FacebookTwitterRedditEmail

The Second Hindu Country?

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:
bernie-the-sandernistas-cover-344x550
September 19, 2019
Richard Falk
Burning Amazonia, Denying Climate Change, Devastating Syria, Starving Yemen, and Ignoring Kashmir
Charles Pierson
With Enemies Like These, Trump Doesn’t Need Friends
Lawrence Davidson
The Sorry State of the Nobel Peace Prize
Evaggelos Vallianatos
The Scourge in the White House
Urvashi Sarkar
“Not a Blade of Grass Grew:” Living on the Edge of the Climate Crisis in the Sandarbans of West Bengal
Thomas Knapp
Trump and Netanyahu: “Mutual Defense” or Just Mutual Political Back-Scratching?
Dean Baker
Is There Any Lesser Authority Than Alan Greenspan?
Gary Leupp
Warren’s Ethnic Issue Should Not Go Away
George Ochenski
Memo to Trump: Water Runs Downhill
Jeff Cohen
What George Carlin Taught Us about Media Propaganda by Omission
Stephen Martin
The Perspicacity of Mcluhan and Panopticonic Plans of the MIC
September 18, 2019
Kenneth Surin
An Excellent Study Of The Manufactured Labour “Antisemitism Crisis”
Patrick Cockburn
The Saudi Crown Prince Plans to Make Us Forget About the Murder of Jamal Khashoggi Before the US Election
W. T. Whitney
Political Struggle and Fixing Cuba’s Economy
Ron Jacobs
Support the Climate Strike, Not a Military Strike
John Kendall Hawkins
Slouching Toward “Bethlehem”
Ted Rall
Once Again in Afghanistan, the U.S. Proves It Can’t Be Trusted
William Astore
The Ultra-Costly, Underwhelming F-35 Fighter
Dave Lindorff
Why on Earth Would the US Go to War with Iran over an Attack on Saudi Oil Refineries?
Binoy Kampmark
Doctored Admissions: the University Admissions Scandal as a Global Problem
Jeremy Corbyn
Creating a Society of Hope and Inclusion: Speech to the TUC
Zhivko Illeieff
Why You Should Care About #ShutDownDC and the Global Climate Strike  
Catherine Tumber
Land Without Bread: the Green New Deal Forsakes America’s Countryside
Liam Kennedy
Boris Johnson: Elitist Defender of Britain’s Big Banks
September 17, 2019
Mario Barrera
The Southern Strategy and Donald Trump
Robert Jensen
The Danger of Inspiration in a Time of Ecological Crisis
Dean Baker
Health Care: Premiums and Taxes
Dave Lindorff
Recalling the Hundreds of Thousands of Civilian Victims of America’s Endless ‘War on Terror’
Binoy Kampmark
Oiling for War: The Houthi Attack on Abqaiq
Susie Day
You Say You Want a Revolution: a Prison Letter to Yoko Ono
Rich Gibson
Seize Solidarity House
Laura Flanders
From Voice of America to NPR: New CEO Lansing’s Glass House
Don Fitz
What is Energy Denial?
Dan Bacher
Governor Newsom Says He Will Veto Bill Blocking Trump Rollback of Endangered Fish Species Protections
Thomas Knapp
Election 2020: Time to Stop Pretending and Start Over
W. Alejandro Sanchez
Inside the Syrian Peace Talks
Elliot Sperber
Mickey Mouse Networks
September 16, 2019
Sam Husseini
Biden Taking Iraq Lies to the Max
Paul Street
Joe Biden’s Answer to Slavery’s Legacy: Phonographs for the Poor
Paul Atwood
Why Mattis is No Hero
Jonathan Cook
Brexit Reveals Jeremy Corbyn to be the True Moderate
Jeff Mackler
Trump, Trade and China
Robert Hunziker
Fukushima’s Radioactive Water Crisis
Evaggelos Vallianatos
The Democrats and the Climate Crisis
Michael Doliner
Hot Stuff on the Afghan Peace Deal Snafu
FacebookTwitterRedditEmail