South Asian Contrast: Ayodhya and Kartarpur

November 9, 2019 will go down in South Asian history as a day of sharp contrasts: While Pakistan restored and opened Gurdwara Darbar Sahib in Kartarpur for Sikh pilgrims, the Indian Supreme Court ordered the construction of a Hindu temple on the site where Babri Masjid stood for centuries. Can India and its western apologists still claim to have shared values?



Shared Values:

At a congressional hearing on the Capitol Hill in Washington in October, 2019, American Congresswoman Ilhan Omar asked Ms. Alice Wells, Assistant Secretary of State for South Asia, the following pertinent question:

"Kashmiris have been restricted from communicating outside their country for 50+ days. In Assam, almost 2 million people are being asked to prove their citizenship. This is how the Rohingya genocide started. At what point do we question whether PM Modi shares our values?"

The question of shared values has been forcefully answered in the negative by the Indian Supreme Court in its Ayodhya verdict. This judgement by India's apex court has rewarded the criminal acts of Hindu Nationalists by ordering the construction of Ram Temple on the land where centuries-old Mughal-era Babri Masjid was destroyed in 1992.

Mr. Modi's actions and Indian Supreme Court's acquiescence have forced Financial Times's Gideon Rachman to conclude that  "India’s Narendra Modi has had a free pass from the west for too long". And Ed Luce, also from Financial Times, has written as follows: "During my session (at Bangalore Literary Festival) I was asked about the biggest threat to the future of global liberal democracy. My answer was Narendra Modi".

The only shared values between Washington and New Delhi are those of President Trump and Prime Minister Modi. Both leaders share hatred of minorities, particularly Muslims and  immigrants.

Kartarpur Corridor:

Pakistan restored and opened Gurdwara Darbar Sahib and signed an agreement with India to open a visa-free corridor for Indian Sikh pilgrim to visit the shrine on Baba Guru Nanak's 550th birthday.

Prime Minister Modi also wants to take credit for the corridor to attempt to show that he is not against minorities. But the fact is that Prime Minister Imran Khan left Modi little choice but to go along by making Kartarpur Sahib reality in record time.

Hindu Temples in Pakistan:

Pakistan Supreme Court recently took suo moto action to protect ancient Katas Raj temple in Chakwal district. The temple has a water pond that has been drying up due to falling water table in the region. The Supreme Court has ordered local officials to come up with a plan to restore the water pond to restrict ground water withdrawal by industries and farms to maintain the pond considered holy by Hindus.

Pakistan has also opened a 1,000-year-old Hindu temple in Sialkot for puja for the first time since partition in response to demand by the local Hindu community, according to media reports. In addition, Pakistan is restoring and reopening 400 Hindu temples across the country.

Indian Muslims:

While the actions of Prime Minister Modi's government have caused a great deal of concern among Muslims for their future in India, Indian Supreme Court's Ayodhya verdict has shown that the institutions of Indian democracy are surrendering to the the growing power of Hindu Nationalists. Indian Muslim journalist Rana Ayub has summed up their fears in her Washington Post column as follows:

"Muslims in India fear that this would indeed be the beginning of reimagining India with Muslims as second-class citizens as envisaged by right-wing supremacists. A resounding message has been sent to the more than 200 million Muslims in the country that they must bear every humiliation and injustice with the silence expected of an inferior citizenry. I and millions of my co-religionists have been made to feel like an orphan yet again in the land we have loved, cherished and called our own. A land whose liberation from the British was fought by revolutionaries and freedom fighters that included our own forefathers. I wonder if that cherished freedom holds any meaning in the new India that seeks to erase my legacy and my existence".

Jinnah was right:

Quaid-e-Azam Mohammad Ali Jinnah saw the threat posed to Muslim interests by Hindu majoritarianism in India as far back as 1938.  Speaking to the Muslim League in the Central Legislative Assembly, he set out his stance of permanent majorities and minorities as follows:

 “From the first contact it is not a democratic majority in the seven Congress provinces [that came to power after the 1937 election]. It is not a democratic majority that has formed the Government and is carrying on; it is the permanent Hindu majority which cannot be altered by any change whatsoever and therefore it is the travesty of the system which may be worthwhile in England. But when it is planted here, you see, that it is a failure. What is the result – the permanent Hindu majority and the ministry that is a Hindu ministry.”

Summary:

While Pakistan is trying to make amends by promoting religious freedoms for minorities, Prime Minister Modi's India is turning into a Hindu Rashtra by making Muslims second-class citizens. Yet, India's western apologists are still promoting the idea of strategic partnership based on shared values. Mr. Modi's actions and Indian Supreme Court's acquiesce have forced Financial Times's Gideon Rachman to conclude that "India’s Narendra Modi has had a free pass from the west for too long".

Here are video clips of US Congress's Hearing on Kashmir held on Oct 22, 2019:

https://youtu.be/nMrydKhvi9M




Related Links:

Haq's Musings

South Asia Investor Review

Rape as a Political Weapon Used By Hindutva

Hindu Nationalism Inspired By Nazism, Fascism

Rise of Islamophobia After Sept 11, 2001 Terrorist Attacks

700,000 Indian Soldiers Versus 7 Million Kashmiris

Modi's Kashmir Blunder and India-Pakistan Nuclear Conflict

Is India a Paper Elephant? 

Howdy Modi Rally Exposes Indian-Americans to Charges of Hypocrisy

Modi's Extended Lockdown in Indian Occupied Kashmir

Hinduization of India

Brievik's Hindutva Rhetoric

Indian Textbooks

India's RAW's Successes in Pakistan

Riaz Haq Youtube Channel

VPOS Youtube Channel

Comments

Riaz Haq said…
‘Homophobic, misogynist and a bigot’ — meet #Modi's #Brazilian friend Jair Bolsonaro, #India’s Republic Day chief guest. #Islamophobia #Racism #Hate #Misogeny #Hindutva #BJP https://theprint.in/world/homophobic-misogynist-and-a-bigot-meet-jair-bolsonaro-indias-republic-day-chief-guest/321549/ via @ThePrintIndia

When Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro accepted India’s invitation earlier this week to be a chief guest at the upcoming 71st Republic Day, the Narendra Modi government was faced with some acerbic criticism.

While some argued that New Delhi was inviting a “far-Right bigot” for the celebrations, others said the government was repeating a its “mistake” of calling a group of largely Right-wing European parliamentarians to visit Jammu and Kashmir recently.

Critics of the central government’s decision also have a robust set of evidence to back their claims.

In 1999, Bolsonaro had called for the assassination of former Brazilian president Fernando Henrique Cardoso. Again, in 2003, he had told a fellow female legislator that he won’t rape her because she “doesn’t deserve it”.

His offensive comments have been steadfast. In 2011, Bolsonaro said he would rather have his son die in an accident than come out as a homosexual. And as recently as 2017, the president had remarked that “a policeman who doesn’t kill isn’t a policeman”.

Such statements have also created an impression that Bolsonaro is part of the global nationalist-populist wave. But to look at him from such as lens is only a reductive exercise.

“The Bolsonaros (Jair and his sons) are above all a Brazilian phenomenon, a product of not only the country’s severe economic, institutional and criminal crises since 2014, but also of its successes in the decade prior,” wrote Brian Winter, editor-in-chief of Americas Quarterly.


Riaz Haq said…
The below via Basharat Ali and so very true! A few years ago Indians came out of the streets by the hundreds of thousands as part of "India against Corruption." Where are those teaming masses now???? "India against Fascism" anybody? Not worthwhile to get off your couches?
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""Article 35A and 370 are read down from the Constitution. Indian liberals: the decision poses a threat to Indian democracy. Yet the decision is received with mass acceptance and people are asked to move on.

The land in Ayodhya is given to Hindus for the construction of a mandir where a mosque stood for centuries. Indian liberals: the decision poses a threat to Indian secularism. Muslims are asked to bury the past and move on.

Accused of rape, four people are killed in an encounter in Hyderabad. Indian liberals: this poses a threat to the independence of investigating agencies. Yet, the police are garlanded and celebrities come out in their support.

It is time that Indians who still think they can go back to the Nehruvian era and flog the dead horse called "the Idea of India" accept the "New India" as a reality and not an aberration. The fact that people accept what is happening around them and move on is the reason why Modi is ruling this country. The transformation of India into a Hindu Rashtra has happened long back. But the Indian liberals would still cry: no, we won't let our country become another Pakistan.""
Riaz Haq said…
The #Muslim man who saved a #Hindu temple from a mob in #Pakistan. After India's #BabriMasjid was destroyed, a mob in #Lahore sought to demolish a temple. Until a local Muslim man intervened. @AJEnglish https://aje.io/u952v

Lahore, Pakistan - The loud banging on the door was accompanied by chants.

