Dubai Expo: India Prominently Displays Controversial Ayodhya Ram Mandir at Pavilion Entrance

India's pavilion at Dubai Expo 2020 has a large and prominent display of a miniature model of the controversial Ram Mandir at its entrance. Ram Mandir will replace the Mughal-era Babri Masjid that was destroyed by a Hindu mob in 1992.  It represents Prime Minister Narendra Modi's vision of India as a Hindu Rastra built on the ruins of the country's Muslim past. Inaugurating the Indian pavilion,  the country's trade minister Piyush Goyal told the media that "Prime Minister Narendra Modi personally gave us ideas and a lot of guidance on how to showcase India". 

Model of Controversial Ram Mandir at Dubai Expo
“It is a great opportunity to showcase emerging new India to visitors who are coming from all over the world. Prime Minister Narendra Modi personally gave us ideas and a lot of guidance on how to showcase India as a modern vibrant technology driven international economy," trade minister Piyush Goyal, who inaugurated the India pavilion on Friday, told reporters.
World Expos have a long illustrious history going back 170 years. They represent an opportunity for  participating countries to showcase their achievements in arts, sciences and technologies. First mechanical computer was shown at the 1862 London International Exhibition on Industry and Art. Alexander Graham Bell demonstrated the first telephone at Philadelphia in the 1876 Expo in the United States. 
Pakistani Pavilion at Dubai Expo
Pakistan has a large pavilion at Dubai Expo which will remain open for six months. It will highlight opportunities for trade, tourism and investment in the country. The focus on the first month of Expo 2020 Dubai at the Pakistan Pavilion is Balochistan.    
Pakistani pavilion attracted about 8,000 visitors when it opened yesterday. Speaking on the occasion, Pakistani representative Aftab Abro said: “The response has been outstanding and we have people appreciating all aspects of the pavilion, ranging from the colorful façade to the vibrant bazaar and also our custom-made Pakistani restaurant called ‘Dhaba’ that has been a great crowd-puller…We are grateful to the Expo 2020 Dubai for bringing the world to us so we could show them what Pakistan is all about. After taking their reviews, we were happy to learn that coming to our pavilion dispelled many misconceptions and doubts they had about Pakistan, due to some false information they got from unreliable sources. By physically coming to the Pakistan pavilion they said they experienced the real Pakistan.”

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Comment by Riaz Haq on December 12, 2021 at 1:41pm

Ram temple movement bigger than our freedom struggle: VHP joint general secretary

Meanwhile, RSS joint general secretary Arun Kumar said that the Ram Temple movement “awakened” the Hindu society and “became a moment of self-realisation for the Hindus”.

VHP’s joint general secretary Surendra Jain courted controversy on Sunday saying that the Ram temple movement was “bigger than the freedom struggle”.

“In 1947, India got its political freedom. But through the movement for the Ram Temple, we got our religious and cultural freedom. This was an even bigger movement than the freedom struggle,” a statement from the Vishwa Hindu Parishad (VHP) quoted Jain as saying.

He further claimed that the Ram temple had “begun the journey to an era of Ram Rajya” and India’s fortunes would change for the better once the temple was constructed. “The present century belongs to that of Ram…The donation campaign became a bridge to unite the whole nation. It proved only Ram can unite the nation. Secular politics has only divided the nation,” Jain added.

Meanwhile, speaking at the launch of a book titled Sab Ke Ram, RSS joint general secretary Arun Kumar said on Sunday that the Ram temple movement “awakened” the Hindu society and “became a moment of self-realisation for the Hindus”.

The event was organised by the VHP.

“Those who were saying the sentiment of Hindutva is on the wane have had their doubts answered by the tide of donations received for the Ram temple. The Ram temple movement is Hindu society’s self-realisation. It awakened the Hindu society…The movement was not a result of a reaction but of the commitment of the Hindus,” a VHP statement quoted Kumar as having said.

He added, “Our dream is of a harmonious society. Our tolerance is not because of our cowardice, but because of our courage and enterprise.”

