Category Archives: religion

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?

( Read the full article here)

प्रार्थना स्थलों पर लाउडस्पीकर पर प्रतिबंध

news on judiciary

कांकर पाथर जोरि कै मस्जिद लई बनाय.
ता चढि मुल्ला बांग दे क्या बहरा हुआ खुदाय

क्या अपने ‘खुदा’ को आवाज़ देने के लिए बांग देने की जरूरत पड़ती है ?

आज से छह सदी पहले ही कबीर ने यह सवाल पूछ कर अपने वक्त़ में धर्म के नाम पर जारी पाखंड को बेपर्दा किया था. पिछले दिनों यह मसला नए सिरे से उछला जब इलाहाबाद उच्च न्यायालय ने इस बारे में एक अहम फैसला सुनाया. अदालत ने कहा कि अज़ान अर्थात प्रार्थना के लिए आवाज़ देने की बात इस्लाम का हिस्सा है लेकिन वही बात लाउडस्पीकर के इस्तेमाल के बारे में नहीं कही जा सकती, लिहाजा रात 10 बजे से सुबह 6 बजे तक किसी भी ध्वनिवर्द्धक यंत्र का इस्तेमाल के इजाजत नहीं दी जा सकती.

अदालत के मुताबिक मुअज्जिन मस्जिद की मीनार से अपनी मानवीय आवाज़ में अज़ान दे सकता है और उसे महामारी रोकने के लिए राज्य द्वारा लगायी गयी पाबंदियों के तहत रोका नहीं जा सकता, अलबत्ता उसके लिए लाउडस्पीकर का इस्तेमाल वर्जित रहेगा.

ध्यान रहे कि अदालत यूपी पुलिस द्वारा जगह-जगह मनमाने ढंग से अज़ान पर लगायी गयी पाबंदी के खिलाफ दायर याचिका पर विचार कर रही थी. हाथरस, अलीगढ़ आदि स्थानों पर महामारी के कानूनों का हवाला देते हुए पुलिस वालों ने अज़ान देने पर ही पाबंदी लगायी थी, जिसके खिलाफ याचिकाकर्ताओं ने अदालत का दरवाज़ा खटखटाया था.

उम्मीद है कि अदालत के फैसले के मद्देनज़र यूपी पुलिस मनमाने तरीके से अज़ान पर नहीं रोक लगाएगी, निश्चित ही यह सुनिश्चित करेगी कि इसके लिए किसी ध्वनिवर्द्धक यंत्र का इस्तेमाल तो नहीं हो रहा है.

गौरतलब है कि अदालत ने संविधान के तहत प्रदत्त बुनियादी अधिकारों में शामिल आर्टिकल 19/1/ए का हवाला देते हुए जो इस बात को सुनिश्चित करता है कि‘किसी को भी यह अधिकार नहीं है कि वह अन्य लोगों को बन्दी श्रोता (captive listeners) बना दें’ यह निर्देश दिया.

निश्चित ही मस्जिदों में जहां बिना अनुमति के लाउडस्पीकरों के इस्तेमाल पर पाबंदी रहेगी, वही बात मंदिरों, गुरुद्धारों या अन्य धार्मिक स्थलों पर भी लागू रहेगी ताकि आरती के बहाने या गुरुबाणी सुनाने के बहाने इसी तरह लोगों को ‘बन्दी श्रोता’ मजबूरन न बनाया जाए. ( Read the full article here :https://hindi.theprint.in/opinion/allahabad-high-court-ban-loudspeakers-at-prayer-places-exposes-hypocrisy-in-the-name-of-faith/140765/)

Srinarayanadharmam: Raghavan Thirumulpad (Part 2)

The third chapter is about precepts applicable to all human beings;  the aacharyan speaks here on the panchadharmas and the panchashuddhi. The panchadharmas are : nonviolence, truth, non-covetousness, the rejection of intoxicants,  and the avoidance of licentiousness. Dharmoyam Saarvavarnikah, say the earlier aachaaryas, mentioning nonviolence, truth, non-covetousness, celibacy, and frugality as the five crucial dharmas. The Yogasastra mentions these five as the panchayamas. Continue reading Srinarayanadharmam: Raghavan Thirumulpad (Part 2)

Balm in Troubling times – Raghavan Thirumulpad on Srinarayana Dharma

[The lockdown ought to work as a great leveler. For once, all who live in mortal bodies have been reminded of their inevitable mortality, of the absurd fragility of our existence on this planet. Even the living-gods who command a huge following have shut darshan. We have also been reminded that life on earth will not grind to a standstill if we go. Indeed, the signs are that it will thrive. 

