Posts Tagged ‘Hindutva’

A village without Muslims

July 1, 2016

So it happened. My native place, a village of 700, had 5-6 Muslim families. It was early 1990s and the people lived in good harmony. Muslims were Muslims like Marathas were Marathas, Kunbis were Kunbis, Dhangars were Dhangars, and Beldars were Beldars. My uncle was Sarpanch, an RSS volunteer and BJP position holder. Village had a daily baal-shakha.

So, those were the 1990s and Ram Mandir movement reached our village. There were mini-Rathyatras around too and one came in our village. In those days, we heard that the Muslims in our village were “good Muslims”, for example, Rauf Seth gave his golden ring to one of those the Ram raths.

But then the Muslims started to leave. The village had to migrate due to an upcoming dam. People were allotted plots at a place nearby. Marathas, Kunbis, Dhangars and Beldars shifted from old village to new village. Muslims left the village altogether. They didn’t come to the new village. They moved to another village, some 20-30 km away, that had sizeable Muslim population. We heard that they left because the Muslim community was not willing to marry their girls in a village where Muslims were only a few. Perhaps, they didn’t feel it safe anymore, after the Babri masjid demolition, to live in a village with such strong RSS influence. Perhaps, being “good Muslims” for an RSS village wasn’t good for them. I don’t know the reasons. I was a kid of not even 10.

One elderly couple stayed. They shifted from old village to new one with the Marathas and Kunbis and Dhangars and Beldars. They lived there till the old lady died. My uncle, the RSS waala, took up all expenses of her last rites. Afterwards, the husband left village too.

No one talked of an Exodus. My village itself never had any communal tension, but perhaps the whole atmosphere changed after the Babari. Perhaps, the “good Muslims” saw the villagers as “good Hindus”, but there was something they weren’t sure about — “Will it be good enough to be just good ‘despite being Muslims’ in the changing scenario?” I don’t know. I was too young to think of these things. I only knew RSS are good people, Muslims in our village are “good Muslims.” I, perhaps subconsciously, knew that the term “good Muslims” itself implies existence of “bad Muslims” too. At that young age, Rashtra was Hindu Rashtra and Rashtrabhakti was what I learnt from my uncle. In hindsight, when I see, I see my uncle was a “good RSS waala”.

So as it happened, my village has no Muslims anymore. Neither have the 3-4 villages in the vicinity. The kids born after 1995 in my village have not seen any Muslims neighbors. We haven’t been to any Muslim households. I myself hadn’t been to a Muslim household till I visited Shams bhai’s place in 2014.

I don’t know why I’m writing this, but I wanted to write about it for long. It’s sad. People, who were living there for generations, felt it wasn’t prudent to stay there further. We were a tiny village. But those words – Ayodhya, Babri – reached us, for no reason. My parents still talk reverently of the elders in those Muslim families. Many of those died. Some of them, the younger ones, sometimes meet the village oldies in town on market days and they talk like relatives met after a long while: ” Chachi kaisi hai? Sharif kahaan hai ab? Sharif ki ladki ki shaadi? Baap re..” We, the newer generations, don’t even know them.

What was it that happened? Who gained from it? Who lost? No one knows. As it stands now, we have no Muslims in the village.

P.S. I wrote it as I saw it as a kid of 10. Please don’t take out conclusions.

Two tweets

June 5, 2014

These two tweets of mine made rounds on twitter after an unfortunate event of killing of a Muslim youth in Pune.

Wish if it was not for such an unfortunate event.

Shivaji: Saffronization of a secular king

February 20, 2012

Yesterday was the birth anniversary of Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj (1627-1680).  It was celebrated with great joy all over the Maharashtra and by all Marathi-speaking people wherever they are in some form or other.  Shivaji was one national hero of who is still revered by millions above cast and creed.  Indeed Shivaji is a towering name above all, and if you ask anyone to give just one name that binds all Marathi people together, it would be that of Shivaji without a second thought.

Let him remain as he was.  Don't color him saffron.

The popularity and greatness of Shivaji’s character have given rise to a typical phenomenon in the modern India.  Each and every ideological group want him colored in their own color, and unfortunately the far-right saffron Hindutva folks succeeded in it.  They distorted his image so much that he is almost deified as an incarnation of God who took birth “to save the Hindu people from the tyranny of Muslim rulers”; and this is far from truth.

This needs to be checked against historical facts and people should be made aware about this.  This has become more important in the post-1992 and post-Godhra India where Shivaji is again and again projected as a destroyer and enemy of Muslims.

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Vijaya Dashmi of an iconoclast

October 6, 2011

Today is Vijaya Dashmi, one of the most important festivals of India.  It marks the victory of Rama over Ravana in the battle of Ramayana.  It is celebrated all over the India with burning the effigies of Ravana.  Huge 10-faced effigies are burnt in grand spectacular ceremonies.  It would be reasonable to go over some facts around this issue on this occasion.

Rama is considered as an avatar of Vishnu by millions of Hindus.  For them, Rama is not mere a character of some epic tale, but an incarnation of God.  He is referred to as Maryada Purushottam, i.e. the best limit of the man.  Ravana was a demon king of Lanka.