"Death to India," shouted the mob that had converged on the government-run school in the small town of Niaz Baig.

It was December 7, 1992, a crisp winter morning.

The day before, a mosque had been demolished in neighbouring India. The destruction of the 16th century Babri Mosque by Hindu nationalists had triggered riots that left 2,000 people - most of them Indian Muslims - dead.

But the fallout from that day would not remain within India's borders.

In protest against the destruction of the mosque, the government of Pakistan had declared December 7 a national holiday.

So, with the school's pupils off for the day, only the principal, some teachers and a few community members were present when the mob came knocking.

A school among the sprawl
It is a small detour from Lahore's well-kept, tree-lined Canal Road to the chaotic old town of Niaz Baig. But the contrast is stark.

The midday dust rises, first from the tarmac and then, as we venture deeper into the town, from the rubbish-lined dirt tracks.

We search for the school among the ill-planned sprawl of crumbling houses and, soon enough, find ourselves sitting inside it with its affable principal, Master Ashfaq, and Naseeb Khan, a former teacher who was there on that morning 27 years ago.

1992 was Khan's first year teaching at the school. It is one the well-spoken teacher will not forget.

A tall, domed structure with a faded Pakistani flag on top and faded floral frescoes on the ceiling, the school stands out among the poorly-constructed homes that surround it.

That is because, before its current incarnation as a school, it was the Bhadra Kali Hindu Mandir, a 19th-century Hindu temple dedicated to the Goddess Kali.

And that is why the angry mob descended upon it that December morning.

From temple to mosque
Part of a vast complex that included a traditional well, a holy pool and orchards, all surrounded by a thick boundary wall, Bhadra Kali Hindu Mandir was once one of the most prominent Hindu temples in Lahore.

But, like hundreds of others, it was abandoned in 1947 as British India was divided into Hindu-majority India and Muslim-majority Pakistan. The city of Lahore became part of Pakistan.

The new Pakistani state, struggling to accommodate the millions of refugees who had fled there in the bloody aftermath of Partition, allocated several Hindu and Sikh properties for them.

Niaz Baig's temple was among them. Its orchards and sacred rooms became home to the Meo community, an ethnic group originally from Gurgaon in India who converted to Islam from Hinduism between the 12th and 17th centuries.

But for many years after Partition, the temple's main building was largely abandoned; used occasionally by members of the community for wedding ceremonies and sometimes taken over by drug users and illegal gamblers.

Unhappy with how the sacred space was being used, in the 1970s a few members of the community decided to convert it into a mosque.

The man primarily responsible for this was Bashir Ahmad Meo.
Riaz Haq said…
No outreach on #CAA , foreign #diplomats warn: #India fast losing friends. People in their countries are questioning #Modi government’s commitment to “shared values”. #CAA_NRC_NPR #Hindutva #Islamophobia | India News,The Indian Express

https://indianexpress.com/article/india/caa-article-370-foreign-diplomats-warn-india-losing-friends-6190809/

Diplomats across continents say the unflattering images and articles about the protests and the government crackdown in the foreign press have made it harder for India’s “friends”, as many in their countries are questioning the government’s commitment to “shared values”.

More than a fortnight after the Citizenship (Amendment) Act came into force and triggered nationwide protests, there is growing unease within the capital’s foreign diplomatic community over the BJP-led NDA government’s moves.

The diplomats have publicly maintained that the CAA is an “internal issue”. However, when The Indian Express spoke to ambassadors and diplomats from at least 16 countries, across all continents, over the last few days on the new law and the protests, they expressed “concern” at the situation.

The other key takeaway was this: The government held several briefings for them on various issues it had described as “domestic” — Pulwama attack, Balakot airstrike, revocation of Article 370 in Jammu and Kashmir, and even the Ayodhya verdict. But it has not briefed them even once on the CAA and its ramifications.

“The Indian government briefed us on Kashmir and even the Ayodhya verdict although it maintained that they were domestic issues. But they did not bother to brief us on the CAA, which has an international dimension to it — after all, it talks of three of India’s neighbouring countries in the region,” an ambassador from a G-20 country said.

The new law grants citizenship to Hindus, Sikhs, Buddhists, Christians, Jains and Parsis — but not Muslims — who entered the country from Pakistan, Bangladesh and Afghanistan until December 31, 2014.

The diplomats, who include representatives from G-20 and P-5 groupings, and neighbouring countries, spoke on the condition of anonymity because the matter is “sensitive” and any attribution “may impact” bilateral ties.

They recalled that through 2019, the Ministry of External Affairs (MEA) held several briefings, mostly after Pulwama-Balakot in February-March, followed by Kashmir from August to October — and, to their surprise, even once on the Supreme Court’s Ayodhya verdict.

While bilateral conversations have happened, they said there hasn’t been any attempt to brief them together, or in batches, as was the practice in the other cases. They said some written material, mostly in the form of FAQs on the CAA, have been shared with embassies.

In such a situation, most of these diplomats have concluded that the protests were not limited to the Muslim community. They are now trying to get a sense of whether the government is “bothered” by the international criticism against the law.

On the ground, the first major diplomatic fallout of protests against the CAA were cancellations of visits by Bangladesh’s Foreign and Home ministers, and Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe.

Many foreign diplomats feel that Prime Minister Narendra Modi may be responsive to international criticism, but they are not sure about Home Minister Amit Shah. “The international press is being read by our headquarters, and they have been asking us about how much political and diplomatic risk can the Modi government take,” one of the diplomats said.

Riaz Haq said…
#India's law minister B.R. Amedkar & #Pakistan's law minister Jegendar Nath Mandal, both #Dalits, quit jobs in 1950-51. Both cited lack of progress on Dalit issues. #BJP, #Modi don't mention Ambedkar but use Mandal's resignation to justify #CAA. #Hindutva https://theprint.in/opinion/bjp-claims-caa-helps-dalits-but-lives-of-jn-mandal-and-br-ambedkar-say-otherwise/355813/

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BJP’s cause
With such sustained invocation of J.N Mandal, the BJP and the RSS want to achieve mainly four things:

They want to establish that Dalit-Muslim unity is a myth, and any such associationwill prove disastrous for Dalits.
They want to show why the CAA is necessary –because Muslims have persecuted Hindus – especially Dalits – in Pakistan, Bangladesh, and Afghanistan.
They want India’s Dalits to support the CAA because the law will give citizenship to fellow Dalits.
Also, the BJP seeks to wean Dalits away from leaders like Mayawati, Chandrashekhar Azad, Prakash Ambedkar and Jignesh Mevani, all of whom oppose the CAA.
So, is the BJP lying? Or is it simply cherry-picking some historical facts that further polarises Hindus and Muslims?

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It’s true that Pakistan failed Jogendra Nath Mandal, who took a considered decision to stay there for mainly two reasons. First, Muslims and Dalits in eastern Pakistan are a lot similar and Mandal believed they could have a shared future. Second, there was nothing about Indian society to inspire confidence that Dalits in Hindu-dominated India won’t continue to face caste discrimination. So, he considered it was better if Bengali-speaking Dalits stayed in their birthplace.

History proved his first hypothesis wrong, which is tragic. It brought miseries to lakhs of Dalits in Pakistan who might have escaped this fate had Mandal taken a different decision.

In his resignation letter to PM Liaquat Ali Khan, Mandal explained why he became disillusioned with the idea of Pakistan. He listed the unfulfilled promises made to him prior to his decision to remain in Pakistan. He cited the cases of atrocities against Dalits and the involvement of Pakistani establishment in them. He also noted that Eastern Pakistan had been turned into a colony of West Pakistan and many Muslim leaders of North-West and Eastern Pakistan, like Khan Abdul Ghaffar Khan, Huseyn Shaheed Suhrawardy, and A.K. Fazlul Huq were either in detention without trials or in misery.


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B.R. Ambedkar was able to sense what lay ahead for Dalits in the ‘upper’ caste-ruled Hindu-dominated India at an early stage. In his resignation letter, Ambedkar scathingly wrote: “What is the Scheduled Castes today? So far as I see, it is the same as before. The same old tyranny, the same old oppression, the same old discrimination which existed before, exists now, and perhaps in a worst form.”

He goes on to write: “I can refer to hundreds of cases where people from the Scheduled Castes… have come to me with their tales of woes against the Caste Hindus and against the Police who have refused to register their complaints and render them any help. I have been wondering whether there is any other parallel in the world to the condition of Scheduled Castes in India. I cannot find any.”

Ambedkar, like J.N. Mandal, left Nehru’s cabinet a disillusioned man. He listed some of the important promises that had not been met. Nehru’s cabinet had failed to constitute the backward classes commission. The Congress scuttled Hindu Code Bill prepared by Ambedkar. For him, the Hindu Code was “the greatest social reform measure ever undertaken by the legislature in this country. No law passed by the Indian Legislature in the past or likely to be passed in the future can be compared to it in point of its significance”.

