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August 15, 2016

India: Historian D.N. Jha takes on Hindutva historiographical format Bhaarata

Antiquity of Bhaarata
by D.N. Jha
http://sacw.net/article12909.html

India: We Best Remember Partition When We Connect the Dots from 1947 to 1984 and 2002 (Ravinder Kaur)

The Wire - 15 August 2016

We Best Remember Partition When We Connect the Dots from 1947 to 1984 and 2002
By Ravinder Kaur on 15/08/2016

Urvashi Butalia in her acclaimed work The Other Side of Silence (1998) recounts how partition came alive for her in the aftermath of 1984 anti-Sikh pogrom in Delhi. In the refugee camps where she volunteered, she often heard the older people say ‘this is like partition again.’ She writes, “it took 1984 to make me understand how ever-present partition was in our lives too, to recognise that it could not be so easily put away inside the covers of history books. I could no longer pretend that this was a history that belonged to another time, to someone else.’

The human suffering of partition has been documented extensively since Butalia’s work was published nearly two decades ago. An entire generation of younger scholars was inspired to look to the human experience of brutal violence, loss and displacement to make full sense of the event of partition. That partition was not just a timeline of political decisions and confabulations among the elite leaders – Nehru, Jinnah and Mountbatten – was homed in forcefully via oral histories and personal accounts of those whose lives were violently disrupted by high level politics. The effort to put individual trauma at the heart of partition history has by now become a vastly popular project – both within and beyond academy. Examples include the California based ‘1947 Partition Archive’ and the ‘Partition Museum’ project among others that seek to memorialise partition by collecting and exhibiting memories and objects that we are left with. These are laudable projects. To underline non-partisanship, these efforts are even publicised as ‘apolitical’ that solely focus on what is popularly called the ‘human dimension’ of partition.

Yet there is something deeply unsettling in this increasingly depoliticised notion of human suffering in this memorialisation project. And more so when the memorialised past stands in isolation from the present. This wish to remember and memorialise partition inevitably invites parallels to memorialisation projects in the USA, Japan and Israel among others. The 9/11 memorial in New York, the Hiroshima peace memorial, and Yad Vashem in Jerusalem are some notable examples of public remembrance of human tragedy that mass violence inflicts. The idea is not only to honour the dead, to heal the wounds and to give voice to those silenced, but also to serve as a deterrent for future generations, as a reminder of destruction that human beings are capable of unleashing. In short, choosing to remember or forget, to publicly speak or remain silent are always deeply political gestures.

A quick look, however, at hundreds of personal testimonies amassed by now shows that the complexities of partition politics have been ironed over within this highly affective albeit simple narrative of human suffering. The human subject in this project is a free-floating agent disconnected from the realm of ‘politics’ – a word almost invoked with disapproval– where politics is largely understood as state or national level negotiations by big leaders. That personal and collective negotiations, transgressions and compromises underpinning messy social relations in everyday life also constitute politics is barely acknowledged. The subject of memorialisation we increasingly meet is mostly a passive victim of circumstances and almost never a willing participant in the events that unfolded. In other words, the space for complexities and contradictions is steadily erased once the affective project of memorialisation begins overshadowing the project of critical history.

The question that interests me concerns the work of public memorialisation in refashioning specific histories. Or put differently, the kind of remembrance of human suffering that is shaped within this depoliticised space, and its secession from the messiness of everyday life. One might argue that memorialisation precisely entails sacralisation of suffering, an acknowledgement of the wound inflicted on the victim, and therefore beyond debate. In the context of partition history, we are yet to make full sense of this unfolding moment when the wound, the suffering is not only publicly acknowledged but also memorialised. A few trends, however, are already visible.

For one, partition memorialisation now marks it as a unique event set apart from other events of communal violence. Indeed, the scale of violence and the historical background of India and Pakistan’s independence from the British colonial rule make it distinct. Yet, on the ground, the stories of organised mass murders, sexual violence and loss of property sound familiar. This quest to mark partition as a unique event reminds one of the debates on Holocaust that stress on its uniqueness, its difference from other events of genocide in the world. To be sure, all histories are unique and context specific, but the claims of uniqueness are essential to any mobilisation of collective identities.

