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August 13, 2022

USA: Brutal attack on Salman Rushdie who is on ventilator and unable to speak / writers and celebrities horrified by Salman Rushdie attack

 

https://www.bbc.com/news/world-us-canada-62528689

https://www.theguardian.com/books/2022/aug/12/salman-rushdie-attack-reaction-journalists-writers-celebrities

August 12, 2022

ध्रुवीकरण की राजनीति और सांझा विरासत पर हमले | राम पुनियानी

https://www.navjivanindia.com/opinion/connect-every-issue-with-religion-propagate-polarisation-bjps-old-trick-to-divert-attention-from-issues-article-by-ram-puniyani


09/08/2022
 
ध्रुवीकरण की राजनीति और सांझा विरासत पर हमले
 
राम पुनियानी

 
भारत की सांस्कृतिक एवं धार्मिक विरासत की समृद्धि उसकी विविधता में निहित है.
अनेक कवियों और लेखकों ने बताया है कि किस प्रकार दुनिया के अलग-अलग हिस्सों
से विभिन्न संस्कृतियों और नस्लों के लोगों के कारवां इस भूमि पर पहुंचे और
उन्होंने मिलजुलकर भारत रूपी बहुरंगी फूलों के गुलदस्ते का निर्माण किया.
लोगों के एक साथ जुड़ने की इस प्रक्रिया का चरम बिंदु था स्वाधीनता संग्राम जब
विविध धर्मों, जातियों और अलग-अलग भाषाएं बोलने वालों ने कंधे से कंधा मिलाकर
भारत को विदेशी शासन से मुक्ति दिलाने के लिए संघर्ष किया. जिस दौरान देश में
परस्पर प्रेम और सद्भाव बढ़ रहा था उसी समय कुछ ऐसी शक्तियां भी उभरीं जिनकी
सोच संकीर्ण और साम्प्रदायिक थी और जिन्होंने इस प्रक्रिया को बाधित करने का
प्रयास किया. इस प्रयास का परिणाम था देश का बंटवारा.
 
स्वतंत्रता के तुरंत बाद के सालों और दशकों में सामंजस्य और सद्भाव को बढ़ावा
देने वाली शक्तियां प्रभावी थीं जबकि विघटनकारी सोच रखने वाले कमजोर और हाशिए
पर थे. पिछले चार दशकों में संकीर्ण साम्प्रदायिक ताकतों ने बहुत तेजी से अपना
सिर उठाया है. वे भारत की विविधता को, भारत के हम सब का देश होने को, स्वीकार
ही नहीं करना चाहते. इस प्रवृत्ति के कुछ उदाहरण पिछले दिनों सामने आए हैं.
 
देवबंद के एक छोटे से मामूली मदरसे के मौलाना ने मुस्लिम गायिका फरमानी नाज के
खिलाफ फतवा जारी किया. फरमानी नाज का भजन ‘हर हर शंभू' जबरदस्त हिट हुआ है. ये
मौलाना साहब टीवी चैनलों की पहली पसंद हैं. अपने प्राईम टाईम में ये चैनल
मुर्गों की लड़ाई करवाते हैं, जिन्हें वे बहस कहते हैं. इनके लिए उन्हें दोनों
धर्मों के अतिवादी लोगों की जरूरत होती है ताकि वे एक-दूसरे से जमकर लड़ें और
चैनलों की टीआरपी बढ़े. इन मौलाना साहब का दारूल उलूम देवबंद, जो कि देश का
प्रमुख मदरसा है से कोई लेना-देना नहीं है. दारूल उलूम फतवा तभी जारी करता है
जब कोई उससे किसी मुद्दे पर उसकी राय देने को कहता है. फतवा दरअसल आदेश नहीं
बल्कि एक तरह की राय ही होता है.
 
