With a population of over one billion, India is often portrayed as the world's biggest democracy. With the current emphasis on market economy, its tremendous market potential cannot be ignored. It is home to a burgeoning Internet technology and its budding scientists are major players in the information technology. Thus India has every intention of becoming a world power. Lately, the United States has been courting it as a bulwark and counterbalance against the other emerging superpower, i.e. China.
Despite this, however, India lacks the rudiments of a great power. It has some of the most insolvable problems; for example, the grueling endemic poverty of its vast masses, and its catastrophic health issues, including the rapidly encroaching massive AIDS epidemic. Even in the Internet, with 0.1 percent household access, it remains a backwater. And, its current pro-globalization economic agenda has further impoverished people, especially the minorities, as well as its poor majority.
But much more dangerous is the vise-grip of Hindu fascists who, having relegated Gandhian doctrine to the dustbin of history and imbued with megalomania, are working frantically to turn India into Hindutva, a state that exists only in the Hindu religious legends of Ramayana and Mahabharta. This project is to make India into the land of Hindus and Hindus alone. Within such a state only a caste system exists and gives dominance to Hindus over any other community; within itself there exists, even today a permanent subclass of Dalits, Shudhras or untouchables - with whom a High caste Brahmin would not condescend to talk, directly. Thus these extremists are committed to either exterminate all non-Hindus, or render them into the lower status of their caste system. And even more ominously, it is these extremists who under the leadership of Atal Behari Vajpayee of Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) are currently ruling India in a coalition government.
Greatness of a society is determined by how successfully it has integrated various segments of its population - through equitably ensuring civil rights to all of its citizens. India is a multi-religious country with sizable minorities. It has a population of over 130 million Muslims, the second highest in the world after Indonesia, and Christians constitute, 13 million. Yet, these are the minorities that are suffering most in India, which with its claim of a secular state should be protective of them.
Praful Bidwai, a prominent Indian journalist writing in the Nation on June 24, 2002 remarks that The BJP "has violated countless constitutional norms, pushed through repressive laws and mocked India's greatest achievement: democracy. Above all, it has deepened social cleavages, promoted exclusivist policies and terrorized India's religious minorities by imposing Hindu-fundamentalist agendas in education and culture. Its principal target is India's 130 million Muslims, whom it demonizes as aliens." Christians are no exception; since January 1998 there have been 58 attacks on them, including lynching; as well as a number of incidents of the burning of churches.
Commenting on the current gruesome situation Bidwai writes: "The most grotesque instance of the Hindu-inspired terror campaign is the recent pogrom of Muslims in Gujrat, sponsored by the BJP and its associates with full state collusion. More than 2,000 people were butchered in a well-planned "retaliation" for the February 27 killings of fifty-eight Hindu militants in a train. Independent NGOs say the pogrom- the worst in fifty-five years - would have happened regardless of the train incident." These atrocities still continue and more than 5,800 Muslims have been killed or burned alive along with their homes and businesses, and more than 300,000 rendered homeless.
All human rights organizations, including India's own National Human Rights Commission, have condemned this genocide of Muslims. They have evidence indicating that the violence was carefully planned. The National Human Rights Commission states that there have been "widespread reports and allegations of well-organized persons, armed with mobile telephones and addresses, singling out certain homes and properties for death and destruction in certain districts - sometimes within view of police stations and personnel." In January 2002, Amnesty International urged the Governments of India and Gujrat "to ensure that all law enforcement agencies deployed in the state, as well as in the rest of the country, strictly abide by the guidelines set by the international community for the conduct of law enforcement officials and the use of firearms." Then again on March 23 it sent a memorandum to the Government of Gujrat "outlining the terms of reference for an impartial investigation, and urging protection and redress for those and who have had to flee their homes." Recently, amid growing fears that thousands of Muslim victims may not get justice, restitution and rehabilitation, because of deliberate faulty recording by police and distortion of evidence by rioters, the Amnesty, once again, plans to send its own fact- finding team.