What work, then, does the discourse of partition’s uniqueness perform? To begin with, it readily disconnects partition from Delhi 1984, Gujarat 2002, Muzzafarnagar 2013 and many other instances of mass violence that have occurred in postcolonial India and Pakistan. This is ironical given that it was the 1984 pogrom that generated widespread interest in the partition violence. Yet partition memory projects remain silent, and almost never connect the dots between 1947 and 2013.

Two plausible reasons underpinning this silence might be considered. First, any acknowledgment of the human suffering of 1947 together with that of 1984, 2002 and 2013 would mean recognizing the inherently political and contentious nature of violence – the political patronage, police complicity, the organized operators on the ground, the otherwise decent people who decide to overlook brutality, and delayed justice in court rooms. This would also take away the cover of ‘apolitical’ from human suffering. After all, it is not human folly, but state machinery that fails to protect its subjects. To bring partition out of the covers of history books would require taking a stand for not all violence is reciprocal or equally weighted.

Second, the memorialisation of partition allows us to collectively project our anger and despair away from the present instances of collective violence. The partition testimonies enable us to talk, and put in the public domain the horror of mass violence but without the intense contentiousness of 1984 or 2002. After nearly seven decades, partition has come to occupy a safe zone where horror at mass murders and rapes can be expressed aloud without attracting retaliation. This is what probably makes it unique in some ways.

Perhaps the project of memorialisation can be turned around and pressed forward – to document, record and speak of ‘our partitions,’ as Butalia had originally suggested. After all, once we have stripped the partition memory project of its historical uniqueness, what we are left with is brutal violence and loss that speaks of our times.

Ravinder Kaur is the author of Since 1947: partition Narratives among the Punjabi Migrants of Delhi, Oxford University Press, 2007.

August 14, 2016

India: Mad Retired Military Hawk GD Bakshi’s IIT Madras Speech Spewed Hatred, Alleges Student

GD Bakshi’s IIT Madras speech was filled with hatred, alleges student
http://indianexpress.com/article/india/india-news-india/gd-bakshis-iit-madras-speech-was-filled-with-hatred-alleges-student-2970742/

Attacks on weaker sections should be dealt with firmly: says President Pranab Mukherjee in his address on 14 August 2016

NEW DELHI: President Pranab Mukherjee on Sunday evening denounced the recent communal attacks in the country and said that these attacks on weaker sections+ need to be dealt with firmly.

"Attacks on weaker sections that militate against our national ethos are aberrations that need to be dealt with firmly," President Mukherjee+ said in his address to the nation on the eve of India's 70th Independence Day--his fifth since assuming office.

President said the collective wisdom of our society and our polity gave him the confidence that such forces will remain marginalised and India's growth will continue uninterrupted. "The collective wisdom of our society and our polity gives me the confidence that such forces will remain marginalized," he said.

Coming down heavily on forces of intolerance+ , Mukherjee cautioned against "unmindful pursuit" of a divisive political agenda and polarising debates by groups and individuals, saying they lead to institutional "travesty" and constitutional "subversion".

FULL TEXT HERE: http://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/india/Attacks-on-weaker-sections-should-be-dealt-with-firmly-President-Pranab-Mukherjee/articleshow/53699453.cms

India: Hoof-and-horn hour - Cow test-firing from Togadia shoulder (Radhika Ramaseshan)

The Telegraph - August 14, 2016


New Delhi, Aug. 13: Pravin Togadia, who has a history of run-ins with Narendra Modi, today targeted the Prime Minister in the capital and accused him of “victimising and humiliating” saviours of the cow.

Modi as well as the RSS have been at pains to pacify Dalits after a flogging of four youths by cow vigilantes spun out of control and triggered a wider backlash with ramifications for next year’s Uttar Pradesh elections.

Togadia said he had been “compelled” to speak up because “sadhus and sants (had) wept” over Modi’s address; because a “92-year-old woman from Bihar’s Chhapra told me there would be no cows left in India” and because professionals of all hues “from lawyers and chartered accountants to industrialists” had harangued him for keeping mum.

