South Asian Contrast: Ayodhya and Kartarpur

November 9, 2019 will go down in South Asian history as a day of sharp contrasts: While Pakistan restored and opened Gurdwara Darbar Sahib in Kartarpur for Sikh pilgrims, the Indian Supreme Court ordered the construction of a Hindu temple on the site where Babri Masjid stood for centuries. Can India and its western apologists still claim to have shared values?

Shared Values:

At a congressional hearing on the Capitol Hill in Washington in October, 2019, American Congresswoman Ilhan Omar asked Ms. Alice Wells, Assistant Secretary of State for South Asia, the following pertinent question:

"Kashmiris have been restricted from communicating outside their country for 50+ days. In Assam, almost 2 million people are being asked to prove their citizenship. This is how the Rohingya genocide started. At what point do we question whether PM Modi shares our values?"

The question of shared values has been forcefully answered in the negative by the Indian Supreme Court in its Ayodhya verdict. This judgement by India's apex court has rewarded the criminal acts of Hindu Nationalists by ordering the construction of Ram Temple on the land where centuries-old Mughal-era Babri Masjid was destroyed in 1992.

Mr. Modi's actions and Indian Supreme Court's acquiescence have forced Financial Times's Gideon Rachman to conclude that  "India’s Narendra Modi has had a free pass from the west for too long". And Ed Luce, also from Financial Times, has written as follows: "During my session (at Bangalore Literary Festival) I was asked about the biggest threat to the future of global liberal democracy. My answer was Narendra Modi".

The only shared values between Washington and New Delhi are those of President Trump and Prime Minister Modi. Both leaders share hatred of minorities, particularly Muslims and  immigrants.

Kartarpur Corridor:

Pakistan restored and opened Gurdwara Darbar Sahib and signed an agreement with India to open a visa-free corridor for Indian Sikh pilgrim to visit the shrine on Baba Guru Nanak's 550th birthday.

Prime Minister Modi also wants to take credit for the corridor to attempt to show that he is not against minorities. But the fact is that Prime Minister Imran Khan left Modi little choice but to go along by making Kartarpur Sahib reality in record time.

Hindu Temples in Pakistan:

Pakistan Supreme Court recently took suo moto action to protect ancient Katas Raj temple in Chakwal district. The temple has a water pond that has been drying up due to falling water table in the region. The Supreme Court has ordered local officials to come up with a plan to restore the water pond to restrict ground water withdrawal by industries and farms to maintain the pond considered holy by Hindus.

Pakistan has also opened a 1,000-year-old Hindu temple in Sialkot for puja for the first time since partition in response to demand by the local Hindu community, according to media reports. In addition, Pakistan is restoring and reopening 400 Hindu temples across the country.

Indian Muslims:

While the actions of Prime Minister Modi's government have caused a great deal of concern among Muslims for their future in India, Indian Supreme Court's Ayodhya verdict has shown that the institutions of Indian democracy are surrendering to the the growing power of Hindu Nationalists. Indian Muslim journalist Rana Ayub has summed up their fears in her Washington Post column as follows:

"Muslims in India fear that this would indeed be the beginning of reimagining India with Muslims as second-class citizens as envisaged by right-wing supremacists. A resounding message has been sent to the more than 200 million Muslims in the country that they must bear every humiliation and injustice with the silence expected of an inferior citizenry. I and millions of my co-religionists have been made to feel like an orphan yet again in the land we have loved, cherished and called our own. A land whose liberation from the British was fought by revolutionaries and freedom fighters that included our own forefathers. I wonder if that cherished freedom holds any meaning in the new India that seeks to erase my legacy and my existence".

Jinnah was right:

Quaid-e-Azam Mohammad Ali Jinnah saw the threat posed to Muslim interests by Hindu majoritarianism in India as far back as 1938.  Speaking to the Muslim League in the Central Legislative Assembly, he set out his stance of permanent majorities and minorities as follows:

 “From the first contact it is not a democratic majority in the seven Congress provinces [that came to power after the 1937 election]. It is not a democratic majority that has formed the Government and is carrying on; it is the permanent Hindu majority which cannot be altered by any change whatsoever and therefore it is the travesty of the system which may be worthwhile in England. But when it is planted here, you see, that it is a failure. What is the result – the permanent Hindu majority and the ministry that is a Hindu ministry.”

