followed by a street play directed by noted theatre artist and former director of Rangayana Basawalingaiah. mad.gif
Posted by: k.ram Jan 11 2004, 09:22 PM
India's caste system under fire at anti-globalisation meet NEW DELHI : India has for years fought to keep caste discrimination off the international agenda. But starting on Friday in Bombay, Hinduism's centuries-old social hierarchy will be a focus of fury for thousands of global activists. The World Social Forum, the annual convention of the anti- globalisation movement which is being held in Asia for the first time, will take up caste as one of five main themes for its panels and protests. Advertisement Caste "is certainly a very central issue that's going to be put on the table," said Gautam Mody, a spokesman for the forum which organisers expect to draw 75,000 people through January 21. More than 138 million Indians belong to the lowest caste known as the Dalits, or "the oppressed," the term the community prefers to the archaic "untouchables." Another 68 million Indians belong to tribes facing similar social stigma. By the estimate of New York-based Human Rights Watch, more than 100,000 atrocities including murder and rape are committed each year against Dalits, who in the view of Hindu traditionalists should not be allowed even to sit on the same bus seats as higher-caste Indians. However, caste discrimination was banned by the 1949 constitution and a number of Dalits have risen to prominent positions -- most notably K.R. Narayanan, president of India from 1997 to 2002 and a scheduled speaker at the World Social Forum's closing session. The Indian government, always sensitive to international criticism, in September 2001 moved to block caste from the agenda of the UN Conference on Racism in Durban, South Africa, arguing that it was already tackling a problem which was not racism. The final resolution condemned discrimination based on "descent" without specifically mentioning caste. Omar Abdullah, who headed the Indian delegation to Durban as junior foreign minister but is now out of the federal government, said he was not bothered by the focus on caste at the World Social Forum. "At that time I was representing the government of India's position. But as an individual I recognise there is a problem," Abdullah told AFP. "If there is an international forum that discusses caste discrimination, then fine," said Abdullah, who leads the main opposition National Conference party in Indian-administered Kashmir. "But the problem is not necessarily going to be resolved just because of the international community. It requires greater domestic involvement." It is domestic concern that Dalit activists are hoping to spur by the high-profile meet in Bombay. "Untouchability has been officially abolished for 50 years. Fifty years should be sufficient time to get into the bloodstream of the country," said Paul Divakar, convenor of the National Campaign on Dalit Human Rights. Activists from Divakar's movement have been criss-crossing India since December 6, holding Dalit rallies that will culminate at the World Social Forum. While the focus in Bombay will be on India, Dalit campaigners said they wanted to form alliances with other communities suffering hereditary discrimination, such as the Burakumin, Japanese who traditionally lived in isolation as tanners and butchers, and indigenous Americans. Among the speakers at the World Social Forum will be Ecuadorian indigenous leader Blanca Chancoso and Victor Dike, who has lobbied against discrimination among the Igbos of Nigeria. "The whole concept is to rally all the communities who are being humiliated by no fault of theirs," said Ashok Bharti, convenor of India's National Conference of Dalit Organisations. World Social Forum organisers said they hoped the meet would bring greater cooperation between Dalits and other Indian movements such as labour unions, Muslims and feminists. Besides talks and rallies, the World Social Forum will showcase arts of the low castes, including an evening of "Dalit tribal fusion music." - AFP
Posted by: muddur Jan 11 2004, 09:52 PM
QUOTE (k.ram @ Jan 11 2004, 09:16 PM)
'NRIs giving money to Hindutva forces' TIMES NEWS NETWORK[ SATURDAY, JANUARY 10, 2004 11:16:08 PM ] MYSORE : Noted theatre personality and writer Girish Karnad on Saturday alleged Hindutva forces of receiving hard currency from NRIs and using those funds for spreading communal hatred in the country. Addressing a public meeting organised to mark the conclusion of a month long campaign, "Dwesh bittu desha kattu" (shun hatred and build the nation) here, Karnad came down heavily on Hindutva forces led by VHP and Bajrang Dal. "I want to know from where the funds for organising conclaves like Virat Hindu Samavesh at Bangalore on such large scale come from" he asked adding that fundamentalist forces are misleading NRIs by using funds given by them to a some good cause for wrong purpose . Tracing the origin of Hinduism and Hidutva forces, Karnad said in no scripture or text written by an Indian contains the word Hinduism or Hindutva. It is only a word started being used by Sawarkar imbibing the religious concept and principle of Israelis. We does not want to follow Swarakar’s Hinduism", he said adding people should realise the machinations of people like Togadia and Singhal who are leading VHP. Blaming the political parties for the present situation, Karnad said political parties irrespective of their ideologies and philosophies have failed to tackle these social problems and leaders in them are bankrupt of social ideas which do good for the people. Speaking on the occasion retired high court Judge Sadashiv said that Sikh riots in New Delhi and carnage of Muslims in Gujarat are the blots on the India ’s secular credentials. Many progressive writers spoke on the occasion which was followed by a street play directed by noted theatre artist and former director of Rangayana Basawalingaiah. mad.gif
I had a great respect for this guy, Girish karnad, who used live a block away from my home back in Karnataka, before he moved to Mumbai. I was very proud of him being in my neighbourhood. He has lost it Now.
Posted by: k.ram Jan 11 2004, 10:41 PM
Muddur, I forget the name of the movie now, but you have to see his movie that shows brahmins as fornicators, incestous etc and finally the god (Amitabh bacchan as Christ like image) - I think it is something like Agni varsha or Agni something. it was made by this Karnad.
Posted by: k.ram Jan 12 2004, 08:35 AM
ADVERTISEMENT News Today Editorial by TR Jawahar PROGRESSIVELY IRRATIONAL Respected Dr Thaanai Thalaivar Kalaingarji, Congratulations on being anointed unopposed as the leader of The Progressive Front in TN. Though 'Front' is familiar stuff for us, the word 'Progressive' certainly sounds, well er, progressive. Of course, we are a little surprised that 'secular' is missing from the nomenclature, but that is probably owing to the 'communal' hangover from the past few years of heady power. In any case it makes rational good sense to keep talking of secularism without having the word on the nameplate just in case the NDA romps home and Vajpayee winks at you. 'S' may become a liability then. Good thinking! 'Progressive' should be the buzzword but the irrational ignoramuses around should be enlightened first on the list of progressives that you have let loose during your great career. First things first. What a coup of an alliance, that too with the party that accused you in the murder of its leader! Great show, considering that the late leader's wife herself has exonerated you and given a voluntary pardon, though it should be said to your credit that you never made any confession. Self-respect safe and ship-shape. So what if the last word on Rajiv murder case has not been said and investigations are still on. If the Congress itself is willing to bury the Jain pumpkin that it exhumed and exploited much to your distress about six years back, it is their funeral. Manmohanji even described you as a builder of modern India, alongside the likes of Nehruji. You can now return the compliment by hailing Soniaji as the great daughter-in-law of the great daughter of the great Nehru. Great progress indeed, Thalaivaa, from being dubbed a cohort in conspiracy to becoming a comrade in arms. And talking of comrades, what a liberal lot they are really! You can always bank on the Commies for off-the-shelf ideological concoctions to cure communal ailments. No matter if you had been wallowing in that 'dirt' for five years. They will still embrace you and naively believe they have cleansed you though we know that you would entertain no such considerations of reciprocity if power beckons again in future. Not that the Left is bereft of shame. It is just that, having been left out of active politicking and networking, and instead idly withering away in devil's workshops called politburos, they have suddenly scented action. Look at the alacrity with which the bearded oracle, Shri Surjeetji of Siberia --he must have reminded you of Periyar -- touched base with you in quick time despite his physical frailities and ideological numbness. In fact the secular sardar beat Sonia's sardar by almost a week and had little difficulty seeing 'eye-to-eye' with you, his old friend, permanant or otherwise. And while on the topic of permanance, the MDMK was never destined to be your perennial foe. The rationalist in you must have realised it long back, only that the father in you had second thoughts. But with the nephew no longer around, Delhi can now be bartered away to Vaiko with reciprocal coast-clear-arrangement for son Stalin here on the sands of the Marina. The prodigality was never in doubt, only waiting to happen. After all the commonality between you and Vaiko is not just confined to Tiger-riding, but goes much beyond: A shared enemy on home turf, an uncomfortable stay in NDA, secular allies beckoning consistently and of course, a mutually beneficial merger of your respective vote banks. And having elicited without exactly soliciting, a pardon from the Congress on the LTTE plus Rajiv murder issue for yourself, it is prudent to extract one for the MDMK too as an add-on. After all the Congress is in a forgiving mood now and the pardon-offer may close once the poll festival is over. But now, having committed itself to your 'innocence', the Congress cannot go back on it later, alliance or no alliance. You are getting progressively far-sighted by the day, Mr Dr Kalaingar. And behold the way you progressively combined your rationalism with BJP's nationalism, Kalaingarji. You have always dubbed the BJP as an Aryan party and the antithesis of all that your great gurus Thandhai Periyarji and Annan Annaji stood for. Yet the die-hard Dravidian in you with all that hands-on training at their feet on rationalism and self-respect did not deter you from joining hands with the Aryans. This despite your strong belief and repeated assertions that the BJP's forefathers landed on this land of yours from the Central Asian mountains and drove away your forefathers. And as if such 'progressiveness' is not enough, you are now even ready to download those from the snowy Alps to rule this country. Exhilarating stuff, for sure,Thalaivaa, and another feather on your self-respect cap, to invite a foreigner to lord over us. But so too are the BJP Aryans, then why complain, I can hear your rational retort. Great. The ultimate rationalist thinker that you are, you can always cook up some sound logic, not to speak of an appropriate slogan to back your action. For instance, like the now-discredited Aryan invasion theory, you can always invoke some historical concoction like Italians also being of the same Dravidian stock. I hear, there are already some historians who claim such a link. You can rope them in for after all history is what the historians say! Of course, you can proclaim it to the world as your own discovery, just as you discovered all Hindus to be thieves. And that brings me to the subject of Hindus, thieves all, your pet whipping boys and punching bags. You have been more than kind to them. You have made a career out of dethroning their gods, demeaning their culture, deriding their symbols and demonising their rituals. And instead progressively launched your Dravidian icons as demi-gods and presiding deities with a hallowed position for yourself in the pantheon. Aah, what respect you have for your self, which is probably what you mean by self-respect. In your realm, banalities, not the Bhagwad Gita, is sacred; hypocrisy, not Hinduism, is a way of life; psychopancy, not piety, a means of salvation and rhetoric, not reason, is the reigning mantra. Great progress. Again, your selective atheism that shuns temples and Thiruvizhas, but accommodates iftars and St Andrew's kirks is indeed progressive secularism at its all time best. Keep it up! And how progressively fair and balanced you have been in your disposition towards your subjects: Always singling out 'that particularly community' among them for all the ills plaguing the society. Of course, the caste conflicts and such other wranglings amidst Periyar's parivar with 'that particular community' figuring on neither side is an irrational irrelevance to you. But, the vitriolic rhetoric that overflows from the bottomless fountainhead of contempt that you entertain against 'that particular community' cannot, or rather, should not be deemed communal. That is perfectly justified progressive reform born out of rational thought, and not incitement or denigration! Wonderful! Rubbing shoulders with Cong after 23 years is indeed a sort of homecoming. And if you go back to the NDA that would still be homecoming. Anyway, shuttling between two homes is no big deal for you, Thalaivaa. Rather it is a sign of true progressiveness. Phew! It is becoming increasingly difficult to keep pace with your phenomenal progress, great leader. So here is wishing all luck to you and to the Progressive Front that you are leading from the front. Progressively Yours, An Irrational Aryan Admirer
Posted by: muddur Jan 12 2004, 02:08 PM
QUOTE (k.ram @ Jan 12 2004, 11:11 AM)
Muddur, I forget the name of the movie now, but you have to see his movie that shows brahmins as fornicators, incestous etc and finally the god (Amitabh bacchan as Christ like image) - I think it is something like Agni varsha or Agni something. it was made by this Karnad.
You are talking about this one... AgniVarsha .. No one liked it or understood the movie ... Flop.
Posted by: acharya Jan 13 2004, 07:14 PM
An Appeal to Tablighi Brothers Syed Jamaluddin Waqar The Tablighi Jama’at is said to be the largest Islamic movement in the world today, in terms both of number of activists as well as geographic spread. The movement is active in almost every country where significant numbers of Muslims live. Founded in the 1920s in Mewat in north India, the movement has played a crucial role in promoting Islamic awareness and consciousness at the grass-roots level. Some years ago, I came in touch with some Tablighi brothers in Bombay, who encouraged me to take time off to travel on Tabligh work. In the years that followed I went on several Tabligh trips, traveling to remote villages and small towns. There I came across Muslim communities who knew almost nothing about Islam. Some Muslims I met did not even know the fundamental creed of confession of the faith, ‘I bear witness that there is no god but Allah and Muhammad is the messenger of Allah’. However, under the influence of the Tablighi brothers these Muslims were being taught the basics of the faith, such as the kalima shahada, the rules of prayers and fasting and so on. I then came to realize the valuable role that the Tabligyh movement was playing in helping to promote Islamic awareness among sections of the community whom no other Muslim organization or movement had hitherto reached. I still remain greatly appreciative of the important work that the Tabligh movement is engaged in. Yet, I have come to realize that the movement could play an even more constructive role in the affairs of the community if it were to make certain minor modifications in its methods of working. However, I also recognize that some sections of the Tablighi leadership are themselves opposed to any changes, seeing these as threatening to undermine their vested interests. The Tablighi Jama’at has a vast network all over the country. Activists of the movement are constantly on the move, within India and abroad, and in the course of their work they come in touch with vast numbers of people. Imagine the enormous impact this network of activists could have if they were used to promote, in addition to the basic Islamic beliefs and practices, general social awareness, the importance of modern, including girls’ education and the message of communal harmony! But, to the contrary, Tablighi activists do no such thing. Besides preaching the basics of the faith, their only work is to tirelessly repeat fanciful tales and concocted stories which they wrongfully ascribe to the Prophet, to their captive audiences. The Fazail-e-Amal, the basic Tablighi text penned by the leading Tablighi scholar, Maulvi Muhammad Zakariya, is replete with weak and fabricated Hadith, a point that several Muslim scholars have written about extensively. The general import of the Fazail-e-Amal, which threatens to take over the Qur;an as a source of authority for many Tablighis in practice, if not in theory, is distaste and hatred for this world, the duniya. ‘The world is like a toilet or a prison’, Tablighi activists are often heard saying. They announce with great pride that they ‘speak only about what is in the heavens above and in the grave below and nothing at all about the world in between’. In other words, the overall ethos of the movement is such that it promotes a world-renouncing monasticism (rahbaniyat) which is clearly forbidden in the Qur’an. The movement’s distaste for the world then leads to an indifference to other people’s sufferings. Typically, Tablighi activists explain people’s sufferings as God’s punishment for their misdeeds, which then conveniently absolves them of any responsibility to do anything to reduce human pain. It also deflects attention from the actual source of oppression, thus playing into the hands of oppressors. Thus, for instance, I have heard numerous Tablighis explain the brutal killing of Muslims in Palestine, for instance, as a result of their having strayed from the path of Islam. In the face of Zionist imperialism, Tablighi activists have just one simple solution. If the Muslims of Palestine were simply to recite their prayers, brush their teeth with the tooth-brush (miswak) that the Prophet used and went off for regular Tabligh tours, their owes would immediately come to an end to. Little surprise, then, that while other Islamic movements are so harshly suppressed in Israel, the Israeli authorities turn a blind eye to the Tablighis, who inadvertently perhaps work to promote apathy and indifference among the Muslims. Even at a very local level, where intervening to stop suffering does not entail risk to one’s life, I have found Tablighi activists completely aloof and disinterested. Exceptions exist, however, but they only prove the rule. To illustrate my argument, take the case of the global headquarters or alami markaz of the Tablighi movement, located in the Basti Hazrat Nizamuddin in New Delhi. Throngs of physically disabled people, leprosy patients and drug addicts throng just outside the markaz, pathetically begging for alms. I asked a leading Tablighi activist who spends most of his time at the markaz what the Tablighi leaders were doing to help the suffering people living at their very doorstep. He looked at me as if I were an imbecile and said, ‘What a silly question! Can’t you see that we are giving the people the greatest wealth possible? We are teaching them the basics of Islam, which will get them entry into heaven after death. There they will enjoy all sorts of pleasures, live in big palaces with plenty of servants and will have thousands of houris as their wives. What more wealth can one give them?’ I listened to his angry outburst patiently, and then reminded him of some verses of the Quran and a couple of hadith that speak of the need to help the poor in material terms, not simply building pies in the sky and imaginary castles for them in heaven. He rudely interrupted me and said, ‘You want us to start a school for them? To help them set up a business? That all the Christian missionaries do, but we say that all this is of little value. We are giving them the wealth of the hereafter, compared to which what the Christians offer is a pathetic pittance’. A more ingenious argument to explain away complete indifference to the real-world sufferings of the poor could hardly be invented. The Tablighis regard the region of Mewat, where the movement had its origins, as their most successful experimental ground. Mewat, the land of the Meo tribe, is a culturally distinct area that includes parts of the Gurgaon and Faridabad districts of Haryana and the Alwar and Bharatpur districts in Rajasthan. The Tablighi movement has been active in the region since the mid-1920s. As a result of the movement’s work the Meos have experienced considerable change. They have given up their more obviously un-Islamic customs and beliefs, and numerous mosques and madrasas have been established in the region. This is all to the good, and is largely the result of the patient and tireless work of generations of Tablighi activists. While the movement has thus been able to bring about major reforms at the religious level among the Meos, at the social level its achievements have been much less impressive. Meo women continue to work in the fields like chattel; almost no Meo women receive their Islamically rightful share in property; dowry is rampant; the Meo literacy rate is a mere 10 per cent and only two in a hundred Meo girls are literate. The community as a whole is extremely impoverished. Rather than playing a role in improving the pathetic conditions of the community, the Tablighis have only helped to make it worse with their disdain for worldly affairs. While in recent years a small number of NGOs have come up in Mewat to promote literacy and economic development, Tablighi activists have made no such initiatives. Mewati Tablighi activists are often heard exclaiming that when the Meos were poor and illiterate they were very pious but now that some of them have improved their worldly fortunes they have forgotten God. This might well be true, and I do not dispute this, but it also shows how the Tablighis see the din (religion) as somehow fundamentally opposed to the duniya (the world), which is, to my mind, a profoundly un-Islamic way of imagining both Islam as well as secular, worldly affairs. As I see it, Islam pays the greatest stress on service of the poor—not simply preaching to them to virtues of Islam and the comforts of heaven, especially the houris that the Tablighis are so obsessed with, but also by helping them in material terms. Islam exhorts its followers to fulfill their duties to God (huquq Allah) as well as the duties that they owe to God’s creatures (huquq al-ibad). The Tablighis, I must admit, are doing a wonderful job preaching the former, but completely neglect the latter. At most they might preach the virtues of helping others, but fail to do anything of the sort in practical terms. Imagine what a powerful impact a simple experiment could make if at the global headquarters of the Tablighi movement in Delhi Tablighi activists could set up a model school, imparting secular as well as Islamic education, or a hospital for the poor or an industrial training centre for the unemployed. The hundreds of thousands of Tablighi activists who visit the Nizamuddin markaz every year could then see Islam’s social ethics being put into actual practice and would be encouraged to start similar projects when they return home! However, as I mentioned earlier on, Tablighi leaders at Nizamuddin have evinced no such interest at all, which only suggests that they are simply not moved by the plight of the suffering humanity living just next door to them. My own reading of the Qur;an and the life of the Prophet convinces me that the path to paradise lies not simply in endless prayers and supplications (in Tablighi fashion) but, while fulfilling the ritual duties, working for the material as well as spiritual welfare of the poor and the needy. And by this I do not mean handing out charity to the poor, which does nothing at all to remove poverty, but only further reinforces it. True service to the poor means working with them to help them stand on their feet so that they, too, can go on to serve people more needy than them in the future. However, this logic seems totally foreign to the Tablighi mind-set. As many Tablighi activists see it, the path to heaven is secure if one regularly goes on Tablighi tours, grows a long beard, regularly counts one’s beads and uses a tooth-stick to brush one’s teeth as the Prophet is said to have done. They seem to imagine that merely by imitating the externalities of the Prophetic sunnah in small matters of personal deportment they are securing themselves a place in paradise. To illustrate, I recently came across a book by a Pakistani Tablighi writer who made the wild claim, without proffering any proof, that if one were to regularly travel on Tablighi Jama’at work one would be assured entry into heaven, where, among other delights, one would enjoy 300,000 beautiful houris as wives! Such petty bribes are regularly held out to people to join the Tabligh movement, and in some sense this explains the remarkable growth of the movement as such. For the Tablighis, entry into paradise is assured by repeatedly performing the most basic external ritual actions. With heaven being secured so cheaply, naturally few of them take any interest whatsoever in working for the poor and the oppressed, which, to my mind, is the actual way to secure God’s mercy, in this world and in the next. The Qur’an repeatedly suggests to the believers that the way to salvation is by following in the path of the Prophet. The Tablighis do not dispute this, but simply reduce the Prophetic sunnah to the performance of a few external actions, and insist that simply by following these one can go straight to paradise. Thus, Tablighi tracts and booklets deal tirelessly with the importance of imitating the way the Prophet ate, smiled, washed, brushed his teeth, put on and took off his shoes, clipped his moustache and grew his beard, etc., as if the sunnah of the Prophet consisted only of these personal actions. By reducing the Sunnah to these matters, they rob it of its basic spirit, confining itself only to the external form. I do not see the present Tablighi leadership as showing any signs of self-critique or willingness to change their methods of working. Since the movement’s methods of working or what they call tariqa-e-tabligh and its foundational text, the Fazail-e-Amal, have become its definitional features, establishing the separate identity of the movement, quite obviously Tablighi leaders would be reluctant to allow any changes in these, for fear of diluting the identity of the movement, which would, in turn, only undermine their claims to authority. Tablighi activists and ideologues repeatedly insist that the tariqa-e-tabligh are not a human invention but, rather, were divinely transmitted through ilham or inspiration to the movement’s founder, Maulana Ilyas, by God Himself. Hence, they insist, to advocate change in it would be to go against the Divine Will. In this way, they have sought to stave off any critique and calls for reform. My sincere advice to my well-meaning and devoted Tablighi brethren is this: Yes, keep up with your wonderful work of preaching the basics of the faith to the Muslims, for that is a job that few other Muslim groups are doing. But, as the Qur’an repeatedly exhorts us, exercise your reason and do not do something simply because you find your elders (buzurgan, in Tablighi terminology) doing it. Rather, judge its correctness in the light of the Qur’an itself. Let the Qur’an, and not any text written by a mere human (even if he be a Shaikh ul-Hadith as the author of the Fazail-e-Amal was) be your guide and inspiration. And you will discover that the true way to win God’s mercy is by prayer and acts of devotion, yes, but along with helping the poor and the needy, irrespective of religion. ----------------------------------------------------- Read: Brahminisation of a Sufi Saint: The Sai Baba of Shirdi by Yoginder Sikand...
