July 29, 2014

Calcutta workshop and discussion on Religious Right, Communlaism, Violence and Censorship (30th July 2014)

Dear friends,

Greetings from all of us at AMAN Trust!

We invite you for a two-day workshop and discussion on Religious Right, Communlaism, Violence and Censorship that AMAN Trust is orgnaising in collaboration with the Jadavpur University and Ebong Alap, Kolkata.

Workshop Dates: 30th July (Wednesday) and 1st August (Friday).

Workshop Venue: Jadavpur University, Kolkata.

The panel discussion on the 30th July (1pm to 4 pm) will focus on ‘The Religious Rights in Neoliberal India’. The speakers are: Dr. Anita Dixit (Azim Premji Foundation), Professor Surajit Mazumdar (JNU) and Dr. Chirashree Dasgupta (Ambedkar University, Delhi). The session will be chaired by Professor Modhumita Roy, Tufts University, USA.

Students are especially invited to engage with the panelists in an interactive session. This would be held in the International Relations Seminar Room, Ground Floor, PG Arts Building, Jadavpur University. The registration for the same would begin at 12.30 pm.

The student workshop on 1 August (12 noon to 3pm) will be held at Vivekananda Hall, Jadavpur University, on the theme of ‘Communalism, Violence and Censorship’. Prof. Kavita Panjabi, Jadavapur University and an AMAN Trustee, would introduce the workshop theme. The session would be moderated by Dr Udayan Bandyopadhyay, Bangabasi College. Other academics will also participate as discussants / commentators on presentations made by students.

Some of the themes on which students are being encouraged to speak for 5 to 7 minutes each are:

communalism and the cultural sphere/education/censorship.
the nature of contemporary polarization.
the role of the state/the role of the media/social media/ mobile technology to spread/combat communal violence.
We are encouraging students to come prepared to speak in English / Bengali / Hindi and not make formal paper presentations. We will be able to enrol 50 students (maximum) at the workshop on 1 August. The panel discussion on 30 July is open to all.

The workshop on 1st August would close with a concert celebrating syncretism from 4pm. Prof. Amlan Dasgupta would speak about the concert idea which is to be followed by Lalon's songs by Sahana Bajpaie, Satyaki Banerjee and Samantak Sinha. We hope the students would enjoy this too.

Students interested in speaking / taking part in the workshop are requested to email their expressions of interest; full name; and short academic bio-data to the following address at the earliest: marxatju@gmail.comwith a copy to ebongalap@yahoo.co.uk

Thanks and regards,
Jamal Kidwai (AMAN Trust); Abdul Kafi and Suchetana Chattopadhyay (Coordinators, CMS, Jadavpur University); Sarmistha Dutta Gupta (Secretary, Ebong Alap)

Ideology as a cover for political agenda: New ICHR Chief is a Communal Ideologue | Ram Puniyani

sacw.net - 29 July 2014

Electoral and political arena is only one of the grounds through which political agenda of vested interests is achieved. Capturing of people’s mind, the ideological propagation, is the foundation on which political agenda stands and perpetuates itself. That’s how the change in History text books or teaching a communal version of History is a necessary part of sectarian nationalism in many South Asian countries. In Pakistan the communal elements teach that foundation of Pakistan begins with the victory of Mohammad bin Kasim in Sind in eight century! One knows that the basic difference in the kingdoms and nation states is too gross to be glossed over like this but any way if communalists have the levers of power, like education, in their hands anything can be manipulated and presented in a form which indoctrinates the large section of population. That’s how when the NDA Government came to power last time around (1999), one of its action was changing the history books to bring in the communal version of the past. This time around with BJP led NDA coming to power with bigger majority, matters are going to be worse off if one looks at what is being planned in the arena of education in particular.

Prof. Y. Sudarshan Rao, not much known for his academic accomplishments in the discipline of History, has been appointed as the chief of ICHR (Indian Council for Historical Research). Prof. Rao has been working on proving the historicity of epics like Ramayana and Mahabharata. In addition rather than peer-reviewed research papers, he has been speaking his mind through blogs, which are reflective of his ideological moorings. Though he claims not to be part of RSS, his outpourings do show the inklings of agenda of Hindu Rashra inherent in them, the glorification of caste system, the glorification of Hindu past and it’s being tarnished by alien Muslim rule. As per him the “Most of the questionable social customs in the Indian society as pointed out by the English educated Indian intellectuals and the Western scholars could be traced to this period of Muslim rule in north India spanning over seven centuries.” He argues that “The (caste) system was working well in ancient times and we do not find any complaint from any quarters against it.”

Had Prof Rao done some rational study in to untouchability, caste system and other practices, which were criticized by many during rising Indian national movement, he would have known that caste system’s adverse effects were not due to the rule of Muslim kings, but were inherent in scriptures, which reflected social system of that time. As such the social arrangement of that time gradually got transformed into hereditary system. With this purity-pollution came in; an accompaniment much before the advent of rule of Muslim kings.

Muslim kings as such did not change the social system of caste in any way. That was not their goal anyway. On the contrary the Muslim community itself came to adopt caste system at social level. While in Pakistan the communal Historiography refuses to recognize the existence of Hinduism, Hindus, in India the communal thinking puts all the blame of abominable social customs to ‘outside’ influence. In tune with that the attempt of the new Chief of ICHR is to put the blame of the adverse practices of caste system to external factors, the Muslim rule. In Prof. Rao’s fictional history, the inconvenient portions are omitted and the picture is created ‘where’ all the evils are due to external factor of Muslim kings. At basic level he forgets that Muslim kings retained the social system prevalent here and their administration was a mixed one, Hindu-Muslim one, e.g. 34% of Court officials of Aurangzeb were Hindus. This ideologically indoctrinated Professor wants to erase from his and our memory the fact that caste system and oppressive gender hierarchy do get well articulated in Manu smriti, which reflects the social norms which came to be rooted by first and second Century AD.

There are quotes in the Rig Veda and Manusmriti to show that low castes were prohibited from coming close to the high castes and they were to live outside the village. While this does not imply that a full-fledged caste system had come into being in Rig Vedic times, the four-fold division of society into varnas did exist, which became a fairly rigid caste system by the time of the Manusmriti.

‘In Vajasaneyi Samhita (composed around tenth century bc) the words Chandal and Paulkasa occur. In Chhandogya Upanishad (composed around eighth century bc) it is clearly said that “those persons whose acts were low will quickly attain an evil birth of a dog or a hog or a Chandala”.’ (Chhandogya Upanishad V. 10.7)

The first major incursions of Muslim invaders into India began around the eleventh century ad, and the European conquests of India began in the seventeenth–eighteenth centuries. The shudras began to be excluded from caste society, and ‘upper’ castes were barred from inter-dining or inter-marrying with them. Notions of ‘purity’ and ‘pollution’ were enforced strictly to maintain caste boundaries much before that. Shudras became ‘untouchables’ and this rigid social division that Manu’s Manav Dharmashastra (Human Law Code) codified.

M.S. Golwalkar, the late Sarsanghchalak (Supremo) of the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS), upholds the Varna system, ‘It is none of the so-called drawbacks of Hindu Social order, which prevents us from regaining our ancient glory.’ (M.S. Golwalkar, We or Our Nationhood Defined, Bharat Publications, Nagpur, 1939, p. 63.) Later he defended it in a different way, ‘If a developed society realizes that the existing differences are due to the scientific social structure and that they indicate the different limbs of body social, the diversity would not be construed as a blemish.’ (Organiser, 1 December 1952, p. 7) Deendayal Upadhyaya, another major ideologue of Sangh Parivar stated, ‘In our concept of four castes (varnas), they are thought of as different limbs of virat purush (the primeval man)…These limbs are not only complimentary to one another but even further there is individuality, unity. There is a complete identity of interests, identity, belonging…If this idea is not kept alive, the caste instead of being complimentary can produce conflict. But then that is a distortion.’ (D. Upadhyaya, Integral Humanism, New Delhi, Bharatiya Jansangh, 1965, p. 43)

The best contrast in the approach to abolition of the caste system and untouchability can be seen in the approaches of Ambedkar and Golwalkar. The former, holding Manusmriti as the upholder of caste system initiated a social movement which led to burning of this holy tome, while the latter wrote eulogies of Manu and the system of law provided by him.

As far as the argument that ‘the system served well and there no complaints’, is half true and half false. Yes it worked well for the upper castes who were the beneficiaries. It was oppressive and inhuman to the lower castes. Yes, there are no complaints recorded, very true. The low castes were excluded from the arena of learning, so there is no question of dissatisfaction being recorded. While as a matter of fact right from the time of Lord Buddha, the protests against the caste system came up, Buddhism itself was a movement against the system of caste hierarchy. The medieval saints like Kabir and his likes powerfully expressed the sigh of oppression of the lower castes, their suffering at the hands of the beneficiaries of the caste system, whose cause Prof Rao is espousing and upholding. What direction our scholarship of the past, caste-gender hierarchy will take is becoming clear with the changes which have been brought in ICHR. Sign of times to come!

Book Review: Kale on Menon Women of the Hindu Right

Everyday Nationalism: Women of the Hindu Right in India
Kalyani Devaki Menon

232 pages | 2010
University of Pennsylvania Press

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See Book Review from H Net

Kalyani Devaki Menon. Everyday Nationalism: Women of the Hindu Right in India. Philadelphia: University of Pennsylvania Press, 2010. 224 pp. $49.95 (cloth), ISBN 978-0-8122-4196-9.

