July 22, 2021

India: Pew survey reflects how majority community is at ease with Hindutva . . .

 The Indian Express

Pew survey reflects growing affinity between majority community and Hindutva

Christophe Jaffrelot writes: Beyond this, it also illustrates the decline of reformist attitudes and resilience of caste.

Written by Christophe Jaffrelot
Updated: July 22, 2021 7:57:43 am
The fact that Hindus want to live separately also partly explains that only 52 per cent Hindus look at diversity as benefiting the country and also, possibly, that 43 per cent Hindus consider Partition “a good thing”.

The title of the last Pew Research Center survey, Religion in India: Tolerance and Segregation, sounds paradoxical — but it’s not, except that in this context “tolerance” is different from “toleration”. This is primarily true of Hindus’ perception of other communities.

Certainly, 80 per cent of the Hindu interviewees said that “respecting other religions is a very important part of their religious identity”, but many of them do not interact with other religions and even consider such interactions undesirable. Not only do 86 per cent Hindus say that “all” or “most of their close friends are the same religion as them”, but only 23 per cent of Hindus also consider that Hindus and Muslims “have a lot in common”. Only 3 per cent of Hindus say they have prayed in a dargah, though Sufi saints attracting Hindu devotees in large numbers was common once. This figure could be an underestimate, but it might also mean that some Hindus do not wish to say they are visiting an Islamic place of worship. In the same vein, 66 per cent Hindus say “it is very important to stop women/men in their community from marrying outside their religion”, and 36 per cent “would not be willing to accept a Muslim as a neighbour”.

The fact that Hindus want to live separately also partly explains that only 52 per cent Hindus look at diversity as benefiting the country and also, possibly, that 43 per cent Hindus consider Partition “a good thing”.

This contradicts the stated desire of the Sangh Parivar for an “Akhand Bharat”, but the rest of the survey throws light on the reasons why so many Hindu voters support Narendra Modi and BJP leaders who tend to equate India with the majority community —as evident from the fact that the Prime Minister attends the Kumbh Mela but does not hold iftar parties (in contrast to all his predecessors, including A B Vajpayee). Indeed, for 64 per cent Hindus, to be Hindu is “very important to be truly Indian”, and for 59 per cent, to “be able to speak Hindi” is equally important. These views echo the Hindu nationalist slogan, inherited from V D Savarkar: “Hindi, Hindu, Hindustan!” By contrast, religious beliefs do not matter so much: 51 per cent Hindus do not hold it necessary to believe in god to be a part of their religious community; for 70 per cent, those who “disrespect India” cannot be Hindu. This brand of ethnicisation of religion is very similar to Zionism, another ideology defining the nation on the basis of the sacredness of the land, the “historicity” of the people, lineage and language. Hindutva, similarly, defines the Hindu community not so much on the basis of religion, but as a people with ethnic and cultural features which make them the core of the nation.

While 50 per cent of Hindus consider that India “should rely on a leader with a strong hand to solve its problems”, 45 per cent think that a “democratic form of government” would do the job more effectively. In parallel, 64 per cent Hindus consider that “politicians should have a large or some influence in religious matters”, an opinion in tune with Modi’s decision to preside over the laying of the Ayodhya temple’s foundation stone.

Beyond growing affinities between the majority community and Hindutva, the Pew Research Center’s survey illustrates the decline of reformist attitudes. The attachment to traditions not only finds expression in the beliefs in astrology (87 per cent Hindus say they fix important dates according to auspicious times) but also to the resilience of caste endogamy: 63 per cent Hindu men and 64 per cent Hindu women told the researchers that it is very important to stop the members of their community from marrying into “another caste”.

In fact, one can understand the high score of “tolerance” precisely in relation with the resilience of caste. After all, upper castes traditionally tolerate lower castes (including Dalits) provided they remain on the periphery of society. A similar attitude towards religious communities helps to make sense of the report’s title — “tolerance and segregation” go together the moment Muslims become the new untouchables. The Pew Research Center, interestingly, uses the word that traditionally applied to caste relations — “discrimination” — to measure this trend — and finds that 24 per cent of Indian Muslims say that “there is a lot of discrimination against Muslims in India today”. Regional variations are worth noticing: This percentage rises to 35 per cent in north India.

These data need to be emphasised for resisting a sanitised interpretation of this report: The situation is not fine because “to live separately” is not the same thing as to live peacefully — tolerance is not toleration. Communal violence is listed as one of the “very big problems” of India by 65 per cent Hindus and Muslims. This is not only due to the activities of vigilantes and politicians who polarise religious communities, but also because of the fact that Hindus and Muslims used to live — to some extent — together, as evident from the architecture of the pols of Old Ahmedabad. Violence leads to separation and ghettos like Juhapura. But ghettoisation is only one dimension of the violence that the destruction of a composite culture like the Indian civilisation implies — and that the shift from toleration to tolerance causes.

This column first appeared in the print edition on July 22, 2021 under the title ‘The lines that divide’. The writer is senior research fellow at CERI-Sciences Po/CNRS, Paris, professor of Indian politics and sociology at King’s India Institute, London

July 19, 2021

population Control: Will Coercive measures work?

