Archive for July, 2007

BJP chief admits to RSS running the BJP

July 31, 2007

Why is this newsworthy? Because the Sangh is admitting the truth! Here’s an excerpt from the Outlook interview.

Question: On January 29 this year, you had removed Modi from the BJP’s highest decision-making body—the parliamentary board. At the same time Arun Jaitley was removed as chief spokesperson of the BJP. Did you act under RSS pressure or advice?

Rajnath: The media made too much of it. These were routine changes. Okay, the RSS was consulted. In Modi’s case it was 70 per cent RSS and 30 per cent my decision. In Jaitley’s case the responsibility was 50:50.

As pointed out by the Times of India,

The statement undercuts the denials by both BJP and RSS about the latter’s involvement in the party’s decision making. While organically linked, BJP has preferred to keep up the pretence of autonomy vis-a-vis Sangh, while Sangh itself professes disinterest in the affairs of the party.

Here’ s the rest of the TOI report (all emphases mine):

The Sangh leadership was, naturally, not amused by the statement which can be a weapon in critics’ hands. Approached by TOI, RSS leader Ram Madhav said, “He has to clarify what he means by 70% and 30%. Decisions are taken by the party. You can consult anyone including the RSS, that’s a normal practice, but on what basis do you say that the decisions were taken by the Sangh… of course there is a possibility that he (Singh) may have been misquoted.”

The controversial statement comes in the aftermath of the perception about RSS getting increasingly involved in the routine affairs of BJP under the current leadership. Singh took over the party’s reins from L K Advani who was asked to step down by Sangh leadership because of his controversial remarks on Jinnah.

Advani had made his displeasure known by complaining about Sangh’s bid to micro-manage party affairs. While his protest did not evoke much support, the perception about Sangh’s interference has led to heartburn.

While no one has gone public, it is only because of the reverence for senior Sangh leaders. Murmurs against RSS functionaries who have been imposing their choices have been on the rise. Their role has been called into question also with regard to the recent UP polls. Party circles lament that while they have got the flak, Sangh functionaries who interfered at every stage have gone unscathed.

If the RSS is not happy about an open acknowledgment of its relationship with the BJP, Rajnath’s statement has got to be retracted, right? This is exactly what the BJP has done. Here is its letter to Outlook, reproduced in full:

Dear Shri Mehta,

The Bharatiya Janata Party and its National President are deeply distressed over the cavalier manner in which your magazine Outlook (dated 06 August 2007) has published the interview of Shri Rajnath Singh ji. The interview contains certain statements which he never made, his observations have been deliberately distorted and quoted out of context and there is a palpable attempt to maliciously convey a negative image.

It is evident that there appears to be a motive behind this distortion and the fact that the interview of Shri Rajnath Singh ji was given in Hindi and has been published in English; has been conveniently manipulated and distorted to suit this purpose. In particular, I would like to emphasize that Shri Rajnath Singh ji never made the uncharitable comments or statistical reference in the decision making process against his party colleagues and the two senior leaders of the party Shri Atal Bihari Vajpayee and Shri L K Advani. Many of the observations about the RSS were either not made by Shri Rajnath Singh ji or have been quoted out of context.

The party would like to place on record its contradiction and condemnation of the objectionable manner in which your publication has gone ahead and distorted the interview.

Yours truly

(Ravi Shankar Prasad)
Spokesperson

I can only hope Outlook recorded the interview, and can call the BJP’s bluff! If your appetite hasn’t been whetted yet, here’s another juicy excerpt from the Outlook interview (all emphases mine).

Question: Your critics say that some RSS leaders have begun to have second thoughts about your leadership and that you will be nothing without the RSS…

Rajnath: The media is really trying to create a story. The RSS is united and does not have factions. I am loyal to the RSS and it backs me completely. I have worked for the Sangh from my early youth. I have propagated their ideology from the beginning. Yes, you are right I would be nothing without the RSS.



Free Hit Counter

Advertisements

Save Gandhian institute from takeover by RSS

July 28, 2007

[Source: DailySouthAsian]

The Sangh Parivar has been trying to takeover the Gandhian Institute of Studies in Rajghat, Varanasi for some time through an expelled employee of the Institute Smt. Kusum Lata Kedia. The Institute was founded by late Jayaprakash Narayan (JP) in 1960 with the purpose of building a closer relationship between grassroots movements and academia so that both would benefit from each other. The land was given on lease by Sarva Sewa Sangh and support for construction provided by U.P. Gandhi Smarak Nidhi. JP ran the Institute without any government support from its inception till 1977. It was only during the Janata Party regime that it was decided that Institute would meet its running expenses with support from ICSSR and the UP Government.

