August 31, 2016

Bangladesh upholds Islamist tycoon’s death sentence

Bangladesh upholds Islamist tycoon’s death sentence

DHAKA: File photo shows Bangladeshi Jamaat-e-Islami party leader, Mir Quasem Ali waving as he enters a van at the International Crimes Tribunal court in Dhaka. A wealthy tycoon who was a chief financier for Bangladesh’s largest Islamist party could be executed in days after losing his final appeal yesterday, against a death sentence from a controversial war crimes tribunal. — AFP
DHAKA: File photo shows Bangladeshi Jamaat-e-Islami party leader, Mir Quasem Ali waving as he enters a van at the International Crimes Tribunal court in Dhaka. A wealthy tycoon who was a chief financier for Bangladesh’s largest Islamist party could be executed in days after losing his final appeal yesterday, against a death sentence from a controversial war crimes tribunal. — AFP

How can there be Indian Lincoln Mr. Udit Raj

How Can There Be an Indian Lincoln Mr Udit Raj? RAM PUNIYANI Dalit activist and the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) member of parliament in the Lok Sabha, Udit Raj, in his recent article in the Indian Express titled"‘Where is The Indian Lincoln" highlights some pertinent questions and brings forth the issue of the caste related atrocities. But he goes on to hide things which are more crucial to the process of caste annihilation. He is on the dot when he says that atrocities against Dalits are due to a mindset which regards them inferior. While this explains how such acts have been taking place earlier as well as now, he undermines the fact that this mindset is due to a political ideology which upholds the caste system in a subtle way. What he hides is the fact that such atrocities have gone up during past two years. What he does not state is that the Jhajjar violence in Haryana was legitimised by late Vishva Hindu Parishad (VHP) leader Acharya Giriraj Kishore, who belonged to Udit Raj’s political family called Sangh Parivar. It is true that many countries in Europe could do away with birth based hierarchy of class and gender due to industrial revolution ushering in a journey towards substantive democracy. India could not achieve such a desirable goal due to the objective restraints imposed by the colonial rule. The industrial revolutions of the West did away with the feudal classes along with their feudal mindset which was justifying the birth-based hierarchies. In India due to the colonial rule, we have seen the birth of modern institutions along with the foundation of modern society. The foundation and the growth of Indian nationalism did aspire for the formal equality of all irrespective of caste, religion and gender. Colonial masters in India were least interested in doing away with feudal powers. ‘Feudal-Clergy’ nexus persisted and gave rise to nationalism in the name of religion. Both Muslim nationalism and Hindu nationalism thrived. The pace of change in colonies is not comparable to the other places where the industrial class along with workers and women combine overthrows the social and political alliance of the feudal-clergy combine. So in colonies the process of secularization remains arrested and in post colonial societies the feudal mindset persists with the patronage of the certain sections of society. In these societies the meaning of the word revolution has to be restricted to social transformation. The day to day efforts for social transformation are the revolutionary steps in that sense. India had its own trajectory. Starting with Jotirao Phule, the Dalits started a slow and long journey towards equality. The journey for women’s equality begins with Savitribai Phule. These streams