“To leave inequality between class and class, between sex and sex, which is the soul of Hindu Society untouched and to go on passing legislation relating to economic problems is to make a farce of our Constitution and to build a palace on a dung heap,” Ambedkar wrote in his letter.
Riaz Haq said…
#Pakistan buys more #PalmOil from #Malaysia after #Modi cuts its import. Pak bought 135,000 tons of #Malaysian palm oil last month, a record high. Pakistan bought 1.1 million tons of palm oil from Malaysia last year, while #India bought 4.4 million tons. https://finance.yahoo.com/news/pakistan-pm-imran-khan-says-043409002.html

By Krishna N. Das and Joseph Sipalan

KUALA LUMPUR (Reuters) - Pakistan will buy more palm oil from Malaysia, Prime Minister Imran Khan said on Tuesday, aiming to help offset lost sales after top buyer India put curbs on Malaysian imports last month amid a diplomatic row.

India imposed restrictions on refined palm oil imports and informally asked traders to stop buying from Malaysia, the world's biggest producer of the edible oil. Sources said the move was in retaliation for Malaysia's criticism of India's new religion-based citizenship law and its policy on Kashmir.

Malaysian Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad said on Tuesday that he discussed palm oil with Khan who was on a visit to Malaysia and that Pakistan had indicated it would import more from Malaysia.

"That's right, especially since we noticed India threatened Malaysia for supporting the Kashmir cause, threatened to cut palm oil imports," Khan told a joint news conference, referring to India's Muslim-majority region of Kashmir.

"Pakistan will do its best to compensate for that."

India is a Hindu-majority country while Malaysia and Pakistan are mainly Muslim. India and Pakistan have been mostly hostile to each other since the partition of British India in 1947, and have fought two of their three wars over competing territorial claims in Kashmir.

Pakistan may have bought around 135,000 tonnes of Malaysian palm oil last month, a record high, India-based dealers who track such shipments told Reuters on condition of anonymity.

The figure is close to estimates of 141,500 tonnes from Refinitiv, which show sales to India in January may have plunged 80% from a year earlier to 40,400 tonnes.

Malaysia will release official export data on Monday.

Pakistan bought 1.1 million tonnes of palm oil from Malaysia last year, while India bought 4.4 million tonnes, according to the Malaysian Palm Oil Council.

Malaysian palm oil futures rose on Tuesday after Khan's comments and on expectations of a steep drop in production in January.



STRONG TIES

India has repeatedly objected to Mahathir speaking out against its move last year to strip Kashmir's autonomy and make it easier for non-Muslims from neighbouring Muslim-majority Bangladesh, Pakistan and Afghanistan to gain citizenship.

At the news conference, Mahathir did not refer to Kashmir but Khan did.

"The way you, PM, have stood with us and spoken about this injustice going on, on behalf of Pakistan I really want to thank you," Khan said.

He also said he was sad he had been unable to attend a summit of Muslim leaders in Malaysia in December. Saudi Arabia did not attend the summit, saying it was the wrong forum to discuss matters affecting the world's Muslims and Khan belatedly pulled out.

Some Pakistani officials, unnamed because they were not authorised to speak to the media, said at the time that Khan pulled out under pressure from Saudi Arabia, a close ally, although local media reported his officials denied that was the reason for his absence.

"Unfortunately our friends, who are very close to Pakistan as well, felt that somehow the conference was going to divide the ummah," Khan said, using the Arabic word for the Muslim community but not mentioning Saudi Arabia by name.

"It is clearly a misconception, as that was not the purpose of the conference."



(Reporting by Krishna N. Das and Joseph Sipapalan; additional reporting by Rajendra Jadhav in Mumbai and Gibran Peshimam in Islamabad; editing by Tom Hogue and Susan Fenton)
Riaz Haq said…
In Search of India's Soul: From Mughals to Modi----#Muslims and other minorities under threat in #Modi's #India. #BJP #Vigilantes #Hindutva -- | Featured Documentary narrated by Aatish Taseer https://youtu.be/EPHe4oag0R8 via @YouTube
Riaz Haq said…
#BJP's Ram Madhav: “The RSS still believes that one day these parts which have, for historical reasons, separated only 60 years ago will again through popular goodwill come together and Akhand (united) Bharat will be created" #Hindutva #India #Pakistan https://scroll.in/article/778778/there-was-already-a-plan-for-akhand-bharat-in-1946-and-indias-founding-fathers-rejected-it

Faced with an ultimatum, the Congress had to make a choice. It could either accept the Plan as a whole, with grouping and a weak Centre – and keep India united. Or it could press for Partition. After vacillating for a few months, as anarchy mounted all around, the Congress chose Partition.

There was already a plan for Akhand Bharat in 1946 – and India's founding fathers rejected it
If Akhand Bharat was as desirable as BJP’s General Secretary Ram Madhav claimed in a recent interview, why did the Congress reject the united India promised in the 1946 Cabinet Mission Plan?


Politically uniting the subcontinent into one entity has long been a cherished goal of the Hindutva movement. Even Vinayak Savarkar, who was an explicit supporter of the Two Nation Theory never, unlike Jinnah, spoke of Partition (although his conception of India had Muslims “play the part of German Jews”). Nevertheless, any practical conception of a united subcontinent has eluded its supporters. In fact, in the summer of 1946, a year before the British transferred power, a constitutional scheme for a united subcontinent was keenly pushed by the Raj and hotly debated by politicians ­– but in the end was firmly rejected by India’s founding fathers.

The Cabinet Mission Plan

This constitutional scheme is known to history as the Cabinet Mission Plan, uninspiringly named so because it was led and drafted by three members of the British cabinet. After two centuries of holding onto India, the British, greatly diminished by World War II, were desperately looking to get out. This three-member team was, therefore, entrusted to find a way to transfer power into Indian hands. The delegation arrived in India in March 1946 and set about talking to Indian politicians of all stripes. After a grueling month of discussions, the Mission was ready to make some suggestions.

The way it saw things, there were only two options to transfer power. The first was to partition British India into a sovereign India and Pakistan (which – spoiler alert – was what happened eventually). Partition, however, was much disliked by the British, who wanted to keep India united and preferably in the Commonwealth in order to best maintain its influence even after its formal exit. It was obviously disliked by the Congress, which was still opposed to splitting British India. Somewhat surprisingly, given his strident demands for “Pakistan”, the partition plan was also rejected by Jinnah, who called it “definitely unacceptable”. Consequently, Partition as an option, was dropped by the Cabinet Mission.

Three-tiered federation of united India

That left the other option, which was a united India. Declared on May 16 1946, the final scheme proposed by the Cabinet Mission took great care to explicitly point out that is was rejecting a sovereign Pakistan. It proposed a three-tiered federation, with British India’s provinces split into three groups which correspond roughly to present day India, Pakistan and a combination of Bengal and Assam. The plan was very close to what the Congress had wanted from the Cabinet Mission during its negotiations, rejecting Muslim League proposals which wanted “parity” (or equal representation) between Hindu and Muslim provinces at the Centre. The Congress had bitterly opposed this – Gandhi has called parity “worse than Pakistan” – and the Cabinet Mission had agreed, simply dividing seats in the central legislature by population.
Riaz Haq said…
#India is facing twin #economic & #political #crises under #Modi. Ex chief #economist Arvind Subramanian says every important indicator — investment, credit, profits, tax revenue, industrial output, exports and imports — has weakened. https://www.ft.com/content/81a7935c-56e0-11ea-abe5-8e03987b7b20 via @financialtimes

https://twitter.com/haqsmusings/status/1232486608777039872?s=20


The crackdown in Kashmir, the explicit discrimination against Muslims in the new Citizenship Amendment Act, the proposed national register of citizens, in a country with notoriously bad documentation, and the apparent intention to deport Muslims who cannot prove their right to stay, do together suggest a transformation of the Indian polity. So, too, is the free use of labels like “traitor” for those who disagree and “sedition” about those who protest. It is quite clear, surely, that the transformation of India into another “illiberal democracy” is long-intended. Little wonder US president Donald Trump admires Mr Modi. They play the same game, but Mr Modi’s majority gives him more cards.
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India is undergoing another transformation. The India I first visited, in the 1970s, was impressively democratic — with the exception of the period known as the Emergency imposed by then prime minister Indira Gandhi between 1975 and 1977. But its economy grew too slowly. After the balance of payments crisis of 1991, India introduced radical reforms. Over the next two decades its economy became faster-growing, while the political system remained robustly democratic. After the global financial crisis, however, growth slowed. India’s politics is also now moving towards an aggressively illiberal form of majoritarianism. These twin changes are not for the better.



