Sunday, 14 November 2010

‘Kashmir struggle is a legitimate one, can’t be suppressed by force’,Gautam Navlakha

‘Kashmir struggle is a legitimate one, can’t be suppressed by force’,Gautam Navlakha
Posted by K4Kashmir on November 14, 2010 in India, Kashmir | 0 Comment Edit
Exclusive Interivew:
Gautam Navlakha
‘Kashmir struggle is a legitimate one,
can’t be suppressed by force’
Kashmir Times correspondent AKSHAY AZAD recently caught up with prominent civil rights activist, journalist and writer GAUTAM NAVLAKHA in Jallandhar during the huge three day congregation organized by Gaddar Party loyalists on the occasion of 19th annual Ghadar Party fair and spoke to him in detail about Kashmir crisis. Excerpts from the interview:
AKSHAY AZAD (AA): Is the Kashmir struggle genuine and how?
GAUTAM NAVLAKHA (GN): Wherever the aspirations of masses will be suppressed with brute use of force a movement against that oppression will definitely arise which is legitimate in every sense. Kashmir issue is not restricted within UN resolution or the Instrument of Accession signed between Maharaja Hari Singh and Jawahar Lal Nehru. The onus of making this struggle legitimate lies upon Indian government which used repressive and undemocratic means including bunglings of elections, unabated killings, rapes, molestation, disappearances and made Jammu & Kashmir economical dependent. All this resulted in the uprising of masses in valley.
AA: How do you view the leadership, divided between several options, in the Valley? Where does that lead us?
GN: Not a single man or party is leading the masses of Kashmir. In the last few years there has been witnessed a change of opinion among masses vis a vis the leaders. There may be some leaders who want to go with Pakistan, others with India or some may want J&K to remain independent. But the masses will decide about the future of Kashmir. There is also change in the opinion of separatist leader Syed Ali Shah Geelani who admitted that opinion of masses is different from his personal opinion and he would respect the opinion of masses.
AA: By considering the Kashmir struggle legitimate are you raising fingers on the integrity of India?
GN: It is the masses who build a nation and nation’s integrity will not be disintegrated by accepting the demand of self determination of masses. It is the Indian State not the people which are endangering the integrity of the nation. After 63 years of independence 80 percent population is unable to spend Rs. 20 per day, 45 percent children between 0-6 age are malnourished. Life of majority population is moving towards darkness. Mentally and practically Indian state is very careless about the issues of masses and in this perspective slogans of ‘Integrity of Nation’ are false propaganda of Indian state.
AA: The government’s perception is that stone pelters are being paid by separatists and Pakistani agencies including Lashka-e-Toiba. What is your take?
GN: Three months earlier Indian intelligence agencies and corporate media propagated that Lashkar-e-Toiba was behind the stone pelting but now Indian state led by P Chidambaram is saying that stone pelters are being paid. Whether the Indian Government was actually right three months earlier or now? For a second, if we assume that the propaganda of Indian media and government was right, is it possible that a person will come out on the road and be ready to die only for Rs. 500? Is it possible for merely Rs. 500 Kashmiri youth are ready to die?
AA: Stones are replacing weapons. Is Kashmir moment is going in the right direction?
GN: One can never decide the ways of peoples protest. Its very easy in Kashmir to get armed training but Kashmiris want to organize peaceful protest demonstrations, seminars, discussions, meetings but are restricted from doing so. Inspite of restrictions they are not taking up guns which is a very wise step of Kashmiris. Kashmiris are so much intelligent and wise that now they have made a platform of their own for projecting their demand not only in India but in the entire world. Kashmir moment is going in an absolutely right direction.
AA: Is Kashmir is not an integral part of India?
GN: Only in slogans Kashmir is considered as integral part of India but if someone goes through the atrocities committed by forces in valley and other states, stone pelters were tackled by weapons only in Kashmir not in other states. In the last 20 years the massacre of thousands of people, unprecedented rapes and murders, illegal confinements, disappearances, gang rapes, besides other brutal atrocities have been committed by forces in Kashmir valley, against which none of the country’s citizens had raised voice. But on the other side if such atrocities are committed in any other part of country whether in Bastar, Gujrat, Rajasthan, Chattisgarh, many people come forward but not in case of Kashmir. Then how it can be deemed a part of India? It was also the failure of us peace loving people of India who didn’t raise voice against the atrocities. Kashmir was always treated as a colony and all atrocities are being committed upon the colonised people of Kashmir by the Coloniser Indian state forces.
