Islamic Tint in the Secular Lens : Breaking India

Published: Tuesday, Sep 18,2012, 12:31 IST
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Erasing the Hindu Nature of Kural, Brahmins dharma, Christian theologians, Kural, Dravidians, Twitter Conversations, US Commission on International Religious Freedom, Islamic Tint in the Secular Lens

US Commission on International Religious Freedom (USCIRF) : The US Commission on International Religious Freedom (USCIRF) filters and synthesizes data in India’s internal religious affairs for the purpose of strategic policymaking by the US Government.

In 2004, a four member delegation of US Congressmen visited India to investigate on behalf of USCIRF. Its leader the Christian fundamentalist Joseph Pitts said that the delegation would report to Congress about “the anti-conversion laws, treatment of Dalits and anti-minority violence to be included in the country reports”. Pitts attacked the anti-conversion law calling it a ‘reversal of human rights in the land of Mahatma Gandhi’. Congressman Steve Chabot compared the situation of Gujarat to Rwanda. All India Christian Council Secretary-General John Dayal said that his delegation of Indian minorities had put concrete demands before the US delegation: “One of our demands is that there must be reservation for minorities in the foreign companies that collaborate with India”. This mobilized the global Christian lobby to ask for preferences for Indian Christians as employees and in business trade and investment deals at the expense of non-Christians.

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What is clear is that Indian Christian leaders collaborate with the US right-wing Christians. The Indians are encouraged to dish out atrocity literature to feed into the US system, so that the Americans can use it as a justification of action. In return, these Indians are built up by their American sponsors and paraded as world-class activists and champions of oppressed.

When a USCIRF hearing in Chennai led some Indian groups to criticize USCIRF for meddling in India’s internal affairs, Ms Joanella Morales, a US Official responded: “We are not interfering. Your own people have written and spoken to us, asking us to do something about the state of religious freedom in this country”. This is reminiscent of the British colonial rationale for intervention in India on the pretext that certain Indians had invited them. Joanella Morales criticized India’s own Freedom of Religion Act, which she called an “anti-conversion law”. A Chennai based forum Vigil, pointed out to the US officials that every law has the potential for abuse but that could not be an excuse for meddling in another nation’s internal affairs. The Indians presented a hypothetical equivalent scenario, where the Indian Parliament would constitute a commission and office to monitor racism and get Indian embassies and diplomatic missions to gather information by dissenting groups and anti-Americans in the US and elsewhere.

Mission Network News : Indian political developments are closely monitored and evaluated by such organizations in terms of the implications for their evangelical activities. When Manmohan Singh was appointed the Prime Minister of India in 2004, Mission Network News an evangelical news broadcasting service, reported that this would be good for evangelism and that a group called “Bibles For The World”, was planning to start three thousand Christian Schools around New Delhi as one way of reaching out to the community.

When Christians face hostilities from Indian Muslims, it is carefully downplayed in order to mask the Islam/Christianity tension and to make it look like if all problems arise from Hindu antagonism against Christianity. For instance Kashmiri Muslims attacked the Western missionary who was the principal of Burn Hall School and St. Joseph’s school in Srinagar, and founder of Good Shepherd Mission School in Kashmir. MNN report merely called them “unidentified assailants” who threw grenades into the school because of the man’s evangelistic work in the area, including translating New Testament and Psalms into Kashmiri. By implication, it was made to look like the work of Hindus, not Muslims.

South Asia Residual Vocabulary Assemblage (SARVA) : South Asia Residual Vocabulary Assemblage (SARVA) is a major activity in Western Indology with implications for sub-national identity politics is now being carried out by the Department of Sanskrit and Indian Studies at Harvard University.

The tribal identity politics is intensifying with the intellectual support of this SARVA project. Once these tribal groups are identified and alienated from their shared Indian heritage, they are easy targets for conversion efforts of every kind. For example, the militant Maoist organizations operating in tribal areas claim that ‘tribals are not Hindu. They are nature worshippers’. As if nature of worship is alien to Hinduism!

This SARVA under the banner of providing ‘Leadership Training’ and ‘Youth Empowerment’ various NGO programs have been established with the purpose of instilling this divisive history of separatism into young people. It is interesting to note that the same tribal groups have been subjected to new conversion efforts by evangelical Christians, who consider the Munda to be at the front lines of global evangelism because as a community they are still relatively unconverted.

Islamic Tint in the Secular Lens : Survey of US based South Asian Studies has revealed a very strong pro-Islamic bias. Hindus and the Indian Government are blamed in all sorts of issues concerning Indian Muslims and issues of terrorism in India. Various Islamic advocacy groups in the United States nurture such scholars, and provide forums and mechanisms to bring them together with affiliates in India. An example of a prominent lobbyist influencing the US Academy is the Indian Muslim Council.

The Indian Muslim Council (IMC) is a US-based advocacy group for Indian Muslims. One of its most local leaders, Kaleem Kawaja, has been openly sympathetic to the Taliban, even after 9/11. Yet, IMC is successful in influencing US Government policies on India. It takes up anti-India stand on issues like Kashmir, and Kawaja writes in Pakistani magazines comparing Kashmir to Kosovo and East Timur.

In 2008 IMC arranged an American lecture tour for the activist Teesta Setalvad, whose international fame was based in supplying atrocity literature about claims of Hindu rioters ripping open a pregnant Muslim woman and throwing her foetus into the fire. However, the Special Investigation Team appointed by the Supreme Court of India to probe those communal riots refuted the veracity of this account. Many riot victims said that Setalvad had made them sign the affidavits written in English (which they did not understand) to exaggerate the violence.

