IN November 1945 one of the top Congress leaders inaugurated on Marine Drive in Mumbai, just next to the Chowpati Beach, the Pransukhlal Mafatlal Hindu Swimming Pool. It was, and still is, exclusively for the use of Hindus. Its doors remain shut, even in 2013, for Muslims and other communities. No prizes for guessing who that top leader was. There was one and only one top Congress leader who would have done the deed, namely, Vallabhbhai Patel. For long a plaque on the frontage of the premises boldly proclaimed his achievement.
Its implications were lost on none. The astute advocate of the two-nation theory, Mohammad Ali Jinnah, was quick to seize on it. In a statement issued on November 18, 1945, from New Delhi, in a rejoinder to Patel’s speech at the All-India Congress Committee (AICC) session, Jinnah said, “As to his other slogans that Hindus and Muslims are brothers and one nation, the less Sardar Patel talks about it [the] better. It does not come with any grace from his mouth, at any rate. For did not Mr Vallabhbhai Patel perform the opening ceremony of swimming bath in Bombay meant exclusively for Hindus? Has he forgotten that some young men demonstrated protesting against his participation in the opening ceremony of the swimming bath which excluded the Muslim brethren even sharing the sea-water” (The Nation’s Voice, Volume IV, Waheed Ahmad ed., 1947, 3/3).
Neither Jawaharlal Nehru nor C. Rajagopalachari (Rajaji) would have stooped to this. Nehru had good reason to write in his Autobiography: “Many a Congressman was a communalist under his national cloak” (page 136).
Patel is best judged by the cabal which idolises him today. L.K. Advani: At Ayodhya on November, 19, 1990: “Henceforth, only those who fight for Hindu interests would rule India.” October 2, 1990: “Secular policy is putting unreasonable restrictions on Hindu aspirations.” To the BBC: “It would not be wrong to call the BJP a Hindu party” (Organiser, August 5, 1989; emphasis added, throughout). On October 17, 1989, The Times of India editorially censured him: “Mr Advani while holding forth on ‘Bharat Mata’, now goes so far as to deny that Mahatma Gandhi was the Father of the Nation” (for details vide the writer’s book The RSS and the BJP, LeftWord, Chapter 4, “The RSS and Gandhi”). The BJP’s affection for Gandhi is a recent and calculated development.
What could be said to be the first act of terrorism in independent India?
Everybody would agree that killing of Mahatma Gandhi by a Hindu fanatic Nathuram Godse constitutes the first terrorist act in independent India. Godse, a Maharashtrian Brahmin, hailing from Pune was associated with Hindu Mahasabha at the time of Mahatma’s assassination and had his initial forays in the world of politics with the RSS. During his tour of the area Hedgewar, the first supremo of RSS, use to be accompanied by Nathuram , the future assassin of Gandhi. Godse had in fact joined the RSS in 1930, winning prominence as a speaker and organiser.
If somebody poses before you another simple query relating to similar episodes in the sixty plus year trajectory of independent India – then what would be your response. Perhaps you would like to add the death of Indira Gandhi – killed by her Sikh bodyguards , killing of Rajeev Gandhi – who fell to a suicide attack by a Tamil Hindu woman, or for that matter demolition of the 500 year old Babri mosque by the marauders of the RSS-VHP-BJP-Shiv Sena. If one follows the debate further you would like to underline the 1984 riots ( actually genocide of Sikhs mainly perpetrated by Hindu lumpen elements instigated by the then ruling Congress Party with due connivance of Hindutva brigade), emergence of Khalistani terrorists movement or the eight year old Gujarat genocide executed with military precision allegedly by the RSS and its affiliated organisations led by one of those Hindu Hriday Samrats.
Compare all these major episodes in the history of Independent india – which encompassed many a terrorist acts within them - with the mental image which conjures up in your mind or which finds prominence in the media when one listens to any terrorist act in any part of the country. Does it have any resemblance with the image of a member of the majority community or one of those minority communities ? You would agree that the mental image/projected image has features specific to one of the religious minorities in our country. If in the late eighties or early nineties it would have been the image of a turbaned Sikh, the end of first decade of the 21st century has found its replacement with a bearded Muslim.