Togadia is the international working president of the Vishwa Hindu Parishad. However, the Parishad itself has been lying low since Modi cut it to size in Gujarat.

Sources suggested that Togadia might be articulating the concerns of a section of the Sangh that feels the hawkish elements among the foot soldiers must be reassured that their pet themes are not being abandoned.

“It could be the copybook good-cop-bad-cop tactic. The Sangh officially supports Modi’s view but uses mavericks like Togadia to keep the loony elements in good humour,” a source said.

Several of the statements Togadia made today were in keeping with his rabble-rousing reputation but one appeared to strike a chord among some Sangh leaders.

“For you (the Prime Minister), 80 per cent of the cow protectors are criminals, fraudsters and sinners because they are Hindus,” he said.

Modi had told a townhall-style meeting a week ago that he was “very angry” with criminals masquerading as cow protectors and asked state governments to draw up dossiers on them because “70 to 80 per cent of them” were “anti-social elements”. Some Sangh leaders later said in private that the figure appeared too sweeping and unrealistic.

Modi

Togadia insinuated that Modi had lied when he claimed that “80 per cent” of those who called themselves “gau rakshaks” were tricksters and criminals who ran lucrative trades in the name of cow protection.

“Prime Ministerji, you have made a serious allegation against cow protectors. Where is the proof? If you have the proof, please disclose…. Cows are slaughtered by butchers and you said most of them die by choking on plastic. You have absolved the butchers of a serious crime. I do not wish to say the PM is lying because he is also my PM. But I spoke to several state governments after his speech and none of them said they provided any information to him. So it is the PM’s duty to reveal his data sources,” Togadia, who described Modi as a “childhood friend”, said.

They fell out irreparably when Modi was Gujarat’s chief minister.

For Modi, Togadia’s offensive was an Atal Bihari Vajpayee moment, except that the VHP — the first Sangh constituent to endorse Modi as the BJP’s candidate for Prime Minister — had allowed him an extended honeymoon.

Togadia had accused both Vajpayee and L.K. Advani of being “inebriated with power” after Vajpayee talked to Pakistan and Advani allegedly did nothing for the Ayodhya temple.

The VHP leader, however, dodged the question why he had chosen to lash out at Modi after the RSS had endorsed his statements against the so-called cow protectors. “I spoke out and very responsibly too,” he said.

Togadia was ambivalent on the July 11 assault on Dalits in Una, Gujarat, for skinning a dead cow. “Cow protection is an emotional issue. But we are equally committed to protecting the dignity and security of the Scheduled Castes. Why did the Prime Minister link cow slaughter to the oppression of the SCs? The Prime Minister has divided Hindus: this never happened in India,” he said.

Togadia demanded that Modi withdraw his speech, set up a 24x7 “cow protection helpline” in the Prime Minister’s Office to save cows from being slaughtered or smuggled, and ban beef exports.

Manmohan Vaidya, the Nagpur-based RSS spokesperson, refused to take calls.

BJP spokesperson and national secretary Sidharth Nath Singh said: “What the PM stated, the nation should follow.”

Proud to be a complaining Indian (Shamsul Islam)

The Tribune, August 14, 2016

The discovery of new India
By Shamsul Islam

Surviving tumult has not been easy for us Indians. Today, in our claims for resurgence, our assertion must not be bereft of honest answers to critical questions: for instance, have we ensured justice to minorities and Dalits? Nations wedded to exalted ideals must never shy away from honest answers; our courage to stand up before the mirror would define our common future. The Independence Day allows us a moment of pause and self-discovery.

We as Indians must be proud that our country remains the only country to survive with its democratic-secular Constitution out of 30 counties which got freedom after the World War II. Of course, the ‘only survivor’ had to face immensely critical situations like 1975-77 Emergency, violence against minorities-Dalits and terrorist attacks.

One unfortunate aspect of our post-Independence governance has been that whenever the country witnesses the large-scale violence against minorities and Dalits, the search for perpetrators continues endlessly and criminals rarely punished. Major incidents of violence against minorities like Nellie massacre (1983), Sikh massacre (1984), Hashimpura custodial massacre of Muslim youth (1987), pre/post-Ayodhya mosque demolition violence against Muslims (1990-92), Gujarat carnage (2002) and Kandhmal cleansing of Christians (2008) are testimony to this reality.

