Hindu Rashtra: Will Modi's Hindutva Lead to Multiple Partitions of India?

Sheikh Alam, a Muslim leader of Mamta Banerjee's Trinamool Congress Party, has recently been quoted in the Indian media as saying: "We  (Muslims)  are 30% and they (Hindus) are 70% They will come to power with the support of the 70%, they should be ashamed. If our Muslim population moves to one side then we can create four new Pakistans. Where will 70% of the population go?"  

Quaid-e-Azam's Demand For Pakistan: 

TMC leader Sheikh Alam's words today are a reminder of the demand for Pakistan in 1940s. It arose from the majoritarian tyranny of the Hindu-dominated Indian National Congress after 1937 elections in India. Speaking in Lucknow in October 1937, Quaid-e-Azam Mohammad Ali Jinnah said the following: 

"The present leadership of the Congress, especially during the last ten years, has been responsible for alienating the Musalmans of lndia more and more, by pursuing a policy which is exclusively Hindu; and since they have formed the Governments in six provinces where they are in a majority they have by their words, deeds, and programme shown more and more that the Musalmans cannot expect any justice or fair play at their hands. Whenever they are in majority and wherever it suited them, they refused to co-operate with the Muslim League Parties and demanded unconditional surrender and signing of their pledges."


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 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:

Sheikh Alam's talk of carving "four Pakistans" out of India is a reminder of Quaid-e-Azam's words after 1937 elections during the British Raj. Dr. B.R. Ambedkar's fears of War on Indian Muslims are also 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…
Holy Cow a Myth? An Indian Finds The Kick Is Real


https://www.nytimes.com/2002/08/17/books/holy-cow-a-myth-an-indian-finds-the-kick-is-real.html

''Holy Cow: Beef in Indian Dietary Traditions,'' is a dry work of historiography buttressed by a 24-page bibliography and hundreds of footnotes citing ancient Sanskrit texts. It's the sort of book, in other words, that typically is read by a handful of specialists and winds up forgotten on a library shelf.

But when its author, Dwijendra Narayan Jha, a historian at the University of Delhi, tried to publish the book in India a year ago, he unleashed a furor of a kind not seen there since 1989, when the release of ''Satanic Verses,'' Salman Rushdie's novel satirizing Islam, provoked rioting and earned him a fatwa from Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini.

As Mr. Jha's book was going to press last August, excerpts were posted on the Internet and picked up by newspapers. Within days the book had been canceled by Mr. Jha's academic publisher, burned outside his home by religious activists and -- after a second publisher tried to print it -- banned by a Hyderabad civil court. A spokesman for the World Hindu Council called it ''sheer blasphemy.'' A former member of Parliament petitioned the government for Mr. Jha's arrest. Anonymous callers made death threats. And for 10 months Mr. Jha was obliged to travel to and from campus under police escort.

After months of legal wrangling, Mr. Jha's lawyers succeeded in having the ban lifted this spring. And now his book has been published in Britain and the United States by Verso, with a new preface and a more provocative title: ''The Myth of the Holy Cow.'' But though copies have been shipped to India, few bookstores there are likely to stock it.

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In this context, even food has become politicized as Hindu nationalists use their vegetarianism to distinguish themselves from the nation's beef-eating and implicitly immoral Muslim minority.

Mr. Jha's book, Ms. Doniger wrote in her review, ''contradicts the party line, which is that we Hindus have always been here in India and have Never Eaten Cow; those Muslims have come in, and Kill and Eat Cows, and therefore must be destroyed.''

From a scholarly point of view, she said, what's shocking about ancient Indian history is not that some people ate meat but that some did not: ''Since the human species is by nature carnivorous, what is surprising is that there ever were vegetarians.''

Beginning around A.D. 500, Mr. Jha writes, killing cows became increasingly taboo -- according to the religious texts, a sinful practice associated with the lowest social order, the untouchables. In part, he speculates, the change in official attitude may have coincided with the explosion of agriculture. The cow, on whose strength (for plowing), dung (for fuel) and milk the community depended, was just too valuable to slaughter.

Other scholars, however, say the taboo probably owed more to factors increasingly integral to Hindu, Buddhist and Jainist thought: the belief in reincarnation, which blurred the lines between humans and animals, and the doctrine of ahimsa, or nonviolence.

''The feeling that people have about killing animals and taking lives, that's the basis of it,'' Ms. Doniger said. ''Obviously, people were feeling guilty. Anytime you eat beef, that meant someone had slaughtered a cow.''
Riaz Haq said…
Modi’s party seeks big win as 2 key Indian states (Assam and West Bengal) vote

https://www.washingtonpost.com/world/asia_pacific/modis-party-seeks-big-win-as-2-key-indian-states-vote/2021/03/27/37e25b20-8eb2-11eb-a33e-da28941cb9ac_story.html

"The BJP’s success depends on if it is able to polarize Hindu votes to a huge extent, and get half of the 70% of Hindu votes (in West Bengal and Assam),” said Subir Bhowmik, a political analyst.

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In West Bengal and Assam, the BJP is banking on its strong Hindu nationalist ideology to draw votes. The party is trying to galvanize Hindu support by promising to deport hundreds of thousands of Bangladeshi Muslims who fled their homes decades ago. In 2018, Home Minister Amit Shah described them as “termites” eating into India’s resources.

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Two Indian states with sizeable Muslim populations began voting in local elections Saturday in a test of strength for Prime Minister Narendra Modi, whose Hindu nationalist agenda is being challenged by months of farmer protests and a fresh wave of the pandemic.

Top Bharatiya Janata Party leaders, including Modi, have campaigned heavily to win West Bengal for the first time and dislodge the state’s chief minister, Mamata Banerjee, as well as retain power in northeastern Assam state.

The BJP has for years been accused of stoking religious polarization and discriminating against minorities, and faces stiff challenges in both states with populations that are nearly 30% Muslim. Nationwide, Muslims comprise nearly 14% of the 1.4 billion people, while Hindus make up 80%.
Riaz Haq said…
The rise of the Muslim middle class — and the challenges


https://www.thehindubusinessline.com/blink/read/the-rise-of-the-muslim-middle-class/article34182230.ece


The emergence of a substantive number of educated and professional Muslims has contributed to the small measure of assertiveness visible among the members of the community today
* Muslims going on holiday is part of the change that has been underway

* Until a few years ago, Indian Muslims were either very rich or very poor

* When I was in school, for several years, I was the only Muslim in my class

* With the increasing visibility of Muslims, especially in urban areas, a perception has grown that economic liberalisation and the growth of the Indian private sector have opened doors to educated Muslim youth

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

As a result, even in the private sector, among middle level to senior employees (from senior executives to director), only 2.67 per cent are Muslims. According to the ET Intelligence Group Analysis of 2015, of 2,324 senior executives in BSE-500 listed companies, only 62 were Muslims. Even more worrying was the finding that in places where Muslims were employed in very senior positions, their remuneration was comparatively lower than that of their peers.
Riaz Haq said…
nearly 8 million Muslims crossed over to Pakistan during and immediately after Partition;19 a sizeable proportion of these migrants comprised the elite or the educated class of Indian Muslim society. In a paper for Yale University, scholars Prashant Bharadwaj, Asim Khwaja, and Atif Mian have offered a very interesting statistic. Exploring the changing demographic profile of India and Pakistan, they write that the outflow of Hindus and Sikhs from Pakistan and the inflow of Muslims from India only marginally affected the literacy ratio of Pakistan because even though the migrating Hindus and Sikhs were far more literate than the resident Muslims of Pakistan, this deficiency was offset by the emigrating Muslims from India who were also highly literate. Using Karachi as an example, they write: The district of Karachi received a large influx of migrants—in 1951, nearly 28 per cent of the population population was migrant…. Hindus and Sikhs in Karachi in 1931 were also much more literate than the resident Muslims—21 per cent as opposed to just 3.7 per cent. After partition, nearly all Hindus and Sikhs left Karachi (only 1.5 per cent of the population in 1951 was composed of minorities). Yet, the aggregate effect on Karachi’s literacy is very small—this was due to the highly literate migrants who moved into Karachi. In the city of Karachi, 91 per cent of the literate population were migrants! What is important here is while overall literacy rates remained largely unchanged, who the literate population was composed of certainly changed. Partition thus replaced existing minority-majority literacy differences with within majority literacy differences.20

This wasn’t simply a case of brain drain from India. This created an intellectual deficit which continues to have a cascading effect on the community. education is not about literacy alone. It’s about exposure to diverse ideas, being challenged by new concepts, and learning to go beyond inherited wisdom. Above all, education adds to confidence and encourages people to overcome insecurities.

Wahab, Ghazala. BORN A MUSLIM: Some Truths About Islam in India (pp. 60-61). Kindle Edition.
Riaz Haq said…
Hate Male:

By Audrey Truschke, Professor of South Asian History

I have a folder on my laptop titled “Twitter, Facebook, and Gmail hate mail.” That virtual folder bears no measurable weight, but it has exerted demonstrable force in shaping my life as an academic over the last five years. Since the fall of 2015, I have received hate mail in response to my scholarship, which is primarily on sixteenth-century and seventeenth-century India, and my tendency to comment on modern Indian politics based on my knowledge of South Asian history. My insights about India’s diverse, multicultural past have aroused the ire of Hindu nationalists who claim that past to be monolithically Hindu in a brazen attempt to erase India’s rich Muslim heritage. The BJP, a Hindu nationalist party, has controlled India’s central government since May 2014, and they have pursued an aggressive agenda of transforming India from a secular democracy welcoming of all faiths into a fascist state meant for martial-minded Hindus alone. During the last six years, anti-Muslim violence has risen sharply, freedom of the press has declined ruinously, and universities have been subjected to relentless assaults. History is a primary battleground for Hindu nationalists who want to rewrite India’s diverse past to justify their present-day oppression and violence, and historians like me get in their way.


https://therevealer.org/hate-male/
Riaz Haq said…
Characters in a Sartre play
Jawed Naqvi

https://www.dawn.com/news/1615434/characters-in-a-sartre-play

"THE search for petty advantages has been the bane of larger quests — as true of politics as of any other public sphere. The Nazis, as everyone knows, rose on the rubble of a small-minded opposition, be they social democrats, socialists or communists fixated on a delusional tiny gain that may have seemed critical to them at the time but proved to be the collective undoing of German democracy and at what cost. Pakistan clearly lost its eastern half to personal squabbling at the cost of the big picture. India’s fractious opposition criminally created the ground for Narendra Modi to sidle close to seizing absolute power"


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"Neither the left nor Kejriwal has formally identified the crisis facing India as resembling fascism, something writer Khushwant Singh had noted in 2003 in a small book called End of India.

“Those of us today who feel secure because we are not Muslims or Christians are living in a fool’s paradise. The Sangh is already targeting the leftist historians and ‘Westernised’ youth. Tomorrow it will turn its hate on women who wear skirts, people who eat meat … prefer allopathic doctors to vaids, kiss or shake hands in greeting instead of shouting ‘Jai Shri Ram’. No one is safe. We must realise this if we hope to keep India alive.” Are Garcin, Inez and Estelle listening?"


Riaz Haq said…
Narendra Modi is everything apart from what he seems
Hologram and holy man, sectarian and seer, the Indian prime minister is a trick of the light

https://www.prospectmagazine.co.uk/magazine/narendra-modi-is-everything-apart-from-what-he-seems

By Andrew Adonis

Modi knows India, socially and geographically, better than perhaps any other Indian alive, and from the bottom up. He has mastered modern democratic arts and his ubiquitous social media presence includes a Modi app, flashing up every speech, event and opinion to millions with a professionalism that leaves Trump in the gutter. “India saved itself with a timely lockdown, travel restrictions, shows recent study. Read more here!” runs the latest notification on my phone, the fourth of today.

“Speaking in Hindi, Modi is the finest speaker I have ever heard; his oratory is mesmerising,” one opponent who does not wish to be named tells me. To my surprise, given his dictatorial reputation, he is a considerable parliamentarian, capable of graceful tributes to opponents, albeit only when they are retiring or have been defeated. “We stand for those who trusted us and also those whose trust we have to win over,” he declared after his 2019 landslide. His bitterest political critics typically pay tribute to his skill and crave his attention even as they attack him.

Each day features another socially distanced mass Modi event, typically in a different state. Whether launching a toy festival in Delhi or a railway scheme in West Bengal, the white-bearded sage declaims an impassioned homily combining a political message with spiritual guidance and lifestyle advice. Addressing newly graduating doctors, after thanking them for their efforts in the pandemic, he urges them to “keep a sense of humour, do yoga, meditation, running, cycling and some fitness regime that helps your own wellbeing,” and invokes Hindu saint Sri Ramakrishna Paramahamsa’s mantra that “serving people is the same as serving God.” “In your long careers, grow professionally and at the same time, never forget your own growth. Rise above self-interest. Doing so will make you fearless,” he preaches.

“Modernisation not westernisation” is another Modi slogan—he has a slogan for everything—yet his political packaging, including that hologram, is done with the help of slick BJP professionals trained in Britain and the US. He plays the west, using the right language and commandeering the wealthy and influential Hindu diaspora like an army. Britain’s populist Home Secretary Priti Patel, a fellow Gujarati, jokes with her friend “Narendra” in Gujarati. He calls virtually every western leader “my friend,” and they reciprocate. Whatever their concerns about sectarianism, western leaders desperately want the Indian leader onside. After his inauguration, Biden called Modi before Xi Jinping: escalating crises in Myanmar, Afghanistan, Hong Kong, Taiwan and the South China Sea give the prime minister leverage, which he shrewdly exploits.

But is Modi within or beyond the pale? In his personal language generally within—although under his rule an anti-Muslim and anti-secular culture war has been stoked, amplified by Amit Shah and BJP activists. Yogi Adityanath, a Hindu priest cloaked in saffron robes and the BJP chief minister of the northern state of Uttar Pradesh, infamously proclaimed: “If Muslims kill one Hindu man, then we will kill 100 Muslim men.” Modi himself doesn’t go there: modernisation and Hindu ancestor worship are his public rhetoric, and he rarely attacks opponents for much more than being divisive and unpatriotic, which is pretty much what British Tories have been doing for two centuries. And yet, in front of parliament in February, Modi called the farmers encamped in Delhi protesting the new laws “people who cannot live without protests,” and—more chillingly—“parasites.”
Riaz Haq said…
Loud #bigotry of our times under #Modi is no great break from the past. #Indian “liberalism” had to do with #Muslims “knowing their place”. Muslims were to act as mascots of #Hindu #India’s tolerant culture, not assert #equality with majority #Hindus by Sanjay Srivastava

https://scroll.in/article/955374/indian-liberalism-is-a-historical-myth-that-must-be-countered-if-we-escape-our-current-nightmare

The good Muslim syndrome
The most fundamental aspect of our recent past is that our parents were not particularly committed to the values of religious tolerance that they are frequently credited with as a pre-Modi phenomenon. Their relationship with their Muslim co-citizens was premised on a specific set of circumstances.

Firstly, it had to do with Muslims “knowing their place”. Muslims were to act as mascots of Hindu India’s tolerant culture, rather than exercise an identity that might assert equality with members of the majority community. This was the condition of Hindu contextualism where “secular India” was deeply rooted in the values and public symbolism of Hinduism. Our public functions began (and still begin) with lighting lamps, ships were launched by breaking coconuts and we sang (and now sing with greater fervour) Sanskrit hymns at various national occasions as if these were areligious markers of post-colonial identity.

That is the world our parents grew up in and subscribed to: the “good Muslim” was the one who knew his or her place in a society marked by Hindu contextualism. Even Nehru, perhaps one of the very few who might have understood the meaning of genuine multiculturalism, was not able to counter these tendencies.

Eliding caste
Secondly, there was no India of our parent’s generation that seriously engaged with the caste question. Rather, if we have now come to believe that our parents decried casteism – and that its resurgence is linked to the break-down of their culture of liberalism – this is an entirely spurious view, nurtured by a very Indian culture of filial obligation.

Men and women of an earlier generation – the first and second generation of post-Independence parents – were as deeply casteist as their apparent antithetical contemporary counterparts. What was true of the earlier generation was that – like the Left parties – they pronounced that “in their circles” caste was not a problem.

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A soft bigotry

The fact of the matter is that neither was our parents’ time one of a golden age of tolerance and constitutional morality nor is it the case that we have now – in a space of six years! – dramatically changed. The first perspective is misplaced filial obligation and the second is a simplistic understanding of social and cultural change.

Our parents practised bigotry of a quiet sort, one that did not require the loud proclamations that are the norm now. Muslims and the lower castes knew their place and the structures of social and economic authority were not under threat. This does not necessarily translate into a tolerant generation. Rather, it was a generation whose attitudes towards religion and caste was never really tested.

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The great problem with all this is that we continue to believe that what is happening today is simply an aberration and that we will, when the nightmare is over, return to the Utopia that was once ours. However, it isn’t possible to return to the past that was never there. It will only lead to an even darker future. And, filial affection is no antidote for it.
Riaz Haq said…
“What our (#Indian) textbooks don't tell us: Why the #Rajputs failed miserably in battle for centuries. They were defeated by Ghazni, Gloria, Khilji, Babur, Akbar (#Mughals) the #Marathas and the #British”. #Hindutva #Modi #BJP #India http://scroll.in/article/728636/what-our-textbooks-dont-tell-us-why-the-rajputs-failed-miserably-in-battle-for-centuries


Girish Shahane

What’s astonishing is that centuries of being out-thought and out-manoeuvred had no impact on the Rajput approach to war. Rana Pratap used precisely the same full frontal attack at Haldighati in 1576 that had failed so often before. Haldighati was a minor clash by the standards of Tarain and Khanua. Pratap was at the head of perhaps 3,000 men and faced about 5,000 Mughal troops. The encounter was far from the Hindu Rajput versus Muslim confrontation it is often made out to be. Rana Pratap had on his side a force of Bhil archers, as well as the assistance of Hakim Shah of the Sur clan, which had ruled North India before Akbar’s rise to power. Man Singh, a Rajput who had accepted Akbar’s suzerainty and adopted the Turko-Mongol battle plan led the Mughal troops. Though Pratap’s continued rebellion following his defeat at Haldighati was admirable in many ways, he was never anything more than an annoyance to the Mughal army. That he is now placed, in the minds of many Indians, on par with Akbar or on a higher plane says much about the twisted communal politics of the subcontinent.

There’s one other factor that contributed substantially to Rajput defeats: the opium habit. Taking opium was established practice among Rajputs in any case, but they considerably upped the quantity they consumed when going into battle. They ended up stoned out of their minds and in no fit state to process any instruction beyond, “kill or be killed”. Opium contributed considerably to the fearlessness of Rajputs in the arena, but also rendered them incapable of coordinating complex manoeuvres. There’s an apt warning for school kids: don’t do drugs, or you’ll squander an empire.
Riaz Haq said…
#Maoistattack Kills 23 #Indian Forces in Ambush, Officials Say. The four-hour battle in a forested area of central #India has revived concerns about a decades-old insurgency that had appeared largely contained. #Modi #Adivasi #BJP https://www.nytimes.com/2021/04/04/world/asia/india-maoist-insurgents-ambush.html?smid=tw-share

At least 23 Indian security forces were killed in an ambush by Maoist militants in the central state of Chattisgarh, officials said on Sunday, reviving concerns around a decades-old insurgency that appeared to have been largely contained in recent years.

