Category Archives: religion

भारतीयता, स्वाधीनता आंदोलन और वैज्ञानिक चेतना : गौहर रज़ा

The next lecture ( 8 th one) in the ‘Sandhan Vyakhyanmala Series initiated by New Socialist Initiative ( Hindi Pradesh) will be delivered by Gauhar Raza, Former Chief Scientist, Council of Scientific and Industrial Research, Documentary Filmmaker on Social Issues, Civil Rights Activist and a  Poet 

He will be speaking on ‘Indian Identity, Freedom Movement and Scientific Temper’ ( भारतीयता, स्वाधीनता आंदोलन और वैज्ञानिक चेतना) on Saturday, 10 th December, 2022  6 PM ( IST). 

Time: Dec 10, 2022 06:00 PM India

Join Zoom Meeting
https://us02web.zoom.us/j/82717708928?pwd=SW1qMnRaVVpWbHVzZjdJb3lZK2dwUT09

Meeting ID: 827 1770 8928
Passcode: 101822

The lecture will also be live streamed on www.facebook.com/newsocialistinitiative.nsi

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संधान व्याख्यानमाला : आठवां वक्तव्य 

विषय :  भारतीयता, स्वाधीनता आंदोलन और वैज्ञानिक चेतना

वक्ता :  गौहर रज़ा , पूर्व मुख्य वैज्ञानिक , कौन्सिल ऑफ़ साइंटिफिक एंड इंडस्ट्रियल रिसर्च , डॉक्युमेंटरी  फिल्म निर्माता , सामाजिक कार्यकर्ता और कवि  

शनिवार , 10  दिसंबर , शाम 6 बजे   
आयोजक :न्यू सोशलिस्ट इनिशिएटिव ( हिंदी प्रदेश )

आयोजक : न्यू सोशलिस्ट इनिशिएटिव ( हिंदी प्रदेश ) 

विषय : ‘ भारतीयता, स्वाधीनता आंदोलन और वैज्ञानिक चेतना

देश के पहले प्रधानमंत्री जवाहरलाल नेहरू ने देश के सामने दो बड़े सवाल रखे थे, पहला था ‘वैज्ञानिक चेतना’ का और दूसरा था ‘भारत माता कौन है’ यानी हमारी भारतीय पहचान का क्या अर्थ है.  इन दोनों सवालों पर आज फिर एक बार नज़र डालने की जरूरत है. आज एक तरफ़ तो  वैज्ञानिक चेतना पर बड़ा हमला है और दूसरी तरफ़ ‘सामूहिक भारतीय पहचान’ को बदलने की व्यापक कोशिश ने सामाजिक ढांचे को छिन्न भिन्न करने का ख़तरा खड़ा कर दिया है. 

ये व्याख्यान जंग-ए-आज़ादी के दौरान ब्रिटिश राज्य के दमन के ख़िलाफ़ गाढ़ी गयी ‘हिंदुस्तानी पहचान’ से जुड़े कुछ सवालों पर नज़र डालने की कोशिश करेगा. इस पहचान का गारा वैज्ञानिक चेतना से तैयार किया गया था, पर ये भी याद रखना चाहिए कि देश में वैज्ञानिक चेतना के खिलाफ़ शक्तियां हमेशा ही सक्रिय रही हैं, खास तौर से हिंदी पट्टी में. 2014 के बाद से इन शक्तियों की ताक़त बढ़ी है और साथ ही वैज्ञानिक चेतना और भारतीय पहचान पर हमले भी. 

The Two-Nation Theory, Partition and the Consequences – Prof Ishtiaq Ahmed

 Prof Ishtiaq Ahmed, Professor Emeritus of Political Science, Stockholm University and a leading authority on the Politics of South Asia and an eminent author will deliver next lecture (21 st one) in the Democracy Dialogues Series, organised by New Socialist Initiative

He will be speaking on ‘The Two-Nation Theory, Partition and the Consequences’ on Sunday, 27 th November 6 PM (IST) 

The lecture will also be live streamed at facebook.com/newsocialistinitiative.nsi

Topic : 

The Two-Nation Theory, Partition and the Consequences

1.    The Two-Nation Theory as an Idea and an Argument: The talk will contextualize the origins of the Two-Nation Theory in the background of pre-colonial and British colonial rule and analyse it in relation to competing ideas of a One-Nation Theory as well as the vaguer ideas of multiple nationalities deriving from language, ethnicity and religion. This section will also deal with British policy regarding such competing ideas of group identity and nation and nationalism. This will cover the period 1857 – 1932. However, most attention will be given to the 1928 Motilal Nehru Report (which a section of Muslims including one faction of the Muslim League was willing to accept) and Jinnah’s 14 points.

 2.      The Two-Nation Theory and the demand for Partition: The Government of India Act 1935, the election speeches and manifestos, election results and the Muslim League’s deployment of communalism as political strategy to demand partition on behalf of Muslims. The stands of the Indian National Congress, the Muslim League, the Communist Party of India, the Hindu Mahasabha, the Jamiat Ulema e Hind and other Islamist, regional and working-class parties of Muslims and the Sikhs of Punjab.