Summary:

While Pakistan is trying to make amends by promoting religious freedoms for minorities, Prime Minister Modi's India is turning into a Hindu Rashtra by making Muslims second-class citizens. Yet, India's western apologists are still promoting the idea of strategic partnership based on shared values. Mr. Modi's actions and Indian Supreme Court's acquiesce have forced Financial Times's Gideon Rachman to conclude that "India’s Narendra Modi has had a free pass from the west for too long".

Here are video clips of US Congress's Hearing on Kashmir held on Oct 22, 2019:

https://youtu.be/nMrydKhvi9M

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Comment by Riaz Haq on November 16, 2019 at 11:00am

‘Homophobic, misogynist and a bigot’ — meet #Modi's #Brazilian friend Jair Bolsonaro, #India’s Republic Day chief guest. #Islamophobia #Racism #Hate #Misogeny #Hindutva #BJP https://theprint.in/world/homophobic-misogynist-and-a-bigot-meet-ja... via @ThePrintIndia

When Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro accepted India’s invitation earlier this week to be a chief guest at the upcoming 71st Republic Day, the Narendra Modi government was faced with some acerbic criticism.

While some argued that New Delhi was inviting a “far-Right bigot” for the celebrations, others said the government was repeating a its “mistake” of calling a group of largely Right-wing European parliamentarians to visit Jammu and Kashmir recently.

Critics of the central government’s decision also have a robust set of evidence to back their claims.

In 1999, Bolsonaro had called for the assassination of former Brazilian president Fernando Henrique Cardoso. Again, in 2003, he had told a fellow female legislator that he won’t rape her because she “doesn’t deserve it”.

His offensive comments have been steadfast. In 2011, Bolsonaro said he would rather have his son die in an accident than come out as a homosexual. And as recently as 2017, the president had remarked that “a policeman who doesn’t kill isn’t a policeman”.

Such statements have also created an impression that Bolsonaro is part of the global nationalist-populist wave. But to look at him from such as lens is only a reductive exercise.

“The Bolsonaros (Jair and his sons) are above all a Brazilian phenomenon, a product of not only the country’s severe economic, institutional and criminal crises since 2014, but also of its successes in the decade prior,” wrote Brian Winter, editor-in-chief of Americas Quarterly.

Comment by Riaz Haq on December 2, 2019 at 8:16pm

Narendra Modi’s India
The Prime Minister’s Hindu-nationalist government has cast two hundred million Muslims as internal enemies.
By Dexter Filkins

https://www.newyorker.com/magazine/2019/12/09/blood-and-soil-in-nar...

“Modi was a fascist in every sense” - Ashis Nandy - a trained psychologist, wanting to study the mentality of Hindu nationalists, interviewed Modi when he was young.

In 1925, K. B. Hedgewar, a physician from central India, founded the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh, an organization dedicated to the idea that India was a Hindu nation, and that Hinduism’s followers were entitled to reign over minorities. Members of the R.S.S. believed that many Muslims were descended from Hindus who had been converted by force, and so their faith was of questionable authenticity. (The same thinking applied to Christians, who make up about two per cent of India’s population. Other major religions, including Buddhism and Sikhism, were considered more authentically Indian.)

---
The R.S.S.’s original base was higher-caste men, but, in order to grow, it had to widen its membership. Among the lower-caste recruits was an eight-year-old named Narendra Modi, from Vadnagar, a town in the state of Gujarat. Modi belonged to the low-ranking Ghanchi caste, whose members traditionally sell vegetable oil; Modi’s father ran a small tea shop near the train station, where his young son helped. When Modi was thirteen, his parents arranged for him to marry a local girl, but they cohabited only briefly, and he did not publicly acknowledge the relationship for many years. Modi soon left the marriage entirely and dedicated himself to the R.S.S. As a pracharak—the group’s term for its young, chaste foot soldiers—Modi started by cleaning the living quarters of senior members, but he rose quickly. In 1987, he moved to the R.S.S.’s political branch, the Bharatiya Janata Party, or B.J.P.

