Atanu Dey On India's Development

Exporting Religion

Such a Pity

It is easy to slip into self-pity when battling what appears to be a nasty ‘flu. One’s view of the world is jaundiced and it all appears rather pointless. Events appear a grimmer shade of black when viewed from the context of physical illness. Yet, to put it in perspective, one should not complain about a temporary illness when others go through real ordeals. It is exactly one year ago that nearly 200 people lost their lives and several hundreds horribly injured just going about their daily business in Mumbai.

Normal human reaction to the terrorism unleashed on the Mumbai local trains is one of horror and pity. There are other emotions. There’s outrage at the hateful ideology that fueled the carnage. And there’s disgust at the spinelessness of the country’s leaders and their total lack of concern for the welfare of the citizens. In a sense the unconcern of the so-called leaders should not come as a surprise. They don’t suffer the consequences of their ineptitude.

I don’t know which is more: my pity for the Prime Minister or contempt for him for his warped sense of justice and total lack of empathy for the victims of terrorism. Read Tavlin Singh’s column where she asks why didn’t the PM lose sleep after numerous acts of terrorism and yet is losing sleep over the anguish of the mothers of Muslim doctors who tried to kill kuffars in the UK recently.

As a Sikh, he said sadly, he understood well the horrors of being labelled. And, as prime minister of India, he could not sleep after seeing the face of the mother of the alleged bombers from Bangalore. “We should not fix labels like Muslims or non-Muslims. It won’t help us in understanding the situation or dealing with it.”

This week marks the first anniversary of Mumbai’s train bombings and my first question to our prime minister is, why has he never lost sleep over that ghastly event? My second question is, why can he become so eloquent over the suffering of the mothers of alleged terrorists and so sanguine over the suffering of nearly 200 Mumbai mothers who lost their children for no reason? When he made his visit to Mumbai after the July 11 bombings last year, many noticed that he exhibited no emotion.

The PM should check out the distinction between “momins” and “kuffars” before wringing his hands anxiously about the Muslim non-Muslim labels.

Upon reflection, I think my self-pity is nothing compared to the pity that I feel for the Prime Minister. Pity triumphs because some things are beneath contempt.

Promoting Indian Islam

It is more than a little ironic given the recent events that one of my favorite blogs, the Acorn, recently suggested that “it is in India’s interests to promote the Indian interpretation of Islamic values not just at home, but more importantly, abroad.” This is truly bizarre. Since when has India been an Islamic theocracy that it should go about promoting Islam in India and abroad? I realize of course that covertly Islam is being promoted by the Indian government (as I have argued here before) but to use public funds to promote Islam in India and abroad is insane and creepy. Perhaps it is the “if you cannot beat them, join them” strategy.

The discussion following that Acorn post and its follow up post is interesting and I did add my two bits to it.

Exporting Religion

The fact is that India has been in the exporting of religion business well before Islam or even Christianity were born. India is the land of Hinduism, Jainism and Buddhism. Buddhism was exported all the way from Greece to the Far East thousands of years ago. Bodhidharma went to China to bring the enlightenment of India and from China Buddhism traveled to Japan. And like Bodhidharma, many other gurus have traveled abroad to spread Indian thought in the recent past. India has given the world yoga and ayurveda and kama sutra.

India has no business promoting jihad, however softer the Indian version of jihad is. So the Indian version of the jihad just blows up local commuter trains, and not fly commercial jetliners into skyscrapers; the Indian version just drives Jeep Cherokees into terminal buildings and sets train compartments on fire. Promoting a softer version with the hope that it will overpower the virulent version is misguided Faustian bargain.

Dancing in the Streets

It was of course my cultural bias but I couldn’t help feeling light-hearted when I used to see the Hare Krishna people dancing in the streets of Berkeley. See the video and tell me if you see rage boy anywhere. They are dancing in Times Square in the video.

If the Indian state has to export religion (as the Acorn wants), then I think that it should export an ideology that promotes dancing in the streets, not the killing of innocents for gaining admission into a paradise full of virgins.

