Stuck in the Slums of Secularist History

 Sandeep Balakrishna

It is a mathematical certainty that cricket commentator Mr. Ramachandra Guha is only an arm’s length away from jumping in to defend the prolonged tyranny of the dark period of Muslim rule of India. I considered adding “alleged historian” to “cricket commentator” but the wicked Mysorepak fanatic, Anand Ranganathan supplied the world with a delicious new concoction: “regional historian.”

Renaming New Delhi’s Aurangzeb Road to Abdul Kalam Road is the latest occasion for Mr. Guha to re-brandish his Muslim tyranny-defending sword in the pages of Hindustan Times.

In a line, Guha’s piece is a tasteless mix of distorted history, denial of atrocities suffered by Hindus at the hands of Muslims, trivializing the suffering and struggles of Hindus against Muslim tyranny, hatred towards India’s majority, and gratuitous advice to rich businessmen.

The voluminous record of Ramachandra Guha’s writings provides substantial evidence to prove that he clothes his false history of India in Tuxedo. Singular but not limited instances of this Guhan phenomenon are the edification of a mass murderer like Jinnah, a violent society-wrecker like E.V. Ramaswami Naicker, and the Missionary exploiter of underage tribal girls, Verrier Elwin as “Makers” of Modern India.

And so it’s unsurprising when he writes:

“The renaming [of Aurangzeb Road] was greeted with great acclaim on social media, and beyond. The enthusiasm was in part a mark of the esteem in which Abdul Kalam was held; in part an expression of Hindutva hatred for that hateful Muslim ruler Aurangzeb…”

As many have accurately observed, would you find a road named in the honour of Hitler anywhere in Israel?

One finds the clearest proof for Ramachandra Guha’s comprehensive mental colonization—or his application of the standard Marxist template—in “an expression of Hindutva hatred for that hateful Muslim ruler Aurangzeb.” In which case, could we also term this characterization as Guhatva hatred of all things Hindu?

As many have accurately observed, would you find a road named in the honour of Hitler anywhere in Israel? The fact that Mr. Guha nonchalantly avoids even a mention of Aurangzeb’s prolonged record of Islam-inspired destruction of everything Hindu should serve as an additional yardstick for his “view” of Indian history. There’s also a deeper reason for this, to quote the perceptive historian and scholar Koenraad Elst:


“Aurangzeb…was a pious Muslim and harmed his own economic interests when that was necessary to serve Islam. Indeed, his policy of offending the Hindus was costly from the beginning and forced him into unnecessary military campaigns which moreover hurt economic life in his empire. So, he destroyed tens of thousands of Hindu temples (as per his own records) not because he just felt like it, but because that iconoclasm was what Islam dictated…You may direct all your ire at Aurangzeb, and while applauding the Moghuls would be prefered, this is still a kind of ire tolerated by the secularist, because it leaves Islam untouched…Just as the Islamic State’s conduct is a faithful emulation of the Prophet’s behaviour, Aurangzeb’s iconoclasm and jizya were but a faithful application of the Quran and Mohammed’s example. This is not going to make you popular, even supposed extremists seek ways of avoiding an ideological confrontation (i.e. confrontation with an ideology, which they confuse with confrontation with a community).”

More than anything, I suspect that the real reason Guha wrote this piece owes to the anxiety he must have felt when he read Mr. Mohandas Pai’s tweet, which he quotes:

“Are there any roads named after Chatrapathi Shivaji, Ranjit Singh, Maharaja Pratap, who fought to save us, in New Delhi?”

And then proceeds to praise Mohandas Pai and issues him a certificate of good behaviour in which is embedded a veiled warning.

“I know and admire Mohandas Pai. He is a public-spirited philanthropist, who has given much of his wealth to social schemes…Although Pai is himself non-communal…”

This pro bono titbit of supercilious advice should be awarded the champion’s trophy for arrogance. Given how magically Guha reads the minds of the majority community as seeking to “demonise Muslims and to exalt Hindus and Sikhs instead…”and “…to pull down Muslims figures from the past, so as to taunt or provoke Indian Muslims in the present,” it’s only fair to do some Guha-mind reading. And so, when he awards Mr. Pai with that coveted “non-Communal” prize, can we interpret it as “Mr. Pai, the next time you do this, I’ll take it away from you?”

