Lalu Prasad Yadav, Possibly India’s Next Prime Minister

For the past four and a half years, India has had a classy, educated, honest Prime Minister in Manmohan Singh. He’s often been criticized for not seeming forceful enough, but he did score a major success against both left and right in the nuclear deal and subsequent vote of no-confidence, and will probably join a relatively small number of Indian PMs in finishing out a complete five-year term. (Quick quiz: how many have there been?)

One person who is being talked about as a viable candidate for India’s next Prime Minister couldn’t be more different — Lalu Prasad Yadav. Yadav is the ex-Chief Minister of Bihar, where he rose to power in the “Mandal era” by mobilizing what are referred to as backward caste voting blocs in the state. Once in power, Yadav became nationally notorious as a rampantly corrupt figure, who embezzled at least $267 million in the “Fodder Scam”. He was eventually forced out of office, but was able to continue effectively running the state after he installed his wife, Rabri Devi, as Chief Minister in his stead. Starting in the late 1990s, Lalu Prasad Yadav became the punchline of many Indian jokes; even saying his name in some circles leads people to start smiling, in expectation of the joke to follow. (Another quiz: what are the names of his nine children?)

During the current UPA (Congress) administration he has had a second political life as the National Railways Minister — and he’s had remarkable success in turning around a huge government operation that had for decades been dominated by inefficiency and losses for the government. During its tenure (1999-2004), the NDA (BJP) had even been making noises to the effect that the only solution would be privatization, or failing that, raising ticket prices aggressively. But under Yadav, in 2008 alone the Railways earned profits of $6 billion — without raising passenger ticket prices at all. He may have been incredibly corrupt (and may still be corrupt), but he has been remarkably effective at turning around a major government agency.

I mention Lalu Prasad Yadav as a Prime Minister possibility as a reflection of the chatter I was hearing, mainly from relatives, as I was traveling in northern India last week. I have no idea whether it’s a real possibility, and I’m certainly far from thrilled about the possibility of someone so corrupt becoming Prime Minister. But it would nevertheless be interesting, partly because it would involve the country making a clear departure from the Nehru family and western-educated elites, in favor of someone with a strikingly different profile.

He may or may not become Prime Minister, but it does appear that while Lalu Prasad Yadav is still the butt of a few jokes, many Indians are starting to utter his name with newfound respect.

332 thoughts on “Lalu Prasad Yadav, Possibly India’s Next Prime Minister

  1. I think everything that needs to be said on Modi has been said at this point. It’s safe to drop the subject before it turns into a pure flame-war.

  2. There is the risk of the rest of us dying of laughter though.

    I thought you had a higher risk of “boiling blood”. It’s better to focus on that. :-)

  3. 254 · NaraVara said

    To answer all the other extremely important and pertinent questsions that all of you Hindutvadis have raised: yes, I label everyone I disagree with a fascist, including my mother, my aunties, my brother, and the young women in Chak De prior to being disciplined by Shahrukh Khan (after that, they weren’t fascist anymore). This is because I am totally unfamiliar with politics and history and therefore have no ability to understand what the word “fascist” means.
    I see constructing strawmen and triumphantly knocking them down must be great sport in your circles.

    Fascism is the use of a business-government alliance and authoritarian/centralized ruling style to promote an economic nationalist or similar agenda, often using violent means and a majoritarian ideology. The Mussolini Admininstration is the standard prototype for it, but in a broader sense, it is probably one of several strategies that can be adopted during a particular point in the industrialization process.

    Happy? Why not just google it yourself and engage the debate on fascism, whose meaning I clearly understand? Oh, because that would force you to acknowledge things you don’t want to.

  4. 255 · Amit said

    There is no debate – your arugument is weak…Rahul’s, HRW’s, and every other remotely intellectually honest party
    From what I see no amount of investigation or reports has historically satisfied you or the people you quote unless it reaches a conclusion you like. Exhibit A is your reaction to the first part of the Nanavati Commission report on the 2002 Gujarat riots. Also I present Exhibit B where the Wadhwa commission’s report is called into question. Exhibit B at the bottom also shows a propensity to blame the Sangh for Gandhi’s murder, a case which was investigated some 60 odd years ago while the Sangh was banned, politically weak and the Congress Party was in control. So the question is that given the long running disregard for judicial opinion from your side, why should any non-judicial opinion like HRW be assigned any greater weight by me, specially when such non-judicial parties are shown to make careless mistakes at the very least and may be politically motivated at worst.

    Look dude, if you don’t understand what “conflict between two different discourses” means, you’re never going to grasp why you come to one conclusion and I come to another. I have a different body of information that I trust, a different standard for determining what I trust and what I don’t, and, most pertinently, am less wedded to the idea that my ideological aims must be confirmed by the material I look at. This is partly the product of the elaborate “information” production machine that is the sangh – a trumped up report, whether produced by CSFH or by the Nanavati Panel, is not something I’m going to cherrypick and rely on in exclusion to all of the other context that is available to me (examples 1,2). At the same time, I’m not going to sit here and pretend that all discourses have the same weight, are equally valuable in establishing how closely the observations we make correspond with what is or has happened in the real world, or are driven by the same aims.

    Take your rightwing postmodernism and go home – the rest of us are very comfortable acknowledging that the Sangh – in varying degrees – has participated in a lot of social violence in India – by any reasonable standard, this is the case. Whether or not you want to believe it is ultimately YOUR problem, not everyone else’s. I am well aware that the Sanngh is not the only violent force in India, that the Congress is complicit in a lot of social violence along many different lines, that the CPI(M) is complicit in social violence, that the politics of Muslim patriarchal establishments can be just as obnoxious as yours – but none of this changes the fact that it is EXTREMELY annoying when people attempt to turn any discussion of what has happened in the world and use methods of episetmology and ontology not as a way of better understanding what has happened, but as a way of paralyzing, creating uncertainty where none exists, and ultimately bolstering the powers that be by making it impossible to make any definitive statement about anything because there is always one more piece of (often constructed and cherrypicked) evidence that you can come up with. It’s total fucking bullshit, and I’m callinng you out for it.

