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  • Technorati: graph / links

    India’s “National Shame”


    by Sid (Faisal)
    16th October, 2008 at 11:44 pm    

    Violence against Christians increased signicantly in India after the fascist Hindu Nationalist BJP party came into power in 1998. The US-based Human Rights Watch was one of the first human rights organisations to alert the Indian Government of its failure to check the attacks and the exploitation of sectarian tensions for political ends by Hindu fundamentalist groups.

    In the last ten years, the situation for India’s Christians has grown steadily worse. A wave of anti-Christian hysteria whipped up by the BJP has resulted in a concerted campaign of murder, rape and arson.

    In Orissa the violence has been staggering. Earlier this month, a nun has been raped, more than 30 people have been killed in the violence and dozens of churches and Christian institutions have been vandalised.

    The 29-year-old nun lodged a complaint on 25 August alleging rape by a member of a Hindu mob in Kandhamal district.

    Police are criticised for being slow to act they say they have been trying to keep the peace in the area, which has seen weeks of Hindu-Christian violence.

    Riots began after a Hindu religious leader was shot dead.

    Although left-wing Maoist rebels in the state claimed responsibility for the killing, hard-line Hindu groups blamed the minority Christian community for the death.

    In Kerala, the main perpetrators is another Hindu fascist party, the Bajrang Dal.

    In the wake of the ongoing wave of anti-Christian attacks in various parts of India, the NCM is mulling recommending a ban on the Bajrang Dal.

    Compass reported the Hindustan Times said the NCM was working towards a unanimous decision seeking tough measures against the Bajrang Dal, as its involvement in “frequent attacks on the minorities and their places of worship across the country has been established beyond doubt.”

    Attacks on Christians have been reported in the southern states of Karnataka, Tamil Nadu and Madhya Pradesh, and the communal violence is spreading.

    Hindu groups, who include but are not confined to pernicious fundamentalist groups such as the BJP and the Bajrang Dal, have long accused Christian priests of using food and eduction as a means to entice low-caste Hindus to convert to Christianity. Almost all the victims have been low caste Dalits victimised for converting to Christianity to escape persecution of their high-caste co-religionists.

    Compass reported that a senior BJP leader, Venkaiah Naidu, termed conversion as the root cause of violence and social disturbances, saying a strong federal law to prevent religious conversion across the country would be brought if BJP regained power in the general elections expected to be held early next year, reported PTI on Sunday Sept. 21.

    Manmohan Singh has called it a “national shame”. A national shame it most certainly is, but Dr Singh’s actions have been much slower than his words.


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    Filed in: India,Religion






    29 Comments below   |  

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    1. Shamit — on 17th October, 2008 at 2:19 am  

      I am angry and I am disgusted. And these are not words that I choose lightly – actually I don’t think I have words that truly represent how I feel.

      I also don’t know who I should be really angry towards – those that commit these heinous crimes; or those such as Rajnath Singh who claim these organisations are patriotic and do not repudiate any of their actions. Or should my anger be directed towards an incompetent Central Government or State Governments – or those State Governments whose tacit support have emboldened and I dare say encouraged behaviour that have become headlines around the world. But I am angry and appalled.

      And I am ashamed too. Some psychopaths have hijacked my religion – which by the way teaches that there are many paths to God and therefore one must respect other religions and do one’s duty towards God. And one of the basic tenants of this religion happens to be serving humanity is serving God.

      And today, we have a cycle of planned genocide specifically targeting those missionaries who have through centuries fought for social justice and human dignity for those who have been cast aside by mainstream society and flawed religious dogma. And their revolution was a quiet one – one that did not focus on taking up arms or protesting through strikes and dharnas and violence, but one that provided the tools and confidence for people to lead a dignified human existence.

      Be it in education, or running orphanages and bringing up hundreds of thousands of children in a loving environment, or providing relief to those who need it most, the Christian Missionaries over the past couple of centuries have been a force of good in Indian Society.

      Their work has not been limited to helping the downtrodden only but many of those in the highest echelons and the ever growing affluent English speaking middle class of Indian Society have been educated in missionary schools and colleges which have prepared them well to succeed in today’s world.

      Alas their silence on these outrageous attacks is deafening and definitely despite their schooling and their close proximity to these missionaries – their moral fibre do not match up to their teachers. And that makes me angry. And my own family is not immune to this lack of moral courage or conviction. And that makes me ashamed too.