असद काजमी नाम के ये रूढ़िवादी मौलाना शायद हिन्दू भजन गायकी की लंबी परंपरा से
वाकिफ नहीं हैं जो मोहम्मद रफी से लेकर फराज खान तक जाती है. इनमें से कुछ
भजनों के संगीत निदेशक ए. आर. रहमान और नौशाद जैसी असाधारण प्रतिभाएं रही हैं.
मुसलमानों द्वारा गाए भजनों की सूची किसी रजिस्टर के कई पन्ने भर देगी परंतु
मैं सिर्फ दो उदाहरण देना चाहूंगा. मेरा सबसे पसंदीदा भजन है ‘मन तड़पत हरि
दर्शन को आज'. इसके बोल शकील बदायूंनी के थे, संगीत नौशाद का और इसे गाया था
मोहम्मद रफी ने. बड़े गुलाम अली खां साहब द्वारा गाए भजन ‘हरि ओम् तत्सत' को
भला कौन भूल सकता है. और ना ही यह एकतरफा है. कई हिन्दू गायकों ने कव्वाली
गायन को नई ऊचाईयां दी हैं. इनमें शामिल हैं प्रभा भारती और ध्रुव सांगरी.
 
कुछ साल पहले इसी तरह के मौलानाओं ने बंगाली फिल्म कलाकार और सांसद नुसरत जहां
को दुर्गा पूजा में भाग लेने के लिए जमकर खरी-खोटी सुनाई थी जबकि दुर्गा पूजा
बंगाल की संस्कृति का अंग है. सीमा के उस पार पाकिस्तान में एक पुलिस वाले को
एक मुस्लिम कालेज शिक्षक के बिंदी लगाने पर ऐतराज था. उसका कहना था कि बिंदी
हिन्दू धर्म से जुड़ी हुई है. यह अच्छा हुआ कि वहां की सरकार ने उस पुलिस वाले
को मुअत्तिल कर दिया.
 
सुनियोजित ढंग से यह अफवाहें उड़ाई जाती हैं कि मस्जिदों में हथियार जमा किए
जाते हैं जिनका इस्तेमाल साम्प्रदायिक दंगों में होता है. यह भी कहा जाता है
कि मस्जिदों में हिन्दुओं का प्रवेश वर्जित है. यह बिल्कुल सही नहीं है. उल्टे
कई हिन्दू मंदिरों में अन्य धर्मों के लोगों के प्रवेश पर पाबंदी है. जहां तक
मस्जिदों का सवाल है, उनमें कोई भी जा सकता है. कुछ स्कूलों ने जब अपने
विद्यार्थियों को विभिन्न धर्मों के आराधना स्थलों की यात्रा कराने का निर्णय
लिया तब बजरंग दल ने इसका विरोध किया. बड़ौदा के देहली पब्लिक स्कूल ने बच्चों
को हमारे देश की धार्मिक विविधिता से रूबरू करवाने के लिए उन्हें एक मस्जिद
में ले जाने की घोषणा की. बजरंग दल ने इसका विरोध किया और स्कूल को चेतावनी दी
कि अगर बच्चों को मस्जिद ले जाया गया तो उसके गंभीर परिणाम होंगे. नतीजे में
यह कार्यक्रम रद्द कर दिया गया. इसके एक सप्ताह पहले विद्यार्थियों को एक
मंदिर में ले जाया गया था. इसी तरह की घटनाएं दिल्ली और कर्नाटक में भी हुईं.
 
हमारी सांझा संस्कृति पर ये हमले और तेज, और कटु होते जा रहे हैं. ध्रुवीकरण
की राजनीति को बढ़ावा दिया जा रहा है. इसका एक उदाहरण हाल में सामने आया जब
भारतीय राष्ट्रीय कांग्रेस ने बढ़ती महंगाई, आवश्यक वस्तुओं पर जीएसटी लगाए
जाने और आम नागरिकों को पेश आ रही अन्य दिक्कतों के संदर्भ में संसद से
राष्ट्रपति भवन तक मार्च किया. प्रदर्शनकारी काले रंग के कपड़े पहने हुए थे.
 
