India’s Sharp Right Turn Under Modi

moThis article has been published to invite debate. PTH does not essentially agree with every point made in the article

Riaz Haq

There have been serious questions raised about India’s secularism since its independence in 1947. Such questions have gained new urgency with the rapid rise of Hindu Nationalists and the election of BJP leader Narendra Modi in 2014.

Serious doubts about India’s claim of secularism were articulated well by Indian journalist Kapil Komireddy in an Op Ed piece he wrote for the UK’s Guardian newspaper a few years ago. Here’s an excerpt of it:

“Indian Muslims in particular have rarely known a life uninterrupted by communal conflict or unimpaired by poverty and prejudice. Their grievances are legion, and the list of atrocities committed against them by the Indian state is long. In 2002 at least 1,000 Muslims were slaughtered by Hindu mobs in the western state of Gujarat in what was the second state-sponsored pogrom in India (Sikhs were the object of the first, in 1984). Gujarat’s chief minister, Narendra Modi, explained away the riots by quoting Newton’s third law. “Every action,” he said on television, “has an equal opposite reaction.” The “action” that invited the reaction of the mobs was the torching of a Gujarat-bound train in which 59 Hindus pilgrims, most of them saffron-clad bigots who were returning home from a trip to the site of the Babri Mosque that they had helped demolish a decade earlier, perished. The “equal and opposite reaction” was the slaughter of 1,000 innocent Muslims for the alleged crime of their coreligionists.”

Komireddy goes on to describe how India’s “liberal” elite rationalize sectarianism in “secular” India:

“The novelist Shashi Tharoor tried to burnish this certifiably sectarian phenomenon with a facile analogy: Indian Muslims, he wrote, accept Hindu rituals at state ceremonies in the same spirit as teetotallers accept champagne in western celebrations. This self-affirming explanation is characteristic of someone who belongs to the majority community. Muslims I interviewed took a different view, but understandably, they were unwilling to protest for the fear of being labelled as “angry Muslims” in a country famous for its tolerant Hindus.”

The Sangh Parivar’s project to Hinduize India has accelerated with the landslide victory of BJP leader Narendra Modi and his inauguration as Prime Minister of India in 2014. Some of the manifestations of this phenomenon as reported by the Washington Post are as as follows:

1.The Vishwa Hindu Parishad (or the World Hindu Council) launched a program called “Gharwapsi” (or Homecoming) to urge India’s Muslims and Christians to convert to Hinduism, which they said was the religion of their ancestors. It has resulted in many reported instances of forced mass conversions of Christians and Muslims to Hinduism.

2.  Beef sales have been banned in several Indian states. The most egregious of such laws is the Maharashtra state law that criminalizes possession or consumption of beef.

3. Foreign Minister Sushma Swaraj has said the Hindu scripture Bhagwad Gita must be declared a “national scripture.” Another BJP politician, Manohar Lal Khattar, the chief minister of the northern Haryana state has said Bhagwad Gita is considered more important than India’s secular Constitution.

4. Poor school children are being denied eggs, a cheap protein needed by growing youngsters, in their school lunches by India’s vegetarian Hindu elite, according an NPR report.

The above changes are just the tip of a much larger iceberg of Hindu transformation of India with major appointments of Hindu ideologues by ruling party to key positions in education and media posts at the center and the provinces.

It’s not just in India that the Hindu Nationalists are gaining strength. Their programs receive significant funding and support from non-resident Indians (NRIs). A report entitled “Hindu Nationalism in the United States: A Report on Non-Profit Groups” makes the following assertions regarding the strength and nature of the Hindu nationalist movement in the United States:

a. Over the last three decades, a movement toward Hinduizing India–advancing the status of Hindus toward political and social primacy in India– has continued to gain ground in South Asia and diasporic communities. The Sangh Parivar (the Sangh “family”), the network of groups at the forefront of this Hindu nationalist movement, has an estimated membership numbering in the millions, making the Sangh one of the largest voluntary associations in India. The major organizations in the Sangh include the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS), Vishwa Hindu Parishad (VHP), Bajrang Dal, and Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP).

b. Hindu nationalism has intensified and multiplied forms of discrimination, exclusion, and gendered and sexualized violence against Muslims, Christians, other minorities, and those who oppose Sangh violations, as documented by Indian citizens and international tribunals, fact-finding groups, international human rights organizations, and U.S. governmental bodies.

c. India-based Sangh affiliates receive social and financial support from its U.S.-based wings, the latter of which exist largely as tax-exempt non-profit organizations in the United States: Hindu Swayamsevak Sangh (HSS), Vishwa Hindu Parishad of America (VHPA), Sewa International USA, Ekal Vidyalaya Foundation-USA. The Overseas Friends of the Bharatiya Janata Party – USA (OFBJP) is active as well, though it is not a tax-exempt group.