      The teachings of Gandhian philosophy or the wisdom and patriotism of Vivekananda or the self less service of Mother Teresa (Indians were very proud of her when she became world famous) are not only lost among the political class but civil society as well.

      Sid has rightly pointed out that these groups call themselves defenders of Hinduism or the so called Indian culture – but their definition of Hinduism is no different from the definition of Islam that is prevalent among those who organised the Bombay Blasts. They are all fucking criminals who use religion to create a facade of acceptance. And sadly, there are far too many people in this world who buy this horrifying narrative – and even if they don’t very few speak up against it even in close quarters.

      What kills me is that this was long time coming – and Government and Civil Society knew it was coming. These same groups have gone and violently attacked young couples for being in love (which they claim is not Indian) and ransacked shops for displaying Valentine’s Day Cards. And the Government and Civil Society looked the other way and let them run riot in metropolitan cities except for Calcutta as the Left parties usually don’t put up with this bullshit. One of the rare attributes in Indian left parties I actually respect.

      Today, the Indian Government has no problem arguing in front of the Supreme Court for the ban on SIMI. No arguments there and sometimes dodgy law enforcement would paint innocent Muslims as terrorists. But what about those terrorists that openly defy the law of the land – in some cases with state support – what about those who shame India in a world stage and practice, not the teachings of those great individuals who have shown an enlightened way of living, but that of Hitler. Seeking purity without having an iota of pureness in their thoughts or actions.

      It is a national shame and disgrace – that today India can be compared to Nazi Germany. I am British but I am proud of my Asian Roots and heritage – but today and for the past few weeks I feel I wont be as proud of my heritage as I have been. I cannot vouch for India’s secular identity anymore and that is SAD– an identity that was forged by great human beings and their legacy is undermined.

      I was writing this article for eGov monitor for Monday – but I thought I share my thoughts here first and seek input from a group whose views I do respect. So one request lets not turn this thread into an asinine thread like many others in PP – (and I am equally guilty like many of the other regulars) but this issue deserves better.

      Look forward to your views guys and thanks to Sid for highlighting this very important issue.

    2. Roger — on 17th October, 2008 at 4:12 am  

      “Hindu groups… have long accused Christian priests of using food and eduction as a means to entice low-caste Hindus to convert to Christianity. ”

      Then perhaps they could use food and education as a means to entice low-caste Hindus not to convert to Christianity. I saw Firaaq, a new film about the aftereffects of the pogroms in Gujarat yesterday. Not a masterpiece, but a fine and moving film. If you get the chance, have a look.

    3. persephone — on 17th October, 2008 at 10:31 am  

      Sid

      The links you have provided suggest this is mainly a an issue of non white christians. Are there attacks on white Christains & are they to a lesser or higher degree? If the latter can be backed by statistics that would be great & would also meet Shamits request to treat this thread with a serious & considered analysis

    4. aji — on 17th October, 2008 at 10:37 am  

      Since the Hindu nationalist BJP came to power in 1998 there has been a sharp increase in the number of sporadic attacks on Christians and Christian institutions in India. Anti-conversion laws, largely intended to stop conversions from Hinduism to other religions, have come into effect in a number of BJP controlled states. I think it was simply a matter of time that a massive outbreak of violence against Christians was going to happen, as has now happened in Kandhamal, Orissa.

      The state and central governments have been very slow in acting and even now, in the relief camps set up for the Pana Christians of Kandhamal, members of the VHP are threatening people to convert to Hinduism or face the consequences. It certainly is a “national shame” as in the words of the PM, but it’s also a shame that his administration has been so slow to react. The state government is a coalition government involving the BJP, so their ineffectiveness in containing the violence can only be appreciated.

      The radical Hindu groups are very keen to promote the violence as a spontaneous reaction to forcible or fraudulent conversions by Christian missionaries. This is all really part of a larger design by the Hindu fundamentalist forces to outlaw conversions altogether in India, and revive and enforce rigid casteist religious practices that demean both the Dalits and also women. The BJP were mulling enacting a national law to restrict conversions but they were stopped in their tracks when they unexpectedly lost power in the last general elections.

      As an Indian Christian myself, I am very sad about what has happened in India lately and the silence of the majority. I am proud of the many excellent Christian educational and health care institutions throughout India. In a country riven by caste, Christian missionaries along with civil society been able reduce caste discrimination in some parts of India such as Kerala. Even if I concede that there may be some over-zealous Christian proselytizers, I believe everyone has the right to propagate their faith as long as civil norms and decency are maintained.