Posted by: acharya Jan 13 2004, 07:20 PM
ADVERTISEMENT Economic and Political Weekly, December 27, 2003 Recognition to Witchcraft : Illegal and Ill-Founded The history of India is one of inchoate assimilation of disparate tribes - their respective myths, customs and cults left fairly intact, only incoherently unified in a hierarchical order. This process of absorption was relatively humane by international standards, but it became the precursor of a swamp of superstitions. Placating these superstitions - as evidenced most recently by the felicitation of witch doctors, shamans and sorcerers - might momentarily bring votes to the politician in election times, but it will only exacerbate the deeper fissures. Ranjit Sau On September 22, 2003, at a function in Patna, Sanjay Paswan, union minister of state for human resource development, felicitated 51 witch doctors, shamans, and sorcerers. The Bihar unit of the International Association of People's Lawyers had asked the police to stop the function on the ground that it amounted to a gross violation of Bihar's Prevention of Witch Practices Act, 1999. The Patna-based Mahila Samajik Sansthan has filed a public interest suit against Paswan in the Patna High Court, and has demanded his arrest. Social activists and researchers have accused Paswan of encouraging superstition for the purpose of gaining votes in election for political office. The very fact that as late as 1999 an act had to be passed to outlaw the practice of witchcraft in Bihar is itself eloquent enough. The malady is deep-rooted and widespread. One is reminded here of an observation by Damodar Dharmanand Kosambi: "Ideas (including superstition) become a force, once they have gripped the masses". Apparently, the spell of witchcraft had once swayed the masses, and it has continued ever since. Paswan said he was "seriously thinking of introducing a new course in school syllabus on the basis of experiences of witchcraft practitioners, including ojhas (witch doctors), gunis (shamans, practitioners of occult), and bhagats (sorcerers)". The neglect of these people, he added, had made villages vulnerable to natural and other calamities. "It is they who protected villages from evil spirits." We have got two kinds of evil spirits to contend with - one roaming villages, the other circling the towns. Thus arises in India a dual system of superstitions. The entire course of ancient Indian history shows tribal elements being fused into a general society. This development was in its own way much more humane than in other countries. The older cults and forms were not demolished by force, but assimilated with great ingenuity. Superstition reduced the need for violence. The main work of brahmanism has been to gather the disparate tribal myths together, to display them as unified cycles of stories, and to set them in a better-articulated social framework. Brahmanism thus gave some unity to what would have been social fragments without a common bond. The process was of crucial importance in the history of India, first in developing the country from tribe to society and then holding it back, bogged down in a swamp of superstition. Much more brutality would have been necessary had Indian history developed along the same lines as that of Europe or the Americas. Kosambi labels one set of beliefs, rituals, practice as 'priestly superstition'. In decrying the role of superstition when it kept India backward, he says, it must never be forgotten that priestly ritual and magic also helped bring civilisation to various localities in ancient India. Such beliefs turned into fetters when the class-structure hardened. Mere superstition cannot arise unless it has some deep productive roots, though it might survive by inertia. The priestly class must have had some peculiar function in the early means of production, some outstanding success that gave it a hold upon society. One of those contributions was a good calendar. It does not suffice here, unlike in Europe, for the farmer to note the end of winter by natural signs. Here the sequence of activities has to be timely. Land has to be prepared before the monsoon sets in; sowing can be done only after the proper rainy season has begun, or the sprouts will die. The fields are best weeded during the mid-monsoon break. The real difficulty lay in telling the time of the year accurately. The moon with its phases sufficed for primitive man's simple ritual; and the birds, beasts and plants themselves furnished all necessary information to food-gatherers. This left an enduring heritage of the lunar month, and prognostication by omens. But the food-producer's year is solar, which requires constant adjustment of lunar months. The urgent need for a working almanac lay at the root of astronomy, algebra, the theory of numbers, all of which were conspicuous achievements of the priestly class. The season can then be foretold even when the sun and the moon obliterated their starry background, or were invisible because of clouds. Primitive reasoning led inevitably to the conclusion that the heavenly bodies not merely predict but form all-important weather; the word "meteorology" still implies that. Therefore, the stars and planets foreshadow and control all of human life. Thus the horoscope (which even Galileo drew up in his day), astrology, mantras, and rituals to placate or influence the heavenly spirits were natural concomitants to the indispensable priestly calendar. It cannot be without significance that Aryabhatta (who was the first to suggest that the earth rotates about its axis) and Varahamihira (better known for his astrology, iconography, prognostication and allied 'sciences') were among the nine jewels of the Gupta court in the late fifth century. A great separating line appeared in the course of transition from tribe to society. Those who refused to take to food production and plough agriculture fell behind in social and economic status, along with their totems, taboos and fearsome spirits. Meanwhile, the deities worshipped by farmers reside high above the sky in mountain tops, stars and planets, but those propitiated by hunters and food-gatherers are to be found at a much lower level on earth in trees, stones or animals. The altitude of the abode is a measure of the prestige of the occupant spirits. Caste is class on a primitive level of production. The class structure hardened by the fifth century, as a serious shortage of coins of precious metals led to the organised formation of self-sufficient villages, requiring least amount of cash transaction, each village having been provided with precisely twelve artisans to serve the gentry in exchange of subsistence in kind. Then the doctrine of ancestral-commodity fetishism came to prevent social mobility. At this point the divine spirits along with the associated superstitions got partitioned neatly between the artisans on the one hand and the upper classes on the other. It so happens that the present ministry of human resource development in Delhi is fortunate to have spokesmen for both parties. If the minister of state is a champion of one group, the cabinet minister is a strong protagonist of the other. If the former is bent on putting witchcraft in schools, the latter keeps pushing astrology into colleges and universities. Once it was thought that economic development is a solvent into which all ignorance melts. And education is the most potent antidote of all. But the two ministers do not seem economically underdeveloped, nor do they look lacking in education. Both are said to have the highest academic degree in physics, and they were lecturers. To relieve our anxiety on this count, Paswan has issued a statement: "I strongly believe that whatever they [witch doctors] practice is pure science." But this has put us in a quandary. For science is a terrible thing, without even a shred of proof. The demarcation between science and pseudo-science is not merely a problem of armchair philosophy; it is of vital relevance for society. Many philosophers have tried to resolve the problem of demarcation in the following terms: a statement constitutes knowledge if many people believe it sufficiently strongly. But the history of thought shows that many people were totally committed to absurd beliefs. If the strength of beliefs were a hallmark of knowledge, we should have to rank some tales about demons, angels, devil and of heaven and hell as knowledge. Scientists, on the other hand, are very sceptical of their best theories. Newton's is the most powerful theory science has yet produced, but Newton himself never believed that bodies attract each other at a distance. So no degree of commitments to beliefs make them knowledge. The cognitive value of a theory has nothing to do with its psychological influence on people's minds. Belief, commitment, understanding are states of human mind. But the objective, scientific value of a theory is independent of the human mind which creates it or understands it. But, we know, all scientific theories are equally unprovable; for every theory in turn depends upon another theory. For example, Galileo claimed that he could observe mountains on the moon and spots on the sun, and that these observations refuted the time-honoured Aristotelian theory that celestial bodies are faultless crystal balls. But his observations were not observed by unaided senses: their reliability depended upon the reliability of his telescope - and of the optical theory of the telescope - which was violently questioned by his contemporaries. It was not Galileo's pure, untheoretical observations that confronted Aristotelian theory; but rather Galileo's observations in the light of his optical theory that confronted the Aristotelians' observations in the light of their theory of the heavens. It is all circular reasoning. Recourse to the probability of occurrence does not help much either. For the mathematical probability of all theories, given any amount of evidence, is zero. We do not know, for sure, how long the series of experiments has to be in order to yield the correct estimate of probabilities; nor shall we ever know. "When is a series of experiments to be called long [enough]?", asks Karl Popper. "We cannot know when, or whether, we have reached an approximation to the probability. How can we know that the desired approximation has in fact been reached?" Thus reckoned, scientific theories are not only equally unprovable, but also equally improbable. So, science proceeds by trial and error, taking risk on the way. Theories in science live in a world of Darwinian struggle; the fittest survive, for a while. There is no perfect theory, only better theory, for the time being. Newton was challenged by Einstein; so is Einstein by a host of others. That is how knowledge advances. In respect of society and spirituality there is even less scope for experimentation or proof by other means. But that does not mean we cannot discriminate between beliefs. Mahatma Gandhi had characterised the devastating earthquake of January 1934 in Bihar as "a divine chastisement sent by God for our sins" - in particular the sin of practising untouchability. "For me", he said, "there is a vital connection between the Bihar calamity and the [custom of] untouchability." Rabindranath Tagore was equally against that social scourge. Yet he was constrained to distance himself from Gandhiji's judgment that related a natural disaster such as earthquake to some extraterrestrial dispensation of justice. "It is", Tagore wrote, "all the more unfortunate because this kind of unscientific view of phenomena is too easily accepted by a large section of our countrymen." Once upon a time man had claimed himself to be the sole cosmic purpose. He placed himself at the centre of the universe, leaving all heavenly bodies to rotate about his home-planet, the earth. But, then the successive discoveries of the solar system, the Milky Way, the existence of innumerable galaxies, and so on had the effect of dethroning him from the pinnacle of creation. Similarly, he had to give up the prejudice that diseases were a retribution for our ethical failure. Comets are no longer looked upon as an advance warning of an impending catastrophe attracted by his sin. On social and spiritual matters, we can, much like Galileo, observe other communities, especially their rituals, customs and beliefs, and compare them with ours. Much like the theories of science, there may be no perfect belief about society and spirituality, but there could be better ones by some measure. To put it in more concrete terms, Paswan may like to compare the performance of the ojhas with that of the doctors at the New Moon Hospital, at Chichra, for instance. To take another example, rural electrification and provision of good schools, drinkable water and efficient medical service may be a better way of keeping the evil spirits at bay than by, say, appointing 50 witch doctors, shamans and gunis. Of course, a politician need not always actually believe in what he says or does. His metric is how to face the ballot box within a year or two. He dares not perturb the age-old social prejudice. He would rather titillate than challenge the ruling regime of silent exploitation. Such politics only goes to undermine the very basis of democracy. In 1938, Rabindranath wrote: "We who often glorify our tendency to ignore reason, installing in its place blind faith, valuing it as spiritual, are ever paying for its cost with obscuration of our mind and destiny. ...This irrational force of credulity in our people ... might have had a quick result [of building] a superstructure, while sapping the foundation." Placed by the side of comparable countries like China, Russia and the US, or the smaller countries like England, France and Germany, India has the dubious distinction of recording by far the largest volume of dissent, disturbance and insurgency within its border. India does not seem to have crossed the stage of being an uneasy complex of disparate tribes. The prevailing politics is exacerbating the tribal divisions and subdivisions without providing the canopy of a collective identity. Promotion of witchcraft, shamanism and sorcery is not to be conflated with renaissance. It is a crash obscurantism that gnaws at the very foundation of a rational society of justice and democracy, while deceptively supporting a broad superstructure of toleration and generosity. for CHRO Mukundan C. Menon Secretary General CHRO 3, Rams' Cottage Ambalathumukku Pettah Thiruvananthapuram-695 024 (Ph.: 0471-2476262)
Posted by: acharya Jan 13 2004, 07:27 PM
Jama’at-i Islami Hind: Signs of Change? Yoginder Sikand With the election of a new amir last April, the Jama’at-i Islami Hind, one of the principal Islamic organizations in India, seems poised to make some major policy changes in the near future. The Jama’at’s new head, Dr. Abdul Haq Ansari, has an impressive academic career that makes him particularly appropriate for his post. He has a doctorate in philosophy from the Aligarh Muslim University and a degree in religion from Harvard University. He has taught at the Vishwabharati University, Shantiniketan, West Bengal, the Omdurman University in Sudan and the Imam Muhammad bin Saud University, Riyadh, Saudi Arabia. He is also a prolific writer, being the author of a dozen books on subjects such as Islamic theology, ethics, Sufism and comparative religions. Ansari’s vision for the Jama’at is outlined in an Urdu pamphlet titled ‘Jama’at-i Islami Hind Ki Tarjihat’, published recently by the Markazi Maktaba-i Islami, New Delhi. Ansari sees the principal task before the Jama’at as presenting to the general public what he describes as the true image of Islam. He sees this as particularly urgent given the growing reassertion of and interest in religion all over the world today. For this he proposes the training of Islamic activists with a sound grounding in Indian languages and a good knowledge of local cultures and religions. Clearly, Ansari does not envisage this to serve a disinterested academic purpose, for he insists that Islam alone is the way to salvation for all humankind, stressing the need for reviving Islamic missionary activism. Yet, his appeal for Jama’at scholars to seriously understand other faiths is a significant development. It suggests that the Jama’at is now increasingly having to come to terms with India’s religiously plural context, although not still quite willing to appreciate the truth claims of other religions on their own terms. Ansari also stresses the need for Jama’at scholars to reply to western critiques of Islam. For this he recommends the preparing of literature on controversial issues that orientalists have particularly focused on, such as the relationship between Islam and politics, and the status of women and religious minorities in Islam. Interestingly, he stresses that this literature must be based directly on the principles of the Qur’an and on the Hadith, instead of on the existing corpus of fiqh or Islamic jurisprudence that was formulated centuries ago, clearly indicating that the latter cannot suffice in today’s vastly changed context. As Ansari puts it, ‘This does not mean that the formulations of the Muslim scholars of jurisprudence in the past were not derived from the Qur’an and the Sunnah’. However, he writes in defence of his plea, ‘It is an undeniable fact that a person’s knowledge and his ways of thinking and perceiving cannot remain uninfluenced by the conditions of his own times’. In other words, he suggests, the understanding of the ‘ulama of the past on religious matters bear the indelible imprint of their own age. Hence, he stresses, new ways of understanding the faith are needed today that are based directly on the Qur’an and the practice of the Prophet, ‘in order to meet the challenges of changing conditions’. And for this a new genre of literature is also necessary, he stresses. As indicated in the two interviews and the one essay included in this booklet (the latter having been first delivered as a speech soon after Ansari’s appointment as the Jama’at’s amir), Ansari envisions a more socially engaged role for the Jama’at in the context of the numerous challenges that he sees Muslims, both in India as well as elsewhere, as being faced with. At the global level, Ansari decries western, particularly American and British, imperialism and global Zionism, and comes down heavily on dictatorial regimes in Muslim countries that are willing to toe the American line. He is critical of these regimes for brutally suppressing democratic dissent and the freedom of expression. Interestingly, he suggests that existing absolute monarchies in the Muslim world could be changed into constitutional monarchies emulating the British example while transferring actual power to the people. These countries must, he says, must manage their own natural resources themselves instead of letting others exploit them, and must work to remove foreign military forces from their soil. If the regimes in power in these states are not willing to do this, he advises their citizens, whom he praises for being stridently opposed to American imperialism, to mobilize the public opinion against them, assuring them that God would help them in their cause. Recognising the grave threat that the rise of Hindutva poses to the Indian Muslims, Ansari suggests that the Muslims must work along with other groups, including secular Hindu organizations, that are working to preserve the basic constitutional framework of the country and to uphold democracy and secularism, understood here as the equal treatment by the state of all its citizens irrespective of religion and strict state non-interference in religious affairs. In this regard, Ansari stresses the need for Muslims to work with people of other faiths who also wish to promote secularism and inter-communal harmony. He also suggests the need to join hands with other marginalized communities, particularly the Dalits, in opposing Hindu chauvinism. He notes that the Dalits, victims of the oppressive caste system, are regularly employed by ‘high’ caste Hindus to attack Muslims, and argues that the rising wave of anti-Muslim pogroms can be effectively combated by building close bonds with the Dalits. He sees Islam as providing a message of radical equality, and clearly hopes that the Dalits might be willing to choose to become Muslim. Even if that were not to happen, Ansari suggests that Muslims must ‘explain to them that they should not allow themselves to be used as the pawns of others, for in this way they would lose their own humanity and would have no answer to give before God’. Muslims, thus, must work to ‘bring to light the hidden humanity’ of the Dalits. However, ironically enough, Ansari, himself from a marginalized Muslim caste, remains silent on the continued existence of caste and caste-based discrimination among Muslims, while at the same time extolling Islam’s commitment to social equality. In recent years, particularly in the aftermath of the destruction of the Babri Masjid in 1992, some Muslim leaders have been calling for a separate Muslim political party to articulate Muslim interests. Ansari sees no room for such a party. Instead, he suggests that Muslim organizations should transcend their divisions and form a strong pressure group based on a common agenda that can then dialogue with existing secular parties to promote and protect their interests. Interestingly, Ansari writes, ‘It would be useful to have the help and cooperation of non-Muslim sympathisers in formulating this common agenda’. By chalking out a common programme, he says, the Muslim vote would be saved from being divided and Muslims could then play a decisive role in Indian politics and in influencing the outcome of elections. Alongside this, Ansari says, Muslims must be prepared to defend themselves from Hindutva terror, adding that this is both an Islamic duty as well as a constitutional right. Yet, in this, he says, Muslims must not exceed the limits laid down both by the Indian constitution and the Islamic shari’ah. Ansari is critical of Muslim youth who, as he puts it, ‘driven by their emotions’ have ‘taken steps that have wrong consequences’. Such, for instance, he says, were the abortive attempts to set up the paramilitary Adam Sena, as well as efforts to extract revenge for attacks on Muslims. Ansari sees these as counter-productive, and pleads that Muslims must abstain from hard-hitting rhetoric. No one is expecting any miracles to happen with the new amir at the helm of affairs of the Jama’at, but Ansari clearly seems to be a man with a fresh vision. What his appointment would mean for the actual functioning of the Jama’at and for its willingness and ability to play a more constructive role remains, however, to be seen.
Posted by: acharya Jan 13 2004, 07:34 PM
The Telegraph December 07, 2003 BEWARE THE CORE IDEOLOGY - Secularism cannot be left to the mercy of political parties Rudrangshu Mukherjee Dussehra mock battle Standing in the courtyard of the Indian International Centre in New Delhi one morning in late October, a prominent member of the Congress think tank and an ardent advocate of the free market told me, "The Congress will have shot itself in the foot if Congress doesn't win three of the four states." He was referring, of course, to the elections the results of which are now known. Having shot itself in the foot, the Congress is no longer limping. It is hobbling and may even be close to collapsing. It is not just the fact that the Congress has lost three of the four states but it is also the scale of the defeats in Madhya Pradesh, Rajasthan and Chhattisgarh that makes the Congress somewhat of a non-starter as a candidate to unseat Atal Bihari Vajpayee's government next year. Add to the defeats the fact that in Uttar Pradesh, the Congress is not even an also-ran; that in West Bengal it is practically non-existent; that in Maharashtra Sharad Pawar is unlikely to play footsie with an obviously losing side - and you get a picture of a political party that is no longer in a position to provide any kind of challenge to the Bharatiya Janata Party. The remarkable decline of the Congress has another grave implication. It means that the political party that was seen as a vehicle for opposing the communal politics of the BJP is now non-existent as a force. There are two factors that explain why this has happened. There is the question of leadership. There is a widespread scepticism about Sonia Gandhi's abilities to lead the country. Even committed secularists feel if in a hypothetical presidential election they had to choose between her and Vajpayee, they would probably prefer the latter. This has nothing to do with her Italian origins which the BJP attacks. It is a more fundamental doubt about her abilities. As president of the Congress, she has done precious little to remove these doubts. She has failed to give to her party any programmatic and ideological direction. The Congress has been buffeted like a rudderless boat alternately by the currents of Nehruvian socialism and then by liberalization. Ms Gandhi is neither a liberalizer nor a socialist - even if one were to comepletely disbelieve the canard that she is a liberalizer after Manmohan Singh has spoken to her and a Nehruvian after a spell of conversation with Pranab Mukherjee. Similarly, the Congress can no longer boast of a strong secular thrust. It has failed to reject completely a soft Hindutva line to counteract the BJP and woo the majority vote. One has only to remember Sonia Gandhi starting off the Gujarat election campaign in Ambaji temple and more recently Digvijay Singh's pathetic attempts to be more Hindu than the sangh parivar. The Congress's secular credentials have always been a trifle suspect, especially after the massacre of the Sikhs in the aftermath of Indira Gandhi's assassination. Ms Sonia Gandhi, either through intent or through inactivity, has failed to reaffirm Congress's commitment to secularism. Ms Gandhi has not even tried to put her stamp as a leader on the Congress. She is a leader by default because she has no challenger or, what is worse, because she is the widow of Rajiv Gandhi. The other factor consists of the subtle changes in the BJP under the initiative of Vajpayee. Ever since he became prime minister, Vajpayee has been trying to distance his government's policies and the BJP from the more fanatical proponents of Hindutva. Not that there haven't been instances of doublespeak on his part and a slew of clarifications. But overall there has been a move to put issues like the Ram mandir on the backburner and to concentrate on development. The grotesque aberration in this has, of course, been the pogrom in Gujarat but there has been no repetition of the experiment despite threats from Togadia and Modi. Significantly, Hindutva was not prominent in the election campaigns, not even in the states where the BJP has won against the tide of conventional wisdom. These elections were won and lost on the basis of performance and governance or the lack of them. It is also important that despite pressure from sections of the sangh parivar, the BJP under Vajpayee has not abandoned the path of liberalization. In this and in the highlighting of governance during the election campaign, Vajpayee and his deputy, Lal Krishna Advani, have spoken in one voice, whatever differences they may or may not be having on other matters. Under Vajpayee, the BJP has usurped the political and ideological space that was previously occupied by the Congress: closet Hindutva plus liberalization. (It needs to be recalled that neither Indira Gandhi nor Rajiv Gandhi was beyond playing on majoritarian sentiments when it suited their interests.) The great Indian battle between communalism (read BJP) and secularism (read Congress) is no more than a piece of shadow-boxing: men of straw in a mock battle with Rama and Ravana easily interchanging places. Does this mean the battle for secularism in India is over or actually non-existent? Has the BJP changed colour or is it that the anti-minority crusade has been abandoned? The answer to both questions is in the negative. A journalist known for his loyal espousal of the cause of the BJP - arguably the only writer in English who does so with eloquence and a disarming and pernicious rationality - wrote in The Telegraph the day after the election results: "If the BJP steered well clear of emotive issues centred on its Hindutva ideology, it was not because the party is no longer interested in its core ideology." The verb "steered" is important. Hindutva has not been abandoned. The BJP stayed away from it because the particular political and electoral context demanded a different set of priorities and a different kind of campaign. There was a degree of political acumen in the choice. But this is no guarantee that Hindutva and majority-led violence will not be used in the future for political gains. The battle for secularism has become more difficult because circumstances have forced the belated recognition that secularism cannot be made dependent on any political party. It is far too important for that. Political parties have betrayed India's past; India's present and its future cannot be left to them. Secularism is an endangered value and an important one. It needs to be defended and upheld by individuals as individuals or in a group. For those who believe that secularism and tolerance are vital to civlized existence, the election results convey an urgent message. The results underline a danger of mistaking appearance with reality. The challenge is to combat the BJP's core ideology and not be swayed by a context-driven election campaign and the ensuing victories.
