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

March 28, 2017
Mike Whitney
Ending Syria’s Nightmare will Take Pressure From Below 
Mark Kernan
Memory Against Forgetting: the Resonance of Bloody Sunday
John McMurtry
Fake News: the Unravelling of US Empire From Within
Ron Jacobs
Mad Dog, Meet Eris, Queen of Strife
Michael J. Sainato
State Dept. Condemns Attacks on Russian Peaceful Protests, Ignores Those in America
Ted Rall
Five Things the Democrats Could Do to Save Their Party (But Probably Won’t)
Linn Washington Jr.
Judge Neil Gorsuch’s Hiring Practices: Privilege or Prejudice?
Philippe Marlière
Benoît Hamon, the Socialist Presidential Hopeful, is Good News for the French Left
Norman Pollack
Political Cannibalism: Eating America’s Vitals
Bruce Mastron
Obamacare? Trumpcare? Why Not Cubacare?
David Macaray
Hollywood Screen and TV Writers Call for Strike Vote
Christian Sorensen
We’ve Let Capitalism Kill the Planet
Rodolfo Acuna
What We Don’t Want to Know
Binoy Kampmark
The Futility of the Electronics Ban
Andrew Moss
Why ICE Raids Imperil Us All
March 27, 2017
Robert Hunziker
A Record-Setting Climate Going Bonkers
Frank Stricker
Why $15 an Hour Should be the Absolute Minimum Minimum Wage
Melvin Goodman
The Disappearance of Bipartisanship on the Intelligence Committees
Patrick Cockburn
ISIS’s Losses in Syria and Iraq Will Make It Difficult to Recruit
Russell Mokhiber
Single-Payer Bernie Morphs Into Public Option Dean
Gregory Barrett
Can Democracy Save Us?
Dave Lindorff
Budget Goes Military
John Heid
Disappeared on the Border: “Chase and Scatter” — to Death
Mark Weisbrot
The Troubling Financial Activities of an Ecuadorian Presidential Candidate
Robert Fisk
As ISIS’s Caliphate Shrinks, Syrian Anger Grows
Michael J. Sainato
Democratic Party Continues Shunning Popular Sanders Surrogates
Paul Bentley
Nazi Heritage: the Strange Saga of Chrystia Freeland’s Ukrainian Grandfather
Christopher Ketcham
Buddhism in the Storm
Thomas Barker
Platitudes in the Wake of London’s Terror Attack
Mike Hastie
Insane Truths: a Vietnam Vet on “Apocalypse Now, Redux”
Binoy Kampmark
Cyclone Watch in Australia
Weekend Edition
March 24, 2017
Friday - Sunday
Michael Hudson
Trump is Obama’s Legacy: Will this Break up the Democratic Party?
Eric Draitser
Donald Trump and the Triumph of White Identity Politics
Jeffrey St. Clair
Roaming Charges: Nothing Was Delivered
Andrew Levine
Ryan’s Choice
Joshua Frank
Global Coal in Freefall, Tar Sands Development Drying Up (Bad News for Keystone XL)
Anthony DiMaggio
Ditching the “Deep State”: The Rise of a New Conspiracy Theory in American Politics
Rob Urie
Boris and Natasha Visit Fantasy Island
John Wight
London and the Dreary Ritual of Terrorist Attacks
Paul Buhle
The CIA and the Intellectuals…Again
David Rosen
Why Did Trump Target Transgender Youth?
Vijay Prashad
Inventing Enemies
Ben Debney
Outrage From the Imperial Playbook
M. Shadee Malaklou
An Open Letter to Duke University’s Class of 2007, About Your Open Letter to Stephen Miller
Michael J. Sainato
Bernie Sanders’ Economic Advisor Shreds Trumponomics
FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail