FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail

The Second Hindu Country?

by ROMI MAHAJAN

Some years ago, when I lived in Bombay, I sat in a meeting called by a Non-Resident Indian business man. There were about 30 high-level business leaders from India present and the NRI was explaining to them the need to create “a group, a network” of Indian business people who work together to create an economic block. “After all,” he said, “there are only two Hindu countries in the world, so we have to stick together.” One of the members of the audience, catching on to the obvious point (strangely, not many did catch on) asked the rich if unsophisticated NRI “Two Hindu countries? What’s the second?,” to which the NRI responded “Oh, didn’t you know, Nepal is a Hindu kingdom.” “Yes, ” acknowledged the businessman somewhat exasperatedly, “but as I asked, what’s the second?” The NRI looked puzzled and after a pregnant pause broke out into a big grin and exclaimed “Oh I see what you are saying!” and, along with the majority of the attendees, laughed the point out.

I am still not sure if he really got the point: India is not a Hindu country, it is a secular country. And many of us will not retreat from this point or concede any part of our minds to the Hindu Right, currently drunk with power after its recent landslide victory in the home of its latest pogrom: Gujarat.

But one must admit, its getter harder and harder. And for the victims of the virulence in India, life is lived under siege. With regard to religious minorities, Indian democracy is in shambles.

The news today tells the story well. In Delhi yesterday, BJP Party chief M.V. Naidu told his party that the BJP would “replicate our Gujarat experience everywhere.” Quite clearly, Mr. Naidu is referring to three related things here: first, at the literal level, replication of the Gujarat experience would mean landslide victories for the Hindu right all over India; second, moving one small step below the literal level, it is clear that replication of the Gujarat experience would mean authorizing and reveling in wholesale slaughter of minorities and destruction of minority-owned property. After all, the “Gujarat experience” for the 2000-plus dead muslims, the hundreds of thousands forced to leave their homes, and for the women, upon whom violence more widespread and brutal than was found in the recent Balkan conflicts ( according to a recent fact finding mission ) was perpetrated –to the general approbation of the complacent middle-class and rich of Gujarat– was a fairly grave matter. Third, and this is the portent for things to come, the violence and disenfranchisement of minorities and the landslide electoral victory are related matters; in fact, the pogrom against muslims was used by Modi, in typical Orwellian logic, to show how the threat of muslims is imminent, grave, and must be dealt with–no doubt by the strongman himself. Echoes of the Reichstag fire ring clearly.

One reads further that Modi’s swearing-in ceremony, described by the Deccan Herald as one of “the most pompous..in recent history,” not only cost the exchequer amounts it could ill-afford, but was attended by no less a personage than Mr. Vajpayee, Prime Minister of secular India. Present also were L.K. Advani and a whole host of regional honchos, industrialists, and media personalities. I’m not sure, but perhaps members of the Wehrmacht were there as well.

One of Modi’s first acts was to but a minister for “Cow Protection” in place in his new cabinet. The implications of this are too clear to spell out.

Scanning the papers a bit more, one finds that Mr. Sajjan Kumar, was acquitted of any wrongdoing, in the small matter of having presided over the murder of 49 Sikhs in the Sultanpuri neighborhood in West Delhi in 1984. To date, the perpetrators of the violence (that resulted in 3000 Sikhs being slaughtered) have not been brought to book despite the fact that everybody, literally everybody knows who they are and what they did. No doubt the lack of legal recrimination for obvious crimes against religious minorities further emboldens the Hindu right and to talk about replicating the “Gujarat experience.”

Lastly, and very relatedly, there is a report from Delhi’s Hindu college that two Dalit students were beaten mercilessly in their dormitory. Their only “crime:” being Dalits. No doubt the assailants were Hindu kids who believe they own the length, breadth, and depth of the whole country. The warden of the dormitory told the Dalit students not to report the assault. Untermenschen, its seems, can belong to one’s own religion as well, however low they might be in the hierarchy.

The Hindu Right has been buoyed by a connivance of forces: inter alia, its well-heeled and virulent diaspora, a global attack on people of Muslim countries (Afghanistan, Iraq, etc.) led by Uncle Sam, a new set of economic policies in India that has created widespread unemployment and disenchantment, an increasingly casteist bent in the polity, the Saffronization of education, and the adoption of American values in the Indian elite. It has been on an upsurge for more than a decade.

