Indian writer’s on warpath: Emphasising the threats to a liberal society

(The background to this post is the return of literary awards by many Indian writers, to protest against the killings of some writers and increasing attacks on minorities over issues like eating beef.)

Thomas Mann’s observation that “a person lives not only his own life, but also that of his contemporaries”, applies to everyone, but perhaps even more to writers and poets because they feel and speak for us even when we are not able to put into words our deepest feelings, and sometimes are not even conscious of them until a poet or a story writer tells us.

Writers respond to what goes on around them and to the mood of the times. As thinkers, they occasionally express ideas and views that do not always find acceptance. This brings writers into conflict with the powers that be.

Books are banned and even pulped — as in the case of Wendy Doniger’s book on Hinduism. Authors are physically attacked and even killed for their writings. Salman Rushdie was forced into hiding for many years because of death threats. In conditions where writing is stifled, the form evolves and morphs to find expression. Continue reading “Indian writer’s on warpath: Emphasising the threats to a liberal society”


In Praise of Sonia Gandhi

Hindutva and the Upcoming Indian Elections

The Hindutva movement has effectively used the same tactics- that Gramsci called ‘war of position’ and the ‘war of movement’ to advance its political agenda. Mrs Gandhi, in her own manner, has returned to that strategy. She has extended the possibilities of Gandhism today in context of rabid communal discourse of the sangh parivar.

Twenty five years ago, for the first time since Indian independence, a political party came to power at the center by whipping up a mass communal hysteria. That party was the Congress and its leader was Rajiv Gandhi, who commented that the “earth shakes when a big tree falls”, as if the anti- Sikh pogrom was the most natural phenomenon. He was soon to backtrack from such a frontal communal posture towards balanced communalism. He let open the locks of the Babri Masjid and simultaneously supported the Muslim Law Bill. In both cases, he provided a shot in the arm to the regressive sections among the Hindus and the Muslims.

The BJP- a relatively minor political entity in the 1984 elections, had been long gestating in various garbs for over six decades. It was quick to learn the technique from the Congress’s 1984 performance and catapulted itself to seize power at the center by whipping up a frenzy of mass hysteria leading to the destruction of the Babri Masjid in 1992. Rajiv Gandhi was no longer on the scene by then, and it was left to PV Narasimha Rao to be remembered for the infamy of 6th December 1992. Nowadays, it is also often overlooked that the destruction of the Babri Masjid provided a larger fillip to Muslim fundamentalism in South Asia- in Bangladesh and Pakistan.
Continue reading “In Praise of Sonia Gandhi”

Why the BJP is proud of Varun Gandhi

…because,according to Dr Murli Manohar Joshi,who too now has a blog,

In our traditions…(t)here is a universal cosmic connectivity and through that connectivity, the mind boggling diversity becomes a unity. Therefore the approach to life, non-life, the void or anything else we come across was holistic one.The void is not ignored as an empty space or a lumpen matter as something lowly.

What Hemant Hegde did not know about Hindutva

On Friday, Hindu radicals in the southern state of Karnataka stymied plans to erect a 20m (67ft) statue of the film star, on the grounds that he was a Christian. The move came amid a backlash against Western culture that has raised concerns that parts of India are at risk of being “Talebanised” by Hinduism’s far Right.

The Chaplin sculpture was being built at a cost of about 3.5 million rupees (£48,600) near the town of Udupi, the site of several Hindu temples. The structure was to form part of a film set, but work ground to a halt when Hindu activists chased the workers away and buried the building materials.

Hemant Hegde, the film-maker, told local reporters that he abandoned the project after being threatened by a mob of about 50 people, whose leader told him: “We will not allow you to construct a statue of a Christian actor.” Source

Mr. Hemant Hegde should have known that the Hindutva bandwagon don’t have no sense of humour. Charlie – humanist and communist- would have laughed at this episode, or he might have made this speech, if someone cared to listen.

