• Sunday, December 15, 2019

India’s Attack on Free Speech - New York Times

Discussion in 'Central & South Asia' started by magudi, Oct 3, 2015.

  1. magudi

    magudi SENIOR MEMBER

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    London — IN today’s India, secular liberals face a challenge: how to stay alive.

    In August, 77-year-old scholar M. M. Kalburgi, an outspoken critic of Hindu idol worship, was gunned down on his own doorstep. In February, the communist leader Govind Pansare was killed near Mumbai. And in 2013, the activist Narendra Dabholkar was murdered for campaigning against religious superstitions.

    These killings should be seen as the canary in the coal mine: Secular voices are being censored and others will follow.

    While there have always been episodic attacks on free speech in India, this time feels different. The harassment is front-page news, but the government refuses to acknowledge it. Indeed, Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s silence is being interpreted by many people as tacit approval, given that the attacks have gained momentum since he took office in 2014 and are linked to Hindutva groups whose far-right ideology he shares.

    Narendra Dabholkar’s supporters at a memorial in Pune.Battling Superstition, Indian Paid With His LifeAUG. 24, 2013
    Earlier this month, a leader of the Sri Ram Sene, a Hindu extremist group with a history of violence including raiding pubs and beating women they find inside, ratcheted up the tensions. He warned that writers who insulted Hindu gods were in danger of having their tongues sliced off. For those who don’t support the ultimate goal of these extremists — a Hindu nation — Mr. Modi’s silence is ominous.

    This is a turning point for India, a country that has taken pride in being a liberal democracy and that often adopts a high-minded tone when neighbors fall short of the same standards.

    When the liberal Pakistani politician Salman Taseer was assassinated in 2011, the Indian journalist M. J. Akbar, now the national spokesman for the Bharatiya Janata Party, or B.J.P., chided, “If Salman Taseer had been an Indian Muslim, he would still have been alive.” In the run-up to the 2014 general elections in Bangladesh, India expressed concern over the future of the country’s democratic institutions.

    We should be worrying instead about what’s happening in India, and recognize that it could go the way of the very neighbors it criticizes. As Nikhil Wagle, a prominent liberal journalist based in Mumbai, told me, “Without secularism, India is a Hindu Pakistan.”

    The murders in India share striking similarities with the killings of four Bangladeshi bloggers this year. But while there was a global outcry over what happened in Bangladesh, India is hiding behind its patina of legitimacy granted by being the world’s largest democracy.

    Like the murdered bloggers, the Indian victims held liberal views but were not famous or powerful. Mr. Kalburgi had publicly expressed skepticism toward idol worship in Hinduism, but he didn’t pose a threat to anyone.

    While the authorities are pursuing the culprits on a case-by-case basis, the overarching attack on free speech has not been addressed. The threats and killings have created an atmosphere of self-censorship and fear.

    Some of the killers are still on the loose, and while in one hand they wield a gun, in the other they wave a list. On Sept. 20, Mr. Wagle, the journalist, learned from a source that intercepted phone calls had revealed that members of yet another right-wing Hindu group, Sanatan Sanstha, had marked him as their next victim. The extremists who celebrated the August murder of Mr. Kalburgi were more direct: They used Twitter to warn K. S. Bhagwan, a retired university professor who is critical of the Hindu caste system, that he would be next.

    The goal of transforming India from a secular state to a Hindu nation, which seems to be behind the murders, is abetted not just by the silence of politicians, but also by the Hindu nationalist policies of the ruling B.J.P.

    Over the past few months, the government has purged secular voices from high-profile institutions including the National Book Trust and the independent board of Nalanda University. The government is not replacing mediocre individuals: The chancellor of Nalanda was the Nobel laureate Amartya Sen. It is replacing luminaries with people whose greatest qualification is faith in Hindutva ideology. The new appointees are rejecting scientific thought in favor of religious ideas that have no place in secular institutions.

    One of the government’s chief targets is the legacy of India’s first prime minister, Jawaharlal Nehru, who laid the foundation for a secular nation. Last month, having nudged out the director of the Nehru Museum and Library in New Delhi, the government announced plans to rename the museum and change its focus to highlight the achievements of Mr. Modi. This is akin to repurposing the Washington Monument as an Obama museum.

    In addition to erasing the contributions of long-dead liberals, B.J.P. leaders are busy promoting violent Hindu nationalists. Sakshi Maharaj, a B.J.P. member of Parliament, described Nathuram Godse, the man who assassinated Mahatma Gandhi, as a “patriot.” Although Mr. Maharaj later retracted his statement, his opinion is shared by many of his party colleagues. Gandhi’s assassin was a former member of the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh, an armed Hindu group, with which Mr. Modi has been associated since he was 8 years old.

    THE B.J.P.’s efforts to reshape institutions that embody secular values — values they dismiss as “Western” — was certainly anticipated. It came as no surprise when the culture and tourism minister, Mahesh Sharma, recently promised to “cleanse every area of public discourse that had been westernized.” Mr. Sharma is well aware of the connotations of the word he used.

    It’s also not surprising that Hindu fundamentalists would feel empowered in the shadow of a Hindu nationalist government. Still, few expected that freedom of speech would become a contestable commodity and that some who exercised it would lose their lives.

    The realization has made for decisions that were once unthinkable.

    Last December, the acclaimed author Perumal Murugan informed the police that he’d received threats from Hindu groups angered by a novel he wrote in 2010. Extremists staged burnings of his book and demanded a public apology from him. The police suggested he go into exile. Realizing he was on his own, in January Mr. Murugan announced the withdrawal of his entire literary canon. On Facebook, he swore to give up writing, in essence apologizing for his life’s work out of fear for his family’s safety.

