Tamil Nadu

Would Indian Express not mind a communal flare-up?

(This is a reprint from NewsBred).

On a day when every mainstream national daily has lauded the message of “peace and brotherhood” in the Shoba Yatra at Hauz Qazi to douse communal animosity, Indian Express has chosen to flare it up.

Times of India clapped the “peaceful procession”; Hindustan Times extolled Muslims in reinstalling temple idols and even The Hindu put “communal harmony on show” in its headline. But you read Indian Express and it seems they were at a different event than the one being covered.

Beginning with its headline – “On day 3 BJP MPs visit, VHP leader says: Can turn Hauz Qazi, Ballimaran into Ayodhya” – to its content, Indian Express has insinuated “saffron terror” in the form of massive Hindu turnout and speeches by a couple of insignificant entities. Still undone, they inserted a completely unrelated mention with these words: “The issue also figured on the latest cover of the RSS mouthpiece Organiser, with the headline #Temple Vandalism Perils of Minoritarianism.”

Every reader who has read Indian Express today (July 10, 2019) would carry the impression of Saffron intimidation.  A reader would fear impending communal riots in an area where Hindus and Muslims have lived cheek-by-jowl for generations.  A reader would interpret the presence of 3 BJP MPs as a tacit acquiescence by the party leadership.

And what could be the consequences? Hindus and Muslims gulping this poison within them, and not just in Hauz Qazi. A temple vandalized here; a mosque desecrated there, riots erupting; lives lost, police and security overcome by mobs, government in limbo and the unrest in India bringing in sharks from Western shores at the smell of blood in the pool.

Is this what Indian Express wants? Don’t they know that its 10 days to the horrible event and Hindus haven’t even picked up a stone? Aren’t they mindful that sensible Muslims of Hauz Qazi are coming out in droves to ensure no communal rupture erupts in the vicinity? Can’t they lend an ear to the temple priest who says “Today’s event (Shobha Yatra) was organized to stand up against such people (who desecrate a religious place.) We want to cohabit with all other communities.”

To be sure, newspapers seek different angle to make themselves distinct. Someone might choose to highlight Rahul Gandhi and his biggest win in 2019 polls from Wayanad, Kerala while others might find his ousting from family bastion Amethi, UP bigger news. Someone might droll over BJP’s remarkable Lok Sabha show in Karnataka; others might dwell on how Tamil Nadu and Kerala have shut the door on them in South.

But today’s Indian Express is not an interpretation. It’s insinuation. An insinuation, which could trigger something far more sinister. Which could affect our generation, our next generation, the unity of this country, the future of India. Another Partition; another horror; another vivisection.

This issue of vandalized temple is high on the mind of millions of Indians. What next? How would it play out? Am I in a safe neighbourhood? What do I do about my daughter who returns from college to our deserted lane late in the evening? Or my son who is back only when the dusk falls on the fields in Moradabad?

Those who want an “akhand bharat” (United India) want Hindus and Muslims to live in peace and amity. Those who want  a “dismembered India” want Hindus and Muslims to tear themselves apart. Today, I see Indian Express standing with the latter. It would be difficult for them to convince me that their report wasn’t projecting the fear of fundamentalist Hindus—when the rest of mainstream media has lauded the restraint of Hindus.

Am I overreacting to a “small incident” in a “small lane” at the backdrop of a “minor incident”?  Didn’t World War I begin only because a prince (Archduke Franz Ferdinand) was assassinated on the streets of Sarajevo; that a stray protest in Tunisia could herald “Arab Spring”; that Soviet Union would come apart only because Ronald Reagan, a continent apart, had made arms race too prohibitive; that a “Euromaidan movement” could bring down a Ukrainian government; that  American revolution could begin because the elites had refused to pay taxes?

Its time Indian Express opens itself to scrutiny. The governments and the press bodies would have their own reasons to shrink from hauling them up. But they owe an answer to Indians and their country. Come out and debate this issue with me in an open forum. When the country’s future depends on Hindu-Muslim relations, Indian Express can’t seek warmth in the glow of, god forbid, torched homes and burning pyres.

For god’s sake, stop this my Twinkle and your Asifa nonsense

(This is a reprint from NewsBred).

Some crimes shake the conscience of the nation: Like the one of Twinkle in Aligarh. Or Asifa in Kathua, Jammu.

Millions of Indians mourn such tragedies. But those vocal, be it on print, web or TV, view it from religious prisms:  The divide is between Muslims-unsafe vs. Hindus- wronged. Politicians and media profit, not the nation.

