Upper Caste Hindu-American Professor Acknowledges Internalized Islamophobia
Dr Saiba Varma, Associate Professor of Anthropology at University of California in San Diego (UCSD), has recently been under fire for hiding her familial ties to to a top RAW official while working on her book "The Occupied Clinic: Militarism and Care in Kashmir". “As an upper-caste and upper-class Indian citizen and subject, I have actively and passively internalized anti-Muslim racism my entire life. I am complicit in the colonization of Kashmir and other regions forcibly incorporated into the Indian nation-state", she acknowledges in her book released last year.
|Dr. Saiba Verma|
“Borrowing and extending techniques from British colonial rule, the Indian state enacted the world’s most established, sophisticated, and pervasive systems of emergency rule and legislation and repeatedly criminalized pro-independence demands as ‘conspiracies’ and ‘anti-national.’ The Indian state’s global image as ‘the world’s largest democracy,’ a generous aid donor, and non-interventionist actor have helped disguise its military excesses in Kashmir and other border regions", she adds.
Devesh Kapur, a professor of political science at the University of Pennsylvania and co-author of The Other One Percent: Indians in America (Oxford University Press, 2017), says that the vast majority of Indian-Americans, including university professors, are upper caste Hindus. He explains the phenomenon of high-achieving Indian-Americans as follows: “What we learned in researching this book is that Indians in America did not resemble any other population anywhere; not the Indian population in India, nor the native population in the United States, nor any other immigrant group from any other nation.”
|69% of Hindu Americans Support Modi. Source: Indian American Attitudes Survey 2020|
The 7 in 10 approval rating of Mr. Modi by Hindu Indian Americans stands in sharp contrast to that of barely one in five Muslim Indian Americans. Indian American Christians are almost evenly divided: 35 percent disapprove, 34 percent approve, and 30 percent did not express an opinion. Twenty-three percent of respondents without a religious affiliation and 38 percent from other faiths approve of Modi’s performance, respectively. The share of “don’t knows” is the smallest for Hindus and Muslims compared to other religious categories, suggesting that views among respondents of these two faiths are the most consolidated.
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China and Pakistan on Sunday said they opposed “unilateral actions that complicate” the Kashmir issue, as they pledged closer ties following a meeting between Chinese President Xi Jinping and Pakistan Prime Minister Imran Khan.
A joint statement released following their meeting in Beijing said “both sides reiterated their support on issues concerning each other’s core interests” and “underscored that stronger defence and security cooperation between Pakistan and China was an important factor of peace and stability in the region.”
Mr. Khan attended the opening of the Winter Olympics on Friday, which India has boycotted following the use of a PLA commander in the torch relay, and also held talks with Premier and second-ranked leader Li Keqiang prior to his meeting with Mr. Xi.
The joint statement following Sunday’s talks said Pakistan was committed to a “One-China Policy and support for China on Taiwan, South China Sea, Hong Kong, Xinjiang and Tibet.” China, for its part, “reaffirmed its support for Pakistan in safeguarding its sovereignty, independence and security, as well as promoting its socio-economic development and prosperity.”
“Both sides reiterated that a peaceful and prosperous South Asia is in the common interest of all parties,” the statement said, adding that “they emphasised the importance of pursuit of dialogue and resolution of all outstanding disputes to promote regional cooperation and advance the goals of lasting peace, stability and shared prosperity in the region.”
On Kashmir, the statement said Mr. Khan “briefed the Chinese side on the latest developments on the situation in Jammu & Kashmir, including its concerns, position and pressing issues at the moment.”
China repeated its official stance that the issue “should be properly and peacefully resolved based on the UN Charter, relevant Security Council resolutions and bilateral agreements” and said it “opposes any unilateral actions that complicate the situation”. Beijing had in 2019 voiced opposition to India’s reorganisation of Jammu and Kashmir and creation of Ladakh union territory calling it a “unilateral action”.
A readout from Islamabad on Mr. Khan’s remarks to Mr. Xi, published by the official Associated Press of Pakistan, quoted the Pakistani leader as hitting out at India. He claimed that “the persecution of minorities in India in advancing the Hindutva mindset of RSS-BJP, was a threat to regional peace and stability” and “that the rapid militarisation of India was undermining regional stability.”
Those comments and references to India were not mentioned in the Chinese readout, which quoted Mr. Xi as saying “the strategic significance of China-Pakistan relations is getting more prominent since the world has entered a period of turbulence and transformation.”
Mr. Xi said China “firmly supports Pakistan in safeguarding national independence, sovereignty, dignity and fighting terrorism” and would continue supporting the China Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC). Both sides on Friday signed an agreement to boost industrial cooperation as part of the second phase of CPEC.
The joint statement said the two sides discussed the situation in Afghanistan and the need to expedite humanitarian aid, and said both sides were “ready to discuss with Afghanistan the extension of CPEC to Afghanistan.”
World-renowned scholar Noam Chomsky says #India is turning #Muslims into a ‘persecuted minority’
WASHINGTON: Noam Chomsky, a leading American intellectual, said Islamophobia has taken a “most lethal form” in India, turning its 250 million-strong Muslim population into a “persecuted minority”.
“The pathology of Islamophobia is growing throughout the West — it is taking its most lethal form in India,” the activist, who is also Professor Emeritus at Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), said in a video message to a webinar organised by the Indian American Muslim Council, a Washington-based advocacy organisation.
Apart from Chomsky, several other academics and activists took part in the webinar on “Worsening Hate Speech and Violence in India”.
Chomsky also said that Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s right-wing Hindu nationalist regime has sharply escalated the “crimes” in Indian-occupied Kashmir.
“The crimes in Kashmir have a long history,” he said, adding the state was now a “brutally occupied territory and its military control in some ways is similar to occupied Palestine”.
The collective conscience of India is being altered beyond repair with hatred so potent that it even consumes the seemingly most unlikely people — such as the elderly man who arrived in a wheelchair to the theater to watch “The Kashmir Files.”
Two weeks ago, I gathered the courage to go watch the film against the advice of family and friends. “The Kashmir Files,” which portrays the exodus in the 1990s of Kashmiri Pandits, a minority Hindu community, has triggered anti-Muslim hate chants in theaters across India. As soon as I entered the theater in Mumbai, the audience broke into cries of “Bharat Mata ki jai” (Glory to India), a nationalist chant that has been repeatedly weaponized against Muslims. The man in the wheelchair soon joined the chants of “Sab mulle aatankwaadi” (Muslims are terrorists).
I left before the movie even began. I tried again the next day. A group of teenagers sitting in the front row soon began chanting “Bharat Mata ki jai.” I was seated in the fourth row, between an expectant mother and an elderly man who spoke proudly of how history in India was being redeemed under Prime Minister Narendra Modi.
The film began, and within 20 minutes there were disturbing scenes of Muslims lusting after Hindu women and a Muslim neighbor betraying his Hindu friend to support terrorism. There were scenes of Muslim kids flaunting Kalashnikovs and insulting Hindu deities. At one point in the movie, a Muslim militant tells a Kashmiri Hindu who wore attire depicting a Hindu god that only those chanting “Allahu akbar” will be allowed to flourish in Kashmir.
That’s when the audience started chanting “Jai Shri Ram” (Glory to Lord Ram). The teens in the front row whistled and started clapping at the slogans. Scenes of Muslims in skullcaps brutally murdering Hindus drew painful gasps from the audience.
The expectant mother seated next to me turned to her husband: “These Muslims are born bastards.” Unable to take the hate, I informed them that I am a Muslim and the language they were using was hate speech against my community. “Hate is what your religion teaches, not ours,” the woman responded. Others seated near us started cheering her statement, and I left the theater, just 30 minutes into the movie, feeling humiliated and physically unsafe. A man yelled at me “Ja Pakistan!” (Go to Pakistan).
When I complained to a theater manager about being heckled and abused, he gave a blank look. The film has been a box-office hit. The theaters are packed. The Indian government has even given the film tax privileges, deeming it important for the well-being of the country. That means audiences can buy the tickets at cheaper rates.
The next day, Modi met the cast and crew of the film. In a televised speech, the prime minister mocked the criticism, saying, “Those who always carry the flag of freedom of expression, this entire group has been rattled these past five to six days.”
I’ve written before about the power these films have to stir nationalist fervor and Islamophobic hatred. It’s now a proven formula. But the record-breaking success of “The Kashmir Files” has taken the propaganda to a genocidal level. The film is dominating all discussions. The head of government promotes it while large networks dedicate hours of programming to extolling the bravado in the film.
Arun Shourie quoting his ex boss owner of Indian Express Newspaper Ramnath Goenka, He quotes Goenka on a Muslim being hired as editor. Upper Caste Hindus are inherently #Islamophobic and so casual about it. They feel it’s normal
Chinnaiah Jangam opened his computer and saw a cartoon of himself cleaning a white person's boots.
The history professor at Carleton University in Ottawa said he received thousands of hateful emails like that over the past five years, along with abusive voicemails on his office phone. He said he has also been accosted in person by groups picketing his academic lectures because they disagree with his politics.
"Imagine every Monday, you get up and see that picture," said Jangam. "Half your day will go, coming to terms with it."
He closed most of his social media accounts in response, in part, he said, to try to shield his family.
Jangam is one of several Canadian academics whose work relates to India who say they are being harassed and threatened by diaspora groups for being critical of both the country's politics under Prime Minister Narendra Modi's ruling Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) and Hindutva, the right-wing political ideology it espouses.
"There is a growing violence against Muslims and Dalits," said Jangam, who is Dalit — the lowest strata of the Hindu caste system. It's a group previously called "untouchables" because their low status meant they weren't even touched by others.
"I come from that background. I have a social responsibility and also moral responsibility to speak out."
Steven Zhou, a former researcher with the Canadian Anti-Hate Network who has chronicled far right movements within diaspora groups, said Hindutva is a superficial politicization of Hinduism.
Its aim, said Zhou, is "to cast the Indian society as one that should be for Hindus first and foremost above other religious minorities."
Zhou said Hindutva is a modern political ideology that advocates for Hindu supremacy and seeks to transform India, a secular democracy, into an ethno-religious country.
Although the supremacist ideology of Hindutva has its roots in Hinduism, there is debate as to whether the political aspects of the ideology can be separated from its religious and cultural foundation. Many academics argue it is separate.
Gopala Krishna, director of Dwarapalakas, a self-described Hindu advocacy group in the Greater Toronto Area, said Canadians don't understand Hinduism and are presently getting their perspectives from "non-Hindu religions talking to and talking down to Hinduism."
Zhou said the Hindutva ideology has led to discrimination and sectarian violence against minority groups in India such as Muslims and Christians. Human Rights Watch has also attributed religious and ethnic violence to alleged Hindutva groups.
In December 2021, in the northern Indian city of Haridwar, Hindu religious leaders openly called for a genocide against Muslims at a Hindutva-organized event. And in March, an Indian court upheld a ban against hijabs in schools — the matter is before the Supreme Court of India.
Zhou said while Hindutva has not led to physical violence in Canada, the ideology has become "rhetorically violent" and is used to silence academic criticism of Indian politics.
In a letter, the academics wrote that research work "unflattering" to the image of India has repeatedly been junked and that official events often "carried the flavour of propaganda".
A group of 13 academic fellows has resigned from the Australia India Institute (AII) of the University of Melbourne citing interference from the Indian High Commission to Australia and shrinking academic space as a consequence, Australian daily the Age reported.
On March 29, the fellows signed and sent a letter to Melbourne University vice-chancellor Duncan Maskell in which they alleged that the high commission has repeatedly interfered with the institute’s work and research. Views that are “unflattering” to India’s image have repeatedly been junked, they said.
The fellows who resigned worked across various disciplines and universities and held unpaid posts.
The newspaper also reported that a similar letter had been sent to the university’s deputy vice-chancellor, international, Michael Wesley in 2020 in which academics expressed concerns that the AII’s focus on bilateral ties between India and Australia was getting in the way of scholars engaging with topics which might displease the Modi government.
The AII was formed in 2009 as an initiative to strengthen ties between the two countries amid numerous reports of attacks on Indian students in Australia. The government of erstwhile Australian Prime Minister Kevin Rudd had given Melbourne University a $8 million grant to establish the institute.
The vision of the AII, as stated on its website, is to be “Australia’s leading authority on the Australia-India relationship and the principal convener of strategic dialogue between the two nations.”