The U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom in its report of May 2001 stated that "the Commission has long been concerned about the situation for religious tolerance and respect for human rights of all persons in India" and "expressed the need for India's government to do more to protect religious minorities and to bring persons responsible for violent incidents to account." Then, in its hearings on June 10, 2002 it stated that it is "very concerned that the United States government has not spoken out forcefully against the attacks on Muslims in Gujrat." These condemnations have been lukewarm at best, unlike the much smaller magnitude "terrorist" attacks - without convincing evidence of their sponsorship - on Indian parliament or in the disputed Kashmir state.
India's quest for leadership also sounds hollow when it comes to relationship with its neighbors - with Pakistan over Kashmir, with Bangladesh over waters and borders, Sri Lanka over Tamil insurgency, and Myanmar, even Nepal over territorial sovereignty. While, at its independence, it readily absorbed, without provocation Muslim-ruled states (such as Hyderabad, Junagadh and Bopal) that had Hindu majority, the same yardstick did not apply, despite its pledges, to the Muslim-majority state of Kashmir. That Kashmir is not and cannot be an integral part of India is acknowledged by a number of international agreements, agreed to both by India and Pakistan that were negotiated by the United Nations and endorsed by its Security Council. Yet, India is holding its population hostage through brutal repression with 700,000 of its occupation troops. As a result, by third party accounts, more than 55,000 Kashmiris have been killed since 1989, and thousands of others are suffering as injured, maimed and raped.
India and Pakistan have fought two wars over Kashmir and, now both armed with nuclear weapons, are poised for a third one, unless the international community intervenes for a just and sensible solution of this issue. Since bilateralism between them has failed, any negotiations must involve a third party with an evenhanded approach. Dr. Ghulam Nabi Fai, executive director of the Washington, DC - based Kashmiri American Council suggests that this third party need not be the United Sates or the United Nations, but any person of international stature, such as former presidents Jimmy Carter or Nelson Mandela. But that it must involve the genuine leadership of Kashmiri people, such as All Parties Hurriyet Conference: since it is very much apparent that this is an issue that cannot be sidelined by the Indian propaganda of painting it as the sole result of cross-border violations sponsored by Pakistan.
Thus India must dislodge and bridle its Hindu extremists and work sincerely to ensure equal rights to minorities within its own dominion, and it must discard its hegemonic enterprise, outside of it - in order that peace and stability could be achieved within its borders, and in South Asia. Regarding this, the comments of Bidwai in the Nation, June 24, 2002 are pertinent. "No government welcomed George W. Bush's declaration of a "war against terror" last September more enthusiastically than India's. And none, save perhaps Ariel Sharon's, more zealously tried to implement the Bush doctrine: identifying terrorism as the main, if not the sole, threat to security everywhere, equating terrorists with their supporters or sympathizers and fashioning a purely militaristic approach to terrorism." This approach - unless distinguished from internationally recognized self-determination struggles of peoples, and accompanied by a genuine sense of justice - is tyrannous, because it violates the inherent conscience of humankind - and is bound to create more troubles, with disastrous results for humanity.
Siraj Islam Mufti, Ph.D. is a retired researcher and currently writes as a free-lance journalist.
India has problems - but its moving in the right direction and its the only country that can offer the US competition in Science and Technolgy.
Look at the latest Business weekcover story - rise of India .
Indian companies are second only to israreli companies on Nasdaq listings and will soon take first place.
Coutries from Italy to Australia are running ads in India to attract toursits- a testament to our growing middle class
Pakistan - what is it - somalia with nukes - went to Europe this summer from Greece to Italy to London - Pakis and Banglas coming by the boatload for asylum and fleeing their country
BTW banglas are also escaping over to India in the millions.
pakistan - a name which evokes terrorism and failure at all levels and Bangladesh - nuff said.
two basket case nations in Bangladesh and Pakistan - get your act together and then yo start comparing your sorry countries to India
In fact in the last 50 years population(%age representation in India) of Muslims has grown while that of Hindus has diminished in countries like pakistan - in a systematic campaign of elimination and the same is the case in east-pakistan. I think India is one of the few nations where almost all communities that were persecuted including Persians (parsis), jews (who went back recently - india had a sizeable population of jews) were given hospitality. A nation of 1 billion people there are a few fights here and there it is really not worth raking up when you compare the numbers with any islamic nation.