Nazi Literature in South America and India

Roberto Bolano in his recently translated novel Nazi Literature in the Americas weaves an entire literary universe filled with imaginary writers and their writings.Not all writers were,however, fans of Hitler or other Nazi leaders or even their ideology. Bolano’s biographies of these imaginary writers, inspired in a way by Borges’ Book of Imaginary Beings, are short- the longest runs into a few pages, the shortest about a page in length. Marked by sharply etched portraits of the writers and of their equally imaginary writings, the novel reads like a racy potboiler, except that there is no evident plot in the novel. Only the last story (which readers of Bolano’s novel Distant Star will be familiar with because it is a summary of the same novel) is somewhat longer and has Bolano himself speaking in the first person and somewhat gives the clues to the underlying impulses behind the novel.

In this he recounts the story of Ramirez Hoffman, a Chilean air plane pilot who seemingly heralded a ‘new era’ in Chilean arts after the coup against Salvador Allende’s socialist government and the establishment of Augusto Pinochet’s military dictatorship. Hoffman’s poetry is written in the sky using smokes from his air plane thus announcing the new blend of technology and arts as Chile was ‘recovering its manhood’ under a military dispensation.Some of Hoffman’s poems, all one liners written on the skies, read as follows:

“Death is friendship”
“Death is Chile”
“Death is responsibility”
“Death is growth”
“Death is communion”
“Death is cleansing” and so on till “Death is resurrection” and the generals themselves realize that something is amiss. It is, however, something far more macabre that leads to his downfall.

Bolano’s prose is marked by the alacrity of flash fiction (which to me is one of the most important developments in literature in the internet age), but nevertheless carries forward the tradition of the serious novel. The absence of an explicit plot in the story does not mean that there is no plot- as a post- modern reading would suggest. Instead, the plot is hidden below the surface, like an underground river.

The point that he makes is that Nazi- like brutality has a long lineage, and it resides perceptibly and imperceptibly in literature as well. Literature is, therefore, a battlefield in the recovery of humanity and is not outside the realm of politics, and neither is politics outside the realm of poetry and literature.

Reading the novel, I could not but relate very much to India where, interestingly, it is rather normal to have politicians, in the tradition of rulers of the past like Bahadur Shah Zafar and Nawab Wajid Ali Shah, to double up as poets and writers. It is therefore not unusual that two major contemporary politicians- Atal Bihari Vajpayee and Narendra Modi, former Prime Minister and a present Chief Minister of Gujarat respectively, belonging to what is easily the closest we have to a fascist political movement, the Bharatiya Janata Party, have some claim to being poets.

To look for Nazi literature in India, one does not need biographies of imaginary writers. In India, they live among us, in our times. The question of literature and politics being separate also does not arise. They are so intricately tied up that both are the same. The nightmare and the muse.

Related Posts on Roberto Bolano

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Advani as PM Candidate

Advani is the BJP’s Prime Ministerial candidate for the next General Elections slated for 2009. The sense of timing is not lost on anyone- one day before Mr Modi, whose governance Mr Advani much admires, faces the elections in Gujarat. The country can now look forward to some more yatras perhaps.

Although party leaders denied that the issue had any connection with the Gujarat polls, privately it was said that it was meant to give a signal to Gujarat Chief Minister Narendra Modi that he should not see himself as a future BJP prime minister. Source

If the timing is not confounding, the reasons certainly are. One would have thought that this is to project a BJP MP from Gujarat as the future Prime Minister, and that too one who admires Mr Modi. But the quote above indicates something else- that Narendra Modi has ambitions to become the Prime Minister of India.

And not just that- it raises another question about the purpose of the elections. Is it that the Gujarat elections are going to determine who the next CM of Gujarat is going to be or is it to short list the prime ministerial candidates in the BJP?

What led to BJP’s announcement now?

Image Source: The Tribune

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What is wrong with Gujarat?

It is not merely Narendrabhai. Ashish Khetan, the man behind the Tehelka expose, now fears for his life and explains what really is wrong with Gujarat.

“There was this sense of gloating, boasting at their sense of achievement at what they had managed to accomplish.”