K.L. Kedia, with affiliations to RSS, joined the Institute and initiated the downfall of this prestigious Institute. She had to be expelled from the Institute in 2002 by its Board of Management after recommendations given in by a committee headed by late Usha Mehta, on disciplinary grounds. However, she schemed with then HRD minister Murali Manohar Joshi and got the funds from ICSSR to the Institute stopped. She got herself declared as the acting director by the ICSSR. It was when she had started abusing the Institute’s property that a dharna was organized by the Board of Management, now headed by legendary Gandhian Acharya Ramamurti, in 2003 to ask the administration to step in to prevent her from doing so. The local administration put a lock on the main building. Meanwhile, she continued to occupy the director’s residence.

With the coming into power of Congress led government at the centre, funds from ICSSR resumed. Arjun Singh described this as a test case for freeing an academic institution from saffronization. Sarva Sewa Sangh allowed the Institute to function from its adjacent premises with a Professor of BHU, Prof. Dipak Malik as its new Director and Muniza Rafiq Khan as its acting Registrar. However, the Mulayam Singh government was unable to get the Institute begin functioning from its main premises. In fact, a minister in his government, Omprakash Singh, was instrumental in getting the application for renewal of registration of the Society which runs the Institute rejected. With the coming of Mayawati Govt. we expected quite rightfully that it will announce final exit of the RSS led conspiracy managed by Ms. K.L. Kedia but in a queer turn of events here too a former RSS functionary and currently higher education minister Rakesh Dhar Tripathi a close disciple of Murli Manohar Joshi taking pretext of a District Court order while the case is already subjudice in the High Court at Allahabad has forced the Principal Secretary, Education, UP Government, to form a committee headed by K.L. Kedia, who was given the highest honour in the Sangh Parivar Hedgewar Award, to oversee the running of the Gandhian Institute of Studies. The rest of the committee is also packed with people close to RSS. This is an ill omen for newly formed Govt. in U. P. where RSS infiltrators are trying to sabotage the agenda of the newly elected Govt.

This is a momentary defeat for the Gandhian and secular community in saving the Institute from falling into the hands of Sangh Parivar which has been responsible for Gandhi’s murder as well as assault on his ideology from time to time.

Gandhian Institute of Studies must be saved from takeover by RSS. It has to be restored to its original mission as envisioned by JP. Please call the UP C.M. at 0522-2236181, 2239296 (o), 2236761, 2750458 (h) or send a fax at 0522-2223000 to register your protest.

Akhil Bhart Sarva Seva Sangh, Gandhian Institute of Studies, Lok Vidya, Sarnath Varanasi, Prarana Kala Manch, Asmita, Mahila Chetana Samiti, Lok Samiti, VISION, Manawa Adhikar Jan-Nigarani Samiti, Path, Mitra, Varanasi.

Gandhi Smarak Nidhi, New Delhi
Gandhi Smarak Nidhi, Uttar Pradesh
Shram Bharti, Khadigram, Jamui (Bihar)
Asha Parivar, Lucknow.
National Alliance of People’s Movement
Center for Study of Society and Secularism, Mumbai
Gandhi Peace Foundation, New Delhi
AIPSO, Uttar Pradesh
Ramanand Pustakalay, Aazamgarh
Sajha Sanskriti Manch, Samanvaya


Free Hit Counter

More Shivaji-mania in Maharashtra

July 28, 2007

This from The Hindu:

A group of students blackened the face of an English professor at the J S M College here for allegedly insulting Maratha warrior Shivaji and his mother Jijabai during a lecture, police said today.

The professor has apologised for the remarks, they said.

One of the students had protested against the remarks immediately and was not allowed to sit in the class for three days, police added.

Perhaps other factors were at work here, and the punished student simply played up the alleged insult of Shivaji as an excuse to get back at his professor — the feudal mindset of most teachers in India forecloses rational and legitimate expressions of disagreements by students — but nothing justifies such an act. This incident reminds one of the Shambaji Brigade’s vandalisation of the Bhandarkar Institute in Pune. As Frontline reported:

A 150-strong mob protesting against the institute’s alleged involvement in maligning the name of the Maratha king Shivaji barged into its premises, ransacked the library, destroyed thousands of rare books, ancient manuscripts, old photographs and priceless artefacts, and took away some invaluable historical texts … The attackers were reacting to a derogatory remark on Shivaji’s parentage, made by the American author James Laine in his book Shivaji: A Hindu King in an Islamic Kingdom. In a biographical account on the Maratha warrior, Laine writes that the repressed awareness that Shivaji had an absentee father is also revealed by the fact that Maharashtrians tell jokes naughtily suggesting that his guardian Dadoji Konddev was his biological father…

Shiv Sena activists, quick to react to any disparaging remark on Shivaji, stormed into the BORI building and blackened the face of Bahulkar.

However, as noted by Asghar Ali Engineer:

It is quite significant to note that the alleged remarks against Shivaji and his mother were made by James Laine, not by anyone associated with the Bhandarkar Oriental Institute and yet this Institute was ransacked. If the leaders of the Sambhaji Brigade really wanted to show their love for Shivaji they should have demanded ban on the books instead of ransacking of the famous Institute. But they chose to vandalise Bhandarkar Institute instead.