When Modi joined, the Party had only two seats in parliament. It needed an issue to attract sympathizers, and it found one in an obscure religious dispute. In the northern city of Ayodhya was a mosque, called Babri Masjid, built by the Mughal emperor Babur in 1528. After independence, locals placed Hindu idols inside the mosque and became convinced that it had been built on the former site of a Hindu temple. A legend grew that the god Ram—an avatar of Vishnu, often depicted with blue skin—had been born there.

-----------------------

According to FactChecker, an organization that tracks communal violence by surveying media reports, there have been almost three hundred hate crimes motivated by religion in the past decade—almost all of them since Modi became Prime Minister. Hindu mobs have killed dozens of Muslim men. The murders, which are often instigated by Bajrang Dal members, have become known as “lynchings,” evoking the terror that swept the American South after Reconstruction. The lynchings take place against a backdrop of hysteria created by the R.S.S. and its allies—a paranoid narrative of a vast majority, nearly a billion strong, being victimized by a much smaller minority.

When Muslims are lynched, Modi typically says nothing, and, since he rarely holds press conferences, he is almost never asked about them. But his supporters often salute the killers. In June, 2017, a Muslim man named Alimuddin Ansari, who was accused of cow trafficking, was beaten to death in the village of Ramgarh. Eleven men, including a local leader of the B.J.P., were convicted of murder, but last July they were freed, pending appeal. On their release, eight of them were met by Jayant Sinha, the B.J.P. Minister for Civil Aviation. Sinha, a Harvard graduate and a former consultant for McKinsey & Company, draped the men in marigold garlands and presented them with sweets. “All I am doing is honoring the due process of law,” he said at the time.

Comment by Riaz Haq on December 6, 2019 at 7:11am

The below via Basharat Ali and so very true! A few years ago Indians came out of the streets by the hundreds of thousands as part of "India against Corruption." Where are those teaming masses now???? "India against Fascism" anybody? Not worthwhile to get off your couches?
 ·
""Article 35A and 370 are read down from the Constitution. Indian liberals: the decision poses a threat to Indian democracy. Yet the decision is received with mass acceptance and people are asked to move on.

The land in Ayodhya is given to Hindus for the construction of a mandir where a mosque stood for centuries. Indian liberals: the decision poses a threat to Indian secularism. Muslims are asked to bury the past and move on.

Accused of rape, four people are killed in an encounter in Hyderabad. Indian liberals: this poses a threat to the independence of investigating agencies. Yet, the police are garlanded and celebrities come out in their support.

It is time that Indians who still think they can go back to the Nehruvian era and flog the dead horse called "the Idea of India" accept the "New India" as a reality and not an aberration. The fact that people accept what is happening around them and move on is the reason why Modi is ruling this country. The transformation of India into a Hindu Rashtra has happened long back. But the Indian liberals would still cry: no, we won't let our country become another Pakistan.""

Comment by Riaz Haq on December 6, 2019 at 9:38pm

#India hires Cornerstone as #Washington lobbyist to provide “strategic counsel, tactical planning and govt relations assistance on policy matters before the #US Government, Capitol Hill, state govts, academic institutions and think-tanks. https://politi.co/2LpDxuT via @politico

India’s government has hired Cornerstone Government Affairs on a three-month contract to represent it in Washington. Cornerstone will provide “strategic counsel, tactical planning and government relations assistance on policy matters before the U.S. Government, the U.S. Congress, and select state governments, as well as academic institutions and think-tanks,” according to a copy of the contract filed with the Justice Department. The contract is worth $40,000 a month.

Comment by Riaz Haq on February 5, 2020 at 5:05pm

#Pakistan buys more #PalmOil from #Malaysia after #Modi cuts its import. Pak bought 135,000 tons of #Malaysian palm oil last month, a record high. Pakistan bought 1.1 million tons of palm oil from Malaysia last year, while #India bought 4.4 million tons. https://finance.yahoo.com/news/pakistan-pm-imran-khan-says-04340900...

By Krishna N. Das and Joseph Sipalan

KUALA LUMPUR (Reuters) - Pakistan will buy more palm oil from Malaysia, Prime Minister Imran Khan said on Tuesday, aiming to help offset lost sales after top buyer India put curbs on Malaysian imports last month amid a diplomatic row.

India imposed restrictions on refined palm oil imports and informally asked traders to stop buying from Malaysia, the world's biggest producer of the edible oil. Sources said the move was in retaliation for Malaysia's criticism of India's new religion-based citizenship law and its policy on Kashmir.