Question naturally arises why is it that despite their participation in many a gruesome incidents, the role played by them in instigating riots (as noted by many a commissions of enquiry) or there [their]admission before camera about the planning which went in making a genocide happen (courtesy Tehelka sting operation or the interview given by Keka Shastri to rediff.com) the Hindu fanatic has not become a part of our social common sense. Why when someone called Sadhvi Pragya or Major Purohit or Dayanand Pandey or for that matter Swami Aseemanand are found to be engaged in conspiring and executing terrorist acts and police decipher their certain involvement in similar sinister operations earlier as well, we are ready to call them ‘exception’ and when a completely innocent Muslim youth is arrested by the police, the media is ready to paint him the real mastermind of few terrorist acts. Why the slogan coined by one of the majoritarian formations ‘All Muslims are not terrorists but all terrorists are Muslim’ does not receive broadest possible condemnation which it deserves.
Originally published at http://www.viewpointonline.net/site/component/content/article/38-bottomnews/3508-two-nation-theory-part-x-minoritizing-the-shia.html
As the law and order situation deteriorates and confrontations become more common, moderates step in to suggest “compromises”, chipping away at various Shia practices and privileges one by one
It is not new for religious leaders to insist that other religious groups are on the wrong path. In the Semitic (Judeo-Christian-Islamic) religious tradition, the lines between the “correct” religion and all others tend to be especially sharp. This tendency carries over into the various sects within the religions, with leaders routinely branding other sects as deviants and heretics. But what happens in practice in social life is notalways (or only) determined by religious fanatics. European societies, where church and state were heavily intertwined in the middle ages and persecution of heretics was routine, were gradually secularized; the practice of declaring other sects as heretics and burning them at the stake died out centuries ago, though anti-Semitism remained and had it climax just a few decades ago.
In the Islamicate world, religion provided a critical early motivator and glue for empire building, but Islam did not develop a serious theory of politics and politics mostly developed from pre-Islamic Persian, Roman and Central Asian models. Shias did have a certain separate identity (though with great variety within the Shia tradition) and revolts occurred with some regularity in the first centuries, but the later empires were rarely concerned with regulating religious belief in the way the church tried to regulate belief in Europe for several centuries (the Safavid enforcement of Shia orthodoxy in Iran being an exception). In the Indian subcontinent, the Turko-Aghan invaders were mostly Sunni, but Shias joined the ruling class in the Mughal Empire and were rarely persecuted on purely religious grounds. Modernization introduced mass-based politics into Indian society and existing religious differences, British imperial policiesand emergent bourgeois politics combined in various proportions to lead to partition and the creation of Pakistan as “a Muslim homeland”. Jinnah and his fellow Muslim league leaders were mostly ignorant of Islamic theology and relatively unconcerned about sectarian differences within the Muslim community. But once Pakistan had been created, it proved easy for Islamist politicians (even those who had strenuously opposed Pakistan because they saw the leaders of the Pakistan movement as Westernized pseudo-Muslims) to grab hold of the “Islamic state” lever and aim for real power.
Kerala probably got the worst of the assorted brutalities of Vedic Brahminism among different Indian states and the avarnas (those in the lower strata in Brahminical hierarchy) of Kerala were the most destitute and depraved in the bigoted social system that was Kerala Hinduism of yester-years. There are people who believe it didn’t used to be always this way. They say there was a time when Buddhism and Jainism flourished in Kerala during which society was much more egalitarian and equitable-a (relative) utopia in contrast to later times when an exploitative priestly caste (Namboothiri brahmins) and their savarna (upper-caste) allies denied even basic dignity and humanity to the lower orders. I don’t really have an opinion on this but I suspect the truth lies somewhere in the middle. Things certainly got radically different with the increasing influence of Namboothiris and I am sure the transition from Buddhism and Jainism into Vedic Brahminism caused loss of prestige and power to those tribes that were the most vigorous patrons of the losing religions. It is indeed highly likely that many of them would have been deemed avarna and shunned by the winning faction but to extend this framework to all lower orders would be a stretch. Also, there are people who say there isn’t really any difference between Buddhism and Hinduism in practice (or rather how it was practiced in ancient India) and this extends even to the theological justification for caste discrimination. I am of the opinion that theology doesn’t matter all that much since humans have an amazing unparalleled ability to contextualize anything (which means the ability to make up BS as and when necessary to serve any purpose). What it would mean is that it is entirely possible a relatively liberal culture was replaced by a tyrannical one and this doesn’t need to have everything to do with theology but rather to the existence of a new political structure along with different power equations among various players (which made the Vedic Brahminism as practiced by Namboothiris possible).
