Ex Supreme Court Judge Mr. Katju: "Dark Clouds Over India"

Justice Markandey Katju, retired judge of Supreme Court of India, talked of "dark clouds over India" in a speech to about 200 people of all faiths at an interfaith event in Silicon Valley.  He said "Muslims making up only 15% of the population are on the receiving end" but the rest of India is also paying the price. India's economy is in serious trouble. There is rampant poverty and high rates of malnutrition in the country. There are heavy job losses across the entire labor market.  The event was organized by Ibadatkhana Foundation led by Tasawar Jalali. Other organizers included Javed Ellahie, Naren Singh, Santosh Addagulla and Prabakar Karuppiah .

"Indian Supreme Court has surrendered, Indian media have surrendered" to the "dark forces" of Modi's "Hindutva", he said. He said "there was no communalism in India before 1857", the year Delhi fell to the British colonizers. The colonial rulers from Britain then proceeded to "divide and conquer India" by using what Justice Katju described as "history in the service of colonialism", an apparent reference to Professor B.N. Pande's 1977 speech to Rajya Sabha, the upper house of India's  parliament.


Justice Katju described "Ibadat Khana" as part of a brief history lesson on Mughal Rule in India.  Ibadat Khana was built by Emperor Akbar in Fatehpur Sikri in 1575 as a place where scholars of various faiths could discuss theology. The establishment of this center of learning was motivated by the emperor's desire for "Sulh-e-Kul, meaning "universal peace" among various faiths.

This was about the same period as St. Bartholomew Massacre in Europe. Catholic mobs attacked and killed tens of thousands of Protestants in France. These religious wars raged in Europe for centuries. In fact, Ireland witnessed sectarian massacres as recently as the 1990s.

India's Diversity:

Justice Katju said India is a very diverse land of immigrants. He said 92% of the population descended from ancestors who arrived from other lands to settle in India. The original inhabitants of India make up about 8% of the population.

He said people migrate from harsh to more comfortable places. India with its rivers and valleys offered rich fertile soil for agriculture that dominated the world economy for thousands of years before the Industrial Revolution. There have been only two periods when people left India in large numbers to go elsewhere: Indentured service after the end of slavery in 1800s and more recently the migration of better educated Indian to America and Europe.

Modi's India:

Mr. Katju said "dark clouds" are gathering over India with courts and media surrendering to Modi's despotic rule. He said "Muslims making up only 15% of the population are on the receiving end" but the rest of India is also paying the price. India's economy is in serious trouble. There is rampant poverty and high rates of malnutrition in the country. There are heavy job losses across the entire labor market.

A diverse country like India can not afford Hindutva. This is a time to bring back Emperor "Sulh-e-Kul" to save India.

Panel Discussion:

There was a panel discussion with Justice Katju, Dr. Jasbir Kang, Mr. Javed Ellahie and Prof. Randolph Langenbach. The panel was moderated by Ritu Jha and Mariam Turab. During the panel discussion, Justice Katju brought up the idea of reunification of India and Pakistan. He argued "if East and West Germany can reunify, so can India and Pakistan". The idea was contested by Mr. Javed Ellahi and Dr. Jasbir Kang who talked about the idea of pushing for more trade and people-to-people exchanges which could eventually lead to replication of European Union in South Asia. But Hindutva stands in the way of peace in South Asia.


In a speech to about 200 people of various faiths in Silicon Valley, Justice Markandey Katju, India's retired Supreme Court judge, talked about "dark clouds over India". The event was organized as an interfaith event by Ibadatkhana Foundation. A diverse country like India can not afford Hindutva. This is a time to bring back Emperor Akbar's "Sulh-e-Kul" to save India, he said.

Related Links:

Haq's Musings

South Asia Investor Review

Hindutva: Legacy of British Raj

Balakot and Kashmir: Fact Checkers Debunk Indian Claims

South Asian Contrasts: Kartarpur and Ayodhya

Hindu Nationalists Admire Nazis

Lynchistan: India is the Lynching Capital of the World

Hindu Supremacist Yogi Adiyanath's Rise in UP

Hinduization of India

Globalization of Hindu Nationalism

Hindutva Distortion of Indian History Textbooks


Riaz Haq said…
‘Scared for my life’: #Indian #migrants on risky journey to reach #America. #US immigration lawyers say the rise in undocumented Indian migration is linked to the rise of #Hindu nationalist ruling party – and sectarian #violence it has inspired. #Modi #BJP https://www.theguardian.com/world/2020/feb/03/india-migrants-mexico-us-border?CMP=share_btn_tw

In October, Mexican immigration authorities deported 311 Indian citizens – most of them from Punjab – in what they called an “unprecedented” repatriation.

Migration is driven by a host of causes, but many US immigration lawyers say the rise in undocumented Indian migration is linked to the ascent of the BJP – and the sectarian violence the party has inspired.


Since Narendra Modi became prime minister in 2014, vigilante violence by militant Hindu nationalists in India has surged. As many as 90% of religious hate crimes in the last decade took place after Modi was elected, according to Factchecker.in, an Indian group that tracks religious hate crimes.

Victims – often Muslims, low-caste individuals and other minorities – have endured forced conversions, fatal beatings and even lynch mobs. Extremist groups have attacked fellow Indians suspected of stealing or slaughtering cows, which are sacred in Hinduism. These vigilante Hindu groups killed at least 44 people between May 2015 and December 2018, according to a recent Human Rights Watch report.

