Nehru's Secularism Was An Aberration; Modi's Islamophobia is the Norm For India

As India and Pakistan turn 75, there are many secular intellectuals on both sides of the border who question the wisdom of "the Partition" in 1947. They dismiss what is happening in India today under Hindu Nationalist Prime Minister Narendra Modi's leadership as a temporary aberration, not the norm. They long for a return to "Indian liberalism" which according to anthropologist Sanjay Srivastava "did not exist". 

India Pakistan Border Ceremony at Wagah-Attari Crossing

American historian Audrey Truschke who studies India traces the early origins of Hindu Nationalism to the British colonial project to "divide and rule" the South Asian subcontinent. She says colonial-era British historians deliberately distorted the history of Indian Muslim rule to vilify Muslim rulers as part of the British policy to divide and conquer India. These misrepresentations of Muslim rule made during the British Raj appear to have been accepted as fact not just by Islamophobic Hindu Nationalists but also by at least some of the secular Hindus in India and Muslim intellectuals in present day Pakistan, says the author of "Aurangzeb: The Life and Legacy of India's Most Controversial King".  Aurangzeb was neither a saint nor a villain; he was a man of his time who should be judged by the norms of his times and compared with his contemporaries, the author adds.

After nearly a century of direct rule, the British largely succeeded in dividing South Asians along religious and sectarian lines. The majoritarian tyranny of the "secular"  Hindu-dominated Indian National Congress after 1937 elections in India became very apparent to  Quaid-e-Azam Mohammad Ali Jinnah, the leader of All India Muslim League. Speaking in Lucknow in October 1937,  he said the following: 

"The present leadership of the Congress, especially during the last ten years, has been responsible for alienating the Musalmans of lndia more and more, by pursuing a policy which is exclusively Hindu; and since they have formed the Governments in six provinces where they are in a majority they have by their words, deeds, and programme shown more and more that the Musalmans cannot expect any justice or fair play at their hands. Whenever they are in majority and wherever it suited them, they refused to co-operate with the Muslim League Parties and demanded unconditional surrender and signing of their pledges."

Fast forward to 2021, a Pew survey in India found that 64% of Hindus see their religious identity and Indian national identity as closely intertwined. Most Hindus (59%) also link Indian identity with being able to speak Hindi language. The survey was conducted over two years in 2019 and 2020 by Pew Research Center. It included 29,000 Indians.  

Prime Minister Narendra Modi's Hindu Nationalist BJP party's appeal is the greatest among Hindus who closely associate their religious identity and the Hindi language with being “truly Indian.” The Pew survey found that less than half of Indians (46%) favored democracy as best suited to solve the country’s problems. Two percent more (48%) preferred a strong leader. 

Indian anthropologist Sanjay Srivastava sums up the current situation as follows: 

"Our parents practiced bigotry of a quiet sort, one that did not require the loud proclamations that are the norm now. Muslims and the lower castes knew their place and the structures of social and economic authority were not under threat. This does not necessarily translate into a tolerant generation. Rather, it was a generation whose attitudes towards religion and caste was never really tested. The loud bigotry of our times is no great break from the past in terms of a dramatic change in attitudes – is it really possible that such changes can take place in such few years? Rather, it is the crumbling of the veneer of tolerance against those who once knew their place but no longer wish to accept that position. The great problem with all this is that we continue to believe that what is happening today is simply an aberration and that we will, when the nightmare is over, return to the Utopia that was once ours. However, it isn’t possible to return to the past that was never there. It will only lead to an even darker future. And, filial affection is no antidote for it".

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Comment by Riaz Haq on August 13, 2022 at 8:19am

75 Years

Economic Journey of Pakistan

Toward a Vibrant Pakistan

https://www.finance.gov.pk/75_Years_Economic_Journey_of_Pakistan.pdf

Government of Pakistan

Ministry of Finance

August 13, 2022

Comment by Riaz Haq on August 14, 2022 at 5:31pm

#IndiaAt75: #Modi is Proving #Pakistan's Case For #Partition1947. 75 years after #India split apart, the nation’s beleaguered #Muslims increasingly face the marginalization and brutal prejudice that Pakistan’s founder #QuaideAzam predicted. #PakistanAt75 https://www.bloomberg.com/opinion/articles/2022-08-14/india-s-75th-...

