My alma mater, Indian Institute of Technology (IIT) at Kharagpur, has created a condensed history of Indian knowledge systems in calendar form. Lavishly produced, it is being widely shared and praised on social media. Sadly, it brims with lies, misleading ideas, and fanciful fictions. Rather than educating to inform and delight, it seeks to inflate cultural pride by taking liberties with the truth. Let me explain.
On 5th August 2020 the Bhartiya Janta Party lived up to its promise of ‘Mandir Vahin Banega’ as India’s Prime Minister laid the foundation stone of a temple at the place of a historical mosque demolished by the same party in 1992 in Ayodhya. While preparations of a grand temple in Ayodhya are on, it must be remembered that just a couple of years back in 2017, the Sardar Sarovar dam was inaugurated by the same Prime Minister with great fanfare in which large number of religious places of the Adivasis, Hindus, Jains and Muslims were drowned in the dam waters permanently.
On December 15th 2019, the Sri Rama Vidyakendra High School in Dakshin Kannada, staged a play with its children, in which the demolition of the Babri Masjid was enacted. In a scene that has gone viral on the internet, the children are seen to be screaming “Jai Shri Ram” as the set collapses and a narrator on a loudspeaker eulogises this moment claiming that the devotees of Hanuman have brought this structure down with whatever they could find.Kalladaka Prabhakar Bhat, who is the owner of the school and a leader of the Rashtriya Swayam Sevak Sangh (RSS) has gone on record saying he was proud of the students and more such programs are planned in the future.
Contrast this with a play that Bidar’s Shaheen School staged opposing the controversial CAA bill. Although the text has not been made public (only an excerpt is what the author has had access to) at one place , allegedly a question is asked about what will happen if the Prime Minister Narendra Modi comes to ask for papers, in response to which someone says “Chappal se Maro“ ( hit him with slippers), which could be a literal dialogue or more commonly in Hindi / Urdu usage it refers to the act of shunning someone completely for the ridiculous nature of their proposition. The meaning rests in the proposition than in the literal image. In this case, the police issued a notice to the school.
It was in the winter of 2016, I had gone back to my home in Southern Odisha after almost a year. I had come home with two of my friends from Northeast India and thought of showing them few nearby places. They wanted to know more about the local tribal culture, so we decided to visit the neighboring district called Malkangiri situated at the border of Chhatishgarh and Andhra Pradesh. There is one popular local market there where the Bondas come down once in a week to sell their famous rice beer and bamboo baskets. The Bondas fall under the particularly vulnerable tribal group of Odisha. Less than 5000 in numbers, they live in a hill with very less or no contact with the plains people including Govt officials driven with an idea of protectionism. This has been the case for last many decades and I have been passing through that village since my childhood but this time in 2016, I suddenly noticed few changes and it had to do with the Bonda women. Bonda women usually cover upper part of their body with long necklaces made out of colorful stones and beads but this time they were wearing ‘nighties’ and some of them had sindoor/vermilion on their foreheads. After further inquiry in the nearby shops, I came to realize that sartorial change had been the work of RSS in last few years. Moreover, some of them had turned vegetarian.
The Eco-Hindutva movement values an intense internality guided by Vedic scriptures, one which equates indigeneity with an ancient, Brahminized Hindu identity. It advocates for a worldview that understands nature as pristine or “clean”, which is now polluted by humanity. It has seeded an approach where environmental science and knowledge could be re-shaped according to Hindu mythology and spirituality. Notably, it ignores forest dwellers and tribal knowledge, generational guardianship and sovereignty – while dismissing significant Adivasi environmental struggles and fights for justice in South Asia. Eco-hindutva shifts focus on what counts as environmental issues – it directs concern towards environmental cleanliness and a highly individualized focus on vegetarianism and cow protection. At the same time, it literalizes tropes of “invasion” on “Hindu land” and uses Vedic mythology as the basis for ecological preservation. These foundational ideologies find legitimacy in environmental platforms and is part of how the diaspora both amplifies and justifies Hindutva violence.
Finally the BJP have formed their government after coming to power for the second time under the leadership of Narendra Modi with a landslide victory. There is nothing to be surprised though, it was a certainty – it was inevitable. But a few were foolishly expecting that the BJP would not able to come to power this time. They have now realised that there are fundamental flaws in their political thinking. Forget about the recently concluded election, there is hardly any possibility that the BJP would lose in the next two or three elections.
“Namaste, brother” says Chaitanya, a pudgy, rosy-cheeked man from Charlotte, North Carolina, smiling broadly at me and my friend Alison. He wears a sleeveless orange tank top and white cotton balloon pants. He tells us the moniker was bestowed on him after an elaborate naming ceremony conducted on the banks of the holy river Ganges, in the north Indian city of Rishikesh. He paid 10,000 rupees to a Hindu priest for the conversion from Keith to Chaitanya. “Only a $150 for a whole new life man! It’s a steal if you think about it.”