 3.      British policy on the future of India: from unwillingness to grant India freedom to retaining influence and control through defence treaty to finally deciding in favour of partition. The Cabinet Mission Plan, Wavell’s schemes to transfer power as an award, The British military’s transformation from opposition to support for partition; 3 June Partition Plan, the partitions of Bengal and Punjab, the 18 July 1947 Indian Independence Act.

 4.      The Partition as a flawed exercise in the transfer of power which claimed at least one million Hindu, Muslim and Sikh lives, caused the biggest migration in history (14 – 15 million) and bequeathed bitter disputes over the sharing of colonial assets, territory and claims to princely states. In this regard, the

 5.      The Partition as a referent for nation-building: while agreeing finally to the partition of India on a religious basis India held steadfastly to nation-building on a secular, liberal-democratic, inclusive and pluralist basis. The Indian constitution came to represent such a view of nation and nation-building. On the other hand, since Pakistan had been won in the name of Islam its nation-building was based on distinguishing Muslims from non-Muslims and generating different formulae of differential rights. More importantly, it brought to light the deep divisions among Muslims based on sect, sub-sect and ethno-linguistic criteria.

 6.      The Partition and settling of disputes between India and Pakistan: The two-nation theory continued to define and determine relations between India and Pakistan resulting in wars, terrorism and zero-sum games in international forums.

 7.      The Partition as a historical, political, ideological and intellectual phenomenon: An Evaluation

About the Speaker :

Prof Ishtiaq Ahmed

Professor Emeritus of Political Science, Stockholm University; Honorary Senior Fellow, Institute of South Asian Studies, National University of Singapore. Published several books with special focus on the politics of South Asia discussed in context of regional and international relations

Latest publications, Jinnah: His Successes, Failures and Role in History,  New Delhi: Penguin Viking, 2020 won the English Non-Fiction Book Award for 2021 at the Valley of Words Literary Festival, Dehradu, India; Jinnah: His Successes, Failures and Role in History, Vanguard Books, Lahore 2021;

Pakistan: The Garrison State, Origins, Evolution, Consequences (1947-2011), Karachi: Oxford University Press, 2013;

The Punjab Bloodied, Partitioned and Cleansed, Karachi: Oxford University Press, 2012- It won the Best Non-Fiction Book Prize at the 2013 Karachi Literature Festival and the 2013 UBL-Jang Groups Best Non-Fiction Book Prize at Lahore and the Best Book on Punjab Award from Punjabi Parchar at the Vaisakhi Mela in Lahore, 2016

He is working on a new book, The Partitions of India, Punjab and Bengal: Who What and Why

He is the Editor-in-Chief of the “Liberal Arts & Social Sciences International Journal (LASSIJ)” and also regularly writes columns in several Pakistani newspapers

Letter to Consul General, Iranian Consulate, Mumbai: Indian women’s organisations

The following letter, signed by over 300 individuals from different national and regional organisations was handed over at the  Iranian Consulate in Mumbai by six representatives on September 29, 2022.  It was received politely and acknowledged.

Mr. Abolfazi Mohammad Alikhani
Consul General,
Iran Consulate, Mumbai.

Sir,

We, women and women’s organization from India, are writing this letter to register our horror at the  brutal attacks on the women and citizens  of Iran as they protest the killing of Mahsa Amini at the hands of the Gasht-e-Ershad. These brutal attacks have resulted in and continue to result in further deaths and imprisonments.

These brave women of Iran are demanding freedom from the Morality Police and the State imposing upon them what they must or must not wear and how to wear it; what they must and must not do, or act, or behave. They are rejecting this control. The men of Iran are giving full support and putting their bodies on the line alongside them. The resulting violent repression is heinous and inhuman.

We stand in solidarity with the women of Iran who came out in public to protest killing of Mahsa Amini and to voice their demands for  freedom, equality and autonomy. Continue reading Letter to Consul General, Iranian Consulate, Mumbai: Indian women’s organisations

Why remember Partition? And what to remember? Ayesha Kidwai

AYESHA KIDWAI reflects on the injustice done to Bilkis Bano on the 75th anniversary of India’s independence, by the release of the 11 convicted rapists (who raped her during the Gujarat carnage of 2002, and killed her 3 year-old daughter), by way of her translation of Krishn Chander’s short story written in 1948, entitled Ek Tawaif ka Khat, 

Our readers would remember that Ayesha has had translations posted here on Kafila earlier, some into Hindustani from English. Now you can visit her site to read all of her translations as and when she posts them there.

Here is the link to Ayesha Kidwai’s site.

Here we publish her preface and an extract from the translation. The whole story may be read on her site.

PREFACE BY AYESHA KIDWAI

There have been many in India and Pakistan (and what eventually became Bangladesh) who have always remembered the Partition of 1947. They remembered it as it the long Partition of India drew out, because they bore the marks of it on their bodies and in their families, they remembered it as they were in Parliament trying to build a state that would never face such a terrible event of rupture ever again; they remembered it even when they apparently appeared to forget it, because the only way to not let the events of terrifying trauma — of the looting, abduction, sexual violence, exile and murder— overshadow the present and the futures that had to be built. At every stage in the last 75 years, there have been people in both countries who have taken instruction from the horrors of the long Partition to interrogate what must not be done, what was must be changed, what must be erased.

