Posts Tagged ‘Hindus’

Too Small A Country for One Great Artist

March 2, 2010

By Badri Raina, ZNet, March 1, 2010
Badri Raina’s ZSpace Page

“Kitna hai baddnaseeb Zaffar daffn kei liye,
Do gazz zameen bhi na milie kooye yaar mein.”

(Bahadur Shah Zaffar, the last Moghul King of India, (1775-1862); exiled by the British to Rangoon in 1858 after the failure of the revolt of 1857; lines written from exile, and translating somewhat as follows):

“How ill-fated Zaffar,
Denied two yards of ground
For burial back in native soil,
Among native sight and sound.”

I

Zaffar, who knew only India for home, was exiled by the British imperialists at age 83. Since Moslems and Hindus had equally acknowledged his legitimacy and rallied against the colonial power under his uncontested leadership, the British were only too right to think that letting him return home would thwart the new imperial policy of divide and rule.

Thus it came to be that one who had been king was denied six feet of ground for internment in the only earth of his love.

A century and a half later, another iconic Indian, and a monarch in his own right, the renowned painter, Maqbool Fida Husain, has had to exile himself at a still more advanced age, driven this time not by some imperial power from the outside but by self-appointed “cultural nationalists” at home.

Continues >>

Raina: Commemorating T.K. Ramachandran

August 1, 2009

Some notes from my visit to Kozhikode

By Badri Raina | ZNet, July 31, 2009

Badri Raina’s ZSpace Page

[Contribution to the Reimagining Society Project hosted by ZCommunications]

As everything natural has to come into being, man too has his act of origin–history—which however is for him a known history, and being as an act of origin, is a conscious self-transcending act of origin.”

(Marx, Critique of Hegelian Dialectic and Philosophy as a Whole, EPM)

“Both for the production on a mass scale of this communist consciousness and for the success of the cause itself, the alteration of men on a mass scale is necessarily an alteration which can only take place in a practical movement, a revolution. . .it can only in a revolution succeed in ridding itself of all the muck of ages, and become fitted to found society anew.”

(Marx, German Ideology.)

Teekay, who was professor of English at Calicut university in Kerala, was more importantly one of the relentless critics of stultifying orthodoxy, including, most of all, with respect to India’s  Left parties and politics. Besides being erudite in Marxist theory well into its frontier extensions and amplifications upto his day.

Never one to compromise the integrity of his perceptions, he knew both the opprobrium of dogmatists, and the inside of an Indian jail.

He died at the age of 57, but left behind him a committed following, both among Kerala intellectuals and intelligentsia alike.

It was a great honour, thus, to be asked to deliver the first Teekay memorial lecture on the 21st of july, 2009 at Kozhikode on “the State of Left politics: Theory and Practice.”

Continues >>

India’s Democracy Challenged

March 29, 2009

The Good, the Bad, the Ugly

By Badri Raina |ZNet, March 28, 2009

Badri Raina’s ZSpace Page

THE CONSTITUTION OF INDIA

Preamble

“WE, THE PEOPLE OF INDIA, having solemnly resolved to constitute India into a SOVEREIGN SOCIALIST SECULAR REPUBLIC and to secure to all its citizens

JUSTICE, social, economic, political;

LIBERTY of thought, expression, belief, faith, and worship;

EQUALITY of status and opportunity;

and to promote among them all

FRATERNITY assuring the dignity of the individual and the unity and integrity of the Nation,

IN OUR CONSTITUENT ASSEMBLY this twenty sixth day of November, 1949, do HEREBY ADOPT, ENACT AND GIVE TO OURSELVES THIS CONSTITUTION.”

I

It is once again Hustings time.

The fifteenth Lok Sabha (House of the People) is due to be elected, and the 16th of May, 2009—counting day—will tell us what it looks like.

Even as the Indian Republic as duly constituted justly takes some satisfaction at its continuance, transcending a plethora of adverse circumstance, some challenges there are that qualitatively spell more than an ordinary hiccup.

Let me allude to just three.

First, the good challenge:

This comes from none other than “we the people.”

And they make a simple but incontestable point: namely, that some sixty years to the good, it is clear that they have been at the receiving end of the bad old ruling class trick.

To wit, legitimize the Constitution in the name of “we the people” but ensure that the state thereof in truth serves the interests of the very few.

This is achieved by enshrining “Socialist” as the defining USP of the Constitution of India but merrily practicing Capitalism of the cronyist and crassest kind.

No wonder therefore that billionaires burgeon on one end, and paupers on the other; that the Republic breaks world records in the numbers of children who suffer malnutrition, preventable diseases, exploitation at home and in the labour market, and untold abuse everywhere; that women have next to no representation in the highest echelons of democratic policy and decision making, and remain unsafe both in the home, in the work place, and on the street; that unconscionable violence and humiliation is routinely meted out to India’s Dalits by social “superiors” and members of the state apparatus alike, and often in tandem; that just resistance to excesses of diverse description in vast parts of the Republic is put down by draconian laws, such as the Disturbed Areas Act and the Armed Forces Special Powers Act which empower the least man with an authorized gun to shoot to kill without any questions asked.

No wonder that the requirements of Capitalism this day yield a culture of perceptions which enjoins on us to think that those whose assets on the stock market climb down some notches are greater sufferers than those who eat grass or leather or carrion for want of food. Or, failing that as well, kill their families and then commit suicide.

And that the “growth” of the economy is crucial so that some 77% of “we the people” can spend at least 45 cents a day!

As to redress of the legal kind, tell me about it. Try going to court against a fatso adversary and soon you will wish you had rather gone to the burial ground.