Thus the purpose was not so much as to protest against Bhandarkar Institute but to attack the institute considered to be the storehouse of Brahminical knowledge and controlled by the Brahmins. And that is why they raised the slogan yeh to ek jhanki hai, abhi Shaniwarwada baqi hai i.e. it is just the beginning and Shaniwarwada is yet to be attacked. The attack was not so much on the books as on the Brahminism and Brahminical culture.



Free Hit Counter

MSU redux (on the continued targeting of Professor Shivji Panikkar)

July 28, 2007

We, the undersigned, strongly condemn the continued targeting of Professor Shivji Panikkar of Maharaja Sayajirao University, and his allies. The Sangh Parivar’s actions constitute an attack on civil liberties and academic freedom, and violate the right to freedom of movement and the right to freedom of information.

The Sangh Parivar attacked and disrupted the National Student’s Festival for Peace Communal Harmony and Justice on July 6, 2007. The organizers at Anhad, Act Now for Harmony and Democracy, had invited Professor Shivji Panikkar to inaugurate an exhibition of student artworks. On his arrival, a Hindutva (Hindu nationalist/extremist) mob surrounded Professor Panikkar’s car, shouting slogans. When Professor Panikkar stepped out of the car, he was physically assaulted. The mob proceeded to throw bricks and an iron drum at the car, injuring the driver and smashing the windshield. Police intelligence, it has been made known, was involved and informed the crowd of the arrival of uniformed police, which allowed the mob to disperse.

On July 8, Deepak Kanna, Dean of the Faculty of Fine Arts at Maharaja Sayajirao University resigned in protest of the attack on Professor Panikkar. The Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS) has called for Professor Panikkar’s exile from Gujarat, and the Akhil Bharthiya Vidyarthi Parishad (ABVP) began a signature campaign on the Maharaja Sayajirao University campus on July 11 in protest of Professor Panikkar’s alleged comments on Hindu bhajans (devotional songs).

Earlier this year, on May 11, 2007, Shivji Panikkar, Dean of the Faculty of Fine Arts at Maharaja Sayajirao University, was suspended by the university administration from his appointment, for upholding a student’s academic right to freedom of expression. Sangh Parivar groups had attacked student Chandra Mohan’s works, displayed as part of an examination procedure, and had the artist arrested on May 9, 2007. Other students protested Chandra Mohan’s arrest by exhibiting erotic works from the school’s archives on the faculty porch, which the administration ordered to be shut down, which Professor Panikkar refused. The attacks against them had forced both Professor Panikkar and Chandra Mohan into seclusion out of fear for their lives.

We also condemn that such targeting has become indicative of the culture of fear and repression that is allowed to continue in Gujarat, where, following the genocide against Muslims in February-March of 2002, insufficient and negligent action has been taken to bring restorative justice to the survivors of the brutal, gendered and sexualized, violence. Failure to apprehend and bring to trial the perpetrators of criminal acts on the part of the Gujarat state administration has continued to subject minority and disenfranchised communities to a reign of terror. These acts of violence and repression are produced in particular by the complicity of state and national governments. The Government of India has failed to restore democracy by holding accountable the perpetrators, including the Chief Minister Narendra Modi and other government and law enforcement officials for the state’s proven complicity in aiding and abetting the violence of 2002. The Government of India has also failed to hold accountable the perpetrators among the cadre of Sangh Parivar groups for inflicting the violence, and, as applicable, refused to revoke their charitable status.

OUR DEMANDS

  • We call for an immediate inquiry into the events that targeted Professor Shivji Panikkar.
  • We demand that the as yet outstanding case against Chandra Mohan be dismissed.
  • We ask that suitable action be taken against the perpetrators.
  • We demand that the police take official cognizance of the documentation produced by ANHAD, Act Now for Democracy and Harmony, regarding the identity of the perpetrators, rather than restricting its actions to filing a First Information Report (FIR) against unknown assailants.
  • We call for the restoration of Professor Panikkar’s appointment.
  • We call for the restoration of law and order, and academic freedom, on the Maharaja Sayajirao University campus. In this regard, we demand accountability from the Vice-Chancellor of Maharaja Sayajirao University, Manoj Saini, who has direct responsibility for maintaining academic freedom on campus.
  • We call for an independent inquiry into the activities of Sangh Parivar organizations that are involved in this case, such as the Akhil Bharthiya Vidyarthi Parishad, Bajrang Dal, Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh, and the Bharatiya Janata Party.
  • We call for an independent and impartial judicial enquiry into the government’s repeated inability or refusal to maintain law and order.