But at the ground level, that is not happening. The better-off can see how, starkly, like never before, the privileges they enjoy, and given as they are to an amoral worship of consumption which inhibits their capacity for compassion, are more likely to shield this by resorting to any kind of ideology that justifies their privilege, probably eugenics or some kind of functionalist interpretation of caste oppressive practices. We are seeing how the poor are suffering for no fault of theirs at all. Indeed, the lockdown may help to normalize privilege even more, and render us all the more insensitive to the suffering of the working class poor. One reason why this happens is because we are already, as a society, afflicted by moral viruses — of religious bigotry, caste privilege, and ruthless capitalism. As a society, we are sick, and the pandemic is likely to exacerbate it

It must be this connection that made me turn to the work of Raghavan Thirumulpad, who was one of Kerala’s finest ayurvedic physicians, a multi-lingual scholar whose conception of individual and human wellness was inextricably related to the wellness of society and the natural world. I have long admired the ease with which he moved between theory and practice in ayurveda; but what really connected us as privileged-caste-born people who sought to become human  was that we found in Sreenarayana Guru a common refuge. For Thirumulpad, the Guru is not just a social reformer or preacher but a healer — a healer of society and individual, who drew upon Indian traditions to reinterpret a dharma adequate to the disease that afflicted society in his times.

Continue reading Balm in Troubling times – Raghavan Thirumulpad on Srinarayana Dharma

Understanding the Rise of the BJP

Guest Post by PARVIN SULTANA

(Review of HINDUTVA: EXPLORING THE IDEA OF HINDU; NATIONALISM, Jyotirmaya Sharma ( Context 2019); M.S. GOLWALKAR, THE RSS AND INDIA, Jyotirmaya Sharma (Context, 2019) ; DECODING THE RSS: ITS TRADITIONS AND POLITICS Raosaheb Kasbe (Leftword Books, 2019) , RAJIV GANDHI TO NARENDRA MODI: BROKEN POLITY, FLICKERING REFORMS Parsa Venkateshwar Rao Jr. (Sage Select, 2019) ; MODINAMA: ISSUES THAT DID NOT MATTER Subhash Gatade (Leftword Books, 2019) 

The 2014 general elections which saw the Bharatiya Janata Party return to power with an absolute majority is believed to have brought an important paradigmatic shift to Indian politics. Scholars commenting have termed it as a majoritarian shift. Post elections, there have been discussions which tried to understand the reasons behind this massive mandate that the Right Wing political party managed to get. This Right Wing shift in India’s electoral politics was further proven by the 2019 Parliament election results which gave the BJP a larger mandate. Scholars have written trying to understand the rise of BJP—is it an isolated event or a continuation of past developments? This becomes important because even at the international level, there is a shift towards conservative politics.
Indian academia has also taken an objective look at this shift. A number of books have been written on various aspects of present-day politics, the ideologies and icons that paved the way for this rise and continue to provide intellectual fodder for this politics, the liberal economic policies which have been taken to their logical conclusion by the present government, etc. And these books have provided us with important insights to make sense of the present-day political situation of the country.