The 2020 letter said that the academics hoped that values such as ‘academic freedom’, ‘scholarly dissent’, ‘impartiality and independence’ and the like would find space in the AII’s future. Here, the letter also cited the Union government’s use of sedition laws to curtail free speech and incarceration of academics, journalists and human rights defenders, without evidence, due process or bail.
The Modi government has come under fire from several corners, both within and outside the country for its increasingly frequent use of laws such as the Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act, an anti-terror legislation, on activists and rights defenders.
The 2020 letter also alleges that official events at the institute have “carried the flavour of propaganda” and that events which were “likely to be controversial” were discouraged, which they also relate to the high commission’s interest in the AII.
In that letter, the signatories called for AII’s scope to be “broader than the bilateral relationship between the governments of the day” rather than carry out “think-tank type” activities designed to promote official engagement. While acknowledging the benefits the goodwill of the Indian government brings (such as easier access to visas and so on), the signatories said these considerations should not “dilute the universities commitments to academic freedom.”
Apart from this, the 2020 letter also called for a new director for the institute who would stand up for its independence against “forces which try to influence its activities” as well as having adequate knowledge to promote scholarly research on India.
In the present letter, the academics express doubts about the institute’s “quasi-diplomatic focus” being consistent with the mission of the university.
Leading Indian-Americans, including US Congressman Raja Krishnamoorthi, have slammed a law professor from University of Pennsylvania for her disparaging comments about the Asian American community, with a specific disdain for Indian-Americans.
In a recent interview to Fox News, Prof Amy Wax from the University of Pennsylvania alleged that “Blacks” and “non-Western” groups have “a tremendous amount of resentment and shame against western people for [their] outsized achievements and contributions.” “Here's the problem. They're taught that they are better than everybody else because they are Brahmin elites and yet, on some level, their country is a sh*thole,” Wax, who has a long history of inflammatory remarks, said.
She also said that the westerners have outgunned and outclassed the Asian Americans in every way.
“They've realised that we've outgunned and outclassed them in every way… They feel anger. They feel envy. They feel shame. It creates ingratitude of the most monstrous kind,” she said.
Wax then targeted the influential Indian-American doctors' community as well. “They are on the ramparts for the antiracism initiative for ‘dump on America,'” she alleged.
The comment was condemned by the Indian-Americans across the US.
“After President Trump left office, I thought the days of calling others “shithole” countries were over,” Krishnamoorthi said in a tweet.
“As an Indian-American immigrant, I'm disgusted to hear this UPenn Professor define Indian-American immigrants, and all non-white Americans, in such insulting terms,” he said.
Stating that such comments are borne of hatred and fear, he emphasised that such talks make it much harder to accomplish common-sense immigration reform.
“Comments like these are borne of hatred and fear, and they lead to real harm for my constituents and our minority communities. They fuel hate crimes against minorities, and they make it much harder to accomplish common-sense immigration reform,” Krishnamoorthi said.
Indian-American Law professor Neil Makhija also slammed Wax for her comments.
“It's irresponsible to use your position to lend credibility to these overtly racist sentiments that don't recognise Indian-Americans for who we are," he told Axios.
Indian-American Impact is slated to hold a summit next month in DC Makjiha told Axios he's planning to adjust programming to discuss the incident and create solutions against anti-Asian and South Asian hate in educational settings.
“The most unfortunate thing is that we have a lot of brilliant and incredible students at the law school,” he told NBC News.
“It makes you question whether she can fairly grade or educate,” he said.
This is not the first time Wax's controversial comments about race have gone viral, the US media reported.
Her appearance on Carlson's show is not the first time Wax has made anti-Asian remarks. In an interview in December, she said that Indians Americans should be more “grateful” to be in the US and that the country would be “better off with fewer Asians.” Penn has confirmed that the school is in the middle of disciplinary proceedings against Wax, NBC News reported.
“The University of Pennsylvania Carey Law School has previously made clear that Professor Wax's views do not reflect our values or practices,” it quoted a representative as saying.
“In January 2022, Dean Ruger announced that he would move forward with a University Faculty Senate process to address Professor Wax's escalating conduct, and that process is underway,” the report quoted the Penn representative as saying.
Prof Amy Wax of the University of Pennsylvania Law School alleged that “Blacks” and “non-Western” groups have “a tremendous amount of resentment and shame against western people for [their] outsized achievements and contributions.” “Here's the problem. They're taught that they are better than everybody else because they are Brahmin elites and yet, on some level, their country is a sh**hole,” Wax, who has a long history of racist remarks, said.
She also said that the westerners have outgunned and outclassed the Asian Americans in every way.
“They've realized that we've outgunned and outclassed them in every way… They feel anger. They feel envy. They feel shame. It creates ingratitude of the most monstrous kind,” she said.
Why some Indians die younger than others
People belonging to the country's most marginalised social groups - adivasis or indigenous people, Dalits (formerly known as untouchables) and Muslims - are more likely to die at younger ages than higher-caste Hindus, according to one paper by Sangita Vyas, Payal Hathi and Aashish Gupta.
They examined official health survey data of more than 20 million people from nine Indian states accounting for about half of India's population of 1.4 billion.
Here's the average lifespan of disadvantaged men: 60 years for adivasis, 61.3 for Dalits, and 63.8 for Muslims. An average higher-caste Hindu man is expected to live for 64.9 years.
Such enduring gaps were comparable in terms of years to the gaps in life expectancies between black and white Americans in the US, researchers say. Since life expectancy in India is less than four-fifths the level in the US, the outcomes in India are more substantial in percentage terms.
To be sure, buoyed by advances in medicine, hygiene and public health, India has made massive gains in life expectancy: half a century ago, the average Indian would beat the odds by surviving into his or her 50s. Now they're expected to live almost 20 years longer.
Dalit women are among the most oppressed in the world
The bad news is that although life expectancy for all social groups has increased, disparities have not reduced, according to a related study by Aashish Gupta and Nikkil Sudharsanan.
In some cases, absolute disparities have increased: the life expectancy gap between Dalit men and upper-caste Hindu men, for example, had actually increased between the late 1990s and mid-2010s. And although Muslims had a modest life expectancy disadvantage compared to high castes in 1997-2000, this gap has grown substantially over the past 20 years.
India is home to some of the largest populations of marginalised social groups in the world. The 120 million adivasis - an "invisible and marginal minority", in the words of a historian - live in considerable poverty in some of the remotest parts. Despite political and social empowerment, the 230 million Dalits continue to face discrimination. And an overwhelming majority of 200 million Muslims, the third largest number of any country, continue to languish at the bottom of the social ladder and often become targets of sectarian violence.
What explains these gaps in life expectancy in different groups?
India is neither a melting pot nor a salad bowl
Here is where it gets interesting.
Researchers find that differences in where people live, their wealth and exposure to environment account for less than half of these gaps. For example, the study found that adivasis and Dalits live shorter than higher-caste Hindus across wealth categories.
To find more precise answers on how discrimination influences mortality, India needs to step up research. There is some evidence which tells us why, for example, Muslims live longer than the adivasis and Dalits. They include lower exposure to open defecation among children, lower rates of cervical cancers among women, lower consumption of alcohol and lower incidence of suicide.
Former R&AW chief A.S. Dulat, while commenting on the recently released Vivek Agnihotri directorial film, The Kashmir Files, has said that he doesn’t intend to watch it.
“I don’t see propaganda. And it is a propaganda movie,” he said.
“Many Pandits who chose to stay behind were protected by Muslims in 1990s. Many Kashmiri Pandit families did stay back. Even after the abrogation of Article 370, the Pandits have not been targeted,” Dulat said.
When asked about Jagmohan, the governor of Jammu and Kashmir, he said that when he was governor from August 1989 to January 1990, the situation had changed dramatically by the time he returned.
“The Kashmir that he came back to after four or five months, it was totally different from the Kashmir he had left. He was quite shaken himself,” he said.
“When these killings started, he didn’t want the pandits to bear the brunt of it. So once they started leaving, he was quite happy,” Dulat implied that Jagmohan was relieved when the Kashmiri Pandit migration from Kashmir began.
“It was a natural reaction. If they are leaving, ‘Good.’ There was no way that we could provide any protection to them because things were so bad,” he added.
The pandit migration began soon after the 1990 killings, according to Dulat. Rich KPs travelled to Delhi, while those who had nowhere else to go sought refuge in Jammu’s camps. Dulat also said that Kashmiri Muslims who could afford it left for locations like Delhi. They returned when things seemed to be improving.
A Kashmiri Pandit responds to the film 'The Kashmir Files'.
Published: 31 Mar 2022, 4:37 PM IST
Regardless of its cinematic worth, The Kashmir Files relentlessly pursues a version of truth those hailing it, swear by. By misrepresenting facts just enough, deceitfully layered with disinformation and obfuscating any context, the film succeeds in its true purpose - blatant vilification of Kashmiri Muslims.
Several friends, and acquaintances reached out recently, asking – did it really happen? Yes. Did it happen the way it is shown? Yes, but not really. And, therein lies its voodoo.
Three decades ago, when thousands of Kashmiris left their home, we were perhaps luckier than some to have extended family already in Delhi to stay with. Thereby sidestepping the quagmire of refugee-camps. To that extent, ours wasn’t the median story. It wasn’t even the worst. Others who left, lived in abysmal conditions for years, and died. And yet, many others that survived, showed remarkable resilience by building back lives since - from scratch, despite the tragic displacement, and thrived. Did time heal all the pain? Or did we forget everything that happened, as a defence to cope with our unaddressed trauma?
Unfortunately, trauma works in mysterious ways. Every life event, in one form or the other, gets linked to that traumatic event. I have seen this within my immediate and closed ones. Admittedly, I too, lived so for many years. Silently. And assumed that’s just the way it was, is, and will continue to be.
Even though, the first friend I made in Delhi (and life) was a Kashmiri Muslim, himself a product of this complex tragedy of Kashmiris (not just Pandits), I failed to recognise what stared me in the face, for a long time. Today when I struggle with many trepidations of life, more than thirty-two years after that fateful day, I realise I am a product of privileges, choices, misgivings, mistakes and learnings, all uniquely mine. It took me many years to realise – Trauma induces hate, and hate consumes you. No matter how deep a wound runs, hate can't be right. Because, it blinds you.
What happened in Kashmir, did it happen spontaneously, out of thin air? Did it happen to just us? Even in its most modern form, there is over seventy years of history to Kashmir, that includes the exodus, but also multiple wars, ambiguous promises and a continual sense of estrangement. We know it.
History is a double edged sword. In the right hands, it inevitably bleeds out its wielder. In the wrong ones, it does so to rest of the world. In our emotional and vociferous response to the events depicted in the film, we are staking claim over our truth. By discarding everything that happened before, and continues to happen after; and calling it history; we are consciously choosing a side where all of them are fundamentally baying for our blood, and will not stop until our extermination. Unless, annihilated first, eye-for-an-eye style.
Pitting one’s loss against another’s, is criminal. The only thing worse is to deny the other truth just because it does not align with ours, and attempt to obliterate it. When we put a magnifying lens on our suffering, every minutiae stands out in high-definition. It hurts. Of course, it does. Shift that lens a little and the new details that emerge, will hurt in equal measure too, if not more. There’s a truth outside ours. As confusing and uncomfortable as it may appear, that is real too
Earlier this year, “The Kashmir Files”—a blood-soaked historical drama with a nearly three-hour run time—became the top-grossing Hindi film since the start of the pandemic. The contested region of Kashmir has caused unending conflict between India and Pakistan. In Indian-administered Kashmir, the Army has brutally subjected Muslims to extensive human-rights violations, with tens of thousands killed, thousands of forced disappearances, and an extremely high incidence of rape—which has been used, according to Human Rights Watch, as a “counterinsurgency tactic” to “create a climate of fear.” But this film tells a different story.
Beginning in 1989, amid an uprising of the state’s Muslim majority following a rigged election, more than a hundred thousand Kashmiri Pandits, a Hindu community, fled from their homes; as many as several hundred were killed. The film, which very clearly frames these killings as a genocide, is cross-cut between the fleeing and terrorized Pandits and a story line in the present day, during which a young Indian man challenges leftist college professors to tell the truth about what happened to his Pandit family.
