Posts Tagged ‘Orissa’

India: Violent Gods

August 2, 2009

A ZNet Book Interview

By Angana Chatterji | ZNet,  July 31, 2009

Angana Chatterji’s  ZSpace Page

A Book Interview on Violent Gods: Hindu Nationalism in India’s Present; Narratives from Orissa

Can you tell ZNet, please, what your new book, “Violent Gods: Hindu Nationalism in India’s Present; Narratives from Orissa” is about? What is it trying to communicate?

Violent Gods’is an exploration of Hindu nationalism in India today. It details the mobilization of Hindu militant organizations as an authoritarian movement manifest throughout culture, polity, state, and economy, in religion and law, and class and caste, on gender, body, land, and memory… across the nation. The book explores that ways in which Hindu cultural dominance is manufacturing India, an emergent empire, as a ‘Hindu-secular’/Hindu majoritarian state.

As a woman of postcolonial India, of Hindu descent, ‘mixed’ caste heritage, the book is a journey in speaking with history. In freeing itself from British dominion in 1947, the Indian nation was shaped, in great part, by the will of the Hindu majority. Hindu cultural dominance has substantially defined what constitutes the ‘secular’ and ‘democratic’ in India today. Accountability demands that those of us with privilege in relation to ‘nation’ speak up, intervene. Telling a story of Hindu dominance in India is an intervention, ‘telling’ is a call to action.

Can you tell ZNet something about writing the book? Where does the content come from? What went into making the book what it is?

This book maps what I have witnessed — the architecture of civic and despotic governmentality contouring Hindu majoritarianism and nationalism in public, domestic, and everyday life. It chronicles the sustained and unchecked violences against minority Christian and Muslim communities, Adivasis (tribals) and Dalits (former ‘untouchable’ groups), and women, as well as sexual identity groups and children.

The book is a genealogical exploration of Hindu nationalism in India, with an ethnographic focus on Orissa, in eastern India, where Hindu nationalism’s terror has been prevalent since the 1990s, and where planned riots against minority peoples were carried out in 2007 and 2008. The research was conducted between 2002-2008 in urban and rural settings across Orissa in 66 villages, 11 towns, and four cities. The book records spectacles, events, public executions, the riots in Kandhamal of December 2007 and August-September 2008, as we witness the planned, methodical politics of terror unfold in its multiple registers.

In writing the book, I have made eighteen research trips to Orissa, and engaged in advocacy work on the issue. In 2005-2006, I convened the Orissa People’s Tribunal on Communalism, which was targeted, and its women members threatened with violence, by Hindu militant groups. See Human Rights Watch:

http://www.hrw.org/en/news/2005/07/12/does-rss-have-any-moral-standards

The book is situated at the intersections of Anthropology, Postcolonial, Subaltern, and South Asia Studies, and asks questions of nation making, cultural nationalism, and subaltern disenfranchisement. As a Foucauldian history of the present, this text asserts the role of ethical knowledge production as counter-memory. Through situated reflection, experimental storytelling, and ethnographic accounts, it excavates Hindutva/Hindu supremacist proliferations in manufacturing imaginative and identitarian agency for violent nationalism.

What are your hopes for “Violent Gods”? What do you hope it will contribute or achieve, politically? Given the effort and aspirations you have for the book, what will you deem to be a success? What would leave you happy about the whole undertaking? What would leave you wondering if it was worth all the time and effort?

At the release of the book in Orissa in April 2009, I was asked if the book would provide solutions for undoing Hindu militancy and dominance in India. Books, if we are so fortunate, complicate matters further. I remain hopeful that “Violent Gods” will energize discussion, debate, contemplation about India’s present and future, the role and violence of majoritarian states and groups globally, about privilege and subalternity, security, rights, and entitlements, about freedom and dissent. I remain hopeful that the many and powerful subaltern voices and narratives in the text will compel reflection.

The learning and advocacy that led to the book has engulfed and motivated me since 2002, and facilitated shifts in my thinking, empowered me to act, to take risks as an intellectual and activist. And, for people with prolific courage that supported its writing, with their stories, their lives, at risk of reprisal — I am grateful.

In India, we witnessed the ethnic cleansing of Sikhs in Delhi and elsewhere in 1984, genocidal violence against Muslims in Gujarat in 2002, calculated and sustained brutality against Christians in Orissa in 2007 and 2008, and the continued subjugation of Indian-administered Kashmir. On and on… We need to think, act, change. NOW.