are totally opposed by the conservative religious elements. These conservatives later crystallize themselves as Muslim League on one side and Hindu Mahasabha-RSS on the other. The march of Indian nationalism accommodates Ambedkar in some form. While he struggles for social democracy through means of temple entry (Kalaram Mandir), access to public spaces (Chavdar Talao), he goes on to support the burning of Manusmriti and states his resolve for the social equality. We can’t be mechanistic in understanding revolution in diverse societies. These steps like those of Jotirao, Saviritibai and Ambedkar, Periyar are revolutionary. These are hesitantly supported by Indian nationalism and totally opposed by Hindu nationalism. Gandhi, a symbol of Indian nationalism, did his best to oppose untouchability, while his stand on reserved constituency can be questioned. Nehru, the architect of modern India, later oversees Ambedkar formulate a Constitution which not only gives formal equality to all but also affirmative reservations to the Dalits. Nehru’s attempt to bring in reforms like the Hindu Code bill are sabotaged by conservatives within his party and conservatives and Hindu nationalists outside his party. The persistence of subordination of Dalits is mainly due to the persistence of mindset of Hindu nationalism, which even had opposed the Indian Constitution when it was being formed. The Hindu nationalists have been strong opponents of reservations all through; this is what led to anti Dalit riots in Ahmedabad in 1981 and the anti OBC violence again in Ahmedabad in 1986. The Hindu nationalist BJP intensified its Ram Temple movement in the wake of Mandal Commission implementation. Udit Raj is right that those perpetrating crimes have not been punished, but that again is due to the prevalent mindset, which has its roots in Hindutva ideology, which spills beyond the parties and organisations working for a Hindu Rashtra (nation) directly. While longing for revolution is good, ignoring the revolutionary changes at slow speed is disastrous and the likes of Udit Raj sitting in the lap of the BJP, which has been the vehicle of counter revolution as far as social changes are concerned, is a big setback to the process of social change. Since BJP is the political arm of RSS, which aspires for a Hindu nation, Hindutva via Hindu nationalism, Raj is contributing precisely to the processes which are hampering the transition of caste equations towards those of equality. If he wakes up to realise as to how mindsets are formed, he will realise that among other things his party has been transforming national institutions towards the values which will promote an anti-Dalit mindset. Just one example from many such incidents is the one where the BJP has appointed one Sudarshan Rao as head of Indian Council of Historical Research (ICHR). Rao argues that the caste system had no problems and nobody had complaints against that. RSS, BJP’s ideological patron, goes on to say that all castes were equal and problems came in due to the invasion of Muslim kings! All this is putting the wool in the eyes of society to perpetuate the ideology which is inherently castiest and leads to the strengthening of mindset which looks down upon Dalits. So a Rohith Vemula or a Una violence happens. If Indian Nationalist movement was a mini revolution, the present politics being unfolded by Hindu nationalism is a counter revolution, duly supported by the likes of Udit Raj. And lastly, if one concedes that there has been no Lincoln in India, one can also look forward to the post Rohith Vemula-Una upsurge of youth, Dalits and non-Dalits, which is going in the direction of caste annihilation!