“The Kashmir Files” is not subtle. Numerous scenes show angry and bloodthirsty Muslims leering at Hindu women, and inflicting torture and humiliations upon Hindu families. Though Hindus make up four-fifths of India’s population, the film presents Kashmir as a cautionary tale—that a large group of Muslims could at any moment turn against Hindus. To see it as anything other than a glorified exercise in stigmatization and fearmongering would be a mistake. And it was released in India at an especially perilous time. Communal violence directed at India’s Muslim minority has risen steeply in recent years. In 2014, Narendra Modi, who had been banned from the United States for presiding over the massacre of Muslims a dozen years earlier in the state of Gujarat, became Prime Minister of the country.
Since then, and especially since his reëlection three years ago, Modi and his Hindu-nationalist Bharatiya Janata Party (B.J.P.) have either winked at or openly supported vigilante attacks against Muslims. They have also pursued more structural forms of discrimination, such as the so-called Citizenship (Amendment) Act, passed in 2019, which could permanently revoke the citizenship rights of large communities of Muslims. After the film was released, B.J.P. politicians heaped praise on it; some Indian states waived goods-and-services tax on tickets for the movie or gave government workers time off to attend screenings. Modi himself said that the film has “shown the truth” of Kashmir in the early nineties, and the filmmakers were invited to meet with him and other hard-right politicians. Unsurprisingly, audiences have erupted into anti-Muslim chants in theatres across India, and the Indian press has reported on violence against Muslims that the perpetrators admit was inflamed by the film.
While “The Kashmir Files” seeks to portray the genuine hardships faced by Kashmiri Hindus, it is missing vital historical context. In 1947, the British departed India, partitioning the provinces of Punjab and Bengal, and creating Pakistan. This left Kashmir—whose full name is Jammu and Kashmir—as the only Muslim-majority state in India. In the first four decades after Partition, India and Pakistan waged multiple wars over Kashmir. India imprisoned Kashmiri leaders and reduced the state’s autonomy. Then, in 1987, the Indian government rigged an election in Kashmir, insuring that politicians aligned with New Delhi remained in power. During the next thirty-five years, a number of developments have exacerbated tensions: the government stationed hundreds of thousands more troops in the state, and they frequently operated (and still operate) with impunity; Kashmiris launched a full-on push for independence; and Islamist groups, often backed by Pakistan, became more prominent in the battle against the Indian state.
In 2019, the Modi government stripped Kashmir of the special status it was granted after Partition, under Article 370 of the Indian Constitution. Although Article 370 had already been steadily eroded, the formal revocation, which allowed non-Kashmiris to buy land in the region for the first time in decades, raised fears that Modi’s government had plans for a settler-colonial project for Hindus.
I went to see “The Kashmir Files” in Northern California. (It has already grossed a million dollars in the United States and Canada.) I then spoke by phone twice with its director, Vivek Agnihotri, who has made a number of Indian films, most notably a conspiracy-laden thriller about the death of a former Indian Prime Minister. Recently, on Twitter and in the press, he has attacked much of the coverage of the movie, saying it is based on an anti-Indian and anti-Modi agenda. His rhetoric echoes that of many of Modi’s supporters, who attribute opposition to the Prime Minister’s policies—and concerns about Indian democracy—to a bigoted anti-Hinduism.
Our conversation, edited for length and clarity, is below. In it, we discuss the violence the sparked by the film, the Indian government’s support for it, and how Modi has changed India.
What role did the Indian government play in helping with the film?
The government gave us zero help. When we started the film, we decided we would not go to any politicians or the government. We did it purely on our own effort. We collaborated with the global Kashmiri diaspora. The government had nothing to do with this film. It was purely our effort—me and my wife. We started the film with our money; we ended the film with our money. We started showing the film in November, in the U.S. We screened it in sixteen different cities, and our focus was more on inviting Congress members and senators and policymakers and mayors and all these kinds of people, because we wanted to impress upon the world that such a great tragedy took place in India and nobody even noticed it. We wanted people to recognize it happened, because more than seven hundred thousand Kashmiri Hindus don’t live in their motherland—they live as refugees all over the world. [Historians estimate that around sixty thousand Hindu families left Kashmir in the early nineties.] And it was never a mainstream topic.
America is a champion of human rights and humanity, so it was important to go there—because I was fully aware, and I’m telling it for the first time on record, that if I started screening the film in India, it would instantly become political. And I wanted to focus on humanity. So we travelled, me and my wife, for almost two months in the U.S. There was a congressional reception at the Capitol. We were invited to all these places. I made a lot of speeches. All my speeches were about humanity and oneness.
Who hosted the congressional reception?
Raja Krishnamoorthi [a Democratic congressman from Illinois] came and gave a speech. Mark Warner, who is a co-chair of the India Caucus, and a Democratic senator, was also involved in that. Then thirty-six organizations of different ethnicities came together and said that we will do the logistics, and my production house did the funding. Thirty-six organizations, including Jewish associations, Christian organizations, Muslims from Syria, Muslims from Afghanistan—all these people came together and we showed it to people in jam-packed houses. [A spokesman for Krishnamoorthi said that the congressman hadn’t seen “The Kashmir Files” or praised it, adding that Krishnamoorthi “remains deeply concerned by the recent increase in communal tensions in India, including the anti-Muslim hate speech and violence which have been inspired by the film.” Warner’s spokeswoman said that he hadn’t seen the movie, either, and that he understood the event, which he did not attend, to have been a celebration of the contributions made by the Indian American Kashmiri-Pandit community.
Then these people started raising funds and they put up a big billboard in Times Square for India’s Republic Day, which is the 26th of January. It created a lot of word of mouth and a euphoria on social media, because all the Indian diaspora in the U.S.—they started writing to their friends, family, parents in India. This film had zero marketing budget, zero—not even one penny was spent on marketing. And then all these people started promoting the film. The studio releasing it [in India] had no faith in the film, so they released it on four hundred screens, which became six hundred screens. And then the next day, on public demand, suddenly it became one thousand, two thousand screens. [Zee Studios, which distributed the film, said that it did invest in marketing for the movie, and that the rollout had been “a pre-decided business strategy” made in agreement with Agnihotri.]
It became part of mainstream discourse. Then obviously the politicians got involved in this because it’s their voters, their constituencies, talking. And then Prime Minister Modi made a comment. [Modi said, in part: “Instead of assessing the film on the basis of facts, a campaign is on to discredit it. The entire ecosystem opposes anyone who dares to show the truth. He tried to depict what he thought was the truth. But there is reluctance to understand or accept the truth.”] And, after the Prime Minister said that, then obviously the opposition jumped into it, and you know how it happened—then it’s like it’s not my film anymore. It’s owned by the people.
And it was eventually declared that people could go see it tax free in a number of states, right?
Yeah. In India, there’s a tradition of making films tax free, those which are found useful to the society. So nothing unusual about it.
When you met with Modi and Yogi Adityanath, the Chief Minister of Uttar Pradesh, what did they tell you about the film?
When you meet these kinds of people, they praise you for your effort. [Adityanath, who once formed a vigilante group to target Muslims, has referred to Muslims as a “crop of two-legged animals that has to be stopped.”] It was impossible to make a film about the Kashmiri Hindu genocide. The reason was terrorism; everybody was scared. But then we decided to do it. People came to my office and hit my manager. I was heckled. So now the government of India has given me security. And this is exactly why people do not make movies on the Kashmiri Hindu genocide, because it is assumed that, if Hindus are in the majority in India, then they’re powerful everywhere, but this is wrong. When “Schindler’s List” was made, the whole world appreciated it and people said, “Yes, you brought the truth out.” But imagine making “Schindler’s List” when the Nazis were ruling. Imagine making it when Hitler was ruling. Now terrorism is ruling.
Sorry, just to clarify—you’re saying that making “Schindler’s List” when Hitler was ruling is akin to what’s happening now, because terrorists rule in India today?
Oh, of course. I don’t think there is any human being who’s going to appreciate the terrorist activities. Our film is very clearly about what happens when terrorism seeps in and when humanity is absent. And, therefore, the impact of the movie as desired by me as a filmmaker is exactly what is happening. People are crying, they’re hugging each other, they’re saying, “We are sorry.” And the whole entire India is coming together. And that’s why there is so much euphoria.
Do terrorists have that much power in modern-day India?
Of course. Yes. They are killing people every day. In Kashmir, there is a death threat on my name. Fatwa, it is called, f-a-t-w-a, which is an Islamic order to kill somebody. [A fatwa is a legal decree or opinion given by a jurist about a point of Islamic law. Instances in which they call for someone’s death are rare.] And so there’s a fatwa on my name. I cannot go there freely. Obviously, terrorists are having a good day there.
Is that changing? A character in the movie says that India finally has a Prime Minister who is feared rather than loved. Do you think that the Modi government has ushered in a new kind of India?
A lot has changed. Conversation was not acceptable, and for the first time the entire country has woken up to this truth. All the generation born after 1990 has no idea what happened over there.
But has Modi ushered in a new India?
The current government has abrogated Article 370.
Yeah, so he abrogated that. Once he abrogated that, suddenly the hope has come back. There was no hope before that. It means that, today, if anybody else from India wants to settle over there, he can. If the Kashmiri Hindus want to go back, they can. [Since 2019, New Delhi has implemented de-facto martial law and a communications blackout in Kashmir. More recently, an increase in violence against Hindus in the region has caused some returnees to flee again.]
What about the Muslims in Kashmir, where the Indian Army, which occupies Kashmir, is very brutal with the people—subjecting them to violence and rape. What do you think about that?
You seem to be arguing that the “fake narrative” is pushed not just by the media but that professors and intellectuals have propagated a “fake narrative” of what happened in Kashmir.
Every single person we interviewed brought to our notice that they are a victim of two kinds of terrorism. One is terrorists with arms and the second terrorism is all these genocide deniers who are primarily influencers, intellectuals, people in the media, people in government, and lot of international press. So, the film basically focusses on how this genocide is being denied by the people who had the power to accept it and show compassion and empathy, and fight for their justice. But they denied these people even the acknowledgment. And, therefore, you can talk to any Kashmiri Hindu anywhere in the world, and he will tell you exactly the same thing—that they did not even acknowledge that anything like this happened. And, after this film, every single person is saying, “Yes, indeed, it was a genocide.” Even the deniers are accepting that it was a genocide. Their only complaint now is “Why aren’t we showing the other side of that story?” Because there is no other side to terrorism. It is evil. That’s it.
How much do you feel that your film is representative of this new India ushered in by Modi? I know you’re a supporter of the Prime Minister.
It’s important because the film is based on truth, absolute truth. In fact, as you call me, I’m walking into the British Parliament to give a speech. Before 2014, the Hindus were not feeling empowered. They were feeling weak. And now they are able to voice openly. But my filmmaking has got nothing to do with it.And supporting the Prime Minister doesn’t mean that my films have got anything to do with him. So correlating these two things—my films and the Prime Minister or the political party in power—would be, I think, a wrong comparison. “The Kashmir Files” is a soft, emotional film.
“A soft, emotional film.” Is that what you said?
It’s an emotional film. It’s got a more feature-film format rather than a harsh statement.
There is a scene in which a woman is forced to eat rice soaked in her husband’s blood.
Yeah. And we try to dilute them because the truth is harsher than that.
One thing I hear from supporters of Modi is that Hindus are now more willing to express so-called Hindu values and so on. Do you think that’s become easier?
Of course, of course. Definitely, it’s become easier because B.J.P. is not like Congress, which ignored the Hindu voice. So I think Modi has become a voice of the voiceless. That’s my analysis.
The voiceless eighty per cent of the country—the Hindus?
No, no. One second. Not just Hindus. India’s a complex country. It’s not just Hindus and Muslims. You cannot divide it like that. Actually, minorities in India are Parsis and Jains and Sikhs, and they are also very supportive of Modi. And there are the Dalits, who are called the Scheduled Castes. They did not have a voice earlier. They’ve also found a voice in it.
There has been a lot written about people going to see the film and then engaging in violence against Muslims. Is that something you’re concerned about?
Do you have any confirmed reports of that? Is there any police report, any video where people have become violent? It depends which side of the media you are reading. If you’re reading anti-Modi media, they will say that.
This is very selective. But the thing is, this is the most viewed film ever, which means that the majority has no problems with the film, and the people who are writing these kinds of things are the people who have not seen the film themselves. So this is a very political opinion. The film has no problem. It has healed seven hundred thousand Kashmiri Hindu families. You saw the blood-soaked rice that the woman eats? Her daughter wrote a letter to us, saying that the family was wrecked, and, for the first time in thirty-two years, this film has healed their family. Similarly, in the end, you have seen the woman who was cut on a saw machine. Her family wrote to us saying that this is the first time, after thirty-two years, they’re feeling that somebody is listening to them, and they feel that justice is being done and their family is healing.