“Violent Gods: Hindu Nationalism in India’s Present” by Angana P. Chatterji, from Three Essays Collective, released March 2009. More information at:

http://www.threeessays.com/titles.php?id=40

To look inside the book:

http://www.amazon.com/Violent-Gods-Nationalism-PresentNarratives/dp/8188789453/ref=ed_oe_h

India PM warns on religious hatred

October 14, 2008
Al Jazeera, Oct 14, 2008

Singh lamented “the assault on our composite culture” [Reuters]

India’s prime minister has said that increased religious and ethnic tensions are threatening the country’s social stability and blamed those “encouraging” hatred and violence.

“There are clashes between Hindus, Christians, Muslims and tribal groups. An atmosphere of hatred and violence is being artificially generated. There are forces deliberately encouraging such tendencies,” Manmohan Singh said on Monday.

Against a backdrop of religious unrest in eastern Orissa and tribal clashes in southern Karnataka, Singh said the violence threatened India’s proud “inheritance” of a multi-ethnic, multi-religious and multi-caste society.

“Perhaps the most disturbing and dangerous aspect today is the assault on our composite culture … we see fault-lines developing between, and among, communities,” he told a conference of chief state ministers in the capital, New Delhi.

In August, at least 35 people were killed in Orissa after the death of a hardline Hindu priest and four of his followers sparked violence between Hindus and Christians.

Indian Maoists claimed responsibility for killing Swami Laxmananda Saraswati, saying he was forcing tribal people to reconvert to Hinduism.

They also claimed that the state government had “made it look like Christian groups [were] responsible for the attack”.

But Hindu hardline groups rejected the Maoist claim, saying Saraswati opposed conversions to Christianity and his elimination could only benefit Christian missionaries active in the area.

In India’s northeastern Assam state, 50 people were killed in clashes between Muslim migrants and tribal groups earlier this month.

Curfew imposed

Violence between different religious groups have flared in several states [EPA]

The prime minister’s warning came as police imposed a curfew in the southern Indian state of Andhra Pradesh two days after the latest clash between Muslims and Hindus which left three people dead.The country has also been rocked by a series of bomb blasts targeting major cities this year which killed more than 100 people killed.

A home-grown Islamic group, the Indian Mujahideen, claimed responsibility for the attacks in Jaipur, Bangalore, Ahmedabad and New Delhi, saying they were in revenge for attacks on Muslims across India.

Singh said in his speech that “there can be no compromise with terrorism, and terrorists have to be dealt with firmly”.

“We need to meet today’s mindless violence with the requisite amount of force but must also ensure that this is tempered by reason and justice which is the normal order of governance,” he added.

India, which is majority Hindu with a large Muslim minority, is officially secular.

Christians protest attacks by Hindus in India

September 29, 2008
The News International, Sep 29, 2008
NEW DELHI: Hundreds of Christians held a rally Sunday in the Indian capital to protest recent attacks by Hindu hard-liners that have left dozens of Christians dead and thousands homeless in several Indian states. About 400 Christians gathered in a New Delhi park to pray and listen to speeches in which community leaders urged the government to do more to protect the country’s religious minorities.

“We are quite disappointed with both the federal government and state governments as violence against Christians has spread to several states in the past month,’’ said Dominic Emmanuel, a spokesman for the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of India. The clashes between Hindus and Christians started in the Kandhamal district of Orissa state on Aug 24 following the killing of a Hindu religious leader. At the time, police blamed Maoist rebels active in the area, but right-wing Hindu groups blamed local Christians and set fire to a Christian orphanage.

The violence then worsened to include mob attacks on churches, shops and homes. Emmanuel said Hindu hard-liners have killed at least 40 Christians in the state in the past month. Gopal Nanda, the director-general of state police, put the death toll at 27.

Emmanuel said more than 4,200 Christian homes and 150 Christian buildings – including churches, hospitals and orphanages – have been burned in the past month and nearly 50,000 people have been left homeless in Orissa state.

The state government has not given details about the number of homes and buildings attacked.

The attacks on Christians have spread to the southern states of Karnataka, Tamil Nadu and Kerala and the central Indian state of Madhya Pradesh. Christians have been responsible for retaliatory attacks on Hindus in Orissa state.

Meanwhile, the archbishop of New Delhi accused Sonia Gandhi, the chief of the governing Congress party and a Christian, of not doing enough to help Christians.

