May 21, 2024

Pusing India as a Civilization State has found widespread expression since Modi’s election in 2014.

[ . . . ] The current vision of India  as a “civilization state” has found widespread expression since Modi’s election in 2014.[1] This development reflects the growing tide of authoritarianism worldwide as well as the internationalization of far-right political movements. The claim of being a “civilization state” is not unique to India—many in China, Russia, and Turkey also invoke a similar rhetoric. Indeed, the discourses and practices of aspiring civilization states have much in common. Their proponents imagine the state to be the embodiment and fulfilment of an abiding civilization.  This idea of the civilization state opposes liberal democracy’s claim to universality, a universality that is perceived to be western rather than truly for all.

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May 18, 2024

Are Hindus in Danger due to rising Muslim Population?

Are Hindus in Danger due to rising Muslim Population? Ram Puniyani As the election season is in progress the divisive propaganda is also peaking. Chief propagandist of the ruling BJP is Prime Minister Modi himself. In these elections his narrative has been built around the falsehood that if the INDIA alliance comes to power they will give all the facilities to Muslims, they will ensure that Muslims have the first right to live and they will make changes in the Constitution whereby Hindus will become second class citizens. Quite an Orwellian method, where reality is made to stand on its head. A fright is being spread amongst Hindus that Muslims will get away with all the privileges. To add to this propaganda now Prime Ministers Economic Advisory Council has come out with a report that concludes that Hindu's population share declined by nearly 8% between 1950 and 2015 while Muslim's share grew a record 43% in the same period. As per this study in 1950, Hindu population share was 84%, but it came down to 78% in 2015. However, in the same period, the share of minorities, including Muslims, Christian, Buddhist, and Sikhs, went up. The number of Jains and Parsis in the population mix decreased. What is this PMEAC? This was constituted in 2017 and is supposed to be doing research to advise the Prime Minister on economic matters. One sample of its ‘research’ came to light a couple of years back when its Chief, Bibek Debroy, quoted “… a study to show that the lifespan of written constitutions is just 17 years. Further terming the present Constitution of India as a colonial legacy, he wrote, “Our current Constitution is largely based on the Government of India Act of 1935. In that sense, it is also a colonial legacy.” And now comes this strange study at the time of general elections. This boosts the anti Muslim rhetoric and the “Hindu Khatre mein hai” scare created over many decades. The three researchers, who produced this, have violated most of the norms for analysis, to come to this conclusion. To begin with demographic studies are based on population census. This one is based on the survey of nearly 23 lakh people, from Association of Religion Data Archive (ARDA) , a miniscule sample of our vast population. Census figures are more reliable and comprehensive, bringing out different facets of population growth. For reasons best known to the ruling party the 2021 census which was due has not been held and these researchers have used survey data rather than more reliable census data. Then the study compares the population figures of 1950 with those of 2015, again an arbitrary method. The media and communal organizations are using this data to intensify prevalent divisive propaganda. It reinforces the present social understanding that Muslims produce more children. To begin with it was popularized by our Prime Minister when he was chief Minister of Gujarat. While deciding to close down the refugee camps where Muslims had taken shelter, he called them,’ Children Producing Factories’. In the present scenario he is merrily shouting from the house tops that Congress will snatch away Hindu’s Mangal Sutra and Buffaloes and give it to those who produce more children. What is the truth of the number of Children produced by Muslims? One of the best parameters for this is the Total Fertility Rate (TFR). According to a National Health Family survey the fertility rate amongst most communities is coming down. In 1992-93 it was 3.3 for Hindus and 4.41 for Muslims. In 2019-21, it was 1.94 for Hindus and 2.36 for Muslims. The percentage change for Hindus is thus -41.21% for Hindus and - 46.49% for Muslims. The decline in percentage is more amongst Muslims than Hindus. This shows that if such a pattern continues the rate of Muslim population growth will further fall down and become close to that of Hindus. This is an interesting pattern. The permanent question is whether fertility rate is determined by religion or other factors. The sectarian nationalists have harped on the fact that Muslims are deliberately increasing their population vis a vis Hindus so that they will be a majority in this nation and will declare India as Gazava-e-Hind (Conquest of India by Muslims)! This is one of the major falsehoods of communal politics to state that Hindus will become a minority if this pattern continues. The first point is that the factors influencing the number of children in a family are determined by two major things. One is the level of poverty and second is the rate of the literacy community as a whole and that of women in particular. This is amply clear when we compare the rate of fertility Muslim of Muslim women in Kerala, Kashmir and Karnataka, with the TFR for Hindu women in Bihar, Rajasthan and Madhya Pradesh. It is lower for Muslim women in these states. An important study by Saswata Ghose points out that “Thus, comparing state-level fertility differentials between Hindus and Muslims as estimated from Census 2011 and Census 2001, it can be ascertained that though the overall convergence of fertility between Hindus and Muslims has been underway, significant regional variations persist in the process of convergence since different states and religious groups are at different stages of transition” As per S.Y. Quraishi, whose book on the issue ‘The Population myth: Islam. Family planning and Politics in India’ is quite a comprehensive account of the issue, in 24 of the 29 states of India TFR is already coming close to 2.179, the one indicative of a stable population, 2.1 is a mere replacement level. It is estimated that the Muslim population which is 14.2 % as per 2011 census will stabilize to 18% by 2050 and will stay put there as the trends amongst Muslim community show. The decadal rate of Muslim population growth also shows a substantial decline. Irrespective of the immaculate studies, the communalists in various ways mock the Muslim community. I recall one instance where a team of Muslim elite sought an appointment to talk to RSS Sarsanghchalak. Dr Quraishi was a member of the team. He presented Bhagwat with his book which debunks the notions spread by RSS Combine. And lo and behold in a statement a few weeks later Sarsanghchalak stated that there should be a ‘balance in population’ among different communities!

