The dangers of a major war in Europe and beyond

February 27, 2022

–Nasir Khan, Feb. 24, 2022

The military attack by Russia on Ukraine today is a sad and disturbing moment for all of us, but the Russian action has to be seen in the context of international politics and the militarism of the United States and its close allies. The role NATO has played since the end of the Soviet Union and its expansion in the former Soviet republics has been the main cause that produced the Russian response.

Now Russia was encircled from all sides by the US and NATO forces. The only major country that was not yet in a formal military alliance was Ukraine, but it had all the military equipment and advanced weaponry to use against its eastern neighbour – Russia.

What was the purpose of NATO’s expansion in the former countries that once formed part of the Soviet Union and putting NATO and US forces there? It was a hostile and an unwanted policy of military confrontation with Russia when the geopolitical landscape of this country had drastically changed after 1991.

Since 2014 when the Minsk agreement was signed, Ukraine has continued its military actions against the Donbas region with the military weapons from the West and NATO. That has resulted in the deaths of some 14000 people. There was an opportunity for the US and NATO to stop the right-wing rulers of Ukraine from such killings by their forces. But they did not do so.

Now the warmongers were using Ukraine further to carry out their military objectives against Russia.

What was left for Putin to do? He could say to America and NATO: You can do as you want. You can install missiles directed against us next door as you have in other East European countries. Or, he could say: Enough is enough, and no more! It seems Putin chose the second option.

We who oppose wars and warmongers are fully aware that imperialists will stop at nothing. The present confrontation can easily lead to a bigger and more disastrous war whose consequences are unimaginable. The use of nuclear weapons cannot be ruled out if things are not brought under control soon.

The sane course which I believe none will follow is this: Biden and his European partners say that the military escalation is not in the interest of any country or power. Let us take the bitter pill and negotiate a new security arrangement with Russia where its encirclement would end. The countries where NATO expanded after the end of the Soviet Union will discuss their future security arrangements with Russia and not become tools in the hands of American militarism.

I honestly think the path US and NATO have pursued for so long against Russia is only in the interests of war profiteers, weapons industries and contractors, not in the interest of ordinary citizens of America, Britain or Europe.

Russia has also a great responsibility. Even though it is encircled by US and NATO, it should think again about its ways of coping with the Ukraine situation by engaging in political negotiations with the West.

I also appeal to all peace-loving people and my friends to do what they can to oppose wars and the designs of imperialists.


How we can support the national struggle of Palestinains

June 18, 2021

Nasir Khan

A commentator has asked me that most powerful Western countries support Israel’s wars and killings of Palestinians. What can we do in this situation to support the occupied and Palestinians?

I will try to offer my reply in simple language without adding any adjectives to describe the wars and brutal oppression of Israel of the Palestinians. It is common knowledge that most powerful Western countries support what Israel does to the colonised people of Palestine. To start with, Israel was a British colonial project that found a clear expression of its objectives in the Balfour Declaration of 1917.

But apart from Israel’s close political and military allies and dedicated supporters like the United States and Britain, etc. in the West, Russia under Putin and India under the Hindutva fascists who govern India now under PM Modi are also tacit supporters of Israeli ethnic cleansing and oppression of the Palestinians. So, are many Arab countries, such as, Saudi Arabia, UAE, Egypt, Jordan, Morocco, etc. which are political and diplomatic allies of Israel.But despite all this, we have to keep in mind that millions of ordinary but politically conscious people in the world have become increasingly aware of Israel’s ethnic cleansing and its wars of aggression and annihilation on defenceless Palestinians. This has happened as more people have become aware of the goals of Israeli inhumanity towards the Palestinians under its occupation and apartheid system.

Now the question is: What can we do in such a state of affairs?

My reply is that we stand firm for the cause of Palestine and its oppressed people and try to bring factual information before the people as much as we can. This is something many of us can do. Every one of us is not a writer, journalist or columnist who can write on this issue. But every one of us who sides with truth and justice in Palestine can add his/her voice by sharing the information that some websites and anti-fascist and anti-war groups publish and post. This creates public awareness and helps to spread the truth about the situation of the colonised and dispossessed people of Palestine.

Indeed, such steps cannot change the course Israel follows as a regional superpower in the Middle East and controls the foreign policy of the United States when it comes to the Middle East. We know when Israel signals what it wants, the US political establishment (White House and US Congress) eagerly complies with it and pro-Israel media justify any such military and fiscal support by resorting to all devious tricks. That is not going to change now or in the foreseeable future. But we can inform others what this military and financial support is and how it is used. It is used primarily to crush and bomb Palestinians and also used against Syria and Lebanon. The threat by Israel to unleash a major war on Iran is always there.

The BDS movement is playing an important role in a peaceful way against the policies of Israel. This movement and its work need to be brought before the people who are not aware of it. Israel and the United States are doing their utmost to scuttle and neutralize this peaceful movement to boycott Israeli goods and products. That means the BDS is proving effective. We need to strengthen it and show its relevance.

Arab kings, emirs and dictators pay their lip service to the cause of Palestine, but they do so only to pacify the Arab masses domestically. Their verbal support from their palaces is meant to hide the pernicious reality that they are indifferent towards Israel’s brutal oppression of the Palestinians, and in some cases, Saudi Arabia, for instance, has actively put pressure on an Islamic country, Pakistan, to normalise its relations with Israel. Such rulers ignore the national and human rights of Palestinians, the victims of the Zionist colonial project.The struggle of national liberation of Palestine has continued despite all the heavy odds and the efforts of common men and men who support this just cause is gaining strength.

Freedom for Palestine and Solidarity with the Palestinians until their victory!

Article 370: A Matter of Cocern for the Republic of India, not just Jammu & Kashmir

October 18, 2020

Badri Raina

At a time when the State is sought to be shrunk to a revanchist
monochromatic unity, it is gravely myopic to think that issues around Article 370 of the Constitution of India concern just the one territory of Jammu & Kashmir.
The post-Independence Union that was conceived and formulated
by framers of the Indian Constitution was a Federal Union. In forging a
new independent nation, the framers were cognisant of the unprecedented
diversity of both the Indian polity and of specific forms of antecedent
political formations that obtained in colonial India.
Refusing sectarian pulls and voices within the Constituent Assembly,the
vanguard among the framers opted for a modern nation based on the
principles of inclusivity and secularism and scientific temper enshrined
finally in universal adult franchise.
The ideals of freedom, justice and equality came to be the bedrocks
of the new India, and, inspired by the formulations of the Session of
the Karachi Congress (1931), the Preamble to the Constitution came to
embody the soul and substance of the anti-colonial freedom movement.
Nowhere, perhaps, was this vision of a future India more eloquently
encapsulated than in the inaugural speech that Sheikh Mohammed
Abdullah gave to the Constituent Assembly of Jammu & Kashmir on 5
November 1951.
In that historic – now tragically historic – speech, Abdullah explained
at length how and why he had come to declare the allegiance among three
options that confronted the then princely state of Jammu & Kashmir.
In reading him backward, he noted how Independence could not be
a viable option. After all, he instructed, the state had been independent
between 15 August and 22 October 1947, and yet a helpless victim to
invasion from tribals supported by the new Dominion of Pakistan. Given
that the state bordered several countries, how was it to secure its physical
independence if it opted for independent status. Nor, he noted, was it in
any position to secure a liberated economic life for its oppressed peoples
without access to investment and markets.
(It needs to be remarked that, despite this ‘independent’ status, between
15 August and 22 October, Kashmiri Muslims did not join ranks with
the invading fellow-Muslims from Pakistan, nor did it occur to them to
either convert or kill non-Muslim Kashmiris. If anything, all communities

