News+and+politics religion philosophy the cynic librarian: Religious Extremism in India

Friday, March 03, 2006

Religious Extremism in India

President Bush has signed an historic agreement over nuclear weapons and energy with India. Sailing peacefully through the seas of ignorance that the average journalist, politician, and citizen of the US has about other societies and their political make-up, the President has diverted attention from the debacle in Iraq.

Is India a "democracy"? Just a few years ago, it was run by a fundamentalist, extremist regime that almost precipitated a nuclear war with Pakistan. These extremists are quite strong politically in India, as a series of blog postings by Martha Nussbaum explains. ..

Nussbaum writes:

Until the spring of 2004, its parliamentary government was increasingly controlled by right-wing Hindu extremists who condone and in some cases actively support violence against minorities, especially the Muslim minority. Many seek a fundamental change in India's pluralistic democracy. Despite their recent electoral loss, these political groups and the social organizations allied with them remain extremely powerful. The political future is unclear.


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12 comments:

samcore said...

Dear Martha Nassbaum (I dont know how the hell you pronounce it)
I dont find your comments amusing.
As far as the fact goes, INDIA's democracy is the BEST in the world.Morever, it improves day by day. Problems are everywhere and we keep on trying to improve. Also, an American certificate is not required by us.
As far as you comment on "Right winged Hindu Fundamentalists" goes, can you elaborate on the word 'right winged'? Also, I dont know whether you had gone to school or not, but I say, that you donot understand the meaning of the word "fundamentalists".
And if you call that particular group as fundamentalist, then what the should the BUSH administration be called for their actions in Iraq??? only GOD knows !!!. Also, then I should be calling the complete american population as "nazi-types" which overwhelmingly voted the same administration back to power.
I was once told by my school teacher, that when you point one finger towards others, three are pointing towards ourselves.
One more statement, Americans are very ignorant about facts in other countries, still they attempt to make comments which are baseless. This is nothing else but stupidity.
Nevertheless, what can be said about the population whose President is so stupid! SHAME

Anonymous said...

It is only a vibrant democracy that people are able to throw out a govt when it starts to behave bad!! Don't forget it was this govt which ushered the opening of Indian economy.

Anonymous said...

Regarding your comment about "India being run by a fundamentalist, extremist regime that almost precipitaed a nuclear war with Pakistan"

Do you even understand what precipitated the situation?. Did the world already forget that the Indian parlament, an institution that represents the democracy was attacked by terrorists which had links and political support of pakistan at the point.

It would not have mattered who was running the country at that point. The resulting situation would have been the same irrespective of the party that is running the country.

It's not the right-wing party alone that precipitated the situation but also the terrorists and pakistan which insists that it gives only political support to these organizations. It's not right to assign the blame to only one side.


However since then things have changed. Pakistan and India have better relations because of the efforts initiated by the right-wing party leader.


Regarding your question, if India is democratic?.

The fact that the right wing party did not win back power is an indication that the majority of the people did not like what they saw. That's democracy for you.

Democracies evolve over a period of time. Things are changing and will continue to improve. I am not saying that India is perfect. Which country is perfect for that matter. If you dig deep enough all countires have some thing to be ashamed off.

the cynic librarian said...

Granted, the Pakistanis certainly did their part in precipitating the nuclear standoff. However, I suggest that it was the over-reaction to these events that brought down the Indian right-wing party. Voters were scared that keeping them in power would continue the escalating tensions. On the other hand, I do hope that Pres. Bush's effort here--to expand relations with the moderates in India through economic ties--works. I could indeed serve as a model for working with the rest of the world and so-called "extremist" elements that are voted into office, not least of which is Iran and Palestine.

Anonymous said...

The fact is that Bush is trying to fix the huge damage to US-India relations caused by the Nixon-Kissinger duo. The NPT is a line drawn at a point in time. It assumes that the power dynamics of the world do not change and is completely antiquated. It is important to recognize reality and the emergence of another democratic power. Unfortunately too many of the current editorial writers appear to have retained the hangups of the Communist era and are unable to shake off the their dogmas.

Anonymous said...

That "extremist" party was significantly moderated during its years in office. It went from having ties with REAL extremists like Shiv Sena and the RSS and turning the other way while the Ayodhya mosque was destroyed, to opening historical ties with Pakistan. The size and wealth of the Indian middle class exploded during the BJP's tenure. Not to excuse some of their behavior, but the BJP is hardly an "extremist" party. Oh, and incidentally, they were elected in open, competitive, and fair elections.

Bird Dog said...

Certainly the fact that how India or Pakistan have come to power and remained in their respective formats is of little concern to the average American. Even the nuclear deal carries minimal weight.

This was an obvious commerce trip on the President's part. When was the last time he (Bush) had a frank dicussion or speech (televised or otherwise) with a group of American employees who had either just lost their jobs to outsourcing or were anticipating it? Additionally, when in the course of that discussion did he express any remorse but also exclaimed to those same employees that the United States would not be held hostage by protectionism? The Indians were apparently important enough to here it.

The same answer I came up with-never.