Continue reading Why remember Partition? And what to remember? Ayesha Kidwai

 Secularism, Communalism and Indian Politics Today : Professor Achin Vanaik

The 15 th lecture in the Democracy Dialogues Series will be delivered by Prof Achin Vanaik on Sunday, 27 th February at 6 PM (IST) 

He will be speaking on 

Secularism, Communalism and Indian Politics Today‘ 

Speaker 

Writer and Social Activist, Former Professor of Political Science at Delhi University Prof Achin Vanaik is a fellow of the Transnational Institute

He is author of numerous books including The Furies of Indian Communalism ( 1997) , The Painful Transition : Bourgeois Democracy in India ( 1990) , Hindutva Rising – Secular Claims, Communal Realities (2017), “Nationalist Dangers, Secular Failings:A Compass for an Indian Left”

Summary  : 

The presentation will start with a series of definitions of crucial concepts such as secular, secularization, secularism as well as distinguishing between religious fundamentalism, religious nationalism and communalism. This is important to get a handle on how the widespread Indian understanding of secularism as an ancient form of ‘tolerance’ is dangerously mistaken. Of course the rise of the political right and far-right is a global phenomenon in the last few decades giving rise to different forms of what can be called the ‘politics of cultural exclusivism’. So the first principle of explanation for this rise has also to be transnational. After this the question of the rise of the Sangh/BJP in the wider context of developments in India over time will be taken up. It is obvious that the Sangh/BJP is seeking to expand its existing power and influence i.e., to establish and expand its hegemony and this must be understood as well as what are the projects central to its efforts to establish a Hindu Rashtra or Nation. It should be obvious that its particular conception of how to secure a strong Indian nation/nationalism must be exposed and combated. The presentation will end with recognising that this is a long term struggle and how we must go about it.

New Socialist Initiative 

किसे है बेनक़ाब होने का डर? हिंदुत्व बनाम हिन्दू ‘जीवन-शैली’

ये हिंदुत्व है हिन्दू धर्म नहीं! गुजरात के मुख्यमंत्री नरेन्द्र मोदी शस्त्र पूजा में मग्न. AFP PHOTO/ SAM PANTHAKY

[यह लेख पहले जनवादी लेखक संघ की पत्रिका नया पथ के जनवरी-मार्च २०२१ अंक में प्रकाशित हुआ था. आगामी 11-12 सितम्बर को अमेरिका में होने जा रहे Dismantling Global Hindutva सम्मलेन से उद्वेलित हिंदुत्व के प्रचारक अब इस सम्मलेन को रद्द कराने की मुहीम में उतर चुके हैं. उनका चालाकी भरा तर्क यह है कि यह सम्मलेन हिन्दू-विरोधी है. इस सन्दर्भ में यह दोहराना बेहद ज़रूरी है कि हिंदुत्व विस्तारवादी फौजी तसव्वुर से लैस एक राजनीतिक विचारतंत्र जो हिन्दुओं के नाम पर हिंसात्मक राजनीती करता है मगर इसका हिन्दू धर्म या जीवन शैली से कोई सम्बन्ध नहीं है. इस वजह से इस लेख को यहाँ साझा किया जा रहा है.]

“समस्त राजनीति का हिन्दूकरण करो और हिन्दूतंत्र का सैन्यीकरण करो – तब हमारे हिन्दू राष्ट्र (नेशन) का पुनरुत्थान होना तय है, उसी तरह जैसे अंधेरी रात के बाद सुबह का आना अनिवार्य होता है”। – विनायक दामोदर सावरकर, 25 मई 1941 को अपने 59 वें जन्मदिन पर हिंदुतन्त्र (हिन्दूडम) के नाम संदेश।

“हमारी भुजायें एक ओर अमेरिका तक फैली थीं – कोलंबस के अमेरिका ‘आविष्कार’ से बहुत पहले – तो दूसरी ओर चीन, जापान, कम्बोडिया, मलय, श्याम, इंडोनेशिया और समस्त दक्षिण-पूर्व एशिया तक फैली हुई थीं, और उत्तर में मंगोलिया और साइबेरिया तक। हमारा शक्तिशाली राजनीतिक साम्राज्य इन दक्षिण-पूर्व एशियाई क्षेत्रों तक फैला था और 1400 वर्षों तक जारी रहा, अकेले शैलेन्द्र साम्राज्य 700 वर्षों तक फलता फूलता रहा – और चीन के विस्तार के खिलाफ़ चट्टान की तरह खड़ा रहा”। – माधव सदाशिव गोलवालकर, राष्ट्रीय स्वयंसेवक संघ के दूसरे सरसंघचालक, बँच ऑफ थॉट्स, विक्रम प्रकाशन, बंगलोर, 1968, पृ 9 

हिन्दुत्व-विचारतंत्र के इन दो महारथियों की ये उक्तियाँ पढ़ने के बाद आइए अब एक उद्धरण उस शख़्स का देखें जिसे हिंदुत्ववादी हड़पने की पुरज़ोर कोशिश किया करते हैं। ये शख़्स और कोई नहीं स्वामी विवेकानंद हैं। मुलाहिज़ा फरमाएं :

Continue reading किसे है बेनक़ाब होने का डर? हिंदुत्व बनाम हिन्दू ‘जीवन-शैली’

If Hindutva is dismantled, whom will it harm?