Posted by: acharya Jan 13 2004, 07:36 PM
Response to Ashutosh Varshney By Paul R. Brass Ashutosh Varshney has written a hostile and unprofessional review of my new book on The Production of Hindu-Muslim Violence in Contemporary India, originally published by University of Washington Press in February 2003 and issued by Oxford University Press-India in September-October of this year. The review, published in the10 November issue of India Today, is so inaccurate and dishonest that it is difficult for me to know where to begin to rebut it. Varshney does not even take the trouble to summarize the book, but merely picks out and misrepresents at random aspects of my arguments. Varshney begins by insinuating that I have spent 40 years of my life studying one city, Aligarh, and suggests that I have produced nothing of value from my labors. While it would be unseemly of me to write about my own professional accomplishments in my work on India, I believe it is well enough known among scholars, journalists, and politically knowledgeable people in India that I have written widely on many aspects of the politics of India over these years, and some may know that I have published some 14 books on those subjects as well as rather numerous articles. My works have ranged from detailed studies at the local level to works that cover politics in all India, including my text on The Politics of India Since Independence, the second edition of which is still available. I have personally carried out field work, during approximately 25 visits to India, in the states of Uttar Pradesh, Bihar, Punjab, Tamil Nadu, Gujarat, and Assam. I have also interviewed many politicians from all other parts of India during my visits to Delhi. It is true, however, that I have labored hard and long, including for a good part of the six years between 1997 and 2003 in Seattle, poring over my interviews, documents, and other data collected over four decades in Aligarh, to ensure that I minimize the possibility of mistake on so serious a matter as Hindu-Muslim violence. Nor, indeed, despite Varshney's sneering remarks, has he been able to point to a single error. Having found no inaccuracies, Varshney seeks to undermine my arguments in a personally insulting way. He claims that I have simply "recycled" my "old arguments" from two books of mine that are well-known in India and elsewhere, Theft of an Idol and Riots and Pogroms. Varshney himself wrote an extremely laudatory review of the latter book (for the Journal of Asian Studies, published in February, 1999), in which he expressed his "admiration for the superb contribution by Brass" and praised "the great merit and compelling brilliance of his reasoning" (p. 133). In the same review, he made laudatory comments on Theft of an Idol. Evidently, something has changed in Varshney's attitudes, on which I will comment below, but it has nothing to do with the quality of my work or its arguments. It cannot be so since Varshney has also made considerable (mis)use in his own writings of my central argument that the best explanation for the persistence of riots in sites where they appear to be endemic-such as Aligarh, many other cities and towns in India, and many other places around the world at different times, including the twentieth century U.S. and nineteenth century Russia-is the existence of what I have labelled Institutionalized Riot Systems. Varshney has completely misread my description of such systems in his own work, as well as in the India Today review, imagining that all that is meant by the concept is that politicians and criminals protected by them, "especially the Hindu nationalists," are involved in riots and "keep the communal pot boiling." He again strikes a derisory note by calling his misunderstanding of my construct "a boiling-pot theory." This is quite a travesty of my conception, which is that Institutionalized Riot Systems are composed of networks of specialists who play varied and multifarious roles in the instigation and perpetuation of communal animosities, in the enactment of riots, and in the interpretation of riots after they occur. The metaphor I have used is, as far as I know, quite different from anything anyone else has used in the study of collective violence, namely, the conceptualization of riot production as comparable to that of a grisly theatrical drama, in which there are three phases: preparation/rehearsal, performance/enactment, and interpretation/explanation. This is not a trivial one-off comment on riots, a "boiling-pot theory," but an elaborate analogy of a type that should be familiar to anthropologists and others who know the work of the great anthropologist, Victor Turner, particularly his Dramas, Fields, and Metaphors. In his own work on peaceful cities and towns in India, Varshney copies my argument by inversion as it were, claiming that they have "institutionalized peace systems." However, his use of both terms, mine and his inversion of it, lacks logic, precision, and a basis in worthwhile empirical data. But, not content to invert my argument, he has been reported in the India International Center Diary (Janauary-February 1999) to have presented, at a talk at the Centre, my original argument (incorrectly as usual) as if it were his own invention. Perhaps the Centre journal has misunderstood him, but no contradiction of his use of my concept as his own has yet appeared. At one point in the review, he makes a tortuous move from his misreading of my argument to a statement that it is "historically inaccurate" because "Hindu nationalists were not prominent in Aligarh before 1967." Here he is trying to insinuate that I am misleadingly emphasizing the important role played by what he calls "Hindu nationalists" in producing riots in Aligarh. He then cites various electoral statistics to say that this cannot be accurate because "the Hindu nationalists were not prominent in Aligarh before 1967." These electoral statistics are quite beside the point here. The plain facts are that, though many communal riots in Aligarh and elsewhere in India have involved persons and parties not part of the Sangh parivar, militant Hindus have played a central role in every single large-scale riot in Aligarh at least since 1961, however electorally strong or weak they were, and my book demonstrates it very clearly. Varshney here is acting out his own role in the communal discourse in India, namely, that of the BJP/RSS apologist who, though he is not himself a member of the Sangh parivar, chooses to ignore their undeniably central role in rehearsing, enacting, and interpreting communal riots after the fact. His statement that he agrees with me-in his words not mine-"that Hindu nationalism is a dangerous project and if it succeeds it will destroy India" is nothing but a pious, throw-away line for a person whose work virtually frees the BJP and the RSS from responsibility for the production of riots. For example, in his own book, Ethnic Conflict and Civic Life, the index contains only three references to the RSS and the VHP, of which only one includes a very brief description of these organizations, from which one learns that their "activities . include running ideological camps for the youth, schools and dispensaries for the tribals and scheduled castes, and organizations for women." We learn that their activists also do "relief work"at times of heavy floods. The Bajrang Dal, the principal organization for violence in the Sangh parivar, receives no mention at all. Varshney's review also mixes together incomprehensibly some questions and answers that are unrelated to each other, as if they undermined my arguments when they have nothing to do with them. He asks, "Why was the Congress government, in its days of nearly uncontested hegemony, unable to prevent riots?" He then answers sarcastically: "Presumably, the DMs and the SPs who, according to Brass, had been instrumental in Aligarh's intermittent stretches of peace, were not so compromised at that time." This is all totally misleading. Most governments in India, including those of the Congress and the BJP, for that matter, have been able to prevent, contain, and control riots when they chose to do so. Nor have I said that Aligarh has had "intermittent stretches of peace." Rather, there have been intermittent periods when large-scale riots did not occur, during which the riot network was only partially inactivated, but kept in readiness. But then, somehow, Varshney has a different answer to his questions, totally irrelevant to them, but important to understanding the malicious character of his review. He says: "Commenting on the Aligarh of the 1950s, Nehru was forced to call attention to the rebirth of Muslim communalism at the AMU. .Brass neglects the role of Muslim communalism in the city." This is dishonest, mendacious, and motivated. In fact, I have not neglected the role of Muslim communalism in the city. I have also drawn attention to the contribution of elements in the Muslim community, including politicians, University personnel, and AMU students in maintaining communal attitudes and in participation in riots as well. However, there is simply no doubt in my mind, amply demonstrated in my work, that the BJP/RSS has been far more deeply implicated-perhaps because it is far better organized than the Muslim network-most especially during the decade of the 1980s up to, and including especially, the great Aligarh riots of 1990-91. Varshney is here simply avoiding my main conceptual arguments concerning the process of riot production, throwing up a false statement against me and pitting me against Nehru himself in the process. Moreover, Varshney is here doing what the BJP/RSS people do: blaming the AMU, which has rarely been at the physical center of Hindu-Muslim violence, though it has often been targeted by militant Hindus and has been generally used as a justification for violence against Muslims. Varshney is here also showing his ignorance of the political geography of Aligarh, though he has a chapter on Aligarh in his own book. I have emphasized, in my book, the very sharp separation between Muslims and Muslim politics at the AMU and Muslims and Muslim politics in the old city. There have been some forms of border-crossing, as it were, but, historically, riots have been produced in the old city where there is a juxtaposition of Hindu and Muslim mohallas, not at the AMU. In contrast, in 1990-91, the militant Hindu riot system extended its range dramatically across the boundary of the Grand Trunk road and the railway line and all around the outskirts of the city in a pattern that has been revealed by me and others elsewhere, in Kanpur (by me), in Bombay by many other scholars, in Gujarat by most commentators, and so forth. The second argument Varshey criticizes, headlined in the India Today review as "Aligarh is not India," concerns the generalizability of my arguments. He quotes me correctly as follows: "The findings herein can be generalized to other parts of India and other times and places in the world." (This quotation comes from the Preface, however, not from the heart of the book where the arguments are presented in full.) He then asserts falsely that I have ignored places in India where riots have not occurred. My book indeed centers on Aligarh, though my work on riots has extended throughout north India and the Punjab in interviews, and throughout the rest of the country in my reading of both primary and secondary sources. My argument here is not that Aligarh stands for or represents all of India, which is nonsense, but that the pattern that I have described for Aligarh applies to other cities and towns in India that I know well from my own personal research. Moreover, I have presented my argument as a social science hypothesis for other scholars to test in other places in other parts of the world. Far from being an old argument recycled, my argument needs testing elsewhere. Such testing would not prove or disprove what I have described and discovered in Aligarh. But, insofar as its generalizability is concerned, this is an important question that begs for further research. For, if I am right, then most research on, and explanations for, riots, pogroms, massacres, and some genocides as well, have been not only wrong, not only false, but misleading and contributory to the perpetuation of systems of violence. Now, let me answer specificallyVarshney's question. Anyone, however, who cares to read my book can find the argument laid out carefully there in 476 pages. "Given . variations [from place to place in India in riot incidence], how can Aligarh's experience be generalised to Uttar Pradesh, let alone the rest of India?" The answer is simple: By testing my hypotheses. First, by the method of confirmation/disconfirmation, that is, by examining sites of endemic rioting to see if institutionalized riot systems can or cannot be discovered. Second, by examining the relationship between party/electoral competition and the incidence of riots in those sites. Third, by examining the consequences of different state policies toward communal riots, my argument being that where the policy of a state government is decisively opposed to communal riots and makes its opposition clear, and where interparty and/or intraparty divisions do not compromise its clarity, riots will be either prevented or contained rapidly. The recent work of my young colleague, Steven Wilkinson, confirms several of my arguments. Wilkinson has also previously questioned parts of my argument, but in an honest, forthright manner, concentrating on the issues at stake. Our discussions have, I think, influenced each other's work. Moreover, in discussions with him, I believe our mutual work is coming close to a coherent explanation of riot production, though we may still disagree on some aspects of the process. Such, however, is not the case with Varshney's work on civic engagement, which is a derivative argument from the American social science literature that has very little to do with India. It is a false and artificial transplant, which I have criticized in my book and need not repeat here. As for the alleged contradictions in my criticism of newspaper reporting on riots in India while also making use of such reports, his disparagement is also totally misleading. My accounts of riots are based heavily upon my own interviews and other primary sources. Where that has been lacking or inadequate, I have used newspaper reports in a careful and critical manner, pointing out where they appear reliable, where not, where biased. I have also criticized sharply Varshney's uncritical use of newspaper accounts of the precipitants and alleged causes of riots. Moreover, I have noted that his highly touted dataset, based solely on Times of India reporting, is inherently flawed. Furthermore, errors were introduced in coding this flawed data. An huge error was introduced, for example, into the Aligarh data, to which I alerted him through Wilkinson, which Varshney then corrected in his World Politics article with no acknowledgment to me. In short, his own data on Aligarh, on which he claims to have done research, was false. Then there is the charge concerning my so-called "intellectual schizophrenia." I suffer from no such ailment. I laid bare my own reasoning concerning riot production in India in this book and in my other recent works on India, and expressed my profound doubts about the enterprise of causal reasoning and analysis as it is conducted in contemporary social science. In his comments on my previous book, Theft of an Idol, Varshney wrote as follows: "Whether or not one can agree with Brass about causality, the great merit and compelling brilliance of his reasoning lies in showing so effectively why the battle over meanings matters, why such battles are as much about knowledge as about power and resources. In doing so, Brass, in this essay [in Riots and Pogroms] as well as in his recent book Theft of an Idol, forces us to re-evaluate the easy certitudes of mainstream social science, if not abandon social science altogether." Evidently, Varshney has changed his mind about my reasoning. As for my use of "correlation coefficients," which he says implicates my work in "mainstream social science," this is hardly an advanced social science method of causal analysis. It is one of the simplest numerical methods available for establishing associations between variables, from which causal analyses may or may not legitimately be inferred. I have always tended to use such elementary statistical techniques mainly to demonstrate such relationships and suggest the direction of a causal chain where it seems reasonable to say so, but I have mostly used such techniques as supplements to my own type of processual analysis. I have been described by friendlier colleagues as a "closet positivist." I accept such a friendly statement. But intellectual doubts about the relative merits and utilities of positivist/empiricist vs. other types of social science, historical, and anthropological research hardly constitute "intellectual schizophrenia." The most degrading half-sentence in Varshney's review is his reference to my dedication of the book to Myron Weiner, implying that my work is not consistent with Weiner's and that the dedication, therefore, is misplaced. I have noted there and elsewhere my debts to Myron, my respect and affection for him, as well as my divergence from his approach. I worked with Varshney on a festschrift for Myron, held at Notre Dame in 1999. It is from that failed collaboration with Varshney that a personal hostility has embittered and has terminated our relationship. I had ultimately to withdraw from editorial collaboration with Varshney on the publication of the conference papers because of his ugly misuse of the occasion to aggrandize himself, advance his own career, prevent other worthy former students of Myron from attending or presenting papers at the conference while ingratiating himself with senior colleagues whom he had previously antagonized, badgering Myron during the last days of his life into allowing him to invite to the conference a person whom Myron strongly disliked, and ultimately disregarding scholarly standards in his attempt to publish the papers from that conference. The volume has not yet been produced. November 30, 2003 Paul R. Brass Professor Emeritus of Political Science and South Asian Studies University of Washington, Seattle E-mail: brass@u... (at
Posted by: acharya Jan 13 2004, 07:39 PM I I A S N e w s l e t t e r | # 3 2 | November 2003 3 1 By Thomas Blom Hansen Brass’ introductory chapter takes aim at what he sees as the unsatisfactory and, ultimately, mystifying explanations that have been advanced in explaining riots. ‘Naturalizing’ accounts portray riots as inevitable eruptions of anger between communities divided by deep and incommensurable differences. Others view riots as pathologies of Indian political life, resulting from the cynical manipulation of religious passions by criminal business people and ill-intentioned politicians focused on short-term electoral gains. These explanations, Brass argues, not only obscure the processes at work; they are complicit in the very regime of interpretation that perpetuates riots. Portraying them as either ‘justified’ or as short lived ‘aberrations’, these explanations fail to recognize the integral, normalized roles riots play in political competition and communal organization in large parts of India. With its prosperous Hindu bania (trader) communities and substantial Muslim artisan population, Aligarh is a typical north Indian city. At the same time the presence of India’s premier Muslim institution, Aligarh Muslim University, the deep and enduring communal polarization, and the early alliances between Muslims and exuntouchables make the city special. Unlike Ashutosh Varshney in his recent work (Varshney 2002), Brass rejects the official classification of certain cities as ‘riot-prone’. The Production of Hindu-Muslim Violence in Contemporary India emerges as a welcome rejoinder to Varshney’s influential and overly schematic analysis where communal riots result from the absence of civic ties across communities. In explaining specific riots, Brass’ obviously finds analytical distinctions between ‘politics’, ‘civil society’, and ‘the state’ less plausible than the detailed stories of individual careers and socio-political networks in the city’s neighbourhoods. Riots are best understood as the results of actions by identifiable specialists and networks of specialists in ‘riot-production’: the systematic rehearsal, staging and interpretation of collective violence as spontaneous acts of self-defence or retaliation against unjust and murderous threats from the other community. Understood in this way, riots can more effectively be policed and prevented. How does Brass reach this sensible conclusion? How does his conception of riots as complex localized productions compare to other explanations of riots in South Asia? The evidence presented in the book is comprehensive and represents, thus far, the most systematic exploration of ‘riot production’ in India (and possibly anywhere). Brass presents the context and development of a sequence of riots in Aligarh since 1925 and explores the changing roles of Aligarh Muslim University, national political campaigns, local rivalries over space and livelihoods, and policing strategies. He presents data on the changing spatial and demographic features of Aligarh, testing the popular thesis of Hindu-Muslim economic competition as the source of rioting. In subsequent sections Brass analyses the nature of political competition and local electoral arithmetic with cogency and precision, while the role of the police and the media are treated in separate chapters. The sheer volume and complexity of this unique longitudinal study comprising interviews, official reports, statistical evidence, and biographies of key figures prevents strong conclusions. Brass reminds us that riots do not happen in most places most of the time, not even in times of generalized tanav (tension) between communities. His material convincingly demonstrates that over the decades, riots have repeatedly occurred in only four or five specific localities in Aligarh. These localities are all characterized by the presence of seasoned riot specialists, men whose activities span business, politics, and cultural-religious organizations, men who are willing and able to translate rumours and general discourses into local mobilization. Riots as routine politics Does Brass’ explanation of the persistence of riots in India stand up to scrutiny? The book is the work of a mature mind and does not discount the broader cultural and psychological explanations of how the history of Hindu Muslim enmity has, over time, produced a rich archive of mythical knowledge of ‘the other’ which defies logic and reasoned argument. Brass is more interested in when, where and how, and by whom, this archive is activated and transformed into arguments for action and violence. His insistence on ‘demystification’ is refreshing and this book once again shows the immense value of sustained and localized field research. The most suggestive conclusion to emerge from this book is that riots are integral and routinized aspects of India’s modern political culture, and that condemning and bemoaning riots and their casualties have become as much a part of this political culture as the riots themselves. Recent studies of lower-caste movements and other forms of political mobilization in India Politics By Other Means The Production of Hindu-Muslim Violence in Contemporary India Paul Brass’ latest book The Production of Hindu-Muslim Violence in Contemporary India is an extraordinary work that sums up almost 40 years of research on politics, religious identities, and violence in northern India. Focusing on the politics of Hindu-Muslim relations in one city in Uttar Pradesh – Aligarh –over the entire post-Independence era, Brass argues that riots are permanent features of Indian politics, produced and staged by ‘institutionalized riot systems’. Condemning and bemoaning riots and casualties have become part of India’s modern political culture, as much as the riots themselves. suggest that activists are groomed to regard politics as a permanent state of warfare. Violence no longer represents the breakdown of political communication, but lies, rather, at the heart of contemporary Indian political practice. For all its merits, the book leaves a range of questions unanswered. We hear a great deal about the ‘riot systems’ constructed over decades by various Hindu nationalist figures in Aligarh. The riot systems on the other side, among Muslims, appear less documented– almost non-existent – despite stories of links between Muslim criminals and academics at Aligarh Muslim University. Is this due to the difficulties involved in gathering information from marginalized communities? Or is it because their networks are differently organized? Or absent? Or is the whole idea of symmetry, of equally apportioning blame and culpability to Hindus and Muslims a myth; a part of an interpretative regime that absolves Hindu nationalists of their prime responsibility for what are, increasingly, anti-Muslim pogroms? Another question left open is why riots occur in localities without established ‘riot systems’. Brass’ answer would undoubtedly be that ‘new’ riots signify initial and necessary steps by local operators in organizing more permanent ‘systems’ that will ensure both their influence over a constituency and the political effectiveness of future riots. Yet, this seems to come close to a tautology. Can one, for instance, assume that a riot always represents more of the same logic? The evidence on the effects of the Babri Masjid controversy in Aligarh indicates that the national scale and systematic nature of Hindu nationalist campaigns in recent years constantly transform new areas into loci of communal conflict and violence and thus can be said to reduce the significance of local factors. The arithmetic of hatred Although Brass has qualified his earlier, more hard-headed ‘instrumentalist’ position on how and why ethniccommunal identities are created and maintained, assumptions of underlying political rationalities reverberate through the book. Riots are ultimately rational mechanisms organized and orchestrated in order to consolidate political constituencies and to reproduce paranoia and mistrust. The problem with this ‘on/off’ theory of riot production is that it assumes that behind-the-scenes key operators keep their eyes on the larger, supra-local picture. Brass’ own evidence, however, provides several examples of how this was not always the case. His interviews with key figures also make it plain that they are deeply immersed in what he brands irrational and ‘fantastical’ ideas about the threat posed to the Hindu majority in India. In this sense riots are political actions, i.e. tentative, chaotic, and complex occurrences, immersed in dominant social and political ideological formations and unpredictable in their effects. We cannot extrapolate causes from effects, but we can, Brass reminds us, always be sure that riots are intentional and organized with objectives in mind. The postscript on the pogroms in Gujarat in 2002 provides additional support for Brass’ thesis of riot systems being systemic features of India’s political culture. Aligarh has experienced almost a decade without violence: during this time political alignments have shifted and the Muslim population has grown in strength, while the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP – Indian People’s Party) in Uttar Pradesh remains paralysed. As a consequence, a non-communal candidate was elected by both Muslim and Hindu voters in 2002. Simultaneously, in the neighbouring state of Gujarat, the ‘riots systems’ painstakingly constructed by the Hindu nationalist movement organized a gruesome pogrom against Muslims, in complicity with the police and parts of the government. While the riot systems were dormant in Aligarh, they flourished in Gujarat because the BJP and aligned forces seized the opportunity to use public violence to consolidate ‘Hindu sentiments’ and their political constituency. If Brass is right, the same can happen again in Aligarh when the combination of national political discourse, electoral arithmetic and local grievances make it possible and expedient for the seasoned riot specialists of that city to resume their deadly game. < - Brass, Paul, R., The Production of Hindu- Muslim Violence in Contemporary India, Seattle, London: University of Washington Press (2003), pp. 476, ISBN 0-295- 98258-6 Bibliography - Varshney, Ashutosh, Ethnic Conflict and Civic Life, New Haven: Yale University Press (2002). Dr Thomas Blom Hansen is Professor of political anthropology, School of Social and Political Studies, University of Edinburgh. His research interests are Hindu nationalism, Indian urban politics and more recently, religious and cultural transformations among Indians in South Africa. t.hansen@e... Review > South Asia > Publications
Posted by: Kaushal Jan 13 2004, 08:47 PM
The Tablighi Jama’at is said to be the largest Islamic movement in the world today, in terms both of number of activists
It is also my understanding that it is one of the largest proselytizing organizations in the world, responsible for the bulk of the conversions in india. It is a common misconception in india that proselytization is primarily the province of evangelical churches . it is not . The T-J is at the forefront of proselytizatiion activities. do a google - see for instance
As of late June 2003, some Al-Qaeda operatives had joined the religious organization Jama=at al-Tabligh (JT) in order to travel to Europe in the guise of Islamic missionaries. The JT, also known as Tablighi Jamaat and numerous other aliases, was founded in northern India in 1927 and now has several million adherents worldwide, including in the United States. Historically, the JT has focused on proselytizing and providing humanitarian assistance to the needy and has not been associated with Islamic extremism. However, during the past decade a limited number of adherents has sought to move the organization toward a more militant orientation
The American branch of T-J is an offshoot of the Indian organization and is now not only a proselytizing organization but is also an active recruiter for jihadi organizations.
Still another surprising source of al Qaeda recruits is Tablighi Jamaat (TJ), a revivalist organization that aims at creating better Muslims through "spiritual jihad": good deeds, contemplation, and proselytizing. According to the historian Barbara Metcalf, TJ has traditionally functioned as a self-help group, much like Alcoholics Anonymous, and most specialists claim that it is no more prone to violence than are the Seventh-Day Adventists, with whom TJ is frequently compared. But several Americans known to have trained in al Qaeda camps were brought to Southwest Asia by TJ and appear to have been recruited into jihadi organizations while traveling under TJ auspices. For example, Jose Padilla (an American now being held as an "enemy combatant" for planning to set off a "dirty" radiological bomb in the United States) was a member of TJ, as were Richard Reid and John Walker Lindh (the so-called American Taliban). According to prosecutors, the "Lackawanna Six" group (an alleged al Qaeda sleeper cell from a Buffalo, New York, suburb) similarly first went to Pakistan to receive TJ religious training before proceeding to the al Farooq training camp in Afghanistan. A Pakistani TJ member told me that jihadi groups openly recruit at the organization's central headquarters in Raiwind, Pakistan, including at the mosque. And TJ members in Boston say that a lot of Muslims end up treating the group, which is now active in American inner cities and prisons, as a gateway to jihadi organizations.
Posted by: Kaushal Jan 13 2004, 08:52 PM
Thomas Blom hansen is a certified anti Hindu Bigot. Koenraad Elst has commented extensively on his work. Here is a google search
Posted by: k.ram Jan 16 2004, 07:44 AM
Posted by: k.ram Jan 16 2004, 10:14 AM
QUOTE (k.ram @ Jan 16 2004, 08:14 PM)
From Shri Rajiv I have entered into an internet debate with Prof. Vijay Prashad, a well-known Indian Leftist in the US academy, founder of FOIL (Forum Of Indian Leftists), author of "Karma of Brown Folks" and a major activist across US campuses. Outlook magazine’s web site has decided to carry this debate live, posting both sides unedited. Here is how you may tune in and read the debate at your leisure: To join the yahoo egroup where only Vijay Prashad and I will post, please send an email to: My opening post is also available on Outlook’s web site at: Vijay Prashad’s response is available on Outlook at: I believe that the divergent worldviews of India are not in serious dialog, and the parties are mainly indulging in name-calling and talking past each other. This dialog is my sincere attempt to create meaningful discussion on serious intellectual issues. Regards, Rajiv Malhotra
Posted by: k.ram Jan 18 2004, 08:10 PM ID=IE420040116235331&Title=Features+%2D+People+%26+Lifestyle&Topic=0 Elst probes, discovers India for himself Saturday January 17 2004 10:14 IST KOCHI: He's a strange sort of an Indophile. A person who's floored by Indian philosophy, who has written tones on touchy issues like the Hindu-Muslim conflict and one who closely follows the performance of the Vajpayee-led Government. But Koenraad Elst hasn't yet seen the Taj Mahal, the tiger or Khajuraho, all must-sees for the foreign visitor. ``The India I have seen comprises of dusty railway stations, conference rooms and the endless throng of people, who are just everywhere,'' says the 45-year-old Belgian as he chats up withthis website's newspaper. Elst was in the city to deliver a lecture on `Ayodhya-History and Controversy', a subject extremely close to his heart. So close, indeed, that he dropped his studies on Indian philosophy midway to pursue this subject instead. ``I first came to India in 1988-89, looking, like most Westerners, for the Truth. What struck me instead was the difference in the image of India abroad and the reality. Back home, India was portrayed as a secular state striving against the enemies of secularism (Hindu fundamentalists.) Instead, I discovered issues here which make the meaning of secularism itself very questionable.'' The simmering anti-Rushdie movement in India was quite an eye-opener, he recalls. He refers to the common civil code, which is ``essential for any secular country''. ``But here, anyone supporting the code is branded as an extreme nationalist. Isn't it rather amusing that the party (BJP) which is most vocal in demanding a common code is considered communal?'' Elst says. The author of several books including `The Saffron Swastika-the notion of Hindu fascism', `Godse and Gandhi', `The Tolerant Hindu' and `Ayodhya and After', Koenraad makes no attempts to couch his strong beliefs under soft words. ``The Babri Masjid is just another of the many mosques across the world, it's no Mecca. But Ram Janmabhoomi is extremely sacred to Hindus. If Muslims can have their Mecca, why can't they concede this site to the Hindus?'' he opines, though he adds that, ``This is my view. It's up to the new generation of Indians to decide, though.'' Elst shows a strong distaste for those he calls the professional secularists and blames them for warping facts. ``Godhra was a godsend for these people, who were just waiting for something awful to happen with the BJP in power. And they made the most of the incident, exaggerating a death toll of 700 to 2,000 and labelling it genocide. Just for the record, let me tell you that more people had died in communal riots during Indira Gandhi's rule.'' Elst also feels that the restraint of the majority community during great provocations is not given its due, while one retaliation is blown out of proportion. ``Akshardham, Parliament attack... the provocation has come many times, but the community maintained restraint.'' He gives the Vajpayee Government a good report card, saying they dropped the temple from their agenda and instead focussed on development. ``The image of India abroad is that of a country which has taken off.'' But he feels early poll is risky. ``Were the polls in October, Vajpayee would be assured the PM's post for the next six months. Now, he can't be sure. Remember how Jaques Chirac lost power when he called for snap polls at the height of his popularity?'' Elst notes that Eastern philosophy has appeal in the West these days because ``of their aura of rationality and the absence of a conflict between science and religion as there is in Islam or Christianity.'' He however, notes that those who claim that ancient Hindus were the pioneers of science and astronomy ``have an over-flattering image of their ancestors.'' Indeed, he is as acerbic in denouncing those who equate the three gunas (rajas, satva and tamas) to the proton, neutron and electron, as he is questioning the Biblical beliefs of immaculate conception and resurrection
Posted by: raj Jan 18 2004, 10:17 PM
Mr. Prashad From outlook site.
We always maintain a clear distinction between Hinduism and Hindutva, between those who find their spiritual solace and moral compass in a tradition, and those who want to make mayhem based on a secular distortion of tradition. If there is any "essentializing" done it is of the followers of Hindutva, not of Hindus in general.
One of his articles. Typical snake commie.
If you attend a temple, ask the priests and others about their relationship with the pogrom in Gujarat: and don't take their denials at face value. Demand to see the account books, investigate the guests who come and speak to the members, find out if any group like the HSS runs the show.
Posted by: Kaushal Jan 18 2004, 11:51 PM
Rajiv Malhotra of the Infinity Foundation and Dr. Vijay Prashad of Trinity College have initiated a Debate that is being posted to the Dharma-FOIL-Dialog Yahoogroup. Only Malhotra and Prashad will post to that above Yahoogroup which may be accessed at: If you are following the Malhotra-Prashad debate, please consider joining this new Yahoogroup. It would most be productive (and appreciated) if your posts to this new group stick to the agenda of discussing the matters contained in the Malhotra-Prashad debate. Here's the URL for the new Yahoogroup and subscription details. *This* Yahoogroup, i.e. -- Dharma-FOIL-discussion -- is a NEUTRAL FORUM for other persons to discuss the Malhotra-Prashad dialogue. Naturally, Malhotra and Prashad are not excluded from joining THIS discussion if they so choose. NOTE: This Yahoogroup was neither initiated nor endorsed by either Rajiv or Vijay nor is it intended to promote one person's views over the other's. It is an independent space for discussing the issues raised in the Malhotra-Prashad dialogue.
