Tuesday, October 1, 2013

The Clash Within — Democracy, Religious Violence, and India's Future by Martha Nussbaum

The Clash Within — Democracy, Religious Violence, and India's Future by Martha Nussbaum

(403P) [2007] ISBN: 978-0-674-02482-3 Belknap Press of Harvard University Press

Book Review: Kavneet Singh

Martha Nussbaum is a professor of philosophy at the University of Chicago. Educated at Harvard

with nearly two dozen books to her credit, she is a vocal critic of the right and does her best to be

ethical in thought. Her professional interests include philosophy, law, ethics and human rights. This

is the first book on India concerning human right violations. Clearly wizened, opinionated, she is

searching for the truth to bring balance to her research. Her basic premise revolves around the fact,

that in the global context it is really not a clash of civilizations necessarily but an intra-civilizational

clash. In this case it is the extreme Hindu right wing which wants to homogenize and dominate all

others, living within the ambient of the Indian borders. Nussbaum is trying to understand the source

of such a savage Hindu psyche which seems to be growing at a rapid pace, thanks largely to the role

of the RSS and its numerous subsidiary organizations which are inculcating a very virulent strain of

ideology into the immature and untrained minds of millions of young Hindus across India. The West

is so caught up in the `fundamental political Islam' that `fundamental political Hinduism' has yet to

move on to its radar screen to be fully monitored and tackled accordingly.

Chapter 1 - Genocide in Gujarat

Religiously motivated violence is nothing new in India, but there is widespread agreement that

Gujarat was different. The incineration of many of the victims, indicating a sophisticated plan for

total extermination, had not been seen before, nor had such widespread use of sexual torture.......And

the assassination did grow out of an organized violent uprising of Sikhs in the Punjab that posed an

on-going threat to the nation 's security. Finally, the most important, the anti-Sikh riots were not an

outgrowth of years of careful dissemination of hatred, nor did they express an ethos of ethno-religious

supremacy. They revenge, pure and simple. The Congress Party, culpable though it was, did not have an

ethnic-cleansing agenda.....[Page 21,22 &23J

Martha Nussbaum has articulated the truth to a large degree and shows how the Hindu terrorists in

Gujarat planned, aided and abetted the rapacious killing of Muslims. But she also compares

this with the Genocide of the Sikhs starting in 1984. Herein lies the problem that she repeatedly

downplays the `anti-Sikh pogroms' as an' anti-Sikh riot'. The truth is that the Sikh Genocide Was

planned by Indira Gandhi and orchestrated by the Congress under the code name "Operation Shanti"

albeit a scaled down version than the one Indira had envisioned. After years of peaceful protests Sikh

finally defended themselves from the tyranny of state sponsored terrorism. Based on first information

reports collected and unearthing skeletons by noble citizen witnesses across India as of late 2012, over

30,000 Sikhs Were killed in early November 1984 alone. The sustained `ethnic cleansing' thereafter

(1984-1998) carried on by Indira Gandhi's son Rajiv Gandhi and subsequently Narasimha Rao killed

over 250,000 Sikhs in and around Punjab. If that is not `ethnic cleansing', I wonder What is! Further

there were thousands of Sikh women who were brutally raped and killed in 1984 very similar to the

Gujarat killings. Nussbaum needs to research the Sikh situation from a neutral position, not from the

position of bias or any preconceived notions including government sponsored material. It is strange

that Nussbaum does not have her facts right, considering she is writing about human right violators.

Further her above statement in reference to the Sikhs seems right out of the mouth of a Hindu fascist

rather than an articulate academic like her, and it does not behoove someone of her stature to be so

lackadaisical about something so very sinister.

Admiring references to Hitler and his "achievements" in the social science textbooks have

repeatedly been criticized, to no effect. [Page 26]

Even though Gujarat has one of the best, business management graduate schools, the overall middle

to high school curricula contains a high percentage of hate bias against the Muslims, and other

minorities. Hitler is revered in these textbooks. Hindu Gujaratis overall are pretty vocal in their

feeling of being emasculated and it is probably true. So if these Hindus are really so enthused with a

fiery patriotic spirit why do they not join the .timed Forces to actually fight as professional soldiers?

The reality is, a very small percentage of these Hindu Gujarati men join the Indian Armed Forces.

In the last few decades I have only met one Gujarati officer in the Indian Armed Forces and he had

never seen action, thankfully! Individuals in India are not a very brave lot and only feign bravery

when there is a mob With them. The sheer lack of Hindu teachings, Which can unite Hindus as

`one' are missing and further because the insidious caste system cannot be discarded. Therefore by

default the only solution to unite the disunited Hindus is to propagate hate of `others' along With the

teachings of Hitler. Indeed a novel Way to teach

humanism, Hindu style!