With this intro, let me introduce “Margins“- a blog by Ajay Sekher.
Start here: Architectural and Iconographic Relics of Buddhism in Kerala
Pariyapuram: Neo Buddhism and Social Change in Malabar: “[U]nfortunately after the re-Hinduization period following the temple entry politics and republican rule the Avarna people have lost their political and historical awareness and memories and found cozy asylums in the so called greater fold of liberal Hinduism. The RSS and the right wing Hindutva forces are now encroaching into the cave at Pariyapuram and there is already an enamel fresco depicting Rama, Lakshmana, Hanuman and Sita worshiping a Linga in the cave. It is only a few years old and interestingly depicts Sita as prostrating and fondling the phallus with her hands. The VHP has also recently made a plea to make this cave a Hindu pilgrim place.”
Women in Kerala especially Avarna or dalitbahujan women were forced to uncover their breasts in public by the caste feudal lords for more than a millennium as a symbolic humiliating bodily practice reinstating caste and gender hierarchy. This dehumanizing practice that followed genocidal violence came to currency around the 8th century when Brahmanic Hinduism was established here subverting Buddhism through a hegemonic nexus between patriarchal priestocracy and the militia clans and continued up to the 20th century. Brahmanic patriarchy and its Savarna subservient Sudra foot soldiers were maintaining this inhuman convention in the name of the Sanatana Hindu religion and its sacred purity tradition with bloody repression and violence for all these 1200 years at least with regional variations.
This heinous Hindu caste practice came to an end in Nanjinad in south Travancore in mid 19th century with the colonial missionary interventions that contributed to the Nadar rebellion that transformed Travancore challenging Savarna power and absolute hegemony for the first time in the modern times.
This blogpost is an assortment of some of my earlier comments at different forums on the subject of petro-terrorism. There is no denying the fact that terrorism is a real threat. But at the same time we cannot overlook the fact that 9/11 provided an opportunity to the Big Oil in the West to intervene in the Middle East region to secure its vast natural resources from the competing powers. Hence the name, True Lies of Petro-terrorism.
In his article titled “True Lies” Nadeem F. Paracha (NFP) of Dawn News asks an interesting question.
NFP: If US drone strikes in Pakistan’s tribal areas whip up an enraged sense of revenge among the area’s Pashtun populace, what do terrorist attacks by the extremists create?
It is a valid logical argument but this argument is based on syllogistic logic. We need to be careful using syllogism for knowing the truth because even when one premise is slightly wrong we end up with an incorrect result. An instance: first premise; Socrates is a rational being: second premise; Socrates is a man: result: all men are rational beings. But all men are not rational beings especially the terrorists? Deductive reasoning in this example is correct but the second premise “Socrates is a man” is flawed on the count of inductive reasoning. Of course Socrates is a man but there are different kind of men, some are more rational than others depending on their education.
NFP is right about the fact that the US drone strikes whip up a sense of revenge among the tribals because in this case the perpetrator of the crime is clear and identifiable. But when it comes to the terrorist attacks the picture gets a little more complex. Here we need to draw a distinction between the terrorist attacks inside tribal areas and the terrorist attacks in the settled areas. We often hear about the infighting between different terrorist networks, it is sometimes a turf war and sometimes retaliatory and retributive infighting between different tribes, clans and terror networks. Thus NFP’s syllogism is correct, both drone attacks and suicide bombings inside tribal areas whip up a sense of revenge among the tribals. Tribal areas is a different world altogether, a world without any writ of the government and a heavily militarized population (thanks to the Soviet-Afghan war legacy) where disputes are settled through Jirgas and retribution is a common practice among different families, clans and tribes.