AA: But don’t you think heeding voices of separatism in Kashmir or resolving the Kashmir issue on lines of some kind of independence will lead to disintegration of India?
GN: India is a union of several nationalities and if some nationality will be acceded in the Union by its choice, other will have the right to remain independent if it wants. Indian government should consider the demand of freedom of Kashmiris.
AA: Majority masses of Jammu and Ladakh do not support the ongoing moment of Kashmir and are quite against it. Then what about their aspirations?
GN: Right to self determination of people of Jammu and Ladakh must be considered in the resolution of Kashmir issue. Firstly the opinion of masses of entire state including all regions of Jammu Kashmir and Ladakh must be considered during the resolution of issue.
AA: What do you think of Pakistan’s role in Kashmir and designs of Pakistan establishment?
GN: Due to the unwise and undemocratic decisions implemented in Kashmir by Indian state, Pakistan got a chance to claim about Kashmir. In the last three years situation in Pakistan was also out of control from Pakistan government and Pakistan role in Kashmir moment has become negligible. Putting the onus of entire movement on Pakistan is totally false. Kashmir moment is an indigeneous moment and in the prevailing situations Kashmiris left the weapons and took out protests to projecting their demands.
AA: But isn’t Kashmir movement a religious one?
GN: The character of Indian state is Hindu in real sense. Take the example of banning the militant outfit of Maoists and students Organization SIMI but on the other side state has not banned the biggest Hindu fundamentalist private goons army of Bajrang Dal, Rashtriya Sawayem Sewak Sangh (RSS), dozens of whose activists and leaders are inside bars for several crimes committed by them including planting bombs in mosques and other minority religious places in entire country. They had also planned massacre of minorities in many states of country, then why such outfits are not banned by Indian government. Sympathisiser of Hindu fundamentalist organizations are in state assemblies, in bureaucracy, intelligence agencies but moving freely and continue with heinous crimes but are not banned. What does it depict? Does this not represent the nature of Indian state which is Hindu in real sense. It could be obvious that the resentment against such religious states would be religious. But go through the series of events that happened in Kashmir in past 20 years. Since 1990, curfews were relaxed in valley on Friday and after Friday prayers, people gathered and held protest demonstrations and it was obvious that the language and slogans used by the protesters would be religious in nature. CRPF and Army personnel deputed on roads taunted the protesters with provocative slogans like “Hindustan Teri Mot Aai, Lashkar Aai, Lashkar Aai” (Lashkar means protesters). Someone can say that all protesters were Lashkars but no one favoured Lashkar in slogans till date and they always raised slogans of freedom “Hum Kaya Chahte Azadi”. If one will talk to the people of Kashmir they always engage in political discussions, not talking about Lashkar.
Indian government should realize the resentment of Kashmiris who instead of atrocities and suppression are still favouring execution of real democracy. Except Manipur and Nagaland, most atrocities were committed by Indian forces in Kashmir but inspite of this, Kashmiri’s desire for freedom was not suppressed by Indian state. Then it is impossible to win the hearts of people of Kashmir by such means in future also.
AA: Is there any peaceful resolution of Kashmir problem which will be accepted by all masses.
GN: Majority of Indian masses and people of Jammu and Kashmir want peaceful resolution of Kashmir but the fanatic organizations like Bajrang Dal, Bhartiya Janta Party, other fundamentalist and also the Congress party don’t want resolution of Kashmir problem.
Indian government does not want to strengthen the roots of democracy in country. If the roots of democracy will be strengthened then the decisions against the will of majority masses will not be implemented. Then adivasis will not be evacuated from the jungles for the mining projects for the benefit of big corporate houses, farmer’s agriculture land will not be encroached on the name of SEZ’s, condition of education and health sector, public undertakings will not deteriorate in the country. If democracy will be strengthened profit motivated interests of corporate houses will be not be accomplished.
AA: If Indian government does not want resolution, then why is it sending interlocutors to J&K?