  5. 259 · Dr Amonymous said

    Fascism is the use of a business-government alliance and authoritarian/centralized ruling style to promote an economic nationalist or similar agenda, often using violent means and a majoritarian ideology.

    well, that doesn’t sound so bad. sounds somewhat common. why’s everyone so afraid of fascism then?

  6. 256 · Lupus Solitarius said

    I hate myself for being raised Hindu
    I am totally unfamiliar with politics and history and therefore have no ability to understand what the word “fascist” means.

    That was fun :) Now all I have to do is get a judge in Gujarat to incorporate it into Committee findings and I can site it in internet arguments that you hate yourself for being raised Hindu and have no comprehension of fascism :)

    And why this juvenile bragging about your beef eating proclivity? Do you think you are scoring some cheap points here? I can speak for myself, and I don’t give a toss about whether you eat cow or cabbage or pig. I eat all of the above, if and when I feel like it, and not to spite someone or to show-off my ‘broad-mindednes’. I think your post quite graphically demonstrates the violence, fear and hatred that swirls around in your mind. It is more about your fears than mine/ours.

    I’m sorry – did you think that I was going to let you pretend we were having a conversation in good faith?

    I call myself a doctor and I don’t even have a doctoral degree, let alone an MBBS! What can I do? This is a syndrome CommentingHindtuvatiitis that afflicts people with a modicum of intellectual integity who are interetested in content and not just politically driven attempts to obliterate any notion of sound epistemology. Fairly common.

    And now off to the steak farm!

    PS….what do you think about the Nanavati commission report on the Godhra incident?

    I haven’t read it; I was looking it up, but in the context of looking it up (since none of you had enough bothered providing a link to this extraordinarily important document) was enough for me:

    I would like to submit here that I was scheduled to depose before the Shah Nanavati Commission on September 18, 2003. A few days before, some VHP people came led by Jaykanth Dave of the BJP came to tutor us how to speak. Our society that consisted of 35 tenements is situated in a remote place and they tried to use this pressure. I was so upset that we were being told to say that I did not go. Some others went out of fear.
    N-M report operates on the basis that it was a preplanned conspiracy by local Muslims in collaboration with the ISI. It concludes that Haji Umarji the local cleric presided over the meeting of Muslims where this conspiracy was hatched. They bought 140 liters of petrol, cut open the vestibule between S 6 and S 7, spread the petrol and burnt the coach. This conclusion is arrived without even a single eyewitness to the burning of the train. There were 200 passengers in the overcrowded train but no eye witness account has been cited to ratify their conclusion. This conspiracy theory has serious holes in it. That the train is carrying the returning Kar Sevaks was not a public knowledge, not even the state officials knew about it. The only people who knew that the Ram sevaks were returning by that train were the VHP-BJP combine. The train was late by five hours and this totally debunks the theory of conspiracy by Muslim community. If they did not know that train is carrying Ram Sevaks how could they conspire and how could they implement the same if train was late? If conspiracy is at all to be believed the finger of suspicion should be in some other direction! Than, if the commission says the vestibule was cut open, why such valuable evidence was permitted to be sold in the scrap? The depositions show that the first train stoppage at Godhra station was due to the Ram Sevaks pulling the chain as some of them were left out on the platform and the second one was due to technical fault. For conspiracy by them they should have stopped the train, which is not the case. This again goes against the conspiracy by Muslims theory.

    Also see here for a long list of communal incidents (pdf) from 1947 to 2003 (though it’s obviously not comprehensive given how much stuff happens). Note that it says that 30 reports were prepared after the 2002 Godhra pogroms. So what do you thik of the other 29? ;)

    But of course, I imagine that very little of this will make a dent, because your conclusions are already established and your search for data is only an attempt to complete the tautological circle that you started with. The lone wolf chases its tail around, fearing the influence of the Angrezi and the Mughals.

  7. 257 · NaraVara said

    I think everything that needs to be said on Modi has been said at this point. It’s safe to drop the subject before it turns into a pure flame-war.

    Really? I think we’re just getting started deconstructing the totally bullshit epistemological model that you guys use to trick people and confuse them into thinking that things are not established when they are and things are established when they are not…

    you see, if you use the house of the postmodernism, eventually, the builders will come back and kick you out :)

  8. I think we’re just getting started deconstructing the totally bullshit epistemological model that you guys use to trick people and confuse them into thinking that things are not established when they are and things are established when they are not…

    Is it possible for you to use simpler sentences?. I can google and find out what is epistemology (or episetmology(??).. you used both) and ontology, but still I’d prefer not to do that. Of late, I think I know a little bit about post-modernism after hearing that being used frequently.

    You know “Hindutvadi fascists” like me are a little bit dumb (and that is why they are Hindutvadis in the first place) and not super intellectuals like the ‘progressives’. Maybe if we get enlightened like you folks the world will be a better place. :-)

  9. 264 · Ponniyin Selvan said

    Is it possible for you to use simpler sentences?. I can google and find out what is epistemology (or episetmology(??).. you used both) and ontology, but still I’d prefer not to do that. Of late, I think I know a little bit about post-modernism after hearing that being used frequently. You know “Hindutvadi fascists” like me are a little bit dumb (and that is why they are Hindutvadis in the first place) and not super intellectuals like the ‘progressives’. Maybe if we get enlightened like you folks the world will be a better place. :-)

    I already tried using simpler sentences:

    What exactly do you think we’re debating? Those who are claiming that Hindutva organizations and the government of Gujarat, run by Modi, are demanding such an enormously strong standard of proof to establish what happened there that if you were to be consistent, you would never comment about anything that goes on outside the narrow confines of your room – and perhaps not even that. Who can you trust? I’m surprised you buy milk at the supermarket without the fear that the label is a lie and has a longstanding anti-Hindutva agenda. There is no debate – your arugument is weak and Rahul’s, HRW’s, and every other remotely intellectually honest party that has written on the Gujarat pogrom’s in 2002 is strong. The BJP, the government of Gujarat, and other Hindutva organizations were complicit in those targeted mass murders and the denial of justice that continues to date.

