Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Gujarat: A Divided State

On September 8th, Metropolitan Magistrate Tamang’s report is made public. His findings about the encounter which killed Irshat and her friends are that it was a fake encounter. They were shot at short range and then the bodies left on the public road for all to see how Gujarat deals with terrorists (read Muslims?). The action of the police is suspected to be entrenched in a deep desire to please the BJP strongman Narendra Modi, and to boost his image as the defender and protector of the Hindu community.

On September 10th, Gujarat goes to polls and Narendra Modi registers a better show than the Congress.

Now what are we to make out from this? This has happend several times. The worse his record on human rights violations gets, the better Modi's chance of victory at the polls. The only interpretation for this fact is, Modi's brutal acts have the support of the majority of the people of Gujarat

Gujarat is a divided state. The people of Gujarat have lost faith in the concept of secularism as defined in the Constitution of India, which the BJP ridicules as ‘Pseudo secularism”. For the people of Gujarat, secularism as the average Indian understands it is a pseudo notion. The minorities have rights if the majority is generous enough to grant them those rights. The minority communities have right to existence only if the majority community so wills it.

The state of Gujarat is a scale model of what India would become if the BJP with its control strings in the hands of RSS gets a majority at the Centre, and rules India unhindered by coalition partners.

In the responses to my last post (on Rahul Gandhi), there were some views on choosing between fundamental rights and bread for all. Gujarat results makes me think that even a discussion on these lines is dangerous. If we are willing to give up any one of the fundamental rights, why not another at another point in time? And another and another?

In a democratic Nation-State, Fascism can be ‘encountered’ only by a tenacious faith in fundamental rights exercised through the ballot.


  1. Well..although I dont have high regards for Narendra Modi, I believe a democracy has to be accomodating on all sides..its not the majority who has to the sensitive to minorities..but the other way around too..I have heard from a priest himself from Gujurat that there are some fanatic christian missions who really were indulging in conversion etc....Well due to the action of a few a whole community faces the brunt...Our country has a long way to achieve secularism in many parts of the country..esp in the north..where communities of the same faith live like in ghettos...I only hope people in our country elect select secular leaders and we have a majority who are sensitive to the needs of minority..and other way too..its should be mutually inclusive!

  2. Its proven historically that whenever there is a communal violence or something similar like these encounters, the BJP automatically wins the succeeding elections. The Modi-sponsored genocide in Gujrat following the Godhra incident and the results of the elections are for everyone to see. The BJP and RSS have put this theory to test in may states, and the recent Mangalore episodes are also seen as many as a test-bed for fascist ideologies in society.

  3. Your view of the power of ballot shows a complete lack of thinking. Power comes through the barrel of the gun, and nuclear weapons and social manipulation. Ballots are just a surface formality to make some show of credibility.

  4. Dear Maa’m, I share your woes in this regard. But sadly the fact is that even the so called secular parties are no better. (It’s no effort to justify what BJP has been doing in Gujarat or anywhere else or an attempt to label all political parties evil. I’m not apolitical and I did use my franchise so far.) What came to my mind when I read this piece is the role of media, especially the ones who relentlessly fight against communalism. If not for them, would it have been possible?

    You might’ve read what one of the prominent leader in Kerala against whom corruption charges are raised against suggested the other day about regulating media. In fact I’ve been watching it over a period of time, how intolerant he’s becoming against the media. This outrageous attitude, I hope, won’t dampen the spirit of the fourth estate. But I just get shivers down the spine thinking what will happen to our country if the media become a tool of those in power? If India still remains a sovereign republic despite a thousand and one problems, we need to thank a vigilant media for its contributions. Otherwise it would’ve joined the league of those banana republics long back.

  5. Is it not practically true that "the minority communities have right to existence only if the majority community so wills it."? India's record in the matter is perhaps, better than most other places.

    Our media has not raised any rigging issue in Gujarat. How can we then not recognise the popular will in Gujarat?

    Tolerance and liberalism are not part of original human nature. Many of the qualities that we call 'human' or 'humane' are also not in our original make up. Animals are often better than us.