GN: Interlocutors visit, All Party Delegation, Prime Minister visit, Home Minister P Chidambaram visit all are the tactics adopted by Indian government to pacify and weaken the ongoing moment of Kashmir.
AA: Then who will solve the issue?
GN: Indian government is not serious in solving the issue so the responsibility lies upon the common masses and civil societies to compel the government to strengthen the democracy in country and in all states.
AA: What about the Kashmirs Pandits who were forced to migrate from Kashmir?
GN: Migration of Kashmiri Pandits was very unfortunate and onus of migration lies on Kashmiri majority population but not completely. Responsibility of migration of Kashmiri Pandits also lies on Indian state which inspite of providing assistance to Kashmiris in valley provide vehicles to leave the valley. Majority community of Kashmir had the responsibility to provide security to minorities during 90s but they failed to accomplish that responsibility. Many families of Sikhs and Hindus are still residing in Kashmir but they were not forced to migrate when militancy was at its peak in Kashmir. Kashmiri separatist leaders still consider Kashmiri Pandits as the integral part of their culture and visited Kashmiri pandits camps in Jammu.
AA: What about Arundhati Roy’s views about Kashmir?
GN: One can be satisfied or not with the views of someone but that does not mean people having divergent views have no space to express their views in democracy. Anyone who is not satisfied with Arundhati’s views should express his or her dissent with democratic ways but attacking her house and calling her antinational can never be justified in a democratic country. Why can’t people with divergent views hold press conference in Delhi to express themselves?
AA: Arundhati talks only about Kashmiris but not about Jammu and Ladakh?
GN: In a democracy every one has the right to express his personal views and if someone is not satisfied with someone’s views, he has the right to express his divergent views in a peaceful manner. That does not means that someone has the right to harm the person with divergent opinion. She raised voice in favour of Kashmiris along with Geelani; people of Jammu should have to come Delhi and expressed themselves.

*The author can be contacted at

Dishonesty of Arundhati or Media?
By Mahtab Alam
‘Vicharon ki Be-imani (Dis-honesty of thought) cries the heading of the lead article of Dainik Bhaskar’s editorial page on 1st November 2010. The article is written by Venkateshan Vembu, foreign correspondent of DNA English daily, a newspaper published by the same group of publications. It was originally published on 27th October with the headline reading ‘Arundhati Roy is dangerously wrong on Kashmir’. The writer of the article claims that whatever Arundhati has said is not only dangerously wrong and beyond the tolerance level of any law-abiding citizen but, it also has the potential to arouse feelings of anger and violence among the masses. “Yeh kuch is tarah ki beimani hai, jo janmanas me krodh aur aakrosh ki bhawna upjati hai (This is a kind of dishonesty which generates feelings of anger and violence among the people”). Ironically, this turned out to be a ‘prophetic’ disclosure, as right after four days of publication of the original version in DNA, Arundhati’s house in Delhi was attacked by the writer’s ‘Janmanas’, the BJP’s women wing ‘Mahila Morcha’.
On the same date (1st november), another hindi daily by the name of Hindustan, published two articles on its editorial page relating to Arundhati’s recent public statements on the issue of Kashmir. While the heading of the lead article by Vir Sanghvi, editorial consultant of HT Media Private Ltd says, ‘Arundhati ke khel me na phasen (Don’t fall in Arundhati’s trap), the heading of a small write-up on the same page by Gopal Chaturvedi reads, ‘Lekhak ki Aazadi (Freedom of a Writer)’. Sanghvi article was originally written in English and published with the heading ‘No damage to India from Arundhati Roy’s remarks’ on 31st October 2010 in Hindustan Times, an English daily published by the same group which owns Hindustan. In his article, he concludes, “Hamein Arundhati ke bayano se naraaz hone ka poora haq hai, lekin jis chann humane un sidhaanton se samjhauta kiya, jo humein ek udaar samaaj banate hain, toh hum Arundhati ka khel khelne lagenge. Hum ek damankari, varchasav-vadi samaaj ban jayenge, jaisa ki unhone kaha hai (We have every right to be angered by Arundhati’s statements. But the moment that we compromise with the principles that make us a liberal society, we start playing Arundhati’s game. And then we’ll become a repressive and totalitarian society as she has said)”.