The Ram temple movement, involving leaders of the VHP, RSS and the BJP, had led to the demolition of the Babri Mosque in Ayodhya in 1992.

In 2019, the Supreme Court ruled in favour of the Hindus and granted the disputed site to them even as those accused of the Babri Masjid demolition were acquitted.

The construction of Ram Temple, which is being carried out by the Ram Janmabhoomi Teerth Kshetra Trust, is at an advanced stage. It is expected to open to the public by December, 2023, just ahead of Lok Sabha polls.

Comment by Riaz Haq on December 14, 2021 at 7:57pm

#Indian city of #Ahmedabad in #Modi's #Gujarat Bans #Eggs. Plainclothes municipal workers swarmed into the busy neighborhood, seizing contraband. The dealers ran or watched helplessly as the authorities took their illicit goods. #Hindutva #BJP

And with that, the government had conducted a successful crackdown on eggs.

Not just the eggs themselves, though city officials had confiscated hundreds of trays of those, too. The authorities grabbed everything — gas canisters, bread, vegetables, plates, glasses, stools — that one might need to run a food cart to sell eggs scrambled, fried or wrapped in a fragrant breading. On the curb, only broken shells remained.

The food-cart operators who got away counted themselves lucky to have escaped.

“We found out that the truck was approaching our location,” said Virendra Ram Chandra Singh, who added that he could prepare eggs 156 ways. “We ran home with our carts, pushing hard and fast.”

The place of the humble egg in the street food culture of Gujarat, a state in western India where people take their snacks seriously, has become the latest flash point in the growing role of religion in everyday life. Under Prime Minister Narendra Modi, who has a Hindu nationalist base, the national government has taken steps in recent years to promote the religion and to sideline Muslims and other groups.

Emboldened local governments have followed suit, enacting rules in some places that adhere closely to Hindu doctrine. That is especially true in Gujarat, which Mr. Modi led for 13 years before becoming prime minister and which is often seen as a laboratory for pushing policies to reshape India along his Hindu nationalist vision. Those include tightening a ban on alcohol and adding protections against the slaughter of cattle, which many Hindus consider sacred.

But even devout Hindus don’t always agree among themselves what practices the faithful should follow, a conflict that also raises issues of income and class. Hence the bitter disagreement over eggs.

Many Hindus are vegetarian, particularly among the elite within India’s traditional caste system, and some of them consider eggs to be meat products.

Citing complaints from Hindus as well as health concerns, local officials in Ahmedabad, Gujarat’s largest city, and at least four other cities in mid-November banned the sale and display of meat, fish and eggs on the street. As the mayor of one city, Rajkot, told the local news media: “Carts with nonvegetarian food can be seen everywhere in the city. The religious sentiments of the people are hurt by this.”

The local authorities weren’t expecting the backlash. In recent days, facing a lawsuit and protests, officials in Ahmedabad relented and allowed sales of previously forbidden food to resume for now, though the dispute is being considered by the courts. They did not respond to requests for comment.

Top leaders with Mr. Modi’s Bharatiya Janata Party, which dominates politics in Gujarat, deflected blame to local officials. “Some people eat vegetarian food,” the state’s chief minister, Bhupendra Patel, told local media. “Some people eat nonvegetarian food. The B.J.P. government does not have any problem with it.”

Comment by Riaz Haq on December 24, 2021 at 4:46pm

As #Hindu Extremists Call for Killing of #Muslims, #India’s Leaders Keep Silent. Hundreds of right-wing Hindu activists and monks swore to turn India, constitutionally a secular republic, into a Hindu nation, even if doing so required dying and killing.

“If 100 of us are ready to kill two million of them, then we will win and make India a Hindu nation,” said Pooja Shakun Pandey, a leader of Hindu Mahasabha, a group that espouses militant Hindu nationalism, referring to the country’s Muslims. “Be ready to kill and go to jail.”

Even by the standards of the rising anti-Muslim fury in India, the three-day conference in the city of Haridwar, 150 miles north of New Delhi, produced the most blatant and alarming call for violence in recent years.

