March 23, 2018

India: In Bad Faith - Lingayats’ claim to ‘separate religion’ status is untenable | Tahir Mahmood

The Indian Express
In Bad Faith
Lingayats’ claim to ‘separate religion’ status is untenable

Written by Tahir Mahmood | Published: March 23, 2018 12:45 am
Lingayat, Lingayat community, Lingayat leadership, karnataka lingayat special status, opinion news, indian express, indian express news At the Lingayat rally in Bidar in northern Karnataka. (Source: Express)
Hindu, Muslim, Christian, Brahmin, Dalit, Sunni, Shia, and so on and so forth — has not religion already divided humans enough? Has not this sickening segregation between man and man led to enough inhumanities? Why, then, boost claims for further polarisation? This is what I felt on reading what some others had to say on the Lingayats’ claim to “separate religion” status. A religion can have any number of theological divisions; indeed all of them have. Our Constitution takes cognisance of and accommodates this ground reality when it speaks of “every religious denomination or any section thereof” in Article 26 and of “any section of citizens” in Article 29. But does it also sanction widening of this disgusting schism? Not, as per my reading.
Pluralism within the broad Hindu religion is basically different from sectarian diversity in dogmatic religions like Islam and Christianity. Various sects of those faiths look down upon each other as a deviation from or distortion of true faith, but this is not the case with Hinduism. There is no tradition of takfir (verdict of heresy) in Hinduism, which is an exceptionally inclusive belief system. The Supreme Court had once observed that “we find it difficult if not impossible to define Hindu religion or even adequately describe it. Unlike other religions, the Hindu religion does not claim any one prophet; it does not worship any one God; it does not subscribe to any one dogma; it does not believe in any one philosophical concept; it does not follow any one set of religious rites and performance; in fact, it does not appear to satisfy the narrow traditional features of any religion or creed.” (Yagnapurushadji, 1966).
Continuing the argument, the court echoed a historical truth: “Development of Hindu religion shows that from time to time saints and reformers attempted to remove from Hindu thought and practices elements of corruption and superstition and revolted against dominance of rituals and power of priestly class; and that led to formation of different sects. In the teachings of these saints and reformers is noticeable a certain amount of divergence, but under that divergence lie broad concepts which can be treated as basic and there is a kind of subtle indescribable unity which keeps them within the sweep of broad Hindu religion.”
Pursuing this logic, several distinct religious sects have been declared by the court as internal divisions within Hindu religion — followers of Anand Marg, Swaminarayana Satsang, Madhavacharya, Ramanuja, Sri Aurobindo and Ramakrishna Mission among them (Lakshmindra 1954, Chinnama 1964, Yagnapurushadji 1966, SP Mittal 1983, Jagdishwaranand 1984). The Lingayats and Veerashaivas — members of a reformist cult founded in South India by the 12th century religious philosopher Basavanna — cannot stand on a different footing. All the four Hindu law Acts of 1955-56 do list them as “forms and developments” of Hindu religion.
The case of Buddhism, Jainism and Sikhism is different: Their identity as independent religions is well established in the society, and in law. The impression that under the Constitution and codified Hindu law, followers of these “Indic religions are considered as Hindus” emanates from a gross misreading of both these sources. Resulting from a faulty and unmindful drafting of both, it cannot be seen as true intention of legislature.
The Constitution empowers the state to remove caste-based restrictions on entry into Hindu temples, suffixing a clarification that this power shall extend also to Buddhist, Jain and Sikh shrines — Article 25 (2) & Explanation II. By no dint of imagination can this provision be interpreted to mean that these three religious groups are part of the Hindu community. The four Hindu-law Acts of 1955-56 do not include them among the “forms and developments” of Hinduism and mention them separately, besides Hinduism. They apply to four religious communities — the word “Hindu” has been used in their titles and provisions for the sake of precision, since Hindus are the largest group among the communities governed by these laws.
Treating Buddhism, Jainism and Sikhism as variations of Hinduism is historically wrong and legally untenable, but so is advocacy of a “separate religion” tag for Lingayats. The Constitution concedes autonomy to all sections within every religious denomination but not the right to claim standalone status. If smaller sects in other religions — Theravada Buddhists, Terapanthi Jains, Namdhari Sikhs, Ismaili Bohra Muslims, Presbyterian Christians, to name a few — cannot lay claim to the status of independent religions detached from their roots, nor can the Lingayats and Veerashaivas. Obnoxious sectarianism is already at its height in all religions, let us not give it a fillip.