More shocking, he said, was the attitude of ordinary Gujaratis.

“There was no remorse, no shame – just the view that the Muslims had it coming. It shows how much the mind of an average Gujarati has been poisoned,” Khetan said.

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It is still 6 December 1992

Narendra Modi’s speech yesterday in Godhra is a reminder, if one was needed, that the great setback to Indian secularism that was unleashed by razing to ground the Babri Masjid on December 6, 1992, continues unabated. There is still celebration in Mr Modi’s stable regarding the Gujarat pogrom of 2002. A lesson that the Hindutva family learned soon after 06 December was that feeling apologetic about brazen attacks on minorities in general and Muslims in particular is uncalled for. There is enough support among the middle classes for this kind of politics for them to rejoice and take pride in such demolitions.

The Janus faced Vajpayee had proclaimed on the eve of the demolition that zameen ko samthal karna padega (literally- the ground has to be evened out, in other words, the Masjid has to be razed to the level of the ground). Narendra Modi yesterday called for meting out street smart justice a la Bal Thackeray, to anyone that he considers to be a guilty.

Here is the video from 5 December, 1992 instigating the kar sewaks.

and here is Modi speaking in Godhra yesterday, justifying the killing of Sohrabbudin.

‘The Centre talks of imposing Article 356 in Gujarat but the Gujaratis will give me AK-56 to fight it,” he said. (link)

During the days of terrorism in Punjab in the 1980s, year after year the people were denied elections in the name of disturbed conditions in the state. Ditto for Kashmir. But in Gujarat, the country not only has a ‘vibrant’ state but tolerates an unrepentant fascist regime to continue to make a mockery of law and constitution day in and day out. The only time now that the ruling elites make noises over democracy is when it becomes a ‘hindrance’ to neo- liberal ‘reforms’, like when Manmohan Singh expresses his frustrations while releasing a book by his commerce minister, Kamal Nath, and praises the Chinese:

I sincerely pray and hope that we remain a functional democracy. But democracy has certain disadvantages….Now consider this in our system. Time is not valued, whether dealing with government files or applications for doing business, doing this, doing that, our system doesn’t value time and that’s one weakness of the Indian system that worries me a great deal….

I think the best that we can do is to help transform the mindsets and this is where people like Kamal Nath, Sharad Pawar, Chidambaram, Montek have been a great help to me.

But no one even in his party, except the admirably courageous Mrs Sonia Gandhi, is worried about the BJP and its unrelenting assault since the demolition of the Babri Masjid in 1992!

It is no wonder then, that it is Jawaharlal Nehru, the man who cautioned us against equating minority and majority communalism and stood for a secular and democratic India has been much attacked and reviled all these years by the left, right and center.

But the question is whether, in the midst of all this, he will outlive the current breed of Hindutva politicians? I would have liked to answer this with a resounding ‘yes’ but find myself shuddering. I remind myself of Antonio Gramsci’s statement that there may be a pessimism of the mind, but there is an optimism of the will.

But sometimes the will is only as good as the mind. Today, yet another 6 December, is one of those days.

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Ramar Sethu and Common Sense

One does not have to be a Marxist to see common sense.

Romila Thapar writes on the Ramar Sethu controversy.

Some detailed discussion is necessary as to what would be the economic benefits of such a scheme in enhancing communication and exchange. Such benefits should also be seen in terms of the future of local livelihoods in case they are negatively affected. Are there plans for the occupational relocation of local communities that may at the end be at a disadvantage?  We have become a society so impressed with figures and graphs that we tend to forget that each number is actually a human being.

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Confessions of a Swadeshi Reformer

Harish Khare reviews Yashwant Sinha’s book “Confessions of a Swadeshi Reformer”, that despite being “patchy” does give an idea about the policy debates during the NDA years and how a party of swadeshis continued the “reform” policies of its predecessor, the Narasimha Rao government.

