Skip to comments.Is India Going the Way of 1930s Germany?
Posted on 04/09/2002 1:27:00 PM PDT by TBP
The recent rounds of violence between religious groups in India do more than reveal the fragility of India's secular state. They highlight the inability of Indian democracy to combat what is essentially a fascist onslaught.
At first glance what happened in India appears to be another--if extreme--case of religious passion gone awry. A train carrying Hindu activists to the disputed religious site of Ayodhya was firebombed by a mob, killing 58 of the activists. Several days of revenge attacks by Hindus against Muslims followed in the state of Gujarat, killing over 700.
However, India's Hindu Nationalists have always resembled 1930s European fascists more than they do contemporary "fundamentalists." Members of the core organization of Hindu nationalism, the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS), founded in the 1920s, are given paramilitary instruction, not religious, and wear khaki uniforms reminiscent of Mussolini's brownshirts. While the Vishwa Hindu Parishad (VHP), founded in the 1960s, is mainly concerned with religion, it still does not prescribe how Hindus should worship or behave--an impossible task given the diversity of Hindu religious practice.
Instead, like all Hindu nationalists, it is bent on characterizing Muslims as alien and hostile while seeking to unify Hindus around a romantic nationalism, in which military prowess plays a central role. Hindu nationalists' emphasis on international prestige has won them the support of the westernized middle class, typically the target of Islamic fundamentalism. Their focus on demonizing Muslims rather than promoting Hinduism is illustrated even by the dispute over Ayodhya, where extremist Hindu groups destroyed a 16th century Muslim mosque in 1992, sparking nationwide sectarian riots in which more than 2,000 people died.
Hindu nationalists claim that a temple on the same site honoring the birthplace of the Hindu deity, Rama, was torn down to make way for the mosque. For Hindu extremist groups the claim that a temple was torn down to build a mosque--for which there is no concrete evidence--was at least as important as the claim that Rama was born at the site. The destruction of the mosque was commonly spoken of in terms of retaking territory that had been lost to invaders. Hindu nationalists have identified other mosques they wish to destroy, claiming that these too were built on temple sites. For none do they claim the sanctity associated with the birthplace of Rama. Indeed, the purpose of claiming a particular site as Rama's birthplace--for which there is no basis in theology or tradition--was to justify tearing down the existing mosque.
It is this fascist ideology, and the fact that a party espousing it is at the head of the national government, that makes the recent anti-Muslim pogroms in Gujarat so much more disturbing than earlier rounds of riots. As horrific as the recent violence was, more died in 1992. But the political establishment's response this time has been ambivalent and feeble. The paralysis in the political system is emboldening the Hindu extremist organizations responsible for the Gujarat "riots" to press their agenda more forcefully. There are times when India seems to resemble Germany in the 1920s and early 1930s.
The analogy to the rise of Hitler is not one that should be made lightly, but there are many parallels. The Gujarat attacks were not spontaneous expressions of mob rage but were highly organized and brutally efficient, probably identifying Muslim homes and businesses through the use of public records. The state government was almost certainly complicit in the wave of violence that affected the entire state and saw no effort by the police to control it. The central government was slow to dispatch the army, and has attempted to put the focus on the train attack, for which they blame Pakistani intelligence.
The state government initially sought to limit judicial inquiry to investigating the train attack, to use its emergency powers only against those accused of the train attack, and to offer higher levels of compensation to the (Hindu) victims of the train attack on the grounds that they were victims of terrorism. Even many liberal intellectuals and politicians, whose protests forced the state government to retract some of these measures, have tacitly accepted the idea that several days of targeted anti-Muslim violence can be equated with the attack on the train, and even resulted from it.
Worse, there has been no effort by those in power to hold those responsible for the Gujarat attacks accountable. The national government, run by the same party as the state government, the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), has chosen not to use its constitutional authority to take over the state's administration despite having attempted last year to do so on law and order grounds in another, opposition-ruled state. Although the government has banned militant Islamic groups, it has ignored calls by parties both in the opposition and in its own coalition to do this to Hindu extremist organizations. The involvement of these organizations in the Gujarat violence is widely attested to, and they were banned after they tore down the Ayodhya mosque in 1992.
Worse still, even after the Gujarat riots the government negotiated with the VHP over its plans to begin construction of a temple on the disputed site. The compromise involved an official in the Prime Minister's Office accepting possession of two pillars intended for inclusion in the temple structure. Even though this seriously compromised the Indian state's claims to religious neutrality, the government has congratulated itself for defusing a potentially explosive situation.