The point is not to defend Mr. Mohandas Pai. I’m sure he can do it far better himself, but the point is to underscore the historically-documented Marxist tactic that Ayn Rand has expounded so well in Fountainhead: condemn wealth, but use the wealthy.

Also one doesn’t fail to notice a glaring characteristic of all of such cricket-commentators cum regional historians, and Nehruvian academics and intellectuals when Guha claims that Pai’s tweet was “widely endorsed, suggesting that many middle class Indians wished these rulers to have their names on roads in New Delhi currently named after Humayun, Babur, Akbar…”

The glaring characteristic is their near-total disconnectedness with the real world, of what millions of Indians—not just the middle class—actually think about these things. I shall let this passage from Dr.S L Bhyrappa’s powerful Aavarna illustrate it:

“Over twenty-five lakh pilgrims visit Varanasi every year. To these pilgrims, Varanasi is that ultimate and dateless spiritual harbour, the earthly berth of an entire way of life symbolized by the Vishwanath temple. This is the kind of fervour and longing every Hindu has for the Vishwanath temple. It is this that makes them visualize a grand mental image of the of the temple.

However, when they actually go there, they’re aghast, and their mental image is shattered. Disappointment doesn’t describe the feeling they experience when they see with their own eyes that the object of their devotion doesn’t exist.  In its place, a huge mosque towers over not just the temple-site—it invades the vision of the entire city, which Hindus consider as their holiest.

Now, these pilgrims return home thoroughly disillusioned and share their disillusionment with family, cousins, relatives, neighbours and friends. When this is the bitter, everyday reality, on what basis do we hope to promote Hindu-Muslim amity? You can rewrite history textbooks and cover up these historical truths. But when the students who’ve read your textbooks go on educational tours to such places and ask uncomfortable questions, what answers should their teachers give? This is not just about Kashi or Ayodhya. Historical research yields us some thirty thousand temples that were destroyed by Muslim kings.”

This is the reality Mr. Guha wants to wish away—or sweep under the carpet. He is after all a contributor to our history textbooks. And also, yes, it is the wish of these millions to preserve the memory of the sacrifices and struggles of their ancestors by naming roads in their honour. And this sentiment has always been there among millions of ordinary Indians. Except that the Internet and social media have enabled them to express it openly now.

So, does Mr. Guha want to deny this civilisational memory to these millions of his own countrymen? If he does, it also means that he’s slandering his own ancestors who were undoubtedly communal in the sense the word is used in the unique Guhan lexicon.

And now we arrive at the reason Anand Ranganathan bestowed the “regional historian” honour upon Mr. Guha.

In a bizarre rebellion against reason, Mr. Guha labels Shivaji and Maharana Pratap “regional figures” (note: only figures, not “rulers,” or even “chieftains”) because…hold your breath: because Mr. Guha’s home town is Dehradun and Mr. Mohandas Pai’s is Mangalore! And that these “expressions of Rajput and Maratha pride respectively make some sense in regional contexts; less so in the capital of our large and diverse country.” In which case why would Akbar who ruled from this “capital of our large and diverse country” spend considerable time and energy fighting to wipe out Maharana Pratap, and why did Aurangzeb do the same with Shivaji?

Mr. Guha takes enormous liberties with history with impunity. Even at the peak of their power, the Mughal Empire did not hold sway over all of India. Second, Shivaji’s Empire at its peak included all of Maharashtra, important parts of Gujarat, parts of Karnataka, parts of Andhra, and Tamil Nadu.
For a mere “regional figure,” Shivaji’s naval power was fearsome and unparalleled. And he lorded over the entire Konkan coast—yes, the same coast where Mr. Guha claims Shivaji was unknown, all the while trying to give phony history lessons to Mr. Mohanas Pai for that unforgivable tweet. It is also understandable that Mr. Guha omits mentioning Shivaji’s naval chief, the formidable Kanhoji Angrey who scared the English, Dutch and Portuguese witless. Perhaps Mr. Guha would like to read an extraordinary account of his exploits in Jaswant Singh’s Defending India.