So much—and indeed the very much more that can and needs to be said—for “socialism,” “liberty,” and “justice”—social, economic, and political.

Yet, as Indians in their millions in one place or another remind the custodians of the state of these facts, theirs must be considered a salutary and good challenge.

After all, they only wish the Constitution to be made a universal reality, rather than to be abrogated. And they say: remember, we are “we the people.”

And many still believe, or wish to, that the ruling interests can be pressed to do so through democratic means.

Not for long, though.

II

The bad challenge:

This comes from very sophisticated quarters who fervently hold that auctioning cricket players to the full regalia of prime-time media,– a spectacle far more engaging than the wretched business of Gandhi’s spectacles and the hullaballoo thereof, or of camels and bullocks in the famous event at Pushkar in Rajasthan–and conducting the Indian Premier League (of Cricket, that is) is of far greater consequence to the Republic than holding elections to the House of the People.

And, no more significant fact here than that wide sections of the elite media, often called the fourth estate of the Republic and its chief watchdog and guarantor, concur with these sophiscates to the hilt. As does the right-wing, Hindu party, the BJP, believing that not holding the tournament along with the elections only shows how “weak” the UPA government is against the possibility of terror attacks.

Thus, the government of the day is pilloried for its old-fashioned preference of ensuring free and fair elections to the Lok Sabha over supplying troupes to the IPL so that billions can be made and “we the people” entertained as a corollary.

And, just to remind you, the IPL is a private enterprise solely!

They ask in consternation: what has the Republic come to that it should seriously consider elections to the House of the People more important than cricket and the moneys thereof. After all, if the state cannot furnish food to “we the people” let them at least eat cricket. And if the government cannot govern the country, let it at least help the IPL honchos govern cricket. After all, what matters more—cricket or the legitimacy of the state?

To wit, this challenge to the republic comes from a new set of Indians who, having thoroughly milked its offers, now feel chagrined that its continuance should so obstruct the hedonisms that they have so earned through smart practices and sharp dealings.

These are chosen ones who pooh pooh the primitive formulations of the Preamble, namely that “liberty,” “equality,” or “justice” either can be or indeed ought to be made available to “we the people.”

They hold that human beings are not differently able or differently circumstanced but, plainly and simply, unequal and undeserving of equal consideration by the state.

The IPL patrons, wherever they be, simply believe that democracy is a nuisance, the Preamble a joke, and the state their handmaiden. And the electoral process a massive redundance that merely disrupts the smooth flow of money-making and other collateral pursuits. Far more exciting to have the IPL gladiators fight to the kill while they watch and smooch on the grapes.

Which is why they do not bother to dirty their finger nails with electoral ink: after all, when either tweedledum or tweedledee come to power, they only need to make that phone call to get the job done. Indeed, their idea of democracy is to have the same set of people in power, even if under differently-coloured fig leaves.

III

Now the ugly challenge:

This comes from a set of butchers who question the notion of “we the people” in the first place.

They hold that only some are “people” (namely, the Hindus) and the rest are “enemies” (chiefly the Muslims and Christians).

And they are everyday willing to kill for that belief.

A century and a half ago, an English poet wrote of the Lotus Land (where Odysseus’s mariners halted during their return home to Ithaca after the Trojan war) thus:

“in the afternoon they came unto a land

where it seemed always afternoon.”

And of the music there thus:

“music that gentlier on the spirit lies

than tired eyelids upon tired eyes.” (Tennyson, The Lotus Eaters).

Nothing so sleepy or gentle, though, about India’s Lotus valaas.

Here is what Varun Gandhi said of the matter the other day in Pilibhit:

“This is not the ‘hand’ (of the Congress party); this is the hand of the Lotus. It will cut the throat of Muslims after the elections.”

Ever knew the lotus to be so bloodthirsty?

And in saying that with crude directness, he only gave full voice to the teachings of the scions of the RSS.

Those teachings teach that Muslims are “incomplete, uncultured, demonic.” Further, they are scary like rakshasas (evil demons) and have no loyalty to India because they do not accept their kula dharma, (ancestral duty), towards Hinduism. They are outsiders who must be assimilated to the point where they no longer call themselves Ali, Hassan, John, or Thomas.

And if they will not, here is what needs to be done:

“Parshuram avenged his father’s humiliation by offering him libations of blood of those who had insulted him.” “Likewise, the only way to worship the motherland after she had been defiled” (that is to say by centuries of “Muslim” rule) would be “to wash it with the blood of those who dared commit such an act.”

(See Jyotirmaya Sharma, Terrifying Vision: M.S. Golwalkar, the RSS, and India; see also Siddharth Varadarajan’s “A Stench That is All Too Familiar,” The Hindu, March 24, 2009.)

This, then, continues to constitute a challenge to the Republic of a very different sort, albeit one which often conveniently overlaps with the class preferences of the challengers mentioned in the second canto of this write-up.

Put succinctly, these are people who wish to overthrow all the Preambular postulates of the Constitution of the Republic of India: in their scheme of things, only those who are both born in India and have their chief icons of worship in India (rather than in Mecca or Jerusalem) can be considered “citizens’; Indian democracy and the nation cannot be “secular” but one based on Hindu-racial principles, and “Socialism” as much an excrescence to them as to the IPL fraternity of India’s social, political, and economic elites.

And the bad and the ugly together remain opposed to the challengers in the first part who take the egalitarian provisions of the Preamble so much to heart, or seek to cause ruckus on their behalf and behest.

All said and done, not a pretty picture.

But one thing seems for sure: neither the IPL nor “cultural nationalism” of the ugly holds any promise of redress.