The status of anti-Dalit violence is no different. The major incidents of persecution and massacre of Dalits; 1968 Kilvenmani massacre, 1997 Melavalavu massacre, 2013 Marakkanam anti-Dalit violence, 2012 Dharmapuri anti-Dalit violence (all in Tamil Nadu), 1985 Karamchedu massacre, 1991 Tsundur massacre (all in AP), 1996 Bathani Tola Massacre, 1997 Laxmanpur Bathe massacre (all in Bihar), 1997 Ramabai killings, Mumbai, 2006 Khairlanji massacre, 2014 Javkheda Hatyakand, (all in Maharashtra), 2000 Caste persecution in (Karnataka), 5 Dalits beaten/burnt to death for skinning a dead cow 2006, 2011 killings of Dalits in Mirchpur (all in Haryana), 2015 anti-Dalit violence in Dangawas (Rajasthan) are some of the thousands of incidents of the Dalit persecution. In almost all these cases perpetrators are yet to be identified. Even if identified the prosecution rate never exceeded 20%.

On the other hand, the Dalit and minority perpetrators of violence are efficiently put on trial by constituting special investigation teams and punished by fast track courts. But when the victims are Dalits or minorities no such urgency is shown. In such cases Indian State is fond of playing commission-commission. Commissions after commissions would be constituted to see that the heinous crimes disappear from the public memory. The 1992-93 Bombay violence can be an interesting case for study.

According to BN Shrikrishna Commission inquiry report for December 1992 violence against Muslims, important leaders of Hindutva organizations were found responsible. They were not even called for questioning. On the contrary for January 1993 violence many Muslim perpetrators of bomb blasts in Bombay were hanged. This is true of ‘Khalistani’ violence. The ‘Khalistanis’ were hanged or killed on roads but for 1984 massacre of Sikhs Indian State is yet to conclude its process of finding the real culprits. Hashimpura massacre where 42 Muslim youth in police custody were shot dead on the banks of a river by a PAC team all the culprits who were on bail were finally acquitted by the court in 2015. In almost all the anti-Dalit violence cases, the culprits have been acquitted or released on bail despite murder charges against them.

It may be interesting to note here that first two convicts to be hanged after Independence were two peasant activists, G. Krishta Goud & J. Bhoomaiah. Moreover, 80% of those who are on the death row at present belong to Dalit, minority and poor sections.

It was happening when the ruling elite were normatively committed to a democratic-secular polity and a Constitution based on the principles of egalitarianism. Despite this commitment we were practising two systems of justice delivery, one for the religious majority/haves and other for Dalits/minorities/poor. Any violence by the former was regarded as ‘riot’ and one by the latter as ‘terrorism’. However, this commitment in principle to a democratic-secular polity though often superficial and unstable did not let the sufferer lose heart in the system as judiciary and civil society often stood with the victims.

However, with the present RSS-supported BJP government in power, even this normative commitment to democracy and secularism seems to have dissipated. PM Modi when he was CM of Gujarat while talking to Reuters journalists on July 12, 2013 identified himself as ‘Hindu nationalist’. He also declared himself to be an RSS swayamsevak nurtured by Guru Golwalkar. It was first time in the history of Independent India that a constitutional functionary identified himself as a ‘Hindu nationalist’. Shockingly, the term ‘Hindu nationalist’ ‘Muslim nationalist’ originated in a specific historical context, both being committed to two-nation theory and opposed to freedom struggle. Moreover, those who killed Gandhiji described themselves too as ‘Hindu nationalists’. Moreover, if Modi is ‘Hindu nationalist’ then naturally there will be Muslim/Sikh/Christian nationalist too.

Only PM Modi is not a swayamsevak of RSS, most of his ministers, BJP chief ministers and governors fall in the same category. They naturally are committed to convert India into a Hindu rashtra as RSS English organ, Organizer just on the eve of Independence (14 August, 1947) rejected the whole concept of a composite nation (under the editorial title ‘Whither’): “In Hindusthan only the Hindus form the nation…the nation itself must be built up of Hindus, on Hindu traditions, culture, ideas and aspirations.”

