Hitchhiking through India-

Our commentator Prat suggested I speak to Rajat Ubaykar. He and his colleague, Ozzie, hitchhiked for 6months through India.

We just wrapped up our podcast. I’m shocked by how much I learnt doing it. I feel the urban Hindu hegemonic viewpoint (that feeds on a victim mentality) obscures the profound pluralism that makes up India.

BP Podcast episode 48: Hitchhikers Guide to Hindustan

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83 Replies to “Hitchhiking through India-”

  1. Looking forward to hearing it!

    Until then, do you mind listing an example or two of the pluralism you gleaned from talking to them?

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  2. “I feel the urban Hindu hegemonic viewpoint (that feeds on a victim mentality) obscures the profound pluralism that makes up India.”

    Welcome to early 1900s of the Indian nationalist movement!

    When this obvious insight was discovered and a tempting strain discarded for a consciously more pluralist and inclusive one.

    Even those who learn from history and forget it, are condemned to repeat it. We are in one such cycle now.

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    1. “If i may ask, what did we learn from history and what are we condemned to repeat?”

      From Independence to late 80s, becasue of the lessons of Partition and events leading up to it, Indian leadership and intelligentsia knew how critical it was to value and celebrate India’s pluralism and diversity, and not force-feed a monochromatic, Savarkarite, European-nationalism inspired Hindutva onto the masses .

      India got some things wrong in the economic sphere, but this was not one. Despite 33 secessionist movements, to use that old Pak Generals card, there was an essential and organic unity to the country, and no Indian PM featured as “Divider-in-chief” on the world’s most well known magazine cover.

      Zack’s mention of someone’s 6-month travel through India and revelation of its pluralism reminded me of Gandhi’s crisscrossing of India on train, often described as having had a lasting effect on his approach to Indian and INC politics:

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  3. ” Indian leadership and intelligentsia knew how critical it was to value and celebrate India’s pluralism and diversity, and not force-feed a monochromatic, Savarkarite, European-nationalism inspired Hindutva onto the masses .”

    How do you know if that’s what was force fed ? A top down secular /liberal/pluralistic nationalism on a largely conservative/religious country or bottoms up religious conservative nationalism . What’s closer to a median Indian experience ?

    On Savarkarite nationanlism being European whats not European in India? Is Democracy Indian? Is Marxism Indian? Is socialism Indian? Funny how every ideology which one holds dear suddenly becomes “Indian” while the one it opposes suddenly becomes “European”

    “Despite 33 secessionist movements, to use that old Pak Generals card, there was an essential and organic unity to the country, ”

    This is a joke which has gone on for far too long. India (or any other country) remains united because every ethnicity/community found its give and take with the Union. In 47 when regions/communities could not come up with a plan they separated and no “organic” unity of the Bengalis and the Punjabis stopped them from killing each other.
    The reason why North East secession stopped not because of some “unity in diversity” kumbaya , because there was give and take with the Union. No amount of pluralistic Kool Aid stops any succession.

    India does not owe any specific community /ethnicity anything. Those who want to stay, they stay back. Those who want to leave, they leave.

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    1. Yeah, Parallel Universe should read Razib’s post on Indian “secularism”…anyways, there was no bottom-up secular-liberal project. There couldn’t have been, because we were a bunch of illiterate peasants from the mofussils.

      Indian “secularism” was created and propagated by a handful of dudes on Lodhi Road and JNU. It has no constituency.

      “On Savarkarite nationanlism being European whats not European in India?”

      I say we return to absolute monarchies. That IS truly indigenous to India, hahaha…

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    2. “India does not owe any specific community /ethnicity anything. Those who want to stay, they stay back. Those who want to leave, they leave.”

      Here we see the Hindu proclivity to fascism that Jinnah warned of on full display.

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      1. “The Hindu proclivity to fascism…”

        Lol this is like the opposite of what’s true…India has a decentralized and robust civil society, in some ways too robust (eg: strong unions make it very difficult to create low-end manufacturing hubs).

        Anyways, I think it’s abundantly clear that you have a very dim view of Hinduism, and I will take my leave.

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        1. I don’t have an opinion on Hinduism. My gripes are with the Hindu-right.

          I agree the term fascism is overused, though again, the trailblazers of Hindu-Nationalism explicitly laud the fascism of Italy and Germany (as well as calling to mimic their attempts at murdering their minorities). Its a pretty textbook example.

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      2. “Here we see the Hindu proclivity to fascism that Jinnah warned of on full display.”

        The North American/lefty proclivity of branding anything one disagrees with as Fascism/Nazi has to be the laziest intellectual trope in history.