I think the big problem is that in most places muslims with even a few people (>10% of the population) cannot live with other people and claim cultural differences and independence. The problem is because of pan-islamic movements and writers like this who have little in terms of experience of having lived in India.
While the author is quick to point out that India must ensure equal rights to minorities in India not a single islamic writer explains why Saudi Arabia doesnt allow non-muslims in Makkah and other places. I think they should clean their mess before commenting.
Islamic culture, music and arts have greatly contributed to India and are part and parcel. Hindustani music is actually a mixture of persian and ancient indian music. For centuries Hindus and muslims have lived more amicably than any other place. It is islamic pakistan that foments most of the problems by creating ideological bull in the minds of indian muslims.
NY times gave a tribute to India where it mentioned that in the whole gamut of things you never found a terrorist in al-qaeda from india (ie muslims from india). Indian muslims are the best becos they respect other religions. Get ur
Then India were beginning to crumble in its own hindu fanaticism & caste system ..that do not work 4,000 years back , ethnic clashes were common scenes , respect of individual & uniqueness , creativity and muslims rights , religious right were out!!! but at the same time , India try to develop its free market and IT , but big NO .., they cannot develop it without FDI cash , with worse human rights issues and very abusive towards its Muslims minority and to point of ethnic cleasening , would be investors were deterred to enter INDIA!!and with prolonged bad attitude Indian " cheating & scandals " further dampaned its business image , yes India would be nowhere in current the millenium , even India is bottom of the list in Sydney Olympics 1998 , ashamed !! where is your 1 bil population , can you produced 100 gold Medalist , ashamed & losers , treat .. Kind your own people , then you progress as others . otherwise India would be the same as next 20 yrs , where all nations already reached the moon,, Wake up India , no hollow !!!!
For all those who are brain washed in india and even outside 'Vande Matram' is one fanatic aspect of HIndu mind and clearly reflects what they think. It was india who invaded its neighbour Pakisyan thrice. It is india which is supporting movements for seperation in all its neighbouring countries. It is an Indian soldier who either KILLs or RAPES a person in Kashmir. It was India to test its nuclear capabilities first and then threatened its neighbours. Indians actually can not accept the fact that British rulers gave a homeland to Muslims. It was Indian Punjab which saw some of the worst ever violation of human rights all by hindu police who selectively killed hundereds of Sikhs. It is india who does not even allow its cricket team to play pakistan which is perhaps the most irrational and out of context oves by indian administeration. It is India who is not allowing even the human rights commission people to enter its country ( from pakistan especially). It was India which put an end to lahore-dehli bus transport which was initiated by pakistan and agreed upon by both countries.
Needless to say, India and fanatic Hindus who on one hand kill innocent muslims on the other hand burn churches, demolish mosques and prepare army of fanatics (under Mr.Bal Thakuray who has Mr. Lal Krishan Advanee as one of his fellows in the army) is doing anything and every thing possible to create a Hindu state- which will only be for hindus...
It is quite unfortunate to note that your article has a negative attitude about anything that is Indian. Please understand that, in India, at the time when Bhagavad Gita was advised to Arjuna 5,000 years back, there were no Hindus, Christians, Muslims, Sikhs, Parsis or whatever, but only Human beings. All these names that I have mentioned above have been imported into India.
If Hindus in rest India were to reciprocate to Muslims in these areas, the same level of tolerance showed by Muslims in Kashmir towards the Hindus who lived there since time immemorial, there would not be 120 million Muslims in India.