But if one tallies the original articles with their translations in Hindi published by the respective dailies, one finds the real dishonesty – the Dishonesty of translation and commission, as well as omission. Like in Sanghvi translated article in Hindi, one would not find an important paragraph which reads, “There is no reason to believe that these statements will have consequences that are any more serious. In fact, they would have faded from the news in hours had the TV channels not continued fuelling public outrage.” Likewise, Vembu’s article has also been mistranslated. The sentence, “.Kashmir finally stands exposed before the world as having been propelled all along by Pakistan-backed jihadis who are playing for much larger stakes: the disintegration of secular India”, has been translated as “Duniya janti hai ki Azadi ki is awaaz ko Pakistan-samarthit jihadiyon dwaara badhaawa diya jaa raha hai, jinke mansoobaun ko mamooli nahi kaha ja sakta (The world knows that the voice of freedom has been encouraged by Pakistan-backed jihadis, whose plans are not considered to be ordinary )”.
What is more interesting is that both Vembu and Chaturvedi could not hide their jealously and envy in regard to Arundhati Roy. Vembu writes, “There’s a mesmeric seductive quality to Arundhati Roy’s prose. For all its verbiage, it teases, tempts and torments the mind and lures it into the parlour of a contrarian world; it then persuades it, with the sheer power of its eloquence that the natural order of things in the ‘real’ world as we know it is wholly unnatural and completely flawed.” Chaturvedi in his column, while commenting on Arundhati’s statement about a writer’s freedom says, “Lekhakiye swatrantay ke vishav me yeh maulik aur nayab khayalat kamtar, adane hindi ke nahi ek mahan lekhak ke hain. Wah do karano se mahan hai. Ek to isliye ki wah angrezi me likhta hai, dusare is liye ki wah England ke booker puruskar ka vijeta hai (Regarding writer’s freedom, these original and unique views are not of any Hindi writer but a great writer, great because of two reasons. One, that he writes in English. And the other that he is the winner of England’s Booker Prize).” In fact, the above views by the said writers indicate that they suffer from acute inferiority complex. Moreover in their respective articles, the writers hardly have any valid point to make except celebrating their ‘victimhood’ of being lesser ‘men’ and acting as spokespersons of Hindutva Nationalism.
In addition to this, on 2nd November, Dainik Bhaskar published another editorial page column, ‘News Analysis’ by Satyendra Ranjan with the heading ‘Do charam-panthi chhor aamne samane (Two extremist forces face to face) ‘. Following the lines of its precedent, the writer claims that, “Arundhati Kashmir ki ‘Azadi’ ki baat karte samay yeh sawal kabhi nahi uthayengi ki kya kattar-panthi sangthan, jinki bunyad me vyakti ki niji azadi aur aadhunik mulyon ka hanan shamil hai, ve hi wahan ‘Azadi’ ke vahak honge? (While speaking about ‘Azadi’ of Kashmir, Arundhati would never raise the question that can the radical organisation, which is based on the curtailment of personal liberty and involved in violation of modern values, be the bearers of ‘Azadi’ over there?”
Is this so, one would want to ask. Has she never spoken or questioned the notion of Azadi of the separatist organisations? She has. Time and time again. In August 2008, in her famous article tilted Azadi published in Outlook and in a recent interview to Tehelka, she has raised many questions concerning the nature of the Azadi of Kashmir. Referring to her Kashmir visit in August 2008 and recalling her thoughts while attending a rally, she writes in Outlook, “Briefly, I had another thought. I imagined myself standing in the heart of an RSS or VHP rally being addressed by L.K. Advani. Replace the word Islam with the word Hindutva’ replace the word Pakistan with Hindustan’ replace the sea of green flags with saffron ones’ and we would have the BJP’s nightmare vision of an ideal India.”
She further wonders, “Is that what we should accept as our future? Monolithic religious states handing down a complete social and moral code’ “a complete way of life”? Millions of us in India reject the Hindutva project. Our rejection springs from love’ from passion’ from a kind of idealism’ from having enormous emotional stakes in the society in which we live. What our neighbours do’ how they choose to handle their affairs does not affect our argument’ it only strengthens it.”