Acceleration of “secular” India’s total Hindu-ization under Prime Minister Modi represents a sea change for South Asia region and the world. It could prove to be very destabilizing for India, a much larger and far more diverse country than its neighboring Islamic Pakistan. Such instability could derail India’s economic rise unless its forced Hindu-ization is checked by the country’s leadership with external pressure from India’s friends. And its effects will be strongly felt far outside the borders of India. It is already causing serious issues between India and Pakistan that could lead a devastating war in South Asia with severe consequences for the entire world.

  • masadi

    Hellturd: stay out of discussions that don’t concern you and take your IQ pills before you come to this site, you moron.

  • hellfire

    more censhorship, surprise surprise!

    good boy masadi. now sit. stay. and take your meds.

  • masadi

    Life in AmeriKKKa is a life devoid of self-reflection, the standard of evaluation, given organization life, is determined by someone else and is always external, you don’t reflect, you don’t reason, you are engaged in a perpetual monologue throughout life- and grand example is Khatchar Kaal and his monologue with his bigotry.

  • masadi

    see people I knew it, hellturd was lurking around stalking masadi like the leech ass parasite that he is

  • masadi

    hellturd, how is tahmed on dbb, ask him to come over to this site where I can challenge his Unkil Tom ass on Syria.

  • masadi

    NATO on Russian “violation” of Turkish airspace:

    AmeriKKKa has been violating the airspace of every known state on earth through its spy planes for decades, is currently violating Syrian airspace without permission of its government, as Israel does time in again in Syria and Lebanon without any condemnation through NATO or the UN, the U.S. also violates the airspace of Pakistan and Yemen through drones and now makes this error an issue- we know what is hurting AmeriKKKa and NATO and that is their plan for regime change in Syria through manufacturing ISIS and their plans for the division of Iraq into three countries is falling apart, it’s hysterical hypocrisy on an unprecedented scale- but the world gets it, that AmeriKKKa bombs hospitals and brushes aside the criticism while making a big deal of “airspace violation.”

    —————

    Putin Zindabad, give them operation Gabrator (jaw breaker).

  • masadi

    Putin, we in Pakistan love you sir, keep on doing the good work, operation Gabrator will be a success. US propaganda and its sick child ISIS will both come to naught.

  • masadi

    i will e-mail putin sahib today, congratulating him on a job well done and winning over the hearts and minds of Pakistani people.

  • masadi

    Putin should bomb the Modi Hindu State the counterpart of ISIS, rid us of this funk.

  • masadi

    The world increasingly has seen the banditry of AmeriKKKa, and now hates it and its foreign policy crap, that is a new development in the past few years. AmeriKKKa is finished, the main question is, will it give up the command without bloodshed or will the world go through another world war- the world nonetheless is going through a regime change, the regime of the regime changers is changing- ain’t that poetic justice??

  • PMAM

    Gorki Saab & HP:
    .
    Gentlemen: I read your on going arguments with great interest. American Constitution recognizes and guarantees Individual and not Group Rights unless the group(s) are the Native Americans. Even for racial minorities such as Blacks for example, the Equal Rights are guaranteed for the Individual and not for the Group. Moving the Rights issue to the British Indian context, it was not a ‘minority/majority’ issue, rather a Two-Nations issue with one nation being in numerical minority and the other in numerical majority. The problem then was that the majority nation did not recognize the minority nation as a nation at all. The result was a deadlock. British divided the Empire not on the basis of TNT but on the basis of population concentration. The areas where Muslims were in majority were to be Pakistan, and India where Hindus were in majority. Pakistan is neither a Theocracy nor a Secular State. It is an Islamic State. Since independence, Pakistan has recognized religious minority/majority and made laws accordingly with safeguard of the Rights of the religious minority. However, with some exceptions, the Rights still belong to the Individual and not Groups. I guess India is the same way where Rights belong to Individual and not Groups. However constitutionally India is a Secular State with no guarantied religious minority Rights. Post 1947 Indian Muslims are not claiming to be a Nation or a Group. Safety and security of a religious minority is the responsibility of the State to which India has failed. Kashmir on the other hand is a disputed territory and thus does not automatically fall under India. To say that Kashmiris are operating under TNT is false. A boogeyman if you may.

  • masadi

    “The imperialist claims and actions of these corporations, and of their governments, cannot be maintained today without violence and the threat of violence. They rest upon nothing else, but they cannot for long rest upon merely local violence. Western civilization began in the Middle East; the beginnings of its end could also occur there.”