Sinha talks how he repeatedly ran into difficulties with some of his own colleagues in the sangh parivar. On opening up the insurance sector: “My proposal, however, met with severe opposition from many of my colleagues. They felt that we were going back on all that we had stood for in the past, that the proposal involved a major departure from our philosophy and that it was anti-swedeshi. There was hardly any support for my proposal”

…The problem is that he glosses over the political economy of the Vajpayee phenomenon. He proceeds on a somewhat naive assumption as if vested economic interests and corporate houses had no role in sponsoring the Vajpayee premiership from 1998 onwards. Vajpayee could not be allowed to move away from the “economic reforms” course and it was Sinha’s job to deliver. But the BJP crowd refused to move away from the anti-reform, anti-globalisation slogans of the early 1990s.

…Sinha himself believed that he could easily switch from being a swadeshi pamphleteer to a servant of global corporate interests and would not attract any opposition: “Unfortunately, my views were not appreciated by many other proponents of swadeshi, despite my repeated efforts to explain it to them. An impression gathered ground that, while I started as a staunch supporter of swadeshi, I changed course and became an advocate of liberalisation, privatisation and globalisation.”

…Sinha himself believed that he could easily switch from being a swadeshi pamphleteer to a servant of global corporate interests and would not attract any opposition: “Unfortunately, my views were not appreciated by many other proponents of swadeshi, despite my repeated efforts to explain it to them. An impression gathered ground that, while I started as a staunch supporter of swadeshi, I changed course and became an advocate of liberalisation, privatisation and globalisation.”

Sinha recounts many frustrating moments as Vajpayee’s Finance Minister. He chafes at being nicknamed “roll-back Sinha”. However, he does not draw the simple lesson: good intentions and even self-proclaimed patriotic commitments are not enough. A self-advertised ‘deshbhakt’ does not ipso facto become an achiever or doer; nor does RSS orientation equip an administrator with a magic wand that would make disappear entrenched bureaucratic habits and aberrations.

However, to his credit Sinha gives the impression of remaining his own man, not easily troubled by the critics, in and out of the party. He does see through the so-called civil society’s deceit: “People who belong to the tax-paying class, like the middle class, industrialists, journalists and high net worth individuals — those who are the opinion makers in our society — praise a finance minister who gives them concessions, and criticises the one who imposes a burden on them. It is as simple as that.” His party continues to refuse to see the class and elitist biases at work in the dominant sections of the Indian media.

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Watching Parzania

I have to admit that the first time I tried to watch Parzania a month or so back, I had to switch off the movie after less than midway- as saffron flags wave and Hindutva mobs start attacking the building where little Parzan lives with his parents and sister.

Today, I did not have the heart to watch from the beginning and began from where I had left off- the scene where Asif’s 75- year old father is butchered to death by the mob.

One cannot but feel utterly helpless while watching the movie- and realizing that it tells of an event that has occurred in so recent memory makes one shudder.

The scenes showing the mobs going on rampage, and the one later when the National Human Rights Commission team listens to one person after the other narrate how “helpful” and “active” the police had been are particularly nauseating and make one lose faith in the reality around us. Only the middle section where the parents frenziedly search for their son are, surprisingly, less tension ridden, at least for the viewer.

It is ironical that the first person who speaks up against the inaction of the police during the proceedings of the Commission is a bootlegger in Gandhi’s dry state.

Earlier there is a shot where Naseeruddin Shah’s face is juxtaposed against Gandhi’s picture on the wall of the police station where he goes for help in finding Parzan.

The picture in the police station of Gandhi with his toothless smile looked out of place.

Gandhi could not have been born in Gujarat.

A review of the movie

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“I am a Hindu”

Indscribe has a post on the controversy in the Hindi blogosphere on the collection of short stories Main Hindu Hoon (I am a Hindu) by Asghar Wajahat. Shah Alam Camp ki ruhain (The Spirits of Shah Alam Camp, pdf) is a collection of mini stories about the Shah Alam Camp set up in Ahmedabad after the Gujarat pogrom in 2002. Asghar Wajahat’s play directed by Habib Tanvir Jis Lahore Nahin Vekhiya, o jamiya nahin (One that has not seen the grand city of Lahore, is not yet born) was a scathing indictment of the the partition and the frenzy that followed it.