An upcoming conference in the USA, “Dismantling Global Hindutva”, organized by Indians in the USA, most of whom are legally “Hindus”, and supported by over 40 US universities, has provoked the ire of the Hindu Rashtravaadis there as well as in India. Conflating Hindutva with Hinduism is the first step. Based on this, the Hindu American Foundation claims this conference is “Hindu phobic”, that it will put the well-being of Hindu students and faculty at risk, and that “they may feel targeted or threatened, or face hostility or harassment” as a result of “the kinds of generalisations, misunderstandings, and ‘otherising’” the event will perpetuate.

Ho hum. Just another day in Hindu Rashtra-that-is-India then, for most of us “Hindus” who oppose the politics of Hindutva that promotes misunderstandings and otherises us, all the way to mob and media violence, lynchings and jail. It is from Hindutva that “Hindus” are most at risk in India today, not from any non-Hindu “Other”.

(Why these repeated quotation marks around “Hindu”? We will come to that).

An article in Firstpost uses words like “genocidal” and “xenophobic” to describe what this conference is going to be. The conference brochure shows “Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS) figures being uprooted, roots and all, with the claw end of a hammer”, and this is “genocidal” according to the author. Showing the German Nazi Party being uprooted would amount to genocide too, in this understanding, perhaps? Since Hindutvavaadis are actively seeking co-victimhood with victims of anti-Semitism, as another article explicitly states, they might want to reconsider this second conflation, of the neo-fascist RSS with “Hindu”. This second article says the conference will “dehumanize Hindus everywhere” and asks indignantly if a conference titled “Dismantling Global Jewry” would be acceptable. Continue reading If Hindutva is dismantled, whom will it harm?

When public good faces a faith hurdle

Moderation and acceptance are parts of a continuous struggle to ensure that democracy does not get subsumed by majoritarianism.

When Public Good Faces a Faith Hurdle

‘The sublime and the ridiculous are often so nearly related that it is difficult to class them separately. One step above the sublime makes the ridiculous,

and one step above the ridiculous makes the sublime again.’ –Thomas Paine, The Age of Reason.

The idea of public good faced a faith hurdle in Kerala recently. The issue was the widening of National Highway 66 on a stretch in Umayanalloor village, Thazhuthala, and adjacent towns of the Kollam district. A batch of petitions challenged the highway because two temples and mosques were in its alignment. It was a tricky situation, and a hasty decision may well have had consequences.

Without wavering on constitutional principles, the Kerala High Court handled the case skilfully. A single-judge bench of Justice PV Kunhikrishnan rejected petitions that opposed the land acquisition and asked citizens to rise above difficulties for better highways for all citizens. It emphasised that courts could not intervene in acquisition proceedings unless there is patent illegality or malafide action.

( Read the full text here)

Governments Must Implement the Constitution, Not Religious Texts

Several courts have tried to reign in states bent on holding religious events during the pandemic. Judiciary must more proactively prevent them as the third wave approaches.

Constituion of india

Simple things need retelling when society is in a state of flux. The fact that India is a republic—has been one for more than 70 years—where sovereignty rests with the people and not with scriptures is one fact. That India runs by its Constitution and laws under it is another fact.

The Uttarakhand High Court reminded the state government of these facts when it objected to proposals to live-stream the historic Char Dham Yatra on the plea that the scriptures do not sanction it. The court rejected the petition, saying India is a democracy where the rule of law, not religious texts, govern.

( Read the full text here)

What happens when faith overrides sense ?

The severity of the second wave and the government’s unpreparedness demonstrate the limits of ‘strong’ leadership and religion-based politics.

What Happens When Faith Overrides Sense?
Image : Courtesy PTI

It was 1527, and Martin Luther, leader of the Protestant Reformation, wrote a letter advising a Lutheran leader what a believer should do during an epidemic. Europe was in the deadly grip of the bubonic plague at the time. It had killed thousands of people.

Extracts of his letter are relevant even today, especially the parts where Luther talks about what to do during an epidemic: “…Then I shall fumigate, help purify the air, administer medicine, and take it. I shall avoid places and persons where my presence is not needed in order not to become contaminated and thus perchance infect and pollute others, and so cause their death as a result of my negligence.”

Tirath Singh Rawat, the Chief Minister of Uttarakhand, perhaps does not know of this letter or its contents. Surprisingly, he does not even seem to recall the experiences from last year. In fact, much of what happened during the Covid epidemic seems lost on him. In 2020, public places of worship and religious gatherings became super-spreaders of the virus. That is why, for the first time, religious congregations were banned everywhere from Mecca to the Vatican to arrest the spread of the pandemic.