अपने चरित्र के अनुरूप भाजपा ने इस प्रदर्शन का इस्तेमाल भी साम्प्रदायिक
ध्रुवीकरण के अपने एजेंडे को आगे बढ़ाने के लिए किया. पार्टी के शीर्ष नेता और
केन्द्रीय गृहमंत्री अमित शाह ने कहा कि कांग्रेस, राम मंदिर का विरोध कर रही
है! इसका कारण उन्होंने यह बताया कि कांग्रेस ने काले कपड़ों में प्रदर्शन करने
के लिए वह दिन (5 अगस्त) चुना जिस दिन दो साल पहले प्रधानमंत्री ने राम मंदिर
के निर्माण कार्य का उद्घाटन किया था. शाह का कहना था कि यह प्रदर्शन कांग्रेस
की तुष्टिकरण की राजनीति का हिस्सा है. इससे एक कदम आगे बढ़कर उत्तरप्रदेश के
मुख्यमंत्री योगी आदित्यनाथ ने यह मांग की कि कांग्रेस को राम भक्तों का अपमान
करने के लिए देश से माफी मांगनी चाहिए.
 
कांग्रेस ने शाह-योगी पर जवाबी हमला बोलते हुए कहा कि वे दरअसल एक
प्रजातांत्रिक विरोध प्रदर्शन, जो महंगाई जैसे ज्वलंत मुद्दे को लेकर किया गया
था, से लोगों का ध्यान हटाने का कुत्सित प्रयास कर रहे हैं और समाज को
साम्प्रदायिक आधार पर ध्रुवीकृत करना चाहते हैं. जनता की बढ़ती तकलीफों की ओर
देश और सरकार का ध्यान आकर्षित करना आवश्यक है. इस विरोध प्रदर्शन को राम
मंदिर और तुष्टिकरण से जोड़कर भाजपा ने वही किया जो वह बरसों से करती आई है -
अर्थात हर चीज को धर्म से जोड़ो, हर मुद्दे को भावनात्मक बना दो और अलग-अलग
धर्मों के लोगों में ज्यादा से ज्यादा गलतफहमियां पैदा करो. क्या अन्य
पार्टियां और सामाजिक समूह हर मुद्दे को साम्प्रदायिक रंग देने के भाजपा के
प्रयास का मुकाबला कर सकेंगे? क्या प्रजातांत्रिक और धर्मनिरपेक्ष व्यक्ति और
समूह लोगों का ध्यान मूलभूत मुद्दों से भटकाने की कुटिल कवायद से निपटने का
रास्ता ढूंढ पाएंगे?
 
भाजपा अपने समर्थक संगठनों के विशाल नेटवर्क और सरकार के आगे नतमस्तक मीडिया
के जरिए उस एजेंडे को प्रोत्साहन दे रही है जिसमें लोगों की समस्याओं के लिए
कोई जगह नहीं है. लक्ष्य केवल यह है कि आमजनों को धार्मिक और भावनात्मक
मुद्दों में उलझाए रखा जाए.
 
भारत की सांझा संस्कृति पर चौतरफा हमले हो रहे हैं. आम लोगों की जिंदगी दूभर
होती जा रही है परंतु उनकी समस्याओं से ध्यान हटाने का हर संभव प्रयास किया जा
रहा है. प्रजातंत्र में लोगों की समस्याएं सर्वोपरि होनी चाहिए. हमें एक सच्चे
प्रजातंत्र के निर्माण के

August 11, 2022

Rising Sectarianism: Threat to India's Syncretic Culture | Ram Puniyani

https://www.southasiamonitor.org/open-forum/politics-polarization-and-attacks-syncretic-traditions

Politics of Polarization and attacks on Syncretic Traditions

Ram Puniyani

 

India’s cultural and religious richness lies in its diversity. Many poets and writers have given a beautiful picture of different caravans coming here, interacting and creating lovely bouquet and salad bawl of our cultural interactions. The peak of this was during freedom movement when people from diverse communities thickly interacted to get rid of colonial yoke. As the process of thick interaction was deepening, at the same time some opposing sectarian processes also developed and they tried to retard this process, which peaked in the partition of the country.

With freedom we saw the interaction and syncretism being the main process while divisive tendencies were weak and marginal. During last four decades these sectarian tendencies are raising their ugly head and opposing the ‘Indian Diversity’ very strongly. Last couple of weeks we saw this in a very disturbing way.

