November 18, 2018

India: Let’s not dance to the tune of Hindu martial music | SA Aiyar

The Times of India, November 18, 2018

Music should respect no borders of nation, region, religion or language. It should soar across the world and captivate all humanity. I am aghast that a Delhi concert, sponsored by Spic Macay and the Airports Authority of India (AAI), had to be “postponed” after Hindu fanatics warned against the participation of Carnatic music maestro T M Krishna.

His sin is that he has often included Christian and Muslim themes in his music. That is actually the sort of inclusiveness that has always marked Indian music, and indeed all Indian culture. Alas, the fanatics had so much clout with the ruling BJP that the sponsors had to back down. This was cultural barbarism.

Jawaharlal Nehru would have been outraged by such barbarism. But no outrage flowed from Rahul Gandhi and his gutless Congress cohorts, who have abandoned Nehruvian secularism for a soft Hindutva that smells like the leftovers of a BJP meal. Fortunately, the Aam Aadmi Party, which rules Delhi state, came to the rescue by providing an alternative concert platform for Krishna.

Hindu fanatics have cowed many artists. But not Krishna. He says, “The troll army has the underlying patronage of people in power. I have been trolled for a long time for my social position, my perspectives on politics, and my disagreements with the BJP regime. I believe in every art form. Allah, Jesus and Ram make no difference. It is a multilingual and multi-religious country.” Bravo!

After the latest ruckus, he tweeted, “Considering the vile comments and threats issued by many on social media regarding Carnatic compositions on Jesus, I announce here that I will be releasing one Carnatic song every month on Jesus or Allah.” All musicians and artists need to applaud this stance, in contrast to the pathetic BJP whitewash attempted by dancer Sonal Mansingh (who, not entirely coincidentally, was earlier nominated to the Rajya Sabha by the BJP government).

Hindustani music has many glorious roots, many sources of inspiration. The sitar is a modern version of the Persian setar (a three-stringed instrument), the sarod originated in the Afghan rubab, and the harmonium came from the European accordion. That does not make them Muslim or Christian or foreign. They are part and parcel of Hindustani music. Bismillah Khan and Amjad Ali Khan are as essential to Hindustani music as Ravi Shankar or Hari Prasad Chaurasia: their religions are irrelevant.

North Indians may not be aware of the remarkable absorptive capacity of southern Carnatic music. Classical music is often viewed as traditional and resistant to change. But the violin, introduced during the British Raj, has become so integral to Carnatic music that its followers would be outraged at the suggestion that it is alien.

Far from objecting, South Indian audiences cheered when Uppalapu Srinivas began using the mandolin to play Carnatic music. Indeed, he attained fame with the nickname Mandolin Srinivas. Today, Kadri Gopalnath is the foremost exponent of Carnatic music on the saxophone. Unlike Hindutva barbarians, these musicians know that music and musical instruments have no borders.

The bhajan may be called Hindu religious music. But Muslims have sung many of the greatest bhajans. Mohammed Rafi was among the greatest bhajan singers of all time. Probably the most famous bhajan in film history is O Duniya ke Rakhwale from Baiju Bawra. The music was composed by Naushad Ali, the lyrics were penned by Shakeel Badayuni and the song sung by Rafi. These three Muslims created a bhajan dearly beloved by Hindus, because music knows no boundaries.

My favourite bhajan of the 1950s is Insaaf ka Mandir Hai, from the film Amar. Here again, the music was by Naushad, the lyrics by Shakeel Badayuni and the singing by Rafi. In addition, the film was produced by Mehboob Khan, and its three main actors were all Muslims — Dilip Kumar (aka Yusuf Khan), Madhubala (aka Mumtaz Jehan Dehlavi) and Nimmi (aka Nawab Banoo). Did this detract in the slightest from the quality of the bhajan? No, it was a triumphant demonstration that music conquers all barriers.

The barbarians want us all to dance to the tune of Hindu martial music. Well, the most nationalistic musical event featuring the armed forces bands is the Beating Retreat ceremony every year on January 29 at Vijay Chowk in New Delhi. Every year, the bands play Sare Jahan se Achha, penned by Iqbal. They also play Abide with Me, which was Gandhiji’s favourite Christian hymn. The message is clear: patriotism and music should have nothing to do with religion.

