Tag Archives: Gujarat

The “comforting illusion” of India

11 Nov

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I have a serious philosophical issue with all monotheisms; the concept just doesn’t hold water for me and I never understood why in junior high history it was presented as such a leap forward in the development of human consciousness.  Like, what’s so smart about this totally reductive idea?

I’ve always said that if I could be a sentient embryo and choose what religion I would be born into, it would be Hinduism, because it seems to me that it contains the most intelligent and sophisticated dialectic between unity and plurality.  Just the Gita — where a handsome, young, womanizing god is revealed to be the very principle of existence itself — has always been enough to seduce me both intellectually and emotionally — and sexually, frankly.  I think Kanha’s “I am the taste of water”, may be even more powerful than Yahweh’s «Ἐγώ εἰμι ὁ ὤν» — “I am the Is”.

But it’s precisely that kind of Western romance with Hinduism and its infinite polymorphousness, to paraphrase Freud*, that has led to the “free pass” we’ve given to a criminal Modi from “Bible-belt” Gujarat and a criminal BJP for way too long.  It’s tempting and comforting to think that Hindu fundamentalism is an oxymoron, but fanaticism and hate can infect any ideology.

Modi is a criminal and the BJP and Shiv Sena — with its increasing stranglehold on one of the world’s great, open, cosmopolitan cities, which is why “Mumbai” infuriates me, though nobody seems to listen to me — are criminal, murderous organizations.

No amount of saffron and marigolds can change that.

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* Anthropologist Clifford Geertz used to tell an anecdote — whether real or not has never been verified — about an Englishman who asked a saddhu he came across one day where the universe was located.  And the holy man replied:

“On the back of an elephant that rests on the back of a turtle.”

“And the turtle?”

“On the back of another turtle.”

“And that turtle?”

“On the back of another turtle.”

“And that turtle?”

“Ah, sahib, after that it is turtles all the way down.”

Comment: nikobakos@gmail.com

Why is no one worried about Modi and the BJP?

3 Jan

…and that obnoxious Bollywood spectacular that was staged for him this fall at Madison Square Garden…or anyone except for a few lone voices…  If his party had been a Muslim party, we would have found a military to remove him already.  How much of this “no-alarm” attitude is a product of New-Agey, Western ideas about Hinduism’s “meek-and-mildness.”  Lots of saffron, namastes and marigolds all around, so things are cool.

narendra-modi-at-madison-square-garden5From The New York Times:

“During the last days of its winter session ending on Tuesday, Parliament was unable to deal with important legislative business because of repeated adjournments and an uproar over attempts by Hindu groups to convert Christians and Muslims. The issue has come to a head following a “homecoming” campaign by the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh and the Vishwa Hindu Parishad — groups dedicated to transforming India’s secular democracy into a Hindu state — to “reconvert” Christians and Muslims to Hinduism.

“In recent weeks, Hindu militants have engineered conversions of Muslims and Christians in Agra and in the states of Gujarat and Kerala. Police are investigating accusations that people have been induced to participate in mass conversion meetings by a combination of intimidation and bribery, including the promise of food ration cards. Attacks on Christians and their places of worship have intensified in recent weeks. One of New Delhi’s biggest churches burned down on Dec. 1 — arson is being blamed — and Christmas carolers were attacked on their way home in the city of Hyderabad on Dec. 12.”

Comment: nikobakos@gmail.com

Hindu fundamentalism — you’d think it’d be an oxymoron: “India’s Opposition Leader Sweeps Into Power”

16 May

The news from everywhere just keeps getting worse — more fundamentalists, reactionaries and racist crazies to deal with.

INDIA_ss-slide-2QNG-superJumboPeople took photographs of a map of India with a portrait of Narendra Modi on Friday in Gandhinagar, in the western Indian state of Gujarat. Saurabh Das/Associated Press (click)

From The New York Times:

“Narendra Modi Prevails in Election”

“The elections came during a period of rapid transition in Indian society, as urbanization and economic growth break down generations-old voting patterns. With his conservative ideology and steely style of leadership, Mr. Modi, who came from a humble background and rose through the ranks of a Hindu nationalist group, will prove a stark departure from his predecessors in that office….

“But his reputation also worries many people. He is blamed by many of India’s Muslims for failing to stop bloody religious riots that raged through his home state in 2002, leaving more than 1,000 people dead. Others fear he will try to quash dissent and centralize authority in a capital that has long been dominated by the Indian National Congress and the liberal internationalists who support it.”

“Some Muslims React Warily to Hindu Party’s Victory in India”

NEW DELHI —

“Like real estate agents the world over, Rahul Rewal asks his clients if they have children or pets, since both limit options. But there is another crucial but often unspoken question: Are they Muslim?”

“I tailor the list of places that I show Muslims because many landlords, even in upper-class neighborhoods, will not rent to them,” Mr. Rewal said. “Most don’t even bother hiding their bigotry.”

“Discrimination against Muslims in India is so rampant that many barely muster outrage when telling of the withdrawn apartment offers, job rejections and turned-down loans that are part of living in India for them. As a group, Muslims have fallen badly behind Hindus in recent decades in education, employment and economic status, with persistent discrimination by a Hindu majority a key reason why. Muslims are more likely to live in villages without schools or medical facilities and less likely to qualify for bank loans.

“Now, in the wake of a landslide electoral triumph Friday by India’s Bharatiya Janata Party, a Hindu nationalist party, some Muslims here said they are worried that their place in India could become even more tenuous…”

“But that is exactly why Mr. Modi is such a poor choice as prime minister, said Siddharth Varadarajan, the former editor of The Hindu, a leading Indian newspaper. Many among India’s liberal intelligentsia see Mr. Modi as a threat to India’s secularism, which is enshrined in its Constitution. It is a defining characteristic that distinguishes India from Pakistan and binds a nation of extraordinary diversity.

“Many of the things that are evil about India are not going to find their solution with Mr. Modi,” Mr. Varadarajan said. “If anything, they’ll get worse.'”

Comment: nikobakos@gmail.com

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