        It seems you do not think Hindus as individuals and the various constituent communities have any agency.
        So any issue plaguing the society becomes a result of some inherent attributes of Hinduism/Hindutva rather than a complex systems of incentives (as it is with any other society).
        This makes for low-information comments.

        I hope you are deliberately being polemical.

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    3. 1/ “A top down secular /liberal/pluralistic nationalism on a largely conservative/religious country or bottoms up religious conservative nationalism . What’s closer to a median Indian experience ?”

      The word used in this post and my comment is pluralistic, not secular (to avoid confusion with its original meaning), which is perfectly compatible with a religious, even conservative country – and it is with India. Indeed, a light touch is the only way a country and a religion as large and diverse as India / Hinduism can be administered well.

      2/ “Funny how every ideology which one holds dear suddenly becomes “Indian” while the one it opposes suddenly becomes “European” ”

      Point is interpretation of a monolithic European style nationalism onto a country as diverse as India in unworkable- not that everything European is bad! If you want a proximate example of how European style nationalism fails in even less diverse countries, look at break-up of Pakistan, pretty instructive. For the same reason, political or cultural Marxism is unworkable in India, we are in agreement here. Liberal democracy templates well onto a country as diverse as India, and that’s a good thing.
      Everything foreign is deracinated and evil is Sanghi intellectual preserve, will leave it to you guys.

      3/ “India (or any other country) remains united because every ethnicity/community found its give and take with the Union.”

      Indeed. And this give-and-take happens in a broader context, one that certainly does not include a PM earning “divider-in-chief” accolades, looking the other way despite anti-minority lynchings virtually everyday and his ministers setting up welcome committees for lynchers released on bail. Again, pretty instructive to check how West Pak dealt with Sheikh Mujib and Bengalis in the sixties. Give a few more years of Modi-Shah-Doval years of headline management, massaged numbers and severe inter-community conflict, and you will know what I mean.

      Are we done or do you have any further sophomoric counters?

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      1. “Liberal democracy templates well onto a country as diverse as India”

        I’d think a libertarian system would be even better since that is practically what’s been practised here for ages anyway.
        (minus the individual liberty part)
        Gemeinschaft over Gesselschaft.

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      2. “no Indian PM featured as “Divider-in-chief” on the world’s most well known magazine cover…a PM earning “divider-in-chief” accolades”

        You mentioned this twice, and it really is the worst sort of appeal to authority, so I will respond:

        1) Time magazine’s coverage on American issues is sometimes silly, far less India. How is Time the thekedar of which Indian leader is good for the people. India is a democratic country and the people have voted at the ballot box.

        2) “Divider in Chief” seems like yet another lazy American political trope applied haphazardly to the India. Since the prime minister is not Commander in Chief. A quick google search reveals “Divider in Chief” applied to originally to Obama, then to Trump. And now to Modi.

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        1. Parallel Universe can talk about magazine covers, but I’d rather talk about hard numbers and political results…the BJP substantially GAINED in % of electorate from 2019. In my home state of Uttar Pradesh, they unprecedentedly broke the heretofore dominant Dalit and Yadav political machines and assembled an impressive cross-caste coalition.

          It seems like Modi and Shah are the Uniters in Chief more than anything…

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        2. @Sumit:

          #1/ I do not depend on Time for my India politics. Its cover is a lagging indicator, not leading one. And you cannot dismiss it as merely an isolated cover, when it talks of a pedigreed man debarred from the US on suspicion of abetting mass-murder, chided by Indian Supreme Court as “Nero, while Gujarat burned”, pulled down by his own PM at a press conference, and esp. when this cover echoes other historical covers on India Today, Outlook and many others, using worse adjectives.

          #2/ I know the English language has its limitations and Divider-in-chief can apply both to a man whose health policy initiatives divide a country, as well as a man credibly accused of mass-murder of minorities.

          You are saying what?

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          1. By your logic since Modi has received “Order of Abdulaziz Al Saud”, the “Grand Collar of the State of Palestine”, and “the State Order of Ghazi Amir Amanullah Khan”, he must be a great protector of Muslims.

            The point of criticizing the time cover, and visa ban is I don’t think we can have an substantive discussion on any powerful world leader on the basis of politically driven awards, accolades, boycotts, insults, and felicitations.

            I think it just devolves into mud slinging with each side digging in its heels.

            Further since the media tends to be broadly left-leaning progressives, people not currently aligned with the left liberal politics are often even more harshly criticized.

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  4. If Hindu nationalism is fascism, that means Muslim nationalism was fascism too. Was Jinnah a fascist?