“Arguments that spring from love are also fraught with danger. It is for the people of Kashmir to agree or disagree with the Islamic project (which is as contested’ in equally complex ways’ all over the world by Muslims as Hindutva is contested by Hindus).Perhaps now that the threat of violence has receded and there is some space in which to debate views and air ideas’ it is time for those who are part of the struggle to outline a vision for what kind of society they are fighting for. Perhaps it is time to offer people something more than martyrs’ slogans and vague generalisations. Those who wish to turn to the Quran for guidance will no doubt find guidance there. But what of those who do not wish to do that’ or for whom the Quran does not make place? Do the Hindus of Jammu and other minorities also have the right to self-determination? Will the hundreds of thousands of Kashmiri Pandits living in exile’ many of them in terrible poverty’ have the right to return? Will they be paid reparations for the terrible losses they have suffered? Or will a free Kashmir do to its minorities what India has done to Kashmiris for 61 years? What will happen to homosexuals and adulterers and blasphemers? What of thieves and lafangas and writers who do not agree with the “complete social and moral code”? Will we be put to death as we are in Saudi Arabia? Will the cycle of death’ repression and bloodshed continue? History offers many models for Kashmir’s thinkers and intellectuals and politicians to study. What will the Kashmir of their dreams look like? Algeria? Iran? South Africa? Switzerland? Pakistan?” she asks.
Is this not more than enough from Arundhati’s side? What more would one want in clarification of ones stand on being a supporter of Azadi? Here, it is also noteworthy that she does not only say Kashmir needs Azadi rather, “India needs azadi from Kashmir just as much, if not more’ than Kashmir needs azadi from India.”
Above all, what is the most startling is that the news of attack on Arundhati’s house hasn’t made it to the pages of either Dainik Bhaskar, Hindustan or Prabhat Khabar. The last Hindi daily had also published a balanced lead editorial on Roy’s stand on Kashmir. One wonders what could have been the reason behind the black out of news of the attack. Was it a mere mistake or a deliberate attempt? One would not be sure about the answer but at the same time, what can be said is that it is nothing but the Dishonesty of media, not only to Arundhati, but its readers as well.
Note: The articles cited here are published in the Ranchi edition of the respective dailies.
(Mahtab Alam is a civil rights’ activist and freelance journalist. He can be reached at )
-(Counter Currents)
Will Kancha’s “Post-Hindu India” be Possible?
A Reflection on Kancha Ilaiah’s book “Post-Hindu India”
By Madhu Chandra
This article attempts to reflect Kancha Ilaiah’s “Post-Hindu India” published by Sage Publication, New Delhi in 2009 in specific reference to caste civil war, in which, he predicts, will bring an end to Casteism.
First, will Kancha’s “Post-Hindu India” really be possible? If yes, then how? India has one Kancha now who has campaigned Dalit-Bahujans rights globally. India will have over 20,000 Kancha(s) in 20 years down the line across the nation. Then the campaign against casteism and Ambedkarites will be raised 20,000 times powerful!
Second, Kancha believes Hinduism is a dying religion and will die in India as it has in Afghanistan, Pakistan and Indonesia. Brahmans and Hindutva fascist accused Islam and Christianity as major causes of Hinduism dying. He kept referring to Nepal, which is taken over by Maoist’s, as a rejection of Hinduism from the Himalayan kingdom. In India, Hinduism is losing ground in the North East Indian states – Nagaland, Mizoram, Meghalaya and partially Manipur. In the Southern states of Kerala, Tamil Nadu and Andhra Pradesh, a huge number of Dalits have left Hinduism and embraced casteless religions in recent years.
Third, Hindutva fascism, fanatics and militants hold responsibility for the down fall of Hinduism. Anti-democratic and anti-secular nature of these Hindutva forces has damaged the image of Hinduism. The upper castes attack Dalits and Shudras in the name of castes is termed as one of the highest violations of human rights. Attack on Muslim and Christian minorities are seen as attacks on Indian secularism. The Kandhmal episode has proven this. It was ethnic cleansing of tribals and Dalits converted to Christianity. Attacks were more on their socio-economic and educational which became better after embracing Christianity. Hindutva forces specifically targeted to uproot the economic, educational sources rendered by Christian missions so Dalits and tribals would remain in a backward condition as it has been for centuries.