The writer is a former chair of the National Minorities Commission

India: Break the mould, end the siege | Harbans Mukhia

The stereotype of a single Muslim identity has been exploited by the ‘secular’ parties and the communalist parivar. It needs to be broken to achieve genuine social transformation.


March 22, 2018

Riot: West Bengal, 2017-Basirhat, Baduria, Tentulia - Fact Finding Report edited by Subha Protim Roy Chowdhury

From: Aamra Ek Sachetan Prayas <aamrasachetan@gmail.com>
Date: Wed, Mar 21, 2018 at 2:08 PM
Subject: Riot: West Bengal, 2017-Basirhat, Baduria, Tentulia

Dear all, 

‘Rioting co-existence’, a near future, is imminent. This is not some distant dystopian scenario. In accordance with our recent survey-like field study in different riot-torn localities in West Bengal, such a day is an eventuality. As a part of our resolute work on Conflict and Co-existence study, we are trying to accommodate diverse flare of riot in the continuing saga in a single book format. But here in ‘West Bengal: Riot, 2017-Basirhat, Baduria’ (in Bengali version) is a step of documenting history, this report attempts to see what people in Basirhat opine and react.
All views expressed before us in the different phases of Fact-finding are included after comprehensive analysis. A team of activist, social researcher, psychologist and social anthropologist reveal some unknown side of the riot and well-researched on gathered statement, grievance, hint, lament and tear.  Report is edited by Subha Protim Roy Chowdhury and published by Mohit Ranadip. Thanks.
AAMRA (An Assemblage of Movement Research and Appraisal), Kolkata, India. 

India: Citizenship rights, not burka | Suhas Palshikar

The Indian Express

Citizenship rights, not burka
Why the Harsh Mander-Ramachandra Guha debate must continue — and expand.