Grim Humor

Just to add a bit of humor to this rather grim post, check out a fictional account of our very own Khaleel Ahmed’s trials as he prepared for his tryst with the 72 virgins.

Be well, do good work, and keep in touch.

  • G G K

    Well only Islam Christianity and perhaps judaism can be exported. History has shown its vile and disgusting export by force.
    You are restricting your vocabulary by not differentiating between dharma, and religion.
    Creating an export oriented model seriously undermines voluntary importation.
    and will blur the line between dharma & religion.

  • http://baawara.blogspot.com Alam

    I would skip commenting on the post itself. Antanu himself has said -”It was of course my cultural bias” (and who doesn’t have these biases??)
    But here’s a comment on GGK’s comment.(not on the dharma vs religion angle.. but on the export of religion part)-

    Seriously dude you need to take a closer look at history . Semitic/Abrahamic religions (Judaism,Various flavours of Christianity and Islam) are not the only ones which got propagated and exported.

    Look closer at home. Our lands and nearby areas had a wave of Vedic Hinduism –> Buddhism –> Hinduism back again. This shows that we re-imported Hinduism from history. (Surely not everyone moved to/from hinduism and buddhism , and there would have been a very substantial number of people practising animism, indeginous and other kinds of faiths. But the movement I am talking about is of the ruling and power classes, the set of people who indulge in secondary and tertiary occupations)

    The same Buddhism and Hinduism got exported far and wide. And although we lost our Buddhism, the religion and its philosophy still manage to thrive in large portions of east asia.

    The export of Hinduism was also fairly successful. Angkor Wat is a good testament to that. But its success was not as lasting as that of exported Buddhism. I guess Bali is a rare remaining Hindu majority region and there is residual hinduism in Indonesia in the form of Ramayan and Mahabharat being regarded as some sort of national epics. Point being – there was an export of Hinduism as surely as there was export of Buddhism

    Moral of the story is… while it is good to express all kinds of different views… even express ones biases… There should be some factual basis and truth in the statements … otherwise the biases lead to outright lies.

  • Asad Mustafa Rizvi

    Atanu:

    Mumbai train blasts are very recent. Even the perpetrators of anti-sikh riots, after Babri carnage and Gujarat genocide are still roaming free. They caused much greater loss of lives. I wonder whether you or Tavleen Singh loose sleep on that since victims were not hindus.

    I am not saying that Mumbai train blast terrorists should not be brought to book. They must be. I am only wondering when others will get justice, if ever.

  • SM

    @Atanu : Insightful post.

    @Asad Mustafa
    I assume you are an apologist of Islam. Considering that you keep on belaboring the point of demolition of Babri masjid and Gujarat riots, which again are two isolated incidents that occurred 10 years apart, I wonder what you have to say about 8872 terrorist attacks carried out worldwide by Islamists since 9/11. refer to the link below.
    http://thereligionofpeace.com/

    We are comparing two incidents in 10 years with 8872 incidents in 5 years.
    And even those two incidents did not occur in vacuum. While you have a single Babri Masjid that was demolished by Hindus, Muslims destroyed 1000s of Hindu temples over the years. Gujarat riots again were triggered by the unprovoked act of terrorism at Godhra.

  • http://faux-ruminations.blogspot.com/ Shailendra Mathur

    “If the Indian state has to export religion (as the Acorn wants), then I think that it should export an ideology that promotes dancing in the streets”
    Considering the pseudo secular government we have at the centre, anything related to Hinduism is anathema to them. Refer to the routine reviling of Hinduism done by morons like D Raja and his commie friends.

    Unfortunately the media in India (as also worldwide) is largely left leaning these days and together, they have made rightist sound like a four letter word. No one remembers the fact that left policies led to 100 million dead in the 20th century, which is second only to the countless millions killed by the religion of peace. Right does not even come close.

  • http://www.deeshaa.org Atanu Dey

    Asad mustafa Rizvi, I genuinely sympathize with you. I seriously do. It must be hard to reconcile your concern for the anti-Sikh riots and the fact that those who engineered them are not only free, they are indeed ruling the nation.