    This is an example of how Hindutva works as a method of understanding – “facts” are produced that confirm your worldview, which you can then cite. This is an a method of producing an entire conversation which is circular – and anything that intrudes upon it which is disagreeable is labeled “psedusecular” or its motives are questioned and above all it is never ever considered as possibly accurate, because apparently each belief you all have (like that Modi is in any way fit to run a puja let alone a state or a national government) is a keystone and the entire edifice of your belief system threatens to crumble without it (apparently – this is also probably a sign of its weakness).

    This is the same tactic as anti-global warming people (just find a couple scientists and their opinions are worth as much as the entire scientific community), the anti-evolution people (call evolution a “theory” and equate it to intelligent design), etc etc etc in the u.s. Every piece of evidence is labeled equivalent and that an entire industry or apparatus exists to manufacture “information” specifically to support your worldview is ignored (yes, you collectively are quite ignorant – that is in fact that point.) At the same time, accuse the people who are disagreeing with you fo engaging in the very practices that you yourself are engaging in, further clouding the issue and making it impossible for an outside observer to ever get a clear picture.

    But clear(er) pictures are available for those of us who can distinguish between what is more reliable and what is less reliable (a subjective judgement yes, but cumulatively these subjective judgements can help us collectively figure out what we think is true – IF WE TRY – see abdolkarim soroush). Like so:

    State officials of Gujarat, India were directly involved in the killings of hundreds of Muslims since February 27 and are now engineering a massive cover-up of the state’s role in the violence, Human Rights Watch charged in a new report released today. The Indian parliament is scheduled today to debate the situation in Gujarat, and may vote to censure the Indian government for its handling of the violence. The police were directly implicated in nearly all the attacks against Muslims that are documented in the 75-page report, ‘We Have No Orders to Save You’: State Participation and Complicity in Communal Violence in Gujarat. In some cases they were merely passive observers. But in many instances, police officials led the charge of murderous mobs, aiming and firing at Muslims who got in the way. Under the guise of offering assistance, some police officers led the victims directly into the hands of their killers. Panicked phone calls made to the police, fire brigades, and even ambulance services generally proved futile. Several witnesses reported being told by police: “We have no orders to save you.”

    HRW

    As corrobobrated by the words of Sangh leaders assholes themselves in Tehelka’s sting:

    Bajrangi: Narendrabhai got me out of jail…… He kept on changing judges…. He set it up so as to ensure my release, otherwise I wouldn’t have been out yet… The first judge was one Dholakiaji… He said Babu Bajrangi should be hanged — not once, but four-five times, and he flung the file aside… Then came another who stopped just short of saying I should be hanged… Then there was a third one… By then, four-and-a-half months had elapsed in jail; then Narendrabhai sent me a message… saying he would find a way out… Next he posted a judge named Akshay Mehta… He never even looked at the file or anything…. He just said [bail was] granted… And we were all out… We were free….. For this, I believe in God… We are ready to die for Hindutva…
    JUNE 12, 2007 Ramesh Dave:We went to the [VHP] office that night… the atmosphere was very disturbing… Everybody felt that [we had taken it] for so many years… Narendrabhai gave us great support… TEHELKA: What was his reaction when he reached Godhra? Dave: In Godhra, he gave a very strong statement… He was in a rage… He’s been with the Sangh from childhood… His anger was such… he didn’t come out into the open then but the police machinery was turned totally ineffective…
    JUNE 1, 2007 TEHELKA: What was Narendra Modi’s reaction when the Godhra incident happened? Haresh Bhatt: I can’t tell you this… but I can say it was favourable… because of the understanding we shared at that time… TEHELKA: Tell me something… Did he… Bhatt: I can’t give a statement… But what he did, no chief minister has ever done … TEHELKA: I won’t quote it anywhere…For that matter… I am not even going to quote you Bhatt: He had given us three days… to do whatever we could. He said he would not give us time after that… He said this openly…After three days, he asked us to stop and everything came to a halt… TEHELKA: It stopped after three days… Even the army was called in. Bhatt: All the forces came… We had three days… and did what we had to in those three days… TEHELKA: Did he say that? Bhatt: Yes… That is why I am saying he did what no chief minister can do… TEHELKA: Did he speak to you? Bhatt: I told you that we were at the meeting. • • • Bhatt: He had to run the government… the trouble he is facing now… there are several cases being re-opened… people are rebelling against him… TEHELKA: People in the BJP are revolting against him… Bhatt: People in the BJP… whatever he has done has made him a larger-than-life figure and the other politicians cannot bear to see that…
    Pandya: No it’s not like that… Modi’s been on our line for a long time… Forget that matter… But he’s occupying a post, so naturally there are more limitations… and he has quite a few… It is he who gave all signals in favour of the Hindus… If the ruler is hard, then things can start happening… TEHELKA: Did you meet… Narendra Modi after he returned from Godhra on the 27th? Pandya: No, I will not answer queries on this… I shouldn’t… TEHELKA: Sir, I want to know what was his first reaction? Pandya: When Narendra Modi first heard it over the phone, his blood was boiling… Tell me, what else do I say… I’ve given you some hints and I can’t reveal more than that… nor should I say it… TEHELKA: I wanted to know this… what his first reaction was… Pandya: No, his reaction was like this: if he were not a minister, he would have burst bombs… If he had the capacity and was not a minister he would have detonated a few bombs in Juhapura [a Muslimdominated locality in Ahmedabad].

    Does this prove anything? No. But the cumulative body of evidence on Gujarat and Modi is strong enough to anyone who does not have a Hindu persecution complex and rely on extremely bad sources of information and extremely bad methods of filtering which sources of information are reliable and which ones aren’t.

  10. anyone who does not have a Hindu persecution complex

    Dr. A, I told my therapist that I have a “Hindu persecution complex,” but he told me not to worry, that it was just a rational reaction to how Hindus get treated in Pakistan, Bangladesh, and Malaysia. What to do, old boy?

  11. anti-global warming people

    axually – the anti global-warming* people are NOT saying the globe is not getting warmer. they are saying that humans are not responsible for the global warming and that this phenomenon is being observed at other planets in the solar system.

    *use the hyphen visely my man.