India: Beef Eating Brahmins (D. N. Jha)

BEEF THE FAVOURITE DISH OF BRAHMINS !*   Latest Issue of weekly Magazine *The Outlook*.

D. N. Jha, the History professor of Delhi University wrote about *Beef eating Habits of Brahmins*.
Now he is getting Death threats.

The twist is... author himself is a Brahmin. His research on Beef eating habits of the Brahmins is what is getting him death threats..

Excerpts: _*"If they want to ban my book, then they will have to ban the Vedas, the Upanishads, the Sutras and the epics*._Where will they stop? I have given evidence, if they have counter-evidence, why don't they come forward with it? But they are so illiterate, they haven't even heard of those texts, let alone read them. I have texts and they go by blind faith," he says. "That is what a historian can and should do: *Counter faith with facts*,"

Source: http://www.outlookindia.com/magazine/story/a-brahmins-cow-tales/213159

August 30, 2016

India: Why Kalburgi Was Killed (Seema Chishti)

The Indian Express

Why Kalburgi Was Killed

Kalburgi, Pansare and Dabholkar melded modern sensibilities with tradition.

When the news of the murder of the scholar, rationalist and teacher M.M. Kalburgi spread outside his home state, Karnataka, many had not heard of him. Some wondered, why should the death of an unarmed professor make headlines? Kalburgi’s murder in Dharward, Karnataka, on August 30, last year was preceded by the assassinations of two other rationalists and activists, Narendra Dabholkar and Govind Pansare. They were not powerful in the usual sense of the word, but their ability to understand what passed off as tradition, decode what it does to a society, especially to those who could be browbeaten, and then question it sharply and loudly made false prophets run for cover.
Sheldon Pollock, the highly regarded Sanskrit scholar, once wrote about the late U.R. Ananthamurthy that he made his case “by way of a refined literary sensibility and a vibrant desi cosmopolitanism.” This rings true for the three rationalists who were killed in cold blood within a period of two years. They chose to combine literary sensibility and desi cosmopolitanism and it was this cocktail that killed the most conservative and bigoted arguments.
Kalburgi’s murder became the centre of a political storm last year. It was a time when the euphoria over India getting its first majority government in three decades was being tempered with the reality of the ruling party having lost Delhi. The party was on the backfoot on several issues. The NDA government was anxious to be seen as “winning” everything — elections as well as arguments — on matters related to India’s present, future and, of course, the past. Two formidable local rivals, Lalu Prasad Yadav and Nitish Kumar, had joined hands to take on the Sangh in the Hindi heartland and this was a serious challenge to the ruling party. The argument, broadly, of the resurgent Hindutva Right was that it stood for “change” and was the only force which had the “earthy” (and digital) language to communicate with “Indians” — whether in India or PIOs/NRIs. The assassinations of Kalburgi, Dabholkar and Pansare meant silencing those who did not allow “tradition” to be gifted away to one side of the argument.
There have been such assassinations in Bangladesh and Pakistan in the past two years: Secular bloggers, baul singers and sufi qawwals have been seen to be deeply threatening. They are threatening because they bring their voices to bear in ways that are simultaneously literary, refined and “desi”. After August 30, a succession of literary figures, led by Hindi writer Uday Prakash — followed by Nayantara Sehgal, Ashok Vajpeyi, G.N. Devy and Krishna Sobti among others — protested the state behaving like a mob by returning state awards and titles.
Writers, intellectuals and poets have faced the heat — and will always do so — when they question the powers that be or when they reveal their politics. An intellectual has the responsibility to connect things, events and ideas in a manner different from other sections of the society. This holds true for Buddha, Kabir, Basava, Eknath, Tagore, Premchand and A.K. Ramanujan — the list is endless.
The French author, Emile Zola, once argued passionately for the innocence of a Jewish military officer. Zola was convinced that this officer was being falsely implicated on a charge of spying because of the anti-semitic wave in the country. The writer was proved right, though many years later. His defence of the officer was based on the idea that the bearers of knowledge and ideas had to articulate their views on what was happening — and loudly so — at a time when those in power were at their intimidating worst.
The fact that so many people — historians, sociologists, painters and sculptors — protested against the logic of the mob and unreason, is significant for another reason. Kalburgi, Pansare and Dabholkar lacked the “network” that typically fuels furore and outrage. When members of the Pansare and Dabholkar families went to Kalburgi’s home to condole his death, they found themselves surrounded by books and literature, which they recognised as belonging to the genre that had proved fatal to their relatives. But they could not read any of those books; they were written in a language they did not understand. That is why those who picked up the baton in the silence that followed the deaths of these activists and developed it into a language of protest must be saluted.
Those who push the majoritarian idea of India would like to build an uncomplicated, false and unitary notion of the country. If you oppose a majoritarian India, you are not Indian, they argue. Kalburgi, Pansare and Dabholkar represented the fine, defiant and desi voices that hit hard at that idea. In their death, they gave several people the language to spell out their opposition to this majoritarian idea. As the late Kashmiri poet, Agha Shahid Ali puts it: “My book’s been burned/Send me the ashes, so I can say/ I’ve been sent the phoenix in a coffin of light”.

The Dharwad where Kalburgi was killed isn’t the Dharwad of my childhood


Looking Back

The Dharwad where Kalburgi was killed isn’t the Dharwad of my childhood

For centuries, the town was a centre of musical and literary excellence. What happened to that place?