  6. Modi is like a punching bag for you, isn't he?
    In one of your earlier blogs (Ruminating on Blog Responses), you rue the state of secularism the way it is today. Well, you don't have to go anywhere else to see why it is like that. Just check your 'secularism' blogs. you will not write a blog that _exclusively_ talks about hostile chritian conversions and islamic terrorism (I even challenged you to write one in a comment to one of your secularism blogs, you have not yet taken the challenge). The 'holier than thou' attitude is THE problem. You write blogs after blogs on Gujarat and Modi, while conveniently forgetting the secular repsonsibilities of other communities. People like you help the rise of Hindu nationalism (BJP & RSS), because atleast some hindus feel that secularism is only selectively implemented. IBNLive discussions conclude that banning taslima's book & prophet's cartoons maybe required to avoid hurting religious sentiments. Today IBNLive hosted a talk show to discuss whether government (as if govt don't have anything else to do - ridiculous!) should bring back MF Hussain to India. When it comes to him, all you 'secular' guys are freedom of expression fans. But what about Rushdie's freedom then?
    (BTW,I don't have a problem with either Hussain's drawings or Taslima's/Rushdie's/Dan Brown's books)

    And coming Ishrat's case, I am appalled by the speed in which the court acquitted her. We captured a terrorist alive while he was killing people with an automated gun and till now we were not able to convict him. How on earth can the court acquit someone in such a short time, afterall, she was spotted with a person having 2 passports and 2 others with questionable identities. Even LET, which we consider as a terrorist organization celebrated her martyrdom. Court should have only talked about the fake encounter and that too, submit the report to HC, not publish that in media. If Ishrat is a terrorist, she is a terrorist, there are no 2 ways about it, even if she was killed in a fake encounter. Generations to come will suffer if people belonging to minority community are above all accountability.

  7. We all discover/create punching bags easily, as long as the targets do not personally terrorise us.

    Current one is Shashi Tharoor? How silly can we get! All traditional Indian politicians seem to be so jealous of him. One hopes that he does not give up saying that Indian politics is too trivial or frivolous for him.

    Modi is perhaps, like the drum hung on the wayside for all passersby to beat in fun.
    Going by the Indigenous English media, the people of Gujarat must be a bunch of fools to approve of him again and again.

    Or is it only similar to enlightened Kerala where we elect Bandh/Hartal-makers and rapists one after the other?

  8. @ stoic
    were the people of germany a bunch of fools when they put hitler in the driving seat? remember what dryden said? 'The most may err as grossly as the few'

  9. Hostile chritian conversions? You mean they are converting under gun point?

    Rise of Hindu nationalism? This elections gave Hindu fundamentalists a solid kick in its backside and BJP and RSS etc were seen scurrying for cover!!

    You talk of MF Hussain? What about Ajantha Elora caves where god and goddesses are shown copulating with everything and anything!

    Shut up dude!!

  10. Anonymous has left a new comment on your post "Gujarat: A Divided State":

    Hostile chritian conversions? You mean they are converting under gun point?

    Rise of Hindu nationalism? This elections gave Hindu fundamentalists a solid kick in its backside and BJP and RSS etc were seen scurrying for cover!!

    Shut up dude!!

  11. Modi is working at two levels. He is making the the state very industry friendly. That in itself triggers employment and raises living standards. In a state known for the entrepreneurial potential, his pro-busines, economic growth policies will earn lot of support. In suc a situation, the policy towards the "Minority" will be totally ignored/overlooked by the benefeciaries of his positive growth-oriented policies.

    The ghettoisation of the Minority ensures their continued existence as the weak underbelly of an otherwise progressive state. Who wants to get into an aggressive mode for minority community, let us make the most of te largesse that comes our way, will be the general attitude. Add to it te incendiary role played by RSS, VHP, BJP and similar parties/groups.

  12. Anonymous,
    See one example of being hostile:
    Trust me, I have seen worse - just that I didn't have a camera phone handy.

    When I refer these kinds of incidents to 'secular' guys, they go into denial mode, saying that this is just a minority among christians, they are not mainstream etc etc. I could explain how it can be hostile without being at gunpoint, but then you won't understand it anyway.

    And the rise of Hindu nationalism, why are you & owner of this blog talk about BJP, RSS? and you talk about the decline? Because they rose to prominence in the late 20th century. Get the facts right before you talk.