And I guess we have to go with Mr. Guha regarding the people of Doon Valley: after all, Rajiv Gandhi was not yet born.

And for a mere “regional figure,” Shivaji’s statues and monuments exist in almost every city and town of Maharashtra, and in Goa, Bangalore, Vadodara, Surat,Agra, Arunachal Pradesh, and Delhi. There is a statue of Shivaji inside the premises of the National Defence Academy (NDA), Pune, which in Mr. Guha’s worldview makes it a centre where majoritarianism is practiced. Equally, the Indian Parliament itself is a majoritarian institution given the presence of an equestrian statue of Shivaji inside the Parliament House complex. So is the Postal department which has released stamps commemorating him, and the Indian Navy, which has the INS Shivaji naval base.

The same more or less applies to Maharana Pratap whose memory is preserved beyond the monuments, parks etc in Udaipur.

Unsurprisingly, Mr. Ramachandra Guha does not provide a single shred of evidence to back up his grand, sweeping pontifications related to history.

Indeed, the true reason behind Mr. Guha’s selective and misleading history is not whether Shivaji or Rana Pratap were known in Dehradun or Mangalore but the fact that these heroes relentlessly tormented Guha’s favourite historical Muslim tyrants. Oh, and there’s this bit about how these Hindu kings were “all lords in an age of feudalism.”

To be sure, the application of the word “feudal” in India’s historical context of Hindu kingdoms is of suspicious validity. Hindu kingdoms ruled by the dictum of “dharma” as in “Raja Dharma,” a far cry from the original definition of feudalism which originated and thrived in Europe. Citing Shivaji’s own example, his coronation was considerably delayed because he didn’t originally hail from a Kshatriya lineage. In feudal Europe, a typical robber baron (this was what a typical feudal lord was) would simply butcher his way through said coronation. But this is a discussion for another day.

If anything, the Nehruvian ecosystem is perhaps the true feudalism that continues to exist in India albeit in a severely diminished stature and power now.
Sandeep Balakrishna is a columnist and author of Tipu Sultan: the Tyrant of Mysore. He has translated S.L. Bhyrappa’s “Aavarana: the Veil” from Kannada to English.

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No place in India for Muslims fleeing religious persecution?

Aakar Patel
‘The government is going to introduce legislation that would make it easy for Hindus, Buddhists, Christians, Zoroastrians, Sikhs and Jains to migrate legally to India.’

‘This is a good thing. If people are being persecuted for their religion or their race, it is incumbent on nations to take them in and give them shelter.’

‘But looking at that list, my entire well-meaning question, as may be obvious, is: What about Muslims? They seem to have been specifically left out of this formulation,’ says Aakar Patel.

An Afghan refugee with her child after arriving in Greece.
I saw this story in the news on immigration which made me wonder if this government had thought through what it was doing.

The report in The Hindu said ‘in a move that will have far-reaching implications in Assam and some parts of north-west India, the Union home ministry will amend the Citizenship Act, 1955, to grant citizenship to undocumented migrants who fled religious persecution in Pakistan and Bangladesh.’

The story added that the migrants would include ‘not just Hindus but also Buddhists, Christians, Zoroastrians, Sikhs and Jains.’ To this end, the government is going to introduce legislation that would make it easy for the communities named above to migrate legally to India.

I think this is a good thing. If people are being persecuted for their religion or their race, it is incumbent on nations to take them in and give them shelter.

But looking at that list, my entire well-meaning question, as may be obvious, is: What about Muslims? They seem to have been specifically left out of this formulation.

This may appear to be, of course, for obvious reasons. The Partition of India was along religious lines and to some extent also democratic. It is the huge majorities that the Muslim League won in the 1945-1946 elections (which were along separate electorates though with a very limited number of people voting) that empowered it to demand the final division of the country.

Since Muslims had asked for Partition and got it, they should not be complaining if they did not like it in their new countries. That is the logic that seems to go through both the Bharatiya Janata Party’s understanding of the issue (and this was clear in the election campaign last year) and in the changes now proposed in the law. The specific exclusion of Muslims seems to come out of this sentiment. On the face of it, as I said, this is unexceptionable and cannot be argued against beyond a point.

