Thursday, March 28, 2013

Indian Independence And The Minorities

Indian Independence and the Muslims

The Hindu mentality in politics is such that they would a thousand
times prefer British rule to any Mahomedan influence,
even if it be only a little.

That was never the view of the Nationalists, even those who
were ardent Hindus who would prefer Moslem to British rule.

Even if Swaraj itself were postponed for a long time, it would
be less of a shock to anybody in the Ashram than if Mahomedans
got a little right

The Asram is not concerned with politics; but I cannot believe
without proof that this is the state of their mentality.
17 November 1932

Justin Raimondo: India's 'Amen Corner'

09.01.2002 | Source:


It's amazing, really, when you think about it: no sooner had the Pakistan-India conflict reared up as a consequence of America's "new war," then Israel's amen corner in the US had already taken up the cudgels on New Delhi's behalf. Gee, these guys are fast. That always-reliable barometer of elite opinion, Andrew Sullivan, succinctly summarized the party line in a weblog item entitled "Israel and India": "After September 11 and the president's speech to Congress in which he laid out a clear doctrine of zero tolerance for terrorism, it seems to me our foreign policy is clear. Both Israel and India – at either ends of the Islamic Middle East – must be unequivocally supported in their struggles against Islamo-fascism. Both are democracies; both allow freedom of religion; both have enemies who are friendly with the perpetrators of the WTC massacre." IS HE KIDDING? Whoa! Hold it, dude – freedom of religion? Sullivan, the big Catholic, surely must know about the widespread persecution of Christians, particularly Catholics, since the Hindu nationalists came to power in 1996. That year, the United Christian Forum for Human Rights documented over 120 attacks on Christians by Hindu-fascists. The wave of murders, church-burnings, and other outrages has increased exponentially ever since Interior Minister L. K. Advani, a Hindu hardliner, took his "chariot journey" from a Hindu temple in Gujarat province to Ayodhya, alleged to be the birthplace of the Hindu deity Rama. Like Mussolini's march on Rome, Advani's journey was the signal for the beginning of a new era in the politics of the subcontinent, marking the rise of militant Hindu-fascism as the dominant political force. The Hindu fundamentalist Bharatiya Janatha Party (BJP) quickly grew from a fringe group, with 2 seats in Parliament, to the biggest party on the Indian scene. Advani's march on Ayodhya culminated in the demolition of a mosque there, and coincided with the launching of a program dedicated to "saffronizing" Indian society. UNHOLY SACRIFICE You might think that the term "Hindu-fascism" is as much an overstatement as its antipode, "Islamo-fascism," which we have heard so much about lately from Sullivan, Christopher Hitchens, and the pro-war crowd. Yet what else are we to make of the BJP's official slogan, "One Nation, One People, One Culture" – eerily similar to that of the German Nazis?LINK