One thing I hear you say is that “facts are not facts.” What do you mean by that?
Oh, it was in the context of a person who was interviewing me. It was edited. He edited it to his advantage to take the context out. The complete sentence was “Facts are not facts if they’re coming from people like you.” This was the complete sentence.
You tweeted that, too: “Facts are not facts.”
I always tweet “facts are not facts” if they’re coming from communists or Naxalites.
I want to ask this again. We have seen viral videos on social media with people yelling derogatory things about Muslims in movie theatres where your movie is playing. You’re not at all concerned about that?
How many videos like that were there?
I don’t know the exact number.
Yeah. That’s the problem. Everybody’s talking about it, but nobody knows, so it is based on fake news. There was only one person, one crazy guy who shouted something. O.K., that was one in 1.3 billion people. But there are thousands and thousands of viral videos where Kashmiri Pandit women are hugging me and crying on my shoulders.
That one video—it was a fabricated thing. It was made only to create noise against the film. But, otherwise, there is not one case. There is not even one police complaint. You won’t find even one person in the entire country of 1.3 billion people who has seen or heard somebody say something like that, except for a bunch of media people who have been creating this fake news.
But listen. I want to talk to you human-to-human. You asked me a question that is not based on something which you know for sure. Similarly now, if I fall into the trap and I answer that to defend it, then others will ask. So everybody from foreign media has been asking me this question, but none of them have seen any video. None of them know of any case like that.
I have seen these videos on social media. I can link to them in the article. Would that be helpful if I link to the videos?
Are we done?
Would it be helpful if I linked to the videos in the article?
You can, undoubtedly. But you have to prove that it’s not fabricated, that it’s not the opposition that has sent it, some terror groups that have sent some person to create this bad thing. Because, if it was really genuine, then there would’ve been a police case or something. There is nothing, no records.
Some of these videos have actually been shared approvingly by people within the B.J.P.
I don’t know. I’m not answerable for anyone. I can answer only for my own film. We have made an honest film. Not even one person in the entire universe has been able to point that one line of dialogue, one shot, any one scene in the film is wrong. So my theme is based on truth. If truth hurts people, offends people, I don’t care about it. ♦
The Panel found that the following incidents may amount to crimes against humanity, as defined in the Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court: “the crack-down on protests against the Citizenship Amendment Act (December 2019 – June 2020) in Uttar Pradesh” and “the repressive actions by the government against human rights defenders, journalists and activists in Jammu and Kashmir following the change of its special autonomous status in August 2019.”
The Panel stated that the killings and torture of civilians in the ongoing non-international armed conflict in Jammu and Kashmir may amount to war crimes.
Lastly, the Panel identified that a number of public speeches made by prominent political or religious leaders in Delhi, Chattisgarh, Uttarakhand and Uttar Pradesh between December 2019 and April 2022, calling on their audience to kill Muslims or rape Muslim women and girls, may amount to direct and public incitement to commit genocide. According to the Panel, “some leaders [made] clear references to eradication or elimination or destruction of the religious community from the nation.” The Panel emphasized that such statements warrant further investigation by an independent body. Furthermore, urgent action is required to prevent repetition of such incidents.
End of June 2022, a Panel of Independent International Experts (the Panel), consisting of three renowned international law experts, including Sonja Biserko, Marzuki Darusman and Stephen Rapp, launched their report on serious human rights violations against Muslims in India since 2019. The Panel found that there is credible evidence to suggest that a wide range of international human rights of Muslim communities have been violated by the authorities in India. According to the evidence reviewed, federal and state-level authorities “adopted a wide range of laws, policies and conduct that target Muslims directly or affect them disproportionately.” In relation to violations perpetrated by non-state actors, the State failed to take the necessary measures to prevent the acts, effectively investigate and prosecute them. The Panel further found that some of the violations may amount to crimes against humanity, war crimes and incitement to commit genocide.
The Panel was established to review available evidence and determine whether there was sufficient credible information to require an independent international investigation into the situation of Muslims in India. The Panel reviewed reputable sources for information, including reports of independent media, civil society organizations and academic institutions.
Prophet Remarks Row: DU Students, MSF Members Protest Against BJP Leaders Nupur Sharma And Naveen Jindal
The Panel found credible evidence to suggest that several human rights are being perpetrated against Muslims throughout India, and especially in Assam, Delhi, Jammu and Kashmir and Uttar Pradesh, including “arbitrary deprivation of life, arbitrary detentions, torture and cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment, gender-based violence and discrimination, incitement to discrimination, hostility and violence, discrimination in laws and policies, including to nationality and representation, violations of freedom of religion or belief, violation of freedom of expression, association, assembly, violations of right to fair trial, and violation of economic, social and cultural rights.
Caste in California: Tech giants confront ancient Indian hierarchy By Paresh Dave
Apple, the world’s largest listed company, updated its General Employee Conduct Policy nearly two years ago to explicitly prohibit discrimination based on race, which it defined as existing categories such as race, religion, gender, age and ancestry. joined together.
The inclusion of the new category, which was not previously reported, goes beyond US discrimination laws, which do not explicitly ban racism.
The update came after the tech sector – which counts India as its top source of skilled foreign workers – received a wake-up call in June 2020 when California’s employment regulator asked Cisco on behalf of a lower-caste engineer. Systems, which accused the two upper-castes. Bosses blocking his career.
Cisco, which denies wrongdoing, says an internal investigation found no evidence of discrimination and that some allegations are unfounded because race is not a legally “protected class” in California. An appeals panel this month rejected the networking company’s bid to push the matter to private arbitration, meaning a public court case could come as early as next year.
The controversy – the first US employment lawsuit about alleged racism – has forced Big Tech to confront a millennium-old hierarchy where the social status of Indians has been based on family lineage, from the top Brahmin “priest” class to Dalits. Until, the “untouchables” and were sent to slave labor.
Since the lawsuit was filed, several activist and employee groups have begun calling for updated US discrimination legislation — and also calling on tech companies to change their policies to help fill the void and stop racism. Is.
Their efforts have produced poor results, according to a Reuters review of policy in US industry, which employs hundreds of thousands of workers in India.
“I’m not surprised that the policies would be inconsistent because that’s almost what you would expect if the law isn’t clear,” said Kevin Brown, a law professor at the University of South Carolina who studies race issues. Include it in US laws.
“I can imagine that … (a) some parts of the organization are saying it makes sense, and other parts are saying that we don’t think it makes sense to take a stance.”
Apple’s core internal policy on workplace conduct, which was spotted by Reuters, added references to equal employment opportunity and race in anti-harassment sections after September 2020.
Apple confirmed that it “updated the language a few years ago to ensure that we prohibit discrimination or harassment based on race.” It states that the training given to the employees also explicitly mentions caste.
“Our teams assess our policies, training, processes and resources on an ongoing basis to ensure they are comprehensive,” it said. “We have a diverse and global team, and we are proud that our policies and actions reflect this.”
Elsewhere in tech, IBM told Reuters that it added race, which already had India-specific policies, to its global discrimination rules after it filed a Cisco lawsuit, though it declined to give a specific date or reasoning. Gave.
The company said that IBM’s only training in which caste is mentioned is for managers in India.
Many companies do not specifically mention race in their core global policy, including Amazon, Dell, Facebook owner Meta, Microsoft and Google. Reuters reviewed each policy, some of which are published internally for employees only.
Even the BJP-appointed VC of JNU isn't willing to whitewash Manu's misogyny.
‘No god is a Brahmin’, says JNU Vice Chancellor, flags ‘gender bias’ in Manusmriti | Cities News,The Indian Express
“All women, according to the “Manusmriti”, are shudras. So, no woman can claim she is a Brahmin or anything else. I believe it is only by marriage you get the husband’s or the father’s caste on to you. I think this is something extraordinarily regressive,” she said.
Hindu Gods do not anthropologically come from the upper caste, said JNU Vice Chancellor Santishree Dhulipudi Pandit while delivering the keynote address at the B R Ambedkar Lecture Series organised by the Union Ministry of Social Justice and Empowerment.
Speaking on the topic “Dr B.R. Ambedkar’s Thought on Gender Justice: Decoding the Uniform Civil Code”, Pandit said, “Anthropologically, scientifically… please look at the origins of our gods. No god is a Brahmin. The highest is a Kshatriya. Lord Shiva must be a Scheduled Caste or a Scheduled Tribe. Because he sits in a cemetery with a snake… they have given him very little clothes also to wear. I don’t think Brahmins can sit in the cemetery. So if you see, clearly, the gods anthropologically do not come from the upper caste. Including Lakshmi, Shakti, all the gods. Or if you take Jagannath, very much a tribal. So, why are we still continuing with this discrimination, which is very, very unhuman.”
The JNU VC also said that the “Manusmriti” has categorised all women as “shudras”, which is “extraordinarily regressive”.
“All women, according to the “Manusmriti”, are shudras. So, no woman can claim she is a Brahmin or anything else. I believe it is only by marriage you get the husband’s or the father’s caste on to you. I think this is something extraordinarily regressive,” she said.
In her speech on Monday, Pandit referred to the recent death of a nine-year-old Dalit boy in Rajasthan after he was allegedly assaulted by his upper-caste teacher.
“Unfortunately, there are many people who say caste was not based on birth, but today it is based on birth. If a Brahmin or any other caste is a cobbler, does he immediately become a Dalit? He doesn’t…. I’m saying this because recently in Rajasthan, a young Dalit boy was beaten to death just because he touched the water, didn’t even drink, touched the water of an upper caste. Please understand, this is a question of human rights. How can we treat a fellow human being in such a way?” she said.
Referring to Ambedkar’s landmark “Annihilation of Caste”, she said, “If Indian society wants to do well, annihilation of caste is extraordinarily important… I don’t understand why we are so emotional of this identity that is very discriminatory, very unequal. And we are ready even to kill somebody to protect this so-called artificially constructed identity.”
Speaking about the intersection of caste and gender, she said, “If you are a woman and you come from the reserved categories, you are doubly marginalised. First, you are marginalised because you are a woman, then you are marginalised because you come from a so-called caste, which is given all kinds of stereotypes.”
According to her, Buddhism proves the acceptance of dissent in “Indic civilisation”.
“I think Buddhism is one of the greatest religions because it proves that the Indic civilisation accepts dissent, diversity and difference. Gautama the Buddha was the first dissenter against what we call Brahminical Hinduism. Please understand he was also the first rationalist in history… we have a tradition revived by Dr Babasaheb Ambedkar,” Pandit said.
Sabharwal, Sharat. India’s Pakistan Conundrum (pp. 181-182). Taylor and Francis. Kindle Edition.
The violence that erupted two weeks ago between Muslims and Hindus in the English city of Leicester, home to a large population of Britons with South Asian ancestry, appears at last to be dying down as police flood the streets. It began with brawls and quickly escalated into attacks on mosques and temples.
Events in faraway Leicester bear on Banyan’s Asian preoccupations, largely because of the reaction of the government of India. Its high commission in London condemned the “violence perpetrated against the Indian community in Leicester and vandalisation of premises and symbols of [the] Hindu religion”, but, pointedly, did not condemn Hindus’ violence against Muslims.
Admittedly, Pakistan decried a “systematic campaign” of violence and intimidation against Muslims. But then Pakistan, a state founded on putting Islam (and by extension communalism) at its core, would look after its own, wouldn’t it? The Indian state, by contrast, long sought to represent a secular ideal that rose above communal divisions.
That ideal also informed the internationalist, inclusionary rhetoric of India’s foreign policy. The notable omissions in the Indian High Commission’s statement are indicative of a break in policy since the rise to power in 2014 of Narendra Modi, the prime minister. He is cheerleader-in-chief for Hindutva, a strident form of Hindu nativism promoted by his Bharatiya Janata Party (bjp).
The Indian government’s response was notable in another respect. Most of Leicester’s South Asian Muslims have their ancestral roots not in Pakistan but, like its Hindus, within the borders of India itself. Mukul Kesavan, an Indian writer, writes that to identify only with its Hindus “is to withdraw...the ancestral claim to India from the Muslims of Leicester.”