    It’s hard to accept what is happening in India. It is easier to ignore or dismiss the attacks and the threats as a liberal persecution complex or a phase that will last only as long as the B.J.P. is in power. But the country is undergoing a tectonic shift that will have long-term repercussions.

    The attacks in India should not be seen as a problem limited to secular writers or liberal thinkers. They should be recognized as an attack on the heart of what constitutes a democracy — and that concerns everyone who values the idea of India as it was conceived and as it is beloved, rather than an India imagined through the eyes of religious zealots. Indians must protest these attacks and demand accountability from people in power. We must call for all voices to be protected, before we lose our own.

    http://www.nytimes.com/2015/10/04/o...rgi-pansare-dabholkar.html?smid=tw-share&_r=1

    @jamahir good read
     
  2. coffee_cup

    coffee_cup SENIOR MEMBER

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    Hindu fanatics are infact same as ISIS terrorist. Only they are quite sucessful in hiding their real ugly faces with bollywood make-up.

    Name any heineous fanatical terrorism act in the world and you will find fanatical hindus committing that in India at some time.

    Be it lynching or chopping off limbs of minorities for eating beef or cutting wombs of pregnant women and burn them alive for being a member of a minority group.

    Burning and tearing down churches, mosques is a regular occurance as is killing people for writing something fanatic hindus consider blashphemy.

    Fanatics all over the world are same, only in India their number reaches - although well hidden - well in 100s of millions. These fanatics and their apologist have the power to elect one of them as Indian PM!

    Cause for worry for the world!
     
  3. SipahSalar

    SipahSalar SENIOR MEMBER

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    Lolz
     
  4. ranjeet

    ranjeet ELITE MEMBER

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  5. Chinese-Dragon

    Chinese-Dragon PDF THINK TANK: ANALYST

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    This is coming from a Western country, and a Western author?

    No outrage from Indian members then, apparently.
     
  6. ranjeet

    ranjeet ELITE MEMBER

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    She is Indian, a born again Christian. Shoveling cr@p from the mother land to please the evangelists.
     
  7. Maarkhoor

    Maarkhoor ELITE MEMBER

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    Dear Bro it happens when one group lose free by regime and doing what the like killing people for eating when this happen fear or sense of insecurity grew, trying to save their identity they also become fanatic it is u can say spreading disease infectious hatred.
     
  8. Chinese-Dragon

    Chinese-Dragon PDF THINK TANK: ANALYST

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    So you guys are now witnessing the Great Commission.

    Great Commission - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

    In Christianity, the Great Commission is the instruction of the resurrected Jesus Christ to his disciples that they spread his teachings to all the nations of the world.

    ---------------

    Good luck.
     
  9. Abingdonboy

    Abingdonboy ELITE MEMBER

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    What is wrong with these evangelics? They really do view any non-Christian (and especially the backwards Hindus) with complete contempt. These crazies need to be monitored closely by the GoI, we have seen them stepping up conversions in India, we know they have stalled development work in India and are actively lobbying against India in many international forums and now these sort of smear campaigns are coming into to play.
     
  10. ranjeet

    ranjeet ELITE MEMBER

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    We were witnessing it before, but now this government stopped the funding for NGOs funded by evangelists, hence so much crying about "minorities being persecuted"
     
  11. Dem!god

    Dem!god SENIOR MEMBER

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    India shd get rid of them... but then I think of this,


    Nindak niyare rakhiye aangan kuti chhawaye;
    Bin sabun pani bina nirmal karat subhaye.
    Kabir
     
  12. Chinese-Dragon

    Chinese-Dragon PDF THINK TANK: ANALYST

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    Better sooner rather than later. :tup:
     
  13. Albatross

    Albatross SENIOR MEMBER

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    Its good endians were tricked to vote for a terrorist like modi as now the real face of RSS and likes of it which runs into hundred of thousands of Hindus will be uncovered to let the world see what kind of fake secular state india is .

    In india time is coming fast when the extremist terrorist ideology of RSS will be forced on common hindus and those who will not endorse it will be eliminated or cornered like they have started to kill muslims who allegedly eat beef.

    Common indians are unable to see how their society is being polarized by some fanatics "for their own political and monetary gain" into something which will not be able to exist together for long.

    Muslims are eating beef for centuries never was it made an issue but Modi and RSS made it now they think they can force muslims into half hindus as they live in hindu dominant state but what they dont realize is muslims whether indian or iranian belives in the creator and when they will feel its getting over head they will not care for their life and will root out all trouble makers and india will be in blood bath . There are 20 crore muslims and some 70 crore hindus which makes one muslim for less than four hindus so there isnt a majority of even 10 to 1.

    India needs to smell the coffee or the current policies will disintegrate her into dozens of pieces.
     
  14. ranjeet

    ranjeet ELITE MEMBER

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    Bro, you have no idea about our internal politics. Things you hear about nowadays were common occurrences when "Secular Congress" was in the center but since Modi came to power its easy to play the Communal card at the drop of hat.
     
  15. Abingdonboy

    Abingdonboy ELITE MEMBER

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    These people are absolutely NUTS, akin to the ISIS supporters who believe they are enacting the first steps to a total war that will bring about the apocalypse. The worrying part is that, unlike ISIS, these wacko Christian ideals are likely to be, on some level, accepted by America and (to a degree) Europe and thus are not going be easy to counter.


    I despise those who think that they are superior to any other religion and especially those who feel they need to convert "unbelievers", these are the scum of the earth.