Hindu-right leaders proclaimed that the Gujarat "experiment" had succeeded: the campaign of hate would

henceforth spread all over India. Muslim, businesses in many areas of Gujarat have been taken over by

Hindus, so the l viusli ns in the state is worse than ever. [Page 33J

The Hindu right and the so-called secular Who run India are akin to the bad cop — good cop

psychology used daily across the globe except in reality they are both hand in glove in carrying out all

the ethnic cleansing across the land. The Hindu right is overt and the secular Congress and

others are more covert in their shenanigans therefore less proof is visible. But the experiment

Nussbaum is talking about was already tried on the Sikhs very effectively in 1984, eighteen years

earlier. The same method of planning, lists of names (ethno-religious) based on government issued

food ration cards, supplying incendiary material, colluding/coopting with the police, the police

disarming the Sikhs of licensed weapons, banning journalists, putting up roadblocks, the list is

endless - down to every last detail, the Gujarat carnage was simply a copy of the Sikh Genocide of


One factor on which everyone must agree, however, is the deforming power of ideology in slewing

the search for truth. [Page 36]

The deforming power of ideology as stated by Nussbaum is correct, in fact it is so pervasive

that it affects all branches of government, from the judiciary, the police, the administration,

state run hospitals and anything in between. Nussbaum missed a critical factor that all the arms

of the government are filled with Brahmins-Hindus who make a critical mass in addition to the

other upper caste Hindus, therefore are always able to define truth as they see it. So if the hyenas

(not foxes) are guarding the chicken coop, Nussbaum will never find the evidence she wants in

reference to criminal malfeasance on a large scale by the government. The Sikhs after 28 years

are still waiting for justice, while pretty much all the witnesses are either dead or will die soon.

Expecting justice in India from the Brahminical majority is like wishing for fresh water while

walking in the middle of the Sahara desert.

In light of these facts, it seems beyond dispute that the violence in Gujarat meets the definition of genocide

offered in the United Nations Convention on Genocide. Page 45]

There is no question that the carnage against Muslims in Gujarat in February 2002 was a pogrom.

The bigger question is how can Nussbaum so easily brush off; the fact, that the exact same

methodology was used to commit an even larger genocide against the Sikhs much earlier in 1984

but does not figure as a pogrom in her eyes, especially since, she has compared the two events

several times.

In February 2005 ATarendra Modi was invited to Florida to address the Asia American {Gujarati Hindu

Patel) Hotel Owners Association. (This invitation gives' a good idea of the surreal mixture of p

politics and violence that characterizes the BJP, especially in Gz fat°at..) He accepted.....on March

19, the State Department denied Modi a diplomatic visa and revoked his tourist visa.......The outcome

ofMocli's case shows that there is by now a broad consensus that the Gujarat violence was a form of ethnic

cleansing, that it was in many respects premeditated, and it was carried out with the complicity of the state

government and officers of the law.[Page 50-51]

There is no doubt about the direct involvement of Modi in the pogroms against the Muslims

of Gujarat. The worst part is that indirectly all the central ministers, all the way to the Prime

Minister, Atal Bihari Bajpayee seem to be part of the conspiracy. It is a sad state of affairs that

there are no great statesmen in India, but there are thousands of criminal politicians pretending as one.

Chapter 2 — The Human Face of the Hindu Right

He adds, "The people who did this violence were from the lowest castes. There are no Brahmins or Baniyas

Indulging in the violence. It was mainly all the bhils (tribals] and vahgris [untouchables]. "....He also

claims that there were no castes before the introduction of'toilets by Muslim rulers; only then did it become

necessary to have people clean them. [Page 55]

K.K. Shastri, the president of the VHP in Gujarat who was interviewed by Nussbaum made the

above statements. Typically all genocides in India are planned by people like Shastri, the Brahmins —

Baniyas, while the men from the lowest and poorest sections of Hindu society are rallied to carry out

the heinous crimes, thereby the planners never sully their hands. K.K.Shastri's statement regarding

toilets is the height of stupidity. On one hand Hindus claim to be very cultured, yet on the other

side they never had toilets. Fabricating (outright lies) history is their (Hindu extremists) business

and they have got so good at it that they lose sight of reality. Furthermore Shastri's idea of peace is a

preemptive strike against Muslims to create a haniionic

Hindu India.

Once again the subsequent violence is treated as an inevitable part of the initial alleged Muslim

aggression, and Mocli becomes another victim, not a responsible agent linked to Hindu aggression. [Page

The RSS scholar, Devendra SNNIarup seems to be talking through his hat. Narendra Modi the chief

protagonist in terrorizing the Muslims in Gujarat is being made out to be a victim akin to an innocent

bystander, as though he had absolutely nothing to do with planning and orchestrating the genocide.

Shastri and Sivarup share the same intense fear ofIviuslim takeover. Shastri's tone is more emotional,

Swarup more measured, but the message is the same: 111uslims cannot live peacefully with others, they are

a constant clanger and if the danger flares up, reactive force is a reasonable response, even if that. force

vastly exceeds the violence of any putative assault. [Page 69]

This rabid hate of Muslims is primarily because of the low self-esteem and also, not being manly

enough to stand up for themselves as individuals. No wonder the Mughals ruled this part of South

Asia for more than eight centuries without much opposition. So instead of becoming better or

stronger at a personal level these Hindu extremists perpetuate hate in order to inculcate a mob

complex - Nazi style in the general Hindu populace who hunker down against an imagined threat.

He even takes some credit for convincing Tlajpayee not to demand Modi 's resignation. [Page 71]

Arun Shourie an economist and a confidant of the Prime Minister of India has the gall to admit that

he stood for a terrorist. This is a highly educated and respected man nationally within Hindu circles,

so one only imagine what others with less education are capable of doing to minorities.