    (C. Wright Mills, The Causes of World War III, 1960:128)

    The world is going through a regime change, the global hegemonic regime of the regime changers is changing- that is certainly poetic justice but the main question is will they give up their command without bloodshed or will the world go through another world war?

  • Gorki

    Dear PMA Sahib:
    “Gentlemen: I read your on going arguments with great interest. American Constitution recognizes and guarantees Individual and not Group Rights unless the group(s) are the Native Americans. Even for racial minorities such as Blacks for example, the Equal Rights are guaranteed for the Individual and not for the Group….”
    .
    The confusion in our discussion is because HP’s definitions don’t match definitions accepted by constitutionalists, thus he assumes the terms like ‘majoritarianism’ and ‘homogeneity’; ‘laws’ and ‘rights’ etc. are lay terms that can be used interchangeably. They cannot be, for these are very specific terms, no less specific than scientific terms used in medicine etc.
    .
    As you may well know the founders of the American constitution were very mindful of the inherent risk of majoritarianism to individual liberty, some may say almost paranoid of it. While there was a consensus around the need to protect the individual, there was deep divisions about how best to accomplish the future safety of the individual from the brute majority. The federalist papers, taught to all high schoolers taking advanced courses make a fascinating reading. While the Federalists like Madison and Hamilton favored a strong core, checks and balances to ensure this, their opponents, particularly Patrick Henry and of course Jefferson favored a weak center with a specific bill of rights. As you know at the end the federalists won both solutions were incorporated in the constitution, and the bill of rights incorporated by the amendments.
    Even to this day, the ‘tyranny of majority’ remains a bad word in American politics.
    .
    India, British India, OTOH was organized by the British on the basis of group identities. The 1937 elections convinced MAJ of the need to organize the Muslims as a group in order to stand up to the same evil; a tyranny of the majority. Thus the fears of the ‘founding fathers’ on both sides were identical, they just decided on different solutions.
    (If time permits and the PTH allows me, I may write a short essay on this issue for the PTH because I have realized that even the seemingly common words like ‘democracy’ and ‘secularism’ are very misunderstood in Asia and South Asia, even by the highly educated individuals.)

  • Gorki

    federalists won both solutions+
    federalists won the argument but both the solutions

  • masadi

    Gorki man, do you keep PTH in your baghal, that you jump in whenever someone mentions your name? The “tyranny of the majority” represents the fears of a moneyed, landed, slave owning elite (US founding fathers) against incursions on their privilege by what they considered riff raff. If the majority cannot come up with a communal spirit of nationhood the entire state experiment is useless and the democratic claim substanceless. Which is how it is, the state in KKKapitalism is there to control conflict on behalf of the bourgeoisie minority against the “tyranny of the majority” in demanding their just due and democracy is about manipulation of the mass for their self mutilation as they work only to enrich the few. But the good news is, all this is passing as the U.S. century will possibly not be completed, inshallah.

  • RHR

    Gorki Sahib

    I will really welcome your essay on this topic

    Regards

    Raza

  • masadi

    …and you will censor my contributions as usual….of course, which is why you are a third rate sellout.

  • PMAM

    “tyranny of the majority”
    .
    In case of British India, we may say ‘tyranny of the majority Nation’. British organize nothing. The ‘groups’ were there long before the Brits arrived. They simply recognized it. India-Pakistan was not the best solution, but at least it freed 2/3 of the Subcontinental Muslims from the “tyranny of the majority” — something we can not say about the remaining 1/3.

  • HP

    Gorki, You amuse me, again! Was it I complaining about technicalities and legalistic definitions or was it you? Correct me if I am wrong, but I think it was you. 🙂
    .
    Coming to terms like majoritarianism etc, I think I could google them of course but the whole dispute started when you said to me, in a post that I called absurd, that in contrast to the west it is India which is majoritarian and it is there (but not in the west) where a minority has no alternative but simply to “lump it”. My stand was, although at the moment India faces a real danger of landing into future majoritarianism, it has traditionally given far more rights and privileges to its minority populations than its counterparts in the west. I listed several of these rights and privileges, which, although not supported by the bulk of the majority, are accorded anyway, sometimes enshrined in the Constitution, independent of whether or not the population is liberal or illiberal. As you must know one of the pet themes of the right wing in India is abolishing these very same rights and privileges and helping India evolve in the model of its counterparts in the west.
    .
    I think it’s pretty clear what you said and what I said and ALL of it is independent of dictionary definitions, group rights, individual rights, and all that stuff from political “science”.

