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India’s ethno-sectarian mosaic

Conceptually, one can trace back domestic façade of Hindu extremism to erstwhile Maha-Bharat mythology. Foundation stone is provided by the religion sanctified Hindu caste system. Through this two-pronged socio-political support, intra-Hindu state and society enact and enshrine a well-structured hard and fast setting of four caste based sub-societies which are racial in composition and do not allow any horizontal movement. Issue surfaces when Hindus live side by side with non-Hindus while characterising them lower to the lowest Hindu caste. This status is not acceptable to non-Hindus and a struggle for equalisation ferments and snowballs to the extent of forcefully stressing the Hindu majority State to its seams.

This external, albeit non-Hindu, push-factor also causes intra-Hindu socio-political fissures. Whatever notional improvement has come to the status of lower caste Hindus, they owe it this to external pressure. Muslim presence In India has been a major contributor towards this breeze of fresh air to stagnant Hindu society. Concept of Human equality in Muslim state and society has been a source of great inspiration for triggering intra-Hindu struggle. This has however not ended the tyranny of Hindu state and society. Armed with the tool of religious sanctity, the duo fights back, again and again, to strengthen the caste dogma. Hence, the struggle by the oppressed—both Hindus and non-Hindus— has become a perpetual phenomenon or say the problem of Hindu majority state and society, sprouting spells of Hindu majoritarian rule.

By composition, contemporary India consists of a pluralist mass of people, however by practice, or to say by default, Indian society is perpetually self-gravitating towards exclusive socio-economic setting. Post-independence India could not go beyond the tyranny of majoritarian rule.  While maintaining a state of denial, Hindutva has become a bipartisan phenomenon. Congress is the softer image of Hindutva while BJP is the cruder façade of same ideology. In reality both parties follow similar trajectory viz-a-viz their minorities. Worrying part is the State’s institutional behaviour in India that encourages highhandedness towards minorities—covertly under Congress led rule and overtly under the BJP rule.

For quite some time, all kinds of extremism have been taking roots in Indian society as by-products of majoritarian rule. This has now become “Hindu versus” the rest assertiveness. Minorities stand disenfranchised, there representation in the parliament, provincial assemblies and local government bodies is abysmally below par with their respective demographic representation.  Presently there are only 22 Muslim members of parliament which is the lowest ever number. Going by their number (14.5 percent), their legitimate entitlement is much higher. Situation of other minorities is also not different.

Although many armed insurgencies are going on in India, none is strong enough to pose any meaningful threat to the government. Hence these are being dealt with iron hand.  During April, at least 39 Maoists were killed in a fake account with Indian security forces in Gadchiroli area that is situated on the periphery juncture of Maharashtra and Chhattisgarh states. The Maoists while accepting the setback have vowed to avenge. India’s domestic Human Rights monitoring bodies have thrown up serious questions with regard to authenticity of the encounter because not a single security person has even been injured. Incident is being termed as an extrajudicial premediated mass murder—indeed a cold-blooded killing of Maos. Such incidents against Maoists insurgents are not being taken seriously by international media.

In Indian Occupied Kashmir (IoK), during last week, Indian security forces martyred seven innocent Kashmiris. On 31st May the Indian occupation forces martyred two innocent Kashmiris in a fake operation in Kupwara district. After the use of human shields, bullets and pellets, India is now using new inhuman methods of crushing Kashmiri youth under heavy vehicles. Central Reserve Police Force (CRPF) ran a jeep over Kaiser Ahmad, 24 years old, during protests after Friday prayers; victim succumbed to injuries in Nowhatta area of Srinagar. To prevent further protests, the Indian occupation forces have snapped the internet services in Srinagar and clamped curbs on the public movement. Indian atrocities in IoK need immediate attention of the international community and global human rights defenders.

Reportedly, BJP State President Ravinder Raina for Jammu & Kashmir recently said that time is approaching fast when India would be left with no option but to strike inside Pakistan. Pakistan is ready to defend its borders. Any Indian misadventure shall be given a befitting response.  Pakistan wants to live in peace, however, if aggression is thrust upon us, it would be duly punished.

Last week marked the anniversary of Khalistan Tehreek around the world. India had brutally crushed the Sikhs in 1984 through notorious Operation Blue Star, it gave rise to the Sikh movement. Sikhs in India are under suppression; however, forceful voices have been raised by large Sikhs community leaders in Australia and Canada. On one hand, India calls itself a democratic state and on the other hand, it unleashes worst persecutions on its minorities—especially Muslims, Dalits, Christians and Sikhs.

Causes leading to prevailing ethno-sectarian tensions in India are increasing without any signs of reversal. While there may be numerous causative factors and contributing conditions for strengthening in vogue exclusionism practiced in India, main factor for its sustenance is well entrenched caste system within Hindu mythology.  A trend has emerged that hardly any meaningful action is taken against perpetrators, planners and practitioners of anti-minority events; they are never given deterring punishments. State has lost the will to do so.