A large force of Indian security personnel had been carrying out a clearance operation in a densely forested area on the edges of the Bijapur district when they were ambushed by the insurgents on Saturday in a firefight that lasted four hours.

Avinash Mishra, the deputy superintendent of police in Bijapur, said an additional 31 security personnel were wounded in the attack.

He said that the militants, often referred to as Naxalites, also suffered heavy casualties, adding that one insurgent’s body remained at the site while the rest were cleared by tractors. Mr. Mishra said the insurgents had managed to seize the dead soldiers’ weapons.

Amit Shah, the Indian minister of home affairs, the official responsible for domestic security matters, confirmed the deaths, and cut short election campaigning in northeastern India to fly back to New Delhi and lead the response, including a search for the attackers.

“The blood of our soldiers, in defense of the nation, will not go to waste,” Mr. Shah said. “Our fight against the Naxalites will continue with more determination and vigor.”

The insurgents, who trace their roots to communist politics in the 1960s, use violence against the state in the name of championing the cause of India’s poor and marginalized. Their reach was once so widespread, and their attacks so frequent, that in 2006, India’s prime minister declared them the country’s “single biggest internal-security challenge.”

However, the Indian government has shrunk the space where the insurgents operate over the past decade by combining military operations involving tens of thousands of paramilitary forces with economic packages to the areas the insurgents used as a base for activity and recruitment. Where the insurgents once operated in about 200 districts at their peak, they are were confined to less than 50 districts last year, according to official figures.

The government has hunted insurgent leaders, killing a large number or forcing them to surrender, and insurgent attacks have declined in frequency and potency.

Nevertheless, the group continues to launch hit-and-run attacks, ambushing security forces in friendly terrain and inflicting casualties in deadly battles. Before the attack on Saturday, 56 people, including security forces, insurgents and civilians, had been killed in Maoist violence this year, according to data by the South Asia Terrorism portal.
Riaz Haq said…
#SiliconValley is in a high-stakes standoff with #India. #Modi's government insists that the new regulations are reasonable and will help protect national security, maintain public order and reduce crime. #media #democracy #BJP #Hindutva #COVID19 https://www.cnn.com/2021/05/27/tech/whatsapp-twitter-india-hnk-intl/index.html?utm_source=optzlynewmarketribbon

The biggest names in tech are locked in an increasingly tense stand-off with India over strict new social media rules they fear will erode privacy, usher in mass surveillance and harm business in the world's fastest growing market.

This week's events underscore the challenges facing Facebook (FB), Twitter (TWTR) and Google (GOOGL) as they try to navigate an increasingly tricky Indian political landscape and deal with the new regulations, which were due to take effect on Wednesday.
On Monday, Indian police visited Twitter's offices after it labeled a tweet from a prominent official of the governing party as "manipulated media." On Tuesday, WhatsApp sued the Indian government over the new rules. On Wednesday, Prime Minister Narendra Modi's administration rebuked the Facebook-owned platform for its "clear act of defiance" when it comes to following the "law of the land." And on Thursday, Twitter said it was "concerned" about the safety its employees in the country.
Modi's government insists that the new regulations are reasonable and will help protect national security, maintain public order and reduce crime by making it easier to identify the sources of viral misinformation. The tech companies say the rules are inconsistent with democratic principles.

This is just the latest tussle in an increasing contentious relationship between American tech companies and one of their largest markets. India's ruling party has intensified its crackdown on social media and messaging apps this year, particularly since a second Covid-19 wave engulfed the country.

Twitter's decision to label the tweet from a spokesperson for the Bharatiya Janata Party earned it a visit from the Delhi police. The police said the visit was a "part of a routine process" to get Twitter to cooperate with its investigation. The social media giant called it "intimidation tactics."

"We, alongside many in civil society in India and around the world, have concerns with regards to the use of intimidation tactics by the police in response to enforcement of our global terms of service, as well as with core elements of the new IT Rules," the company said in a statement Thursday.
"We plan to advocate for changes to elements of these regulations that inhibit free, open public conversation," it added.

The new rules, which were issued in February, include demands that companies create special compliance officers in India. There are also requirements that services remove some content, including posts that feature "full or partial nudity."
Additionally, tech platforms would have to trace the "first originator" of messages if asked by authorities — a requirement that compelled WhatsApp to file its legal complaint against the government. The company said this demand would break the platform's "end-to-end encryption and fundamentally undermines people's right to privacy."
A government "that chooses to mandate traceability is effectively mandating a new form of mass surveillance," WhatsApp has written in a blog post about why it opposes the practice.
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.
Riaz Haq said…
India’s Muslims: An Increasingly Marginalized Population
India’s Muslim communities have faced decades of discrimination, which experts say has worsened under the Hindu nationalist BJP’s government.

https://www.cfr.org/backgrounder/india-muslims-marginalized-population-bjp-modi

Summary
Some two hundred million Muslims live in India, making up the predominantly Hindu country’s largest minority group.

For decades, Muslim communities have faced discrimination in employment and education and encountered barriers to achieving wealth and political power. They are disproportionately the victims of communal violence.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi and the ruling party have moved to limit Muslims’ rights, particularly through the Citizenship Amendment Act, which allows fast-tracked citizenship for non-Muslim migrants from nearby countries.

“The longer Hindu nationalists are in power, the greater the change will be to Muslims’ status and the harder it will be to reverse such changes,” says Ashutosh Varshney, an expert on Indian intercommunal conflict at Brown University.
Riaz Haq said…
#Indian auditors are asking #NGOs about their #Muslim beneficiaries. They're targeting money disbursed to Muslim or #Dalit groups, or those that supported #FarmersProtest, or to those that supported protests against #CAA_NRC. #Modi #Islamophobia https://qz.com/2029699/ via @qz


At least since January, government auditors have been paying visits to NGO offices, staying 10-14 days on each occasion to comb through financial records. In several cases, according to interviews with executives and accountants in the non-profit sector, the visiting auditors also asked pointed questions about Muslim employees and beneficiaries, and about the political allegiances of NGO staff.

Roughly 22,000 NGOs are currently licensed to receive foreign donations. Later this year, most of these NGOs have to apply to renew their licenses under the Foreign Contributions Regulation Act (FCRA), a clunky and often ambiguous piece of legislation. “Naturally there’s a huge amount of anxiety across the sector that, at the moment of renewal, these audits could be used in some kind of vendetta,” said Amitabh Behar, the CEO of Oxfam India.

