SV: SV: ICHR controversey

Lars Martin Fosse lmfosse at ONLINE.NO
Wed Mar 1 22:58:59 UTC 2000

Rajarshi Banerjee [SMTP:rajarshi.banerjee at SMGINC.COM] skrev 01. mars 2000
> RB>I am not talking about morals, who wronged who, or preaching anything.
> When a naturalist goes into the field he does not take sides between say
> prey and predator,  Such an approach would compromise truth and limit
> understanding.
> Its undestandable to sanitize news stories if they can be iflammatory but
> such principles should not be used for long term analysis of history.
> Marxist scholars indeed become defensive when its time to deal with islamic
> activities in India.

As I was trying to say in another mail: not just Marxist scholars. However: we
are evidently discussing two things at the same time: on the one hand,
mass-media communication where a certain amount of responsibility and restraint
is called for (for the reasons you mention yourself), and scholarly discussions
where professional attitude and factuality is called for. Discussing past
Muslim atrocities is perfectly in order as long as this discussion is delinked
from the modern political situation and not used as a tool to dehumanize
Muslims in general. In India this principle hardly seems to obtain.

> If you are worried that the sight of broken pre-islamic monuments will make
> hindus vengful you are off track. Compare INdian attitudes with the paranoid
> israelis, Americans who bombed libya over a hijacking.

There is a slight difference here: I am not talking about an immediate reaction
to an act of terrorism or a military attack. (This is called "defending your
country").  I am talking about revenge for injustices suffered by past
generations many decades or centuries ago. (BTW: I do not necessarily endorse
all action taken by Israelis and Americans. Israeli treatment of Palestinians
can be atrocious, but then Palestinian behaviour is not always adequate
either). If you want to react to military threats or acts of terrorism, the
targets should ideally be the perpetrators and/or their political leaders, not
random, ordinary civilians. But that is part of a definitely non-Indological

The harping on Muslim injustice in the pre-British period is used as a means of
targeting Muslims *in general*, and Muslims at that who are innocent of the
atrocities committed in the past. But as I said, that does not mean that
Muslims are beyond criticism. I have seen stupid and brutal reactions on the
part of Muslims as well, and there is no excuse for committing such acts of
terrorism as you mention.

INdia probably has
> faced more terrorist attacks than all of them combined. Starting with 747
> blown oput of the sky, stock exchange bombings ....... assasinations , bomb
> blasts, mowing down of many marriage processions in jammu, migrant labourers
> shot dead as they sleep to give just a few examples all happening over and
> over again. These are never reported in the western media.

You are wrong. As far as I can see, such episodes get mentioned fairly often,
although they do not necessarily become first page headlines. Journalists tend
to look for a bit of blood and gore to enliven the pages of otherwise boring
newspapers, and items such "30 persons gunned down at Indian wedding", "25
persons drown in ferry accident on the Ganges" etc. usually end up at the
bottom of page 3 or 4. I have seen fairly regular - but underemphasized reports
on atrocities in South Asia in the local press here. The problem is that they
are rarely analyzed in a broader context. The reader gets scraps of information
on South Asia, but  seldom intelligent explanations. And of course, our local
petty political quarrels are always more in focus than major catastrophies in
the world beyond Norway.

> Even the so called rabid and nationalsit BJP government is pretty laid back
> and restrained by world standards.

That is highly debatable. I have been a subscriber to the "Organiser" for a
year, and "laid back" and "restrained" are hardly words that pop into my mind.
The BJP and its sister organisations run pretty hard-nosed campaigns against
both Muslims and Christians, thus exposing them to violence at grass-root

> From a practical political point of view, Panikkar's version of history is
probably less damaging to India's body politic and society than the "critical"
version of history you want to see published. However, if Panikkar's view is as
stated by you earlier, I don't share it. So should I shout my opinion from the
rooftops and contribute to  a potential blood-bath? Or should I discuss my
views in fora where I am surrounded by responsible persons who will not run off
and kill their Muslim neighbours because of injustice suffered by their
forefathers long ago? I would opt for responsibility.

As an afterthought, I come to remember the situation in France a couple of
years ago, when several books on French collabation with the German occupation
force during WWII were published. As I remember it, it transpired that such
collaboration had been much more widespread than assumed until recently.
Apparently, the true war history of France had been deliberately suppressed on
the initiative of General de Gaulle, who had the statesmanlike idea that it
would be easier to build a new and better France if the French were convinced
that they had been a nation of heroic resistance fighters rather than a bunch
of unprincipled opportunists, traitors and cowards. So for 50 years, they were
told that they had been heroes (which of course many of them were). And now, it
doesn't matter what they are told. Is there a lesson here?

Best regards,

Lars Martin Fosse

Dr. art. Lars Martin Fosse
Haugerudvn. 76, Leil. 114,
0674 Oslo
Phone/Fax: +47 22 32 12 19
Email: lmfosse at

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