Bird Dog said...

The acquisition of power and or leadership in India and Pakistan is of little concern to the average American. The same can be said about the proposed nuclear deal.

More importantly, this was a commerce trip on behalf of corporate America and delivered by Bush. When was the last time he (Bush) had a "town hall meeting" (televised or other) or frank discussion with American employees whose jobs had just been outsourced or were in the early stages? And in that same meeting, when did Bush show any remorse for job loss and at the same time state that the United States would not be held hostage to protectionalism?

Bird Dog said...

The acquisition of power and or leadership in India and Pakistan is of little concern to the average American. The same can be said about the proposed nuclear deal.

More importantly, this was a commerce trip on behalf of corporate America and delivered by Bush. When was the last time he (Bush) had a "town hall meeting" (televised or other) or frank discussion with American employees whose jobs had just been outsourced or were in the early stages? And in that same meeting, when did Bush show any remorse for job loss and at the same time state that the United States would not be held hostage to protectionalism?

the cynic librarian said...

To anaonymous @ 1:48PM:

I was so hoping you were right about the modertaion of the BJP. Then I thought I'd run a short google in the News section on "Hindu extremism." This is what it caem up with (and this is just the first page):
Hindu extremists in India call for a national anti-conversion law
India's Christians Face Violence, Intimidation Tactics From Hindu Radicals
India's state of religious rights causes concern
GFA Founder: 'Pray & Fast for Persecuted Believers in India'
Water wins Best Film Award at Bangkok Film Fest
As you might be able to tell from my other posts, I am not too sanguine about any form of fundamentalism--Islamic, Jewish, Xtian, or otherwise. I appreciate the pressures that religious people feel when traditional values are threatened by the spread of consumerism and its related ills. The resort to groups to prop up a sense of personal and subjective despair only exacerbates the situation.

That is the choice: losing yourself in the faceless and mass mind or to find something else--perhaps nothing that will provide any certainties but does at least provide a glimmer of hope that happiness is not here and now.

Anonymous said...

To understand this phenomenon one need only look at the non-discriminating, paranoid reaction to the 9/11 attack. Thousands of US citizens (of Muslim origin) were summarily taken into custody on the pretext of national security with no right to contact a lawyer. Many of these people are still being held in custody today. Imagine if the US actually shared a border with individuals from a country that planned the attack. The reprisal would have been even more invasive and extreme! Even on the street it seemed that the average person would target any person who even looked remotely of Muslim origin. The US administration is still wary and suspicious of Cuba, a small and poor country led by Fidel Castro even after the collapse of the communist regimes everywhere. There is no comparison in economic and military strength between the US and Cuba.

Nussbaum obviously has not understood that the so-called emergence of more extreme elements in India was a similar reactive response to counter the threat of violent Muslim terrorism. The majority started feeling insecure being faced with terrorist attacks sponsored by neighbouring Pakistan. The previous Indian prime minister Vajpayee made the effort to go to Lahore for peace with an democratically elected Pakistan PM, Nawaz Sharif. When he returned to India he received a nasty surprise engineered by Musharraf (then an serving general in the army). Musharraf planned and executed a covert and ill-conceived attempt to take Kashmir by force in which 1000s of lives were lost on both sides.

Bottomline ... conflicts and differing views will always occur in every democracy BUT the majority has the right to live peacefully AND freedom of expression is never suppressed. People are not arrested or thrown in jail simply for what they say in public unless they actively incite violence. India has no restrictions on who can form a party and campaign for the popular vote. Success lies ine the party's ability to articulate the value that it brings to the table, be it a feeling of security for the majority who feel they are being held at gunpoint by some terrorists OR what the growing middle class really wants ... a better lifestyle. India does not have huge geo-economic resources like minerals, oil, etc other than its population, ancient civilzation and human intellect. The advances in technology made it possible for the growth of the middle class through outsourcing, free market forces without any coercive government manipulation as in the case of China. Improved economic prosperity will only strengthen the police, press and the judiciary and hence democracy.

The new middle class is much smarter than Martha Nussbaum thinks!

Anonymous said...

I think Martha Nussbaum has definitly not lived in India or has only book/media knowledge and perception about India and BJP!

BJP is not extremist at all, in fact Hindus even though in Majority do not enjoy rights like Muslims do in India like when Muslims visit Makka Madena, there airfairs are subsidised by Indian government and there is All india Muslim League and there are other fundamentalist organizations, they think they are muslims first and never an Indian. BJP has opposed these type of mentality and people. And googling does not always help, you need to know and have studied history. If hindus talk about there rights they are considered extremist but what about the fact that Muslims wanted there own country and they got Pakistan which was India in the first place. Hindus and Gandhi were open hearted and they never expelled muslims out of Hindustan (India) the was Pakistani's did, there are less 0.5% Hindus in Pakistan where as there are more then 16% (160million) muslims in India.

India has always extended hand of friendship with pakistan and they have been unfaithful.

As far as US is concerned, they are all about business.

Last but not the least if you are a Bush supporter and you think bush is a very successful president try and google for failure, what you get is references to Bush!!