Atanu Dey On India's Development

Dr Koenraad Elst’s Interview on the Ayodhya Verdict

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Among sensible commentators on the whole Ram Janmabhoomi / Babri masjid issue, I find Dr Koenraad Elst to be one of the most articulate, level headed and persuasive. I am not disappointed to hear his views on the matter in an interview that was posted recently on the Indian Nationalist Post YouTube channel. Below I embed part 4 of the 6 part series, and a couple of quotes.

Dr Elst definitely has a sense of the absurd. You’ll see what I mean right at the beginning of the video clip below.

[See the first of six parts here.]

His arguments are not difficult at all to follow. Anyone with a modest degree of common sense can appreciate them. But I am afraid that that puts them out of the intellectual reach of mullahs and secularists. I imagine that people like Rajdeep Sardesai, Barkha Dutt and their ilk are incapable of understanding Dr Elst.

Here are transcripts of two short segments from this part:

[The people of the Babri Masjid Action Committee] simply didn’t understand anything about historical scholarship. They were these theologians living in their own world of religion. . . The secularists historians had told them that ‘see these Hindus – it was all mythology – they have no evidence – you don’t have to be afraid of them’ . . .

I can understand that the BMAC mullahs will have difficulty appreciating the importance of evidence. They are to be pitied for the limited comprehension of the world, seeing as they are programmed to believe in the triumphalism and the inerrancy of Islam. But what excuse do the secularists have for refusing to see reason? What motivates them to provoke even more vile hatred of the “infidel” Hindus among the already hateful gang of mullahs?

Listen to Elst around the 7 minute mark:

Why [are moderate Muslim] voices not taken into account by these secularist busybodies who insist that any settlement, any verdict should be as anti-Hindu, as humiliating for the Hindu side as possible when in fact there are Muslims around who are willing to come to a reasonable settlement? So it is important to see that the secularists always prefer the Muslim hardliners.

I sometimes think that perhaps these secularists have a particularly nefarious agenda, a conspiracy. They actually want to make the lives of Muslims in India miserable. By constantly pushing a story of Muslim victimhood, they are ensuring continued friction between Muslims and non-Muslims. This provokes Muslim extremists to erupt into murderous rage such as burning innocent passengers on a train. Then the retaliation happens in the form of riots in which both Muslims and Hindus are killed but generally in the end more Muslims than Hindus die because the numbers are against them. The secularists are really the enemies of society at large, not just of Muslims and Hindus.

In a just world, the secularists should be the ones to die for their sins. But they get to stir the hornets nest from the comfort of their TV studios and newspaper offices, and then watch the carnage with smug satisfaction.

The French philosopher Diderot (1713 – 1784) had written in his despair that “man will never be free until the last king is strangled with the entrails of the last priest.” India, I am afraid, will continue to be ravaged by communal conflict until the last secularist politician is strangled with the entrails of the last TV and press secularist.

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  • Raj

    The Eminent Historians by Dr Koenraad Elst in Outlook magazine

  • KJ

    Now we see the twisted indian meaning of the word “secular” on this blog too?
    The people you are referring to are anything but secular, even within the convoluted sense in which the word’s come to be used in the Indian context. They are clearly anti-hindu.

    • http://www.deeshaa.org Atanu Dey

      Yes, the word “secular” in the Indian context is anything but secular. It has come to mean — through overuse — anti-Hindu. So Asghar Ali Engineer’s “Islamic Studies” is secular, for example. So also any political party comprising of non-Hindus is secular. But anything that has the word Hindu associated with it is communal. So when I use the word “secularist” I am using it in the sense that it is blatantly anti-Hindu and panders to the basest sectarian sentiments of people.