One Maulana of a minor madarassa in Deoband passed a fatwa against Farzani Naaz, a Muslim singer whose Bhajan (Hindu devotional song) ‘Har Har Shambho’ became a hit. This Maulana is a favorite of the TV channels who in their Prime time ‘cock fights’, mistakenly called debates, pitch the extreme elements from both religions and reap the rich harvest of TRP. Incidentally this Maulana has nothing to do with Darul Ulum Deoband, the main madrassa, which gives fatwa when someone asks for it. Fatwa’s as such means opinion.

This retrograde Maulana Asad Kasmi is totally ignorant of the great tradition of Hindu bhajan singers starting from Mohammad Rafi to Faraz Khan, whose songs are sort of immortal contribution to Hindu devotions songs. Many of these are composed by outstanding music directors like Naushad Ali to A. R. Rahman. The list can fill pages but am tempted to cite just two of them. My biggest favorite being Man ‘Tarpat Hari Darshan ko Aaj’ (Sung by Rafi, composed by Naushad Ali and written by Shakil Badayuni). Who can forget the bhajan ‘Hari Om Tatsat’, sung by none other than Bade Ghulam Ali Khan. It is not a one way traffic; there are many remarkable Hindu singers who have contributed to singing of qwwali, Prabha Bharati and Dhruv Sangari being the foremost among them.

One recalls a few years ago, a Bengali film actor and MP, Nusrat Jahan was hauled by these clerics for participating in Durga Puja, something which is part of Bengali culture. Across the border a Muslim college teacher was harassed by a police for wearing Bindi, saying it is a Hindu practice. It is good that the cop was suspended.

Systematically rumors are spread as to how Masjids store weaponry, used in communal violence. There are also horrid rumors that Hindus can’t enter Masjid. The contrary is true that many Hindu temples don’t permit people of other faith. As far as Masjids are concerned there is no such prohibition. In a society like ours, where the segregations have increased; some schools have started field trips for their students to different places of worship. Now while some of these go on well there seems to be a rising opposition to such events from the likes of Bajrang Dal etc.

Delhi Public School in Vadodara, as a part of exposing children to diverse places of worship, planned to take the children to a trip to a mosque. Bajrang dal warned of dire consequences and the trip had to be called off. Earlier week these children were taken to a temple. Similar incidents are reported from Delhi, Karnataka among others.

These attacks on our syncretism are becoming more in intensity as the polarization politics is becoming the order of the day and is growing in intensity. One of the shocking examples of this polarizing politics was witnessed recently when Indian National Congress decided to organize a protest in parliament house to march to Rashtrapati Niwas against rising prices; GST and other pressing issues faced by the average citizens of the country. They were wearing black clothes as a symbol of protest.

As the country is writhing under the flogging of rising prices, growing unemployment, worsening health and educational facilities, not many protests have been staged. The regional parties and left parties in particular have not been drawing the attention of the country to these issues, which was the earlier norm.

BJP true to its character used this protest to deepen its polarizing agenda. Mr. Amit Shah, the top leader of BJP and also Home minster in the wake of the protest march, stated that Congress is trying to oppose the Ram Temple, Ayodha day. Congress did it on 5th August when the PM had inaugurated the construction of Ram Temple. He called the Congress protests as part of appeasement politics. He was joined by UP Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath who asked Congress to apologize to the nation for “insulting” Ram devotees by staging protests in black clothes on the day when the construction of the Ram temple began in Ayodhya two years back”.

Congress hit back by stating that Shah-Yogi’s is an attempt to divert, distract and polarize the society. BJP’s is a malicious twist to the democratic protest- demonstrations against the rising prices. Protests against the current worsening plight are the need of the hour. BJP, by linking protests to Ram Temple appeasement, is playing the game which it has mastered over decades. Convert everything to Religion, emotive issues and deepen the communal divide, which is increasing in the country. Can the other opposition parties and social movements take on the sectarian twists of BJP?  Can the democratic and secular elements, groups and parties swallow such a gross distraction from people’s problems of day to day life?

BJP, supported by its vast collaborating organizations and compliant media in tow is pursuing its agenda where people’s problems have no place. What matters is rousing the emotive pitch around the religious issues to pursue its deeper agenda.

The attack on syncretism from multiple directions and the communal distraction in the face of the worsening plight of people should worry us all. The democratic narrative where people’s problems should be at the forefront needs to be boosted with full energy.