Opinion by Nisid Hajari

Jinnah’s main fear was how little power Muslims would wield in a united India. That’s what drove the initial break with his former allies in the Indian National Congress party — including Mohandas K. “Mahatma” Gandhi and Jawaharlal Nehru, India’s first prime minister— a decade before independence. And it’s why Jinnah retracted his support for a last-minute compromise brokered by the British in 1946, after Nehru intimated that the Congress would not honor the agreement once the British were gone.

Partition very nearly proved Jinnah’s case. Somewhere between 200,000 and two million Muslims, Hindus and Sikhs were killed within a few short weeks of independence; 14 million were uprooted from their homes. The biggest massacres arguably began with attacks on Muslim villages on the Indian side of the new border.

India’s founding fathers, however, risked their lives to undercut Jinnah’s argument. When riots spread to the Indian capital Delhi and police and petty government officials joined in pogroms targeting Muslims, Nehru took to the streets, remonstrating with mobs and giving public speeches promoting communal harmony while only lightly guarded. He insisted the government machinery exert itself to protect Muslims as well as Hindus.

With even members of his cabinet convinced that India would be better off without tens of millions of citizens suspected of split loyalties, Nehru barely prevailed. The pressure to expel Muslims only really subsided months later after a Hindu fanatic assassinated the revered Gandhi, shocking the cabinet into unity and prompting public revulsion against Hindu bigotry.

That consensus and the rights enshrined in India’s secular constitution largely preserved religious harmony in India for more than seven decades. Al-Qaeda and other transnational terrorist groups made few inroads among Indian Muslims, even as jihadists flourished in nearby countries. While sectarian riots have repeatedly broken out, especially after provocations such as the 1992 demolition of a mosque in Ayodhya to make way for a Hindu temple, tensions have for the most part remained local and limited. And even if Indian Muslims faced discrimination and were on average poorer and less well-educated than Hindus, few doubted that they were full citizens — especially when their votes were needed at election time.

What makes the changes that have proliferated under Modi so dispiriting and dangerous is their corrosive impact on those feelings of belonging. The problem isn’t even so much the most horrific cases of bigotry, including dozens of lynchings of Muslims around the country. Those at least still draw outrage in some quarters, as well as international attention.

What’s worse is the steady and widely accepted marginalization of India’s nearly 200 million Muslims. An overheated and jingoistic media portrays them as potential fifth columnists, who should “go back” to a Pakistan most have never visited if they don’t like the new India. (Pakistani sponsorship of extremist groups that have carried out brutal attacks in India has exacerbated fears of an internal threat.) There’s widespread acceptance of hate speech, including open calls to exterminate Muslims. Modi’s Bharatiya Janata Party has pursued laws that threaten to disenfranchise millions of them.

Comment by Riaz Haq on August 14, 2022 at 5:31pm

#IndiaAt75: #Modi is Proving #Pakistan's Case For #Partition1947. 75 years after #India split apart, the nation’s beleaguered #Muslims increasingly face the marginalization and brutal prejudice that Pakistan’s founder #QuaideAzam predicted. #PakistanAt75 https://www.bloomberg.com/opinion/articles/2022-08-14/india-s-75th-...

Indeed, an Indian state once convinced of its duty to protect minorities now seems unremittingly hostile. Prejudice has seeped into the courts and the police, as well as all levels of government. Laws have accepted at face value ludicrous conspiracy theories such as “love jihad” — the idea that Muslim men are romancing Hindu women in order to convert them. Modi’s decision to strip Kashmir, India’s only Muslim-majority state, of its constitutionally guaranteed autonomy has made clear that even enshrined protections are vulnerable.

Meanwhile, at the federal level, Muslims’ share of political power is dwindling. Though they make up more than 14% of the population, they account for less than 4% of members of the lower house of parliament. Among the BJP’s 395 members of parliament there isn’t a single Muslim.

True, India remains a democracy not an authoritarian state, with powerful regional politicians and some brave and independent activists and journalists. In states where Muslims make up a larger share of the voting population, they have been better able to defend their rights. Nor is India the only country where politicians and media figures are fanning ethno-nationalism for partisan gain.