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    1. I agreed with your entire comment btw, your last part just irritated me. I wasn’t talking about Hindu Nationalism being fascist, just that sentiment you expressed at the end there.

      But to answer your question, yes, Hindu Nationalism in its current form is fascist. This is by intention, as the progenitors of Hindu Nationalism explicitly stated they were fashioning it after the movements seen at the time in Italy and Germany, which they admired.

      As for Muslim Nationalism (or Islamism) no I don’t think its fascist, though this is largely by accident. I don’t know a lot about Jinnah personally, but the Pakistan movement was not fascist, it was in fact the opposite. The prioritization of people over the state, rather than the state over people.

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      1. Would advise not to fall into the Savarkarite trap and conflate Hinduism with Hindutva. The former is extremely diverse, intellectually disputatious and tolerant of divergent opinion, and the latter essentially has a problem with all of that -why it was invented. Its flag-bearers typically tend to be irreligious and sort-of identitarians, who have never spiritually connected to Hinduism. A lot of the rage and tolerance of anti-minority hate (that surprises outsiders) comes from that dis-connection and complex.

        As if the universe just had to signal this distinction, it had a Hindutva-vaadi murder one of the greatest Hindus to have walked this earth.

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        1. Parallel Universe, interesting what you say about hindutva people having not connected with hinduism. I’ve always felt like the truly pious types in all religions here in India are usually above the fray when it comes to the identity politics. Others use religious identity as a proxy for ethnicity/caste. I would go so far as to say there is hardly any religious conflict in india per se, but that muslims are being treated like an intransigent caste and subject to prejudice on that basis.

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          1. @girmit:

            Essentially agree.
            Even though (the decentralized) institutional Hinduism has offered only feeble opposition to Hindutva. It was more visible in 1990s than now, but that is not because of any greater ideological affinity but how power routinely co-opts things in India. It will get worse before it gets better.

            “muslims are being treated like an intransigent caste and subject to prejudice on that basis.”

            This is insightful and true- have come to same conclusion.
            Since Ambedkarism became a thing and articulated Dalit reality so powerfully, lower class Muslims have become the safe hate object, with few repercussions. This is what is playing out in realtime. Although the Mughals serve as useful intellectual targets, if one walked in front of the Savarkarites, they would all turn obedient courtiers in attendance (which the same broad cohort were, historically : ) Low class Muslims serve the otherness of both Dalits as well as mleccha.

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      2. As for Muslim Nationalism (or Islamism) no I don’t think its fascist, though this is largely by accident. I don’t know a lot about Jinnah personally, but the Pakistan movement was not fascist, it was in fact the opposite. The prioritization of people over the state, rather than the state over people.

        you’re engaging in sophistry here. you aren’t as stupid as kabir, you have to know what you are doing.

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        1. The Islamist movements that are full on theocracies are very fascist (Iran), but most global Islamist movements don’t advocate for theocracy, but a kind of Islam-informed democracy.

          These models tend to be quite decentralized and amorphous ideologically, so not at all fascist.

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          1. Do these democracy-informed Islamists prescribe death for apostasy or stoning for adultery ? If not, can you quote any actual sources that repudiate these practices? If yes, in what way are they less fascist than Hindu extremists ?

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  5. “But to answer your question, yes, Hindu Nationalism in its current form is fascist. ”

    “As for Muslim Nationalism (or Islamism) no I don’t think its fascist, ”

    I will leave it to the readers judgment this above two statements.

    BTW when i said any communities (the one which irritated you ) i included ALL ethnicity/community , including mine too , even though it could have been much easier for me to point to all others but mine. And even though by numbers my own ethnicity is by far the largest ethnicity in India , i would never say that India owes anything to my ethnicity, or I own some sort of “Idea of India” and all.

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    1. Putting the country over the people is an old and tired way of the ruling elite putting their interests over those of the disenfranchised, but dressing it up as a form of selfless nationalism.

      Its quite easy to say “India’s interests come before any ethnicity”, when its you’re ethnicity that decides what those interests are.

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      1. This is an important point, the making of the national character is not an even collaboration between all ethnicities. Many don’t see their culture reflected in the national ethos. Most cheerleaders for pan-indianism don’t get that their aspirational culture is neither neutral, nor aspirational to many.

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        1. // , the making of the national character is not an even collaboration between all ethnicities … Most cheerleaders for pan-indianism don’t get that their aspirational culture is neither neutral, nor aspirational to many. //

          Sorry, but that makes zero sense. No culture is neutral or naturally aspirational. You are talking about the culture of human beings here, not downloading a compatible app into mobile phones or fitting lego pieces.