However strong the communal and disruptive force maybe, but the Indian society, except for occasional perturbations, has shown its resilience by reverting back to secular and composite values
It is a fact that representation of Muslims in Indian Politics, since the Independence, has been disproportionately low, ranging between 6 – 8%, as compared to their share in the Indian population which is estimated to be around 14%, but believed to be even higher.
The reasons for such low representation are diverse. The lack of effective Muslim leadership may be one. Nepotism and favoritism of influential politicians, majority being non-Muslims, leads to multiple candidates being elected from the same family or clan, is another significant factor for low representation of Muslims. Yet another reason is that many Indian political parties, presumably, believe the electability of Muslims is too low for them to be fielded as viable candidates. The non-Muslims electorate, parties think, won’t vote for them because of their religious identity. Together, these factors have led to a condition where the Muslim community, the largest minority group in the country, has poor representation in the country’s politics.
There are other factors such as affirmative actions in favor of Scheduled Castes/Tribes (SC/ST), which have snatched away a significant portion, roughly 22% of the parliamentary seats and over 27% of the state assembly seats, of constituencies from Muslim candidates.
The Muslims, being nearly excluded from SC/STs, cannot even compete in the election in the reserved seats. And quite surprisingly, it has been observed that there is a deliberate attempt to discriminate against Muslim using the reservation policy.
The fact has been brought to light by media platform such as that on the one hand, many constituencies where SC/STs comprise the majority of electorates are not reserved for them.
On the other hand, there are a large number of constituencies where majority or a significant fraction of the electorate is from the Muslim community and a small population of the SCs but the seats have been reserved for SCs.
This seems to be a deliberate attempt to deprive the Muslim community of its leadership. Such moves, whether involuntary or deliberate, have further reduced the chances of Muslim candidates winning the election.
Another such apprehension, regarding the Women’s Reservation Bill, seems not entirely unfounded. At present, the level of Muslim women’s participation in public life has been minimal. If the Women’s Reservation Bill is introduced, as it reserves 33% of the seats for women, can very well take away some more of the seats that presently elect Muslim legislators. Given the electoral trends in India, the prospect of the reverse happening, that is, Muslim women getting elected from an otherwise non-Muslim dominated constituency seems negligible.
Considering a total disempowerment and underdevelopment of Indian Muslims in nearly all walks of life as pointed out by the Sachar Committee report, it becomes imperative to think of enhancing the share of representation for Muslims in the political machinery. Hence the question arises: How can the representation of Muslims be increased? What can be done about the affirmative action? Do we need to reshuffle the existing reservation policies? Should there be some political parties exclusively for or dominated by Muslims? Is it better if the mainstream parties provide equitable opportunities to Muslim candidates to participate in the elections?
The issue of the reservation needs to be addressed seriously. The Indian Muslims deserve more affirmative actions as recommended by the Ranganath Mishra Committee, which has recommended that the status of SC should be made religion neutral. This means that those castes and classes among Muslims, whose Hindus /Sikhs counterparts are SC should be included in SC list. This will vastly improve the socioeconomic condition of Indian Muslims in general, and their share in the Political Leadership, in particular.
Towards developing the Muslim leadership, there can be two approaches: Formation of pro-Muslim political parties or providing an equitable share to the Muslim leaders in mainstream political parties. If there are parties exclusively for or dominated by only Muslims’ interests, then the outcome is going to be inefficient and hence, is a loss for everyone.
For instance, when voting is done on the basis of religion/sect caste etc., the criterion for preference is something other than the leadership quality of the candidate. So the leader elected by such a partisan process may not be the best one for the electorate.
Another demerit of such process is that if Hindus vote on religious line in favor of pro-Hindu parties and or pro-Hindu candidates, and then Muslims follow the same and vice versa. Even worse, if the game continues, then Muslims will ultimately be the biggest losers. Since in majority of the constituencies in India non-Muslims dominate the electorate, it will be difficult for Muslim candidates to win the election.
Even if the Muslim candidates win a few seats, the Muslim affiliated parties will seldom have a majority to form the Government so they will be left in the opposition. If the Muslim representatives perpetually sit in the opposition, what benefits are they likely to bring to their constituencies? So the Muslim community ultimately suffers because of the partisan politics.
Another potential, and the gravest, consequence is that such partisan politics of Muslims supporting a pro-Muslim party will give the right wing parties a sound pretext to garner support in religious lines. Consequently, suppose, Hindus start supporting pro-Hindutva parties. This may potentially lead to a complete polarization of the Indian society.
Imagine a nation inflicted with partisan politics; a few Muslim leaders from pro-Muslim parties sitting helplessly in the opposition and reckless Hindu leaders from staunch Hindutva brigades ruling the assembly or parliament!
Can India, composite as it is, survive such a degenerate politics? How many more Babri Masjids will be demolished? How many more Gujarat Massacre will be repeated? Is there any prospect of socioeconomic development is such a scenario?
A partisan politics may, in the short run, benefit the right wing fundamentalist Hindutva parties but this is a mistake the Muslims of India can’t afford to make, since their number does not favor them. Muslims cannot afford to be communal.
The recent developments leading to formation of Muslim dominated political parties and winning quite a few seats in the state elections, except Tamil Nadu, can be viewed as a positive sign of change.
This shows the Muslim communities’ stronger spirit of political participation and increased confidence in the democratic process. However, this should not be construed as Muslims’ victory over non-Muslims. Rather this, should be viewed as, and in fact, is merely an indication that Muslims have not been satisfied with the policies of the mainstream political parties.
This development of Muslim dominated parties and Muslim religious organization such as the Jamat-e-Islami (Hind) joining mainstream politics is a call to the mainstream parties like the Congress,  the CPI (M), the BJP, etc. that there needs to be a thorough change in their mode of functioning, especially, policies of nominating candidates for election.
Eligible Muslim candidates need and deserve an equitable share in the election otherwise things may go against the parties’ interests, and ultimately against everyone’s interests.
The fact that given a chance, Muslim candidates can do well in the election has been proven by the Trinamool Congress in West Bengal. This is an example which other mainstream parties can emulate.
So far, the Muslim community led political parties have refrained from partisanship by inducting non-Muslim members and giving them key positions both in the party as well as while giving nominations. Such a balanced policy is a must for any political party in India, not only for the sake of political correctness, but also for its own survival.
Irrespective of who launches a party, the future course of action of a political party must display the spirit of democracy and utmost secularism; otherwise these new parties will also become the victims of communalism and sectarianism from which the older parties have already been suffering.
The Indian electorate has already dumped the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) for its communal character, signaled the left for its covert rightist bias, and shaken the base of the Indian National Congress for its incapability to maintain a secular character in action.
However strong the communal and disruptive force maybe, but the Indian society, except for occasional perturbations, has shown its resilience by reverting back to secular and composite values.
So it is a challenge before all the political parties, right, center, and left leaning, new and old alike - thrown by the people of the world’s largest democracy that prove yourself by uniting the communities and not by segregating one from the other, by effective leadership and progressive policies or you will be thrown out of the race and out of the place.
Shahidur Rashid Talukdar: Write is a PhD student in Economics at Texas Tech University and blogs at