Memory of life in Dharwar and Goa, are the coordinates, the source of tranquility that have sustained me. I have been trying to get used to the gradual communalisation of a once-inclusive Goan society, never mind the despoiling of its countryside, the corruption and the impoverishment of its way of life. However, the shot that rang out from Dharwar, killing Kannada scholar MM Kalburgi, is a horror, a nightmarish awakening. For it rang out in spaces which we, those of us who grew up there, treasured as a haven of peace, of security and friendship.

Perhaps because I was a child when we moved to Dharwar in 1945, I had no sense of the turbulence and struggle of the freedom movement, much less the bloodbath that followed. For us children it was a magical time, a time of innocence and serenity, and I have checked this with my friends of the time who, like me, are now in their late seventies. I woke to the strains of Carnatic music wafting from the neighbour’s house, rushed to morning Mass to intone Gregorian chant and in later years to listen to Hindustani classical sung at Karnatak College by a niece of Gangubai Hangal. When I look back, I often think that the greatest gift in my life was my mother’s move to Dharwar. The town, then a part of Bombay Presidency, was well known as a centre for education, but the crucial factor was that the sale of alcohol was prohibited. The law was observed strictly, she had heard – she hoped this would contain her husband. She could not have known that the exposure to this quietly vibrant society would deepen the sensibilities of her seven children, nor that the Dharwar pedha would be a sort of Proustian Madeleine.

Most of us from Dharwar are often asked what makes it special, why has this small town been the cradle of so many renowned musicians, and writers. How is it that the musical tradition is alive and thriving there, as is Kannada literature. Perhaps the tradition has something to do with its location: almost a hill station, cool and green, situated en route to great kingdoms in the north and south, where artists found a home to rest on their journey. And some stayed on. “Perhaps it is the oxygen, if you went at a height you could only see trees. Maybe the oxygen level was good for vocal chords to develop, who knows,” said the late Vasant Karnad, violinist, music critic and brother of writer-actor-director Girish Karnad.

Centre of excellence

The population of Dharwar was unusual. Never an industrial town like Hubli, it developed as a centre of excellence for education catering to the needs of North Karnataka. The word “Dharwar” (Dharwad now) means a place of rest in a long travel; it could also mean a small habitation. For centuries, Dharwar acted as a gateway between the western mountains and the plains, and hence was a natural resting place for travellers. Seven hillocks, seven tanks, and seven villages constituted the old township. There seems to have been a natural connection between Goa and Dharwar, since in ancient times Dharwar was capital of Halasigenado, a region jointly ruled by the Kadamba king of Goa, Jayakeshi, and his queen Mailaladevi.

Dharwar’s importance as a trading centre did not diminish even during Mughal and Peshwa times. Royal musicians from the Mughal court at Agra and those from the courts of the Scindias of Gwalior were regularly invited to the court of Mysore. Dharwar was the place to rest, recover, sing all night and then move on. Stories are recounted with awe and a sense of participation in a special history: “Ustad Abdul Karim Khan was a frequent visitor. He would stay with his brother and taught his most famous disciple Sawai Gandharva, the legend who was guru to Gangubai Hangal, Bhimsen Joshi and Basavaraj Rajguru.”

The layout of the modern town came with the British who were enticed by its natural beauty and pleasant climate. They developed it as a camp for hunting tigers in the thick forests surrounding the town. Later, as it became the district headquarters, it drew an educated class from various communities, including Goans, to Karnatak College, founded in 1917 and staffed by an elite class from the Indian Educational Service. Among them were two Goans, Prof. Francisco Correia Afonso and Prof. Armando Menezes, who retired as Principals in Dharwar. I was a student of Prof. Menezes during my Master’s degree, and he was the Principal when I began to lecture in Karnatak College soon after.