None of the Hindu scriptures teaches to kill others in the name of their faith. However, that does not mean that a Hindu should forsake his right to defend. What is the guarantee that what happened to Hindus in Kashmir will not happen to Hindus living in the rest of India?
It might be pertinent to point out that Hindus have not gone and attacked any other country in the name of their religion, but were, and are still, attacked.
I suggest that it is high time you Muslim scholars started thinking like Human beings and start teaching your followers also the same thing.
Regarding Caste system: It is indeed horrible, and every effort should be made to eliminate the same from India. However, please note that the scribes Valmiki and Veda Vyasa were from low caste. But that did not prevent any Brahmana from respecting them.
Last but not least, why was the Saudi princess sentenced to death for loving an ordinary person, if Islam is equal to all Muslims?
Without any ill feeling for your biased line of thinking
That is unfair. Lets Pray to Allah , that muslims were to be victorious and on the upperhand , again rule 3/4 of the world , with too much kuffar govt around , World & human rights were in the crumbled state from USA to India since the last Ottoman Empire 17th , world are not at peace , give me a break Romesh Chander , the ignorant , Allahu akhbar !!!
Ask Plasetinians whether India supports them? We did not have any relations with Israel till 1992? why because of Palestinian issue?
As the Mufti says India is a poor country but still it did not stop us from providing scholarships to Palestinian muslims to come and study in India (4 in my college).
Yes, we have lot of problems and we are poor but we are free, we have press freedom (universally hihglighted Babri Masjid incident as black day for India), we have democracy, we have independent judiciary(knocked the BJP Gov for six on Babri Masjid, we have army under civilian control.
India is the only country outside of middle east that gave birth to major religions like Hinduism, Sikhs, Buddhist, Jains and our own brand of islam (sufis).
As an aside read the UN report on genocides in the world in the last hundered years. There has only been 3 genocides that have crossed a mark of million. Number 1 Jews killed by Hitler, Muslims in Bangladesh killed by Muslims of Pakistan and in Rawanda.
So, Pkaistani muslims have killed more muslims than rest of the world put together? Now this is not condoning the human right abuses elsewhere but to simply say that we must recognise facts and face them and move forward as indians and as humanity.
So please lets us work to make a pluralistic India a success becasue in it success lies the success of Indians whether they be sikhs, buddhist,jains, hindus or muslims.
The joy of watching Mohamed Kaif and Yuvraj Singh (representing 2 mionority's) winning the cricket for us shows what the power of united india can achieve.
It is regrettable that he justifies the gruesome acts of Hindus of killing, burning and raping Muslims in Gujrat by acts of Pakistan's fight against a rebellion in E. Pakistan. There could have been accesses comitted in fighting the rebellion which was in accordance with the International law, as is now happening in Chechnya where Russians are killing Chechnyan population with impunity(but violating human rights). The same gruesome acts are being committed in Disputed Kashmir against innocent Kashmiris by Indian Security Forces and blaming them on terrorists.
This is what Siraj Mufti has termed hollow with respect to greatness of India. Because no great country, claiming a part of its population to be a part of its own country can commit atrocities again them, which India is doing at present. History of India is replete with killing of its Muslim population right after partition in 1947. The incidents of demolishing of Babri mosque and desecrating the Sikh temple at Amritsar, and so many others against its minorities including Christians, need no further mention. In comparison,Pakistan's blasphemy laws which were promulgated in response to Salman Rushdi's book were not intended to victimize its minorities but to curb malicious insinuations against the majority religion.
The India's claim to be the world's largest democracy would not have sounded hollow if it would have taken care of its minorities over the past 54 years the same way it takes care of its majority populati
Regarding integration of various segments of indian society, let us talk about our neighbour, Pakistan; it solved the problem by making life of Hindus and Sikhs miserable enough that they were forced to leave, especially after Zia declaring Pakistan an Islamic Republic, and passing hadood and Blasphemy laws. In 1947, there were at least 10 million Hindus and Sikhs in pakistan; today, there are less than 2 million left. Where4as the population of muslims in India has increased from about 35 million to 150 million over the last 55 years.