In my previous post: Is democracy consistent with Islam? I made a distinction between politics and culture and said that a democratic system of governance falls in the category of politics while liberalism as a value-system falls in the category of culture. When we say that Islam and democracy are incompatible, we make a category mistake as serious as the Islamists’ misperception that democracy is un-Islamic. They too mix up democracy with liberalism. In my arguments I conceded that there is some friction between liberalism as a culture and Islam as a religion. But democracy isn’t about religion or culture. It is simply a multi-party representative political system that confers legitimacy upon a government which comes to power through an election process which is a contest between more than one political parties, to ensure that it is voluntary. Thus, democracy and politics is about matters of governance and economics while culture is about the socio-moral values and the kind of social matrix that we, as individuals and families, want around us. There is some overlapping between politics and culture but as an heuristic principle this distinction holds true.
When I discuss the political pragmatism of the PTI, the reader will further appreciate the fact that realpolitik is mostly about power and rarely about cultural matters. Let us admit at the outset that Imran Khan is a very educated, well-informed, articulate and charismatic leader. Being an Oxford graduate he is far better informed than our local politicians. And he is a liberal at heart. Most readers won’t agree due to his strong anti-imperialism and the West-bashing demagoguery but I’ll try to explain. Like I said earlier that there is a difference between politics and culture; anti-imperialism is a political stance and liberalism is a cultural temperament. There is a theory called Reflective equilibrium. It states that our minds try to create a harmony between our different sets of beliefs and actions. If there is a divergence between our beliefs and actions, it leads to cognitive dissonance. To avoid this dissonance we try to attune our beliefs to bring them in conformity with our actions and vice versa.
Updated with a postscript on Arab Spring added at the bottom:
Some people are under the impression that democracy and Islam are incompatible. But I don’t see any contradiction between democracy and Islam. Though I admit, there is some friction between Islam and liberalism. When we say that there is a contradiction between Islam and democracy, we make a category mistake which is a very serious logical fallacy. We must be precise about the definitions of the terms that we employ.
Democracy is simply a representative political system that ensures representation, accountability, the right of the electorate to vote governments in and vote governments out. In this sense when we use the term democracy we mean a multi-party representative political system that confers legitimacy upon a government which comes to power through an election process which is a contest between more than one political parties, to ensure that it is voluntary. Thus democracy is nothing more than a multi-party political system.
But some of us romantics get carried away in their boundless enthusiasm and ascribe meanings to the words that are quite subjective and fallacious. Some will hyphenate it with liberalism and call it a liberal-democracy while others will call it an informed or enlightened democracy. In my opinion the only correct conjunction to democracy is a representative-democracy. There is a big difference between democracy and liberalism. Democracy falls under the category of politics while liberalism falls in the category of culture. And we don’t want to mix politics and culture together because it will give us a toxic blend which is an anathema to some of our core sensibilities: religion is roughly a sub-category of culture and it will be a violation of the tenets of secularism to involve religion/culture in the political matters. Politics must strictly be about allocation of resources, i.e. economics and any mention to culture, religion or value-system must offend our liberal sensibilities and secular aesthetics.
Let me admit at the outset that Assad is an illegitimate tyrant who must abdicate his hereditary throne to the will of the people when the opportune moment arrives. But at the moment our primary concern shouldn’t be bringing democracy to Syria; at the moment our first and foremost priority should be reducing the level of violence in Syria. There are two parties to this conflict: the regime and the rebels. It is not possible for the regime to get off the back of the tiger because the tiger will eat it alive. The regime is fighting a war of defense; and what is at stake in this war is its survival; not only its survival but the survival of its clan: the Alawite minority of 2.6 million people who comprise 12% population of Syria’s 22 million people. It isn’t about Assad’s ego; even if Assad wants to give up, the people around him won’t let him.