Posted by: rhytha Jan 19 2004, 12:41 AM
I think starting a thread here would be a better to contibute and easier to go through. graduated.gif
Posted by: k.ram Jan 19 2004, 10:10 AM
Campaign of Calumny—II from: Hermaun Jung The author can be contacted at: Siedlung Grafenheide-48 D-33729, Biielefeld, Germany Email: grafenheide@a... (THIS ARTICLE IS AN RESPONSE TO SOME HIGHLY INNACCURATE MEDIA REPORTS ABOUT INDIA'S CURRENT EVENTS) It sounds grotesque when you maintain that the Indian Muslim League today is treading carefully and does not function as a religious party. In the above mentioned murders of Hindu fishermen on the Kerala coast 135 Muslims were involved of whom 83 belonged to IUML (Indian Union Muslim League). This party is a partner in the Kerala coalition government. Now they have demanded the resettlement of Muslim families, which mysteriously disappeared from the neighbourhood of the victims shortly before the murders. Together with the Marxists they exerted pressure on the Chief Minister not to allow a Hindu religious ceremony at the place of the killings. Now nearly all Muslim organisations and, of course, the churches have published malicious pamphlets against the CM. Soft-pedalling and treading carefully? Your sentence saying that the trauma of separation and the continuous conflict with Pakistan is still haunting Indian Muslims sounds cryptic. Separation from what? And why should the conflict with Pakistan be a trauma only for Indian Muslims? It is surely a trauma for everyone involved with an independent and unbiased mindset. The present situation can be satisfactory only for Muslim extremists and radical Marxists. You also mention Muslims with similarly extreme views as the Hindu party BJP. A party which has Muslim members in high positions and so far has not cancelled any of the privileges enjoyed by Indian Muslims and other minorities can only be called a Hindu party if the term "Hindu" is used in an ethnic and cultural sense, which you certainly do not. You are propagating a comfortable cliche. For decades, I have been waiting for a genuine proof of the much- trumpeted extreme and antidemocratic views and aims of the BJP (not for the sort of proof concocted by its detractors, who never say anything concrete because even calumniators often find it difficult to invent such stuff). For decades now India watchers have been waiting for the terribly radical measures which the BJP according to the propaganda of its enemies ought to have taken long ago. Since these measures did not materialise some clever people from among the Congress-Marxist-Muslim- Christian axis coined the slogan of the "hidden agenda" of the Hindutvavadis which certainly would be implemented some day. But this interim solution in anti-BJP propaganda looks worn-out now and draws believers only from hard-core Leftists and Muslim fundamentalists. On the contrary: To the disappointment of many a Naitonalist Indian the present Government obviously does not yet deem the time to be ripe for cancelling the many privileges favouring Indian religious minorities and discriminating against Hindus: —Article 30 of the Constitution of India, which reserves the right to run state-aided denominational schools only for minorities. —Article 370, which concedes the right to reject laws passed by the Central Government to states with non-Hindu majorities. This so far applies to Jammu-Kashmir, Nagaland and Mizoram. Any careful observer knows that about one lakh Hindus and Sikhs who during Partition days fled from Pakistan to Jammu-Kashmir were not given civil rights in that state. So they do not possess the right to vote in state elections, do not get any credit from a state bank there and are not allowed to send their children to state schools. The fact that in the Christian-majority states of Nagaland and Mizoram and in large Christian-dominated neighbouring areas in the North-East Hindus are being harassed and expelled and Church-backed secessionists are active there seems to be entirely unknown in the West. —A far too indulgent attitude towards Christian churches and foreign missionary organisations, as a consequence of which the Pope was able to appeal, as a state guest in India, to his proselytisers to convert the whole of Asia in the third Christian millennium, and then—after sporadic acts of revenge by Hindus reacting to Christian harassment— to reprimand the Indian PM. A further consequence of the Pope's visit seems to have been the fabricating of "bomb blasts" in a number of Indian churches. Nearly all of the bombs, strangely, were detected before they went off. Indian church authorities accused "Hindus organisations" behind the bombs before police investigation had set in. And a church spokesperson spread the same lie abroad even after the action had been exposed as a Christian fabrication in collusion with a Muslim group. —The obvious inability to organise an effective temple administration all over the country. Whereas Christians and Muslims run their own churches, mosques and other religious institutions Marxist and other anti-Hindu state governments can make serious encroachments on temples and take control of temple property and donations. —A unique regulation regarding allocation of money by state and Central Government institutions. In the states, you have the Minority Finance Corporations which, of course, are not for Hindus, and there is there National Minority Finance and Development Corporation founded in March, 1995, with an initial capital of Rs 500 crore. The latter grants credits to minorities if the annual family income is below double the poverty limit. This means that followers of minority religions have to be only half as poor as Hindus to get a state credit from this institution. —In India, there exists no uniform civil code although the Constitution stipulates the framing of such a code in the near future. In practice this means that a Hindu is punished if he marries a second wife before he has got separation from his first spouse. But a Muslim can marry up to four wives without having to fear any penalty. This practice is now the main cause of maintenance to be paid by the husband. If a Muslim wife wants separation she has to sue for divorce at the court. —Whoever publicly demands a uniform legislation is promptly put in his place by leading Muslims (always by men). The allegedly soft- treading Indian Union Muslim League and the Muslim Personal Law Board are prominent in defending the privileges of Muslim males. —In the State of Kerala there is a Muslim community called Moplahs. When after the First World War, Gandhi supported the absurd demand of Indian Muslims for a reinstitution of the Khalifa of Constantinople the Moplahs started a rebellion during which they turned against their Hindu countrymen, burning Hindu houses, destroying temples, converting forcibly or killing men and raping women. You can imagine the bitterness of the Hindus who had just gone to the streets in support of Muslim demands. —The Moplah Rebellion was crushed by North Indian and Gorkha troops. Because this happened during British rule the surviving rebels after Independence were declared freedom-fighters and granted a pension the payment of which was not discontinued by any government including the present one. —In Kashmir, where Hindus were driven out long ago, there exist Hindu places of pilgrimage where pilgrims have to pay a fee of at least Rs 50 each for administration and security expenses (and then often are killed by Muslims terrorists). —When, however, Indian Muslims go on Hajj to Mecca they get, based on a law introduced by Nehru personally in 1959, Rs 16,000 (sixteen thousand) each, which for the Indian taxpayer amounts to roughy Rs 100 crore annually. The BJP-led Government continues this practice, which earned PM Vajpayee the nickname "Hajjpayee". —Due to Muslim pressure the originally entirely saffron National Flag, as designed by the Congress Flag Committee, was changed into a tricolour with a green strip (the colour of Prophet Muhammad). —In Indian cities, and most conspicuously in Delhi, important roads are still named after the worst Muslim tyrants in Indian history: Aurangzeb, Feroz Shah Tughlaq, Sikandar Lodi., What they did to Hindus is tantamount at least to what Stalin did to his countrymen and ideological opponents and to what Hitler did to his opponents and the Jews of Europe. But nobody can conceive of a road in an Israeli city named after Hitler. —Babur also belonged to the great butchers and desecrators of temples, and the mosques-like structures bearing his name the destruction of which is still being bemoaned the world over was a similar monstrosity. Your allegation that the Hindus who in 1992 pulled down the mosque in Ayodhya triggered off growing Muslim terror in India borders on the grotesque. It is being kept secret since decades that since Partition, since the eighties of last century above all, in Pakistan, Bangladesh and Kashmir dozens if not hundreds of Hindu temples were destroyed and desecrated by Muslims, and that Hindus never took direct revenge (impossible to imagine the indignation of Indian as well as world media if Hindus had pulled down a mosque in India for every destroyed temple). The terror against Kashmiri Hindus also started long before the pulling-down of the mosque in Ayodhya. And it has, of course, to be hushed up in the West that the Hindu movements which wanted the Ram temple in Ayodhya to be rebuilt had proposed to carefully take down the mosque and re-erect it in some other place without any cost for the Muslims. And one has to conceal the fact that prominent Muslims during the first contacts promised to hand over the site as soon as clear and impeccable proof for the former existence of a temple was presented. The proof had existed since long in the form of reports of Western travellers and of Muslim documents. It should also be accepted as a proof that Hindus always, even during times of Muslim rule, tried to perform religious rites at the site. The final proof was produced during the excavations carried through a few years back and then, on a larger scale, this year. But the Muslim side continuously raises its demands and the large Indian and Western media are supporting them by publishing reports falsified in favour of Muslims. The genuine and original causes of religious unrest in present-day India have to be sought in events of more than a thousand years back. These causes lie in the nascence of ideologies in Western Asia whose followers still arrogate to themselves the privilege of possessing the only true faith and, supported and ordained by their "holy books", have the divine right to interfere—using force, if necessary— into the religious practices of those who think and perform differently. But whereas those with different religious practices had lived in peace and prosperity before and during millennia had brought a high and unique civilisation to large parts of the globe without using their military power the West Asian ideologies brought strife, fanaticism, slavery and religious wars. The latter above all had been unknown before (although historians of Delhi's Jawaharlal Nehru University are busy trying to invent them). Whether the new ideologies succeeded in converting the whole population of a country or only parts of it, religious wars remained a recurring characteristic ever since. In India, in spite of the cruelest methods being employed during a millennium the new doctrines got not even half-way through. The old traditions were too strong and deep-rooted and the Brahmanic elite could not be annihilated. So, India still has to be viewed as an area where aggressive doctrines from West Asia and Europe make every effort to destroy old traditions the adherents of which in spite of a long and bitter experience still seem to be too gullible, too peaceful and too much, re-educated" and so at a loss as to how to organise themselves and resist. The rabble-rousers among Hindus, in your opinion, come from the two upper Castes. This is a frequent allegation in the West but: —A popular swearword used by Indian Leftists for BJP-RSS is "party of the baniyas" (the 3rd caste). —No Western paper ever revealed that in many big cities like Kanpur, Meerut, Moradabad, etc, it is the Dalits who resist Muslims during provocations and riots. These Dalits, of course, vote for BJP. —Western media still try to hush up the fact that it is the RSS which is using the only effective means to overcome thinking in terms of caste and caste-based discrimination: Caste is a non-issue with them, nobody asks her or his fellow sevika or swayamsevaks about her or his caste. And it is this method which in the long run will win over efforts of various groups to sow hatred between different sections of the population, thereby deepening existing splits and weakening the integrity of the country, as publications like Dalit Voice and Muslim India by striving to build up a front consisting of Muslims, Sikhs, Christians and Dalits vis-a-vis the BSO (Brahmanical Social Order) are still allowed to practice. —It was the RSS swayamsevaks—again a fact unknown in the West—who during the Congress-instigated pogrom against Sikhs in Delhi after the assassination of Indira Gandhi by a Sikh bodyguard protected members of the Sikh community and escorted them to safety. —It was the tribal of Gujarat—also widely concealed by Indian media and totally kept secret by the Western press—who after the burning of 58 Hindus pilgrims in a train in Godhra by Muslim fanatics took part in retaliatory actions against Muslims in large numbers. —And in the West we never are informed about the sad reality in missionary-infested Indian tribal areas where for decades tribal have been appealing to authorities to take effective measures for a better protection of the traditions of those tribal who are still resisting the missionaries and to prevent the bagging of Government aid, i.e., tax money paid mainly by Hindus, by the better organised Christian tribal who anyway get more money through their missionary connection and who then use it for intensifying their conversion work. —And when we have already touched the caste theme here we should not miss the following: In 1990 spokespersons of Indian churches— Christians in India constitute below 3 per cent of the population— demanded for the dalits and vanavasis converted to Christianity a reservation of 10 per cent of Government jobs. This in spite of the fact that denouncement of caste is the chief argument of proselytisers in India as well as of church publications in the West. In other words: The evils of present-day Hindu society come in handy for catching souls although they are so forcefully denounced; the evils of Hindu society are being pilloried and at the same time are badly needed. —In fact discrimination continues among South Indian Christians, and there are priests who admit and lament this publicly. I try to imagine the impression of Western countries which an Indian living here is bound to get after reading your report—and more or less all reports on India in Western media: Islamist plans to first weaken and then Islamise the whole of South Asia—I have got enough evidence on this—most Islamist acts of terrorism there as well as the false methods of the churches to Christianise the same area and the high-handedness and violence of the converted are carefully hushed up. Instead the occasional hitting back of Hindus is being published under bulky headlines, distorted, exaggerated and presented as unprovoked acts of Hindu fundamentalists. The many privileges enjoyed by religious minorities in India are also concealed and instead a persecution of Christians and Muslims by Hindu fundamentalists is being conjured up. And when in your headline an Indian reads about a possible tearing-apart of his country he must register that certain people in the West still, or again, calculate this possibility (remember the sinister prognoses of European politicians at the time of Indian independence?), or even that reporting in the media is being steered in this direction. There are also many Indians who suspect that the West's aim is to promote the return to power of an Indian government under Congress leadership, as it was under Congress rule that Indianisation of education was missed and Westernisation on all levels as well as loss of traditional values gained momentum and even was encouraged. But every clear-sighted Indian will remember the corruption and the big scandals in which Congress and Socialist parties, during the nineties above all, were involved and into which BJP politicians were sought to be dragged. And the Indian voter knows that a corrupt party, in a way, is easier accessible and more vulnerable than an honest one. Indian and world media would go gaga if just one-tenth of the corruption and scams of the last years of Congress rule could be proved among prominent BJP members. The author can be contacted at: Siedlung Grafenheide-48 D-33729, Biielefeld, Germany Email: grafenheide@a...
Posted by: vijnan_anand Jan 21 2004, 01:12 PM
QUOTE (k.ram @ Jan 8 2004, 10:53 PM)
Some logic this, If you understand the logic, you will be give 100 marks laugh.gif (From some other group and recvd by mail)
What is the point of giving publicity to such trash by posting it here?
Posted by: k.ram Jan 21 2004, 03:03 PM
QUOTE (vijnan_anand @ Jan 22 2004, 01:42 AM)
QUOTE (k.ram @ Jan 8 2004, 10:53 PM)
Some logic this, If you understand the logic, you will be give 100 marks laugh.gif (From some other group and recvd by mail)
What is the point of giving publicity to such trash by posting it here?
ok, I am lost. I am asking this question sincerely. Although I found that was funny, setting that aside, everything else that is posted about commies, islamists, missionaries, mullahs , can be considered as being given cheap publicity for trash here. Can you help me out to parse such materials before my trigger happy finger itches to hit the return button? Thank you.
Posted by: muddur Jan 22 2004, 02:20 PM
Q&A: Walter Anderson ‘The definition of Hindu rashtra will be diluted’ Published : January 23, 2004 Walter Anderson, a former US diplomat who has done extensive research on the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS), knows the Sangh Parivar’s politics better than many Indians. His book Brotherhood in Saffron is considered one of the best commentaries on the RSS. During his tenure as a diplomat, Anderson provided the State Department with vital inputs about the dynamics of power within the BJP and the NDA. He continues to advise the Bush administration on the finer points of Sangh politics. Anderson, who was in India to address a meeting organised by the Federation of Indian Chambers of Commerce and Industry (Ficci), spoke to Ajay Singh. Excerpts:
Posted by: k.ram Jan 22 2004, 03:32 PM
QUOTE (muddur @ Jan 23 2004, 02:50 AM)
Q&A: Walter Anderson ‘The definition of Hindu rashtra will be diluted’ Published : January 23, 2004 Walter Anderson, a former US diplomat who has done extensive research on the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS), knows the Sangh Parivar’s politics better than many Indians. His book Brotherhood in Saffron is considered one of the best commentaries on the RSS. During his tenure as a diplomat, Anderson provided the State Department with vital inputs about the dynamics of power within the BJP and the NDA. He continues to advise the Bush administration on the finer points of Sangh politics. Anderson, who was in India to address a meeting organised by the Federation of Indian Chambers of Commerce and Industry (Ficci), spoke to Ajay Singh. Excerpts:
I have his book muddur, an excellent read!!
Posted by: acharya Jan 22 2004, 05:36 PM
I have not read the book but it looks like they have done extensive mapping of the the sangh from ground up. ALos he is still advising the US administration about the poltics inside India. They will study in detail all the pwoer structure and weakness of every organization to understand where India will go in the future. They were used to dealing with congress which had a uniform view of the world and could not keep up with the world. The new entity BJP is also an enigma for them since they have never dealt with a indic pwoer structure in history since the Indic power was dormant during the mogul rule and was completely subsumed during the british colonial days.
Posted by: k.ram Jan 25 2004, 08:52 AM
Socialism Today -- Challenges Sitaram Uechury Intervention of Sitaram Yechury, CPI(M) Polit Bureau member, at the panel discussion organised by the Social Scientist and Social Science Probings in the World Social Forum, 2004, Mumbai on 17th January. Dear Comrades and friends, At the outset, we are extremely heartened and grateful that more than twenty important Communist parties of the world -- from the socialist, developed and developing countries -- are participating in this programme. I consider it both an honour and privilege to initiate this discussion. I would, however, choose to provoke a discussion! On the basis of our modest efforts in India and based on our experience, I wish to place before you seven points in the nature of a healthy provocation! 1. No matter what we may think about the actual experience of socialism in the past, one thing is undeniable. It was the first time in human history that a society had come into being not spontaneously, not on the basis of the spontaneous movement of history independent of human will, but on the basis of human conception. Karl Marx had remarked in Capital that the difference between the best bee and the worst architect is that the architect, unlike the bee, erects a structure in the mind before erecting it in reality. Socialism is the first structure of society that was first erected in the mind before it was erected in reality. True, what came into being might not have fully corresponded to what was in the mind; nonetheless socialism, even as it existed, was the first non-spontaneously evolved mode of production in human history. Quite apart from its historical significance in establishing the rule of the hitherto exploited classes, in defeating fascism, in enabling the oppressed nations to liberate themselves from imperialism and in forcing capitalism, however transiently, to adopt welfare state measures, this aspect of socialism, of representing the first grand effort of mankind to transform a vision into reality, must never be lost sight of. In fact, socialism defined, to a significant extent, the contours of human civilisational advance in the 20th century and left an inerasable imprint on all its aspects. Since mankind would never again rest content leaving its fate to the blind forces of history, the victory of socialism, not necessarily in the form it originally appeared in but may be in some other form, representing a vision going beyond capitalism towards social ownership, is assured and inevitable. Through all our present travails this is a truth we must never lose sight of. 2. Nonetheless we must face the question: why did socialism collapse over large parts of the world? The usual answer to this question focuses on the defects of the system that was erected, notably the extreme centralization of power in the socialist societies, which were characterized by a dictatorship of the Party and which ultimately ended up de-politicizing the working class to a significant extent. The CPI(M) had, in its 14th Congress, identified four areas viz, the character of the socialist State; the content of socialist democracy; the construction of the socialist economy; and inadequate development of ideological consciousness amongst the people, where distortions and deviations took place undermining the socialist State. There is of course much truth in this. But this answer itself has to be located within a historical context, and that context was provided by imperialism. Imperialism leading to uneven development kept socialism confined only to countries in the periphery while countries in the metropolis, belying the hopeful anticipation of Marx and Engels and the expectations of Lenin and his comrades, came close to, but never succeeded in, achieving the breakthrough to a socialist revolution. As a result, socialism, wherever it had come into being, remained "encircled" throughout its entire brief history, resulting in an ossification of the centralized bureaucratic structure from which there was no escape other than through a collapse of the system itself. 3. There is an additional point to note. Not only did revolutions not happen in the advanced centres of capitalism but the very revolutionary conjuncture itself passed. The Programme of the Comintern was based on the notion of a "general crisis of capitalism" from which the only way out could be provided by a transition to socialism. All of us recollect the meetings of 1957 and 1960. 81 Communist parties in a declaration asserted in 1960 that the international correlation of forces shifted decisively in socialism's favour; that capitalism is incapable of developing any further; that socialism is irreversible in the existing socialist countries etc etc. In retrospect, it is clear that there was both an underestimation of capitalism and an overestimation of socialism. An incorrect estimation that had grave consequences for the advance of the socialist cause. Capitalism restructured itself in the aftermath of the Second World War, through Keynesian demand management ushering in an unprecedented boom, through political de-colonization removing the moral stigma of being an oppressor of other nations from it, and through the diffusion of a degree of development to certain pockets in the third world, such as East Asia, which appeared to belie the Sixth Congress thesis that development of the third world could occur only through socialism. These changes together with the experience of the very horrors of the Second World War contributed to the passing of the revolutionary conjuncture of the period 1913-1950. While we have a renascent imperialism today and the moral stigma associated with oppression and stagnation is once again beginning to adhere to capitalism, portending the beginning of yet another possible revolutionary conjuncture, the fact remains that this would not be a return to the earlier conjuncture. Lenin always teaches us that concrete analysis of concrete conditions is the living essence of dialectics. Just as he authored Leninism as Marxism in the era of imperialism, it falls on our collective shoulders to define the contours of the socialist revolution in the present conjecture. Therefore, there is no going back. We can stand on Lenin's shoulders to see the future but we can not see it through Lenin's eyes. 4. Given the fact of uneven development under imperialism it is clear that the transition to socialism would be a protracted affair. Likewise given the reassertion of hegemony of imperialism in the epoch of the emergence of a new form of international finance capital, it is clear that the socialist movement must be engaged above all in an anti-imperialist struggle. Indeed the chief hallmark of the socialist movement today is that it constitutes the most consistent fighter against imperialism, since it alone can visualize a transcendence of capitalism which is a necessary condition for the transcendence of imperialism. For, Marx has irrefutably proved that capitalism can never survive without its raison-d-etre, i.e., exploitation of man by man and nation by nation. To those who spread illusions of reforming capitalism (since Bernstien) and to those who parrot the TINA (there is no alternative to globalisation) factor, the Communist answer can only be that the alternative to TINA is SITA -- socialism is the alternative. We can therefore carry the struggle for socialism forward today only through the adoption of an uncompromising stand against imperialism. This is our historic task in an era when the vileness of imperialist predatoriness, notwithstanding all high phrases about "freedom" and "democracy", is becoming apparent to everyone in the aftermath of the war on Iraq. 5. There is an additional point to consider. The reassertion of imperialist hegemony is occurring in a situation of the ascendancy of international finance capital in a new form which has the effect of causing deflation, recession, and unemployment everywhere. In other words, the contemporary imperialist aggressiveness is the other side of the same coin which imposes enormous burdens on the working classes in the advanced capitalist countries in the form of unemployment and cuts in social wage. Imperialism of course tries to pit the workers in the advanced countries against those in the third world by arguing that the latter are snatching jobs away from the former. Nothing could be further from the truth. It is the world-wide deflation imposed by finance capital that is the cause of unemployment everywhere, not the re-distribution of employment from one section of workers by another. An anti-imperialist struggle, provided it can make this point clear and present a vision for improving the lot of mankind as a whole, embracing the working class and other exploited classes in all countries -- developed, developing and underdeveloped -- can acquire world-wide support and contribute to a change in the conjuncture. 6. Of course the precise contours of what a future socialist society would look like still need to be drawn, based on the past experience of socialism. The road map of this would naturally vary from country to country depending on the concrete realities. Each one of us has this historic responsibility to discharge in our respective countries. However, the task of advancing the anti-imperialist struggle world wide cannot afford to wait. Neither can it wait until that intellectual task of evolving a coherent and comprehensive revolutionary theory for the socialist revolution in the present conjecture, important though it is, is completed. 7. Finally, let us confront a reality squarely. The present phase of capitalist globalisation is simply unsustainable. This is precisely because, by sharply accentuating economic inequalities -- between countries and between the rich and poor in individual countries -- the vast majority of world's population are increasingly placed beyond market operations as they simply lack the requisite purchasing power. Imperialist hegemonic drive, therefore, will increasingly be determined by military aggressiveness. Under these conditions, as Rosa Luxembourg said earlier and as Fidel Castro says today, the choice before humanity's future is between socialism or barbarism. Each one of us, working in tandem with our domestic revolutionary goals, will have to work for integrating the worldwide anti-globalisation protests with the global anti-war upsurge into a mighty anti-imperialist movement. This requires, simultaneously, the intensification of the ideological combat within these movements that seek to obfuscate socialism as the only alternative available to humanity. Come, let us, together rise to the occasion. Thank you for your attention.
