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Mussharaf is striving to make his country secular? Ha!



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IPI_Marker

I guess many of us would be interested to read this article:
http://www.nytimes.com/2002/02/25/opinion/25MISH.html

Is this Mishra guy for real? When the hell did Mussharaf begin a "crackdown"
on militant groups? Just because he gave a pompous speech doesn't mean he is
doing anything good.

This Mishra goes on heaping laurels on Mussharaf (fifth paragraph): "While
General Musharraf strives toward a secular polity, the ruling politicians of
India head in the opposite direction" When the heck did Mussharaf "strive"
to achieve a secular polity? And have our leaders started moving the other
way? He is talking as if the whole country and its government have gone
berserk. Sure there are militant-Hindus running around; but they certainly
don't enjoy power as the way this guy describes. And they certainly don't
walk around with machine guns.

He claims the Indian public filled with nationalistic fervour have
strengthened their hold over India! Hallo! The BJP (called
Hindu-nationalists by the West) lost badly in the election in UP for doing
just that: the people did not want to hear any more anti-terrorist rhetoric,
and wanted to hear more about development. INDIA IS IN SAFE HANDS, MISHRA!
We are still a vibrant and a developing democracy.

This is not the first time that I have seen an Indian maligning India. I
guess that is what the West want to hear; and some of our compatriots are
only too willing to give them just that.

I really wish I could get hold this guy's email ID. I should like to give
him a piece of my mind.


****************

February 25, 2002
Hinduism's Political Resurgence
By PANKAJ MISHRA
NEW DELHI -- A few weeks ago I was in Ayodhya, a North Indian pilgrimage
town. In 1992 a crowd of Hindu men demolished a 16th-century mosque in
Ayodhya. They claimed it had been built by the Mogul emperor Babur over the
birthplace of Lord Rama. India changed fast after that moment of Hindu
nationalist rage. The politicians who had led the crowd to the mosque that
morning and later watched their followers erect Hindu idols over the rubble
- and who for most of the 50 years since independence had been on the
political sidelines - now hold top positions in the Indian government.
Since the 1992 destruction, an enthusiasm for the free market has also
overtaken India, but the new middle- class affluence hasn't reached Ayodhya.
Down its monkey-infested alleyways, the richest people are still Hindu
abbots. One whom I met in Ayodhya was Ramchandra Paramhans, who helped
initiate, in 1950, the legal battle for the temple and who in the early
1980's entered into an opportunistic alliance with Hindu nationalist
organizations then attempting to attract Hindu voters through an explicitly
anti- Muslim program.
Mr. Paramhans described to me, as he fed cows in his vast straw-littered
compound, how he had upbraided India's home minister, L. K. Advani, on the
phone that morning for having neglected the temple issue. In his white
dreadlocks and long beard, he seemed like a Hindu version of the
self-important mullahs I had met in Pakistan. But senior bureaucrats really
had traveled, a few weeks before, to his compound to mollify him after he
threatened to bring down the government. And a few days after my visit to
Ayodhya, Mr. Paramhans showed up in New Delhi at the head of a heavily
publicized procession of abbots to deliver personally a blunt ultimatum to
Prime Minister Behari Vajpayee.
I couldn't help but recall my meeting early last year with some prominent
Islamic clerics and politicians at an old madrasa near Peshawar, Pakistan.
The madrasa had become notorious after some of its alumni became the leaders
of the Taliban. Its teachers were keen to impress upon me the apolitical
nature of their work. I suspected they were dissembling, but I was more
struck by their defensiveness. It was as though they could sense what has
been confirmed since by the fundamentalists' failure to stir up trouble for
Pervez Musharraf: that public opinion overwhelmingly opposes the fanatical
ideologies that have undermined Pakistan in every way. It is this strong
anti-extremist sentiment that General Musharraf now relies on - much more
than American support - in his crackdown on militant groups and his more
discreet confrontations with the ideologues given high places by the
previous military ruler, Mohammad Zia ul- Haq.
While General Musharraf strives toward a secular polity, the ruling
politicians of India head in the opposite direction. Hindu nationalists have
long exalted Hindutva, or Hindu-ness, over the secular identities proposed
for India by Gandhi and Nehru. So now the federal minister for education,
Murli Manohar Joshi, promotes a new Indian history that highlights the
depredations of Muslim invaders (as they are called) and celebrates Hindu
bravery. Mr. Joshi has also allocated funds for such "Hindu sciences" as
astrology. This sectarian-minded education is objected to by many of India's
distinguished historians - especially those who had stressed India's
pluralist traditions in their now discarded textbooks. Mr. Joshi recently
denounced these historians as "academic terrorists" who were more difficult
to fight than the usual kind of terrorist.
This may be bluster; and perhaps India's largest-circulation news magazine,
India Today, describes an isolated mood in a recent cover story on the
"return of the militant Hindu." But that mood does exist. Fed by a patriotic
media and film industry and reflected in bellicose posturing against
Pakistan, it nearly dominates public life now; its urban middle-class
constituency hopes that nationalism may provide a measure of security
against the economic and political crises that, in the early 90's, had
looked so threatening. And nationalist leaders continue to strengthen their
hold over the heavily centralized Indian state as their constituents
continue to gain from a globalized economy.
An antiterrorist ordinance - introduced by the government before the recent
attacks on the parliaments in Kashmir and Delhi - would have required up to
three years' imprisonment for a journalist who failed to assist government
authorities. It has been challenged by human rights groups and political
parties concerned about the possibility of its misuse against minorities. In
any case, the ordinance is unlikely to curtail the activities of Hindu
extremist outfits affiliated with the government like Shiv Sena, which
claimed some credit for demolishing the Babri mosque in Ayodhya in December
1992 and was indicted by a judicial commission for inciting the pogrom
against Muslims in Bombay in 1993.
What was once quickly identified as unreasonable and aberrant - Hindu
majoritarianism - enjoys a growing influence and legitimacy as the ruling
ideology of the Indian government. Oddly, the illiberal tendencies a
military dictator seeks to expel, with popular support, from Pakistan seem
to be finding a hospitable home in democratic India.
Pankaj Mishra is author of ``The Romantics,'' a novel.



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