Written by Suhas Palshikar | Updated: March 22, 2018

Unfortunately, the way Hindu majoritarianism has framed the Muslim question in recent times, there is little space for imagining that the two types of politics — Muslim politics of reform and Muslim politics for their full citizenship rights — can combine. (Illustration: C R Sasikumar)
Reading Harsh Mander (‘Sonia, sadly’, Indian Express, March 17) and Ramachandra Guha (‘Liberals, sadly’, Indian Express, March 20), one cannot avoid the feeling that the issues need to be redefined and expanded. Mander stops at a frightening narrative of invisibility while Guha is content with a reformist platform irrespective of political context. It is only to be wished that this debate continues and that it helps the liberals and supporters of diversity in shaping their stand in the dual battle — with illiberal ideas and with majoritarianism. As a nation, we lost one moment of introspection on the so-called “Muslim question” in the aftermath of the demolition of the Babri masjid in 1992; now is the second moment we are almost about to lose — and this time around, we shall not only lose the grasp on the Muslim question but on the larger riddles of religion and modernity, difference and democracy.
Let us begin with Guha’s concern about the burka. One need not hesitate to posit that if women are dictated a dress code, this certainly should be a matter of concern. Having said this, we need to put this issue in perspective. Women not wearing the burka are no less oppressed than women in burka; what we need to fight for is not a dress code but the mindset that relies on religion to imprison the person of a woman.. At the same time, the question of unilateral dissolution of marriage needs to be treated as far more important than the injunction to wear a burka.
But even if one agrees with Guha, a nagging question would still remain: If burka-wearing women are coming out to join a rally, should their burka be an impediment? Particularly, if it is understood as a marker of who they are? So the question is not whether or not the burka is a practice deserving abandonment; the question is whether a community be asked to hide its identity in order to be able to participate in public political activity. Wouldn’t we be scandalised by stories of Sikhs having to get rid of their turbans in order to avoid being targeted? Guha’s deep liberal concern notwithstanding, the current avoidance of the burka would surely smack of the dot busters? When somebody is bent on attacking you for wearing a bindi, wearing it suddenly acquires the resonance of defiance.
Two, Guha’s argument actually expands the concerns of Mander, because Guha combines the question of political leadership and the question of social reform. This is important because Muslim politics cannot become truly democratic unless, as Guha argues, it sheds the shackles of religious obscurantism. It takes us to the question of Muslim social reform and its relationship with Muslim politics and Muslim representation.
Many have commented on the striking inability of reformist leaders to find their feet in the community. The fond memory of Hamid Dalwai that Guha has invoked is indeed instructive. Dalwai, like Gopal Ganesh Agarkar (1856-1895) in the 19th century, was impatient with the authority of scriptures. Like Agarkar, he would rather adopt a rationalist approach to religion and like Agarkar, Dalwai, too, failed to cut any ice with the public — in his case, the Muslim public. Ironically, he had far too many Hindu followers, more so posthumously, when sections of Hindutva politicians from Maharashtra began upholding him. Around the ’90s, Dalwai was the most favoured for Savarkarite Hinduists in the state who quoted him to prove how Islam is flawed.
The misappropriation of Dalwai was due to his trenchant critique of Islam. That also explains why Dalwai did not have many followers in the Muslim community. While intellectually, the rationalist critique of religion might be attractive, in a world of believers, to argue for change on the ground that religion has no sanctity in the lives of people is a sure way of alienating people from the reform agenda. Agarkar, too, did not have followers.
The example of Gandhi, in contrast, is useful. Before Gandhi takes the step of claiming that if Hindu scriptures approve of untouchability, he would discard them, he takes the tortuous step of arguing that scriptures do not approve untouchability. He makes an enemy of a specific practice — untouchability — without making an enemy of religion and then argues that something that is immoral cannot be part of religion and if, therefore, so-called religion approves of something immoral, we need to revisit religion. Dalwai, like Agarkar, presented impeccably reformist credentials but without the ability to intervene. Gandhi presents us clumsy arguments, and for many, even suspect credentials, but had the ability to intervene.
To the extent that reform is a public political agenda, it must have the capacity to intervene. Hence, the example of Dalwai (or Arif Mohammad Khan), is inadequate to admonish Mander or to dissuade burka-clad women and their menfolk who foist the burka on them. The critical issue is the evolution of leadership that has the ability to focus on matters beyond faith and yet at the same time, persuade the followers to consider reform seriously. Guha is implicitly right — what the Muslim community in India has often got is a leadership that uses attractive minorityism in the name of the Indian Constitution and keeps organising in favour of triple talaq and Shari’a. One wishes Mander had dwelt upon this entrapment of the Muslim community along with its near complete marginalisation.
Unfortunately, the way Hindu majoritarianism has framed the Muslim question in recent times, there is little space for imagining that the two types of politics — Muslim politics of reform and Muslim politics for full citizenship rights — can combine.. Such a combination could happen only when Hindu majoritarianism was not politically ascendant. So, it is not sad that Sonia’s Congress appears set to abandon the Muslims, the real sadness is that the Congress for long intellectually failed to realise and politically failed to practise a robust combination of reform and citizenship. When a senior Congressperson today argues in favour of instant triple talaq and when parties like the Congress and SP dither in welcoming the court ruling on this issue, they are only continuing with that double failure.
That failure, combined with the cynical use of the Muslim women’s question by the current regime, has added to the marginalisation of the community. Merely by virtue of being Muslim, a person is discouraged from taking positions — on history, culture, identity, even economic issues such as the share of communities in jobs. If a Muslim person were to participate in the debate over the Supreme Court ruling on the national anthem, would she be heard merely on the merits of the argument?
This unprecedented marginalisation of the Muslim community tends to overwhelm at the current juncture. Should Muslims be discouraged from participating in politics as Muslims or along with their idea of Muslimness? Not necessarily making demands as Muslims, but just appearing as Muslims? That is the question Mander’s piece raises but Guha skips. Should reform be a precondition for citizenship rights or must citizenship rights push Muslims toward reform?
Ideas series: The Minority Space
Two pieces carried recently in these columns — Harsh Mander’s ‘Sonia, sadly’ (March 17) and Ramachandra Guha’s response ‘Liberals, sadly’ (March 20) — have set off a larger discussion on democracy, majoritarianism and how these shape the space for minorities. While Mander wrote about the growing invisibility and marginalisation of Muslims in the public-political sphere in the current moment, for Guha the problem is the surrendered possibilities of Muslim political leadership and social reform. The debate continues

India: Why Ankit Saxena's murder has been easily forgotten | Tani S Bhargava

Why Ankit Saxena's murder has been easily forgotten

Is it because his father refused to allow the killing to be politicised?