Regarding the gruesome acts of Hindus in Gujrat, they don't match what Pakistan did in East Bengal; it killed 3 million Bengalis in 1971 war of liberation (and almost 2 million of those were Hindus). I don't find Indian muslims migrating to other muslim countries like pakistan, Bangladesh, and Afghanistan.
Pakistan, Iran, Saudi Arabia, Malyasia, Sudan are Islamic Republics. So what is wrong with making India as a Hindu Republic? (Personally, I am opposed to it). Why are muslims afraid of other religious republics. Have they lost confidence in themselves.
I have read plenty of articles from Siraj Mufti over the last 2 years; all of them have been Anti-India; I rarely have come across any article by him which really discusses the problems of the muslim world.
'Tell me, what other country in the world, other then the US, killed off all the indiginous pple of the area like the americans did to the native americans?'
Let's see, there were the Innu in Newfoundland, the Ainu in Japan, the Aboriginals in Australia, Armenians in Turkey, the Kurds in Turkey and Iraq, and of course the Mayas and other indigenous groups in Central and South America, as well as many others that I can't pull off the top of my head. Don't misinterpret, these are all terrible and despicable, but also don't misrepresent - the genocide of a pre-existing people is not a crime that is exclusive to the US, or even to 'the West'.
Your powers of reading comprehension never cease to amaze. You seem to be reading between the lines without bifocals again. I have never denied India's behavior. In fact, I didn't comment on it one way or another. You have a strange way of trying to cast others as villans by adding comments extraneous to the ones at hand. You've never heard a peep from me regarding the rape of Kashmiri women? Where did that come from? I've never heard a peep from you either, so I guess we're even. I've never heard a word from you about the massacre in Rawanda, so, using your logic, I guess you must be for it. Very strange indeed. But if you'd care to do some reading of my previous posts, you would know that I have certainly commented on the demolition of churches by Israel, as well as by Turkey, Syria, Lebanon, and Egypt.
Christians being persecuted in Muslim countries is largely a myth? Who's swallowing the company line now? Try talking to a Christian in Homs, Syria, or to Maronite in Lebanon, or a Copt in Egypt. Did you bother to do that while you were 'travelling extensively' in Muslim lands? You denying that such things happen is really counterproductive. The original point to this thread is that yes, Americans have made some bad choices, and they have done some bad things, but don't try to pretend that there isn't blood on the hands of others. Don't present one group as perpetual victims, when is not the case. Don't pretend that Muslims are a homogenous group of God fearing pilgrims who would never lift a hand against their neighbour. The United States of America is not the sole source of violence in an otherwise peaceful region.
Again, my challenge stands - name another non-western country which has more freedoms and liberties for its citizens than the United States of America.
And I suppose no minority is being persecuted in the US ?
If only you could for a second pull yourselves away from the brainwashing factories (American Free Press) you would see persecution at home.
Minorities ARE being persecuted at home, whether they be black's, native indians or muslims.
YES there is persecution in muslim lands, but not in true Muslim States, as there aren't any !
and guess what alot of the people doing the persecution in Muslim lands, be it Egypt, Indonesia, Tunisia, Algeria are all backed by your old uncle Sam, the so called parrot of freedom and rights !
Talk about the fox defending the chickens !
I suppose defending oppressors somehow makes you innocent ?
Someone said that Evil reigns when Good folks stay silent, what he didn't say is how he would describe folks who speak up by defending evil, by turning a blind eye to it !
Go figure, you can confer if you like.
If dear Joanne has anything to add I'm sure she can, she doesnt need you to come prop her up with your 2 cents.
Problem is Dino you like many of our countrymen are out of touch with reality and stick to the old jingoistic party line.
As for your other comments, sounds like the typical drivel I see on the Fox news channel or some cooked up nonsense coming from the 700 club.