Police have neglected to investigate and prosecute wrongdoers in many cases, and Hindu nationalist political leaders have even defended such attacks. The US Commission on International Religious Freedom denounced the Indian government’s “allowance and encouragement of mob violence against religious minorities” in an April report.

In December, the Indian parliament passed a contentious citizenship bill, which many believe is openly discriminatory against Muslims, sparking protests across the country.

The bill’s passage is the latest in a series of anti-Muslim attacks led by the Modi government, following the detention of thousands of Muslims in Kashmir and a citizenship crackdown in the north-eastern India that left millions of people, mostly Muslims, potentially stateless.-----------

Kumar, 24, and his wife were eating dinner at their home in the north Indian state of Gujarat when rocks crashed through two front windows. As they took cover, Kumar said he glimpsed a car driving away – with a bumper sticker for the country’s Hindu nationalist ruling party, the Bharatiya Janata party or BJP.

A couple of months later, the couple were riding their motorcycle home one night after canvassing a nearby village for the Indian National Congress party, the BJP’s main rival, ahead of the country’s general election last year.

Four men, who Kumar recognized as BJP supporters, blocked the road ahead of him. He swerved, lost control and crashed to the ground, where the men beat him so badly that he couldn’t walk for 10 days, he said. Kumar went to a police station, but two BJP members were waiting there to prevent him from filing a report, he said.

Soon after, a relative told him he had heard that the attackers were looking for him again – so Kumar and his wife decided to flee the country.

“I was scared for my life,” said Kumar, who asked not to use his full name to protect family members still in India. “I thought I was going to get killed.”

Soon, he and his wife were on a plane to Mexico where they joined the growing number of Indians crossing the border to seek asylum in the United States.

After migrants from Latin America, more Indians are detained at the US southern border than citizens of any other country. 2018 (the last year for which figures are available) saw the highest number of detentions ever recorded: nearly 9,000 Indians were caught by the border patrol, a dramatic increase from a decade before when only 77 were caught.

Riaz Haq said…
Perhaps #Modi's words explain the current situation best: "Barah sau saal ki gulami ki maansikta humein pareshan kar rahi hai" (The slave mentality of 1,200 years is troubling us). Probably a reference to 1000 years of #Muslim rule, 200 years of #British Raj in #India https://www.firstpost.com/politics/1200-years-of-servitude-pm-modi-offers-food-for-thought-1567805.html

New Delhi: "Barah sau saal ki gulami ki maansikta humein pareshan kar rahi hai. Bahut baar humse thoda ooncha vyakti mile, to sar ooncha karke baat karne ki humari taaqat nahin hoti hai (The slave mentality of 1,200 years is troubling us. Often, when we meet a person of high stature, we fail to muster strength to speak up).

Those were some seminal words in the speech of Prime Minister Narendra Modi in Lok Sabha on Wednesday. He was speaking as part of the Motion of Thanks to the President’s address to the joint session of the Parliament on 9 June. The key phrase was – "1,200 years of slave mentality".

For years, India has grown up on the hard fact of "slavery of 200 years", that refers to the period that the country was under the British rule. By expanding it to 1,200 years—by including the millennium in which major rulers of the country were Muslims—is PM Modi trying to bring about a paradigm change in the way we perceive our history?

However, this is not the first time he has used this phrase in his speech – he has referred to "1,200 years of slavery" in quite a few of his addresses in previous years. The phrase assumes significance now as he is the prime minister of the country.

Scholars are divided on their assessment of this new usage in the context of Indian history. Makkhan Lal, historian and former ICHR Council member, says, "The prime minister has stated historical facts. He was not asserting to political correctness. Whether Ghoris, Ghaznavis, or the rulers of the Sultanate or the Mughal period, they were all foreigners originally. They didn't belong to the culture of the land then. They came from outside, waged wars against the local rulers, took them captive and in many cases, plundered the resources and ruled the land by enslaving the locals."

The question, it seems, is not about foreign rule or local rule, but about 'slavery' or subservience to a foreign power that gave birth to slave mentality. Lal elaborates, "Had the British not left India in 1947, and stayed on and become one among the Indians, they too would have begun to be considered as non-foreign."


After all, it was not just Hindu rulers that the invading Muslims fought against. In later period, often, the locals challenging the invading Muslim armies were Muslim themselves. Says Rajeev Kumar Srivastav of Banaras Hindu University, "Most of the foreign Muslim rulers of India between 1206-1256 paid obeisance to the Khalifa and not to an Indian authority, which clearly points to their foreign character. Even local Muslims were at loggerheads with the Muslim rulers, which is clearly referred to in the book Tarikh-i-Firoz Shahi, by Zia-ud-din Barni and Shams-i-Siraj Afifi written during Muhammad bin Tughlaq and Firuz Shah's reign.”

As expected, the repositioning of the period of 'slavery' in Indian history is bound to incite academic attack. Mushirul Hasan, historian and former vice chancellor of Jamia Millia Islamia, says, "It is complete falsification of history. Several historians have refuted this fact but if the government wants to revisit it, they are free to do so, just as we are free to contest. The British didn't make India their home, whereas Muslims who came here, settled in India and contributed to the country’s culture. That gave birth to the Ganga-Jamuni tehzeeb (syncretic culture)."
Riaz Haq said…
Incumbent #AAP set to crush #Modi's #BJP in #NewDelhi. Exit polls telecast on #Indian news channels shortly after the voting ended at 6pm (12:30 GMT) predicted a strong showing for the AAP, which could win more than 50 of the 70 seats. #India @AJENews https://aje.io/77mpp

India's capital has voted in a crucial state election, with exit polls showing the incumbent Aam Aadmi Party (Common Man's Party or AAP) led by Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal is set for a hat-trick victory.