 4-minute read |   21-03-2018

Tani S Bhargava
A Hindu father appealed to keep the peace in West Delhi, in the wake of the killing of his only child, a 23-year-old son at the hands of the family of his Muslim beloved.
Astonishing that it was made in the heat of the moment, not in the cool of hindsight. Heartening that this sane voice came from the urban sprawl of janata flats in Raghubir Nagar.
Increasing instances of inter-caste and inter-faith relationships go hand in hand with hardened caste and religious identities. Then what is out of sync? Has anything changed since the runaway marriages of Anees and Sumitra or Jayanti and Javed in the 1960s?
Yash Pal and Kamlesh Saxena’s home is a single 12x15 sq ft space with aquamarine walls, barely room enough for a largish double bed covered with a threadbare bedspread of red and white squares. The word love's printed in every white square. A plank on the wall serves as a shelf for some small brown bottles of medicine, two plastic boxes with strips of capsules, a makeshift temple with attendant tinsel and a few decaying marigolds. A ramshackle cooler stands on guard over a tired top-load washing machine leaning, as if for support, on an aging 100 litre fridge.
Yash Pal, a retired water pump technician, of medium built with a kindly demeanour, stood up from the sole chair to welcome us, but his wife Kamlesh looked too weak and distraught to move from the bed or bother with such niceties.
Suffering from a chronic heart condition, Yashpal said that his wife suffered from the after-effects of a recent hysterectomy. “Ankit was a flourishing photographer. He supported our surgeries, even bought an air conditioner for this room. We have lost the sole breadwinner of the family.
"Now we only have the support of our Muslim neighbours. We eat together every evening, often from shared thalis, six to eight people on this bed. For how long? I cannot say. My ‘zameer’ did not allow me to harbour or spread animosity against a community - these are not my ‘sanskar’.”
A 2x3 inch colour photograph of Ankit, with a garland of plastic flowers smiled down at us, the stud in his ear glinting.
Kamlesh sat vacant-eyed, wooden-faced and immobile throughout our visit only to break down once when one of us touched her slight frame to ask whether she was unwell or desperately unhappy. She just wiped her tears silently.
“Some of my own people have accused me of smiling even when my only son is gone. I ask them if you will believe my grief only if I weep incessantly?” said Yash Pal as if to appeal to his wife.
Senior leaders of the Aam Aadmi Party and the local BJP MLA came with promises and went away never to be heard of or seen again. Why has the issue died as suddenly as Ankit himself?
Because Yashpal refused to allow the murder to be politicised?
Because he is too simple-minded?
Because he is too secular? Nobody knows.
Some citizens are running a crowdfunding campaign to support Ankit’s parents. A trust committed to communal harmony has pledged a monthly stipend. This is their only hope.
On our way out, Yashpal requested Ankit’s childhood buddies, three strapping, silent young men to escort us to the memorial constructed for their friend. Sukhmeet, Devanshu, and eerily a strange look alike, Ankit, walked us to the corner of the street where their friend was slaughtered. No one knows why the tulsi plant in a modestly tiled planter wilts in the March heat. A few A4 photocopies, flapping in the diffident breeze, demand "Justice for Ankit".
A memorial to the tragic end of the love between Ankit and Shehzadi. Its a memorial to a extraordinary son and an exceptional family.
As for me, a journey that began with the merciless killing of Safdar Hashmi by a pack of political hoodlums brings me today, nearly 30 years on, to the cold-blooded murder of Ankit Saxena by a bunch of executioners who could tear apart the social fabric of my city.
A grim reminder of the ugly reality of India. Cry, the beloved country.