13pic Sanjay Basu Mallick on Adivasi Struggles in IndiaThe following article is based on a talk given by the radical intellectual and activist, Sanjay Basu Mallick of Jangal Bachao Andolan (Save Forest Movement) and NFFPFW (National Forum for Forest People and Forest Workers) recently in Bangalore, who has been tirelessly working among the Adivasis (Indian aboriginals) in Jharkhand for the past three to four decades. While the adivasi struggles (especially in Eastern India) have often been portrayed in the media as a Naxalite (Maoist) led struggle, what is often deliberatly ignored are the many democratic struggles taking place in many parts of Central India against the forces of capitalist globalization, who have started to plunder the rich natural resources in the lands inhabited by the adivasis.
Sanjay Mallick has also played an important role in the Forest Rights Act (FRA) brought in 2006, which despite its flaws and weakness forced the Government to recognize community rights of adivasis all over India. However, like all other well intentioned Indian legislations that could have dented the interests of the profit driven system, this Act also suffers from lack of implementation.
Sanjay started his talk with a famous quote of Marx that all hitherto history is a history of class struggle, but what is also often ignored is the fact that throughout his writing Marx also talks about dissolution of indigenous societies that has been happening for thousands of years. Before the advent of British rule in India, Indian society based around the Asiatic mode of production was mainly a tribal kind of society, a fact that hardly finds mention in the mainstream history books.
What is also not mentioned much in the textbooks is that tribals have revolted throughout the British rule in India, the most famous being the Santal rebellion in 1855, which was the precursor to the well known sepoy mutiny (or the First War of Indian independence) in 1857. The most vicious change brought about by the British in the eastern part of India was the introduction of the extremely exploitative and the feudal Zamindari system that virtually created a feudal landlord (or zamindar) lording over the peasants and the tribals, who were hand and foot bound to the system.
Therefore, the killing and the destruction of the tribal way of life has been a continuous process and was always justified with the excuse that this was inevitable. Now the majority view in the Indian society also believes in this and that sacrifices have to be made for the sake of so called ‘development’ under capitalism. With the opening of the economy in the 90′s and with the advent of neo-liberal reforms came lot of foreign investments and inevitably the increased marginalisation and suffering of the indigenous population of India.
But parallel to this, as a response to the growing adivasi struggles in many parts of eastern India, came the Indian state’s response to try to appease these movements and brought in PESA in 1996 and FRA in 2006 with the intention of undoing the historical injustice wrought on the indigenous communities of India. But both the act deny the ownership of the natural resources to the tribals but grant them community rights over their lands and forests. So therefore the state on the one hand is trying to tame the adivasi movement and on the other hand, is paving way for the corporates to grab the rich natural resources.
It is in this context that one needs to understand Operation Greenhunt, which is essentially a war against the tribal population of India in the name of combating Maoist insurgency and at the same time paving the way for the entry of the multinationals to grab the natural resources. Thus the Indian state is trying to approach the issue with two sets of teeth: one trying to appear democratic and the other, Operation Greenhunt. Also the forest officials in collusion with the bureaucracy and the government have been sold out to the corporates.
Only a handful of tribal villages have benefited from FRA implementation, while thousands of villages have been deprived. For instance in Jharkhand, when the adivasis demanded their share of land as per their entitlement, none of them got more than 1 acre of land, while they were entitled to 7 acres of land as per the act.
Civil society’s response to adivasi issues have not been very encouraging either. While the middle classes all want development at the same time they want some sort of protection to the environment. But do not care much about the people living there who have in fact protected these pristine forests and the natural habitats for thousands of years. The mainstream communist parties (caught in their stages theory of revolution) have neither had any real association with the adivasi struggles nor do they recognise the significant contributions made by these movements and are incapable of doing anything.
9pic Sanjay Basu Mallick on Adivasi Struggles in IndiaLINK

