Post-2014 majoritarian state: Faux academics
by B S Harishankar on 18 Jun 2019 44 Comments

When Karl Marx wrote on July 22, 1853, that Arabs, Turks, and Mughals who invaded India soon became ‘Hinduized’, as  an eternal law of history by this ‘superior civilization’, he emphasised the process of historical  Hinduization. Later, Jawaharlal Nehru admitted in Discovery of India that the idea of ‘Bharatavarsha’ is clearly outlined from the time of the great epic, Mahabharata, where “a very definite attempt” has been made to emphasise the fundamental unity of India.


In his classic, The Wonder That Was India, A.L. Basham unambiguously observed that, “Hindu civilization will retain its continuity”. His vision and aspirations survived for more than five millennia due to a Hindu majority in India, with inherent power of assimilation and synthesis, and moved ahead in unity.


Prof. Daniel J. Elazar, founder president of the Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs, narrates the character of Indian culture - its relative placidity and its acceptance of diversity - which provided Jews a sanctuary unknown in the western world. Elazar highlights that they exhibit marks of the Indian civilization with which Jews have remained integrated for more than a millennium without any anti-Semitism.


This five millennia old Hindu feature of assimilation, synthesis and acceptance of diversity is now out-rightly branded as majoritarian antagonism by a left liberal lobby that was shattered by the results of 2019 parliament elections.


As early as 2014, after Modi assumed power, this Hindu majority in India is viewed by them with hatred. The Hindu majority are categorized, interpreted and abused by this orchestrated left liberal group as a hostile and intolerant ‘majoritarian’. The accomplishments of this majority in socio-cultural issues or in egalitarian elections are denounced and castigated by this lobby as majoritarian tyranny. They accuse that the Hindu majority is threatening the very survival of Indian democracy and religious minorities.


Zoya Hassan articulated on the template of majoritarianism defined by the Sangh Parivar’s principal belief that India is a Hindu nation; Neera Chandhoke called it tyranny of the majority; Shiv Visvanathan explained it as a new kind of thought policing. Mohammed Ayoob expressed concern at the rise of majoritarianism which threatens the very idea of India. Sugata Bose highlighted majoritarianism masquerading as democracy. Harish Khare observed that the 2019 poll verdict has endorsed a ‘danda sarkar’ and the minorities would have to reconcile themselves to a majoritarian polity.


What invites our attention is a recent work, Majoritarian State: How Hindu Nationalism is Changing India, jointly edited by Angana Chatterji, Thomas Hansen and Christophe Jaffrelot. Contributors are mainly from the University of California, Berkeley and Jawaharlal Nehru University. Some essays help us understand how contemporary historical facts are suppressed or twisted conveniently.


Mridu Rai, writing on, Kashmiris in the Hindu Rashtra, is silent on Islamic violence against Buddhist and Christian minorities in a Muslim majoritarian Jammu and Kashmir. Rai argues that the “most potent aspect of Kashmiri struggle has been the resolute commitment of most Kashmiris to remain non-violent in the face of the gravest provocations”. The Buddhist persecutions and attacks on Christians in Kashmir have been tactfully suppressed by Mridu Rai to present the outlook of majoritarian intimidation of minorities in a pan-Indian context.

The plight of Kashmiri Pundits is history. (Its politics and brutal communalism is succinctly discussed in J&K Invisible Faultlines, Sandhya Jain, Ed., Pentagon Press, 2019). But many are unaware that Buddhist persecution in Jammu and Kashmir also has a long history. The Institute of Peace and Conflict Studies (IPCS) in August 2013 highlighted that since the early 1960s, the intolerance against Leh Buddhists resulted in desecration of Buddhist sites. On July 1989, a big protest in Leh led to clashes. There were attacks on Buddhists and the properties of the famous Hemis Monastery were damaged. The Ladakh Buddhist Association (LBA) called for social and economic boycott of Muslims, which was lifted in 1992.


Four Buddhist lamas were murdered in Leh on July 12, 2000. In February 2006, on reports of some miscreants allegedly desecrating the Quran, tensions escalated in Kashmir. In Kargil, many shops and properties of Buddhists were damaged. There were attacks on Buddhist homes on the fringes of Bodh Kharbu, sparking off a series of communal riots in Ladakh.


The allegation by Buddhists of imposition of Urdu language in Buddhist schools and other institutions by the state government in Kargil and Leh increased the divide. In 2012, in Zanskar valley, Garba and Beda caste among the Buddhists embraced Islam, which led to tension and communal riots. According to IPCS, houses of the Buddhists were damaged, cash looted from shops, and property worth thousands of rupees was destroyed. The currently highlighted phenomenon of majoritarianism was nowhere raised in Kashmir at that time.