इतिहास का पुनर्लेखन और संकीर्ण राष्ट्रवाद

-राम पुनियानी
हिन्दू राष्ट्रवादी भाजपा के सत्ता में आने के बाद से, पाकिस्तान की तरह, भारत में भी इतिहास का पुनर्लेखन किया जा रहा है। अब तक हम मध्यकालीन इतिहास के साम्प्रदायिक संस्करण के बारे में सुनते रहे हैं। हमें यह बताया जाता है कि दुष्ट मुस्लिम विदेशी आक्रांताओं ने भारत पर हमले किए, तलवार की नोंक पर इस्लाम फैलाया और हिन्दू मंदिरों को तोड़ा। इस तरह के इतिहास का एक नमूना है राणा प्रताप का स्वतंत्रता संग्राम सेनानी और हिन्दू राष्ट्रवादी के रूप में महिमामंडन। यहां तक कि अब हमें यह भी बताया जा रहा है कि राणा प्रताप ने अकबर की सेना को हल्दी घाटी के युद्ध में पराजित किया था! यह भी कहा जा रहा है कि आर्य, जो वर्तमान हिंदुओं के पूर्वज बताए जाते हैं, भारत के मूल निवासी थे और हड़प्पा व मोहनजोदाड़ो, आर्य संस्कृति का हिस्सा थे।
इतिहास के हिन्दुत्ववादी संस्करण को बढ़ावा देने के लिए, मोदी सरकार ने एक समिति की नियुक्ति की है जिसकी रपट के आधार पर स्कूली पाठ्यक्रम बदला जाएगा। सरकार के शब्दों में इस समिति का उदेश्य है आज से 12,000 वर्ष पूर्व, भारतीय संस्कृति के उदय और उसके उद्भव और दुनिया की अन्य संस्कृतियों के साथ उसकी अंतःक्रिया का समग्र अध्ययन। केन्द्रीय संस्कृति मंत्री महेश शर्मा ने समिति के गठन की घोषणा करते हुए कहा कि अब तक यह पढ़ाया जाता रहा है कि भारत में कुछ तीन से चार हजार वर्ष पूर्व, मध्य एशिया से प्रवासी आए और यहां की आबादी के चरित्र को परिवर्तित कर दिया। इस धारणा को चुनौती दिए जाने की जरूरत है।
इस समिति का मुख्य फोकस प्राचीन भारतीय इतिहास, और विशेषकर आर्यों के उदय पर होगा। अब तक इस संबंध में अलग-अलग सिद्धांत प्रचलित हैं। जोतिराव फुले, आर्यों के भारत में आगमन को एक आक्रमण बताते हैं, जिसके कारण नीची जातियों का दमन शुरू हुआ। लोकमान्य तिलक ने यह सिद्धांत प्रतिपादित किया कि आर्य, आर्कटिक क्षेत्र से भारत आए थे। आरएसएस के द्वितीय सरसंघचालक को यह अच्छी तरह से पता था कि अगर हिन्दुओं की श्रेष्ठता, और भारत की धरती पर उनके स्वामित्व को सिद्ध किया जाना है, तो यह साबित किया जाना होगा कि आर्य इस देश के मूल निवासी थे। परंतु वे लोकमान्य तिलक के सिद्धांत का खुलकर विरोध भी नहीं करना चाहते थे। मरता क्या न करता। उन्होंने यह सिद्धांत प्रतिपादित किया कि आर्य निःसंदेह आर्कटिक से आए थे परंतु आर्कटिक पहले हमारे बिहार और उड़ीसा में था और बाद में भूगर्भीय परिवर्तनों के चलते वहां पहुंच गया जहां वह अब है, अर्थात उत्तरी ध्रुव पर।
आर्यों के भारत में आगमन के संबंध में जो भी सिद्धांत प्रतिपादित किए गए हैं, वे हिन्द-आर्य भाषाओं के अध्ययन पर आधारित हैं। इस समय जो सिद्धांत सब से अधिक प्रचलित है वह यह है कि आर्य कई किश्तों भारत आए। हड़प्पा व मोहनजोदाड़ो सभ्यताओं के अवशेष बताते हैं कि वह मूलतः एक शहरी संस्कृति थी। वेद, जो निःसंदेह आर्यों द्वारा लिखे गए हैं, के अध्ययन से यह लगता है कि आर्य घुमंतु और ग्रामीण थे।