Posted by: k.ram Jan 28 2004, 08:51 AM
(Sorry have no URL, rcvd by email) ----------------- SMUGGLING HINDUTVA IN THROUGH TEXTBOOKS Yoginder Sikand Hindutva’s ideological onslaught, based as it is on a deliberate distortion of history, poses an immense threat to Indian education, playing havoc with the minds of tens of millions of school-going children. In recent years, ever since the BJP-led coalition came to power, Hindutva ideologues have been strategically appointed to head major educational research and policy institutions, and from these positions of power have been at work seeking to promote their hate-filled ideology through the educational system. Through its several publications, the Delhi-based Safdar Hashmi Memorial Trust (SAHMAT) has played a major role in highlighting the deliberate manipulation of history texts by Hindutva forces. Recently, it released another report, tellingly titled, ‘Plagiarised and Communalised: More on the NCERT Textbooks’, uncovering how the major educational planning body in the country is now being used to promote the Hindutva agenda. As the report rightly sees it, the deliberate distortion of India’s past as presented in the new series of textbooks published by the National Council for Educational Research and Training (NCERT) constitutes a major ‘assault on history’ and an ‘utter disregard for historical facts’. These texts are replete with negative portrayals of Muslims and an uncritical glorification of Brahminism. The report provides numerous examples to substantiate its claims of how textbooks are being hurriedly re-written to promote the hate-filled ideology of Hindutva. Thus, it refers to a new NCERT book titled ‘Modern India’, prescribed for students of Class XII. The author, a certain Satish Chandra Mittal, is known for his fierce Hindutva proclivities. In a pamphlet that he had published some years ago he had complained about what he had called too-much emphasis on Hindu-Muslim unity and India’s composite culture in the history textbooks. Quite naturally, then, when the NCERT authorities decided to issue a fresh set of texts, they chose, among others known for their antipathy to Hindu-Muslim unity, Mr. Mittal for the task. As can be expected, the little-known Mr. Mittal is thoroughly ill equipped for the purpose. The report quotes numerous glaring errors in his book---it refers to General Dyer, former governor of Punjab, as having been shot dead in 1940, whereas he actually died in 1927 of brain haemorrhage; it says that the foundation of the Forward Bloc by Subhash Chandra Bose so incensed the Gandhites that he had to resign from the presidentship of the Congress, whereas Bose formed the Forward Bloc only after quitting the Congress; it glorifies Savarkar, president of the Hindu Mahasabha, but remains studiously silent on Savarkar’s expounding of the theory of Hindus and Muslims being two separate, irreconcilable nations, and so on. As can be expected, Mittal lambastes the Muslim League for its communal politics, but spares the Hindu Mahasabha any critique. He also deliberately ignores the role of many Muslims in the movement for Indian independence, with all Muslims appearing to be portrayed as separatists. While the Muslim League and the communists are bitterly criticised for their opposition to the Quit India movement, the Hindu Mahasabha’s similar stance is completely ignored. So, too, is the Hindu Mahasabha’s role in fomenting Hindu-Muslim conflict. Students could be forgiven if they imagined, from studying this book, that Hindu chauvinists had nothing at all to do with the Partition of India, for here they are presented as ardent patriots and inspired fighters for India’s freedom, an image that has no bearing whatsoever with the facts of actual history. Another intriguing aspect of the new NCERT history texts is large-scale, unacknowledged plagiarism. A history text, titled ‘Contemporary World History’, authored by two little known writers, Mohammad Anwar ul-Haque and Pratyusa Mandal, lifts entire passages from an American book throughout its various chapters. NCERT director JS Rajput termed the book as a ‘marvel of 21st century scholarship’, and when confronted with evidence of blatant stealing from the American book denied that any irregularity had occurred. All he could say in his defence was that the views of the authors of the two books simply happened to coincide! Unabashed plagiarism is also evident in some other new NCERT texts. ‘Modern India’ has entire chunks from R.C. Majumdar’s classic ‘History and Culture of Indian People’. ‘Ancient India’ lifts entire paragraphs from Romila Thapar’s ‘History of India’. Many of these texts are replete with grossly incorrect statements about places, dates and events. They also seem to have been carefully doctored in order to suppress ‘inconvenient’ facts and to promote the Hindutva agenda. Thus, Makkhan Lal’s book ‘Ancient Indian History’ deletes from the earlier text references to beef-eating and cattle-sacrifice in Vedic times, clear evidence of Brahminical hostility towards the Buddhist Emperor Ashok, and mention of oppressive aspects of the caste system. The pre-Islamic past is thus presented in such a way as to gloss over the oppression of the ‘low’ castes. Thus, the book claims, contrary to all that we know of the cruel subjugation of the Dalits and Shudras by the Brahmins, that ‘education was provided free with food and lodging’, and that ‘the ancient Indian education system was thought to be unique by foreign travellers because every village had a school and every individual participated in its maintenance’. ‘As a result’, Lal falsely claims, ‘India had the highest literacy rate in comparison to other countries of the world till the time up to the nineteenth century’. Lal’s clumsy language could be excused, but not so his blatant concoction of ‘facts’, completely ignoring the fact that non-Brahmins, accounting for the vast majority of the ‘Hindu’ population, were sternly forbidden by the Brahmins and their scriptures from any sort of education. That attitude still persists in large parts of the country. No one concerned with the state of Indian education can afford to remain silent at the conscious manipulation of history by the NCERT, the country’s apex educational body. If ignored, the Hindutva brigade will have produced an entire generation of students ignorant of India’s past and filled with a burning sense of hatred against other communities—a sure recipe for civil strife on a massive scale.
Posted by: Mudy Jan 29 2004, 01:08 PM January 28, 2004 Those who have watched Dev Anand's legendary Johnny Mera Naam, a film that acquired cult status in the early 1970s, can hardly forget the international smugglers meet scene. Blending stereotypes with a completely outrageous 'boss' humour, it corresponded to the prevailing disdain for what the socialist propaganda machinery dubbed hoarders, black marketers and smugglers-in short, the leeches of society. There has been a considerable amount of black humour generated on the occasion of last week's World Social Forum in Mumbai. Initially billed as an international anti-globalisation meet, it ended up as an assembly of the entire range of ridiculous fringe groups -- a 21st century version of the disreputable gathering of bloodsuckers portrayed so farcically by Dev Anand. The generously-subsidised radical tourists were against civilisation as we know it. They were, of course, against George Bush and the Iraq war, they were also against Israel, the WTO, the multinationals, the Narmada project, the Gujarat government, the outsourcing of jobs from the West to India and they were even against the tiny kingdom of Bhutan because it is against the intrusion of these busybodies. Some of the activists were, predictably, also against each other and I have heard delightful stories of the hateful competition between rival claimants for the mantle of Gujarat's agony. If it hadn't been for the so-called rape of a South African activist by a judge from that country, it is likely that the proclaimed alternative to Davos would have, at best, merited a few casual lines in the media. After all, there is nothing spectacularly original in Arundhati Roy declaring war on the US or in Pakistan's Asma Jehangir informing us that India is a more disagreeable place now. Members of a European Union delegation visiting Delhi for trade talks observed that the Mumbai jamboree got better coverage in Europe than it did within India. The imbalance in popular interest is not surprising. Our middle classes may rightly believe that globalisation has increased opportunities for Indians and helped the country get over a crippling regime of shortages. However, this visible increase in India's self-confidence, a process that began with the Pokhran blasts of May 1998, goes against an ingrained stereotype. For international NGOs and the clutch of Christian evangelists, a developed India involves both irrelevance and joblessness for themselves. A resurgent and fiercely competitive India capable of ensuring its citizens a decent standard of living constitutes the worst nightmare for the poverty brokers who assembled in Mumbai. It denies them a powerful raison d'etre -- the right to speak on behalf of oppressed peoples. It also denies them another very powerful weapon of righteousness -- the right to patronise the natives and view them with utmost condescension. But it is not merely the jholawalas who descended on Mumbai that look upon an unshackled India rearing to go with trepidation. Over the past fortnight, there has been a concerted campaign to puncture the government's feel-good rhetoric. Congress president Sonia Gandhi has told us that India is gripped by a 'fail good' phenomenon. She landed up at an unauthorised colony in Delhi inhabited mainly by illegal Bangladeshi migrants who vote blindly for the Congress and declared that this is no Shining India. Of course it isn't. If you look in the gutter you are only going to discover sewage. At his coming out party in Amethi, an unsure, primary member-by-birth Rahul Gandhi pronounced that he too didn't find anything to feel good about. Taking their cue from the dynasty, the courtiers chipped in with their own pin pricks to deflate the Indian balloon. The feel-good, we are told, is only for the top three per cent. There has been a rise in joblessness and, it is also suggested that India is in the throes of an agrarian crisis. One ultra-secularist has gone to the extent of arguing that India's food insecurity is monumental and worse than the days of the 1943 Bengal famine when three million people perished. The assault on the feel-good factor goes beyond the general election campaign. What binds the activists in Mumbai and the slavish upholders of dynasty is a belief that India can best be served by the direct intervention of an enlightened few. The people cannot be left to develop an entrepreneurial culture and take advantage of opportunities; they must be guided and spoon-fed by a state which is presided over by a Gandhi. The dynasty or the NGO know what is good for people more than what people think are good for themselves. It was this sordid culture of statist paternalism that held India back for 50 years. It is this culture the do-gooders want to resurrect. This election is not merely an India-Italy tussle, it is about the future course of development in India. India is shining in patches and the extent of feel-good is undeniably uneven. But that is not the real issue. What is crucial is for people to decide the key question: Are we on the right track?
Posted by: SSRamachandran Jan 29 2004, 02:21 PM
Great article mudy . That guy Swaran Dasgupta hit the nail on the head. clap.gif
Posted by: acharya Jan 29 2004, 03:11 PM
Fallout from Gujarat reaches US By Rahul Sarnaik BBC correspondent in the eastern United States In the second of his reports on the fears of Hindu extremism, Rahul Sarnaik talks to members of the Indian diaspora in the US. A group of teenagers play basketball in New York City. The players trace their roots back to India, Pakistan and Bangladesh, and belong to several religious backgrounds. They insist that tensions in their parents' homelands do not affect their day-to-day lives. But it is a very different story among older South Asians attending the Westbury Mosque and Islamic Centre in suburban Long Island. A large contingent of the worshippers is from Gujarat - the state in western India that was engulfed by sectarian riots early in 2002. Up to 2,000 people were killed - most of them Muslims. Hesitation The aftermath of that violence is still felt as far away as the US. Habib Ahmed, vice-president of the Westbury Islamic Centre, says there's a growing rift between local Hindus and Muslims. "I have been actively involved in meeting Hindus," he says, "but I don't think that lately many Muslims are doing that. "I see hesitation on both sides." There is also concern about the rise of 'Hindutva', a word that has different meanings for different people. Organisations that describe themselves as pro-Hindutva say they simply want to return India to its true identity - which for them means giving Hindu culture and values prime place in Indian life. But many members of India's religious minorities fear that it would mean them being relegated to second-class status. The argument is raging among the fast-growing Indian community within the United States. American or Indian? Nearly two-million people of Indian origin live in the US. They include 40,000 doctors. One third of America's hotels and motels are run by US Indians. They are widely regarded as hard-working, law-abiding and success-oriented. Evidence of this can be seen at a huge Hindu temple in the centre of Edison, New Jersey. Many of the young devotees are generally positive about their lives in the US. "There is a great combination between being an American and being an Indian," says 21-one-year-old Sanjay Patel. "I would like to be as Indian as possible - but at the same time I would like to be as American as possible." Many of his friends agree, arguing that the Gujarat riots have in fact brought local Hindus and Muslims closer together. "I think there's a new-found respect among us," says 27-year-old Siddarth Dubal, "and a realisation that we need to figure out how to get this thing solved." Special ambassador One organisation that's built up growing support among America's Indian community is the Vishwa Hindu Parishad - or VHP. Active worldwide, it describes itself as working for the greater cultural unity of all Hindus - but critics accuse it of promoting Hindu chauvinism, which it strenuously denies. The VHP's US headquarters are near the temple in Edison. Its National Secretary, Gaurang Vaishnav, says that after the 11 September al-Qaeda attacks, Hindus in the US are speaking out positively as a community. "To an average American, whether a person is a Muslim or a Hindu makes no difference," Mr Vaishnav says. "Therefore it is important that we stand up and say that we are Hindus who believe in peace and in everybody living together amicably." The Indian Government - which is led by the Hindu-nationalist Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) - has appointed a special 'Ambassador-at-large' to interact with the global Indian diaspora. His appointment reflects a growing desire among the Indian community to translate their numbers and affluence into political clout - as so many other ethnic minority groups have done here. But there are fears in some quarters that extreme and shadowy Hindu-nationalist groups are gradually building up support in the US. Hate mail Allegations have been made that money donated by Indian-Americans for welfare and educational projects in India could have ended up in the hands of organisations that are accused of stirring up sectarian hatred and violence. These claims have been made by Indian Muslims, as well as leftists and secularists. We believe in peace... in everybody living together amicably. We are not the ones who are Jihadis. US VHP National Secretary Gaurang Vaishnav They have been angrily and repeatedly denied by pro-Hindutva groups. Robert Hathaway, the director of the Asia programme at the Woodrow Wilson International Centre in Washington DC, is a prominent academic who has publicly called on the US authorities to look into these allegations - and he has received hate-mail as a result. He admits there is great uncertainty as to whether the allegations about funding are true - but feels they deserve official scrutiny. "Many other very serious and well-informed scholars and researchers have raised the same sorts of concerns," Mr Hathaway says. "Moreover, a number of very large US corporations also have those concerns, so this is not simply the crackpot idea of one scholar," he said. The overall picture that emerges is mixed. Among Hindus, there is a clear sense of optimism, and a feeling of being able to contribute to the development of their homeland. But among Muslims, there is a sense that they are not being heard - particularly in the aftermath of the Gujarat riots. And overshadowing all this, the ongoing accusations that some of the money donated by American Hindus is being channelled towards extreme activities in India. Rahul Sarnaik's final report on Hinduism will come from the Indian state of Rajasthan. Story from BBC NEWS: Published: 2004/01/26 08:31:27 GMT C BBC MMIV
Posted by: acharya Feb 4 2004, 07:10 PM
Indian Currents, 08 February 2004 Amma's Bulldozer By Mukundan C Menon Catholics in Madurai are silently bearing with the wounds inflicted on their faith by the state government whose officials on the 24th of January ran amuck with wanton acts of sacrilege by uprooting the Holy Cross and statue of the Blessed Virgin Mary installed at Amala Vocational Training Centre, run by Immaculate Conception Convent. The Jayalalithaa government’s officials also demolished buildings. The official justification for the reprehensive act went on customary lines: "Eviction of encroachers who were illegally occupying public land." However, the official version appears to be far from truth. The Amala Vocational Training Centre was established in 1982 on a 134-cent site on the Thanakkankulam road, in the Thirunagar area of Madurai South Taluk. Since then, the institute has been imparting training to girls in tailoring, free tuition for school children, and providing Siddha treatment to the poor. According to Sister Sheila, the person in-charge of the institute, the district collector of Madurai had allotted a total of 1.94 acres to the Centre in 1980, out of which the sisters provided 60 cents for a pathway from the institution. Three buildings were constructed. Eleven years later, the then district collector, Aludiapillai IAS, suddenly cancelled the land allotment order to the centre. "Efforts are still on to get the site reallotted to the centre when the demolition took place. We were paying property tax to Tirunagar selection grade town panchayat all these years, besides paying the power and telephone tariffs. All the buildings were constructed after getting the prior plan approval from the local body," she explained. The demolition at 6.30 am on January 24 was carried out by a big force led by Madurai south tahasildar, Rajaram, and the village administrative officer, Krishnan, more than two dozen workers and police officials who reached the Centre in vans, jeeps, two-wheelers along with a bulldozer. Soon after the arrival, they started demolishing all the five buildings of the Centre with bulldozer. An elderly sister, Jesu Sheela (70), begged them not to destroy the buildings since medicinal herbs were planted nearby for the free Siddha clinics. Ordering her to remain silent, the two men physically threw her out of the compound by holding her hands and dragging her all the way out. According to the Parish priest, Fr Albert Leenus of St Vincent Pallotti Church, Tirunagar, the revenue officials showered abuses on him and Sr Sheila when he appealed to Rajaram not to pull down the structures. "Rajaram used infilthy language. Other revenue officials scolded me and also used obscene language and also tried to use violence". An interim fact-finding report prepared by human rights group, People’s Watch, rejected the official claim that the demolition was carried out on the grounds of illegal occupation. "There was no notice of the eviction served on this institution by the revenue department. It was very clearly a planned attack on the minority institution on a Saturday morning, just prior to three holidays (so as to scuttle the scope for moving the court). It was a clearly an attack on a Christian minority institution and destruction of religious symbols. It is very evident that anti-minority groups and government officials were behind this attack in Madurai," People’s Watch said. Noting that the tailoring unit, siddha clinic and chapel were among five buildings destroyed, the People’s Watch report said: "Besides, the water tank, the bore well, the crucifix and the statue of Our Lady were mutilated and destroyed by hoodlums of the revenue department. The herbal fields were very badly destroyed. Mr Periya Pandian, son of Chinnaal, who is a paralytic undergoing treatment at the siddha clinic for two years and is on his way to recovery, was also attacked by these officials." Pointing out that the destruction of Immaculate Conception Service Centre, the battered crucifix and the statue of Our Lady has "disturbed and filled the Christian and laity with anger and extreme dissatisfaction", People’s Watch demanded the immediate constitution of high-level committee to study the situation in detail and to submit a report on the true situation to the government. It also called for initiating an inquiry against tahsildar Rajaram and other officials involved in the demolition. "Minorities have rights in India while the government and its officials are duty-bound to uphold these rights. However, in this incident, the revenue department officials have failed in their duty", the report said. More pertinently, the People’s Watch report said that the ‘eviction’ seems to be with the knowledge of Madurai district collector Chandra Mohan but has been without following any legal standards that are bound to be observed as per our Constitution, the pronouncements of our Supreme Court, and the General Comment No.4 of the United Nation’s Committee on Social, Economic and Cultural Rights. "Forced evictions are a gross violation of human rights," it pointed out before seeking the immediate intervention of state minority’s commission on the issue. Even while the unfortunate incidents were going on, RSS Sarsanghachalak K S Sudarshan, while addressing a mammoth gathering of RSS volunteers attending a three-day state-level meet on the eve of Republic Day in neighbouring Kerala’s Kollam district said: "Minority status on the basis of religion was a creation of British Raj to keep the nation divided. Christians and Muslims of this country were Hindus. Therefore, it was wrong to bestow them with minority status that cannot qualify through conversion. If Christians and Muslims volunteer to recognize Hindutva as nationalism, and themselves as Hindus, many of the inter-religious ill-feelings will come to an end and help the nation to develop at a faster pace." As the Madurai incident shows, Sudarshan’s logic is not what creates communal tensions. Communal disharmony is a creation of groups that wear the garb of Hindu religion to meet their political motives.
Posted by: Mudy Feb 4 2004, 07:30 PM
These People’s Watch report never shows up when something happens to Hindu temples or Hindus. West sponsored NGO in India do more harm then Pakistanis.
Posted by: acharya Feb 5 2004, 07:48 PM
Subject: Disinformation It is true that there is a army amoung scholarly circles and think tanks to belittle India at every opportunity. In fact, only yesterday I had the opportunity to watch the antics of one such organization- Eithcs and Public Policy Center. The theme for discussion was: "India's Muslims: their prospects in India". It was organized by Timothy Shah- an evangelical christian. The central theme was Godhra. They charged that was happened in the aftermath was nothing short of a pogrom. They insisted that they based their conclusions on first- hand information. When I asked them why they did not use information in their possession to prosecute Narendra Modi? they were stumped! When I persisted, one of the speakers (Paul Brass) faked righteous indignation and loudly announced that he would not talk to me! I would not worry much about EPPC, except that one person in that audience worked at the Senate Commitee for Foreign Affairs. This was a eye-opener for me. Are Indian Americans aware of the malicious propaganda that passes off for sholarly research in such circles? Are they aware of the nature and amount of disinformation making it's way into American Policy making circles? Posted by Sidharth Sankar on 21-JAN-04 ARE THEY USING THIS TO BRING BJP DOWN AND CREATE A -VE CAMPAIGN AGAINST BJP IN THE COMING ELECTION
Posted by: Mudy Feb 5 2004, 09:05 PM
Very much true. This is Indian Xitian agenda.
Posted by: muddur Feb 6 2004, 03:16 PM
Load of lies ...! What does RG, LTTE and Bofors have in common ? 'Rajiv Gandhi lost his life because of Bofors'
Posted by: G.Subramaniam Feb 6 2004, 09:57 PM
The real question is not secularism vs hindutva It is secularism vs Darul-Islam Consider this, if Indian muslims wanted secularism, why the heck did they partition India The hindutva forces are simply trying to prevent Darul-Islam The xtians want a theocratic state as exists in Nagaland
Posted by: k.ram Feb 11 2004, 09:06 AM
received by email --------------------- A sure way of defeating BJP in the upcoming general election To defeat BJP/RSS juggernauts the Secular Front has to counter BJP’s phony slogan of “shining India” with a “vision for a truly democratic India.” This vision has to include two important elements: (1) We have to make a paradigm shift from “communal vs. secular” confrontation to “Social Justice vs. anti-Social Justice” face-off. (2) Secondly, we need to present a reasonable strategy of attacking corruption which is one of the most debilitating bane of our country. These ideas have been explored further in this article. BJP/RSS is trying to falsely create an impression that they are in favor of incorporating diversity in the ruling structure. Just a few days ago BJP President Venkataiah Naidu had lauded model of `unity in diversity'. We all know that it is a phony slogan coined by the RSS/BJP to portray NDA (National Democratic Alliance) as a diversified coalition. Behind their slogan of ‘unity in diversity,’ they will try their best to achieve absolute majority for BJP/RSS. If they do succeed in the same, they wouldn’t care less about any kind of diversity. Non-BJP members of NDA would be fished out like flies from milk and thrown away into nearest dust bins. Under absolute majority of BJP/RSS, if they are able to achieve the same, one would see naked “hegemony of Brahmin-Baniyas and Brahminism.” Even when BJP was not in a position to throw out non-BJP members of NDA, they (BJP) have been treating the non-BJP members as second class minions. Most crucial decisions have been taken among the hard core RSS members. Others have only been told after the decisions have been firmed up. It is foolish to try to battle BJP in the arena of BJP’s choice (religious space) by denouncing Hindutwa and promoting secularism, or “Dharmanirapekshataa”. Common man/woman doesn’t even know the meaning of words like secularism, Dharmanirapekshataa, Saampradaayikataa-wirodh, or other equivalents of the same. Singing songs of secularism is nothing but singing to a small choir of educated idealistic individuals, mostly composed of scared religious minorities. They do not produce any kind of ring or resonance in the ears, heart or mind of the common man/woman. In light of the above, it is very easy for the Sanghis to cast communalism vs. secularism tussle as a battle between Hindu and non-Hindus, between Hinduism and anti-Hinduism, between Hindutwa & anti-Hindutwa, a contest between Mandir & Masjid, clash between Hindu & Muslim, Hindu & Christian, a confrontation between nationalists & anti-nationalist, a debate between believers and non-believers, as a challenge between those who want Hindu-Rashtra and those who don’t want Hindu-Rashtra, and so on, and fool the common man/woman. On the basis of this kind of portrayal of the tussle between BJP and anti-BJP forces, it is very easy for the Sanghis to fool common man/woman. In light of such propaganda, how can we expect to get the illiterate common man/woman motivated enough to come out in opposition to BJP and vote it out of power with weapons like secularism that don’t directly touch them. The secular front must respond to the phony call for diversity by a genuine formula for power-sharing. True power-sharing really means a full-fledged social-justice. It is only a genuine call for social-justice and power-sharing that can guarantee defeat of communalism. 85% of the Indian population (non-UCH common man/woman) very much understands words like Saamaajik Nyaay (social justice), Aarakshan (reservation), Hissaa (quota), baraabari (equality), barabari kee bhaagidaari (equal power-sharing). They not only understand these words very well, they long for them. These concepts have positive impact on their lives, and they do touch the heart and mind of non-UCH common man/woman which constitutes 85% of the Indian population. Why not talk in favor of the common man/woman? All of the recitations of secularism mantra are nothing but self-delusion, false hope of peace and harmony, in the face of deliberate, sophisticated, well oiled, well financed communalist plots. If a group, or a state government itself, is bent upon creating a communal tension, it’s a child’s play to create a small or big incident and spark a riot. All they have to do is rape and murder some poor girl and throw her body in a Church or Masjid. Or, go on a shooting spree in some temple. Or burn a train down. Or explode some bombs in crowded places. Why go through so much trouble? Just chop a cow-head and throw it in a temple, or throw a pig-head in a Masjid, and riot is likely to ensue, particularly if a state government would like to see it flare up! It is only when the common man/woman has been presented with the alternative of comprehensive social-justice that they will be able to understand that other talks about nationalism, Mandir, Hindutwa and hate campaigns against religious minorities, etc., are being peddled only to delude them and get their vote. Had it not been for some awareness, about their exploitation at the hands of UCH, clarified to them by the lower caste parties like BSP, SP, BJD, etc., the Sanghies would have won the support of most of SC/ST/OBC segments, hands down. Yet these lower-caste parties are castigated and denigrated by secular-UCH activists as “caste-ist.” There is hardly any talk of social-justice in the secular camp. Am I trying to suggest that all talks of peace, harmony and brotherhood should be stopped? Well, I would not go that far. Total absence of any noise against communalism may make it look like everybody is has become communalist. However, it is better to be aware of the capacity of the weapons that we use. Simply singing odes to secularism is not going to uproot the communalists from their seats of power, from where they find it easy and convenient to execute active or passive pogroms. So what is it that needs to be done? Muslims and Christians are already opposed to BJP, no matter what the arena is. We cannot hope to wean away vast majority of UCH from supporting BJP, as they know that BJP has been, and will continue to be, most doggedly against social-justice. That leaves lower caste SC/ST/OBC group that has to be firmly and decisively motivated to oppose BJP. Lower caste poor individuals are not bleeding heart secularists. And we can’t make them so, while the other side is pulling them to the other side with all its might. So indulging in a tug-of-war against BJP is a total waste of time. We can’t win. SJF has to throw down the gauntlet in the social-justice arena, where victory for SJF is assured. Vajpayee himself is said to have stated, “because they started Mandal, we started Kamandal.” There in lies the clue for defeating them. Core support of BJP/RSS has always come from the Upper Caste Hindus (UCH). They (BJP/RSS and most of UCH community) did not like implementation of social-justice step like Mandal Commission recommendations. However, aside from a couple of fake immolation, they did not wage a protracted anti-Mandal campaign. They knew that if the conflict heats up further in the social-justice arena, BJP will be left alone, with no more than 15% UCH population on their side that was, and continues to be, opposed to social-justice. Their Chanakya Neeti (clever policy) suggested a change of turf. They launched hate campaign against Muslims and Christians in the name of Hindutwa and nationalism. BJP purposely chose the name Hindutwa for their hate campaigns, because 85% of the population regards itself as Hindu. BJP/RSS rightly figured that in a religious confrontation, as original agitators of the conflict, they would be the leaders of Hindu masses in the conflict against Muslims and Christians, which will translate into benefit in the electoral field as well. We therefore need to make a paradigm shift from “communal vs. secular” confrontation to “Social-Justice vs. anti-Social-Justice” face-off, if want to be sure of defeating the BJP/RSS juggernauts. The “Secular Front” has to take a rebirth and be re-christened as “Social-Justice Front” (SJF). Formation of a Social-Justice Front would be good morally, ideologically, as well as strategically. The name Social-Justice Front would make it more attractive for the whole 85% of Indians, as such, it is the better name for the coalition that is being forged to defeat BJP/RSS/VHP cabal the guise of NDA. We therefore have to pull BJP/RSS back in the social-justice arena by calling for a super-Mandal 100% reservation policy. Under this full-fledged reservation policy, each segment of the society (with segmentations running along caste, religion, gender and regional lines,) will be entitled to a share of power (jobs, admission to schools and colleges, etc.) in proportion to their population. No matter what BJP does, it will be a loser. If BJP endorses the idea (of 100% reservation), its core support-base UCH, and hence BJP, will lose their disproportionate hold on power. If BJP opposes the idea of 100% reservation, 85% of the power-deficit non-UCH population would be very unhappy and would go against BJP. The SC/ST/OBC segment would also, then, be able to see and understand BJP’s attack on the minorities as a subterfuge to divert the attention of people from the cause of social-justice. I believe, in her heart, Sonia Gandhi is for Social-Justice (SJ). She has a good track record on Social-Justice. She has appointed several CMs from the SC/ST communities, including Shinde, Ajit Jogi, and former Chief Minister of Orissa (I forget his name). Even Gelhot belongs to Mali (gardener) community, which is one of the lower BC communities. She needs to capitalize on her good record in SJ field. I think she can win the contest by making it a battle between SJ vs. anti-SJ sides. There is just one problem in the implementation of SJ. Whoever happens to become a leader, no matter what caste-group (SC, ST, OBC or UCH) they belong to, they try to strengthen their own caste and caste-group more than any other caste and caste-group. Needless to say, if one (or a few) castes get over-represented, it has to happen at the expense of other castes, including many within their own caste-group. This is obviously in contravention of social-justice principle, and a cause of dissension, injustice and disunity. To avoid this all leaders joining hands under SJF must give a solid commitment that they would see to it that on the whole, the SJF does not over-represent their own caste or caste-group. This would automatically insure equitable representation of all castes and religions. If they can’t cause over-representation of their own caste, they would make sure that no other caste gets over-represented. This is because if party leaders are to make sure that their own caste does not get over-represented, they are not likely to deliberately help other castes get over-represented (get more tickets than is due to any of them,) and become a dominant caste. This would automatically cause representation of all castes and religions equitably, more or less in proportion to their population, as far as possible. Once various party-quotas of tickets going to various parties constituting SJF has been settled, perhaps first fifty percent of all party-quotas could be filled by various parties without much consultation with other parties. While distributing the second half of the tickets, they will need to consult each other at each step to make sure that none of the castes get over-represented among the nominated candidates. In this phase they could also insure that 33% of the nominees happen to be women. If justice is done to all castes, religions and gender, in the distribution