Atanu Dey On India's Development

Tragedy and Farce — Part 2

| 6 Comments

{Continued from part 1.}

In the ultimate analysis, ideas matter. Ideas are what distinguishes humans from all known forms of terrestial living beings. The differences one observes in the development of various societies ultimately boil down to the set of ideas that a society developes, borrows, adopts, adapts, and uses. Ideas as embodied in the institutions and mores of society ultimately dictate how prosperous it is. A set of ideas that persist and pervade the collective consciousness of a society can be called an ideology. After controlling for all other factors such as natural endowments and accidents of history, the state of development and prospects of growth of a society (and therefore its economy) are fundamentally and inextricably tied to the dominant ideology of that society.

Ideologies that deny humans freedom are not consistent with development. The world has seen many totalitarian ideologies and witnessed their eventual and inevitable passing. That is not surprising because totalitarian ideologies are weak in the evolutionary sense: they cannot compete against ideologies that admit the ultimate force in human societies — human freedom.

Islam is a totalitarian ideology. It literally means submission and that submission is to a man who lived in 7th century Arabia and who determined that all have to submit to the will of his god, Allah, and that he was the one who was entrusted with the task of conveying the wishes of his god for the rest of humanity for all times and all places. As an ideology, it is inimical to humanity’s primal drive: freedom from dictation from above. As far as it goes, Islam was a perfect instrument for winning in tribal conflicts of 7th century Arabia. But the world is temporally and spatially much bigger than 7th century Arabia. Islam’s ideology cannot win in a globalized world, a world where the fittest ideas survive in a battle of competiting ideas and ideologies. Any ideology that has to resort to violence to maintain itself merely demonstrates its weakness and its days are ultimately limited.

Empirical and analytical evidence abounds with regard to the developmentally harmful effects of Islam. As an explanatory factor for underdevelopment and retarded growth, Islam is significant. Most of the Islamic majority economies are far behind in most indicators of human development. Even those Islamic states that have immense natural endowments such as oil and natural gas — and they earn hundreds of billions of dollars annually in exporting them — even they lag behind other states that are not so fortunately endowed. This is not conjecture or mere prejudice. Even a cursory reading of the present state of Islamic states reveals that fact.

The Arab world, overwhelmingly Islamic, has not contributed in any significant way to the modern world in terms of discovery, invention, production of art, advances in the sciences and humanities. It surely must be remarkable that Jews — vanishingly small in number relative to Arabs — have contributed astonishingly to technology, sciences, arts and humanities. Evidence is everywhere but just look at the number of Nobel prizes won by the Jews. Why?

The prime minister of India, echoing the reports of many committees, has noted quite rightly that Muslims of India are on average poorer, less educated, less skilled and generally do poorly in many generally accepted indicators of social development compared to non-muslims in India. That is not a badge of honor even though it is apparently proudly worn by some to claim that they are discriminated against by non-muslims.

The claim is that they are victims and therefore they are entitled to not only income transfers but also get a free pass for any transgression against basic human values. Not given to critical self-examination, the fault is always of the other. Proudly wearing the cloak of the victim, they cannot do any wrong. Predictably, after every act of Islamic terrorism, the so-called “intellectuals” and opinion-makers emerge with a ready-made explanation: Islamic terrorism is a response to poverty.

That is an untenable explanation. India has a large number of poor Muslims. But then it also has a much larger non-muslim population which is in the same economically dire straits. Why aren’t these non-muslims using terrorism as an instrument of influencing public policy? Since Kashmir is a favorite example trotted out dutifully in the explanation of random Islamic violence in India, how does one explain the total lack of terrorism by non-muslims who were driven out of Kashmir and are huddled in pathetic refugee camps for decades? Why aren’t poor Biharis terrorising India in their attempt to secure economic justice from the rest? What about the dalits and the other downtrodden? Why?

Every act of Islamic terrorism currently undertaken in justified on two incidents: Godhra riots and Babri masjid. Anyone will grant that destroying a mosque is damnable; and so are the roits that killed innocent Muslims and Hindus following the Islamic terrorism of burning innocents on a train. But how long can every act of Islamic terrorism be justified on those two incidents?

Here’s a bit from the most recent act of Islamic terrorism as reported in The Wall Street Journal:

On the 20th floor, the gunmen shoved the group out of the stairwell. They lined up the 13 men and three women and lifted their weapons. “Why are you doing this to us?” a man called out. “We haven’t done anything to you.”

“Remember Babri Masjid?” one of the gunmen shouted, referring to a 16th-century mosque built by India’s first Mughal Muslim emperor and destroyed by Hindu radicals in 1992.