Population Control: Will Coercive Measures Work? Ram Puniyani On the back of population control policy adopted by Assam, where those having more than two children will be barred from contesting local elections and will not considered for promotions in Government service, now UP is coming up with the similar bill, the Uttar Pradesh Population (Control, Stabilization and Welfare) Bill, 2021. The claim is that this will control and stabilize the population of the state. Both these states are aiming at coercive measures, carrot on one side and stick on the other, to implement this norm. One believes that family welfare must be a part of country’s health planning. The forthcoming bill by these states is guided more by biases and perceptions rather than by the reality of Indian scene. As far as population control is concerned. India was among the foremost countries to introduce family planning measures right from 1952. Initially it was presented as family planning to control the number of children; later more appropriate word ‘family welfare’ was used as the aim of this program. It was not just to control number of children per couple. The results of these welfare measures are now reflecting in the population profile and reflected in the women’s fertility rate. The total fertility rate (number of children per woman) has dropped to 2.1 currently from 4.97 in 1980. This is due to the measures which are already operative. 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 it is already coming close to 2.179, the one indicative of a stable population, 2.1 is a mere replacement level. Even in Assam the fertility rate is 1.9 as per NHFS 5. The RSS combine’s Hindu Nationalists see the problem merely as that of Muslims deliberately increasing population to take over the country and convert it into a Muslim state. The ground reality is totally different. Barring the period of Emergency and Sanjay Gandhi’s defamed forced Nasbandi (Vasectomy) program, the policy worked well and the results are there to for those who care to see beyond the superficial understanding and motivated propaganda. Interestingly it was BJP’s previous avatar Janasangh which was opposed to family planning programs. Even currently BJP associates like VHP are vehemently opposing it. There have been hoards of Swami’s (Sakshi Maharaj) and Sadhvi’s (Prachi) who have been advising Hindu women to produce more children. Not to be left behind RSS Chief K. Sudarshan had also given a call to Hindu women to produce more children. The choice between ‘coercion versus volition’ is best demonstrated by the fact that Vasectomy which was becoming acceptable norm and India saw a huge surge in the number of males undergoing this minor procedure faced a set back after the coercive measures imposed during Emergency. India was leading the World in Male sterilization numbers before 1975 and the number of vasectomies went up several million per year before 1975. After two years of forced imposition the number came down drastically. Now it is becoming difficult to revive the same. Earlier people were very appreciative of China’s high handed methods in imposing one child norm. The policy backfired and now the efforts are going on to reverse the trend. So much about the imposition versus encouragement debate! India so far has adopted a humane policy in the matter, which means to understand that number of children per couple depend more on the poverty, illiteracy and health facilities rather than religion. In sum and substance one can say that this program in India which was trying to improvise on health and education is beginning to yield dividends and even currently population explosion is not a menace if we carefully see the demography. The stark fact is that the women’s fertility rate is not dependent on religion as fertility rate of Muslim women of Kerala, Karnataka and Andhra is lower than that of Hindu women of UP, Bihar and Rajasthan. The United Nations mantra that the ‘best contraceptive is education’ becomes evident in India as we see that in India the results of family welfare programs are better in states with higher literacy especially among girls. While the laws by BJP Governments don’t mention the religion still the message of targeting Muslim minorities is clear. So why these Chief Ministers are keen to implement these coercive programs in their states; when what is needed improvement in education, alleviation of poverty and improving the health facilities? Assam has recently seen an election and the new Chief Minster wants to stabilize his power through this polarizing move. He has clearly stated that Muslims need to follow the family planning norms. Earlier in June, he had created controversy by saying that, "We can solve numerous social ills in Assam, if immigrant Muslim community adopts decent family planning norms." The other worthies from Hindtva stable have clearly articulated the divisive politics by targeting Muslims on the issue. Giriraj Singh, Union Cabinet Minister had said that increasing population, “especially (that of) Muslims, is a threat to the social fabric, social harmony, and development of the country”. Rajasthan BJP MLA Bhanwari Lal had said that unlike Hindus, “Muslims are worried about...how to take over the nation by increasing their population.” The fact is that Muslims are adopting family planning techniques at a faster pace. The decadal rate of their population increase shows bigger decline. The projection is that if present trends go on the population of Muslims will stabilize around 18% by 2050. The phobia which projects that they will become a majority and convert this into a Muslim country seems to be part of political agenda of inciting the communities in communal direction by creating a sense of fear among the Hindu majority. Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath has stated that the two-child policy is aimed at ensuring "there is a population balance among various communities”. He should know around that half the MLAs of BJP in UP have more than two children. As these things go down to the social media they assume horrendous proportions. The social media posts humiliating the Muslim community abound and are spreading hate using this issue to the hilt. Can one hope that the states will focus more on education, health and poverty alleviation!

July 09, 2021

Video: Religious India, Political India & PEW Report | Midweek Matters 19 I Parakala Prabhakar​ (July 7, 2021)


India: Sangh in the cooperative movement ?

The Government is moving to bring the cooperative sector under the sway of corporate capital, while creating a political base for the Sangh in the cooperative movement. It will be used to counter the farmers' movement.

July 02, 2021

India: Government Apparently Invites Suggestions for Removing Distortions in our History Text Books [ Can readers confirm ?]


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 SEE also news report from January 2021