India Republic Day: Modi's Hindutva Threatens Secular Constitution and National Unity

India's secular constitution came into effect on January 26, 1950, a day that is celebrated as Republic Day. Today, the national integrity and the secular foundations of the Republic of India are under threat from its current Prime Minister Mr. Narendra Modi whose leader Madhav Golwalkar wrote: “The non-Hindu peoples in Hindusthan must either adopt the Hindu culture and language, must learn to respect and hold in reverence Hindu religion” or “may stay in the country, wholly subordinated to the Hindu nation, claiming nothing, deserving no privileges, far less preferential treatment—not even citizen’s rights.” Recently enacted laws like Citizenship Amendment Act (CAA), National Registration of Citizens (NRC), beef ban and Love Jihad are translating Golwalkar's vision of Hindu Rashtra into reality. 


War on Indian Muslims: 

In a prescient remark back in 1940s, Dr. B.R. Ambedkar, the framer of India's constitution, warned that “…if war comes in this country and if that war has any relation to the issue with which we are confronted today, it will not be a war on the British. It will be a war on the Muslims”. Rising daily violence against Indian Muslims and recently enacted laws like Citizenship Amendment Act (CAA), National Registration of Citizens (NRC), beef ban and Love Jihad confirm what Dr. Ambedkar feared. 

India Leads the World in Internet Shutdowns


Ex PM Manmohan Singh's Fears:

Former India Prime Minister Mr. Manmohan Singh's fears of India's disintegration are much more tangible now than ever before. In an interview on BBC's Hard Talk with Indian journalist Karan Thapar in 1999, Mr. Singh: "Great Nations like the Soviet Union have perished. If we continue to mis-manage our economy and continue to divide our country on the basis of religion, caste or other sectarian issues there is a danger of that sort of thing happening".  

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

Chart Courtesy of Bloomberg

Will India Break Up? 

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




The Raisina Model:

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

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

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

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


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



Hindutva vs Hinduism:

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

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

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

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

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

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



Summary:

 Dr. B.R. Ambedkar's fears of War on Indian Muslims are becoming reality. Former India PM Manmohan Singh has warned: "Great Nations like the Soviet Union have perished. If we continue to mis-manage our economy and continue to divide our country on the basis of religion, caste or other sectarian issues there is a danger of that sort of thing happening". The rise of RSS and its affiliates in India is deepening divisions in the country along multiple fault lines, the most important being caste and religion. The RSS leadership itself is not unified on how to deal with the divisions they have created and promoted. This situation has raised the social hostilities in India to very high levels. Pew scores social hostilities against minorities in India at 9.5 on a scale from 0 to 10.  Professor Walter Anderson, co-author of "The RSS: The View to the Inside" has raised the specter of "a battle between Hindutva and Hinduism". And it has caused Lord Meghnad Desai, author of The Raisina Model, to ask the question: Will India break up?


Here's ex PM Manmohan Singh on Hard Talk with Karan Thapar: 



Comments

Riaz Haq said…
What the data were showing us was that the genetic distinctions among jati groups within India were in many cases real, thanks to the long-standing history of endogamy in the subcontinent. People tend to think of India, with its more than 1.3 billion people, as having a tremendously large population, and indeed many Indians as well as foreigners see it this way. But genetically, this is an incorrect way to view the situation. The Han Chinese are truly a large population. They have been mixing freely for thousands of years. In contrast, there are few if any Indian groups that are demographically very large, and the degree of genetic differentiation among Indian jati groups living side by side in the same village is typically two to three times higher than the genetic differentiation between northern and southern Europeans.39 The truth is that India is composed of a large number of small populations.

Reich, David. Who We Are and How We Got Here (p. 170). Knopf Doubleday Publishing Group. Kindle Edition.
Riaz Haq said…
Is #Biden backing away from #Trump policy of confrontation with #China? Where does that leave #Modi's #India? #US President hints at "extreme competition'" with China, says there's no need for conflict. Biden said he and Xi had "a lot to talk about." https://www.newsweek.com/biden-hints-extreme-competition-china-says-theres-no-need-conflict-1567408

resident Joe Biden is aware of the significance of the U.S. relationship with China, but his administration is going to navigate foreign policy on its own terms.

"We need not have a conflict, but there's going to be extreme competition," Biden said to anchor Norah O'Donnell in an interview to air in full Sunday evening on CBS Evening News. Referring to his Chinese counterpart Xi Jinping, he said, "I'm not going to do it the way that he knows. And that's because he's sending signals as well. I'm not going to do it the way Trump did."