Reviewed by Sunila Kale (University of Washington International Studies Department)
Published on H-Asia (May, 2011)
Commissioned by Sumit Guha

Kale on Menon Women of the Hindu Right

In Everyday Nationalism: Women of the Hindu Right in India, Kalyani Devaki Menon provides us with a rich ethnographic account of the mechanisms, tactics, and ideologies by which Hindu nationalist organizations build their support among Indian women in the communities in and around India’s national capital, Delhi. The subject matter continues to be timely, for despite the sidelining of the Hindu nationalist Bharatiya Janata Party from the center stage of national politics in India, Hindu nationalism in its cultural, social, as well as political variants continues to thrive in India.[1] The focus in this book on women is equally welcome as part of a larger body of scholarship that seeks to disaggregate the Hindu nationalist movement to understand how its various constituents operate alongside and sometimes against each other.

Menon conducted a year-long ethnography among individuals working in the Delhi chapters of several Hindu nationalist organizations: the Rashtra Sevika Samiti, the women’s organization directly linked to the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh; the Durga Vahini and Matri Shakti, women’s organizations related to the Vishwa Hindu Parishad; the Mahila Morcha, the women’s affiliate of the Bharatiya Janata Party; and Sewa Bharati, a social service organization that in Delhi concentrates mostly on providing educational and vocational training to Delhi’s poor urban communities. Her sustained interactions with forty-five women and ten men in the movement take her from ordinary chapter meetings to specialized retreats and nationalist rallies full of incendiary speeches. Her ethnography among her mostly middle-class and upper-caste participants attends to “the everyday constructions of ideology and politics through which activists garner support at the grassroots level.” To this end, she looks at how individual members and organizations use “history, religion, politics, and social work to articulate the everyday fears, desires, needs, and interests of diverse groups with the movements goals” (p. 5).

While Menon is interested in the pluralism of the Hindu nationalist movement itself, a quality that rests at the heart of the movement’s “expansionary strategies” (p. 5), her potentially more significant contribution is the examination of moments when individuals become what she calls “dissonant subjects,” transgressing the norms of the movement. In these moments, Menon sees an opportunity to examine “everyday acts that complicate our analysis of Hindu nationalist subjects” (p. 3), in particular the ability of movement leaders and movement structures to variously overlook, discipline, or incorporate dissonance. Menon engages these theoretical issues of Hindu nationalism’s pluralism and the role of dissonant subjects in her introductory chapter. The subsequent chapters are organized around the movement’s uses of historical narratives, the language of fear, a twinning of religious and political duty, volunteerism, and the use of games and fun. These are all examples of the common practices by which movement leaders inspire new recruits and instill a normative agenda, and Menon provides a valuable ethnographic snapshot of these everyday acts.

Menon notes that at times the normative emphasis among these women’s organizations is distinct from hegemonic Hindu nationalist discourses. Menon argues that it is through an accommodation of ideological or normative pluralism that the movement has been able to grow substantially among Indian women, as well as among other groups who might otherwise be alienated by rigidly enforced hegemonic and patriarchal norms. This is perhaps most clearly demonstrated in Menon’s analysis in chapter 1, where she takes up the subject of “everyday histories.” For example, in most dominant Hindu nationalist narratives, the seventeenth-century Maratha king Shivaji is valorized as the epitome of a righteous Hindu ruler and the progenitor of the modern Hindu nation. However, Menon finds that among the women of the Rashtra Sevika Samiti, the figure of Jijabai, Shivaji’s mother, is the generative force for a newly awakened Hindu politics in the early seventeenth century, an “architect of the Hindu Nation” (p. 47). The stories that circulate around Jijabai underscore the central role of motherhood for Menon’s interlocutors, one that allows individual women to make a deep impact on public, political events through the private choices they make for themselves, and most importantly, for their children.

In chapters 2 and 3, Menon interrogates the uses of fear and insecurity in the garnering of new recruits and the justification of certain kinds of social work. For example, in one conversation with a member of Sewa Bharati, we hear the position that the Hindu nationalist movement’s education outreach among Delhi’s lower-income communities is essential to countering the threats that conversion poses from minority religions, particularly Christianity. In the subsequent chapter, Menon examines the productive uses made of fears of Pakistan during the Kargil war. In her analysis of the speeches of female ascetics like Sadhvi Rithambara, Menon argues that it is “their dual status as renouncers and as women that makes these sadhvis such effective voices for the values, morals, and politics of the movement” (p. 82).