In the wake of the Mumbai terror attacks of 2008, IMC’s press release related the episode of ‘ethnic cleansing and targeting of minorities, police harassment and scaptegoating of innocent civilians and fake encounter killings’ in India.

Western transitional groups and their India-based associates regularly come together to share intelligence. For example, in 2008 a study on “Hindu Nationalist Organisations in Social and Political Context” was conducted under the Special Assistance Programme of University Grants Commission ( a Government of India body) in collaboration with the Indian Council of Social Research, New Delhi. Some of the scholars and institutions (including foreign institutions) had a very clear evangelical bias. This illustrates how several liberal-left postcolonial scholars, who claim to be against US intervention, have been effectively co-opted. There are several causes, which include the lure of academic prestige, underlying Eurocentric bias in the social sciences, and a benign perception of multinational religious institutions operating in India.

Muslims in India : With regards to Islam in India, one must start by noting that Indian Muslims are among the most liberal in the world, sharing a great deal of commonality of culture with Hindus over the centuries. They are very patriotic and nationalistic. Many are secular, well-educated and well-established in various professions and industries.

Yet there are over 29,000 madrasas in India, many with funding from overseas – mainly Saudi Arabia and Iran. The Kashmir militancy has overflowed in some cases as noted earlier. Given the poverty, unemployment among youth, lack of secular education in many Muslim communities, and the abundance of foreign Islamic influence, the future of the community is up for grabs by various contenders. Among these contenders has always been Pakistan. For Pakistan, a successfully integrated India with Hindu-Muslim harmony and prosperity, poses a threat for that would prove the viability of Gandhi’s “one nation theory” in which all religions can live together. This would refute the “two nation theory” on which Pakistan was founded and on which it survives today.

In short, interference from Pakistan to stir up Indian Muslim Youth is likely to continue and must be factored in any security analysis. Besides its own nuclear capability and its Taliban export capability, Pakistan enjoys a powerful alliance with China.

Conclusion
Western Intervention in Human Rights : While it is certainly true that India’s complexity brings with it a heavy burden of social problems, and that criticisms is important to bring reform, we must consider what happens when the west intervenes in India’s domestic affairs. For example:

One must ask whether Indian activists who take domestic matters to international forums are undermining India’s own legal, political and human rights structures. Would it not be better to focus on improving India’s domestic mechanisms so that the rights of citizens can be secured in the long run? Have the activists adequately made every effort to enhance India’s own mechanisms for resolving matters in a given case?

Could the internationalizing of an issue distract from the problems on the ground, and turn cases into high-profile media events that bring fame to a few ‘champions of human rights’ but do nothing to resolve the actual problem?

Does such foreign sponsored, interventionist activity lead to increased alienation among India’s youth, and a sense of dependence an outsiders, rather than encouraging them to sort out their own future?

Does it facilitate foreign missionaries who, in their misguided actions to alter the identities of Indian communities, create more conflicts?

Can international appeals, disguised as human rights activism, eventually be used by Western nations against India in the same manner as has happened against so many other nations whose scholars ingest and regurgitate Western atrocity literature?

Does atrocity literature feed the xenophobic fantasies of some American reactionaries?

Does the overall effect add fuel to the centrifugal forces that threaten India’s integrity?

Furthermore, the entire global human rights industry must be asked some additional questions:

Are Western institutions qualified to ‘cure’ Indian Society?

What is the track-record of Western powers intervening in third-world domestic issues in the past?

Who are they accountable to, as the self-appointed ‘doctors’?

Does the West have a superior human rights record compared to the rest of the world?

Are Western agendas constructed for their own benefit to justify meddling?

Are human rights definitions and the case selections biased?

Do globetrotting Indian activists have personal vested interests?

While such questions go unexamined, many human rights mobilization create a centrifugal force, putting pressure to break up India. In some cases, the forces have acquired a life of their own and are seen as normal and even desirable. For instance, there are serious cases of abuse by evangelist groups who see the problem not as economic or historical, but in terms of a flawed civilization that must be replaced by a better imported one. These serve to alienate the sections of India’s poor from their cultural moorings, and ultimately, from India as a nation-state. This process is most advanced in India’s northeast, where the rejection of native and tribal religions, engineered by evangelical activity, has been accompanied by a rejection of fellow Indians and a violent war against the state.

The author at some instance had lost his temper to write “The Vedas belonged to the foreign Aryans, who were pure, while the modern Hindus were degenerate bastard offspring of these White Aryans mating with the inferior Dravidian natives.” This shows the velocity of disturbances that these foreign players are imposing in India to culturally destabilize the country and its harmony.

For example, whenever Pope finds something positive about the Tamil Poetry he wants to show it as resembling Christianity. Whatever he finds ‘corrupt’ is blamed on Hindu superstitions.

The American bipolar stance on India oscillates between support for the nation as a whole, and support for its various fragments. It wants to meddle in Indian affairs and manipulate Indian internal conflicts to maintain its control. This keeps India under check via “human rights” sticks and carrots that make it impossible for India to enjoy the kind of runaway economic as China has achieved, because China is unfettered by these restrictions. Though the Indian economy in a democratic milieu cannot be compared with the centralized Chinese economy with its flagrant and excessive human rights violations, it is noteworthy that it is China and not India that is accorded the “most favoured nation status” with the US.

Even so, American policymakers must know the destabilizing implications that would surely result from breaking India up into fragments. Even though it is clearly not in the American interest to do this, ironically they have been active in promoting Indian fragmentation Indian strategists must accept that the Americans will continue to play both sides in very political game-board.
It is the need of the hour for all the patriotic Indians to do their duty in protecting the mother India. Spread a word; spread the book “Breaking India”.

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