Social Scientist Vol. 48 / Nos. 7–8 / July–August 2020

marched together on the streets of Srinagar, shouting slogans like Hamla
aavar khabardar/Hum Kashmiri hein tayaar; and Sher e Kashmir ka kya
irshaad/Hindu, Muslim, Sikh itihaad. This magnificent inter-religious unity
was wholly attributable to the ideology of the National Conference, which
also drew sustenance of a deep spiritual kind from the profoundly secular
culture of Sufi Islam. It is important to recall this in view of the unjustified
calumny that Kashmiri Muslims have had to suffer for what the radicalised
Jihadis did in the January of 1990.)
As for the Pakistan option, the Sheikh noted that Pakistan was in the
end a feudal formation ruled by a ‘clique’ and without a Constitution.
Presciently, Abdullah understood that such a state was likely to remain
enmeshed in medieval forms of governance and life – a prospect that the
new Kashmir could have no truck with.
Coming to India, the Sheikh underlined that ‘the character of a state
is in its Constitution’. He explained to the Assembly how India had given
to herself a Constitution based on ‘secular democracy’ foregrounding the
ideals of freedom, justice and equality without regard to sectarian identities.
This met the argument that the Muslims of Jammu & Kashmir would not
be safe in a Hindu-majority India. He went on to note that religion could
never be a basis for building a modern State, that religion was essentially
a ‘sentiment’ that could not meet the requirements of modern nationbuilding. He underscored a telling insight: how, in fact the alliance of
a socially composite Jammu & Kashmir would decisively strengthen
the secular future of new India. He cited Gandhi when the latter remarked
‘I lift my eyes to the hills, and there is my hope.’
These sentient observations reinforce a major aspect of the contentions
surrounding the partition of India. Although it is true that the Indian
National Congress never accepted in principle the theory of ‘two nations’,
it did acquiesce in a division based on that theory, no matter how much
Gandhi and others tried to forestall that division.
The event that lent ringing credibility to the ideals of the Congress and
the freedom movement led by it was the Accession, eventually, of the only
Muslim-majority state within the divided India.
The debt that a liberal-secular India thus owes to Kashmir is not often
recognised with the force with which it deserves to be acknowledged – a
fact that in retrospect lends tragic piquancy to the post 5 August 2019
dismantling of the vision which had made all that possible.
When the doyen of historians A.G. Noorani therefore speaks of
Article 370 encapsulating the ‘Constitutional History of Jammu & Kashmir’,
we need that truism to be extended to read that impugned Article as having
defined the constitutional history of the new India as well. And, its reading
down as the dismantling of a vision of the new Indian State with the
retrograde purpose to alter fundamentally that vision of the Indian State.
Contexts to the Making of Article 370
In order fully to understand the profound significance of Article 370,
certain histories that led to its making need to be surveyed. An irrefutable
fact of the history of Jammu & Kashmir between its purchase by the Dogra
Rajput dynasty from the British after the defeat of the Sikhs in the first
Anglo–Sikh war was the oppressive nature of its rule – most so with respect
to the Muslim natives of the state.
Whereas Pandit Kashmiris had an enabling hold on the educational
infrastructure of the state, and therefore a fairly secure place in state
services, Muslims had neither land-holdings nor education. If anything, the
despicable practice of begar continued to prevail whereby Muslim labour
could be asked to undertake any arduous work without payment.
Under Dogra rule, exorbitant taxations were levied on Muslim shawl
weavers, reducing their exertions to levels of destitution. No political
activity was allowed. When Sheikh Abdullah returned with a Master’s
degree in Chemistry from Aligarh Muslim University, looking at this
zeitgeist, he formed what came to be called a Reading Room Party – mostly
of progressive individuals.
The next year, 1931, saw the watershed atrocity committed by the
state police on a crowd of Muslims gathered outside the Central Jail in
Srinagar at the trial for sedition of one Abdul Qadeer. In that police action,
22 Kashmiri Muslims fell to police bullets. Riots ensued, in which some
Hindu, including Pandit establishments, were looted and burnt.
In 1932, Abdullah along with Chaudhary Ghulam Abbas forged the
Muslim Conference. The fact that membership was available only to
Muslims suggests that at this stage Abdullah’s view was that the contention
was essentially one between the Dogra-ruled state and its Muslim populace.
In 1937, when Savarkar became the head of the Hindu Mahasabha
and made an open declaration at his inaugural speech that India was two
nations, Hindus and Muslims, Sheikh Abdullah met Jawaharlal Nehru for
the first time.
The friendship that developed transcended mere personal
affinities. Simultaneous with the beginnings of the Progressive
Writer’s Movement – one that was in the years to come to become a
cultural bedrock of a progressive–secular revolution of ideas, Abdullah’s
exposure to the new trans-religious axes of anti-colonial resistance resulted
in the transmogrification of the Muslim Conference into the National
Conference in 1938. Membership now came to be open to all non-Muslim
Kashmiris as well.
To put this development in another perspective, the National
Conference came to be the second secular political formation after the
establishment of the Indian National Congress, barring of course the
establishment of the Communist Party of India in 1925. The unique
feature of the jettisoning by Abdullah of the earlier Muslim Conference,
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nonetheless, was that its origins lay in the new, progressive stirrings of
Muslims against the dominance of the Muslim League.
While the Pakistan Resolution was announced in 1940, the National
Conference held on to its progressive-secular conviction despite the
persuasions of the League.
In 1944, two notables visited the Valley – Jinnah and Maharaja
Hari Singh (back from his obligations as a member of the International
War Cabinet). Jinnah received enthused reception from the Muslim
Conference, now led by Chaudhary Ghulam Abbas, and his followers; but
while Abdullah was present at the reception given to him at Pratap Park, the two remained distant. To Hari Singh the National Conference presented
a text of the revolutionary Naya Kashmir programme – a manifesto of
liberatory provisions far in advance ideologically of anything even the
Indian National Congress had envisaged then. Forged largely by a group
of individuals leaning heavily to the Left, it came to be attributed to what
Stalin had proposed for the Soviet Union.
In early 1946, the National Conference gave the call of ‘Quit Kashmir’
to the Dogra monarch; Abdullah was promptly charged with sedition and
jailed. Nehru who went to Kashmir to plead on his behalf was arrested as
well and forced to leave the Valley. The Muslim Conference did not support
the ‘Quit Kashmir’ call. With Abdullah in jail, the Muslim Conference, now
an affiliate of the Muslim League, began to have free rein. Jinnah instructed
it not to antagonise the Maharaja, but to persuade him to veer round to the
objectives of the League.
As Mountbatten arrived in India as the last Viceroy and announced
his Partition Plan on 3 June 1947 (amid communal killings that were now
underway), the fate of the princely states came to the fore. Abdullah was
released from prison in late 1947 and promptly rejected the ‘two nation’ thesis.