But it can be stopped–and not only by activism, protest, and by left political formations, but also by the small acts of secular people, outside of the organized political domain. The time is now for affirmative secularism, for affirmative acts in defense of and in revelry of our plural society. Lets not allow the Hindu right to define the default settings of our society.

India is a secular country but will remain so only if we fight for it.

ROMI MAHAJAN can be reached at: Romimahajan2000@yahoo.com

 

More articles by:

CounterPunch Magazine

minimag-edit

bernie-the-sandernistas-cover-344x550

zen economics

February 22, 2017
Mike Whitney
Liberals Beware: Lie Down With Dogs, Get Up With Fleas
John Grant
On Killers and Bullshitters*
Peter Linebaugh
Catherine Despard, Abolitionist
Patrick Cockburn
The Bitter Battle for Mosul
Ted Rall
Sue the Bastards? It’s Harder Than You Think
Yoav Litvin
The Emergence of the Just Jew
Kim Scipes
Strategic Thinking and Organizing Resistance
Norman Pollack
Mar-a-Lago, Ideological Refuge: Berchtesgaden, II
Fred Donner
Nixon and the Chennault Affair: From Vietnam to Watergate
Carl Kandutsch
Podesta vs. Trump
Ike Nahem
To the Memory of Malcolm X: Fifty Years After His Assassination
Jesse Jackson
Trump’s Tough Talk Won’t Fix Chicago
Paul Donnelly
Betsy DeVos and the War on Public Education
Ebony Slaughter-Johnson
The End of an Alliance for Police Reform
Richard Lawless
Wall Street Demanded the Nuclear Option and the Congress Delivered
Liaquat Ali Khan
Yes, Real Donald Trump is a Muslim!
Ryan LaMothe
“Fire” and Free Speech
CounterPunch News Service
Bloody Buffalo Billboards
February 21, 2017
Sharmini Peries - Michael Hudson
Finance as Warfare: the IMF Lent to Greece Knowing It Could Never Pay Back Debt
CJ Hopkins
Goose-stepping Our Way Toward Pink Revolution
John Wight
Firestarter: the Unwelcome Return of Tony Blair
Roger Harris
Lenin Wins: Pink Tide Surges in Ecuador…For Now
Shepherd Bliss
Japanese American Internment Remembered, as Trump Rounds Up Immigrants
Boris Kagarlitsky
Trump and the Contradictions of Capitalism
Robert Fisk
The Perils of Trump Addiction
Deepak Tripathi
Theresa May: Walking the Kingdom Down a Dark Alley
Sarah Anderson
To Save Main Street, Tax Wall Street
Howard Lisnoff
Those Who Plan and Enjoy Murder
Franklin Lamb
The Life and Death Struggle of the Children of Syria
Binoy Kampmark
A Tale of Two Realities: Trump and Israel
Kim C. Domenico
Body and Soul: Becoming Men & Women in a Post-Gender Age
Mel Gurtov
Trump, Europe, and Chaos
Stephen Cooper
Steinbeck’s Road Map For Resisting Donald Trump
February 20, 2017
Bruce E. Levine
Humiliation Porn: Trump’s Gift to His Faithful…and Now the Blowback
Melvin Goodman
“Wag the Dog,” Revisited
Robert Hunziker
Fukushima: a Lurking Global Catastrophe?
David Smith-Ferri
Resistance and Resolve in Russia: Memorial HRC
Kenneth Surin
Global India?
Norman Pollack
Fascistization Crashing Down: Driving the Cleaver into Social Welfare
Patrick Cockburn
Trump v. the Media: a Fight to the Death
Susan Babbitt
Shooting Arrows at Heaven: Why is There Debate About Battle Imagery in Health?
Matt Peppe
New York Times Openly Promotes Formal Apartheid Regime By Israel
David Swanson
Understanding Robert E. Lee Supporters
Michael Brenner
The Narcissism of Donald Trump
Martin Billheimer
Capital of Pain
FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail