When Charlatans Become Ideologues – The Real ‘Prisoners of the Binary’

Present day Hindus are probably the strongest opponents of Marxism. They are horrified at its doctrine of class-struggle. But they forget that India has been not merely the land of class struggle but she has been the land of class wars. – B. R. Ambedkar, Philosophy of Hinduism.

I often find myself in a bind over whether or not to respond to supposed RSS ideologues, given that they simply trade in lies and hatred with the supreme arrogance of ignorance. One such is the upcoming star on the RSS horizon, a gentleman called Rakesh Sinha, who like the rest of his pack (led by the supreme leader) is currently engaged in a cheap attack on the outgoing Vice-President, Hamid Ansari. His piece in the Indian Express today (linked above) is an  instance of a combination of all these things. So, why should one bother about such a character? Why take him and his discourse seriously? Well, someone had better respond because, because, for one thing they are in power, and are going to teach generations of students that valorous ‘Hindus’ like Maharana Pratap won all the wars, though by some magic, ‘Muslims’ continued to rule for about 8 centuries! For another, there are enough gullible types who really think these people ‘have a point of view’, which should be debated.

As we have repeatedly seen, their ‘having a point of view’ has nothing to do with debate. It is to be enforced by gangs of gorakshaks, anti-romeo squads, hoodlums deciding what will or will not be taught in universities and schools, what will be written, how people should dress and love – and when nothing works, ‘win’ a ‘debate’ like Arun Jaitley claimed they did, by simply arresting the opponents and slapping sedition charges on them. Given this, I do not really address, in person, the ideologue, Rakesh Sinha, who has now made it a fine art to pick up some phrases from the toolkit of what is understood as ‘postmodernism’ by many. Wasn’t it postmodernism, one can  hear them say, that said all viewpoints are equally valid and ‘everything goes’? Wasn’t it postmodernism that challenged the hegemony of Western thought, its logocentrism, its Rationalism (with a capital R) from within that very tradition? Wasn’t it postmodernism again, that by decentering West’s logocentrism, actually gave these RSS-type creatures the gumption to claim that their utterly unsubstantiated viewpoint about the past too was as valid as that of historians who struggled with evidence, painstakingly putting together texts, artefacts and procedures of dating in order to produce a plausible account of the past?

Continue reading “When Charlatans Become Ideologues – The Real ‘Prisoners of the Binary’”

Have Indian Muslims become the new ‘Make in India’ Punching Bag? Sabiha Farhat

Guest Post by Sabiha Farhat

[ A month ago from yesterday, a teenager called Junaid was lynched and murdered on a train in Haryana. Sabiha Farhat writes in the wake of visiting his house and meeting his family. The news cycles may have moved on to other stories, but we need to keep remembering Junaid, and why he was killed. – Kafila]

Once upon a time there  was a 15 year old boy called Hamid, who went shopping on the day of Eid with his Eidi .  A few days ago there was Junaid who went shopping on the eve of Eid.  Premchand’s Hamid was an orphan and lived with his grandmother in extreme poverty.  Junaid lived surrounded with love of his brothers, a sister, a doting mother, father and friends. Instead of the old, decrepit house of Hamid,  Junaid’s house has two rooms, it is not falling apart but it’s size and unplastered walls, do speak about the economic condition of his family.

As we approached Khandawli, Junaid’s village in Ballabhgarh a fear gripped me.  I did not have the courage to walk upto the house.  Junaid was brutally murdered on 22nd and here I was on 25th.  It was too soon, my mind said.  I should have let Eid pass.  But how could I have prepared Sewai in my house when a mother like myself had lost a young, healthy, happy child to hindutva fanatics?  I am a mother, I was angry and ashamed at home. And here, standing outside Junaid’s door, I was weak and helpless. Useless too.

Continue reading “Have Indian Muslims become the new ‘Make in India’ Punching Bag? Sabiha Farhat”

1984 and Punjab’s Transformation to a Hindutva Laboratory: Gurpreet Singh

Guest post by GURPREET SINGH

It was summer of 1985 when we were visiting New Delhi, the national capital of India to attend a wedding in the family. I had a long hair back then and was aged 15. Both me and my uncle who were wearing turbans like other Sikh men were waiting at a bus stand for the next bus to go to our relatives. As soon as the bus arrived and we were about to climb in after other waiting passengers, the door was slammed on us.  When my uncle protested, the conductor shouted that there is no seat inside. Even as we pointed out at some empty seats, the answer was – “we have told you there is no seat.” Before we could argue the bus sped away.