For all that, “we the people” will need to intensify their humanist struggles, and maybe look to Chavez and the rest of Latin America for inspiration. Not to speak first of Gandhi, Nehru, and the struggles of the Communists and Socialists within India.

If indeed the rational alone can be the right, then those struggles cannot but bear desirable fruit.

“It is patience I need,” said Lear.

_______________________________________________________________

badri.raina@gmail.com

India’s Reckless Road to Washington Through Tel Aviv

December 24, 2008

By VIJAY PRASHAD | Counterpunch, Dec 23, 2008

On Thursday, November 27, in the middle of the Mumbai terrorist attacks, Imran Babar, one of the terrorists, called India TV from Nariman House. He used a cellphone that belonged to Rabbi Gavriel Holtzberg, the co-director of the Chabad-Lubavitch Center. The following day, Babar and his associates killed Rabbi Holtzberg and his wife, Rivka. The phone call he made was not long. Babar opened with a comment that made little sense to most people: “You call [Israel’s] army staff to visit Kashmir. Who are they to come to J &K [Jammu and Kashmir]? This is a matter between us and Hindus, the Hindu government. Why does Israel come here?”

Little is known of Babar’s babbles outside the confines of Hakirya, the “campus” of the Israeli high command, and of South Block, which houses the Indian External Affairs and Defense ministries. What he referred to are the growing military and security ties between India and Israel. As well, he might have referenced the now rather solid links between the Hindu Right and the Israeli Right, and how their view of the conflicts that run from Jerusalem to Srinagar mirror those of the jihadis like Babar. Imran Babar and his fellow terrorists come to their critique from the standard anti-Semitism, anti-Americanism that blinds many aggrieved jihadis. Rather than make a concrete assessment of their grievances, they take refuge in as mythical a world as sketched out by the Israeli Right-Hindu Right, where Jews, Hindus and America are arrayed against Muslims.

That the terrorists attacked the Chabad-Lubavitch Center has renewed the call to see the commonalities between the victims of terrorism, whether those in a Haifa restaurant or a Mumbai train, between 9/11 and 11/26. To do so flattens out a significant differences, and reduces the violence to their acts themselves rather than to the social context that leads people to acts of terror. Mumbai provokes the Right to seek recourse to the solutions of war and surveillance, methods that might create a moment’s sense of security before the wily adversary finds a new technological means to strike back. There is no common technical solution: better sniper rifles or iris scanners, better intelligence databases or cattle prods. The weapons used to deal the fatal blow to the terrorists are also incubators of a new generation of terrorists. This is an elementary lesson, lost to those who seek the silver bullet.

Why Does Israel Come Here?

On September 10, 2008, Israel’s top army official, General Avi Mizrahi landed in New Delhi. He met with India’s leading army, navy and air force officials before leaving for a short visit to Jammu and Kashmir. Mizrahi, a long-standing officer in the Israeli Defense Force, lectured senior Indian army officers at the Akhnur Military Base, near the Indo-Pakistan border, on the theme of counterterrorism. Later, in Srinagar, Mizrahi and his Indian counterpart, Army Chief Deepak Kapoor agreed to joint counterterrorism activities, notably for Israeli commandoes to train Indian soldiers in urban combat.

The Mizrahi visit in 2008 is not extraordinary. He had been to India in February 2007. In June 2007, Major General Moshe Kaplinsky brought a team of IDF officers to Jammu and Kashmir, where they met senior Indian officials at the 16 Corps headquarters at Nagrota in the Jammu region near the India-Pakistan border. Kaplinsky’s team discussed the problem of infiltration, how militants from the Pakistani side enter the India. The 720-kilometer barbed wire fence, an echo of Israel’s wall, has not prevented the transit of militants. Kaplinsky came to push other, high-tech means, such as night-vision devices, to help interdict militants. En route to Israel, Kaplinsky’s team went to the Mumbai-based Western Naval Command.

In January 2008, to continue these contacts, the IDF’s chief, Brigadier General Pinchas Buchris came to India and met the top civilians and the top brass. They discussed the procedures to share intelligence on terrorist activity. A week after Buchris returned to Israel, India’s Navy Chief Admiral Sureesh Mehta spent time in Jerusalem, meeting IDF heads Gabi Askhenazi and Buchris. Between 2007 and early 2008, all three Indian defense chiefs visited Israel. The framework for these meetings is the 2002 agreement to form an Indo-Israeli Joint Working Group on Counter-Terrorism, a long-standing attempt to create an entente between the armies of India and Israel, and to consolidate the immense arms trade between the two countries (India is now Israel’s largest arms buyer).

The impetus for the relations goes back to the 1990s, when the governing Congress Party began to dismantle the dirigiste Indian State and to withdraw from India’s long-standing non-aligned policy. The Congress government believed that it was time to reassess its relations with the United States, and that the best way to get to Washington was through Tel Aviv. Stronger ties with Israel might soften the reticence in Washington toward India, and lead it to loosen its bonds with Pakistan and China. India banked on Israel to play the broker with Washington. (This is the argument of my book, Namaste Sharon: Hindutva and Sharonism Under U. S. Hegemony, New Delhi: LeftWord, 2003).

In January 1992, the Indian government recognized the state of Israel. The next month, Defense Minister Sharad Pawar called for Indo-Israeli cooperation on counter-terrorism. Israel’s Director-General of Police Ya’acov Lapidot visited India for an international police convention, and returned to Israel with news that the Indian government wanted Israeli expertise on counter-terror operations. Government spokesperson Benjamin Netanyahu told India Abroad (29 February 1992) that Israel “developed expertise in dealing with terrorism at the field level and also internationally, at the political and legal level, and would be happy to share it with India.” In the Congress years, the main arena of cooperation came in arms deals, as India’s massive purchases provided stability to Israel’s previously volatile arms industry.

