Archive for the ‘India’ Category

Time for Introspection and a Positive Outlook

May 18, 2009

My political affiliations are quite clear from the earlier posts of mine and hence am quite disappointed with the election results where BJP lost out to the Congress. I do hope that the BJP will introspect on what went wrong and start working towards reconstructing from the grassroots and be ready for the next elections.

The BJP has many failings but I still believe that it is more fit to rule our country rather than the Congress led UPA dispensation.  Some of the factors that went against the Party which could have been avoided are:

  • The spat between Arun Jaitley and Rajnath Singh was unnecessary and the hours of time that went into resolving the issue would have been better utilized winning the elections
  • The Party should have not fielded Varun Gandhi as this would have sent a clear message to the people. At the same time the media went into an overdrive on this while it refused to take the statements made by the Congress party’s representatives in Chandigarh that if the person were an imam he would have issued for Muslims to vote against BJP.

While these were in the control of the Party the more difficult task is of managing the media – especially the English Mainstream Media – that is clearly anti-BJP.  The anti-BJP coverage – some subtle and some not so – seems to have had an impact on people. The spread of information (or the lack thereof), as is evident by the below points, is something to be scared of and there is an urgent need to remedy the situation:

  • the events in Karnataka, which incidentally was due to a distribution of a book denigrating Hindu gods, was  blown so much out of proportion that not only did people perceive that many Christians were killed (when not one was) but  also portrayed the state government   as a partner in the violence! While violence is not to be condoned, for whatever reason it may be, the media by not probing into the cause of the retaliatory attacks did itself a disservice by not being objective. In the name of being secular can we allow missionaries being so brazen and if that is countered do we call it communal?
  • Similar in the case of Orissa where the reasons of the animosity between both tribes is not probed or the killings of a Swamiji and a Swamini but all blame is on BJP. For sure there is a fair amount of blame on VHP for the violence that followed but giving a simplistic view  is not only unfair but also dangerous
  • The scar of Gujarat needs to be healed – if at all our PM asks about the nation to forget the 1984 anti-Sikg pogrom – and this should be classified as a communal riot rather than a state sponsored genocide. My  reviews on the articles by Harsh mander and Robert Kaplan elaborate these
  • Asking for a uniform civil code is communal but retaining it is secular! If at all we need to look at the other person as an Indian then how come the law treats them differently? 
  • The pub attack by Ram Sena activists is the fault of BJP even if they are in no way connected to the party.
  • Congress and other “secular parties” that tie-up with parties that are based on a religious identity are secular; the church can ask its followers to vote for a party and that is secular but if Mr. Advani writes a letter to religious leaders of all faiths seeking for direction it is communal
  • History can be re-written without strong enough evidence but protesting that academically and logically is fundamentalist. I have seen enough times where facts were changed  and if these are countered there is a tirade which either end up as these guys are fundamentalists or they are not trained historians
  • How come when Hindus are arrested it becomes saffron terror with no sane voice coming out
  • The sartorial preferences of Priyanka Gandhi mentioned so adoringly or the innocence of Rahul Gandhi are repeated ad nauseam as if these are good enough  qualifications for someone to rule the country
  • No strong protest when a body appointed by the US Government is allowed permission to check if the religious minority is being treated well by the state, what a shame
  • Our Prime Minister loses sleep about the wrong treatment of a Muslim in Australia or claims Muslims have the first right on the National resources  and no one thinks it is worth debating on this as they would have lost their secular credentials

There are many more issues and I am not getting into the details but the intention is to urge people to discern and take an educated stance.

While the BJP needs to address these in a more planned way I believe that  people who have similar thoughts need to get into a more active role )myself included) to help change these views.

I know it is very tough to change people’s perceptions – I used to think on the same lines as I was fed with the same bit of “facts and truths” – and even now when I try to speak to friends they either mention “why are you getting into this” or simply refuse to listen to the point of view. I do respect that people are free to have their opinions and ideologies but my only submission will be to get to the facts and then make a choice, whatever that may be.  

My resolve has only strengthened and want to work with other groups like “Friends for BJP for whom the work has only begun. More importantly, the efforts need to be concentrated in the offline world where the masses can be reached rather than focusing more on blogs and the online space. the next time around. We Indian need something better and it is upto us to create our future… 

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On Narendra Modi & Hindutva

May 10, 2009

As mentioned in my last post here are my thoughts – even if quite delayed in time – on the article “India’s New Face” by Robert Kaplan in the Atlantic on Narendra Modi. The article best symbolizes how the “secularists” use language without facts to put down what is not right according to them. Also, there are enough instances in the article where a false is repeated enough times that it becomes the truth.