So, it is strange that Rawat cannot recall how believers took the back seat and ceded space to science during the first wave. Indeed, he has made a specious claim that faith in God will overcome the fear of the virus, in the context of the Kumbh Mela, a gathering where tens of lakhs of people gathered earlier this month.

( Read the full text here )

क्या हो बच्चे का धर्म ?

“Five minutes after your birth, they decide your name, nationality, religion, and sect, and you spend the rest of your life defending something you did not even choose.”

: Quote, unnamed

1.

आप कह सकते हैं कि पहली दफा मैं इस पहेली से तब रूबरू हुआ था या कह सकते हैं कि अधिक गंभीरता से सोचने लगा जब बंबई की इस ख़बर ने ध्यान खींचा था.

किस्सा थोड़ा पुराना लग सकता है अलबत्ता आज भी मौजूं.

मराठी परिवार में जनमी एक युवती और गुजराती परिवार में पले युवक ने- जिन्होंने अन्तरधर्मीय विवाह किया है और बम्बई में बसे थे- दरअसल यह तय किया कि वह अपनी नवजन्मी सन्तान के साथ किसी धर्म को चस्पां नहीं करेंगे. उनका मानना था कि बड़े होकर उनकी सन्तान जो चाहे वह फैसला कर ले, आस्तिकता का वरण कर ले, अज्ञेयवादी बन जाए या धर्म को मानने से इनकार कर दे, लेकिन उसकी अबोध उम्र में उस पर ऐसे किसी निर्णय को लादना गैरवाजिब होगा.

निश्चित ही अपने इस फैसले पर अमल करने में उनके सामने काफी बाधाएं आयीं. सन्तान का जन्म प्रमाणपत्र तैयार करने में अलग-अलग दफ्तरों के चक्कर काटने पड़े, एक अफसर ने तो युवती से पूछ लिया कि क्या तुम्हें अपने धर्म पर गर्व नहीं है ?  युवती ने तपाक से जवाब दिया कि भले ही वह धर्म को मानने वाले परिवार में जन्मी हो, लेकिन किसी भी रीति रिवाज को नहीं मानती और अहम बात यह है कि क्या एक जनतांत्रिक धर्मनिरपेक्ष देश में मां बाप यह फैसला नहीं ले सकते कि वह अपनी संतान को किसी धर्म से नत्थी नहीं करेंगे.

( Read the full text here)

Hinduism, Hindu Way of Life and RSS Hindutva

 

 

Generic image of demonstration against mob lynching, courtesy ED Times

[In this column this time, I am reproducing a piece that I recently wrote at the request of some friends – as a popular pamphlet, meant primarily for election purposes. Therefore, while it draws on the work of experts in the field, it does not really address the academic reader.]

“Hinduize all politics and militarize Hindudom – And the resurrection of our Hindu Nation is bound to follow it as certainly as the Dawn follows the darkest hour of the Night!” – Hindutva’s founding ideologue Vinayak D. Savarkar’s message to Hindudom on his 59th birthday, 25 May 1941.

“Our arms stretched as far as America on the one side – that was long before Columbus ‘discovered’ America – and on the other side to China, Japan, Cambodia, Malay, Siam, Indonesia and all the South-East Asian countries and right up to Mongolia and Siberia in the North. Our powerful political empire too spread over these South-East areas and continued for 1,400 years, the Shailendra empire alone flourishing for over 700 years – standing as a powerful bulwark against Chinese expansion.” M. S. Golwalkar, [Second Sarsanghchalak of the Rashtriya Swayamsevak  Sangh (RSS)], Bunch of Thoughts, Vikrama Prakashan, Bangalore 1968, p. 9.

“Emotions have more connection with the senses than with the faculty of reason; and therefore when principles are entirely lost sight of and emotions prevail, religions degenerate into fanaticism…They are no better than party politicsThe most horribly ignorant notions will be taken up, and for these ideas thousands will be ready to cut the throats of their brethren.” – Swami Vivekananda, “The Methods and Purpose of Religion”, The Definitive Vivekananda, Rupa, New Delhi, 2018, p. 211]

Hindutva is about Politics, Not about Religion

Continue reading Hinduism, Hindu Way of Life and RSS Hindutva

Mohan Bhagwat’s Divisive Mantra on Automatic Patriotism

It is a mischievous denigration of constitutional principles and values which declare every human equal and bar discrimination.

Mohan Bhagwat

“A Hindu is an automatic patriot and can never be an anti-national.” Remember the line? It is of Mohan Bhagwat, the Sangh supremo, who was at his best last week, at the launch of the book, Making of a Hindu Patriot: Background of Gandhiji’s Hind Swaraj. The book on Gandhi’s journey from Porbandar in Gujarat to England and South Africa and back to India, by JK Bajaj and MD Srinivas, was released by the Centre for Policy Studies.

In this book is the controversial claim that during 1893-94, Gandhi was pressurised to change his religion by both his Muslim employer and Christian colleagues in South Africa, which he refused. And by 1905, the book says, he became a devout Hindu.