Residents on Saturday lined up in long queues across New Delhi neighbourhoods, where nearly 57 percent of the capital's 14.7 million voters cast their ballots. Results will be declared on Tuesday.

Exit polls telecast on Indian news channels shortly after the voting ended at 6pm (12:30 GMT) predicted a strong showing for the AAP, which could win more than 50 of the 70 seats.

In 2015, the party won a landslide 67 seats, and is now eyeing a second successive five-year term.

An average of nine exit polls showed Kejriwal's party was likely to win 52 seats. "We are winning by a huge margin," tweeted Manish Sisodia, the deputy chief minister of Delhi.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi's Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), which has not governed the national capital territory of Delhi for 22 years, is expected to win approximately 15 seats.

India's main opposition Congress party, which governed the capital for 15 consecutive years before AAP unseated it in 2013, is predicted to come a distant third.

AAP, born out of an anti-corruption campaign in 2012, stunned the country by forming the Delhi government in 2013. However, Kejriwal resigned after 49 days when legislation he was pursuing could not be passed, but later went on to secure his second term in 2015.

The AAP party's pro-poor policies have focused on fixing state-run schools and providing free healthcare and bus fares for women during its first term.

In the past two years, the Hindu nationalist BJP has lost power in key state assembly elections such as Maharashtra, Jharkhand and Madhya Pradesh, raising the stakes even further for it in the Saturday vote.

"They [BJP] have been losing power on the state level for the past 18 months to two years, including in states that are considered the Hindi heartland," said Al Jazeera's Elizabeth Puranam, reporting from New Delhi, referring to the Hindi-speaking north Indian states where BJP enjoys most support.
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…
#Indian woman Amulya Leona held for chanting 'long live Pakistan' at #CAA_NRCProtests. Her comments were immediately condemned by a local #Muslim politician. #Muslim politicians in #Hindu-majority India are often targeted as being "pro-Pakistan" #Pakistan https://www.bbc.com/news/world-asia-india-51531988

An Indian woman has been arrested and charged with sedition for chanting "long live Pakistan" at a protest in the southern city of Bangalore.

Amulya Leona was participating in a demonstration against a controversial citizenship law, which critics say discriminates against Muslims.

Her comments were immediately condemned by a prominent local Muslim politician.

Asaduddin Owaisi, who was at the rally, said neither he nor his party supported India's "enemy nation Pakistan".

Muslim politicians in Hindu-majority India are often targeted as being "pro-Pakistan" by political rivals, particularly in the last few years. The neighbouring countries have a historically tense relationship, fighting three wars since Pakistan's formation following the partition of India in 1947.

After the incident at the protest against the Citizenship Amendment Act (CAA) went viral, Ms Leona and her family were the target of massive outrage.

Clips of her comment were circulated widely, and her father has complained that a group of people came to his house and forced him to chant "hail mother India". They also told him that he had not brought his daughter up properly and threatened him against getting bail for her.

Police in the district told BBC Hindi that they are investigating his complaint, adding that Ms Leona would be produced before a judicial magistrate in 14 days.

What is the CAA?
The law offers amnesty to non-Muslim illegal immigrants from three countries - Pakistan, Bangladesh and Afghanistan.

It amends India's 64-year-old citizenship law, which currently prohibits illegal migrants from becoming Indian citizens.

It also expedites the path to Indian citizenship for members of six religious minority communities - Hindu, Sikh, Buddhist, Jain, Parsi and Christian - if they can prove that they are from Muslim-majority Pakistan, Afghanistan or Bangladesh. They will now only have to live or work in India for six years - instead of 11 years - before becoming eligible to apply for citizenship.

The government says this will give sanctuary to people fleeing religious persecution, but critics argue that it will marginalise India's Muslim minority.
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


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.
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…
More than 500 scientists have asked #India's #Modi government to withdraw a call for #research to study benefits of cow dung, urine, and milk. #Hindutva #science #BJP https://www.sciencemag.org/news/2020/02/indian-scientists-decry-infuriating-scheme-study-benefits-cow-dung-urine-and-milk

More than 500 scientists have asked the Indian government to withdraw a call for research proposals on the “uniqueness” of indigenous cows and the curative properties of cow urine, dung, and milk, including potential cancer treatments. In an online letter, the researchers say the call is “unscientific” and a misdirection of public money at a time when research in India is already facing a financial crunch.

Cows are considered sacred in Hinduism, and some petitioners see the research program as another effort by the Indian government, run by the Hindu nationalist Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), to validate faith-based pseudoscience. The call does not appear to be shaped by “objective scientific inquiry,” but rather “aimed at confirming existing beliefs,” says Aniket Sule, a reader at the Homi Bhabha Centre for Science Education who helped draft the letter. “They should prove that there is some merit in pursuing this research before throwing money at it,” Sule says.