China's relationship with America "is probably one of the most important in the entire world," O'Donnell said. Xi's growing power will be extremely important to Biden's foreign policy agenda. Most Europeans believe China will surpass the U.S. as the most powerful nation in 10 years. Last year, EU-China trade from January to September surpassed $516 billion, far more than that between Europe and the U.S. during the same period.

When O'Donnell asked why Biden has not yet spoken with Xi since taking office last month, he told the anchor about his past experiences engaging with China's leader during his visits to China in 2011 and 2013, and later when Xi came to Iowa in 2015.

"We haven't had occasion to talk to him yet," Biden said. "There's no reason not to call him. I probably spent more time with Xi Jinping, I'm told, than any world leader has, because I had 24, 25 hours of private meetings with him when I was vice president. Traveled 17,000 miles with him. I know him pretty well."
Riaz Haq said…
White Tiger Movie Review

https://www.washingtonpost.com/goingoutguide/movies/the-white-tiger-movie-review/2021/01/06/35d7fa02-4d48-11eb-a9d9-1e3ec4a928b9_story.html

There’s a sense of snarling menace implicit in “The White Tiger,” a subversive, sharp-toothed dramedy of upward social mobility by writer-director Ramin Bahrani (“99 Homes”), based on Aravind Adiga’s best-selling 2008 novel, which won the Man Booker Prize. It’s not just in the title, a metaphorical moniker for uniqueness slapped on the film’s ambitious protagonist, a canny but impoverished low-caste Indian named Balram (Adarsh Gourav), as a child. It’s there, lurking in every shadow of this dark rags-to-riches tale itself: a coiled threat to the traditional world order of haves and have-nots, just waiting to pounce.

After the opening scene, set in a car careening through the streets of Delhi at night — a short, alarming prologue that is quickly interrupted by Balram’s narration, framed somewhat preposterously as an email he’s composing to Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao on the eve of his 2010 visit to India — the film gets down to business. Told mostly in flashback, “Tiger” follows Balram’s rise from poverty to become the No. 2 chauffeur for a rich, corrupt landlord known as the Stork (Mahesh Manjrekar) and his son Ashok (Rajkummar Rao).

It isn’t long that he’s No. 2. Balram soon supplants the Stork’s top driver (Girish Pal) when he reveals that the longtime employee — or servant, in the parlance of the film — is a Muslim. (The Stork hates Muslims.) Soon Balram is making money in side hustles that involve submitting fake invoices to his boss for unnecessary repairs, and siphoning gas to sell on the streets, all the while ingratiating himself with the Western-educated Ashok and his American-raised wife, a chiropractor named Pinky (Priyanka Chopra Jonas). Both of them are progressive enough to treat Balram not as their servant but their pal — until it no longer serves them, that is.


Such polarization and inequality — Balram casts it as another dichotomy: an India of darkness, and an India of light — isn’t unique to his country. And as the blithely clueless cheerfulness of film’s antihero gradually curdles to cunning connivance, so does the narrative’s black comedy congeal, taking on a tone that is less jokey than sickening. (Balram cracks wise throughout the film, saying at one point, about the world’s largest democracy: “If I were in charge of India, I’d get the sewage pipes first, then the democracy.”)

Riaz Haq said…
#Biden's #China Policy: #US “should put less focus on trying to slow China down and more emphasis on trying to run faster ourselves”. #America's common anti-China policy with #Japan, #SouthKorea, #India and #Australia #geopolitics #Quad #Asia #IndoPacific https://www.nytimes.com/2021/03/17/us/politics/us-china-relations.html

President Biden is engineering a sharp shift in policy toward China, focused on gathering allies to counter Beijing’s coercive diplomacy around the world and ensuring that China does not gain a permanent advantage in critical technologies.

At first glance, it seems to adopt much of the Trump administration’s conviction that the world’s two biggest powers are veering dangerously toward confrontation, a clear change in tone from the Obama years.

But the emerging strategy more directly repudiates the prevailing view of the last quarter century that deep economic interdependence could be counted on to temper fundamental conflicts on issues like China’s military buildup, its territorial ambitions and human rights.

It focuses anew on competing more aggressively with Beijing on technologies vital to long-term economic and military power, after concluding that President Donald J. Trump’s approach — a mix of expensive tariffs, efforts to ban Huawei and TikTok, and accusations about sending the “China virus” to American shores — had failed to change President Xi Jinping’s course.

The result, as Jake Sullivan, President Biden’s national security adviser, put it during the campaign last year, is an approach that “should put less focus on trying to slow China down and more emphasis on trying to run faster ourselves” through increased government investment in research and technologies like semiconductors, artificial intelligence and energy.

