I finally completed Dr Ambedkar’s fascinating book on Pakistan after reading it on and off for years. Though he comes across as an essentialist in some of his arguments, many fault-lines Dr. Ambedkar points out hold true even 70 years after the publication of the book.
(I plan to write about that book sometime later – but especially for those who don’t identify with Hindutva I will highly recommend that book)
Dr. Ambedkar says the following in this book PAKISTAN OR THE PARTITION OF INDIA during his polemic against Purdah.
The evil consequences of purdah are not confined to the Muslim community only. It is responsible for the social segregation of Hindus from Muslims which is the bane of public life in India. This argument may appear far fetched and one is inclined to attribute this segregation to the unsociability of the Hindus rather than to purdah among the Muslims. But the Hindus are right when they say that it is not possible to establish social contact between Hindus and Muslims because such contact can only mean contact between women from one side and men from the other
This is the core motivation that has lead to the popularization of term Love-Jihad. The anxieties of Hindus are not motivated largely by the fear that “Muslims will abduct their daughters and sisters and forcibly convert them”. That exists largely in the straw-man.
Their anxieties stem from the following
- The practice of Purdah/Burqa and in general sexist conservatism in Islam means there is more contact between Hindu women and Muslim men than the other way round as Dr. Ambedkar said.
- Almost every Hindu has heard anecdotes of Muslim boys “hoodwinking” their women and “brainwashing” them which often ends with their conversion to Islam. I have myself heard 3 such anecdotes – one particularly powerful one where a daughter of a hardcore ShivSainik married a Muslim and “chose” to live the next years of her life in the Burqa. Friends of her claim to have not seen her face in years. Such cases were particularly common during the initial Chat-Room time of the 2000s with anonymity & fake names.
- In these cases, there is often no illegality which leads to more frustration on the Hindu side. The only cases where there might be legal room for action are cases where there is the deliberate use of fake aliases. Even then the statements from “victims” are difficult to obtain.
- The practice of Polygamy in the Muslim community means that logically there will be a paucity of women. While the numbers state that polygamy is not a significant practice in all communities in India (even Muslims) the legal sanction of the practice goes a long way in escalating Hindu anxieties.
- There are far fewer cases (atleast anecdotally) where the inter-faith marriage are other way round. Most people haven’t heard of these. I know only one such anecdote and even in that case the children are culturally raised as Muslims albeit extremely liberal ones (there was some ostracization from the Hindu Brahmin side not unlike one faced by Peshwa Bajirao)
Unsurprisingly, the liberal attack/busting of Love-Jihad claims never address these anxieties but go on to straw-man the Hindu claims. The only ones who pay attention to these claims are the Hindutva forces. I believe this issue is particularly underappreciated as the reason for polarization in Indian society & politics.
Terrorists who indulge in violence are often labeled as “brainwashed”. The Chinese state’s “re-education” policies are called “brainwashing”. Masses who vote for demagogues are called “brainwashed” by propaganda. By extension Is a Woman who goes under the Purdah as an Adult or as a child also “Brainwashed”? Is Religious conversion ALWAYS “brainwashing”?