In January 2000, Tsering Samphal, President of LBA, enclosed in a three page memorandum, a list of 24 Buddhist women who were taken away from their family in Ladakh and “forcibly” converted to Islam, and accused the state government of laxity in checking conversions. In September 2017, tensions ran high after LBA demanded immediate steps to prevent Muslims marrying Buddhist women and converting them to Islam.


The frequent attacks on the Christian minority in Kashmir by Islamic militants have also been suppressed by authors in this work. Diocesan spokesperson Joseph Dhar says attacks on Christian institutions in Jammu and Kashmir dates back to the 1960s. In 1967, a Muslim mob protesting Israeli aggression against Arab states, attacked Holy Family Church; in 1972, protesters burned down All Saints Church (both in Srinagar). In November 2006, Rev. Richard Howell of the Evangelical Fellowship of India (EFI) blamed Islamic militants for the murder of Global Council of Indian Christians coordinator, Bashir Tantray. The huge protest in 2010, against the “Burn the Koran” campaign in Kashmir resulted in attacks on St Francis School by Islamic militants.


In 2011, a Sharia court in Kashmir summoned Fr. Jim Borst, a Dutch Catholic missionary and principal of St Joseph’s School, to answer charges of proselytization. A Srinagar Shariat court in 2012 issued a decree to expel a Protestant pastor and a Dutch Catholic missionary, along with three other evangelical activists, finding them “guilty of luring Muslims of Kashmir”. It directed the Jammu and Kashmir government to take over the management of the Christian missionary schools, besides monitoring their activities in future.  


In September 2010, Tyndale Biscoe and Mallinson schools under the church were attacked and burnt down by fundamentalists. Suspected Islamic militants set fire in February 2011 to the School of the Convent of St. Luke, in Srinagar. In November 2011, the pastor of the All India Saints Church, C.M. Khanna, admitted involvement in religious conversions before a group of 15 Islamic scholars headed by the Grand Mufti of Kashmir, Mufti Mohammad Bashiruddin. The main entrance of the Holy Family Catholic Church in Srinagar was completely destroyed in 2012, by militants. Later in 2016, Father Paul Thelekkatt, former spokesperson of the Syro-Malabar Church, said Islamic State was trying to purge Christianity from its ancient lands.


However, there is a selective and tenacious silence on all these events by the new spokesmen of post-2014 majoritarianism in India. They see no Islamic majoritarian tyranny, violence, intolerance or hatred, as evident from Flavia Agnes, whose  chapter, Aggressive Hindu Nationalism, covers ‘daily lynching’ of Muslims in India since 2014. Agnes has shrewdly concealed how the 2014 Modi government rescued two Christian priests, Father Alexis Prem Kumar from Tamil Nadu, abducted by Afghan Taliban in 2015, and Tom Uzhunnalil, from Kerala, from ISIS captivity in Yemen in 2017.


Arkotong Longkumer discusses how BJP-Sangh Parivar gained control of northeast India. In Playing the Waiting Game: The BJP, Hindutva and the Northeast, Longkumer complains that “Majority Baptist Christian state of Nagaland” was hurt when Governor of Nagaland released a poster of Bharat Mata on his first Republic Day. Clearly LongKumer feels that a Christian majority state is entitled to intolerance over a poster of Bharat Mata on Republic or Independence Day.


In 1985, Jehovah’s Witnesses Church in Kerala refused to sing the national anthem as it was against their religion. Again in 2016, students belonging to the Jehovah’s Witnesses Church in Kottayam district of Kerala refused to salute the national flag or sing the anthem, calling it idolatry.


Abdul R. Jan Mohamed writes on Rohith Vemula’s Revolutionary Suicide, but is totally silent on the 2018 murder of 23-year-old Kevin, a scheduled caste boy in Kerala, for marrying a girl from an affluent Christian family. In 2018, a 27-year-old tribal man was accused of stealing food at Attappady’s Kadukumanna tribal hamlet in Palakkad district, Kerala. He was tied up and beaten to death. Both events took place under the left government and Jan Mohamed has ignored them.


Highlighting lower caste atrocities, Sukhadeo Thorat writes, Dalits in Post-2014 India. He contends that Manusmriti is still referred to, along with Vedas and epics. He also argues that currently “dalits feel insecure due to occasional pronouncements to bring back old social order based on old vedic social ideology”.