Ravana kidnapped Sita, the wife of Rama, and this provoked a war between Rama and Ravana.  This is a common consideration.  But what made Ravana to kidnap Sita?  Did he really kidnapped her only because he wanted to marry her?  Or because he just wanted to take animosity with Rama?  Was there some other reason?  Was the animosity started by Ravana alone?

We should not forget the story of Shurpanakha in this context.  Shurpanakha was a sister of Ravana.  She was widowed.  She saw Rama in the forest while the latter was in exile with his wife and brother Lakshmana.  Shurpanakha got attracted towards Rama and made him a direct proposal to marry her.  She was a demon lady, she was a widow, and her act was not totally against the customs then, but what Rama did with her was totally mischievous and something that we would never expect from a Maryada Purushottam.

Rama told her the truth that he cannot marry her as he is already married and is with his wife; but at the same time, he referred her to Lakshmana saying that he is young and handsome and is still unmarried (akrit daara अकॄतदारा was the exact word used by Rama in Walmiki Ramayana).  Rama certainly knew Lakshmana was married too, still he cunningly lied to Shurpanakha.  Even if we cannot justify her attitude towards Rama, we should not try to justify Rama’s behavior towards her too, especially when we call him the Maryada Purushottam.  Lakshmana too talks mischievously with Shurpanakha and finally cuts his nose with his sword.  Can his act be justified?  Shurpanakha was straightforward in her demand.  She had asked Rama directly about her wishes.  One would really expect Rama to make an honest rejection in such a case, but he played mischief and Lakshmana cut her nose.

In consequence, she went to her brothers complaining about these two brothers, and then unfolded the further story of Ramayana still the battle of Lanka and defeat of Ravana, that’s not a topic of our discussion today.

I just want to state that we should stop deifying Rama and should see him as a protagonist of a wonderful epic of India.  He even can be a superhero, but not a unquestionable God.  He was as good and bad as I am, as you are, at least not a Maryada Purushottam.

This elaboration may seem out of context, an act of infidelity to someone, but the cruel use of Rama’s deified image over the recent decades in India makes it necessary to be told to people.  Rama was a human being, if he ever existed.  If we chose to worship him, let it be for our good, for our spiritual exaltation rather than to create animosity between two communities.  In the present context, the cry of “Jay Shriram” reminds me of nothing but some crazy young people demolishing a mosque standing upon it, some sadhwi (female ascetic) dancing joyously in front of media after this demolition, common Hindus of Gujarat made insane with this deified image of Rama killing their own brothers in mobs, some Varun Gandhi making belligerent gestures on a public platform.

Hope the day would come when I won’t need to be an iconoclast anymore!

Mumbai Blasts: Some Obervations

July 14, 2011

Mumbai, the economic capital of India, shook with terror last evening with a series of near-simultaneous bomb attacks. I got this news on my twitter as a retweet by Omar Abdullah (@Abdullah_Omar) immediately after the second blast, when even the news media websites did not have any report. Till now, the death toll has reached to 20+ and my heart goes with the family who have lost some near and dear ones in those blasts.

But I intend to write about some of my observations on the social behavior of people during such time of crisis. People tweeted, and twitter was far ahead of any other social networking, and Facebook for that matter. People tweeted spreading the news, asking help, offering help, and retweeting the helpline numbers. Twitter was flooded with the hashtags, #MumbaiBlasts, #Happy2help, #EmergencyNumbers, etc. For example, some Tejas Tamhane tweeted just minutes after the blast, from Opera House, the venue of one of the blasts, “Anyone going towards Andhrei? Can you pick me from Opera House? #mumbaiblasts.” There were a lot of tweets offering help, as this one by some Dina, “Anyone stranded in Dadar west – contact me” with her phone number. Celebrities like Priyanka Chopra who has a large following base tweeted the police control room numbers etc.

Another kind of behavior I noted was of people who were out there just to create chaos. As Javed Akhtar (@Javedakhtarjadu) tweeted “The death toll has reached 21. What kind of animals commit such heinous acts?”, these stupid were prompt to suggest him that they were from his own fraternity, Islam. These people with apparently fundamentalist mentality were cheap enough to use bad words and **** for the whole Muslim community, and much more for the secular Indians, the prime minister, home minister, UPA chairperson, and Rahul Gandhi (e.g. using the terms naagin and sapola for Sonia and Rahul Gandhi respectively and using **** words for the Prime Minister of India). I too get one such reply on twitter all filled with F*** and Madar*** kind of words for just suggesting Javed Akhtar to ignore such comments.

Lastly, there was a rumor on all the social networks about it being the birthday of Ajmal Kasab (the only terrorist caught alive from the 26/11 Mumbai attacks) suggesting the link to the choice of date for the blasts (though this date is disputed, BBC and IBN Live suggesting it to be September 13. The Wikipedia article on Kasab underwent several edits just after the blasts and Kasab’s DOB was changed from September 13 to July 13). Many were expressing concerns over why he is still alive and why he was not shoot at the same time of the blasts. This is really a naïve question. Nine of his companions were killed in the police action. It was necessary to catch at least one of them alive and put him through the actual judicial process to let the world know who were the actual perpetrators of those attacks. Kasab’s case in the court has made many things clear. It was necessary to put those facts in front of the international community beyond doubt. Had Kasab been died in direct action, we would have only circumstantial evidences to prove he was a Pakistani. In court, he himself claimed this.