When the Hindu Right came to power in the late 1990s, it hastened both the economic “liberalization” policy (with a Minister for Privatization in office) and it shifted its attentions to Washington, DC and Tel Aviv: an axis of the three powers against what it called Islamic terrorism was to be the new foundation of India’s emergent foreign policy. The close relationship between Netanyahu (then Prime Minister) and L. K. Advani (the Home Minister of India, and a brigand of the Hard Right) smoothed the path to intensive collaboration. Advani admires Netanyahu’s personal history as a member of the Sayeret Matcal (special forces) unit of the IDF; Advani himself has no such on-the-ground experience. In 1995, when in Israel, Advani happily received Netanyahu’s new book, Fighting Terrorism: How Democracies Can Defeat Domestic and International Terrorism.

Advani has since made it his practice to quote from the book, particularly the view that a “free society must know what they are fighting,” which is the “rising tide of Islamic terrorism.” This was all honey in Advani’s ear. He drew the central concepts of his counter-terrorism policy from his friends in the Israeli government: a wall at the border, threats of “hot pursuit” across it; demur against political negotiation, escalation of rhetoric; limits on civil liberties when it comes to suspects in terror cases. Netanyahu had purposely refused to distinguish between Iran and Syria, Hezbollah and Hamas, the PLO and the Muslim Brotherhood. Advani too began to collapse the distinction between Kashmiri separatist groups and post-Afghan war terror outfits based in Pakistan, between aggrieved Indian Muslims and Pakistani proxy forces. As well, Netanyahu and Advani crafted a stage on which to enact an endless battle between Democracy and Terrorism, where the role of Democracy is played by the United States, Israel and India and where the role of Terrorism is played by Islam. It is all simple and dangerous.

During his June 2000 visit to Israel, Advani underscored his adoption of Netanyahu’s framework during a lecture at the Indian Embassy. “In recent years we have been facing a growing internal security problem,” he said. “We are concerned with cross-border terrorism launched by proxies of Pakistan. We share with Israel a common perception of terrorism as a menace, even more so when coupled with religious fundamentalism. Our mutual determination to combat terrorism is the basis for discussions with Israel, whose reputation in dealing with such problems is quite successful.” Advani invited a team of Israeli counter-terrorism experts to tour Jammu and Kashmir in September 2000. Led by Eli Katzir, an aide to Prime Minister Ehud Barak, the team conducted a feasibility study of India’s military security needs and offered suggestions for Israeli assistance. Three years later, Israel and India signed a military-arms pact that included a specific training mission. Israeli forces would train four new Special Forces battalions of the Indian Army; other battalions would learn the practice of “irregular warfare” and work with the Northern Command in Kashmir.

When the Hindu Right lost the election in 2004 to a Congress-led alliance, the pace of contacts lessened. With both Advani and Netanyahu in the shadows, the alliance lost its main champions. The Congress government recognized how toxic this alliance would be, unnecessarily inflaming an already difficult relationship with Pakistan. This was also recognized within Israel. Efraim Inbar, director of Israel’s Begin-Sadat Center for Strategic Studies, who is actively involved in the Indo-Israeli contacts, recognizes the political problem; “this kind of cooperation needs to be secret if it can be,” he told Newsweek. The military and arms deals between India and Israel continued, even if it was now treated as a sideshow. India remains a major importer of Israeli arms. What lingers in the shadows is the Israeli work in Kashmir. Little is officially revealed of it, even as leaks here and there hint at the extent of the contacts.

Technocrats of Terrorism.

Ami Pedazhur, a political scientist from the University of Austin-Texas, joins the chorus on the New York Times op-ed page with suggestions for the Indian government after Mumbai (“From Munich to Mumbai,” December 20). Rather than see anything new in the Mumbai attacks, Pedazhur conjoins it with an unbroken history that stretches back at least to the 1972 Munich attacks. What links Munich to Mumbai is neither the identity of those who kill nor those who are killed, but the means by which the killing occurs. Analysts of terrorism, like Pedazhur, are technocrats of counter-terrorist actions. They study how terrorists operate, and so what best security and military force can constrain them. The public policy that stems from this sort of technocratic view of terrorism has one end, to restrain the terrorist with more security checkpoints, more hot pursuit.

Why does the Indian government take advice from a government whose own security services have a dismal record of preventing terror attacks and whose own armed forces have failed to create stability on its borders? Israel’s weaponry works fine. But Israel’s counter-terror expertise is questionable. Pedazhur takes pride in Israel’s counterterrorism policy. What pride there can be in a regime that maintains its safety through a ruthless military strategy is questionable. The Israeli government, regardless of the party in charge, is conspicuous not only for its treatment of the Palestinians but also, significantly, for its failure to create a secure society for its own citizens. It is easy enough to make the Palestinians the author of the troubles, but this of course ignores the intransigence of Israel’s political leadership to produce a settlement. Because it cannot make a political peace, the Israeli authorities have perfected various technological means to minimize the consequences of its failures. This is what it wishes to export to India. For India, the imports signal the surrender of its leadership to the current imbroglio. Gated countries wallow in fear and hatred.