The second party to the conflict is the rebels who are generously supported by the GCC and Turkey (Sunni Muslims), NATO and Israel. Don’t get alarmed and be dismissive of the possibility of an alliance between the Sunni Muslims of Saudi Arabia, Qatar, Jordan, Turkey and the Zionists of Israel. It is realpolitik: the enemy of my enemy is my friend. In fact the Western interest in this war is partly about Israel’s regional security because the Shia axis comprising Iran-Syria-Hezbollah is an existential threat to Israel; and with each passing year the nature of this threat will enhance proportionally with the increased sophistication of Iranian missile program. In the 2006 Israel-Hezbollah conflict in Lebanon, most of the rockets fired by Hezbollah into the Israeli territory missed their target; but according to some reports Iran and Hezbollah have already developed smarter missiles and with every passing year the threat of Hezbollah’s guided missiles so close to Israeli borders will haunt the Israeli strategists’ dreams.
Another reason for the unnatural Western especially US, Britain and France’s interest in the happenings in Syria is about making friendly autocratic Arab regimes friendlier and about neutralizing the enemy’s capabilities by taking advantage of the opportunity provided to them in the form of a just war based on moral reasons. Let me elaborate this complexity. First of all we must admit that the political movement in Syria for enfranchisement is real; and even the militant elements find some support in the Sunni majority areas of rural Syria. An insurgency cannot survive without some level of support from the local population. And especially in the context of Syria which has ill-guarded borders with Turkey, Lebanon, Jordan, Israel and Iraq; the cross-border movement of militants, arms and munitions cannot be tightly controlled.
Introduction: The Pakistani military establishment is rightfully blamed for creating the Taliban; but the phenomena of religious extremism and terrorism is not limited to Pakistan; this conflagration has engulfed the whole of Islamic world from Iraq and Syria to Algeria and Indonesia and even the Muslim minorities in China, Thailand and Philippines. Pakistani establishment does not has access to all these regions, thus, aside from local actors, some regional and global actors are also responsible for creating the menace of Islamic extremism and terrorism. A more holistic understanding of the problem will identify three actors responsible for creating this menace: Pakistani military establishment; Saudi and Gulf petro-monarchies and last but not the least, the Reagan Administration’s support for the Afghan Jihad in the context of the Cold War.
A recent EU parliament report also identified the Wahabi-Salafi roots of Global Terrorism; a laudable report which ironically or rather expectedly doesn’t even makes a passing reference to the role of Western powers in sponsoring Islamic terrorism during the 80s. Plausible deniability in waging proxy wars is a clever Machiavellian tactic in realpolitik but it is a form of “denial” which is always a part of the problem and never a part of the solution. Truth is a sine qua non in any Truth and Reconciliation approach. But this write-up is about the role of Saudi Arabia as the proverbial Caliph of Islam in promoting extremism and terrorism in the Muslim Ummah or Commonwealth; the role of Western powers in creating this hoax, I have already discussed in my blogpost: Terrorism as pretext for intervention.
This is a picture of Veena Malik, our desi version of Paris Hilton, an epitome of superficiality, shallowness and inferiority complex. When I googled Veena Malik I had trouble finding an appropriate picture for a “safe account.” Let’s avoid being normative here and think what caused liberalism to fail in the East and especially in the Islamic countries? It is partly a political failure but mostly it is the failure of commercial media as an educator and institution. It is basically an issue of how a new technology interacts with the local culture. Electronic media is a bridge that connects the West and the East.
The traditionalist masses of the East have no way of knowing what is happening in the advanced society of the West except through television, cinema and now the internet. When they turn on their TVs they see nudity, vulgarity and obscenity. It is irrelevant for the discussion at hand whether nudity is wrong per se or not. Just think about the culture shock that the traditionalist Easterners experience when they look at these pictures and videos. They believe that this is the Western culture, they believe that these are the liberal values.