To be sure, the government is in a tight spot. BJP members of parliament have expressed outrage at the government's refusal to let temple construction proceed until the Supreme Court rules on the subject. However, statements and actions by Hindu extremist organizations since suggest that they have been emboldened by the concessions the government has made. Over the weekend of March 15 members of several right-wing Hindu organizations stormed and sacked the legislative assembly of the state of Orissa for unknown reasons, while the RSS warned Indian Muslims that their safety depended on the goodwill of the Hindu majority. The next week the VHP indicated that it had plans to carry the ashes of the train attack victims in processions throughout the country--an act calculated to incite mob fury. It later disavowed its plans when many of the BJP's coalition allies threatened to pull out of the coalition if the plans were carried through.
The opposition parties and some of the BJP's coalition allies have succeeded in checking the VHP to some degree. They have called for Hindu extremist organizations to be banned, and condemned the compromise with the VHP over the performance of the temple ceremony, as well as the attack on the Orissa assembly and the RSS' statement on Muslims. In addition to blocking the alleged plans to carry the ashes of Hindus killed in the train attack in a procession many have threatened to withdraw their support if the Ayodhya temple is built. The BJP leadership has promised to abide by the Supreme Court's ruling on the temple site. However, the VHP can undertake many provocative acts short of actually constructing the temple and has announced plans for more religious ceremonies centering on the temple issue around the country. There is a limit to how many battles the allies can fight and win from within the government.
The BJP's allies have been reluctant to withdraw from the government and indeed, voted with the government in passing a Prevention of Terrorism Bill that will significantly weaken protections for civil liberties including allowing confessions extorted from prisoners by police to be admitted as evidence. The Act, the provisions of which are currently in operation as an executive order, was defeated in the upper house of parliament where the opposition parties are in a majority, but it then passed in an unusual joint session of parliament. During the acrimonious debate two former prime ministers charged that the existing ordinance was used selectively against Muslims in Guajarat, while the current Leader of the Opposition, Sonia Gandhi, argued that the law would be used by the national government to intimidate its opponents and divide the country.
Short-term political calculations keep the government in power. Most of the BJP's allies are regional parties. The opposition Congress Party, which has won a string of recent elections is their local rival. Similar divisions between the Congress and other opposition parties have also hindered efforts to form an alternate coalition. Indeed, some opposition parties are gravitating toward the government out of tactical considerations even as some of its allies pull away from it. Meanwhile the two communist parties, outwardly the most opposed to the BJP, have announced that they would refuse to support a Congress government because of differences with that party's economic policy.
This combination of organized thugs affiliated with the ruling party who terrorize a minority community and intimidate a silent majority, with a divided opposition in which the center is getting squeezed from both sides, is only the most obvious parallel to Germany in the early 1930s. Over the past few years, the BJP has tried to reshape the secondary school curriculum by stealth in ways that fit with Hindu nationalist ideology and has presided over the slow militarization of the polity. By casting the Pakistan-supported insurgency in Kashmir as a crisis of national security, military expenditures have been increased while social welfare expenses have been cut. The command structure of the armed forces, which were kept divided for decades to ensure civilian control, has been unified in recent years. With the passage of the Prevention of Terrorism Bill, the government will have most of the tools it requires to gradually reduce the space for dissent.
There are many factors that could prevent this from happening. The Supreme Court has blocked both the VHP's plans for Ayodhya and the release of new textbooks following the social studies curricula. The National Human Rights Commission, which in India has some judicial powers, has rejected the Gujarat government's initial report on the riots as "perfunctory" and demanded a more thorough accounting. With the opposition parties controlling the presidency, upper house of parliament, most state governments, and therefore the electoral college for electing the next president this summer, it would be difficult for the BJP to significantly alter the constitutional balance or to declare a state of national emergency. Moreover, the government has a stake in preserving India's credentials as a secular state, in order to maintain U.S. pressure on neighboring Pakistan to crack down on militant Islamic groups and in order to develop economic ties with Islamic countries like Iran. Continued provocations by Hindu extremist organizations could yet force a rift between the BJP and its allies or even within the BJP, which is divided over the temple issue.