The costs of the Tel Aviv-New Delhi-Washington axis are too much to bear, at least for India. India cannot afford to mimic Israel’s failed neighborhood policy, nor can it follow the U. S. example that seeks to solve its problems by aerial bombardment. South Asia requires a regional solution to what is without doubt a regional problem, one with its roots in the Afghan jihad of the 1980s as much as the unresolved Kashmir question (with close to a million troops in the state of Jammu and Kashmir, the Indian government runs what is tantamount to an occupation – they provide the opposite of security for the residents of the state). When the Afghan civil wars came to a unjust quiet in the early 1990s, the various foreign fighters returned to their homelands, emboldened by their self-perception of their victorious struggle: they went to Chechnya, the Philippines, Egypt, Saudi Arabia, and into the Kashmir struggle. Pakistan and India are equally victims of these veterans of the jihad, and both have a vested interest in their demobilization. But more than that, there is a danger that as the U. S. amps up its war in Afghanistan and treats Pakistan with contempt, the jihadis  will take out their wrath with the same kind of ferocity as they demonstrated in Mumbai. Rather than risk a failed military strategy against the jihadis, it is time for a regional conference on human security, one that includes better cooperation between the states and a program for the lives of those who are driven to the compounds of hatred through their many, many grievances.

Vijay Prashad is the George and Martha Kellner Chair of South Asian History and Director of International Studies at Trinity College, Hartford, CT His new book is The Darker Nations: A People’s History of the Third World, New York: The New Press, 2007. He can be reached at: vijay.prashad@trincoll.edu

A Free Kashmir: Random Thoughts

October 2, 2008

Part 31


By Dr. Abdul Ruff Colachal | Kashmir Watch, October 2, 2008

Independent Kashmir: Optimism of Freedom Leaders Every nation has the right to be free and govern it themselves People in Kashmir should be able to capitalize on it at the international level. People of Jammu Kashmir want their birth right, right to self-determination and peace will remain elusive in the region until people are not given right to decide their own future.

Kashmiris struggling for their full and complete independence from occupying terror India should feel happy now because a good section of anti-Kashmiris in India and Kashmir are growing restless thanks to the positive development in Kashmir towards attaining their rightful sovereignty from their oppressors who thought Kashmir would be under their brutal custody for ever. The fact that not many pro-India elements from Kashmir are in great demand now in New Delhi’s by lanes of power. There has been a feeling in New Delhi that India will have to vacate Kashmir any day and stop killing the innocent Kashmiris under fictitious pretexts. A recent demonstration in New Delhi by a national political wing to free Kashmir from Indian military rule has espoused enough enthusiasm among the global Kashmiris looking for a sovereign nation at the earliest.

ONE: Freedom Fighters

The English colonizers of India discovered a lot of “things” for the people to fight each other so that the occupiers could stay comfortably. Amarnath Shrine was also discovered by the British raj in 19th Century for India Hindus. Now they want to expand the scope of importance of that temple structure by illegally annexing l forest lands of Kashmiris. The JK state government, under pressure from government of India, illegally transferred 800 kanals of forestland to Shrine Board on the instructions of New Delhi and the president of India herself was present in Srinagar when the final deal was cleared on pressure by the JK Forest minister under coercion. But the grace of Almighty Allah it awakened people of Kashmir and hundreds and thousands of people are on the streets demanding freedom.

Kashmir Freedom fighters and their supporters are being subjected to innumerable difficulties. No doubt, underdogs are available every where at the disposal of the ruthless rulers for a price and in Kashmir they are being used by India to ruin and kill Kashmir Muslims. India successfully created strong pro-India lobbyists in Delhi, Kashmir and important world capitals. Pro-India political outfits like Congress, NC and other parties have been strengthening Indian occupation in Kashmir. People should be aware that pro-India parties seek votes in the name of development, but in assembly they are working against Islam.

Ever since India tactfully annexed its neighboring Kashmir in 1947, over a lakh Kashmiris have laid their lives for freedom and martyrdom has been continuing fearlessly against all tactics and strat3egis of occupier India, which split the Jammu Kashmir nation along religious and regional lines to advance its nefarious terrorism goals. Kashmir land has created quite successfully, serious freedom leaders who lead the struggle thus far. But with a view to suppress the struggle India kills Kashmiris Muslims but none, including the Un has taken the explosive terror situation in Kashmir quite seriously because of the powerful propaganda by India through media and cash. More than 80 Kashmiri Muslims have been killed in police action in the past two months alone. Kashmir is not the issue of elections or governance. It is not even a dispute, but a case of fraud and genocide and state terrorism by India in Kashmir. Even if it is an internationally recognized dispute, it must be resolved as per the wishes and aspirations of the people of Jammu and Kashmir.

Vote that managed a regime to support the Indian terror case in Kashmir had same power that time which later bullet had. People who represent the aspirations and sentiments of Kashmiris are the real representatives. The recent protests have given a new dimension to the freedom struggle and it is great to observe the Kashmiri youth realizing their insecurity under the Indian occupation. Sheikh Abdul Aziz and other 50 people have been martyred since Muzaffarabad March on August 11. It is great tribute to the people of the state and a lesson for everyone that anything can be achieved through unity. Today Kashmir people have succeeded in pressing India and Pakistan to open points through the bloody line (LOC) we will continue our efforts until this line is completely smashed away.

Continued . . .

Indian Muslims

May 2, 2007

Professor Badri Raina contributes articles to ZNet. In the following article, published last August, he analyses Indian Muslims’ situation and suggests ways to improve their political status and their socio-economic conditions within the Indian State.