    And I sympathize with your problem — very slim pickin’s when in all the centuries that recorded history provides, you have to clutch at the demolition of a defunct mosque built upon a razed temple as the most glaring example of Hindu intolerance. Let’s not even go into the so-called “genocide” in Gujarat — around a 1000 killed in riots that were provoked by an attack on innocents. Surely it is not comparable to the unprovoked slaughter of millions over the centuries for no other reason than the refusal to bow towards a city in the Middle East.

    Very slim pickin’s indeed. I would not wish to be in your position.

  • Inderpreet Chawla

    On the paragraph ‘Promoting Indian Islam’:

    When I was a child growing up in a small town India, I used to think that root of all social problems lies in lack of education. Once a person gets educated, he / she gets an elevated understanding of their society, its problems and the world at large, thereby better equipped to address the problems with solutions that truly solve problems, rather than creating new ones.

    Unfortunately, I grew up to a rude awakening when I met people who had received highest levels of education and yet expressed insanely passionate opinions about aspects of society such as religion.
    It was time for me to seriously update my world-view. Unfortunately, that happened on more than one occasions.

    What is it in human beings (even the relatively enlightened ones) that they respond with such reactive rhetoric to anything related to religion? I wonder what makes some of us take such a defensive stance against any statement that seems even remotely in favour of muslims or Islam. After all, an overwhelming majority of the world’s population did not choose their religion. So what’s the fuss about it?

    Of course all human beings (including the relatively enlightened ones) are bound to interpret things according to their socio-cultural conditioning. And there’s no helping that unless one works hard and persistently at it. But it starts to become a problem when one’s opinions and views begin to influence others’.

    I’ve read ‘On state sponsored greybeards’ at Acorn, and the post makes an interesting intellectual point. The least it requires in response is a passionate, yackety-yak.

    Facts of the matter are (Census of India 2001):
    - India is the 3rd largest muslim population in the world (about 151 million)
    - Indian muslims are the least literate of all ethnic groups
    - Indian muslims are the least employed of all ethnic groups, and therefore largest minority in the lower economic rungs of the Indian society.

    Now do these not seem like ingredients for modern day jihad? And yet, largely India (with exception of J&K) is free from violence fuelled in the name of Islam. Is that not something to be proud of? Is that not something that the world should know more about? Is that not a reason for an increased social and economic inclusion of a religious minority?

    No, I’m not calling for reservations based on religion or belief systems, affirmative action or other similar solutions to “uplift” the muslim minority.

    My point is a rather much simpler one. When the relatively well educated amongst us react with vigour and passion, and use their gift of the gab to make blanket statements for or against religions, its a sign that where we need to look is not outward.

  • Asad Mustafa Rizvi

    Thanks Inderpreet for your sane comments.

    SM said:

    I assume you are an apologist of Islam. Considering that you keep on belaboring the point of demolition of Babri masjid and Gujarat riots, which again are two isolated incidents that occurred 10 years apart, I wonder what you have to say about 8872 terrorist attacks carried out worldwide by Islamists since 9/11. refer to the link below.
    http://thereligionofpeace.com/

    SM,

    I am not an apologist of Islam. I am a devout muslim and a proud Indian.

    I was not talking of Bosnia, or Chechenya or Iraq or Palestine. I was talking of India. If you are interested in accusations of terrorism and counter-terrorism internationally, please look at the news section for the places mentioned.

    Atanu said:

    And I sympathize with your problem—very slim pickin’s when in all the centuries that recorded history provides, you have to clutch at the demolition of a defunct mosque built upon a razed temple as the most glaring example of Hindu intolerance. Let’s not even go into the so-called “genocide” in Gujarat—around a 1000 killed in riots that were provoked by an attack on innocents. Surely it is not comparable to the unprovoked slaughter of millions over the centuries for no other reason than the refusal to bow towards a city in the Middle East.

    If you read my post, I did not mention demolition of Babri mosque. I talked about post-Babri carnage. I feel hurt about Babri mosque too, but why raise issues about a dilapidated building when actual lives are at stake? I spoke about Gujarat, because a state, which failed to protect its innocent citizens at Godhra repented by failing again when Gujarat burned. I do not understand how people justify it. Are there two different categories of citizens in India, which can be compensated against each other?