Sunday, March 24, 2013

The Swadeshi Movement And Gandhism

The Swadeshi Movement (1905 – 1910)
and Later Developments

When I read the speeches you delivered before 1910, it seems
to me as if Gandhi had almost copied everything from that—
Swaraj, Samiti, Non-cooperation, and so on. If not outwardly
he must have received these things from you in an occult way.

The whole of Gandhi’s affair is simply our passive resistance
movement given an ethical instead of a political form, applied
with a rigid thoroughness which human nature except in a minority
cannot bear for long and given too a twist which seems
to me to make it harmful to the sane balance and many-sided
plasticity necessary for national life. What with Gandhi, Hitler
and the rest (very different people but all furiously one-sided
and one-ideaed) a large part of humanity seems to have gone off
its balance in these times. 21 September 1934
Did you enjoy the article “Fifty Years of Growth” by K. R.
Kripalani in the Visva-Bharati?2 Fifty years of growth refers
by the way to the Congress. About the Swadeshi period he
writes: “Along time was to elapse before we were to appreciate
the infinite possibilities of the muddy waters at hand. In the
meantime something startlingly romantic happened. . . .
“The fountain [of undefiled water] was cut by the fiery
shafts of Tilak, Vivekananda, and Aurobindo, among others.
They gave to Indian Nationalism its fiery basis in India’s ancient
cultural glory and its modern mission. . . . It is always
more beautiful and more inspiring to contemplate the Idea

and be drunk with it than to face the actual facts and touch
the running sores. . . .
“But this spirit, fiery and beautiful as it was, was fraught
with grave dangers. The glory that it invoked and the passion
that it aroused were so intensely Hindu that Muslims
were automatically left out. Not that they were deliberately
excluded. . . . However that may be, it seems now not unlikely
that had the influence of Tilak and Aurobindo lasted
in its original intensity, we might have had two Indias today—
a Hindu-istan and a Pak-istan, both overlaying and
undermining each other. . . .
“However that be, the fact remains that the conditions
of our country being what they were, the beneficial effects of
Tilak’s and of Aurobindo’s political personalities were soon
exhausted, and might, if prolonged, have proved dangerous,
if Gandhiji had not come on the scene. . . .”