This is all of a piece with the bjp’s majoritarian approach at home, where Hindus constitute four-fifths of the country’s 1.4bn people and Muslims about one-seventh. Islamophobia is rampant among bjp stalwarts (though Mr Modi usually carries a dog whistle). When Hindus and Muslims have clashed in Delhi or in bjp-ruled states, authorities have bulldozed Muslim homes in retribution. Mr Modi’s Citizenship Amendment Act of 2019 grants Indian citizenship to refugees from neighbouring countries—so long as they are not Muslim.
As Mr Kesavan argues, standing up for Hindus abroad bolsters Mr Modi’s standing among Hindus at home. Mr Modi has long understood this aspect of personal power. Before the pandemic he staged huge rallies for the Indian diaspora in America and Britain. On visits abroad he pointedly combines diplomacy with prayer. Mr Modi paints India as a kind of Hindu Zion.
In the American capital this week the foreign minister, S. Jaishankar, lambasted those supposedly spreading false views of India, such as the Washington Post. He defended the government’s suspension of the rule of law and the internet in majority-Muslim Kashmir as motivated only by pure intentions. The minister is representative of Hindutva at the heart of the foreign-policy establishment. A paper in International Affairs, an academic journal, by Kira Huju of Oxford University describes how Indian diplomats hewing to the secular, internationalist line have been squeezed out, silenced or marginalised in favour of hardline hacks. Not only that, diplomats abroad must now promote a Hindu-inflected alternative medicine known as Ayurveda, as well as take instruction in the promotion and practice of yoga.
Experts say it is only the latest example of how the toxic politics that are roiling India — and leading to the persecution of Muslims, Christians and other religious minorities — have migrated to other parts of the globe.
Across the Indian diaspora, ugly divisions are emerging. A bulldozer, which has become a symbol of oppression against India’s Muslim minority, was rolled down a street in a New Jersey town during a parade this summer, offending many people. Last year, attacks on Sikh men in Australia were linked to extremist nationalist ideology. In April, Canadian academics told CBC News that they faced death threats over their criticism of growing Hindu nationalism and violence against minorities in India.
Since India’s independence struggle, Hindu nationalists have espoused a vision that places Hindu culture and religious worship at the center of Indian identity. That view, once fringe, was made mainstream when Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s party came to power.
Human rights observers have since documented a sharp rise in violence against minorities in India, particularly targeting Muslims, but also Christians. Activists and journalists, including many Muslims, have been jailed or threatened with prosecution under an antiterrorism law that has received scrutiny from India’s highest court.
Mr. Modi has largely responded to this violence with silence, which experts say his most extreme supporters interpret as a tacit sign of approval. Pratap Bhanu Mehta, a prominent Indian public intellectual, last month wrote that the Leicester episode followed a playbook “familiar for anyone who knows Indian riots: The use of rumors, groups from outside the local community, and marches to create polarization in otherwise peaceful communities.”
The tensions that spilled onto the streets last month have prompted soul searching among the different religious communities in Leicester, a city of about 368,000 in England’s Midlands. Leicester has one of Britain’s highest proportions of South Asians, a vast majority of them people of Indian heritage, who make up some 22.3 percent of the city’s overall population, according to the most recent government statistics.
Leicester is 13 percent Muslim and 12.3 percent Hindu, and most of the people from both religious groups are ethnically Indian.
After British rule ended with the partition of India in 1947, creating a separate state of Pakistan, subsequent legislation allowed citizens from across the Commonwealth to move to Britain. Another wave of South Asians arrived in the 1970s after Uganda’s dictator, Idi Amin, suddenly expelled thousands of people of mostly Indian origin from Uganda. By then, Leicester had gained a reputation as a city that was generally welcoming to immigrants.
“Leicester has always been proud of the fact that we have new people coming from all parts of the world,” said Rita Patel, a local councilor and member of a South Asian women’s collective working toward peacebuilding.
The study by the Islamic Council of Victoria (ICV) – the apex Muslim body in the Australian state of Victoria which represents an estimated 270,000 community members– found nearly four million anti-Muslim posts made during a 24-month period between 2017 and 2019.
The ICV also flagged a vicious cycle of hatred manifesting in both online and offline attacks on the community globally. Indian users alone generated more than half of these hateful and hurtful posts.
Among India-based Twitter users, researchers blame India’s ruling party – Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) – for the dissemination and amplification of anti-Muslim hate, saying, “(the) BJP has actively normalised hatred towards Muslims such that 55.12 percent of anti-Muslim hatred tweets now originate in India.”
ICV also pointed to discriminatory laws that deny Muslims citizenship and other civil rights for the rise of anti-Muslim hatred online among Indian Twitter accounts.
In the United States, the proliferation of anti-Muslim hate on Twitter is almost inseparable from the hateful rhetoric and policies of former president Donald Trump, who ranks as the third most frequently mentioned user in anti-Muslim posts, according to the researchers, with many tweets associated with defending his Muslim immigration ban and anti-Muslim conspiracy theories, including those that posit Democrats as collaborating with “Islamists” to take over the West.
As for the United Kingdom, researchers attributed the prevalence of anti-Muslim tweets to a multitude of factors, including the global reach of Trump’s anti-Muslim animus, anti-immigration sentiments sparked by the refugee crisis, and the discourse surrounding Brexit, along with the casual racism of former Prime Minister Boris Johnson, who once compared niqab-wearing Muslim women to “letter boxes”.
By analysing the anti-Muslim content produced by the three countries, researchers were able to identify several key themes, including the association of Islam with terrorism, the depiction of Muslims as perpetrators of sexual violence, the fear that Muslims wish to impose Sharia on others, the conspiracy that alleges Muslim immigrants are replacing white in the West and Hindus in India, and the characterisation of halal as an inhumane practice that typifies the so-called “barbarity” of Islam.
“Even more concerning, however, is our discovery that only a mere 14.83 percent of anti-Muslim tweets end up being removed,” said the researchers, which is continuing to drive an upward surge in hate crimes against Muslim minority communities, and, in turn, even more, anti-Muslim hate speech online.
The 2019 Christchurch Mosque attack is illustrative of this vicious cycle.
The gunman was radicalised by anti-Muslim online content, and in the week after he murdered 52 Muslim worshippers, incidents of anti-Muslim abuse spiked upwards by a staggering 1300 percent in New Zealand and 600 percent in the UK, which triggered or inspired a wave of anti-Muslim violence in England and Scotland, including an attack on a mosque in Stanwell, and stabbing of a Muslim teenager in Surrey.
A recent report documented over 800 attacks against mosques by right-wing extremists in Germany since 2014.
The past month has seen attacks carried out by right-wing Indian Hindu migrants against Muslim communities in Anaheim in the US and Leicester in the UK.
These attacks not only inflict a major psychological impact on Muslims but also on the broader community. It’s unconscionable that Twitter has done little or nothing to remove the overwhelming majority of anti-Muslim content on its platform.
Recently, Oxfam India released a report titled “Who Tells Our Stories Matters: Representation of Marginalised Caste Groups in Indian Media.” It says; 90% of leadership positions in Indian media are occupied by Upper Caste groups with not even a single Dalit or Adivasi heading Indian mainstream media.
Exactly the same findings were made by the social activist and psephologist, Yogendra Yadav in 2006 who did a similar survey about the social profile of the national media professionals in India.
Yadav recalls the days of the Mandal II agitation in 2006 when he did this survey; “It was more a rudimentary headcount than a scientific survey but it confirmed our worst suspicions about caste, gender, and religion across Indian media.”
“We drew up a list of 40 national media outlets (Hindi and English TV channels and newspapers) and requested someone there to draw a list of their top 10 editor-level decision-makers. Then we recorded information on the gender, religion, and caste against each name. We had shortlisted 400 persons but were able to collect information on 315 only” he recalls.
Our findings were; “A staggering 88 percent of this elite list were upper-caste Hindus, a social group that cannot possibly exceed 20 percent of India’s population. Brahmins alone, no more than 2-3 percent of the population, occupied 49 percent of positions. Not even a single person in this list turned out to be from Dalit or Adivasi background. More relevant to the case in point, the OBCs, whose population is estimated to be around 45 percent, was merely 4 percent among the top media professionals. Women accounted for only 16 percent.
Yadav says that “the representation of the 14 percent Muslims was only 3 percent in the national media. He adds that brazen anti-minority headlines get routinely generated in media and the communal flare-up gets 9 times more coverage than caste conflict in India.”
Yadav says what we summarized in 2006 that India’s ‘national’ media lacks social diversity; it does not reflect the country’s social profile comes true with findings of the Oxfam report on media in India. The big picture that remains the same even after 15 years is that 20 percent of the country gets 80 percent voice in the media and the remaining 80 percent is limited to 20 percent media space.
Yogendra Yadav’s writeup “Hindu upper-caste Indian media is a lot like White-dominated South Africa” can be accessed in The Print, October 27, 2022.
Media has been perceived by the masses as a sacrosanct institution but how these are governed is a matter of mystery. While a wide range of issues are discussed, covered and aired both in print as well as on news channels, caste disparity within media houses has hardly ever been a topic of serious discussion. The deliberate ignorance of the issues that affect marginalised communities has led them to come up with their own channels.
This study is an attempt to find out the status of representation among SC, ST, OBC & DNT in different media outlets. The research team has explored the challenges faced by newsrooms, looked for existing best practices that different countries have adopted and also provided suggestions to make newsrooms more inclusive.
These are substantial, undeniable achievements that hubris-filled Hindu nationalists say derive from their greatness as an ancient civilization. But wait! China has done still better. And, though far smaller, many emergent countries of East Asia — Japan, South Korea, Vietnam, and Singapore — also boast of better performance than India’s.
In every case, the secret of success is well-known — strong systems of education that create skills, knowledge, attitudes and social behavior’s suited for modern times. Together with that, a strong work ethic in the labor force. Stated differently, high national achievement springs naturally from the quickness with which a country universalizes or ‘Westernizes’ its education and creates positive attitudes towards work.
Here’s how India grew into the present. Empowered by the scientific and industrial revolutions, Britain colonized India and sought to spread Western education and values. Conservative Hindus emphatically rejected this modernization butsar reformist movements such as Brahmo Samaj under Ram Mohan Roy and others made deep inroads.
By 1947 under Jawaharlal Nehru — an avowed Hindu atheist devoted to the ‘scientific temper’ — India was already intellectually equipped to enter the modern world. For the next 50 years, India’s education sought to create a pluralist, secular, scientifically minded society. It reaps rich harvests to the present day — which the BJP happily appropriates as its own.
But Hindu nationalists now want India’s goals and self-image drastically revised. Modi’s second engine, fueled by febrile imaginations, pushes India towards emulating some kind of Hindu rashtra from an idyllic past. My friend Prof Badri Raina, now retired from Delhi University, says that “this backward engine would have us believe that in ancient times we had knowledge of plastic surgery, aeronautics, satellite vision, even as streams of foaming white milk flowed down our plains, and golden birds perched on the branches of trees”.
The loudest call for reforming Muslim education was that of Sir Syed Ahmad Khan. Madressahs, he said, are entirely unnecessary. Using religious idiom, he passionately argued for science and modernity. While his efforts led to some measure of functionality and to jobs within the colonial system, they were nowhere deep or wide as that of Brahmo Samaj. Conservative backlash limited Sir Syed’s influence.
Thus, by the time Partition came around, there was a massive Hindu-Muslim gap. Nevertheless, for the first few decades, Pakistan’s engine #1 steadily gained strength and was consistently stronger than its second engine. Among other things, Pakistan’s space program (born 1961, now dead) much preceded India’s.
by Paresh Dave
Controversies over speakers have plagued Google since at least April, when it said internal bickering prompted the cancellation of a talk by author Thenmozhi Soundararajan on India’s socio-religious caste system, which disenfranchised people from caste prejudice. advocates.
Members of an international Hindu group complained about Sundararajan, calling her rhetoric inflammatory, an allegation she calls bigotry.
At least one critic suggested inviting Rajeev Malhotra for balance, according to internal messages. Malhotra, a tech entrepreneur turned self-described contrarian writer, has labeled activists such as Soundararajan as “snakes” and criticized affirmative action policies promoting lower caste groups.
Per an invitation, Google’s Hindu group eventually scheduled Malhotra to speak about India’s positive global impact. But according to a follow-up announcement, organizers canceled on November 10, the day before the planned talk at the Google offices in Silicon Valley.