“Remember Godhra?” the second attacker asked, a reference to the town in the Indian state of Gujarat where religious rioting that evolved into an anti-Muslim pogrom began in 2002.

“We are Turkish. We are Muslim,” someone in the group screamed. One of the gunmen motioned for two Turks in the group to step aside.

Then they pointed their weapons at the rest and squeezed the triggers.

They left a pile of dead bodies. Like they always do. But then can Godhra and Babri masjid be used to justify the thousands of temples that were destroyed in India over the last thousand years? Can they be used to justify the killing by the millions that Islam unleased on non-muslims in India over the centuries? Are there any statutes of limitation on the revenge that will be extracted for these two acts? When will be non-muslims in India finally have paid fully in terms of innocent blood, sweat and tears for these two acts of wanton violence and destruction?

I am far from done on this line of enquiry. But before I close this post, two additional points. First, the concluding paragraphs from an opinion piece (Is Yoga Bad for You?) by a Pakistani commentator, Irfan Hussain, writing in The Dawn commenting on the outcome of the lastest spectacular episode of Islamic terrorism:

Whatever the reason, such desperate and ultimately futile measures only serve to further marginalise Muslims. Already viewed as a backward community by much of the world, Muslims risk withdrawing from the rest of mankind at a time when globalisation is breaking down barriers at a frenzied pace.

In India, Muslim ulema have won the right to dominate women as a religious right. This exemption was granted to them by a secular Congress Party. In Pakistan and Afghanistan, the Taliban and their supporters want to ban music, movies and even kite-flying. When the Taliban were in power, they had banned education for girls, and had denied women medical care from male doctors. Where will this madness end?

It will end if and when Muslims decide that enough is enough, and that they do not want to live in the sixth century. Unfortunately, there is much confusion in the Islamic world, with the result that uneducated mullahs issue half-baked edicts on everything under the sun, and ordinary people, unsure of themselves, pay lip service to these teachings.

Millions in the Islamic world have convinced themselves that their current weakness has been caused by the West. If they examine the causes for their backwardness more closely, they will discover that they lie much closer to home than they would like to admit.

Irfan Hussain leaves the reader to make up his or her own mind on the ultimate cause of the distress of Muslims in India and around the world. I am convinced that it is Islam. Muslims, in my opinion, are also victims of Islam as much as the rest of the world. That is the unvarnished truth and in all likelihood expressing that view publicly is not too good for my health. It is just an opinion but in today’s world, it is not safe to do so. This is significant. I can voice my opinion on what’s wrong with capitalism, or socialism, or communism, or nazism, or whathaveyou and people who disagree with me will call me all sorts of unkind names but only Islam will call for my beheading. Which brings me to the other point that I want to make before I conclude this piece.

Islam does not allow dissent — not just to its own adherents but also to non-muslims. Its supremacist and triumphalist doctrine essentially says that it has to subjugate the rest of humanity eventually, and if that means the total and complete annihilation of the non-muslims, so be it.

In the estimation of Islam, I am an idolator and therefore have to be killed merely because I refuse to bow my head in submission to Islam. I am guilty a priori. By my mere refusal to submist to Islam, I am the enemy. I, along with the rest of the non-muslim world, am guilty and therefore my destruction is ordained by the divine edict of the Islamic god Allah.

But as I said before, to me it appears that Muslims are as much the victims of Islam as the rest of the non-muslim world. (Some wit noted that Pakistan is a victim of Islamic terrorism; the first to die in a suicide bombing is a Pakistani.) I am not against Muslims for the simple reason that I have nothing againt random people I have never met. I can only like or dislike people for what they have done to me, not just because they subscribe to some ideas or ideology, however kooky and senseless it may be. Islam divides creation between two opposing and warring factions: the Muslims and non-muslims. I don’t. It is just unfortunate that I — an idolator — am categorized as an enemy of Muslims but I am not. As an average human being, I could not be bothered to go out seeking Muslims to kill.

And that is the point: non-muslims don’t wish any harm to Muslims merely because Muslims believe in Allah. But Islam does declare in no uncertain terms what Muslims are required to do to infidels. Hindus — such as yours truly — are not even classified as dhimmis — those who can buy protection from their Muslim overlords because they are the “people of the book.” I am to be killed outright if I refuse to submit to Islam.

Islam is a failed ideology, just like communism and nazism. The surest sign that it is failing is that it resorts to mindless violence against humanity, just as nazism and communism did. They have been consigned to the dustbin of history and so will Islam — soon.