Vincent Concessao told the CNN-IBN television channel on Sunday that Gandhi may be reluctant because “Hindu bodies have been levelling an allegation against her that because she is a Christian she is in favour of Christians.’’

Manish Tiwari, a Congress party spokesman, rejected the claim, saying Gandhi had ordered ministers and party officials to visit all places where people have been attacked.

He also said Prime Minister Manmohan Singh’s government had ordered state governments to take all possible steps to protect people and property.

Christians in India face prospect of more attacks by extremists

September 11, 2008

September 11, 2008

Hindutva’s Violent History: Orissa

September 8, 2008

By Angana Chatterji | ZNet, Sep 7, 2008

HINDUTVA’S PRODUCTION of culture and nation is often marked by savagery. On 23 August 2008, Lakshmanananda Saraswati, Orissa’s Hindu nationalist icon, was murdered with four disciples in Jalespeta in Kandhamal district. State authorities alleged the attackers to be Maoists (and a group has subsequently claimed the murder). But the Sangh Parviar held the Christian community responsible, even though there is no evidence or history to suggest the armed mobilisation of Christian groups in Orissa.

After the murder, the All India Christian Council stated: “The Christian community in India abhors violence, condemns all acts of terrorism, and opposes groups of people taking the law into their own hands”. Gouri Prasad Rath, General Secretary, VHPOrissa, stated: “Christians have killed Swamiji. We will give a befitting reply. We would be forced to opt for violent protests if action is not taken against the killers”.

Following which, violence engulfed the district. Churches and Christian houses razed to the ground, frightened Christians hiding in the jungles or in relief camps. Officials record the death toll at 13, local leaders at 20, while the Asian Centre for Human Rights noted 50.

The Sangh’s history in postcolonial Orissa is long and violent. Virulent Hindutva campaigns against minority groups reverberated in Rourkela in 1964, Cuttack in 1968 and 1992, Bhadrak in 1986 and 1991, Soro in 1991. The Kandhamal riots were not unforeseen.

Since 2000, the Sangh has been strengthened by the Bharatiya Janata Party’s coalition government with the Biju Janata Dal. In October 2002, a Shiv Sena unit in Balasore district declared the formation of the first Hindu ‘suicide squad’. In March 2006, Rath stated that the “VHP believes that the security measures initiated by the Government [for protection of Hindus] are not adequate and hence Hindu society has taken the responsibility for it.”

The VHP has 1,25,000 primary workers in Orissa. The RSS operates 6,000 shakhas with a 1,50,000 plus cadre. The Bajrang Dal has 50,000 activists working in 200 akharas. BJP workers number above 4,50,000. BJP Mohila Morcha, Durga Vahini (7,000 outfits in 117 sites), and Rashtriya Sevika Samiti (80 centres) are three major Sangh women’s organisations. BJP Yuva Morcha, Youth Wing, Adivasi Morcha and Mohila Morcha have a prominent base. Bharatiya Mazdoor Sangh manages 171 trade unions with a cadre of 1,82,000. The 30,000-strong Bharatiya Kisan Sangh functions in 100 blocks. The Sangh also operates various trusts and branches of national and international institutions to aid fundraising, including Friends of Tribal Society, Samarpan Charitable Trust, Sookruti, Yasodha Sadan, and Odisha International Centre. Sectarian development and education are carried out by Ekal Vidyalayas, Vanavasi Kalyan Ashrams/Parishads (VKAs), Vivekananda Kendras, Shiksha Vikas Samitis and Sewa Bharatis — cementing the brickwork for hate and civil polarisation.

This massive mobilisation has erupted in ugly incidents against both Christians and Muslims. In 1998, 5,000 Sangh activists allegedly attacked the Christian dominated Ramgiri-Udaygiri villages in Gajapati district, setting fire to 92 homes, a church, police station, and several government vehicles. Earlier, Sangh activists allegedly entered the local jail forcibly and burned two Christian prisoners to death. In 1999, Graham Staines, 58, an Australian missionary and his 10- and six-year-old sons were torched in Manoharpur village in Keonjhar. A Catholic nun, Jacqueline Mary was gangraped by men in Mayurbhanj and Arul Das, a Catholic priest, was murdered in Jamabani, Mayurbhanj, followed by the destruction of churches in Kandhamal. In 2002, the VHP converted 5,000 people to Hinduism. In 2003, the VKA organised a 15,000- member rally in Bhubaneswar, propagating that Adivasi (and Dalit) converts to Christianity be denied affirmative action. In 2004, seven women and a male pastor were forcibly tonsured in Kilipal, Jagatsinghpur district, and a social and economic boycott was imposed against them. A Catholic church was vandalised and the community targeted in Raikia.

