On Sat, Oct 10, 2015 at 12:42 AM, Tyler Williams <tylerwwilliams@gmail.com> wrote:

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.

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. 

Nobody can deny there is communal violence in India. There is also violence against women and caste-based discrimination (caste-based violence is less common though). The news reports and data are out there for everybody to see (more on this at the bottom of this email). What is debatable is to link or attribute such violence, or the claimed increase in it, to specific political and non-political organizations only, especially when such violence has happened under rule of political parties of different hues – right of centre, left of centre, socialist, etc. – at the centre or in the states. What is also debatable is the one-sided view of Hindu-Muslim conflict as violence against Muslims.

Coming specifically to Dr. Vajpeyi article, she links many things to Prime Minister Modi and what she calls the ‘government of Hindu Right.’ It is not entirely justified to link the some of the events mentioned in the article to the PM and the government. Examples include:

(1) Mohammad Akhlaq’s lynching. This occurred in Uttar Pradesh, a state ruled by a socialist party. Under the Seventh Schedule of the Constitution of India, police and public order are state subjects (see page 270 here: http://lawmin.nic.in/olwing/coi/coi-english/Const.Pock%202Pg.Rom8Fsss(35).pdf), and it is primarily a responsibility of the state government to prevent and investigate crimes including religious violence. In this context, to link a crime in a state with the government in centre but not hold the state government accountable is not completely fair.

(2) Perumal Murugan’s silencing. Murugan lives in Tamil Nadu, a state dominated by Dravidian parties for decades. The protests against him were by the Kongu Vellala Gounder community which is identified as a backward caste, and may not subscribe to what the author calls medieval Brahminical values.

(3) Narendara Dabholkar’s killing. Dabholkar was killed in August 2013, when Maharashtra was ruled by the Congress-NCP alliance and India by UPA. Can that be linked to Modi’s government which came to power in May 2014?

Dr. Vajpeyi also seems to ignore that the RSS has been working for some time against caste-discrimination in Hindus. An example is its recent slogan of ‘one well, one temple and one crematorium’ for all Hindus (read more here: http://articles.economictimes.indiatimes.com/2015-03-16/news/60174729_1_bhaiyyaji-joshi-rss-general-secretary-suresh-akhil-bharatiya-pratinidhi-sabha and http://aajtak.intoday.in/story/rsss-nagpur-meet-decides-on-inclusive-hinduism-as-key-strategy-for-next-3-years--1-803482.html).

I remember Dr. Vajpeyi herself shared an article by Ashish Nandy with this list on August 15 (http://bit.ly/1ffB431). Her post was titled: ‘On Spirituality and the new gods and goddesses of Modi's India.’ In the article, Nandy does not mention Modi or BJP even once in his article. He cites largely social and economic reasons like massive transition, social mobility, search for certitude, ability of spiritualists to connect with people, replacement of ishta devatas, displays of wealth, et cetera. None of the reasons given by Nandy are related to Modi or the NDA government. However, Dr. Vajpeyi’s subject line mentioned Modi for a reason I cannot comprehend.

I end my rather long post (and the last on this thread) with data on communal violence in India. It may not be interesting to some friends like Tyler but is relevant to the claim that violence has increased since NDA came into power in 2014. Here are the links to data on state-wise incidents of communal violence in India from 2010 to 2014, as released by the Ministry of Home Affairs under UPA and NDA rule in response to Unstarred Question numbers 6502 (answered on May 7 2013 by R P N Singh) and 2251 (answered on March 10 2015 by Kiren Rijiju). 2015 data may be available next year.



The annexures are available in HTML format here

Definition of an Unstarred Question as per http://www.parliamentofindia.nic.in/ls/intro/p6.htm:

“An Unstarred Question is one which is not called for oral answer in the House and on which no supplementary questions can consequently be asked. To such a question, a written answer is deemed to have been laid on the Table after the Question Hour by the Minister to whom it is addressed. It is printed in the official report of the sitting of the House for which it is put down. Only 230 questions can be listed for written answer on a day. In addition to this, 25 more questions can also be included in the Unstarred List relating to the States under Presidential Rule and the total number of questions in the list of Unstarred Questions for a day may not exceed 255 in relaxation of normal limit of 230 questions.”