In the times to come lynching, political assassination, massacre at the borders will be how lessons on Indian Hindu Nationalism will be taught. Everyone who writes, speaks and exposes the fascistic design of the far-right Hindu Nationalist camp will be vilified as terrorist, and demonized as anti-national. Military strikes at the border will be increasingly conducted, upon which the orgy of patriotism will be enacted persistently. The fate of Kashmir and Manipur will be decided around the conference tables in Delhi. People’s movement will not be televised, it will be curfewed and militarized. Parliament will become a shelter of hate-speech. The language of killing and lynching will enter the everyday execution of Hindu democracy, and words like freedom will disappear from our vocabulary. In the meanwhile more Burhan Wani, more Gauri Lankesh will meet the tragic bullet’s end.
Today the cruel majority vote to enlarge the darkness.
They vote for shadows to take the place of ponds
Whatever they vote for they can bring to pass.
The mountains skip like lambs for the cruel majority.
Hail to the cruel majority!
Hail! hail! to the cruel majority!
“I have never felt that my fiction and nonfiction were warring factions battling for suzerainty. They aren’t the same certainly, but trying to pin down the difference between them is actually harder than I imagined. Fact and fiction are not converse. One is not necessarily truer than the other, more factual than the other, or more real than the other. Or even, in my case, more widely read than the other. All I can say is that I feel the difference in my body when I’m writing.”
Breivik praised “the policy of right-wing Hindu nationalism (or Hindutva) which seeks to make the Indian state into a ‘Hindu nation’” and noted that this agenda is promoted by the RSS and its “political arm,” the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP). “They dominate the streets… and often riot and attack Muslims,” he explained.The RSS does, indeed, dominate the streets.
A poem for Gandhi ji on the sweet occasion of his birth and Swacch Bharath anniversary
In what are my twilight years, when I ought to be spending my sanyas listening to MJQ and tending the basil and strawberries on my terrace, I do not know whether to laugh or cry at this vicious right-wing surge – this attempted Hindutva putsch that has targeted Urban Naxalites I know, I respect and I love.
Yes, you heard it right. After a whole lot of brainstorming and deliberation we decided that all of you must refrain from using the category ‘Dalit’, for the official nomenclature is ‘Scheduled Caste’ and that must be used at all times, especially when communicating matters publicly. Not to say that we like you being Scheduled Caste either. Remember RohithVemula! Despite our best efforts in denying his Scheduled Caste identity, his being Dalit prevailed and eventually proved that he was a born scheduled caste. So we of course know that being a scheduled caste is a lot to deal with too, but being a Dalit is an entirely different story, which is increasingly becoming our everyday nightmare. Therefore, just don’t use this word anymore. Besides, scheduled castes – it’s quite a mouthful, so let’s say SC – an intrusion into our state of profound bliss and absolute peace, that continues to remind us that the state ought to make policies for your betterment, because you know the constitution! It’s difficult to make head or tail of this book, anyway.
We, a group of alumni of IIT Kanpur and others as students, researchers, faculty, staff and other community members affiliated with the same institute strongly condemn the arrest of IIT Kanpur alumna Sudha Bharadwaj (Integrated MSc., Mathematics, 1979-1984) and other activists namely, Vernon Gonsalves, Arun Ferreira, Gautam Navlakha and Varavara Rao, and the raiding of houses of Anand Teltumbde, K. Satyanarayana and Stan Swamy among many others. These arrests seem to be a mere sequel in an ongoing attempt to intimidate and arrest activists, eminent writers, professors, journalists, and human rights defenders around the country.
You are told you write depressing poetry
You answered “The trick is to read newspapers incessantly”
You didn’t tell them “The trick is to feel every death in your bone”
The familiar blackout is not because of load shedding, now it is your choice because electricity is prepaid.
In another time I am sure
they’ll treat you with electricity
coursing your skin or maybe they did.
An important historical record of a traumatic period in India’s recent political history, PRISONERS OF CONSCIENCE by Anand Patwardhan focuses on the State of Emergency imposed by Indira Gandhi from June 1975 to March 1977. During the Emergency the media was muzzled, over 100,000 people were arrested without charge and imprisoned without trial. But political prisoners existed before the Emergency, and they continue to exist even after it is over.
This Hindu Fascist emergency will never be officially declared; it need not be. Emergency is the constituent aspect of fascist politics. Indira’s formal emergency was a limited response to an unfolding of a crisis, that actually threatened the survival of the Indian State. Modi’s informal emergency is an unlimited reaction to create a crisis against democratization of Indian society, that threatens the survival of the caste system.