  • RHR

    HP

    You are also requested to write some thing in the form of an article.

  • hellfire

    masadi, you sound like a child,maybe 3rd grade with yur ranting arguments.

  • kaalchakra

    “”Every party sees every issue as a political opportunity. There is this obsession with electoral politics alone. Electoral democracy has actually become anti-democracy. Electoral politics has become obscene in India”

    Very well said. While our politics may appear hopeless, at the level of people, there is optimism – if we move beyond the demands of immediate politics and begin to question both others and ourselves.

    ——————

    Rex, of course you are right.

    ——————-

    hellfire, haven’t followed your exchange with The Lifelong Adjunct. I am just curious – did his psyche evolve enough for him to explain the CommunoIslamist alternative?

  • It’s not one or two incidents like Dadri beef murder, it’s over 600 attacks on minorities, including Christians and Muslims, that have occurred since Modi took office as PM last year. It’s time for sane Indians to take notice and speak out strongly against this madness.

    http://www.aljazeera.com/programmes/peopleandpower/2015/10/indias-hindu-fundamentalists-151008073418225.html

  • #Modi’s (and his cabinet’s) poor education, #India’s great educational divide fueling anti-#Muslim bigotry, hate?

    http://nyti.ms/1QdP0rc

    Aatish Taseer Op Ed in NY Times:

    In India, the Congress Party was liberal, left-leaning and secular; but it was also the party of the colonized elite. That meant that practically everyone who was rich, and educated, and grew up speaking English, was also invariably a supporter of Congress.

    ————

    The cabinet, save for the rare exception, is made up of too many crude, bigoted provincials, united far more by a lack of education than anything so grand as ideology. At the time of writing — and here the one will have to speak for the many — Mr. Modi’s minister of culture had just said of a former Muslim president: “Despite being a Muslim, he was a great nationalist and humanist.”

    Some 10 days later, there was the hideous incident in which a Muslim man was lynched by a Hindu mob in a village outside Delhi, on the suspicion of slaughtering a cow and eating beef. It was a defining moment, the culmination of 16 months of cultural chauvinism and hysteria under Mr. Modi, the scarcely veiled target of which are India’s roughly 170 million Muslims. This ugliness is eclipsing Mr. Modi’s development agenda, and just this week, there was yet another incident in which a Kashmiri politician was attacked in Srinagar for hosting “a beef party.”

    Poisonous as these attitudes are, they have much more to do with class than politics. They are so obviously part of the vulgarity that accompanies violent social change. If the great drama of our grandparents’ generation was independence, and our parents’ that post-colonial period, ours represents the twilight of the (admittedly flawed) English-speaking classes, and an unraveling of the social and moral order they held in place. A new country is seething with life, but not all vitality is pretty, and there now exists a glaring cultural and intellectual gap between India’s old, entrenched elite and the emerging electorate.

    In other places, education would have helped close the gap; it would have helped the country make a whole of the social change it was witnessing. No society is so equitable that men as economically far apart as Bill Clinton and George W. Bush — or as Ed Miliband and David Cameron, for that matter — would have attended the same schools. But, in England and America, there is Oxford and Yale to level the field, to give both men the means to speak to each other.

    This is not true of India. In India, one class has had access to the best private schools and foreign universities, where all the instruction is in English; the other has had to make do with the state schools and universities Indian socialism bequeathed them. The two classes almost never meet; they don’t even speak the same language. It has left India divided between an isolated superelite (and if you’re an Indian reading this, you’re probably part of it!) and an emerging middle class that may well lack the intellectual tools needed to channel its vitality.

    ——–

    In another society, with the benefit of a real education, Mr. Modi might have been something more than he was. Then it would be possible to imagine a place with real political differences, and not one in which left and right were divided along the blade of a knife by differences in class, language and education. But just as that other society does not yet exist, neither does that other Modi. Indians will have to make do with the Modi they have; and, as things stand, perhaps the cynics are right: Perhaps this great hope of Indian democracy, with his limited reading and education, is not equal to the enormous task before him.

  • tajender

    Kejriwal must realise that his party might have won popular support, but ideological ,ethical & intellectual bankruptcy wont take it far.

  • #Modi’s #India saw religiously motivated killings, riots, forced conversion: US #ReligiousFreedom 2014 #beefmurder http://dnai.in/cWGe

    India witnessed religiously motivated killings, arrests, riots and coerced religious conversions and the police in some cases failed to respond effectively to communal violence, according to the US State Department report on International Religious Freedom 2014.