In 2018-19, Indian NGOs received 163 billion rupees ($2.2 billion) in foreign donations. Last September, the Modi government, forever suspicious of “foreign hands” meddling in Indian affairs, amended the FCRA law to restrict how NGOs could use their foreign funds. The amendments introduced more red tape into NGO operations. NGOs are finding it so difficult to function, in fact, that a coalition of 43 NGOs wrote to the home ministry in May, urging the relaxation of these new amendments in order to speed up Covid-19 relief work in the middle of the crisis.

The ministry, which oversees FCRA licensing, did not respond to Quartz’s requests for comment. Accountants and NGO officials asked to speak anonymously, for fear that their comments will be used against their organizations.

How the Indian government is targeting NGOs for audits
Such government audits are not common. As in most countries, Indian NGOs file their accounts and financial reports regularly, and their books can come under the state’s scrutiny only if someone has raised a specific complaint about the NGO’s finances. This year, though, around 300 NGOs have received letters from the home ministry to announce an audit. (The number is an estimate based on numerous conversations with non-profit accountants and NGOs.) The form letter merely states that, “after a preliminary scrutiny of the Annual Returns submitted online,” the government “has reasonable cause to believe” that some FCRA rules are being broken.

What auditors are looking for in the books of NGOs
Before the auditors arrived, the executive director had made a small bet with his colleague: that he could pick out a dozen of their beneficiaries whom the auditors would certainly ask about. He compiled his dozen: organizations that benefited Muslims, or the lowest Hindu castes known as Dalits, or groups that supported independent journalism. The auditors asked for files on nine of the 12 he’d predicted and asked questions about them: why they were given money, how much money they got, what they spent it on.


In total, the auditors asked for files on around 100 beneficiaries. The auditors told him, the executive director said, that they’d been asked to look for evidence of money disbursed to Muslim or Dalit groups, or to groups that supported the farmers’ protests earlier this year, or to those that supported protests against India’s controversial citizenship bill in 2019.

A founder of another Delhi-based NGO, which works in the field of human rights and labor law, said that auditors asked him about his Muslim field workers. “Out of all our 280 or so employees, they singled out one Abdul Jabbar and said: ‘Show me the expenses he has filed,'” he said. “And they would look at the vouchers of his lunch, for instance: 2 rotis and daal.” Then they asked about another employee, a woman from Kashmir. “What is the message we’re getting here? That we shouldn’t employ Muslims?”
Riaz Haq said…
#India Border Clash Between #Assam and #Mizoram Leaves at Least 5 Dead. The states were created by late PM Rajiv Gandhi in an attempt to broker a solution to years of rebel insurgency by groups seeking independence from India. #BJP #AssamMizoramBorder https://www.nytimes.com/2021/07/27/world/asia/india-assam-mizoram-border.html?smid=tw-share

Two Indian states have been arguing since the 1980s over where exactly the line falls on a 193-square-mile strip of land dividing them. On Monday, guns and hand grenades came out.

Gunfire and grenades exploded along a stretch of dense tropical forest in India’s northeast on Monday in a standoff involving hundreds of police and civilians over a long-disputed state border crossing.

At least five police officers from the state of Assam were killed and dozens of officers and civilians were injured in the melee, which took place in the small village of Vairengte in the Kolasib district of the far northeastern state of Mizoram.

Mizoram and Assam officials quickly blamed each other for the bloodshed.

The flare-up over the disputed territory was the first involving casualties in decades, experts said, and raised broader questions about India’s ruling party, Bharatiya Janata Party, or B.J.P.

The clash occurred two days after Amit Shah, India’s powerful home minister, and a member of the party, held a meeting with state leaders meant to resolve the border dispute there and some elsewhere in India’s northeast.

Though Assam is led by the B.J.P. and Mizoram by a regional party in coalition with the B.J.P., the talks with Mr. Shah appeared not to defuse tensions, as the fighting Monday made all too clear.

Leaders of the Congress party, the main opposition to the B.J.P., pointed to the government’s failure to negotiate a peaceful solution as evidence of its ineffectiveness.

Even observers outside the political fray said two state police forces shooting at one another raised serious issues.

“This should have been sorted out much before by the home ministry, but somehow it has not happened — and this is the repercussion,” said Bhagat Oinam, a professor at Jawaharlal Nehru University in New Delhi.

Boundary disputes between Mizoram and Assam are not new. The two sides have argued where exactly the line falls on a 193-square-mile strip of land since the 1980s, when Mizoram and three other Indian states were carved out of Assam, a sprawling state that borders Bhutan and Bangladesh.


Riaz Haq said…
Delhi's Jawaharlal University Professor Menon: "Everyone knows that India is illegally occupying Kashmir. It is said the world over. Everybody accepts (it)....The map of India in foreign publications like Time and Newsweek show a different map of Kashmir. These copies of the magazines always create a lot of controversies and are censored and destroyed. When the whole world is talking about India's illegal occupation of Kashmir, then we should think the pro-azaadi (pro freedom) slogans in the valley are justified"

https://youtu.be/KWp1E8xrY5E
Riaz Haq said…
#Modi opposes #caste census in #India. A caste count could cause fissures in the #Hindu vote, which the #BJP has managed to consolidate in recent years, despite deep divisions that underpin the party's plank of Hindu unity. #Islamophobia_in_india https://www.bbc.com/news/world-asia-india-58141993

Major opposition and regional leaders have met India's Prime Minister Narendra Modi to argue in favour of counting caste in the country's census.

"A caste census will be a historic, pro-poor measure," Tejashwi Yadav, a leader of the regional Rashtriya Janata Dal (RJD), was quoted as saying by the Press Trust of India.

Mr Modi's Bharatiya Janata Party's decision not to do so has sparked a political maelstrom.

Hinduism's deeply hierarchical and oppressive caste system, which dates back some 2,000 years, puts Brahmins or priests at the top, and Dalits (formerly untouchables) and Adivasis (tribespeople) at the bottom.

In between are a multitude of castes - it's hard to even say how many because there is no list that has enumerated them all.

But there is a swathe of lower and intermediate castes, which are roughly believed to constitute about 52% of the population, that are recognised as Other Backward Classes or OBCs.

While India's census, which happens every 10 years, has always recorded the population of Dalits and Adivasis, it has never counted OBCs.

Now, several political parties, including BJP's allies, are demanding a caste census - essentially a count of OBCs. However, the government has refused.


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

Caste is a crucial factor in every Indian election, from the village council to the parliament. More so in Uttar Pradesh, where the BJP's power and popularity rest on a delicately forged alliance of castes, and especially those in the OBC category.

A caste count could cause fissures in the Hindu vote, which the BJP has managed to consolidate in recent years, despite deep divisions that underpin the party's plank of Hindu unity.