  • cognizant prowler

    By sensible commentators you mean hindutva commentators? Anyone can find a foreigner to argue for either side and does that mean it lends more credibility.
    None of the proponents for the Mandir was able to prove scientifically that Ram was born in the exact same place where Babri Masjid is located. Even in this modern age, if the courts were not able to decide upon the place where Ram was born, how could Babar determine it correctly.
    And the biggest joke is the “secularist” judge who proclaimed that birth place of Ram is a matter of belief. If all the westerners believe that Indian’s are dirty does that really make us dirty? Courts does not decide matters based on belief, but on hard facts and evidence.
    The again, when Dasarath’s and his wives palaces are located far away from the location of Babri Masjid, how can you claim that Ram was born in a hillock away from all the palatial places he could have born. Or did he choose the path of Krishna (or Jesus for that matter) to be born in a prison cell (or manger)?
    And for the secularist bashing, its not the secularists who go on a rampage though the villages and cities of India, demolishing temples and masjids. If most of India was secularist/atheist just like the majority of the developed Nordic countries, would this have ever happened in India? Some antisocial elements badly need the support of the uneducated and the poor (and want to see them remain that way) so as to bring a change of power well into their own hands. And you and your fellow Sangh Parivar is no exception.

    • http://www.deeshaa.org Atanu Dey

      cognizant prowler,

      You are that secularist that Elst talks about in the video.

      1. I don’t suppose you have the common sense required to understand that the issue before the court was not about the historicity of Ram. It was a property rights matter.

      2. You are an idiot if you think that anyone can prove where any particular person who lived a few thousand years ago was born.

      3. I assume that you are a follower of Islam. Can you prove that Mohammet spoke to an angel, or that he flew to the moon on a winged horse? Are you just retarded or did you become one once you finished memorizing the quran?

      4. If you are not a follower of Islam, then perhaps you are a follower of Christianity. Or rather Churchianity. Can you prove that the zombie god — a man who was nailed to a cross and died and then rose from the dead — a zombie god depicted nailed to a cross — did exist? Then how do you justify your retarded insistence that Hindus prove what their faith prompts them to believe in?

      5. Seriously, mr or ms cognizant prowler, you are a pathetic little retard. The pity is that you do have access to the web but have no access to even the most rudimentary resources for reasoning things out.

      Please don’t bother commenting any more. I generally don’t censor comments — even the most abusive ones — but yours does not even make it across the low barrier to entry which is that it make some iota of sense.

  • http://akshar100.wordpress.com Akshar

    The arguments that the secularists and the eminent historians are posing now make me ROFLOL.

    Just before the verdict these guys were reminding that a “verdict” my affect public sensibilities and they were demanding that the court should take into consideration the sensitive aspect of the issue instead purely going by facts. Some of them tried to delay the verdict as well.

    Now that the ruling has gone in favor of Hindus they are trying to discredit it by saying it is based on faith and not hard facts etc. Now that their lies have been exposed the eminent historians and the secularists are inventing more lies.

  • Amit S

    Rightly said, Atanu. Anyone can understand that this is a property rights issue, whether they are Hindu, Muslim or Atheist, provided they are not anti-Hindu. Once it is framed as a property rights issue, debate is possible. Else people will twist and selectively pick facts and evidence to suit their anti-Hindu or anti-Muslim agendas.

  • Anonymous

    “And for the secularist bashing, its not the secularists who go on a rampage though the villages and cities of India, demolishing temples and masjids.”
    +++

    But they don’t need to go on a rampage in the streets – their efforts are all the more pernicious as they take these pot-shots by hiding behind strings of alphabets, genteel manner and similar “eminences” bestowed upon them by the cabal members and willing media arse-lickers. Ever heard of the maxim that the pen is mightier than the sword? But looks like the pens of these historians are running out of the ink of lies that they used to construct their false narratives.

  • TiredProf

    Why not completely empty out and seal off the land to implement the “squabble and ye shall all be losers” paradigm? The same should be done with Kashmir, but that’s less practical. Seriously, I thing people in the subcontinent should be taught with an iron fist how to live together in the “hot, flat and crowded” 21st century. We don’t have any more slack for niceties. Imagine, over a hundred years of court cases are pending behind a non-issue case like this.

  • Srinivas

    Atanu,

    Just to get a clearer picture of your stand, do you support the act of demolition of the Mosque (even if it is assumed that it is conclusively proved that Mosque was built on the ruins of a temple) ?

    Also, I request you to keep this blog uncensored howsoever insane you might find the comments left by people.. Debates on your blog are a key source of knowledge / amusement for me :)

    Thanks.