When the Constituent Assembly of India finalized the Constitution of India, RSS was not happy. Four days after it (November 30, 1949), the Organizer in an editorial demanded promulgation of Manusmriti as “laws of ‘Manusmriti’ excite the admiration of the world and elicit spontaneous obedience and conformity. But to our constitutional pundits that means nothing”.

This mindset has led India to the situation which we are witnessing today. ‘ghar wapsi’, ‘Bharat Mata ki Jai’ (a slogan which RSS cadres never raised against the British) and ‘cow’ have left minorities and Dalits at the mercy of vigilante gangs who run a parallel state and have been provided with police escorts. Attacks on Muslims who are mostly Dalits did not create ripples but Dalits showed that they are not Muslims and will not submit to the fate. Today India seems to be at a crossroads; whether to stick to a democratic-secular polity or embark on a journey to undo it.

(The writer taught Political Science at University of Delhi)

India: Togadia fires salvo at PM on 'gau raksha', demands cow slaughter ban

The Times of India

Togadia fires salvo at PM on 'gau raksha', demands cow slaughter ban
Mohua Chatterjee | TNN | Aug 13, 2016, 10.42 PM IST

Highlights

VHP veteran Pravin Togadia challenged Modi to provide the basis of the data used to dub "gau rakshaks" antisocials.
He also demanded a complete ban on cow slaughter and beef exports.
He accused the government of giving clean chit to butchers.

NEW DELHI: The government's battle against so called "Gau Rakshaks" or cow protectors who have been fomenting trouble at various places in the country escalated on Saturday as RSS-affiliated Vishwa Hindu Parishad (VHP) raised the pitch against Prime Minister Narendra Modi for "speaking out against those who are protecting cows, disappointing them gravely and insulting them." RSS also gave the PM an ultimatum to "ban cow slaughter across the country and beef export."

VHP leader Pravin Togadia, a known Modi baiter, slammed the Modi government for "not keeping its promise of banning cow slaughter throughout the country" and instead coming down harshly on Gau Rakshaks and "hurting the sentiment of lakhs of Hindus."+

He said that even under the British rule cow protectors and the larger Hindu society never faced such insult and humiliation. The VHP leader vowed to stand by all gau rakshaks and their families, if the government cracks down on them.

"We expected an advisory to stop cow slaughter, but Prime Minister you have broken the hearts... it is better to commit suicide now since we cannot go out to protect cows," Togadia said, his voice choking with emotion as he addressed TV cameras.

Togadia demanded that the government should immediately bring a legislation to stop cow slaughter in the country,+ as it is still allowed in a few states. He said "the Prime Minister should withdraw his speech against cow protectors and also withdraw the advisory sent out by the home ministry to states to take strict action against those who create trouble in the name of cow protection."

Though he refused to go into what would follow if the government did not withdraw its stand against gau rakshkas, he hinted at a movement backed by "sants" to resist it. "The Prime Minister is a childhood friend... I am confident he will pay heed to what I am saying," Togadia said, when asked whether he felt the government will listen to the VHP demands.

Togadia reminded Modi that, "these Gau Rakshaks were among those who put their lives on the line and worked hard to make you (Modi) Prime Minister and today you are disappointing and insulting them." He accused "the government of giving clean chit to butchers and clamping down on Hindu cow protectors," and pointed out that the Modi government has promised to ban beef export but "it has actually gone up by 44 % in the last two years."

Asked whether he had RSS' support in demanding a withdrawal of PM Modi stand on Gau rakshaks+ , as the RSS chief has backed the PM, he said, "Pravin Togadia has spoken in a responsible way."

Togadia said, "linking atrocities on dalits (which should never happen), to gau rakshaks is a conspiracy to divide Hindu society," though he refused to reply to repeated questions on who he thought was behind it.

FULL TEXT AT: http://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/india/Togadia-fires-salvo-at-PM-on-gau-raksha-demands-cow-slaughter-ban/articleshow/53689741.cms