Deep Divisions Mark India's Independence Day 2018

The rise of Hindutva forces is tearing India apart along caste and religious lines as the country celebrates 71 years of independence from the British colonial rule.  Hindu mobs are lynching Muslims and Dalits. A recent  Pew Research report confirms that the level of hostility against religious minorities in India is "very high", giving India a score of 9.5 on a scale from 0 to 10. Pakistan's score on this scale is 7 while Bangladesh's is 7.5.

Chart Courtesy of Bloomberg
Will India Break Up? 

In recently published "The Raisina Model",  British-Indian author Lord Meghnad Desai asks: "A country of many nations, will India break up?" The Hindu Nationalists who are blamed for deepening divisions are themselves divided on the key questions of caste, religion and trade.  Professor Walter Anderson, co-author of "The RSS: The View to the Inside" raises the specter of "a battle between Hindutva and Hinduism".




The Raisina Model:

In "The Raisina Model", Lord Meghand Desai says that India's breakup can not be ruled out. Specifically, he points to three issues that could lead to it:

1.  Cow protection squads are killing Muslims and jeopardizing their livelihoods.  The current agitation about beef eating and gau raksha is in the Hindi belt just an excuse for attacking Muslims blatantly. As most slaughterhouses in UP are Muslim-owned, owners and employees of these places are prime targets.

2. India has still not fashioned a narrative about its nationhood which can satisfy all. The two rival narratives—secular and Hindu nation—are both centred in the Hindi belt extending to Gujarat and Maharashtra at the most. This area comprises 51% of the total population and around 45% of the Muslims in India.

3. India has avoided equal treatment of unequal units. Representation in the Rajya Sabha (Upper House of Parliament) is proportional to population size. If anything, it is the smaller states that may complain about being marginalized, though so far none has. The larger states thus dominate both Houses of Parliament. It would be difficult for small states to object, much less initiate reform. In future, small states could unite to present their case for better treatment. Except for Punjab and Nagaland, there has been no attempt to challenge the status quo.

Map of India(s) on the eve of British conquest in 1764


Hindutva vs Hinduism:

In  "The RSS: The View to the Inside", the author Walter Anderson brings out several areas which could lead to a split within the Hindu Nationalists. These disagreements have to do with low caste Hindus, Muslims and  foreign trade and investment policies.

1. The leadership of the the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS) is drawn entirely from the upper caste Brahmins. The RSS founder Golwalkar never spoke against the caste system. The RSS opposes affirmative action, called reservations, to benefit low caste Hindus. At the same time, they want to integrate Dalits and OBCs (Other backward classes of which Prime Minister Modi is a member) into the organization to promote Hindu unity.

Anderson believes that it will be extremely difficult to reconcile Hindutva embrace of lower castes with the entrenched Hindu caste system. He says the following:

"..there will eventually be a battle between Hindutva and Hinduism. Hindutva emphasizes the oneness of Hindus, whereas ground realities are very different. Let me give an example. Following the egalitarian ideology, Tarun Vijay, an RSS ideologue and former editor of Panchjanya and Organiser, once led some Dalits into a temple in central India, where they had not been before. He was beaten up, but few in the RSS family vocally supported him. They kept mostly quiet. As one important RSS functionary put it to me, the key question is: how do we keep our organisation intact if we do move towards an egalitarian Hindu society?"

2. When RSS leader MD Deoras invited Indian Muslims to join the RSS, he argued that Muslims were mostly India-born, and therefore Indian. But he made the Muslim entry into the RSS conditional upon accepting India’s “historic culture”.  RSS leaders argue that South Indian Muslims, or Indonesian Muslims are ideal Muslims. South Indian Muslims speak the regional languages; and Indonesia, a primarily Muslim country, has the Ramayana as its national epic.

3. Many RSS ideologues oppose Prime Minister Modi's policies of promoting foreign trade and investment. They view Modi's economic policies with great skepticism.

Summary:

The rise of RSS and its affiliates in India is deepening divisions in the country along multiple fault lines, the most important being caste and religion. The RSS leadership itself is not unified on how to deal with the divisions they have created and promoted. This situation has raised the social hostilities in India to very high levels. Pew scores social hostilities against minorities in India at 9.5 on a scale from 0 to 10.  Professor Walter Anderson, co-author of "The RSS: The View to the Inside" has raised the specter of "a battle between Hindutva and Hinduism". And it has caused Lord Meghnad Desai, author of The Raisina Model, to ask the question: Will India break up?

Comments

Riaz Haq said…
Muslims in Sanskrit texts
Kuldeep Kumar


https://www.thehindu.com/books/books-authors/muslims-in-sanskrit-texts/article24763856.ece/amp/?__twitter_impression=true

A study of the works of historians Brajadulal Chattopadhyaya and Audrey Trushke suggests that the Muslim ‘other’ was really not so much ‘other’


Romila Thapar, the pre-eminent historian of early India, drew attention in her various lectures and articles to the schema of periodisation suggested by James Mill in the early nineteenth century that saw Indian society emerging out of three periods –Hindu, Muslim and British. While he divided the pre-British history on the basis of religion, he did not term the British period as Christian and set the colonial paradigm of viewing the period of Muslim’s arrival in India as one of permanent struggle between the native Hindus and the invader Muslims. Unfortunately, this colonial paradigm continues to be followed by the Hindu nationalists even till this day.

Seminal research

While acknowledging the pioneering work done by Thapar, who wrote in 1971 on the image of barbarian in early India, and by Aloka Parasher who wrote on a monograph on the category of people called Mlechchhas and about the way Indians looked at the outsiders up to 600 AD, Chattopadhyaya devotes his research to the period that falls between the eighth and the fourteenth centuries.

It is a noteworthy fact that the Sanskrit texts and inscriptions of these six centuries rarely referred to the Muslims in religious terms. Instead, ethnic or regional terms were generally employed to refer to them.

They included terms such as Turushka, Tajika, Mlechchha, Parasika, Yavana, Hammira, Gori, Turaka, Matanga and Garjanaka. Only in Veraval inscription of the time of Vaghela Arjunadeva, issued in the year 1264, one finds the term Musalmaana used to denote the Muslims.

Between fifteenth and seventeenth centuries too, Yavana, Shaka and Turushka were used but new words like Pathana, Mugil, Sultana and Patrishaha also made their appearance. Interestingly, Allavadina (Alauddin Khilji) was referred to as Dillishwar and Yavana and his soldiers were called Turushka. There are ample references in the Sanskrit texts of this period to the forging of political alliances between Yavana rulers and local or regional rulers who too were described not as Hindus but by their family names like Kakatiyas or Pandyas.

In fact, in the circa 1330 AD inscription of Vilasa (Pithapuram, East Godavari district) grant of Prolaya Nayaka, the Delhi Sultan – often Sultan was Sanskritised as Suratran – who brought calamity to the Andhradesha, was viewed as somebody who was carrying on the tradition of Parashurama in his role as the destroyer of the kshatriyas!

A meticulous and erudite scholar, Chattopadhyaya after discussing a great many Sanskrit sources in detail arrives at the conclusion that they “do not project the image of the Muslims as an undifferentiated ‘other’.” It is also significant that they do not represent them as a religious group and choose to identify them on the basis of their ethnic or spatial origins. Indian society was not unfamiliar with ‘otherness’ as there were so many ‘others’ like the tribals and lower castes that were outside the pale of the Brahmanical order and whose moral world was incompatible with the caste-based varnashrama dharma. Therefore, if one believes the contemporary Sanskrit sources, the engagement between the Muslims and the indigenous people took place at various levels. “A situation of unmitigated hostility and conflict through centuries would not have produced the kind of evidence that we have cited,” writes Chattopadhyaya.
Riaz Haq said…
#Hindu lynch mobs killing #Muslims without fear in #Modi’s #India


https://www.washingtonpost.com/amphtml/world/asia_pacific/we-dont-have-any-fear-indias-angry-young-men-and-its-lynch-mob-crisis/2018/08/26/9a0a247a-a0aa-11e8-a3dd-2a1991f075d5_story.html?noredirect=on&__twitter_impression=true

‘We don’t have any fear’: India’s angry young men and its lynch mob crisis
By Annie GowenAugust 27, 2018 at 6:37 AM

Hindu activist Ram Kumar leads a march in honor of India’s Independence Day near Agra, India. (Ram Kumar/)
GOVARDHAN, India —The two young men at the leadership camp were soft-spoken yet assured, from well-off families, wearing aviator sunglasses and flip-flops.

The right-wing activists say they have beaten men they suspected of violating core Hindu beliefs and threatened interfaith couples because they fear Muslims are stealing their women. They say they’re ready to kill for their faith if necessary.

“Even if a life is lost, we don’t care,” said Ram Kumar, 23.

It’s been a summer of rage in India. Dozens have been killed by lynch mobs, and extremist Hindus continue to assault and kill others, many of them Muslims. In the latest viral video, religious pilgrims angered over a minor traffic incident used sticks to demolish a car as police looked on.

Much blame has been cast on India’s governing Hindu nationalist Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) and Prime Minister Narendra Modi, with critics charging that they have encouraged violence by Hindu extremists. But India’s problem of male rage has roots beyond the strident Hindu nationalism embraced by the current government.

India has more than 600 million people under age 25, and they have greater access to technology and education than ever before. Yet millions have little hope of finding decent jobs, and a “bachelor bomb” of more than 37 million surplus men — a legacy of generations of a preference for sons and aborting female fetuses — threatens social stability for decades.


Ram Kumar, left, and Gaurav Sharma, right, at a leadership camp for Hindu activists in Govardhan, India, in June. (Annie Gowen/The Washington Post)
“People are frustrated that they are not being able to get jobs,” a leader from Modi’s party, Vasundhara Raje, told the channel CNN-News18. “There is angst which is spreading across communities and people. . . . It’s a reaction to their circumstances.”