of tickets, a very strong and favorable wind will start blowing in favor of SJF, leading it to the seats of power in Delhi and various states elections to be held at the same time. It may also be good for the SJF to present a vision and blueprint for a transparent future administration, as corruption happens to be one of the biggest banes of our country. Corruption is of two kinds. Firstly, it lies in outright bribery. Secondly, it lies in favoritism towards one’s own caste and clan. The second kind of corruption has already been would already have been taken care for, to a great extent, if all of the leaders take a pledge of seeing to it that their own caste and caste-group will not be over-represented in any power structure of the society. As for the corruption of bribery, one can do what many NGOs and foundations do in filling the post of treasurers. Two or three individuals are made treasurers at the same time. Most positions of power should be shared by more than one individual, perhaps three, five or seven persons. We can probably never institute a fool-proof way of eliminating bribery and nepotism. However, I believe, by sharing positions of responsibility on equal footing, we may be able to reduce corruption. We need to look around and use concepts that seem to be working best. Switzerland is a multicultural country, somewhat like ours. It also has the distinction of having highest GDP and one of the highest standards of living in the world. Why not try to emulate the best? In Switzerland, at the top of their government they have their Federal Executive Council of seven individuals. All four major parties are represented in the Executive Council. Strengths of various parties do not change very much from election to election. For the last fifty years or so they have been using what has come to be known as magic rule of 2-2-2-1 for representation (in the Federal Council) of their four largest parties, Free Democrats (FDP), Social Democrats (SPS), Christian Democrats (CVP) and Swiss People’s Party (SVP), respectively. Last September (2003), Swiss People’s Party won more seats at the expense of Christian Democrats, causing the formula to be modified to 2-2-1-2, respectively, among the parties listed above. However, aside from proportionality based on party strengths in their national Parliament, they also follow unwritten convention of sharing power with their linguistic minorities of French- and Italian-speaking people. They make sure the Council always has at least two French- and one Italian-speaking member, even though such a formula gives a higher than proportional representation to French and Italian speaking segments. Percentages of Germans, French and Italian citizens of Switzerland happens to be about 75:20:5. But ratio of 4:2:1 yields percentage distribution of 57:29:14, favoring French and Italians. But they don’t mind that. The concept of sharing and bending over backward to accommodate disadvantaged groups wherever necessary, has become part of the culture of the Swiss society. Members of the Executive Council take turn, every year, at filling the seat of Presidency of the Confederation. The President functions more or less as Chair of the Executive Council, and does not have any more power than others in the Council. Each of the seven persons in the Swiss Federal Council heads a department of their own. But all of the important decisions are hashed out by all of them and the final decision is supposed to be a joint decision of the whole Council, not that of a Council member who is heading the relevant department. Moreover, all of them are supposed to defend the decision arrived at in their joint meeting. However, I see no reason for forcing an individual to defend a position that s/he does not agree with. There should be room for minority opinion. In the US Courts of justice, and I believe, most other places, they have majority opinion as well as minority opinion, whenever they can’t arrive at a unanimous verdict. Likewise the Federal Council should be able to go to the national parliament with a majority and a minority opinion and let the rest of the members decide which opinion the majority favors. After all the National Parliament has supremacy over the Federal Council. While a small executive may be desirable for many reasons, having become used to a plethora of positions like Ministers, Deputy Ministers, Ministers of State, Assistant Ministers, Parliamentary Secretaries and so forth, I am afraid Indian would not like the prospect of a small Executive Council of just seven or nine people, leaving the rest without any “higher position”. No problem, SJF could announce that various ministries, including the office of Prime Minister would be occupied, not by a single individual, but by 3-7 individuals. None of these ministers would be called Deputy Minister, Minister of State, and so forth. There is no need for creating hierarchies at every possible juncture. They could all try to function in a consensual fashion. There would be just two hierarchy: Prime Ministerial Council, and Councils of various other ministries. Each of these councils may be aided with committees or subcommittees of MPs volunteering to be parts of those committees. In forming each council the Parliament could insure rough proportionality of various parties as well as proportionality of caste, religion, region as well as gender. Allow me to expand upon things party leaders would have to keep an eye on, in the formation of various councils. On the basis of caste and religion we can divide Indian society into the following parts, with their acronyms and rough percentages indicated within parenthesis. Upper Caste Hindus (UCH, 15%), Scheduled Caste (SC, 15%), Scheduled Tribe (ST, 10%), Other Backward Castes (BC or OBC, 42%), Muslims (14%), Christians (2%), Sikh (2%). Among Muslims, Christians and Sikhs, we can find individuals having status that is roughly akin to Dalits (SC/ST) and OBCs among Hindus. Keeping these in view, we could think of the Indian society to be composed of 7-9 groups of roughly 10-15% of the total population, categorized as: UCH (15%), Upper BC (UBC, 14%), MBC (Middle-BC, 14%), Lower-BC (LBC, 14%), SC (15%), ST (10%), Muslims (14%). A Muslim, Christian or a Sikh has a social status of SC, ST, BC, or UC, and thus may double up as a member of the latter groups as well. In forming a council they could make sure that no more than one individual is chosen from any one of the social groups mentioned above. They could also insure that about half of the individuals are females, and that none of the members happen to be from one and same state. Besides, they should cover all of the bigger regions like North-East, East, West, North, South, and Central part of India. I think one big advantage of having all major parties in the government and taking joint decision is full transparency, checks and balance. Everybody, including opposition to the government, would be fully aware of what the government is doing. This aspect of shared responsibility has not been brought out and emphasized sufficiently in the literatures that I am aware of. In view of this advantage of transparency of a group’s decision, perhaps at least one member of the opposition party should be included in all of the ministerial councils mentioned above. They, along with some others, could always write their own minority opinions and arguments on each action of the government where they happen to differ from the government. If BJP’s presence, as an opposition party, is included within the governing bodies, they would not feel very disparate for an electoral victory next time around, and may not go to the extent of inciting riots and carnage for the sake of gaining power. Besides, a good way insuring preventing oneself from erring and going on the wrong path is to arrange for proper transparency, checks and balance on one’s own power. Including a member of the opposition in all governmental deliberations is likely to add to transparency and fairer governance. It would set a good pattern that the erstwhile opposition will have to follow, if and when it comes to power, thus preventing them too from wandering too far off a reasonable course. At this point, allow me to point out a divergence from current Swiss practice. Once a Swiss Federal Council takes a decision, all members of the Council, including those who may have opposed the said decision, and may still be opposed to the same, are supposed to uphold the decision in the National Parliament and public. This, obviously, is a prescription for hypocrisy. There is no necessity for the same. In court decisions with a panel of jurists, they write a majority report as well as a minority report any time the jurists can’t agree on a particular verdict. Why can’t the Federal Council do the same? Why shouldn’t they make their differences public, and let the National Parliament be the final arbiter in case of their differences? Further, to root out corruption as much as possible, the SJF government could choose to appoint people of impeccable reputation (drawn from retired professionals, judges, civil rights activists, community leaders, etc.) as parts of those councils to insure transparency and smooth functioning. These people could perhaps be inducted into Rajya Sabha to enable them to take part in the ministerial councils. It will also be somewhat in consonance with the tradition of what is known as political appointments by the US executives. Majoritarian concepts that decide everything by plurality of votes, when used in multi-cultural societies, lead to what can be rightly said to be “tyranny of majority”. In fact, in most cases, it leads to “tyranny of the strongest, though small, segment of the society”. In a majoritarian system most of the time it is a small but strong segment of the society is able to capture power in the name of majority. Then they try to retain their power with the help of tyranny. One needs to use consensual methods to live amicably in multi-cultural, multi-religious, multi-linguistic, multi-ethnic societies. Consensual models of democracies aim at restraining majority rule by requiring or encouraging: the sharing of power between majority and the minority (grand coalitions), the dispersal of power (among executive, legislature, several minority parties, and in joint responsibilities for various positions of power facilitating power-sharing) and a fair distribution of power (proportional representation). Proportional representation is the most important element of consensual models. It has two elements: (1) Proportional representation in positions of power filled by selection, geared towards empowerment of various segments of the society in an equitable and fair manner. (2) Using Proportional Representation (PR) system of elections that ensure representation of various parties in proportion to their support base in the public. In the electoral bodies, majoritarian electoral systems, like the plurality system, which is also called first-past-the-post (FPTP) system, one generally gets results that are far from anything that can be said to be proportional. And that unfair and unjust dis-proportionality is the best prescription for dissension, conflict, oppression and divisive tendencies in a multi-cultural country. The only way to bring about peace, justice and integration in a multi-cultural society is to use one of the PR system of election. Since legislative branch of government is the one that makes selection rules for filling non-electoral positions of power, PR electoral system is likely to give rise to proportionality in those positions as well, taking care of the first element of proportional representation mentioned above. Unfortunately, changing electoral systems take time. I am therefore not going to delve into it in the present article. However, grand coalitions, and dispersal of power (power-sharing) within the grand coalition as described above, can be achieved during and after the up coming general election. I have therefore focused upon these aspects, and justify the same by quoting a number of political scientists. Thus, to defeat BJP/RSS juggernauts the Secular Front has to counter BJP’s phony slogan of “shining India” with a “vision for a truly democratic India.” This vision has to include elements Social Justice as well as a logical plan of attacking corruption which has been one of the most debilitating bane of our country. In closing, allow me to quote from a couple of authors who strongly prescribe power-sharing, particularly for multi-cultural societies. Aside from being multi-lingual, as described above, Switzerland happens to be multi-religious as well. Its religious composition is, roughly speaking, Roman Catholic 46%, Protestant 40%, other 5%, none 9% (1990) [a]. Hence Switzerland surely qualifies to be called a multi-cultural country. Compared to Switzerland, India, with all its multitude of castes, creeds, ethnicity, languages, and diverse regions, has to be regarded as multi-multi-ad infinitum-cultural, many times more multi- than Switzerland. The tools that have helped Switzerland in achieving the political and cultural integration, unification, solidarity, peace and progress, are far more necessary, nay, essential, for a country like India. Those tools are not only necessary, they are urgently needed before our country is torn apart by selfish hegemonic chauvinistic forces that promote and emphasize hegemony of one-culture, one-religion, one-language nation-state in the name of nationalism, Hindutwa, mainstreaming of minorities. Author Wolf Linder[1] says, “… multicultural coexistence, integration and peace are crucial, and often unresolved in many parts of the world. Conflicts between different ethnic, language, religious and cultural are a main reason behind the failure of social modernization of the Third World, of war in the Middle Est and Balkans as well as in many other nations where different ethnic groups coexist. The oppression of cultural minorities throughout its main decades of existence played a major role in the internal collapse of the Soviet Union, and in producing the outbreak of a new nationalism in the now independent republics. But how will this new nationalism – focusing as it does on cultural or ethnic identity – deal with the problem of other minorities who remain inside the boundaries of newly created states in Eastern Europe?” Linder goes on to say, “Problems of cultural minorities also constitute persistent and serious political problems in developed industrial societies, as we see with blacks in the USA, Catholics in Northern Ireland and French-speakers in Belgium and Canada. Industrialization and market-oriented economies have led to a worldwide exchange of goods, services and capital. But this situation has led to confrontation between different cultures and produced millions of refugees, especially among and from the Third World. In the new order of worldwide liberalization and open markets, if the money does not go to the poor, the poor go where the money is. A large majority of the 170 nations considered as sovereign states nowadays constitute multicultural societies. However it seems that the real problems of integrating different ethnic minorities within the boundaries of existing nations have remained politically unresolved, despite promises of self-determination and democracy.” [1] “Switzerland has been fortunate in finding political ways of achieving multicultural understanding over the past 150 years. The solution was based on two concepts. First, Switzerland renounced – or was forced to renounce – the idea of creating a one-culture, one-language nation-state. Instead, from the very beginning of its modern existence it has been an ‘artificial’ multicultural nation, depending only on the constraints of history and on the political will of inhabitants with different cultures. This was, and still is, fundamentally different other ideas of nationalism in the middle of the nineteenth century as well as those at the end of the twentieth century. Second, the Swiss were able to develop a type of democracy that favors – and enforces – political power-sharing between Protestants and Catholics, between the German-speaking majority and French-, Italian and Romansch-speaking minorities, and between organized employers and trade unions. This has led to social integration, peaceful conflict-resolution by negotiation, and national consensus amongst a once fragmented and homogeneous population.”[1] “If Switzerland is considered to be a ‘paradigmatic case of political integration’, this has been helped by historical circumstances. … The creation of a multicultural state, and the political integration of different religions and languages without destroying particular cultural identities, is probably the most precious legacy of Switzerland’s democracy, and it may be the most precious message it can leave for others.” [1] Linder goes on to say, “Switzerland provides a model example (for a multi-cultural society) because of its enduring will to constitute an independent political nation based on the mutual respect of its minorities. It provides a model for finding political institutions and patterns of behavior that enable peaceful conflict-resolution in a multi-cultural society. While the model cannot be copied in its entirety, some of its basic elements can be noted, adopted and used by others. Renouncing a ‘nation-state’ of one culture, one religion and one language was essential for the success of the Swiss model. The option of political integration and democratic pluralism could be an alternative for today’s new nationalism. Elements of political power-sharing – such as federalism, proportional participation of minorities, law making by negotiations – can be helpful in any country that is faced with problems of multi-cultural conflict.”[1] Another author, Arend Lijphart[2] says: “In plural societies – societies that are sharply divided along religious, ideological, linguistic, cultural, ethnic, or racial lines into virtually separate sub-societies with their own political parties, interest groups, and media of communication – the flexibility necessary for majoritarian democracy is absent. Under these conditions, majority rule is not only undemocratic but also dangerous, because minorities that are continually denied access to power will feel excluded and discriminated against and will lose their allegiance to the regime. For instance, in the plural society of Northern Ireland, divided into a Protestant majority and a Catholic minority, majority rule meant that the Unionist party representing the Protestant majority won all the elections and formed all of the governments between 1921 and 1972. Massive Catholic protests in the late 1960s developed into a Protestant-Catholic civil war which could only be kept under control by British military intervention and imposition of direct rule from London.” Lijphart further adds, “In plural societies, therefore, majority rule spells majority dictatorship and civil strife rather than democracy. What these societies need is a democratic regime that emphasizes consensus instead of opposition, that includes rather than excludes, and that tries to maximize the size of the ruling majority instead of being satisfied with a bare majority: consensus majority.” “We (Swiss) have a strongly enforced proportional rule that leads to political quotas. An unwritten rule says that two of the members of the Federal Council should be of French- and one of Italian-speaking origin, and over time, this has been observed. In federal commissions of experts, or in parliamentary committees, linguistic proportions are observed more than any other proportional rule. The consequences of this proportional or quota rule can thus have astonishing results for the fair representation of different cultural minorities.”[3] The table shown below is suggestive of quite a strict quota system used in Switzerland. Proportional Representation of linguistic groups (percentages) in Switzerland[4]: Representation German French Italian Population (Swiss citizen only) 74.5 20.1 4.0 Federal Administration: All personnel 76.5 15.4 5.2 Senior staff 73.6 20.9 3.5 Top Management 78.8 19.0 2.2 Expert Committees 76.9 20.0 3.1 Presidents of committees of the National Council 76.0 20.0 3.1 Still another author, Jurg Steiner[5] says: “According to Swiss political thinking, not only individuals but groups have rights. French-speakers, for example, should have the right to be represented among the top army officers. When a French-speaking three-star general retires, the search for his replacement is practically limited to French-speakers. But what about a German-speaker who may be more qualified than the top French-speaking candidate? The former is indeed discriminated against on the basis of his language affiliation. This is the price that the Swiss are willing to pay for their system of power-sharing. This price, however, should not be exaggerated. In the foregoing example, the highly qualified German-speaker simply has to wait until a three-star general of his own language retires. Sometimes, of course, bad luck may strike; no opening may occur when someone is the “ideal” for a particular position.” Wolf Linder further adds, “There is some flexibility in the system, however, in that over- or under-representation is allowed but is compensated for over time. … Finally, proportional rule does not apply only to politics and positions in government. It is practiced in the organization of the economy, in social life and even in sports. This is true at least for linguistic proportional rule. As Jurg Steiner (1990) writes: ‘It is unimaginable that the executive committee of the Swiss Soccer Association would consist of German-speakers only’.[6] References: [a] [1] Wolf Linder, “Swiss Democracy: Possible Solutions to Conflict in Multicultural Societies,” St. Martin’s Press, 1994, ppxi-xiii. [2] Arend Lijphart, “Democracies: Patterns of Majoritarian and Consensus Government in Twenty-One Countries,” Yale University Press, New Haven, 1984, pp22-23. [3] Wolf Linder, p-22. [4] Wolf Linder, p-23. [5] Wolf Linder, on page 32, quotes from Jurg Steiner, “Power-sharing: Another Swiss ‘Export Product’”, in V. Montville, Conflict “Conflict and Peacemaking in Multicultural Societies,” Lexington Books, Toronto, 1990. [6] Wolf Linder, p-33. Author: Dr. Satinath Choudhary Retired College Professor The Bronx, New York USA Phone: 718-548-5249 In case any of you have any comments about the above article, please write to satichou@y.... Thank you.
Posted by: acharya Feb 11 2004, 12:17 PM
Interesting article We therefore need to make a paradigm shift from “communal vs. secular” confrontation to “Social-Justice vs. anti-Social-Justice” face-off, if want to be sure of defeating the BJP/RSS juggernauts.
Posted by: rajesh_g Feb 13 2004, 02:33 PM Saving Secularism, Combating Communalism By: Rajesh T.K. September 10, 2003 A Satire on Secularists: India's lethal national epidemic Addressed To: The Secular Populace in India, <--Our target audience Amnesty International, <--Our old friend Govt of People's Republic Of China, <--Our ideological pedagogue Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI) <--Our chief sponsor We, the venerable esteemed celebrated Secular intellectuals are compelled to issue this communiqué to record our heart-and-purse felt anguish at the recent tide of communalism taking over the whole country. Most of us have graduated.gifd from prestigious IIMs (Indian Institute of Marxism) after successfully passing CAT (Communism Aptitude Test). We aspire to annihilate and exterminate any fascist, fundamentalist feelings that any Indian might harbor. We cherish the ideal of perfect secularism in India following the exhaustive eradication, extinction and expiration of the communal Hindu, the fascist Sikh, the bellicose Buddhist and the rapacious Jain religions. The lamentable fact is that communalism has been well entrenched in India since time immemorial. Before Abdul Qasim in 712 AD in Sindh, the entire Indian populace was outright communal. Even today, the trend remains unaltered. Even a casual glance at our 'national' symbols will reveal this fact. Our national flower is the communal lotus, which is not-by-coincidence the symbol of the revisionist, Nazi Bharatiya Janata party. Even the communal Hindu gods sit on the lotus. The national animal is the tiger. The very fact that it is not found in Mecca and Medina establishes the communal nature of this heinous and non-believer animal. The national language is Hindi written in the Devanagari script, the same as that of the mongrel Sanskrit language. This is Clearly Communal. When India has already 15% secular population and when this percentage is sure to cross the 50% mark in the next 50 years, it is quite obvious that Arabic should be our national language. We also want the government to consider altering the national flag. Saffron color at the top should be replaced by the secular green to give it a popular appeal. Also the national fruit should be the egalitarian and secular Date Palm rather than the blatantly communal Mango. Here is the translation of the Communal national song by the bigger-communalist Bankim Chandra Chatterjee translated by the biggest-communalist Sri Aurobindo: "Mother, I bow to thee! Rich with thy hurrying streams, Bright with orchid gleams, Cool with thy winds of delight, Dark fields waving Mother of might, Mother free!! Glory of moonlight dreams. Over thy branches and lordly streams, Clad in thy blossoming trees, Mother giver of ease, Laughing low and sweet!! Mother I kiss thy feet, Speaker sweet and low, Mother to thee I bow!!" This is Clearly Communal and hence reprehensible. That is why we the superlative, superior secularists have asked for a ban proscribing its rendition anywhere on Indian Territory. Our illustrious, idealistic intellectuals have also decried the National Anthem as communal and asked for a posthumous death sentence on the communal Rabindra Nath Tagore for composing lyrics inciting communal passions. Some communal Hindu fanatics have demanded a ban on cow slaughter. This is Clearly Communal. The best way to demonstrate your commitment to secularism remains to attend every iftaar party in town and hog beef by the tonnes. Also we the honorable, famous Marxists demand that the pig be made India's national animal. Apart from the pig being highly useful and regarded by the secular masses of this country; the people of India also address us affectionately as pigs. The RSS and the VHP have not received a single penny from ISI in Islamabad; this clearly proves that they are communal. In contrast the secular institutions have received crores of money as gifts from states as diverse as Pakistan, Saudi Arabia, UAE and China. We the renowned, remarkable historians have demonstrated beyond doubt that Lord Rama and Krishna were extra-ordinarily communal. Hence we command the government to justify its secular credentials by incarcerating the communal BR Chopra and fascist Ramanand Sagar for inculcating puerile superstitions into our gullible children's minds through fundamentalist programmes like Ramayana and Mahabharata. The Mahabharata's communal nature is revealed by the fact that there is not a single non-Hindu, secular character in its whole length and breadth. We the august intelligentsia petitioned the cabinet last year to stop rejoicing on August 15 and instead congratulate the Pakistanis on August 14. To demonstrate our commitment to secularism, we plan to install MA Jinnah's statues in Kerala and West Bengal. Also, while thousands of Indian children die due to congenital heart disorders every year, we the notable, noble secularists gave lakhs of rupees to the Pakistani girl Noor Fatima. The RSS on the other hand, while wishing Noor Fatima well also tried to help other Indian children. This is Clearly Communal. Even during the Kutch, Latur and Uttarkasi earthquakes while the communal RSS was saving other communal lives; we the intelligent, impressive intellectuals were collecting money for the plenary meeting of the Communist Party of China; some of us were also involved in writing articles on promoting communism in far away Belize and Nicaragua. We the magnanimous mandarins are shocked at the presence of so many communal persons holding high office. The most famous one is of course our communal president Dr Abdul Kalam. Do not be fooled by his secular name. He does not even eat non-vegetarian food. This communal man has also read the fascist book Gita and quotes from it. This communal scientist even made missiles against the secular Pakistan. Shame on him!! Fie on him!! We the lofty, royal and regal secularists are shocked at the presence of the Pakistani-born Lal Krishna Advani and Madan Lal Khurana. So what if they were born in undivided India, these communalists should immediately be deported out of our country. Thankfully the Karnataka Pradesh Congress is planning to raise this issue in a big way in the coming elections. We should simultaneously be extremely grateful to Italy and its people to have donated the greatest, the most talented, the most most commanding leader of the universe to our penurious country for the sake of the salvation of the natives here. We have also exposed the glaring errors in Hinduism. If your Vedas are indeed God-revealed as some communal Hindus claim, then why are then not written in Arabic. Also why are they not written from right to left akin to our original God-revealed secular scriptures. We are very sure that no communal Hindu can answer the above two questions. We the secular organizations, with support from Democratic Women's Associations feel repugnant at the very thought of family control. For centuries, the secularists have believed in the slogan of " Hum Paanch, Hamare Pachhis, Hum sab ko milake Chey sau Pachhis". (Crude translation: We five, ours twenty-five and together we produce six hundred and twenty five). Even demographic trends point to the rising communalism in this country. While in neighboring Pakistan, the secular population has increased from 75% to almost 99%; in India the secular population has increased by only 5%. This apart from being tragic for the future of the nation also renders disconsolate our conscientious souls marinated for years in Nehruvian socialism. We the liberal-minded people accept any solution to the Kashmir imbroglio as long as the entire state goes to Pakistan and China. In the interests of promoting kinship between fraternal twins, we also advocate giving Rajasthan, Punjab and Gujarat to Pakistan. Similarly China can be offered the whole of Arunachal Pradesh, Assam and Sikkim. If they further desire, we should not mind abdicating any right to the whole northeast and West Bengal. We have initiated several new measures to make the minorities feel more safe and secure in this country: 1. We disrupt the Parliament every year on Dec 6 on the issue of the Babri Masjid causing a loss of several hundred of crores to the state exchequer. We also lead marches in all the cities bringing the traffic to a complete halt and inconveniencing all the communal citizens. 2. We also oppose the BJP on the issue of abrogating Article 370 even though we do not exactly know how the law would benefit a secular citizen in Hyderabad. 3. We yearly increase the allowance for Haj pilgrimage, now exceeding 160 crores as compared to an absolute zero spent on any communal Hindu mission. 4. We heartily rejoice and distribute sweets following the secular Pakistan's triumph in a cricket match against India. We have already declared that at Ayodhya, we would rather have a secular structure with dogs urinating in it than any communal Hindu structure. In fact, we go ahead a step ahead to entreat the current dispensation to demolish all Hindu communal shrines at Kanchipuram, Tirupati and Haridwar so that secular constructions can come up at the same place re-using the old bricks. The Hindu leader MK Gandhi once exhorted the Hindus to remain passive even if they are tied up and their sisters are molested in front of them. We whole-heartedly consent with Gandhi and urge the communal Hindus to heed his sane counsel. In fact, to set the record straight, we ourselves sent our goons to violate several intransigent Hindu women. To achieve our noble cause of secularism, we have occasionally taken recourse to lies also. There is nothing to be ashamed of this. Even Mughal emperors cited secular reasons for murdering their fathers and usurping their thrones. One secularist author fabricated a story about a woman raped in Gujarat; but unfortunately the victim was apparently in US when the rape was committed in Gujarat. We also set up a fantastic case against Dara Singh in the Graham Staines murder case with the secular media completely behind us, but unfortunately the communal Supreme Court assisted fiendishly by the communal CBI saw through our game. Of course, the secular media completely blockaded the news of his acquittal from the front pages. Recently we got the Best Bakery case rejuvenated in the Supreme Court. We must place on record the exceptional support we have got from the newspaper group which allegedly runs from funding from the Sultan of Brunei. We, the exceptionally exalted experts on secularism have placed before the Parliament the following list of our grievances. Addressal of issues is a sine qua non for establishing secularism in the true western democratic spirit. 1. Amputate the communal Arun Shourie's hands. He writes too well and added to that he quotes precisely from our secular scriptures. We are all at sea trying desperately to counter his views, but to no avail. 2. Centuries ago, Khilji consigned millions of invaluable mathematical texts and scientific treatises in Nalanda to secular flames saying that when we have the original God-sent secular Arabic text, then why do we need anything else. We would like to follow in his glorious tradition by demolishing all communal educational institutions like engineering and medical colleges...basically everything other than History department at JNU. 3. The locals in Assam and else where must welcome with open arms our secular terrorist brethren from Bangladesh. The government must provide them with ration cards, free electricity cards, free water and of course voter IDs. 4. Gandhi made India give 55 crores to Pakistan. We must emulate him by giving 2000 crores to them each month till we become totally bankrupt and each Indian citizen is down to his undergarments. 5. Inspired by the piety exhibited by the Taliban, we want all Buddha idols in India to be instantaneously smashed to smithereens as our secular scriptures sneer at idolatry and other customs. 6 Hindu religion is full of obscurantist practices institutionalizing animist beliefs teaching one to respect nature and environment. In the larger interests of the secular nation, we importune the government to cut down all the trees, plants and animals that these superstitious people worship. 7. Any one holding prayer meetings for the communal Indian army men killed in Kargil (fighting against our sponsor-the secular Pakistan) must be immediately arrested. Appropriate punishment must be meted out to them in public so that it deters others from daring to perform such blatantly communal actions. It is time Indians realize the sacrifices we have made for Saving Secularism and Combating Communalism in India. We went all the way to down town Manhattan and burnt specially made Italian candles there to espouse our support to Osama Bin Laden. We wrote mails to Nelson Mandela asking him to denigrate India by refusing the government's invitation to be its republic day chief guest. we petitioned the US embassy and importuned God's own country to rescue us from peril. We shed infinite copious tears over the Uniform Civil Code inspite of its successful run in Goa for so many years. We said so many lies over the years, hoping that a lie said a hundred times over will turn into a truth. We admit, the Aryan Invasion Theory is all our concocted imagination; but at least the communalists should give us some credit. We also upheld secularism by hiding the fact that 3,20,000 Hindus perished in the Middle Ages making it the largest genocide in human history. We also hid the fact that the mountain range HinduKush gets its name from Hindu Kushtar, which literally translates, to the massacre of the Hindus. We also selectively promoted certain conversions like the Meenakshipuram and the Marad ones. We hid evidence and let out selective news and photos to emotionally blackmail the Hindus. We also projected Gujarat as a state of communal riots instead of an industrialized state. We denounced Sardar Patel as communal and Netaji as fascist to further our own ends. We also propagated myths that Indians have no sense of history. Further we shouted from roof tops in New York that India's contribution to the world is literally zero.(No double meanings please) We vituperatively and vitriolically questioned the Shah Bano verdict but now want the court to mediate on the Ayodhya imbroglio. Inspite of such sterling selfless sacrifices, our vote bank has witnessed steady erosion. Undeterred, we proceed on our righteous path even if it implies our complete extirpation. Rajesh T.K.