Yet the trend lines are ominous. India’s political opposition is weak and divided. The mainstream media has caricatured Muslims to a degree that would have been unthinkable a decade ago. The northern Hindi belt is bursting with millions of undereducated, underemployed and angry young men. Politicians there and elsewhere know it is far easier to direct those frustrations at defenseless scapegoats than it is to fix schools and create jobs.

Modi likes to call India the “mother of democracy.” But the central test of a democracy is how it treats its most vulnerable citizens — whether their rights are protected and their views heard. Nehru and India’s other founding fathers saw it as their most basic duty to prove Jinnah wrong, forging a pluralistic India that would thrive because of its diversity not despite it. Three quarters of a century later, Indians should ask themselves whether they, not their former brethren across the border, are the ones now making a mistake.

Comment by Riaz Haq on August 14, 2022 at 8:31pm

#IndiaAt75: #Tech giants confront rampant #caste discrimination among #SiliconValley #Indians. They're taking a modern-day crash course in #India’s ancient caste system. #Casteism #casteisminindia #Modi #Hindutva #Islamophobia #Apple #Cisco #Google #IBM

https://www.reuters.com/business/sustainable-business/caste-califor...

Caste in California: Tech giants confront ancient Indian hierarchy By Paresh Dave

Apple, the world’s largest listed company, updated its General Employee Conduct Policy nearly two years ago to explicitly prohibit discrimination based on race, which it defined as existing categories such as race, religion, gender, age and ancestry. joined together.

The inclusion of the new category, which was not previously reported, goes beyond US discrimination laws, which do not explicitly ban racism.

The update came after the tech sector – which counts India as its top source of skilled foreign workers – received a wake-up call in June 2020 when California’s employment regulator asked Cisco on behalf of a lower-caste engineer. Systems, which accused the two upper-castes. Bosses blocking his career.


Cisco, which denies wrongdoing, says an internal investigation found no evidence of discrimination and that some allegations are unfounded because race is not a legally “protected class” in California. An appeals panel this month rejected the networking company’s bid to push the matter to private arbitration, meaning a public court case could come as early as next year.

The controversy – the first US employment lawsuit about alleged racism – has forced Big Tech to confront a millennium-old hierarchy where the social status of Indians has been based on family lineage, from the top Brahmin “priest” class to Dalits. Until, the “untouchables” and were sent to slave labor.

Since the lawsuit was filed, several activist and employee groups have begun calling for updated US discrimination legislation — and also calling on tech companies to change their policies to help fill the void and stop racism. Is.

Their efforts have produced poor results, according to a Reuters review of policy in US industry, which employs hundreds of thousands of workers in India.

“I’m not surprised that the policies would be inconsistent because that’s almost what you would expect if the law isn’t clear,” said Kevin Brown, a law professor at the University of South Carolina who studies race issues. Include it in US laws.

“I can imagine that … (a) some parts of the organization are saying it makes sense, and other parts are saying that we don’t think it makes sense to take a stance.”

Apple’s core internal policy on workplace conduct, which was spotted by Reuters, added references to equal employment opportunity and race in anti-harassment sections after September 2020.

Apple confirmed that it “updated the language a few years ago to ensure that we prohibit discrimination or harassment based on race.” It states that the training given to the employees also explicitly mentions caste.

“Our teams assess our policies, training, processes and resources on an ongoing basis to ensure they are comprehensive,” it said. “We have a diverse and global team, and we are proud that our policies and actions reflect this.”

Elsewhere in tech, IBM told Reuters that it added race, which already had India-specific policies, to its global discrimination rules after it filed a Cisco lawsuit, though it declined to give a specific date or reasoning. Gave.

The company said that IBM’s only training in which caste is mentioned is for managers in India.

Many companies do not specifically mention race in their core global policy, including Amazon, Dell, Facebook owner Meta, Microsoft and Google. Reuters reviewed each policy, some of which are published internally for employees only.