Eruption of Civil War – then the end of Casteism
Kancha’s last chapter before his conclusion of “Post-Hindu India” deals with civil war. This chapter on civil war is the end solution for Dalit-Bahujan communities to take in response to his preceding chapters – Unpaid Teachers, Subaltern Scientists, Productive Soldiers, Subaltern Feminists, Social Doctors, Meat and Milk Economists, Unknown Engineers, Food Producers, Social Smugglers, Spiritual Fascists and Intellectual Goondas. Kancha predicts that the civil war will turn into physical violence between upper castes minorities and majority communities of Dalit Bahujans.
Civil war is a violent conflict within a country fought by organized groups that aim to take power at the center or in a region, or to change government policies. In American Abraham Lincoln accepted Civil War as the only means to save the Union. The prediction of Kancha is civil war, which will bring about equality of Indian society by dismantling the caste hierarchical society, which will then bring an end to casteism. Reading the signposts around India, the symptoms of civil war have erupted in recent past and likely to erupt in the future.
What kind of civil war, is Kancha predicting rather desiring? It is a civil war of ideology in quest for equality among all sections of society against Brahmans and upper caste. It is also a civil war of spirituality between spiritual democracy, which Dalit-Shudras are longing and spiritual fascism in search of spiritual equality irrespective of caste, creed, religion, race and color. It is also a civil war of nerves and physical violence, which is desired to be avoided if the earlier form of civil war could resolve the caste base inequality among Indian societies.
Symptoms of Civil War
The physical civil war has been attempted by upper caste time and again, particularly when any affirmative initiative steps are taken by either Union Government of India or State Government. The implementation of Mandal commission during the time of Prime Minister of India, Vishwanath Pratap Singh in 1990 and the United Progressive Alliance Government’s OBC reservation in higher technical institutions in 2006 have witnessed a civil war like violence by upper caste against the Dalit Bahujans communities. Shudras and Dalits refrained from any physical form of civil war until today, yet no one should underestimate the volcanic boiling underneath as reaction against the caste oppression. Kancha testifies Gujarat 2002 carnage, Kandhmal 2007-2008 and red corridors of Maoists uprising in tribal dominated regions of India are the symptoms of civil war between upper caste and Dalit Bahujans. The momentum of the anti-reservation movement in 2006 shows the same arrogance demonstrated by upper caste as in 1990.
The highest form of civil war is the war of nerves, which will lead to the war of weapons causing massive causalities, damage and destruction; perhaps it will kill caste. Spiritual civil war will erupt before the eruption of civil war of the nerves and physical violence. The spiritual civil war will erupt between the spiritual democracy and spiritual fascism. To fight the spiritual fascism and get rid of caste oppression in search of spiritual equality, a spiritual civil war in the form of spiritual migration from one religion to other will erupt. Indeed this migration began with Ambedkar when he renounced Hinduism and embraced Neo Buddhism in 1956 along with a half million Dalits at Nagpur. Ever since, this migration never ceases in small and large scale. This spiritual migration will leave Hinduism as a micro minority religion and it will suffer the most if they continue to hold on their caste practice even then.
The Brahmans and upper caste forces will retaliate against this spiritual migration through the might of political and legislation by attempting to establish the anti-conversion bill which is already law in eight different states of India. Kancha believes that spiritual liberation is much harder than the physical liberation but it eradicates casteism permanently.
What Causes Civil War and who is Responsible?
Unquestionably, the oppressive and destructive nature of Brahmanic religion is leading the exploited poor and Dalits to challenge and rise against the very religious system that has been keeping them under bondage for centuries. Hinduism teaches untouchability, inequality and designates degrading caste based jobs to oppressed societies. Doctrines of creation taught by the Law of Manu, in which Brahman are created by God from the head to dominate all human beings and to control all temple economics, Kshatriyas from the shoulders to rule and control the tax economy under the instruction of Brahmans, Vaisyas from the thigh to control market economies under the supervision of Brahmans and Kshatriyas, and Shudras the lowest caste created from the feet to enjoy oppression and serve the preceding caste hierarchy. Dalits who represent one fourth of Indian population are taught in the Law of Manu that they are not created by God, meaning they are outcaste or casteless, considered less than human beings and polluting communities. The Law of Manu sanctioned highest form of human rights violence meted to Sudra and Dalits thus Manu’s doctrine of creation is the solemn responsibility for causing civil war.