Malaysian Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad said on Tuesday that he discussed palm oil with Khan who was on a visit to Malaysia and that Pakistan had indicated it would import more from Malaysia.

"That's right, especially since we noticed India threatened Malaysia for supporting the Kashmir cause, threatened to cut palm oil imports," Khan told a joint news conference, referring to India's Muslim-majority region of Kashmir.

"Pakistan will do its best to compensate for that."

India is a Hindu-majority country while Malaysia and Pakistan are mainly Muslim. India and Pakistan have been mostly hostile to each other since the partition of British India in 1947, and have fought two of their three wars over competing territorial claims in Kashmir.

Pakistan may have bought around 135,000 tonnes of Malaysian palm oil last month, a record high, India-based dealers who track such shipments told Reuters on condition of anonymity.

The figure is close to estimates of 141,500 tonnes from Refinitiv, which show sales to India in January may have plunged 80% from a year earlier to 40,400 tonnes.

Malaysia will release official export data on Monday.

Pakistan bought 1.1 million tonnes of palm oil from Malaysia last year, while India bought 4.4 million tonnes, according to the Malaysian Palm Oil Council.

Malaysian palm oil futures rose on Tuesday after Khan's comments and on expectations of a steep drop in production in January.



STRONG TIES

India has repeatedly objected to Mahathir speaking out against its move last year to strip Kashmir's autonomy and make it easier for non-Muslims from neighbouring Muslim-majority Bangladesh, Pakistan and Afghanistan to gain citizenship.

At the news conference, Mahathir did not refer to Kashmir but Khan did.

"The way you, PM, have stood with us and spoken about this injustice going on, on behalf of Pakistan I really want to thank you," Khan said.

He also said he was sad he had been unable to attend a summit of Muslim leaders in Malaysia in December. Saudi Arabia did not attend the summit, saying it was the wrong forum to discuss matters affecting the world's Muslims and Khan belatedly pulled out.

Some Pakistani officials, unnamed because they were not authorised to speak to the media, said at the time that Khan pulled out under pressure from Saudi Arabia, a close ally, although local media reported his officials denied that was the reason for his absence.

"Unfortunately our friends, who are very close to Pakistan as well, felt that somehow the conference was going to divide the ummah," Khan said, using the Arabic word for the Muslim community but not mentioning Saudi Arabia by name.

"It is clearly a misconception, as that was not the purpose of the conference."



(Reporting by Krishna N. Das and Joseph Sipapalan; additional reporting by Rajendra Jadhav in Mumbai and Gibran Peshimam in Islamabad; editing by Tom Hogue and Susan Fenton)

Comment by Riaz Haq on April 21, 2020 at 10:37pm

BBC News - #India #coronavirus: Twenty held for stopping funeral of a #Christian doctor who died of #COVID19. Dr Simon Hercules' friends and family were attacked on Sunday night when they took his body to a burial ground in #Chennai (formerly Madras). https://www.bbc.com/news/world-asia-india-52364571

At least 20 people have been arrested in south India for violently preventing the burial of a prominent doctor who died of Covid-19.

Dr Simon Hercules' friends and family were attacked on Sunday night when they took his body to a burial ground in Chennai (formerly Madras).

One of his friends had to quietly bury him in the early hours of Monday without any family members present.

He said the neurosurgeon "didn't deserve this end".

"He was not shown even basic humanity. Even his wife and son couldn't be there to say goodbye," Dr Pradeep told the News Minute website.

Local media reported that a mob of about 20 people attacked Dr Hercules' friends and family with sticks and rods. Two ambulance drivers were also injured in the incident.

Police said the people lived near the burial ground and were worried that burying Covid-19 patients in the vicinity would spread the virus.

Dr Pradeep said that Dr Hercules continued to serve during the pandemic instead of staying home, and he most likely got the infection from one of his patients.

Tamil Nadu state Health Minister C Vijayabaskar condemned the incident.

"What happened to that doctor is condemnable. Such things should not happen in the future," he said.

Experts have said that people need to be more aware about the burial rules for Covid-19 patients.

The federal health ministry guidelines say that burying the bodies of coronavirus victims is safe if all precautions are followed.

These include instructions for how bodies should be handled and disposed off. It also defines what kind of rituals can be carried out.

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