Comment by Riaz Haq on August 14, 2022 at 8:44pm

Pieter Friedrich
@FriedrichPieter
On 14 April, in
@EdisonNJ
, supporters of India’s Hindu nationalist movement paraded through town on bulldozers, the latest symbol of the #Modi regime’s genocidal, Islamophobic agenda. Mayor
@SamipJoshi
, will you condemn this fascist display in your town?

https://twitter.com/FriedrichPieter/status/1558996380147822594?s=20...

Comment by Riaz Haq on August 15, 2022 at 7:31am

The Hinduization of India Is Nearly Complete
Narendra Modi’s ethnonationalist rule is unraveling the country’s constitutional commitment to its Muslim and Christian minorities.

By Yasmeen Serhan

https://www.theatlantic.com/international/archive/2022/05/narendra-...


For Shah Alam Khan, whose great-grandparents were among the roughly 35 million Muslims who opted to live on the Indian side of the Radcliffe Line in the aftermath of Partition, his family’s decision was in many ways a political gamble. “They didn’t want to go to a theocratic state,” Khan told me from his home in Delhi. Indeed, when Pakistan finally adopted a constitution, nine years after Partition, it enshrined Islam as the state religion. For his family, the promise of a pluralist India, as envisaged by the country’s founders, trumped the warnings of the pro-Partition Muslim League (which went on to become the party of Pakistan’s founders) that a Muslim minority would inevitably be subordinate to the Hindu majority.


Seventy-five years later, those warnings have gained a new prescience. Nominally, India remains a secular state and a multifaith democracy. Religious minorities account for roughly 20 percent of the country’s 1.4 billion people, who include about 200 million Muslims and 28 million Christians. But beneath the country’s ostensible inclusivity runs an undercurrent of Hindu nationalism that has gained strength during the eight-year rule of Prime Minister Narendra Modi. The concern shared by many among the country’s religious minorities, as well as by more secular-minded liberals within the Hindu majority, is that the country’s secular and inclusive ethos is already beyond repair.

Muslims and Christians alike have faced a surge in communal violence in recent years. A raft of new laws has reached into their daily lives to interfere with the religious garments they wear, the food they eat, where and how they worship, and even whom they marry. Many of the Indian journalists, lawyers, activists, and religious leaders I’ve spoken with for this article say that the institutions on which the country once relied to keep this kind of ethnic supremacism in check—the courts, opposition parties, and independent media—have buckled.

To Khan, it feels as though the India he has inherited is gradually becoming another version of the theocratic state his family turned away from all those years ago. “They were promised a secular nation,” he said. For them, and for the country’s religious minorities today, “the unmaking of secular India is a betrayal.”

Comment by Riaz Haq on August 15, 2022 at 7:32am

The Hinduization of India Is Nearly Complete
Narendra Modi’s ethnonationalist rule is unraveling the country’s constitutional commitment to its Muslim and Christian minorities.

By Yasmeen Serhan

https://www.theatlantic.com/international/archive/2022/05/narendra-...


Many Hindu Indians also appear comfortable with Modi’s ethnonationalist aims, despite the outbreaks of communal violence. “The whole religious agenda is not seen as something radical because, at the end of the day, something like 80 percent of India’s population is Hindu,” Marwaha said. “People just believe, ‘Well, why can’t they just live with our rules? Why can’t they not eat beef? Why does the azaan need to be played in public places?’ Things like that.”

If no check to the Hinduization of state and society comes from within India, then what about from without? So far, India’s international allies have shown little inclination to call Delhi out over the treatment of its religious minorities, largely because they see India as too important a partner to alienate. This is especially true of the Biden administration, which counts its relationship with India as a strategic asset in its Indo-Pacific strategy.

When Washington has voiced concern about the treatment of religious minorities in India, it has done so in private. That could be starting to change. In April, at a joint press conference with the Indian foreign and defense ministers, U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken noted that the United States is monitoring the rise of human-rights abuses in the country. That same month, the U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom, a federal body created by Congress in 1998, designated India as a country of “particular concern” for the third year in a row in its annual religious-freedom report, placing India alongside countries such as Afghanistan, China, Iran, Russia, and Pakistan. In India’s case, the commission recommended imposing targeted sanctions against those responsible for severe religious-freedom violations.