Arvind Subramanian, a former chief economic adviser, has co-authored a paper on the post-crisis slowdown. It notes that every important indicator — investment, credit, profits, tax revenue, industrial output, exports and imports — has weakened sharply since the financial crisis. Yet overall economic growth has supposedly risen. This contradiction persuaded him to challenge the reliability of official estimates of economic growth. His conclusion was that the overestimate of growth between 2011 and 2016 averaged about 2.5 percentage points annually, which would lower average growth to somewhere around 4.5 per cent. If true, this has been really poor.



Alas, there is worse. The economy has been slowing even more dramatically in the recent past, even on the official statistics. These show that growth of gross domestic product slowed to just 4.5 per cent, year on year, in the third quarter of last year. Growth may now turn around. But the slowdown has been dramatic, comparable even to what happened in the crisis of the early 1990s.

So what explains the weak growth after 2008 and the sharper slowdown in the recent past? First, unsustainable expansion of exports and credit-fuelled domestic investment exaggerated India’s pre-crisis growth rate. Second, despite the post-crisis emergence of severe balance-sheet-problems in financial and non-financial corporate sectors, government spending, falling oil prices and buoyant lending from non-bank financial companies sustained growth. Finally, credit from these last institutions collapsed in 2019. Consumption then joined other sources of demand — notably investment and exports — in weakening sharply. Today, argues Mr Subramanian, a vicious spiral is at work: high interest rates, weak economic growth and poor profitability are worsening debt burdens and so aggravating the problems of financial and non-financial corporations.
Riaz Haq said…
Historic Rivals #India and #Pakistan Team Up To Fight #Locusts. 3 meetings held in India & 3 in Pakistan, and they take place in a high-security but friendly environment, with #military officers attending along with locust experts. #LocustInvasion https://undark.org/2020/04/20/india-pakistan-locusts/

Locust management in the region predates the India-Pakistan conflict. A predecessor of today’s Locust Warning Organization, a division of the Indian Ministry for Agriculture and Farmers’ Welfare, was established before the partition in 1939 in Karachi, now the capital of Pakistan, after a particularly brutal locust invasion from 1926 to 1931. And despite the decades of conflict that followed, when it comes to systemic issues such as food security, the partnership between the two countries is well honed, says Khan.

Six times a year, during the summer and fall, delegates from both sides of the border meet to discuss pest breeding patterns and control strategies, monitoring reports and local forecasts.

Three of the meetings are held in India and three in Pakistan, and while they take place in a high-security environment, with military forces attending the meeting along with locust specialists from the two countries, the atmosphere is always friendly, according to the participants. The officials’ only focus is food security and the betterment of the region, says Rajesh Malik, plant protection adviser with the Indian Ministry for Agriculture and Farmers’ Welfare. He says they meet regularly regardless of the political situation.

Over the years, the two countries have developed sophisticated surveillance capacity, consisting of trained personnel as well as vehicles and specialized equipment, which Khan says is key to contain the locust spread. Through its portal Locust Watch, the FAO helps countries coordinate locust response on the ground, a process that has become increasingly high tech in recent years. To ensure it collects timely and detailed information, it distributes satellite antennas that connect the monitoring teams to the internet. Officials on the ground are also equipped with a tablet to log information on the presence of locusts and their development stage, as well as data such as soil moisture and vegetation.

Through the satellite connection the tablet transmits the exact coordinates of each report, which are then relayed back to the public in the FAO monthly bulletins. Countries use this information to target breeding sites for pesticide spraying. In extreme cases, low flying aircrafts can target vast swarms with precision.

But the response chain is only as strong as its weakest link, and if any one part of the response breaks down then the whole system can fall apart. “In Yemen there was a war-like situation,” says Khan referring to the desert country’s ongoing civil war. That conflict has created a humanitarian crisis, with thousands dead and millions on the verge of starvation. In the midst of the crisis, the nation’s locust control activity has been neglected — even as locusts continued to breed and migrate towards Asia last year. Khan says the environment in Yemen remains favorable to locusts, and breeding could escalate again.

Last December, says Khan, countries of the United Nations’ Desert Locust Control Committee came together in Ethiopia and discussed the lack of response capacity in Yemen and the Horn of Africa. “First and foremost, these countries need surveillance,” he says. “They need technical manpower followed by robust control operations and immediate response.”
Riaz Haq said…
BBC News - #India #coronavirus: Twenty held for stopping funeral of a #Christian doctor who died of #COVID19. Dr Simon Hercules' friends and family were attacked on Sunday night when they took his body to a burial ground in #Chennai (formerly Madras). https://www.bbc.com/news/world-asia-india-52364571

At least 20 people have been arrested in south India for violently preventing the burial of a prominent doctor who died of Covid-19.

Dr Simon Hercules' friends and family were attacked on Sunday night when they took his body to a burial ground in Chennai (formerly Madras).

One of his friends had to quietly bury him in the early hours of Monday without any family members present.

He said the neurosurgeon "didn't deserve this end".

"He was not shown even basic humanity. Even his wife and son couldn't be there to say goodbye," Dr Pradeep told the News Minute website.

Local media reported that a mob of about 20 people attacked Dr Hercules' friends and family with sticks and rods. Two ambulance drivers were also injured in the incident.

Police said the people lived near the burial ground and were worried that burying Covid-19 patients in the vicinity would spread the virus.

Dr Pradeep said that Dr Hercules continued to serve during the pandemic instead of staying home, and he most likely got the infection from one of his patients.

Tamil Nadu state Health Minister C Vijayabaskar condemned the incident.

"What happened to that doctor is condemnable. Such things should not happen in the future," he said.

Experts have said that people need to be more aware about the burial rules for Covid-19 patients.

The federal health ministry guidelines say that burying the bodies of coronavirus victims is safe if all precautions are followed.

These include instructions for how bodies should be handled and disposed off. It also defines what kind of rituals can be carried out.


Riaz Haq said…
First #Hindu pilot in #Pakistan Air Force. Rahul Dev hails from #Tharparkar, the largest district in #Sindh province, where a large population of the Hindu community resides. | Pakistan – Gulf News

https://t.co/T4Wfd0NQZh?amp=1

Rahul Dev hails from Tharparkar, the largest district in Sindh province, where a large population of the Hindu community resides.

All Pakistan Hindu Panchayat Secretary Ravi Dawani expressed happiness over Dev’s appointment. He said many members of the minority community are serving in the civil service as well as the army. Many doctors in the country also belong to the Hindu community. He said that if the government continues to focus on the minorities, then in the coming days many Rahul Devs will be ready to serve the country.
Riaz Haq said…
How Pakistan was envisaged -


Quaid e Azam M.A Jinnah quotes:

These are gems plz Circulate widely, folks!

1. “No nation can ever be worthy of its existence that cannot take its women along with the men... It is a crime against humanity that our women are shut up within the four walls of the houses as prisoners. There is no sanction anywhere for the deplorable condition in which our women have to live.”

2. “You are free; you are free to go to your temples. You are free to go to your mosques or to any other places of worship in this State of Pakistan. You may belong to any religion, caste or creed—that has nothing to do with the business of the state.”

3. “Do not forget that the armed forces are the servants of the people. You do not make national policy; it is we, the civilians, who decide these issues and it is your duty to carry out these tasks with which you are entrusted.”

4.“ Corruption and bribery are like poison and a horrible disease which need to be put down with an iron hand “
Riaz Haq said…
After #BabriMasjid verdict, #ArnabGoswami bail and failure to protect #Indian & #Kashmiri #Muslims' basic #humanrights, #India's Supreme Court is no longer universally regarded as a reliable and impartial defender of constitutional rights. #Hindutva #Modi https://www.ft.com/content/5ddc4de6-90a4-4f18-83b0-0366e50bc67b