Change the cast, the story is still the same. 1998: A truck transporting cattle owned by a Muslim was looted and burned, the driver’s aide beaten to death in Keonjhar district. 1999: Shiekh Rehman, a Muslim clothes merchant, was mutilated and burned to death in a public execution at the weekly market in Mayurbhanj. 2001: In Pitaipura village, Jagatsinghpur, Hindu communalists attempted to orchestrate a land-grab connected to a Muslim graveyard. On November 20, 2001, around 3,000 Hindu activists from nearby villages rioted. Muslim houses were torched, Muslim women were ill-treated, their property, including goats and other animals, stolen. 2005: In Kendrapara, a contractor was shot on Govari Embankment Road, supposedly by members of a Muslim gang. Sangh groups claimed the shooting was part of a gang war associated with Islamic extremism and called for a 12hour bandh. Hindu organisations are alleged to have looted and set Muslim shops on fire.

It is Saraswati who pioneered the Hinduisation of Kandhamal since 1969. Activists targeted Adivasis, Dalits, Christians and Muslims through socio-economic boycotts and forced conversions (named ‘re’conversion, presupposing Adivasis and Dalits as ‘originally’ Hindus).

Kandhamal first witnessed Hindutva violence in 1986. The VKAs, instated in 1987, worked to Hinduise Kondh and Kui Adivasis and polarise relations between them and Pana Dalit Christians. Kandhamal remains socio-economically vulnerable, a large percentage of its population living in poverty. Approximately 90 percent of Dalits are landless. A majority of Christians are landless or marginal landholders. Hindutva ideologues say Dalits have acquired economic benefits, augmented by Christianisation. This is not borne out in reality.

In October 2005, converting 200 Bonda Adivasi Christians to Hinduism in Malkangiri, Saraswati said: “How will we… make India a completely Hindu country? The feeling of Hindutva should come within the hearts and minds of all the people.” In April 2006, celebrating RSS architect Golwalkar’s centenary, Saraswati presided over seven yagnas attended by 30,000 Adivasis. In September 2007, supporting the VHP’s statewide road-rail blockade against the supposed destruction of the mythic ‘Ram Setu’, Saraswati conducted a Ram Dhanu Rath Yatra to mobilise Adivasis.

In 2008, Hindutva discourse named Christians as ‘conversion terrorists’. But the number of such conversions is highly inflated. They claim there are rampant and forced conversions in Phulbani-Kandhamal. But the Christian population in Kandhamal is 1,17,950 while Hindus number 5,27,757. Orissa Christians numbered 8,97,861 in the 2001 census — only 2.4 percent of the state’s population. Yet, Christian conversions are storied as debilitating to the majority status of Hindus while Muslims are seen as ‘infiltrating’ from Bangladesh, dislocating the ‘Oriya (and Indian) nation’.

The right to religious conversion is constitutionally authorised. Historically, conversions from Hinduism to Christianity or Islam have been a way to escape caste oppression and social stigma for Adivasis and Dalits. In February 2006, the VHP called for a law banning (non- Hindu) religious conversions. In June 2008, it urged that religious conversion be decreed a ‘heinous crime’ across India.

‘Reconversion’ strategies of the Sangh appear to be shifting in Orissa. The Sangh reportedly proposed to ‘reconvert’ 10,000 Christians in 2007. But fewer public conversion ceremonies were held in 2007 than in 2004- 2006. Converting politicised Adivasi and Dalit Christians to Hinduism is proving difficult. The Sangh has instead increased its emphasis on the Hinduisation of Adivasis through their participation in Hindu rituals, which, in effect, ‘convert’ Adivasis by assuming that they are Hindu.

The draconian Orissa Freedom of Religion Act (OFRA), 1967, must be repealed. There are enough provisions under the Indian Penal Code to prevent and prohibit conversions under duress. But consenting converts to Christianity are repeatedly charged under OFRA, while Hindutva perpetrators of forcible conversions are not. The Sangh contends that ‘reconversion’ to Hinduism through its ‘Ghar Vapasi’ (homecoming) campaign is not conversion but return to Hinduism, the ‘original’ faith. This allows them to dispense with the procedures under OFRA.