One of the mini stories from The Spirits of Shah Alam Camp:

A political leader asks a spirit who has come to visit Shah Alam Camp: “Do you have a father and mother?”

“No, they were both killed.”

“What about brothers and sisters?”


“Any other relatives alive?’

“No, they’re all dead.”

“Are you comfortable here?”

“Yes, I am.”

“Do you get enough to eat?”

“Yes, I do.”

“Do you have clothes on your back?”

“I do.”

“Do you need anything else?”

“No, nothing.”



The leader is pleased. He says to himself, “The lad is bright. Not like other Muslims.”

Translated by Rakshanda Jalil at The Little Magazine

Another short story from a different collection by Wajahat:

Hariram: Gurudev, is Pakistan our enemy?

Gurudev: Yes, child, it is our enemy.

Hariram: What does Pakistan want?

Gurudev: It wants to destroy us.

Hariram: And what do we want?

Gurudev: We want to destroy Pakistan.

Hariram: Then we are friends, not enemies.

Gurudev: How Hariram?

Hariram: We have the same intentions.

Lies Half Told

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Dalits and Hindutva

At EPW Pralay Kanungo reviews Hindutva and Dalits: Perspectives for Understanding Communal Praxis edited by Anand Teltumbde.

Gopal Guru makes an insightful observation on Hindutva’s penetration into the dalit bastion. As Guru explains, the public sector not only provided material security to many dalits, but also gave them psychological confidence to resist upper caste domination; with its dismantling, employment is rapidly shrinking and the expanding private sector is unwilling to open its doors to them. Hence, they fall back upon Hindutva primarily for material gains. However, their material objective is very much intertwined with a cultural quest as well. When dalit youths take part in Hindu religious festivals it is not just for a little pocket money, but also for glamour, public visibility, and some kind of cultural satisfaction. The glamour of Hindutva’s culture industry with electronic and digital spectacle overshadows the philosophical, rational and moral rigour of Ambedkarism.Hindutva’s cultural domination gets further reinforced as globalisation fails to provide any meaningful cultural alternative to the dalit youths, thereby compelling them to go for “subsidised satisfaction”. Hence, they fall prey to the promising cultural universe of Hindutva, which is more of a pragmatic choice rather than a substantive one. Hindutva conveniently transmutes the caste into the communal category where dalits become Hindus, forgetting their caste antagonism and adversarial identities.

In the context of Mayawati’s so- called “social engineering” (when it is little more than political opportunism), the following observation by Suhas Paliskar is relevant.

Palsikar concludes that in Maharashtra due to the political and ideological weakness of dalit politics Hindutva has made inroads into the space once occupied by the progressive forces. He rightly suggests that the issue of dalit-Hindutva alliance needs to be examined beyond the realm of electoral politics; it involves larger questions of hegemony and fascism which threaten to obliterate democracy and justice. Dalit politics in Maharashtra might have failed to checkmate Hindutva, but unlike Uttar Pradesh it certainly did not become Hindutva’s partner. Gatade accuses the BSP for subverting the dalit agenda by making an alliance with Hindutva purely for the sake of political power. Analysing the three spells of cohabitation that Mayawati had with the BJP, Gatade argues that Mayawati, who was firm and confident to start with, finally gave in to the communal politics of the Sangh parivar. The worst happened when she gave a clean chit to Narendra Modi and even campaigned for him in the Gujarat elections. Ramesh Kamble mentions that reckless pursuit of political power ironically compelled her to ally with the very Hindu upper caste forces whose hegemony the BSP wanted to demolish.

No Vedanta This

CNN- IBN Live’s exposé of Ramjanambhoomi Trust head Vedanti Maharaj is mind boggling. Another report helps to explains how and why such ‘godmen’ can get away with what they do- it highlights the appeal of such godmen among the younger, including apparently the upwardly mobile ones.