The call for proposals, issued 14 February, is part of a larger funding program of the Department of Science and Technology, the Ministry of Ayurveda, Yoga & Naturopathy, Unani, Siddha, Sowa Rigpa and Homoeopathy, and other government agencies. It invites projects on five research themes including: “cowpathy,” the use of cow products for medicine and health, including anticancer and diabetes drugs; the use of cow products for agriculture, such as in pesticides; cow-based products like shampoo, hair oil, and floor cleaners; and research on the nutritional value of cow milk. A major aim is the “scientific investigation of uniqueness of pure Indigenous Indian cows.”

In their letter, scientists note that the call presumes “special physiological status to select breeds of only one species,” adding that “to begin a project with such presumptions is prima facie unscientific.” Money under the scheme could be “wasted to ‘investigate’ imaginary qualities derived from religious scriptures,” they said.

It’s not the first time the current government has promoted research on the cow, or more broadly, made scientific claims for unproven traditional beliefs. In 2017, the government set up a committee to vet research proposals to scientifically validate “panchgavya,” a concoction of cow milk, curd, ghee, dung, and urine held by Ayurveda texts to have curative properties. Last year, BJP Member of Parliament Sadhvi Pragya was widely criticised by oncologists when she claimed that cow urine cured her breast cancer.

The latest call comes at a time when government grants are already being delayed, scientists say, with research projects getting stalled and young researchers not receiving their monthly stipends on time. In this context, “actively canvassing proposals under such dubious scheme is even more infuriating,” their letter says.

Sule and others have appealed to the ministry to withdraw the current proposal and reframe it “to encourage open inquiry.” They have also appealed to scientists across the country to use National Science Day on 28 February to educate the general public.
Riaz Haq said…
#India's #Modi Has Lit a Fuse. Killings of #Muslims by #Hindu mobs in #Delhi were neither spontaneous nor without a warning but inevitable. Modi's #Hindutva policies have entrenched impunity, captured institutions and fanned religious hatred. #pogrom #BJP https://nyti.ms/2whFvc4

Many Muslims are now leaving (their homes), hoisting their unburned things on their heads and trudging away from streets that still smell of smoke.

The question before the nation is whether the bloodshed will change the direction of Mr. Modi — who first ran for prime minister in 2014 under the slogan “Together for all, development for all.”

In that campaign, Mr. Modi presented himself as a strong nationalist leader and economic reformer, playing down his Bharatiya Janata Party’s history of Hindu-nationalist aims and vilification of Muslims.

Some doubt clung to him personally as well. Despite his having been cleared by a court, accusations remained that he was complicit in the massacre of hundreds of Muslims in Gujarat in 2002, when he was the state’s chief minister.


Lynch mobs who said they were protecting cows, a holy animal in Hinduism, popped up across the landscape. They have gone on to kill scores of people, mostly Muslims and lower-caste Dalits.

Mr. Modi appointed Hindu extremists to top government posts, including Yogi Adityanath, the chief minister of Uttar Pradesh, India’s largest state, who has called Muslims a “crop of two-legged animals” and promised to wage a “religious war.”

Mr. Modi placed other Hindu nationalist allies at the heads of important universities and cultural institutions. Place names were changed — so, too, were textbooks — to de-emphasize Muslims’ contribution to India and play up Hindu teachings. Many Muslim Indians, who make up one of the world’s largest Muslim populations, at 200 million, said they had never felt so marginalized.

And impunity flourished. Members of mobs who had been filmed in broad daylight beating the life out of someone went unpunished, or, if they were caught, they were often hailed by party leaders as heroes.

That violence did not appear to hurt Mr. Modi with his most ardent supporters in a country that is 80 percent Hindu. And he was given a boost before elections last year by a wave of nationalist sentiment over clashes between India and Pakistan.


“It may not work in Delhi, but incidents like this do work in some places in Uttar Pradesh or Bihar,” said Mr. Gokhale, the Mumbai activist, mentioning two other states. “Tomorrow Modi might reap political dividends, but people are going to be dead.”

There could be other costs, as well. These days, Mr. Modi speaks less about the development and reforms he once promised. The economy is reeling, with unemployment at a 45-year high and growth slowing to the lowest rate seen in nearly a decade.

Privately, some officials say that Mr. Modi’s government is so focused on its ideological aspirations that it is losing sight of the economy. And as the country’s economic malaise deepens, there is worry that Mr. Modi and his allies will again look to Hindu nationalist sentiment for a boost, and a distraction.

“To build that Hindu nation, control is everything,” said Shivshankar Menon, a former national security adviser.

“We may see them continue to inflame tensions domestically,” he said. “They need the violence as a distraction from those failures.”
Riaz Haq said…
How #Delhi’s Police Turned Against #Muslims. “Even if we kill you, nothing will happen to us.” #India #pogrom #BJP #Modi #Hindutva #Islamophobia #muslimgenocide


A police commander said that as the violence erupted — at that point mostly by Hindu mobs — officers in the affected areas were ordered to deposit their guns at the station houses. Several officers during the violence were later overheard by New York Times journalists yelling to one another that they had only sticks and that they needed guns to confront the growing mobs. Some researchers accuse the police force of deliberately putting too few officers on the streets, with inadequate firepower, as the violence morphed from clashes between rival protesters into targeted killings of Muslims.

Two thirds of the more than 50 people who were killed and have been identified were Muslim. Human rights activists are calling it an organized massacre.

Though India’s population is 14 percent Muslim and New Delhi’s is 13 percent, the total Muslim representation on the Delhi police force is less than 2 percent.

Kaushar Ali, a house painter, was trying to get home when he ran into a battle.