The question today is: Can India afford to be divided along the communal lines? If it comes to pass, who should be held responsible? Could India as a nation then survive?

We have a prototype answer to all these questions. India was divided along the communal lines in 1947; Those who created divisions, in this case British, were responsible;  India lost its’ eastern and western limbs in its quest for survival.

Do we want a repeat of it in the near future?  If not, how this slide need be stopped? Should another round of Partition, at the cost of millions killed, raped and displaced, must happen again?

It all begins from those who set the narrative. British did it in decades leading to the independence: Assembly elections were held along the communal lines: Muslim candidate for Muslim constituency. Then began the chorus: what would happen to minority Muslims once we leave the Indian shores.  Muslim League and Mohammad Ali Jinnah were thus armed to severe India of its limbs. The resultant tragedy of Partition has few parallels in human history.

India has survived another Partition thus far. But the same narrative is reappearing:  Muslims are insecure; their culture, language and religion is in danger; majority Hindus would be the oppressors.

If it were the British who fed this narrative in pre-independence era, its media and break-India forces which is fanning the fire in our times. As oppressor Hindus was the theme before the Partition, so is the theme in our times.

Occasionally, the likes of Sadhvi Pragya and Giriraj Singh play into the hands of such forces. At times, “saffron terror” is cooked up like it nearly did in the tragic 26/11 in Mumbai. Lynchings become part of leitmotif to stoke fears of oppressive Hindu majority.

Celebrities and cinestars jump in to serve their eternal desire of being in news.  Writers and scientists sign petitions in orchestrated campaigns. Data, like Lokniti-CSDN, survey how many Muslims and Christians have voted for BJP;  Castes are divided into sub-castes and further sub-castes as Mayawatis, Akhilesh Yadavs and Lallu Prasads feed themselves fat on its harvests. Important magnets, like Western media and prized economists, all are part of the ecosystem which want India to go up in flames.

Hindus and Muslims do have different language and culture. But both are Indians. And a majority do see themselves as Indians. The minority are Asaduddin Owaisi who incites with the call of Karbala or Niranjan Jyoti who divides with “ramzada” vs “haramzada” quip. Hang them out to dry. As you do with the despicable dozen English journalists and at least two English national dailies who are at the beck and call of divisive forces (read casteist, Left and dynastic parties); and foreign-funded NGOs

Let this be a checklist for Muslims:

  • We have always been made to feel insecure even as more people greet us on Eid than those who abuse us; (b) That there is no word as “minority” in Indian constitution, all are Indians; (c) That if “secularism” means denying a Muslim destitute woman (Shah Bano) her rights and reversing the judgment of Supreme Court, then such secularism must be exposed; (d) That if Hindu consolidation has happened around emotive Ram Temple issue, it was stoked by Congress and not BJP/RSS; (e) That for every Akhlaq, Pehlu and Junaid, there are tens and dozens of Hindu victims at the hands of Muslims which go unreported; (f) That if BJP doesn’t opt for a Muslim candidate, it doesn’t matter as long as the elected representative is fair to everyone in his constituency:  be it roads, electricity, toilets, gas, health, education, all is available to Muslims as it is to Hindus; (g) That if Muslims are economically backward, it’s not because of Hindus but perhaps the reason lies in lack of scientific temper in Madarsa education; and less than fair freedom to women.

Let this be a checklist for Hindus:

  • Indian constitution doesn’t favour Muslims; it allows them to run their institutions THEMSELVES not by the government; (b) If Muslims are subsidized for Haj, so are Hindu pilgrims provided for in magical Kumbh melas; (c) True, Indian history is distorted and neither Congress nor Left intellectuals have been fair to Hindus but it’s no excuse to substitute that anger against a common Muslim; (d) True, a dozen English journalists and at least two English national dailies only report crimes against Muslims, often hoax, but they have been left thoroughly exposed in the last five years; their credibility in tatters thanks to a vigorous social media;  (e) Congress and Left, two parties who stoked fears in Muslims and Dalits, are today the outcasts of Indian political system; (f) That Hindu consolidation must not happen at the cost of Muslim alienation: that we don’t want new nations in Bengal or Kerala or Tamil Nadu and its’ attendant costs; (g) That for every Zakir Naik and Burhan Wani, there is also a Muslim boatman who gives up his life but saves tourists from drowning in Jhelum in Srinagar.