Princely States

The States Department of the interim Government of India led by Sardar
Patel as Home Minister and piloted by V.P. Menon gave these states the
option to join with the Dominion of India, conceding the three jurisdictions
of Defence, Foreign Affairs and Communications to the centre. They were
also encouraged to set up their Constituent Assemblies.
Barring three states – Saurashtra Union, Travancore–Cochin and
Mysore – all others failed to establish assemblies, and in course of time
agreed to incorporate the Indian Constitution in full as their own in what is
called a full ‘merger’. So did Saurashtra soon enough. The other two came
to merge with India as the first national elections took place in 1952.
Three recalcitrant states remained: Junagarh, Hyderabad Deccan and
Jammu & Kashmir. Consistent with Gandhi’s position voiced to Hari Singh
on 1 August 1947 that he decide on Accession with dispatch with ‘the wishes
of the people’, Mountbatten and Nehru offered the recourse of seeking
popular wishes of people in the three states that had not acceded to either
Jinnah refused. Knowing that Junagarh and Hyderabad had Hindumajority demographies, the idea was clearly inimical to him. And with
regard to Jammu & Kashmir, he was willing to hold a referendum only
if it was held under the aegis of the two Governor-Generals of India and
Pakistan, himself and Mountbatten. He voiced the view that with Abdullah
at the helm (Abdullah had been appointed Chief Administrator of Jammu
& Kashmir in late October as the invasion from Pakistan was underway),
he could not expect a fair (sic) result. This position was rejected by Nehru.
Patel was clearly more interested in Junagarh and Hyderabad Deccan,
and explicitly said to Liaqat Ali Khan, Prime Minister of Pakistan, that if
he stopped demanding independence for Hyderabad and the accession of
Junagarh, he could have Kashmir (see Shankar 2011 and Gandhi 2011).
Despite acceding to Pakistan on 17 August 1947, the Nawab of Junagarh
had to flee to Karachi as police action followed in Junagarh. Whereas Patel
had opposed a referendum in Jammu & Kashmir, he asked for and got one
in Junagarh which went overwhelmingly in favour of the Indian Dominion.
Hyderabad Deccan was of course a more protracted story.
Jammu & Kashmir
Since the States Department had invited the princely states to send their
representatives to the Indian Constituent Assembly, representatives from
Jammu & Kashmir led by Abdullah met Sardar Patel at his house on 15 May

  1. The Jammu & Kashmir delegation made the demand that any future
    arrangement constitutionally be based on the same principles on which the
    Accession of the state had been obtained. Over negotiations that stretched
    for some five months, the Indian cabinet (of which Shyama Prasad Mookerji
    was a member) agreed to the demand, and work began on formulating the
    terms of the ‘Special Status’ to be accorded to Jammu & Kashmir.
    A draft was prepared by Gopalaswamy Ayyangar (who had been a
    Dewan of Kashmir) in coordination with Patel. Nehru was travelling abroad
    in America. Ayyangar wrote a note to Patel suggesting that he indicate to
    Nehru his ‘approval’ of the draft. Patel wrote to Nehru on 3 November
    1949, how despite volatile opposition both in the CWC and the Constituent
    Assembly, he had ‘prevailed’ in getting agreement to the provision of
    ‘Special Status’. The provision became Article 306, and later Article
  2. Although the Article was situated in Chapter XXI (Temporary and
    Transitional Provisions), this was so because as per the stipulations of the
    Article in toto, all laws that were sought to be applied to the state of Jammu
    & Kashmir, barring in the three areas that remained with the centre, had to
    have the concurrence of the Jammu & Kashmir Constituent Assembly. That
    Assembly came into being two years after the adoption of the Article. The
    Article could be abrogated only with the concurrence of the J&K Constituent
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    Social Scientist Vol. 48 / Nos. 7–8 / July–August 2020
    Assembly, but that did not happen since the J&K Constituent Assembly
    dissolved itself in 1956 without asking for such abrogation. In legal parlance,
    and according to most respected and unbiased legal luminaries, Article 370
    thus became a permanent provision of the relations between the state and
    the centre. According to this reading, what the government did on 5 August
    2019 was wholly unconstitutional. What the Supreme Court may now opine
    in the matter is another thing, especially at a time when popular faith in the
    highest judiciary has come to be undermined.
    The fact that Article 370 remained embedded in and drew legitimation
    from the terms of the state’s Accession to the Indian Dominion, there is
    validity in the argument that rescinding this Article was tantamount to
    rescinding the Accession itself.
    The matter settled, elections for the Jammu & Kashmir Constituent
    Assembly were held in 1951. A 75-member Assembly (with 25 seats reserved
    for occupied Kashmir) heard the address made by Sheikh Abdullah referred
    to at the outset of this article.
    Subsequent Events
    Irked chiefly by the two decisions of the Abdullah government – land to the
    tiller, and demand for the abolition of the monarchy – the Praja Parishad
    in Jammu launched an agitation against the ‘Special Status’ provision,
    especially when these came to be codified in the Delhi Agreement signed
    between the Abdullah government and the centre. This sealed the covenant
    of autonomy for the state of Jammu & Kashmir. The Parishad soon merged
    with the newly-formed Jana Sangh, founded by Shyama Prasad Mookerji.
    Nehru held the view that the Delhi Agreement was a solemn covenant
    with the people of the state and would not be rescinded. On 9 January
    1953, in a tripartite correspondence with Nehru and Abdullah, Mookerji
    suggested that autonomy may be limited to the Valley, but Jammu and
    Ladakh be fully integrated with the Union. Abdullah pointed out in
    his reply that Pakistan and many other forces were looking precisely to
    such divisions to cause mayhem in the state.
    In the interim, a 45-page report on ‘Regional Autonomy’ had been
    submitted to the protagonists, detailing how autonomy as enshrined in the
    Delhi Agreement could be further devolved to all the regions of the state.
    On 17 February Mookerji wrote to Nehru and Abdullah, accepting the
    proposal of autonomy in full, including the principle of devolved regional
    autonomy. Nehru appealed to the Parishad to withdraw the agitation in
    the interests both of the state and the nation at large. The agitation was
    withdrawn. But, alas, it was soon to be resumed on a nod from Nagpur.
    Had the mutually agreed position on autonomy as stated above been
    allowed to operate, it may be said with confidence that there may not have
    been a ‘Kashmir problem’ in subsequent years. But it began to dawn on
    Abdullah that the confidence he had so resolutely outlined to the Jammu
    & Kashmir Constituent Assembly on 5 November 1951 may have been
    premature and naïve.
    Where, in his address to the United Nations Security Council on 5
    February 1948, he had ringingly upheld the secular future of Kashmir
    with India and expressed disdain for the idea of a religion-based state, the
    sectarian agitation in Jammu, now squarely steered by the Rashtriya
    Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS), brought back apprehensions of yet another
    era of oppression under a renewed nationally led Hindu majoritarian rule.
    Indeed, the address that he had prepared for a public meeting –
    undelivered as his arrest followed – spoke poignantly to the question he
    was being asked by young Muslims: what would be their future in a Hindudominated India (see text in Puri 1981).
    The folly of his arrest truly inaugurated the ‘Kashmir problem’, as in
    subsequent years democracy in any real sense came to be continuously
    denied to Kashmiris, allowing ‘foreign’ powers to enter the contention in
    a concerted way, both on the ground in the state and in international fora.
    The revocation of Article 370, then, signals the termination of a concept
    of the republic that drew its strength from democratic accommodations of
    diverse regions, keeping in mind their specific histories and aspirations.
    With respect to Kashmir, this shutting down of the Principle of
    Autonomy, solemnly agreed to by the State, has remained suspiciously rooted
    in a communal vision, reason why such provisions of autonomy continue
    to be happily in place in many other parts of the republic to this day. It may
    be recalled that the first ever post-Independence demand for secession from
    the Union was to come not from the Muslim-majority state of Jammu &
    Kashmir but from the then Madras state, and resoundingly expressed by
    Annadurai in his maiden speech in parliament in 1962. Yet, that event did
    not lead to any traumatic upheavals or suspicions but was correctly seen as
    issuing from concrete and democratically justifiable local perceptions of the
    threat of majoritarian cultural oppression. And a responsive centre in time
    came to address that problem in a constructive spirit of federalism. Sadly, the
    demographic profile of Jammu & Kashmir has been allowed to vitiate similar
    aspirations of local culture and history in that state.
    This is proof that the current dispensation, in having revoked Article 370,
    and, one may add, coterminously floated the idea of citizenship based on a
    religious principle as through the Citizenship Amendment Act, seeks not just
    to alter the character of state and polity in Jammu & Kashmir, but indeed
    throughout the land in conformity with the long-held paradigm of citizenship
    and nationhood as enunciated first by Savarkar and then by Golwalkar.
    As to the so-called economic/developmental justifications proffered
    by the central government in favour of ‘full integration’ of the state, many
    authoritative accounts have appeared detailing how, in fact, thanks in
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    Social Scientist Vol. 48 / Nos. 7–8 / July–August 2020
    large measure to the autonomy thus far enjoyed by Jammu & Kashmir,
    its developmental indices, in education, in health services, in per capita
    income, in women’s participation and role in nation-building, have been
    well in advance even of the coveted state of Gujarat.
    What is heartening is that, in opposition to the regressive measures
    undertaken in recent months and years by the central government,
    a fervour and determination has been generated even among Muslim
    housewives in favour of a non-sectarian citizenship and a progressive
    nationalism embedded in the preamble of the Constitution of India.
    A long battle lies ahead of citizens at large who have awakened to the
    lurch of the republic towards a theocratic right-wing. What might inspire the
    efforts of such citizens is what the late Sheikh Mohammed Abdullah wrote
    in his posthumously published autobiography, Atish e Chinar (1985): that
    although after so strongly advocating the option of going with India in 1951
    he had not only been accused of being anti-national but Kashmiris had also
    gone through hell, yet, thirty years after, he still held to the position he had
    then taken – to go with India (see Kotru 1986).
    What could be a greater inducement than this declaration for
    common Indian citizens not infected with the communal virus to continue
    to struggle to defend and protect the legacy for which the great Abdullah
    lived and died.
    However the current central dispensation may be scheming to erase the
    National Conference from the political life of the state, one may venture
    the thought that this nefariously retrograde agenda is unlikely to see the
    light of day.
    Abdullah, Sheikh Mohammed (1985), Atish e Chinar, Srinagar: Ali Mohammed & Sons.
    Kotru, M.L. (1986), ‘Book review: “Aatish-E-Chinar” by Sheikh Mohammed Abdullah’,
    India Today, 15 May.
    Noorani, A.G. (2011), Article 370: Constitutional History of Jammu & Kashmir, New
    Delhi: Oxford University Press.
    Puri, Balraj (1981) Kashmir: Triumph & Tragedy of Indian Federalisation, New Delhi:
    Gandhi, Rajmohan (2011), Patel: A Life, Ahmedabad: Navajivan Publishing House.
    Shankar, V. (2011), Sardar Patel: Selective Correspondence 1945–1950, Ahmedabad:
    Navajivan Publishing House.

