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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….


Whom Do We Trust and what is Real?

January 11, 2009

The events that unfolded at Satyam made me sad especially at the fast declining morals/ethics among us. What is it that we are living and working for? Each new day I see us taking many steps backward. The human greed and zeal to have their tribe more dominant is increasing by the moment.


New scams and new regulations do not seem to be enough for people to be creative, unfortunately in a negative way, to beat the system. In the case of Satyam what is more shocking is the number of awards they have got for corporate governance: how did Ramalinga Raju maintain such plain face, and even a smile, while accepting such awards?  Is there something alled conscience or is it that we make more money at any cost. It is amazing that 53,000 (or is it?) employees were not thought of while such a fraud was committed.


All of us want to have more of everything: bigger cars, bigger apartments, more bank balances and the number of people joining the rat race is increasing. Do we have the judgement and ability to say enough: I do not know what difference it makes if the cash is 100 crores or 200 crores both are obscenely high anyways! I am not for a moment saying we should not make money but the purpose and the medium adopted of making that is what I am questioning.  I know of enough people who made money the right way and use it for the right purposes


While everyone needs to have comfortable lives they seem to forget the wealth amassed is going to be with them or should I say they are going to be with the wealth for a limited period of time – alas we humans have a limited time span – and herein is the point of whether wealth at any cost is sustainable to mankind.


Coming back to Ramalinga Raju, unfortunately for him, he has been caught but all of us have the urge to transgress into the negative. I am hoping for a serious introspection into the way we lead our lives.


On a more philosophical level Tim O’Reilly’s article  on how we are all complicit in making the world a notional one is quite topical. As Adi Shankaracharya exhorted when will we realise all this is Maya and understand the Real…

Post the Mumbai attacks: What about Media Introspection?

December 7, 2008
I have had a blog ID for a couple of years and though wanting to write on my favourite topics never, for various reasons including plain lethargy, not done so. The happenings in India over the past few months culminating in the Mumbai attacks has finally made me pen my thoughts.

All of us watched the terror attack with concern and anger. While we and the media have, And rightly so, shown utter disgust regarding politicians and the soft stand taken against the perpetrators of crime there is an equal blame our beloved media needs to take. Just a few pointers in this direction:
A.) News channels are not entertainment channels: while this is relatively a minor issue I do hope all channels are sensitive that they are there to report. I do not understand what “exclusive” means while interviewing the NSG chief or the president of Pakistan! Exclusive with a Barkha Dutt or Arnab Goswami or Rajdeep Sardesai on that channel? For sure they work with that respective channel.
What was the purpose of breathtakingly counting the number of commandos getting off a helicopter and Why do we get such brilliant background music while reporting. I want plain news and not masala. Why do they not invest that money in equipping their journalists with better skills?

B.) The problem of self-denial: The new phrase from CNN-IBN was “Urban Terror” but I thought the other side of “Hindu/Hindutva Terror” was “Islamic Terror”. Similarly we hear about “Terror having no Religion”, why is this double speak? We do know there is a problem of Islamic extremism and we will never be able to find a solution if we do not accept the problem.
Whenever there is an attack by Islamic extremists or a demand for action to be taken against any outfit did the media probe the issues at hand or did they get into an overdrive that there is a problem with Hindus and their outfits. Please go ahead and report on the Hindu outfits but not by subverting the other issue.
How many times did we see our media – both the print and electronic – try with all sincerity to uncover and report objectively? What is the media scared of? This is true even to the Hindu-Christian violence that the country has seen.
There was a furore over the attacks on churches in Karnataka. But did any newspaper or News channel even bother to get down to the reason for such actions? (or is it that these Hindu goons woke up one day and went on an attacking spree) Why was the publication of “Satyadarshini” that defamed Hindu gods and was distributed freely by a church body not highlighted? Was it not a big issue? Is such defamation acceptable? If Hindus did such an act against other gods or their beliefs would the media have kept such a low profile – while the attacks on churches was reported with such intensity that anyone I spoke to thought over 20 Christians were killed when the fact was that not a single person was killed!)Why does the media not accept there is a problem on the conversion front and if they believe otherwise can they show statistics to this effect: I can show enough numbers and real-life cases to show the scourge of conversion (one tidbit being the number of churches being nearly equal to the number of temples in Andhra Pradesh as was published by the Endowments Department. It has to be noted that there are only 3% Christians in the state).
For sure the majority of Christians and Muslims are good but is it not everyone’s duty to check the weaknesses in their system, Hindus included.

C.) Different yardsticks for different people: whenever there is an attack by Muslims the media immediately talks about Godhra and its revenge. By the same logic there should have been a response from Hindus when a few hundred thousand Kashmiri pandits were driven out of their homeland. Also, history is replete with plunder due to religious zeal of the Islamic kings and how many times did we see revenge.

When the Sadhvi and other suspects in the Malegaon blasts accused the ATS of torture was there any investigation by the media? An oh not to forget our human rights brigade: where was the NCW/NHRC/Teesta/Arundathi Roy? Have these accused been pronounced guilty? (Here is a critique from Shantanu on a report by NDTV) In the case of Afzal Guru even after conviction there is so much breast beating and not to forget all media questioning the Battla house encounter! Talking of Batla House the Delhi Union of Journalists came out with a report giving details of coverage by various newspapers – both English and Hindi – and no two newspaper facts matched, is this not a joke when all of them used the same source to get information?! Further on, CNN-IBN while describing “Hindu Terror” used “OM” juxtaposed with a photo of a violent scene: is this not crass insensitivity to the millions of Hindus and would a similar action been taken when reporting anything involving Muslims or Christians?
Similarly The Hindu in one of its editorials on the Christian-Hindu violence dismissed Hindu religion as having inherent weaknesses. Is such a statement without getting into details not bound to mislead readers? Does this mean people have the right to force conversions because of these inherent weaknesses? I hope people understand that religion is a conception of humans and hence will have weaknesses and is it not our duty to look at the good and take off the bad?

As a final point, Seema Chisti in the Indian Express while mentioning about Narendra Modi used the word “Sanskritised : as an extremist term. Is this the way to deal with one of the oldest and technically perfect languages in the World. Is learning Sanskrit equal to being fundamentalist. Is this objectivity?

I am an educated Indian who is demanding news without jaundicing it with so much subjectivity. This only encourages terrorists and their ilk as there is enough sympathy from both politicians and media and the human rights brigade.
Will the media, apart from asking politicians to change, change itself for the better of our country please…