Christians persecuted in Muslim countries is largely a myth propogated by right wing Christian fundamentalist zealots who are hell bent on jump starting armageddon in the Middle East by accelerating hostilities between religious groups.
What in most cases is a dispute between 2 people is usually broadcast as a conflict of religion. An old and dirty orientalistic tactic used to smear Muslim people whose history speaks otherwise.
And yes, Dino I have widely traveled in the Muslim world, home to the oldest Churches and Synogogues on the planet. The only reason you are denying India's behavior is because India is in the US camp at the moment in this "war of terrorism". Its ironic that the Taleban is condemned for its treatment of woman, while the rape of 20000 Kashmiri woman by Indian army soldiers since 1987 doesnt get a peep out of you. Further more the demolition of churches by Israel is answered to in similar silence. How strange that in places where Christians are truly persecuted on daily basis you have nothing to say. Ofcourse I could go on and on but you should get the idea by now.
And Dino, dont lecture me on liberties and the like, I was born and raised in America, and as much as I love my country I will not be a silent party to the injustices our nation has visited upon others...that would be wrong, it would be UN-american to do so.
As for Muslims, they need to continue to speak out and not cave in to fear and intimidation. Indeed the one who's failed is you Dino, and I can't say I'm surprised.
Please contact your Senators,Congressman,WhiteHouse,
1. Joann doesn't deny India's human rights record.
2. She doesn't lecture anyone to follow India.
3. She never says there is no caste system in India
4. She never says that she sees nothing wrong with Hindus performing 'ethnic cleansing'
Do you even read other peoples comments before posting your own?
I believe what she is saying is that what is happening in India is exactly what is happening in Muslim countries, only that 'news' doesn't get reported here. Christians are being harassed in killed Egypt, Syria, Lebannon and Turkey, in much the same way that Muslims are being harassed and killed in India, but those facts are not addressed on this site. If you were to only read this site, you might think that Muslims are all good and pure, and always the victim, but we all know that is not the truth. The Muslim community needs to report on their own failings, just like every other community.
As far as human rights are concerned, internally, America is a leader, and I challenge you to name a non-western country which has more freedoms and liberties for its citizens than the United States of America. Externally, you are right, they have much to be accountable for.
And yes, I have been to a Muslim country. I have been to the Middle East, and would love to return. Have you ever been in a Muslim country?
We keep hearing the Western slogan about the Holocaust - "never again" but when the direct ideological heirs of Hitler stir against Muslims in India we hear nothing.
Which Muslim country are you talking about Joanne ? I'm sure you've you've never visited a Muslim nation, or India for that matter. Islamic nations have long and glorious record of tolerance which have long been documented, only with the terrorist attacks on these nations from colonial hegemons did the "fundamentalists" wave come and the perceived and highly publisized "intolerance" you talk of. India doesn't have a caste system ?! I suggest you go to any low caste Hindu and tell him that, perhaps a trip to India may show you the reality. She also sees nothing wrong with Hindus running their ethnic cleansing operation against Indian Muslims and Christians ? Sounds like a typical American neo-con.
Finally we Americans have NO RIGHT to lecture other nations when our own human rights record is abysmal to say the least. Assassination heads of state, rigging elections, initiating coups, supporting terrorists with arms and money are just a few hallmarks of our policies. Big surprise we arent popular in may parts of the world.
Anyway, Siraj's article was great and much needed given the current sea of lies we've been dumped in.
Let's do some of our own housekeeping before be begin pointing the finger.
I challange Siraj Islam Mufti to address "human rights" and caste systems in the Muslim world.
Of course there is no caste system in Islam...then again there is no concept of "Royality" also but it still goes on.
Why don't you people publish an article that deals with the isssues in the muslim world.
Let Muslims be the first to point at OTHER MUSLIMS..before looking at anybody else.
Why doesn't the West step in and do something in India? Why don't they stop the massacres? They speak of equality, but yet they let India take their revenge just because some Muslims killed 57 Hindus. Muslims are good people, only some are bad, but the West lets India kill them all.