All governments in India will see Hindu and I suppose Sikh migrants from areas of unpartitioned India with sympathy. The media also will support the rehabilitation of such people unconditionally.

My issue has to do with the changes in the law that are being proposed. The Citizenship Act and the Passport Act will need to be changed to allow for these people who are persecuted to enter and get themselves registered. And the changes will also allow for those already in India to become citizens easier. All of that is fine.

How will the government introduce language into the laws which exclude those of a specific religion?

Articles 14 and 15 of the Indian Constitution read: ‘Equality before law: The State shall not deny to any person equality before the law or the equal protection of the laws within the territory of India. Prohibition of discrimination on grounds of religion, race, caste, sex or place of birth: The state shall not discriminate against any citizen on grounds only of religion, race, caste, sex, place of birth or any of them.’

That seems to me to be clear enough. How will any change in the law that accommodates, for instance, Bangladeshi Christians, Hindus, Sikhs, Jews etc, as being qualified to migrate under persecution exclude Bangladeshi Muslims?

It cannot in my opinion, and if such a law is written, it will be challenged and shot down quite easily if its basis is religious. It could be argued that these laws only apply to those already citizens and not to those who want to be citizens but I suspect that the precedents here would be quite clear and it would not be possible to make the laws exclusionary.

I suppose the other obvious issue is: Why would Muslims want to flee Muslim nations? To that the answer is that many do. From Syria to Iraq to Libya, hundreds of thousands are fleeing already.

In our parts, ‘Muslim’ is only part of someone’s identity. They could be targeted for being Shia, Ahmadi, female, a Communist, an apostate, homosexual, an atheist, a blasphemer and many other things. Will the new law exclude, for instance a Pakistani Ahmadi, who says she is persecuted by law, as being unqualified for protection?

Of course, it could be argued by some in those countries that India also does have a history of persecuting some of its minorities, for instance the Sikhs in Delhi in 1984, even if episodically. But let us leave that out of the argument for now.

The report said the foreign ministry ‘has cautioned the home ministry that the move could hurt India’s relations with its neighbours. Nevertheless, the political call has been taken.’

I hope only that this call has taken into account the points we have looked at. It would be unfortunate, if the government’s well-meaning efforts were to flounder on its ignorance of the basic principles of our Constitution.

Aakar Patel is Executive Director, Amnesty International India. The views expressed here are personal.

Image: An Afghan refugee arrives with her child on the Greek island of Kos, after crossing a part of the Aegean Sea from Turkey. Photograph: Yannis Behrakis/Reuters

Muslims in Nepal also demand a Hindu Rashtra.

Muslims in Nepal demand a ‘Hindu State’ to protect Islam.
PTI | Kathmandu | Aug 13, 2015:: In an unusual move, Muslims in Nepal have backed the ongoing campaign for reinstating the country’s erstwhile Hindu identity, saying they are more “secure” under a Hindu state than under a secular Constitution.

“It is to protect Islam. I have opened my mouth demanding that Nepal be declared a Hindu state in order to protect my own religion,” said Amjad Ali, chairman of the Rapti Muslim Society, who is also involved in the protest programmes demanding a Hindu state in Nepal.

Read details in the link:

Just 5 Percentage of People Hanged Were Muslims, Says Report

NEW DELHI: If the Supreme Court rejects Yakub Memon’s appeal to suspend his execution for his role in the 1993 Mumbai bomb blasts, he will take his last walk at 7 am on July 30 — to the gallows at Nagpur Central Jail. The bombings were meant to avenge the demolition of the Babri Masjid, which India’s liberal and secular establishment still condemn as an attack on the minorities.

However, a new report by Death Penalty Research Project of the National Law University (NLU), Delhi shows that of the 1,414 prisoners in the available list of convicts hanged in post-Independence India, only 72 are Muslims — about 5 per cent of the total executions. The report, however, clarifies its list is not meant to be a reference for the total number of prisoners hanged in India since 1947.
The death list in some states is tainted with gallows humour — in Kerala, no records are available because the authorities confessed termites ate them all. The story is similar in Andhra Pradesh, where termites have made a meal of all records pertaining to executions after 1968.