The government has also argued that it would lead to the perpetuation of caste identities - but lower castes say that identity is a reality they grapple with everyday and only the privileged can afford to overlook caste.

Critics say there's another reason for the BJP's reluctance. Counting OBCs would reveal what a large proportion of the population they make up, but how little of it comprises upper castes, who nevertheless dominate politics and bureaucracy, because of centuries of privilege afforded by wealth and education.
Riaz Haq said…
Unmasking Hindutva - Frontline
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https://frontline.thehindu.com/the-nation/unmasking-hindutva-looking-back-on-dismantling-global-hindutva-online-conference-september-2021/article36628499.ece

SOCIAL science academics associated with American and European universities organised a three-day online conference titled “Dismantling Global Hindutva” from September 10 to 12 with the stated aim of bringing together “scholars of South Asia specialising in gender, economics, political science, caste, religion, health care, and media in order to try to understand the complex and multifaceted phenomenon of Hindutva”. The conference was co-sponsored by academic units of more than 50 universities worldwide.

As soon as the announcement pertaining to the conference was made sometime in August, the organisers and the invited speakers were threatened, trolled and intimidated on social media. Hindu groups based in the United States such as the Hindu Mandir Executives Conference, which describes itself as an initiative of the Vishwa Hindu Parishad America, the Coalition of Hindus of North America and the Hindu American Foundation pressured participating universities to withdraw their support for the event. Niraj Antani, a Republican State Senator from Ohio, condemned the conference, terming it as “Hinduphobia”. In India, the event attracted massive opposition, with several media outlets taking the lead in campaigning against it.

The speakers acknowledged the “bravery” and “fortitude” of the organisers in staying the course and proceeding with the conference. The conference had nine thematic sessions with 45 speakers (including the moderators) presenting their ideas and analyses. While the participating scholars (the majority of them were of Indian heritage) were mainly from the U.S., there were speakers from the United Kingdom, France and Germany as well. A handful of Indian activists, who were subjected to virulent online attacks, including death threats, also spoke at the conference. The organisers deserve to be congratulated because it is hard to imagine an academic event that rigorously interrogates the idea of Hindutva taking place in India with the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) in government at the Centre.

Also read: Sangh Parivar’s U.S. funds trail

The historian Gyan Prakash, in his opening statement, said Hindutva, which he characterised as “anti-democratic and anti-intellectual”, was the “de facto ideology of the ruling regime in India” and that it “seeks to alter the constitutional order”. Prakash stated that the concerted attacks in the U.S. and India on the basis of “false characterisation of the conference as anti-Hindu” was because “the Hindutva ego is fragile”.

Paradox of global Hindutva
The first session was titled “What is Global Hindutva?”. The political scientist Christophe Jaffrelot, the film-maker Anand Patwardhan and the poet and author Meena Kandaswamy spoke in this session. Jaffrelot sought to explain the paradox of a global Hindutva movement because Hindutva is linked to a “sacred territory” (the Indian subcontinent in this case) as expounded by V.D. Savarkar in his pamphlet Hindutva: Who is a Hindu? Since the 1990s, Jaffrelot explained, a transformation has happened, with the Rashtriya Swayamsewak Sangh (RSS) expanding its organisational base tremendously beyond India. The RSS invests heavily in the diaspora because of its “wealth”, “the concept of Western ethnic nationalisms of the early 20th century movements” and with the hope that it can act as an “ethnic lobby” the way Israel has done.


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Unmasking Hindutva - Frontline
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https://frontline.thehindu.com/the-nation/unmasking-hindutva-looking-back-on-dismantling-global-hindutva-online-conference-september-2021/article36628499.ece


Patwardhan spoke about the ideas of Mahatma Gandhi and B.R. Ambedkar and the “ahistorical, illogical and contradictory claims of Hindutva” to distinguish between Hindutva and Hinduism. He said: “Hindutva is as Hindu as the Ku Klux Klan is Christian.” Meena Kandaswamy opened her talk with the anguished information that death threats had been issued against her four-year-old child because she was taking part in this conference. For her, Hindutva was the expression of two fundamental inequalities: “oppression of caste and women”, and thus, it could be defeated through “caste annihilation and feminism”. In Meera Kandaswamy’s understanding, the “anti-minorityism of Hindutva is used as a polarising tactic to deflect attention from the struggle between the Brahmins and Dalit/Bahujans”.

The sociologist Jean Dreze, in his paper on the theme of “Political Economy of Hindutva” that was read out in the second session, argued that “the surge of Hindu nationalism in India can be seen as a revolt of the upper castes against the egalitarian demands of democracy. The Hindutva project is a lifeboat for the upper castes insofar as it promises to restore the Brahminical social order.” Pritam Singh, an economist, said in his presentation that “the farm laws have been brought by the Indian government to deepen agro-business capitalism and centralisation in India and through that, advance Hindutva’s political agenda”. The social geographer Jens Lerche also spoke on the farmers’ agitation. He observed that the BJP’s policies showed that “it was less interested in pro-poor policies than the previous Congress government, which has resulted in an increase in poverty”. This point was reiterated by the economist Vamsi Vakulabharanam as well, who presented his argument in the form of a puzzle: A vast majority of Indians have faced heightened economic distress and inequality since the BJP came to power in 2014. This was evident by 2019, so how did the BJP and its allies increase their vote share? Vakulabharanam offered a tentative economic explanation for the saffron party’s return to power. “There is a huge gap between the real economic content of the Hindutva project that is elitist and the rhetoric of this project, which is economic populism and nationalism, which appeals to the promise of upward mobility,” he said.

Benign Brahminism
Considering that caste is an intrinsic part of the Hindutva world view, a session was dedicated to the theme. Gajendran Ayyathurai presented his paper on “Systematic Blindnesses: Hindutva, Benign Brahminism and the Brick Wall of Caste/Hindu Identity”. In his argument, “benign Brahminism stands for how Brahmin-male claims of Hindu identity, Hindu culture and Hinduism have come to be legitimised in the Indian and Western academy’s theories, institutions and practices that superimpose and mask the latent and manifest forms of caste/casteism”. Bhanwar Meghwanshi, who quit the RSS as he became disgusted with its casteism, explained in Hindi that “Hindutva is not a religion or faith but is a communal political ideology that is based on brahminical Hinduism that wants to turn India from a secular nation into a Hindu rashtra”. Basing his argument on his own experience, Meghwanshi asserted that “the lower castes do not have any role in determining the strategies or politics of the RSS, instead, they are exploited and weaponised against religious minorities”. In her presentation, the philosopher Meena Dhanda said it was possible for caste “to be included in the legal definition of race under the [U.K.’s] Equality Act of 2010”.