However, the difficulty India's mainstream parties have had in maintaining a united opposition to the BJP's agenda, and the change in the international attitude toward civil liberties following September 11, make it difficult to feel confident that Hindu fascism will be defeated. For this to happen, both centrist parties in the ruling coalition, and India's friends abroad will need to recognize that what happened in Gujarat was not just another instance of religious communities in conflict. Rather, as Indian opposition leaders have charged, it was part of a broader tendency toward eliminating civil liberties and scapegoating cultural minorities in an aggressive effort to impose a unified sense of nationhood on one of the world's most culturally diverse societies.
Excellent point, I'm sure lost on the auhor.
The analysis at the host site, Foreign Policy in Focus, seems consistently leftist.
But these views are held by a small minority. Once it attained power the PJP has by and large acted responsibly and today is blocking the "rebuilding" of a Hindu temple at Ayodyha. Indeed, BJP's days in power seem numbered - they've recently lost a series of state and municipal elections.
The link between extreme Hindu nationalists and fascism goes back to before WWII, when many believed Japan or Germany might deliver independence to India. The violence between Hindus and Muslims was far worse during independence and partition.
My gut feeling is that the author is taking a kernel of truth and mixing it with some old news to tar BJP with the "nazi" label. Probably a Congress supporter.
This was standard operating procedure for Muslims for centuries. Destroying other religions holy sites and building mosques on them, at which point they become "Islamic Holy Sites". Just like the Temple Mount in Jeuruselem.
But it's not just that incident. Some of you Indian apologists can't see beyond the small incidents that the Indian government wants you to see.
The Indian government has practiced oppression against Chrsitians, Sikhs, Muslims, Dalits, Bodos, and other minorities. According to the January 2 Washington Times, they are sponsoring terrorism in the Pakistani province of Sindh. According to India Today, tehy created teh Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam.
The Indian government admitted to holding 52,268 Sikh political prisoners, according to a report by the Movement Against State Repression (MASR.) Some of these have been in illegal detention since 1984! India has murdered over 200,000 Christians in Nagaland, over 250,000 Sikhs since 1984, over 75,000 Kashmiri Muslims since 1988, and tens of thousands of other minorities. According to teh Hitavada newspaper, it paid the late governor of Punjab, Surendra Nath, to foment terrorist activity in Punjab and Kashmir. About 50,000 Sikhs have been made to "disappear." Minorities of all kinds are killed in police custody.
Chrsitians are being singled out. Priests have been murdered, nuns have been raped, churches have been burned, missionary Graham Staines and his two young sons were murdered by these Hindu militants and all India does is throw his widow out of the country. A Chrsitian religious festival was broken up by police gunfire.
Does this sound like a secular democracy to you, or does it sound like Nazi Germany? Rep. Dana Rohrabacher knows. On August 2, 1999, on the floor of the House, he said that for the minorities, "India might as well be Nazi Germany."
This writer thinks it is, and I agree with him. As Rep. Dana Rohrabacher
Thats 3 against...?
According to India Today, tehy created teh Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam.
Would that be the LTTE that killed the Indian PM Rajiv Gandhi?
Unfortunately, not so. BJP has led the carnage against minorities, which has continuesd since it came to power.
BJP is under the umbrella of the Rashtriya Swayamsewak Sangh (RSS), a pro-Fascist organization. It is RSS's political arm. RSS recently published a booklet on how to implicate Chrsitians (and other religious minorities) in false criminal cases. It endorsed the killing of priests, the rape of nuns, and the murder of missionary Graham Staines and his 8- and 10-year-old sons.
In New York in 2000, Prime Minister Vajpayee told an audience "I will always be a Swayamsewak."
The comparison of Pakistan to Nazi Germany is more apt. Pakistan, like Nazi Germany, is fomenting terrorist unrest in the Punjab and in Jammu and Kashmir, just like the Nazis did in the Sudetenland and the Danzig corridor. By contrast, although India could easily have swallowed up the former East Pakistan after the 1971 war of liberation, she didn't, and that state became the independent Bangla Desh.
Here's another: the "Hagia Sophia Church" in Constantinople, the finest architectural masterpiece of its historical era. At least the Turks didn't tear it down...
I stand by my view, however, that BJP has moderated its more extreme views since going into government, to my surprise.
I do believe that BJP's time in power is coming to a close. It would be interesting to see what Congress would do in a new government - would they continue the trend to economic liberalization or would they revert to Nehru-style socialism?
Most revered mosque in India . . . third most holy site in Islam . . . yawn. Are these rankings listed somewhere because everytime something happens it happens someplace more holy or more revered than the last?
I'm waiting for Dearborn, MI to be given an Islamic name and declared holy ground.
