India: Intolerant and extremist ideology is a big challenge
The recent Pakistan-India Crisis has proved India as “Intolerant and Extremist State” The world has witnessed Indian war-craze, backed by extremist media to create war-hype. It is worth mentioning that both, Pakistan and India both are nuclear states, in case of any war, the disaster to humanity may not be within one’s imaginations. It can engulf the whole region or might have global impact. But Pakistan, being a rational, responsible and mature country, has averted the “big Disaster”.
In fact the history of “intolerance and extremist” goes back to 1920s, when sentiments against the European colonialism were created. Twentieth-century Indian agitation against the British led to the rise not only of the secular and socialist Congress movement but also of the rival Hindu nationalist movement collectively known as the Sangh Parivar (“family of organizations”). The Parivar proclaims an ideology of “Hindutva,” aimed at ensuring the predominance of Hinduism in Indian society, politics, and culture, which it promotes through tactics that include violence and terror. Although there was a considerable sized population of Muslims, Christians, Sikhs and many other small religions. The Sangh Parivar’s central organization is the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS), founded by Keshav Hedgewar in 1925. Hedgewar was influenced by V. D. Savarkar, who believed that Hindus were the descendants of the ancient Aryans and properly formed a nation with a unified geography, race, and culture. All other religions were considered as foreign or aliens, with having roots in middle-east.
The RSS is now ruling party in India, with millions of active members in all walks of life, engaged in brain washing and promoting their ideology, which cases the “intolerance and extremism”. Its educational wing, the Vidya Bharati, has some twenty thousand educational institutes, with one hundred thousand teachers and two million students. The Vidya Bharati schools distribute booklets containing a map of India that encompasses not only Pakistan and Bangladesh but also the entire region of Bhutan, Nepal, Tibet, and parts of Myanmar, all under the heading “Punya Bhoomi Bharat,” the “Indian Holy Land.” The RSS also has separate organizations for tribal peoples, intellectuals, teachers, slum dwellers, leprosy patients, cooperatives, consumers, newspapers, industrialists, Sikhs, ex-servicemen, overseas Indians, and an organization for religion and proselytization, as well as trade unions, student and economic organizations, and a women’s chapter. All this is done gradually in a structural manner as state policy.
Sangh Parivar organizations include the Bajrang Dal and the Vishnu Hindu Parishad (VHP-World Hindu Council), which engage in propaganda, virulent hate campaigns, and sometimes violence against religious minorities. The VHP was formed in 1964 to unite Hindu groups and serve as the RSS’s bridge to sympathetic religious leaders. It has sought to radicalize Hindus by falsely claiming that Hindus are under threat from an “exploding” Muslim population and a spate of Christian conversions, and it organized the 1992 nationwide demonstrations that culminated in the destruction of the Ayodhya mosque by Hindu mobs. Police and law enforcement agencies were not taking any preventive measures, but were protecting and facilitating the riots.
The BJP official policies on Hindutva and conversion coincide with increasingly violent attacks by Hindu militants on religious minorities.
Attacks on minorities, especially in the states of Gujarat, Madhya Pradesh, Kashmir, Assam, Bihar and Orissa, have surged in recent years. India’s Home Ministry (internal security) and its National Commission for Minorities officially list over a hundred religiously motivated attacks against minorities per year, but the real number is certainly higher, as Indian journalists estimate that only some ten percent of incidents are ever reported. Human Rights watch groups has reported that India has surpassed all records of human rights violations, especially atrocities in Kashmir were condemned world-wide.
In the recent years, the other major target of Hindu extremists is the Muslim community, which is haunted by the fear of recurrent communal riots that have taken the lives of thousands of Muslims. During the outbreak of violence in Gujarat in February 2002, many of the victims were burned alive or dismembered while police and BJP state government authorities either stood by or joined in. The mobs had with them lists of homes and businesses owned by Muslims, lists that they could have acquired only from government sources. Based on this alleged act of terrorism, Chief Minister of Gujrat at that time, Mr. Modi was refused to issuance of US visa. Many European countries have banned his entry to their countries.
Since September 11, 2001, the world’s focus was turned toward Middle-East. But there were also major violent trends in Hindu extremism that have largely been ignored in the Western World. In India, this violence is supported by Hindu extremists and their allies in the Indian government, which is currently led by the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP).
Since many people view India as a largest democracy, and a huge market, which may not be perfect understanding of Indian society, as the situation on ground may be quite different. It needs to understand the complexity and radicalism of the country. If religious extremism continues to grow, it will, as we have learned elsewhere, drag India’s democracy, economy, and foreign policy down with it. In the face of such a threat, we cannot afford to be silent and world may not be a spectator merely.
Indian “Intolerance and Extremism” is behind the recent war-craze and aggression against Pakistan. Pakistan’s mature and responsible behavior has avoided the adverse consequences of nuclear war.