There are also Indians, and Shastri, Swamp and Shourie are all in different ways Indians of this sort,

who fear religious and ethnic differences as a deep threat to order and safety, who have learned to hate

people who insist on living in a way that sets them off from °om the majority, and whose anxious desire

for control leads them to legitimize violence. [Pages 78 & 79]

Gurcharan Das a vastly educated and well-travelled individual is a little different from the other three

but deep down within him, the fear of the other, does exist. The problem lies with Hinduism, which

has always tried to coopt and/or assimilate what it cannot control or what it deems as a perceived

threat. The fact is, it has assimilated Jainism, thrown Buddhism out of the country through the largest

ethnic cleansing ever, and now has the Sikh Faith in its sights.

Chapter 3 — Tagore, Gandhi, Nehru

His disdain for religion, together with his idea of a modernity based upon scientific rather than humanistic

values, led to what was perhaps the most serious defect in the new nation: the failure to create -pluralistic

public rhetorical and imaginative culture whose ideas could have worked at the grass roots level to oppose

those of the Hindu right. [Page 82]

JL Nehru was a Kashmiri Brahmin the highest in the Brahmin hierarchy. Regardless of his feigned

disdain for religion he used `it' at every opportunity to his advantage during his lifetime as a

professional politician. Not using humanistic values to educate the nation was not an error but by

design, because those great humanistic values would create major problems by the underclass who

could not be controlled by the ruling elite.

In many respects Tagore had ideas that steered the new democracy well, and that might have steered it

more wisely, in some areas, than Gandhi's ascetic creed or Nehru 's preference for science to the arts and

humanities...... m di 's need for "public poetry" and for a public education focused on pluralism, critical

thinking, and imagination have not been filled/ — except, in a pernicious way, by the Hindu right, who

have cleverly used some of Tagore 's own media - music, story and movement — to draw children out from

their boring schools into a culture of hate. [Pages 93 & 94j

Even though Tagore was an idealist, his ideas would have brought positive results if germinated

properly. Unfortunately the two heavy weight wily politicians, Gandhi and Nehru had a larger sway

over the populace to inculcate much needed humanistic values in the Hindus. The modern day

Brahmin-Baniya juggernaut is having a field day in manufacturing "Indian-ness" in the area of social

studies and in the process making it a total "mess".

There is no doubt that the success of democracy in India today owes an incalculable amount to Gandhi 's

genius for political mobilization and for the theatricalization of important moral ideas. [Page 105]

Nussbaum has made a very serious and important statement which needs to be analyzed further.

Gandhi was an actor no doubt and very good one but a failed lawyer. Lawyers in India are

sarcastically addressed as "liars", and Gandhi pretty much lied throughout his life, no wonder

he was experimenting with the truth. There is nothing authentic about Gandhi, he lied about his

life in South Africa and spun a great yarn for the public consumption, as there was no way of

fact checking in those days. All the ideas of mass agitation through non-violent peaceful protest,

wearing white clothes of homespun cotton, protesting against any goods manufactured by the

British were all propagated by the great Sikh leaders Kartar Singh Jabbar (early 1900's) and

Ram Singh (late 1800's). Kartar Singh organized the largest ever peaceful march in the history

of the last century with over half a million Sikhs marching against the British in 1922. Ram

Singh originated the making and wearing of the home made cotton from the spinning wheel and

abhorring British goods. Gandhi's maintenance was all paid for by the rich Hindu industrialists

since he did not work a day in his life from his time in India till his death. Gandhi's movie directed

by Richard Attenborough was fully financed by the Indian government at the behest of Indira

Gandhi. Mohandas is being given way more credit than is due since he was a fraud, a charlatan and

a bigot to the core. A man who invited his childhood Muslim friend after buying his first house

in South Africa instead of his wife clearly indicates his homosexual tendencies. Later he would

sleep naked with his grand nieces. He hated the blacks of South Africa and called them lower than

animals. He even fought against the Blacks, siding with the whites in his role as a Sergeant in the

Ambulance Corps. Gandhi had no `normal' morals and ethics, but did have morals of the warped

Hindu kind.

But Nehru, skeptical about Gandhi 's attempt to give politics a religious foundation, took religion far too

lightly...... Although Nehru emphasized that Hinduism is historically the most pluralistic and tolerant of

religions, he filed to follow Gandhi's effort to build a universalistic "Religion of Humanity" that could help

remove barriers of'caste and faith. [Page 118]

Nehru may have taken religion less seriously than Gandhi but Gandhi was a rabid Hindu right

winger to the core. He never once attempted to get rid of the caste system completely. He went

on a fast unto death when Dr. Ambedkhar wanted to take all the Dalits out of the prevue of the

Hindu fold and angrily admonished him against converting to the Sikh Faith. Gandhi was a base

schemer, a very intolerant man and only paid lip service to idea of universal humanism.

Chapter 4 — A Democracy of Pluralism, Respect, Equality

Ivfinorities have used one significant feature of the Constitution with great success. Article 32 creates a

remedy for non-enforcement of rights, according to which citizens may appeal directly

by petition to the Supreme Court to secure their rights and the Court may issue writs, directions, and

orders designed to secure enforcement. [Page 128]

Nussbaum is right that Article 32 does exist to help minority rights, but the problem is its selective

application and even more lax enforcement when it comes to minorities. So this Article 32 is more a

paper tiger than anything else.