by Marina Wheeler

I wonder what they would make of the increasing alarm I hear from my Indian lawyer friends. Each week, it seems, some new outrage amplifies their anxiety that the rule of law in the country is being eroded. Questions are being asked about the impartiality of judgments at all levels of the system. The latest episode involved a decision by the Supreme Court to intervene in the case of Arnab Goswami, a rightwing television news presenter and founder of Republic TV, which is widely seen as supportive of Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s Hindu nationalist government. The country’s highest court ordered Mr Goswami — arrested in a suicide case — be released on bail after a lower court refused his petition. On its own, this decision would not have warranted much attention. But critics noted that the court found time to sit over a holiday recess — while many journalists, lawyers, writers and activists critical of the government have been arrested and still languish in jail, awaiting their hearings. Away from the headlines, there is a deeper fear that the justice system itself is failing, under the pressure of political abuse and manipulation. Many Indians revere their constitution, which dexterously balances the rights and aspirations of a hugely diverse population. In its drafting, BR Ambedkar — who was a Dalit, from the lowest caste — kept the minorities and disadvantaged very much in mind. But in Mr Modi’s India, with its rightwing Hindu majority, the protections he crafted seem flimsier than ever. The Goswami decision was not an isolated case. There are other signs that the Supreme Court is no longer universally regarded as a reliable and impartial defender of constitutional rights. In January 2018, four of the court’s judges themselves raised concerns about administrative interference in the assignment of sensitive cases. Last year, the court decided a bitter dispute over a contested religious site at Ayodhya, revered by many Hindus as the birthplace of Lord Ram. In December 1992, a mob tore down a 16th-century mosque on the site. But the court accepted the argument that some kind of structure predated the mosque and sanctioned the construction of a Hindu temple there. Fears that the judgment would be met by rioting were misplaced. Instead, there was resignation from opponents of the decision and celebration from the Hindu right. Increasingly, it feels as though the secular foundations of the republic are being dismantled and that religious minorities, whom the constitution declares equal before the law, are losing their voice. In 1947, the Muslim-majority state of Jammu and Kashmir acceded to India as a semi-autonomous state. The constitution protected its special status until August 2019, when Mr Modi’s government revoked it and ordered a clampdown on the region, putting local political leaders under house arrest and closing communications. Meanwhile, nearly 2m mainly Muslims in Assam state have been excluded from a citizens’ register, and in effect declared “irregular foreigners”. Petitions have been filed with the Supreme Court challenging both the citizenship act and repression in Kashmir — but they are as yet unheard.
Riaz Haq said…
#Modi's Trudeau tantrum as Trudeau speaks for #Sikhs. Trudeau has become a massive pain in the neck for #India. #Canada has 18 #Sikh members of Parliament, more than India. #Trudeau has boasted that he has more Sikhs in his cabinet (3) than Modi. https://www.wsj.com/articles/india-throws-a-trudeau-tantrum-11607643923?reflink=desktopwebshare_twitter via @WSJ

In a failed attempt to stall the farmers, authorities have lobbed tear-gas shells, dug up trenches, erected concrete barriers and deployed water cannons and phalanxes of baton-wielding policemen. Despite several rounds of negotiations with protest leaders, the standoff shows no sign of abating. Farmers have threatened to hunker down for months and to block all traffic to and from the national capital.

Amid a pandemic, recession and border face-off with China, the protests represent the most serious challenge to Prime Minister Narendra Modi since his re-election last year. More than half of Indians earn a living from agriculture. No government can afford to be seen as hostile to their interests.


I would also like to receive updates and special offers from Dow Jones and affiliates. I can unsubscribe at any time.I agree to the Privacy Policy and Cookie

Enter Mr. Trudeau. Speaking over video last month to Canadian Sikhs—many of whom maintain close links with their families in Indian Punjab—the prime minister called the situation in India “concerning.” He asserted that Canada would “defend the right of peaceful protest.”


Founded in the late 15th century in Punjab, Sikhism is the most global of the faiths rooted in India. (Indian Buddhism has dwindled over time.) Boston University’s World Religion Database estimates that about 2.5 million of the world’s 28 million Sikhs live outside India. The Sikh diaspora encompasses dairy farmers in Italy, hoteliers in Kenya, maize farmers in Ethiopia, and policemen in Malaysia. But the largest and most prosperous overseas Sikh communities have sprouted in the Anglosphere: 570,000 in the U.K., 529,000 in Canada, 410,000 in the U.S. and 170,000 in Australia.

In Canada, Sikhs account for only 1.4% of the population, but their concentration in certain districts and close-knit communities give them political clout. Canada has 18 Sikh members of Parliament, more than India. Mr. Trudeau has boasted that he has more Sikhs in his cabinet (three) than Mr. Modi. Both Mr. Trudeau and his predecessor, Stephen Harper, have visited Sikhism’s holiest shrine, the Golden Temple in Amritsar.

Mr. Trudeau’s Indian critics complain that, in pursuit of the Sikh vote, Mr. Trudeau turns a blind eye to elements in the community that back the creation of a separate Sikh homeland known as Khalistan. In 2017, Mr. Trudeau attended an event that eulogized separatists killed by Indian security forces. And three years ago, a visit to India turned into a PR disaster after a reception for the prime minister included a Canadian Sikh convicted of attempting to murder an Indian Sikh politician.

Riaz Haq said…
#Pakistan fires 12 police officers for failure to protect #Hindu temple in #Karak. Regional #KP government also suspended 33 other police officers for a year as punishment., offering sharp contrast to #India's #babriverdict. #Modi #BJP https://aje.io/4yvyh via @AJEnglish

Pakistani authorities have sacked a local police chief and 11 other policemen for failing to protect a Hindu temple that was set on fire and demolished last month by a mob led by hundreds of supporters of a religious party, police said.

The 12 policemen were fired on Thursday over acts of “cowardice, irresponsibility and negligence” for not trying to stop the mob when it attacked the temple, with some having fled the scene.

The regional government in northwestern Khyber Pakhtunkhwa also suspended 33 other police officers for a year as punishment, provincial police chief Sanaullah Abbasi said.

The punishments come amid government assurances that the Shri Paramhans Ji Maharaj Samadhi temple – situated in the remote village of Teri in Karak district, some 85km (53 miles) south of Peshawar, the capital of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa – would be rebuilt.

Last week, Pakistan’s Supreme Court also ordered the rebuilding of the temple, with the next hearing in the case set for January 19.


On December 30, about 2,000 men ransacked the historic temple built in 1920 and an adjacent Hindu shrine, destroying the compound and setting fire to it.


The mob led by a local Muslim leader was enraged by the renovation of a building adjacent to the temple that was recently bought by the Hindu community to facilitate visiting devotees.

The attack took place after members of the Hindu community received permission from local authorities to renovate the temple.

Pakistan is home to an estimated 3.5 million Hindus, who form a 1.6 percent minority of the country’s 207 million population, as per government figures.

More than 30 rioters, including the Muslim leader who allegedly incited the mob, have already been arrested after they were identified in videos of the attack uploaded online.

The arrested included supporters of the Jamiat Ulema-e-Islam party, who are currently facing trials on various charges.

Although Muslims and Hindus generally live peacefully together in Pakistan, violence against the minority community often centres around the country’s strict, and heavily emotive, blasphemy laws.

Attacks on Hindu temples, while not common, have been increasing in frequency in recent years.

Most of Pakistan’s minority Hindus migrated to India in 1947 when the Indian subcontinent gained independence from the British rule, resulting in the formation of Muslim-majority Pakistan.

Last year, the United States Commission on International Religious Freedom (USCIRF) renewed its designation of Pakistan as a “country of particular concern”, citing, among other reasons, “severely restricted freedom of religion or belief”.
Riaz Haq said…
#Modi's, #BJP's parent org RSS's chief advocates ‘Akhand Bharat’ that includes #Pakistan & #Afghanistan:"There is a need to make glorious Akhand Bharat for the welfare of the universe. That’s why there is a need to awaken patriotism for the country”#Hindu https://www.tribuneindia.com/news/nation/rss-chief-advocates-akhand-bharat-says-pakistan-in-distress-ever-since-partitioned-from-india-217404#.YDmTjR7rIQc.twitter

More than the present India, the separated parts of erstwhile India, which shed their relevance with the country, have more necessity for the reunification to come out of their “miseries”, he further said.

Stressing that the concept of ‘Akhand Bharat’ is possible, Bhagwat said some people had expressed serious doubts before the partition of the country in 1947 whether Pakistan would be formed, but it happened.

India’s first Prime Minister Jawaharlal Nehru, when asked before partition of the country in 1947, had said the possibility of formation of Pakistan was “dream of fools” though it happened.

According to Bhagwat, Lord Wavell (during British rule) also said in British Parliament that God has made India one and so who would divide it.


“But ultimately it (partition of India) happened.

What seemed to be impossible had happened, so it cannot be ruled out that ‘Akhand Bharat’ which may seem to be impossible, will not happen,” he said.

Alleging that there is unhappiness in the separated regions of ‘Akhand Bharat’ which now do not call themselves as ‘Bharat’, the RSS chief said the remedy to come out their miseries is reunification with India.


“They (separated countries) did all they could, but did not find any remedy. And remedy is reunification (with Bharat) only and all their problems will get resolved,” he said.

He, however, said the reunification should be done through “humanitys dharm” which according to him is called “Hindu dharm”.


“Gandhar became Afghanistan. Is there peace and tranquility in Afghanistan since then? Pakistan was formed.

From that date till now, is there peace and tranquility?” he asked.