          The demand for a culture is created in the minds of people. It is always an act involving deliberation and energy and enterprise, with no foregone conclusions or obvious outcomes. It needs hard work and organization. Talking to and convincing people, developing an emotional connect, and refuting their criticism. Active proselytization, not collaboration. Collaboration between people who don’t agree on the basic rules of a game means nothing – conversion before collaboration! (One can use coercion too but it creates even more problems than it solves and the rate of innovation needs to be ramped up to keep things under control)

          There’s nothing guaranteed about Pan-Indianism but to say that it will fail simply because it lacks some natural/collaborative fit with people living within the boundaries of India is just hogwash. Its success rate depends on how motivated the Pan-Indianists are and how well they tackle criticism of the idea they are selling.

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          1. Slapstik, I don’t disagree with what you’re saying. Of course there won’t be perfect compatibility and symmetry in any multilateralism. And at the end of the day, if certain regional, linguistic and ethnic cultures fade away, thats its own process which i’m not framing as if there were a moral imperative to ensure their survival or anything like that. That said, there will be resistance to the features of pan-indianism, both from the sense of exclusion from how it has been imagined, as well as it not being aspirational enough. Whether the former will overcome these concerns, and in what timeframe is anyones guess.
            Also, if one were to use the success of the BJP as a proxy for how bought in people are to the new national identity paradigm (i know you didnt suggest this but for example), I would be skeptical. I know avid modi supporters who are quite chauvinistic, if not outright bigoted towards hindi speakers. The two can coexist when the local/national planes of competition aren’t perceived as intersecting.

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          2. “There’s nothing guaranteed about Pan-Indianism but to say that it will fail simply because it lacks some natural/collaborative fit with people living within the boundaries of India is just hogwash”

            To add to that, in the last decade rather than pan-Indian-ism, what i see is mostly pan N-Indian-ism (which the BJP enjoys to the hilt), while other regions are left to whether they want to join the brigade or opt for the older model. The success of the N-Indian culture model (Hindi-Mehandi ceremony -Ram chants- Ganpati festival-army nationalism-Virat Kohali ) even outside N-India is down to N-India not actively proselyting (unlike the 50s and 60s) , but actually taking a back seat and let people of other regions decide.

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      2. But how much ethnicity matters is entirely up for negotiation. I am Kannauji (and my parents speak the eponymous language/dialect along with Hindi), but if I were to introduce myself as such, people would simply assume I was r*tarded. Hindi Belters do not recognize identities other than the local (caste, clan, subregion) and the civilizational (Hindu, Hindawi, Indian). For that matter, nobody is mourning the loss of our local tongues, we are happy to be subsumed under the Hindi banner. This is not an elite project, this is something we are doing bottom-up.

        I think as time goes on, Marathis, Punjabis, Odias, and Bengalis will go down a similar trajectory to us in the Hindi Belt.

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        1. They will be subsumed under the Hindi banner or their individual dialects will coalesce? The latter seems to already have happened.

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          1. “Dude is clueless, at least about Bengalis.”

            Perhaps. On the other hand, decades ago who could have predicted the utter collapse of the Left Front in Bengal?

            The world is a changing place. Oftentimes the things that seem fatuous now are the things that become reality in the far future. 2100s India will be unrecognizable for us, depend upon it.

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          1. Nah. Well, parents tell me that, but they’ve never furnished evidence for the superiority of my bloodline. I think every caste and subcaste entertains delusions of grandeur.

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  6. The point i made was exactly the opposite to what you construed. I said even with the power of deciding what “India’s interest” are i would never define what India should be and should;nt be (India is what it is, for better or for worse) unlike people who think that they know what;s good for India even when they dont have the numbers.

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  7. // urban Hindu hegemonic viewpoint (that feeds on a victim mentality) //

    I don’t think it does. It really feeds on the widespread realization that Hindus do not really need to apologize for thinking of India as a culturally Hindu country. This has happened because the post liberalization middle class, which forms the bulk of India’s middle-income section, do not know their station anymore. They did under Congress mai-baap rule, but no longer.

    The post-colonial Congressi generation went around lecturing at and patronizing others on “Colonialism”, “Secularism” and “Gandhian ideals” etc while having barely any civilization to show for in their home country. Most of the new Indian middle class has very patience for such incessant lecturing and endless poetry.

    I do not really know whether it is a good/bad thing. My kids won’t grow up primarily Indian so I can afford to be a little detached about this. Nonetheless I have a personal interest in how this dynamic is going to evolve in the future, and I am not worried so long as the democratic institution ensuring peaceful transition of power works…

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    1. The issue is that “secularism” has gone hand in glove with the delegitimization of our faith (and the exaltation of Islam, but that’s another matter), at least on an elite/academic/press level.