Sure, everybody has a right to express their views, the authors and Mohan Bhagwat included, but the veracity of their claim still needs to be tested. As for the alleged pressure on Gandhi, the claim seems to come from out of the blue, and I would take it with a pinch of salt.

(Read the full article here )

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Unpacking Religious Nationalism

Review of ‘Religious Nationalism – Social Perceptions and Violence : Sectarianism on Political Chessboard‘- Ram Puniyani (Media House 2020)

“Blatant dictatorship – in the form of fascism, communism, or military rule – has disappeared across much of the world. Military coups and other violent seizures of power are rare. Most countries hold regular elections. Democracies still die, but by different means.

Since the end of the Cold War, most democratic breakdowns have been caused not by generals and soldiers but by elected governments themselves.”

(How Democracies Die, Steven Levitsky and Daniel Ziblatt)

The contrast had never been so sharper.

Continue reading Unpacking Religious Nationalism

“There is no god in that temple”: Rabindranath Tagore/Translated by Banojyotsna Lahiri

Banojyotsna Lahiri shared her translation of some excerpts from  a poem by Rabindranath Tagore, written 120 years ago, titled “Deeno Daan”.

It is about a temple.

Original Bangla below the translation.

“There is no god in that temple”, said the Saint.

The King was enraged;
“No God? Oh Saint, aren’t you speaking like an atheist?
On that throne studded with priceless gems, beams the golden idol,
And yet, you proclaim that it is empty?”

“It is not empty; rather, it is full of royal pride.
You have bestowed yourself, oh King, not the God of this world”,
Remarked the saint.

The King frowned, “2 million golden coins
were showered on that grand structure that kisses the sky,
I offered it to the Gods after performing all the necessary rituals,
And you dare claim that in such a grand temple,
There is no presence of God”? Continue reading “There is no god in that temple”: Rabindranath Tagore/Translated by Banojyotsna Lahiri

क्या राम मंदिर की आड़ में अपनी विफलताएं छिपा रही है मोदी सरकार

यह मानने के पर्याप्त आधार हैं कि राम मंदिर के भूमि पूजन के लिए चुना गया यह समय एक छोटी रेखा के बगल में बड़ी रेखा खींचने की क़वायद है, ताकि नरेंद्र मोदी और उनकी सरकार की बढ़ती असफलताएं जैसे- कोविड कुप्रबंधन, बदहाल होती अर्थव्यवस्था और गलवान घाटी प्रसंग- इस परदे के पीछे चले जाएं.

Ayodhya: A hoarding of PM Narendra Modi and other leaders put up beside a statue of Lord Hanuman, ahead of the foundation laying ceremony of Ram Temple, in Ayodhya, Thursday, July 30, 2020. (PTI Photo)(PTI30-07-2020 000044B)

अयोध्या में राम मंदिर के भूमि पूजन से पहले लगा प्रधानमंत्री नरेंद्र मोदी और अन्य नेताओं का एक होर्डिंग. (फोटो: पीटीआई)

बीते दिनों जनाब उद्धव ठाकरे द्वारा अयोध्या में राम मंदिर के प्रस्तावित भूमि पूजन को लेकर जो सुझाव दिया गया है, वह गौरतलब है.

मालूम हो कि आयोजकों की तरफ से जिन लोगों को इसके लिए न्योता दिया गया है, उसमें महाराष्ट्र के मुख्यमंत्री का नाम भी शामिल है, उसी संदर्भ में उन्होंने इस बात पर जोर दिया है कि ‘ई-भूमि पूजन किया जा सकता है और भूमि पूजन समारोह को वीडियो कॉन्फ्रेंसिंग के जरिये भी अंजाम दिया जा सकता है.’

उनका कहना है कि इस कार्यक्रम में लाखों लोग शामिल होना चाहेंगे और क्या उन्हें वहां पहुंचने से रोका जा सकता है? कोरोना महामारी को लेकर देश-दुनिया भर में जो संघर्ष अभी जारी है और जहां धार्मिक सम्मेलनों पर पाबंदी बनी हुई है, ऐसे में उनकी बात गौरतलब है.

गौर करें कि ऐसा आयोजन जिसका लाइव टेलीकास्ट भी किया जाएगा, कोई चाहे न चाहे देश में जगह जगह जनता के अच्छे-खासे हिस्से को सड़कों पर उतरने के लिए प्रेरित करेगा.

और अगर दक्षिणपंथी जमातें इस बारे में अतिसक्रियता दिखा दें तो फिर जगह जगह भीड़ बेकाबू भी हो सकती है और केंद्र सरकार और गृह मंत्रालय द्वारा जारी गाइडलाइंस की भी धज्जियां उड़ सकती हैं.

( Read the complete article here)

 

साझी शहादत-साझी विरासत: वसंत राव और रजब अली को याद करना क्यों जरूरी है ?