Net | Activism
Indian Muslims
Prospects and Ways Forward
by Badri Raina; August 16, 2006

My chief concern here is to understand the situation of Muslim’s in India. But, to the extent that the issue is inevitably affected by the condition of Muslims world-wide, it is relevant to take note of factors that impinge upon that condition even at the risk of enumerating a critique that is by now often made and well-recognized. The truth needs as much repeating as the lie, especially when the lie has the backing of imperialist money and muscle.

First a word about the villainous propagation that a “clash of civilizations” is now underway, globally.

Nobody but the indubitably partisan is any more taken in by the reification-in-reverse, as it were, whereby American imperialism, unimpeded by any concerted, state-level opposition, seeks to fetishize its untrammelled material ambitions in the resource-rich middle and west Asian regions principally as a purely ideological crusade on behalf of “freedom.”

This despicable subterfuge requires that Islam be recast as a theoretical breeding ground of “jehadis”; this for the simple enough reason that the preponderant population in these oil-rich regions is Muslim. Thus, nationalists throughout this region engaged in a life-and-death struggle to secure the rights of sovereignty need to be christened “terrorists.” Never mind that both Hamas and Hizbollah owe their political legitimacy to massive electoral victories, duly “certified” by reputed international agencies. Never mind also that American imperialism is hard put to find any “terrorist” Islamism in a Wahabi Saudi Arabia, even though all of the protagonists who brought the twin towers down were of Saudi extraction. Nor, for that matter, are the neocons able to see Pakistan as a centrepiece in the “Islamic” terrorist business. Or Musharraf as a military dictator who seems determined to hijack the promise of Pakistani democracy for ever and ever.

Clearly, for an American President who is widely suspected by his own countrymen of having stolen both his electoral victories, the “democracy” slogan is just one instrument of imperialist designs.

It needs to be recalled that the pioneers in the “terrorist” way of doing things were the Israelis. Scholarship, including the Wikipedia, has given us an elaborate record of the modus operandi of the Zionist Irgun and Stern terrorist groups—spearheaded by such respectable worthies as Menachem Begin, Yatzak Shamir, and Ariel Sharon—in their fight to dislodge the British from their mandate in Palestine. Those modus operandi included the cold-blooded murders of diplomats and United Nations’ officials, not to speak of the bombing of the King David Hotel in which more than ninety innocent people were blown to smithereens and many more maimed for life. Scholarship also records that these terrorists took their stand as much on religion as the jehadis of our day.

Is it also not rather cute that while a prospective Iranian nuclear capability is sought to be sold to the “international community” as the central source of menace for the world community, the well-known Israeli arsenal is never mentioned. Remember that Osama bin Laden and the Taliban were not viewed as “terrorist” material while the principal contradiction of American imperialism was with the Soviets in Afghanistan. Once, however, that contradiction shifted course, yesterday’s “freedom fighters” became today’s’ “terrorists.” Or that the “war on terror” should have been launched in Iraq which was notably the one truly secular state in the whole region. That the invasion of Iraq has now successfully converted that country into a jehadi hub goes of course to speak to the criminal accountability of the Americans in the matter, and to an imperialist folly that bids fair to destroy civilized governance throughout the world. There must some reason after all why already some 85% Lebanese today call themselves Hizbollah as opposed to some 50% before the current Israeli invasion. And that includes the Lebanese Christians as well. Or why Maliki, the puppet prime minister of a “free” Iraq has felt humiliated enough now to take issue with the continuing brutalities of the Bush regime in complete disregard of the so-called Iraqi government.

Having said that, if there is a clash now underway it is between those who advocate adherence to the principles of the Westphalian Treaty (1645) that guarantees the sovereignty of nation-states and non-interference in each other’s internal affairs, and to the United Nations Charter which was drawn up by the world community to establish peaceful co-existence among nations and a non-recourse to violence and war as instruments of the redressal of disputes, on the one hand, and those others whose desire for global domination seeks to make mince-meat of both the Westphalian Treaty and the U.N.Charter.

And this clash today is nowhere more in evidence than within America itself. Never have Americans been as vertically divided—between the reds and the blues—since the Civil War as they are today. By the latest reckoning, some 60% Americans would be considered “anti-national” by the Bush administration! Having now christened the term “Islamic fascism” Bush has had to be at the receiving end of important articles in the American media that have asked whether this may not be a case of the pot calling the kettle black.

Same is true of people who inhabit the “Muslim” world. Despite the heinous depredations wrought everyday by the neocon “vision” of a new world order– whereby American Imperialism arrogates to itself the right to preemptive war, to regime changes in other countries, and to full-scale global dominance—in the middle and west Asian region, and wherever else people seek to resist that evil “vision,” Muslims are everywhere divided between those who think such resistance can succeed only through an asymmetrical guerilla war, and those who still wish to adhere to democratic, institutional mechanisms to force reason and sanity upon an imperialism gone berserk, or who desire to see a consolidation of state-level resistance to American imperialism.

On each side, of course, it suits the war-mongers to homogenize disparate, dissident, contentious identities and positions and complex political and intellectual considerations into crusading binaries—the regime, as it were, of a born-again Christianity against the injunctions of Allah. That the vast majority of the world’s population knows this to be, nonetheless, a war, on one hand, for the control of the world’s material resources and, on the other, for resisting that imperial agenda is by now obvious enough.

Indeed, this contention between the homogenizing political project and the concrete pluralities on the ground that demand democratic cognition lies at the root of much that has gone on in India during the last two decades.

Since the implementation of the recommendations of the Mandal Commissiion by the V.P.Singh government (1989)—recommendations that, deriving from the Constitution, recognized caste affiliation rather than an undifferentiated religious one as the basic social unit of identity among Hindus—a crusade on behalf of Brahminical Hinduism ensued.