Hindu and Muslim mobs were hurling rocks at each other, blocking a street he needed to cross to get to his children. Mr. Ali, who is Muslim, said that he turned to some police officers for help. That was his mistake.

The officers threw him onto the ground, he said, and cracked him on the head. They started beating him and several other Muslims. As the men lay bleeding, begging for mercy — one of them died two days later from internal injuries — the officers laughed, jabbed them with their sticks and made them sing the national anthem. That abuse, on Feb. 24, was captured on video.

“The police were toying with us,” Mr. Ali said. He recalled them saying, “Even if we kill you, nothing will happen to us.”

So far, they have been right.

India has suffered its worst sectarian bloodshed in years, in what many here see as the inevitable result of Hindu extremism that has flourished under the government of Prime Minister Narendra Modi. His party has embraced a militant brand of Hindu nationalism and its leaders have openly vilified Indian Muslims. In recent months Mr. Modi has presided over a raft of policies widely seen as anti-Muslim, such as erasing the statehood of what had been India’s only Muslim-majority state, Jammu and Kashmir.

Now, more evidence is emerging that the Delhi police, who are under the direct command of Mr. Modi’s government and have very few Muslim officers, concertedly moved against Muslims and at times actively helped the Hindu mobs that rampaged in New Delhi in late February, burning down Muslim homes and targeting Muslim families.
Riaz Haq said…
#India should be placed on #ReligiousFreedom #BLACKLIST and #Indian agencies and leaders sanctioned, #US panel says. #USCIRF says religious minorities face ‘increasing assault’ under #Modi. US state department unlikely to act. #USCIRFAnnualReport2020 https://www.theguardian.com/world/2020/apr/28/india-religious-freedom-narendra-modi-us?CMP=share_btn_tw

In an annual report, the bipartisan panel said that India should join the ranks of “countries of particular concern” that would be subject to sanctions if they do not improve their records.

“In 2019, religious freedom conditions in India experienced a drastic turn downward, with religious minorities under increasing assault,” the report said.

US Commission on International Religious Freedom called on the US to impose punitive measures, including visa bans, on Indian officials believed responsible and grant funding to civil society groups that monitor hate speech.

The commission said that Modi’s Hindu nationalist government, which won a convincing election victory last year, “allowed violence against minorities and their houses of worship to continue with impunity, and also engaged in and tolerated hate speech and incitement to violence”.

It pointed to comments by the home minister, Amit Shah, who referred to mostly Muslim migrants as “termites”, and to a citizenship law that has triggered nationwide protests.

It also highlighted the revocation of the autonomy of Kashmir, which was India’s only Muslim-majority state, and allegations that Delhi police turned a blind eye to mobs who attacked Muslim neighborhoods in February this year.

The Indian government, which has long been irritated by the commission’s comments, quickly rejected the report.

“Its biased and tendentious comments against India are not new. But on this new occasion, its misrepresentation has reached new levels,” a foreign ministry spokesman, Anurag Srivastava, said.

“We regard it as an organization of particular concern and will treat it accordingly,” he said in a statement.

The state department designates nine “countries of particular concern” on religious freedom – China, Eritrea, Iran, Myanmar, North Korea, Pakistan, Saudi Arabia, Tajikistan and Turkmenistan.

Pakistan, India’s historic rival, was added by the state department in 2018 after years of appeals by the commission, which was appalled by attacks on minorities and abuse of blasphemy laws.

In its latest report, the commission asked that all nine countries remain on the list. In addition to India, it sought the inclusion of four more – Nigeria, Russia, Syria and Vietnam.
Riaz Haq said…
#Indians Pissed off With #Racism and Police Brutality in the #US Don’t Care About the Same Issues in Their Own Country. They are the same ones practicing blissful silence when similar shit happens in #India. #Modi #BJP #Hindutva #Islamophobia #Floyd - VICE https://www.vice.com/en_in/article/889g9k/why-indians-pissed-off-with-racism-and-police-brutality-in-the-us-dont-care-about-the-same-issues-in-their-own-country-muslim-casteism-violence-minority

By Shamani Joshi

“We have a deep-seated history of slavery, thousands of years of caste-based differentiation and several decades of violent Hindu-Muslim rivalry that aren’t easy to unlearn,” says Vikram Patel, a psychiatrist, social researcher and founder of Sangath, an organisation dedicated to child development and mental health in low-resource settings. “There’s still a lot of social engineering required to make our society more inclusive of its diversity. This has a direct impact on children’s views while growing up when their families, which might be biased (by historical context that is casteist or anti-Muslim), impose unacceptable and inhumane prejudice on impressionable minds.”

Over the weekend, I saw all my social media feeds flooded with illustrated quotes of Desmond Tutu that declared “If you are neutral in situations of injustice, you have chosen the side of the oppressor”, poignant protest signs that declared “I can’t breathe”, and the quintessential hashtag #BlackLivesMatter. These were all in solidarity against the incident that saw George Floyd, a black man, die after a police officer kneeled on his neck for 8 minutes and 46 seconds—one which has sparked demonstrations against police brutality and racism around the world.

This outpouring of support resonating with a movement so geographically far away would have ordinarily been touching. Except, a lot of people are also kinda pissed off that some individuals who now claim to be infuriated by police brutality, systematic oppression and murder on the basis of arbitrary factors like skin colour, were the same ones practising blissful silence when similar shit went down in our own country. They’re the ones who feigned ignorance and apathy when critics pointed out that police forces in India target university students and Dalit rights activists. They stand in solidarity with an American-born movement against oppression while choosing to overlook the all too frequent religion-based violence and riots that have taken place in India.