 

The preamble to the article shows who is close minded where BJP is mentioned as a “chauvinist” party, which anyways cannot be substantiated, except of course by our “secularists” who will brand anyone who is nationalistic and who would want all people to be bound by the same law of the land (remember that the uniform civil code is opposed by these secularist activists and parties).

 

Still with the preamble how did the 790 Muslims killed (for me even this is a very high number anyways) become 2,000? How come so many Hindus killed in police firing not mentioned – the number of Hindus killed is around 250. Here is an interesting article by an ex-DGP of Gujarat how the mainstream media distorted facts. What does Mr. Kaplan mean that the state has become a stronghold of Hindu extremism? What are the statistics that go to prove this theory?

 

Onto the article Robert Kaplan now tries to mention that capitalism “benefits only the majority and not everyone” and hence implying that this benefits only Hindus and socialism that India adopted would change the situation. This is amazing!

 

“But the spirit of India has undergone an uneasy shift in this new era of rampant capitalism and of deadly ethnic and religious tensions, which arise partly as violent reactions against exactly the social homogenization that globalization engenders. Gujarat finds itself once again at the heart of what is roiling India, and what singularly menaces the country’s rise to “Great Global Power” status.”

Even more interesting thoughts about capitalism as the globalisation is what is helping India come out of the  clutches of the “so called socialist: Governments that ensured India did not progress and made sure inequality only widened. Globalisation has ensured that everyone who was capable and tried could grow and this was irrespective of religion.”

 When Robert Kaplan mentions about the “social homogenisation” does he want people living in narrow traditions continue to do so and not progress in the new World order?

 

Mr. Kaplan thankfully accepts that Godhra was the reason for the Gujarat riots but by saying “The Muslims who reportedly started the fire had apparently been taunted by other Hindus” he has justified the actions of the Muslims involved in the killing of the Kar Sevaks. So taunting of people is reason enough to roast 50+ people alive and a mourning in the capital was invitation by the Chief Minister for people to start a riot!  Wonderful analysis indeed and to call such people intelligent sure means I am steadily changing my dictionary definitions!

 

“Mobs coalesced and Hindu men raped Muslim women, before pouring kerosene down their throats and the throats of their children, then setting them all on fire. Muslim men were forced to watch the ritualistic killings before they, too, were put to death. More than 400 women were raped; 2,000 people, overwhelmingly Muslim, murdered; and 200,000 more made homeless throughout the state.”

I have the analysis by JK on Arundhathi Roy on her story of how women were raped to mention here and also what about the indictment of Teesta Setalvad by SIT that they have falsified information. Also, if 790 Muslims were killed as per the Government of India report what is this total number of 2,000 people of whom the majority were Muslims?

 

What an untrue statement “In a remarkable three terms as chief minister, he has never apologized, has never demonstrated regret of any sort for 2002” as I have seen on television so many times where Mr. Modi regretted what happened in Gujarat and I can only assume that Mr. Kaplan never watched Indian news channels and read Indian papers: or actually our Indian mainstream media did not repeat these statements of Mr. Modi.It seems Mr. Kaplan by mistake mentioned “Furthermore, his machine-like efficiency, financial probity, and dynamic leadership of the government bureaucracy have made Gujarat a mecca for development, garnering more internal investment than any other state in India. Migrants, both Hindu and Muslim, from throughout India have been streaming into Gujarat to find work at its expanding factories. “As this is against his point of the rift widening between both the communities.

 

With a single statement “As Hindu ideologue and innovative CEO of Company Gujarat, Modi in many ways embodies his state’s history: his character testifies to Gujarat’s vibrant, outward-looking entrepreneurial spirit and its hard-edged communalism, and his trajectory follows the larger trends that have brought the state, and the country, to this uneasy moment” Robert Kaplan not only made the entire Gujarat Hindus communal but also attributes the Indian majority for the problems of today. The common people of India when exposed to such statements usually end up lapping  them up and end up as self-deprecating individuals; how else can the hundreds of years of attacks that the country was victim to  be ignored and also taken to the extreme that the majority was the perpetrator of the crimes!