November 17, 2018

India: David Frawley RSS’s favourite western intellectual

David Frawley is the American hippy who became RSS’s favourite western intellectual
Kaveree Bamzai 17 November, 2018


November 16, 2018

Invoking Lord Ram in Battlefield

Invoking Lord Ram on Electoral Battlefield Ram Puniyani As General elections 2019 are approaching different political parties are raising issues according to their deeper agenda, and according to what they perceive will appeal to the voters. There are some parties which thrive on polarization as it pays electoral dividends to their fortunes. The efforts to throw up such issues as a prelude to electoral battle are very much visible now. As elections’ shadows are falling on the social thinking, last few months have seen the revival of Ram Temple issue. Mr. Mohan Bhagwat, the chief of RSS called upon the ruling BJP to bring the law through parliament to make Ram Temple at disputed site, despite it being pending in the Court. As if, on the cue all other affiliates of RSS started raising the same issue. The VHP organized its Sant sammelan which expressed its restlessness about Ram Temple not having been built so far. RSS spokesperson gave a sort of warning that if Government does not comply it will revive the agitation for the same. It is very interesting that the RSS combine had been watching its government induced ill effects in most of the fields, economic, social, defense, foreign affairs and what have you. So far Ram temple issue was on the back burner. With elections round the corner, it is being flung on the society which is in the grip of economic hardships. Society is also in the throes of divisions brought in due to heightening of the issues like love jihad, chanting of Bharat Mata ki jai, putting ‘anti national’ label for those disagreeing with its policies and to cap it all its subtle encouragement of lynching’s and floggings in the name of holy cow and beef. BJP came to power in 2014 on the plank of Acche din, depositing 15 lakhs in everybody’s account due to recovery of black money stashed broad, ending of corruption and guarding the nation’s wealth through the PM, who promised to be a good Chowkidar. While there was undercurrent of divisive communal politics, the primary focus was on the economic issues, promise of good governance, promise of a foreign policy with better dignity for the country, promise of massive employments and reduction of prices of commodities, particularly that of petrol. Four and a half years down the line we witness, rise in prices of commodities, petrol diesel prices shooting through roof with unemployment rising and posing one of the major challenges to the society. The so called surgical strike was proffered as sign of the strong policy towards the neighbor, Pakistan. The reality is that the number of casualties on the border has risen; the lives of our soldiers being killed on the border are gradually rising. In the matters of foreign policy our neighbors are keeping us at arm’s length in matters of collaboration on different issues. Economy has suffered a severe jolt as the thoughtless demonetization not only lead to the loss of life of over hundred people, printing of new notes cost a fortune to our economy, while the claims that it will lead to black money free economy turned out to be fake as 99.3% of circulating currency came back to the bank. It led to the loss of employments of lakhs of workers in farm sectors and small scale industries. The GST implementation was so tardy that traders are most uncomfortable now. Petrol-diesel price rise has been horrifying and adding to the existing woes of the large sections of society. While some rich- Corporate have made merry by making a great escape from the country with thousands of crores of our wealth others of their tribe have increased their fortunes tremendously during this period. The poor farmers are in pain due to worsening agrarian scenario. With this balance sheet at four and a half years, it might have become clear to BJP and its parent organization RSS that appeal of the types made in 2014 will bite the dust in elections. So it is back on its time tested formula of religious polarization. One recalls that BJP built up it political prowess around Ram Temple issue. Advani’s Rath yatra, which left the trails of blood also laid the foundation for BJP’s electoral rise. Since then it has been the biggest trick in the electoral trade of this communal party, which revives this issues every time it faces the elections. So in that sense Bhagwat giving a call for the legislation for Ram Temple through the act of parliament, and his associates making various emotive noises is just an attempt to distract the popular attention from the all round failure of this government in fulfilling any of its promises. Adding on to the issue of Lord Ram, another game has begun that of change of names of places. It aims to erase the names of Muslim origin. This is more to target the present Muslim community rather than aiming at any cultural attainment. Every other BJP leader is coming up with a suggestion for name change. Probably the RSS combine is taking a leaf out from the communalists of Pakistan, who also erased all names which signified the mixed nature of our culture, the syncretism which has been the spinal cord of our society. Adding on to the emotive-divisive issues, they also have picked up the issues of Sabrimala, entry of women between the age group of 10-50 in the temple. After initially welcoming the Supreme Court verdict permitting women of all groups to enter the temple, now BJP stalwarts are out to repeat the Ayodhya experiment. Mr. Yeddyyurappa, the former Chief Minister of Karnataka is out on a Rath yatra, al la Advani to ‘save Sabarimala from women’s entry’. These issues well reflect the core agenda of RSS, the agenda revolving around emotive issues and as an accompaniment the pro corporate stance at the cost of the interests of the common people of the society. This is a derailment of our democracy so to say!