      India is supposed to be a secular democratic country, but when people resort to mob violence to settle their differences it really does make a mockery of democracy.

    5. persephone — on 17th October, 2008 at 11:16 am  

      ” Even if I concede that there may be some over-zealous Christian proselytizers, I believe everyone has the right to propagate their faith as long as civil norms and decency are maintained.”

      I have a friend who was brought up in Kerala & from what she relates it was not ‘over zealous christain priests’ but a more planned approach to target vulnerable groups as quick wins.

      I do not agree that everyone should have the right to propagate their religion. My personal feeling is that I have the higher right NOT to have someone push/extol the virtues of their beliefs on me whether preaching on the high street or knocking on my door (at weekends in the morning!!). The latter happens several times a year - am minded to think that these groups view the area that I live in as having vulnerable people so hence target it. I say this because I have lived in other less urban/more middle England areas where I never had any religious group knock on the door.

    6. Raul — on 17th October, 2008 at 12:09 pm  

      It’s very simple, if anyone actually cared for ‘lower caste’ hindus, castism would not be rampant in India today and it would be a much more humane society that at least demonstrates some concern for its less priviledged sections, there is unfortunately no evidence of this, everything infact points the other way in perhaps one of the most corrupt countries in the world with an uncaring, self important and self enriching government and an indifferent exploitative civil society.

      Any group of people who can burn alive a missionary and his young children, take a minute to understand this - burn alive a missionary and young children, and hold this as an act of pride or qualified by the missionaries actions - and rape nuns have no place in any society and cannot represent anything but medieval barbarism. You are dealing with pure savagery and unstable emotional states, people who are mentally sick, maladjusted to modern civilization and a danger to any society.

      You can contextualize this, ‘complexify’ it, seek root causes, but at the base level you are dealing with murderers and rapists who cannot be qualified with anything resembling logic without the qualifiers, explainers becoming a very real part of the crime.

      People who perpetrate such crimes and those who seek to defend them operate in an alternate reality of ‘us vs them’ or seek to create it. These forces are not unique to India and operate in most societies, those fuelled by extreme forms of self righteousness and an extraordinarily strong need to decide how other people should live their lives is the essence of their existence- not because they care for these folks but because it defines their right to decide these things like morality and feel smug about themselves, Despotism, moral posturing and hatred of anything that is not them is what drives these individuals and groups, in India Bajrang Dal, VHP, BJP and other groups that ‘represent’ Hindu’s are complicit.

      Their alternative reality for instance of hindus as victims of muslim subjugation - which has no implication other than its status as an fact and of historical interest - has only one function, create a victimhood mentality to explain away failure and not take responsibility or confront failure, so that a few can continue to feel proud distracting and glossing over the reason that India continues to slum it at the bottom of all human indices, because India has a severely corrupt, inhumane and backward system reflecting a failure of the people as well as government. If this isn’t a recipe for perpetuating failure I don’t know what is.

      Hindu pride is not going to solve anything but let the prosperous classes who have exploited their fellow citizens for generations and continue to remain indifferent to their plight grand stage in the public sphere and international stage about how great they are and feel smug about themselves while 90% of the country continue to live in inhuman conditions. Anyone who feeds these religious forces and islamic extremism is an exact replica of this will quickly find themselves sinking into a world of control with base righteousness, judgement,insularity, and moral posturing as an alternative to individual integrity and the total subjugation the individual, in other words the most corrupt, hypocritical, non-free and intolerant society. Religion is only inert when its individual, as a group force its destructive to modern secular societies that are built on differences that are slowly made irrelevant. This is anathema to any organized religion or ‘group moral force’.

    7. Sid — on 17th October, 2008 at 12:45 pm  

      aji, when the BJP ran the southern Indian state of Tamil Nadu they managed to pass legislation to ban conversions (note Hindu to other) in 2001. For some reason, the Central government has chosen not to repeal these laws. Perhaps they think it would be unpopular to do so. So much for India’s constitution and its secular and pluralist tradition.

      persephone, most of the links here are to violence against non-white Christians because the recent wave of violence has been directed almost exclusively at Dalits. This follows the incident where a Hindu “holy man” who incited hatred against Dalit converts was recently killed. The murder was claimed by a Maoist group, but the BJP have chosen to direct their rabble-rousing at disenfranchised Dalit community. No surprises there. But that is not to say that white Christians have not been victims of violence and murder in the past because they are seen as agents of conversion.