( Read the full text here : https://thebookreviewindia.org/understanding-the-rise-of-the-bjp/)

Khureji Crackdown Fact Finding Report: Lawyers Against Atrocities

[The followng is a report of the police crackdown on the peaceful protest in Khureji, against the CAA-NRC-NPR that had been going for quite some time. The team of Lawyers Against Atrocities comprising Ashutosh, Harjot, Harshita, Nasir and Rahul visited Khureji on 29 February 2020]

Brief Overview of the Situation in Khureji Khas

Since the 14thof January 2020, Khureji Khas in North East Delhi has witnessed peaceful protests against the divisive Citizenship Amendment Act (CAA), National Registry of Citizens (NRC) and the National Population Register (NPR). The people of the locality, especially women,had been congregating day and night at an open site adjacent the Hindustan Petroleum pump on the Patparganj Road. On the 23rdof February 2020, responding to the Bhim Army’s call for a Bharat Bandh, the people of Khureji Khas conducted a sit-in protest on the Patparganj Road. On request from police officials to allow for the flow of vehicular traffic, the protesters complied by first allowing road access to the nearby Vivekananda Yogashram, then vacating half the road by the night of 23rd February and finally the entire road by noon of the following day.

Despite returning to the protest site to continue the peaceful protest, heavy police deployment continued in Khureji Khas. On Monday and Tuesday (24th and 25th of February), the Delhi Police were a constant presence at the protest site. Lining the roads, the police intimidated protestors, especially women. Suddenly without provocation, on the morning of 26th February 2020, the police personnel, many of whom did not bear their name tag, stormed into the protest site brandishing and discharging firearms and proceeded to evict the protestors, beating and injuring several in the process. It is reported that during this process, the police were seen destroying CCTV cameras, notably the one in front of the Hindustan Petroleum Pump. The police arrested several protestors, from the protest site and from their homes including Ishrat Jahan, Khalid Saifi, Mohammed Salim, Vikram Pratap, Salim Ansari and Sabhu Ansari among others taking them to the Jagatpuri Police Station.

Continue reading Khureji Crackdown Fact Finding Report: Lawyers Against Atrocities

Thoughts on the AAP’s Hindu Gestures from Kerala’s History

I have been reading with interest the exchange between Aditya Nigam and Satish Deshpande on the AAP’s strategy of avoiding ‘politics’ – or rather, distancing itself mostly from the polarised ideological debates while making small moves to shape for itself a space, arguably fuzzy, in the hegemonic discourse of Hindu. I am also witness to the unbelievably egregious attacks by the CPM leadership in Kerala against Islamist organizations protesting the CAA — the free reign granted to an explicitly communalised police force, the appallingly soft treatment of Hindutva offenders, even when they make open threats that warn Malayalis to ‘remember Gujarat’, the wanton attack on internal dissidents in the CPM using the worst instruments of the security states such as the UAPA, and the threat to dismantle the pandal of the Shaheen Bagh solidarity satyagraha in Thiruvananthapuram, something even Amit Shah has not dared to do (thankfully withdrawn after public outrage), and its blatant caste-elite majoritarian thrust while claiming to be the (sole) guardians of secularism. Continue reading Thoughts on the AAP’s Hindu Gestures from Kerala’s History

Winning Delhi Elections – AAP, Gandhi and the Ideology Wars

 

What has Gandhi got to do with the recently concluded elections in Delhi? On the face of it nothing. But at another level, the election process, its campaign and its results – all invite us to revisit Gandhi’s stupendous moral-political project of cementing the Hindu-Muslim division with his own blood and his heroic failure. He could not prevent the Partition and ultimately fell to the bullets of a fanatic Hindu nationalist of the kind who are in power today.

I remember Gandhi today because gung-ho secularists (the political community that I inhabit, if very uncomfortably) are once again at their favourite occupation of daring Arvind Kejriwal and AAP to ‘prove’ their ‘anti-communal stance’ and all that it can mean today – as though they alone have the talisman to fight communalism. I am reminded of Gandhi because his was by far the most audacious  attempt to fight the communal menace but he too had no readymade answers to it.

Secular warrriors have been basically daring Kejriwal and AAP to do and say things that he had been avoiding doing or saying all these days. Just two instances – of the quotes below from two dear friends – should suffice to indicate what I mean.  The first is from Apoorvanand, writing in the Business Standard,

‘Voters in Delhi were confident that the AAP victory in the assembly elections wouldn’t so much as serve as an irritant to the BJP, let alone rock its boat, as the saffron outfit was firmly and safely ensconced in power. An efficient delivery boy is all the electorate wanted. In the Delhi voters mindset, an ideology-agnostic party that does not impede the BJP’s nationalist drive is tolerable.’