  3. Badri Raina taught at Delhi University and University of Wisconsin,
    Madison, and is the author of Kashmir: A Noble Tryst in Tatters.

President Trump gets Coronavirus infection

October 3, 2020

— Nasir Khan

Even though President Trump had turned a blind eye to the deaths of more than 200,000 people in the United States and has shown little sympathy for other victims of Covid-19 throughout the world, I wish President a speedy recovery. As an anti-fascist, anti-Zionist and anti-war writer, I have goodwill towards him and other people who become victims of Coronavirus.

Many political activists oppose the lawlessness of US imperialists under his watch and condemn his anti-human policies to destroy the national rights of the colonized people of Palestine by subordinating some Arab despots to the command of the Israeli hegemony. But we have no personal vendetta against him or anyone else who become sick. Our struggle is political and will remain so.

 Just After Declaring ‘End of the Pandemic Is in Sight,’ Trump Tests Positive for Coronavirus

A spokesperson for the French government said Trump’s diagnosis “demonstrates that the virus spares no one, including those who have shown skepticism.”byJake Johnson, staff writer ent

President Donald Trump and First Lady Melania Trump step off Air Force One upon arrival at Cleveland Hopkins International Airport in Cleveland, Ohio on September 29, 2020. (Photo: Mandel Ngan/AFP via Getty Images)

President Donald Trump announced on Twitter early Friday morning that both he and First Lady Melania Trump have tested positive for the coronavirus, a contagion the president has downplayed since it began spreading in the United States and continued to minimize even after the nation’s death toll surpassed 200,000.

“Tonight, FLOTUS and I tested positive for Covid-19,” Trump, 74, tweeted just before 1 am ET Friday. “We will begin our quarantine and recovery process immediately. We will get through this TOGETHER!”

Trump’s announcement came hours after one of the president’s top aides, Hope Hicks, tested positive for the coronavirus Thursday morning. Hicks, who reportedly began showing symptoms on Wednesday, traveled with Trump throughout the week, including to Tuesday night’s presidential debate with Democratic nominee Joe Biden.

The Washington Post reported that “since late Tuesday, Trump has appeared with thousands at a rally in Minnesota, debated Biden onstage and has interacted with a coterie of aides and political advisers at the White House. There was no immediate answer from Biden’s camp as to whether he had been tested.”

“After White House officials learned of Hicks’ symptoms, Trump and his entourage flew Thursday to New Jersey, where he attended a fundraiser at his golf club in Bedminster and delivered a speech. Trump was in close contact with dozens of other people, including campaign supporters, at a roundtable event,” the Post noted. “The president did not wear a mask Thursday, including at the events at his golf course and on the plane, officials said. He was tested after he returned to the White House, but he also appeared on Sean Hannity’s TV show from the residence by telephone.”

During a speech at the 75th annual Al Smith Dinner at the White House Thursday evening ahead of his positive test, Trump declared that “the end of the pandemic is in sight” even as the coronavirus continues to spread and deaths rise in states across the country.

Sean Conley, the White House physician, said in a statement that “the president and first lady are both well at this time, and they plan to remain at home within the White House during their convalescence.” Conley did not say whether Trump was showing symptoms.

World leaders were quick to respond to news of Trump and the first lady’s positive tests, which come just a month before the November 3 U.S. presidential election.

“Wishing President Trump and First Lady Melania Trump speedy recovery from Covid-19,” Pakistani Prime Minister Imran Khan tweeted early Friday.

Gabriel Attal, a spokesperson for the French government, said Trump’s diagnosis “demonstrates that the virus spares no one, including those who have shown skepticism.”

Dr Ilan Pappe: The Steal of the Century: Robbing Palestinians of Their Past and Future

September 29, 2020

Editorial remarks: Israeli historian and political activist Dr Ilan Pappe (aka Ilan Binyamin) in the following essay analyses President Trump’s plan instigated by the Israeli rulers to isolate further and thus make it easy to neutralize the political demands of Palestinians for their legitimate national rights under the UN Charter and international law. His essay is a must-read for freedom-loving people who want to understand the hidden aims of the so-called “Deal of the Century” that the Trump Administration unleashed to consolidate and perpetuate Israel’s stranglehold over the captive population of Palestine and make it easy for Israel to colonize what is still left of classic Palestine. —Nasir Khan 

The Steal of the Century: Robbing Palestinians of Their Past and Future

by Ilan Pappe | Sep 25, 2020

The Netanyahu-Trump strategy constitutes a real existential threat for Palestine and the Palestinians. It is an attempt to de-politicize the Palestine issue and reframe it as a humanitarian and economic problem that can be solved by Arab funding and American blessing.