May 16, 2024

India: subaltern sells high on the market, so subaltern hindutva did well, does the imaginary concoction of subaltern secularism hold?

The pitch for subaltern secularism Premium
There is subaltern Hindutva, but the question in the 2024 general election is whether there can be subaltern secularism

Published - May 16, 2024 12:16 am IST

Varghese K. George


May 11, 2024

Modis’ Election Propaganda: Falsehoods and Sectarianism Galore | Ram Puniyani

Modis’ Election Propaganda: Falsehoods and Sectarianism Galore


Ram Puniyani


BJP has a strong electoral machine, well backed up by its parent organization, RSS. The core module of RSS-BJP is based on demonization of Muslims through distortions of the medieval period of history in particular and glorification of the past where caste and gender hierarchy prevailed. When it comes to elections, RSS progeny has resorted to various themes from time to time. The first major theme was destruction of Hindu temples by Muslim kings which was the hidden message of the Ram Temple campaign. In due course security (Pakistan as the enemy) was also brought in. Prior to the demolition of Babri, they used to talk of Indianization of Muslims among other anti Muslim themes.

In recent times, in 2014 it was Acche Din (Good Days) to take advantage of the anti Incumbency and the Jumlas (Mere phrases) like women’s security, 15 Lakhs per person, 2 Crore jobs every year along with the projection of Congress as a corrupt party. Thanks to the Anna movement promoted and supported by RSS wings, Congress is a corrupt party that was made to stick in people's minds for a long time. In 2019, National security, Pulwama-Balakot became the major propaganda for winning the elections. All through, anti-Muslim rhetoric formed the backdrop. Truth has been a major casualty in most of its propaganda.

This time euphoria around Ram Temple was anticipated to be the major fulcrum of its propaganda. Gyanwapi issue has also been racked up but with marginal effect. Its seems now there is sort of ‘fatigue’ around this issue and due to the dwindling social-economic conditions of the people, the grand Ram Temple-Gyanwapi may not give the results which they were expecting. That leaves it to fall back on its time tested divisive communal issue, the anti Muslim propaganda. This time around Mr. Modi has set the tone around anti Muslim dog whistles and linked it up with the Congress manifesto centered around Justice for weaker sections of society,( adivasis, dalits and religious minorities), women’s empowerment, and justice for youth (employment- internship) and students (Paper leaks).