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Unmasking Hindutva - Frontline
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In a session on “Gender and Sexual Politics of Hindutva”, the film-maker Leena Manimekalai showed a clip from her incomplete film Rape Nation, which partially looks at the stories of survivors of sexual violence during the communal carnages that took place in Gujarat and Muzaffarnagar in 2002 and 2013 respectively. Arguing that sexual violence is at the core of Hindutva, Leena Manimekalai said: “Hindutva has redefined nationalism as a genocidal impulse to rape and murder non-Hindu women. It is a celebration of toxic masculinity.”

The transgender studies scholar Aniruddha Dutta showed in his presentation how the BJP’s rise had even affected the Hijra tradition where there has been a transformation from a “syncretic Indo-Islamic tradition to a more orthodox version of Hinduism”. The Dalit feminist P. Sivakami critiqued Hindutva as having “no vision for Hindu women except that it intends to prepare and reorient them against their imaginary enemy, i.e., the Muslim man, thus diverting her from her real struggles”. The feminist scholar Akanksha Mehta segued from this presentation, stating that “notions of gender and sexuality rooted in caste and race are crucial to the Hindutva project” even as she compared the analogous role of women among savarna (caste) Hindus and Zionists.

Hindutva and its relationship to nationalism was the theme of the session titled “Contours of the Nation”. The focus was on the operation of Hindutva in Kashmir, the north-eastern region and the Adivasi-inhabited areas of central India. The anthropologist Mohamad Junaid examined the “spectacle of domination” of the Hindutva state, characterising it as “primarily an anti-Muslim state”. He also spoke about the long history of Hindutva in Kashmir, tracing it to the land reforms of the 1950s, which were a challenge to “Hindu sovereignty”.

The anthropologist Arkotong Longkumer looked at the operation of Hindutva in the north-eastern States, arguing that “Hindutva’s spread is not restricted to the politics of the north-east but also extends to the cultural and social spheres of the region”. The sociologist Nandini Sundar’s presentation dwelt on four arenas through which the “supremacist projects of the RSS have received state support” in the Adivasi regions of central India; one of these arenas was the Vanavasi Kalyan Ashrams, which she discussed in detail. Yasmin Saikia, a historian of Assam, spoke about how millions of Muslims in Assam “are facing the threat of denationalisation and statelessness” because of the National Register of Citizens and the Citizenship (Amendment) Act. She stated: “The transformation of Muslims [in Assam] from migrants to immigrants to infiltrators to illegal Bangladeshis is the product of Hindutva, although the Congress party too enabled this process by its failure in developing a well-measured and humane minority policy.”
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Unmasking Hindutva - Frontline
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Ayurvedic and other native cures that were promoted by different departments of the Union government to treat COVID-19 came under the scanner at the panel discussion on “Hindutva Science and Healthcare”. Meera Nanda, science historian, made three points in her presentation: first, that the “[Narendra] Modi government promoted potentially dangerous ayurvedic remedies to fight COVID-19”; second, “fake history through which Ayurveda has claimed parity with modern science”; and third, that “the post-colonial critics of science have let us down by clamouring for alternative ways of knowing that can put modern science in its place”. The public health historian Kavita Sivaramakrishnan pointed out how “public health and science have become a vital pillar of Hindutva assertions”. The feminist science studies scholar Banu Subramaniam critiqued the Modi government by stating that “science and technology are being increasingly mobilised by an authoritarian state fuelling sectarian violence, crushing dissent, arresting writers, increasing surveillance and rousing the public in the false security of rampant rumours, disinformation, fake news and dangerous nostalgic visions of a Hindu prehistory”.

Capturing social media platforms
The BJP’s control over social media and the digital space has catalysed the party’s growth and has provided a steady channel for its propaganda. This was the theme of the next session. The journalist Cyril Sam spoke about the pioneering partnerships that the BJP had built with communication technology companies such as Facebook to spread its propaganda. “They [BJP] have captured most communication platforms which are used as a pipeline for radicalisation and recruitment,” said Sam. The digital culture scholar Dheepa Sundaram observed that the concept of secularism was systematically discredited through the digital ecosystem of Hindutva. The journalist and author Salil Tripathi analysing the BJP’s use of social media said: “The Internet has made it possible for people to believe that it is all right to be bigoted, to speak loudly and to heckle. The Internet makes bigotry more widespread than it originally was, makes it respectable and makes the fringe the centre and when the fringe becomes the centre, it is time to worry because it is when the centre cannot hold that things fall apart.”

Also read: ‘Hindutva is not the same as Hinduism’

In the penultimate session, which was on “Hinduism and Hindutva”, the Carnatic vocalist T.M. Krishna offered a range of possibilities on the theme under discussion: first, that Hinduism and Hindutva are the same; second, Hinduism and Hindutva are completely opposite; and third, that Hinduism and Hindutva are the same but this assertion came from a Bahujan perspective which even saw the conference as an attempt by “savarnas trying to save Hinduism”. The anthropologist Balmurli Natrajan commented on the critics of the conference. He said: “The main claim of the critics of this conference is that they are defending Hinduism. They do this by conflating Hindutva with Hinduism. but in reality, they are defending Hindutva by weaponising Hindu symbols—both literally and figuratively.”

]

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Two scholars from the Feminist Critical Hindu Studies Collective, Shana Sippy and Sailaja Krishnamuti, asserted that “not all Hinduism is Hindutva but Hindutva is, in fact, Hinduism…. Hindutva is a powerful, vocal, insidious form of Hinduism.” In a powerful presentation, Sunita Viswanath, co-founder of Hindus for Human Rights, spoke about her engagement with a more casteless and inclusive form of Hinduism. Identifying herself as a practising Hindu who “loves Sita and Ram”, she decried how “Jai Shri Ram has become a murder slogan”. The geographer Brij Maharaj argued how the RSS and its ideology of Hindutva had found it difficult to pervade Indian diasporas in South Africa, Mauritius, Guyana and Fiji because of their origins as indentured labour.

In the last session, on “Islamophobia, Hindutva and White Supremacy”, the historians Anupama Rao and Anjali Arondekar and the media studies scholar Deepa Kumar shared their perspectives. Deepa Kumar commented on the shrinking academic space in Indian universities, quoting her own experience: In May 2021, her talk on Islamophobia at the Manipal Academy of Higher Education was cancelled following protests by Hindu right-wing activists. Deepa Kumar drew on her past work to show the commonality of “tactics, strategies and rhetoric” among white supremacists, Zionists and espousers of Hindutva.
Riaz Haq said…
Is #India Headed for Anti-Muslim Genocide? #Modi’s #BJP has created a deep sense of #Hindu victimhood, stoking the othering of #Muslims via #disinformation, #hatespeech, silencing progressives, and empowering Hindu supremacist vigilante groups. #HIndutva https://time.com/6103284/india-hindu-supremacy-extremism-genocide-bjp-modi/


Indian leaders love to talk up Mahatma Gandhi when they travel abroad. It plays well to the popular notion of India as a land of peace and love, and boosts its moral authority as a responsible democracy on the world stage. So, Gandhi and his ideas came up a lot as Prime Minister Narendra Modi stepped out of India recently for the first time in about one and a half years.