Clearly, the object of that crusade has been to reconstitute Hindus across social contradictions as the dominant “majority” that then seeks to supplant the notion that a majority in a republican democracy can only comprise franchised “citizens,” a circumstance that then feeds directly into minority-bashing. Thus the Brahminical upper-caste crusade against affirmative action on behalf of deprived castes curiously yields the politics of communalism. This despite the fact that the BJP has never yet polled more than 26% of the national vote at any general election. Considering that not more than 5% Muslims have ever voted for the party, the BJP thus fails to draw the allegiance of some 70% or more of voting Hindus. As in America now, the chief political divide in India has thus been between high-caste Hindus who seek to force their vision of the nation on the Republic and the great majority of Hindus who refuse that fascist imposition. Thus the “cultural nationalism” of the Brahminical minority remains in clash with Hindus whose allegiance to the Constitutional scheme remains in place.

Likewise, despite the beleaguered attempts of religious Muslim leaderships to cast India’s Muslims into a monolithic block, the often peddled notion of a “minority vote bank” remains an interested myth. At no point during India’s political history of the last three decades have Indian Muslims voted en masse for any one single political party. Muslims have tended to vote only for such candidates who they have thought equipped to defeat the BJP. Such a voting pattern has inevitably meant that Muslims have often voted against many Muslim candidates along a diverse spectrum of parties in diverse electoral constituencies.

Post the recent train blasts in Mumbai, majoritarian fascism seeks once again to replicate the imperialist myth that “terrorism” is an exclusively Muslim phenomenon. Note that one has never heard the RSS, which is itself listed as a “terrorist” organization in an important American website, speak of LTTE terrorism as Hindus terrorism. Nor does one ever hear Christian or Jewish terrorism mentioned, although Wikipedia conscientiously records elaborate instances of both. Consider also the deep irony that Independent India’s most memorably high-placed losses to terrorism have all been perpetrated by non-Muslim agents: Mahatma Gandhi was assassinated by a Brahmin, Indira Gandhi by a Sikh, and Rajiv Gandhi again by a Hindu LTTE assassin. It should also be noted that the many instances of espionage against the nation-state that have come to light in recent years have all involved non-Muslims; surely, treason can hardly be argued to constitute an offence less heinous than a “terrorist” act. Currently, as we know, a nationalist scion of the BJP—an ex-minister several times over—continues his refusal to share his self-confessed knowledge of espionage activity on behalf of the Americans. Yet, nobody seems particularly bothered.

Understandably, Indian muslims once again find themselves under siege, as day in and day out they are hauled up at any odd hour of day or night to answer to the most far-fetched suspicions. Muslim intellectuals, therefore, once again debate among themselves what new political expression the thwarted history of the community should now draw on, given that successive governments, including secular ones, have tended to leave their genuine material aspirations in limbo. Be it education, employment (especially in the army, police and higher bureaucracy) or traditional livelihoods in skills and crafts, or their share in property ownership, Indian muslims find themselves at the bottom of the social rung, just as Gujarat-like episodes that repeatedly bring to light the complicity of official mechanisms, including state-aparatus, with “majoritarian” rioters, city after city, with the honourable exception of India’s southern states, leave them fearing for their life and limb. Consequent ghettoisation of the community, both in terms of living conditions and an ideological inwardness that willy nilly collapses into religious identity causes a paralysis of initiative that is often easy to deride but difficult to redress.

Younger Muslims, not burdened by any direct memories of India’s partition, who aspire to seek for a future as authentic Indian citizens beyond mere physical security chaff at the failure of political choices the community elders have thus far tended to exercise. Even as episodes like the demolition of the Babri masjid and the Gujarat genocide fan the impulse to violent reassertion. That such an impulse has not come to any significant expression is of course a defining tribute to the specific formation of Islam in India, but a circumstance that ought not, however, to lull us into complacence.

What, then, is to be done? Easier asked than answered. The first important thing to recognize here is that whatever it is that ought to be done does not have to be done by India’s Muslims alone. The temptation, therefore, to be holier-than-thou must be resisted because such a frame of reference in itself bespeaks a flawed grasp of what is wrong in the first place.

The doing necessarily must involve the following agencies, at the least:

–various organs of the State;
–English and Hindi media agencies (both print and visual);
–secular Indians across the board (which is to say some three fourths of citizens);
–Indian Muslims, who like Indian Hindus or Sikhs are not a homogeneous monolith.

Briefly, ritual protestations notwithstanding, it remains an ugly fact that the police apparatus in the northern states of India seems invariably to reserve its sub-liminal brutal antipathy for India’s Muslims, a reality that has been repeatedly recorded whenever communal clashes take place. Just to cite one episode, at Hashimpora the Provincial Armed Constabulary (PAC) a decade or so ago shot in the head some forty five Muslims in cold blood and dumped the corpses, one by one, in a canal nearby. It still remains to be seen what punishment the judicial system metes out to these murderers. Even as it is true that working class, factory protesters are also routinely caned and bashed by the PAC, the emotion that informs official violence against Muslim Indians in these states flows out of a mind-set that holds Muslims responsible for the partition of India, and thus regards them as guilty and inauthentic members of the republic, however just their cause.

The larger failure of the State clearly involves the complicity of governments in their disinterest in delivering, and seen to be delivering, the same kind of justice to rioters and killers that are drawn from the majority community as is promptly handed out to Muslims on the instant. There is perhaps no more blatant instance of this from recent history than the contrast in the way the findings of the Srikrishna Commission that enquired into the communal carnage in Mumbai prior to the 1993 bomb blasts, and the subsequent bomb blast accused case have been treated. The Srikrishna report which forthrightly held many senior officers and top-level political leaders guilty has remained rather unheard and shelved, while the State and the media that is equally complicit await with glee the judgement in the bomb blast cases.