कई अनुवांशिक अध्ययनों से यह पता चला है कि प्रवासी भारत के पश्चिम से यहां आए। समिति को यह जिम्मेदारी दी गई है कि वह यह साबित करे कि हिन्दू यहां सबसे पहले आए थे। जब हमारे देश के समक्ष इतनी समस्याएं हैं तब इस तरह के अध्ययन पर धन और ऊर्जा खर्च करने का क्या औचित्य है? एरिक हाबस्वान ने कहा था, ‘‘इतिहास, राष्ट्रवाद के लिए वही है, जो अफीम, अफीमची के लिए‘‘। संकीर्ण राष्ट्रवाद अपने इतिहास को पीछे, और पीछे, ले जाना चाहता है, ताकि देश की धरती पर उसके एकाधिकार का दावा मजबूत हो सके। पाकिस्तान में हिन्दू अल्पसंख्यकों को किनारे करने के लिए यह सिद्धांत प्रतिपादित किया जा रहा है कि पाकिस्तान का निर्माण मोहम्मद बिन कासिन की सिन्ध पर विजय के साथ हुआ था। पाकिस्तान की इतिहास की पाठ्यपुस्तकों में से हिन्दू राजा गायब हैं और भारतीय राष्ट्रीय कांग्रेस और गांधी व नेहरू के भारत की स्वाधीनता में योगदान को कोई स्थान नहीं दिया गया है। हिन्दू राष्ट्रवादी, सावरकर के इस सिद्धांत में विश्वास रखते हैं कि केवल वे ही हिन्दू हैं जो भारत को अपनी पितृभूमि और पुण्यभूमि दोनों मानते हैं। इसलिए, भारतीय इतिहास की शुरूआत, हिन्दुओं से होनी चाहिए। यह इस तथ्य के बावजूद कि हिंदू शब्द आठवीं सदी में अस्तित्व में आया।
यह महत्वपूर्ण है कि भारतीय राष्ट्रवाद के पैरोकार गांधी (अपनी पुस्तक हिन्द स्वराज‘) और नेहरू (अपनी उत्कृष्ट कृति भारत एक खोज‘) में भारत को सभी धर्मों के मानने वालों का देश बताते हैं और कहते हैं कि विभिन्न धर्मों की अंतःक्रिया से सांझी बहुवादी संस्कृति का जन्म हुआ और अनेकता में एकता स्थापित हुई। संस्कृतियां एक दूसरे के साथ अंतःक्रिया करती हैं, एक दूसरे को प्रभावित करती हैं और समय के साथ बदलती हैं। यही बात संयुक्त राष्ट्रसंघ के एक महत्वपूर्ण दस्तावेज एलायंस ऑफ़ सिविलाईजेशन्स‘ (सभ्यताओं का गठबंधन) में कही गई है। अनुवांशिक अध्ययनों से साबित हो चुका है कि मानव का जन्म दक्षिण अफ्रीका में हुआ, जहां से वह दुनिया के सभी हिस्सों में फैला। इससे यह सिद्धांत गलत सिद्ध हो गया है कि मानव का जन्म यूरोप अथवा एशिया में हुआ था। संस्कृतियों के बीच अंतःक्रिया एकतरफा नहीं होती। यह शनैः-शनैः होती है और इससे सभी संस्कृतियां प्रभावित होती हैं। संयुक्त राष्ट्रसंघ का दस्तावेज इस निष्कर्ष पर पहुंचता है कि सामाजिक प्रगति, संस्कृतियों की अंतःक्रिया का परिणाम होती है। यही समावेशी भारतीय राष्ट्रवाद का सिद्धांत भी है।
हिन्दू राष्ट्रवादी, जिनमें मोदी और उनके साथी शामिल हैं, हमेशा से यह मानते रहे हैं कि हिन्दू इस देश के मूल निवासी हैं। यह समिति किस निष्कर्ष पर पहुंचेगी, यह पहले से ही स्पष्ट है। अपने राजनैतिक लक्ष्यों को हासिल करने के लिए देश का नेतृत्व अतीत को तोड़-मरोड़ रहा है। वह चाहता है कि जो लोग हिन्दू की उसकी परिभाषा में नहीं आते, उन्हें या तो हाशिये पर धकेल दिया जाए या उन्हें इस बात के लिए मजबूर कर दिया जाए कि वे उन रीति-नीतियों को अपनाएं, जिन्हें वह हिन्दू मानती है भारतीय संविधान इन शब्दों से शुरू होता है, ‘‘हम भारत के लोग‘‘। इसे ‘‘हम हिन्दू‘‘ से प्रतिस्थापित करने की तैयारी हो रही है। यह हिन्दू राष्ट्रवाद को देश पर लादने का प्रयास है। यह ठीक वही है जो मुस्लिम साम्प्रदायिकतावादियों ने पाकिस्तान में किया। इतिहास में से चुनिंदा चीजों को लेकर उन्हें संकीर्ण राष्ट्रवाद को बढ़ावा देने के लिए प्रयुक्त किया जा रहा है। इस देश का कौन सा निवासी कहां से आया था यह हमारे लिए क्यों महत्वपूर्ण होना चाहिए? महत्व इस बात का होना चाहिए कि आज हमारे देश में कौन-कौन रह रहा है। संकीर्ण राष्ट्रवाद से केवल देश विघटित होगा। (अंग्रेजी से हिन्दी रूपांतरण अमरीश हरदेनिया)