      Basically that’s what people are reacting to. Hindu nationalism is primarily an anti-elite mutiny. I don’t think the Hindu nationalists can even articulate what they actually want beyond Ram Mandir and 370.

      But they can definitely articulate what they are against. And I can’t blame them, our elites being as mendacious as they are.

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      1. “Hindu nationalism is primarily an anti-elite mutiny.”

        Such low hanging rubbish.

        Saw videos of all those elites hanging out with cows that were lynched. Besides, one where Yogi’s co-speaker at a public rally asked all dead elite women’s bodies to be exhumed and raped. Besides, didn’t Pragya Thakur get famous blowing up elites? #Not

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        1. Slapstik and I are talking about ideas and ideological currents. You’re just talking about random crimes and uncouth commentary.

          And it’s getting annoying when you derail these threads with unrelated rants about the same crap.

          It would be like me ranting about Lalu or Didi’s excesses whenever you were talking about “secularism.”

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          1. I literally cited your line about Hindu nationalism, and provided relevant counter-examples. Cute you think those are just random crimes and have nothing to do with Hindu nationalism.

            Do you count jihadi terrorism as random crime and not ideological too?

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          2. The better analogy would be to popular Islamist parties and movements in MENA (eg Erdogan’s AKP, Principlists, Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt, etc) and yes, I would consider it inappropriate if someone constantly brought up jihadis when we were discussing political Islam at large in MENA.

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          3. “The better analogy would be to popular Islamist parties and movements in MENA (eg Erdogan’s AKP, Principlists, Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt, etc)”

            Yep, the Muslim Brotherhood example is more apt than you allowed for!

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          4. Actually I looked at recent news coverage on the Muslim Brotherhood, it seems a lot more balanced and evenhanded than what people write about the BJP (leaving aside the matter of whether they are analogous, though I do see RSS as grossly analogous to the MB.)

            But you’re missing my larger point: when we talk about political movements, we should talk about actual ideas, goals, origins, and really higher level stuff than “X said something stupid and Y killed someone.” That’s a standard I hold for Islam, Hinduism, and the now burgeoning populist movements in the West.

            When Razib had Neeley on his podcast (a Trumpist sympathizer), do you think he began with “Trump said X about Mexicans and Muslims and burgeoning white nationalism drove Y to kill an Indian”? No because that’s stupid, those are derailments rather than good faith questions.

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          5. Let me get this straight- are you actually saying in a discussion of Hindutva in India, bringing up cow-lynchings is irrelevant and “derailment”?! And this discussion is not about Hinduism- it is about an extremist political ideology called Savarkarite Hindutva directly inspired by Nazis.

            “But you’re missing my larger point: when we talk about political movements, we should talk about actual ideas, goals, origins, and really higher level stuff…”

            Normally, this would be the case. Say, if we spoke about Dems vs Repubs, it would largely be in the realm of ideas, even including an outlier like Trump.

            But these rules do not apply, as does not Godwin’s law, to an organization and individual to whom the following hold true:

            – Documented inspiration from Nazis
            – At the least, indirect involvement in murder of world’s possibly greatest peacenik
            – As CM, debarred from US and visa revoked (unprecedented for friendly nation) on credible concerns of abetment of mass murder, by a Republican administration
            – Who appointed as state cabinet minister, someone who was convicted by lower court in murder of ~80 plus people
            – Who appoints as party chief and Home Minister individual who was debarred from his home state of Gujarat by Supreme Court for witness intimidation
            – Above, in a case of targeted killings of two men and a woman by said individual, now the country’s home minister
            – As PM, is silent about a whole string of anti-minority lynchings, by organizations with direct links or inspiration from his ideology, despite vociferous calls to do so
            – With a stranglehold on party, recruits as CM and parliamentary candidates individuals whose only specialization is anti-minority hate speech and flogging anti-minority causes

            There is a pattern here, it is not the Republican one.

            Now I know all the above will not pierce the bubble you inhabit because that is what radicalization does- the radical sees himself as the normative reference point and has elaborate defenses. There usually are clues, but then the radical has an explanation for that- the entire world and its media is conspiring against and out to get us! This latter is as applicable to Islamists blowing themselves up as to Hindutva STEMbros in their office cubicles. There are always caveats for their special case.

            Nope, we are really not talking about Republicans here.

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          6. Parallel Universe,

            Keep fighting the good fight. It is amazing the excuses some people come up with to justify Hindutva (not Hinduism). Dismissing Pragya Thakur blowing up a mosque as a “random crime” really takes the cake though.

            By the way, I love your term “STEMbros”.