More than 1 million job seekers enter the labor market each month, many with poor English and inadequate job skills, but the country generated only 1.8 million additional jobs last year, according to the Center for Monitoring Indian Economy, a research firm. Modi says the number of new jobs last year was closer to 7 million.

Without solid prospects, many young men are gravitating to India’s growing right-wing nationalist organizations, where they find a sense of purpose.

Over time, a stereotype of a right-wing troll has emerged: keyboard jockeys with too much time on their hands, sitting in their childhood bedrooms furiously tweeting about every perceived slight to Hinduism and Modi.

This summer, Kumar attended a leadership camp sponsored by the Hindu nationalist World Hindu Council, where he learned to protect cows, which Hindus regard as sacred, protect women’s modesty and prevent outsiders from converting Hindus to other faiths. The youths did military drills in the baking heat, slept in the spartan concrete dorm rooms, and ate lentils and rice.

Hindu activists do military marching drills at a leadership camp in Govardhan, India, in June. (Annie Gowen/The Washington Post)
Kumar, a college graduate who runs a tent rental company, and Gaurav Sharma, 22, a law student, grew up in Agra, the city of the Taj Mahal, which they see not as an ethereal white monument but as a reminder of the Mughal invaders who subjugated India’s Hindus.

Kumar said that as a boy he was shy, but after joining the Hindu nationalist movement, “I have a strange sense of confidence now. The group has taught us what is right, what we need to do for society.”
Riaz Haq said…
#RamMandir will be built at any cost: #Hindu Nationalist RSS chief. “Even opposition parties (in #India) cannot openly oppose a Ram temple in Ayodhya as they are aware the deity is revered by a majority of Indian" #Ayodhya #Modi #BJP http://toi.in/7jkj_b/a24gk via @timesofindia
Riaz Haq said…
Vicious reaction to #NaseeruddinShah underscores shrinking space for minorities. Shah Rukh Khan was compared to Hafiz Saeed by the #BJP’s Adityanath for speaking about #India’s climate of “extreme intolerance”. #Modi #Hindutva #Islamophobia https://scroll.in/article/906792/the-daily-fix-the-vicious-reaction-to-naseeruddin-shah-underscores-shrinking-space-for-minorities via @scroll_in

“The death of a cow has more significance than that of a police officer,” said actor Naseeruddin Shah in an interview released on December 17. He was referring to the December 3 tumult in Bulandshahr, Uttar Pradesh, in which violence by cow vigilantes from the Bajrang Dal left a policeman dead. Shah highlighted these events as an example of India’s fraught communal climate and the impunity enjoyed by people who commit such acts of violence.

To all reasonable people, there was nothing wrong in what Shah said. It is alarming that the Uttar Pradesh administration decided to prioritise the investigation into the alleged killing of cows that triggered the violence instead trying to detain the men who murdered the police officer. After all, even Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Adityanath had described the inspector’s shooting as an accident. Yet, for stating this simple fact, Shah was called a “Pakistani agent” by the Uttar Pradesh Bharatiya Janata Party chief and accused of treason by Ramdev, the yoga guru-turned-consumer goods magnate who is perceived to be close to the BJP. Most alarming, after protests raised fears of violence, the organisers of the Ajmer Literature Festival on Friday cancelled a session that Shah was to address.


These vicious reactions have less to do with the substance of Shah’s statements and much more to do with his identity as a Muslim. This is not the first time a Muslim actor has been criticised for expressing his views on society and politics. In 2015, Shah Rukh Khan was compared to Pakistani terrorist Hafiz Saeed by the BJP’s Adityanath for speaking about India’s climate of “extreme intolerance”. The next year, much the same thing happened with Aamir Khan: he was attacked for appearing to criticise growing intolerance. The actor even lost a major advertising contract as a result.

The fact that even Muslim celebrities are now expected to keep their political views to themselves sharply illustrates a core aspect of Hindutva: making minorities politically irrelevant. The BJP has made it a point of pride to ignore Muslims during election campaigns, choosing to build a purely Hindu consensus in places such as Uttar Pradesh. Other parties that court Muslims are derided as minority appeasers.

This strategy has been quite successful politically. In many cases, even politicians who want Muslim votes are wary of raising issues that affect the community. Political representation has seen a sharp drop. The number of Muslims in the current Lok Sabha is at an all-time low. There are only 22 Muslim MPs in the 545-strong House – less than a third of what it should have been were the Lok Sabha to mirror India’s demographic composition.

Being involved in the political life of their country is a basic right for any Indian citizen. India’s 170 million Muslims must not be shut out of political affairs.
Riaz Haq said…
How Tulsi Gabbard Unites Bloodstained Hindu Nationalists, the Genocidal Assad and the U.S. Far Right

https://www.haaretz.com/us-news/.premium-how-tulsi-gabbard-unites-bloodstained-modi-genocidal-assad-and-the-u-s-far-right-1.6870890

On the one hand, she condemns the Saudi-U.S. led coalition as complicit in a genocidal war, but she welcomes India’s Prime Minister Narendra Modi, who has been called the "man with a massacre on his hands" with open arms.

Some background: In 2002, Modi was chief minister of the Indian state of Gujarat when fire broke out in a train full of Hindu pilgrims. This is how The Guardian’s Aditya Chakrabortty describes what followed:

"Within hours and without a shred of evidence, Modi declared that the Pakistani secret services had been to blame; he then had the charred bodies paraded in the main city of Ahmedabad; and let his own party support a state-wide strike for three days.

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


Tulsi Gabbard has an exceptional appreciation for Modi.

Hers is a very personal rapport. She presented him with her own copy of the Bhagavad-Gita, on which she took her Congressional oath of office, when he visited the U.S. Modi sent her with "a beautiful message of Krishna" for her wedding. Gabbard then presented him with a CD of music from her wedding.

Upon Mr Modi’s invitation, she took a trip to India where she was widely regarded as the "darling of the BJP and the RSS" – the RSS (a right-wing, Hindu nationalist, paramilitary volunteer organization) being the BJP’s ideological "parent." Both groups, which wield enormous power in India, take pride in a narrow, chauvinistic view of India as a Hindu country where Muslims and other minorities should be considered second-class citizens.

Such was her affinity that Tulsi opposed House Resolution 417 - "Praising India’s rich religious diversity and commitment to tolerance and equality, and reaffirming the need to protect the rights and freedoms of religious minorities" - that was seen as a veiled criticism of Modi. She even tried to brush away the Gujarat pogrom by saying, "There was a lot of misinformation that surrounded the event in 2002."

When it comes to Modi, Gabbard seems to have no pangs of conscience about "destruction, death and suffering" and comfortably wipes the blood off the hands of those complicit in murder.

Why would Tulsi Gabbard damn what she sees as America’s complicity in Yemen but embrace an authoritarian foreign leader with blood on his hands? Why does she openly support and endorse Modi’s poor track record on human rights? What distinction does Gabbard draw between the thousands of Muslims massacred in Gujarat and the thousands of Muslims who died in Yemen? Why isn’t she making a similarly passionate plea to Prime Minister Modi to stop the ongoing mob lynchings and rapes in India?

One obvious reason she won’t do that is the financial and electoral benefits she accrues from openly supporting Modi. By displaying her carefully cultivated public support for Modi, she has won the support of many Indian Americans - particularly those with links to the RSS - by flaunting her 'loyal' Hindu identity.

Riaz Haq said…
The rise of #Hindutva forces is tearing #India apart along caste, religious and linguistic lines. The country has many religions and castes. And 22 official languages. https://www.riazhaq.com/2018/08/deep-divisions-mark-indias-independence.html

https://www.facebook.com/photo.php?fbid=10162362220330584&set=a.10151443201680584&type=3&av=867450583&eav=AfYE_KZdCMiCP-i7gSv9rsCTtq2WvucAmA7YfFQvDpf5ka_8a9mHAETlxOuh8oyKxIg&eid=ARCRwVUvsYa5FNT5iBnWIJj9fbJ3trTH2FNGN2cRlbYF6eRYddcWAO0i-_qkuKynum8CJPaIuX8mvHL-
Riaz Haq said…
#Hindi evolved at a time, when #Urdu – another form of #Hindustani since the 1800s – underwent significant #Persian influence and acquired prestige. Hindi was devised by #Scottish linguists of East India Co – how can it be #India’s National Language? https://thebengalstory.com/english/hindi-was-devised-by-a-scottish-linguist-of-the-east-india-company-it-can-never-be-indias-national-language/?fbclid=IwAR0ABUH6yqJs48NbrB88XCvuELbRfT2a388YANXFS2NOdVYNRr7eROdY0Xc

24 Sep 2019Devdan Chaudhuri
If the Anglophone Indians are derided as ‘Macaulay’s children’, then the Hindi speaking Indians can also be called ‘Gilchrist’s children’.

My late maternal grandmother – who had studied philosophy and biology in the 1940s Calcutta – had told me once during my boyhood, that Calcutta was the birthplace of the modern Hindi language: it was ‘invented’ by the British in Fort William, Calcutta.

I remembered my grandmother’s words when I read the news reports about the recently concluded ‘Hindi Divas’ day when the Union Home Minister Amit Shah pitched for Hindi as the national language of India.

This prompted me to consider and figure out why my maternal grandmother said what she did. I wanted to know about the ‘suppressed truths’ and understand the ‘secret history’ of Hindi.

Now I wish to share with you what I found; and have to begin by recalling few essential facts about the languages of India.

Linguistic Diversity of India

Papua New Guinea – with a population of just over seven million – has world’s highest number of languages: 852 (840 are spoken and 12 are extinct). It tops the Linguistic Diversity Index (Source: UNESCO 2009) with 0.990. India comes at #9 with a score of 0.930.