    In the India section of the Congressional mandated annual report released by Secretary of State John Kerry today, the State Department said that some government officials made discriminatory statements against religious minorities. “There were reports of religiously motivated killings, arrests, coerced religious conversions, religiously motivated riots and actions restricting the right of individuals to change religious beliefs,” said the report.

    It said that in some cases, local police failed to respond effectively to communal violence, including attacks against religious minorities, although local officials used broad authorities to deploy police and security forces to control outbreaks of religiously motivated violence. The local nongovernmental organisation (NGO) Act Now for Harmony and Democracy reported more than 800 religiously- motivated attacks from May through the end of the year 2014.

    Citing Minister of State for Food Processing Industries Niranjan Jyoti’s remarks at an election rally in Delhi, it said government officials reportedly made discriminatory statements against members of religious minorities. “After her remarks stirred several days of heated national condemnation and disrupted proceedings of parliament, Prime Minister Narendra Modi said in parliament that he ‘strongly disapproved of the remarks’ and ‘we should avoid using such language’. Jyoti subsequently expressed regret for her remark,” the report said. The State Department said there is restriction on free expression on basis of religion in India.

    Authorities continued to enforce laws designed to protect “religious sentiments” which, according to observers, at times had the effect of limiting free expression related to religion, the report said. The State Department rued that hundreds of legal cases remained pending from violence during the 1984 anti-Sikh riots and the 2002 Gujarat riots.

    The Nanavati-Mehta Commission on the 2002 riots ultimately released its Final Report on November 18. Some NGOs called into question the impartiality of the findings. Court cases related to the 2008 anti-Christian violence in Odisha continued, resulting in convictions for persons responsible for the public rape of a nun during the riots. Displaced Kashmiri Hindu Pandits continued to seek redress for crimes committed against them and their houses of worship by Kashmiri insurgents in the 1990s, it said.

  • Ex CM of ‪#‎India‬ occupied ‪#‎Kashmir‬ Farooq Abdullah: People in Valley will think (Quaid-e-Azam) ‪#‎Jinnah‬ was right.

    https://shar.es/1uwv4R

    Former J&K Chief Minister Farooq Abdullah said on Monday that people in Kashmir may start to think that Mohammad Ali Jinnah was right about his two-nation theory.
    “The trend that has started, it is the most difficult phase for the people of Kashmir… I am afraid that people in Kashmir will start to think that Quaid-i-Azam Jinnah was right about his two-nation theory,” he said, referring to the recent incidents in Dadri, Udhampur, Mumbai and today’s attack on MLA Engineer Rashid in New Delhi.
    Targeting Prime Minister Narendra Modi, Abdullah said he should worry more about the country than about the Bihar elections. “I warn you that this country belongs to everyone. The day you start to think it only belongs to you, you should be ready to see this country fragmenting into pieces,” he said.
    “PM should know that he is not the PM of only one community. He is the PM of 1.3 billion people. He should stand up. Instead of fighting the Bihar elections, he should think of how to save Hindustan from such elements,” said Abdullah.
    “Very serious action must be taken if you want to uproot these elements,” he said. “If you wait, this spark will turn into a fire that will be beyond control,” he added.
    “What you did in Dadri or anywhere else, India is not this. Today, these people have tarnished the image of India, not only in India but across the world. India, today, feels threatened by these elements,” he said.
    “I have to say with regret that Muslims, all the minorities are living in danger. They are scared. They feel threatened — for their lives, for the lives of their children,” said Abdullah. “This didn’t happen earlier. This didn’t happen during Vajpayee’s time.”

  • kaalchakra

    Riaz Haq

    Farooq Abdullah has a point.

  • riazhaq

    #Hindutva #Science? Pranks And Scientific ‘Cranks’ in #Modi’s #India | Nidheesh J Villatt | Tehelka Investigations,

    http://www.tehelka.com/2016/01/hindutva-pranks-and-scientific-cranks/#.VpnXJWjviDc.twitter

    Similar to Zia’s Pakistan, apart from creating an atmosphere where those who uphold a scientific temper are physically attacked and even killed (for instance the murder of anti-superstition activist Govind Pansare in Maharashtra in February last year), the government has also appointed Hindutva supporters with questionable academic credentials as heads of scientific institutions. There have also been instances of public funds used for researching ‘Hindutva science’. This raises the important question that many are asking: Is the Hindutva brigade aiming for the creation of a ‘Hindu Pakistan’?

    “By contaminating science with absurd claims based on an ultra-nationalist political project, these self-proclaimed scientists are out to make the society regressive,” says Gauhar Raza, a scientist and poet based in Delhi. “Religious epics are narrated to younger generations as historical truths. This is exactly what happened in Pakistan.”

  • engrich