    I would not challenge your figure of slaughter of “millions”, since I believe that even if one life was lost, it was one too many. Fortunately or unfortunately, those people are dead. What you are doing here is to rationalize killing of innocents who are breathing and living now. If you do not see the difference between the two, I can only pray to God to grant you some good sense. If you think that by shedding some innocent blood now, you can expiate past wrongs, please go ahead. It does not work.

    I have not lived previous centuries to see what happened then. But I have seen India since its independence. Probably I have seen more of independent India than any of you. The worst carnages that independent India has seen, have been against minorities – a fact even RSS pamphlets gleefully confirm. Is this the country we want to leave for our future generations to be proud of?

    Trust me, the hate propaganda you are fanning here has got no end. It does not stop till the “villain” is finally eliminated, which never happens. I mentioned about anti-Sikh riots only to highlight that the juggernaut of fascism does not stop at muslims. It burns everyone who does not share this worldview and finally destroys itself.

    I feel sad to see people like you – from both the communities – pushing India in the direction of a certain doom.

    May Allah grant you peace and wisdom.

  • Chaitanya

    Folks, calm down. I think it’s worth remembering what the great man had said:

    “No problem can be solved from the same level of consciousness that created it”.
    - Albert Einstein

  • Chaitanya

    It’s not Muslim problem, or Hindu problem, or iraq problem, or palestine problem, or gujjar problem, or telangana problem, or maoist problem or capitalist problem, or poverty problem, or climate change problem, or energy problem ..

    At the root is the problem of divisive consciousness, isn’t there ? Until we work on that, we’ll be going round and round and round ……

  • Arvind

    I liked the honest and courages of this ex-muslim person from Bangladesh.

    http://mukto-mona.sulekha.com/blog/post/2006/12/my-experience-with-islam.htm

    He has quoted from the Quran. I find it hard to digest that a religious book will say all that and still have a lot of followers. I have neither read the Gita or the Quran. But quotations from Gita is all over the world and not once derogatory that I have heard.

  • http://gudem.blogspot.com Chandra

    “Let’s not even go into the so-called “genocide” in Gujarat—around a 1000 killed in riots that were provoked by an attack on innocents.”

    Genocide and fascism propaganda of left wingers seems to be having an effect.

    Total killed in riots were 700 including Muslims (majority of those dead) and Hindus. I can point to you may instances in Hyderabad, where I grew up, when 700 people were dead in riots (what else, Hindu-Muslim clashes) every year during Ganesh nemarjana days (we even used to enjoy riot holidays soon after Vinayaka Chavithi), when Congress I was in charge of the state, in the 70s and 80s (until NTR came to power and put a stop to riots). Media and left wingers conveniently forget the “good old” secular days when the secular party was in charge.

    Talk about genocide of 700 hundreds in India. We have had plenty of those genocides(including Rajiv’s nani yaad ayegi).

  • Asad Mustafa Rizvi

    Dear Arvind:

    If you visit ambedkar.org or dalitstan.org, you will read some extremely negative experiences about hinduism from some current and ex-hindus. People are entitled to their opinions. It is for us to separate wheat from the chaff.

  • dodo

    Asad,

    First your claim that Hindus do not empathize with the Shikh riot victims is WRONG.

    First let me tell you, I am no BJP sympathizer. But you must not forget that, during those ’84 days it was the BJP and RSS which supported Shikhs. That is why Akali dal is such a strong ally of BJP till now.

    It was a riot unleashed by congressmen (and leaders included) against shikhs. Don’t try to make it a Hindu-Shikh riot.

    And for your other claims, you are just blaming everyone in the world for some other wrongdoings, instead of addressing the issue in hand. It is like playing cards; Mumbai train blast, okay I got Gujarat up my sleeve…..funny!

    And when people are trying to dig deeper, you are evading cunningly by saying you were not born then….huh!!