But if we measure linguistic diversity by total population, India with 1.3 billion people (#2 by population) is much ahead of the rest, including China (1), United States of America (3), Indonesia (4) and Brazil (5). And hence, one can say, India is the ‘most populated linguistic diverse country in the world’.

Census of India of 2001 said that India has 122 major languages and 1599 other languages. It recorded 30 languages which were spoken by more than a million native speakers and 122 which were spoken by more than 10,000 people.

There are 22 scheduled languages of India – Assamese, Bengali, Bodo, Dogri, Gujarati, Kannada, Kashmiri, Konkani, Maithali, Malayalam, Marathi, Meitei (Manipuri), Nepali, Odia, Punjabi, Sanskrit, Santhali, Sindhi, Tamil, Telegu and Urdu – and two official languages of the Union Government: Hindi and English.

In addition to the above, the Government of India has awarded the distinction of classical language to 6 languages which have a ‘rich heritage and independent nature’: Kannada, Malayalam, Odia, Sanskrit, Tamil and Telugu.

Tamil is also one of the oldest living languages in the world and this Dravidian language predates even Sanskrit (a part of the Indo-Aryan family of Indic languages).

Contrary to the perceptions formed by boisterous disinformation campaigns, Hindi is not the national language of India. India has no national language.

As per the 2011 census, only 26.6% of the Indians identify Hindi as their mother tongue.

Hindi Language

Modern Hindi – one of the youngest Indian languages – is based on the Khariboli dialect (vernacular of Delhi and the surrounding region) and its literary tradition evolved towards the end of the 18th century.

Khariboli itself had evolved to replace earlier dialects such as Awadhi – the sweet-sounding language of the commoners in which Tulsidas’ Ramcharitamanas was composed in the early 17th century. The Awadhi bhakti poem popularized Lord Rama all over North India; that in turn is influencing the politics of modern India.
Riaz Haq said…
#Indians not #racist, we accept South Indians, says #BJP's Tarun Vijay. In a debate on Al Jazeera TV over the issue of attack on some #Nigerians in Greater Noida #Delhi, Tarun Vijay said it was wrong to say that Indians are racist. #Tamil https://www.indiatoday.in/india/story/tarun-vijay-south-indians-racism-remark-nigerians-attack-greater-noida-970084-2017-04-07?fbclid=IwAR3dP5S2GJlSMl5z_hA_j8cT_i17qQBnl-MidEmFAejt3uK28coD8lIwWY0 via @indiatoday

Former Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) Rajya Sabha MP has come out with an apology for hurting sentiments after making a bizarre statement hinting that Indians can not be considered racist as they live with 'black' South Indians.

Participating in a debate on Al Jazeera TV over the issue of attack on some Nigerians in Greater Noida, Vijay said it was wrong to say that Indians are racist.

"If we were racist, why would we have the entire south (India)? Why do we live with them (if we are racist)? We hae blacks, black people around us," Vijay said.

The BJP leader, however, apologised for his statement while admitting that his choice of words may have been wrong.

"I feel the entire statement sas this - we have fought racism and we have people with different colour and culture still never had any racism," Vijay said.

"My words perhaps were not enough to convey this. Feel bad,really feel sorry, my apologies to those who feel I said different than what I meant," he added.

I feel the entire statement sas this- we have fought racism and we have people with different colour and culture still never had any racism.
Riaz Haq said…
Meet 5 Contemporary #Indian Artists Challenging #India’s Still-Prevalent #Caste System. The insidious influence of the caste system has continues to silence and oppress large portions of society even today. #Modi #Hindutva #Dalit #Muslim http://homegrown.co.in/article/801923/5-works-of-art-that-are-challenging-indias-caste-barriers #homegrown

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

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

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

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

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

I. Savinder Sawarkar

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

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


2. Rajyashri Goody 3. PS Jaya, 4. Orijit Sen
Riaz Haq said…
#Hindutva attempt to enslave #India under #Hindu elite castes by @Swamy39 via #Sanskrit language. Myth being sold that Sanskrit was the language of #India and #Muslim invaders wiped it out. Fact: Sanskrit forbidden for common #Hindus. They spoke Prakrit. https://aamjanata.com/religion-philosophy/sanskriti-sanskrit-language-brahmins/

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

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

This is before the Muslim invasions, incidentally.

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

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

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

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

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

The RSS are trying to invade India with a cold war on the majority of Indians who were never native adopters of Sanskrit. Nor were their ancestors. A history is being invented so that a country may be appropriated by citing it.
Riaz Haq said…
Modi’s Philosopher
AN INTERVIEW WITH
VINAYAK CHATURVEDI
The far-right ideology of Hindutva has gained frightening currency under Indian leader Narendra Modi. But in order to combat it, we first have to understand Vinayak Damodar Savarkar — the man who originated the violent ideology.


https://www.jacobinmag.com/2019/10/vinayak-damodar-savarkar-chaturvedi-hindutva-bjp-modi-hindu-nationalism


Savarkar is a divisive figure in contemporary Indian politics. A founding thinker of the ideology of Hindutva, he is the intellectual forebear of the hardline nationalism that today animates the ruling BJP. At the same time, his promotion of violence and his virulent anti-Muslim views placed him at odds with much of the political establishment of post-independence India.

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The political reason for thinking about the project occurred to me when I was finishing my first book, which was centered on central Gujarat. This was the locality in which, in 2002, massive riots took place, which were described as “anti-Muslim pogroms.” Approximately 150,000 Muslims were displaced, an estimated 1–2,000 Muslims were killed, there were allegations of state involvement in the violence, and so on.

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Based on my first book, that formulation just seemed problematic. One of the things that I was underscoring in that book was that Gandhi was actually aware of the everyday forms of violence against certain low-caste groups by landed, privileged communities in Gujarat. So, for me, that was the beginning of thinking that there must be a different explanation for what was happening in Gujarat. It didn’t simply go from a nonviolent land to a violent land of Hindutva. And as I kept thinking about Hindutva more and more, I was constantly drawn back to Savarkar.

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Violence is at the center of all of Savarkar’s writings — and, by extension, all his political work.

He argues that Hindus, dating back to antiquity or earlier, had a code of conduct for the uses of violence. When Hindus were confronted with an enemy that did not adhere to the code, they resorted to unethical modes of violence in seeking vengeance, or what he calls “super-savage cruelty.”

It is in this framing that Savarkar also writes about the need for assassinations and guerrilla warfare. Throughout his writings, there is a sense that Hindus were victimized by foreign invaders, and that Hindus were simply responding to unethical enemies. This is still the justification used by many supporters of Hindutva today.

However, in his seminal work, Essentials of Hindutva, there is a tension, as he points out, that, in fact, it was the original Hindus who were the first perpetrators of violence in the colonization of India. This is a point that is often not considered.

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And how did this theory of violence translate in his political career?

VC
In thinking about Savarkar as a public figure, I argue that his public life is bookended by political assassinations. You have a figure like Madan Lal Dhingra, who assassinates a British official in London in 1909. Savarkar is his defender. To Nathuram Godse, who assassinates Gandhi in 1948 and who sees himself as a follower of Savarkar’s.

By all accounts, Dhingra saw himself as one of Savarkar’s disciples. While it is unclear whether Savarkar had been privy to the assassination or its planning, he provides a public defense of Dhingra, before Dhingra is executed by the state.

Savarkar was also implicated in transporting handguns to India, one of which was used to assassinate an official in western India. So, in 1910, he is arrested in London for sedition and a number of other charges, including the weapons charge.



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Godse saw himself as a disciple of Savarkar’s. Although at court he is very clear that Savarkar had no direct influence on him, didn’t instruct him to do anything, one of the requests that he has in prison is to read Savarkar’s speeches on Hindutva in order to write his rationale for killing Gandhi.
Riaz Haq said…
In an interview on BBC's Hard Talk with Indian journalist Karan Thapar in 1999, ex Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh: "Great Nations like the Soviet Union have perished. If we continue to mis manage our economy and continue to divide our country on the basis of religion, caste or other sectarian issues there is a danger of that sort of thing happening".

https://youtu.be/3IT0MRmJdh4
Riaz Haq said…
Book Excerpt (Aakar Patel's Price of the Modi Years): The Many Anti-Muslim Laws Brought in By the Modi Government
While the Citizenship Amendment Act rightly was criticised around the world for specifically targeting Muslims along with the NRC pincer, other laws India has passed since 2014 have not received as much notice.

https://thewire.in/politics/price-of-the-modi-years-book-excerpt


These are those laws the Modi years have given us:

1. The Maharashtra Animal Preservation (Amendment) Act, 2015


Under this law anyone found in possession of beef would be jailed for up to five years. It also banned the slaughter of bulls, bullocks and calves in addition to the existing ban on cow slaughter.

2. The Haryana Gauvansh Sanrakshan and Gausamvardhan Act, 2015

Possession of beef punishable by up to five years in jail. Sale of cows for slaughter to another state punishable by seven years in jail. Cow slaughter would attract jail of up to 10 years. The burden of proof would be on the accused.

3. The Gujarat Animal Preservation (Amendment) Bill, 2017

This law extended the punishment for cow slaughter from seven years to life. It allows permanent forfeiture of vehicles transporting animals except under prescribed conditions. It also increased the fine from Rs 1 lakh to Rs 5 lakh. Minister of state for home Pradipsinh Jadeja said the logic was to equal cow slaughter with murder.

4. The Karnataka Prevention of Slaughter and Preservation of Cattle Ordinance, 2020 repealed the 1964 law which allowed the slaughter of bullocks.

It made cow slaughter punishable by up to seven years. Purchase, sale, disposal or transport of cattle outside the state except in prescribed manner would be punishable by five years in jail. Fines of up to Rs 10 lakh are also imposed.