The crowded auditorium, where right-wing Hindu monks called for other Hindus to arm themselves and kill Muslims, included influential religious leaders with close ties to Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s governing party, and even some members of the party.

Videos of the event have spread widely on social media in India this week. Yet Mr. Modi has maintained a characteristic silence that analysts say can be interpreted by his most extreme supporters as a tacit signal of protection.

The police, who readily jail rights activists and comedians on charges lacking evidence, have been slow to take action. Even opposition political groups have been restrained in their response, an indication of the degree to which right-wing Hindu nationalism has gripped the country since Mr. Modi came to office in 2014.

The inflammatory remarks come as some states governed by Mr. Modi’s Bharatiya Janata Party, or B.J.P., are holding elections, including in Uttar Pradesh and Uttarakhand, where the conference was held. Mr. Modi was busy campaigning this week in Uttar Pradesh for Yogi Adityanath, his hard-line protégé and the state’s chief minister, who has frequently fanned anti-Muslim hatred.

Multiple episodes of violence against Muslims have been reported during election season, including attacks by mobs trying to close businesses owned by Muslims.

“There are virtually only a handful of political leaders left who even mention the need to preserve India’s secularism,” said Gilles Verniers, a professor of political science at Ashoka University near New Delhi. “The B.J.P. may face increasing political challenges, but it has won its cultural war, with lasting effects on India’s democracy, and on India’s largest minority.”

Right-wing Hindu nationalists have preached violence online for years, but the violence has recently spilled onto the streets. Muslim fruit sellers have been beaten and their earnings snatched away after being accused of luring Hindu women into marriage to convert them. Muslim activists have been threatened with prosecution under an antiterrorism law that has been scrutinized by courts.

Comment by Riaz Haq on December 28, 2021 at 9:15pm

#Modi's Politics of Hate Come for #India's #Christians! Santa Claus set on fire & #Hindu goons disrupt service in Haryana on #Christmas!! Days before, a #Hindu religious congregation allied with #BJP/#RSS made chilling calls for #Muslim genocide!!!

As the Hindu Rashtra progresses apace, calls for genocide no longer shock. It is business as usual. Indian democracy is disintegrating, and it’s time for the world to wake up and respond, before it is lost, irretrievably, and at an inconceivable cost.

"Every Hindu" was exhorted to pick up weapons to "protect" their religion from Muslims. "There is no more time…there’s no other way…there’s no solution apart from" getting ready to kill them, the speakers declared.

"Nothing is possible without weapons. If you want to eliminate their population then kill them. Be ready to kill and be ready to go to jail. Even if 100 of us are ready to kill 20 lakhs [two million] of them [Muslims], then we will be victorious, and go to jail," one of the speakers said, adding she was prepared to be "maligned" like Gandhi’s assassin, Nathuram Godse, but would still "pick up arms to defend my Hindutva from every demon who is a threat to my religion."

The hatemongers made a hair-raising comparison between 'culling' Muslims as part of a "cleanliness drive," drawing a parallel with Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s swach bharat abhiyan, his "Clean India" campaign. They praised the ethnic cleansing model used by Myanmar against the Rohingya.

At a Hindutva rally in New Delhi, whose footage went viral at the same time as the Haridwar hate fest, attendees raised their arms in a straight arm salute and swore an oath that "Till our last breath, we shall fight, die for and if need be, kill, to make this country a Hindu Rashtra, a Hindu-only nation." At both meetings, the parallels with Nazi Germany were unmistakable.

One attendee commented defiantly after the footage had spread over social media: "No one can stop India from becoming a Hindu Rashtra."

Even worse, the politics of hate have become so mainstream in India now that for two days not a single leader of the opposition condemned the calls for genocide which had already gone viral on WhatsApp; finally, Congress party leader Rahul Gandhi tweeted a condemnation. The police reluctantly registered a complaint which failed to name a single person despite all the extremists being identifiable.

This is the same India where a Muslim comedian was jailed for a joke he didn’t even tell. The police claimed that he could have told a joke which would be offensive to Hindus.

The RSS makes no secret of the fact that Muslims, whom it blames for the partition of India in 1947, should be second-class citizens with no claims to the public square. And they celebrate Modi for propagating their views.