So far justice for weaker sections of society has been the major point of opposition for RSS and its progeny. Its very foundation in 1925 was in the backdrop of dalits asserting their rights and women beginning to articulate their social presence. To dilute the caste based reservations they brought in reservations for economically backwards. In practice wherever possible they have been undermining affirmative action for dalit and OBC. Faced with the great appeal of Rahul Gandhi’s emphasis on reservation and affirmative action, BJP had to counter it without sounding that it is inherently opposed to reservations. In this direction the first step was falsehood from BJP patriarch Mohan Bhagwat that RSS has never been against reservations!

Modi in a clever and fake concoction has been saying that, “…they [Congress] wanted to grant reservation to one section of the society (i.e. Muslims, added) by cutting into the quotas meant for Dalits and backward classes, which is completely against the Constitution. The reservation rights that Dr Babasaheb gave to Dalits, backward classes, and tribals, the Congress and the INDI Alliance wanted to give them to specific minorities based on religion," 

Congress manifesto’s emphasis on caste census and giving the analogy of X Ray was picked up by Mr. Modi and linked with his anti Muslim narrative. Connecting the two, he peaked in the falsehood that Congress will do the X-Ray to find gold, money etc. and give it to those who have more children or who are infiltrators (Meaning Muslims as usual in their fake narrative). And to frighten the Hindus, Hindu women in particular, he stated “My mothers and sisters, they won't even leave your mangalsutras(Sacred necklace worn by married Hindu women)  . The Congress manifesto says that if they form a government, then a survey of property belonging to every person will be done. It will be checked how much gold our sisters own and how much money government employees have…They also said that gold owned by our sisters would be equally distributed. Does the government have the right to take your property? ' He cited Mangalsutra' as something which will be taken away and given to Muslims.

This is like killing many birds in one stone. One is, to criticize Congress Manifesto, two to target Muslims and three to frighten Hindu women. The limit of falsehood concocted by him is so obvious here. The arrogance that such falsehoods can be believed by a large number of people comes from the solid understanding that the committed volunteers of ‘RSS combine’ the IT cell and the corporate controlled TV channels and media will ensure that this falsehood will be taken seriously by large sections of people. The peak point of this exercise was to bring in poor buffalo, which had been left out so far in the ‘Cow as mother’ elaborations. ‘If you have two buffaloes one will be taken away by Congress!’ Post truth lies at its best!

How can Pakistan not be made part of the campaign by BJP-Modi? Modi brought in the P factor by stating that Pakistan wants a weak Government in India. One Fawad Chaudhary, an ex-minister of Pakistan, had stated that Rahul Gandhi has Socialism within him. Modi’s claim is that Pakistan is scared of Balakot type reaction so they want Rahul as PM. Modi must have forgotten that it was Congress-Indira Gandhi, which took the bold decision to help in liberation of BanglaDesh, and divide Pakistan into two countries, against the wishes of mighty Western powers!

To bring in Mughals, Modi used the tweet from Tejasvi Yadav, when he was having fish a day before Navratra (Hindu sacred period, when many Hindu do not consume non vegetarian food). Modi propagated that Tejeswai Yadav is consuming ‘non vegetarian’ food in Holy Navratra to insult the feelings of Hindus, the way Mughal kings used to humiliate Hindus by destroying Hindu temples. Connecting the opposition leader’s innocuous act with Mughals thereby reflecting on to present Muslims, showed that the BJP’s current ‘propaganda in chief’ can stretch any simple and harmless thing into a tool to demonize the Muslims and along with the political opposition to his power.

Remarkable is the prowess of Mr. Modi to concoct things to generate ‘Hate for Muslims’ and opposition parties for his electoral gains and social hegemony.