The Maharashtra law has this clause: “9B. Burden of proof on accused. In any trial … the burden of proving that the slaughter, transport, export outside the State, sale, purchase or possession of flesh of cow, bull or bullock was not in contravention of the provisions of this Act shall be on the accused.”

Meaning that you are guilty unless you can prove yourself innocent. If you are found with a bloody knife next to a corpse, you are presumed innocent. It is the State that has to demonstrate that you committed murder. But if you are found with or found near meat and accused of possessing beef you are presumed guilty of possessing beef till you disprove this to the satisfaction of the State. This is an invitation to violence. Two weeks after Maharashtra, on 17 March 2015, Haryana under the BJP passed its law criminalising possession of beef. The law has this section: ‘No person shall directly or indirectly sell, keep, store, transport or offer for sale or cause to be sold beef or beef products.’ Burden of proof was reversed here also. Punishment is up to five years.

While the Citizenship Amendment Act rightly was criticised around the world for specifically targeting Muslims along with the NRC pincer, other laws India has passed since 2014 have not received as much notice. The judiciary has been supine and allowed a de facto Hindu Rashtra to emerge through legislation. These laws have been written and passed and are being applied across India, targeting Indian Muslims, brutalising them constantly, while a demented media and a bored public have looked away.

Aakar Patel is Chair of Amnesty International India and author of Our Hindu Rashtra. His Price of the Modi Years will be released on November 14.

Riaz Haq said…
The Indian economy is being rewired. The opportunity is immense And so are the stakes

https://www.economist.com/leaders/2022/05/13/the-indian-economy-is-being-rewired-the-opportunity-is-immense

Who deserves the credit? Chance has played a big role: India did not create the Sino-American split or the cloud, but benefits from both. So has the steady accumulation of piecemeal reform over many governments. The digital-identity scheme and new national tax system were dreamed up a decade or more ago.

Mr Modi’s government has also got a lot right. It has backed the tech stack and direct welfare, and persevered with the painful task of shrinking the informal economy. It has found pragmatic fixes. Central-government purchases of solar power have kick-started renewables. Financial reforms have made it easier to float young firms and bankrupt bad ones. Mr Modi’s electoral prowess provides economic continuity. Even the opposition expects him to be in power well after the election in 2024.

The danger is that over the next decade this dominance hardens into autocracy. One risk is the bjp’s abhorrent hostility towards Muslims, which it uses to rally its political base. Companies tend to shrug this off, judging that Mr Modi can keep tensions under control and that capital flight will be limited. Yet violence and deteriorating human rights could lead to stigma that impairs India’s access to Western markets. The bjp’s desire for religious and linguistic conformity in a huge, diverse country could be destabilising. Were the party to impose Hindi as the national language, secessionist pressures would grow in some wealthy states that pay much of the taxes.

The quality of decision-making could also deteriorate. Prickly and vindictive, the government has co-opted the bureaucracy to bully the press and the courts. A botched decision to abolish bank notes in 2016 showed Mr Modi’s impulsive side. A strongman lacking checks and balances can eventually endanger not just demo cracy, but also the economy: think of President Recep Tayyip Erdogan in Turkey, whose bizarre views on inflation have caused a currency crisis. And, given the bjp’s ambivalence towards foreign capital, the campaign for national renewal risks regressing into protectionism. The party loves blank cheques from Silicon Valley but is wary of foreign firms competing in India. Today’s targeted subsidies could degenerate into autarky and cronyism—the tendencies that have long held India back.

Seizing the moment
For India to grow at 7% or 8% for years to come would be momentous. It would lift huge numbers of people out of poverty. It would generate a vast new market and manufacturing base for global business, and it would change the global balance of power by creating a bigger counterweight to China in Asia. Fate, inheritance and pragmatic decisions have created a new opportunity in the next decade. It is India’s and Mr Modi’s to squander. ■
Riaz Haq said…
AT 9.4 out of a maximum possible score of 10, India’s Social Hostilities Index (SHI) in 2020 was worse than neighbouring Pakistan and Afghanistan, and a further increase in its own index value for 2019, the Pew data showed. A higher score is worse. The report covered 198 countries.

https://www.livemint.com/news/india/communal-rift-highest-in-india-says-pew-study/amp-11669743517440.html


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Indian American Muslim Council
@IAMCouncil
A latest
@pewresearch
report notes that India’s Social Hostilities Index (SHI) in 2020 was worse than Afghanistan, Syria & Mali.


https://twitter.com/IAMCouncil/status/1598143658796412928?s=20&t=rRgJr5qTL0sB-p9yW014gw

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In India, the Ministry of Home Affairs announced in April 2020 that more than 900 members of the Islamic group Tablighi Jamaat and other foreign nationals (most of whom were Muslim) had been placed “in quarantine” after participating in a conference in New Delhi allegedly linked to the spread of early cases of coronavirus. (Many of those detained were released or granted bail by July 2020.)

Pandemic-related killings of religious minorities were reported in three countries in 2020, according to the sources analyzed in the study. In India, two Christians died after they were beaten in police custody for violating COVID-19 curfews in the state of Tamil Nadu.

In India, there were multiple reports of Muslims being attacked after being accused of spreading the coronavirus. In Argentina and Italy, properties were vandalized with antisemitic posters and graffiti that linked Jews to COVID-19. In Italy, for example, authorities found graffiti of a Star of David with the words “equal to virus.” And in the U.S., a Mississippi church burned down in an arson attack about a month after its pastor sued the city over public health restrictions on large gatherings. Investigators found graffiti in the church parking lot that said, “Bet you stay home now you hypokrits.”

https://www.pewresearch.org/religion/2022/11/29/how-covid-19-restrictions-affected-religious-groups-around-the-world-in-2020/
Riaz Haq said…
Hundreds killed each year for marrying outside caste: CJI DY Chandrachud

https://www.indiatoday.in/law/story/hundreds-killed-each-year-for-marrying-outside-caste-chief-justice-of-india-dy-chandrachud-2310427-2022-12-17

Hundreds of people are killed each year for falling in love or marrying outside their castes or against the wishes of their families, the Chief Justice of India (CJI) DY Chandrachud said today while speaking on morality and its interplay with the law.

The CJI made the statement while referring to an incident of honor killing in Uttar Pradesh in 1991 as carried in a news article by the American magazine, Time.

The article shared the story of a 15-year-old girl who eloped with a man of 20 from a lower caste. They were later murdered by the upper castes of the village, and believed their actions were justified because they complied with the code of conduct of society.

The CJI was delivering the Ashok Desai Memorial Lecture on the topic ‘Law and Morality: The Bounds and Reaches’, addressing questions on the indissoluble link between law, morality, and group rights.

While talking about morality, the CJI said that expressions of good and bad, right and wrong are often used in everyday conversations.

The CJI said that while the law regulates external relations, morality governs the inner life and motivation. Morality appeals to our conscience and often influences the way we behave.

‘We can all agree that morality is a system of values that prescribes a code of conduct. But, do all of us principally agree on what constitutes morality? That is, is it necessary that what is moral for me ought to be moral to you as well?’ he asked.

While discussing what constitutes ‘adequate morality’, the CJI said that groups that have traditionally held positions of power in the socio-economic-political context of society have an advantage over the weaker sections in this bargaining process to reach adequate morality.

The CJI further built an argument that vulnerable groups are placed at the bottom of the social structure and that their consent, even if attained, is a myth. For example, Max Weber argued that the Dalits have never rebelled.

He pointed out that the dominant groups, by attacking the etiquette of the vulnerable groups, often prevent them from creating an identity that is unique to themselves.

The CJI elaborated on the same by sharing an example of clothing being one of the tools employed by dominant castes to alienate the Dalit community, where it was a wide-spread norm that the members of the Dalit community must wear marks of inferiority to be identified.

The CJI further spoke about how, even after the framing of the Constitution, the law has been imposing ‘adequate morality’, that is, the morality of the dominant community.
Riaz Haq said…
#Modi-loving #Hindu Nationalists spew the usual Hindutva #Islamophobic tropes about #India's #Muslims. Here's the growing gap between Hindus and Muslim populations: 1951 Census: 269 million more Hindus than Muslims. 2011 Census: 794 million more Hindus https://www.pewresearch.org/religion/2021/09/21/population-growth-and-religious-composition/

https://twitter.com/haqsmusings/status/1612881554174529537?s=20&t=3DgccaesALoJlvs2903mhg

1. Population growth and religious composition
BY STEPHANIE KRAMER
India’s population has more than tripled in the six decades following Partition, from 361 million (36.1 crore) people in the 1951 census to more than 1.2 billion (120 crore) in 2011. As of 2020, India gains roughly 1 million (10 lakh) inhabitants each month, putting it on course to surpass China as the world’s most populous country by 2030, according to the United Nations Population Division.
Though religious groups grew at uneven rates between 1951 and 2011, every major religion in India saw its numbers rise. For example, Hindus increased from 304 million (30.4 crore) to 966 million (96.6 crore), Muslims grew from 35 million (3.5 crore) to 172 million (17.2 crore), and the number of Indians who say they are Christian rose from 8 million (0.8 crore) to 28 million (2.8 crore).