Extremists valorize him for the 2002 riots in Gujarat where 1000 Muslims died in riots under his watch as the state’s governor. Ever since Modi took office as prime minister, Muslims have been lynched for possessing beef, their traditional occupations of leather and butchery criminalized and public prayers disrupted.

Comment by Riaz Haq on December 30, 2021 at 4:15pm

In #India, calls for #Muslim #genocide grow louder. #Modi’s silence is an endorsement. Is this the type of “democracy” #Biden and other allies are championing? #Islamophobia #Hindutva #BJP #MuslimLivesMatter @RanaAyyub

“The first time it was reported that our friends were being butchered there was a cry of horror. Then a hundred were butchered. But when a thousand were butchered and there was no end to the butchery, a blanket of silence spread. When evil-doing comes like falling rain, nobody calls out ‘stop!’"

These lines, written by the German poet and playwright Bertolt Brecht, came to me as I heard the horrifying speeches delivered by Hindu nationalists during a religious conference this month, when leaders issued direct calls for genocide against Muslims.

“If 100 of us are ready to kill two million of them, then we will win,” said Pooja Shakun Pandey, a leader of Hindu Mahasabha, a militant organization, at a conference in the city of Haridwar, 150 miles north of New Delhi. “Be ready to kill and go to jail.”

At the same event, another Hindu seer invoked the crackdown against Rohingya Muslims in Myanmar as a model for what can be done to drive Muslims away, a monstrous event that has been covered in the media.

The Dharma Sansad (Hindu convention) was attended by members of Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s ruling party. Videos of the packed event have been circulating on social media. Attendees made pledges to turn India into a Hindu nation. Unsurprisingly, the calls for violence and extermination have been met with silence by Modi and others — a silence that translates as an endorsement.

Inciting violence is a crime in India, but Pandey and the other speakers remain free. The police are supposed to be investigating but have been very slow to act — since they know full well these leaders have the protection of the ruling political class.

In fact, these Hindu leaders have now been emboldened to form a paramilitary force of monks who they claim will lead an armed fight against the 220 million Muslim population in India.

Days after the conference, Tejaswi Surya, Modi’s handpicked youth leader and a BJP member of parliament, called for bringing Indian Muslims and Christians back to Hinduism, “the mother religion.” He then tried to walk back his comments.

What is happening in India, where calls for genocide and ethnic cleansing are a centerpiece of our political debates? Where the Hindu nationalist who assassinated Mohandas K. Gandhi, a global symbol of nonviolent resistance, is glorified by national leaders.

What is happening in India, where the majority Hindu community fails to repudiate acts of terror unleashed in its name? Where Muslims are lynched on the streets, where Christmas celebrations are attacked, where the government has blocked the charity of human rights icon and Nobel laureate Mother Teresa from receiving international donations.

What is happening in India, where Suresh Chavhanke, the influential owner of a right-wing nationalist news channel, calls for people to “fight, die and kill if required” to make India a “Hindu nation” at an event on Dec. 19 in the national capital as the cameras rolled and the police looked on.

What is happening in India, where law enforcement is more likely to investigate journalists over tweets and the sons of critical public figures over alleged marijuana possession, than go after fanatics calling for mass murder?

What is happening in India, where the captain of the Indian cricket team, Virat Kohli, loses his position for defending a Muslim colleague who was targeted for his faith?

The answer is as loud and clear as the hate spewed at those events, as the mobs that have been given a free pass to attack minorities.