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          7. “But these rules do not apply…”

            I don’t have time to respond in full, but you’re still missing the point. Slapstik and I were talking about what is driving people to support the BJP. You’re talking about the (alleged) enormities of various BJP figures. Important to discuss (and has been discussed to death already), but orthogonal to the issue at hand. Let’s put it this way:

            “Hey, why is Hindu nationalism rising, and why are people voting for the BJP [two different, though related things]”?
            “Well, Amit Shah was involved in witness intimidation and various other shady stuff.”
            “Ok that tells me about Amit Shah, but that didn’t answer my question.”
            “Well there were some cow lynchings in Uttar Pradesh.”
            “Still not answering my question…”

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          8. Slapstik and you are talking about how Hindus apparently have had to be apologetic about their religion, and how apparently Hinduism had been delegitimized under “secular” rule, and then how Hindutva is primarily an anti-elite phenomenon.

            In various posts I have painstakingly shown, including with anecdotes, how this is not just BS, but complete inversion of an anti-minority reality as it exists/-ed! It is not just that these arguments are not orthogonal but they are the most logical counter-arguments. Calling them orthogonal is textbook defense of someone who has bought into the radical POV.

            The general direction of BJP/RSS from:
            DDU->ABV->Advani->Modi/Shah->Yogi->Pragya/Sarangi gives the lie to any other assertion, and it is not that you don’t know it. Aren’t you the guy who literally sloganeered on these pages the RSS slogan coined in the lead-up to Babri demolition?

            What you are demanding is a safe space from being shown the obvious cognitive dissonance between your presumed principles and natural consequences of how it plays out on the ground. Would have given you trigger warnings, had my posts already not been too long.

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          9. “bought into the radical POV.”

            The BJP/NDA won in a landslide. Whatever views you impute to the BJP, they certainly aren’t “radical.”

            “Aren’t you the guy who literally sloganeered on these pages the RSS slogan coined in the lead-up to Babri demolition”?

            Dude I wasn’t even born when the Rath Yatra happened, it’s not on my mental radar at all.

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          10. HMB, leftists and Islamists have different standards for different parties. If you mention Islamic terrorism they accuse you of Islamophobia because after all, of x Billion Muslims only y million are sympathetic to murder and sexual slavery so we must be fair to the “vast majority of peaceful Muslims”. The same standard does not apply to BJP and cow-lynchers.

            Once you are convinced you answer only to a “higher good”, facts and logic take a back seat.

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          11. @Arjun

            Yeah I know how it works. I’ll leave the conversation now, I wanted to talk about stuff other than cow lynchings and Amit Shah (which hardly deserve to be the *centerpiece* of a conversation on the BJP and Hindu nationalism), but it seems that will not be happening here.

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          12. “The BJP/NDA won in a landslide. Whatever views you impute to the BJP, they certainly aren’t “radical.””

            This would not be the first time large swathes of population have been influenced by a radical and extremist ideology. There is a term for that.
            But I am not saying that- most voted for their economics and because Modi ji called and hinted that to continue the Rs. 2000 scheme he needed to be re-elected.
            It is the STEMbros who present ideological defenses for Modi-Shah-Pragya-Sarangi knowing well the direction and degeneration of the party (not center-right or even pretending), and knowing well it is not moving anywhere in a fiscally conservative direction- their last fig leaves have been blown away and they don’t care!

            “Dude I wasn’t even born when the Rath Yatra happened, it’s not on my mental radar at all.”

            Me: Why the Nazi salute?
            White trash nationalist: Dude wasn’t even born around the Nazis!

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          13. @Arjun:

            You are now misrepresenting what I am saying. You are welcome to disagree with me vehemently but not to mischaracterize me.

            On these pages, without any leading, I have severely criticized the Kashmir “movement” as a largely Islamist/jihadist one and debated it with at least 2 individuals. I also speak against the chilling killings of rationalists/atheist & Hindu bloggers in Bangladesh. To me the natural corollary of criticizing Islamist-jihadists is criticizing Savarkarite Hindutva.

            Reason I was drawn to this board initially was because they offer such strong critiques of Islamist majoritarianism in Pakistan (and Bangladesh). I started my online commenting “career” on a turn-of-century Pak-run board criticizing Pak nationalism-majoritarianism and Islamism. Was a Tarek Fatah fan till about 2015, when he clearly left behind his liberalism and threw in lot with most extreme Hindutva (till he interfaced with official Hindutva, he was pretty balanced and would criticized VHP extremists, etc).

            I allow ordinary Hindus and Muslims the benefit of doubt of ignorance. Nope, sorry, I cannot allow the BJP/RSS or their apologists that benefit.