Literary hub

As a student of English literature with friends who studied Sanskrit and Kannada, I was drawn into the milieu of classical and Kannada literature not least because the head of the English department and Principal, VK Gokak, was a well-known Kannada poet, and our most charismatic teacher, Professor VM Inamdar, was a Kannada novelist. We had to rush to find a sitting place in a classroom that held over 150 students. Many more scrambled for standing room. They trooped in from their science labs only to listen to Inamdar read Thomas Hardy’s The Mayor of Casterbridge, affecting, compelling and unforgettable. There was KJ Shah, professor of philosophy, a student of Ludwig Wittgenstein at Cambridge and rumoured to have been close to Iris Murdoch. We gatecrashed, none of us students of philosophy.

Literary Dharwar has not been slow to follow its musical tradition. The house of GB Joshi, the uncle of Bhimsen Joshi, was the centre of artistic activity. He was one of the most acclaimed Karnataka’s playwrights. But more importantly, he founded the iconic publishing house Manohar Grantha Mala, which was at the forefront during the evolution of Kannada Literature. Among my contemporaries, apart from Girish Karnad, there is Shashi Deshpande, a neighbour, whose father Adya Rangacharya, head of the department of Sanskrit was a renowned dramatist. Shashi and I used to walk to school in the shade of the tamarind trees, stepping in and out of gutters to find tamarind we could chew. To my great surprise and pleasure, Shrinivas Vaidya, a classmate in my English Honours class, has emerged as a writer after a lifetime spent as a banker. His essays and sketches set in the Dharwar of his youth narrate with humour and irony little incidents experienced, and his novel, which won the Sahitya Akademi award, recreates the social and political upheavals in a village between 1853 and 1947, as seen through the eyes of a village elder. Shrinivas wrote a long review of my book Goa: A Daughter’s Story for a Kannada readership.

I frequently return to Dharwar in memory and in conversation with family and friends. Travelling back to revisit one’s beloved sites can be heartbreaking. On a recent trip to deliver the Armando Menezes Memorial Lecture at the Karnatak University, my sister and I went to look for our house, in fact two houses. We could not find the one near the college until we asked a passerby who pointed out two tall structures. Behind them was our little bungalow. The entire garden where we had played, fought, laughed and swung in the shade of a fig tree had been built up. However, the other little cottage, just off the Hubli road, was intact, the garden glowing in the sun.

The crowd of mourners I saw at the funeral of Prof. MM Kalburgi gives me hope that the spirit of Dharwar, its music and the literature it inspires will continue to be sustained. As Girish Karnad , commented at the funeral, what has happened is not Kannada culture.

India: Sexist talk by Jain Monk in Haryana Assembly

Of victims and victimhood (Jawed Naqvi)

THE cruel murder of an 84-year-old Catholic priest in France by two Muslim youths, who slit the fragile man’s throat during a morning mass he was conducting in his serene church, left me numb for days.
The terrifying effect of knives, daggers and trishuls somehow feels more horrific than suicide belts and car bombs that snuff out life with ease these days. Only recently, a masked British Muslim butchered a Western journalist and filmed it in a gory video for the Daesh.
The evil craft on display by the militant Islamic State group was honed or revived in Afghanistan by the Taliban. But others cheerfully embraced it, most enthusiastically the Hindutva mobs in India. We say terrorism has no religion, and there’s little to quarrel in that. Butchery with the intent to terrorise is common to Muslims and Hindus of the subcontinent just as it is or was with Jews and Christians elsewhere.
That Hindus and Muslims can out-kill and out-rape each other was well established in the 1947 Partition. That innocent Christians find themselves increasingly in the cross hairs of Muslim zealots in the Middle East is the dominant narrative as it should be. Yet right-wing Hindus have been lunging at Christian throats since India’s independence, and this is less widely acknowledged.

Muslims in India are so absorbed in their own victimhood that lending a shoulder to the brutalised Christians is not a tempting thought.