The Steal of the Century: Robbing Palestinians of Their Past and FutureAn Israeli flag flutters at Mount of Olives with the Old City of Jerusalem and its Dome of the Rock mosque in the center, March 27, 2019 (AFP Photo)

Donald Trump’s “Deal of the Century” and Benjamin Netanyahu’s strategy on the ground constitute a real existential danger for Palestine and the Palestinians. It is a combined assault on Palestine and its people that potentially can be as destructive as the 1948 Nakba. It is an attempt to de-politicize the Palestine issue and reframe it as a humanitarian and economic problem that can be solved by Arab funding and American blessing.

In order to understand the magnitude of this danger and its acuteness, it has to be examined within two wider contexts. The first is historical and the other more prescriptive in nature, looking into the immediate future.

The “Deal of the Century” is an American affirmation to Zionism as a legitimate settler colonial movement that still, in the 21st century, is motivated by a logic which was aptly defined by Patrick Wolfe as “the elimination of the native.”[1]

Since the so-called peace process began as a Pax Americana, somewhere in the late 1960s, the USA failed to be an honest broker.

Historically, the deal is a culmination of previous American and Israeli policies towards the Palestine question. Since the so-called peace process began as a Pax Americana, somewhere in the late 1960s, the USA failed to be an honest broker.

On paper, successive administrations and their assigned envoys were committed to guidelines based on international law and therefore acknowledged the illegitimacy of Israeli settlements and annexation attempts, and even condemned publicly the structural violation of human rights in the occupied territories. In practice, these reservations were never translated into actual policy or pressure on Israel to change its criminal behavior on the ground.

The end result of this approach – which can be defined as talking the talk, but not walking the walk – was a public adherence to the relevance of international law as a moral guide for American policy towards occupied Palestine, while at the same time providing immunity – mainly through inaction – to the deepening Israeli colonization of the West Bank and Gaza Strip (the latter until it was evicted in 2006).

Until the end of the previous century, the dominant political parties in Israel employed a similar approach and coordinated quite closely their policies with Washington.

Since the beginning of this century, and in particular in the Netanyahu era (that commenced when he was elected for the second time in 2009), the gap between the talk and the walk both in the USA and in Israel has almost disappeared. The actions on the ground were now fully endorsed publicly by both the American administration and the Israeli government. The “Deal of the Century” summarizes previous American policies and repackages them as an official blessing for Israel’s unilateral actions in historical Palestine.

The “Deal of the Century” summarizes previous American policies and repackages them as an official blessing for Israel’s unilateral actions in historical Palestine.

These American actions in the last decade included the recognition of Jerusalem as Israel’s capital and the transfer of the American Embassy from Tel-Aviv to West Jerusalem. This was followed by official recognition of the Israeli annexation of the Golan Heights and public acknowledgement of the legality of the Jewish settlements in the West Bank. The “Deal of the Century” provides American immunity for Israel’s future policies within historical Palestine which are meant to draw the final political map of the country through coercion and the establishment of irreversible facts on the ground.

The nature of this future solution is quite clear. Its main features were already revealed by an aggressive and racist Israeli legislation in the Knesset that began in 2010. The legislation discriminates against Palestinians on both sides of the green line in every aspect of life be it in occupational opportunities, residence, or basic civil rights. This in addition to the already existing expropriation of land, collective punishments, and severe restriction of movement and any normal human activity in the West Bank and the Gaza Strip.

The legislative spree culminated in the adoption of the Israeli nationality law in the summer of 2018.[2] This apartheid law stated clearly that only the Jews can be recognized as a national group with the right for self-determination within Israel; however, what is “Israel” is defined in another clause that encourages future governments to continue Jewish colonization in the Land of Israel (that is Israel and the West Bank). The final borders are not mentioned in the law as it is expected that future Greater Israel would stretch also over parts of the West Bank – and in all these parts Israel would not allow any manifestation of Palestinian nationalism.Trump Netanyahu Israel Palestine

The evacuation of Iraq al-Manshiyya, near today’s Kiryat Gat, Israel, in March, 1949 (Credit: Collection of Benno Rothenberg, the IDF and Defense Establishment Archives)

This law demoted the Palestinian citizens inside Israel (and potentially anyone who would be added to this community, through annexation of parts of the West Bank and Greater Jerusalem) into a group with linguistic features and not a national community—more precisely in the language of the law “Arabic speaking people” and a promise that their language will enjoy a “special status” within the state of Israel.

This law is a fundamental law, and since Israel has no constitution, it has a constitutional status. As such it legitimizes in hindsight de facto policies of apartheid and colonization and at the same time envisages the future Israel as an official apartheid state.

Large sections in the international civil society noted these actions and condemned them. In recent years, three discrete processes have eroded Israel’s international image. They included the emergence of the Boycott, Divestment, and Sanctions (BDS) movement, the shift to the extreme right of the Israeli political system, and the rise of a new generation of pro-Palestinian politicians and civil society in the West.

Officially Israel reacted to this shift in global public opinion by targeting, already in 2016, the Palestinian collective memory and narrative. The Israeli political and strategic leadership regards historical memory and historiography as tools that can be weaponized against the further erosion of Israel’s already deteriorating public image internationally. This action, is a further attempt to manage this shifting landscape by de-politicizing the Palestine issue, much in the same way as the current US administration has done with its “Deal of the Century.”

The assault on the narrative is executed through the closure of the Israeli archives that host documents on the Nakba. As reported in a 2019 Haaretz expose, Israel’s restriction of access to archival material is part of an official operation headed by Malmab (the Hebrew acronym for Director of Security of the Defense Establishment), the Israeli Defense Ministry’s secretive security department. It is a clandestine unit, whose activities and budget are classified and whose existence was first exposed by Israeli historian Avner Cohen in an effort to shed light on Israel’s nuclear policy.

In the course of the investigation, Haaretz found that Yehiel Horev, who headed Malmab for two decades until 2007, had begun working on removing documents from the archives when he was at the helm of the secretive department, a practice continued today by his successors. Speaking to the newspaper, Horev argued that shuttering the archives was justified on the grounds that uncovering Nakba documents would, in the newspaper’s wording, “generate unrest among the country’s Arab population.”

The argument is farcical on two counts: first, Israel’s Palestinian minority, whom Israeli officials refer to as “the Israeli Arabs,” have, since the mid-1980s, been among the most active and conscious groups to engage with—and protect—the memory of the Nakba. The Association for the Defense of the Rights of the Internally Displaced (ADRID), which represents the internal Palestinian refugees inside Israel, alongside local Palestinian scholars and activists, has sustained public interest in the Palestinians’ narrative of the 1948 events.

They did not need Israeli documentation to confirm their own experience of ethnic cleansing. Secondly, as Haaretz pointed out, many of the documents now being re-classified had already been published, notably by critical Israeli historians. Horev was confident that the inability of these historians to revisit their documentation will “undermine the credibility of these [critical] studies about the history of the refugee problem.”