August 05, 2022

India: 1,716 in 2018; 1,315 in 2019; 1,763 in 2020; A total of 4,794 people were arrested over a three-year period for hurting “religious sentiment"s”.



India: Modi's Call to woo Pasmanda Muslims | Ram Puniyani

Modi’s call to woo Pasmanda Muslims: Clever politics or change of stance?

What is needed more is an end to the hate campaigns against the Muslim community and the start of affirmative action for the weaker sections of the Muslim population, writes Dr Ram Puniyani for South Asia Monitor
 

By Dr Ram Puniyani Aug 03, 2022


The BJP’s electoral strength has been rising through various mechanisms. On one hand, the voting percentage in favour of this party is on the upswing; on the other, it has been luring elected representatives from other parties. The process of luring has diverse ways and underlying causes. At the same time, there is some impression in the society that Muslims do not vote for the BJP by and large. This may not be fully true.

At the recently concluded National Executive of the BJP, Prime Minister Narendra Modi called upon his party to reach out to those sections of the society which have not been voting for BJP due to the 'BJP phobia' created by the opposition. The BJP blamed the opposition parties even for its own actions due to which there is a fear of the BJP. Hate speech and dog whistles from the top leadership are aplenty due to which many are scared of this party.  

The Muslim community has also faced the might of bulldozers. Political observer Zainab Sikander has neatly summarized it: “A man with amputated hands is accused of stone-throwing in Madhya Pradesh’s Khargone. His only source of income, his shop, is bulldozed. You see his image, perhaps feel bad but move on with your lives. But Muslims? This is their daily reality. What is the future of Muslims in India when they are being psychologically broken by being brandished as conspirators, terrorists, illegal migrants, rioters and stone-throwers?”  

Muslim victimisation

One can safely add that among the victims of communal violence, the majority are Muslims; those in jail are also mostly Muslims. Lately, human rights activists calling for peaceful protests are also being incarcerated. Most of them do not have the luck of Muhammad Zubair, the co-founder of Alt news, to secure bail.

In this light, one recalls the conclusions of the Gopal Singh Commission, the Rangnath Mishra Commission and Sachar committee reports which show us the economic and social status of Muslims sliding down in the social pyramid. Minority appeasement as a phrase runs parallel to worsening socio-economic conditions of Muslim minorities. And now we are made to believe that the phobia against BJP has been created by opposition parties.

This is the backdrop in which the Prime Minister Modi advised his partymen to start “sneh yatras” (outreach campaigns) to woo Pasmanda Muslims. He may have multiple goals in mind. To begin with, it may aim to win over a section of Muslims to the BJP to divide the Muslim community along caste/economic lines. Already, the RSS has floated a Muslim Rashtriya Manch to win over a section of Muslims by propagating common ancestry, and stating that change in your (Muslim) methods of worship has not changed your nationality.  

Pasmanda Muslims

Pasmanda is a Persian word, which stands for ‘left behind’. It is religion and caste neutral. As such, the ST, ST and OBC can broadly be included in this. Among Muslims there is another social gradation: Ashrafs, who claim their ancestry from the Prophet, Ajlaf (the equivalent of OBC) and Arzal, which are the lowest of the lowest castes among Muslims. It is a paradox that the many from low caste in India embraced Islam to escape the tyranny of the traditional caste system. But caste is such a deep phenomenon that it has affected Muslims and Christians and other religions in India.

Overall, Pasmanda is predominantly used for low-caste Muslims who have been left out from the process of affirmative action, especially brought in by the Mandal Commission. The community includes Dalit (Arzals) and backward Muslim (Ajlafs). Based on the Mandal commission report, 27 percent reservation was started for the OBCs. Of this, 79 castes were from Muslim community -- nearly all belonging to the Pasmanda community. The rest of 15 percent Muslims are considered upper class or Ashrafs.

The castes within Pasmanda Muslims are generally decided by their profession. Among the Pasmandas are Malik (Teli), Momin Ansar (weavers), Qureshi (butchers), Salmani (barbers) and Hawari (washer men).

Affirmative action

While the Mandal Commission did give the status of OBC to many Muslim communities, some have not been included in the category to which they belong and so remain deprived from the much-needed affirmative action. It is true that in the Muslim community, most organizations are dominated by Ashrafs.

