Sunday April 21, 2024

Ailing India

A politician uploads what is now suspected to be a manipulated or fake video showing Indian Muslims

By Ahmed Quraishi
September 12, 2013
A politician uploads what is now suspected to be a manipulated or fake video showing Indian Muslims killing two Indian Hindu boys. Dozens of Indian Hindus gather in front of police demanding action.
The mob turns violent, starts a lynching campaign that spreads like wildfire in UP, the heartland of India’s Hindi-belt and home to the Hindi-speaking northern minority that dominates India’s federal government, military, culture and cinema.
All of this happens just 80 miles north of secular India’s capital, New Delhi. In response, the government declares emergency, deploys thousands of soldiers and police, and stops extremist politicians from entering the area.
There is a need to understand the larger picture here. Large-scale ethnic and religious cleansing is not new to modern India. This is the third major pogrom in the first two decades of twenty-first century.
Just a year ago, in July 2012, social media sparked a lynching campaign against poor Assamese migrant workers across seven major Indian population centres. This resulted in the exodus of thousands from major Indian cities like Mumbai and Bangalore and ugly scenes of beatings on the streets.
India’s interior ministry responded by accusing Pakistan’s ISI of posting inflammatory material online. There was no evidence to prove it or to establish a link between online posts and what appeared to be deep-rooted ethnic tensions waiting to explode.
India’s Hindi-speaking heartland, located in Uttar Pradesh state and its major city New Delhi, appears to be the headquarters of that country’s ethnic and religious problems. The nations living in India always had a reputation for tolerance and harmony.
India’s problems began with the rise to power of religiously-motivated and historically-burdened northern Hindi-speaking ruling elite. This elite was proudly Hindu, largely belonged to the upper caste Hindu social system and was filled with a zeal to reclaim a mythical glory tarnished by centuries of foreign rule over them.
This Hindi-speaking elite led India to domestic and foreign policy blunders and wars that most other Indians would not have wanted. The Hindi-speaking elite sparked riots against Sikhs, Muslims, Dalits, and Christians. It mishandled Kashmir and turned it into a nuclear flashpoint. It insisted on worsening what started as a small territorial and legal dispute in Kashmir with Pakistan.
Shunning advice from other components of the Indian state, New Delhi turned this dispute that was contested with civility at the United Nations into a blood feud by illegally annexing Kashmir, stuffing the tiny territory with inordinate amount of occupation soldiers, and then toying with proxy warfare with Pakistan first through Afghan badlands during Soviet times and later in Bangladesh.
India’s ruling establishment, deeply entrenched in the northern Hindi-belt, is also responsible for wars and skirmishes with almost all the neighbours: Pakistan, China, Nepal, Bhutan, Sri Lanka, and Bangladesh. Most of the disputes here are petty and could have been long resolved had it not been for the egotistical and history-burdened foreign policy pursued by the Hindi-speaking New Delhi elite.
Most Indians do not have a problem with Pakistan or China, for example. But New Delhi continues to fiddle with Pakistani and Chinese ethnic fabric in Tibet and Balochistan. Even now, we see India going into weaponisation overdrive, causing unease to almost all of India’s immediate neighbours.
India can do better if the burden that the northern Hindi-speaking belt puts on the Indian federation is lessened. The intellectuals of Bengal, Kerala and Tamil Nadu, Maharashtra, Rajasthan and Punjab should play an activist role in restraining the wild and delusional historical and religious tendencies that are running berserk today inside the Hindi-speaking belt of northern India.
Email: aq@projectpakistan21. org