Comment by Riaz Haq on January 1, 2022 at 10:34am

#Modi's heir apparent #Adityanath’s reign of terror. Chief Minister #YogiAdityanath founded #Hindu Yuva Vahini that is responsible for multiple massacres of #Muslims in #UttarPradesh, #India. #Hindutva #Islamophobia #terrorism via @thecaravanindia

PARVEZ PARVAZ, a journalist and social activist, was passing by the Gorakhpur railway station when he noticed a big gathering near the statue of Maharana Pratap. It was the evening of 27 January 2007, and dusk had just fallen. The Bharatiya Janata Party’s Gorakhpur MP, Adityanath, dressed in saffron robes, was delivering an incendiary speech to rousing cheers. Parvaz was aware of tensions pervading the city because of a clash during a recent Muharram procession, in which a Hindu boy was injured and later died. “Seeing the charged atmosphere, I safely ensconced myself within the crowd,” he told me. The crowd was made up primarily of members of the Hindu Yuva Vahini, a youth militia Adityanath had founded five years earlier. Inconspicuous within the large gathering, Parvaz began to record the speech with a handheld camera he always carried with him.

Ek Hindu ke khoon ke badle aane wale samay mein hum prashashan se FIR darj nahin karwaenge,” Adityanath declared. “Balki kam se kam das aise logon ki hatya usse karwaenge”—In the future, if a Hindu’s blood is shed, we will not get the administration to lodge an FIR; instead, we will ensure he kills at least ten in return. The crowd erupted in cheers.

As soon as Adityanath finished his speech, Parvaz quietly returned home, but the city began to detonate. “A hotel just in front of the venue of the meeting was looted and vandalised even before Adityanath could finish his speech,” Sunil Singh told me. At the time, Singh was one of Adityanath’s most trusted lieutenants, serving as the HYV’s state president. He is one of the accused in the case. Singh had addressed the crowd just before Adityanath spoke. “The hotel was owned by a local Muslim,” he told me. “From there, the rioting spread to other parts of Gorakhpur.” At least two persons were killed and property worth crores of rupees was burnt.

Comment by Riaz Haq on January 4, 2022 at 11:26am

Tilak-Jinnah #Lucknow pact of 1916 embodied #interfaith harmony that is much needed in modern-day #India. Initially, #Jinnah was a member of both Congress & #Muslim League. He was popularly known as an “ambassador of #Hindu-Muslim unity”. via @scroll_in

The 1916 Lucknow pact
Around the same time, in 1913, Jinnah had finally joined the Muslim League. Remarkably, he continued to be a member, simultaneously, of the Congress, which he had joined in 1906. He was held in high esteem in both Congress and Muslim League circles, and was popularly known as an “ambassador of Hindu-Muslim unity”. Tilak and Jinnah had already worked together in the previous decade. Hence, a confluence of India’s two main political streams led to the historic Lucknow Pact in 1916.


When we look back at India’s freedom movement, we see two milestones when Hindu-Muslim cooperation reached its zenith. One was the 1857 War of Independence, when the two groups fought shoulder to shoulder against “Company rule” – the colonial advancements of the East India Company – from Peshawar to Dhaka. The other was the Lucknow Pact between the Congress and the Muslim League in December 1916, whose principal architects were Lokmanya Bal Gangadhar Tilak and Mohammed Ali Jinnah.

How did such a remarkable pact between two apparently dissimilar parties, which would be unthinkable in today’s highly-polarised and intolerant atmosphere, happen? For any major breakthrough to happen in politics, two propitious developments, one objective and the other subjective, have to come together. There has to be a turn in the external circumstance conducive for a bold move to be made. There also has to be an internal resolve among leaders to conduct a new experiment.

The outbreak of the First World War in 1914 created such a situation, which made the British government seek cooperation of Indian public and political parties in its war effort. This naturally entailed a willingness to give some concessions in the form of constitutional reforms.

Around the same time, a few highly significant changes had taken place in the political situation in India. Tilak had been released in 1914 after he completed his six-year imprisonment in Mandalay, Burma, after being convicted in a sedition case in 1908. The following year, he was re-admitted into the Congress.

Thus, the bitterness of the split in the Congress between the “extremists” and “moderates” at its 1907 session in Surat was now a thing of the past. Tilak had emerged as an even more popular and respected leader of the Congress because of his imprisonment. The prolonged prison experience had further steeled his belief that Hindu-Muslim unity was a pre-requisite for the advancement of the Indian demand for Swaraj. He also concluded that Britain’s deep involvement in the First World War had opened a new window of opportunity to seek constitutional reforms for self-rule.


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