  • Loknath

    Atanu,

    The pity is the slain secularists are re-born at a rate thrice their demise. Would you call this a natural phenomenon

  • Jing

    I will have to disagree with you Atanu, Elst did not come off as articulate and persuasive, rather he came off as a pompous idiot aided by a pliant interviewer. I am neither a Muslim nor a Hindu and could care less which false god was born wherever or which demands infidels be put to the sword.

    The case of the Babri Masjid is a simple matter of property rights. Who owned the building? Who owned the land? Did the non-related parties have any right to demolish the building? Does the court have the right to appropriate private party for political calculations?

    The ruling is a nonsensical act which smacks of third world compromise and cowardice. The ruling essentially throws property rights out the window by legitimizing the use of violence by unrelated third parties to seize property belonging to someone else. Basically if too many people are accountable for a crime, then no one is accountable.

  • student

    After reading Mr Jing’s very strongly expressed opinion, I went and watched Elst’s interview and was pleasantly surprised by the logical manner in which Elst reasoned his case. I do not know what Elst’s religion is, yet as an atheist I found his argument religion-neutral.
    Elst offers a convincing argument that the court did a proper court’s job rather than play the kangaroo court as agenda-driven activists seemed to demand.

    The last time I’ve seen some people get vehemently bitter over a court judgement was when the Supreme Court delivered a well-argued judgement on the Narmada dam case. As we may recall, Arundhati Roy went berserk. Likewise, Mr Jing’s abuse of Elst comes across as letting off some steam to feel good unable to offer a decent counter-argument. Unfortuantely some of us Indians are bad losers. It is as if we’ve to be dragged off the field kicking and screaming not admitting to having been licked. However, Jing’s assessment of the interviewer as “pliant”, though made in anger, is not without justification. But this is not an issue since the interviewer makes no claims of doing an interview on behalf of any (allegedly impartial) media house. Actually the interviewer was no more or no less friendlier to his guest than interviewers in “professional” publications like The Hindu and Tehelka! are when talking to leftwing subjects. But granted a soliloquy by Elst would have made the videos more powerful, not less.

    Thank you for posting the videos.

  • Smith JM

    Serendiptiously I have surf landed here. I visit India to go to Ramana Ashram. The conquering of the “I” or who are you , analyse first ? philosopphy impressed me most. Well, this is surely the root of all problems.

    I have written in some Indian web sites. What I find is that when you deal with religions all Indians are very Indocentric, which is a natural reaction as Indians will be Indocentric. Indians must read world history as Paganism has minimal influence in the sea of Abrahamic faiths. India still has the largest followers of deity worship ( I wrote idol once and I was corrected at a free meal session by Polish Hare Krishnaite that it is deity not idol). The reason you must read world history of religions is to understand the genesis of montheism. For example, Paganism was rife among the early Jews and then the One God concept came in as Judaism. Then came Christianity , which also had the same one God. Then Islam again with the same one God. Just see the same monotheistic God has three large new faiths. The real action begins, when all these three faiths clash right upto 1945, with extinguishing of Hitler. I am not a good student of Indian history. Atleast , I can say that it is the “ego” which created three faiths for the same single monotheistic God. Here is an article written by Prof David Kertzer , an excellent piece in NYT , please read it.

    http://www.nytimes.com/2002/05/09/opinion/the-modern-use-of-ancient-lies.html

    Please google ” Prof David Kertzer, Brown University” and you will get his books. Please read them. Even the short introductions of the books are enough to educate you. If you can afford , buy them and read. The Kidnapping of Edgardo Mortara is an outstanding book , a true story, and how it led to Italy being a secular state.

    I am not a Jew , but an agnostic, but I like Ramana’s ” ego” must be bashed before you analyse others as the most thought provoking philosophical idea come thru in centuries of human kind.

    Once again I repeat, please read world history. It has implications.