According to a message seeking complaints, some employees complained about Malhotra to senior management. A linked document organized by the Alphabet Workers’ Union, a labor organization that is petitioning Google to name caste in its non-discrimination policies, noted Malhotra described homosexuality as a medical condition and Islam a destructive one. described as a force.
Malhotra told Reuters that he supports marginalized communities but “politicizes prejudice in ways that divide society and make them vulnerable to foreign colonialism.”
According to messages among staff, allowing Soundararajan’s speech after his speech was canceled would have contradicted standards.
OAKLAND, California, Nov 18 (Reuters) – Alphabet Inc’s Google this week introduced rules for inviting guest speakers to its offices, days after it canceled a talk by an Indian historian who criticized the company’s history. Marginalized groups and their concerns were dismissed, according to the email. by Reuters.
The policy released Thursday is Google’s latest effort to preserve an open culture while addressing the divisions that have emerged as its workforce has grown.
In recent years, workers at Google and other big tech companies have clashed and protested among themselves over politics and racial and gender equality. In addition, Alphabet, Apple Inc and Amazon.com Inc all face organizing drives from unions whose demands include that the companies adopt progressive policies.
Google speaker rules, seen by Reuters, cite risks to the brand from some talks and ask workers to “consider whether there is a business reason to host the speaker and if the event directly supports our company goals.” does.”
It called for avoiding topics that could be “disruptive or undermine Google’s culture of belonging” and reiterated that speakers are barred from advocating for political candidates and ballot measures.
“We are always proud to host external speakers at Google, as they provide great opportunities for learning and connection for our employees,” Google spokesman Ryan Lamont told Reuters. The updated process “will ensure that these events are useful and contribute to a productive work environment.”
An email introducing the policy to managers said it unifies and clarifies a patchwork of guidelines.
Greater scrutiny threatens the free-flowing, university-like culture that Google has prized since its inception. But a workplace seen as more inviting could attract a more diverse workforce that could help Google develop products with broader appeal.
Soundararajan, Thenmozhi. The Trauma of Caste (p. 64). North Atlantic Books. Kindle Edition.
Rama immediately leaps into his flying chariot and spies a mystic hanging upside down from a tree in an act of spiritual asceticism. It’s the Shudra Shambuka, who explains to Rama he is doing this rigorous penance in hopes of knowing the divine. Rama doesn’t even let him finish his sentence. He just slices Shambuka’s head off. All the gods cry out, “Well done!” Flowers from the heavens rain down on Rama, and the dead child of the Brahmin comes back to life.32 This story terrified me as a caste-oppressed child. I could not understand what was wrong with wanting to aspire to know God. Even more tragic than the existential implications of this story, today this kind of ritual decapitation occurs as the violence prescribed in scripture has spread across the subcontinent. Scriptural edict has become material violence.
Soundararajan, Thenmozhi. The Trauma of Caste (p. 65). North Atlantic Books. Kindle Edition.
Chair of the Jury of Goa Film Festival says that the Jury felt that Kashmir Files was a vulgar propaganda film, inappropriate for the film festival
Calling it "propaganda" and a "vulgar movie", Israeli filmmaker Nadav Lapid, who headed the IFFI jury, said "all of them" were "disturbed and shocked" to see the film screened at the festival.
New Delhi: The jury of 53rd International Film Festival in Goa has slammed the controversial movie "The Kashmir Files", which revolves around the killings and exodus of Kashmiri Pandits in 1990 from Kashmir Valley. Calling it "propaganda" and a "vulgar movie", Israeli filmmaker Nadav Lapid, who headed the IFFI jury, said "all of them" were "disturbed and shocked" to see the film screened at the festival.
"It seemed to us like a propagandist movie inappropriate for an artistic, competitive section of such a prestigious film festival. I feel totally comfortable to share openly these feelings here with you on stage. Since the spirit of having a festival is to accept also a critical discussion which is essential for art and for life," Mr Lapid said in his address.
The Anupam Kher, Mithun Chakraborty and Pallavi Joshi starrer, directed by Vivek Agnihotri, was featured in the "Panorama" section of the festival last week.
The film has been praised by the BJP and has been declared tax-free in most BJP-ruled states and was a box office hit. Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Union home minister Amit Shah have praised on the movie.
Many, however, have criticised the content, calling it a one-sided portrayal of the events that is sometimes factually incorrect and claiming the movie has a "propagandist tone".
In May, Singapore banned the movie, citing concerns over its "potential to cause enmity between different communities".
"The film will be refused classification for its provocative and one-sided portrayal of Muslims and the depictions of Hindus being persecuted in the ongoing conflict in Kashmir," read a statement from the Singapore government, reported news agency Press Trust of India.
Mr Agnihotri has alleged an "international political campaign" against him and his film by foreign media.
He claimed this was the reason his press conference was cancelled by the Foreign Correspondents Club and the Press Club of India in May.
Nadav Lapid, chair of the International film festival India, spoke out against work that critics say is anti-Muslim propaganda
Speaking at the closing ceremony of the film festival, Lapid said he and other jury members had been “shocked and disturbed” that the film had been given a platform. The Kashmir Files, said Lapid, was “a propaganda, vulgar movie, inappropriate for an artistic competitive section of such a prestigious film festival”.
Lapid, who has taken an anti-establishment stance against rightwing elements in his home of Israel, is not alone in expressing concern over The Kashmir Files. Cinemagoers have started anti-Muslim chants at screenings and it has been accused of stirring up communal violence. In May, Singapore banned the film over its “potential to cause enmity between different communities”.
Vivek Agnihotri, the film’s director, said on Monday that “terror supporters and genocide deniers can never silence me”.
He added: “I challenge all the intellectuals in this world and this great film-maker from Israel to find one frame, one dialogue or an event in The Kashmir Files that is not true.”
A row has erupted in India after an Israeli director described a controversial film about Kashmir as propaganda and a “vulgar movie”, prompting the Israeli ambassador to issue an apology.
Nadav Lapid, who was chair of this year’s panel of the international film festival of India (IFFI), spoke out against the inclusion of The Kashmir Files at the event.
The film, released in March to popular box office success, is largely set in the late 1980s and early 1990s, when attacks and threats by militants led to most Kashmiri Hindus fleeing from the region, where the majority of the population are Muslim.
Many film critics, Kashmiri Muslims and others, have described it as propaganda that inflames hatred against Muslims and distorts events to suit an anti-Muslim agenda.
However, the film has received a ringing endorsement from the highest levels of the Indian government, ruled by the Hindu nationalist Bharatiya Janata party (BJP), who have also been accused of pursuing an anti-Muslim agenda. The prime minister, Narendra Modi, has praised the film, congratulating its makers for having “the guts to portray the truth” and it was the second highest-grossing film in India this year.
Lapid said his comments were made in the spirit of “critical discussion, which is essential for art and life”, adding he was sure they could be accepted graciously by the festival and audience as such. But his critique caused outrage.
Amit Malviya, a senior BJP leader, compared his remarks to denial of the Holocaust. “For the longest time, people even denied the Holocaust and called Schindler’s List propaganda, just like some are doing to Kashmir Files,” he said.
In Goa, where the festival took place, a complaint was filed to police against Lapid, accusing him of “instigating enmity between groups”.
Fellow jurors at the film festival, which is sponsored by the Indian government, quickly distanced themselves from his comments, stating that they reflected his opinion and not that of the panel. Film-maker Sudipto Sen, who was on the panel, said: “We don’t indulge in any kind of political comments on any film.”
Some of the harshest criticism came from Israel’s ambassador to India, Naor Gilon, who told Lapid he should be “ashamed” of his comments and that it was “insensitive and presumptuous” to speak on a subject that has political and religious ramifications in India. Gilon said he “unequivocally condemned” the statements.
Audrey Truschke is an associate professor of South Asian history at the Rutgers University in New Jersey, in the United States. Truschke’s research focuses on the history of early and modern India. She has written three books on the subject—Culture of Encounters, on Sanskrit in the Mughal courts; Aurangzeb: The Man and the Myth which argues for a reassessment of the Mughal king; and the recently published Language of History: Sanskrit Narratives of Indo-Muslim rule.
Truschke has regularly come under severe criticism from Hindu right-wing nationalists, who see her academic research into India’s complex multicultural past and religious history as an affront to their beliefs. Beginning with the release of her first book, Truschke has faced a constant barrage of online harassment, hate mail, co-ordinated attacks on social media, and in some cases, even censure—in August 2018, a lecture she was due to give in Hyderabad was cancelled due to security threats, after the police received letters of opposition. The same year, she faced an outpouring of threats and abuse after she tweeted that according to one loosely translated verse in Valmiki’s mythological epic Ramayana, Sita called Ram a “misogynistic pig.” Truschke discussed this interpretation and the misogynistic response from the Hindu right-wing, in an article in this publication.
In early March this year, Truschke began facing a spike in vicious threats and abuse on her various social-media profiles, including threats of rape and murder, as well as anti-Muslim and anti-Semitic slurs. The abuse referred primarily to her scholarship on India. On 9 March, Truschke tweeted that in recent days, she had faced an “avalanche of hate speech” and threats endangering her family. She said she had blocked 5,750 accounts “and counting.” A few days earlier, an anonymous Twitter account “@hinduoncampus,” which claimed to be run by Hindu students in US universities, circulated an open letter to the Rutgers administration, describing Truschke’s work as “bigotry against Hindus.” In a statement issued on 9 March, Rutgers University called for an end to the trolling, and backed Truschke’s academic freedom to pursue “controversial” scholarship. It also promised to begin a dialogue with the Hindu students on campus.
Brahmins represent Only Brahmins pray for the good for everyone even when he has nothing to eat, Manoj Muntashir said in his video slamming the anti-Brahmin slogans at JNU. “I am proud that I am Brahmin," he said in the video.Writer and lyricist Manoj Muntashir has released a video protesting the anti-Brahmin slogans which recently surfaced on the walls of Jawaharlal Nehru University triggering a massive row. In his video, Manoj Muntashir said it is a stereotype that the Brahmins are facing as everywhere they are portrayed as 'greedy and wicked'. Clarifying that he is not part of any political party, the artiste said his aim for the video was to say the truth about Brahmins.
On Thursday, the walls of the JNU campus were defaced with slogans like "Brahmins leave the campus", "There will be blood", "Brahmin Bharat Chhodo", "Brahmino-Baniyas, we are coming for you!" etc. 'Go back to Shakha' was found written inside the chambers of the Brahmin professors. While the university authorities ordered a probe, no group took responsibility for the defacement.
"Though India was plundered several times by outside forces in history, it did not lose everything and who saved these things from the plunderers? The Brahmins. I don't need to remind you that Mangal Pandey and Chanakya were Brahmins," Manoj Muntashir said."We are the kingmakers; Brahmins never hankered after power. Maharishi Vasistha never wanted to capture Ayodhya," Manoj Muntashir said adding that some people think Brahmins divided the society into castes but it is not the fact, he said. Brahmins represent the head of India and it should never be bowed down, Manoj Muntashir added.The JNU episode created a row and the university in past has been accused of fanning 'anti-national' activities. After the incident, Vishwa Hindu Parishad said coward Leftist agenda will not be successful as JNU now has adopted the idea of nationalism and social harmony/
As more and more students leave India for higher studies, Infosys founder Narayana Murthy proposed that governments and corporates should “incentivise” researchers with grants and provide facilities to work here. “The 10,000 crore per year grants for universities under the New Education Policy will help institutions become competitive", he said.
Infosys founder NR Narayana Murthy on Tuesday expressed concern over India’s education system saying that even the IITs are becoming a victim of learning by rote due to the “tyranny of coaching classes.” Murthy suggested that our education system needs a reorientation directed towards Socratic questioning.
The Infosys founder, who himself is an IIT alumnus, batted for Socratic questioning in the classroom in order to arrive at solutions to real-world issues. “Many experts feel that (in) our country, (there is an) inability to use research to solve our immediate pressing problems around us… (this) is due to lack of inculcating curiosity at an early age, disconnect between pure or applied research," he said.
As to what could be done to solve this, the 76-year-old suggested that the first component is to reorient teaching in schools and colleges towards Socratic questioning in the classroom to solve real-world problems rather than passing the examinations by rote learning. Socrates was a fifth century (BCE) Greek philosopher credited as the founder of Western philosophy.