March 21, 2018

India: ‘Hindu liberalism shouldn’t need the crutches of Muslim liberalism’ Asghar Ali Engineer 2004 response to Ramachandra Guha


A (2004) response to Ram Guha: ‘Hindu liberalism shouldn’t need the crutches of Muslim liberalism’

The reasons for it should be sought elsewhere, particularly in the politics of the Sangh Parivar.

Responding to Harsh Mander’s article lamenting that Muslims have been “rendered politically irrelevant”, even “untouchable”, in India today, the historian Ramachandra Guha, writing in The Indian Express on Tuesday, rooted the community’s marginalisation in the absence of a liberal elite that could lead it “out of a medievalist ghetto into a full engagement with the modern world”. To make his point, Guha quoted the late activist and writer Hamid Dalwai, whom he also held up as one of the three “secularising modernists”, alongside Sheikh Abdullah and Arif Mohammad Khan, who could have rid the Muslims of their illiberal condition.
Guha previously engaged with this subject in an article in The Times of India in March 2004. In that piece, too, he quoted Dalwai. It drew a response from the activist and writer Asghar Ali Engineer, which is reproduced below:

There is lot of debate about the role of Muslim intelligentsia in India.

It is contented that Muslim intelligentsia tends to be illiberal with a few honourable exceptions and that it is the illiberality of Muslim intelligentsia that has produced a reaction among the Hindus and, as a result, we see illiberal Hindu intelligentsia today.
Ramchandra Guha, in an edit page article in The Times of India, dated March 23, 2004, writes, “Nearly 40 years ago, Marathi writer Hamid Dalwai wrote a fascinating series of essays on the lack of a liberal movement among Indian Muslims. The leaders of the community, he argued, were incapable of critical introspection.” He goes on to quote Dalwai, “When they find faults, the faults are invariably of other people. They do not have the capacity to understand their own mistakes…” Dalwai also maintained that “the moment they became liberals they lost the confidence of their backward and orthodox community”.
What Dalwai says is hardly a revelation. It is well-known. Besides it applies to many other communities. It is true that many Muslim intellectuals have been reluctant to attempt critical introspection. But it is hardly peculiar to Muslims as such. If one seeks its social explanation, one would understand its underlying causes.

The trouble with Dalwai, and with Guha who quotes him approvingly, is that they do not try to understand underlying causes.

First, it is necessary to state that Muslims produced eminent intellectuals in the 19th century and the 20th century before Partition such as Sir Syed Ahmed Khan, Maulavi Mumtaz Ali Khan, Maulavi Chiragh Ali, Justice Ameer Ali and several others who were highly critical of community traditions, practices and religious orthodoxy. They not only developed critical insights but had great courage to criticise these practices openly. Their Muslimness did not deter them from attempting critical reflections and blaming the community for what they saw as wrong.
And it was not only among such scholars but also great litterateurs (writers, poets and others) who were highly critical of orthodoxy and orthodox practices. Of course, in the latter case, they used poetry and fiction to attack orthodox practices. The progressive literary movement has a glorious history of its own. The problem with the likes of Dalwai is that they take a very static and superficial view of the problem. Dalwai had very limited knowledge of Muslim affairs. His entire knowledge about Islam and Muslims was based on secondary sources. What he read was mostly in Marathi and very little authentic information on Islam and North Indian Muslim movements was available in Marathi then. Now, of course, more and more information is being made available.
Guha unfortunately and uncritically buys Dalwai’s argument that the lack of a liberal intelligentsia among Muslims will create strong reaction among the Hindus and will produce illiberal intelligentsia among them, too. Thus, Guha quotes Dalwai, “Unless a Muslim liberal intellectual class emerges, Indian Muslims will continue to cling to obscurantist medievalism, communalism and will eventually perish both socially and culturally. A worst possibility is that of Hindu revivalism destroying even Hindu liberalism, for the latter can succeed only with the support of Muslim liberals who would modernise Muslim and try to impress upon these secular democratic ideals.”
Then Guha says that Dalwai’s “prediction has come chillingly true”. Hindu illiberalism has emerged with a vengeance. I do not think it is Dalwai’s prediction which has come true. The causes of the emergence of Hindu revivalism do not lie in the absence of Muslim liberalism but should be sought in the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh’s unceasing efforts to bring about this revivalism and the Bharatiya Janata Party leaders’ ambition to come to power on the “rath”, or chariot, of Hindu revivalism.

It is a strange argument that Hindu liberalism will survive only on Muslim liberalism and will collapse if Muslim liberalism does not materialise.