An extract from the CNN- IBN Live’s interview with former income tax commissioner Vishwabandhu Gupta after the exposé.

CNN-IBN: Can there be any criminal proceedings initiated against these Godmen?

Gupta: It’s a fit case for criminal proceedings. Two of the biggest religion mafias are the Ram Janmanbhoomi Nyas and the Vishwa Hindu Parishad amongst the Hindus. They have 10 bogus trusts floated from the same address. The names are there (in our record) and so are the addresses. They are getting money from 50 countries abroad and are also getting tax exemptions. There are no accounts as well. You see, this is a big menace. We have calculated and found that religious leaders annually earn $3 bn which is about Rs 10,000 crore -Rs 15,000 crore worth of money. What they do is they get land at throwaway prices. During the last government, 11 including that Sadhvi Ritambhara – whatever her qualifications are – got a fantastic (sic) piece of land at a throwaway price for the services that she heads today. There have fraudulent names, addresses, existences and expenditures. They use it for spreading communal hatred. Money has been used by Bajrang Dal cadres in Gujarat to purchase Motorola, we have got receipts for that. (emphasis mine)

Watch the video at the CNN-IBN site

image acknowledgement

Gujarat: Thoughts on the Threat from Hindutva and Islam

(This post appeared at earlier this week as part of the series on Remembering Gujarat on the 5th anniversary of the Godhra incident and the Gujarat pogrom. My thanks to Mohib and the other folks there for inviting.)

Aiti maar payi karlande tain ko dardu na ayiya
(Such terrible orgies were wrought on us, O Lord
And you felt no pity, and no pain for us)
– Guru Nanak


In what is probably the first serious study and theorization of communalism in India, historian Bipan Chandra had pointed out in The Rise of Communalism in Modern India, that communalism is a modern phenomenon that arose when politics became mass politics- “communal” riots as we know them today started in the 1890s.

The second aspect that he pointed out and has been contested later by others, is that communalism is primarily an ideology, an ideology whose nearest historical precedent is that of fascism- and it was none other than the now beleaguered but one time hero of Indian nationalism, Jawaharlal Nehru who had pithily pointed out that if fascism will arrive in India, it will arrive in the form of majoritarian (Hindu) communalism.

Whatever be the exigencies of Nehru’s detractors, he has been proved right. Above all, in Gujarat in February- March of 2002, where the State itself turned against its own people and not just that, the government was returned to power by the people of Gujarat in the elections held in December 2002. As if to complete the irony, the elections were fought by the Hindutva Bharatiya Janata Party in the name of “Gujarat’s Asmita” or Gujarat’s Pride.

The Indian National Congress, both in Gujarat as well as in neighboring states has been trying to play the “soft” Hindutva card, it was indeed the single minded doggedness of Mrs Sonia Gandhi who led from the front in countering the Bharatiya Janata Party’s communal venom that has provided a counter to Hindutva at the level of national politics, though the elections that led to the comeback for the INC led UPA were won not on the basis of the secularism but because of mass disenchantment with the uneven “benefits” of neo- liberalism.

Which is what, in my opinion, is the hard fact that liberals and the left have to confront with. For long have we believed, like Nehru himself, that economic development will lead to the elimination of casteism and communalism. Gujarat has shown quite the opposite. A society can continue to develop economically, but instead of eliminating casteism and communalism, it can actually exacerbate it.

The second aspect that Gujarat underlines is more frightening, and something that liberals and the left find it very difficult to accept- the idea that ghettoizastion or segregation of “Muslim” and “Hindu” communities is probably better than mixed neighbourhoods, less impact was felt in those areas in Gujarat where such intermixing did not happen. Eric Hobsbawm, in a different context, has eerily pointed out that ethnic cleansing can actually solve problems. To the further consternation of the liberals, Gujarat may actually prove this for India.

A third citadel of liberal belief that the Gujarat pogrom has attacked is that whatever be the case, the processes of secularization hold out hope- after all, it is pointed out, that rail travel did much more to reduce casteism than any ideological campaign. Again, Gujarat may prove the opposite.