He said India has the endurance to overcome several challenges and the world looks towards it to overcome difficulties.

With “Vasudhaiva Kutumbakam” (world is one family) belief, India can again offer happiness and peace to the world, he added. PTI



Riaz Haq said…
#Modi’s bulldozing of #Indian parliament shows him as the architect of a #Hindu #Taliban . Flattening the majestic #Mughal -inspired buildings is the latest stage in a hateful, vanity-fuelled campaign to de-Islamify #India . #Islamophobia | The Guardian





https://www.theguardian.com/artanddesign/2021/jun/04/modi-parliament-taliban-anish-kapoor







At the heart of New Delhi, the capital of India, sits a Mughal-inspired monument that houses the seat of the Indian parliament. Built by the British architect Edwin Lutyens between 1911 and 1931, the parliament buildings and their grand roadways and water channels follow the form established by the Islamic rulers of Iran and elaborated by the Islamic sultanate of Samarkand and the Mughal rulers of India.

Lutyens designed perhaps the most important Islamic-inspired edifice of modern times. The buildings quote architectural emblems from Hindu temples and palaces, but the grand plan follows the design of Mughal-Islamic landscape with a light nod to Roman triumphalism. It is, in my view, the greatest set of government buildings anywhere in the world.

Unsurprisingly, the Islamic origin of these buildings offends the current regime in Delhi. It is why the tyrant Modi and his henchmen are destroying it. As I write, the destruction is under way. It is an abomination that Modi’s hate-filled campaign to de-Islamify India is allowed to continue via the destruction of a world-class monument. Astonishingly, the UN heritage forum is silent and world heritage bodies have kept their mouths firmly closed. Are they afraid of Modi, or do they not care what happens in India?

Modi has appointed third-rate Bimal Patel as his architect. Patel will design its replacement much in the way that Albert Speer followed his F├╝hrer’s lead, but, of course, Patel does not have an iota of Speer’s talent.



This ideologically driven, hate-filled destruction follows the demolition of the Babri Masjid in Ayodhya in 1992 and the vandalism of Islamic and Mughal monuments all over India. Modi appears to want nothing less than the obliteration of all the Islamic monuments of India and the removal of the 200 million Indian Muslims. Let us not forget that he has already forcibly taken away Indian citizenship from many millions of Indian Muslims and rendered them stateless – a crime for which he has not been brought to book, even though India is a signatory to the UN declaration of human rights, of which citizenship is a central tenet.

The pretence that the destruction of this grand vista is justified by a lack of space for parliament is flimsy. The National Museum of India, which is housed in one of the buildings to be demolished, is to be moved to a space inadequate for its marvellous collections, putting at risk many invaluable and fragile works of art. All this will be done at breakneck speed in order to have the work finished before the end of Modi’s term in office. The Indian courts have been pressured to acquiesce to this idiotic scheme and journalists and other commentators have been intimidated.

Riaz Haq said…
2,000-Year-Old #Buddhist #Temple Unearthed in #Swat Valley, #Pakistan. Barikot appears in classical Greek and Latin texts as “Bazira” or “Beira.” #Archaeology https://www.smithsonianmag.com/smart-news/2000-year-old-buddhist-temple-unearthed-in-pakistan-180979560/


The structure is one of the oldest of its kind in the Gandhara region

Archaeologists in northwest Pakistan’s Swat Valley have unearthed a roughly 2,000-year-old Buddhist temple that could be one of the oldest in the country, reports the Hindustan Times.

Located in the town of Barikot, the structure likely dates to the second century B.C.E., according to a statement. It was built atop an earlier Buddhist temple dated to as early as the third century B.C.E.—within a few hundred years of the death of Buddhism’s founder, Siddhartha Gautama, between 563 and 483 B.C.E., reports Tom Metcalfe for Live Science.

Luca Maria Olivieri, an archaeologist at Ca’ Foscari University in Venice, led the dig in partnership with the International Association for Mediterranean and Oriental Studies (ISMEO). The excavation site is in the historical region of Gandhara, which Encyclopedia Britannica describes as “a trade crossroads and cultural meeting place between India, Central Asia and the Middle East.” Hindu, Buddhist and Indo-Greek rulers seized control of Gandhara at different points throughout the first millennium B.C.E., notes Deutsche Presse-Agentur (DPA).

The temple’s ruins stand around ten feet tall; they consist of a ceremonial platform that was once topped by a stupa, or dome often found on Buddhist shrines. At its peak, the temple boasted a smaller stupa at the front, a room or cell for monks, the podium of a column or pillar, a staircase, vestibule rooms, and a public courtyard that overlooked a road.

“The discovery of a great religious monument created at the time of the Indo-Greek kingdom testifies that this was an important and ancient center for cult and pilgrimage,” says Olivieri in the statement. “At that time, Swat already was a sacred land for Buddhism.”

In addition to the temple, the team unearthed coins, jewelry, statues, seals, pottery fragments and other ancient artifacts. Per the statement, the temple was likely abandoned in the third century C.E. following an earthquake.

Barikot appears in classical Greek and Latin texts as “Bazira” or “Beira.” Previous research suggests the town was active as early as 327 B.C.E., around the time that Alexander the Great invaded modern-day Pakistan and India. Because Barikot’s microclimate supports the harvest of grain and rice twice each year, the Macedonian leader relied on the town as a “breadbasket” of sorts, according to the statement.

Shortly after his death in 323, Alexander’s conquered territories were divided up among his generals. Around this time, Gandhara reverted back to Indian rule under the Mauryan Empire, which lasted from about 321 to 185 B.C.E.

Italian archaeologists have been digging in the Swat Valley since 1955. Since then, excavations in Barikot have revealed two other Buddhist sanctuaries along a road that connected the city center to the gates. The finds led the researchers to speculate that that they’d found a “street of temples,” the statement notes.

According to Live Science, Buddhism had gained traction in Gandhara by the reign of Menander I, around 150 B.C.E., but may have been practiced solely by the elite. Swat eventually emerged as a sacred Buddhist center under the Kushan Empire (30 to 400 C.E.), which stretched from Afghanistan to Pakistan and into northern India. At the time, Gandhara was known for its Greco-Buddhist style of art, which rendered Buddhist subjects with Greek techniques.

Riaz Haq said…
The Wire
@thewire_in
Lal began his career as an archaeologist with a commitment to empirical rationality. However, by the 1990s, he was known as a 'bhagwa archaeologist' for his spurious claims on Ayodhya. |
@AAvikunthak

https://twitter.com/thewire_in/status/1579287401041514496?s=20&t=aRjh-wfOmRZqzGrZ-bpSog


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

B.B. Lal and the Making of Hindutva Archaeology
Lal began his career as an archaeologist with a commitment to empirical rationality. However, by the 1990s, he was known as a 'bhagwa archaeologist' for his spurious claims on Ayodhya.


https://thewire.in/history/b-b-lal-hindutva-archaeology-ram-temple-babri-masjid-ayodhya

If there is one name in the history of post-independent India that has had a towering influence on the Archaeological Survey of India (ASI), it is Braj Basi Lal, who recently passed away last month at the age of 101.

Lal’s career biography ideologically maps the trajectory ASI took after India broke its colonial shackles. Lal began his career as an archaeologist with a commitment to empirical rationality as seen from his early writing in the ASI journal Ancient India in the 1950s. However, by the 1990s, he was known as a “bhagwa [saffron] archaeologist” for his spurious claims on Ayodhya, which provided an archaeological impetus to the eventual demolition of the Babri Masjid in 1992.

As a young archaeologist, Lal was trained at the famous Taxila School of Archaeology in 1944. Led by Mortimer Wheeler – the last director general of the colonial ASI – this is considered to be the first school of field archaeology. It had an enduring impact on the trajectory of post-colonial Indian archaeology, as many students who attended went to become the director generals of the ASI, including B.B. Lal who headed the ASI from 1968 to 1972.

The first time I saw B.B. Lal was during unsavoury circumstances. It was a cold winter of 1994 during the Third World Archaeological Congress (WAC 3) held in Taj Mahal Hotel, New Delhi. As a young graduate student of archaeology, I was a delegate attending the WAC 3 – a gathering of international archaeologists held once in four years. The conference opened with disarray organisation, disordered logistics, and corruption allegations.

Palpably, an unofficial gag order prohibiting any discussion on the demolition of the Babri Masjid was floating in the glittering corridors of the five-star hotel. I heard muted voices of dissent and the simmering tension in the air threatened to disrupt the conference.

On the last day of the conference, an ugly fistfight broke out on the stage of the hotel’s regal ballroom. The national and international delegates sat in stunned silence. Amid a heated discussion and vociferous slogan shouting, a group of senior Indian archaeologists led by B.B. Lal and right-wing archaeologist S.P. Gupta were seen rushing onto the stage.