Pasmanda groups have been trying to organize themselves to press for betterment of their economic-social conditions. Ali Anwar, the founder of one Pasmanda group, says that in 1998 a Pasmanda Muslim Mahaz was formed. “We do not appreciate the patronizing statement from the PM… The Pasmanda Muslims need ‘sneh’ denotes that they are an inferior lot requiring patronage from the ones who are superior… Our fight is not against any caste, creed or community; we are demanding from the government and the political elite our due that is commensurate with our population so that we can stand on an equal footing with non-Pasmanda people.”

"Sneh Yatra" is fine. But what is needed more is an end to the hate campaigns against the community and the start of affirmative action for the weaker sections of the Muslim population.

(The writer, a former IIT Bombay professor, is Chairman, Center for Study of Society and Secularism, Mumbai. Views are personal.)

Read more at: https://www.southasiamonitor.org/spotlight/modis-call-woo-pasmanda-muslims-clever-politics-or-change-stance

August 04, 2022

India: I am a Jain and Gurgaon meat ban isn’t about my religious sentiments | Vansha Jain (IE, Aug 2, 2022)

The Indian Express,August 2, 2022

Not in my name: I am a Jain and Gurgaon meat ban isn’t about my religious sentiments

Vansha Jain writes: Paryushan Parv is about ridding ourselves of hatred, greed and the pull of the ego. Hurting the livelihoods of traders is about an exclusivist politics
 

Written by Vansha Jain

Meat, even today, is a bit of a taboo — a subject that makes people cringe — within Jain families. While most wince at its mention, there are also some among us who, surreptitiously of course, are known to tuck into the odd chicken tikka. As a child, I used to find this funny because at home we would all be back to eating food with no onion and garlic. My grandmother was a devout Jain and that was reflected in her lifestyle and food habits (she wouldn’t let me even kill mosquitoes). It is well-known that onion and garlic are not consumed in very traditional Jain families, while the injunction around potatoes is both less well-known and practised. Even my devout grandmother loved them and so did our extended family. Her beloved potato was in everything she made. It was only during Paryushan Parv that she would not touch them.

I bring up these dietary memories because today, the public conversation seems to be based on the belief that it is only meat that Jains refrain from consuming. And the ban on the sale of meat in Gurgaon during Paryushan Parv (August 24 to September 1) has only sharpened my doubts around actions taken to protect “religious sentiments”.

If my religious sentiments as a Jain were the sole reason behind the meat ban then, surely, onions, garlic, and potatoes would also be included? Or, in fact, any root vegetable? They are not, for obvious reasons. There would be havoc as the dietary and cultural life of multitudes and the livelihood of those involved in cultivating, transporting and selling these items would be deeply disrupted. But, fundamentally, isn’t the ban on any food – meat, in this case — equally absurd?

This leads me to think that, perhaps, restrictions such as the one in Gurgaon have less to do with my sentiments and more to do with a larger political project. “Pure” and “impure” – think “pure veg restaurant” – have castiest and exclusionary notions attached to them (there is “caste” among Jains too). The ban seems more to do with who the powers-that-be think of as “meat eaters” than respecting those who do not.

Food for me has always been a personal choice. It is about nutrition, taste, pleasure and, yes, culture, and is as varied as all these factors. In a perfect world, there would be no “food shaming”. And now, it is being done in my name, as a Jain.

Many of the people selling meat are Muslim. As the economy struggles back to its feet after the shock of the Covid pandemic, should they suffer another blow to their livelihoods? Is this solidarity with “Jain sentiments” worth the suffering of Muslim and Hindu meat traders? Are Jains just being appeased for a hidden motive? To be honest, most Jains in urban areas don’t not know this ban is being done in their name. Most of them do not think of meat or its products in their daily life — there are enough vegetables to preoccupy them. There is a lot of dietary diversity within Jain families. A small number follow all the restrictions.

Jains have been celebrating their festivals with great fervour without meat bans. Paryushan Parv’s main goal is to remove impurities from within, ridding ourselves of hatred, greed and the pull of the ego. Can we celebrate those values if there is intolerance using our religion as the excuse?

The writer studies political science at Delhi University