While chapter 3 draws from her fieldwork experiences at rallies and other significant occasions, Menon’s book is strongest and most illuminating when it takes us into the everyday world of work and play. In chapter 4, Menon presents material from her fieldwork among women in social service organizations. In the first part of the chapter Menon accompanies two VHP social workers in their volunteer time in the obstetric and gynecology unit of one of Delhi’s government hospitals. The two women play critical mediating roles for the largely poor, illiterate, and inexperienced patient population seeking prenatal attention. They routinely serve as stenographers, helping patients to input information for hospital registration, and in some cases they function as triage nurses, determining which patients require attention and which will most likely be sent home by the hospital staff. Here we get a more grounded sense of the vital social work that is done by individuals and organizations of the Hindu Right and how this work connects to the expansion of the movement among new communities.

Chapter 5 shifts the focus to a singular event, a weekend retreat, or shivir, organized by the Rashtra Sevika Samiti with the imperative to recruit new members. Organized games and play, physical exercises and drills, lectures, prayer, and patriotic songs structure the day’s activities, all with the aim to position new recruits “toward the cultural politics of the movement” (p. 131). Games and play are particularly apt strategies to “disseminate these ideas because they are able to convey Hindu nationalist constructions of history, politics, and morality without raising the hackles of those who might otherwise disagree with them” (p. 155).

Menon gives us a very good sense of the ideology and practices of the organizations and individuals with whom she interacts. There are a few places, however, where the reader might have wished for additional or perhaps different kinds of information to make sense of the larger argument. Among the occasions in which members of the Hindu nationalist movement become dissonant subjects we have the opening vignette, in which Ela, a volunteer in Sewa Bharati, expresses the opinion that “it is meaningless” to build a temple to Ram “on the blood of so many Indians” (p. 1). This views sits at odds with Ela’s own family history in the RSS, her own long-standing association with Sewa Bharati, and the focal nature of the efforts to build a temple at the former site of the Babri Masjid for the Hindu nationalist movement over the last several decades. Similarly, we hear that another Hindu nationalist, Vimla, doubts the authenticity of female renunciates, who merely “have to look spiritual” (p. 102) to be granted a life of wealth and luxury. Again, given sadhvis’ privileged position of deference and authority in the movement, and their importance to some of the arguments of Menon’s book, Vimla’s views seem jarring.

Menon’s focus on dissonance in the introductory chapter of the book alerts the reader to pay closer attention to the narratives of such moments, and her theoretical survey of this concept is valuable and provocative. However, as the book unfolds, its rich ethnographic documentation geared toward “dissonance” is not supplemented by a continued engagement with this vital idea. While episodes of dissonance like the ones described above are inherently interesting, there seems to be less rigorous pursuit of the questions surrounding these moments: How do individuals themselves understand their transgression of the movement’s norms? Are there potentially more radical consequences to this dissonance? Could such moments of dissonance constitute the germ for a potential subversion of hegemonic positions? Menon’s book comes at a time when the broad swath of the Hindu Right is in a moment of reinvention, and this work is therefore timely and important in this context. It is an important contribution to the discussion of Hindu nationalism, and its emphasis on the everyday practices of nationalist organizations helps to clarify the movement’s expansion outside of its early upper-caste and middle-class support base into lower-caste and lower-class communities and especially through gender as both a dissonant and a resonant category of experience for members of the Hindu Right. Menon has given us a rich view of women in the Hindu Right of northern India, and whatever questions she leaves unanswered are perhaps stimulants for new research agendas.


[1]. In the 2009 Indian parliamentary elections, the Bharatiya Janata Party won 116 seats, enough to secure its position as the second largest political party after the centrist Indian National Congress, which won 206 seats. The BJP has a substantial political following in a number of state governments as well. Among the most populous states where it functions either as the sole party in power or as a coalition partner are Gujarat, Bihar, Madhya Pradesh, Punjab, Uttarakhand, and Jharkhand.

Faith versus history | Salil Tripathi

Livemint, July 16 2014.

Faith versus history

Y.S. Rao’s appointment is troubling not because he is not a Marxist but because he believes history is shaped by both faith and reason

Salil Tripathi

In The Life of Reason, the philosopher George Santayana wrote: “Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it.” And India is about to do just that by reviving the battle over its history books. The battle of the 1990s has resurfaced, with the appointment of Yellapragada Sudershan Rao to head the Indian Council for Historical Research (ICHR).

It is not easy to find Rao’s academic work on search engines that showcase global academic research—his name appears in one list of “Indic savants” in the field of computational sciences of antiquity. He has also written more than two dozen posts on a blog since 2007, which, it turns out, the cartel of historians who control academic citations through peer-reviewed journals haven’t caught up with yet.

Aggrieved over a “Marxist” interpretation of Indian history and livid with the so-called Macaulayite legacy, conservative ideologues in India have long asserted that Indians have been denied access to their own glorious past, and Rao’s work is part of that project. They argue that in the history that is taught in Indian schools and colleges, the horrors committed by Muslim invaders are understated and their positive influences exaggerated; the sins of secular politicians blurred out and the contribution of some—in particular the Nehru-Gandhi family—over-emphasized, and Indians are forced to look at their past through foreign eyes which leads to an inferiority complex.

