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Why are Extremist Hindus angry at Muslims in India?

Sunday January 22, 2012 10:06:39 AM, Kaleem Kawaja

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As elections approach in several major states in India the country is again experiencing the upsurge of some extremist Hindus targeting the Muslim minority by raising the bogey of 'appeasement of minorities" and special privileges for the minorities. Day in and day out the “angry extremist Hindus” charge the power structure in India with the allegation that the Muslim community is being appeased and the government is eager to go out of its way to please Muslims. Since currently it is not possible to blame Muslims for oppressing Hindus, the attack is launched against the secular parties for minoritism. The anger of these Hindus is directed at both the perceived appeaser and perceived appeased. The disregard for truth is extraordinary indeed.

That an Indian Muslim should be left free to live his life in accordance with his religious beliefs and customs, strikes these “angry extremist Hindus” as an act of appeasement, a concession. But the “angry Hindu” is not angry at similar protection given to ethnic Hindu groups by letting many Hindus not accept the provisions of the Hindu Code. They erroneously blame the Muslims for having more than one wife while the government data base shows that due to large scale polygamy among tribal Hindus, as a whole, more Hindus are being found practicing polygamy than Muslims. They attack the government for letting Muslims follow their own Personal Laws but completely ignore the 1976 amendment of the Special Marriage Act that allows Hindu men special privileges of inheritance under the Hindu United Family Act, that are not allowed under the secular Indian Succession Act. A gender bias may exist in the Muslim Personal Law, but so do the separate Personal laws of the Hindus, Sikhs, Christians, and Buddhists contain biases favoring men over women.

They are angry at Muslims because Article 30 of the Indian Constitution allows rights to minorities to establish their own educational institutions; but they overlook the fact that the Arya Samaj, Ramakrishna Mission and the institutions of Marwari Hindus are benefiting similarly from the same Article 30. The “angry Hindu” is angry at the Indian government for the ban on Salman Rushdie’s book “Satanic Verses”, but ignores the fact that Dr Ambedkar’s book, “Riddles of Rama and Krishna”, Aubrey Menon’s book “Rama Retold”, and Sytanley Wolport’s book, “Nine Hours to Rama’ have also been similarly proscribed by the Indian government.

The “angry extremist Hindu’ is angry at Muslims because a sizeable number of Hindus had to move away from Kashmir due to the large scale violence there; but he ignores the fact that similarly a large number of Muslims had to leave for good many villages and towns in some districts in Gujarat, Bihar and Assam. They had to leave for good localities in cities in Gujarat (Surat, Ahmedabad, Naroda-Patia, Baroda, the Panchmahal district), Bihar (Bhagalpur, Jamshedpur), Maharashtra (Bhivandi, Malegaon), Assam (Berapat, Nellie). These are the villages and towns where they had lived for generations, but had to migrate from due to horrendous and non-stop anti-Muslim violence there. In many cities across India even well educated Muslims are forced to leave their houses in mixed population areas and move to Muslim majority localities just to survive. Despite many promises the government failed to help them go back to their homes.

The “angry extremist Hindu” is angry that Article 370 of the Indian Constitution limits rights of ownership of property in Kashmir to Kashmiris – most of whom are Muslims. But he ignores the fact that similarly Article 371A provides similar protection to residents of mostly Hindu population in the states of Himachal Pradesh, Nagaland and Mizoram.

The “angry extremist Hindu” is angry because the Indian state does not formally embrace the concept of Hindu Rashtra, even though for all practical purposes it practices most elements of that policy. All government, private and other public events in India begin with prayers from Hindu religious scriptures. All national institutions and awards are named after names from Hindu mythology and religious scriptures. The media and other cultural organs constantly borrow from the Hindu religious mythology into their public programs without batting an eyelash.

He is angry whenever any Muslim, no matter how loyal, meritorious or diluted-Muslim is elevated to a position of dignity in India. The “angry extremist Hindu” does not want to even give a hearing to the Muslim community on their most genuine and well documented grievances, eg the Sachar Committee report, the Misra Commission report, that detail the across the board severe impoverishment and backwardness of the Muslim community. The angry extremist Hindu lashes out at the attempts of Muslims to form their own secular political parties and groups but ignores the fact that OBC Hindus, SC Hindus and Sikhs formed their own parties, won elections on that platforms, ruled several states (UP, Bihar, Tamil Nadu, Punjab) for years and gave preferential help to their respective sub-communities.

If the “angry extremist Hindu” ever does an objective study of the ground realities he will realize that he has nothing to be angry about. He should be happy at the near monopoly that he has in the socio-economic life of India, in employment in the burgeoning private and multinational corporations, the government undertakings, the political parties, the better higher education institutions and the society at large. It is time for the “angry extremist Hindu” to realize that he is being misled and exploited by the opportunistic right wing politicians. He should cool his misplaced anger at the Indian Muslims and find ways to reduce the heightened tensions in the nation that is hurting India’s well-being at a critical time.



Kaleem Kawaja is a Washington based commentator.




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