  12. 267 · rob said

    that it was just a rational reaction to how Hindus get treated in Pakistan, Bangladesh, and Malaysia. What to do, old boy?

    rob, I don’t think that is a good reason to justify reciprocal treatment against other minorities in India, where Hindus are a majority. There will be no winners in this escalation of competitive intolerance. How is nonsense like Ram and Krishna Janmabhoomi, excuses for a mosque demolition program by Hindu fanatics, not analogous to the kind of temple destruction carried out in Malaysia? Or what is done to Christian priests not similar to persecution of Hindus in today’s Pakistan or Bangladesh? I can understand these responses in response to a 3 am phone call or an appeal to the reptilian brain, but it boggles my mind how Sangh rhetoric and actions can be justified as moral after considered thinking?

  13. Rahul, Yes, good points, but my participation in the Hindu right is based on the reasons for concern/need for revival; I’m not in favor of any mistreatment of others, though I’ll concede that some of my fellow-travelers are, and that this is wrong.

  14. Fascism is the use of a business-government alliance and authoritarian/centralized ruling style to promote an economic nationalist or similar agenda, often using violent means and a majoritarian ideology.

    When did I ever say I didn’t know what fascism was? I said you were using a strawman. Dictionaries are poor places to get your political philosophy. I took the liberty of bolding the weasel words for you. They’re weasel words because they allow one to stretch the definition to mean whatever they care to. I also took the liberty of italicizing those clauses which would make me as “relative to what?” American democracy is extremely majoritarian relative to the monarchy we overthrew. At what point do business-government interactions constitute an “alliance?” How “centralized” does a centralized power have to be before it meets your standard?

    Your definition is bunk.

  15. 263 · Dr Amonymous said

    257 · NaraVara said
    I think everything that needs to be said on Modi has been said at this point. It’s safe to drop the subject before it turns into a pure flame-war.
    Really? I think we’re just getting started deconstructing the totally bullshit epistemological model that you guys use to trick people and confuse them into thinking that things are not established when they are and things are established when they are not… you see, if you use the house of the postmodernism, eventually, the builders will come back and kick you out :)

    See? I said continuing the discussion would descend into a flamewar and voila! Flamewar!

    And oh man would my old mentor chortle at the implication that I am a post-modernist.

  16. 268 · khoofia said

    the anti global-warming* people are NOT saying the globe is not getting warmer. they are saying that humans are not responsible for the global warming and that this phenomenon is being observed at other planets in the solar system.

    That’s not all of them. There is a sizable number of people who do not acknowledge that global warming is a fact – they claim that increases in temperature might be part of some cyclical event, or actually that there isn’t even a consistent trend of increasing temperatures. I tend to think of the group you allude to as the “progressives” among the anti global-warming people, it is probably analogous to the, er, evolution of creationism to intelligent design, to create more of a foggy pseudo-scientific melange.

  17. Dr A uvacha

    This is an example of how Hindutva works as a method of understanding – “facts” are produced that confirm your worldview, which you can then cite. This is an a method of producing an entire conversation which is circular – and anything that intrudes upon it which is disagreeable is labeled “psedusecular”

    This is exactly the same way that people like you work. Anything disagreeable to your worldview is ‘fascist’ and ‘Hindutvavadi’.

    But clear(er) pictures are available for those of us who can distinguish between what is more reliable and what is less reliable (a subjective judgement yes, but cumulatively these subjective judgements can help us collectively figure out what we think is true – IF WE TRY – see abdolkarim soroush). Like so:

    Yes. Reliable like Teesta Setalvad, whose communalism combat you have quoted. The kind of sites that you visit and get your information from (counter currents, sabrang, communalism combat) are sites with their own biases and agendas. What you’ve coveyed using 50000 words (including epistemological , ontology, postmodernism, and fuck)was essentially that we have different sources of information and because you think that you are more intellectually incisive, socially sensitive, tautologically taut and metaphysically muscular than us poor fundies, ergo, whatever appeals to you subjectively is the Gospel truth, and must always carry more weightage in the grand scheme of things. There are many little pins that I can use to prick this shiny little ego balloon that you are floating. There are hundreds of different views that can be considered, but your mind is closed and I don’t think it is of any use. When you revile an ideology, it is advisable to understand exactly what you are reviling. Not everyone who supports nationalistic politics and policies in India is a sword brandishing,tilak sporting, minority oppressing, cow worshipping, semi educated genocidal fascist maniac that you seem to enjoy invoking. Like just because you are left leaning, you do necessarily worship Mao or Stalin- (I hope!), there are gradations and subtleties which you are unwilling and/or unable to understand (Best illustrated by brandishing beef, angrezi and mughals at me- Boo!!! shiver me timbers!!!) Everyone agrees that riots are bad. Everyone agrees that those who killed innocents and those who facilitated these killings deserve to be punished after being duly convicted. What we differ on (amongst many things) is this culture of creating a bogeyman and then blaming him conveniently for everything that goes wrong in your world. It is intellectually dishonest people like you that blame every act of terrorism in India on the Babri masjid demolition,Gujarat,the BJP and Narendra Modi.

  18. Not everyone who supports nationalistic politics and policies in India is a sword brandishing,tilak sporting, minority oppressing, cow worshipping, semi educated genocidal fascist maniac that you seem to enjoy invoking.

    Well-said!

  19. 274 · Lupus Solitarius said

    Not everyone who supports nationalistic politics and policies in India is a sword brandishing,tilak sporting, minority oppressing, cow worshipping, semi educated genocidal fascist maniac that you seem to enjoy invoking.
  20. 274 · Lupus Solitarius said

    Not everyone who supports nationalistic politics and policies in India is a sword brandishing,tilak sporting, minority oppressing, cow worshipping, semi educated genocidal fascist maniac that you seem to enjoy invoking.

    [insert standard naravara comment on strawmen here]

  21. 270 · rob said

    but my participation in the Hindu right is based on the reasons for concern/need for revival; I’m not in favor of any mistreatment of others, though I’ll concede that some of my fellow-travelers are, and that this is wrong.

    I’ve said it before, so I won’t repeat myself after this comment: Violence is not an accidental accompaniment to Hindutva ideology and Sangh rhetoric, it is inevitable. The emphasis on Hindu ideals as a way of life for a society rather than as an individual belief system closely replicates some of the most poisonous evolutions of Islamic societies which have conflated personal and societal observance and created a suffocating system, rather than a vibrant revival.