Nor should it be overlooked that the massacre that took place in Gujarat in 2002 was followed by the refusal to file FIRs or file them in distorted ways, leading to the closure of thousands of cases even where eye-witnesses were willing to make disclosures. That some of the most gruesome ones were reopened and sent off for trial in other states, unprecedented in itself, testifies of course to the odyssey undertaken on behalf of the victims by civil society organizations like the Citizens for Peace and Justice, led by the outstanding Teesta Setalvad.

This predilection undermines in the gravest extent the faith that Muslims seek to repose in the secular democratic State. Such a collapse of credibility, needless to say, can in time become the prime factor for persuading Indian Muslims that they must seek justice by other means.

Wide interaction with Muslims reinforces the truth that this treatment is not the least of reasons why, unlike other sections of society, Muslim Indians have grave forebodings about mounting any organized public protests on issues of concern. Clearly, given this reality, it is grossly hypocritical and disingenuous to accuse Muslims of shying away from asserting their democratic rights through mass mobilization. Those elements within the State who still refuse equal “citizenship” rights to Muslims are much happier if Muslim demands of the republic turn into a seething cauldron of resentment. Once thus isolated, they can then the more easily be labelled as a potential danger to the nation. It is a remarkable statistic that under the draconian anti-terrorist legislation (TADA, repealed by the UPA government), more than 90% detenues were Muslims; when it is recalled that the total conviction rate under this act was all of 1%, it can be understood what political uses the act was put to.

As to the media, it is a grave indictment that the only time they seem to notice Muslim life in India is when “terrorism” is under discussion. It is an agonized Muslim complaint that even as ignorant anchors and suchlike cavalierly berate Muslims for not standing firmly against “terrorism” they almost never deign to report any one of umpteen instances of common and organized Muslim condemnations of the phenomenon, barring the exception of the Urdu media. Any one who watches ETV Urdu, a profoundly thought-provoking channel that analyses and debates issues that concern the community and the nation in such programmes as Hamare Masail, will know the depths of prejudice and ignorance that vitiate the mainline English and Hindi channels about the lives of some 130 million Indians! Indeed, this writer would make it mandatory for these channels to watch ETV Urdu, and to order back numbers of Hamare Masail for an educative introduction to Muslim life in India.

Thirdly, the most momentous onus of transforming the Muslim and national situation simultaneously falls jointly on the vast and preponderant majority of secular Indians– Muslim, Hindu, Sikh and all others. Indeed, given the failure of both the State and the mainline media to come up-to the stipulations of the Constitution, this onus may be understood to be decisive.

It is not as though some dramatic sleight-of-hand is here either proposed or expected. Indeed, this joint project is a long-term and difficult one, but such as is alone guaranteed to deliver a durable and long-lasting result. Secular Indians across communities must assume as a life-and-death enterprise the battle that the State has largely failed to win even some six decades after Constitutional republicanism. I refer to the battle to deliver an uncontestable Indian “citizenship.”

As a praxis, this project involves nothing less than a people’s democratic revolution that takes in the best lessons of Gandhian tolerance and of Marxian humanism. A revolution that breathes unquestionable life to those articles of the Constitution that guarantee fundamental rights to all Indian citizens regardless of caste, creed, gender, ethnicity, or linguistic practice. And, among those fundamental rights, the rights of minority populations enshrined in Articles 25-30 of the Constitution.

For Indian Muslims this involves the recognition that their well-being is inextricably intertwined with the well-being of the oppressed and dispossessed among all Indian communities. Put more radically, this involves redefining the concept of Ummah to include not just members of the Muslim community but the community of the labouring and suffering among all communities. Were this leftward reorientation to be undertaken, there can be little doubt that, leading such an initiative in close alliance with all struggling Indians, Indian Muslims would be inaugurating a second movement for independence rather than merely be pursuing, or seen to be pursuing, community concerns alone.

Having said that, it is equally incumbent on Left political forces in India—the only ones perhaps whose allegiance to the notion of a non-discriminatory “citizenship” is provenly credible—to provide the sort of leadership that expands the notion of class to include social groups and minorities who have a common stake in resisting class rule, since class rule in India often finds its easiest methodologies in fanning isolated social concerns. Any one would immediately recognize that in West Bengal, Kerala, Tripura these deeply transformative practices have been underway over a long time. The point is for Indian Muslims in the northern states to indicate to the Left that they are prepared to undertake those transformative struggles in the Hindi heartland states to the exclusion of the political options that they have thus far exercised with frustrating consequences.

Finally, and following from the argument thus far, the attempts now underway to forge exclusively muslim fora, it must be said, is an attempt entirely in the wrong direction. Such an attempt, born no doubt of extreme anguish and disenchantment with political options exercised thus far, can have all of the following consequences:

1. further ruinously ghettoize Muslim aspirations and politics;

2. face crushing setback to morale through crushing electoral defeats;

3. help reinvigorate forces that are constantly at work to supplant the very
notion of secular democratic citizenship by a culturally homogenized one.

One look back at the experience of the Majlis-e-Mushawaraat experiment of the 1960s (the Faridi movement) should be enough to bring home the truth that these consequences are inseparable from the very notion of political mobilization along sectarian lines.

Embedded in the very dilemma of Indian Muslims, therefore, there is a call—a call to forge a new consciousness that amalgamates a new future for India with a new effort on their own behalf.


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