Speaking at the 14th edition of the Infosys Prize event in Bengaluru, Murthy said that the nation’s progress on the economic and social front depends on the quality of scientific and technological research. Research thrives in an environment of honour and respect for intellectuals, meritocracy and the support and approbation of such intellectuals from society, he noted.
Caste is an Indian reality and the assertion of Hindu identity is always a confirmation of caste pride too. In the Hindu pyramidal caste hierarchy, the top Brahminical cone exists only because of the large Shudra and the other backward caste base. If the base goes, the pyramid collapses. So, the Brahminical hierarchy depends primarily on the assertion of allegiance of the backward castes.
The more the backward castes become assertive Hindus, the stronger the Hindu hierarchy and Hindutva identity. Thus, Narendra Modi is a godsend to upper-caste voters of the Gangetic plains. The moment he underscores his backward caste identity within the larger Hindutva fold, the bigger “Hindu hridaya samrat” he becomes.
Afeudal Brahmin or Rajput or Vaishya of Uttar Pradesh gets socially reassured when a backward-caste person acknowledges the relative Hindu hierarchical positions and upholds the Hindutva model. The greatest upper-caste political push for the RSS happened when Kalyan Singh, a backward caste, led the BJP in UP.
Kalyan Singh, Uma Bharti and Vinay Katiyar, three leaders from the Lodh Rajput community, were the most visible faces of the Ram Janmabhoomi movement. Like the loyal monkey army of the ideal Kshatriya, leaders of the backward castes gave the greatest legitimacy for the Ram temple political programme.
It was this felt need of the cadre that Modi addressed on Sunday in Delhi’s Ramlila Maidan as he flaunted his backward caste and working class origins. And the timing was perfect. He was responding to the attack on him by a liberal, upper-class, Brahmin Mani Shankar Iyer. Though the Gandhi-Nehru family retains some status of the prime Brahmin political family it used to be and the Congress still partakes of the dwindling dividends of Panditji’s legacy, the family and leaders like Iyer are seen a ..
Modi’s chaiwala challenge, hence, is a call to all the backward-caste voters of the heartland, while reassuring the core Sangh upper-caste constituency. This tactic, Sangh insiders hope, will add to the BJP kitty just as Kalyan Singh could rally the backward castes for the Parviar during the 1990s. Then, the Kalyan magic had worked. He won the party 52 seats in 1991, 51 in 1996 and 57 in 1998 from undivided Uttar Pradesh.
Former chief of Jan Sangh, Balraj Madhok, always used to point out that even a western-educated liberal like Jawaharlal Nehru allowed himself to be referred to as Panditji because the Congress party wanted to tell the heartland masses, in no uncertain terms, that Nehru was a Brahmin.
Similarly, nothing can enthuse the Sangh Parivar cadre more than the assertion of Modi’s caste identity. The Modi surname is largely associated with the uppercaste Vaishya community from Rajasthan and elsewhere. So, till it is spelt out, the backward class or caste origins of the BJP’s PM candidate remain obscure.
To witness such incidents even in this day and age is not only disheartening but should shock the conscience of the nation.
As per the statistics provided in the NCRB report, atrocities/Crime against Scheduled Castes have increased by 1.2% in 2021 (50,900) over 2020 (50,291 cases).
Uttar Pradesh (13,146 cases) reported the highest number of cases of atrocities against Scheduled Castes (SCs) accounting for 25.82% followed by Rajasthan with 14.7% (7,524) and Madhya Pradesh with 14.1% (7,214) during 2021. The next two states in the list are Bihar accounting for 11.4% (5,842) and Odisha 4.5% (2,327). The above top five states reported 70.8% of cases of atrocities against Scheduled Castes.
Furthermore, as per the report, Atrocities/Crime against Scheduled Tribes have increased by 6.4% in 2021 (8,802 cases) over 2020 (8,272 cases).
Madhya Pradesh (2627, cases) reported the highest number of cases of atrocities against Scheduled Tribes (STs) accounting for 29.8% followed by Rajasthan with 24% (2121 cases) and Odisha with 7.6% (676 cases) during 2021. Maharashtra was next in the list with 7.13% (628 cases) followed by Telangana at 5.81% (512 cases). The above top five states reported 74.57% of cases of atrocities against Scheduled Tribes.
In terms of ratio to the overall population, Dalits (SCs) are estimated to be at 16.6 per cent of the population and Adivasis/Indigenous peoples (STs) at 8.6 per cent.
We look at some of the most shocking instances of crimes against Dalits and Adivasis in 2022.
American financial services company Wells Fargo, on January 6, sacked Shankar Mishra, India Vice-President of its entity in India as Mishra, in an inebriated state, urinated on a woman in her 70s, in business class of an Air India flight from New York to New Delhi.
“This individual has been terminated from Wells Fargo. We are cooperating with law enforcement and ask that any additional inquiries be directed to them,” the company said in a statement released on January 6.
The company also said it holds its employees to the highest standards of professional and personal behaviour and that it found these allegations deeply disturbing.
After news of Mishra urinating on a woman co-passenger on board an Air India flight on November 26, 2022, was reported, the Delhi Police on January 5 wrote to the concerned authorities seeking a Look Out Circular (LOC) against Shankar Mishra.
By Dr. Nitasha Kaul, a Kashmiri Pandit
Portrayals of India and Israel as strategic partners or allies in the oppression of Kashmiris and Palestinians often suggest that India emulates Israel in how it manages oppression. Yet, the designation of Israel as a unique source of learning for oppression limits the recognition of the indigenous Indian nature of the long-standing ideological and technological infrastructures of occupation in Kashmir. We must eschew simplistic geopolitical imaginaries of cooperation and oppression and pay greater attention to the similarities as well as the differences across contexts.
The contemporary global moment requires us to be alert to the multiple trajectories of repression. Tactics and technologies circulate amongst and between democracies and authoritarian regimes. Russian and Chinese models of digital authoritarianism have been regionally exported, and there has been Indian and Chinese mutual learning on modalities of repression. These circulations occur along supra- and intra-statal pathways, and via traffic in both economically profitable weapons and ideologies. To attend to these trajectories, we must carefully examine the preferred narratives adopted by the states as well as those offered by resistance and solidarity movements across national boundaries. In this context, the relationship between India and Israel is notable for how the two countries are celebrated as friendly partners for strategic cooperation, or alternatively, critiqued as allies for the parallel oppressions of Kashmiris and Palestinians.
The ties between India and Israel present a systematic divergence between official accounts of these relations and the perspectives of critical resistance scholarship on Palestine and Kashmir. The official story in the media unsurprisingly focuses on the mutually fertile and growing cooperation between India and Israel as strategic partners at every level of investment from infrastructure, innovation, and defense to people-to-people interaction. The bilateral trade between the two countries has been steadily increasing, and apart from growth in collaborative ventures, there is the imminent possibility of the conclusion of longstanding negotiations on the Free Trade Agreement between the two countries. Then, there is the resonance at the level of political leadership. The meeting between Netanyahu and Modi was perceived as a bromance between these leaders of deeply illiberal projects; the right-wing majoritarian nationalist projects championed by the regimes in the two countries both portray themselves as beleaguered by Islamists and resolute in combating terrorism.
On the other hand, there is no dearth of critical narratives that point to Kashmir and Palestine as being symmetrical occupations; here the focus is on the ways in which the oppressed populations in both cases are Muslims and oppressors are non-Muslims. India is the largest buyer of Israeli weapons and Israel is the second largest supplier to India; Israeli drones are used in Kashmir (one unmanned aerial vehicle called the Heron was specially adapted for such use). Indian forces have used Israeli Tavor rifles in 2008, used Spice-2000 guidance technology in the aftermath of Pulwama attacks in Kashmir in 2019, and bought Pegasus from Israel that same year.
Although these two portrayals of India and Israel as strategic partners for cooperation or allies in the oppression of Kashmiris and Palestinians are manifestly different, they have one important point in common. Both these narratives (often explicitly) suggest that India copies from Israel in the ways in which it manages oppression.
By Dr. Nitasha Kaul, a Kashmiri Pandit
The Indian Home Minister Amit Shah in a recent statement praised Prime Minister Modi for “annexing Kashmir with [the] rest of India,” referring to the abolition of Article 370 of the Indian Constitution on August 5, 2019 (Article 370 guaranteed Jammu and Kashmir’s autonomous status). In this context, he pointed to how India, in its ‘surgical strike’ response to Pakistan for the 2019 Pulwama attacks in Kashmir (carried out by an indigenous Kashmiri militant), has now joined the ranks of countries like Israel (and the US) that can “hit back at those meddling with their borders”. In the aftermath of the revocation of Kashmir’s autonomy, without consultation or consent, the Indian Consul General in New York Sandeep Chakravarty was filmed speaking to a gathering of Kashmiri Pandits (Kashmir’s Hindu minority) saying that there was a model for settlements in Kashmir, and that “If the Israeli people can do it, we can also do it.” Ironically, the Indian government officially rejects parallels between Kashmir and Palestine, maintaining that Kashmir is an internal matter, while recognizing Palestine as an international issue with a two-state solution.
On the other hand, advocacy groups, especially those that focus exclusively on the Indian oppression of Kashmiri Muslims (but not on repression in Pakistan or of other oppressed groups such as the Kurds where the oppressors are co-religionists), dwell on the topic of Muslims oppressed by India and Israel. They point to how Israel is the source model of oppression, due to its arms exports and its treatment of Palestinians.
Yet is it really the case that India imports its mechanisms of oppression from Israel? And what does this story obscure from view?
There is something deeply troubling about the designation of Israel as a unique source of oppression. There is absolutely no doubt that Israel is a small country yet spends 12 percent of its government budget on defense, a per capita spending significantly higher than all developed countries except the U.S. Similarly, Israel is a reliable ‘no questions asked’ supplier that sold arms to India after nuclear tests. Importantly, the subjugation and dehumaniation of Palestinians by the state of Israel is an internationally recognized fact. Moreover, as I pointed out in 2014 prior to the election of the Modi-led BJP in India, there is a ‘necropolitical’ exercise of sovereignty in Kashmir where the state has the power and the capacity to dictate who may live and who may die (necropolitics as articulated by Achille Mbembe refers to the subjugation of populations in this way). The Palestinian resistance movement and the global solidarity that it generates has been an inspiration for many people, including in Kashmir.
By Dr. Nitasha Kaul, a Kashmiri Pandit
However, it is also important to recognise that formal diplomatic relations between India and Israel only go back 30 years. For most of its post-colonial era in the 20th century, India’s relationship with Israel was checkered to say the least. The considerations underpinning Nehruvian foreign policy meant that engagement with Israel was undertaken when necessary (such as when help was sought during wars with Pakistan, or when the intelligence agency RAW was set up), but without reciprocation via explicit ties. Long before the Modi regime’s current de-hyphenation strategy in relation to Israel and Palestine, India repositioned vis-a-vis Palestine and Israel in the aftermath of the Cold War. Today, Modi’s visit to Israel in 2017 (the first Indian Prime Minister to do so), and Foreign Minister Jaishanker’s ‘goosebumps’ when recalling it, are reiterated to illustrate a deep cooperation, alignment against terrorism, and relational warmth. However, it was not Israel that supplied India with the ideology or infrastructure of wide-ranging oppression as Kashmir’s autonomy was gradually eroded between the 1950s and 1980s. The political dispute was communalized under the still unclear circumstances of the exodus of Kashmiri Pandits, and Kashmir’s Muslim population was subjected to sexual violence, enforced disappearances, torture, and encounter killings (extra-judicial killings of civilians by the police or armed forces). Police and soldier-level training exchanges between Israel and India date mostly to the start of the 21st century; it was in the 1990s that Kashmiris were subjected to the most egregious nightmares by Indian security forces. Even in more recent times, India did not import pellet guns from Israel; these guns were used indiscriminately in Kashmir against protestors in the summer of 2016 and resulted in inflicting death and blindness on Kashmiri civilians.
The designation of Israel as a unique source of learning for oppression detracts from recognizing the indigenous Indian nature of long-standing ideological and technological infrastructures of occupation in Kashmir. It also fits comfortably into a vein of anti-semitism professed openly by some radical Islamists and others who see a ‘Jewish hand’ behind every political force they disagree with. The contemporary Hindutva Indian nationalism has historic roots in the beliefs of the RSS (Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh, the ideological parent of the ruling BJP), an organization whose leaders admired both Nazis and Zionists. The RSS was founded in 1925 and is therefore older than the state of Israel.