Riaz Haq said…
#India to face tougher world. #Pakistan-#China nexus has only deepened with #BRI, #CPEC. Two-front threat is real possibility. Political elites in neighboring capitals are now open to undermining India. #Bangladesh #Nepal #Bhutan #SriLanka #Modi #Hindutva https://www.hindustantimes.com/columns/india-must-get-ready-for-a-tougher-world/story-dJ2EjOpW1j5KiHQ8nren3N.html

For close to a decade-and-a-half, broadly between 2000 and 2015, India was lucky in having a conducive international environment for its growth and ambitions. It was not just luck though. A series of Indian leaders and bureaucrats ensured that the country was able to shape this international environment, within its limited powers, in its favour.

Think back. The end of the 1990s, under the remarkably far-sighted leadership of Atal Bihari Vajpayee, saw India conduct nuclear tests. This invited international sanctions. But it also opened the doors for substantive dialogue with the international community, particularly the United States (US), about the underlying logic of the relationship between the two countries. The Strobe Talbot-Jaswant Singh dialogue, Bill Clinton’s visit to India, Vajpayee calling India and the US natural partners, and the two countries moving ahead with the next steps in the strategic partnership, fundamentally altered the texture of the relationship. Manmohan Singh ably took the baton, signing the defence framework agreement and, of course, the nuclear deal — over which he staked his government. Narendra Modi too carried forward this legacy, letting go of the hurt that the US visa ban on him must have caused, introducing a new diplomatic style at Madison Square, getting Barack Obama as chief guest for Republic Day, and remaining invested in the relationship with Donald Trump. The US, despite its differences with India, is now a steady partner.

But while this partnership has deepened, a lot else has changed.

In the early 2000s, under Vajpayee and Singh, there was an effort to engage with China productively. There was hope that a solution to the border dispute could be found. India recognised Chinese sensitivities on Tibet; China recognised India’s claim over Sikkim. The economic linkages were deepening. The prevailing narrative was of China’s peaceful rise, and a strong view emerged that the two countries could grow together. In the neighbourhood, even thoughtful diplomats argued that India and China could cooperate on projects. There was room for cooperation on global issues — from reform of international institutions to the climate crisis. PM Modi too wished to give this framework a chance, which is what his Ahmedabad invitation to Xi Jinping represented. China, many believed, was not a friend, but it need not be an adversary either. This was a view that many revised with the rise of Xi, but others held on to it — in hindsight, unwisely so.

The neighbourhood was suddenly looking more favourable in the 2000s too. India had embraced the idea of South Asian regionalism and connectivity. It had facilitated a historic peace deal in Nepal, bringing an end to a decade-long war, ensuring the entry of the Maoists into peaceful politics. And there was enormous goodwill among both the Nepali people and the Kathmandu leadership for Delhi — which gave Indian diplomats enormous leverage. In Sri Lanka, India had, quietly, helped the government bring an end to the civil war, but here, it was through military means and an outright defeat of the Tamil Tigers — some believed that this would erode Indian leverage, but it did give points to Delhi in Colombo. Bhutan remained Delhi’s closest friend, but now within the modern framework of a new treaty, as the country turned semi-democratic. In Bangladesh, after a turbulent transition, Sheikh Hasina returned, with an explicit platform of deepening ties with India, leading to the most-friendly dispensation in Dhaka in decades.

Riaz Haq said…
Book titled "Delhi Riots 2020: The Untold Story" claims #Delhiriots were a conspiracy by Muslim jihadists. The fact is #Hindu mobs roamed the streets attacking #Muslims and burning their homes. Bloomsbury has now withdrawn it. #DelhiRiots2020UntoldStory https://www.theguardian.com/world/2020/aug/24/bloomsbury-india-pulls-delhi-riots-2020-book-after-anti-muslim-controversy

The book, titled Delhi Riots 2020: The Untold Story, claims that the riots were the result of a conspiracy by Muslim jihadists and so-called “urban naxals”, a derogatory term used to describe left-wing activists, who had a role to play in the riots. The claim contravenes reports by organisations such as Amnesty International and the Delhi Minorities Commission that Muslims bore the brunt of the violence.

The decision to withdraw the book has prompted many in India to accuse Bloomsbury India of censorship and the book’s author, Monika Arora, denounced the publisher for allegedly falling prey to “leftist fascists”. Delhi Riots 2020 will now be published by the Indian publishing house Garuda Prakashan.

The book began to draw controversy after it emerged that Kapil Mishra, a leader from the ruling Hindu nationalist Bharatiya Janata party (BJP), would be the guest of honour at an online launch event this weekend. The BJP’s national general secretary, Bhupendra Yadav, was to be the host.

Mishra is accused of instigating the riots that ripped violently through the north-east of Delhi in February and left more than 50 people dead, after he made a fiery public speech calling on his followers to clear away Muslim protestors.

What followed was three days of the worst religious violence in the capital in decades, where Hindu mobs roamed the streets attacking Muslims and burning their homes. Muslims retaliated but three quarters of those who were killed were Muslims, and thousands of Muslims lost their homes in their violence.

The decision to have Mishra as a guest of honour at the launch provoked an outcry in India. Bloomsbury quickly issued a statement denying any involvement in the event but a backlash began to grow against the book.

