[INDOLOGY] Ananya Vajpeyi on Hindutva, caste, and Brahminical values

Tyler Williams tylerwwilliams at gmail.com
Fri Oct 9 19:12:04 UTC 2015

Dear friends,

Perhaps those of us interested in sharing empirical data on violence
against minorities in India can follow up on this thread off-list, since we
seem to be veering a bit away from the discussion of Dr. Vajpeyi's actual
argument, and into different territory.

As for me, the question about empirical sources (which do agree that
religious minorities, particular castes, women and ethnic minorities suffer
violence in India from particular groups of actors; the extent of that
violence seems to be the issue in question) is not as interesting as the
type of question that Vajpeyi raises: how is it that the violence
perpetrated by groups of non-state actors is made legible as 'caste
hierarchy enforcement', 'communal violence', and so forth through
structural and ideological alliances between the aforementioned groups (the
Sri Ram Sena, RSS, etc.) with the state (in this case, the BJP-ruled
government)?  In other words, there is plenty of empirical evidence that
violence is perpetrated upon these groups, that is not the object of
debate; the question is how these are all read by the public-- including
the victims themselves-- as a kind of cultural policing in the service of
building a Hindu nation.

We of course would not want any of our colleagues to feel that India or the
Indian government are being singled out for criticism; similar problems are
present in many of our countries, and a matter of equal concern.

But just as one cannot condone, say, the refusal to acknowledge that gun
violence exists in the United States and has claimed the lives of many
people, I find it difficult to condone a position that seeks to deny the
existence of violence in India against religious minorities, women, certain
castes, and again, scholars who hold certain views.  Such a lack of
compassion is, frankly, frightening.


On Thu, Oct 8, 2015 at 11:36 PM, Nityanand Misra <nmisra at gmail.com> wrote:

> On Oct 9, 2015 12:12 AM, "Veeranarayana Pandurangi" <veerankp at gmail.com>
> wrote:
> >
> > one paragraph of this USCIRF report looks interesting
> >
> I read the USCIRF annual report. There is not much data or statistics in
> the report. I found just one paragraph (on page 151) which presents
> statistics, but from 2013:
> Quote
> “According to India’s Union Home Ministry, in 2013 there were 823
> incidents of communal violence nationwide, ... According to Muslim and
> Christian NGOs that track communal incidents, 2014 statistics, yet to be
> released by the Ministry, will be likely higher.”
> Unquote
> The NGOs’ prediction did not come true. The number of communal violence
> incidents in India in 2014, as released by the Government in the
> Parliament, was 22% lower (668) compared to 2013 (823), and was the lowest
> in three years. Here is the source:
> http://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/india/Communal-violence-cases-dropped-by-22-from-2013-to-2014/articleshow/46497096.cms
> This is just to show that views of the sources cited by the USCIRF report
> need to be taken with a pinch of salt. Similarly, the following statements
> in the report are accusations and/or claims which need to be corroborated
> rather than taken at face value:
> 1) “Religious minority communities frequently accuse ...”
> 2) “Christian communities ... report an increase of harassment and
> violence in the last year, ...”
> 3) “The Evangelical Fellowship of India has documented ...”
> 4) “Catholic communities in India also have documented ...”
> 5) “The Muslim community in India also has experienced increased
> harassment and violence ...”
> The statement below, which is not traced to any source and not
> corroborated by any specific incident, is highly dubious (I do not recall
> any news source reporting incidents of this type ‘often’):
> 6) “Sikhs are often harassed and pressured to reject religious practices
> and beliefs that are distinct to Sikhism, such as dress, unshorn hair, and
> the carrying of religious items, including the kirpan.”
> The statement below is also notable, though it needs to be subject to the
> same level of scrutiny as statements (1) to (5) above:
> 7) “There are reports that some evangelical groups use tactics that are
> unethical and insulting to Hinduism and Hindus, which exacerbate religious
> and communal tensions.”
> The statement below being a half-truth is misleading, since Mr. Modi has
> been absolved by the courts of India of the longstanding allegations. A
> balanced statement would add that the allegations have not been proved in
> courts.
> 8) “This statement is notable given longstanding allegations that, as
> Chief Minister of Gujarat in 2002, Mr. Modi was complicit in anti-Muslim
> riots in that state.”
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