As noted in the beginning of this article, settler-colonial movements such as Zionism are informed by what Patrick Wolfe defined as “the elimination of the Native.”[3] Implicit in Israel’s existence as a settler-colonial state is the expectation that it would want to hide evidence of its acts of elimination, particularly in an era that looks unfavorably on colonialism and in the context of a country that purports to be “the only democracy in the Middle East” and a “Jewish and democratic state.”

The ethnic cleansing of Palestine in 1948 and the attempt to erase its memory are part and parcel of the same act of elimination. As Wolfe points out, settler colonialism is not an event, but a structure and therefore the elimination attempts had been there before 1948 and continued since then until today.

The vision of a de-Arabized Palestine fed the familiar violent junctures in the country’s modern history.

In more concrete terms, the vision of a de-Arabized Palestine fed the familiar violent junctures in the country’s modern history: the ethnic cleansing of 1948; the imposition of military rule on various Palestinian population groups in the last 70 years; the assault on the PLO in Lebanon in 1982; the operations in the West Bank in 2002; the siege of Gaza; and the Judaization projects everywhere inside historical Palestine, to name just a few from a rather long list.

Now we can add to this the new project of the “Deal of the Century” and the intended annexation of part or the whole of area C (roughly 60 percent of the West Bank). It is a combination of an attempt to frame the Palestinians as people with no collective political rights and at the same time expand the Judaization of the West Bank.  Shuttering the archives through the removal of declassified material is part of the same strategy to “shut down” the Palestinian question altogether.

A de-politicized Palestine is not allowed to subscribe to a historical narrative that can fuel political demands for a state, self-determination, or the right of return, which the Trump administration has already advanced by closing the PLO mission in Washington, moving the US Embassy in Israel to Jerusalem, suspending US funds to UNRWA, and portraying as legal Israeli settlements in the occupied Palestinian territories.

As so many times in the past, the Israeli interpretation of the “deal” is as important as the deal itself. In the eyes of the Israeli government that “deal” legitimized in advance a future annexation of area C to Israel. In July, this year, Netanyahu declared that he would implement that part of the deal this summer.

This interpretation ignores a meaningless lip service paid in the “deal” declaring the remaining areas of the West Bank with the Gaza Strip as a future Palestinian state. The Netanyahu, or Likud, governments in the future will not accept the part referring to the Palestinian state in the “deal,” while their main rivals, the Blue-White party or any other anti-Netanyahu coalition might pay this lip service and support the idea of such a mini-state, as a matter of style but not of substance.

It is not clear whether the Trump administration until the next US election will allow a full annexation of area C or part of it. This part of the plan was stalled recently with the two peace agreements between Israel and the UAE and Bahrain. They were signed in return for an Israeli promise to postpone the annexation. However, on the ground the areas earmarked by Netanyahu for immediate official annexation this summer, have already been ethnically cleansed by the Israelis.

They include the Jordan Valley; the area around the settlement Givat Hamatos (“the Aircraft Hill” in Hebrew) that lies south of Jerusalem, which drives a wedge into the West Bank that disconnects its southern part from Jerusalem and the settlement block inside area E-1, east of Jerusalem, which cuts physically and irreversibly the West Bank into two, severed, geo-political entities. Thus, when official annexation is declared, it will be a symbolic, rather than transformative, act.

Bisecting the land, carving it into small Bantustans, and assaulting the narrative and the collective identity are part and parcel of the same steal of the century.

Bisecting the land, carving it into small Bantustans, and assaulting the narrative and the collective identity are part and parcel of the same steal of the century concocted in Washington and Tel-Aviv.

Two new developments, which may seem on the face of it as having a potential to change the course of history, might prove at the end of the day to be insignificant as far as the plight of the Palestinians is concerned. The first is growing social discontent and demonstrations in Israel against Prime Minister Netanyahu that draw weekly 10,000 to 20,000 demonstrators near his official residence and the second is the prospects of a democratic administration in Washington after the next presidential elections in November 2020.

The demonstrations are a cry of protest by the center left Zionist camp that somehow cannot resign itself to the fact that the Jewish electorate for years now prefer the right-wing coalition. The particularly corrupted character of Benjamin Netanyahu on the one hand, and his constant attempt to evade being brought to justice, is one agenda of the demonstrators. They were joined by the middle class who was not adequately compensated by the lockdowns during the Covid-19 crisis. Together they hope to bring down Netanyahu either through the legal system or in elections. It is noteworthy that most of the demonstrators have no issue with Zionism or with the oppression of the Palestinians. Even if they would have some impact on the Israeli political system, it would have very little relevance to the situation of the Palestinians.

Will a democratic administration in the USA reverse such an attitude and policy? It’s hard to tell, as previous administrations, while not adopting the same Trumpian discourse, have done very little to oppose Israeli unilateralism on the ground. If this continues to be the American policy, the current American policies constitutes a dangerous development that will affect the region as a whole. The deal conveys a clear disregard for international law and to basic universal justice.

This disregard for international law on the one hand, and the exclusion of Israel from the conversation on civil and human rights in the region, on the other, will disable the USA and the West from playing any useful part in addressing the dismal reality of these rights currently in the region. It is important to remember that past Western colonialism and imperialism as well as Western support of autocratic rule contributed as much as the local regimes and opposition groups that abuse the rights of their own people do today.

It seems the global civil society despite its past achievements and commitment to justice in Palestine needs to work even harder, in solidarity with a Palestinian national movement that desperately seeks – so far unsuccessfully – unity, to foil the next American-Israeli effort to destroy Palestine and the Palestinians.


[1] Patrick Wolfe, “Settler Colonialism and the Elimination of the Native,” Journal of Genocide Studies 8, no. 4 (2006), pp. 387–409.

[2] Ilan Pappe, “he Israeli Nationality Law: a Blueprint for a Twenty Firs Century Settler-Colonial State”, Journal of Holy Land and Palestine Studies, 18/2 (October 2019), pp. 179-191.

[3] Wolfe, ibid.


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About The Author

Ilan Pappe

Ilan Pappe

Dr. Ilan Pappé is Professor of History and Director of the European Centre for Palestine Studies at the University of Exeter in England. Ilan Pappé obtained his BA degree from the Hebrew University in Jerusalem in 1979 and PhD from the University of Oxford in 1984. He founded and directed the Academic Institute for Peace in Givat Haviva, Israel between 1992 to 2000 and was the Chair of the Emil Tuma Institute for Palestine Studies in Haifa between 2000 and 2006. Professor Pappé was a senior lecturer in the department of Middle Eastern History and the Department of Political Science in Haifa University, Israel between 1984 and 2006. He was appointed as chair in the department of History in the Cornwall Campus, 2007-2009 and became a fellow of the IAIS in 2010. His research focuses on the modern Middle East and in particular the history of Israel and Palestine. He has also written on multiculturalism, Critical Discourse Analysis and on Power and Knowledge in general. Ilan Pappé is the author of 20 books of which the groundbreaking “The Ethnic Cleansing of Palestine” is the best known. @pappe54


Arab despotic regimes and Palestinians under occupation

September 15, 2020

-Nasir Khan

Jeremy Bowen is an experienced journalist who has covered the Middle Eastern region for long. In his latest article, he discusses the ramifications of the peace deals of Israel with the two Gulf kingdoms. Other Arab regimes may also fall in line with the ongoing process which the Trump administration started to obliterate the “Palestinian Question” once and for all as the Zionist rulers of Israel and their international supporters had demanded and worked for.
Contrary to some political observers’ reactions who have downplayed the importance of these deals, Jeremy Bowen shows how they are not merely a window-dressing but substantial that would have long-term effects on the geopolitics of the whole of the Middle East.
Callously, the US imperialists have left the captive people of Palestine to the bayonets and bullets of the Israeli military machine. Where will that lead to is the question political writers and activists who stand for the UN Charter, international law and the rights of the Palestinian people should be asking.
As the Arab despots are throwing away their cloaks of hypocrisy and coming out in their true colours, the struggle of the people of Palestine for freedom and national liberation will enter a new stage. 