वसंतराव और रजब अली। साभार-इंडियन एक्सप्रेस

अहमदाबाद के जमालपुर के पास स्थित वसन्त-रजब चौक कितने लोगों ने देखा है? देखा तो कइयों ने होगा, और आज की तारीख में उससे रोज गुजरते भी होंगे, मगर अंगुली पर गिनने लायक लोग मिलेंगे जिन्होंने चौराहे के इस नामकरण का इतिहास जानने की कोशिश की होगी। मुमकिन है गुजरने वाले अधिकतर ने आज के इस इकहरे वक्त़ में- जबकि मनुष्य होने के बजाय उसकी खास सामुदायिक पहचान अहम बनायी जा रही है- इस ‘विचित्र’ नामकरण को लेकर नाक भौं भी सिकोड़े होंगे।

वह जून 1946 का वक़्त था जब आज़ादी करीब थी, मगर साम्प्रदायिक ताकतों की सक्रियता में भी अचानक तेज़ी आ गयी थी और उन्हीं दिनों यह दो युवा साम्प्रदायिक ताकतों से जूझते हुए मारे गए थे। वसंत राव हेगिश्ते का जन्म 1906 में अहमदाबाद के एक मराठी परिवार में हुआ था तो रजब अली लाखानी एक खोजा मुस्लिम परिवार में कराची में पैदा हुए थे (27 जुलाई 1919) और बाद में उनका परिवार अहमदाबाद में बस गया था। हमेशा की तरह उस साल रथयात्रा निकली थी और उसी बहाने समूचे शहर का माहौल तनावपूर्ण हो चला था।

कांग्रेस सेवा दल के कार्यकर्ता रहे इन जिगरी दोस्तों ने अपने ऊपर यह जिम्मा लिया कि वह अपने-अपने समुदायों को समझाएंगे कि वह उन्मादी न बनें, इसी काम में वह जी जान से जुटे थे, छोटी बैठकें कर रहे थे, लोगों को समझा रहे थे। 1 जुलाई को एक खांड नी शेरी के पास एक उग्र भीड़ ने – जो जुनूनी बन चुकी थी – उन्हें उनके रास्ते से हटने को कहा और उनके इन्कार करने पर उन दोनों को वहीं ढेर कर दिया। Continue reading साझी शहादत-साझी विरासत: वसंत राव और रजब अली को याद करना क्यों जरूरी है ?

Treacherous Road to Make Manu History

Even today the attempt is to whitewash Manusmriti, not shun it. But all is not lost as the ripples of Black Lives Matter have reached Indian shores.

manusmiriti ambedkar hindutva

It was 1927, the second phase of the historic Mahad Satyagrah was on, and Dr. Bhimrao Ambedkar led thousands of people in burning the Manusmriti, an act he compared with the French Revolution of 1789. Time and again, in speeches and writings, he categorically opposed the world-view of Manu, the legendary figure to whom are attributed the tenets of the Manusmriti, said to be dated to around 100 CE.

In the book written by scholar and activist Anand Teltumbde, Mahad: The Making of the First Dalit Revolt, published by Navayana in 2017, is recorded the resolution which was proposed by the social activist Gangadhar Sahasrabuddhe, and then read out at the Mahad Satyagrah. It states that the firm opinion of this conference is that the Manusmriti, “taking into consideration its verses which undermined the Shudra caste, thwarted their progress, and made their social, political and economic slavery permanent…is not worthy of becoming a religious or a sacred book. And in order to give expression to this opinion, this conference is performing the cremation rites of such a religious book which has been divisive of people and destroyer of humanity.”

Twenty three years later, Dr Ambedkar marked the promulgation of the Constitution of India as the “end of the rule by Manu”. And yet, 70 years thereafter, a significant section of Indians are still fascinated by Manu and have no qualms in venerating him. Even the Black Lives Matter protests in the United States and large parts of Europe, in which statues of slave-owners and colonialists are being knocked down or disfigured, the Indian followers of Manu have no regrets about deifying him.

( Read the full article here)

कोविड संक्रमण की चेन तोड़ने के लिए मलप्पुरम ने नई ज़मीन तोड़ी है

आज जब पूरे देश में धार्मिक स्थलों को खोला जा रहा है, तब बीते दिनों ‘सांप्रदायिक’ होने का इल्ज़ाम झेलने वाले केरल के मलप्पुरम ज़िले ने अपनी अलग राह चुनी है. कोरोना के बढ़ते मामलों के मद्देनज़र वहां की पांच हज़ार मस्जिदों को अनिश्चितकाल तक बंद रखने समेत कई धार्मिक स्थलों को न खोलने का फ़ैसला लिया गया है.

Minara masjid wears a deserted look on the first day of the holy fasting month of Ramzan, amid unprecedented circumstances due to the coronavirus pandemic and a nationwide lockdown, in Mumbai. PTI

लॉकडाउन के दौरान बंद एक मस्जिद. (फाइल फोटो: पीटीआई)

मलप्पुरम, केरल के एकमात्र मुस्लिम बहुल जिले, जहां उनकी आबादी 75 फीसदी है, ने एक इतिहास रचा. तय किया गया है कि जिले की 5,000 मस्जिदें अनिश्चितकाल के लिए बंद रहेंगी.