Having listed some of the threats posed by Hindutva- and validated in its Gujarat laboratory,let me pose a different question: what is the nature of the threat from Islam that seems to galvanize Hindutva folks into such ghastly mayhem demonstrated in February 2002?

To answer this, one has to keep in mind the backdrop to the anti- Muslim campaign of the Hindutva outfits that has gained much momentum since the 1980s. There is an overall crisis in society, and as often is the case, a movement forward is often accompanied by a need to borrow masks and symbols from the past- in this case, the perceived past and contemporary threat from Islam to Hindu society.

This crisis is manifested in a further exacerbation of caste conflict in various parts- and Islam has a very significant role to play in this. It was, after all, the Meenakshipuram conversions in 1981, when an entire Dalit village converted to Islam, that led to the formation of the Vishwa Hindu Parishad and its various yatras (one of them flagged off by Mrs Indira Gandhi herself, in her shift to Center- Right politics after 1980).

Note also a point that Tapan Basu et al make in their tract Khaki Shorts and Saffron Flags:

The centrality of Maharashtra in the formation of the ideology and organization of Hindutva in the mid -1920’s might appear rather surprising, as Muslims were a small minority and hardly active, and there had been no major riots in the region during the early 1920’8. But Maharashtra had witnessed a powerful anti -Brahmin movement of backward castes from the 1870:8 onwards when Jyotiba Phule had founded his Satyashodhak Samaj.

It was Islam, lest it not been forgotten, that woke up Indian society from its deep slumber in the early part of the last millennium- it brought the message of equality that the caste system denied, and continues to deny. It may seem incongruous today, but note what M.N Roy in his small but illuminating book The Historical role of Islam had observed:

… To the above highly illuminating statement, it may only be added that the rise of reformers like Kabir, Nanak, Tukaram, Chaitanya, etc. who evidenced a popular revolt against Brahmanical orthodoxy, was to a great extent promoted by the social ecects of Mohammedan conquest.In view of this realistic reading of history, Hindu superciliousness towards the religion and culture of the Muslims is absurd. It insults history and injures the political future of our country. Learning from the Muslims, Europe became the leader of modem civilization. Even to-day, her best sons are not ashamed of the past indebtedness. Unfortunately, India could not be fully benefited by the heritage of Islamic culture, because she did not deserve the distinction.

The attack on Islam and Muslims in India has deepened with a simultaneous crisis in the Muslim world and its supposed confrontation with the West and has confused the issue.

The crisis in India is not that of Islam, but of Indian society- Hindu society if you like. To see the “threat from Islam” in the same light as the West’s own conflict in the middle east leads to an obfuscation of the issue. The “threat from Islam” in India is more in the sense of Roy’s warning of ignoring Islam.

In the words of a contemporary Dalit writer:

The Hindutva maniacs believe that they publicly reserve the rights to call any Muslim a militant and every madarsa a Jehadi terror factory. The Parivar preaches: Hindu fundamentalism is patriotism. But, Muslim fundamentalism is terrorism. And they relentlessly work towards their fanatic goals, trying to turn the best of us into brutes. … We need to fight because the end of Islam in India represents the end of equality.

"We locked away Gandhi on Feb 28"

“Terror was unleashed at Godhra Station because this country follows Gandhi, we locked away Gandhi on Feb 28 (2002), reform yourselves or we will forget Gandhi. Till we follow Gandhi’s policies of non- violence … kneeling before Muslims, terrorism cannot be eliminated. Brothers we have to abandon Gandhi.”

– Praveen Togadia (quoted from his speech in the video)

A heart wrenching documentary Final Solution on the Gujarat pogrom of 2002 and subsequent elections in the Hindutva laboratory.

Link to google videos

Link via comment at All Things Pakistaniat

Remembering 06 December 1992: "Doosra Banwas "

Kaifi Azmi’s poem written in the aftermath of the Babri Masjid demolition revealed the contradictions in the movement that led the demolition.