The British had made commercial and criminal law uniform throughout India, but they left matters of

property inheritance, succession, marriage, divorce and other related areas of "personal" or family law to

be regulated by the four major religions (Hindu, lviuslim, Parsi and Christian). [Pages 130 & 131]

Nussbaum is correct in her assessment of the situation at the time of framing the Indian

Constitution. Couple of issues though; firstly she fails to point out that the Parsis are a minority Faith

with less than 200,000 followers in India and secondly if India was truly secular as is the tall claim

made regularly, not only is there not any uniform code to make everything secular but the current

setup complicates everything. Furthermore other than the Hindus and Muslims the only other major

players at the negotiating table with the British were the Sikhs, followers of a major independent

monotheistic Faith. The Sikhs ended being bracketed within the ambient of Hinduism against their

very vocal protest and in the last 65 years have not been allowed to detach themselves from the giant

Hindu leech.

The system preserves the creative potential of federalism, with states as laboratories of social experiment,

while setting thresholds beneath which they may not fall... .On the other hand, in the massive attempt

to "saffronize" education under the recent BJP government, local control was barrier to sweeping changes

for the worse [Page 133]

Instead of a solid and just federal structure modeled after the US, India has a convoluted structure

which is centrally controlled with very few powers given to the state, being a socialist diarchy.

So much so that elected chief ministers are taken out on the whim of the Prime Minister and it

has happened many times in the last 65 years. The local control was limited in its nature because

irrespective of the opposition though the states, the politicians at the center ploughed right ahead

with their Hinduvata agenda to change the curricula in the school and college books.

Arun Shourie is more guarded: rather than blaming current balkanization of politics on the Constitution,

he says only that, "politicians are trying to divide Hindu society on caste lines for votes, and I would

think that this is the first task for social reform. The thing that we have to get over for purposes of social,

political reform and national identity is to dissolve, finish castes, which is a big problem. " Caste, he

argues, was on the way out because of modernization, but politics has now brought it back to center stage.

[Page 140]

Looks like Arun Shourie is deluded! Caste was always there and shall remain till eternity within

Hinduism. If caste is finished as he proclaims he would cease to remain a Hindu according to

Hinduism. Caste and religion the two pillars of Hinduism, have always remained even in schools and

college campuses across India and is very obvious when college elections are held. The only way to

get rid of `caste' is to get rid of Hinduism. Other less invasive options are to either have an absolutely

clear cut uniform civil code, regardless of religious affiliation or the other extreme, ban all religions.

Based on the current cadre of criminalized politicians there is no chance of any positive change for the

better, in the near foreseeable future.

The doctrine of "basic features " now protests the Fundamental Rights from majority tyranny. [Page


Nussbaum has not lived in India for any length and felt the wrath of the tyrannical majority personally

in relation to her above statement. Some of these fanciful laws are on paper only, because the brute

majority is the one which controls the levers of power which decides what to implement and how

to enforce '(un)just' laws. Everyone needs to be reminded that the vast majority of India's Prime

Ministers have been Brahmins. Nationwide over 57% of the High Court Judges are Brahmins. Over

50% of the senior Police officers are Brahmins. Between 4075% of all civil service positions are with

Brahmins. 100% of the Indian Intelligence Bureau are Brahmins. Yet Brahmins only constitute less

than 3% of the population. There is something very ominous with this picture, so I wonder what

protection is Nussbaum talking about?

Chapter 5 — Rise of the Hindu Right

The RSS is possibly the most successful fascist movement in any contemporary democracy. [Page ]557

With over 50,000 shakas (units) consisting of over 5 million members it is the largest fascist volunteer

army in the world. Five million Muslim hating Hindus can make up a very lethal killing machine, who

need nothing more than being reminded of their imagined hurt to their selfesteem/self-respect by the

Muslims of the past, to trigger a genocide(s).

What the Hindu right portrays as age-old hatred behveen Hindu and Muslim is a modern construct. Even

the standard RSS uniform of khaki shorts is a borrowing, from the uniform of the British Indian Police and

army. [Page 164]

Nussbaum is correct that the Hindu-Muslim `hate construct' is recent but nevertheless the latent

hate of the Muslims by the upper caste Hindus has always been there. Since the Hindus were rarely

in political control of their destiny for nearly a millennia and could not express their rage till now.

BJP leaders have had typically strong and long-term RS connections, as do both Tlajpayee and Advani.

Particularly pronounced is the RSS background ofNarendra MMMIocli, who was a full time RS worker for

many years, until the RSS delegated him to play a role in the BJP, shortly before

that party made him chief minister of Gujarat. Arun Shourie was accurate when he spoke of an

"umbilical cord " that ties the BJP to its RSS origins. [Page 170]

Imagine members of the Ku Klux Klan becoming Senators, Congressmen and President in the

US. This is exactly what the racist RSS is all about, with the full unofficial backing of the Indian


As historian Christophe Jaffrelot says, "it was easier to mobilize Hindus against the Babri iVasjid than for

anything else. " The events also showed that the undisciplined forces of the BJP and Bajrang Dal played a

large role in the political mix: the BJP was revealed as relying on

activists whom it could not control. [Page 178]

If a political party can plan, organize, support and cause so much violence all under the direct

supervision of the ruling government, then in essence there is no rule of law except 'goonda raj' (rule

by criminals). This has not changed in 65 years and there is little chance of any improvement in the

foreseeable future.