SIGNATORIES

Organizations

1. GMAA, Gujarati Muslim Association of America
2. AIM, Association of Indian Muslims of America
3. CSDI, Coalition for a Secular and Democratic India
4. CSFH, Campaign To Stop Funding Hate
5. Dharma Megha
6. Educational Subscription Service
7. FIACONA, Federation of Indian American Organizations of North America
8. Friends of South Asia
9. India Development Society
10. India Foundation
11. IACP, Indian American Coalition for Pluralism
12. ICF, Indian Christian Forum
13. Indian Muslim Council-USA
14. IMEFNA, Indian Muslim Education Foundation of North America International Service Society
15. INSAF, International South Asia Forum Bulletin
16. Non-Resident Indians Coalition for Justice
17. Non-Resident Indians for a Secular and Harmonious India
18. SANSAD, South Asian Network for Secularism and Democracy
19. Seva International
20. Supporters of Human Rights in India
21. Vaishnava Center for Enlightenment
22. Vedanata Society of East Lansing
23. Washington Watch

Individuals
(Note: Organizational affiliations for individuals are listed for identification purposes only)

1. George Abraham
2. Rasheed Ahmed
3. Dr. Angana Chatterji, Associate Professor, Anthropology, California Institute of Integral Studies
4. Rebecca Kurian
5. Dr. Khursheed Mallick
6. Saeed Patel, Non-Resident Indians for a Secular and Harmonious India
7. Devesh Poddar, Director, Washington Watch Incorporated, East Lansing, Michigan
8. Mayurika Poddar, Director, India Foundation of Michigan
9. Shrikumar Poddar, President, Vaishnava Center for Enlightenment, Okemos, Michigan
10. Raju Rajagopal
11. Dr. K. S. Sripada Raju, Director, International Service Society, East Lansing, Michigan
12. Dr. Hari Sharma, Professor Emeritus of Sociology, Simon Fraser University
13. Amin Tejani, President, Shanti International, East Lansing, Michigan
14. Dr. Shaik Ubaid, Indian American Coalition for Pluralism
15. Sandeep Vaidya


Free Hit Counter

Some sense (at last) on Shambo!

July 27, 2007

A brief respite from the Hindu forum of Britain (and its allies’) nonsensical comments on the sacred bull. Jay Lakhani is listed as the Director for Education of Hindu council UK, espouses a Sanghi attitude to religious conversion — he calls it an atrocity — and doesn’t puncture the myth of the sacredness of the bull [see The Myth of the Holy Cow], but is reasonable in his analysis of the Shambo fiasco. Here’re some excerpts from two news sources:

icWales: Jay Lakhani, director of the Vivekananda Centre, a Hindu educational body, said that by turning the dispute over Shambo into a major campaign, Hindu leaders have “undermined the credibility of the religion”

Mr Lakhani said: “Some Hindus might see this as a failing of the system to protect sacred animals. In fact, what this issue has highlighted is a failing of greater magnitude; a failure of Hindu leadership.

“Using highly emotive language, like forming a human chain to protect the bull, has churned up Hindu emotions. No consideration was given to the fact that this exercise was undermining the credibility of the Hindu religion.”

Mr Lakhani insisted that Hindu leaders were wrong to plead for the life of one bullock when it may put other cattle at risk.

“If the life of one animal may endanger the lives of other animals or humans then the Hindu teaching on this issue is very clear – we have to take into account the greater good and sacrifice the individual good.

“Such contextual considerations were completely ignored by a misguided Hindu leadership.”

He continued: “Many Hindu youngsters were made to feel that by signing petitions to protect Shambo the bull they were somehow expressing their loyalty to Hinduism.

“The way this thing is unfolding now will no doubt make them feel bitter and let down. Who will explain to them that it is not Hinduism that has let them down but poor Hindu leadership?”

BBC: A Hindu educationalist has said that monks protecting a “sacred” bullock due for slaughter after a positive TB test have interpreted the religion wrongly.

Jay Lakhani told BBC Radio Wales Shambo should be put down for the “greater good” and that farmers had considered that wider picture.

The credibility of the religion had been put on the line by the actions of the Skanda Vale monks, he said.

Their interpretation of Hinduism was “naive” and “simplistic” he claimed.

Mr Lakhani, who is the co-author of the book Hinduism for Schools, said his opinion was this interpretation was “seriously wrong” because it did not take into account the “greater context in which we operate” as Hindu teachings do.

“If the life of one animal may endanger other lives or human lives as well, then we must take into account the greater good and sacrifice the individual good,” he said.

“(The Hindu religion) says that it is necessary sometimes to use violence in order to uphold the greater good.”

Mr Lakhani claimed that farmers, who he said had been paying a heavy price in order to curtail the disease, were better practising Hindus than the monks at Skanda Vale because they considered the greater good over the individual good.

He also criticised The Hindu Forum of Britain for turning a “local issue” into a major story and making thousands of Hindus feel their religion was at stake unless they stood up for Shambo.

While Mr Lakhani agreed that the cull would be “very sad” he urged the Skanda Vale monks to allow Shambo to be slaughtered.