They snatched the microphone from the Indian delegates who had come up to the podium to read a petition for WAC-3 to pass a resolution condemning the demolition of the Babri Masjid. The conference ended wretchedly, with the WAC Council boycotting the official closing ceremony in protest.

B.B Lal’s role in transforming the ASI from a sedate government organisation excavating diverse pasts of this ancient nation to something that has been trying to prove the archaeological veracity of the ancient Hindu epic tradition is indelible.

Riaz Haq said…
B.B. Lal and the Making of Hindutva Archaeology

https://thewire.in/history/b-b-lal-hindutva-archaeology-ram-temple-babri-masjid-ayodhya


Lal’s most significant discovery was that of the earliest Jain terracotta figurine (4th century BCE) and Roman Rouletted Ware (1st-2nd century CE). This evidence showed that Ayodhya was not just part of the brisk ancient trade route, but it was a multicultural site. There was no mention of a Hindu temple at the site. The short excavation reportage in IAR ironically stated that the entire period after the 11th century “was devoid of special interest”.

However, it was in 1990 when the Ram Janmabhoomi movement was jolting the political climate in India, and more than 10 years after he had excavated Ayodhya, Lal, in an influential article in a Hindu propaganda journal, Manthan, announced that he had recovered Hindu temple pillar-bases during the excavation.

Lal forcefully asserted his authority as an eminent ASI archaeologist behind his egregious claim that remains of a Hindu temple existed under the Babri Masjid. He allegedly provided false archaeological justification for the claim that the Hindutva fundamentalists were making about the Babri Masjid. Archaeology was irrevocably pushed into the greatest political crisis of postcolonial India.

Lal’s assertion about the presence of temple debris under the mosque had led to an acrimonious debate among archaeologists and historians in India. He led a group of historians and archaeologists, along with his collaborator S.P. Gupta, who provided archaeological justification to the political project of Hindu fundamentalism.

With this, the project of Hindutva’s appropriation of archaeology’s scientific legitimacy to pursue its divisive politics reached its logical conclusion on December 6, 1992, when the Babri Masjid was demolished.

Along with this project, Lal is also the progenitor of the other favourite Hindutva archaeological project – ‘Aryanization of the Indus Civilization’. This basically means deceptively force-fitting archaeological evidence of the Harappan civilisation (3300-1800 BCE) with the Vedic civilisation (1500-600 BCE) and creating a new ethnic category called the ‘Vedic-Harappans’ – the authors of the ‘Out of India’ theory.

This project disputes the movement of the Aryans from the West, and asserts, without much evidence, that the Harappans were indigenous Vedic Aryans. This is a speculative premise devoid of any material data on the ground through which the Harappan civilisation becomes the birthplace of the indigenous Aryans who spoke the proto-Indo-European language and spread throughout the Eurasian world.

The centre of this process of ‘Aryanization’ – the practice of reading Aryan elements into Harappan material culture – is the river Saraswati, which, thanks to specious scholarship by Lal, moved from the mythological to the archaeological realm. I say specious because in all of his official ASI publications that dealt with the Harappan site of Kalibangan that Lal excavated, he never used the word ‘Saraswati’.

He excavated the site of Kalibangan from 1960-69, but published the report only 34 years after the end of the excavation. In the meanwhile, in non-official publications, Lal routinely postulated the idea that the monsoon-fed Ghaggar-Hakra paleo-channel was actually the Vedic river Saraswati, without archaeological, geological, or hydrological evidence.

If Lord Rama was the divine centre of the property dispute at Ayodhya for Lal, then Goddess Saraswati was the celestial pivot of the making of the Vedic Harappans.
Riaz Haq said…
Thousands of mosques targeted as Hindu nationalists try to rewrite India’s history | India | The Guardian

https://www.theguardian.com/world/2022/oct/30/thousands-of-mosques-targeted-as-hindu-nationalists-try-to-rewrite-indias-history

Shamsi Jama Masjid, an 800-year-old mosque in Uttar Pradesh, is the latest flashpoint in a dispute that could eventually turn violent


Hannah Ellis-Petersen in Uttar Pradesh
Sun 30 Oct 2022 01.00 EDT

In a small, darkened office in Budaun, where dusty legal books line the walls, two lawyers have fallen into a squabble. VP Singh and his taller associate BP Singh – no relation – are discussing Shamsi Jama Masjid, the mosque that has stood in this small town in Uttar Pradesh for 800 years.

According to the lawyers, this grand white-domed mosque, one of the largest and oldest in India, is not a mosque at all. “No no, this is a Hindu temple,” asserted BP Singh. “It’s a very holy place for Hindus.”

Records dating back to 1856 make reference to the working mosque, and according to local Muslims, they have been praying there undisturbed since it was built by Shamsuddin Iltutmish, a Muslim king, in 1223. The Singhs however, have a different version of events. In July, they filed a court case on behalf of a local Hindu farmer – and backed by the rightwing Hindu nationalist party Akhil Bharat Hindu Mahasabha (ABHM) – alleging that Shamsi Jama Masjid is not a mosque but an “illegal structure” built on a destroyed 10th-century Hindu temple for the god Shiva. Their petition states that Hindus have rightful ownership of the land and should be able to pray there.

Except, the two bickering lawyers can’t quite agree on the historical facts. BP Singh initially claimed that the original Hindu temple was destroyed by a Muslim tyrant king – but then VP Singh contradicts him.

“Not destroyed, altered,” said VP Singh. “Most of the original Hindu temple is still there.” They claim as evidence a lotus flower painted on the inside of the mosque dome. But when the Observer was given access to the mosque, there was no such Hindu motif, and instead it was the calligraphy of a Qur’anic verse. There was also no sign of an alleged “hidden locked room filled with Hindu idols” in the mosque, which VP Singh claimed he had seen in the 1970s as a child. Instead, the room in question was a store cupboard, filled with cleaning materials and prayer mats.

The pair also could not settle on exactly when Shamsi Jama Masjid, which they refuse to call a mosque, began to be used by Muslims for prayer five times a day as it is today. After BP Singh stated that Muslims were praying there up till the 1800s, VP Singh leaned over to mutter quietly to his associate: “No no don’t say that, don’t say that.”

More loudly, VP Singh then proclaimed: “Actually no this wasn’t a mosque, it was never used for namaz [Muslim prayer] until recently when the Muslims forcibly occupied it and tried to convert it into a mosque.” They claimed to have “proof” but were unable to find it.

“When the Muslims ruled, we Hindus were all persecuted, we were killed and tortured,” added BP Singh. “Now we are taking back what is rightfully ours.”

The case has been met by puzzlement from local Muslims, who are contesting it in court. “How can you claim this is not a mosque?,” said Anwer Alam, legal counsel for the mosque committee, pointing up to the imposing white domes. “No Hindu has ever prayed at this mosque since its inception 800 years ago. This suit has no legal grounds.”

Riaz Haq said…
Pakistan Preserves Its Buddhist Heritage Amidst Grave Challenges

https://www.eurasiareview.com/22122022-pakistan-preserves-its-buddhist-heritage-amidst-grave-challenges/

Despite an ever-present and growing threat from an iconoclastic fringe in Pakistan, successive governments in Islamabad have managed to preserve the Islamic country’s Buddhist heritage that exists as archaeological findings.

This is all the more creditable since the remnants of 2,200-year-old Gandhara Buddhist civilization are still substantially intact in the Swat Valley of the Khyber Pakhtunkhwa Province (KPK) though KPK is the epicenter of present-day Islamic terrorism. Among Pakistan’s provinces, it is the KPK which bears the brunt of the fury of Tehreek-i-Taliban Pakistan (TTP).

Interestingly, news of the discovery of a 2200 year-old Buddhist temple at Barikot in KPK (counted among the “Top 10 Discoveries of 2022” by Archeology Magazine) came as TTP gunmen and Pakistani commandoes fought a pitched battle at Bannu, a town in KPK. 33 terrorists and two commandoes were killed in the shootout.

According to Sana Jamal of Gulf News, the 2nd Century BC temple at Barikot was discovered jointly by archaeology professor, Luca Maria Olivieri of Ca’ Foscari of the University of Venice, the Directorate of Archaeology and Museums KP Province, and the Swat Museum. It is the oldest known Buddhist temple in the Swat region that was a center for the exchange of goods and culture between the civilizations of the Middle East, Central Asia and India from 6th Century BC.

“The temple’s ruins are around ten feet tall and consist of a ceremonial platform that once housed a stupa or dome often found in Buddhist architecture. The structure includes a smaller stupa at the front, a room or cell for monks, a podium or pillar, a staircase, vestibule rooms, and a public courtyard that overlooks a road,” Jamal says. A stupa is a Buddhist structure containing holy relics.