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        2. @Kabir:

          Found STEMbros term somewhere and found it perfectly captures this demographic and its disinformed, privileged pretend-victimhood. It is really astonishing this phenomenon is so under-studied and still not on anyone’s radar.

          Definitional features of a STEMbrother:

          *Middle to upper middle-class Hindus (mostly UC, some OBC), often expats
          *Privileged existence in India
          *Graduate/post-graduates in technical / business studies (STEM), absent or limited academic exposure to politics and humanities
          *Pretty good English vocab
          *May be socially liberal

          AND
          *Radicalized via disinformation on SM/ online communities / message boards
          *Believe Hindus victimized for 70 years by crypto-Muslim INC, and 600 years before that
          *Mostly detached from average life in India, little idea of what victimhood actually is
          *Exposure to everyday minority life through online caricatures and stereotypes
          *None or rare Muslim class-peers

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    2. “It really feeds on the widespread realization that Hindus do not really need to apologize for thinking of India as a culturally Hindu country. ”

      Not sure what this means.

      May be you consider nominal encouragement of diversity and allowance of legal minority rights, as suggested by Indian interpretation of secularism, ‘apology for thinking India as culturally Hindu’?!

      Or more likely you buy into the widespread canard regarding selective “Muslim appeasement”? Even when India was officially more secular under Congress, Muslims (amply supported by academics) had much more reason to call that secularism less-than-perfect, more than Hindus ever did! – right from Nellie/ Bhagalpur massacres, to 1984, to PAC constabulary killings and hundreds others. Except in Kashmir, where a different sort of majoritarianism played out.

      Sorry, this Hindus-had-to-be-apologetic and Muslims-were-appeased canard gets immense play in Hindutva STEMbro circles but is not merely false, but inversion of reality!

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      1. You are repeating the “Muslim appeasement is a myth” mantra after having temporarily diluted it to “Muslim net appeasement being non-zero is a myth” a while back (never having explained what is ‘net appeasement’)

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        1. You probably didn’t follow- I am mocking the selective (net, if you will) “Muslim appeasement” language in my phrasing even when mimicking it, since it is received wisdom in STEMbro circles.

          Because it is laughably false, but considered sacrosanct in these circles.

          You wouldn’t get it, because you believe it.

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          1. How can it be false – apparently laughably – when you were given examples ? You cannot credibly dismiss examples when your counter-examples (of Hindu appeasement) actually mirrored what you were denying existed.

            Your “You wouldn’t get it because you believe it” is a give-away of how you approach issues of substance i.e. that reality is a matter of belief, not of facts or persuasion and that winning an argument means abusing people who disagree with you.

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          2. @Arjun:
            The Muslim-appeasement meme always has the subtext of selective-Muslim-appeasement. The apparent selectivity is what gives the emotional punch, that delicious sense of (safe, privileged) victimhood for STEMbros.

            My evidence for Hindu group appeasement deflates the selectivity of it, in absence of which it is not an argument at all. I refuse to believe you are not aware of or cannot comprehend this simple point.

            “You wouldn’t get it because you believe it”- you know, like some people don’t get jokes because they are serious about things?

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        2. Your list of Hindu appeasements – which you can edit if you like – had no entries predating the 90s. So at that time whatever Muslim appeasements were enacted were indeed ‘selective’ for the time.
          The compensatory Hindu appeasements came later. If one views both sets of appeasements as harmful to Indian secularism they don’t cancel each other out. They both make matters worse and set in process an arms race of victimhoods and appeasements. Taking sides in this arms race doesn’t help matters.

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          1. @Arjun

            The post-90s time bias is only because of the internet!

            There are literally hundreds of such appeasements pre-90s, and they were never connected by anyone to Muslims- just your standard issue electoral indulgences. You really think, in thousands of national-state-local elections pre-90s, there were no caste group concessions made? If you make it worth my while, will dig them out.

            The highlighting of only Muslim appeasement is standard RSS propaganda. What surprises me is how easily people fell for it.

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  8. Yes, I would like to hear about these caste group concessions. Do they rise to the level of laws passed by the parliament made at the prime minister’s behest to overturn specific supreme court judgments? It should be obvious that such laws are the exact antithesis of what is meant by ‘secularism’.

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    1. @Arjun:
      To your question, they likely do not. The Shah Bano overturning was a singular act of stupidity by an overconfident (400+ MPs in parliament), inexperienced and badly advised PM. And this law was protested mainly by communists and liberals! (likely also by the 2 BJP MPs).