“He should be sent away with full pomp and glory saying that this life has been sacrificed for the greater good,” he said.

“The money that the brothers have collected and used for fighting the legal battles should be given to the local RSPCA in order to alleviate the sufferings of perhaps thousands of other animals.”


Free Hit Counter

Intro to the Hindu(tva) American Foundation

July 27, 2007

[Excerpts from an amicus curiae brief filed in the Superior Court of the state of California (Sacramento county) opposing Hindutva attempts to saffronise school textbooks in California]

  1. The United States of America is home to one of the strongest overseas networks of the Sangh Parivar, with the Vishwa Hindu Parishad of America (VHPA) and the Hindu Swayamsevak Sangh (HSS) being the main affiliates. The VHPA’s projects include the creation of the Hindu Students Council which since its founding spawned several committed Hindutva activists like Mihir Meghani, the founder and President of the Hindu American Foundation. The efforts to rewrite textbooks in California by the HAF, and its allies the Hindu Education Foundation (HEF, an educational project of HSS) and Vedic Foundation (VF, an Austin, Texas based organization with close ties to the VHPA) are related directly to efforts by the broader network of Hindutva organizations based in the U.S. coordinating with the India-based RSS. Specifically, the textbook campaign of the Hindutva organizations in the U.S. is linked to largely unsuccessful efforts by the RSS to do the same in India. Several key players involved in the textbook effort are also leaders and officials of various Hindutva organizations. Ved Nanda, advisor to the HEF is the founder and supreme leader of the HSS, which created the HEF. (See Charts detailing key organizations and individual ties between the HAF, HEF, and VF and Hindutva Groups, attached as Exhibits A and B, respectively).
  2. It is important to point out that the current textbook efforts of Hindutva organizations in the U.S. bear more than a coincidental relationship to similar efforts in India. Starting in 2002, when the Sangh Parivar’s political wing, the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), was in power in India, the Sangh Parivar made an abortive attempt to doctor school textbooks in India. This effort was defeated by a coalition of scholars, intellectuals and secular activists in India and elsewhere. The interventions in California are a continuation of the Sangh Parivar’s failed attempts in India; as a HEF volunteer proudly proclaimed in a recent gathering of Sangh Parivar activists from all over the world: Through the Hindu Education Foundation run by the RSS in California, we have succeeded in correcting the misleading information in text books for primary and secondary classes.
  3. The seeds for the current controversy were sown in 2003, when the Hindu Students Council (HSC) — a project of the VHPA — organized the Dharma Conference. A large number of U.S. based Hindutva luminaries participated along with the BJP’s Human Resources and Development Minister, Murli Manohar Joshi. Mr. Joshi led the efforts by the RSS to write new school textbooks, produced by the National Council of Educational Research and Training (NCERT), with highly offensive anti-minority propaganda. These social studies texts produced by the NCERT, under the direction of Mr. Joshi and the RSS, badly distorted Indian history with arguments and omissions shaped by the RSS’s Hindu supremacist ideology. The Dharma Conference of 2003 led to the creation of a new organization called Educators Society for the Heritage of India (ESHI), which itself held a conference in 2004 to mobilize supporters from the VHPA’s Hindu University.
  4. A parallel initiative, Hindu-International.org, launched an unsuccessful textbook rewrite campaign in Virginia. This organization headed by S. Kalyanaraman and Abhinav Dwivedi, both advisors to the HEF, used the above-mentioned NCERT textbooks as its resource, with a publication prepared by the VHP’s UK branch titled Explaining Hindu Dharma – A guide for Teachers Hindu-International’s website also includes images of the cover page of the textbook and the VHP publication.
  5. The HSC/VHPA co-sponsored a Dharma Summit with the Hindu International Council Against Defamation (HICAD) in August 2005. This event served as the immediate impetus behind the launch of the HEF and VF’s campaign in September 2005. At this conference, Hindutva luminaries, including RSS Chief K. Sudarshan participated and launched the Hindu Council Initiative. This initiative explicitly ties the India efforts of the Hindutva movement to efforts in the U.S. – as evidenced in this excerpt from a report prepared by the Hindu Press International, the media wing of a publication entitled Hinduism Today which supports the VF’s textbook efforts:
    • Youth education and guidance were foremost on most speakers’ minds, with a secondary issue being the treatment Hinduism receives in the dozens of textbooks used in American schools and colleges…. Textbooks were rapidly prepared to cover these new courses, which have been incorporated in most schools. However, the books have given shabby treatment to Hinduism. Different speakers explained how to approach the local school board at the time the books were up for adoption, how to influence the selection and even future editions of the books. There was, many noted, a lot of room for improvement! Rajiv Malhotra explained at length the way in which the American and European academics had thoroughly distorted the understanding of Hinduism and ways Hindu communities and leaders can correct this situation.” Hindu Press International, August 16, 2005.
  6. In support of the HEF/VF efforts in California, ESHI also contacted Prof. J.S. Rajput, former President of the National Council for Educational Research (NCERT), India, to write about the efforts of textbook corrections in India. Rajput’s central role in the NCERT textbook rewrite campaign led by the RSS was widely condemned not only for the crude insertion of RSS propaganda into textbooks, but also for harassment of NCERT scholars unwilling to toe the RSS line.
  7. The above evidence clearly gives the lie to the plaintiffs’ denials on the Hindutva links of the HEF, VF and HAF, and establishes the motives behind their involvement in the California textbook adoption process.
  8. We now address in detail the plaintiffs claims on the nature of the HAF. The HAF’s founder and president Mihir Meghani began his career in sectarian politics as an early leader of the Hindu Students Council (HSC). He has been a member of the Hindu Swayamsevak Sangh (HSS), and served the VHP-America as a governing council member and volunteer coordinator. His views on Hindutva are expressed most eloquently in his essay, Hindutva: The Great Nationalist Ideology hosted on the Bharatiya Janata Party’s website. In the essay, Meghani writes: The future of Bharat is set. Hindutva is here to stay. It is up to the Muslims whether they will be included in the new nationalistic spirit of Bharat.
  9. The above evidence, drawn from Hindutva websites, clearly establishes Meghani’s association with the Sangh Parivar and the Hindutva cause. Evidently, the plaintiffs’ claims that the HAF headed by Mihir Meghani has no political agenda and is not affiliated with Hindutva groups in India are patently false. Occasionally, the HAF has also come out openly in support of Hindutva ideologues; the denouncing of a congressional resolution against Gujarat Chief Minister Narendra Modi (for his role in the killing of nearly 2,000 Muslims in Gujarat in March 2002) as Hinduphobic is a case in point. Given the HAF’s links with the Sangh Parivar (which has repeatedly been condemned by human rights organizations for violence against religious minorities, its forceful condemnation of religiously-based violence is utterly hypocritical and is no more than an attempt to pass off as a human rights organization amongst well-meaning but gullible Hindus and non-Hindus in the US.
  10. The plaintiffs further claim that the HAF has forcefully condemned caste violence, but the timing of this is nakedly cynical. For instance, the HAF’s first report on Hindu human rights, and its numerous press releases until December 2005 avoided any mention of caste violence caste violence. It was only after the HAF’s active involvement in the California textbook controversy and after it was called out in public for its links with the Sangh Parivar that it suddenly woke up to the plight of Dalits and issued a few token declarations. In the context of the California textbooks, the HAF has sought to replace Dalit with the condescending Harijan, and elide mentions of caste (or downplay its severity) in the textbooks. For instance, the plaintiffs claim that for the most part, people could eat with anyone from a different class. Given the context, we presume they meant caste rather than class, in which case they seem to be blissfully divorced from reality. During mid-day meals (a government scheme to provide free lunch to poor children), there have been instances of Dalit school children being segregated from upper-caste children, Dalit children drinking from separate pitchers, and Dalit cooks facing resistance from upper-caste parents [one of whom threw sand in a meal cooked by a Dalit woman]. Dalit children who tried to inter dine with their upper caste classmates have also been denied food and chased out of school.
  11. Such practices aptly demonstrate upper caste aversion to the polluting presence of Dalits, one of the fundamental beliefs undergirding caste prejudice. As one upper caste parent observed: Today the government says that you must eat food cooked by a Dalit. Tomorrow they will ask what is wrong with a Dalit marrying an upper-caste person. We must curb this at the initial stage … We have preserved our caste traditions for hundreds of years. Why should we break it now?
  12. Far from being a human rights organization concerned with the rights violation of Hindus, the HAF has functioned more as a human rights front for the Sangh Parivar with its discourse of Hindu victimhood, obfuscation of the centrality of caste in Indian society and its comical attempts at denying the Dalits their chosen Dalit identity.