The Orissa Prevention of Cow Slaughter Act, 1960 should also be repealed. It is utilised to target livelihood practices of economically disenfranchised groups, Adivasis, Dalits, Muslims, who engage in cattle trade and cow slaughter.

In fact, a CBI investigation into the activities of the VHP, RSS and Bajrang Dal is crucial as per the provisions of the Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act, 1967. Groups such as the VHP and VKA are registered as cultural and charitable organisations but their work is political in nature. They should be audited and recognised as political organisations, and their charitable status and privileges reviewed.

The state and central government’s refusal to restrain Hindu militias evidences their linkage with Hindutva (BJP), soft Hindutva (Congress), and the capitulation of civil society to Hindu majoritarianism. How would the nation have reacted if groups with affiliation other than than militant Hinduism executed riot after riot: Calcutta 1946, Kota 1953, Rourkela 1964, Ranchi 1967, Ahmedabad 1969, Bhiwandi 1970, Aligarh 1978, Jamshedpur 1979, Moradabad 1980, Meerut 1982, Hyderabad 1983, Assam 1983, Delhi 1984, Bhagalpur 1989, Bhadrak 1991, Ayodhya 1992, Mumbai 1992, Gujarat 2002, Marad 2003, Jammu 2008?

The BJD-BJP government has repeatedly failed to honour the constitutional mandate separating religion from state. In 2005-06, Advocate Mihir Desai and I convened the Indian People’s Tribunal on Communalism in Orissa, led by Retired Kerala Chief Justice KK Usha. The Tribunal’s findings detailed the formidable mobilisation by majoritarian communalist organisations, including in Kandhamal, and the Sangh’s visible presence in 25 of 30 districts. The report did not invoke any response from the state or central government.

In January 2000, The Asian Age reported: “‘One village, one shakha’ is the new slogan of the RSS as it aims to saffronise the entire Gujarat state by 2005.” Then ensued the genocide of March 2002. In 2003, Subash Chouhan, then Bajrang Dal state convener, stated: “Orissa is the second Hindu Rajya (to Gujarat).”

We all know what has happened in Kandhamal December 2007, and again now. The communal situation in Orissa is dire. State and civil society resistance to Hindutva’s ritual and catalytic abuse cannot wait.

The writer is associate professor of anthropology at California Institute of Integral Studies and author of a forthcoming book: Violent Gods: Hindu Nationalism in India’s Present, Narratives from Orissa

Conversions

September 8, 2008

Badri Raina’s ZSpace Page

I

Now, as Miss Austen would have said, it is a truth universally acknowledged that India is the world’s largest democracy.

What, however, is less well-known is that it is also the most sinuously adjustable.

Take any of India’s political parties—excluding the ossified Left which remains unprofitably wedded to principle, although the principle may change from circumstance to circumstance—and you will find that its elected legislators may, whenever the paramount “national interest” so requires, leave the party fold and conscientiously defect to a more winsome outfit.

And since all parties are happily agreed, at least in private, that the “national interest” does often demand such selfless departures, few questions that may tend to a negative read of such “necessity” are ever seriously entertained.

For example:

Is it right that a politician elected on one platform of public trust jettison his/her covenant with the voter who elected him/her, or jettison his covenant with the particular party that gave him a ticket in the first place, and go over to another party that he/she may have in fact roundly castigated during the campaign?

Should the democratic system permit such betrayal of public trust?

Or, put another way, allow political “conversions” where public faith and hope are involved?

It may be the  case that in that mother of all democracies, Great Britain, such conversions are pretty much unheard of; indeed there they have a party—the Liberal Democrats—who never seem to ever want to do anything nimble enough to bring them close to state power.  Backward child of long standing.

But, in the scheme of evolution, Indian democracy is a later species, and one more adept at the all-important principle of survival, chiefly personal.

It is true that when legislators offer the supreme sacrifice of conversion from one political allegiance to another, the public cry foul.  But it is equally true that few political animals worldwide are as adroit at persuading the public to the contrary as the Indian politician.  Which is why, more often than not, they are re-elected from a new party, on a new ticket.  Until the next one beckons.

II

Same is the case with the denizens of the companies and the corporates.

They may liquidate or merge with each other upon deep expert and managerial considerations dictated, no doubt, by the country’s best interests, even if often at lethal cost to the share-holders who aid them in the first place to come into existence.

As to the high-ups who run and flaunt these companies, who indoctrinate new recruits with the best principles of my- number- one, complete with frontier echelons of advertisers, commercial artists, and IT whiz kids, one never knows when the supreme economic well-being of brand Bharat may require any prominent CEO to be, Coriolanus-like, conferencing on behalf of Corporate A in the morning and a rival corporate B the same afternoon.