  22. Violence is not an accidental accompaniment to Hindutva ideology and Sangh rhetoric, it is inevitable.

    Hmmmm–would you include Vivekananda here?

  23. Violence is not an accidental accompaniment to Hindutva ideology and Sangh rhetoric, it is inevitable. The emphasis on Hindu ideals as a way of life for a society rather than as an individual belief system closely replicates some of the most poisonous evolutions of Islamic societies which have conflated personal and societal observance and created a suffocating system, rather than a vibrant revival.

    This is an assumption and misperception perhaps derived from the Indian elite’s own prejudices and wish to be seen as non-violent. The average Hindu has indulged in violent behavior prior to the Sangh as demonstrated by this guy or this guy or the INA, any number of communal riots prior to the formation of the Sangh and alongside it and most famously by the Maratha Empire.

  24. 280 · Amit said

    This is an assumption and misperception perhaps derived from the Indian elite’s own prejudices and wish to be seen as non-violent.

    You are contradicting a point I never made, but whatever floats your boat, which has been fortunate to break free of its elitist shackles. It says something that all your examples are from the freedom movement. What is the “average Hindu” (your words) violent against Muslims and Christians in India today for? Or maybe your claim is that Hinduism is inherently a violent religion (my claim was about the Hindutva ideology peddled by the Sangh, not Hinduism). Boy, by this reading of your claim, I hope Hinduism is treated with the same extreme prejudice that we treat other violent religions with.

  25. 279 · rob said

    Hmmmm–would you include Vivekananda here?

    I am no expert on Vivekananda, so I could be wrong, but I mostly associate his teachings with Yoga and intense self-discipline, discovering the depth of philosophy in the Vedas and Upanishads as a vehicle for personal enlightenment, and a focus on selfless service. That and his evocative talk in the World Congress of Religions (or whatever that was called) where he invoked the Gita to emphasise the centrality of tolerance in his view of Hinduism. This recollection of mine (which could admittedly be wrong in many ways) is very different than the Hindutva rhetoric and actions of the Sangh. Of course, Togadia might disagree, even with the “moderate” Vajpayee’s claim that there is no difference between Hindutva and Bharatiya (apparently a liberal viewpoint, although I am having trouble seeing it from my elitist pseudosecular ivory tower).

  26. It says something that all your examples are from the freedom movement.

    The Maratha empire is from the freedom movement? If you want a communal riot prior to the freedom movement there is one mentioned here in 1714 Ahmedabad.

    What is the “average Hindu” (your words) violent against Muslims and Christians in India today for?

    The point I am making is that Hindus of various stripes have demonstrated violent behavior at various times for various reasons (probably provocation, but I don’t claim to know). To assume that all of this is because the Sangh exists today and that people will not act without Sangh instigation is a simplistic view, specially if you consider that violence today is seen more in Congress ruled states.

  27. 283 · Amit said

    The point I am making is that Hindus of various stripes have demonstrated violent behavior at various times for various reasons (probably provocation, but I don’t claim to know)… To assume that all of this is because the Sangh exists today and that people will not act without Sangh instigation is a simplistic view

    By this “logic”, the Al-Qaeda should be a-ok too. I believe a variant of Steven Weinberg’s remark from this essay is appropriate to elucidate your logical fallacy.

  28. By this “logic”, the Al-Qaeda should be a-ok too. I believe a variant of Steven Weinberg’s remark from this essay is appropriate to elucidate your logical fallacy.

    You are setting up a strawman here. Replace Al-Qaeda with Muslim or Christian and you’d have the right equivalent.

  29. 283 · Amit said

    To assume that all of this is because the Sangh exists today and that people will not act without Sangh instigation is a simplistic view

    To actually reduce my statement to a simplistic formulation, I said “Hindutva implies violence”. In logic terms, and again being very simplistic, this means that Hindutva is a sufficient condition for violence. You are contradicting a claim that it is a necessary condition for violence, something I never made.

    You are setting up a strawman here. Replace Al-Qaeda with Muslim or Christian and you’d have the right equivalent.

    Exactly! I didn’t say Hindus are violent. That is an extrapolation you made.

  30. I said “Hindutva implies violence”. In logic terms, and again being very simplistic, this means that Hindutva is a sufficient condition for violence. You are contradicting a claim that it is a necessary condition for violence, something I never made.

    In that case, being very simplistic, if Hindutva was sufficient for violence, we would see violence every day.

  31. 287 · Amit said

    In that case, being very simplistic

    Yes, you are. Finally! Something we can agree on! This could be the beginning of a beautiful friendship.

  32. This could be the beginning of a beautiful friendship.

    So, that’s what the kids are calling it these days? ;-)

  33. Ok..it all seems to end in good cheer and love :-)

    To Rob, Amit, Ponniyin and others: You all may try very hard, you may try different POVs, but it will all be dismissed by some people (Rahul, Amonymous etc) because essentially they have already decided that Hindutva is evil.I don’t think I have seen any one change their opinions based on blog discourses.

    So, in a sense, may be we are all fighting for the votes of the neutral bloggers/posters here.

    And since I am not a neutral person:

    It is still inconceivable to me that Laloo Prasad Yadav can even be considered as PM material.And so is Rahul Gandhi.And Sonia Gandhi.And Chidambaram.And no, not MMS again !

    Mayawati for PM ! (in a coalition Govt including the BJP).

  34. I can understand these responses in response to a 3 am phone call or an appeal to the reptilian brain, but it boggles my mind how Sangh rhetoric and actions can be justified as moral after considered thinking?

    Stop with the analogies with the US right already. (If you really want analogies, then the Muslims in India are closer to the Confederates sympathisers of the south than the other minorities of the US. (They share serveral characteristics such as being former opressive rulers in thrall of what they consider to be a glorious past, low education, simmering resentment of those who took over, clinging to religion, voting as per instructions from religious demogogues, having higher birth rates, etc)

    Dr A had put up a link to a report on Communal riots. Although it had the JNU anti hindu bias, Here are some points from one can make out by reading through the document.

    The number of riots started by muslims vastly outnumbers the number of riots started by Hindus.