The global surge in Muslim-Christian feuds found traction after Osama bin Laden turned upon his mentors, a reckless alliance of Muslims, Christians and Jews. The current methods of Hindutva zealotry have borrowed elements from the Jewish Haganah, the Daesh’s interpretation of jihad, and Christian Crusades.
Father Jacques Hamel’s murder was the handiwork of a hateful fanatic. The virus afflicts Muslims in many parts of the world, not least in Pakistan and Bangladesh. Europe is, of course, the new theatre of their bigoted bloodletting. Should that take the focus away from the perpetual threat the Christian minorities face in India?
What is really disturbing is the fact that India’s serially pummelled Muslims are among the biggest offenders in not acknowledging the rough treatment meted out to their Christian cousins. Indian Muslim leaders wail, given half an opportunity, about their problems, and their sense of victimhood is pervasive. But rarely do we find any among them sharing the grief of others, leave alone the Christians.
This is par for the course with the largely upper-caste media, which revels in the Hindu-Muslim cockfight on TV screens but fights shy of accepting that the communal problem is more varied and complex. This could be partly because Hindutva attacks on Christians as distinct from attacks on Muslims would involve a discussion on caste — which is a deterrent to open debate. A large swathe of Indian Christians belongs to the lower rung Dalit and tribal communities.
The Hindutva hatred of Christians has old roots. An early founder of the ideology had thundered that “in this land Hindus have been the owners, Parsis and Jews the guests, and Muslims and Christians the dacoits”. The two have been bunged together repeatedly, the Muslims and Christians. They are the main targets, mostly for their religious identity but also subtly as caste groups.
Yet Muslims are so absorbed in their own victimhood that lending a shoulder to the brutalised Christians is not a tempting thought. (At another level Kashmiri Muslims seldom show empathy for the struggle of largely Christian Manipuris though Mani­puris often lend their voice to Kashmiri protests.)
Among the most vocal Indians who speak up and lead from the front when Muslims are under assault whether in Kashmir or elsewhere are India’s Christian preachers. I have seen the Christians being treated with scant respect in Pakistan way before the Salafist creed began to course through the nation’s arteries. One visit to Youhanabad near Lahore made me ill for days with the squalor the Christian community is made to endure.
In India, the missionaries and the church have managed to ensure that the Christian laity is better buffered against the humiliations they face in Pakistan and now in Bangladesh.
Yet who can take on the might of a powerful state and its nefarious alliances with religious fascism? The ceaseless attempts to undermine the church’s good work are occasionally reflected in the state’s collusion with the denial of visas to foreign Christian missionaries. Recently, even some American religious rights officials were refused entry by the current government.
I find it amazing that many young and old leaders in the Hindutva stable endorse the policy of targeting Christians though they were schooled in schools run by Christian missionaries, or treated at hospitals cared for by Catholic nuns. The Hindutva hatred possibly stems from two factors. One has to do with an ingrained inferiority complex. Hindutva cannot set up a school like the grand La Martienere College in Lucknow where teachers teach not just the biblical belief in the Creation but also offer the option to contemplate the scientific possibility that humans may have evolved from early apes.
The Hindutva model of narrow-apertured schools borrows from the Muslim madressah system, where Darwin and Ghalib are anathema.
The other factor in the perpetual hatred is the Christian appeal, through work like the one associated with Mother Teresa, which disrupts Hindutva’s own proselytising requirements.
Much of the Hindutva clamour for ghar wapasi reflects a desperate effort to somehow hijack someone else’s brood of homing pigeons in flight. With the state’s support for right-wing groups this is a patently unequal contest.
The assault on Indian Christians is a recurring affair. After an Australian missionary and his two young sons were set ablaze in their jeep in Orissa by Hindu zealots in 1999, the mob returned in 2008 to carry out horrific rapes and murders of Dalit Christians again in Orissa. The killers of a lovable priest in France will find amazing kindred spirits in India.
Published in Dawn, August 30th, 2016