Posted by: acharya Feb 18 2004, 04:51 PM Thursday, October 24, 2002 :: Assessing the Strength of the RSS & Sangh Parivar: Conrad argues that the power of the RSS lies not so much in its pseudo-military discipline as in the willingness of its unpaid volunteers to carry out the political activities of their chosen party. More broadly these volunteers keep the ideas and ideology of Hindutva alive. I agree that this is the strength of the RSS as an organization. However, I think it will help if we can carefully map and disaggregate where, when, and how the RSS is a political and social force. (As usual I have more questions than answers, but I hope that the utility of these questions will not seem too obscure): (1) Urban/Rural: While the RSS does have an affiliated white-collar union (i.e., Bharatiya Mazdoor Sangh) in urban areas and an affiliated farmers' organization (i.e., Bhartiya Kisan Sangh), the RSS does not seem to have a strong base of support in rural areas. My hunch is that most peasants and farmers are quite resistant to RSS and affiliated organizations. (2) North/South: How popular is the ideology of Hindutva in the southern states (and the northeastern states)? (3) Hard Saffron/Soft Saffron: The argument that the RSS draws on the support of "soft Saffrons" makes intuitive sense. However, I would like to know how consistent the support is for the RSS from the soft Saffrons. I have read reports which state that middle class support for the RSS declined dramatically after the Babri Masjid was demolished. This may mean that the soft Saffrons felt the core issue had been resolved (i.e., that Hindu dominance had been reasserted) or that they were repulsed by the hooliganism that marked the assault on the Masjid. Although "hard Saffrons" may rally after a riot, how do "soft Saffrons" react? (4) Men/Women: What is the support for Hindutva ideas and particularly the Sangh Parivar amongst women? The RSS claims that there are 500 shakhas of the Rashtra Sevika Samiti, but I am skeptical if it even has that much support amongst women. All of these suuport bases need to be analysed because there is the assertion that Hindutva has a broad base of sympathy. Even if this is true, I doubt that the base of sympathy is a static resevoir or homogenously distributed. (5) The Public Sphere: Conrad argues that Sangh Parivar has injected communalism into the public sphere and shifted the terms of political discourse to the right. One could argue that a rightward shift in the general cultural debate is to be expected, regardless of the RSS, given the collapse of the Soviet Union and the rise of "capitalist-roaders" in China. While academics will certainly distinguish between communism and the Soviet regime, one would be hard pressed to argue that the collapse of the Soviet Union did not have serious consequences for the credibility of radical leftist ideas around the world and in India. (Of course, it is not like the Naxalites particularly care what the Chinese or Russians are up to these days). Personally, I think there is still a great deal of debate in the cultural sphere, and in fact some "leftist" artists and authors are radically challenging Indian society in new and innovative ways (that I wholeheartedly applaud). If there is a rightist lurch, there is also a leftist lurch. For example, let's look at the highly controversial films of Deepa Mehta. Although her film "Water" (third in a loose trilogy) had to be shut down because of local protests and acts of vandalism, one must concede that all three of her controversial films were cleared by the Central government. The crew was given protection by four batallions of the Rapid Action Force and 200 police officers. When local conditions made it impossible to film in Varansi, the Chief Minister of Madhya Pradesh gave Deepa Mehta the opportunity to make her film in MP as a public rebuff to the BJP and RSS. Filming had to be terminated because of tight financing, not because such a film could not have been made in India. Maybe I am missing the forest for the trees. I don't want to dilute the real dangers to the cultural sphere that Hindutva represents, but I am skeptical of the argument that the terms of discourse are shifting only in one direction or that the public sphere has been coopted. Perhaps, it would be most reasonable to say that the right has greater influence -- but how does one "measure" this in the cultural sphere? I will agree though that the ideas of Hindutva do make the minority communities of India feel more insecure -- and this fact cannot/should not be ignored. I should add that coupled with the leftist and rightist lurches is a significant lurch towards consumerism and crass materialism that has accompanied economic liberalisation. In my opinion, both ideologies compete with and attempt to use/benefit from the seemingly "apolitical" rise of crass consumerism. In fact one of the major themes highlighted by Vachani's film is the way in which the RSS is losing adherents to the demands of consumer culture. Perhaps the ultimate winner in the battle between the left and the right will the be the market and those ideologies that can most effectively buttress/compensate for it? :: Vikash Yadav 11:59 PM [Permanent Link] :: comments(0) :: .............. Re: The RSS and Fascism: Vikash’s analysis of the Lalit Vachani film captures very accurately one of the main Leftist responses to the rise of Hindu nationalism in India. Broadly speaking, there have been two different responses to this phenomenon which I have noticed amongst in the oppositional discourse and feeling against the Saffron tide: the first in line with Vikash’s post sees the RSS and the Sangh Parivar in general as only a very pale initiation of real Fascism and fascist organisations and too weak and disjointed to pose a serious credible long-term threat to the Indian polity. This does not mean that they are not to be resisted or tolerated but it does mean that they are not quite the forces of demonic subervision that they are often portrayed as. The other main interpretation is a more orthodox one that sees the RSS and its umbrella organisations as the most serious challenge to Indian democracy and to the project of nation-building that the legacy of Independence has left. In this discourse the Hindu right is often referred as Fascist and explicit comparisons with the Nazis and German fascism are frequently (and it has to be said quite carelessly) made. In this view the Hindu Right is the Ultimate Evil which must be resisted at all costs and prevented from coming to power: should they ever gain control of the Indian polity then it would be an unmitigated disaster and destroy more or less everything about India that most progressives, liberals and leftists cherish. Similarly with Gujarat and the recent riots there, there are those who feel that such polarisation and rioting will not spread beyond the state as none of the others are solely ruled by the BJP and that specific conditions are called for to explain the riots there; while others argue that the Godhra carnage is just the tip of the iceberg and the sign of things to come: in this scenario Gujarat is merely the laboratory for what could/will be attempted elsewhere and the Hindutva forces are just pushing the limits to see how much the secular and democratic framework of the polity can stretch without too much resistance. My own personal inclination is towards the former view on this issue and I am in sympathy with Vikash’s stance; though one must be wary of making any broad generalisations and also try and discern what has changed with the rise of Hindutva on the Indian landscape. Caution is called for, as while I think, the portrait of the RSS outlined by Vikash is persuasive, it would be unlikely that any turn towards Fascism or ugly communalism would be necessarily preceded by well documented existence of highly disciplined and tightly marching bands of Hindutva foot soldiers (unfortunately History actually suggests just the reverse, in that such political constellations are never quite taken very seriously until it is too late). Historians of communal riots have noted the large degree of organisation that went into communal flare ups after WWI; arms, munitions were distributed beforehand, targets chosen and areas for attack marked out; there also existed a close but hidden relationship between many Congressmen during this period and those responsible for organising these riots/incidents; Sumit Sarkar notes how police records show that during the 1930’s the Congress ministry in the United Provinces knew of such plans and refused to do something about them. This was repeated by the GB Pant ministry after independence as well. Even today much of the recruitment for these organisations like the Shiv Sena and the Bajrang Dal come from lumpenproletariat elements of urban society which are already criminalized; in the past these groups would have been the main sources of manpower for outfits like the Youth Congress under Sanjay Gandhi who would have used their hooliganism to break up the campaigns and activities of opposition parties. As such these groups though violent lack the organisation, co-ordination or discipline to pose a serious threat if they are met with firm action. The problem arises when they are ignored or tacitly encouraged by the state and when they can provoke the society into communal polarisation around them – the Kar Sevak agitation over Ayodhya is a good case in point where the religious passions aroused at large provided a cover for these groups to push their agenda further. The discipline of the RSS lies less in its capability as a paramilitary organisation but as an unpaid body of volunteers who are willing to carry out political activities for their party of choice and keep the Hindutva flame burning. The key issue is that alone they are ineffective, what is truly alarming and what many secularists have not realised is the sympathy and the reaction they can arouse within large sections of Hindu society at large. I make the distinction here between hard saffronites and soft saffronites: RSS and the members of the Sangh Parivar would come under the label of the hardcore of Saffron opinion yet the power they exert comes from the soft saffronites many of whom are otherwise moderate members of society and for example were Congressmen or socialists etc. A large section of the Congress party could be described as soft saffronites – this accounts for the initially phenomenon rise of the BJP from only 2 MPs in the Lok Sabha in 1984 to being the largest single party after the 1995 elections – much of this support in the form of legislators/politicians switching allegiances and votes being transferred came from those sections of society that supported the Congress as long as it limited its practise of secularism to giving largely symbolic concessions to minorities and allowed the status quo to exist peacefully. As soon as this consensus started to break down and real concessions and minority demands started to occur then the BJP was seen to be a better vehicle for representing their interests. As Nehur once remarked beneath a Congressman's guise there lurked many a Hindu Mahasabha sympathiser. At macro-level, what I would argues is that it is not the pure strength of the right per se that we need to fear but rather the twin abilities of the Hindu right to coerce and co-opt the centre and also to shift the terms of political discourse to the right. The latter is a slide that is occurring in different political scenarios at a very general level: I was struck by reading the latest issue of the New Left Review which analysed the recent French presidential elections in these terms arguing that the real success of the National Front lay not in electoral gains as the rise in votes for Le Pen was only 234,000 more in the 2002 elections over 1995 and that the NF itself was found only to have a membership of 42,000 with poor attendances for many of its rallies such as the Joan of Arc march on May 1 2002 (which was dwarfed by the anti-fascist demonstrations); but in the successive “Le Penisation of political discourse whereby : “Unacceptable” outbursts – ‘going overboard’ on racial inequality, immigrant numbers, need for the death penalty, or, most potently in recent years, North Africans as the principal source of crime – may spark initial storms of protest from the media and lead, in the short term, to a drop in the opinion polls; but after a few months the ratings are often higher than before, while party ranks have been kept appeased. Then comes the next stage, when the outrage is forgotten and the FN’s conceptions re-merge in the mainstream – Fabius remarking that the Front “asks the right questions but gives the wrong answers”; Giscard comparing immigration to ‘invasion’ Balladur commenting favourably on the idea of ‘national preference’. At this point the cycle can recommence, with the Far Right shifting the terrain of acceptable discourse one notch further,…. (From New Left Review, 17 September/October Issues, ,2002) To my mind this is what the BJP has done, in shifting the terms of the discourse to the right and undermining some of the old Nationalist premises on which the Indian republic was founded. In concrete terms this has translated into a general insecurity for religious minorities, increased incidences of rioting and hate attacks against vulnerable groups. By injecting communalism into the public sphere like this the Sangh Parivar have quite successfully managed to make many regress into their ascriptive religious identities and made people think of themselves not as Indians first but as Hindu Indians and Muslims Indians etc. A cynic could argue that at this stage this is all the Saffron forces are really capable of as the BJP doesn’t have direct political power in many states or at the Centre; should a situation arise whereby the BJP achieves the level of domination that Congress did before 1967 then it is possible that we may see a different and more ruthless face of the BJP. Controversial issues like the Ram Mandir, Article 370, the Uniform Civil Code and the re-design of the Constitution have been kept off the agenda owing to the coalition demands of the BJP allies in government, so far. Certain sinister aspects remain though – a clear example is the insistence that religious minorities such as Christians in Gujarat register their households with the nearest police station; when challenged on this the Gujarat Chief Minister insisted that it was for their own protection. Given the communalisation of the police and the recent move, which allows civil servants to retain membership of the RSS even when employed by the state; this does not augur well. For as a strict paramilitary organisation the RSS may well be a failure but given charge of the Law and Order organs of the state I have no doubt that they could wreck considerable damage. All this should not make one paranoid and I do feel irritation at many secularists and leftists like Arundhati Roy and AG Noorani who should know better than to throw around the fascist label and paint the RSS/BJP as the most serious threat facing India; this maybe yet clear evidence has not shown the issue to be so clear. After all the BJP are only carrying on a tradition of creeping saffronisation initiated by the Congress, the Ayodhya issue is a case in point. The idols of Ram were smuggled into the Babri Masjid with the benign neglect of the district administration who were entrusted with the duty of guarding the mosque and then when Nehru insisted that they be removed the local District Magistrate refused arguing that it could cause a communally tense situation and lead to unrest and was supported by the then Chief Minster of Uttar Pradesh GB Pant. That the District Magistrate later joined the BJP and stood as a parliamentary candidate hardly reassures me of the impartiality of the state machinery in this matter; Nehru chose not to pursue the matter further and thus was the imbroglio born. The blatant majoritarianism of Congress under Indira Gandhi only worsened matters, as did her manipulation of religious imagery and devices in electoral campaigning. Events like the televising of the religious mythological epics and the spread of colour television in most urban homes hastened the potential audience creation for the BJP. What concerns me most is the rise of communal sentiments amongst individuals I know personally and who can hardly be described as Fascist sympathisers. The accusations of pampering of minorities and Muslims, the law and order problem, the pressures of a middle class lifestyle under threat and fear of falling down the socio-economic ladder all add to the appeal of the BJP as a party and as long as it delivers on these concerns, many are willing to close their eyes to what it may do to selected minorities. After all most influential sections of Indian society are not Muslims or Christians but rathre upper caste and middle class Hindus. Beneath this attraction lies the fact that the BJP has essentially stolen the Conservative-Centrist platform of the Congress and that those who vote for it have a stake in the existing social order: hence much of their fear is a coded fear of the teeming masses, of the lumpenproletariat, of lower caste assertiveness and of minorities who denied a share of the prosperity and security afforded to the privileged have started to mobilise for a redistribution of these benefits and rights. This is both the great limitation and great danger of the Hindu right in India: I have already stated why I don’t consider the RSS fascist though it has definitely absorbed some of the fascist ideology of European fascism, real fascism though will elude its grasp under current conditions. The rise of Hitler and the Nazis was dependent on other enabling factors and could not have happened just due to the existence of a well disciplined and organised party organisation and paramilitary corps and these are as yet non-existent in India: a sense of national insecurity following a defeat in a major war, destruction of much of the middle-class through the hyperinflation, weak institutionalised history of democracy, humiliating imposition of a peace settlement and restrictions on military policy and lastly but most importantly the economic collapse of the Great Depression. None of these factors are present in India, should a combination of them occur then there may well be a serious threat of a real Fascist movement emerging but as yet it seems unlikely. On the other hand the Hindutva movement has further polarised and poisoned communal relations and infected the political discourse and has constantly pushed the terms of the debate in thier favour: with the erstwhile Centrist parties instead of challenging it acceding to its programme such conflict has sharpened. As in many societies the mere numbers or discipline of the RSS is not a good indicator of the kind of discrimination it espouses a better analogy would probably be the KKK in post-Civil War Southern USA or the British National Party in the northern British towns: both organisations represented a minority of the society as a whole and had limited memberships but characterised the racist and discriminatory nature of the society against its minorities and the distorted social structures as well as the inability of Leftist/Centrist forces to eliminate such political views or the state to control them – in effect they show a disillusionment with existing political options and this is always a cause for concern as the masses lose faith in the forces of the centre and the state reposing their trust instead in those who advocate extreme views; such aleination is always dangerous. Indian society will not grow tired of the antics of the Saffron Right just yet I am afraid. :: Conrad Barwa 5:35 PM [Permanent Link] :: comments(0) :: .............. :: Monday, October 21, 2002 :: The Men in the Tree: I had the privilege of attending a screening of Lalit Vachani's "Men in the Tree" tonight and I thought I would share some of my thoughts on this documentary as it relates to our ongoing discussion about the RSS and fascism. This film is a sequel to his earlier work ("The Boy in the Tree") on the way in which RSS shakhas or branches are formed. Vachani's sequel returns to find what became of the young recruits he had filmed one decade earlier around the time of the destruction of the Babri Masjid. The film is disarming because one quickly realizes how unconventional and unsystematic the RSS recruitment process is. Basically, the RSS recruits children and provides structured lesiure time activity with some rather pathetic attempts at indoctrination. The RSS's attempts to teach Karate are patently absurd and useless. The instructors of the martial arts are barely able to handle the most basic "horseman" or Kamachi stance. The training seemed to just drop off after the supervisors found other interests. The real purpose of these "manly" exercises were apparently symbolic rather than goal oriented. The memorization games go nowhere and the members have skewed and incomplete understandings of their own country's history. The organization is not quite the Hitler Youth that some claim. One gets the feeling from this film that the RSS is awash in homoeroticism. There does not appear to be much point to the organization other than finding excuses for the boys in shorts to get physical with one another and their instructors. As the boys grow older, they seem somewhat dejected by the realization that their former pals have grown up and gone off to heterosexual relationships. In fact, they blame women for converting to other religions and "forcing" Hindu men to convert out of their own religion in order to get married. In other words, women are portrayed as tricksters who ruin the wonderful homosocial paradise filled with Kabbadi and wrestling. One gets the feeling throughout the film that the rank and file members of the RSS are basically unsophisticated petty bourgeois types who lead rather meaningless lives. They fetishize their time as "volunteers" only because they are so utterly castrated in the society around them. Other members simply drop out of the organization as the demands of work become more pressing or they get sickened by the climate of fear and hatred. Where the film fails is its abrupt attempt at the end to explain the Godhra riots in an epilogue. The director wants us to realize that the RSS movement is waning but he seems challenged to explain how such a vicious event could happen. Of course, he could have easily emphasized the way in which the rioting was generally confined to the state of Gujarat, but he does not. Some friends also complained that the director was a bit manipulative in the use of some imagery such as the swastika which is honestly not a big deal in India and is not associated with fascism in the minds of most Indians. Overall though, the film is quite worth seeing because it helps to moderate some of the fear and loathing that surrounds the RSS. As a colleague of mine noted: When one sees the volunteers adopting the "Jehovah's Witness" strategy of going door to door to spread their message, the utter silliness of the organization is revealed. It is undoubtedly true that much of this organization is devoted to trouble making, but they lack an intellectual and disciplinary base. Their leaders are rumor mongers and their average cadres can't even march in straight lines. They are basically thugs who long to be something more to disguise their fear and castration. They will probably continue to be a menace to secular India, especially as their membership fails to grow and they need stunts to get attention; but in the long run Indian society will grow tired of their antics. :: Vikash Yadav 11:36 PM [Permanent Link] :: comments(0) :: .............. Hindutva and Fascism: I thought it interesting that Vikash, discussed the appropriateness of the term facism in describing the Hindutva movement in India. This topic had come up in another forum and I thought it worthwhile to re-produce my comments then when the members were discussing the suitability of the term fascism when talking about the RSS. Needless to say those who supported the RSS, were vocal in denying that it was in anyway a Fascist organisation. I am reluctant to use the term fascist when dealing with the RSS for a number of reasons, but the issue I think is an open one. It should be noted however, that the RSS does have some of the characteristics of a paramilitary organisation with its Shaka drills, strict discipline and khaki uniform. Moreover, we should note that the RSS does have a supreme leader - what else is the Sarsangchalak but a spiritual Generalissimo whose diktat cannot be questioned. There is no democracy within the RSS as one is meant to obey very strictly the orders of the senior leaders. In this the RSS's discipline is envied by many other political formations (the only comparable cadre organisation to it is that of the Communist parties); if the BJP had some of this discipline when governing they would be difficult to beat in an election. It is interesting compare the Hindutva organisations to those of the Left especially the Communists as both have very disciplined and motivated cadres (though there has been backsliding here as well) but there are some differences between the two sets of cadres.. I find it very revealing that no RSS/BJP split has occurred on a similar scale to that of the Left parties whose factionalism and splitting in India is legendary. The RSS does do a lot of work that does not fit into the traditional schema of a fascist organisation - it runs educational schools, provides scholarships and performs aid and development work. No fascist organisation I know of does this on such a broad level, moreover it does categorise itself as a predominantly "cultural" rather than a political organisation - again odd, Fascist organisations are usually quite happy to project themselves as political organisations that explicitly seek political power. Not that such work is benign or done purely out of altruism as it has propaganda value and the effect of assuring minorities like adivasis and Dalits that there is a place for them in Hindutva society - but then one can argue that Christian missionaries do the same work as do more explicitly fundamentalist organisations such as Hamas in the occupied territories and the Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt. In fact, the Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt runs an impressive parallel welfare system that ensure it has a great deal of support amongst the urban poor and this translates into support for fundamentalist activities against the state. I think the RSS in this way functions more as a fundamentalist religious organisation than a fascist one. We must be wary of throwing around the word fascism, as it too often becomes a blanket word to tar anybody who we want to stigmatise and exclude. I particularly dislike the use of the term fascism when applied to Islamic Fundamentalists in the Middle East - journalists such as Christopher Hitchens use the term Islamo-facism which I think is grossly inaccurate. Here it plainly becomes a term to create a broad coalition, as in the Second World War Fascism was the one enemy that everyone from Russian Communists to American Capitalists banded together to fight. What the Islamic Fundamentalists really seem to hate is the continuing impasse over Palestine and the American military presence in the region. In any case, I do not think the Shiv Sena qualifies as a democratic Hindu organisation - especially as it was only when forced to do so by the Election Commission did it consent to conducting internal elections. What ensued was amusing as Sainiks scrambled to ascertain from the leadership who they should vote for. Furthermore if I am not mistaken the candidate for the post of Sarsangchalak in the RSS usually runs without an opposing candidate making the election a mere formality. All these factors make the Sangh Parivar’s democratic credentials and commitment to democracy questionable to say the least. I agree with Vikash's reservations and dislike using the term fascist when talking about the saffron front in India, though some prominent critics like Arundhati Roy are quite happy to label them in this way. Not only does this betray the tendency to collapse anybody one doesn't like under some master signifier of evil; but it is also somewhat inaccurate. As Vikash, points out there are two basic elements to Fascism, my interpretation is similar to his: there is first how they resolve or propose to deal with the basic economic conflicts at the heart of society and the structural struggle between Capital and Labour and then secondly there is the anti-liberal/racist element as that Vikash has described, to this I would also add the particular use of nationalism that Fascism employs: harking past to a lost golden age which preceded the fall from grace and promising a restoration of the era when the Nation was a power to be feared. This can take several forms from Mussolini's evocation of the ancient Roman Empire and its glories, which he promised to recapture for the modern Italian nation to the more sinister First Reich of Germany born in the ancient Germanic forests that the Nazis looked back to. Such nationalism uses both Conservative notions of cultural superiority with a Romantic nostalgia for the past to achieve