A comment on the capitalist system

September 13, 2020

— Nasir Khan

No one should discount the importance of noble feelings to seek solutions that people need. But in a political and social order that is based upon class divisions, and even caste system in countries like India, where racial supremacy of some over others is believed to be the ‘law of nature’, the masters will remain masters and the ‘lower’ classes will remain at the mercy of their masters. The wheels of class domination and oppression will not stop circling. 

Peoples’ prayers and appeals to some heavenly powers or warmongering imperialists and brutal colonialists will not change the status quo.  

The challenge to the existing oppressive system in a consistent and systematic way comes only from the revolutionary path of Marxism-Leninism. That’s why imperialists, fascists, Zionists, Islamists, Hindutva supremacists and all reactionaries have been and are the relentless enemies and falsifiers of Marxism.

To generalise or not to generalise

August 13, 2020

—Nasir Khan

“An idea is always a generalization, and generalization is a property of thinking. To generalize means to think.”

— German philosopher Georg Wilhelm Friedrich Hegel (1770-1831)

Hegel is spot-on the interrelationship of thinking and generalising. We all think about various things in our daily lives. Out from our observations and experiences, we also draw some general conclusions or generalise that is more of an evaluative process.

We also meet people who hold an opinion or view to be only a ‘generalisation’; therefore, by calling it a generalisation what they imply is that it should be cast aside as ‘non-factual’ or ‘illusory’. However, that’s a simplistic view. On the contrary, in the hands of thinkers and critical observers, their views are based on empirical data and a rational analysis of such data. As a result, for them to offer generalisations is an essential part of communicating some facts that are part of a cognitive process. Thus by generalising, a specific instance is extended to cover a wider range of similar cases.

No wonder, all thinkers and mentally mature people generalise. That helps us to see their views as sound and verifiable. But all generalisations do not meet this criterion. By adducing evidence, we can show the erroneous assumptions on which such generalised views may be based.

For instance, we have seen that whenever the US rulers have invaded any country, they have killed very many innocent people and caused much damage as they did in Vietnam, Laos, Cambodia, Iraq, Afghanistan, etc. etc. From these instances, we as observers of international events conclude that US militarism is dangerous and murderous. That is our generalisation about the US militarists. But if they stop doing what they have been doing for so long, we may change our generalised view about them. However, the prospects of any such change in American policies seem remote.


The goals of Hindutva fascists in India

July 23, 2020

– Nasir Khan
In the following article, Indian author A.G. Noorani gives a brief account of the politics of Hindutva in India. Many people are not aware that Hindutva is not the same as Hinduism. Hinduism is an ancient religion that evolved in India, but Hindutva is an extremist religious-nationalist ideology that is opposed to the idea of a democratic India, based upon the principle of secularism, equality of all its citizens, irrespective of their religion, creed and caste.
Hindutva rejects the ideas of such equality of all its citizens but, instead, aims at transforming India into a Hindu polity – Hindu Rashtra – where only Hindus will be supreme. In such a state, 200 million Muslims and 30 million Christians will be made second-class citizens. Hindutva as an extremist nationalist ideology uses the cover of Hinduism to justify atrocities against Muslims, Christians and Dalits. It founders and mentors have copied and developed further the authoritarian and military model of fascism that was practised by Benito Mussolini and Adolf Hitler.
Since 2014, the BJP government had power in India under the premiership of Narendra Modi, who has the notorious record of being an ardent anti-Muslim and anti-Pakistan leader for decades. After BJP’s sweeping electoral success in May last year, the Modi regime started implementing the political programme of Hindutva fascists. After imposing direct Indian rule over Jammu and Kashmir, his party led the terrorist campaign against Muslims in Delhi, where Hindu militants and gangsters plundered the shops owned by Muslims and then torched their homes and properties. They killed over 50 Muslims in Delhi alone. All this took place under PM Modi’s nose. That was Hindutva in action.

Why We Need to Know and Understand Hindutva – A G Noorani

December 10, 2016 0

Members of Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh take part in the daily morning drill.
Members of Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh take part in the daily morning drill.

Hindutva is the ideology of the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh. The election manifesto of the Bharatiya Janata Party — the party in power and political front of the RSS — has sworn by it since 1996. What is more, Hindutva provides ample warning for what is in store for the future of India’s democracy and secularism. It splits the nation into ‘us’ and ‘them’, and discards Indian nationalism in favor of Hindu nationalism


[dropcap]H[/dropcap]INDUTVA sums up the ideology that moved champions of Hindu nationalism for decades before Partition. In 1923, V.D. Savarkar coined the term in his essay, Hindutva: Who is a Hindu? As an atheist, he took pains to emphasize that Hindutva was not synonymous with Hinduism. It is important to understand the term, in all its nuances, because of its past and present significance.

Hindutva is the ideology of the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh. The election manifesto of the Bharatiya Janata Party — the party in power and political front of the RSS — has sworn by it since 1996. What is more, Hindutva provides ample warning for what is in store for the future of India’s democracy and secularism. It splits the nation into ‘us’ and ‘them’, and discards Indian nationalism in favor of Hindu nationalism.

Savarkar wrote, “… Hindutva is not identical with what is vaguely indicated by the term Hinduism. By an ‘ism’ it is generally meant a theory or a code more or less based on spiritual or religious dogma or system. But when we attempt to investigate the essential significance of Hindutva we do not primarily — and certainly not mainly — concern ourselves with any particular theocratic or religious dogma or creed”. His concern was politics; the political mobilization of Hindus into one nation.

If not religion, what, then, is the basis for the divide? With crystal clarity, he wrote, “To every Hindu … this Sindhusthan is at once a pitribhu and a punyabhu — fatherland and a holy land. That is why in the case of some of our … countrymen, who had originally been forcibly converted to a non-Hindu religion and who consequently have inherited along with Hindus, a common fatherland and a greater part of the wealth of a common culture — language, law, customs, folklore and history — are not and cannot be recognized as Hindus.

For though Hindusthan to them is fatherland as to any other Hindu yet it is not to them a holy land too. Their holy land is far off in Arabia or Palestine. Their mythology and god-men, ideas and heroes are not the children of this soil. Consequently their name and their outlook smack of a foreign origin”.

Modern hatreds are supported by ancient (real or not) wrongs.

The divide cannot be bridged except by obeying Hindutva’s demand for conversion to Hinduism. Savarkar exhorted, “Ye, who by race, by blood, by culture, by nationality possess almost all the essentials of Hindutva and had been forcibly snatched out of our ancestral home by the hand of violence — ye, have only to render wholehearted love to our common mother and recognise her not only as fatherland (Pitribhu) but even as a holy land (Punyabhu), and ye would be most welcome to the Hindu fold”.

Gandhi’s assassination put paid to Savarkar’s ambitions, but the RSS picked up the baton. Its supremo, M S Golwalkar, drew inspiration from Hindutva and coined its synonym, ‘cultural nationalism’, in contrast to ‘territorial nationalism’ in his book, A Bunch of Thoughts (1968). Everyone born within the territory of India is not a nationalist; the nation is defined by a common ‘culture’ (read: religion).