The incident left me shocked but I wasn’t surprised.  Continue reading “1984 and Punjab’s Transformation to a Hindutva Laboratory: Gurpreet Singh”

A Non-believing Muslim’s Experience of Islamophobia

Guest post by SARAH ATHER

My life has revolved around the concept of God. I have been a Muslim, a theist, an agnostic and an atheist in all types of phases of my life. I am sure, I am still just growing and my perceptions will mature as I grow. My Muslim identity slowly faded when I picked Dawkins and Ayaan Hirsi Ali in my late teens. To put it simply I was a perpetually angry Muslim. Angry at Islam, angry at Wahabism, angry at imposed patriarchy in Islam. I believed religion was so bad for the world, so unscientific. And so I wrote and I discussed with my fellow Hindu friends. They opened their hearts out. A lot of them told me how Muslims were always cruel and misogynistic. And they told me how I was different to see the truth. I felt a sense of moral superiority, I felt I was so unbiased and rational that I could see faults in my own religion. Continue reading “A Non-believing Muslim’s Experience of Islamophobia”

The Unapologetic Indian Muslim: Sabiha Farhat

Guest Post by SABIHA FARHAT

These are tough times for muslims in India.  But now that I look back and shed my ‘liberal’ prejudices – muslims were never acceptable as ‘who they were’ in Indian society.  I had always blamed my mother for not giving me proper lunch box to carry to school.  But the truth is that even in class 5, no student ate from my tiffin and gradually I started going to the play field in recess rather than enjoying a meal under the big Peepal tree.  After that I took tiffin only when I prepared it myself, that was class 11 & 12.  But even then the girls would hardly eat from my lunch box.  We did sit together but no one touched my food.  Was I the Untouchable?

Continue reading “The Unapologetic Indian Muslim: Sabiha Farhat”

Beyond Defeatism – Political Parties and the Fight Against Hindutva

The following, necessarily brief, reflections have been sparked off by two recent posts on Kafila – one by Biju Mathew published on 16 April, and the other by CP Geevan, published today. These reflections should not be seen as a response to the positions taken by Biju and/ or Geevan; they are, in fact, more in the way of addressing the central question raised by Biju Mathew’s piece – that of despondency and pessimism that has followed the UP elections and more importantly, the stealthy manner in which Adityanath was installed as the chief minister in the state. Stealthy, because after all, it was amply clear even to the decision makers in BJP, from the very beginning that if they had entered the election campaign with Adityanath as the chief ministerial face, it might have yielded very different results. It was too  big a risk to be undertaken.The real stroke of Modi-fascist genius lay precisely in keeping not just the electorate but also the organizational machinery in the dark and turning it into an advantage.

As it happens, despite the sharpness of Geevan’s comments, my sense, on reading the two pieces, is that there isn’t really as great a divergence on most issues as might appear at first sight.

Continue reading “Beyond Defeatism – Political Parties and the Fight Against Hindutva”

Thinking Past the BJP Victory in UP – Response to Biju Mathew: C.P. Geevan

Guest post by CP GEEVAN

The following is a response to the piece by Biju Mathew on Kafila, underlining the need for single-minded focus and keep the feet firmly on political realities

Given the exuberant optimism that Biju Mathew evokes in these dark days, many of us afflicted by malignant pessimism should not have many reasons to complain or pick holes in this view of looking back and foreseeing the way forward. On the face of it, this article does gladden one’s heart and spirit! However, imagining larger than life attributes to struggles and spells of resistance can be very misleading. In a way, with a rather benevolent interpretation, one cannot quarrel with Biju’s contention that nobody needs to wait for some political party to lead the resistances against the far-right takeover or start the process of breaking the ‘wave’. There is no hesitation in agreeing with the proposition that instead of waiting, which carries the risk of waiting indefinitely, it is imperative that each individual who is appalled at the turn of events must contribute urgently to building ‘innovative and locally responsive actions’. Well, inaction is certainly not an option. Act we must – in the face of the frightening likelihood of the saffron brigade unleashing a horrific civil war and engineering mass killings. There are no quarrels as to the primary intent of the article – that it is a call to shed excessive pessimism, end despondency, and take steps towards politically meaningful actions. Nevertheless, it will be a big mistake to imply that the process of banishing the gloom need not extend to the political rivals of the Hindutva nationalist parties. Continue reading “Thinking Past the BJP Victory in UP – Response to Biju Mathew: C.P. Geevan”