    VHP / RSS organizes Ram Lila / Kali / Jagannath Rath Yatra or a similar processsion through a city. Mulsims riot once the procession comes through a Mulsim neighborhood. The Hindu orgaizations hold a Yagna within the temple. Muslims riot.

    If Hindus have sufficent freedom of religion in India, why can’t they congregate for a parade in any part of an Indian City, without danger from Muslims? Or is the freedom to express ones religion or the freedom to congregate not applicable to BJP / VHP/ RSS?

    Do not Muslim processions go through Hindu neghborhoods? Does’nt the local mosque blast the 4 daily prayers into Hindu homes every day? Are’nt Muslim shrines in the midst of temples tolerated? And yet there is no report of hindus starting a riot when this happens. Is a bit of reciprocity too much to ask?

    Just being a Hindu is dangerous at times — One riot occured because Muslims and Christians had a feud. End result – Hindus were targeted!

    The Muslim Community riots for the flimsiest of reasons. For example the report states: “The riot occurred on this particular occasion when a police constable on duty refused to chase a pig when asked by Muslims in the Idgah.” This riot led to the death of 1500 -2000 people. MORE THAN WHAT CONG-I REPORTS SAY DIED IN GUJARAT 2002 BTW Why should Hindus suffer because of random accidents such as short circuit burning down a mosque?

    Finally the death toll under Cong-I govts dwarfs anything under Modi. The cong I has been run by a single family for decades now. Rahul, DR A, etc, I guess you will be lobbying against allowing members of that family and other Cong-I politicians access to US visas, right?

    And this is from information from an anti Hindu, biased JNU authored information. The unbiased information is far worse.

  35. P.S. The reasons I consider the report to be biased:

    1.) Use of language that caricarturizes and demonizes mainstream hindu parties. For example: “BJP stormtroopers” Who the *uck uses such language in an official report. There is a use of weseal words in trying to associate Hindu parties with criminal activity.(If the author of the report is reading note this: Holding processions in public places is not a crime, even when people congregating are Hindus)

    2.) Use of false numbers in the Gujarat riot: “2000+” people died? B.S. Even the Cong-I govt numbers come nowhere close to it. Look it up. Just because some NGOs whose bread and butter depends on painting Modi as the second coming of Hilter make up some numbers does’nt make it so. Convientently unofficial inflated numbers are used for this riot while lower estimates are used for riots

    3.) Not calling a spade a spade when it comes to Muslims and instead using “Marad was a case of planned attack when some well armed men came and killed members of a particular community.” What does “some” and “particular community” mean ? Did Hindus kill Muslims? Did the Zerg kill members of the protoss community? There are the simple facts: — Muslim men attacked and killed Hindu fishermen in Marad. The attack was concieved and planned at a local mosque, where the perpetrators also stored the weapons used in the attack. How difficult is it to write this?

    4.) There is no mention of the enthnic cleansing of Pandits from kashmir. The only incident reported from that region is from Hindu dominated Jammu.

    Of course, if you want to ignore this and say that I have my tin foil hat on and mock me for imagining bias, sure go ahead, whatever makes your day.

  36. Applause for DizzyDesi.

    Here’s some food for thought, penned by Dr.Subramaniam Swamy.

    Excerpts (emphasis mine):

    A study by Peter Hammond concludes that where Muslim population in a country is less than 5 per cent, that population does not agitate for a separate law, the Sharia, in fact the community totally integrates itself with the majority in society. He cites the US and Australia as examples.

    Where the population of Muslims is between 5 per cent and 15 per cent they start agitating on religious grievances and separate identity. He gives India, France and UK as examples. When the population crosses 15 per cent and reaches 40 per cent, then an aggressive struggle by Muslims for autonomy starts. Thus India is at the threshold percentage today.

    Hammonds analysis corresponds to the classification of countries in Islamic theology: Darul Islam where Muslims rule, Darul Harab where Muslims are not in power but as a minority can agitate by fair or foul, hook or crook, to convert these countries to Darul Islam, and Darul Ahad (or Taqqiya) where a Muslim in minority risk the wrath of the majority, and hence Muslims must be compliant to the wishes of the majority for survival. Islamic theology does not, however as Hammond does, classify nations according to percentage of Muslim population but according to the nature of the majority—whether it is united and aggressive or divided and passive. India is in the latter category, and hence even where Muslims are less than five per cent as in Tamil Nadu, in pockets in the state where Muslims are in majority such as Thondi in Ramanathapuram district or Melvisharam in Vellore district, Muslims have established Darul Islam where Hindus are denied all civic amenities and live defacto as dhimmis. In Kashmir, where statewise they are in a narrow majority, they have engaged in religious cleansing to achieve Darul Islam by driving out half a million Hindus and Sikhs and made them refugees in a 83 per cent Hindu country. Only the Indian army is holding back the establishment of Darul Islam in Kashmir.”

  37. Ok..the excerpts I posted earlier are from a different article by Swamy, on the same topic. The link I have for that article is not working. So, here’s a link from a blog that quotes from Peter Hammond’s book.

    I have not heard about Dr Peter Hammond till now.Is he a popular/credible voice in the US?A google search shows a physicist prof from Stanford, and a Rev Peter Hammon from S.Carolina, but I doubt if the author of the book is either of these.

    We may or may not agree with his thesis, but the statistics are so revealing.All along, I used to think this is an India-specific problem due to its unique history (Pre-Mughal, Mughal, colonial and Post-Colonial era).But this seems to be a global problem.

    I just fail to understand one thing: Why are the left, liberal types always playing apologists for Islamic terrorists? I mean, they sided with the Islamists to overthrow the Shah of Iran way back, and the Islamists promptly decimated all the left, liberals in Iran after that.

    I used to think of myself as a liberal leaning guy.But the repeated apologies for Islamic terror from all liberal intellectuals have disappointed me.And I don’t sense a middle ground emerging any time soon.This situation is benefiting only the fundamentalists (of all hues).

  38. “The riot occurred on this particular occasion when a police constable on duty refused to chase a pig when asked by Muslims in the Idgah.” .

    he.he.. I missed this report cited by Dr. A.. That policeman should have been on the payrolls of Modi.