 

“Faith—both Hindu and Muslim—underpinned the business networking, providing a social and cultural framework. Thus have two devout, highly distinct ethnic and religious communities operated easily within Gujarat’s cosmopolitan framework. Even as the state leads India in electronic governance and indexes of economic freedom”

Can we not interpret this statement of what Robert Kaplan mentions that both communities co-existed was due to the secular nature of the majority community? Had it not been for such a mindset would such coexistence for so many years been possible? On the contrary the dwindling of the Hindu population in Muslim dominated areas including Kashmir, apart from Pakistan and Bangladesh, needs to be compared before jumping to wrong conclusions.

 

“Gujarat’s post on a frontier zone of the subcontinent exposed the state to repeated Muslim invasions. Some of the worst depredations came at the hands of the Turco-Persian ruler Mahmud of Ghazni, who swept down from eastern Afghanistan and in 1025 destroyed the seaside Hindu temple of Somnath. During a trip to India last fall, whenever I mentioned the events of 2002 to Hindu nationalists, they would lecture me about the crimes of Mahmud of Ghazni. For these Hindus, the past is alive, as if it happened yesterday.

This combination of geography and history has made Gujarat fertile ground for Hindutva

It was not only Gujarat but also most of the Indian subcontinent that was subjected to the excesses of the Muslim rule so am curious to understand how only Gujarat has become the fertile ground of Hindutva or will I hear that the entire country has become communal now…

 Also, to repeat my point ad nauseam the issue is not what had happened but refusing to believe and accept what happened in the past.

 

“Information technology enabled standardized and ideologized versions of Hinduism and Islam to emerge: just as Shiites became united across the Middle East, Hindus became united across India and the same for Sunni Muslims. Meanwhile, the spread of education made people aware of their own histories, supplying them with grievances that they never had before. “The Hindu poor are blissfully ignorant of Mahmud of Ghazni. It is the middle class that now knows this history,” explained one local human-rights worker. That is why Hindu nationalism is strongest not among the poor and uneducated, but among the professional classes: scientists, software engineers, lawyers, and so on. In the eyes of this new, right-wing cadre of middle- and upper-middle-class Hindus, India was a civilization before it was a state, and while the state has had to compromise with minorities, the civilization originally was unpolluted (purely Hindu, that is)—even if the truth is far more complex. “

Thank you Mr. Kaplan for atleast conceding that the Indian state did suffer immensely in the past. But what shocks me is how he finds a problem in people coming to know about their past and seeing history as it is  and that seeming to be the real reason for the current Muslim problem. It seems to be that we should be ignorant of the past and negate whatever has happened and also continue to be told we are good for nothing  no civilisation and communal goons, wonderful indeed that our human rights workers (whoever it was mentioned in the above paragraph) help this “fact” be more reinforced for progeny.  Moreover, if the truth of our history is more complex than we believe to be then am sure  Mr. Kaplan will agree that he should not have over simplified  what he heard about Mahmud of Ghazni to be the only reason for the current day issues.

 

“The economic reforms of the 1990s, which brought India truly into the vanguard of globalization, aggravated these Hindu-chauvinistic tendencies. Because the socialistic nation-state of Hindus and Muslims had become a thing of the past, both groups needed a strengthened communal identity to anchor them inside an insipid world civilization. This need has been especially apparent among Gujaratis living overseas: even as successful immigrants in the United States, they have engaged in a search for roots that they have transmitted back to relatives at home. “

I am absolutely at loss of words and think below my dignity to even make a logical statement to such perverse and immature generalised axioms.

 

“In fact, a preliminary report by a commission from his own state bureaucracy had already absolved him of any wrongdoing.”

Again subtle statements that tend to give the impression as if the commission acted at the behest of Narendra Modi. What in fact is true is that Justice Nanavati is a retired supreme court judge who also probed the 1984 anti-Sikh riots.

 

 

he manically dedicated himself to development, sleeping less than four hours every night, up at 5 a.m. to check his e-mail and read the local papers, visiting about 3,000 of the 7,000 villages in the state, and empowering the lowest reaches of its bureaucracy through his slogan, “Less government, more governance”

As usual Robert Kaplan contradicts his own point of how Mr. Modi is autocratic and after a couple of paragraphs the opposite point is made that Narendra Modi has empowered people to take decisions. People have such a strong opinion of Narendra Modi that they cannot help but try to criticise him even  on a positive point.