The nature of the territorial political dispute in Kashmir and Palestine is different, and while Palestine has international recognition, Kashmir barely makes headlines. India’s occupation in Kashmir proceeds through the use of coloniality as development, what I have elsewhere called ‘Econonationalism’ (the use of the supposedly liberatory idea of development to mask a dehumanizing subjugation). There have been conscientious objectors in the Israeli army, but not a single one so far in the Indian Army. The media in India is conspicuously state-centric and usually silent on dissent when it comes to Kashmir. The longest ever Internet shutdown in any democracy was perpetrated by India. Some in the IDF found India’s modus operandi in Kashmir excessive in 2010 (another summer when many young Kashmiri protestors were killed), and more recently, some Israelis have petitioned the Supreme Court to not train Indian officers accused of human rights abuse in Kashmir. In other words, the trope of Kashmir and Palestine being the same kind of occupation and India learning oppression from Israel is simplistic. Further, it invisibilizes the potential of solidarity between Israeli and Kashmiri human rights activists.
By Dr. Nitasha Kaul, a Kashmiri Pandit
Kashmiris share aspects of the experience of dehumanization and the colonial exercise of power with Palestinians, but they also experience modalities of oppression—detention, surveillance, debility, censorship, intimidation—akin to those faced by Hong-Kongers, Uighurs, Tibetans, Kurds and others. The reference to the new ‘Middle Eastern Quad‘ includes not just Israel and India, but also the U.S. and the UAE. The economic and defense linkages are malleable across regimes and there is nothing unique about Israeli technologies used by India when the oppressed are Muslims in both cases; a number of Muslim countries buy surveillance infrastructures from Israel to repress their own populations. When it comes to digital authoritarianism, China is a key player, and its narrative of justifying repressive data governance through the distribution of entitlements also has much in common with India’s narrative on Kashmir, notwithstanding the regime type differences in the two countries.
Moving beyond the established frames of thinking about the global circulation of ideas and technologies of oppression, as well as building solidarity across movements for self-determination, statehood, human rights, or freedoms, is a complex and important endeavor. As the lines between democratic and authoritarian regimes become blurry (especially with de jure enactments of different levels of citizenship in many democracies), and electorally legitimated misogynist authoritarians shore up power in multiple Western and non-Western countries by combining neoliberalism and nationalism, we must eschew simplistic geopolitical imaginaries of cooperation and oppression and pay greater attention to the similarities as well as the differences across contexts.
Dr Nitasha Kaul (@NitashaKaul) is a multidisciplinary academic, novelist, and economist. She is an Associate Professor in Politics and International Relations at the Centre for the Study of Democracy, University of Westminster in London. Links to her books and all her written and spoken work are at www.nitashakaul.com.
Image Credit: Ubaidsardar, CC BY-SA 4.0
Brahma Vaivarta Purana, Krishna Janma Khanda 98.38-44 ”…Hari began to laugh and thus addressed Uddhava, using words of good import and worlds sanctioned by the Vedas, ”O Uddhava, untruth spoken to women or on the sporting ground, or in an emergency which endangers life or for the good of the vows or the Brahmin is not contemptible…” Tr. Rajendra Nath Sen
Matysa Purana 31.16 ”Sarmistha said:- ”King! there is no sin in speaking untruth at the time of indulging in sexual pleasures, on the occasion of marriage, when life is in danger, wealth is at stake, and in joke. Lying on these five occasions is venal.” Tr. Various Sanskrit Scholars, Edited by B.D. Basu
Mahabharata 8.69 ”In a situation of peril to life and in marriage, falsehood becomes utterable. In a situation involving the loss of one’s entire property, falsehood becomes utterable. On an occasion of marriage, or of enjoying a woman, or when life is in danger, or when one’s entire property is about to be taken away, or for the sake of a Brahmana, falsehood may be uttered. These five kinds of falsehood have been declared to be sinless. On these occasions falsehood would become truth and truth would become falsehood.”
Mahabharata 1.82 “Sarmishtha then said, ‘It hath been said, O king, that it is not sinful to lie on the occasion of a joke, in respect of women sought to be enjoyed, on occasions of marriage, in peril of immediate death and of the loss of one’s whole fortune. Lying is excusable on these five occasions.” Tr. K.M. Ganguli
Vasishtha Samhita 16.35 (Men) may speak an untruth at the time of marriage, during dalliance, when their lives are in danger or the loss of their whole property is imminent, and for the sake of a Brâhmana; they declare that an untruth spoken in these five cases does not make (the speaker) an outcast.
Gautama Samhita 23.29 Some (declare, that) an untruth (spoken) at the time of marriage, during dalliance, in jest or while (one suffers severe) pain is venial.
By Atishya Kumar
India’s criminal justice system, a legacy of the Raj, is intended primarily to punish. Reformation or rehabilitation was never on the agenda. As a result, the age-old social system of caste remained prevalent in prisons. Worse still, many colonial policies heavily relied on caste-based rules for administration and maintenance of order in prisons.
To date, the primary law that governs management and administration of prisons is still the colonial era law – Prisons Act, 1894. That state-level prison manuals remain unchanged since the establishment of the modern prison system also prominently reflects the colonial and caste mentality.
By Anumita Kaur
The Taj Mahal is one of India’s most iconic sites. But this year, millions of students across India won’t delve into the Mughal Empire that constructed it.
Instead, Indian students have new textbooks that have been purged of details on the nation’s Muslim history, its caste discrimination and more, in what critics say warps the country’s rich history in an attempt to further Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s Hindu nationalist agenda.
The cuts, first reported by the Indian Express, are wide-ranging. Chapters on the country’s historic Islamic rulers are either slimmed down or gone; an entire chapter in the 12th-grade history textbook, “Kings and Chronicles: The Mughal Courts" was deleted. The textbooks omit references to the 2002 riots in the Indian state of Gujarat, where hundreds of Indian-Muslims were killed while Modi was the state’s leader. Details on India’s caste system, caste discrimination and minority communities are missing.
Passages that connected Hindu extremism to independence leader Mohandas K. Gandhi’s assassination were pruned as well, such as the 12th grade political science textbook line: Gandhi’s “steadfast pursuit of Hindu-Muslim unity provoked Hindu extremists so much that they made several attempts to assassinate [him].”
The new curriculum, developed by India’s National Council of Educational Research and Training, has been in the works since last year and will serve thousands of classrooms in at least 20 states across the country. It follows long-standing efforts by Modi and his Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) to craft a Hindu nationalist narrative for the country — a platform that Modi ran on in 2014 and secured reelection with in 2019.
“The minds of children are now under direct onslaught in this kind of intense way, where textbooks must not ever reflect South Asia’s dynamic, complex history,” said Utathya Chattopadhyaya, a history professor at the University of California at Santa Barbara. “So you basically create a body of students who come out knowing very little about the history of social justice, the history of democracy, the history of diversity, and so on.”
India has been home to Hindu, Muslim and many other religious communities for centuries. British rule stoked tensions among communities, leading to violence in 1947 after the country was partitioned into Pakistan and modern India.
Hindu nationalism has intensified under Modi. It has led to violent clashes, bulldozing of Indian-Muslim communities and deepening polarization throughout India and its global diaspora.
The curriculum change is another step in the trend, Chattopadhyaya argued. BJP-led state governments have launched textbook revisions for years. But now it’s stretched to the national level.
“This is actually an intensification of something that’s been happening. It is a way of ‘Hindu-izing’ South Asian history and ignoring all other kinds of diverse plural histories that have existed,” he said.
By Shree ParadkarSocial & Racial Justice Columnist
I come from a Brahmin family. This means I won a birth lottery. It means that while other identities may pose barriers, caste is never one. In fact, in certain situations, it is the secret handshake that opens doors, sometimes literally.
Caste privilege looks like — among many things — never hesitating to say your last name, being considered to come from a “good family,” having a higher chance of a sheltered upbringing (innocence is prized but not granted to all women) and being treated with deference in public spaces.
Brahmins around me insist they are not casteist. They say they don’t even think about caste let alone know the names of various castes, yet their social circles are almost entirely made up of fellow Brahmins. They say that caste oppression is now reversed and that Brahmins are now the real victims, sidelined in the caste system.
These are debates without empirical data, backed up by an anecdote or two about an undeserving “lower caste” person getting this job or that. (For a Brahmin, everybody else is “lower caste.”) By various counts, Brahmins, who form about four to five per cent of the Hindu population, comprise half of Indian media decision-makers and at least a third of bureaucrats and judges. Meanwhile, according to Oxfam, Dalits’ life expectancy can be up to 15 years less than other groups.
If forced to discuss caste, Brahmins will often claim the orginal varna system was fluid at its founding thousands of years ago, again with no evidence that Dalits could ever have educated themselves enough to then be considered Brahmin. As Indian social justice advocate Dilip Mandal noted recently on Twitter Spaces, a discussion on caste is neither theological nor historical nor abstract. It’s about lived experiences today.
Being ignorant of caste is a marker of privilege. I, too, only learned of the details of the caste system thanks to the tireless advocacy of Equality Labs in the U.S. Understanding anti-Black racism awoke me to caste-based brutality. Of course, learning that one’s gloried background is the carrier of such cruelty causes harsh cognitive dissonance. Reckoning with this reality is painful, but that discomfort pales in comparison to the generations of trauma inflicted on the marginalized. There is also little point in guilt or self-hatred; both emotions, while wrenching, simply continue to centre on the self.
None of us are born with a ready-made analysis of oppression. None of us choose to be born into the identities we inherit. The least the holders of power can do is to sit quietly, listen, reflect — not “Am I complicit” but “In what ways am I complicit” — learn, make space. And then they should let go of the reins.
The author (Kancha Ilaiah) of Why I Am Not A Hindu on his view that 'Dalitisation' alone can effectively challenge the threat of Brahminical fascism parading in the garb of Hindutva.
How would you characterise contemporary Hindutva? What is the relationship between Hindutva and the Dalit-Bahujans?
As Dr.Ambedkar says, Hindutva is nothing but Brahminism. And whether you call it Hindutva or Arya Dharma or Sanatana Dharma or Hindusim, Brahminism has no organic link with Dalit-Bahujan life, world-views, rituals and even politics. To give you just one example, in my childhood many of us had not even heard of the Hindu gods, and it was only when we went to school that we learnt about Ram and Vishnu for the very first time. We had our own goddesses, such as Pochamma and Elamma, and our own caste god, Virappa. They and their festivals played a central role in our lives, not the Hindu gods. At the festivals of our deities, we would sing and dance--men, women and all-- and would sacrifice animals and drink liquor, all of which the Hindus consider 'polluting'.
Our relations with our deities were transactional and they were rooted in the production process. For instance, our goddess Kattamma Maisa. Her responsibility is to fill the tanks with water. If she does it well, a large number of animals are sacrificed to her. If in one year the tanks dry up, she gets no animals. You see, between her and her Dalit-Bahujan devotees there is this production relation which is central.
In fact, many Dalit communities preserve traditions of the Hindu gods being their enemies. In Andhra, the Madigas enact a drama which sometimes goes on for five days. This drama revolves around Jambavanta, the Madiga hero, and Brahma, the representative of the Brahmins. The two meet and have a long dialogue. The central argument in this dialogue is about the creation of humankind. Brahma claims superiority for the Brahmins over everybody else, but Jambavanta says, 'No, you are our enemy'. Brahma then says that he created the Brahmins from his mouth, the Kshatriyas from his hands, the Vaishyas from his thighs, the Shudras from his feet to be slaves for the Brahmins, and of course the Dalits, who fall out of the caste system, have no place here. This is the Vedic story.
What you are perhaps suggesting is that Dalit-Bahujan religion can be used to effectively counter the politics of Brahminism or Hindutva. But Brahminism has this knack of co-opting all revolt against it, by absorbing it within the system.
It is true that although Dalit-Bahujan religious formations historically operated autonomously from Hindu forms, they have never been centralised or codified. Their local gods and goddesses have not been projected into universality, nor has their religion been given an all-India name. This is because these local deities and religious forms were organically linked to local communities, and were linked to local productive processes, such as the case of Virappa and Katamma Maisa whom I talked about earlier. But Brahminism has consistently sought to subvert these religious forms by injecting notions of 'purity' and 'pollution', hierarchy and untouchability even among the Dalit-Bahujans themselves, while at the same time discounting our religious traditions by condemning them as 'polluting' or by Brahminising them.