References

[1] The Vishwa Hindu Parishad (VHP) is the religious wing of the RSS. Several VHP units were established in countries outside India to facilitate coordination and unity of purpose between themselves and with the VHP unit in India. The VHP website lists VHP of America as one of the VHP units outside India.

[2] According to one Hindutva website, HSS is started in the USA and other parts of the world to continue what RSS is doing in India. The RSS website says: The Sangh’s full name is Hindu Swayamsevak Sangh (H.S.S.); only in Kenya, it is Bharatiya Swayamsevak Sangh and in Myanmar, it is Sanatan Dharma Swayamsevak Sangh.

[3] Hindu Students Council was started by the VHPA in 1987 as documented on the VHPA’s webpage here and here. Hindu Students Council was the primary organiser for the Dharma Conference 2003 as quoted in Tanmaya Kumar Nanda, Dharma for the new generation. Meghani’s role as founder of the University of Michigan chapter of the HSC in 1991, is documented here: Searching for Our Roots.

[4] According to Nandini Sundar: “The NCERT social science/history textbooks are not only shockingly low on both grammar and fact, but also reflect many of the RSS’s pet themes – e g, the urge to prove that Indian civilisation is synonymous with Hinduism, which in turn is synonymous with the ‘Vedic civilization.’ This Vedic civilisation is portrayed as the fount of all things great in the world, while all the evils that beset India are traced to foreigners – Muslim invaders and Christian missionaries.”

[5] “Rakeshji and KalyanRamanji did a lot of research in finding the many references to support comments made on the contents of text book. Initially ‘A teachers guide on Hinduism’ a UK approved text book prepared by a committee headed by VHPA, UK and the NCERT social studies books of India, released in India during year 2003 were used to prepare the comments.”

[6] HICAD is an entity founded and led by Ved Chaudhary, who is also a founding member of ESHI, which he leads along with Kanchan Bannerjee, co-founder of HSC and the VHPA’s “Vice President for Youth.”

[7] Lakshmi Ravu, Report on the Dharma Summit 2005: “Some of the most important Hindu leaders in the world were present for this event. Including: Sri Swami Dayananda Saraswatiji (the inspiration behind the Dharma Summit, and convener of the event), Sri Chidananda Muniji (the creator of the Hindu Encyclopedia project), Sri Bodhinatha Veylanswami (Publisher of Hinduism Today Magazine) and several of his sannyasis, Sri K. S. Sudarshan (leader of the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh, the largest Hindu service organization on earth), Dr. Pranav Pandya (leader of the several million members of the Gayatri Pariwar), Sri Swami Jyotirmayananda (Ramakrishna Order), Dr. David Frawley (Vamadeva Shastriji), Dr. Frank Gaetano Morales (the well-respected American Hindu intellectual and philosopher), Sri Steven Knapp (a prolific American Hindu author), and many others. These Hindu lights and dignitaries all filled the first row of the auditorium. Several Jain, Buddhist, and Sikh leaders were also present.”

[8] Rajput ran a reign of terror, stated Anil Sadgopal, BJVJ (Bharat Jan Vidyan Jatha – an all-India peoples’ science network) vice-president and education professor at Delhi University. Nobody dared speak his mind at his meetings. People at NCERT refer to that period as a bawander (whirlpool), a toofan (cyclone) that has now hopefully passed. So many who asserted themselves were abruptly transferred. See also Communalization of Education, The History Textbook Controversy: An Overview, Mridula Mukherjee and Aditya Mukherjee, Professors of History, Centre for Historical Studies, Jawaharlal Nehru University, 22 December, 2001 (If this is not bad enough the NCERT has appointed to its Executive Committee and Departmental Committee … a self proclaimed RSS activist whose only claim to fame is his confession that he killed a Muslim woman during a riot); Hindutva Ire, Praful Bidwai.

[9] According to the Human Rights Watch: The Hindu organizations most responsible for violence against Christians are the Vishwa Hindu Parishad (World Hindu Council, VHP), the Bajrang Dal,and the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (National Volunteer Corps, RSS). According to a former RSS member, these groups cannot be divorced from the ruling BJP party: “There is no difference between the BJP and RSS. BJP is the body. RSS is the soul, and the Bajrang Dal is the hands for beating. The groups most directly involved in the violence against Muslims include the Vishwa Hindu Parishad (World Hindu Council, VHP), the Bajrang Dal, the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh and the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) that heads the Gujarat state government. Collectively, they are known as the sangh parivar, or family of Hindu nationalist organizations.

[10] The HAF’s first annual survey of human rights, released on Jul 13, 2005, makes no mention of the violation of Dalits’ rights. Its second report, released on Jun 27, 2006, admits that it “does not cover the important human rights issues that Hindus face within other parts of India including caste discrimination, women’s issues, terrorism, and discriminatory laws.” The HAF’s indifference to the daily violations of the human rights of 160 millions Dalits in India is hardly surprising, given the Sangh Parivar’s celebration of caste as a precious gift.

[11] See The future of mid-day meals. By and large, Dalits still continue to be served beverages in separate glasses (reserved exclusively for them) to assuage upper caste sentiments. This practice is commonly referred to as the two-tumbler system.

[12] Vile as these practices sound, in the nineteenth century “Dalits had to beat a drum to signal their arrival so the brahmin knew where to hide or how to protect his food. The brahmin is most vulnerable to pollution when he is eating, so if a shadow of a dalit fell on his food, the food too became Untouchable.” On occasion Dalits had to wear a spittoon so that his spittle did not fall on his surroundings and he could never stand in the way of a wind that might carry his smell or breath to a brahmin. In a Jataka story (377. III. 154), a Brahmin cries, “Curse you, ill omened candala [dalit], get to leeward” (Sagarika Ghose, “The dalit in India – caste and social class,” Social Research, Spring 2003.)