To be sure, high school textbooks of many topics, including history, are woefully inadequate. Examples of textbooks from the last decade in Gujarat and Maharashtra have both shown remarkable howlers which would be hilarious if they weren’t real. When otherwise articulate Indians argue about points of Indian history, revealing the vacuity of their thoughts and ignorance of content, blame such history texts.

Indeed, Indian history texts can be improved. Neither Hitler nor Mao (or Lenin) was a hero, and Mohandas Gandhi was truly a remarkable leader, even though he had human frailties and he wasn’t a saint. But it is a Hanuman-like leap of logic to stress that to undo those wrongs a fresh set of mistakes must be made. And Rao’s appointment could lead to just that. If his appointment is troubling, it is not because he is not a Marxist, nor because he wants to highlight intellectual achievements of ancient, pre-colonized India, but because he appears to believe that history is shaped by both faith and reason.

Faith matters, of course; but faith is part of a culture, it should not dictate history. Faith is about unquestioned belief; history is about facts and reality. Faith may lead one to believe that Lord Rama was an ideal male; history may legitimately lead one to question if he existed at all—or if he was the product of imagination of a gifted writer. (Reason may also prompt some to question if he was indeed the ideal male). Ramayana is a great work of literature; it has historical significance—but is it history?

This is not to suggest that a literary hero cannot be inspirational. But historifying myths is a problem. If myths and history are not kept apart, the result can be a warped worldview, because the myths we believe in tend to be heroic, glorifying “us” and belittling “them”, and that leads to a perverse form of nationalism whose consequences—history shows us—are usually disastrous.

The rationale of rewriting history books is to glorify the past, and its logical extension is the kind of vandalization that we saw in 1992, when the Babri Masjid was torn down in Ayodhya. Rao’s appointment is part of a grander plan aimed at reimagining the past and making myths acceptable, to advance the Hindu nationalist agenda. It also means disregarding the inconvenient parts, which interfere with the master narrative. Isolated though they might seem, there is a pattern in the withdrawal of some textbooks during 1998-2004 when the National Democratic Alliance was last in power, the quixotic battle over the “Aryan Invasion Theory”, the campaign to remove an essay of the late poet A.K. Ramanujan which shows alternative renditions of the Ramayana, the banning books about Gandhi and Jinnah in Gujarat, the dream to reoccupy sites of hundreds of places where temples once stood, the attacks on D.N. Jha (because he exploded myths about the sacred cow) and calling Romila Thapar a foreign agent, the sustained denigration of some independence-era leaders for their alleged appeasement towards Pakistan, and the idolising of alternate heroes—Vallabhbhai Patel, Vivekananda, and Subhash Chandra Bose.

And so we have a government now spending taxpayers’ money to build a very tall statue for Patel, a politician who opposed the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh; exalting the philosopher Vivekananda, who spoke out against idol worship; and valorizing Bose, a nationalist who used Hindustani—that amalgam of Hindi and Urdu—and not Hindi, and in Roman script, to be inclusive in communicating with the Indian National Army troops. But being Indian, this government naturally suffers from irony deficiency. Salil Tripathi is a writer based in London.

Read more at: http://www.livemint.com/Opinion/RD4bqdtgK8reRlLh1sspVO/Faith-versus-history.html?

Everything's Right in Goa: Hardline Hindutva on rise in India's party capital

Everything's Right in Goa: Hardline Hindutva on rise in India's party capital

by Mayabhushan Nagvenkar Jul 29, 2014

Panaji: Traditionally, it’s slumber season here. But this monsoon, Goa, especially its politicians are uncharacteristically busy.

Never has the state, otherwise known politically for its trademark, but bizarre, petty defections and musical chair-like ousting of chief ministers, inspired national headlines for two days straight for hardline politics and communally coloured news, like it has in the last two months, which interestingly coincides with Narendra Modi's elevation as prime minister.

Otherwise an insignificant speck on the national mainstream news radar, Goa in this time has dished out, news-wise, a seductive, but inflammatory Molotov cocktail of two cabinet ministers who are thrilled at the idea of a ‘Hindu state’, demands for a bikini and mini-skirt ban and ruling politicians claiming to ideological affinity to Pramod Muthalik, best known for ransacking a pub in Mangalore to Goa, arguably known as national capital of pubs and bars.