Mr. Sullivan and Secretary of State Antony J. Blinken will road-test the new approach in what promises to be a tense first encounter on Thursday with their Chinese counterparts in Anchorage. It is a meeting they delayed until they could reach the outlines of a common strategy with allies — notably Japan, South Korea, India and Australia — and one they insisted had to take place on American soil.

But it will also be a first demonstration of Beijing’s determination to stand up to the new administration, and a chance for its diplomats to deliver a litany of complaints about Washington’s “evil” interference in China’s affairs, as a Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman put it on Wednesday.

The United States imposed sanctions on 24 Chinese officials on Wednesday for undermining Hong Kong’s democratic freedoms, an action whose timing was pointed and clearly intentional. Mr. Blinken said in Tokyo this week that “we will push back if necessary when China uses coercion or aggression to get its way.”

And that is happening almost daily, he conceded, including Beijing’s efforts to terminate Hong Kong’s autonomy, intimidate Australia and Taiwan, and move ahead, despite international condemnation, with what Mr. Blinken has said is a “genocide” aimed at China’s Uyghur minority.

It is all part of the initial resetting of the relationship that has marked Mr. Biden’s renewed, if now far more tense, encounters with Mr. Xi.

Back when Mr. Biden was vice president and Mr. Xi was consolidating power on his way to becoming China’s most powerful leader in decades, the two men met in China and the United States and offered public assurances that confrontation was not inevitable.

The intelligence assessment inside the American government at the time was that Mr. Xi would proceed cautiously, focus on economic development at home and avoid direct confrontation with the United States.
Riaz Haq said…
Swami Shashi The political Hinduism of Shashi Tharoor – Kancha Ilaiah Shepherd



http://www.kanchailaiah.com/2018/05/28/swami-shashi-the-political-hinduism-of-shashi-tharoor/


Tharoor’s book is the very opposite of mine, and not just in its title. I said I am not a Hindu because of the inequality by birth of different communities within Hinduism, as enshrined in the caste system that pervades Hindu scripture, morality, ritual, social organisation—really the entire Hindu worldview. The very theory of caste goes against the fundamental principle that all humans are created equal. I also criticised Hinduism’s negation of the values and labour that go into productive work, which it stigmatises and reserves for oppressed castes, and the resulting maltreatment of productive communities, including Shudras and Dalits (the book referred to both under the collective term “Dalitbahujans”). Tharoor, by contrast, talks of restoring Hinduism “to its truest essence, which in many ways is that of an almost ideal faith for the twenty-first-century world.” He celebrates it as “a religion that is personal and individualistic, privileges the individual and does not subordinate one to a collectivity; a religion that grants and respects complete freedom to the believer to find his or her own answers to the true meaning of life; a religion that offers a wide range of choice in religious practice, even in regard to the nature and form of the formless God; a religion that places great emphasis on one’s mind, and values one’s capacity for reflection, intellectual enquiry, and selfstudy; a religion that distances itself from dogma and holy writ, that is minimally prescriptive and yet offers an abundance of options, spiritual and philosophical texts and social and cultural practices to choose from.”



Tharoor does not seem to have read my book, despite choosing a title that echoes mine. He does not engage with my arguments anywhere. He also ignores some far more important thinkers on Hinduism. Among Shudra writers alone, the tradition of critiquing the religion goes back at least to Jyotirao Phule, the Maharashtrian social reformer whose 1873 book Gulamgiri, or “Slavery,” was a stinging critique of Hinduism and the caste system. In 1941, Dharma Theertha published The History of Hindu Imperialism, another serious assessment of Hinduism, and came to conclude that it oppresses all Shudras. Although Dharma Theertha was a Nair like Tharoor, he refused to describe himself as a Hindu.


How does Tharoor come to a different view of Hinduism than any Shudra writer of great prominence before him? Simply put, it is by not applying any critical or analytical thinking. His main strategy of persuasion is not argument, but repetition with rhetorical flourishes of a two-in-one premise and conclusion, stated already in the very first paragraph of the book where he describes Hinduism as “that most plural, inclusive, eclectic and expansive of faiths.”



The book’s first section, largely autobiographical and titled “My Hinduism,” is strangely silent on aspects of Tharoor’s own background, including his caste. It is also very selective in its citation of holy texts, while whitewashing Hindu history and sidestepping many of Hinduism’s sharpest critics. The second section, “Political Hinduism,” blames only Hindutva groups for mixing Hinduism with politics, pretending that Tharoor’s own Congress party has never had anything to do with that kind of politicisation. The third section, “Taking Back Hinduism,” disguises a proposed return to Tharoor’s “essence” of Hinduism as a step forward rather than back.



Tharoor admits that he does not write as a scholar of Hinduism, but it is obvious that he does not even write as a sincere autobiographer. That leaves him writing as a politician—a politician who wants to keep one foot each in two camps, the Congress and the Bharatiya Janata Party.