India: The Hindu vs Hindutva battle is meaningless in shaping our politics

Spare me the good Hindu: The Hindu vs Hindutva battle is meaningless in shaping our politics
Hartosh Singh Bal

06 July 2018

Unless we claim that true Hinduism is folk religion, to be found not in, but away, from the great traditions of Hinduism, we are left to conclude that it is those who are most Hindu who are the most avid supporters of Hindutva. PTI

During a speech at the India Today Conclave in March this year, Sonia Gandhi said, “The BJP has managed to—I don’t say brainwash because that is a rude word, but it has managed to convince people, to persuade people that the Congress party is a Muslim party.” The speech was an attempt to defend the Congress’s need to project Rahul Gandhi’s new-found love for temples.

Two months earlier, an India Today story, in a cover package titled, “Hindu vs Hindutva,” noted, “While the appropriation of Hindu identity by the ‘Hindutva’ politics of the Sangh Parivar has … helped propel the NDA government to power … recent months have seen an unprecedented attempt by ‘liberal’ political forces to reclaim the lost ground. From Rahul Gandhi’s temple tour on the Gujarat campaign trail to Rajinikanth’s manifesto of ‘spiritual politics’ and Siddaramaiah’s war of words with Yogi Adityanath or the latest posters depicting the PM as Ravana in Amethi—the battle of ‘Hindu versus Hindutva’ has been joined.” Other commentators have carried forward the argument—in a March story in The Print, its chairman and editor-in-chief, Shekhar Gupta, claimed that the BJP’s hold over the country “cannot change until those with claims to secularism and minority votes reset their politics.” He further wrote, “They have zero hope if they can’t bring a critical mass of the majority back.”

This argument is wrong on many levels, and it ends up concealing its real implications.

To begin with, the argument commits the sin of endorsing the very disease it claims to fight. It relegates over 220 million people—including Muslims, Christians and Sikhs, who would on their own constitute the fifth-most populous country on earth—to the role of mere onlookers in a tussle between Hindus over Hindutva. Such a formulation of the present-day politics implicitly concedes the core argument of Hindutva—that those who are not part of the Hindu majority are lesser citizens—and foregoes the equality granted under the Constitution. It implies that they live here only through the forbearance of the Hindus, not because they have the same rights as any Hindu in India.

Though it begins with a claim that seems reasonable—the need to persuade Hindus they are well represented irrespective of whether the BJP or the Congress is in power—the argument ends in absurdity. Why should any such argument stop at Hindus—should not all Indians should feel that they are well represented irrespective of whether the BJP or the Congress is in power? But we already know this is not the case. Muslims, and most Indian minorities in general, are not represented at all when the BJP is in power. The logical inference in this seems to be that the cure for the BJP’s marginalisation of the Muslims is to make the Congress more Hindu—apparently the only way to make Hindus feel secure is to ensure that neither the Congress nor the BJP is seen as representing Muslims. [ . . . ]


How the RSS has kept up the protests by 'devotees' at Sabarimala to block womens entry

The bid to silence TM Krishna reflects how ‘unfree’ India has become - Trolls might be expected to attack someone who speaks against Hindutva. But did Airports Authority of India have to listen?

scroll.in - 16 November 2018

The bid by trolls to silence TM Krishna reflects how ‘unfree’ India has become
Trolls might be expected to attack someone who speaks against Hindutva. But did Airports Authority of India have to listen?