Ram banwaas se jab laut ke ghar mein aaye,
Yaad jangal bahut aaya jo nagar mein aaye,
Raqsse deewangee aangan mein jo dekha hoga,
6 december ko Shri Ram ne socha hoga,
Itne deewane kahan se mere ghar mein aaye?

Jagmagate thhe jahan Ram key qadmon ke nishaan,
Piyaar kee kahkashan leti thi angdayee jahan,
Mod nafrat ke usee rah guzar mein aaye,
Dharam kya unka hae, kya zaat hae, yeh janta kaun?
Ghar na jalta tau unhe raat mein pehchanta kaun,
Ghar jalane ko mera, log jo ghar mein aaye,
Shakahari hae mere dost tumahara khanjar.

Tumne Babar kee taraf pheke thhe saare patthar
Hae mere sar ki khata zakhm jo sar mein aaye,
Paun Sarjoo mein aabhi Ram ne dhoye bhee na thhe
Ke nazar aaye wahan khoon ke gehre dhabbe,
Paun dhoye bina Sarjoo ke kinare se uthe,
Ram yeh kehte hue aapne dwaare se uthe,
Rajdhani kee fiza aayee nahin raas mujhe,
6 December ko mila doosra banwaas mujhe.

(Acknowledgement: Zafar Iqbal)

A rough translation:

“The Second Exile”

That evening when Lord Ram returned to his home
He remembered the jungles where he had spent his years of exile
When he must have seen the dance of madness that December 6
It must have crossed his mind
From where have so many demented ones landed on my home

Wherever he had stepped and his footprints had shone
The river waters where thousands of stars of love meandered
Instead now took turns of violence and hatred
What is their religion, what is their caste, who knows?
Had the house not burnt, who would have known the faces
Of those who came to burn my house
Your sword, my friend, is vegetarian.

You threw towards Babar all the stones
It is my head’s fault that, instead, it bleeds
Lord Ram had not even washed his feet in the Saryu waters
When he saw deep blots of blood.
Getting up without washing his feet in the waters
Lord Ram left the precincts of his own residence, bemoaning,
The state of my own capital city no longer suits me
This December 6, I have been condemned to a second exile

Related link: Review of PV Narasimha Rao’s book 06 December 1992

Ganesh Devy in the heart of Hindutva’s Lab

A new controversy has arisen in Gujarat. This time around Ganesh Devy. That the soft-spoken Devy could cause a controversy would surprise many.

…The controversy started after Sankarshan Thakur of Tehelka spoke to Devy after the demolition of a mazar of a Sufi saint in Vadodara by municipal authorities who claimed they had only razed an encroachment. Riots broke out. Tracing the source of the growing violence in Gujarat, Ganesh Devy told Tehelka that there was a relationship between a society’s acquisitive tendency and the emergence of violence. He also talked about the role of the ‘decent’ people in breeding hatred.

…Photocopies of the piece were circulated and nearly everybody in Gujarati literature reacted angrily to Devy’s comments. Articles appeared in newspapers and writers made statements demanding that Devy tender a public apology.

…Wali’s tomb was an encroachment, the Sufi mazar was an encroachment, anything which comes in the way of a seamless Hindu Gujarati identity would be stigmatised as an encroachment and then it would be easy to remove it by popular consent. Wali’s tomb is no more, the Vadodara mazar does not exist anymore. Would the democratic world keep watching till something similar happens to Ganesh Devy?


A previous GN Devy interview by Sankarshan Thakur. An excerpt:

You do not become a bad man in Gujarat if you hate Muslims; you are normal. Decent people hate Muslims. And it is not a city phenomenon alone; this is true of villages as well. If a Muslim is traumatised, it is a normal thing. Just to give a sense of how Gujarati Hindus relate to Muslims, I will come to the Narmada issue. Gujarat is extremely pro-dam and, therefore, extremely anti-Medha Patkar. Gujaratis will call all pro-Medha people Muslims.

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Thanks to email prompt by Ishwar Singh Dost for the link to the interview
Picture Acknowledgement