Meeting Modi at the White House on Sept. 24, President Joe Biden said Gandhi’s “message of non-violence, respect, and tolerance matters today maybe more than it ever has.” In his own speech to the United Nations, Modi rued that “the world faces the threat of regressive thinking and extremism,” and underlined his country’s democratic credentials. To reinforce his point, he even coined a new sobriquet for India: “the mother of all democracies.”

No one knows what that means, least of all one Indian mother still trying to make sense of the death of her 12-year-old boy. He was felled by a stray police bullet in the northeastern state of Assam at the same time as Modi was pontificating in America.


“They killed my son,” a dazed Hasina Bano kept repeating between sobs when journalists visited her at a remote village on the banks of the Brahmaputra river. The boy, Sheikh Farid, was hit when police opened fire at Bengali Muslim villagers protesting the forced eviction from their land that the government now wants to give to Assamese Hindus, whom it calls the “indigenous community.” Ironically, moments before Farid died, he had collected from the post office a national biometric identification card establishing his own indigeneity.

The death of a child in such a manner should be the stuff of national disgrace. But the same eviction drive resulted in even more horror when a neighbor of Farid charged at the police with a stick, in a blind rage after they dismantled his home along with those of 5,000 others. The heavily armed policemen, who far outnumbered Moinul Hoque and could have easily subdued him, instead shot him dead at point blank range.

It was all captured on a widely circulated video [Warning: Graphic and distressing scenes]. The images show police raining baton blows on him even as he collapsed, taking turns with Bijoy Baniya, a Hindu photographer accompanying the police team. As Hoque’s life ebbs away, Baniya fiendishly jumps and stomps on his motionless body in an “act of performative depravity.”

Baniya is merely the latest face of India’s state-driven Hindu radicalization. In a country where 84% of the population is Hindu, and just 14% Muslim, Modi’s Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) has achieved the astonishing feat of creating a deep sense of Hindu victimhood, stoking the othering of Muslims via disinformation, hate speech, opening old religious wounds, manipulating a servile media, silencing progressive voices, and empowering Hindu supremacist vigilante groups. “Hindu khatre mein hain” (Hindus are in danger) is a right-wing refrain that resonates deeply today.


As a result, many Hindus have now been persuaded to believe that India’s biggest problem is its Muslims. Before Modi took over in 2014, most citizens thought their chief concerns were poverty, insufficient economic growth and corruption. He rode to power on the promise to fix all that. But as the economy has continued to worsen, and unemployment and poverty have risen under him, the BJP has increasingly fallen back on supremacist politics to deflect attention and evade responsibility. To keep winning elections, it needs to keep polarizing Hindu voters against Muslims, and spinning ever more outrageous campaigns to demonize Muslims.
Riaz Haq said…
Is #India Headed for Anti-Muslim Genocide? #Modi’s #BJP has created a deep sense of #Hindu victimhood, stoking the othering of #Muslims via #disinformation, #hatespeech, silencing progressives, and empowering Hindu supremacist vigilante groups. #HIndutva https://time.com/6103284/india-hindu-supremacy-extremism-genocide-bjp-modi/

Muslims apparently lust after Hindu women, procreating rapidly with the aim of overtaking the Hindu population and establishing an Islamic state, and necessitating new laws against “love jihad.” Similar regulations against religious conversions and the slaughter of cows, which are sacred to Hindus, have encouraged vigilantism. Muslim hawkers and workers have come under increasing attack from Hindu supremacist groups calling for a boycott of Muslim businesses.

Indian social media today is filled with videos of self-appointed protectors of Hinduism calling for the lynching of Muslims—an act so common that it hardly makes news anymore. High-profile Hindu supremacists are seldom booked for hate speech. Muslims routinely face random attacks for such “crimes” as transporting cattle or being in the company of Hindu women. Sometimes, the provocation is simply that somebody is visibly Muslim. As Modi himself has told election rallies, people “creating violence” can be “identified by their clothes.”

The persecution of Muslims in Assam is just the beginning
But Baniya’s malevolence has a history longer than India’s descent into the abyss of hate. Assam, the setting for his ghoulish death dance on the body of a Muslim, is where this construct of the Muslim as the unwanted, dangerous outsider has been honed and mainstreamed. The fear of being overrun by “outsiders” has almost been genetically encoded there over centuries, dating back to the time the British started clearing the state’s lush forests for tea and other plantations. The clearances triggered the inward migration of Bengali peasants from densely populated adjoining regions in search of easily obtainable fertile lands.

Much to the discontent of the ethnic Assamese, the migrations have continued in recent decades as a result of the violent partition of the subcontinent, economic hardship, political instability and wars in what is now known as Bangladesh. Climate-related factors have also driven a steady exodus out of flood-prone, deltaic Bangladesh into Assam.

With the rise of Modi, historical Assamese resentment towards non-Assamese speakers has mixed with the politics of Hindu nationalism in a dangerous brew of xenophobia and patriotism. Stomping on a Muslim corpse now has a gloss of patriotic righteousness to it, which is why it is flaunted on camera. Bigotry is now a badge of honor. In his head, Baniya was protecting India and policemen are seen hugging him in the video after Hoque’s death. His behavior says much about the way Modi has weaponized history and valorized and incentivized hate.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi addresses a public rally for the West Bengal Assembly Election on April 12, 2021 in the North 24 Parganas district, India.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi addresses a public rally for the West Bengal Assembly Election on April 12, 2021 in the North 24 Parganas district, India. Samir Jana/Hindustan Times via Getty Images
Assam is Modi’s grand laboratory, where he is putting Muslims to the litmus test of a citizen verification drive—separating the trueborn from the chaff—before taking it national. The BJP says it simply wants India to be rid of “Bangladeshi migrants”, but it uses it as a code for Indian Muslims. Nearly two million people have been disenfranchised in the state, with no clarity as to what is to happen to them. The closest regional parallel to such large-scale, government-dictated statelessness in recent times was the 1982 mass disenfranchisement of the Rohingya in Myanmar, before the massacres and exodus years later.

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