Category Archives: religion

Return of Hindutva: A Challenge for Secularism

Guest Post by Gargi Chakravartty

BOOK REVIEW

Hindutva’s Second Coming by Subhash Gatade; published by Media House, Delhi; 2019; pages: 272; Rs 395 (US $ 18).

The return of Modi to power with a huge margin in this 2019 election is a clear verdict for the Hindutva plank. Why and how it happened leave us, the secular billions, to ponder about the reality and its aftermath. And at that juncture Subhas Gatade’s 272-page analysis titled ‘Hindutva’s Second Coming’ gives us something concrete to think over once again. This in-depth study with rich academic perception is a commendable work, bereft of jargons and convoluted expressions, often found in books written from a high pedestal which goes beyond the mental reach of lay readers. Precisely for this reason the author needs to be specially acclaimed for bringing out facts at one place based on notes and references which are so far scattered in divergent historical materials. It serves as a Reader for millions who are combating communalism and distortion of history at the grassroot level.

( Read the full text here : http://www.mainstreamweekly.net/article8847.html)

Against Aachaaram: A Dossier from Malayalam – Announcement

This is to announce a new series of postings I will be doing, relating to aachaaram in Kerala.

Aachaaram is loosely translated as ‘customary practices’ or ‘customary rituals’, but in 19th century Malayali society, it referred to a massive, inter-connected, all-pervading web of practices, rituals, and ideas which bolstered the domination of the upper-castes — in Kerala’s context, this meant the Brahmin-sudra nexus — over the lower castes. It touched the most intimate and personal aspects of a person’s life; through it,  the allegiances and the labour of lower caste communities were extracted to benefit the upper castes. The lower-caste assertions of the late 19th and early 20th centuries here, through which modern democracy became a possibility at all, were directed against this web. Aachaaram, however, survived this phase through shrinking its spatial presence to savarna homes and temples; later, after the re-consolidation of brahmin-sudra power, towards the end of the 20th century, the rise of spiritual capitalism had led to aacharam’s resurrection as the vehicle of gendered savarna power — and as the provider of opening gambits for the Hindu fundamentalists — in Kerala .

In this series, I will post translations of selections/excerpts from the writings of the critics of aachaaram from early 20th century Kerala, with short reflections on each for the present. The many different readings of Hinduism that arose in that period when the Brahmin-sudra nexus was thrown into confusion, as well as the many different dreams of social liberation from different parts of the world that entered Malayali society then — from C Krishnan’s Buddhism to Marxism — produced powerful critical exposures that revealed aachaaram to be nothing but a vehicle and instrument of the power of certain groups over others. The effort made by these voices to point to the danger that it posed to a dream of a just society was largely ignored by the mainstream, especially the mainstream left.

The first of these is an excerpt from a conversation between the well-known social revolutionary, the avarna-born seer, spiritual leader, and philosopher, Srinarayana Guru and his disciples in which the annual pilgrimage to Sivagiri was planned, which I will post separately.

 

How Many More ‘Halal’ Ponzi Schemes?

It is important to note that the very idea of Islamic banking and promoting it as a parallel to conventional banking – which is being portrayed as un-Islamic – and which has caught the imagination of a section of god-fearing Muslims, is a clear manifestation of shifts in Muslim politics over the world.

'Halal' Ponzi Schemes

Image for representational use only.Image Courtesy : Business Today

Afzal Pasha, a 55-year-old labourer, is dead. He died of a heart attack a few days back.

The news that the attractive scheme in which he had invested his life’s savings worth Rs 8 lakh went bust proved unbearable for him.

While Afzal’s tragic death could catch headlines, we will never know the plight of the thousands of investors – all of them belonging to the Muslim community – who had similarly invested their hard-earned savings in the said investment scheme launched by Mohammed Mansoor Khan in 2006 through his firm I Monetary Advisory (IMA).

The scheme was declared ‘Shariah-compliant’ and worked on ‘“no interest” policy of Islamic banking. A section of the clergy had even certified this scheme as “halal”, which means “lawful” or “permitted” in Arabic, which helped it easily earn the trust of the Muslim community. Small investors from across the state of Karnataka had flocked to it with their investments ranging from a few thousand rupees to a few lakhs.

A few days back, the promoter of IMA just disappeared from Bengaluru and is supposed to have fled to Dubai.

Continue reading How Many More ‘Halal’ Ponzi Schemes?

God in the Classroom!

Unfolding Debate about Secularising Education

( To be published in ‘Indian Journal of Secularism)

“There is in every village a torch – the teacher; and an extinguisher – the priest.”
-Victor Hugo

Introduction
“Keep the words God, Jesus and the devil out of the classroom.”

A school teacher’s message on the first day of the school for first-grade students had caused tremendous consternation among a section of the parents.

She had a simple rationale to present her proposal. With their being a public school with children coming from different religions and beliefs joining it, she did not “[w]ant to upset a child/parent because of these words being used,” In her letter she had also advised them to talk to the children when they go to the church/temple/synagogue – whatever might be the case – or discuss the issue at home at an appropriate time and place of talking about it.” (https://www.indystar.com/story/news/education/2017/08/30/teacher-tells-first-graders-dont-talk-god-classroom/612118001/)

Well, instead of the discussion getting fixed on the slow imposition of the concept of God or closing of child’s minds it turned into a debate on students’ free speech rights. It did not take much time for the management of the school to rescind this proposal.

There is nothing new about this dilemma faced by a teacher who has welfare of students at the center of her/his concerns. Continue reading God in the Classroom!

Modi’s Meditation ‘Tour’

The art of legitimising religiosity in a secular country and live happily ever after.

Modi in KedarnathReligion is regarded by the common people as true, by wise people as false and by the rulers as useful. — Seneca (4 BC-AD65)

A picture is worth a thousand words.

An outgoing Prime Minister of the ‘world’s biggest democracy’ seen meditating under the glare of cameras in a cave specially opened for the occasion and with a dress stitched for the event, conveys many things simultaneously.

First and foremost, it tells us that the present incumbent to the post would at least be remembered for his varied sartorial tastes among the galaxy of PMs who headed the republic earlier. It appears that either all the others lacked the sense to dress for the occasion or found it a mundane job not befitting the post and the responsibilities they held then. Continue reading Modi’s Meditation ‘Tour’

‘विश्व गुरु का सत्य’ और ज्ञान की दूसरी परम्परा : धीरेश सैनी

Guest Post by Dheeresh Saini – Review of ‘Charvak ke Vaaris’

 `चार्वाक के वारिस` को पढ़ते हुए ही मुझे हिंदी के आलोचक और जेएनयू के रिटायर्ड प्रोफेसर नामवर सिंह के निधन की ख़बर मिली। एक ऐसी किताब को, जो भारतीय समाज-संस्कृति में अतीत से लेकर आज तक ज्ञान-विज्ञान की विभिन्न प्रगतिशील, विवेकवादी, तर्कवादी और विद्रोही धाराओं के प्रति वर्णवादी-ब्राह्मणवादी शक्तियों के हिंसक रवैये की पड़ताल करती हो, पढ़ते हुए विचलित होते चले जाना स्वाभाविक था। Continue reading ‘विश्व गुरु का सत्य’ और ज्ञान की दूसरी परम्परा : धीरेश सैनी