Unwillingness to do away with caste in Indian society and upper caste will be responsible for Shudras and Dalits in search of equality and liberation from oppression, migrating out of Hinduism to other religions. Unwillingness of the policy makers to provide and implement affirmative actions along with the anti-reservation movements will cause civil war.
Anti reservation propaganda in All India Institute of Medical Science during Mandal Commission 1990 and OBC reservation 2006 provokes the breakout of civil war. The campaign against anti-reservation in Jawaharlal Nehru University is today a symptom of civil war between students belonging to upper caste and lower caste communities.
What can avoid the Civil War? Civil war could be avoided, if Brahmans and upper caste communities are willing to do away the casteism in Hinduism, but it is next to impossible because Hinduism can not survive without casteism and visa versa. Affirmative actions and programs for Dalits and Shudras both in educational and employment arenas could help avoid civil war.
Madhu Chandra is a research scholar and social activist based in New Delhi. He works as Regional Secretary of All India Christian Council (, Spokes Person of North East Support Centre & Helpline ( and National Secretary of All India Confederation of SC/ST Organisations (

The Contemporary Arab Reader on Political Islam
Book Review: The Contemporary Arab Reader on Political Islam
Edited by: Ibrahim M. Abu-Rabi
Publisher: Pluto Press, London
Year: 2010
Pages: 312
ISBN: 978-0-7453-2889-8
Reviewed by: Yoginder Sikand
Recent decades have witnessed the birth of a veritable ‘political Islam’ industry, with hundreds of books having been published on the subject in just the last decade and many millions of dollars being poured in, by governments and think-tanks, to research the phenomenon.
Much of this writing has been by Western, non-Muslim, researchers and analysts, many of who continue to view the subject through an inherently biased and heavily distorted neo-Orientalist lens. The bulk of this literary output sees the phenomenon of what is controversially called ‘political Islam’ or Islamism from the point of view of its real, alleged, perceived or imaginary security threats and implications, and not as representing a potentially positive agenda as such. On the other hand, very little has been written by Islamist ideologues in English and geared particularly to the non-Muslim general or specialist reader.
This timely book makes a very valuable contribution to ongoing debates on ‘political Islam’/Islamism. It consists of translations of articles by almost three dozen leading contemporary Arab Islamist activists, ideologues and spokesmen, most of which have been published in English for the first time. The articles cover a wide range of themes of contemporary interest central to the subject of Islamism.
The first section of the book deals with the theory of Islamism in the contemporary Arab world. In his essay, Muhammad Said Ramadan al-Buti refers to contemporary Arab Islamism as ‘Salafiyah’, as going back to the Quran and authentic Sunnah, and refusing to being restricted by centuries of human interpretation of the divine revelation and the tradition of fiqh. In this way, he argues, Islamism seeks to provide a specifically Islamic response to modern challenges, fashioning anIslamic modernity, rather than seeking to deny modernity altogether, as is sometimes alleged. Fathi Yakan builds on this to provide a critique of some literalist and radical tendencies in contemporary Islamism, arguing that these pose a major danger to the very Islamic project itself. At the same time, he argues that the Islamist movement is the answer to the cultural, moral, economic and political crisis facing Arab and Muslim communities. This, too, is broadly what Ahmad Kamal Abu al-Majd insists in his piece titled ‘Towards a Modern Islamic Perspective’, where he stresses the need for ijtihad, or contextually relevant understandings of scripture and jurisprudence, and the need for, and legitimacy of, and benefiting from the experience and knowledge of others. The last essay in this section, by the noted Egyptian scholar Muhammad al-Ghazali, titled ‘The Headscarf Battle’, stresses the need for some revision in traditional gender roles and the need to recognise and respect women’s autonomy and freedoms within a broad Islamic paradigm.