 

The following statement is a reinforcement of the perverted thinking of Robert Kaplan’s ilk: “Perhaps it was a Machiavellian ploy: first, allow RSS forces to launch what most neutral observers said was a methodical killing spree in 2002, and then turn toward development after you have used violence to consolidate power and concentrate the minds of your enemies. But Machiavelli believed in using only the minimum amount of cruelty to attain a positive collective result, and thus any more cruelty than was absolutely necessary did not, as he put it, qualify as virtue.” What he goes onto allude is that not only was Modi deliberate – I am waiting one day for people to start blaming Modi even for Godhra not only post-Godhra –  but make him a very very cunning man.

 

I am not sure if any person has already sued Mr. Kaplan  for branding Gujaratis communal and also most of us the same: “Either Modi will fit his managerial genius to the service of that idea, or he will stay where he is. Hindus elsewhere in India are less communal-minded than those in Gujarat, and that will be his dilemma.”

 

“You couldn’t help but understand Hindu feelings about Muslim depredations of this temple, one of India’s 12 Jyotirlingas, or places with “signs of light” that symbolize the god Shiva. And yet, as emotions crackled like electricity all around me, I also couldn’t help but think of what Hanif Lakdawala had asked me, in a plea as much as a question: “What can we poor Muslims of today do about Mahmud of Ghazni?””

While nothing can be done about the past the problem is that we are taught that this did not happen because of the communal nature of the Islamic invaders I would only request Robert Kaplan and Hanif Lakdawala to put thinks in perspective and also ensure Muslims are not pushed deeper into their ghettos by selectively talking about the oppression and leave out all the good aspects of the Indian democracy.

How many years before the secularists use the same yardstick?

March 29, 2009

In the past few weeks the mainstream and western media seem to have upped the ante by publishing articles which have a strong under-current of anti-Hindu bias. I will write about these in my next post but the current post is to specifically discuss about the article that appeared in the Hindu on 22nd March.

 

The article Forgetting Slaughter by Harsh Mander did not leave me amused at all.  The rancor with which Mr. Mander describes the current events in Gujarat shows the qualification required to be a “secularist” in India. How else can we describe:

a.)    “Seven years after the engineered communal hate and carnage” is clear how the truth is portrayed. For sure Gujarat communal clashes are one of the saddest events in the recent past, the way these activists describe the unfolding of events as if the Hindu goons woke up one fine morning and started killing Muslims. Why do we never mention about Godhra? Now that Justice Nanavati commission mentioned that the attack on Kar Sevaks was pre-planned how come the “secularists” not take up the issue with a more balanced view point or can we discard the commission report? The same mindset is reflected  in an article in the Atlantic (more about that in my next post)

 

b.)    When Harsh Mander talks about Muslim youth being picked up randomly is he speaking with facts or is there a pathological hatred towards parties like the BJP? While There are a lot of failings with BJP but shooting off the hip with such generalizations is repulsive and these are called the liberals – for me their refusal to see that there have been no more communal riots in Gujarat or the economic development in the state that is all inclusive cannot be a possibility is another pointer on how prejudiced they can be. These statements are similar to what Arundhathi Roy made up a nice little story for which JK has a very interesting analysis.

 

c.)    For me the best part of the article is when the author says: “many who argue that the efforts of human rights groups (including those that I am engaged with) which strive to secure justice for the survivors, are actually blocking efforts at reconciliation, or the spaces for forgiveness. Such enterprises are seen to be akin to scraping the scab off old wounds and not letting these heal naturally: they are seen as not letting the survivors forget their suffering. Those opposed to such efforts dispute: “What is achieved by reviving memories of what is done and over with? We should let the people affected by the admittedly unfortunate mass violence move on, without being constantly pulled into the quicksand of a painful past”

It is significant that rarely do such suggestions emanate from those affected by the violence themselves, or from those who belong to the Muslim community and suffer intensely even if only vicariously from the continuing injustice and persisting gruesome outrages like mass graves and evidence of killings in false encounters in Gujarat. There are some among the affected communities in Gujarat — usually traders or better-off victims and mostly men — who choose not to fight for legal justice, but this is not because they do not value justice or because they suffer no anguish for the injustice and betrayal of the past, but as a practical act of individual survival by surrender and compromise, in a climate of persisting hate and fear. The suggestions for hastily closing the past come mostly from people of the majority community who have not suffered directly or even vicariously the torment of the survivors of the carnage, or from persisting insecurity and contested citizenship rights, or indeed from the impact of a drift into a re-moulded majoritarian social and political order.