Among those who voiced concerns was the prominent British writer and historian William Dalrymple, who is published by Bloomsbury.

“I alerted Bloomsbury to the growing online controversy over Delhi Riots 2020, as did several other Bloomsbury authors,” Dalrymple said. “I did not call for its banning or pulping and have never supported the banning of any book. It is now being published by another press.”

Writing on Twitter, the poet Meena Kandasamy said “the literary world must take a stand” to stop Bloomsbury publishing the book. “This is not about cancel culture,” she said. “This is about defending literature from fascism. This is about standing up against religious divide, hate speech, islamophobia and false history.”

Sudhanva Deshpande, a celebrated theatre director and author, was among those who condemned Bloomsbury and accused them of failing to carry out “elementary fact checking”.

“Make no mistake about it, this book has nothing to do with the pursuit of knowledge … this book is part of a multi-pronged attack on India’s secular fabric, on the idea of natural justice, on ethics, on rationality, on humanity,” said Deshpande, adding: “The book has blood on its hands.”

On Saturday, Bloomsbury India released a statement confirming that it was withdrawing publication of the book. “Bloomsbury India strongly supports freedom of speech but also has a deep sense of responsibility towards society,” said the publisher.

However, Bloomsbury’s announcement was met with derision and accusations of censorship from some quarters.

Arora, the book’s main author, claimed that Bloomsbury India had previously had no issues with the book, that it had been cleared by their legal team, and that the publisher had been well aware of the launch event with Mishra, despite its public denials. She accused Bloomsbury of bowing down to “digital fatwas by international leftist lobbies”.
Riaz Haq said…
In a Tweet on Saturday, Markandey Katju also praised Pakistani nation for showing maturity and cool temperament.


He tweeted, “When I called Pakistan a fake, artificial country, not a single Pakistani abused me.”

Katju added “But when I praised Imran Khan, dozens of Indians abused me, calling me senile, traitor, mad and what not, and telling me to migrate to Pakistan.”

“Now who has more maturity?”, the ex-judge questioned.

Katju on February 28, after Prime Minister Imran Khan’s address to nation, had said, “I was earlier a critic of Imran Khan, but after the wise and restrained speech he gave on TV I have become his admirer.”

Also, in his Facebook post today, justice Markandey lauded PM Imran Khan, saying Pakistan Prime Minister Imran Khan’s offer to cooperate with the Indian government in any kind of investigation into Pulwama attack is reasonable and his offer for talks instead of jingoistic sabre rattling, as is being done by many Indian politicians, has proved his maturity, sagacity and statesmanship.


A former judge of India's Supreme Court said on Tuesday that Pakistan’s Prime Minister Imran Khan deserves the Nobel Peace Prize for his statesman-like approach in the face of heightened tensions between Pakistan and India.

"Pakistan and India are poor countries, who cannot afford a war," Justice (retd) Markandey Katju said, while speaking to anchorperson, Hamid Mir in the programme ‘Capital Talk' on Geo News.


He said Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi was creating an atmosphere of war due to elections in India.

Tensions between India and Pakistan escalated following Indian incursions into Pakistani airspace and subsequent downing of two Indian warplanes and the capture of an IAF pilot Wing Commander Abhinandan Varthaman.

It was when Prime Minister Imran Khan, in his address to a joint session of Parliament last week, decided to release the IAF pilot as a 'gesture of peace' towards India.

"I was greatly impressed by Prime Minister Imran Khan's speech," the former Indian judge said further on the show. "Imran said what an intellectual would say."

Justice (retd) Katju said he found the quality of a scholar in Pakistan’s Prime Minister and salutes Khan for it.

He said PM Imran Khan behaved very wisely and deserves the Nobel Peace prize.
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…
How colonialism eroded Pakistan’s history of religious fluidity
Before colonialism, Muslims and Hindus in Pakistan shared their sacred shrines and welcomed each other into their religious spaces. Post-Partition, this has changed but some traditions continue in rural areas.

By Haroon Khalid


Over the cot is spread a “chaddar” – a piece of green cloth edged with gold embroidery – onto which the spectators have scattered hundreds of rupees as a gift to the young men who are dancing.

It is part of the festivities that take place at the shrine of Ram Thaman, a 16th-century Hindu saint, located in the village of the same name, during the annual festival of Vaisakhi.

Vaisakhi, which has both Hindu and Sikh mythological roots, is celebrated in the month of April to mark the beginning of the harvest season.

For three days, the village, which is located entirely within the compound of an ancient Hindu temple, is transformed from a sleepy hamlet into a bustling city of makeshift tents as thousands of pilgrims arrive from across the country and celebrations break out in the streets and alleyways.

Festival with a difference
At the spin-off celebration in the courtyard, the money scattered by revellers has now been removed and the cloth has been taken to the main shrine where it is placed inside a marble pavilion, on top of a triangle-shaped marble stone that contains the last remains of the saint.

The group of young male dancers have brought the cloth to the shrine as their offering to the saint. They all crowd into the small room.

“We brought this chaddar from Kasur,” explains Ghulam Ali, who is in his early 20s. “We wanted to offer it to the saint.”

“I have been doing this for 15 years,” he adds. “Paying homage to different shrines, offering chaddar, performing with my group and collecting any money that people give us.”

The scene is similar to hundreds of other festivals at Hindu shrines across South Asia, but there is one fundamental difference here in Pakistan. The majority of the devotees who come to the shrine of Ram Thaman, including Ali, are not Hindus – but Muslims.