Swat is also home to the renowned Dharmarajika stupa, locally known as Chir Tope, located near Taxila, a seat of Buddhist learning between the 3 rd., Century BC and 7th.Century AD.

Pakistan has been working hard to let the world know of its pre-Islamic past, which includes Mohenjodaro of the ancient Indus Valley Civilization, the Buddhist University at Taxila, Gandhara art and Buddhist stupas containing sacred relics.

During the tenure of Pakistan High Commissioner Seema Baloch in Sri Lanka (2011-13), Pakistani Buddhist relics were, for the first time, brought to Sri Lanka and publicly exhibited at various places in the island. A group of 40 Buddhist monks were taken to see sites of Buddhist interest in Pakistan. This did help correct (albeit only to a small extent), the image that Pakistan had nothing to offer Buddhists and had little or nothing to do with Buddhism.

In June 2016, Pakistan High Commission held an exhibition of Gandhara Art in Colombo, in which coffee-table books in both English and Sinhala sold like hotcakes. “I had to bring in replenishments from the High Commission several times to meet the constant demand,” remarked the then Press Attache, Intesar Ahmad Sulehry. Later the High Commission showed a documentary on Gandhara Art jointly made by a group of Pakistanis, Sri Lankans and Indians.

Pakistan is now 95% Muslim and Islam is the official religion, but Buddhism once flourished in the KPK, then called Gandhara. The region was subject to Achaemenian Persia in the 6th and 5th centuries BC and was conquered by Alexander the Great in 4th Century BC. It was thereafter ruled by the Mauryan dynasty of India, under which it became a center for the spread of Buddhism to Afghanistan and Central Asia. Gandhara was successively ruled by Indo-Greeks, Shakas, Parthians, and Kushans. After its conquest by Mahmud of Gazni in 11th century AD , it came under a series of Muslim dynasties.
Riaz Haq said…
Pakistan Preserves Its Buddhist Heritage Amidst Grave Challenges

https://www.eurasiareview.com/22122022-pakistan-preserves-its-buddhist-heritage-amidst-grave-challenges/


Gandhara was the home of a distinctive art style that was a mixture of Indian Buddhist and Greco-Roman influences. Depictions of the Buddha and Bodhisatvas (Enlightened Beings) were the mainstay of Gandhara art. Sculptures that have survived the ravages of time and the depredations of iconoclasts, show various aspects of the Buddha’s life.

However, it is the representation of the Buddha in human form that went on to influence art in China, Japan, Korea, and other parts of East Asia. It is said that the Gandhara region has the world’s only statue of a “fasting Buddha” – a Buddha in skin and bones with ribs jutting out.

The ancient Buddhist sites and the art therein, which had been neglected for centuries, were discovered by British archeologists in the colonial period. Their work was continued by Pakistani archeologists after independence in 1947. Successive Pakistani governments, except the one led by Gen.Zia-ul-Haq (1978-88), had sustained the archeological and conservation projects.

However, in 2006-2007, the Taliban banned the preservation of these objects because even the existence of idols in the midst of Muslims was “haram” or forbidden. The Taliban damaged the face of a giant Buddha statue in Swat. However, the then President, Gen.Pervez Musharraf, stood like a rock behind the conservationists and negotiated the withdrawal of the Taliban from their destructive project. Archeologists and art lovers in Pakistan and abroad breathed a sigh of relief.

Pakistan also started exhibiting Gandhara art in various places in the world, including the US. At an exhibition in New York of Gandhara art brought from the Lahore and Karachi museums, the then Pakistani Ambassador in the UN, Abdullah Hussain Haroon, waxed eloquent about the Buddha. He said that the Buddha was a human being whose “ethereal qualities and enormous wisdom showed the path to several others like Gandhi down the centuries.”

In 2016, Pakistani archeologists discovered an ancient site at Bhamala in Swat in which there was a 14 meter (48 ft) long Kanjur stone “Sleeping Buddha” statue. This 3 rd.Century AD statue is the world’s oldest Sleeping Buddha statue.

When the finding was presented to the world, the President of the Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaaf (PTI) party, Imran Khan, said: ” It is a world heritage site and because of that, people will come for religious tourism and see these places. The majority of the Pakistani population wants such sites restored.”

Apart from the government, individual Pakistanis have also rendered yeoman service in preserving and protecting Buddhist sites against depredations by idol thieves and smugglers. Osman Ulasyar had stopped local boys from playing cricket in a field full of Ist. Centry AD Buddhist stupas. And, at this own cost, he built a 300 ft wall to protect the stupas.

Reuters quoted Dr.Abdul Samad, Director of Archeology and Museums in Khyber Pakhtunwala province as saying: ” Gandhara was the center of religious harmony. It is here that one finds Greek, Roman, Persian, Hindu and Buddhist gods in a single panel in the Peshawar museum.”

But tragically, the common Pakistani’s awareness of his non-Islamic past is either non-existent or pathetically low because school history books have blacked out the pre-Islamic past. This grievous flaw will need to be corrected at the earliest in the interest of the preservation of Gandhara art and the enormous tourist potential which is in it.

The other danger that lurks constantly, is the destruction, stealing and smuggling of ancient artifacts by treasure thieves. The government has armed itself with the Antiquities Act to protect the sites and also to prevent domestic and international sale of these antiquities. Success in this area is by no means insignificant since the Gandhara sites are still there for all to see. Many of the artefacts are kept safely in museums.

Riaz Haq said…
#Pakistan arrests 129 #Muslims after mob attacks on churches and homes of minority #Christians. The violence drew nationwide condemnation, and caretaker Prime Minister Kakar ordered police to ensure rioters were arrested. #violence #Jaranwala https://apnews.com/article/pakistan-churches-christians-attacked-blasphemy-43ef3eea286f5da8f269d1f12f524b85

Police arrested 129 Muslims after a mob angered by an alleged Quran desecration attacked a dozen churches and nearly two dozen homes of minority Christians, officials said Thursday. Police also arrested two Christian men accused of defacing Islam’s holy book.

The alleged desecration set off a violent rampage Wednesday in Jaranwala, causing Christians to flee to safer places in the eastern city as the mob inflicted one of the country’s most destructive attacks on Christians.

The city police chief, Bilal Mehmood, said officers arrested Raja Amir and a friend who were accused by local Muslims of tearing pages from a Quran, writing insulting remarks on other pages and then throwing the book on the ground.


The regional police chief, Rizwan Khan, said 129 people had been arrested as suspected rioters and the situation was under control. Authorities summoned soldiers to restore order, and Christian residents slowly returned home to see the destruction Thursday.

“We were sitting at home when suddenly we heard that a mob is coming and it is burning homes and attacking churches,” Shazia Amjad said as she wept outside her charred home.

She said that the mob burned household items and furniture and that some of her possessions were stolen while she was staying with her family in a safer area.

Other Christians described similar ordeals and expressed bewilderment.

Azeem Masih wept as he sat outsisitting outside his home, which was one of several buildings burned on his street. He said some rioters brought in vehicles to haul away Christians’ household items after burning furniture and other belongings.


“Why did they do it to us? We had not done anything wrong,” he said.

Local priest Khalid Mukhtar said he believed most of Jaranwala’s 17 churches were attacked and his own home was damaged.

Government officials said all of the damaged churches and homes would be repaired within a week and those who suffered losses would be compensated.

The violence drew nationwide condemnation, and caretaker Prime Minister Anwaarul-ul-Haq Kakar ordered police to ensure rioters were arrested.

The regional police chief said the mob quickly gathered and began attacking churches and Christian homes. Rioters also assaulted the offices of a city administrator, but police intervened, shooting into the air and wielding batons to disperse the attackers with the help of Muslim clerics and elders.

Videos and photos posted on social media show a throng of angry people descending on a church, throwing pieces of bricks and setting it on fire. In another video, four other churches are attacked, their windows broken as attackers throw pieces of furniture outside and set them on fire.

In another video, a man is seen climbing to the roof of a church and removing a steel cross after repeatedly hitting it with a hammer as a crowd cheers him on.

The violence drew condemnation from domestic and international human rights groups.

Amnesty International called for the repeal of Pakistan’s blasphemy laws.

Under Pakistan’s blasphemy laws, anyone found guilty of insulting Islam or Islamic religious figures can be sentenced to death. While authorities have yet to carry out a death sentence for blasphemy, often just an accusation can incite mobs to violence, lynchings and killings.

Rghts groups say blasphemy allegations have been used to intimidate religious minorities and settle personal scores.

Vedant Patel, a spokesperson for the U.S. State Department, urged Pakistan to conduct a full investigation. “We support peaceful freedom of expression and the right to freedom of religion and belief for everybody,” he said in Washington on Wednesday.

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