Thorat is unscrupulously silent on scheduled castes who have been denied even access to public roads and burial grounds. In Eraiyur in Villupuram district, Tamil Nadu, armed churchmen attacked scheduled caste homes and damaged nearly 80 houses (Frontline, Vol. 25, Issue 08, April 12-25, 2008). Thorat turns a blind eye on reports released by the Tamil Nadu Untouchability Eradication Front on April 2018, alleging that the practice of caste can be found in the formation of parishes, denial of share for dalit Christians in the administration of the parish, construction of separate chapels in the same village for dalits and orthodox Christians, discrimination in facilities provided on caste considerations, denial of employment opportunities and priesthood (The Hindu, April 10, 2018).


Thorat conveniently skips a complaint in June 2015 by scheduled caste Christian converts to the United Nations, accusing the Vatican and the leadership of India’s Catholic Church of caste-based discrimination. A delegation of 22 persons from the Dalit Christian Liberation Movement and Viduthalai Tamil Puligal Katchi (a collective of human rights activists) submitted the complaint to the UN Information Centre for India and Bhutan, in Delhi.


At Harobele, Karnataka, more than one hundred scheduled castes were forced to spend a night in the fields to hide from a rampaging mob of Catholics. Four SC priests from Karnataka complained to Pope Francis that the Indian Catholic church was casteist, but his response was disappointing (The Hindustan Times, Aug. 2, 2015). In Kerala, scheduled caste Christians are discriminated even in death by Syrian Christians. They complain, “all who came into the church fold in the 20th century were fooled by this fake promise of a “spiritual Achha Din” (The Indian Express, June 1, 2018).


In 2016, in an open letter to Cardinal Cleemis, president of the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of India, AXJ Bosco, a Jesuit priest and adviser, National Council of Dalit Christians, complains about the silence of the Church hierarchy on Bishop Prasad Gallela who was abducted, beaten, and tortured for hours because he represented scheduled castes in Andhra Pradesh. The accused include three pastors of Kadappa diocese (Bishop’s kidnap: three pastors among 14 held, The Hindu, May 3, 2016).


Tanika Sarkar discusses Saffronisation of History by Sangh Parivar, but is silent about left historians searching for the bones of Apostle Thomas at the global project on Pattanam in Kerala, Romila Thapar being one of its ardent patrons.


Angana P. Chatterji in, Remaking the Hindu Nation, highlights how the left wing, All India Democratic Women’s Association (AIDWA) specified in its reports that the 2013 Muzaffarnagar riots in Uttar Pradesh were pre-planned attacks by Sangh Parivar, and there were at least five reported cases of gang rape of Muslim women. The AIDWA is silent on the abuse reported by numerous Catholic sisters against church priests and other male clergy.


Chatterji says that gendered and sexualized violence inevitably accompanies majoritarian mobilizations, but ignores sex crimes by clergymen who prey on the laity (The Sins Of Our Fathers, Outlook, Jan. 20, 2017). She suppress the fact that in 2018, a group of Indian Catholic sisters broke ranks with the church in Kerala and openly protested against Bishop Franco Mulakkal of Jalandhar, Punjab, for allegedly raping a nun 13 times. Are these events the outcome of majoritarian mobilization?


Chatterji should read the works of two Catholic nuns, Sister Jesme’s Amen: The Autobiography of a Nun, and Sister Mary Chandy’s autobiography, Swasthi, on the illicit relationships, sexual harassment and bullying in the church. Sexual assault against children and youth are rising alarmingly in churches of Kerala. A Christian priest was arrested in 2016 for allegedly sodomizing at least five minors at a welfare hostel at Balagram Balamandir at Perumbavoor in Ernakulam district, Kerala. The same year, a former Rector of Deva Matha Catholic seminar at Pattaram in Iritty, Kannur district, was arrested for sexually assaulting a 21 year old youth. Chatterji must explain how left liberals stood/stand in defense of human rights for sexually and physically assaulted women and children in India, beyond gender and religion.


Chatterji accuses the Sangh Parivar of singularly spreading hatred in society, in the context of Love Jihad. She suppresses major facts. In 2017, Mathew Mar Gregorios, Bishop of the Syrian Independent Orthodox Church, called Love Jihad a ‘conversion ploy’ and, “there is a rampant conversion of Christian girls into Islam in the Malabar region” of Kerala (Hindustan Times, July 17, 2017). The Kerala Catholic Bishops Council claimed in 2009 that around 4,500 Christian women were victims of conversion in this manner (India Today, Oct. 9, 2017).


The Majoritarian State is a faux academic attempt to camouflage genuine facts on gender, sex, scheduled castes and minorities in India.


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