The Kashmiri freedom movement claims to be self-generated, and the evidence I have seen says it is. So are the 16 other freedom movements within India's artificial borders.
India is so big and so diverse with so many passions in so many directions that nobody could unite it and drive it in a concerted direction as Hitler did Germany.
I also agree it is unlikely India would adopt fascism. India is large and diverse, with many languages and ethnicities. There is still widespread resentment over Mrs. Gandhi's brief dictatorship in the '70's.
TBP, There is a history of Islam building Mosques over the sites of other religions hallowed buildings since at least the "Temple Mount", Constantinople, and quite a few churches in Europe before the "crusades". Islam allows NO other religion equal treatment under the "law". ALL are subordinate or non-existant. Peace and love, George.
Hey, I'm a Presbyterian. For me, the Holy Land is Scotland.
I could understand Pontiac Michigan being declared Holy:
Um, what evidence is there China is developing its economy quickly? Chinese government statistics? Why would you trust those any more than Enron profit stateements?
India has murdered over 200,000 Christians in Nagaland
The population of Nagaland as per the latest census (2001) is 1.988 million. Yes, just 1.988 million. The population of Nagaland since the last census in 1991 has registered a more than robust 64.41% growth (up from 1.209 million).
May I say the census results do not support your statement of 200,000 dead Naga Christians as it would imply the Nagas are gifted with a fecundity that would create an inferiority complex in rabbits.
And you don't even address the Sikhs, Muslims, and other minorities that have been murdered by the governmetn also.
Which "well known" human rights group ?
Instead, perchance this reference is from the Council of Khalistan (COK), more specifically Dr. Gurmeet Singh Aulakh's congratulatory message to the National Socialist Council of Nagaland(Isaac-Muviah Faction) for the publication of their book "50 years of Resistance" in 1998 which provides a figure of 200,000 Naga's killed.
I consider the COK being far from knowlegebale on Naga issues given that Punjab and Nagaland are not geographically contiguous and for that matter are about as far apart as one can be in India (Punjab is on the western end of India and Nagaland on the eastern end).
Interestingly, the same COK in 1993 stated that 100,000 Nagas had been killed.
Thus according to the COK between 1993 and 1998, 100,000 additional Nagas were claimed to killed.
I once again reiterate that the census data I have provided in my post # 40 does not appear to support the figures quoted by you.
India is a democracy period. That however does not bestow the right to armed seperatists to indulge in terrorism without the fear of supression.If in the process some of these terrorists die, so be it. If you choose to call that murder, Indian democracy gives you that prerogative. In this we are no different from other democracies faced with these issues eg: USA (civil war ), UK (N.Ireland), Phillippines ( Mindanao ),Spain ( Basque region )and yes Sri Lanka too (Jaffna).
The below weblinks will direct you to the 200,000 and 100,000 numbers respectively :
However, there are many who say otherwise.
Listen to Narinder Singh, a spokesman for the Golden Temple:
"The Indian government, all the time they boast that they're democratic, they're secular, but they have nothing to do with a democracy, they have nothing to do with a secularism. They try to crush Sikhs just to please the majority." Narinder Singh, a spokesman for the Golden Temple, Amritsar, Punjab, interviewed on National Public Radio, July 11, 1997.
"When it comes to Kashmir and Punjab and Jammu, the Indian Government might as well not be a democracy. For people in those areas, India might as well be Nazi Germany." -- U.S. Representative Dana Rohrabacher (R-Cal.), August 2, 1999.
"The mere fact that [Sikhs] have the right to choose their oppressors does not mean they live in a democracy." Rep. Edolphus Towns (D-NY) (How's htat for bipartisanship?)
General Narinder Singh (a different guy from theone quoted before), a retired Indina general, says "Punjab is a police state." Then there is Balram Jakhar, the former Speaker of the Indian Parliament: "If we have to kill a million Sikhs to keep India's territorial integrity, so be it." So far, they're only 25 percent of the way there.
Sounds really democratic to me.
The question is how many? People who share your views are in a minority. Thats is a fact you will have to live with.
but the facts are the facts.
And multicultural states don't survive, as Yugoslavia, the Soviet Union (India's old ally) and Austria-Hungary should have taught us by now.
India is not a constitutional republic. There are 17 freedom movements within India's borders, in part because Christians, Sikhs, Bodos, Assamese, Manipuris, and other minorities do not enjoy full Constitutional protection. (In words, yes. In actions, no.)