Recent analyses of real voter data as well the Lokniti-CSDS-ABP Mood of the Nation survey have shown that the BJP and Prime Minister Narendra Modi are losing popularity at an alarming pace (for them). This means that we are entering dangerous times. There will be ruthless and continuous attempts to divert attention from the reasons for this loss of popularity, and to fracture the growing solidarity of the opposition. It will be a continuous circus from now to the elections—arrests, assassinations, lynchings, bomb attacks, false flag attacks, riots, pogroms. We have learned to connect the season of elections with the onset of all kinds of violence. Divide and Rule, yes. But add to that—Divert and Rule. From now until the elections, we will not know from when, and where and how the fireball will fall on us, and what the nature of that fireball will be.
Women Against Sexual Violence and State Repression (WSS) Condemns Arrests of Sudha Bharadwaj, Vernon Gonsalves, Arun Ferreira, Gautam Navlakha and Varavara Rao. WSS strongly condemns targeted attack on democratic rights activists, blatantly retributive actions of Maharashtra Police and demands immediate and unconditional release of all arrested activists, lawyers, writers and journalists.
The simultaneous state-wide arrests are a dangerous sign of a government that fears it is losing its mandate and is falling into a panic.
The flash-point was reached when a team of women belonging to an NGO performing a play in Kochang, a remote part of the district where the rogue militia of PLFI – People’s Liberation Front of India – rules the roost, were allegedly raped. The general impression in the state is that PLFI is a creation of the state police, to counter the Maoists who are said to be on the decline in Jharkhand, if the claims of the government are to be believed. The government quickly blamed the Pathalgadi leaders for the alleged gangrape. Without producing any evidence, it chose to tar the entire movement by the tribal population fighting for its rights. In an instance of terrible chicanery and perfidy, the local media parroted the allegations without making any background checks of its own.
If they believe that with attacks like this they are going to scare us into silence, then they are gravely mistaken. The ideas of Gauri Lankesh, the ideas Rohith have outlived them. They cannot browbeat us into silence, neither with their jails, nor with their bullets. We proved it yesterday itself.
Let me start with the caveat that I am totally against the politics of Mother Teresa’s model of charity and how the missionaries of charity is run.
The way the entire controversy around the alleged trafficking of infants in Ranchi by nun(s) belonging to the Missionaries of Charity exposes the underbelly of hatred and suspicion of the other on the part of savarna India.
Whole university community of Manipur University has been demanding the removal of Mr. A P Pandey, the Vice Chancellor. This is a dossier about the various vices of Mr. A P Pandey prepared by Manipur University Students’ Union
How BJP & Sangh Parivar is attempting to transform North East into a Hindu Fascist fiefdom
The disturbing news that “*****” is trending in India on porn hosting xvideos got Sayan Kundu digging into what drives this mentality and what better way than to look at Google Trends for this.
If there exists a phrase that can possibly account for the nature of anti-semitism in a way that showcases all of its contradictions and insecurities to the fullest, it is this piece of propaganda:
“We must first kill the Jew within us.”
The horrific viral video of a terrorist brutally killing a 50 year old Muslim daily wage labourer in Rajasthan on December 7 has highlighted the role the media has played in the propagation, legitimisation and normalisation of the term “love jihad”.
The Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh, Vishwa Hindu Parishad and other organizations that fall under the umbrella of the Sangh Parivar have grown roots in the United States and have become active in fundraising and propaganda activities. Taking advantage of their status as an ethnic minority, these groups nakedly pursue a majoritarian Hindu agenda in the west and lash out against institutions and individuals that critique India’s Hindu nationalist government or it’s leader Narendra Modi.
Hadiya is being treated not as a LEGAL SUBJECT by India. Therefore, her case must be transferred to the International Criminal Court… Indian State has deprived Dr. Hadiya of four fundamental HUMAN rights (Not just rights). And, not even our greatest champions of human rights are protesting it.
Gauri Lankesh was one of the Karnataka’s most prominent and fearless journalist. She was shot dead outside her house in Bengaluru on the night of 5th September, 2017. Gauri spoke out against communal forces in the Country and represented dissent and freedom of speech. The film is more than a personal tribute and follows her political journey, envisaging what she stood for and her struggle for communal harmony until her last breath. And her life story has become the history of Karnataka’s fight against right-wing communal forces.
Vigilantism cannot be curbed without addressing the vigilante culture that sustains it. Countering vigilante culture requires us to grasp how it is put in place over long periods by creation of signs that motivate communities of believers and vigilantes to act, and to produce an alternative repertoire of signs.
Akhil Gogoi’s, incarcerated people’s leader of Assam, statement in front of the Chief Judicial Magistrate on 25th September in Dibrugarh
N.Jayaram on faux-hinduism of NRI saffron warriors
Gauri Lankesh – woman, journalist, activist, woman – murdered in front of her home the other day while returning from work. What is the anatomy of such a murder – the ingredients that go into its making? And what are the levers, policy and otherwise, that can be put to use to address such events? And what can we, as individuals, do? Where and how can we intervene?