However, there is some evidence that Christians may be undercounted. People who indicate that they are Christian on the census are not able to also identify as belonging to Scheduled Castes (historically known as Dalits, or by the pejorative term “untouchables”). Members of Scheduled Castes are eligible for government benefits, reportedly prompting some people in that category to identify as Hindu when completing official forms such as the census.4 In the 2015 National Family Health Survey – a large, high-quality household survey that does not exclude Christians from Scheduled Castes – 21% of Christians interviewed said that they belonged to Scheduled Castes.
Riaz Haq said…
Ghanznavi's Destruction of Somnath Was Not a Hindu-Muslim Issue When it Happened

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

In 1026, Sultan Mahmud of Ghazni raided the Hindu temple of Somanatha (Somnath in textbooks of the colonial period). The story of the raid has reverberated in Indian history, but largely during the  (British) raj. It was first depicted as a trauma for the Hindu population not in India, but in the House of Commons. The triumphalist accounts of the event in Turko-Persian chronicles became the main source for most eighteenth-century historians. It suited everyone and helped the British to divide and rule a multi-millioned subcontinent.
In her new book, Romila Thapar, the doyenne of Indian historians, reconstructs what took place by studying other sources, including local Sanskrit inscriptions, biographies of kings and merchants of the period, court epics and popular narratives that have survived. The result is astounding and undermines the traditional version of what took place. These findings also contest the current Hindu religious nationalism that constantly utilises the conventional version of this history.
Riaz Haq said…
Did you know that the composition of Mahmood Ghaznavi's army when he raided the Somnath temple in 1025 was, solely not a Muslim Army. Out of 12 Generals, 5 were Hindus. Their names are:1. Tilak2. Rai3. Sondhi4. Hazran5. Not knownAfter the battle, Mahmood issued coins in his name with inscriptions in Sanskrit. He appointed a Hindu Raja as his representative in Somnath. Arab traders who had settled in Gujarat during the 8th and 9th century died to protect the Somnath temple against Ghaznavi's Army.

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

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

1. “India in the Persianate Age: 1000-1765” by Richard M. Eaton2. “Somanatha: The Many Voices of a History” by Romila Thapar
Riaz Haq said…
Hindutva Hate Crimes against Muslims, Christians and members of the lower-ranked castes

By Pranshu Verma

https://www.washingtonpost.com/technology/2023/01/16/hindu-hate-crimes-raqib-hameed-naik/

Raqib Hameed Naik, 29, is the founder of HindutvaWatch.org, one of the most robust real-time data sets of human rights abuses in the world’s largest democracy. Using video and picture evidence submitted by a network of Indian activists, along with news aggregation, the site tracks hate crimes by Hindus against Muslims, Christians and members of the lower-ranked castes. Since its founding in April 2021, it has catalogued more than 1,000 instances of violent attacks and rhetoric. (Hindutva refers to political ideology that advocates for Hindu supremacy.)
It is likely an undercount, Indian political experts said. Still, the website has angered the increasingly authoritarian government of right-wing Prime Minister Narendra Modi, which critics charge promotes the idea that the Hindu majority is superior and tolerates deadly crimes against Muslims and Christians.
At least 11 times, Naik said, the government or Indian law enforcement have petitioned Twitter to suspend its account or take down some of its content, one of its most important venues for publicizing its findings. As of Sunday, its Twitter account remains active.Until he agreed to an interview with The Washington Post, Naik, who is Muslim, ran both the site and its Twitter account anonymously from Cambridge, Mass., where he settled after fleeing India in 2020.
With Twitter now in the hands of Elon Musk, his work has become more complicated. In India, the third-largest market for Twitter, Musk has fired nearly 90 percent of the staff, according to news reports. Hindu extremists have been allowed back onto the site, and hate speech has soared. Naik worries that Musk might acquiesce to the Modi administration’s attempts to stifle Hindutvawatch.

Twitter did not immediately respond to a request for comment.Despite that, he has decided to make his work public, hoping to build his homegrown site into a major operation aimed at warning the Indian government that its human rights violations are being catalogued.“At some point, it becomes very important for you to come out in the public and look into the eye of your oppressor,” Naik said in an interview with The Post. To say: “I’m watching you, whatever you’re doing. And preserving evidence.”Preserving evidence of hate crimesAfter gaining independence from the British Empire in 1947, India aspired to be a secular nation where people of all faiths could live in peace. But religious tensions have repeatedly flared rarely with as much vitriol as under Modi.Since Modi took control in 2014, hate crimes against minorities in India have skyrocketed by 300 percent, according to a 2019 study by Deepankar Basu, an economics professor who studies South Asian politics at the University of Massachusetts in Amherst.
Riaz Haq said…
Prominent Indian Historian on Hindutva History

https://thewire.in/history/what-history-really-tells-us-about-hindu-muslim-relations

From the historical perspective, we may well ask whether the division had evidence to support it. Supposedly irrefutable evidence of division is said to lie in the Muslims over the last 1,000 years having victimised the Hindus, treating them as enslaved. Why do historians question this theory? It is claimed that when the Muslims invaded India and came to power, they victimised and enslaved the Hindus for 1,000 years. The image projected is that of violence and aggression of one against the other. Now that the Hindus are in power they should have the right to avenge themselves. However, the historical sources researched by professional historians read differently and do not rejuvenate this view of colonial historians.

The dictionary tells us that to victimise is to make a victim of a person or a specific group of people, to cheat, swindle and defraud them, or to deny them any freedom, or to slaughter them in the manner of a sacrificial victim. Politicians of a certain view and others who should know better, are known to endorse the theory. The professional activity of Hindus was reduced to a minimum, they were socially ostracised and above all forcibly converted. They also had to pay a tax as non-Muslims.


Victimisation is not unknown to most pre-modern societies. Those having access to power and wealth, resort to humiliating and harming those without either. Upper-caste Hindus have been familiar with this practice for more than two millennia. The Dalits, lower castes, untouchables were segregated, and it was claimed that their touch was polluting. They were placed in a separate category of those without or outside caste, the avarnas. This was practised among all religions in India, although records link it more to upper-caste Hindus.



It seems that even on conversion to other religions, and specially those that in theory observed the equality of all, this segregation was maintained. As a category, it may well have been larger in numbers. This is why we have Muslim pasmandas, Sikh mazhabis, Dalit Christians, and such like. Yet these are religions that formally believe in all of mankind being created equal. One difference however is that this practice was not directed primarily to a religion but was linked to caste and the absence of caste status. Many questions arise that are fundamentally important to our society. Are practices of this kind directed less to particular religious communities and more to the large numbers outside varna society? Are these actions defined more by caste than by other identities or do they change with purpose and intent? Significantly, in Sanskrit sources, Muslims are generally not referred to as Muslim but by ethnic labels such as Yavana, Tajik, Turushka, etc.

Since so much of crucial importance has happened as a result of what was projected as religious antagonism, and even victimisation, let’s just look at what were the actual relations between the two religious communities, the Hindu and the Muslim, and in the period of the last thousand years.

Starting at the level of the elites we know that quite a few Hindu royal families remained at the highest social status. They remained at the head of the administration in their erstwhile kingdoms and were given the continuing status and title of raja. The politics of administration required some continuation. Their income – agrarian and commercial – was sufficient for maintaining their aristocratic style of living.


Riaz Haq said…
Prominent Indian Historian on Hindutva History

https://thewire.in/history/what-history-really-tells-us-about-hindu-muslim-relations

Traders from Arabia and East Africa trading with the west coast of India go back many centuries, even before the birth of Islam. The extensive trade touched points along the Indian Ocean Arc – the coastline that went continuously from East Africa up the coast of Arabia, on to the coast of Gujarat and then south along coastal India to Kerala. There was considerable familiarity among traders on each side. Arab traders after the spread of Islam, settled in the flourishing towns trading along this coast. Their invading activities were limited to a part of Sind.



Some Arab settlers married locally, which is what settlers often do when they arrive in new places. Cultures intermingled. All along the west coast of India, new societies evolved. Social identities and religious sects were a mix of Islam with existing religions of the area. This resulted in new religious movements, many of which are still prominent – the Khojas, Bohras, Navayaths, Mappilas and such like.

It also led to the employment of Arabs in local administration. The Rashtrakutas in the 9th century AD appointed a Tajik /Arab governor of the region of Sanjan in coastal Deccan. A Rashtrakuta inscription records the grant of land made to a brahmana by a Tajik/Arab officer on behalf of the Rashtrakuta king. The revenue from this went towards donations to local temples as well as to the Parsi Anjuman, since many Parsi merchants were settled in the area. The majority of officers at this level of administration were members of the local elite and therefore largely Hindu, and these officers continued in the administration of the Sultans.

Appointing local persons to high office was a practice that went back centuries, providing closer control over local matters. This may well be a reason for Muslim rulers appointing Rajputs to high office. The Mughal economy was in the trusted hands of the Vazir, Raja Todar Mal, and Raja Man Singh of Amber, a Rajput, commanded the Mughal army at the battle of Haldighati. He defeated another Rajput who was an opponent of the Mughals – Maharana Pratap. Pratap’s army with its large contingent of Afghan mercenaries had as commander Hakim Khan Suri, a descendant of Sher Shah Suri. One could ask whether the battle was strictly speaking essentially a Hindu-Muslim confrontation. Both religious identities had participants on each side in a complex political conflict. Rajput clans had differing loyalties among themselves and the imperial power and therefore fought on opposite sides, and regaining ancestral kingdoms was on both agendas.


The intervention of Hindu chiefs in the politics of the Mughal court was substantial. One instance that went on for a long period was that of Mughal relations with Bundelkhand. The Bundella raja, Bir Singh Deo, who was close to Jahangir and held one of the highest Mughal mansabs /rank of revenue assignment, was so embroiled in Mughal court politics that he was linked to the assassination of the chief chronicler and close friend of Akbar, Abul Fazl.
Riaz Haq said…
History As Politics

https://www.outlookindia.com/website/story/history-as-politics/219991

Links between knowledge and ideology do not justify the passing off of political agendas as knowledge as is being done in the rewriting of history by the present central government; and that too of a kind not based on the understanding of history...