(Note: Co-operation minister Deepak Dhavalikar (MGP) had claimed that Modi could lead India into becoming a “Hindu Nation”. Deputy chief minister Francis D’Souza (BJP) had later insisted that India was already a “Hindu Nation” and that he was a “Christian Hindu”. Reeling under public and media pressure following their statement both have claimed their comments were misunderstood)

In the same period, two Facebookers also find themselves at the receiving end, with the police booking them in separate offences, for accusing Modi of masterminding a possible holocaust and circulating a morphed photo of a cabinet minister who demanded a bikini ban in a pink bikini. A hate-speech complaint against Muthalik, demanding that Hindu’s arm themselves with swords and Bhagwad Gitas, has been rejected by the state police, who claimed to have found no merit in the complaint)

Social commentators as well as politicians off and on record, do not hesitate to say that conservative political parties, especially the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) and the Maharashtrawadi Gomantak Party (MGP) with these hardline comments, are actually trying to appropriate Goa’s hardline voters, who have emerged from a socio-political churning fuelled during the 2014 Lok Sabha elections.

“The Lok Sabha elections saw a polarisation of the Hindu and Christian votes. These noises made by the BJP and the MGP are signs of a battle for the hardline Hindu voter, who accounts for around 20 percent of the total Hindu votes,” Nationalist Congress Party vice president Trajano D’Mello told Firstpost.

Christians account for a sizeable 26 percent of the state’s population, where a majority are Hindus. And while the BJP had been trying to be cozy with the influential Roman Catholic Church and Christians in the recent past, a stinging circular issued by the Church against Modi and Parrikar (while the circular did not name the two, it was indicative enough) during the campaign phase, forced the party to alter its campaign mid-course.

The Congress used the circular to try and herd together its minority votes, especially in the Christian stronghold of Salcete sub-district, often considered a key to electoral victory in the South Goa Lok Sabha seat. The party however lost both its seats.

On the flipside however, the circular was also spoken of amongst conservative Hindu voters, as an unprovoked attack on its leaders, especially when the newfound relationship between the party and the Church had been mutually beneficial in the recent past.

For the millions of tourists that flock to Goa every year, the horizon is limited by the sea on one end and the palm-fringed beaches and shacks on the other. But away in the hinterland, where the rivers aren’t saline and temples, not churches or chapels dot the countryside, in towns like Bicholim, Ponda, Madkai, Priol, is a significant Hindu conservative vote, for whom a demand for a bikini-ban or a Hindu Nation chorus is considered very elementary and a logical argument.

“We should credit him. He has the guts to speak about protecting our culture we should all back the minister,” said Swami Brahmeshanand in a specially televised address on 10 July, after Deepak Dhavalikar’s brother and PWD minister Sudin Dhavalikar demanded a ban on bikinis and mini-skirts. The seer has a strong following amongst the Bhandari samaj, which accounts for more than 30 percent of the state’s Hindu population. And in the 2014 general elections, it is this voter, along with which could have climbed a notch on the hardline ladder.

A majority of the socially elite and influential Hindu castes like Goud Saraswat Brahmins, which chief minister Manohar Parrikar belongs too, have already put their lot behind the BJP. His call for a ban on mini-skirts and bikinis actually received public support in these parts, with some civil society groups and women’s organisations openly backing the minister.

“There is definitely a strong conservative Hindu trait in Goa, especially in areas such as Ponda, etc, where these guys come from. For instance, I remember that some women came out supporting the ban on mini-skirts,” says Samir Kelekar, an IIT-Mumbai alumnus, who ran a campaign a couple of months back to protest against police harassment of a Facebooker for posting anti-Modi comments.

Some, like Congress spokesperson Durgadas Kamat call such political positioning as poisonous as a “black-necked cobra spitting dangerous venom”, but others like Cleofato Countinho, a lawyer and a political commentator say the Dhavalikar is only trying to keep the hardcore fringe elements on their side.

“To my mind, the comments are (like a) bargaining chip. They are attempting to rally fringe elements as pressure tactic,” says Coutinho. Noted lawyer and state secretary of the Communist Party of India (MP) Thalmann Pereira says that these provocative comments, like those made by Sudin’s brother and Goa’s Co-operation minister Deepak Dhavalikar, who on Thursday advocated a march towards a ‘Hindu Nation’ under Modi, do have a polarizing effect, because the “Hard Hindutva” appeal is directed at the Hindu Bahujan Samaj in Goa.

Perhaps clearer picture about Goa’s seeming tryst with hardline Hindutva will emerge when the monsoon clouds give way to a clear winter sun in a few months.

source URL: http://www.firstpost.com/politics/everythings-right-goa-hardline-hindutva-rise-indias-party-capital-1639101.html

July 28, 2014

India: We don't need this education: say no to Dina Nath Batra's books - Editorial, Hindustan Times

Hindustan Times, July 27, 2014


We don't need this education: say no to Dina Nath Batra's books

Blowing out birthday candles is apparently part of western culture and should be shunned. Instead one’s birthday ought to be celebrated by wearing swadeshi clothes, doing a havan, praying to ishtadev and feeding cows. Normally, such exhortations would be dismissed as not being worth the paper they are written on. But when the author is none other than Dina Nath Batra, whose civil suit earlier led to the pulping of eminent scholar Wendy Doniger’s seminal work on Hinduism, we must take this seriously. Mr Batra has also been rewarded for his ‘valiant’ efforts to promote culture and tradition by the Gujarat government, which has asked 42,000 primary and secondary schools in the state to make a set of nine books by him, a part of the curriculum’s supplementary literature. We can only hope that all his books are not of the calibre of the sort which talks of not using birthday candles.