The eventual choice ofivfanmohan Singh, India's first minority Prime Ivfinister, to head the new

government underlined Congress's commitment to its campaign assertions. [Page 180]

Manmohan Singh was never elected. There is a curious law in India which allows the winner in an

election to nominate a surrogate, in this case for the Prime Minister's position. Sonia Gandhi only had

a high school diploma with no political experience, except the fact that she is sitting on millions of

dollars of illegal cash which her deceased husband made hustling deals while a Prime Minster. Being

politically inept she found a man with the brains to manage India's economy but otherwise spineless

with no political standing who could be stage managed and therefore Sonia has done no favors to the

Sikhs other than getting political mileage out of it. No one can forget, it was her late husband who

master minded the ethnic cleansing of Sikhs in Punjab and elsewhere.

In opposition, the party has returned to a hard line on Hinduvata and to its RSS roots. Hardliners

such as Arun Jaitley has assumed center stage; the aging moderate or pseudo-moderate Vajpayee

is on his way out. [Page 184]

The BJP and the RSS are one and the same thing as far as ideology. The only difference is that the

BJP being a political party is the "soft face" of the RSS agenda, and the overall RSS ideology will never

change, except grow stronger and lead the country to ruins.

Chapter 6 — Fantasies of Purity and Domination

What they want in their goddesses (or the mothers of their heroes) is a spotless purity that

cannot be touched by scandal; the mere mention of a rumor that Shivaji's mother might have had an illicit

love ajjair has led to death threats. [Page 189]

In quite a few Hindu religious books, every possible deviant, unethical and immoral sexual act is

depicted and there are lots of them, which cannot be erased away just because the modern day Hindu

racist does not want it publicized. Unfortunately for the Hindus and fortunately for the rest, the truth

cannot be hidden, and for this reason instead of being reasonable the irrational RSS will resort to any

extreme for the slightest insult to their imagined self-respect.

When a people who have such traditions repeatedly experience subjection and humiliation at the hands

ofpowerful, aggressively masculine enemies who repeatedly tell them that they are not real men, it is not

ising that shame should result. [Page 196]


The bane of Hindu men generally is exactly what Nussbaum clarifies in her chapter. Just like the

Shudras/Dalits have been told for centuries by the Brahmins/Upper castes that they are less than

human to keep them in their place, similarly the Muslims/British/Others told the Hindus the same

and it did cause a self-loathing complex. When this complex, combined with pent-up rage simmers

for centuries, it will come out in an extremely violent fashion especially if the leaders themselves are

inept, immature and racist, instead of being wise like the great Nelson Mandela.

Thus, although much of'the time the male wants the woman to live and bear children, there is no p

barrier to his using her brutally if that is what suits his desires. Once the woman is no longer seen as a

distinct individual, with her own desires, her own agency, it is very easy to think of her as merely a thing

that should be controlled. [Page 201]

The Hindu thugs, in this case over five million RSS volunteers are all potential rapists because they

have been inculcated a continuous barrage of hate against Muslims and others. Brutally raping and

murdering non-Hindu women `is' definitely one way of dishonoring the `other' group.

The man sees, in his desire, that he is not who he pretends to be: he is an animal wanting to exercise

animal functions. This deep wound to his ego can be salved only by destroying the cause of his desire.

[Page 207]

Nussbaum is correct in her assertion that the Hindus are of the same percentage as the Muslims as

far as polygamy, even though it is illegal for Hindus. So Hindus have a double jeopardy. Fabricating

history has always been a blood sport with upper caste Hindus in order to control the masses through

a divide and rule policy. Hindu religious literature like the Bhagvad Gita and some of the Upanishads

actually sanctions these sinister assaults on women and the genocides.

Something like this paranoia, this refusal of compromised humanity infests the rhetoric of the Hindu right

ancl, indeed, may help to explain its continuing fascination with .Nazi ideas. The woman functions as a

symbol of the site of weakness and vulnerability inside any male, who can be drawn into his own mortality

through desire. [Page 210]

To a large extent Nussbaum has hit the nail on the head in deciphering the overall causes of the

overarching hate against the Muslims by the Hindu right. This much hate will cause an ethnic civil

war at some point in India. If every ethno-religious group in India thought like these fascist Hindus,

that imagined breakup of India will become a reality by their own design.

Chapter 7 — The Assault on History

RajivMalhotra, head of the Infinity Foundation, who masterminds the U.S attacks from his home in

Princeton, New Jersey and who vigorously denies that he is supporter of the politics of the Hindu right in

India. [Page 214]

Rajiv Malhotra is the educated face of the RSS in the U.S. regardless of his denials. A computer

programmer who got rich from one of his websites, www.suleka.com, now spends his semiretired

life firstly sponsoring all right wing and/or pro-Hindu academics to write voluminous books on

Hinduism, secondly attacking all those academics critical of Hinduism and finally to redefine -

redirect Hinduism in the school curricula with a pro-Brahmin slant. No wonder he sits on a few

advisory boards to throw his monetary clout behind his bark.

Sanskrit is alleged to be the parent language not only of'all the languages of'the Indo-European family but

also of the Dravidian languages, which predominate in the south, thus of all languages in India. [Pages


Sanskrit a language of the extreme few, namely the Brahmins who never allowed anyone to learn it in

case their blood sucking ungodly business got usurped by someone, and spread. How then can it be

the root of other languages? Were all the other ethnic groups who preceded them, like the Dravidians

of the Harappan civilization using sign language? These are important questions. If what the Sanskrit

lovers state, is true, why is that there is barely any commonality with the languages of the southerners,

easterners, northerners and many others?