The colonial interpretation was carefully developed through the nineteenth century. By 1823, the History of British India written by James Mill was available and widely read. This was the hegemonic text in which Mill periodised Indian history into three periods - Hindu civilization, Muslim civilization and the British period. These were accepted largely without question and we have lived with this periodisation for almost two hundred years. Although it was challenged in the last fifty years by various historians writing on India, it is now being reinforced again. Mill argued that the Hindu civilization was stagnant and backward, the Muslim only marginally better and the British colonial power was an agency of progress because it could legislate change for improvement in India. In the Hindutva version this periodisation remains, only the colours have changed : the Hindu period is the golden age, the Muslim period the black, dark age of tyranny and oppression, and the colonial period is a grey age almost of marginal importance compared to the earlier two. This also echoes the views of Sir William Jones and Max Mueller. It allows a focus on the Hindu and Muslim periods which as we shall see was part of the political stand of the religious nationalisms of the early twentieth century.

Anti-colonial nationalist historians, often referred to as secular nationalist historians, had initiated a critique of the colonial period, but tended to accept the notion of a Hindu ‘golden age’. They did not distance themselves to assess the validity of such descriptions. Many were upper caste Hindus, familiar with Sanskrit and sympathetic to the idea of a glorious Hindu past. This was in some ways an attempt to assuage the hurt of having been reduced to being a colony. Similarly, the argument that the Muslim period was based on Persian and Arabic sources tended to attract upper-caste Muslims to this study and they too were sympathetic to what was stated in the sources without questioning them too closely. Even those who critiqued Mill’s periodisation merely changed the nomenclature from Hindu-Muslim-British to Ancient-Medieval-Modern in imitation of the periodisation of European history. There was a debate over colonial interpretations, but with less effort to change the methods of analysis or the theories of explanation.

Mill’s projection was that the Hindus and Muslims formed two uniform, monolithic communities permanently hostile to each other because of religious differences, with the Hindus battling against Muslim tyranny and oppression. This was the view of many colonial writers on India and in terms of presenting historical sources is exemplified in Elliot and Dowson’s, History of India as Told by her Own Historians,published in the latter half of the nineteenth century. Chroniclers of the medieval courts writing in Persian and others writing in Arabic are included, the assumption being that there was no writing of Indian history prior to the coming of Islam. Nor was there concession to segmentation within the communities in terms of varying histories of castes and sects.
Riaz Haq said…
The fertility rate in India is higher than in China and the U.S., but it has declined rapidly in recent decades. Today, the average Indian woman is expected to have 2.0 children in her lifetime, a fertility rate that is higher than China’s (1.2) or the United States’ (1.6), but much lower than India’s in 1992 (3.4) or 1950 (5.9). Every religious group in the country has seen its fertility rate fall, including the majority Hindu population and the Muslim, Christian, Sikh, Buddhist and Jain minority groups. Among Indian Muslims, for example, the total fertility rate has declined dramatically from 4.4 children per woman in 1992 to 2.4 children in 2019, the most recent year for which data is available from India’s National Family Health Survey (NFHS). Muslims still have the highest fertility rate among India’s major religious groups, but the gaps in childbearing among India’s religious groups are generally much smaller than they used to be.

https://www.pewresearch.org/fact-tank/2023/02/09/key-facts-as-india-surpasses-china-as-the-worlds-most-populous-country/
Riaz Haq said…
Edward Luce
@EdwardGLuce
"...India, which is jailing its opposition leader on a trumped up defamation charge; Netanyahu, who wants to quash Israel's independent courts; & Mexico, where Obrador aims to end free & fair elections. With pals like these, democracy needs no foes." Me.

https://twitter.com/EdwardGLuce/status/1641043796556238848?s=20

https://www.ft.com/content/8e1b7774-da4d-448d-aa3f-94d269e64c35


President Joe Biden’s second summit for democracy, which is taking place this week, is both virtual and surreal. Among the participants are India, which is in the process of jailing opposition leader Rahul Gandhi on a trumped up defamation ruling; Israel, whose leader, Benjamin Netanyahu, wants to shut down judicial independence; and Mexico, whose leader, Andrés Manuel López Obrador, is trying to end free and fair elections. With friends such as these, democracy hardly needs enemies.

Biden’s aims are noble, and it is noteworthy that neither Hungary nor Turkey, regarded in Washington and western Europe as illiberal democracies, was invited. But the president’s means are open to doubt. According to V-Dem, a Swedish research institute, almost three quarters of the world’s population now live in autocracies against less than half a decade ago. That vertiginous shift justifies the term “democratic recession”.

It is difficult to believe a liberal democratic Russia would have invaded Ukraine. It is equally hard to imagine the people of an autocratic Ukraine fighting as fiercely for their freedom as they are doing now. It is thus reasonable for the US to think that spreading democracy is in its national interest. The problem is that America is not very good at it.

Nowhere has the US expended more guns and butter than in the Middle East. The democratic returns have been almost uniformly negative. The Arab world’s only recent convert, Tunisia, was recently lost to a coup d’état. Israel’s democracy, meanwhile, hangs in the balance. That is without mentioning the fact that the Jewish nation state is not exactly democratic with the Arab territories it occupies.

Sarah Margon, whom Biden named to lead his administration’s efforts on democracy and human rights, withdrew her name in January after senators objected to her criticisms of Israel. Having a record of arguing for democracy seems like an odd rap against the person whose job that will be.



-----

As India’s foreign minister, S Jaishankar, put it last year: “Europe has to grow out of the mindset that Europe’s problems are the world’s problems, but the world’s problems are not Europe’s problems.” What Jaishankar really meant, of course, was the west as a whole. But he was careful to exclude the US, just as Biden is careful not to mention India’s democratic backsliding. Each needs the other to counter China.

Here it gets even muddier. India’s treatment of its Muslim minorities is arguably as bad as China’s policies in Xinjiang. The US State Department has labelled the latter “genocide” — the gravest charge possible. Yet barely a peep is heard from Washington about what is going on in Kashmir.

When the west can be bothered to listen, the global south’s consistent refrain is for more dollars to help their shift to clean energy, better infrastructure and modern healthcare. Which of the two great powers, China or the US, helps the most is likeliest to shape their political future and foreign policy alignment. One of the by-products of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine is that it has brought this pressing question to the fore.

Biden’s White House is trying to come up with a coherent US approach to the global south, but officials admit it is a work in progress. China has pumped more money into the developing world than all the west combined — with both good and bad effects. Whether the Malis, Cambodias and Bolivias of this world become democracies lies in their hands. The best way of nudging them down that path is to lecture less and listen more.

Riaz Haq said…
Has Modi Pushed Indian Democracy Past Its Breaking Point?
With the media and judiciary already under attack, the Prime Minister’s main opponent was just banned from Parliament.

https://www.newyorker.com/news/q-and-a/has-modi-pushed-indian-democracy-past-its-breaking-point

New Yorker's Isaac Chotiner: Modi is probably the most popular leader in the world. His party has amassed incredible power to a degree not seen in India in many decades. Yet, at the state level, especially in the south, you see regional parties keeping the B.J.P. out of power. How has this been possible?

Christophe Jaffrelot: He’s not as popular as he claims. The B.J.P. never got more than thirty-seven per cent of the vote nationally. They control half a dozen big states, and most of them are in the Hindi Heartland. [These are states in the northern and central parts of the country.] If you look at the periphery, if you look at the states which are outside the Hindi Heartland—they do not control Tamil Nadu and they will never control Tamil Nadu. They do not control Kerala and they will never control Kerala. Look at West Bengal and Punjab, and even Maharashtra, which is not a finished story. There is a kind of exaggeration of the control they exert. And they exert control not because of the popularity of the B.J.P.; they exert control largely because Modi gets the B.J.P. elected every five years, which means that, after him, the B.J.P. may be in trouble. They have so much power because of their totalitarian modus vivendi, not because of their popularity.

NY: I’m looking at Morning Consult’s global approval-rating tracker for world leaders. Modi is currently at seventy-six-per-cent approval. That is fifteen percentage points higher than any other world leader.

CJ: Yeah, yeah, yeah. But if you go by the voting patterns of Indians, which is for me the real measure of popularity, Indians in more than half of the country’s states do not vote for the B.J.P. and for Modi when he is the candidate.

In that case, how do you understand this dynamic, where Modi himself is personally popular but he can’t yet lead the B.J.P. to take control of a majority of states?

There are very strong regional identities that are not represented by the B.J.P. The B.J.P. is seen as a North Indian, Hindi-speaking party. It’s also seen as an upper-caste party. So those who are not Hindus—in Kashmir, of course, and Sikh people in Punjab—do not vote for the B.J.P. And those who are not Hindi speakers in Tamil Nadu, West Bengal, and Kerala cannot share this ideology of the B.J.P.’s.

Riaz Haq said…
Last chance to read Mughal-era Sanskrit literature, before it is all deleted | Deccan Herald


https://www.deccanherald.com/opinion/last-chance-to-read-mughal-era-sanskrit-literature-before-it-is-all-deleted-1207917.html

by Anusha Rao

The recent removal of chapters on Mughals from the NCERT syllabus presents us with an opportunity to look at the colorful history of Sanskrit during that period. The most vibrant personality of this era was perhaps the celebrity poet Jagannatha Panditaraja, who managed to sell the same praise-poem to three kings (Shah Jahan, Jagatsimha and Prananarayana), after swapping out their names. Panditaraja, i.e., the ‘king of scholars’, was a title that the Mughal king Shah Jahan bestowed on Jagannatha. Our poet clearly liked being wined and dined well. He writes: “Only two people can give me all that I want—God, or the emperor of Delhi. As for what the other kings give, well, I use that for my weekly groceries!"

Legend goes that Jagannatha fell head-over-heels in love with a Muslim woman called Lavangi and married her. This would explain the Muslim woman (“yavani”) who is the subject of so many of his verses, where he meditates on her skin smooth as butter and wants neither horses nor elephants nor money as long as he can be with her.