“why am i a hindu?” Tharoor asks. Because, he answers, “I was born one.” This raises the question: with what status was he born into Hinduism?
Riaz Haq said…
California student body demands ban on caste-based discrimination
‘Historic’ resolution passed by student association at California State University calls for adding caste in school’s anti-discrimination policy.

https://www.aljazeera.com/news/2021/4/16/california-student-body-demands-ban-on-caste-based-discrimination

While taking cognisance of incidents of discrimination faced by Dalits on campuses, the student association said the addition of caste within CSU’s anti-discrimination policy would further reiterate the school’s “commitment to diversity, equity, and support for those most systemically marginalised”.

Interestingly, the resolution was authored by a higher caste student and backed by three other students from different racial and religious groups.

“This was a joint inter-caste, inter-faith and multiracial coalitional work,” Manmit Singh Chahal, 20, a California Polytechnic State University student and lead author of the resolution, told Al Jazeera.

-----------

An association representing nearly half a million university students in California, United States has passed a resolution seeking a ban on caste-based discrimination faced mainly by the Dalit students, with rights groups calling the move “historic”.

Formerly referred to as “untouchables”, Dalits lie at the bottom of the complex Hindu caste hierarchy and have faced socio-economic oppression for decades. India officially banned untouchability when it adopted its constitution in 1950, but the practice continues among the South Asian communities, mainly Hindus.

Last week, the Cal State Student Association (CSSA), the country’s largest four-year public university system representing 23 campuses of the California State University (CSU) system, passed the resolution with 22-0 vote in an online meeting, supporting the addition of caste as a protected category against discrimination.

The students’ body directed the University Board of Trustees to add caste in the system’s anti-discrimination policy and provide resources to its staff members to better their understanding of caste.

“Current CSU policy prohibiting discrimination includes many of the identities intertwined with caste but does not protect from caste-based discrimination specifically,” the resolution said.

The resolution cited a survey by Equality Labs which said 25 percent of Dalits reported facing verbal or physical assault based on their caste in the US.


“One in three Dalit students report being discriminated against during their education in the US, two out of three Dalits surveyed reported being treated unfairly at their workplace in the US,” the resolution said, adding that 60 percent of Dalits reported experiencing caste-based derogatory jokes or comments in the country.

“All of these inequalities associated with caste status have become embedded in all of the leading South Asian American institutions and they extend into American mainstream institutions that have significant South Asian immigrant populations,” it said, noting that such discrimination “has long been overlooked by American institutions”.
Riaz Haq said…
#India’s #Modi’s rise and failures as seen through Time Magazine Covers 2014-2021. #BJP #Hindutva #India #COVID

https://twitter.com/haqsmusings/status/1388705221921034243?s=20
Riaz Haq said…
Pew survey finds that #Hindus tend to see their religious identity and #Indian national identity as closely intertwined: Nearly two-thirds of Hindus (64%) say it is very important to be #Hindu to be “truly” Indian. #HinduRashtra #Modi #HIndutva #BJP #India https://www.pewforum.org/2021/06/29/religion-in-india-tolerance-and-segregation/

Most Hindus (59%) also link Indian identity with being able to speak Hindi – one of dozens of languages that are widely spoken in India. And these two dimensions of national identity – being able to speak Hindi and being a Hindu – are closely connected. Among Hindus who say it is very important to be Hindu to be truly Indian, fully 80% also say it is very important to speak Hindi to be truly Indian.

The BJP’s appeal is greater among Hindus who closely associate their religious identity and the Hindi language with being “truly Indian.” In the 2019 national elections, 60% of Hindu voters who think it is very important to be Hindu and to speak Hindi to be truly Indian cast their vote for the BJP, compared with only a third among Hindu voters who feel less strongly about both these aspects of national identity.

Overall, among those who voted in the 2019 elections, three-in-ten Hindus take all three positions: saying it is very important to be Hindu to be truly Indian; saying the same about speaking Hindi; and casting their ballot for the BJP.

These views are considerably more common among Hindus in the largely Hindi-speaking Northern and Central regions of the country, where roughly half of all Hindu voters fall into this category, compared with just 5% in the South.

———————

Among Southern Indians, for example, 30% see widespread discrimination against Dalits, compared with 13% in the Central part of the country. And among the Dalit community in the South, even more (43%) say their community faces a lot of discrimination, compared with 27% among Southern Indians in the General Category who say the Dalit community faces widespread discrimination in India.

A higher share of Dalits in the South and Northeast than elsewhere in the country say they, personally, have faced discrimination in the last 12 months because of their caste: 30% of Dalits in the South say this, as do 38% in the Northeast.

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