Golwalkar wrote, “… here was already a full-fledged ancient nation of the Hindus and the various communities which were living in the country were here either as guests, the Jews and Parsis, or as invaders, the Muslims and Christians. They never faced the question how all such heterogeneous groups could be called as children of the soil merely because, by an accident, they happened to reside in common territory under the rule of a common enemy … The theories of territorial nationalism and of common danger, which formed the basis for our concept of nation, had deprived us of the positive and inspiring content of our real Hindu nationhood …”

This explains the RSS’ ghar wapsi (‘return to your home’) campaign, simply a repeat of the past shuddhi (‘purification’) movement. Nothing has changed; an unbroken ideological thread binds Savarkar’s Hindutva, Golwalkar’s ‘cultural nationalism’ and the RSS-BJP policies today. On Sept 24, 1990, BJP president L K Advani launched “a crusade in defense of Hindutva”, which culminated in the demolition of Babri Masjid, in his presence, on Dec 6, 1992.

Since 1996, the BJP’s election manifestos for Lok Sabha elections pledge to espouse Hindutva in these terms: “The cultural nationalism of India … is the core of Hindutva.” This explains the Modi government’s systematic purge of educational and cultural institutions. It is a quarrel with history. As scholars Susanne and Lloyd Rudolph remarked, modern hatreds are supported by ancient, remembered wrongs, whether real or imagined. The RSS-BJP combine rejects the concept of composite culture that Jawaharlal Nehru and others propounded.–Courtesy Dawn

Religious fanatics control educational system in Pakistan

June 24, 2020

Nasir Khan

Pakistani physicist Dr. Hoodbhoy’s dismissal proves once again that there is no place for any enlightened academic or scientist in Pakistan who does not follow the official line of the horrid ignorance that is imposed in the name of Islam. The Islamist right-wingers have the final say what is to be taught in the educational institutions.  Thus ignorant people have a decisive voice in shaping the educational policies of the educational institutions. They decide what a teacher of science or other subjects should say and not say.

We have heard and witnessed over the decades that Pakistani ruling elites and exploiters of Islam proclaiming time and again that in Pakistan everything taught should be according to the teachings of the Quran. But the irony is that these people even don’t know this basic fact that the Quran is a sacred book of Muslims, not a guide or manual on physics, chemistry, geology, history, geography or cosmology, etc.

Religion vs. Reason

by Khaled Ahmed June 22, 2020  

File photo of Dr. Pervez Hoodbhoy. Attila Kisbenedek—AFP

Dr. Pervez Hoodbhoy’s dismissal from Lahore’s FCC University is a win for irrationality

Professor Dr. Pervez Amirali Hoodbhoy, currently teaching physics and math at Lahore’s Forman Christian College University, has been informed that his contract will not be renewed in 2021. The same week, Punjab Governor Chaudhry Mohammad Sarwar announced that all universities of the province would be required to teach the holy Quran as a compulsory subject, with students allowed to graduate only after the course has been completed.

Hoodbhoy, born in 1950, is a Ph.D. in nuclear physics; he objects to acts of state and society against reason. His book Islam and Science: Religious Orthodoxy and the Battle for Rationality explains the source of his trouble with the ideological state of Pakistan. It is not that he hates religion; he objects to acts of irrationality in the name of religion. The two scientists he most admires, Ramanujan and Abdus Salam, were deeply religious.

He protested, however, when Punjab Governor Salmaan Taseer’s own police guard murdered the politician after Taseer defended a Christian woman accused of insulting Islam’s Prophet under Pakistan’s draconian anti-blasphemy law. Having lived under General Ziaul Haq’s Islamic martial law, he was put off by a 1987 conference on “scientific miracles” in which Muslim scientists mixed religious miracle with scientific discovery. Pakistani scientists, encouraged by a funding of Rs. 6,600,000 (half provided by Saudi Arabia), flew off the handle and talked rubbish about science and demeaned the divine writ of the Quran.

Pakistan’s chief scientist, Salim Mehmud, tried to give himself a leg-up by making a hash of the theory of relativity after linking it with the “mairaj” (ascension) of Islam’s Prophet. Another scientist, lucratively employed at The Holy Quran Research Foundation, proposed that taming “jinns could solve the country’s energy-related problems” as the creatures are made of fire. Many others, lured by the limelight, delivered of themselves gems of medieval gibberish in the name of Islamic science.

Hoodbhoy has examined the roots of these ridiculous attitudes among Muslim scientists and come up with a well-researched book about the maltreatment of the scientific principle in Muslim societies. He asked Nobel Prize laureate Abdus Salam to write its preface because the professor had already made a plaintive appeal to the Muslim world to spend money on scientific advancement instead of “conquering” science through dogma.

Hoodbhoy tells us that scientific facts are contingent on reality. They are empirically proven but subject to change upon further discovery. In his view, it is wrong to link the eternal truth of Islam to this evolving understanding of natural phenomena. Science relies on observation and logic whose predictability is not destroyed by the new understanding of quantum physics. For a believer, it is important to separate divine knowledge from empirical fact, but this separation should not impinge on the ferocious Islamic polemic against secularism.

Science in Islam was destroyed because it was never applied enough to involve the common man. Kings often employed scientists, but they were at times killed after the death of their patron. Al-Kindi was lashed 50 times in front of an illiterate approving crowd; Al-Razi was hit on the head with his own book on rationalism till he lost his eyesight; Ibn Sina’s entire life was spent running away from one prince after the other for fear of being killed for heresy; Ibn Khaldun, the great social scientist discovered by the West, was condemned by Taha Hussain as a non-believer pretending to be a Muslim.

In his book, Hoodbhoy quotes Syed Ameer Ali on Islamic thinkers who thought the scientific method anti-Islamic: Al-Ashari, Ibn Hanbal, Al-Ghazali and Ibn Taymiyya. He examines the case made by leading Asharite Imam Ghazali against the study of logic and mathematics and thinks that this was to become the greatest intellectual hurdle against the learning of science. He criticizes contemporary Islamic scholar Hussein Nasr for blaming the sciences for the misdirection of the Muslim mind. His critique of Ziauddin Sardar for introducing the polemic of secularism into the sciences is balanced and fair.

Hoodbhoy steps beyond the pale of anti-scientism in today’s new intellectual trend when he gives statistics about the poverty of science learning in the Muslim world. The gap between India and Pakistan is significant because it goes beyond the argument of population ratios. One has to helplessly concede that where Muslims control societies, the one branch of knowledge that becomes neglected is the sciences. Prof Salam’s advocacy of the pure sciences becomes meaningful when one realizes that professional disciplines far outstrip the disciplines that teach science.

Hoodbhoy is not the only dissenting voice to have been dismissed from the echelons of academia in recent weeks. Author Mohammad Hanif posted on Twitter that he, too, had been let go from Karachi’s Habib University. Similarly, Prof. Ammar Ali Jan, also affiliated with FCCU, has also claimed on the social network that he had been released as visiting faculty over his public activism that was making the varsity “controversial.”

Pervez Hoodbhoy’s book has diagnosed what is happening to the Muslim mind toward the end of the 20th century. This mind is not only producing strange reactions to the sciences in general; it is also trying to tackle the question of governance without separating the state from religious belief. The new coercive order spreading over Muslim society is not political but intellectual. The tragic fact however is that this experiment is too late in the day and quite redundant in the light of what the institution of the state has gone through in Islam’s own history and in other civilizations.

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