Monday, September 28, 2009

An Open letter to Mr. Bandukwala

Mr. Bandukwala has writted an article titled "To Defuse A Train Of Gunpowder"
In the article, he writes:
It would surely have been better if the Gujarati Hindu leadership, whether political, business, intellectual or religious, had taken a moral position, introspected and expressed remorse. But that is akin to asking for the moon ...

Repeated appeals were made by Muslims to eminent Hindu godmen to recognise the fact that Muslim women were raped and killed to the cries of Jai Shri Ram, using trishuls which were blessed by Swaminarayan sants. Many women who survived speak of Durga Vahini women egging their men on ...

Mr. Bandukwala, while I agree with the points you have made, I would like to make a larger point. Let us move away from the specific context of Gujarat 2002. Let us talk about riots in general. How easy is it to provoke a "muslim mob" into a riot? My feeling is that it is not very difficult and if some hindutva extremist group wants to create a communal divide, they can spark a provocation into a riot almost at will. All they need to do is to offend some sentiment etc. My question to the Muslim leadership is, what are they doing about it?

I wish that people like you who have a public platform to express your views can look at issues beyond Gujarat 2002 and appeal to all Muslims that killing innocent families in a riot is unislamic and inhuman. Even if there is a communal riot that is going on, Muslims should protect the innocents of both Muslim families and Hindu families from the communal mobs (from both sides). Can you please use your public platform for propagating this? And also urge the Muslim religious leadership to make this a persistent theme in their speeches etc? Is that akin to asking for the moon? If you can do this, that will have a much larger impact than what you are doing to bring the perpetrators of Gujarat 2002 to book. Even the RSS may then be forced to make a statement that their cadre also will help/protect innocent Muslim families as well as innocent Hindu families in a riot. That would be path-breaking.

God and the question of religious diversity

Assuming that God exists, one often wonders about God's attitude towards various religions in this world. Does God approve of some or one religion(s) over the others? If that is the case, is it unfair, given that each one of us are born into different religious (or non-religious) backgrounds? I suppose, God is behind all people, based on their desire/willingness for truth, values etc. Mere birth in a religion or professing a religious identity should not be a major issue. Religiosity is sometimes expressed in very negative ways. A man who shouts 'Allah-ho-Akbar' before blowing up innocents or a violent hindutva murderer/rioter shouting 'Jai Shri Ram", or a crusader with a cross on one hand and a sword on the other etc may all belong to a 'religion' but God is not behind them. On the other hand, God is behind every one who has desire/openness for truth, values, moral standards etc. If God is just/fair, all such people will be led/helped on the path of truth and righteousness.

Tuesday, September 8, 2009

Question for RSS/VHP - support murderous mobs or innocents?

A simple question for RSS/VHP is this: if a murderous hindu mob attacks an innocent muslim family in a communal riot (like say, Gujarat 2002), whose side they will take? Will they try to protect the innocent family in question? The answer is obvious, for in all likelyhood, they themselves are part of the mob itself. The RSS/BJP should become a party that protects and fight for justice all innocent citizens regardless of religious labels. Only then it will have any moral feet to stand on. Whether a murderous hindu mob attacks an innocent muslim family or whether a murderous muslim mob attacks an innocent hindu family, one should fight for the rights/justice/well-being of the side that is innocent. That a basic human value.

Tuesday, June 9, 2009

Is Varun's speech a Hindu role model or "anti-hindu"?

It is debated in the media these days, whether Varun Gandhi's controversial speech had an adverse impact on his party’s prospects or helped to get more votes. There is a more important issue that needs to discussed beyond the issue of mere electoral expediency. Let us not forget that Varun (and the likes of him) invoke the name of Hinduism, the name of Ram etc. What does it do to Hinduism? Is that a role model that Hindu parents can show to their children? Don’t the hate-speeches, rabble rousing, provoking riots, shill rhetoric, intimidation, playing victim etc by groups in the name of Hinduism/Ram bring disgrace to Hinduism in the same manner as a similar abuse of Islamists bring disgrace to Islam? A person who makes a poor spiritual/moral spectacle of Islam, claiming to act in the name of Islam (like the radical Islamists) should be called anti-muslim and a person who does it to Hinduism should be called an anti-hindu. It is time the fake bhakts be recognized for what they really are, for showing their religion in a poor light (on a spiritual/moral scale).