It seems to be quite an erratic view of social movements. This is not to say that Muslim liberalism should not be strong and that Muslim intellectuals should not be self-critical. But Hindu liberalism should not be expected to walk on the crutches of Muslim liberalism.
There are very good reasons for weak liberal movements among Muslims in India. Firstly, there never was a strong capitalist class among Indian Muslims. The Muslim ruling class was basically feudal and that was either ruined by the anti-zamindari laws passed by the Congress government or because many of the zamindars migrated to Pakistan. Muslims left in India were mostly from artisan classes and most of them were poor, backward and even illiterate.
A new middle class began to emerge again after Partition from among the low caste artisan classes, then referred to as “ajlaf”. The middle class that migrated to Pakistan mostly came from among the upper classes known as “ashraf”, who were highly educated and cultured. The new Muslim middle class emerging in India has seen much insecurity due to frequent occurrence of communal riots since the early 1960s, besides the rough and tumble of economic uncertainties.
This new middle class has been much less sophisticated for lack of traditional culture and liberal values. The Hindu middle and upper classes, on the other hand, suffered no such loss because of migration. On the other hand, it drew all the benefits of capitalist development after independence and had the best available education. Also, Hindu upper classes did not have to suffer any sense of insecurity because of communal riots. There is no reason their liberalism should be weakened and that such weakening should be blamed on a lack of Muslim liberalism. It seems strange logic by any account.
The reasons for the weakening of Hindu liberalism and the emergence of revivalist movements should be sought elsewhere, particularly in the politics of the Sangh Parivar. If at all the “weak Muslim liberalism” argument is to be applied, it could be applied (with little justification) to North India. What about Gujarat, where the Muslim presence has never been strong historically and Muslims have never been competitors either in political or cultural fields. Yet, the Hindu revivalist movement today is the strongest in Gujarat.
Also, as pointed out earlier, one should not take a static view of social and cultural movements. The Muslim scenario is also changing, particularly after the demolition of the Babri Masjid in 1992. New awareness has emerged among Muslims in general and Muslim intelligentsia in particular. The trend towards gaining education is growing and liberalism and secularism are much more acceptable to Muslim intelligentsia today. Shah Bano-like movements are history now.
But I do not think the Sangh Parivar’s revivalist ideology will be influenced much by this positive development among Muslims in general and Muslim intelligentsia in particular. Again, it was the Sangh’s politicians who challenged the Nehruvian concept of secularism and dubbed it “pseudo-secularism”. Even orthodox Indian Muslim ulama, or religious leaders, never challenged Nehruvian secularism despite their illiberalism. One can argue that Muslims accepted Nehruvian secularism because it guaranteed their security in India. But this argument is not historically correct. Members of Jamiat-ul-Ulama, including Maulana Husain Ahmed Madani, accepted the concept of secular nationalism much before Partition and never deviated from that line.

The RSS, Hindu Mahasabha and related organisations never accepted secular nationalism, before or after Partition.

They consistently opposed it. The only thing is that before Partition and after until the late 1970s, they did not succeed in widening their social base. They succeeded in doing so only in the early 1980s, when the Indian politics took a new turn in post-Emergency and Indira Gandhi also played the Hindu card. In the Rajiv Gandhi period, the Shah Bano movement, corruption scandals such as the Bofors and the Ram Temple controversy were cleverly exploited by the Sangh Parivar to win over Hindu middle class intelligentsia, which was tired of the Congress rule and was seeking political change.
There is another important reason for the emergence of the revivalist movement among Hindus. The BJP, in order to widen its political base, tried to win over backward class Hindus from all over India; this class among Hindus had been neglected and was seeking to fulfill its political aspirations. The BJP gave it the ideology of Hindutva through which it could seek its political aspirations. This is one of the very important causes for the strengthening of revivalist movements in contemporary India. Its cause should not be sought in weak Muslim liberalism as Guha does. Socially and politically, it would not be correct.
Backward caste Hindu leaders such as Vinay Katiyar, Uma Bharti, Pravin Togadia are the most vocal revivalists and supporters of the Sangh Parivar, and they have become high achievers, holding high positions in the Sangh Parivar hierarchy as well as in the political field. Thus, one has to survey the entire socio-political panorama to understand the causes of Hindu revivalism rather than simplistically blame it on a lack of Muslim liberalism.
This article was originally published by the Centre for Study of Society and Secularism.