Although the commission has no power to enforce such measures, its condemnations may have some cumulative effect. “When your own agency is recommending a policy move for three years in a row, it becomes harder to ignore with each passing year,” Pranay Somayajula, an advocacy and outreach coordinator at Hindus for Human Rights, a group based in Washington, D.C., told me.

As menacing as the persecution of religious minorities has become, for most Indians, emigrating is not an option. Only about 5 percent of citizens have a passport, and those who leave the country tend to be among the wealthiest. “If we decide to abandon the ship, what will happen to people who do not have the resources to go out? That is a very big concern,” Akif told me. As the last of his siblings still living in India, he can’t bring himself to leave his parents behind.

For Shah Alam Khan, remaining is a point of principle too. Because he spent several years working as a doctor for the National Health Service in Britain, he could emigrate there. But doing so would hand the nationalists who don’t see him as a true Indian a win. “It’s like running away. I won’t do that,” he said. “This is my country at the end of the day.”

Comment by Riaz Haq on August 15, 2022 at 7:21pm

There is little to celebrate for #IndiaAt75. #India’s #economy is in #crisis and has been since long before the beginning of the #COVID19 pandemic but #Modi gov't has run a successful marketing campaign that has struck a chord with citizens.https://aje.io/sczqr3 via @AJEnglish


By Somdeep Sen
Associate Professor of International Development Studies at Roskilde University

Indeed, on the eve of the first COVID-19 lockdown India’s nominal gross domestic product (GDP) growth was the lowest it has been since 1975-76. Exports and investments were also on a downward trend.

As was the case the world over, the Indian economy witnessed a sharp downturn during the pandemic. GDP growth declined by 23.9 percent and, in 2020-21, the GDP shrank by 7.3 percent. The effect of this downturn was felt most severely by the country’s poorest. In 2021, a study by the Pew Research Center showed that the number of people in India living on $2 or less a day increased by 75 million due to the recession during the pandemic. This increase accounted for 60 percent of the “global increase in poverty”. The study also found that the size of the Indian middle class shrunk by 32 million in 2020. This also accounted for 60 percent of the “global retreat” from the middle class.

At present, India’s economy now seems to be somewhat on the mend. Nonetheless, the current spike in global energy and food prices due to the Russian invasion of Ukraine has had a significant effect on post-pandemic economic recovery. Food and beverage inflation has been eating the already squeezed household budgets of the poor and middle class. In June 2022, the unemployment rate was 7.8 percent – a 0.7 percent increase from May. In the 20-24 age group, the unemployment rate was at 43.7 percent. The Indian rupee has also been losing value against the dollar and this will have a detrimental effect on import-heavy sectors.

National policymaking has not been a testament to good governance either. This was all the more evident during the pandemic. While India was classified as a country at “high risk” of a devastating COVID-19 outbreak soon after the virus was first identified in China, the government has been slow in putting in place preventive measures. The World Health Organization (WHO) declared the COVID-19 outbreak a global public health emergency on January 30, 2020. However, Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s first statement on the pandemic, in the form of a tweet did not come until March 3. The Ministry of Health and Family Welfare launched its COVID-19 awareness campaign on March 6. Until then, the only public health advice on the matter was coming from the Ministry of AYUSH (Ayurveda, Yoga & Naturopathy, Unani, Siddha and Homoeopathy). And the AYUSH advisory on COVID included little more than a list of ayurvedic and homoeopathic preventive measures and remedies.


Eventually, a national lockdown – with only four-hour notice – was announced on March 24. The way the world’s biggest lockdown was instituted itself was a testament to bad governance and misplaced political priorities. The four hours’ notice was meant to represent resolute leadership in the face of a global crisis. However, with little information on whether there would be access to vital commodities during the lockdown, panicked citizens ignored all social distancing guidelines and rushed to the stores to stock up on essentials just before locking down to prevent transmission.