It is highly questionable whether students will be able to develop moral values and imbibe our rich culture after studying Mr Batra’s works. However, it speaks volumes for the narrow-mindedness of Mr Batra that he thought it fit to spearhead the movement against Ms Doniger’s book, which by all accounts is a pathbreaking work. There are many like Mr Batra who see plots to subvert our culture in books, paintings, plays and other creative works.

Hinduism and Indian culture do not need ambassadors like Mr Batra, they have withstood the test of time precisely by being eclectic and inclusive.

The fact that Mr Batra has been given this sort of recognition can only encourage similarly myopic people who will appoint themselves as custodians of our culture. It is a pity that there was not a more forceful denunciation of Mr Batra when he led the charge against Ms Doniger’s book. The authorities in Gujarat should examine how including books that speak of including neighbouring countries as part of India’s map can help students in any way.

Apart from anything else, it is to teach children factually incorrect information. India does not lack scholars on culture and heritage. Mr Batra and his ilk are certainly not among them.
- See more at: http://www.hindustantimes.com/comment/dina-nath-batra-s-books-are-fiction-disguised-as-fact/article1-1245306.aspx

India: Lessons on how ‘gau seva’ begets kids, why not to say ‘professor’

The Indian Express
Lessons on how ‘gau seva’ begets kids, why not to say ‘professor’
Written by Ritu Sharma | Ahmedabad | July 28, 2014 10:21 am
Dina Nath Batra at his home in New Delhi. Source: File Photo Dina Nath Batra at his home in New Delhi. Source: File Photo


What Dina Nath Batra’s books teach Gujarat schoolchildren about science, history and geography.
Nine books introduced in Gujarat’s schools celebrate the gurukul style of learning in ancient India, prescribe a code of conduct for teachers and students that conforms to “Bharatiya sanskriti” (Indian culture), redraw the map of India to include other countries, and interpret history through a series of stories on rishi-munis, dev-daanav (saints, demons, deities) and “heroes” of pre-Independence India.
Science lesson from Gujarat: Stem cells in Mahabharata, cars in Veda
The Gujarat government published the nine books in March this year and, through a recent circular, mandated them as supplementary reading for primary and secondary students, with distribution free to 42,000 government schools.

Four books in a series titled Prernadeep compile anecdotes about how a childless couple got children by doing gau seva, how the country’s second president Sarvepalli Radhakrishnan had told the British that Indians were “rotis cooked right by God”, and how a “Bal Narendra” hid behind a bunch of plantains waiting for Hanuman.
Shikshan Nu Bharatiyakaran defines “entertainment” for school students as: “Collecting tickets, stones, stamps, pictures, feathers of birds, or cards, and preparing a scrapbook of these, participating in social activities, watching programmes on Doordarshan, and organising a programme on Akashvani for the school”
The same book pushes for the use of the word “acharya” in place of “professor”, saying the latter is a legacy of the British. “Professors profess, or preach, while the acharya practises. So quit such pretentious usage and permanently use acharya,” it says.
Eight of these books, published by Gujarat State School Textbook Board, are by Dina Nath Batra, national executive of the RSS education wing, Vidya Bharati. The ninth, Tejomay Bharat, has members of Vidya Bharati in its review committee, and seeks to redefine history, science, geography and redraw the map of India.
As many as 50,000 copies of each of these books have been distributed. These are Vidyalaya: Pravruttiyon Nu Ghar; Shikshan Maa Triveni; Prernadeep 1,2,3, and 4; Shikshan Nu Bhartiyakaran, Vedic Mathematics and Tejomay Bharat. “No royalty or any fee has been paid to the author. We are not charging any amount from school students for 45,000 copies,” said the chairman of GSSTB, Nitin Pethani.
All eight of Batra’s books carry a full-page bio of the author, with messages from then chief minister Narendra Modi, and education ministers Bhupendrasinh Chudasama, Nanubhai Vanani and Vasuben Trivedi.
The books were written by Dina Nath Batra in Hindi around seven or eight years back. “The Gujarat State School Textbook Board had seen and read our books. They liked them and said they wanted to translate them into Gujarati and introduce them in schools. No financial exchange has been made; it was entirely on good relations. I have not taken a single paisa,” Batra told The Indian Express from Delhi.
Indians as ‘rotis, cooked just right’
“Once Dr Radhakrishnan went for a dinner. There was a Briton at the event who said, ‘We are very dear to God’. Radhakrishnan laughed and told the gathering, “Friends, one day God felt like making rotis. When he was cooking the rotis, the first one was cooked less and the English were born. The second one stayed longer on the fire and the Negroes were born. Alert after His first two mistakes, when God went on to cook the third roti, it came out just right and as a result Indians were born.” | Page 8, Prernadeep-3 (above)
Gau Seva