Indeed, a superior executive who is seen to be hanging on to the same company for longer than time X invites the suspicion that he/she may not have much more to contribute to the health of the nation than is worth his/her current pay and perks package.

Like the enterprising politician, the company executive must be seen to be on the move, converting from one school of principles to the next, even if diametrically opposite ones.

Thus, among the money-makers and idea-spinners too “conversion” is seen to be altogether of the greatest utility and consequence to the body politic.

That the body politic may know next to nothing of these rarefied goings-on, or may know that which contradicts the claims of the converted, or may often indeed  be at the gruesome receiving end of clandestine entrepreneurial Chinese chequers (in the shape of lethal gas leakages, or polluted drinking water, or manipulated shortages and prices, or fraudulent medicines in the market, or financial transactions that bring several edifices down) only goes to prove that what we in a democracy call the true sovereigns, namely the people, are nine out of ten unteachable and best remain so.

III

Indian democracy has, however, repeatedly demonstrated that the one domain where “conversions” are taboo is the that which involves neither public trust nor party loyalty but  is a matter of exclusive personal persuasion.  A schema sanctified by the Constitution of the Republic of India.  That book of common prayer says that, contrary to the barbarisms of old, what gods you worship or do not worship is entirely your business and nobody else’s.

Yet, when a citizen of India goes over from one religious faith to another, then it is, paradoxically you may well say, that the very foundations of the nation-state are shaken;  then it is that public anguish may be wrought to a pitch that blood may flow, habitations go up in flames, and innocent men, women, and children be cut up like mutton for some conquering carnival.

If you don’t know how, take a trip to kandhamal in Orissa.  There you will find the Gujarat of 2002 replicated with a fury that refuses to abate, and that the powers-that-be seem in no hurry to abate either.  All too familiar.

And you thought India was a secular state.  More fool you.

IV

The killers of Kandhamal answer as follows:  they will not tolerate conversions brought about through “inducements.”  That is, all except their own kind.  Naturally.

To wit, we are to understand that conversions from one political platform to another may well be humongously induced ones, conversions that through the years have, termite-like, gnawed into the very edifice of the state and polity, but since these can be argued to be in the “national interest” no objection can be made.

We are likewise to understand that conversions of CEOs and whole conglomerates may indeed be even more humongously induced—often with ramifications that make inimical foreign agents stake-holders in the life of the Republic—but that the business of business, after all, is business. Think that after all India may be the only civilization where wealth is worshipped as a goddess rather than derided like Mammon.   So when a Nano car runs down the highway, the occurrence not only may stir national pride but equally inspire the rag-picker to say “vande mataram. What blessing that I am a rag-picker of this ‘mahan Bharat’ rather than of some lesser country.”

V

The conundrum of course is that unlike the top echelons of political outfits or of corporate board rooms who frequently turn coat themselves in the larger interest, the gods and prophets who have spawned various religious corporations never do put in an appearance.

It is thus their politic and permanent absence which leaves no choice to the managers of various faiths but to hold fast to red lines that were seemingly laid down forever.  And to order murder and mayhem whenever such lines are deemed to be crossed.

Thus, how truly the Bard did say:

“As flies to wanton boys
Are we to the gods;
They kill us for their sport.”

And the gods having so decreed, how may a home minister here, or a chief minister there meddle in these matters.  A loyal republic is one that must wait the next incarnation.  Then, automatically, police reform, judicial reform, educational reform, administrative reform, ideological reform shall descend upon the South Block, and the letters  s e c u l a r i s m  be rendered sufficiently incandescent for the government to see.

Pending that momentous happening, you may not convert from one faith to another, even if we grab your land, burn and slash your patch of forest, rape your women if you do put up resistance—or even if you don’t, bar you from our drinking water well, and from entry into the temple (which god knows why you wish to enter in the first place), deny you education, food, medicine, or kick your teeth in if you dare be standing while we pass.

You are neither a politician nor a CEO; so you  will not convert upon inducement even of a loaf of bread, a word of dignity, a promise of brotherhood, an assurance of nursing in your disease, or of equal right to a pint of water when your thirst so maddens you.

And if you do, our hordes shall surely descend under full protection of the majesty of the state.

Then when you come crawling, we shall spit on you  and  convert you back—all in one spiritual go.

badri.raina@gmail.com


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