      Roger, you’re right. in an ideal world people wouldn’t convert to another religion by agency or enticement. But they do and they are fully entitled to since the right to choose your faith and manner and object of worship is a fundamental one. Furthermore if Dalits do gain access to schooling and health services that Christian institutionss provide, and which the state has been unable or unwilling to, then they certainly cannot be blamed for it. It certainly does not entitle fascists to exploit communal hatred against them which is a pattern we see again and again without any action taken against BJP overlords by the Indian government.

    8. aji — on 17th October, 2008 at 2:28 pm  

      My personal feeling is that I have the higher right NOT to have someone push/extol the virtues of their beliefs on me whether preaching on the high street or knocking on my door (at weekends in the morning!!).

      That’s fine. It’s your right to decide what religion you want to follow, but I believe the right to change your religion should remain a fundamental right. I have personally met low caste converts to Christianity who have a better understanding of the Bible than myself, even though I’m a Christian from birth! Ultimately, if someone wants to convert then that’s his/her choice and you have to respect that.

      The condescending attitude of many Hindu nationalists is that the poor downtrodden Dalits will only convert simply for economic benefits. Many Dalits are converting to other religions, particularly Buddhism, due to centuries of oppression. They are basically following the lead set by people like Dr B R Ambedkar, the low caste politician who helped frame India’s constitution, and who converted to Buddhism. He said that Hindu society will never treat Dalits as equal human beings and encouraged his fellow Dalits to convert. Even though caste was outlawed in the constitution after Independence it still plays a major role in society today. The vast majority of India’s Dalits, even after sixty years of independence, remains woefully poor.

      In the case of Kerala even in the early twentieth century, if a Brahmin was walking on the road, a Paraiya labourer would have to call out in advance lest the sight of him would contaminate his superior. The work of missionaries as well the Maharajas were successful in bringing down caste discrimination. What I’m trying to say is that missionaries have helped to break down some oppressive social practices and been a force of good in some places.

      It is not just the upliftment of Dalits that riles Hindu nationalists. They see Christianity and Islam as ‘foreign’ religions in India, even though both religions have been around in India for a long time. Their nationalism is rooted in cultural chauvinism, as opposed to racial supremacy. They see Christians and Muslims as contaminating elements in their great motherland – impediments to creating a great Hindu nation.

    9. persephone — on 17th October, 2008 at 5:44 pm  

      Aji @ 8 “It’s your right to decide what religion you want to follow, but I believe the right to change your religion should remain a fundamental right.Ultimately, if someone wants to convert then that’s his/her choice and you have to respect that.”

      I agree with the comments above but my comments @ 5 seem to have been misunderstood. The aspect I disagree with is where religions seek to ‘forcibly’ propogate their beliefs upon you for e.g. I want to be able to walk down the high street & not have some one with a loudspeaker tell me I am a sinner if I do not believe in XYZ.

      Its a different thing if an individual themselves proactively seeks to learn about religious beliefs - that is firmly their choice.

      As to converting to Budhism as a solution - I am not convinced that converting to any religion is the solution when the issue is a classist one.

    10. persephone — on 17th October, 2008 at 5:50 pm  

      Sid @ 7 Thanks for replying back. Its a shame that we have no cogent statistics to hand.

    11. persephone — on 17th October, 2008 at 6:01 pm  

      Also, using other methods, apart from religion, to escape from the caste sytem do not work. My relatives told me that many 1st generation asians changed their surnames to another ‘higher’ caste when makig their passport to emigrate to the UK in order to escape from being discrimated against. But other asians (when in the UK) would ask them about where they were from & who their relatives where and find out.

      It’s the mindset that has to change & that will not be easy as those who benefit from the caste system would lose power, influence, money & jobs.

    12. aji — on 17th October, 2008 at 7:12 pm  

      persephone

      I am against aggressive proselytization myself. It’s wrong, but rather than resorting to mob violence it’s better to resolve such issues via the right channels, i.e. the law or the democratic process. Indian law forbids conversion by force or allurement (although the definition of “allurement” is somewhat ambiguous). Caste pervades all religious communities in India, so it’s not just restricted to Hinduism. I agree that it’s a complex issue and it’s not something that’s going to be solved easily.