Finally, let’s pray for the families suffered. Their losses are immense, but may God bless them with courage to deal with it, and hope the government bring the culprits to justice soon.

I am a common Indian Man and I do not support Ramdev Baba

June 5, 2011

While the world is pretty much busy is supporting or opposing the fast by the yoga guru Ramdev Baba and a pretty small section of people creating hype over it on the net and social media, I can find the voice of the common Indian man almost neglected in all this chaos. Supporting Ramdev Baba, or for that matter, Anna Hazare has been a craze in the tech-geeky, and often misleaded, youth. Though no one is expecting a magical change in situations, everyone is expecting something to change, without knowing exactly what. The supporters of Ramdev Baba, though a very small fraction of the huge Indian population, are succeeding to make their voice loud enough to seem true, and the majority of Indian population is left as a dumb spectator of all the events passing.

When I see the over-enthusiastic youth to propose support for these protests, have they ever thought about the consequences of it? These protests are nothing but the means for creating an anti-government sentiment in the country. The UPA has been in power for the last seven years. For the first-term, the BJP-lead NDA could not even find an agenda for the polls and lost the elections even without fighting wholeheartedly. This time they cannot afford to do so. The extreme right-wing Hindutva ideology cannot be successful each and every time. They needed something as an adjunctive to the Hindutva ideology.

Baba Ramdev and Sangha Pariwar:
BJP (or for that matter RSS) has a very small, but every strong and loyal, core support group. In the democracy of “one vote per head”, they can never ascend to power depending only on this core support group and they know it well. To overcome this factor, the Sangh Parivar always tries to spread its wings as wide as possible to cover a second-line support from the society which would increase the headcount. Organizations like Bharatiya Janata Party, Vishwa Hindu Parishad, Bajarang Dal, Akhil Bharatiya Vidyarthi Parishad, and so on are just the spread wings of the Sangha Pariwar where the top leadership comes from the core group and the headcount come from the second-line supporters.

Where does Ramdev Baba come to the scene? He is just a bonus that the Sangha Parivar can have. He is not in any way officially affiliated to the RSS (though the support and think-tank support is apparent). Rather, he has kept himself aloof only to say people that “Look, I am not attached to any political party.” He has already gained much follower support from his yoga activities and now he is trying to turn this follower group to the third-line support group of the Sangha Parivar. Sangha needs as much as support from their core circle as they can gather and that’s why they are supporting Ramdev Baba.

Why not Saffron?
People may ask why am I being a saffron-phobic? The congress has ruled over this country for most of the time? What if we ask for a change now? Before going to the answer, I want to make a disclaimer that I am a common India man, I happened to be a Hindu, my father used to go to daily shakha of the Sangha (in the late 1980s and early 1990s when the Ram Mandir issue was on hype), and I am not attached to any political party in any slightest way. I am no more involved in politics more than casting my vote when election comes. My interests are far nonpolitical – reading, music, films, etc. – then why should I bother who is there ruling on top?

I am a common Indian young man, 27 years old. I hold the Constitution of India to the top. I cannot segregate people (as the saffron group tends to do) based on their cast, creed, or religion. I am a firm believer of “We, The People of India.” I cannot think myself as a Hindu, Maharastrian, or anything for that matter. Nothing can come between me and my Indian-ness.

We live in a secular democracy. We know it is the best type of state for the varied culture of India. The ideology of Saffron Pariwar is exactly opposite to this. They cannot gain power with what limited support they have from their core group. All their efforts are to increase their outer circles using fascist means: Vociferous propaganda, continuous advertising, favorable use of media, and now effective use of social media. Baba Ramdev and other are just puppets to create a headcount in outer circles. They will promise everything and even implement on it. But isn’t it what Hitler did to achieve powers. We can certainly give him credit for blowing new life in the then Germany, which was going through serious economic crisis and post-war depression. He promised people of good governance, and he worked for it, but then he also used his hatred policy against Jews as the means to polarize the vote bank and he succeeded. Can India afford to let the saffron parties succeed? Can India afford oligarchy, if not dictatorship? Think once again, think thousand times, you may not have the freedom to think and express in that regime.

Tragedy of Indian democracy:
This is just an update to what I have written above. All the day, as I was keeping an eye on the events, I could see BJP people openly in support of Baba Ramdev. I cannot understand the logic behind this. BJP is the largest party in the opposition. The people of India have elected them to ask question to the government. The constitution of India has given them the platform of parliament to ask questions. The government is responsible to them for any of their action; and what the opposition does, walks out of the parliament during the sessions and sets up and joins the protests on road! And people go behind them, what else can be the tragedy of India democracy?

Republished from Ghalibana.