Continue reading Winning Delhi Elections – AAP, Gandhi and the Ideology Wars

Why Pakistan’s Islamists Don’t Want India’s CAA Repealed

Of all reasons to oppose CAA, NPR and NRC, most worrying is the Islamists across the borders feeling enthused.

Anti CAA Protest in India

Seattle City Council, one of the most powerful city councils in the United States, recently made history. It became the world’s first elected body to pass a resolution asking the Indian government to repeal the CAA, stop the National Register of Citizens and uphold the Indian Constitution. It also sought ratification of United Nations treaties on refugees. The said resolution is being seen to be “leading the moral consensus in the global outcry against the CAA”.

Seattle is definitely not an exception.

Many concerned voices have spoken against the highly controversial discriminatory Citizenship Amendment Act (CAA) 2019, which excludes Muslims [and Jews] and enforces a selective citizenship criteria based on faith. This new law effectively reduces the status of millions of Muslims in India to illegal migrants. A similar resolution was tabled by members of the European Union Parliament last month. It stands postponed right now, but that will be a short reprieve, for the members have resolved to take it up again shortly.

For the first time in independent India’s history the Indian diaspora—which is normally projected as pro-Prime Minister Narendra Modi and which does participate in rallies in his support—has been protesting against the bill along with Indian students studying in the West. These protests have been going on for close to two months in different cities and towns in different cities in the West.

Couple this development with the resistance within the country spreading to new areas and broadening to include more sections of society, as people gradually wake up to the CAA’s grim portents. Definitely, there is growing discomfort against the Modi-Shah regime. Perhaps it is a sign of desperation that in order to legitimise this law the government has been peddling half-truths even in Parliament. Prime Minister Modi quoted selectively from the Nehru-Liaquat pact to buttress his case. He used the same Nehru-Bordoloi letter to defend the CAA, which his party had earlier used to slam the Congress. Gopinath Bordoloi was the first Chief Minister of Assam after Independence.

( Read the full text here : https://www.newsclick.in/why-pakistans-islamists-dont-want-indias-caa-repealed)

കേരളത്തിൽ ജനാധിപത്യത്തിൻ്റെ ഭാവിയും അരാഷ്ട്രീയതയുടെ പിണറായിശൈലിയും

കേരളത്തിലങ്ങോളമിങ്ങോളം നടക്കുന്ന സിഏഏ-എൻ ആർ സി വിരുദ്ധസമരങ്ങൾക്കിടയിൽ നമ്മുടെയെല്ലാം   ഉള്ളുപൊള്ളയായ രാഷ്ട്രീയ അവബോധങ്ങളിലും സുഖസ്ഥലങ്ങളിലും നീറുപോലെ കടിച്ചുപറിക്കുന്ന ഒരു യാഥാർത്ഥ്യം — താഹയും അലനും സഹിക്കുന്ന അനീതി. യുഏപിഏ അറസ്റ്റുകൾ മുൻപ് മുസ്ലീംയുവാക്കളെ ഉന്നംവച്ചപ്പോൾ അവർ തീവ്രവാദികളാണെന്ന് – പലപ്പോഴും കാര്യമായ തെളിവൊന്നുമില്ലാതെ — വിശ്വസിച്ചു മനഃസാക്ഷിയെ  നാം പാട്ടുപാടി ഉറക്കിയതാണ്. പക്ഷേ ഇന്നത് പറ്റുന്നില്ല, കാരണം ഈ ചെറുപ്പക്കാരെ നേരിട്ടറിയാവുന്ന പാർട്ടിവിശ്വാസികൾക്കെല്ലാം അറിയാം, അവർ നിരപരാധികളാണെന്ന്. Continue reading കേരളത്തിൽ ജനാധിപത്യത്തിൻ്റെ ഭാവിയും അരാഷ്ട്രീയതയുടെ പിണറായിശൈലിയും

10,000 Academics, Students, Teachers and Civil Society Against Police Brutality at Jamia Millia Islamia and Aligarh Muslim University

We, the undersigned, condemn in the strongest possible terms the police brutality in Jamia Millia Islamia University, New Delhi, and the ongoing illegal siege and curfew imposed on Aligarh Muslim University, Aligarh. On 15th December 2019 Delhi police in riot-gear illegally entered the Jamia Millia campus and attacked students who are peacefully protesting the Citizenship Amendment Act. The Act bars Muslims from India’s neighboring countries from the acquisition of Indian citizenship. It contravenes the right to equality and secular citizenship enshrined in the Indian constitution.