In the historic perspective, during 1820s or so the British tried to consolidate whatever the caste Hindus were available into a single organized entity. Then on, Hindu community started working towards their national reassertion and around 1925, the concept of “Hindu Rashtra” or Hindu nation state was floated.

India is spreading hate-based ideology and Hindutva extremism under present government. Amendments are being incorporated in text books to tarnish Muslim leaders’ image. Prime Minster Narendra Modi, a well-known RSS representative in the BJP government and a flag bearer of the Hindutva ideology of RSS is behind the intimidating plot, rendering full governmental support and protection to the perpetrators of anti-minority drive. The ‘Ghar Wapsi’ movement is based on getting back emigrant Hindus into the folds of Hindutva and converting the Christians and Muslims into the fold of their ‘original religion’. The movement has gained momentum during the current regime.

No reversal is expected in Indian behaviour. So, people of the region in general and minority groups living in India should learn to adjust to this stark reality and take measures to mitigate the impact of state practiced exclusionism by India, it is indeed a difficult path to tread.  This pattern is likely to go on because “Hindu India” sells well among the rural Hindu masses which form the major chunk of Indian population. Hindu votes will continue to determine who could rule India. Therefore, even the mainstream political parties, which previously prided themselves with secular ideology have largely tilted towards appeasement of Hindu majority, at the cost of minorities. Indian is habitual of ignoring the reports of Human Rights watchdogs which convey their concerns about oppression of Indian minorities quite frequently and rather strongly.

The United Nations need to take cognisance of the situation and place India on watch list with regard to its ill-treatment of minorities. Unless appropriate safeguards are built, in line with Universal Declaration of Human rights, majoritarian rule in Hindu India would continue to oppress the Indian citizenry.

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Rear View: Netaji Bose, Nehru and anti Colonial Struggle

While hoisting Indian flag on the occasion of 75th Anniversary of proclamation of Azad Hind Government, Prime Minster Narendra Modi said that the contributions of Bose, Patel and Ambedkar have been ignored by the ruling Nehru-Gandhi family. Nothing can be farther from truth than this statement of his. One knows that Ambedkar was made the minister in the first Cabinet of India; he was also given the task of being the Chairman of drafting committee of Indian constitution and was asked to draft the Hindu code bill. Sardar Patel was the Deputy Prime Minster, looking after the Home ministry. The compilation of Sardar Patel’s letters has been edited by Durga Das, ‘Sardar Patel Correspondence’. As per this book it becomes clear that Nehru and Patel were very close and till Patel was alive most of the decisions which taken were with his consent or due to his initiative. Patel regarded Nehru as his younger brother and his leader; both. Earlier Modi tried to propagate that Nehru ignored Sardar Patel and did not attend his funeral in Bombay. Morarji Desai’s biography describes that Nehru did attend the funeral; this was also reported in the news papers that time. As far as Netaji Bose is concerned, Nehru and Bose were close ideological colleagues. Both were socialists and part of the left wing of the Congress. Unlike the followers of Hindutva politics, Bose was very secular. Hindu nationalist leaders attacked Subhas Bose incessantly as he dared to reserve jobs for Muslims when he was elected to lead the Calcutta Corporation. Bose was aware of the tremendous injustice that Muslims faced in recruitment. It was Bose who opposed the Muslim and Hindu communalists both. In Tripura Convention of INC, Bose was elected the Chief, but Gandhi was opposed to him mainly on the ground of Non violence. Bose tended to support violent means. Due to opposition within INC; Bose left Congress to form Forward Block, a left party, which has been part of left coalition in West Bengal for a long time. Bose and Nehru were on the same page as far as future of industrialization and public sector was concerned. Bose’s biographer Leonard A Gordan writes about his ideology: As per Bose “Each [person] should privately follow his religious path, but not link it to political and other public issues. Throughout his career, he reached out to Muslim leaders, first of all in his home province of Bengal, to make common cause in the name of India. His ideal, as indeed the ideal of the Indian National Congress, was that all Indians, regardless of region, religious affiliation, or caste join together to make common cause against foreign rulers.” Savarkar also said ‘No support to armed resistance against British’. It is interesting that while Netaji was fighting the British from across the border, Savrkar and Hindutva Nationalists helped the British army which was fighting AHF of Subhash Bose! The claims that Modi and Co. is following the footsteps of Netaji are a claim which has no substance. The matter of fact is that the efforts of Savarkar were acting against the interests of army raised by Netaji. In contrast, while Congress did not agree with Netaji’s line of action, it was Congress which raised the legal support to fight the cases of the personnel of AHF in the aftermath of the war. Bhulabhai Deasi, Kailashnath Katju and Nehru himself came forward to battle in the court rooms on behalf of AHF.

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