Rohan Venkataramakrishnan

Cricket and music have in the past been held hostage to international politics, with nationalist Indian political parties and their rabid fans insisting that India should not play host to anything connected to Pakistan – even if the people being invited from across the border have nothing to do with their government. Emboldened by the success of these tactics, right-wing trolls are now attacking even Indian performers for espousing opinions that they disagree with. The most recent scalp is that of celebrated Carnatic musician TM Krishna.

A concert that had been scheduled for this weekend in New Delhi was postponed by its sponsor, the Airports Authority of India, because of “some exigencies of work”. Until just a few days before, the AAI, which organised the concert along with musical society SPIC-MACAY, had been promoting the event. But doing so brought it much trolling from right-wingers who insisted that Krishna is an “urban naxal” – a mostly meaningless term used by the Right to describe those who question Hindutva – as well as “anti-India” and a “converted bigot” who sang about Jesus and Allah.

[ . . . ]


India: Changing place names - Fashioning potent weapons of mass distraction | Bharat Bhushan

The Asian Age

Changing place names: Fashioning potent weapons of mass distraction

Bharat Bhushan

Unable to construct the Ram Mandir at the disputed site in Ayodhya, the ruling BJP finds itself in a quandary. Earlier, when it came to power, its excuse for not the Ram temple was that it had to follow the compulsions of “coalition dharma”, but when it gets a majority of its own it would bring in a law to facilitate the construction of the temple.

It has run a government under Prime Minsiter Narendra Modi at the Centre for four and a half years now. What is more, it also has a majority government in Uttar Pradesh, where Ayodhya is located. Yet it has not been able to build the Ram temple it had promised to the faithful. The reasons for its inability are many. The primary reason being that the land where the temple is to be located is disputed. The adjoining area, which is not disputed, has been acquired by the government on the orders of the Supreme Court, which has also banned any construction there.

So what does the BJP do? It shows the faithful that it is still devoted to Lord Ram and that if it cannot construct a temple at Ayodhya, it can do other things to promote his glory — by renaming Faizabad district as Ayodhya, setting a Guinness World Record by lighting over 300,000 oil lamps in Ayodhya for Diwali and building the tallest statue ever of Lord Ram in Ayodhya on the Sarayu river. This, Uttar Pradesh chief minister Yogi Adityanath has pointed out, will help people in the “darshan” (viewing) and “smaran” (remembering) of Lord Ram.

The strategy seems to be that if the party in power cannot construct the temple at the disputed site, then it can at least convert the entire district of Faizabad, now Ayodhya, into a memorial for Lord Ram.

The party is also happy that some people have objected to the renaming of Faizabad, claiming that it was the first capital of Awadh under Nawab Sadat Ali Khan-I. This allows them to please their followers by asking the rhetorical communal question: “Is their Nawab more important and bigger than our Lord Ram?” This displacement strategy, conscious and well thought out, unlike the Freudian concept, serves several political purposes. It tries to convey the commitment of the BJP to those members of its core constituency who might be getting disillusioned with it because of its inability to build the Ram temple. The renaming of the district and the promise of a Lord Ram statue is a defensive strategy to keep the flock together.

The large-scale renaming of place names in Uttar Pradesh (so far that is the only state on a renaming spree) also suggests that the party, unable to showcase its governance, is keen on proving its Hindutva credentials and to show Yogi Adityanath as a proactive chief minister.

UP is where the main battle of the 2019 general election will be fought, and the BJP must prevent the alliance of Other Backward Classes (OBCs) and dalits, represented by the Samajwadi Party and the Bahujan Samaj Party, if it wants to win. The Hindutva-laced campaign is for them too. The renaming and the Ram temple issue appeals to the common religious identity of the OBCs and dalits.

[ . . . ]