Delhi Police on Thursday registered an FIR against Vikramaditya Rana (whose FB Profile is registered as Ashok Brahma), who supposedly works in Department of Accounts in Shillong who openly threatened to eliminate four eminent women and a noted journalist, all of whom he termed “anti-national”.
Why the saffron terrorist had to kill Gauri Lankesh?
It has become commonplace in India to try to invalidate any concerns expressed by liberals regarding atrocities committed against minorities, such as Muslims, or Dalits, with a technique known as “Whataboutery.” This technique, used by people from the Hindu right wing, involves putting the liberals on the defensive by aggressively questioning them as to whether they were or are as concerned about injustices done to the majority community, and implying that since they have not shown the same passion regarding injustices suffered by the majority Hindu community, their concerns are inadmissible.
“Whither is our democracy bound?”—It can be said that the present time is marked by a deterioration of circumstances in which such questions can be raised. The Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP)-led government and its fraternal organisations have defined democracy in their own terms. These organisations have also tried to define citizenship to suit their agenda by trying to determine who is an Indian and a patriot as well as who are anti-nationals. As a result, the fundamental ideas about free speech have also transformed. It has been seen that the ruling party and its fraternal organisations have given priority to those who are their ideological allies when it comes to appointing the heads of institutions of higher education and research in the country. A parallel may be drawn between the situation that prevails today and the curtailment of free speech during the emergency in the 1970s. During emergency, it was not possible for independent writers to publish articles or broadcast radio plays in government media unless they maintained the interests of Indira Gandhi and the Nehru-Gandhi family or promoted the twenty point programme and the five point programme introduced by Indira Gandhi and Sanjay Gandhi. Even private newspapers were censored or they succumbed to the iron grip of the government. The situation today is more or less the same if not worst.
The police has arrested a person on the charge of rape and abduction of a minor girl of Namsai district of Arunachal Pradesh. The person, stated to be a RSS pracharak, was arrested on Augutst 22, Namsai superintendent of police C K Mein said on Friday.
Tonight Gurmeet Ram Rahim from his prison cell calls upon you to dance and purify yourself to his tunes and join his followers in the new world they are creating. So get charged you sons of lion.
A few months back as I was laying out the table of contents for a magazine I publish on Asian art, culture and spiritual traditions, I inserted the names of two Sufi writers. On spotting the Muslim names, one of the volunteers, a white woman in her late sixties launched into an unhinged rant, claiming Sufi writers were in fact Jihadis in disguise, and accused me of enabling terrorists to invade and conquer Hindu lands.
Don’t celebrate these photos but hang your head in shame.
The Hindutva ideology, much like other fundamentalist undercurrents would have us deny the humanism of Manto and the syncretic traditions of Husain. It is in this context that the Partition themed fiction provides an effective counter-narrative to all efforts at social engineering. It need hardly be mentioned that the absence of an effective political discourse challenging the RSS-BJP combine, willing to transcend the secular-communal binary, mandates a search for a different language sensitive to past history and cognizant of our own failures.
Whether the India- China stand-off escalates or not, Modi has too much to gain from it. Whether India humiliates China or the other way, it would allow them their ongoing project of making India a Hindu Rashtra easier. Even in 1962, during the war, Delhi was able to force the Dravida Movement into submission and the Tamils had to surrender fully. In 2017, with Hindu Rashtra is no longer any distant possibility, an Indo-China war would be the final seal on our coffins of a Secular Democratic Republic.
On 30 June 2017, almost two hundred protesters who had gathered together to draw attention of the Assam government towards the concerns of the citizens of the state in relation to the National Register of Citizens (NRC) and the Doubtful voters (D-voters) issue at Kharbazaar in Assam’s Goalpara district were dispersed by the district police administration during which an youth named Yakub Ali was shot dead by the police.
The recent episodes of lynching makes one worried about the rickety path an innocuous Hindu is following that is turning him and the larger community into an ossified and dare I say, a senile group.
Again, some days ago, the controversial Vishwa Hindu Parishad (VHP) leader Pravin Togadia came to Assam and created yet another hullabaloo in the state. He visited an arms training camp organized by the outfit in Hojai in central Assam
There was a charge made recently by BJP’s Swapan Dasgupta that the protest by people determinedly raising their voices under the banner of ‘Not in My Name’, against targeted lynching of Muslims was an extravagant display of rootless cosmopolitanism. The responses have been “we are not rootless cosmopolitans”. We are often quick to jump into defensive mode in this fashion, and then try to prove how we are more rooted than Baba Ramdev or Sri Sri Ravi Shankar or Yogi Adityanath. In other words, we try to show how we are superior to these in being rooted. But we might need to ask whether rootless cosmopolitanism is necessarily the bad thing it is suggested to be.