{To be continued in Part 3.}

PS: And now I would like to very politely suggest that all those who believe that they have read in what I have ever written that I am calling for violence against Muslims, that they should get their effing heads out of their collective behinds and read what I actually wrote. I am against Islam — an ideology — not Muslims — a collection of humans. If you cannot distinguish betwen the two, you should get yourself some remedial reading courses at your local high school. Furthermore, if you are misconstruing what I wrote as a diatribe against Muslims, perhaps it reveals your subconcious hatred of Muslims. Take a deep breath and ask yourself if you harbor ill-will against people merely because they are different. If you do, perhaps you subscribe to the Islamic doctrine of labeling people without justification.

To the candle burners: there’s illumination required where the sun doesn’t shine. Stick them up there please.

  • Pingback: Tragedy and Farce — Part 1

  • PoojaNair

    Ok islam may be inferior to other religious ideologies.

    Point is why does that matter?

    no kind of terrorism is justified. Be it islamic terrorism or be it the violence carried out by certain hindu groups.

    Hindu or Muslim – violence is violence. Neither is justified by the action of the other.

    In condemning islamic terrorism we must not sympathasise with hindu crimes and VICE VERSA.

    Being against islam is tatamount to being against muslims.

    Muslims follow islam.

    Look around you. devout muslims who follow islam are not aspiring to harm “infidels”.

    Surely you must have heard that the Quran can be interpreted in many ways. except for the terrorists, everyone seems to have adopted a very ‘infedel’ friendly approach. Infact they are sick of the terrorists themselves.

    however, they are not sick of Islam.

    we hindus are meant to be tolerent to other ideologies – so lets be.

    Ofcourse – an ideology that makes people inflict terror is criminal and we need to collectively protect us from them

    Such criminal ideologies i’m afraid is also being born within hinduism of late.

    we need to worry about that as much as we worry about islamic terror..

    I know you hardly agree…but this makes more sense to me…

  • Amit

    no kind of terrorism is justified. Be it islamic terrorism or be it the violence carried out by certain hindu groups.

    Hindu or Muslim – violence is violence. Neither is justified by the action of the other.

    In condemning islamic terrorism we must not sympathasise with hindu crimes and VICE VERSA.

    I didn’t get the sense from reading Atanu’s post that he was sympathizing with hindu crimes. Could you please point out the relevant lines which gave you that impression?

    Being against islam is tatamount to being against muslims.

    Muslims follow islam.

    Look around you. devout muslims who follow islam are not aspiring to harm “infidels”.

    Why does the same logic not apply when people piss on Hinduism? Did you protest against that? Look around you – devout Hindus are a majority though it’s the minority religion that is appeased at every step – right from “The Satanic Verses” to the author of Lajja. Where were the feminists when Taslima Nasreen was threatened and had objects thrown at her by MIM goons?

    Surely you must have heard that the Quran can be interpreted in many ways. except for the terrorists, everyone seems to have adopted a very ‘infedel’ friendly approach. Infact they are sick of the terrorists themselves.

    Funny, I must’ve missed their protests in the streets, similar to their passionate protests against the Danish cartoons. Media is really careless when covering their voices of protest against terrorism.

    we hindus are meant to be tolerent to other ideologies – so lets be.

    Where does it say that Hindus have to be tolerant of intolerance? Please point out the relevant texts or your source of this wisdom. How many of the dasavtars were tolerant and didn’t pick up arms?
    If I slap you and you slap me back, then I tell you that you’re being intolerant – does that even make sense?

    Such criminal ideologies i’m afraid is also being born within hinduism of late.

    we need to worry about that as much as we worry about islamic terror..

    What’s this ideology? Please shed some light on it. How about examining the “root causes” of this ideology? Maybe it’s the poverty and lack of education that’s making those Hindus to take up arms. Or how about the oppressive caste system? Yes, that could be it.

  • BShantanu

    Great post Atanu.

    ***

    Amit: Good rebuttal

  • ram

    Pooja:

    Being against islam is tatamount to being against muslims.

    No No !!
    Being against narcotics is not tantamount to being against the drug-addict. It is infact helping the narcotic.

    All the countries muslims are my brothers. It is just that a couple of centuries ago they have been forced into this arabic ideology and their wits are scared out from them by gory descriptions of hell for those who dont follow “their” path.

  • http://brahmanisone.blogspot.com Ramakrishna

    Why is it that Hindu women (who are probably liberal) the ones who support Islam? Shouldn’t they be the ones who should be opposing it the most?

    Here is an ideology that is hell bent on removing all and any rights that a women can aspire for, and it is women who come to the forefront to support it?

    Can someone care to explain? I am a kaffir, and may “just” be killed for being one, but that is because I am just a man. Do these women know what Mo did to women?