Subject, politics,—taboo. Writer Kripalani a “romantic” and
“idealistic” visionary without hold on realities, living only in
academic ideas—so not worth commenting. All the present
Congress lot seem to be men who live in ideas only, mostly secondhand,
borrowed from Europe (Socialism, Communism etc.),
borrowed from Gandhi, borrowed from tradition or borrowed
from anywhere; Kripalani looks down on the oldModerates for
being in a different way exactly what he himself is—only they
were classics and not romantics. So what is the use of reading
their “histories”? However quite privately and within brackets3
I will enlighten you on one or two points.
(1) The Swadeshi movement was idealist on one side (no
great movement can go without an ideal), but it was perfectly
practical in its aims and methods. We were quite aware of the
poverty of India and its fallen condition, but we did not try to
cure the poverty by Khaddar and Hindi prachar. We advocated
the creation of an industrial India and made the movement a
Swadeshi movement in order to give that new birth a field and
favourable conditions—cottage industries were not omitted in
our view, but there were no fads. The Swadeshi movement
created the following very practical effects:
(a) It destroyed the Moderate reformist politics and
spread the revolutionary mentality (as Jawaharlal now calls it)
and the ideal of independence.
(b) It laid the foundations of an industrial India (not
of course wholly industrial, that was not our intention) which is
however slowly growing today.
(c) It brought in the commercial classes and the whole
educated middle class into the political field—and not the
middle class only, while Moderatism had touched only a small
(d) It had not time to bring in the peasantry, but it had
begun the work and Gandhi only carried it farther on by his
flashy and unsound but exciting methods.
(e) It laid down a method of agitation which Gandhi
took up and continued with three or four startling additions,
Khaddar, Hindiism, Satyagraha = getting beaten with joy, Khilafat,
Harijan etc. All these had an advertisement value, a power
of poking up things which was certainly livelier than anything
we put into it. Whether the effects of these things have been
good is a more doubtful question.
(2) As a matter of fact the final effects ofGandhi’s movement
have been
(a) A tremendous fissure between the Hindus and Mahomedans
which is going to be kept permanent by communal
(b) A widening fissure between caste Hindus and Harijans,
to be made permanent in the same way.
(c) A great confusion in Indian politics which leaves it
a huge mass of division, warring tendencies, no clear guide or
compass anywhere.
(d) Anew constitution which puts the conservative class
in power to serve as a means of maintaining British domination
or at least as an intolerable brake on progress—also divides
India into five or six Indias, Hindu, Moslem, Pariah, Christian,
Sikh etc.
(e) A big fiasco4 of the Non-Cooperation movement
which is throwing politics back on one side to reformism, on
the other to a blatant and insincere Socialism.
That, I think, is the sum and substance of the matter.
As for the Hindu-Moslem affair, I saw no reason why the
greatness of India’s past or her spirituality should be thrown
into the waste-paper basket in order to conciliate the Moslems
who would not at all be conciliated by such a stupidity. What
has created the Hindu-Moslem split was not Swadeshi, but the
acceptance of the communal principle by the Congress, (here
Tilak made his great blunder), and the farther attempt by the
Khilafat movement to conciliate them and bring them in on
wrong lines. The recognition of that communal principle at
Lucknow made them permanently a separate political entity in
India which ought never to have happened; the Khilafat affair
made that separate political entity an organised separate political
power. It was not Swadeshi, Boycott, National Education,
Swaraj (our platform) which made this tremendous division,
how could it? Tilak whom the Kripalani man blames along with
me for it, is responsible not by that, but by his support of the
Lucknow affair—for the rest, Gandhi did it with the help of his
Ali brothers.
There you are. On a tabooed subject—it is, I think, enough.
Not at all for circulation you understand and quite confidential.
14 April 1936