Comment by Riaz Haq on August 15, 2022 at 7:22pm

There is little to celebrate for #IndiaAt75. #India’s #economy is in #crisis and has been since long before the beginning of the #COVID19 pandemic but #Modi gov't has run a successful marketing campaign that has struck a chord with citizens.https://aje.io/sczqr3 via @AJEnglish


By Somdeep Sen
Associate Professor of International Development Studies at Roskilde University


The way the lockdown was implemented also failed to consider the effect it would have on the poor, especially informal and migrant workers who play a central role in the upkeep of the economies of India’s large cities. As businesses shuttered, millions found themselves jobless and without a means of transport to return to their villages. Many ended up walking hundreds of miles home, turning the lockdown into a humanitarian crisis. The prime minister apologised for the effect of the lockdown on the country’s most vulnerable and said, “When I look at my poor brothers and sisters, I definitely feel that they must be thinking, what kind of prime minister is this who has placed us in this difficulty … I especially seek their forgiveness.” He added, however, “There was no other way to wage war against coronavirus … It is a battle of life and death and we have to win it.”

When Modi set up the Prime Minister’s Citizen Assistance and Relief in Emergency Situations Fund, it was not mere happenstance that the abbreviation read “PM CARES Fund”. The relief fund was meant to assist the poor. However, critics questioned the need for such a fund when $500m in the much older Prime Minister’s National Relief Fund remained unused. Some have argued the fund is being used by corporate donors – who are required by law to allocate 2 percent of their net profits towards Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) – to funnel funding that was earmarked for CSR activities. The Ministry of Finance also issued an ordinance to make all donations to PM CARES tax-free. The government has been reluctant to divulge information about the spending of the funds and many have speculated that the fund was a way for corporate donors to curry favour with the prime minister.

Comment by Riaz Haq on August 15, 2022 at 7:23pm

There is little to celebrate for #IndiaAt75. #India’s #economy is in #crisis and has been since long before the beginning of the #COVID19 pandemic but #Modi gov't has run a successful marketing campaign that has struck a chord with citizens.https://aje.io/sczqr3 via @AJEnglish


By Somdeep Sen
Associate Professor of International Development Studies at Roskilde University


The second wave of the pandemic devastated India in March 2021. The tragic outcome, however, was not entirely unexpected. Access to reliable and affordable healthcare is scarce in India. The public healthcare system is weak and lacks the resources to contend with a global pandemic. The largely unregulated private healthcare providers are also unreliable and costly. Private and public hospitals ran out of beds very quickly with the surge of infections. Without a national oxygen supply coordination system, oxygen producers were also unable to meet the needs of areas hardest hit by the pandemic.

Nevertheless, India could have still limited the impact of the second wave on its population, if only its government took the threat seriously and followed sensible policies. In a bid to boost his image, and against the advice of experts, Modi had already declared victory over the pandemic in January that year. The vaccination drive was also slow, as the government had failed to secure enough doses of the COVID-19 vaccine for domestic use – this, despite India being the largest producer of vaccines and generic drugs. Not long before the onset of the second wave, Modi approved a large religious festival in the ancient city of Haridwar in the state of Uttarakhand. The Kumbh Mela went ahead without following any social distancing precautions and is now considered the world’s largest super-spreader event. The surge in infections in March and April can also be blamed on the Modi government’s decision to allow assembly elections at the height of the pandemic despite ample warning that they would speed up transmission.

Islamophobia as public policy
On its 75th birthday, democracy also appears to be in decline in India. The human rights of minority groups are under constant attack, and Islamophobia has become a public policy in the country. Indeed, lynchings, Islamophobic misinformation campaigns and cultural intimidation are an everyday facet of the lives of Indian Muslims.

In 2019, for example, the Parliament of India passed the Islamophobic Citizenship Amendment Act (CAA). CAA granted a fast track to Indian citizenship to non-Muslim migrants from neighbouring Pakistan, Bangladesh, and Afghanistan, undermining “constitutional equality” by inserting religion as a qualifier for citizenship. The government brutally suppressed the protests against the act, branding them “anti-national”. Anti-CAA activists were arrested and denied bail using India’s draconian anti-terror law.

Also in 2019, the BJP government revoked Muslim-majority Kashmir’s special status in the Indian constitution. The move not only fulfilled the longstanding Hindu nationalist promise to ensure that Indian-administered Kashmir is (at least constitutionally) an integral part of territorial India, it also established a new pathway to Hinduise the state. Furthermore, in order to curb protests against the revocation of its special status and autonomy, the government introduced a communication blackout and shut down cable TV, internet and phone lines for several months across the territory.

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