‘We see the world in oppositions – Hindu, Muslim’
Pakistan is home to hundreds of shrines, many of which have a long history. Most of these are Sufi – a tradition in Islam that focuses on mysticism – but some, like Ram Thaman, are Hindu. Some shrines are visited by thousands of people; others attract millions of devotees during festivals.

“Pilgrimage to Sufi shrines is an important part of the religious experience,” explains Raza Rumi, a policy analyst, journalist and author of several books, including Delhi by Heart, and Identity, Faith and Conflict.

“A visit to a Sufi shrine provides a lived experience to the devotees as opposed to an intellectualised or ritualised understanding of religion. The pilgrimage to Sufi shrines is a multi-layered journey for the devotee. On the one hand, it denotes the effort and resources that are invested in the physical journey towards worship. At another level, it is a search for communion socialisation, and relating to the larger community of dargah (shrine) goer.”

The Vaisakhi festival at Ram Thaman is like any other Sufi festival but instead of being at a Sufi shrine, it is at the smadh (a sacred space constructed over the burial ground of the ashes of a prominent religious figure) of a Hindu saint.

Next to the building containing the sacred space is a Hindu temple, dedicated to the goddess Kali. Adjacent to these two buildings are the remains of a large, sacred pool. There are several other smaller temples within this larger complex, scattered all over the village.

This Hindu shrine is one of several non-Sufi shrines in Pakistan. Other examples are Udero Lal and Sadhu Bela, both in Sindh, the Pakistani province that is home to the vast majority of the country’s Hindus.
Riaz Haq said…
Muslims win office in US municipal elections in 2021


In Dearborn, Michigan, where the mayor once promised to do something about the city’s “Arab problem,” Abdullah Hammoud, a Lebanese American Muslim, was elected this month to fill that post.

In New York, Bangladeshi American Shahana Hanif became the first Muslim woman on the City Council. Boston, where Muslims number fewer than 80,000, also got its first Muslim member of the City Council.

Every election cycle in recent years seems to see historic firsts for Muslim Americans. This year, three years after the first Muslim women were elected to Congress, successful campaigns in Michigan, Massachusetts, Minnesota, New Jersey and Pennsylvania put Muslims in key local offices.

Hammoud is one of three newly elected Arab American Muslim mayors in the Detroit suburbs.

“Never shy away from who you are,” said Hammoud, who currently sits on the state Legislature in Lansing. “Be proud of your name, be comfortable in your identity, because it’ll take you places if you work hard, you’re passionate and you inspire people.”

In Dearborn Heights, just west of Dearborn, the newly elected Lebanese-born mayor, Bill Bazzi, has held the post since last year, when he was appointed to the position.

In Hamtramck, Amer Ghalib, an immigrant from Yemen, defeated Karen Majewski to become the first non-Catholic and non-Polish mayor in the city’s history.

Another Yemeni American, Amira Muflahi, became the first Muslim elected to the Lackawanna City Council, in upstate New York.

Election Day also saw two Muslims win office in New Jersey. Shama Haider, a former Tenafly councilwoman, become the first Muslim elected to the state Legislature. Haider was an opponent of Pakistan’s military dictatorship in the 1970s and at one point served as a secretary for the first lady of Pakistan, Begum Nusrat Bhutto. Haider immigrated to the United States in 1977. Haider has vowed that she doesn’t want to be known as the “token Muslim woman” in the Legislature but, rather as an effective legislator.

Another Pakistani American, Muhammad Umar, became the first Muslim elected to the Galloway Township, New Jersey, council.

New Jersey currently has more Muslim officials than any other state. Haider’s victory is all the more notable following the election night upset of the state’s Senate president, Steve Sweeney, by little-known Republican challenger Edward Durr.

In a 2019 tweet, Durr called Islam a “cult of hate” and referred to those who follow “muslim teachings” as fools. Durr also drew criticism for social media posts comparing COVID-19 vaccination efforts to the Holocaust. He has since apologized.

In Boston, Tania Fernandes Anderson gained her council seat by defeating Roy Owens, who had relied heavily on anti-Muslim rhetoric in his campaign.


Elsewhere in Massachusetts, Etel Haxhiaj, an Albanian American, became the first Muslim elected to the Worcester City Council. Prior to last week’s election, one local media outlet reported that only three Muslim s had ever been elected to office in the state.

In Pennsylvania, Taiba Sultana, an immigrant from Pakistan, won a seat on the Easton City Council. Azrin Awal, a Bangladeshi American immigrant, became the first Muslim elected to the Duluth City Council in Minnesota.

While many of the new Muslim officials are the product of natural cycles of maturing immigrant communities and civic engagement, others continue to be inspired by discrimination and anti-Muslim bias.

In the aftermath of last week’s historic slate of Muslim electoral victories, a Durham, North Carolina, county commissioner announced her intention to run for Congress. Nida Allam was friends with the three Muslims killed in the 2015 Chapel Hill slayings.

Riaz Haq said…
Acceptance of pluralism is part Islam:

“And insult not those whom they (disbelievers) worship besides Allah, lest they insult Allah wrongfully without knowledge. Thus We have made fair-seeming to each people its own doings; then to their Lord is their return and He shall then inform them of all that they used to do”

Al Quran al-An‘aam 6:108


"Lakum Deenukum Waliyadin" (To you your religion, to me mine)

Al Quran Al Kafirun 6:109

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


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...

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