Aurangzeb’s uncle Shaista Khan had even learnt Sanskrit himself, and six poems written by him are preserved in the Rasakalpadruma. Dara Shikoh, the eldest son of Shah Jahan had learnt Sanskrit, too, and his project was to understand Islam and through each other. Another celebrity poet of this age was Kavindracharya, the head of the Banaras scholar community during Shah Jahan’s rule. He pleaded the case for abolishing the Hindu pilgrim tax so eloquently in front of the king that the indeed came to be abolished. Poems in praise of Kavindracharya poured in from all across the country, and they are preserved today in the form of a book, the Kavindra Chandrodaya.

South India had its fair share of Sanskrit poets who enjoyed the patronage of multiple kings of different faiths. Bhanukara, a 16th century Sanskrit poet, wrote verses that we find in many well-known verse anthologies. These anthologies attribute to Bhanukara verses in praise of various kings—hinting that among his patrons were Krishnadevaraya, Nizam Shah and Sher Shah, all ruling in the Deccan! And Bhanukara clearly enjoyed a good relationship with the Nizam, given his hyperbolic verses in praise of the king’s generosity, skill in military conquest, and even his physical appearance. Another well-known Sanskrit poet of the 16th century was Govinda Bhatta, who composed the Ramachandra-yashah-prashasti in praise of King Vaghela Ramachandra of Rewa. But Ramachandra was not Govinda Bhatta’s only patron. In fact, Govinda Bhatta called himself Akbariya Kalidasa, as a tribute to the most illustrious of his patrons, Akbar. In one his laudatory verses, he praises Akbar as being the crest jewel of Humayun’s lineage.

Not all Sanskrit poetry about the Mughals is about kings though— the 17th century poet Nilakantha Shukla, a disciple of the famous grammarian Bhattoji Dikshita, wrote an epic poem on the romance between a Brahmin tutor and a Muslim noblewoman in Mughal Banaras.


As Sanskrit poets wrote in and of Islamic rule, a large number of Sanskrit classics were translated into Persian as well—including the Ramayana, Mahabharata, and even tales such as the Shuka Saptati. The Razmnamah, a Persian translation of the Mahabharata, commissioned by Akbar in the late 16th century, manages to strike a balance between the monotheistic god of Islam and the plethora of gods in the Sanskrit epic, retaining numerous divinities while weaving in Koranic phrases, and modifying prayers to address them to Allah. But how do we know all of this? Well, nobody struck these out from the manuscripts and inscriptions...
Riaz Haq said…
The Mughals | Empire-builders of medieval India - The Hindu



https://www.thehindu.com/news/national/profile-on-the-mughals/article66714869.ece

Within hours of the National Council of Educational Research and Training’s (NCERT) decision to remove a chapter on the Mughals from the history textbooks for Class XII students, noted historians of the country issued a statement, denouncing the deletions. “The selective dropping of chapters which do not fit into the ideological orientation of the present dispensation exposes the partisan agenda of the regime,” a statement signed by Romila Thapar, Irfan Habib, Aditya Mukherjee, Barbara Metcalf, Dilip Simeon and Mridula Mukherjee, among others, read. “Driven by such an agenda, the chapter titled ‘Kings and Chronicles: The Mughal Courts’ has been deleted... In medieval times, the Mughal empire and the Vijayanagara Empire were two of the most important empires... In the revised version, while the chapter on the Mughals has been deleted, the chapter on the Vijayanagara Empire has been retained.”

It’s hard to understand the history of modern India without the contribution of the Mughals, who, including Akbar, Jahangir, Shah Jahan and Aurangzeb, were all born in undivided India; and were buried here. None of them ever left the country, not even to go on a pilgrimage to Mecca.“Is there anything in India today which does not owe to the Mughals?” asks Syed Ali Nadeem Rezavi, secretary, Indian History Congress. “From legal system to legal jargon, we owe to the Mughal and Turkish Sultanate before them. Words like vakalatnama, kacheri, durbar, we owe them all to the Mughals. Today, when a large number of Indians consider Lord Ram as a major deity, we have to thank Tulsidas who wrote his version of Ramayana during the Mughal period. Also, Vrindavan, associated with Lord Krishna, developed thanks to Chaitanya saints who were given grants by Akbar, Jahangir and Shahjahan, and helped Vrindavan and Mathura emerge as a key centre of Krishna Bhakti.”

The richness was owed substantially to the Rajputs, who were sharers of power from the time of Akbar, who defeated Rana Pratap in the Battle of Haldighati, and co-opted them in his empire through matrimonial alliances. Most Mughal rulers after Jahangir were born to Rajput women. As a result, within the family, Hindavi was often the language of communication. Aurangzeb, incidentally, conversed in Hindi and composed in Braj bhasha.
Riaz Haq said…
Hindutva Terrorism


https://countercurrents.org/2023/04/hindutva-groups-orchestrated-ram-navami-violence-for-political-gains/

by Rishi Anand

Hindutva groups orchestrated Ram Navami violence for political gains


This year, on the day of Ram Navami, communal violence took place across India. Incidents of violence was reported from Delhi, Uttar Pradesh (Mathura), Maharashtra (Aurangabad, Mumbai), Telangana (Hyderabad), Gujarat (Vadodara), West Bengal (Howrah), Bihar (Bihar Sharif, Sasaram). Violent processions with swords and guns were taken out, and hateful and abusive slogans were given against the religious minorities at several places across India. In Bengal, mobs torched police vehicles. In Bihar, a century old mosque and library containing over 4500 books were burnt down.

Such incidents have become a recurring pattern during religious festivals in India. Last year, similar communal incidents took place on the day of Ram Navami and Hanuman Jayanti. These incidents are clearly instigated by the hateful and communal propaganda of the BJP/RSS. In the last few weeks, dozens of rallies were held across Maharashtra, where hateful speeches against the minorities were made. In Telangana, former BJP leader and hatemonger T Raja Singh continues to give hate speeches. Another out-on-bail, communal hatemonger Yati Narsinghanand also continues to make hate speeches.

A similar pattern of communalisation preceded Ram Navami (April 10) violence last year. On 2 April 2022, in Sitapur district of Uttar Pradesh, the self-proclaimed mahant Bajrang Muni, gave call for rape of Muslim women in the presence of the police. On 3 April 2022, at a Dharma Sansad in Burari, Delhi, Yati Narsinghanand gave call to take up arms against the minorities. Four months before, at another Dharma Sansad in Haridwar, calls for genocide and civil war were made by Yati Narsinghanand and other extremist Hindutva and BJP leaders.

Yet, the role of Hindutva groups in orchestrating violence during Ram Navami is not limited to hatemongering and indirect instigation. Now, the investigation into the incidents have revealed how Hindutva groups actually orchestrated these violences. In Agra (Uttar Pradesh), Hindu Mahasabha members slaughtered cows in an attempt to cause communal riots. In Bihar Sharif (Bihar), Bajrang Dal members orchestrated violence with a pre-planned strategy. Police investigation reveals that a WhatsApp group with over 450 people was formed ahead of the Ram Navami. This group was used to plot the violence.

Violence that took place across India on the day of Ram Navami shows that the communal forces have successfully captured our religious festivals and turned them into communal-militant events. A report by Ashutosh Varshney and Bhanu Joshi, reveals how this trend of violence during Ram Navami began from 1980s, when BJP began its strategy of using Ram for capturing power. This violence has rapidly escalated in the last few years. In April 2019, when general elections were going on, Hindutva organizations again used the occasion of Ram Navami to exploit the religious sentiments. Since Narendra Modi came to power, the Hindutva groups have turned the chant of Jai Shree Ram into a call of terror and mob violence.

These incidents are a stain on our nation and the values of Mahatma Gandhi and Swami Vivekananda. It is an abuse of the spirit of Ram Navami, celebrated to mark the birth of Lord Ram, who is worshipped for dharma and duty, kindness and justice. The display of such violence and hatred on the day of Ram Navami is an insult and affront to Lord Ram, who was called Imam-e-Hind by Allama Iqbal. Violence during Ram Navami, and exploiting the religion for political gains, is a shameful denigration of the religion and the nation. The people of India, especially those who truly believe in Lord Rama, must come together to fight against the weaponization of our religion for political gains.
Riaz Haq said…
Scientists in India protest move to drop Darwinian evolution from textbooks

https://www.science.org/content/article/scientists-india-protest-move-drop-darwinian-evolution-textbooks

Decision marks troubling rejection of science, critics say

Scientists in India are protesting a decision to remove discussion of Charles Darwin’s theory of evolution from textbooks used by millions of students in ninth and 10th grades. More than 4000 researchers and others have so far signed an open letter asking officials to restore the material.

The removal makes “a travesty of the notion of a well-rounded secondary education,” says evolutionary biologist Amitabh Joshi of the Jawaharlal Nehru Centre for Advanced Scientific Research. Other researchers fear it signals a growing embrace of pseudoscience by Indian officials.

The Breakthrough Science Society, a nonprofit group, launched the open letter on 20 April after learning that the National Council of Educational Research and Training (NCERT), an autonomous government organization that sets curricula and publishes textbooks for India’s 256 million primary and secondary students, had made the move as part of a “content rationalization” process. NCERT first removed discussion of Darwinian evolution from the textbooks at the height of the COVID-19 pandemic in order to streamline online classes, the society says. (Last year, NCERT issued a document that said it wanted to avoid content that was “irrelevant” in the “present context.”)

NCERT officials declined to answer questions about the decision to make the removal permanent. They referred ScienceInsider to India’s Ministry of Education, which had not provided comment as this story went to press.

“The country’s scientific community is seriously dismayed to see that the theory of biological evolution … has been dropped,” the Breakthrough Science Society said in a statement. “Students will remain seriously handicapped in their thought processes if deprived of exposure to this fundamental discovery of science.”