Free Hit Counter

US Congressional resolution on untouchability

July 25, 2007

[The resolution passed the House of Representatives on July 23, 2007. Source: Dalit Freedom Network]

Whereas the Human Rights Watch and the Center for Human Rights and Global Justice at New York University School of Law released a report in February 2007 that describes caste discrimination against India’s Untouchables based on in-depth investigations and the findings of Indian governmental and non-governmental organizations on caste-based abuses;

Whereas the United States and the Republic of India have entered into an unprecedented partnership;

Whereas the July 18, 2005, Joint Statement between President George W. Bush and Prime Minister Manmohan Singh stated that, [a]s leaders of nations committed to the values of human freedom, democracy, and rule of law, the new relationship between India and the United States will promote stability, democracy, prosperity, and peace throughout the world [. . . and] it will enhance our ability to work together to provide global leadership in areas of mutual concern and interest;

Whereas caste is the socioeconomic stratification of people in South Asia based on a combination of work and heredity;

Whereas the Untouchables, now known as the Dalits, and the people of the forest tribes of India, called Tribals, who together number approximately 200,000,000 people, are the primary victims of caste discrimination in India;

Whereas discrimination against the Dalits and Tribals has existed for more than 2,000 years and has included educational discrimination, economic disenfranchisement, physical abuse, discrimination in medical care, religious discrimination, and violence targeting Dalit and Tribal women;

Whereas Article 17 of the Constitution of India outlaws untouchability;

Whereas despite numerous laws enacted for the protection and betterment of the Dalits and Tribals, they are still considered outcasts in Indian society and are treated as such; moreover, in practice, Dalits and Tribals are frequently denied equal treatment under the law;

Whereas Dalit women suffer both caste and gender discrimination as a result of the deficient administration of justice and are often raped and attacked with impunity;

Whereas the National Commission on Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes has declared that many of the reported cases of atrocities against Dalits and Tribals end in acquittals;

Whereas, despite the fact that many Dalits do not report crimes for fear of reprisals by the dominant castes, national police statistics averaged over the past five years by the National Commission on Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes show that 13 Dalits are murdered every week, five Dalits’ homes or possessions are burnt every week, six Dalits are kidnapped or abducted every week, three Dalit women are raped every day, 11 Dalits are beaten every day and a crime is committed against a Dalit every 18 minutes;

Whereas many Dalit girls are forced to become temple prostitutes who are then unable to marry and may be auctioned to urban brothels, and many women trafficked in India are Dalit women;

Whereas low-caste unborn females are targeted for abortions;

Whereas according to Human Rights Watch and India’s official National Family Health Survey, most Dalits and Tribals are among those poorest of the poor living on less than $1 per day; most of India’s bonded laborers are Dalits; and half of India’s Dalit children are undernourished, 21 percent are severely underweight, and 12 percent die before their 5th birthday;

Whereas Dalits and other low-caste individuals often suffer from discrimination and segregation in government primary schools leading to low enrollment, high drop-out, and low literacy rates, perhaps linked to a perception that Dalits are not meant to be educated, are incapable of being educated, or if educated, would pose a threat to village hierarchies and power relations;

Whereas the Dalits and Tribals maintain higher illiteracy rates than non-Dalit populations; and

Whereas the HIV/AIDS epidemic is India is massive and Dalits and Tribals are significantly affected by HIV/AIDS: Now, therefore, be it

Resolved by the House of Representatives (the Senate concurring), That it is the sense of Congress that, as the leaders of the United States and the Republic of India have expressed commitment to the values of human freedom, democracy, and the rule of law, it is in the interests of the United States to address the problem of the treatment of the Dalits and Tribals in India in order to better meet mutual social development and human rights goals by–

(1) raising the issues of caste discrimination, violence against women, and untouchability through diplomatic channels both directly with the Government of India and within the context of international bodies;

(2) encouraging the United States Agency for International Development to ensure that the needs of Dalit organizations are incorporated in the planning and implementation of development projects;

(3) ensuring that projects that positively impact Dalit and Tribal communities, especially Dalit women, are developed and implemented;

(4) ensuring that cooperative research programs targeting rural health care, the HIV/AIDS epidemic, and rural technology contain proper focus on the Dalits and Tribals;

(5) ensuring that anyone receiving funding in India from the United States Government–

(A) is aware that it is United States Government policy that caste discrimination is unacceptable, and that the United States is committed to eliminating it; and

(B) treat all people equally without engaging in caste discrimination;

(6) ensuring that–

(A) qualified Dalits are in no way discouraged from working with organizations receiving funding in India from the United States Government, and that transparent and fair recruitment, selection, and career development processes are implemented, with clear objective criteria; and

(B) procedures exist to detect and remedy any caste discrimination in employment conditions, wages, benefits or job security for anyone working with organizations receiving funding in India from the United States Government;

(7) encouraging United States citizens working in India to avoid discrimination toward the Dalits in all business interactions; and

(8) discussing the issue of caste during bilateral and multilateral meetings, including congressional delegations.



Free Hit Counter