इस निर्णय के पीछे का तर्क समझने लायक है. क्योंकि राज्य में कोरोना वायरस संक्रमण के मामले बढ़ते दिख रहे हैं, इसलिए यह तय करना मुनासिब समझा गया कि उसके दरवाजे श्रद्धालुओं के लिए बंद ही रहें.

जाने-माने इस्लामिक विद्वान पनक्कड सययद सादिक अली शिहाब थंगल, जो इंडियन यूनियन मुस्लिम लीग के जिला अध्यक्ष हैं, उन्होंने इस खबर को मीडिया के एक हिस्से में साझा किया.

इस तरह जबकि बाकी मुल्क में प्रार्थनास्थल, धार्मिक स्थलों को खोला जा रहा है, मलप्पुरम ने अपनी अलग राह चुनी है.

इस बात पर जोर देना जरूरी है कि आठ मुस्लिम संप्रदायों (denomination) की उस बैठक में, जहां 9 जून के बाद प्रार्थनास्थलों को खोलने के सरकारी निर्णय पर विचार करना था, यह फैसला एकमत से लिया गया.

सभी इस बात पर सहमत थे कि उन्हें इस छूट का इस्तेमाल नहीं करना चाहिए. एक ऐसे वक्त में जबकि कोविड-19 के मामले सूबे में बढ़ रहे हों, मस्जिद कमेटियों और धार्मिक नेताओं ने यह जरूरत महसूस की कि उन्हें सतर्कता बरतनी चाहिए.

खबरें यह भी आ रही हैं कि न केवल मस्जिदें बल्कि इलाके के कई मंदिरों और चर्च ने भी उन्हें तत्काल खोलना नहीं तय किया है.

मिसाल के तौर पर, श्री कदमपुजा भगवती मंदिर जो मलप्पुरम में है तथा श्री तिरूनेल्ली मंदिर जो वायनाड में है, वह बंद रहेंगे.

नायर सर्विस सोसायटी से संबंधित मंदिर भी 30 जून तक नहीं खुलेंगे. एर्नाकुलम-अंगमाली आर्चडाओसिस ऑफ सिरो मलबार चर्च ने भी तय किया है कि उसके मातहत चर्च 30 जून तक बंद रहेंगे.

निस्संदेह इस बात को लेकर इलाके के लोगों में गहरा एहसास दिख रहा है कि राज्य ने जिन भी सावधानियों को बरतने की बात की हो, स्पेशल ऑपरेटिंग प्रोसिजर्स का ऐलान किया है, हकीकत में उन पर अमल करना नामुमकिन होगा लिहाजा कोविड-19 के समुदाय आधारित संक्रमण की संभावना बनी रहेगी.

( Read the full article here)

Can Rest of India ‘Do’ a Mallapuram ?

Ruins of an ancient Jain temple in Arimbra

Ruins of old Jain Style Temple at Arimbra 

Mallapuram, Kerala’s lone Muslim-majority district, made history recently.

The 5,000 mosques in the district would remain closed indefinitely.

Logic behind this decision is simple.

As the state is witnessing spike in Coronavirus infection recently, it was found more prudent to keep the doors closed for devotees. Panakkad Sayyed Sadiq Ali Shihab Thangal, a leading Islamic Scholar and Malappuram district president of the Indian Union Muslim League, shared this news with a section of the media.

Thus while the rest of the country is witnessing opening of places of worship under Unlock 1, Mallapuram has decided otherwise. Continue reading Can Rest of India ‘Do’ a Mallapuram ?

Truth Behind India’s Hierarchies of Pain

Perhaps celebrities know that talking about the plight of an animal—who died in a state not ruled by the ruling dispensation at the Centre—is a safe bet

Migrants

Migrants wait for a means of transport to travel to their native places during the fourth phase of the ongoing COVID-19 nationwide lockdown, at Kundali Industrial Area in Sonipat. (Photo: PTI)

The killing of a pregnant elephant has caused national outrage. The elephant had strayed into a village in Palakkad, Kerala, and is said to have been fed a fruit stuffed with firecrackers, which exploded in its mouth. It is impossible to comprehend the tremendous suffering of the elephant, who died a painful death. It is also learnt that people in the region have in the past used incendiary materials to protect their crop from animals, particularly wild boar.

One person was arrested after the matter came to light and few others have been identified. Kerala Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan has promised “justice will prevail”, but one does not know if that includes legal action against the hatemongers—including a former cabinet minister who gave the incident a communal colour by claiming, incorrectly, that the incident occurred in Muslim-majority Malappuram. A sitting cabinet minister also retweeted this fake news, which further vitiated the atmosphere.

In a complaint to the Malappuram Police, a lawyer has urged the police chief to file an FIR against the former minister and others for a “derogatory” campaign against the district.

Now, many Indian celebrities, for example Indian cricket team captain Virat Kohli, have said that they are “appalled” by the incident. The chairman of India’s biggest corporate giant, Ratan Tata, has compared the “criminal act” with “meditated murder”. The celebrities, the anchors of 24/7 news channels and many other prominent figures are undeniably upset by the plight of the elephant. But do they also feel the same kind of outrage and disquiet over the communal overtones being imparted to it?

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