      But Shah Bano as a single example could not drive the Muslim-appeasement narrative- it is only icing on the cake that says Muslims are constantly appeased by Indian state, which is patently false. Hard to collate various state and local level data, but I am certain that both proportionately as well as absolutely, there is more non-Muslim “appeasement” than Muslim. Because while the Muslim easily resolves as Muslim across Kerala, Karnataka and UP, Nairs, Lingayats and Yadavs do not resolve as easily as Hindus in the national imagination.

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  9. Overturning the Shah Bano decision was the right call. People who think otherwise — all of you– have not thought deeply about the issue (I have). The later decision (Daniel Latifi) of the Indian supreme Court to reinterpret Iddat payment as as lump sum large enough to provide ongoing support to the divorcees was the correct way make Anglo Muhammadan personal law progressive and liberal.

    Assymetric treatment of large minorities is essential in running a multi national state. Tatars have special privileges in Russia. Minorities were exempt from the one child policy in China. African Americans receive preferential treatment, and are allowed their own educational institutions. Quebecers are a distinct society, with special rights to nominate supreme Court justices, etc. Albanian Macedonians have language rights, Swedish Finn’s get university entrance quotas, Scots have excess representation in parliament (the West Lothian question).

    In none of these countries is the preferential treatment of large minorities called “appeasement”.

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      1. Please delete the comment then. I don’t want it to seem that I have a respectful and civil tone.

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    1. @Ikram,

      India “appeases” different groups of its people in every way listed in your examples, be it university quotas or maintaining separate languages.

      Two points:

      – Regressive marital customs like polygamy and triple talaq may be a tad too much to accommodate though. (The US demanded the Mormons of Utah give up polygamy as a pre-condition for joining the country.)

      – In none of the examples you cited did a thorough soul-searching by the majority “community” result in constitutionally-mandated reforms to the practices of that community. But similar soul-searching was not demanded of Muslims (Christians neither, but Christians have been relatively good at soul-searching themselves), who were not just allowed to keep their regressive practices but any protest against them was labeled as communal. And I have stated earlier that this situation doesn’t serve the mass of Muslims at all; it’s just to “appease” a self-appointed elite among Indian Muslims who are on hair-trigger for offenses in speech against them. So the word “appeasement” has a lot more salience in India than in those other countries you referenced.

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      1. Numinous,

        You are quite right to point out that Hindus have granted Muslims considerable space for their personal/religious customs to operate unhindered by a common Indian law, and that this largely serves to appease a few Muslim elites/clerics, rather than the bulk of Indian-Muslims.

        What you leave out, is these Muslim-elites weren’t so much self-appointed, as they were Congress-appointed. The two had a sort of gentlemen’s agreement. The Muslim elite would restrain their flock from raising ire over the profound/systemic benefits granted to Hindus (which could threaten the cohesion of the whole country), and in return, Congress would throw them a religious bone to chew on (haj subsidies, civic Sharia, etc).

        The elites of both sides benefited (political support for Congress, Muslim-Elites remaining elite due to government patronage), and their flocks mollified, allowing India to chug on.

        The problem enters with the rise of the Hindu-right, who want to eliminate the Muslim benefits while not only retaining the Hindu benefits, but expanding them. This is kind of a double slap to Muslims, as the Hindu-right refers to these benefits as “Muslim appeasement”, ignoring that these were largely symbolic concessions that Congress cleverly used to secure much more meaningful concessions for Hindus. The old ruse only worked because most Muslims were too dumb/religious to see it, and the elite-Muslims were benefiting too much to risk an upheaval.

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      2. @Numinous:

        Is the prohibition on temple entry for reproductive age women too regressive to ban or not?

        (Let the caveats roll : )

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    2. \Assymetric treatment of large minorities is essential in running a multi national state\
      That argument would hold in India if India has not been split on religious ground. Once the religious split has taken place , Muslims living in India have no right ask for ‘asymmetric’ treatment. Those who want ‘asymmetric’ treatment can goto Pakistan which was created for just for that purpose.

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      1. Well, Pakistan is not Israel. Despite their grandstanding on TNT, I don’t think they actually want more Indian Muslims in their polity.

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      2. Not only was Pakistan (including what is now Bangladesh) created expressly for Muslims to practice their religion, the irony is that they have themselves banned some of the regressive practices these enlightened folks are aggressively demanding in infidel India.

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  10. @Parallel Universe

    // Slapstik and you are talking about how Hindus apparently have had to be apologetic about their religion //

    I don’t know about others but I have not said what you’re imputing to me. Maybe you need to read it again, and carefully this time 🙂

    On an unrelated note, you are fast becoming my favourite commentator right behind the heels of sarpamaugdheya and sindhuvastUNi. So, I hereby christen you anuloka 🙂

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