One major concern, Joshi says, is that most Indian students will get no exposure to the concept of evolution if it is dropped from the ninth and 10th grade curriculum, because they do not go on to study biology in later grades. “Evolution is perhaps the most important part of biology that all educated citizens should be aware of,” Joshi says. “It speaks directly to who we are, as humans, and our position within the living world.”


Riaz Haq said…
#Jews and #Christians attacked by #Hindu Nationalists in #Manipur, #India. Tensions have been exacerbated by the political influence of the Hindu nationalist organizations Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (#RSS) and the Bharatiya Janata Party (#BJP). #Modi https://www.timesofisrael.com/bnei-menashe-community-member-killed-2-synagogues-torched-in-northeast-india-violence/

Bnei Menashe community member killed, 2 synagogues torched in India violence
Foreign Ministry says Israel watching events closely after ethnic clashes erupt in northeast state of Manipur between religious, tribal communities; MK appeals for coalition’s help


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

Rioting mobs have taken the lives of at least six people and destroyed or burned down 25 churches in the northeastern Indian state of Manipur. Since May 3, thousands of victims, the majority of them Christians, have fled as their homes and businesses have gone up in flames.

https://www.christianitytoday.com/news/2023/may/manipur-violence-churches-india-tribals-meite.html

While tensions over property rights and economic interests have existed between the state’s ethnic groups for decades, local leaders told CT that church burnings are the result of the growth of Hindu nationalism among the dominant Meite community.


------

Manipur borders Myanmar and is home to a diverse range of ethnic groups, including Meiteis, who are a numerical majority in the state and are predominantly Hindu, and various tribal communities, who are largely Christian.


Primarily based in Imphal Valley, a region which includes Manipur’s capital, the Meiteis have long dominated the state's political and economic landscape. Meanwhile, tribal communities make up around a third of the population (35.4%) and are mainly concentrated in the hills surrounding the valley, 90 percent of the state’s geographical area.

For decades, the issue of land ownership and control has been a source of conflict between the two groups. But in recent years, these tensions have been exacerbated by the political influence of the Hindu nationalist organizations Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS) and the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), which have sought to promote their faith as the dominant religion in India and have used the Meitei community to advance their political agenda in the state.

Riaz Haq said…
A Republic of South India is not entirely unthinkable | Mint

https://www.livemint.com/opinion/columns/a-republic-of-south-india-is-not-entirely-unthinkable-11682879902820.html

There can be an argument that no matter what the circumstances, nothing can take on the idea of India. But the fact is no one knows what keeps India together. The quickest way to get Indian intellectuals to bloviate is to ask them what keeps India together. I have heard “English", “cricket’ and “Bollywood". I think there are no reasons. A nation is simply a habit. As time goes by, it becomes a stronger habit that is harder to break. But then South India, too, is a habit.

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The political swag of the south ensures that there may be no such being as the ‘Indian nationalist’, there is only the North Indian nationalist.

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

The five southern states, Tamil Nadu, Kerala, Andhra Pradesh, Telangana and Karnataka, have a vague sameness about them and a clear distinction from the north. They have their own riparian, lingual and ethnic discords, and within these states, there are caste and religious divisions, but they have always had a collective grouse—the north’s political domination of India. This wariness is a reason why when Modi visits Tamil Nadu, he needs to speak in English, even to the poor who come to see him. It may sound odd for a nationalistic prime minister to speak in English to Indians, but he has to endure it. Hindi remains a symbol of the north, and the conceit of the south is that it finds English more palatable. This has no emotional basis anymore, but the south is not going to make things easy for the north.


Traditionally, South Indian politicians have disliked the powers of the central government, especially when a single party has controlled it. Like the Congress, the BJP too has harassed states. Recently, Tamil Nadu passed a resolution against its governor for stalling bills passed by the state’s legislature. The state’s chief minister, M.K. Stalin has spoken out against the BJP’s ways. A few days ago, he wrote a letter asking all states that are not governed by the BJP to pass similar resolutions against their governors, the appointees accused by BJP rivals of frustrating states that do not toe the Centre’s policies.



In 2022, when the Centre questioned the habit of some states to give away freebies to people, Tamil Nadu finance minister, Palanivel Thiagarajan told a magazine, “Either you must have a constitutional basis to say what you are saying, in which case we all listen, or you must have special expertise… or you must have a Nobel Prize or something that tells us you know better than us. Or, you must have a performance track record…"

A few days ago, when Modi visited Telangana, the state’s Chief Minister K. Chandrasekhar Rao did not attend Modi’s public events. They insulted each other. Major politicians from Kerala, Andhra and Karnataka, too, have expressed their dislike for the Centre’s muscle-flexing.

But no one of any significance in the south has, in recent times, talked of seceding from India. And that is not only because it might be a crime. There is no emotional support for the idea. But that could change if three things happen. One, the BJP grows stronger and stronger in the north, continuing to repress other political parties and the states it does not govern. The second factor is a major economic shock that could be attributed to the central government, something like ‘demonetization’ or even a major recession. The third is the rise of a South Indian strongman who could use these factors to ask a disturbing question: What does the south lose by leaving the north?
Riaz Haq said…
‘Separation is the only answer’: #Manipur violence fuels calls for separate state in #India. Leaders of the mainly #Christian hill tribes say that living alongside the mostly #Hindu Meitei people is ‘as good as death for our people’ #Hindutva #Modi
https://www.theguardian.com/world/2023/may/16/separation-is-the-only-answer-manipur-violence-fuels-calls-for-separate-state-in-india?CMP=share_btn_tw

Leaders of the mainly Christian hill tribes say that living alongside the mostly Hindu Meitei people is ‘as good as death for our people’

Amrit Dhillon in New Delhi
Mon 15 May 2023 22.23 EDT
In towns and villages across India’s north-eastern state of Manipur, some houses have been reduced to ashes while neighbouring properties stand untouched, after an eruption of ethnic violence in which more than 70 were murdered and 30,000 forced to flee.

The bloodshed which began on 3 May has mostly abated, but there is little hope of a swift return to normality.

Food is scarce; a curfew is still enforced by the army and paramilitary troops; the internet remains suspended; shops, schools and offices are closed; thousands of people remain stranded in crowded and unsanitary refugee camps. And reports of fresh violence over the weekend prompted fresh displacements.

“This is a civil war situation,” said John Mamang, a lawyer and relief volunteer in the town of Churachandpur.

A villager inspects the debris of a ransacked church that was set alight during ethnic violence in Heirokland.
‘Everything is gone’: entire Indian villages burned in ethnic violence
Read more
Shortages of food and medicine are becoming acute, said Mamang, who on Monday was unable to even find rice to donate to a nearby camp.

“People are beginning to starve. Some haven’t eaten for two to three days. When I reached the camp, a woman had just delivered a baby, with no medicines or medical help and in the clothes she’d been wearing for five days,” he said.

Most of the victims were from the mainly Christian hill tribes such as the Kukis, but members of the mostly Hindu Meitei people were also targeted.


And in towns where the two communities once lived warily alongside each other, the idea of a return to such uneasy harmony seems unthinkable after so much violence – when friends and neighbours stood by as men, women and children were killed.

“It’s impossible. They can never be our neighbours. Not after what’s happened,” said Alun Singh, a Meitei in Imphal.

Moses Varte, a Kuki in Churachandpur, said “separation is the only answer”, adding “This was ethnic cleansing of the hill people. Now we can only feel safe as a minority if we have our own state.”

Debory Fimsangpui’s home in the region’s capital, Imphal, was burned down by a mob, and she and her family survived only because they happened to be away at the time.

“If we had been there, we would not be alive today. But we will not forget those who died, the elderly, those who could not run away,” said Fimsangpui, a college lecturer.

The fact that Kukis were targeted in the city – despite the presence of security forces – has for many hill tribe members underlined a sense that they cannot be safe anywhere in the state.

“Before, Kukis used to send their children to Imphal for higher studies,” said Fimsangpui. “I have one son, Daleed who is 24. Do you think I would ever send him to Imphal now? We can never trust the Manipur government or the police again.”


The spark for the fuse
The states of north-east India – wedged between Bangladesh, China and Myanmar – are a patchwork of ethnic groups, many of them shot through with longstanding enmities.

The spark for the latest outbreak of violence in Manipur was a plan to grant the majority Meitei the status of a “scheduled tribe” which would give them access to quotas in government jobs and colleges under India’s affirmative action policy.


Riaz Haq said…
#Indian Consulate in #SanFrancisco Set on Fire.
#Khalistan supporters linked to the attack. #Sikhs #US #California

https://www.mirchi9.com/usa-news/indian-consulate-in-san-francisco-was-set-on-fire/

The Indian consulate in San Francisco was set on fire early Sunday morning, as reported by a local U.S. channel. The incident has been verified by the Consulate General of India in San Francisco. Fortunately, the fire was quickly suppressed by the San Francisco Department, resulting in limited damage and no harm to the staff. Local, state, and federal authorities have been informed. According to the channel, Khalistan supporters have been linked to this act of violence. Matthew Miller, the spokesperson for the U.S. State Department, strongly condemned the reported vandalism and attempted arson, stating that such acts against diplomatic facilities or foreign diplomats in the U.S. are criminal offenses.
Riaz Haq said…
Lee Kuan Yew, the founder of modern Singapore, used to say: “India is not a real country. Instead it is thirty-two separate nations that happen to be arrayed along the British rail line"


https://www.thequint.com/news/world/what-lee-kuan-yew-had-to-say-about-india
Riaz Haq said…
How did Rajiv Gandhi, applauded for his modernist ideologies, accelerate Hindu nationalism politics?
An excerpt from ‘India is Broken: And Why It’s Hard To Fix,’ by Ashoka Mody.
Ashoka Mody


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


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

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

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

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

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

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