The report was compiled by NLU researchers from the responses received from India’s Central jails. Certain prisons provided information for only a certain period of time, or like Tamil Nadu, refused to give any data.

According the report, in Jammu and Kashmir, the playground of Islamist terror, not one Muslim has been hanged. Official statistics of terrorist killings in J&K (till 2009), note that over 47,000 people have died in terror-related violence.

The up-to-date numbers would be higher. Human Rights Watch has noted that thousands of Kashmiri Hindus have been killed over the past 10 years by terrorists and Muslim mobs. In Odisha, Rajasthan and Punjab, not a single Muslim convict has gone to the gallows.

In India’s capital, Muslims comprise 11.7 per cent of the population, making it the second largest community after Hindus. Here for every Muslim, five members of other communities climbed the scaffold. Executions are carried out in Jail No. 3, Tihar Jail.

Sections of the media and politicians such as Asaduddin Owaisi, leader of the Andhra Pradesh communal outfit, the All India Majlis-e-Ittehadul Muslimeen, and Abu Azmi, Samajwadi Party leader from Maharashtra, are protesting the death sentence. Owaisi accused the government of hanging Memon only because he is a Muslim and questioned why the death sentences of those convicted in Rajiv Gandhi’s assassination case were commuted to life imprisonment. He had wanted Bangladeshi anti-fundamentalist author Tasleema Nasreen to be beheaded and had called MLAs kafirs and Hindus impotent. He was jailed for making hate speeches, but no harm came to him. In united Andhra Pradesh, his State, 27 convicts were hanged of which only two-Jonada Muslalaiah and Sk. Babu Sahib-were Muslims.

Azmi had accused the government “of making moves against Muslims”. He claimed that according to the charge-sheet, Memon was innocent. “He did run away with his brother but he has not committed any huge crime,” said the Maharashtra legislator. In his own State-where there were 63 terror-related incidents this year alone, (around nine a month) and 139 in 2014 (around 12 a month)-56 were hanged for various offences. Of these, only five Muslim convicts-Abdul Rehman Imrankhan, Abhasjhan Wazirkhan, Munwvar Haun Shah, and Ajmal Amir Kasab-climbed the scaffold, just 7.14 per cent.

This amounts to 13 criminals of other faiths for every Muslim. Kasab was a Pakistani terrorist and part of an ISI-trained team, which killed 166 innocent people and wounded 293 in the bloody invasion of Mumbai in November 2008.
The ultimate irony happened on Friday when Naxalites in Nagpur jail, whose singular manifesto is bloody revolution to cleanse society of class enemies, went on a hunger strike protesting the death sentence awarded to Memon. Naxal attacks have claimed around 13,000 lives so far. In MP, the death rate is 6.41 per cent of Muslims hanged against those belonging to other communities. Executions were carried out in Jabalpur and Raipur central jails, but the latter has been shifted to Chhattisgarh after the division of the State.

In states with high Muslim populations such as Uttar Pradesh, Bihar, West Bengal, Andhra Pradesh and Maharashtra, the religious ratio of those who were executed by the State is dramatically skewed. In UP-home to the largest Muslim population in India-live 30,740,158 Muslims, or 18.49 per cent of the total residents of the State, according to the 2001 Census. The percentage of Muslims hanged in UP is around 12 per cent-or seven criminals of other faiths for every Muslim. In united Andhra Pradesh-which has 76,210,007 persons belonging to various faiths-the minority population is 6,986,856, or 9.16 per cent of the total. The ratio of Muslim convicts hanged is around 7.4 per cent. In West Bengal, where 27 per cent of residents are Muslims, the gallows rate is around 21.8 per cent-3.5 of non-Islamic faiths for each Muslim.

Executions concerning a disproportionate number of Hindus and non-Muslims puts a question mark over minority politics being played over Yakub Memon’s macabre fate.

However, according to NLU, this list does not reflect the total number of prisoners executed in each state. An attempt has been made to find the names of the persons executed.

Disclaimer: The National Law University National Legal Services Authority and the Death Penalty project do not make any representation or warranties of any kind, expressed or implied, regarding the accuracy or comprehensiveness of the information available in this list. Any reliance on information in this list is strictly at your own risk.