    August 1980 Moradabad, Uttar Pradesh Id-prayers were disrupted and scores of people, including many young children, died in a stampede at the Idgah. The riot occurred on this particular occasion when a police constable on duty refused to chase a pig when asked by Muslims in the Idgah. A number of Harijan slums and Muslim refugee camps were attacked.

    I think the report is not entirely accurate either. Though it talks about the 1964 Calcutta/Rourkela/Jamshedpur riots that killed 2000 people the reason it states is business enmity between Hindus and Muslims. The starting point of the riots is (I think) the mysterious theft of “Hazrat Bal” (hair of the Prophet Mr. Muhammad), in Kashmir. The hair was found as mysteriously as it vanished. The funny thing is that the Mullahs verified it is actually the stolen hair (don’t know what techniques they used, DNA ?? ). The whole issue could have been a source of big comedy rather than the tragic outcome of riots and 2000 deaths.

  39. 292 · DizzyDesi said

    Dr A had put up a link to a report on Communal riots. Although it had the JNU anti hindu bias, Here are some points from one can make out by reading through the document. The number of riots started by muslims vastly outnumbers the number of riots started by Hindus.
    1. Give us a count based on the document so we can know how you arrived at this conclusion.
    2. Since you now consider this document worthy evidence of historical truth, presumably you will agree now that the consensus opinion 2002 Gujarat massacres were a state-sponsored pogrom against Muslims, as the article states?

    Thanks.

  40. Dr A Here is a small list of material that you might find useful if you truly care about balanced discourse/the complete picture/epistemological harmony/whatever you might want to call it. Of course it is silly to ask for and count the exact numbers, because the killing of human beings is not a zero sum game.What I intend to convey is that instead of painting this insane culture of violence as an oversimplified unidimensional genocidal movement unleashed by murderous Hindus, you need to perceive a trend and understand the correct cultural and civilisational context which has led us to things as they stand. Unfortunately due to the incorrect way that history of India is studied and taught today, there is a cognitive dissonance amongst many educated liberal and progressive individuals. 1
    2 3 4 5 6 7 When powerful and traumatic historical injustices are denied (and perpetuated) by a system of political and academic/intellectual perfidy, and one party (originally the victims, but we want to break out of that cycle) constantly labeled guilty by self righteous moralists, reactionary forces are unleashed, which gain strength because history is not only what is written in the books, it is also what is passed on as civilisational meme. Some honesty is required by all. My last post on this topic. Peace and wisdom to all.

  41. The kind of sites that you visit and get your information from (counter currents, sabrang, communalism combat) are sites with their own biases and agendas.

    Google is your friend. Use it well, and use it widely. I visit not just those sites, but also Human Rights Watch (apparently pseudosecular), the New York Times (apparently pseudosecular), The Guardian (apparently pseudosecular), Al Jazeera (apparently pseudosecular).

    What you’ve coveyed using 50000 words (including epistemological , ontology, postmodernism, and fuck)was essentially that we have different sources of information and because you think that you are more intellectually incisive, socially sensitive, tautologically taut and metaphysically muscular than us poor fundies, ergo, whatever appeals to you subjectively is the Gospel truth, and must always carry more weightage in the grand scheme of things.

    No, that is not what I’ve said. What I’ve said is that different methods produce different bodies of knowledge. I hope that the one I’ve chosen is more empirically reliable than one that can produce conclusions like ‘it’s ambiguous whether Modi helped promote and enable racist violent murder against Muslims, women, children, and others.’ If you read the words of Bajrang Dal and VHP members (cited and linked above in my 50,000 words) and add it to the words of the New York Times, Human Rights Watch, Indian human rights NGOs, Amnesty INternational, and others, you’ll see why those of us who are not true believers are skeptical of not just the claims you make, but the logic you use, and the ultimate purposes for which it is used. Either you are duped, or you are assholes. I leave it to you to decide which.

    There are many little pins that I can use to prick this shiny little ego balloon that you are floating. There are hundreds of different views that can be considered, but your mind is closed and I don’t think it is of any use.

    Yes, my mind is closed. Entirely. In fact, it is so closed that it picked up on ehte fact that you did exactly what I said postmodern rightwingers do – you say there are many views, you say they are all equivalent in terms of being empirically accurate, and then you argue that anyone who attempts to weight which descriptions are possibly more reliable and which ones are less is a “leftist.” It would be good if you could point to a single statement I’ve made here that is inherently Marxist, liberal, neoliberal, or any other ideology other than “against Hindutva as an ideology.”

    When you revile an ideology, it is advisable to understand exactly what you are reviling.

    Thanks, I think I do.

    Not everyone who supports nationalistic politics and policies in India is a sword brandishing,tilak sporting, minority oppressing, cow worshipping, semi educated genocidal fascist maniac that you seem to enjoy invoking.

    No shit, sherlock. Don’t think I haven’t missed the sleight of hand here either between “nationalistic” and “Hindutva” – they are two different phenomena, and Hindu nationalism and Indian nationalism are different creatures on a spectrum.

    Like just because you are left leaning, you do necessarily worship Mao or Stalin- (I hope!), there are gradations and subtleties which you are unwilling and/or unable to understand (Best illustrated by brandishing beef, angrezi and mughals at me- Boo!!! shiver me timbers!!!)

    Really, like when I pointed out that the sangh is a complicated phenomenon and it has different variants? I’m more than capable than recognizing that Hindu fundamentalism is a complex network of social and cultural and political and ideological and epistemological forces that work in concert, at odds, and often in a mixture with each other? That doesn’t mean that Modi isn’t an asshole, and it doesn’t mean that any person who thinks that Modi should be anywhere near power isn’t either an idiot or an asshole, and that his brand of politics is disgusting and shameful.

    Everyone agrees that riots are bad. Everyone agrees that those who killed innocents and those who facilitated these killings deserve to be punished after being duly convicted.

    So basically, Henry Kissinger did not commit war crimes because he wasn’t convicted, Donald Rumsfeld did not facilitate torture because he wasn’t convicted, and all legal proceedings arer fair, neutral, and beyond question, completely devoid of political power. Or that Nehru or Indira Gandhi or Modi or Vajpayee or Musharraf or anyone else will be convicted in a court of law. Right. We all know that there is NO WAY that Modi is going to be convicted or anyone like him and we also know that it would primarily be about political power. So let’s not pretend otherwise.