In the case of "Vedic Science" we see clearly a tension that runs throughout the disputes over history.

[Page 223]

Vedic science is akin to talking utter nonsense. Pro-Hindu historians today in India, act more as

serious soothsayers than rational-critical evidence based scholars.

But the wellbeing of animals is clearly not the central issue here; if it were, the cow would stand out as

special. The real issue seems to be desire for a monolithic unchanging Hinduism, for symbols of'identity

that define Hindus across regional and cultural differences, and define them as having been the same since

those days in the Indus Valley. The sacredness of the cow has a special salience as a symbol that defines

Hindus apart from Muslims. [Pages 226 & 227]

Nussbaum's critique shows the shallowness and weakness of the Hindu right in trying to present their

case of Hinduism being different and monolithic in nature, when the opposite is true. Beef eating was

part of Hindu religious culture. Even today most of the Shudras, Dalits, tribals and

some moderate upper caste Hindus, across India eat beef It is only a matter of time when Faith

groups such as the Sikhs will start eating more beef and serving it in their places of worship, firstly

because there is no sanction against it and secondly to stop the acidic advance of Hinduism.

Not surprisingly, attacks on Thapar greatly intensified during the ascendency of the Hindu right. She

received obscene and threatening phone calls during the night whenever her name came into the news —

both in India and when she was visiting in the United States. [Pages 230 & 23]]

Romila Thapar an academic historian of high repute has written numerous books for school and

college curricula. Her forthright evidence based history has made the Hindu right very uncomfortable

as it is not easily digestible based on their racist ideology. Attacking a defenseless woman who stands

for the truth to the best of her ability is height of cowardice.

When I interviewed ]vleenakshi Jain in June 2004, I had no doubt that I was in the presence of a highly

intelligent and articulate young woman. But what seemed lacking were two essential virtues of the

scholar: puzzlement and sense of difficulty. [Page 236]

When a person is assigned a task which she knows is ethically wrong, there is no wonderment or a

sense of inquiry, except to be done with, sooner the better. Jain's bosses hired knowing fully well,

Meenakshi's weaknesses, otherwise why would any upright scholar even take this task.

But he showed great sympathy with the reactions, even the threatening ones (though not the violence

itself), because he can imagine how the repeated experience of insult and humiliation would lead people

to misperceive his own intentions. [Page 244]

James Laine a historian who wrote book on Shivaji: Hindu king in Islamic India, came under fire from

the extremist Shiv Sena group. Even though Laine has actually cleared and supported Shivaji's lineage

as per non-Brahmin sources, the Shudras (lowest caste) Hindus took offence of even mentioning

the fact that Laine was defending their hero. It shows that the low caste Hindu extremist fringe is so

thin skinned that they react violently rather than use their common sense. It is even stranger that the

Brahmins have co-opted the low castes within the RSS and its many subsidiaries yet the same low

caste Hindus hate the Brahmins, whose ideology they follow

religiously to a violent end. This is indeed an extremely ridiculous paradox.

ivlalhotra's portrayal ofDoniger as a Circe who bewitches young male scholars and turns them into anti-
Hindu swine is clever because it has superficial plausibility, in a world in which a woman with frank

interests in the sexual is still all too often regarded as a bad woman. [Page 249]

Rajiv Malhotra seems to be the doorkeeper of the RSS/BJP in the U.S., and in order to keep up his

reputation, his haranguing of Wendy Doniger and a whole couture of scholars has to be very vocal,

so that his upper caste Hindu well-wishers in the U.S. continue to rave. To really get an

honest insider's view, it may be a good idea to talk to some of the Dalit scholars in the U.S.

because their views of Hinduism will make Wendy look like an angel.

As to the more general charge that "insiders to the tradition" are being marginalized in fervor of

Westerners who impose their own ideology, we should at all times remember how complicated the question

of "insider" status is. Certainly being Indian American, or Hindu, or even Indian is no guarantee of any

superior knowledge of the ancient texts ofHindu religious tradition. Few young people in India, and very

few young Indian Americans, even study these texts, much less learn their original languages. AIalhotra

gives no evidence of knowing Vedic or classical Sanskrit. [Page 253]

Nussbaum is right again. Hindus rarely read much, rather follow the unwritten simple traditions of

each family or the sub-caste group. For example, one Hindu sub-caste group follows the Y ajur Veda

and another something entirely different. There are major flaws and inconsistencies within all Hindu

religious literature, because the `works' have been continuously worked on over centuries and still

continues. Therefore there is absolutely no uniform continuum within any of the major works. Instead

of accepting these flaws, blaming outsiders for pointing them out is

akin to showing your own naivety and ignorance.