      Christianity in India will forever be tainted with British colonialism even though Christianity was brought to India by St Thomas in 52AD (before it arrived in Europe). Islam will forever be tainted by Islamic invasions. That’s why Hindu nationalists hate both religions. They are alien religions that have in the past caused pain and suffering to Indians.

      What’s really interesting is the timing of all this anti-Christian violence. There’s a general election coming up in the new year. Christians, being just 2.3% of the population, are a negligible vote bank. By polarising people along religious lines the Hindu nationalists have a better chance of winning votes. The Muslims are a much larger minority and a more crucial vote bank. Hence, there hasn’t been any large scale violence against Muslims so far. Hindutva groups also try to divide Christians; they say Catholics are okay (they are the majority) but Protestants are not okay because they proselytise. They are also trying to turn the tribals against Christians: http://www.tehelka.com/story_main40.asp?filename=Ws251008communal_fires.asp

    13. ac256 — on 18th October, 2008 at 10:44 am  

      i don’t know too much about Indian politics, but i did work for a bit in the Mother House in Calcutta on my gap year. Apparently people used to throw stones at Mother Teresa when she set up by the Kali temple, until she picked up a sadhu who was dying of cholera and nobody else would touch.

      I do think the Hindu nationalists are fighting a losing battle trying to get people to buy into a religion that puts them at the bottom of the pile. When confronted with worldwide religions that preach the fundamental equality of human beings, they’ve got no chance in the long run.

      The real shame is that Sikhism has become infected with caste. Sikhs should be on the front line against caste discrimination but instead they are mired in it, in India and the UK.

    14. Yusuf Smith — on 18th October, 2008 at 11:15 am  

      Persephone:

      Are you in England now? I have lived in England all my life and door-knocking is not that common, the only groups which engage in it being the Jehovah’s Witnesses and the Mormons, the first more frequently, and their numbers are very small. I cannot remember having any JWs knock since we moved to New Malden in 2001 and we only had a few knocks when in Croydon (and we always lived in the northern part, i.e. not the posh Tory south). Most proselytism is done in the streets, such as on street stalls or posters.

    15. persephone — on 18th October, 2008 at 2:34 pm  

      Yusuf

      Yep I live in England & have all my life but moved a bit round the UK

      AC256 @ agree as to castes & sikhs. The 1st time I was made aware of the importance of caste (to other people - I was not brought up with it) was when a turbaned sikh asked me what my caste was & in the same breath asked me why I cut my hair!?!. I too know sikhs whose family have changed their sikh surname to ano ‘higher’ caste sikh surname

      There is also an elitism if you wear all the 5 K’s but lets not go there on this as that is off topic though I feel it adds another layer of what could be called ‘religious caste-ism’

    16. Ravi Naik — on 18th October, 2008 at 3:11 pm  

      Christianity in India will forever be tainted with British colonialism even though Christianity was brought to India by St Thomas in 52AD (before it arrived in Europe). Islam will forever be tainted by Islamic invasions. That’s why Hindu nationalists hate both religions. They are alien religions that have in the past caused pain and suffering to Indians.

      I don’t agree with this. Hinduism is not a religion, but a way of life. It is a philosophy that includes theism and atheism. I will not pretend like I understand it, but it was within this framework that many people of different faiths and beliefs lived along side in India. What you see right now is really a narrow-minded view of Hinduism by bigots.

      Can I say something? Fuck the Hindu nationalists. These people want to perpetuate castecism and are pissed off that other groups of people accept them as normal human beings. In normal circumstances, I am against proselytization that exploits people’s fears, flaws and insecurities, but in this case, where dalits are treated worse than animals, I say: let them change their names, change religion to Islam, Christianism or Buddhism, and curse anyone who wants to subjugate them.

    17. Sid — on 18th October, 2008 at 3:32 pm  

      What’s really interesting is the timing of all this anti-Christian violence. There’s a general election coming up in the new year. Christians, being just 2.3% of the population, are a negligible vote bank. By polarising people along religious lines the Hindu nationalists have a better chance of winning votes.

      aji, that’s precisely it, isn’t it. This is why the fascist BJP and its numerous satellites, such as the Bajrang Dal and VHP, are agigating against “foreign” minority religions. They have used the murder of the “holy man” in Orissa to push all the populist buttons and incite hatred as a means of shoring support for themselves because elections are looming in the horizon.