Look at Gujarat. The fact is that while the carnage was going on, the police stood aside and did nothing to stop it. The same thing happened in 1984 to the Sikhs in Delhi. Police officials kill minorities and all that ever happens to them is that they get transferred. Not one of your India sycophhants has been able to show one case where teh police were punished. The government of Punjab ordered a report on the murder of Akal Takht Jathedar Gurdev Singh Kaunke, and when it implicated the police, specifically SSP Swaran Singh Ghotna, they refused to release it.
In 1994, our own State Department (in a pro-India Administration) reported that the Indian government paid out over 41,000 cash bounties to police officers for killing Sikhs. One officer got a bounty for killing a three-year-old boy, whom he claimed was a terrorist. Last year, the government's troops were caught red-handed trying to set fire to some Sikh homes and a Gurdwara in Kashmir. The Hinu supremacist militants who burned missionary Graham Staines and his two young sons to death have not been punished. Neither have the people responsible for murdering priests, raping nuns, burning churches, and other acts of violence against Christians. Instead, the RSS, which is the parent organization of the ruling BJP, published a booklet on how to implicate Christians and other minorities in false criminal cases. In 1997, a Christian religious festival was broken up by police gunfire. In November 1994, the Indina newspaper Hitavada reported that the Indian government paid the late governor of Punjab, Surendra Nath, $1.5 billion to foment terrorist activity in Punjab and Kashmir. There are so many of these attacks and atrocities that one begins to lose track of them.
The head of teh RSS just recently said that all Indians must be Hindus. This reflects a statement by a cabinet member that everyone who lives in India must be Hinu or be subservient to Hinduism. And Prime Minister Vajpayee told an audience in New York in 2000, "I will always be a Swayamsewak."
Second, Pakistan is a hotbed of violent Islamic terrorists who hate America, Israel, and India, and Musharraf, the lone ranger, is trying to turn his entire country around, but that's not easy.
No, and Musharraf is doing an excellent job. There is much militant Islamism in Pakistan, true, and it's every bit as bad as the militant Hindutva supremacism that grips India. As you said, Musharraf is trying to turn it around. India did not help the situation by taking advantage of the situation to mass troops on the Kashmir border, forcing Musharraf to divert some of the troops he had been using to track down the Islamist terrorists.
Further, according to the January 2 Washington Times, India sponsors and supports cross-border terrorism in the Pakistani province of Sindh. Will you condemn this? I don't think so. Further, journalist Tavleen Singh, writing in India's leading newsmagazine, India Today, reported that India created the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE), which teh U.S. government has labelled a "terrorist organization." India has not been our friend. It was a Soviet ally. It votes against us at the UN more often than any country except Cuba. According to the May 18, 1999 issue of The Indian Express, Defense Minister George Fernandes met with the Ambassadors from Red China, Communist Cuba, Russia, (Milosevic's) "Yugolsavia" (i.e. Serbia), Libya, and Iraq to discuss setting up a security arrangement "to stop the U.S."
Third, Communist China actively encourages and financially supports any anti-American force or ideology it can lay its grubby hands on, because one of its main interests is the destruction of capitalism, i.e. America, India, Israel, and Europe.
True. And as the Indian Express article shows, India is doing nothing to stop them. In fact, it seems that whenever secular, democratic, constitutional India has to choose between supporting America or supporting Red China, it supports the Chinese position.
Try and digest those basic and elemental truisms, and then filter your monotonous gossip and lies to finally arrive at the truth.
I would make the same suggestion to you.
LOL. How nice of you, but totally dishonest, as usual. India has no terrorists' operating in Pakistan blowing up people, parliaments, and killing innocents. Now check again to see which way your head is screwed on, or even if it is.
Everything you post has been debunked before. Why did you flag me to this leftist "progressive" professor's little ramblings? SOURCE, TBP, is everything to most thinking people, but that's something you'll never be accused of. Thinking people would post utter bullshit from the FPIF with a "barf alert", or not post it at all. (I must admit it's somewhat intriguing though, to see you've dropped the crap from COK and picked up with the progressive socialists.)
I will post this again, since you don't seem to have gotten it before.
On January 2, in the Washington Times (a far left newspaper, right, keri?) it was reported that India is sponsoring cross-border terrorism in Sindh. Sindh is a province of Pakistan. But I should believe that "India has no terrorists' operating in Pakistan" because you say so rather than believe the Washington Times. Obviously.