We have a choice to make if want to be Hindus or Muslims or Indians. We ought to ask ourselves if we don’t mind another Partition and its horrific cost. We ought to boycott a Naseeruddin Shah or a Kamal Haasan; A Javed Akhtar or a Shabana Azmi; A Swara Bhaskar or a Prakash Raj who are selective in their outrage. The same ought to happen to a Niranjan Jyoti or Asaduddin Owaisi.  We ought to outcast a Shekhar Gupta or a Rajdeep Sardesai; a Sagarika Ghose or a Barkha Dutt if the only crime they see is against Muslims; We need to stop an Indian Express or The Hindu from entering into our drawing rooms if all they can see is crime against a Dalit or a Muslim.

These are small forces. Pygmies in front of a nation of 1.30 billion. Should these handful be allowed to decide if we stay together or apart? Would you blame them if tens and thousands of us are butchered and raped in Partition 2.0?

Muslims need be confident this is their India too. Before you blame others, you must ask if your education and matter of equality to women etc need a relook.  As Maulana Azad once addressed them:  You can’t be drowned and defeated by anyone else but yourself.  Don’t hide behind the cloak of “minority” and “secularism”.  Don’t seek privileges; you are no different than any other Indian. Rely on self. Those who speak for your safety and stoke your fears, couldn’t care less for you.

 

 

Lord Rama was not a fictional character

Devadatta Ramakrishna Bhandarkar died this week—May 13—in 1950. One of India’s greatest archaeologist, Bhandarkar unearthed the entire city of Nagari in Chittorgarh district in 1915-1916. But we remember him as a man who told us that Ramayana and Mahabharata are not all fiction. Myths abound but to term the epics as make-believe would be an utter folly, according to Bhandarkar.

Three lectures of Bhandarkar In Calcutta University in 1918 were later published as a book “Lectures on the Ancient History of India.” Much is known about the Mauryan and Gupta empires but anything further back is wrapped up in a mystery. Bhandarkar’s lectures focussed on the history of India from 650 BC to 325 BC and is a seminal book on India’s past. It provides fascinating details about the life, culture and society of that forgotten era.

Bhandarkar was able to shed light on the mystery of ancient India. His lectures were path-breaking in that he showed that Ancient India was far more advanced in relation to the rest of the world. The great educationalist, Sir Ashutosh Mukherjee termed him as the “pathfinder in trackless regions of the boundless field of Indian antiquarian research.”

Bhandarkar, during his illustrious career, pinned down an important fact—that Lord Rama was not fictional. In Ramayana, Lord Rama is said to belong to Ikshvaku clan and Bhandarkar was able to quote three sources on its authenticity. Inscriptions from the third century told him about the reign of King Madhariputra Sri Virapurushadatta of the Ikshvaku family. The Buddhist texts tell us that Buddha too had belonged to Ikshvaku clan. And then there is Ramayana of course.

Bhandarkar was also able to establish the veracity of Brahim sage, Agstya. The sage has been mentioned in the Ramayana as among the first to have crossed the Vindhya mountains. It was this sage who is admitted by all Tamil grammarians as the founder of the Tamil Language. Bhandarkar also points that in Robert Caldwell’s “Grammar of the Dravidian or South Indian family of languages”, there is a mention of a hill where Agastya retired after setting up the Tamil language. The hill called Gastier (Agastya’s Hill) can still be found in the Tinnevelly district of Tamil Nadu.

In Mahabharata, and its important appendix, Hamivamsa, there is mention of a Kshatriya clan Bhoja. This clan, Bhandarkar proved, was also mentioned in Kautilya’s Arthashastra, a great work on statecraft, which preceded Niccolo Machiavelli’s, The Prince, by a good 1600 years.

The City of Ayodhya as mentioned in the epic, including Ashok Vatika in Sri Lanka and Lepakshi in Andhra Pradesh (where Jatayu was greatly injured by Ravana while trying to save Sita) have all been authenticated.

The NASA Shuttle released images of a mysterious ancient bridge between India and Sri Lanka as mentioned in the Ramayana. It has confirmed half submerged path of rocks between Rameshwaram in Tamil Nadu, through the Mannar islands and up to Northwestern coast of Sri Lanka. The evidence suggests that the bridge was manmade and the timeline of Ramayana matches the one of the bridge. Medicinal herbs in Sri Lanka, the finding of footsteps of Hanuman, have surfaced.

Bhandarkar had little doubt that Ramayana and Mahabharata acquired a mythical proportion over centuries. “However it would be a mistake to suppose that legends teach us nothing historical,” stated Bhandarkar who lived all of 74 years.