  • Suhas
  • larissa

    @suhas
    Here is Francois Gautier on Guha

    “Ramachandra Guha represents the typical Indian intellectual: brilliant, totally westernized – and who looks down on anything Hindu – because he has inherited from the British colonization a gigantic inferiority complex about his own culture and spirituality. And like many of his brothers and sisters of India’s intelligentsia, he feels nowhere better than in the West. This can be gathered from his Oslo diary published in the Outlook magazine of 20th October, where he says, and I quote : “…After two weeks in Oslo, my hosts send me off to Svalbard, deep into the Arctic Circle … I spend four enchanting days in and around the little town of Longybein, located at 78° N. I have the privilege of sampling the northernmost bar, the northernmost cafe, the northernmost supermarket, and the northernmost souvenir store in the world “… Then he adds – and this shows that this Macaulayan fixation is transmitted since many generations from father to children: “The person most envious of my trip is my daughter, who has read evocative descriptions of Svalbard in the novels of Philip Pullman”. Wow: I am a born Frenchman, brought up in some of the best European schools, I vaguely known of Philipp Pullman (do you?), but have never heard of that he wrote about the archipelago of Svalbard””

    How true, is there anything more annoying than a deracinated Indian trying to ape Westerners? Often they do not quite understand the culture they try to ape and appear ridiculous to Westerners and do not quite realize it. How much superior is the quiet India immersed in his culture who does not need to be anything other than he is and is not complexed about being something other than what he is. Also when you have a deracinated peoples, you have peoples with gigantic inferiority complexes for whom aping westerners is the only good as they have got no culture of their own which has been lost in the process of “deracination”.

  • larissa

    @SMITH JM
    Your article has no relevance to what we are discussing nor does the author Kertzer. Do not equate Hinduism with Greco-Roman paganism, there is a great deal of difference between the two, although the Greeks and Romans were tolerant of religion in the pagan fashion and similarities can be found. Before telling HIndus to read, you should read yourself and try to understand the difference between the “paganisms”. This encompasses a broad category.
    The root of three monotheisms is Abrahamism, and it is curious how they all fight with each other over religion, when they are nothing but sister religions, with the same Mid-East origins. HIndus (which includes the native religions Buddhists, Sikhs, Jains) do not want to be a part of that quarrel unless it has to defend themselves in the case of agressive Islam or agressive proselytizing by missionaries. Otherwise they have no interest in the quarrel between the three monotheisms.

  • http://akshar100.wordpress.com Akshar

    Koenaraad Elst’s Phd thesis is published as a book called “Decolonizing the Hindu mind”. The first chapter deals with terminology and Mr. Elst has very elaborately described the linguistic meaning as well as the meaning that’s normally conceived in India. I feel this is the are where most of the India watchers go wrong.

  • ashish

    Islam is a religion of hatred. It has more than 100 verses which prescribe violence against the disbelievers, polytheists etc. This knowledge of the destructive nature of Islam is a prerequisite to any argument related to religion, politics in India. Every riot in India(except Kandhamal) happens due to the destructive nature of Islamic theology and the Quran. For example, Kashmir was a Hindu Land before Muslims used ENCROACH,BREED,DOMINATE to take over. Marxists and so called intellectuals like Arundhati Roy fail to understand the reason for this situation in Kashmir and make nonsensical comments. Considering Islam a tolerant religion breaks down every terrorist act to a ‘Good People vs Bad People’ one, which is a bogus concept. So, even in the Ayodhya sense, the demolition of the Mosque was symbolic – symbolic of breaking the shackles of Islamic terrorism of the Baburs and Aurangazebs on Hindus. There is a lot of difference between Demolition of a ‘Holy Place of a tolerant religion’ and ‘Demolition of a symbol of Intolerance and Hatred’(Quran which is a hate filled book is recited in mosques so that makes the mosques fortresses of intolerance). So, even if no temple existed there, the demolition of the Mosque was a good thing, an act rather than being condemned as an act of religious intolerance needs to be celebrated as an act which takes us further on the road to religious tolerance. As for Elst, his views are perfectly fine. If anyone thinks what he says is wrong, he should prove it by refuting the points which Elst makes (in his books and article) something which has not been done by Cognizant prowler or anyone else.

  • http://Www.indianliberals.org Ashish Deodhar

    Atanu

    In your reply to Cognizant prowler, you referred to the insane beliefs of the Abrahamic religions in points 3 and 4. My question to you is about what you used that argument for – do you think it’s okay to vindicate equally insane beliefs by one set of people because the other set of people hold such beliefs too?

    Don’t consider this question a challenge. Just trying to understand your position.