Of course as a nation and as a people, we need to move on, pushing decisively behind us chapters of collective shame and tribulation, such as what unfolded in the killing fields of Gujarat in 2002. But the decision to impatiently surge ahead without looking back cannot justly be imposed on women and men, boys and girls who live with not only with the memories of the trauma of unspeakable loss and violence, but the daily lived realities of continued persecution, boycott, expulsion, fear and hate. They should not feel coerced into a spurious amnesia, imposed on them by those who did not suffer and by their absence of remorse and compassion. It is only when the survivors are able to deal voluntarily with this painful past, and when they are assisted to rebuild their homes, livelihoods and social relations, that they will be able to look to the future with optimism and confidence. Traditions like the annual ritualised mourning of Moharram or the commemoration of the Holocaust in gut-wrenching museums acknowledge the importance of remembering, even while forgiving and letting go. Only when there is remorse and healing, it is possible that hand in hand, “they” and “we” will together be able to authentically “move on”. Else, as philosopher Santayana wisely prophesised, “those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it”. We have repeated the history of communal violence and pogroms too many times already in India to risk its further repetition through forgetting the unhealed wounds of our recent history. “

I reproduced such a long part of the article as it has quite a significant point. Firstly when Harsh Mander talks about we should not accept or cover up what has happened in the past and usually this he hears not from the affected community why does the same yardstick not apply to the Hindus of J&K who were ethnically cleansed from their homeland. The number of people affected from J&K is much more than what happened in Gujarat but the same secularists do not even bother to talk about it forget helping these families come over the trauma. Going back a few centuries why do the secularists not  let us know how the Islamic invasions left millions of Hindus killed and temples looted; why are we not allowed to look at the past as it is and accept that the Muslim rulers  were responsible for the biggest ever genocide in the history of mankind. Why do people like him tell us not to open up the past while asking us to do so in the above case. I am all for what Mr. Mander says that we should look at history in its face and ensure such mistakes do not happen but the only problem is it seems to apply when Muslims are involved and not of other instances where Hindus were the victims. The rut is so evident that when Francois Gautier organised an exhibition on Aurangazeb and his misdeeds that it was vandalised by the police in Chennai – I am left amazed that none of the liberals ever raised a word against gagging of freedom of speech!

While Harsh Mander talks about the holocaust museum I am sure he is aware that negating the holocaust is a crime in Germany but we are grown up by being taught exactly the opposite in Indian history viz. there was no Islamic genocide and here the book by Koenraad Elst “Negationism in India: is a must read for people wanting to know about history as it was.

The biggest problem is these “liberals work overtime to stamp people who make such statements as fundamentalists and narrow-minded while it is they who are blinkered in their approach and never ready for a free and open debate. If we do not agree with their point of view then that is it we are fundamentalists and anti-minority. It has to be noted here that Hindus are the only race in the World that gave shelter to all persecuted groups including Jews, Syrian Christians and Parsis.

To extend the argument further, it is shocking to see “historians and liberals” go to the extent of saying that the Muslim rulers were benign and they never razed down temples. The two-part book by Sita Ram Goel “What Happened to Hindu Temples” that methodically captured the number of temples destroyed by Muslim rulers is a grim reminder of what our history which the same “;liberals” squirm to accept.

d.)    When Harsh Mander goes on to mention “saga of their lives seemed like the spaces between various communal riots, often starting with the cataclysmic upheavals of 1947”  I am keen to know whether we Hindus have no work but to keep attacking Muslims? To start with 1947 the Hindus did not ask for partition but the Muslims did and does Mr. Mander know how the Hindu population on the other divide – both the East and West – has dwindled and will I hear him say that these guys wilfully converted to Islam as Hinduism does not provide equality! And to single out Muslims as the victims is either being naïve or sinister the way he mentions about how these people will move to Muslim ghettos when a communal riot will break out only shows how uni-dimensional the thinking is. Why is the violence in Assam never talked about or the ethnic cleansing that is taking place in the North East: the simple fact is that Hindus are at the receiving end as in Kashmir. I really want facts to be spoken of and not such generalised statements made.  

 

As I mentioned above it is not to say that there are no Hindu elements that spoil the social fabric but the essence is to take a balanced view and put issues in context: can we expect this Mr. Harsh Mander or am I one more of the Hindu fundamentalists at work….