Media bias against BJP?

Going through Hindutva sympathetic blogs/websites, one notices a common complaint that the media and TV channels are biased against the BJP/Hindutva (and that the BJP should have its own media etc). The BJP has all the access to the media and there is a BJP spokesperson represented in almost every TV debate (in fact, even though the non-BJP opposition is as strong, it is not often represented - so the BJP actually has more than a fair share of representation/voice). While many of the TV anchors may not be particularly indoctrinated in Hindutva, the representation given in the debates etc should be all that is needed. If that is not enough, nothing else is. On the other hand, the dalit websites/blogs who also complain about their lack of voice/presence/representation in media are probably more justified in their complaint.

Monday, June 8, 2009

Hindutva and the ‘Muslim mob’!

It is heartening to see a significant section of BJP leaders and ideologues going into a sober post-election introspection on issues related Hindutva, BJP's minority policies, mobocracy of Hindutva outfits, moral policing, hate-speeches etc. While that is good, there are other much needed introspections which I think are not given the attention that they deserve.

There have been numerous articles/movies/debates/blogs etc on the aspect of BJP's politics that may be described as communal. Many people cutting across religious/caste/regional lines gave a call to abandon communalism/extremism of all kinds and that the rights/justice/freedom of all citizens needs to be asserted and protected by the state. While I am one of the persons who argued in these lines (in my own little ways in internet debates/blogs etc) and that BJP's ideology has elements that fall short of this ideal, that is not to say that it is only the BJP which needs introspection/correction.

Let us step back a bit, and see how Hindutva extremism rose its head in the first place, even though its success is limited to small pockets and is temporary. It appears to me that one of the reasons for the success in the places where Hindutva (especially what is referred as the ‘hardline’ variety) succeeded is its ability to provoke 'the other' (Muslim mobs for example) into aggression/violence. Aggressive Hindutva is often not based on any positive articulation of any Hindu doctrine/idea, but on creating fear/hatred/threat in one section of the population. To create the fear/threat, they need to provoke a section of ‘the other’ (Muslim mobs, for example) into violence/riots/aggression. This brings me to the point of introspection that is much required. Why is it easy to provoke a situation where a ‘Muslim mob’ turns violent? The rise of Hindutva extremism is directly proportional to the ease with which a ‘Muslim mob’ can be provoked into violence. While it is true that the whole Muslim community cannot be blamed for the violence done in the name of Islam by fringe groups, it is still required the community takes some amount of collective/corporate responsibility to use various forums/meetings/rallies/protests/writings/debates etc to repeatedly and categorically condemn the use of violence and educate the community on the virtues of showing restraint, how to behave even in the face of apparent provocation etc. There is no excuse for resorting to measures like killing innocents, indulging in communal riots etc. One election result in favor of BJP is all it takes for some to claim again that Hindutva is back on the resurgence and so on. But in reality, it takes more than an election win for Hindutva extremism to make a comeback – it needs the ability to provoke a ‘Muslim mob’ into violence/extremism. Why should that be an easy thing to do? What needs to be done to avoid that? This is an area of much needed introspection and urgent positive action.

Friday, June 5, 2009

New wine in new bottle!

With this blog, we intend to express and engage in a discussion on topics related to politics, religion, ethics, culture, philosophy, history etc mostly related to India. The public discourse of these topics tends to be highly rhetorical and emotional, where sometimes things like a distinction between a legitimate and an illegitimate argument etc are lost. We hope that this blog will be like a new wine in new bottle!