They make Hinclu Americans look like an ethnic minority that does not understand norms of civil

discourse and academic freedom, and that tries to get its way by falsehood and violence. That is hardly a

good image for a minority. Such activities, moreover, subvert the study ofHinduism by discouraging young

scholars from entering the field. [Pages 260 & 261]

The Malhotra group is simply trying to run roughshod over all the academics who are critical of Hinduism albeit even the

ones who are highly respectful. This kind of behavior clearly shows the

American public the true nature of the Hindu right-wingers

As historian Tanika Sarkar says in this chapter's epigraph, it has been a favorite trope of the Hindu right

to hijack postmoclernist doctrines for its own end, saying that all narratives are just good expressions

of interest anchor power, and that its narrative is just as good as the ones it contradicts — better, if it

prevails in the political arena. [Page 263]

The Hindu right really do not care what the rest of the world thinks. They are on a one track

speeding train which is heading for a massive wreck. The powerful Brahmins are experts at

rewriting religion, history and can fabricate anything, but everything with an evil design.

Chapter 8 — The Education Wars

Under the leadership of Education Minister JA/1urli Manohar Joshi, a BJP politician with close links to

the RSS and 1/HP, the government launched an aggressive campaign to "saffronize" education, meaning

to infuse into it the ideology ofHinduvata. A central battle in this campaign

was a struggle over national textbooks issued by the national Council for Educational Research and

Training (ATCERT), particularly in history and science. [Pages 264 & 265]

Men like Joshi are exactly like Goebbels the Information Minister of Hitler. One of the first items on

the BJP's agenda, as soon as they came to power was to rewrite history and they did it at a feverish

pace. No amount of sane opposition helped stop the racist propaganda plan by the RSS/BJP

combine. It is terrifying to see the kind of damage this new Hinduvata curricula is doing to millions

of young impressionable minds across India. A new generation of children growing up with a kind of

hate syndrome is very scary, thanks to India's Fascist party, the BJP.

The text gives superficial appearance of condemning all religious violence, while shading things so as

to exempt the violence perpetrated by the right........ Christians and Muslims are implicitly portrayed as

dangerous........ but their distinction, complexity, and insight provide a welcome contrast to the dreary

ineptitude of'the (new) NCERT textbooks. [Pages 270 & 272]

In a so-called secular country like India claiming to be the largest democracy in the world, these

books demonstrate that India is more a 'demonocracy' and not what it claims to be. No one in the

highly esteemed Supreme Court has the courage to stop this national outrage. It shows complicity

and cowardice at the highest echelons of power because the virus of self-loathing has permeated


The fact that justices choose their own colleagues make overt politicization of'the process difficult,

creeping politicization, however, is all too likely in a system in which judicial nominees receive no public

scrutiny. [Page 276]

When there is no public scrutiny of judges and they can pick their own colleagues, it becomes a

perfect breeding ground for any covert racist agenda. Over 57% of the high court judges nationwide

are Brahmin-Hindu. If one adds the other upper castes the overwhelming majority are upper caste

Hindus with only a micro minority who are Muslim, Christian, Sikh or Dalit. With such odds stacked

against the minorities, what justice can they expect?

Far worse, however, is the ideological portrayal of modern histoiy. The class X social studies textbook

for 2004 has chapters on "Hitler, the Supremo, " and "Internal Achievements of Nazism. "......... the books

were reissued in 2005, in the form called "updated, " but with no significant change in the treatment

ofHilter. The class IX social studies textbook released on lvi arch 14, 2005, makes no mention of the

Holocaust when discussing Nazism, and instead glorifies Hitler, saying: "Hitler adopted aggressive policy

and led the Germans towards ardent nationalism. "Nazism is defined as "coordination of'nationalism and

socialism, " something that would seem very attractive to young Indian children...... Meanwhile the schools

of Gujarat remain a breeding ground jro hate. [Pages 277 & 278]

Nussbaum could not have made it clearer. For years, in discussions my colleagues and I wondered

why Gujarati Hindus were more racist than other Hindus but now we have the answer.

It is hilarious that Gujarati men in general are timid cowards, exactly the opposite of the hyper

aggressive German Nazis. No wonder it is very rare to finds aHindu-Gujarati soldier in the Indian

Army, yet these same men worship Hitler.

It is tempting fur state governments, desirous of presenting a good picture to the electorate, not to

commit themselves too strongly to similar risky initiatives at the state level. While these problems remain

unaddressed, however, the argument over textbooks is at best a tiny piece of the picture, at worst a

distraction from more basic needs. [Page 281]

With more than 7-50 million out of a 1.2 Billion Indians, in the lowest strata of society whose focus

is their daily bread, there is little time to contemplate and worry about racial nuances in textbooks.

Nussbaum has her finger on the pulse of the subtler sensibilities of poor Indians. The illiterate and

semiliterate poor are being taken advantage of, precisely for this reason.

Economic success is seen as the important kind of success to aim at, and that aim is seen as one to which

humanistic and artistic study are irrelevant. [Page 290]

Rote learning is the norm in most of South Asia and India is no exception. The problem gets further

exacerbated when the material in the social sciences/history books is racist, biased, and patently wrong

with a covert agenda by the rulers at the helm. Critical thinking and imagination is given little credence

in society where vocal dissent against an authority is considered insulting, dangerous and curbed


At the heart of all three of the Tagorean capacities is the idea off°eeclom: the freedom of the child's mind

to engage critically with tradition; the freedom to imagine one's citizenship in both national and world

terms, and to negotiate multiple allegiances with knowledge and confidence; the freedom to reach out in

the imagination, allowing another person 's experience into oneself. It is really freedom to which the RSS

shakha and the "saffronized" curriculum are most deeply opposed: both seek the imprisonment of children

within a single "correct" ideology. [Page 296]

The idealist Tagore has some very valid points which could be inculcated into India's curriculum, but

there are other critical thinkers like M.N. Roy, P.N. Bazaz, V.R.Narla, Dr.Inniah Narisetti, etc, whose

writings need to be incorporated into the high school and college curricula to make a sea change in

the thinking of Hindu children instead of the stultifying status quo.