    What we differ on (amongst many things) is this culture of creating a bogeyman and then blaming him conveniently for everything that goes wrong in your world.

    Yeah, he’s the reason I’m broke. F@#king Modi.

    It is intellectually dishonest people like you that blame every act of terrorism in India on the Babri masjid demolition,Gujarat,the BJP and Narendra Modi.

    Thanks for the laugh. Again, to conclude, you are full of shit.

  42. Postmodern right-wingers.

    Conservative, traditionalist. . . post-modernist?

    This might be the first place I have ever heard such inanity.

    I realize post-modernism is another one of those ambiguous classifications that is nowadays applied to any attempt at acknowledging epistemological uncertainty, but to try to claim that disputing someone’s evidence somehow equates to a denial of empirical facts is . . . well it’s basically using big words to obfuscate your own inability to critically evaluate your preconceptions.

  43. That doesn’t mean that Modi isn’t an asshole, and it doesn’t mean that any person who thinks that Modi should be anywhere near power isn’t either an idiot or an asshole, and that his brand of politics is disgusting and shameful.

    The problem isn’t people who think Modi is an asshole. That’s fine. The problem comes when any terrorist action in India and any and every instance of flim-flam and incompetence by the INC and its Marxist enablers is met with “Well. . .um. . . ah. . . LOOK AT WHAT MODI DID!”

    That sort of exaggerated demonization isn’t meant to actually promote an honest discourse about Indian politics and policy. It is a completely obvious and transparent attempt to put anyone who sides with the BJP on the back-foot.

  44. 301 · NaraVara said

    The problem comes when any terrorist action in India and any and every instance of flim-flam and incompetence by the INC and its Marxist enablers is met with “Well. . .um. . . ah. . . LOOK AT WHAT MODI DID!”

    Who was doing that in this thread? I am mostly seeing that every examination of the Sangh is being responded to with “Well. . .um. . . ah. . . LOOK AT WHAT “THEY” DID!”

  45. Dr A wrote

    Again, to conclude, you are full of shit.

    very classy, ‘Dr’ A.

  46. 300 · NaraVara said

    Postmodern right-wingers. Conservative, traditionalist. . . post-modernist? This might be the first place I have ever heard such inanity. I realize post-modernism is another one of those ambiguous classifications that is nowadays applied to any attempt at acknowledging epistemological uncertainty, but to try to claim that disputing someone’s evidence somehow equates to a denial of empirical facts is . . . well it’s basically using big words to obfuscate your own inability to critically evaluate your preconceptions.

    What I said:

    This is the same tactic as anti-global warming people (just find a couple scientists and their opinions are worth as much as the entire scientific community), the anti-evolution people (call evolution a “theory” and equate it to intelligent design), etc etc etc in the u.s. Every piece of evidence is labeled equivalent and that an entire industry or apparatus exists to manufacture “information” specifically to support your worldview is ignored (yes, you collectively are quite ignorant – that is in fact that point.) At the same time, accuse the people who are disagreeing with you fo engaging in the very practices that you yourself are engaging in, further clouding the issue and making it impossible for an outside observer to ever get a clear picture.

    It’s postmodernism of the powerful. And thank you for crediting me with innovating it…hope it spreads, because I think it’s accurate ;)

  47. 298 · Lupus Solitarius said

    When powerful and traumatic historical injustices are denied (and perpetuated) by a system of political and academic/intellectual perfidy, and one party (originally the victims, but we want to break out of that cycle) constantly labeled guilty by self righteous moralists, reactionary forces are unleashed, which gain strength because history is not only what is written in the books, it is also what is passed on as civilisational meme.

    You quote gazillions of pre-partition incidents? So, what is the statute of limitations on the cycle of retribution? 60 years? 100? 200? And how does violence against Indian Muslims and Indian Christians help to address the persecution of Pakistani Hindus or Bangladeshi Hindus? Unless you consider all Muslims as one indivisible entity, in which case, you should accept that it is perfectly reasonable for them to take up cudgels against real or imagined grievances against their fellow travelers anywhere in the world too (which seems to be the logic for wielding Hindu muscle through India in exchange for violence against Hindus internationally, or in other parts of India)? What do you think is your gameplan for ending this conflict? Do you believe that you will successfully achieve the annihilation of the minority (which, collectively should pay the penalty for universally “being former opressive rulers in thrall of what they consider to be a glorious past, low education, simmering resentment of those who took over, clinging to religion, voting as per instructions from religious demogogues, having higher birth rates”) that a couple of commenters earlier seemed to desire?

    If you believe that banding together of Hindus with the philosophy that “any act against any one of us is an act of aggression against all of us, and we reserve the right to retaliate against any one of you”, sure. Just don’t expect to be treated with any greater degree of credibility or any moral superiority in comparison to the forces you decry for using these exact methods and ideals. The “he pulls a knife, you pull a gun” strategy is a success only if you are the convincing victor able to rewrite history.

    It is intellectually dishonest people like you that blame every act of terrorism in India on the Babri masjid demolition,Gujarat,the BJP and Narendra Modi.

    And again, since naravara seems to be having some blindspots, I figured I’d help him out by [inserting comment on strawmen here].

  48. 303 · Lupus Solitarius said

    Dr A wrote
    Again, to conclude, you are full of shit.
    very classy, ‘Dr’ A.

    You see, someone might come along and see what you wrote here, and think, “Oh, wow, that guy Dr. Anonymous is an asshole” but I don’t care. I know that given a choice between being civil and being uncivil with people who are being uncivil in conversation and drowning people out with an alternative discourse that is factually challenged and manufactured, I will always choose to be uncivil when I need to be, if only to bring out the reality of the conversatio – that it is inherently uncivil. I don’t want to get along with you if you’re going to be saying things like “Modi should be home minister” or anything close even in the face of tomes of evidence that the man is a murderer and communalist. So if someone is going to come along and think “wow, that guy Dr. Anonymous is an asshole” and then they read this whole thread, they might think, “Oh wow, that guy Dr. Anonymous is an asshole…but I think he was right and I’m glad he said what he did to those Hindutva f@#ks.”

    peace out.