  13. "Shut up dude", indeed! So much for tolerance of other people views and these people lecture Gujarat about tolerance. People of germany never walked behind Gandhiji as Gujaratis did. In fact the fathers of both the divided nations and the consolidator of India out of a myriad princely states - all the three were Gujaratis. So instead of spewing venom relentlessly think why some Gujaratis might feel sick and tired about people who have theological problems in bowing to their motherland but would bow in the direction of a geographical place outside the country to offer their obediance to God! People who feel mighty hurt if a mosque is broken but do not think it necessary to be sensitive about a lot of wanton destruction done throughout history in their religion's name! Both the evangelical Islam and christianity fundamentally believe that they are doing favour to Hindus by insulting their beliefs and yet both these religions have been responsible for a lot of bloodshed on the face of the earth! Conversion at Gunpoint? Conversion is just a front for cultural colonialism. Ask the remaining native North and South Americans. Ask the thriving (?) Hindu community in Pakistan and Bangladesh. By the way if the minority is that troubled, is there migration out of Gujarat? last time I saw, there were even more potential votebanks for the Congress coming from Bangladesh. Through out the long minority friendly terrain they must have traversed, did they not find even one sustainable habitat? Congress has continued with the Colonial policy of divide and rule. Gujarat has seen many communal riots, most of them during the Congress rule and BJP was not even known till the 70s. Every party is playing the communal card, not only BJP.

  14. I do not know why you two(KPJ and Abhilash) are dragging the name of anonymous into this secularism mess. My name is a honorable one. As far as I can see, I am the only anonymous published so far in this thread of comments, and I didn't utter the words like conversion.

    Indeed, if you must hear my views, firstly Christianity is rubbish. I do not approve of such nonsense as a man coming back to life after being dead, etc.. But Hinduism is even bigger nonsense. What, a king with thousand arms, another with ten heads, and all that nonsense? It is all pure rubbish.

    However I would also say that Hinduism is the cultural fabric holding India up. What else have a Gujju and a Tamilian have got in common about? It is better to let sleeping dogs lie and cover it up with the constitution of India. Hinduism makes the nation work and give it a unity in spite of diversity; let it be; do not disturb it too much. It is just pacifism and common courtesy. I have a christian background myself; but I wouldn't do anything to encourage the missionaries(who might as well be my childhood friends or relatives) who go in for effecting conversions. They are playing with fire, and I want none of that.

  15. Hi...Quite a sensitive post i must say..but to be frank Modi is a great visionary.And his hindtuva stand is primarily Anti-Muslim but pro-Gujarat...All these fake encounters or as they are calle dare wrong,but the fact is barring a few the rest were all hardcore criminals.How often have we oursleves imagined that if only we had a gun..Why did "A wednesday "and movies of the like beocme popular..That is the common's man take on all these issues..I'm sad by the fact that Godhra happened,but it is also a matter of fact that everyone should work towards living in a secular community.THe provocation for the godhra riots was deifnitely from the minority side..But it is high time thye forgive and move on..We cant still live in the past,and remmebr gujarat is definitely growing big time compared to other states in india.

  16. Abhilash, was your youtube video intended for comedy, or was it serious? There are others too by the same speaker in youtube, and the manner of speech is similarly fanciful and most are quite funny.

  17. @annonymous:
    Christianity is not rubbish. It is Buddhism at its best. And Buddhism is very logical, originally; except for the Rebirth part, which may or may not be true.

    And Christ did not die on the Cross. Try see the BBC documentary 'Did Jesus die?'. It concludes in a rational way, that Jesus was entombed in Srinagar.

  18. These religions mix some preaching supposedly based on good principles, with pure rubbish. I do not know why such a mixture is necessary. Maybe it is for preventing extreme fanaticism.

    Therefor Christianity might have some logical part. Nevertheless illogical parts such as the world being created in seven days, parting of the red sea, or christ dying and coming to life again(which you do not agree with, but which is in fact the no 1 tenet of Christianity -- see St. Paul), etc, are rubbish, and a spade a spade, rubbish is rubbish, therefore Christianity is rubbish. If half of an apple is rotten and if the other half is not, you do not call it a half-rotten apple, you call it a rotten apple.

  19. @anonymous:

    Religion is rubbish.
    Organised religion is a crime against 'God'.


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