    About your assumption of no hindu-muslim riot in the rest of India apart from JK…man grow up and see the nation. You must know, whenever congress/SP comes to power there are miny mayhems in muslim dominated areas…those things gets sweeped under the carpet very fast….remember Mau in 2005…does the name Mukhtar Ansari ring a bell ( it is not such an old incident, I am sure 2005 comes after Independence), or you have conveniently forgot that? This is just one example…

  • http://valluvar.blogspot.com shiv

    All religion is triple distilled crap and not even well thought out if you look closely enough. People kill each other over resource allocation. If is so happens that the socio-economic mileau throws up more muslim terrorists that is the reality. Why argue ? As such there is hell of a lot more state terror than private religious terror. To a victim how is state terror superior to islamic or hindu terror ? The examples of Narmada valley & Iraq come to mind. Maybe we should call our security forces ‘Constitutional terrorists’. After all that is the name of the ‘book’ by which state terror is unleashed. The gujarat pogrom seems to be more about control of trade than over ideological issues. The point here is that all mono, poly theistic religions are bullshit on steroids. While it is easy to target monotheistic cults, due to the ultimate stupidity of having a ‘book’ that tells all , hinduism or for that matter buddhism is as insidious when the ‘effects’ are measured sociologically. Some of the historical material available on the clash of Jainism, Shivism and vishnavism in south and peninsular india is illuminating.Of this the only rational faith was Jainism and they lost big time (in recruits into the cult). The locus of spititual debate always seems to be temporal resources and their control. Humans curb their population by competing over resources. More people are killed in the name of god than any other so maybe that is the reason for the sociological construct. With no natural predators we have to look within to continue on the path shown by Darwin. The puzzling part is i have never understood Atanu’s right wingish stance given his depth of understanding of the human condition and its drivers. But then one cannot get into the mind of another.

  • Chaitanya

    Shiv, you have a point but i disagree with ‘all religions are bullshit on steroids’ part. Every religion has atleast some nuggests of wisdom. I won’t go into that..

    What we need to come to grips with is that humans are extremely violent species. Many people think that if only we “develop” like the west and eradicate religious terrorism, all will be hunky-dory and peaceful. It aint going to happen. Our whole human civilization is based on lot of violence on other people and nature. Yes, Narmada, iraq, SEZ’s. There are tens of cases today in India itself where people are being driven out of habitat, for sake of “development”. you may think its “someone” else doing it, but as part of civilization we are tacit observers.

    The biggest violence on which our whole way of life is based, is on Nature. But our civilization is completely blind to it. Just put yourself in place of thousands of species vanishing, and tell who the terrorists are.

    That’s what i was trying to say in other posts, unless we look at all this holistically, we’ll be just swatting flies, until we destroy ourselves and nature.

  • Anuj

    Shiv – “If is so happens that the socio-economic mileau throws up more muslim terrorists that is the reality”

    An overwhelming majority of terrorists inspired by the Quran, happen to be educated middle or upper middle class men.
    To wit – the two [indian muslim] f%&# heads arrested in britain recently.

  • Bipasha Basu

    Rizvi – Your noble and holier than though claims are belied by your petulant responses to, allegation against your faith with, what about Hindu this and Hindu that….

  • Arvind

    Asad,

    Will appreciate the exact link you want me to see.

    If it implies the ills of Hindu culture, I am with you on the caste system and its gross misuse. Also, I am with you on the neglect and exploitation of a section of Hindu society.

    My reference was to Holy books that even today influence people’s thought and behaviour. It is taken as gospel truth by many an ignorants who are dud heads in original thinking or masters of manipulation of the masses.

    That is where, I am just shocked, if what is written in the link I shared is TRUE. From your response you do agree that it is true, your only defense is some vague site you mention which does not lead to any relevant article.

    I am also least concerned on the views of the author for I do not even know if he really was a Muslim. Again, I repeat, does the Quran really say all that. If yes, I am shocked to say the least.

  • Arvind

    If India has something relevant and substantial to export, it is what Swami Vivekanand exported, what Ashoka the Great exported and what The Gautama Buddha’s followers exported…

    That is the Indian legacy.