Tagore expressed his wishes for the future of education in India in a poem..... Where the mind is without

fear... Where knowledge is free... Where words come out of the depth of truth... Let my country awake.

[Page 301]

Nussbaum closes her chapter with a very apt and poignant poem from Rabindranath Tagore.

Practically nothing of what Tagore wished came true, instead the opposite has happened in modern.

day India. Nussbaum has some good solutions starting with a national dialogue across a broad

spectrum, reviving the humanities, government funding to enhance education reform, to

increase the salaries of the teachers and prestige, assess individualized student performance, books

stimulating critical thinking and finally the arts should be given more emphasis at all levels of

education. For so much to happen, some very strong leaders with an ethical unbiased long term

vision will be required to steer the country, which unfortunately at this time does not seem feasible

because they do not exist where it matters.

Chapter 9 — The Diaspora Community

At the same time the Hindu Student Council, a T/HP linked group, has been charges with supporting

disruptive activities on US campuses against professors who teach Hinduism. And the Swainarayan sect,

a sect of Hinduism that originated in Gujarat, has rapidly grown in wealth and popularity throughout the

United States, fueling suspicion that it might be also a source of

anti Muslim sentiment and funding. [Page 306]

The Hindu students in the US are a mix of Indian born and U.S. born Hindus who taking their cue

from the multi-headed Hydra in India, namely the RSSIBJP, ferment irresponsible disruption of

academic functioning without really researching the truth about their religion.

If IDRF were to distance itself publicly from the segment of Gujarati society that condones violence

against Muslims, and were to include on its board prominent critics of communalization, these steps

would reassure donors that all was well. Meanwhile one solution for Indian Americans of goodwill,

suggested by Ied franca of the HSS, is to focus a larger p

which there is plenty, contributing to one's new community in ways that are easy to trace because they

are local. [Page 314]

The International Development and Relief Fund a charitable Maryland based Hindu organization is no

different than the blacklisted Muslim charitable organizations which got banned because of their secret

support of terrorism in the US. Nussbaum seems quite critical of Biju Mathew's report by calling it

`alarmist and even hysterical in tone'. Regardless of this particular report, it is a fact that money in the

millions is being sent to the RSS/BJP to spread hate and violence. I personally know of physicians and

engineers who not only sent gold bricks for the future Ayodhya Temple but also fully supported the

destruction of the Babri Masjid. These same socially presentable, very articulate Hindu professionals

will go to any length to support the hate against Muslims and other religious minorities due to their

long simmering latent rage against the perceived humiliations. The State Department needs to track

and ban such organizations which have funded ethnic cleansing and slaughter of many other innocents

in India. Hindus rarely give when natural calamities have struck the U.S. rather they have gone out of

their way to send money to their homeland to support tenor. This deadly quirk in the timid Hindu-
American needs to be kept in check. Further, America's hypocritical pandering to India must stop.

He emphasizes the importance of the values of interreligious cooperation, nonviolence, and sex equality

as key parts of what is taught in the U.S. shakhas.......he acknowledges with regret that there are no

organized interfaith activities including Muslims. [Page 321]

Ted Parkash Nanda a Hindu who is the current head of the RSS arm in the U.S. namely the HSS

(Hindu Swayamsevak Sangh) is the new moderate face of the Hindu right wing organization. One can

only pray Nussbaum's assessment of Nanda is correct, because, knowing the RSS and its poisonous

arms, it is not possible to have a reasonable Hindu run an extremely unreasonable organization and

expect others to trust them.

The same issues that are central in thinking about education in India are central when we think about the

children of the diaspora: critical thinking, knowledge of the world, and the imagination of otherness. These

capacities do not grow automatically, and they have enemies: dogmatism, fanaticism, ignorance, false

ideology, and emotional obtuseness. [Page 329]

Nussbaum has assessed the Hindu dilemma astutely. The problem is that the negative retrograde

thinking outweighs the positive at this moment. Only time will tell if the right minded Hindus albeit

very few are able to put some reason, guide, and lead the rest out of the current morass.

Chapter 10 — The Clash Within

What subverts democracy, and what preserves it? In any democracy the moral imagination is always in

peril. Necessary and delicate, it can so easily hijacked by fear, shame, and outraged masculinity. The

real "clash of civilizations" is not "out there, " between admirable Westerners and Muslim zealots. It is

here, within each person, as we oscillate uneasily between self

protective aggression and the ability to live in the world with others. [Page 337]

The deeply rooted prejudices of all the educated political elite [actors] are just the tip of the iceberg.

Old habits die hard, but in a society where the religion itself is part of a devious apartheid against

its own kind, it becomes a monumental challenge, to bring about positive change. Nussbaum

has summed up the book very succinctly. She adds her own credibility to the truth in the book,

which cannot be easily dismissed by the likes of the Malhotras and the RSS goons. A must read for

academics in the West and others to understand the Hindu psyche, as Nussbaum has removed the veil

off the hideous RSS to a quite an extent.

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