The second part of the book consists of essays on Islamism and jihad. The first, by Abdullah Anas, an Arab who spent years in Afghanistan fighting the Soviets, is about people like himself, called ‘Afghan Arabs’. He describes the passionate commitment to the Muslim ummah that attracted such people to Afghanistan in the first place, and relates how they were dumped by the USA and its client Arab states
once their agenda in Afghanistan-expelling the Russian forces-was fulfilled. He also reflects on the implications of their experiences fighting in Afghanistan for domestic politics in their own countries. The second essay is by Abdullah Azzam, ideological mentor of, among others, Osama Bin Laden. His essay, titled ‘What Jihad Taught Me’, brings out clearly how without placing US imperialism, Israeli
brutalities in Palestine and the slavish subservience of Arab regimes to US diktats at the centre of analysis the phenomenon of contemporary Al-Qaeda-style jihadism cannot be understood. This is further elaborated on in an essay by Muhammad Said Ramadan al-Buti, who talks about jihad as a means for securing justice and ending oppression, and specifies the clear moral and ethical rules that must circumscribe and guide it. Sayyid Muhammad Hussain Fadlallah, head of Lebanon’s
Hizbullah, makes much the same points in his contribution.
The third section of the book contains three essays on the Palestine issue, which is central to the ideology and politics of Islamism notjust in the Arab region but, rather, globally. Ismail Faruqi’s essay ‘Islam and Zionism’ castigates Zionism as a politically as well as religiously illegitimate ideology and project and insists that Muslims (and even Jews) can have no truck with it, arguing that it represents a total betrayal of traditional Judaism as well. It is inherently expansionist and imperialistic, and there is no option but resolute and consistent option to it, he stresses. Muhammad Abu Sway repeats this argument in the light of the consistent opposition of Israel to Palestinian demands. An incisive and well-documented piece by Ataullah Bogdan Kopanski and Mohsen Saleh details the immense influence of the pro-Israeli lobby in the USA, both Zionists as well as Christian evangelicals, without recognizing which the consistent American support for Israel, American imperialist offensives in the Muslim world and America’s generally hostile attitude to Islamist parties cannot be understood.
Part Four of the book discusses the need for Islamists to engage in self-critique and introspection. In their respective essays, Abdul Qadir Awdah and Ramadan Abdullah Shallah warn Islamists against cooptation by the state, while Shaykh Umar Abdel Rahman points to the often hypocritical manipulation of Islamic symbols and sentiments by Muslim states allied to the West in order to serve their own purposes and to subvert the Islamist opposition. Four other essays, by Sami al-Aryan, Rashid al-Ghannoushi, Yusuf al-Qaradawi and Jamil Hamami, warn against extremism, excessive literalism and harshness, plead for Islamists to seek to engage with democratic and progressive forces on issues of common interest, and argue the case for Islamists to reflect a more socially-engaged understanding of Islam that goes beyond the prescriptions of traditional fiqh or Muslim jurisprudence. They press the need for Islamist parties to become much more active and inclusive as civil society pressure groups and to take up and incorporate into their agendas a wide range of social issues.
The book’s fifth section consists of six essays on Islamism and the West. Taken together, they argue that the West has failed to understand Islamism on its own terms, and is ignorant of the positive agenda that it stands for. But besides berating the West for its sometimes deliberate ignorance and blind opposition to Islam, these writers plead for the need for inter-civilisational dialogue, insisting that Muslims, who are entrusted with the task of communicating God’s word to all peoples, take up a central role in this task.
The final section of the book consists of country-specific case studies that look at the emergence and development of Islamist parties in several parts of the Arab world-Saudi Arabia, Morocco, Syria, the Gulf and Iraq. These show broadly similar patterns, with such movements articulating demands for cultural ‘authenticity’, protesting against Western cultural invasion and continued Western neo-colonialism, and articulating widespread opposition to dictatorial regimes and their client ulema. The articles also reflect on the problems these movements have faced, including repression by ruling regimes and the West, which have limited their appeal, their political prospects and their ability to facilitate meaningful transformations in their societies.
Bringing together a diverse range of influential Arab Islamist voices on a wide spectrum of issues, this book is a very valuable contribution to studies of forms of contemporary Islamic expression, and cannot afford to be missed by anyone interested in the phenomenon. That said, numerous lacunae remain. Crucial issues, most notably Islamism’s economic agenda and its controversial attitudes to democracy, gender relations and women’s statuses, are excluded from this selection of writings. Many of the articles are repetitive, and not a few sound like crude propaganda. Yet, despite all of this, this book excels.

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