“King Dilip was sad and worried that he did not have children, and about how he would take his lineage forward. He went to Guru Vashisht’s ashram and told him of his problem. The rishi told him, ‘Take a pledge that you and your wife will take care of cows, herd them and follow them wherever they go’. The king and queen agreed. One day a lion attacked a cow. The king came forward and told the lion, ‘Eat me first but spare the cow’. Seeing the king’s commitment, worship and responsibility towards the cow, the lion released the cow and did not harm the king either. As time passed, the king had the best children and his lineage progressed. Page 39, Prernadeep-3
Pride in swastika
“A Patel family lived in Connecticut, America, and was deeply connected with the Vishwa Hindu Parishad and the Hindu Swayamsevak Sangh, a cultured family. Their two children, Harish and Satish, began going to a school there. Harish drew a swastika on the cover of his notebook and began colouring it in class when the teacher, who happened to be Jewish, got curious. When she saw the swastika, she got furious, because Jews see swastika as a symbol of Hitler-Nazism… She grabbed Harish’s book and screamed at him. Harish told her, ‘Madam, this is a symbol of our peaceful and progressive religion. How can I tear this?’ She asked Harish to get out of the class. Other Hindu students tried to make her understand. Harish went out of the class and told her he would tell his father about it. His father called up the principal and complained about the teacher’s misbehaviour and she had to apologise. We should be proud of our religion and its symbols.” Page 16, Prernadeep-3
Swami’s shoes
“One day Swami Vivekananda went to give a lecture. He told the gathering, ‘We should always wear Indian clothes’… He was wearing saffron robes but his shoes were foreign. An Englishwoman noticed this and said, ‘Swamiji! You are insisting on wearing Indian clothes but your shoes are foreign’. Vivekanand listened to this and laughed. And he quietened down and said, ‘I was saying exactly this, that in our view, the place of a foreigner is here’. The woman was dumbfounded.” Page 10, Prernadeep-1 (above)
On modernisation
“Modernisation of education should not mean westernisation, but Indianisation.” Page 8, Shikshan Nu Bharatiyakaran (inset)
On Sanskriti
“Sanskriti (culture) does not come by drawing from different regions. After mixing in the Ganga, there is no entity for those who flowed in it… Therefore, it is not correct to say that Indian culture is a mixed culture. It is appropriate only to call it Indian
culture.” Page 15, Shikshan Nu Bharatiyakaran
Acharya, not prof
“Professors profess, or preach, while the acharya practises. So quit such pretentious usage and permanently use acharya.” Page 40, Shikshan nu Bharatiyakaran
The ‘negro’
“The aircraft was flying thousands of feet high in the sky. A very strongly built negro reached the rear door and tried to open it. The air-hostesses tried to stop him but the strongly built negro pushed the soft-bodied hostesses to the floor and shouted, ‘Nobody dare move a step ahead’. An Indian grabbed the negro and he could not escape. The pilot and the Indian together thrashed the negro and tied him up with a rope. Like a tied buffalo, he frantically tried to escape but could not. The plane landed safely in Chicago. The negro was a serious criminal in the Chicago records and this brave Indian was an employee of Air India.”
Story on brave gurudev Singh, Page 3, Prernadeep-2 (above)
Religion and music
“In 1923, a Congress conference was going on under the chairmanship of Mohammad Ali at Kakinada in Andhra Pradesh. As per tradition, when Pandit Vishnu Digambar Paluskar stood up to sing Vande Mataram, Maulana Ali objected and said that in his religion there is a ban on music and singing. Gandhiji along with other leaders present were shocked at this reaction. Then Vishnu Digambar said that this is a national platform where no one can object to music. Before the chairman could say anything, he started singing Vande Mataram. Mohammad Ali left his seat and went outside and Vishnu Digamabar completed the song. People praised his courage for swadeshabhiman.” Pages 14-15, Prernadeep-2

On today’s politicians
“In 1929, when people stood up against British rule under the leadership of Gandhi…. the King of Bikaner, Ganga Singh Babu, one day spotted the picture of Mahatma Gandhi hanging from a wall of the warden’s room at Dungar College hostel… The king called Sampoorna Anand, the then principal of the college, and ordered him to ask for the warden’s resignation… To this Anand said, ‘I am sorry, Maharaj. If putting Mahatma Gandhi’s picture on the walls is a crime, then please accept my resignation as well’. At that very moment, he submitted his resignation and left. In independent India, all those patriotic politicians who would not hesitate to sell the country, could you please take lessons from this story?” Page 4, Prernadeep-2