    18. aji — on 18th October, 2008 at 4:39 pm  

      I do think the Hindu nationalists are fighting a losing battle trying to get people to buy into a religion that puts them at the bottom of the pile. When confronted with worldwide religions that preach the fundamental equality of human beings, they’ve got no chance in the long run.

      I don’t know - perhaps in the long run - but the phenomenal growth of Hindu nationalism since the late eighties has been astonishing. From being a fringe party in the early eighties the BJP today has become the main opposition party, and even enjoyed one term at the centre during which time we had the Gujarat pogrom. They could come to power again next year. The biggest cheerleaders of the BJP are the urban middle classes in India and members of the Indian diaspora in the US and UK.

      This conversion controversy is nothing new. In 1981 a whole in village in Tamil Nadu converted to Islam, which really aggravated the RSS and its sister organisations. There were similar shouts of “Hinduism in danger” and the sinister hand of “Gulf money” seen in conversions. It claimed the Arab countries were using petrodollars to proselytize in the subcontinent. There were Islamic preachers in the area, but the Dalits were also reacting to upper caste landlords, and to discrimination they faced in entering schools and obtaining government jobs.

      They have used the murder of the “holy man” in Orissa to push all the populist buttons and incite hatred as a means of shoring support for themselves because elections are looming in the horizon.

      Sid, it’s a tragedy that the standard of Indian politics has declined such levels. Corruption, declining quality of leadership, shameless display of self-interest, violence and lethargy in administration and the judiciary are the norm these days.

    19. Ashik — on 20th October, 2008 at 12:37 am  

      Shit @ 1

      India’s secularism was always a plaything of the political elite with limited roots in the masses who were (and still are) traditional and religious; be they Muslim, Hindu or Sikh. Indian institutions are still the most secular in the subcontinent although under severe pressure from rising Hinduvta. It isn’t surprising that Hinduvta politics has become popular since the 80’s, in neighbouring Bangladesh religious and rightwing parties have re-established themselves and Bangladesh is no longer even officially a secular state. In both countries a Western model of secularism which was indifferent and even hostile to the ordinary man and womens beliefs was imposed by a small minority who themselves in their beliefs, outlook, habits and tastes were alien from the people they led and sought to represent.

      I support legislation in India which better regulates proslethysing and conversions between different religious groups if they fall equally on ALL groups inc. Hindus. It is also best if India continues to make it legally difficult (I understand one needs permission from the courts for couples in India to marry if from differing religious backgrounds). Conversions and inter-religious and racial unions only creates hatred and mistrust amongst the diverse mosaic of communities in India. Society in India is simply not going to culturally accept this sort of thing and no amount of institutional and political programmes are likely to change this anytime soon.

      Traditional cultural practice and religious devotion are coterminous with South Asian society. In previous posts regarding inter-racial and inter-religious marriages (you being an offspring of such a union) and leaving ones religion, you stated in quite foul language that I did not represent the more cautious stance regarding encouraging such relationships and the depth of disapproval and opposition they would meet from family and society. I hope you understand now that even amongst Indian Hindus such licentious liaisons are considered abnormal as is leaving ones religion on a whim. Happily such views are also held amongst the diaspora in the UK. I hope you understand more fully the very narrow ‘circle’ in which you walk. It would appear that I speak for many more people than you and your select band of eccentric Picklers give credit.

    20. Shamit — on 20th October, 2008 at 2:23 am  

      Ashik -

      I am not surprised you see it that way. As the world gets closer and seeks to build on the common bonds of humanity and resolve great challenges ranging from our economic success, to developing effective and accountable governance models so that every child receives some basic minimum level of opportunity irrespective of where they are born — to even greater challenges of climate change and environmental disaster; there will always be a group that would always find it difficult to embrace the common humanity and its higher purpose.

      Judging people by the strength of their characters and their abilities should and are in most cases the norm — not their religious or racial identity. And, you are afraid of human society continuing to evolve to that level of human understanding and respect. If that happens, what you preach and believe would be proven wrong. And that scares you — just like it scares these goons who claim to defend hinduism.

      And scared you should be — no matter how prophetic you try to sound in trying to defend people who commit heinous crimes in the name of their God — no matter how much you try to paint inter-religious or inter cultural or inter-racial union to be wrong — the world will soon leave you and those with similar thoughts behind. And that scares you.

      And it makes me laugh and bores me to death. Well, ever listened to Dylan — (probably not) but check out the track ” Times they are a changing” — and you are losing the battle and you are irrelevant in the process.