On the 15th at JMIU, police fired tear gas shells, entered hostels and attacked students studying in the library and praying in the mosque. Over 200 students have been severely injured, many who are in critical condition. Because of the blanket curfew and internet blockage imposed at AMU, we fear a similar situation of violence is unfolding, without any recourse to the press or public. The peaceful demonstration and gathering of citizens does not constitute criminal conduct. The police action in the Jamia Millia Islamia and AMU campuses is blatantly illegal under the constitution of India.

We stand in unconditional solidarity with the students, faculty and staff of Jamia Millia Islamia and Aligarh Muslim University, and express our horror at this violent police and state action. With them, we affirm the right of citizens to peaceful protest and the autonomy of the university as a non-militarized space for freedom of thought and expression. The brutalization of students and the attack on universities is against the fundamental norms of a democratic society.

As teachers, students, scholars and members of civil society across the world, we are watching with extreme concern the situation unfolding at Jamia Millia Islamia and Aligarh Muslim University. We refuse to remain silent at the violence unleashed on our colleagues (students, staff, and faculty) peacefully protesting the imposition of a discriminatory and unjust law.

This statement with a full list of signatories is available here and here Jamia Millia and AMU solidarity statement.

Whatever Happened to Struggle Against Untouchability

Untouchability Walls keep rising and falling in Tamil Nadu.

Whatever Happened to Struggle

BR Ambedkar wrote in Annihilation of Caste that “…the world owes much to rebels who would dare to argue in the face of the pontiff and insist that he is not infallible. I do not care about the credit which every progressive society must give to its rebels. I shall be satisfied if I make the Hindus realize that they are the sick men of India, and that their sickness is causing danger to the health and happiness of other Indians.”

In 2008, Uthapuram, a village in Madurai, Tamil Nadu, had made national headlines. It was the year when the Karunanidhi-led DMK state government had taken the initiative to demolish a portion of a thirty-metre wall that had been raised by the dominant Pillaimar community, an OBC caste which had wanted to keep residents of the Devandra Kula Vellalar community, which falls under the Scheduled Caste category, out of the Mariamman temple.

Built in 1989, this wall had become a symbol of segregation based on caste and organisations like Tamil Nadu Anti Untouchability Front, along with other groups and individuals had been conducting agitations to end this discrimination. Finally, the DMK government was forced to take action.

This was perhaps the first time that the rest of India came to know about the prevalence of this pernicious practice in Tamil Nadu. The demolition of the wall was projected as a significant step to move towards caste annihilation.

The recent death of 17 dalits in Mettupalayam wall collapse, in which members of the arunthathiyar dalit caste lost their lives is a reminder of how our celebrations were premature. And that when it comes to caste and its attendant exclusions and discriminations, India still has miles to go.

(Read the full article here https://www.newsclick.in/Whatever-Happened-Struggle-Against-Untouchability)

Ayodhya: Can a Dispute Reach Closure if it Still Causes Pain?

The dispute will linger until India learns coexistence from history.

Ayodhya: Can a Dispute Reach

Coexistence between social groups was a social reality and a primary tenet of Indian life, long before the word secular was included in its Constitution in 1976. Now that a five-judge bench of the Supreme Court has delivered a “historic” judgement on the Babri Masjid dispute, there is a sense of disquiet. This is not just on account of the asymmetries and silences in the judgement that many writers have pointed out. It is because the court has ruled that the forces who brought down the Babri Masjid are entitled to the land on which it stood. The question remains whether there can be any real closure in a dispute if the pain it has caused continues to linger.