its effect. As with regards to its application to India, I am not sure whether the Hindutva forces can aptly be described as "fascist" in the same way, in line with my earlier observations on them I think two further differences exist that make the use of such a label problematic. Firstly, as scholars such as Jaffrelot show, the Hindutva thinkers nowhere espouse a biological form of racism, but a socio-cultural one. The desire of thinkers such as Savarkar and Gowalkar is not to exterminate of eliminate the Muslims, Dalits, Adivasis etc. but to subsume them within a greater Hindu Rashtra. Hence Savarkar ends his book as to Who is a Hindu with a call for Muslims to give up their conversion to Islam and to take up arms as Hindu Kshatriyas and Gowalkar says that minorities must become fully Indian and have to regard India as their Holy Land and venerate Hindu culture above all else – contingent upon doing this they will become part of the nation. Hindutva Nation building is not premised upon the identification and elimination of a foreign evil element within the body politic like the Jews were for the Germans but rather on the incorporation of those foreign elements (albeit on very unequal and mandatory terms) into the greater Hindu Rashtra. Secondly, I also think that rather than corporatist, the Hindutva project does rest on a much more Conservative alliance between the state and Capital against Labour, though ostensibly class differences are meant to be subsumed. Such a false resolution is ultimately untenable and unrealistic, here I always recall the perennial criticism of Fritz Lang’s Metropolis with the last scene of artificial reconciliation between Joh the Master of Metropolis (Capital) and Grot agent provocateur turned revolutionary (Labour) being an unconvincing and forced ending). A closer examination of Hindu Right parties will show their close collaboration with landed, mercantile and industrial interests, even if we go beyond the typical characterisations of the BJP as a Brahmin-Bania party (though these two castes are disproportionately influential within the party) the current BJP which was preceded by the Jan Sangh was it self an amalgamation of several other political forces including the only right wing party that ever existed in India – the Swatantra party and the Ganatantra Parishad representing the feudal landowners and former rulers of the more conservative Princely Kingdoms; this gives some indications as to the socio-economic roots of the BJP. This relationship and the dynamics of economic policy under the BJP for me point to a more conservative reading. These reasons are the basis for my hesitation in applying the Fascist label readily to the Hindutva organisationsand as Vikash points out we need to develop a new and precise terminology to deal with the rise of Hindu Nationalism. :: Conrad Barwa 9:03 PM [Permanent Link] :: comments(0) :: .............. How Blair tried to sell jets and peace to India: I seem to recall that we had pointed out the irony in this kind of thing a few months ago, when looking at the role of the US/UK in supposedly "bringing peace to Kahsmir" it drives home the point I think that Pakistan and India have got to summon up the will to tackle their problems bilaterally and between just themselves, involving outside powers is not really going to help in the long term. The Guardian carried this story on its front page today: Tony Blair personally lobbied the Indian prime minister, Atal Bihari Vajpayee, to buy British Hawk jets during a recent Chequers meeting despite the continuing crisis with Pakistan over Kashmir.Mr Blair's sales pitch at his country retreat comes at a time when India and Pakistan have hundreds of thousands of troops facing each other in the divided Himalayan region. The prime minister, during informal talks last Saturday, urged Mr Vajpayee to work to reduce tension with Pakistan. But the Guardian has learned that Mr Blair combined this plea for peace with a sales pitch on behalf of Britain's biggest defence manufacturer, BAE Systems. [Read more at the Guardian ] What to me is particularly insulting about Blair's stand is his obvious use of evangelical style of politics as a way of selling his government's policies to the British public - one cannot blame a leader for furthering the interest of his own state, but to combine such an aproach with rhetoric that is heaviliy Christianised and preachy in its character and tone is just dishonest and drags religion into spheres where it does not belong. :: Conrad Barwa 1:51 PM [Permanent Link] :: comments(0) :: .............. Iraq crises due to Oil: Former Indian PM Trawling through the archives led me to stumble on this little item. Little bit dated, but an interesting take from the former Primie Minister IK Gujral; Gujral was Ambassador to the USSR in the 1970's and Foreign Minister during the VP Singh government of 1989 and when he was Prime Minister was responsible for the "Gujral doctrine" which aimed to imporve India's relationship with its neighbours by taking the first step and offering concessions as a foundation for improved ties. It just shows the lack of imagination in Indian foreign policy that such a commonsense approach was so feted at the time as something novel and heralding a new era in the international relations of the region; unfortuantely it was shortlived as the United Front government soon collapsed and the BJP coalition came to power in the subsequent elections. Still, the Gurjal doctrine did not achieve much concrete success on the ground, the sole exception that comes to my mind being the resolution of the Farrakha barrage issue of distributing the waters in the lower Ganges with Bangladesh; a sensible accomodation in this matter saw the surpirising site of an Indian Prime Minister being praised and esteemed in Dhaka, where antagonism towards India has traditionally been the norm. NEW DELHI, September 22 (PNS): Former Indian Prime Minister I. K. Gujral has disclosed that he had made all possible efforts to defuse the crisis of Iraq in 1995 but the then US Foreign Secretary informed him it was due to oil reserves. "I thanked God that we do not have oil," he said and elaborated "The pre-independent India had spices, and we paid for it,'' in an apparent reference to the colonial Britain's imperialistic policies. From: PAKNEWS :: Conrad Barwa 1:30 PM [Permanent Link] :: comments(0) :: .............. :: Sunday, October 20, 2002 :: History as Farce: Conrad's comments about the term "Axis-of-Evil" points to an growing problem in US war mobilization tactics. The repeated references to World War II imagery have begun to wear thin. The entire idea of "Axis-of-Evil" was never taken seriously, even by members of Bush's own political party. The use of WWII references and particularly references to nazi fascism are old hat for the US propaganda machine. In his latest book, Clash of Fundamentalisms, Tariq Ali traces all of the people who have been labelled as the "New Hitler" by the US: Gamel Abdel Nasser ("Hitler on the Nile"), Saddam Hussein, Slobodan Milosevic, Osama bin Laden. Hitler is the vampire of the American imagination -- he reappears in new guises after each death. But how long can this myth be trotted out to excite American citizens in the desire for war? In fact, the only interesting turn in this stale imaginary was the pronouncement during the German elections by a politician that the Europeans were appeasing Bush, much like Chamberlin did to Hitler. (Truth be told this did go too far.). The term fascist has become too broadly applied and it is begining to lose its force. For the US, any enemy is ipso facto considered either Fascist or Communist. Hence, it was not surprising when Francis Fukuyama began touting the phrase "Islamo-fascist." The convenience of metaphorically placing the new enemy into a SS outfit, turban and all, was just too easy to resist. The left cannot be exempted from the overuse of the term fascist and the imagery of WWII. I myself am quite guilty of overusing the term "Hindu-fascists" to describe members of my faith/culture with whom I have mortal disagreements. I am begining to wonder though whether or not I need to script Hindutva types in this manner. I agree with Christope Jaffrelot's careful study which documents the fascist elements within the RSS ideology and world view. However, I wonder whether or not I am insulting my audience when I must dumb down all the threats to secular democracy in coded language from another area/era. Aren't there parallels here between the ways in which Marxists attempted to analyze caste relations in India as a "feudal mode of production"? In what ways does the term "fascist" mask very real differences between current threats and those associated with Hitler's Germany? The first step toward clarification is to distinguish between the form of political organization in Hitler's Germany, i.e. "corporatism" and the anti-liberal/racist ideology/policies of that regime. The latter aspect of fascism is commonly what people intend when they deploy the term "fascism." There are also those who simply use the words fascism, communism, and "evil" interchangably. What I would like is a way to indicate the combination of anti-liberalism and racism without necessarily invoking the other elements of the term "fascist". What I am arguing for is a more precise terminology that helps us to understand aspects of the threat to secular democracy. Maybe until we can fashion such a term we should all restrict ourselves from using the term "fascist." :: Vikash Yadav 10:39 PM [Permanent Link] :: comments(0) ::
Posted by: Kaushal Feb 18 2004, 06:29 PM
rajesh, the article on saving secularism was hilarious ROTFL.gif
Posted by: acharya Feb 23 2004, 07:54 PM
AWAAZ – SOUTH ASIA WATCH LIMITED, LONDON, UK A UK-based South Asian secular network committed to challenging all forms of religious hatred and violence Contacts: Suresh Grover (+44) 020 8843 2333 / (+44) 07958 174451 G. Priya (+44) 07906 296353 Chetan Bhatt (+44) 07769 975896 Email:contact@a... PRESS RELEASE STRICT EMBARGO: 26 February 2004 IN THE NAME OF CHARITY British public is funding Hindutva extremism A UK report to be launched at the House of Lords on February 26 presents alarming new evidence that under the cloak of humanitarian charity, massive donations from the British public were used to fund sangh parivar organisations. The report is launched just before the second anniversary of the horrific 2002 Gujarat carnage. Prepared by Awaaz - South Asia Watch Ltd, a London-based secular network, the report In Bad Faith? British Charity and Hindu Extremism, says RSS branches in the UK have been raising large amounts of money in the name of charity for natural disasters like the Gujarat earthquake and the Orissa supercyclone. Virtually all the money raised went to sangh parivar groups, including groups that have incited anti-minority violence. "We do not think it is a coincidence that the two Indian states where Hindutva networks, violence and hatred have grown phenomenally in recent years both had natural and human tragedies (the Gujarat earthquake 2001, the Orissa cyclone 1999) followed by massive amounts of funding to Hindutva organisations from overseas under the guise of humanitarian charity", says the report. "It is ironic that the sangh parivar have attacked foreign funding of minority groups when they themselves use such funding to expand their own influence", Awaaz says. The report, which will be available on February 26, demonstrates that the UK-based Sewa International sent £2 million raised for Gujarat earthquake relief to its Indian counterpart Sewa Bharati. Sewa Bharati is a part of the sangh parivar and proudly proclaims its association with the RSS and its desire to expand Hindutva networks. Much of the earthquake money was spent on building RSS schools that indoctrinate children into Hindutva and promote anti-minority hatred. Money from the UK was also given to other sangh parivar organisations (such as the Vanvasi Kalyan Ashram) that are involved or implicated in serious, large scale anti-minority violence. "Most British donors would be horrified if they knew the nature, history and ideas of the RSS. British individuals raised funds and donated in good faith to Sewa International's Gujarat earthquake appeals but would not have done so had they known that the organisation raising the money was closely linked to the Fascist- inspired and extremist RSS," says Awaaz. Sewa International is not registered as a British charity, but is the fundraising arm of the registered charity Hindu Swayamsevak Sangh (HSS), the UK branch of the RSS. The report exposes the connections of the HSS, Sewa International and the Kalyan Ashram Trust (another UK registered charity) to sangh parivar violence or extremism in India. "Sewa International has tried to dupe politicians, donors and the general public. Its main purpose is to fund, expand and glorify hate- driven RSS organizations, several of which have been at the forefront of large scale violence, pogroms or hate campaigns in India. Its claim to be a non-sectarian, non-political, non-religious humanitarian charity is a sham," said Awaaz spokesperson Suresh Grover. In the thoroughly documented report, Awaaz clearly establishes the strong ties between Sewa International and major Hindutva organisations in India. It has called for the Charity Commissioner to withdraw the charity status of three British charities: Hindu Swayamsevak Sangh (HSS) UK, the Vishwa Hindu Parishad (VHP) UK, and the Kalyan Ashram Trust. The HSS and Sewa International are currently under formal investigation by the UK Charity Commission. [ENDS] FOR MORE INFORMATION Email contact@a... Phone Suresh Grover: (+44) 020 8843 2333 / (+44) 07958 174451 G. Priya: (+44) 07906 296353 Chetan Bhatt: (+44) 07769 975896 NOTES 1. The report is to be launched 26 February 2004 at the UK House of Lords (9.45am, Room 3, House of Lords, Westminster, London SW1A 0PW.) Lord Adam Patel, Jeremy Corbyn MP and others are scheduled to be present. If you wish to register to attend, please email: contact@a.... 2. The full report will be available at the launch and from The report summary is attached. Detailed section summaries for the press / media are available now – please email: contact@a.... All material strictly embargoed until 26 February. 3. The report is called In Bad Faith? British Charity and Hindu Extremism, published by Awaaz – South Asia Watch Ltd, London, 2004, ISBN 0 9547174 0 6. 4. RSS organizations funded from the UK include: Vanvasi Kalyan Ashram, involved in the Gujarat 2002 carnage and in the late-1990s anti-Christian violence in Dangs, Gujarat. The RSS's Lok Kalyan Samiti (Trust) in Chanasma village, Gujarat, implicated in violence against Muslims and the illegal occupation of statutory waqf board premises and land. The RSS's Border Jankalyan Samiti in Gujarat. The Jankalyan Samiti's Maharashtra branch was involved in violence against Christians. Sewa Bharati Gujarat, the main recipient of UK funds. Sewa Bharati's Madhya Pradesh branch has been repeatedly accused of violence against Christians. The RSS's Utkal Bipanna Sahayata Samiti in Orissa. It received large amounts of money from the UK following the 1999 cyclone. Numerous `education' projects run by Vidya Bharati, Sewa Bharati, Vishwa Hindu Parishad and the Vanvasi Kalyan Ashram. This includes various Saraswati Vidya / Shishu Mandirs (RSS schools) built from Gujarat earthquake funds raised from the UK public. It also includes a large number of ekal vidyalayas (one-teacher schools) organised by the VHP, Sewa Bharati, Vanvasi Kalyan Ashram and Vidya Bharati.
Posted by: Viren Mar 1 2004, 12:07 PM
Was posted by Reggie in another thread... Secularism and appeasement of Muslims BY SWAPAN DASGUPTA If you need a textbook illustration of how secularist intervention can create discord, sometimes out of thin air, you need only look at the Uttar Pradesh Government's order last Thursday to declare Friday a half-day in educational institutions of the state. The order, modified after protests in the state Assembly the next day, was a shameless act of tokenism aimed at reinforcing Muslim separateness and using the community as communal fodder. It was an act of provocation that may yet end up needlessly vitiating the atmosphere between Hindus and Muslims. The issue is not, and never was, the right of Muslim students to offer Friday prayers. Like those Hindus who privately observe a fast on Tuesdays, most Muslims have happily used their lunch break to offer Friday namaz without that religious observance becoming an issue of state policy. There are public holidays for special occasions such as Id, Mohurrum and, following V.P. Singh's grandstanding from Red Fort in 1990, the Prophet's birthday. Being a faith-driven country, India has an exemplary record of readily accommodating the religious rites and rituals of all its citizens. The right of worship has never been an issue, not even during periods of intense communal tension. Indeed, there was no real demand from any quarter that teachers and students enjoy an extended weekend from Friday noon. If there was any universal Muslim demand, it was that the community should have more access to modern education so as to get over its colossal economic backwardness. Muslims, as the ever loquacious Arun Jaitley put it, "need education, more education not more holidays." It was a truism that was lost on Chief Minister Mulayam Singh Yadav. Now, Mulayam enjoys a reputation of being uncompromisingly secular. Translated into political terms it means that he has the ability to mobilise the support of large sections of Muslims on the polling day. In the past this support has been built on the strength of his no-holds-barred opposition to the BJP and his perceived advocacy of Muslim interests. Dating back to his image as a doughty crusader against the Ram Janmabhoomi movement in 1990-91, Mulayam has even earned himself the sobriquet Maulana. Yet this image has undeniably been eroded in recent times. The Leftists and progressives who dominate the chattering classes and exercise a disproportionate influence in the media have never forgiven Mulayam for his stubborn refusal to support Sonia Gandhi as prime minister in 1999, after Atal Behari Vajpayee was brought down by a single vote. Their impatience with Mulayam has increased with his continuing refusal to ally with Sonia for the coming general election. Desperate to secure the removal of Vajpayee and the NDA, it is the country's ultra-secularists who have also put out the whisper that Mulayam has entered into a secret understanding with the BJP. The intensity of the whispers has grown with Mulayam changing his political style over the years. From being regarded as the general of a lumpen army, he has become a darling of Mumbai's big business houses and has also made some inroads into the Hindu middle classes. Even on the vexed issue of Ayodhya, Mulayam has actually encouraged a process of Hindu-Muslim dialogue to resolve the issue. For anyone who cared to notice, there was, until this controversy erupted, a marked difference between the secular politics of today's Mulayam and the secular activism practised by him a decade ago. This didn't suit the secularist agenda. They sought to destroy the new Mulayam and chipped away at his Muslim base with a highly effective whisper campaign. A nervous Chief Minister chose last Thursday to send the signal that he can still be counted on to take up Muslim causes fearlessly, even when the cause itself is dubious. Tragically, secularist politicians have always chosen the route of separatist appeasement to court the Muslim vote. Whether it is the Muslim personal laws or the bans on books by Salman Rushdie or Tasleema Nasreen, secularists have always appealed to Muslims as a religious community that is somehow different from their Hindu neighbours. They have either played on Muslim fears or pandered to the most regressive sections of the community. In return, narrow-minded community leaders have ensured that on the polling day the Muslim turnout is significantly higher than the rest of the population. Either way they have encouraged the Muslim community to believe that their political clout lies in sticking steadfast to the ghettos and wearing the badge of separateness. It is one of the monumental contributions of secularist politics that Muslim self-interest has been tied, not to better roads, better living conditions and better education, but to the triple talaq, to beef, to a hatred of Israel and America, to glorification of Osama bin Laden and suicide bombers, and to holidays on Friday. A regressive agenda has been promoted to keep Muslims apart, backward and frightened. Mulayam succumbed to this agenda because this is the only path familiar to secularists. The onus is now on the Muslim community itself to show there is an alternative to secular fundamentalism. The alternative is mushrooming local movements to pressure District Magistrates into closing schools and colleges on Friday afternoons. And that, inevitably, will trigger a backlash giving secularists another opportunity to become apoplectic at the menace of Hindu communalism.
Posted by: Kaushal Mar 1 2004, 03:45 PM
One is sometimes challenged by secularists to give an example of appeasement, even though plenty of examples abound. The above action by Maulana Mulayam is a typical example of appeasement. The action serves little purpose. It does not advance the cause of Muslims one whit. It does not help them become better educated or become better citizens. It does not help them face the challenges of life any better than before. it is purely and simply a bone thrown at them as you would to your pet dog. Such is what passes for secularism in our Bharat mahaan today.
Posted by: acharya Mar 1 2004, 06:48 PM
HABIT OF TREASON - It has become the new fashion to criticize India Shining By Swapan Dasgupta Two decades ago, when socialism still ruled the roost and the sun shone brightly on dynastic democracy, the beautiful people of New Delhi used to usher the New Year at home rather than celebrate it boisterously in Goa. Those were more sedate and settled times when the distinction between the elite and the parvenu was more marked and less negotiable. For the genteel and the well-heeled, there was only one place to be seen those foggy December 31 nights — the open house kept by Romesh Thapar in Diplomatic Enclave. So it was on the last day of 1984 that, courtesy my friend, TV presenter Karan Thapar, I found myself rubbing shoulders with the crème de la crème of the Indian intelligentsia. It was an experience that remains vividly etched in memory. The day before, the votes of the general election had been counted and the greenhorn Rajiv Gandhi had coasted to the most emphatic electoral victory in India's history. It was an exciting time to be in the Capital. An India traumatized by the assassination of Indira Gandhi and its bloody aftermath had voted decisively for the leader and the party who, it then seemed, could preserve and protect national unity. Rajiv was still an unknown commodity, but he was thought to be infinitely preferable to the tired, rag-tag opposition leaders. At a time of turbulence, he epitomized certitude and even a fresh start. That was the national mood and the national consensus. Curiously, I didn't find any reflection of that in the gathering at the Thapar party. The mood, on the contrary, was very bitter. Yes, there were innumerable disparaging comments on the ineffectiveness of the Chandra Shekhars, Charan Singhs, Namboodiripads and Bahugunas whose parties had been roundly defeated, but they were tinged with unmistakable contempt for people who had voted on the strength of their emotions. Memories of the anti-Sikh riots that had scarred Delhi two months ago were still fresh, and I distinctly recall one despondent worthy slurring inanities about fascism. That night was neither the time nor the place to talk about the other side of the story. I was in an agreeable intellectual ghetto whose inhabitants were beleaguered. It is a different matter that many of those present that evening were keeping open private lines of communication with the Doon School lot that constituted the new power centre. In the company of fellow intellectuals it was de rigueur to swim against the national tide. The more things change, the more they remain the same. For the past two months India has witnessed a buzz centred on national achievements and national pride. What began as a routine flaunting of its performance by the Atal Bihari Vajpayee government was transformed by a clever copywriter into one of the most effective advertising campaigns in recent times. "India Shining" is not merely a catchy phrase; it has become the theme of this year's general election campaign. Together with deputy prime minister L.K. Advani's invocation of "feel good", these two words have come to symbolize the headiness of post-socialist India and its soaring ambitions. A process that began with the Pokhran-II blasts of May 1998 has been taken to the political battlefield. It is always possible to have a nuanced view of India Shining and to separate the hype from a hard-nosed assessment of India's standing in today' s world. After all, it would call for a generous dose of magic realism to believe that Bihar is also shining. It is also not necessary to go along with the overstated history-began-in-1998 view and be more even-handed in distributing credit for India's achievements to governments past and present. Finally, it is also not obligatory to equate India Shining with an unequivocal vote for Vajpayee in April. I certainly know one Bengali notable who is thrilled with today's India, but is at the same time unwavering in his belief that Europeans are more dignified than Indians and, therefore, would make better prime ministers. I wish our intellectuals could be as delightfully maverick. Unfortunately, the trajectory of intellectual dissent has followed a drearily predictable path. I have lost count of the number of articles and essays in publications (including this one) where the indictment of India Shining goes something along these lines: I was cruising down the Golden Quadrilateral when I encountered Bittoo staring blankly into the eyes of his wife thinking about where the next meal is going to come from because he has been run out of business by the spanking new MNC outlet and at the same time wondering whether his childhood friend Abdul is safe in Narendra Modi's Gujarat. These lachrymose indictments of Vajpayee's India invariably conclude with the poser: Is their India shining? To quote the historian A.J.P. Taylor's immortal words on the sayings of Metternich: "Men could have done better while shaving." Judging from not that long ago, when intellectuals in decrepit coffee houses imagined Fanshen and compared the miserable plight of their countrymen with the land where man-met-girl-met-tractor, we have come a long way. Like India, our intellectuals today are more global and more connected. They strategize with fellow-dissidents in Pakistan by email and network with the fraternity of NGOs at anti- globalization festivals in Mumbai. They dominate the op-ed pages with their concern for the minorities, their hatred for President Bush. Their protests are covered by NDTV and their exclusion from the electoral rolls is big news in The Hindu. Their novels "almost" make it to the Booker shortlist each year and their rants against middle-class fascism in India feature in that ultimate repository of post-Marxist enlightenment, The New York Review of Books. From the time Romesh Thapar's guest-list fulminated in the Economic and Political Weekly, spent countless hours debating agricultural prices with stalwarts in the planning commission and was united in their hatred of Jagadish Bhagwati and Jack Gallagher, the Indian intellectual has definitely moved on. They may have lost the sarkari patronage showered on them by Indira Gandhi, but they have more than made up by becoming citizens of Arundhati Roy's "mobile republic". As I see it, this elevated citizen- ship does not come without strings attached. To be truly global, the intellectual must become anti-national. He must disavow motherhood and apple pie in New York, defy the Tebbit test in London and proclaim "anyone but England" and confront the effrontery of India to aspire for life beyond the Third World. He must perennially confront what the philosopher Roger Scruton calls "ordinary decencies." In short, he must mock the national mood. He must talk it down. Intellectual fashion demands the complete repudiation of India Shining. When India is aiming for the skies, the intellectual is prying into the gutter and triumphantly dissecting the sewage. Earlier, dissent was coupled with a fierce, if misplaced, sense of patriotism. In the high noon of cosmopolitanism, the intellectual no longer has a stake in India. It is fashion repeating itself. Sometime in the 1880s, perhaps as an act of bravado, the one and only George Nathaniel Curzon, then a student at Balliol, joined an Oxford dining club founded by the rakish anti-imperialist, Wilfred Blunt. As India glows in its recovery of self, a letter he wrote to Blunt could, arguably, be a fitting epitaph to the lost intellectual. "My dear Wilfred, your poetry is delightful and your morals, though deplorable, enchanting. But why are you a traitor to your country?" source:

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