      Man I feel sorry for you. As for the foul language I used to challenge your sanctimonious bullshit (like here about how you support religion conversion laws) my only regret is I did not use more and show you up for a bigoted, small minded scared individual that you are.

      Amid people who are trying to address issues carefully, one can always count on Ashik to come in with this hatred…What a waste.

      I pity you.

    21. Ashik — on 20th October, 2008 at 8:36 am  

      In my opinion secular politics of the independence era in the subcontinent has largely failed to catch on (note the resurgence of rightwing/religious parties) as it has been pushed in a top-down fashion, often by political parties like the Bangladesh Awami League and Indian Congress who have been corrupted with hubris after long periods in power. They think they have a right to govern. A lot of people voted for nationalist and religious parties from the 80′s for better governance (the new parties sadly are just as corrupt and inefficient). People in Bangladesh don’t vote for Jamaat I Islam because they necessarily want to live in a Islamic Bangladesh (most Bangladeshis are traditionalists and not utopian-ideological like Pakistanis) but because of a lack of alternatives.

      The new economic success and globalisation Shit talks about have only reached a small minority of people-often allied to existing power structures. Ironically the BJP lost power to Congress largely because India was not shining for the vast rural population based on subsistance farming. And oddly enough both the BJP and Jamaat draws heavily upon the new and expanding urban middleclasses for it’s leadership elements. In Bangladesh the private Uni’s are full of Islamist student politics. It seems regardless of ones education and socio-economic background ethnic and religious identifiers continue to be important. Shit, it seems the more we ‘evolve’ the more we remain the same. It’s curious you should say that I am ‘afraid’ and ‘irrelevant’ when the wind seems to be blowing my way. It seems these terms better describe your position given your own rather niche existance in the shadows and peripphery of South Asian communities. .

      Accountable and effective governance can only be developed over time by credible individuals and organisations who are fully cognisent of the ordinary persons priorities beliefs and values. This means recognising the importance of race and religion.

      To give an example of indeginous secularism deshi style which is not institution driven and hence artificial: In Bangladesh there has historically been antaganism and even violence by the majority Bengali Muslims against our Hindu compatriats. However, this has largely passed by the Islamified Sylhet region where Muslim Sylhetis have gotten on cordially with Hindu Sylheties, bound by our common language, love of family and traditionalism. Religious and cultural figures like Hazrat Shah Jalal (he who bought Islam to Bengal) and Hasson Raza (cultural icon known for his spiritual works) are revered not only by Muslioms but Hindus as well. Nevertheless, Muslims and Hindus, realising and respecting their differences tend not to overly socialise eg. convert Muslims to Hinduism or intermarry and Hindus sometimes live in certain parts of town and follow certain occupations. Hindus are widely admired for their zeal for pursuing education. This may not be secularism as practised in the West but it seems to provide a minimum level of tolerance so that everyone can get on with their lives.

    22. persephone — on 20th October, 2008 at 10:54 am  

      Hi ashik, how u doin

      ” Conversions and inter-religious and racial unions only creates hatred and mistrust amongst the diverse mosaic of communities in India. Society in India is simply not going to culturally accept this sort of thing and no amount of institutional and political programmes are likely to change this anytime soon.”

      Don’t hijack - not all asians in the UK or in India feel the same way. My family, when in India, fought against caste-ism - from at least the 1950′s e.g. visiting so called low caste temples etc at risk of criticism & even ostracism (well latter until the higher castes wanted their help in some way) from their peers who were from ano caste.

      During partition muslims living in my families part of India had to move over the boundary into pakistan by a strict deadline set by the colonialists. My family hid several muslim families who could not move (due to illness etc) in their home to save their being imprisoned & worse. These muslim families approached my family because there was an inter racial/ religious ‘fraternisation’(I know you are going to love that word so put it in especially for you). I bet they were mighty glad that my family did not have your views.

    23. Sid — on 20th October, 2008 at 12:29 pm  

      Shamit #20 - great stuff.

      Ashik may not be a Hindu fundamentalist but his worldview is uncannily the same as that of other clerical fascists. Notice the same pain points - religious conversion. intermarriage, secularism.

      Notice how the use of the co-existence of minority religions - Hindus in Bangladesh is Ashik’s case, Muslims and Christians in the case of the Hindutva, is a triumph of *their* religious tolerance. But when *they* brutally attack, rape and murder minorities, displace them from their homes and their land then they blame the “hubris of secularism”.

      I’m not going into Ashik’s comments. His bravado, the way he relishes his own ignorance and his ahistorical bullshit sickens me. But they are useful to highlight what progressives are up against.

      The amount of money raised by the Hindutva by wealthy Hindu donors in the US and Europe is astonishing. The same goes for right-wing Islamic fund raising. Round the clock telethons can raise tens of thousands of pounds for reactionary, Islamist causes from Bangladeshi satellite TV channels in a few hours from here in the UK!

      What are progressives doing to counter these intitiatives?

      We need to get organised folks.

    24. Rumbold — on 20th October, 2008 at 1:33 pm  

      Good points Sid.

      Ashik:

      You seem to object to the principle that people can choose who they wish to marry. You are only right in the sense that interreligious/racial marriage and conversions can create tensions between different groups. However, your prescription seems to be a mainly a crackdown on anyone who chooses to marry outside their group. You might want to give these people a call, as they seem to share your worldview:

      http://www.bnp.org.uk/

    25. Sid — on 20th October, 2008 at 2:41 pm  

      Oh no, Rumbold

      I think you will find Ashik will be the first to squeal, like a stuck pig, if he were the victim of BNP racism here in England. But he and others like him will be pledging hundreds of pounds to the cause of clerical fascists from “back home”.

    26. Ashik — on 20th October, 2008 at 8:26 pm  

      Sid’s rant @ 23 clearly illustrates the indifferent arrogance of South Asian style (outdated) independence era secularism . In their warped mind RELIGION=FUNDAMENTALISM. It’s instinctive. This type of deshi secularism doesn’t work like secularism works in the West in order to provide equality for all religions before the law but is in fact AGAINST religion and tradition itself. Note as an example Sid’s jaundiced views about Bangladeshis living in the West giving money to good causes in Bangladesh (mostly Sylhet). The reality is that 9 out of 10 pounds/taka collected in Britain for Bangladesh is done through mosques, religious foundations and private individuals supporting Madrashas in their home town or village. Generally people trust the informal religious channels (often through relatives) more than national secular ones which tend to be politicized and even corrupt (Sid himself is part of the UK branch of the Awami League party called ‘Dristipat ‘which collects money for dubious causes like vetting Bangladeshi political candidates (very party political) and unlike some of the Sylheti organizations like ‘Sylhetis In London’ is not regulated by the UK Charities Commission).

      Under the secularism as practiced in South Asia, the majority is treated like crap while a minority enjoys entrenched privileges (and wishes to maintain this status quo by shouting ‘fundamentalist’). In such a set up state institutions, political parties and ideologies are often divorced from reality and utterly corrupt and inefficient and actually end up doing more harm than good (ref: success of apolitical independent Bangladeshi NGO’s like Grameen and BRAC and the large scale private remittances sent by expats).

      Just like their Islamist/Hinduvta counterparts secular parties have their own dangerous pet projects eg. the addiction to Fabian socialism of India’s Congress and the Awami Leagues fetrish for imposing a ‘pure’ Bengali language to the rest of the country. These can be just as exclusionary and damaging as attempts at creating an Islamic state etc.

      ps. My comments @21 and previously on threads about Bangladesh’s liberation war clearly show that I criticize not only secular parties but religious ones as well. Like most South Asians I have no time for artificial political parties from yesteryear which are essentially money-making enterprises for certain families like the Mujib/Zia gang in Bangladesh. I have even less time for people trying to export such politics to the West under the guise of promoting secularism.

    27. Sid — on 20th October, 2008 at 10:31 pm  

      damn, i’ve been exposed of exporting politics to the West under the guise of promoting secularism

    28. baymak servisi — on 28th October, 2008 at 12:25 pm  

      thanks…

    29. sonia — on 20th November, 2008 at 1:12 am  

      24. rumbold - good one.

      what ashik basically spouts is essentially the premise of racial supremacists at work across the world: races are separate (each thinking their race is Top Dog) and ‘blood’ is ‘blood’ and that races are best kept in their separate place. Otherwise there will be tension!

      What a load of tosh. The only reason there is any tension is because of the problematic premise in the first place, that ‘races’ don’t mix, better kept ‘separate’. and if these people think their “race” isn’t the result of mixing, but some ‘pure’ thing come down from God, goodness! what can you say?

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