The rise of Hindu Nationalism, Gita Sahgal (Bradlaugh Lecture 2018 Part 3)

The rise of Hindu Nationalism, Gita Sahgal (Bradlaugh Lecture 2018 Part 3)


before he was killed
Gandhi had actually had actually made sure just before independence that that
Indian should take its place in fact go at the founding of the UN for India was
even independence he wanted my grandmother there the jail actually
funded to represent India at the UN and she was actually major she became
president of UN but at that time she was a complete outloud she sort of camping
out you know all day in the lobby of a hotel
she was supported by Indian activist she was spotted by a grand coalition of an
anti-racist movement the National Association of colored people w du Bois
water white the American Civil Liberties Association and so on all at who had
converged on San Francisco founding conference of the UA because they knew
that they needed some other law in more than national role they needed a
framework of rights in order to be able to govern a post-war world that it
wasn’t just to be a settlement between the great powers but it was it was to be
some to do with the individual rights of human beings and my grandmother again
even before they became then went to the General Assembly after
it was formed and brought the case of South Africa so one of the first times
when a government was interfering in the sovereign affairs of our government
because all through the Nazi murders there was actually no second law that
could interfere with the legal actions of one state to its own citizens even if
when they declared them completely non-citizens so she argued that as part
of an anti-racist front and in fact indeed here in Manchester in 1945 there
was a pan-african commerce meeting which many of the leaders who later became
nationally leaders in South Africa in in Africa in various parts of Africa okay
there were Xserve a smoker here and so on who were arguing for equality and
against Empire and so on so that she that was one person the other was Hannah
Samantha who sat on the drafting committee of the Universal Declaration
of Human Rights and she brought with her Charter that had already been developed
by the women’s movement in India of all rights and responsibilities which was an
incredibly radical document I mean this would be developed during the nineteen
thirties India that time didn’t have full allowed
suffrage it didn’t have a form of suffrage but it was a property
Directorate and women did vote but it was full equality for women in uniform
Civil Code protections for labor etc co-education the abolition of the stigma
legitimacy free and full consent in marriage which must be monogamous and
we’re still committed since because these have not yet been
won but one of the key achievements that she had and she had many boots including
the first sentence or he will means an equal in dignity and rights so she said
if you say on men women will not be read into it automatically you have to say
human being so that was one of her but she negotiated with and Roosevelt and
others but there is a clause on marriage and that’s free and full consent in
marriage and that clause which I think subsequent generations of feminists did
not understand how ridiculous was it was not about there with many people who
contributed to the drafting of the Universal Declaration there was in one
mind behind it but it was not part of a classic civil liberties discourse drawn
from French right so anything was in fact considered by the Roosevelt quite
vulgar to talk about something like marriage and people understood
Roosevelt’s for freedom whose they understood freedom of speech they
understood freedom of religion and various things like that protection for
religion they did not understand why not it should be there and of course this
course was immediately it was condemned by American anthropologists who hate any
kind of advanced who’s condemned by the American Bar Association because it
broke segregation laws in America because it allowed interracial marriage
in broke it was posted there by the South African see there by the Saudis
wouldn’t vote for the further Universal Declaration but it got through and it
got through as a law which allowed marriage of choice it allowed people to
marry sign that community so it allowed
interracial marriage the implications were that is allowed into caste marriage
which was one of the the big dividing issues Vandy and Baker and many debates
about this and the vapor persuaded them via the inter inter faith into fast
marriages were particularly important and apparently Gotti said that he would
he would support that and so on so that was the background with which not only
was the Indian Constitution form there 15 women whose after the Constituent
Assembly and yahudah now say why would be fifteen but this was likely the first
Institute to send me in which anyone in fact they came to all religious
backgrounds from cast backgrounds ballot women and so on and they contributed to
building the Constitution and that’s why in the fight against him look there is
such a strong sense of ownership of the Constitution so you have left-wing
students and really found imagine lesson Britain established Irsay we will defend
our Constitution you want a constitutional rights made you need to
defend the Constitution and so on and that of course relates to what was going
on in the courts in in India to under mummy what secular law there was because
there is one civil marriage rule we just call the sexual Marriage Act and it’s an
old 19th century law but it is the law which allows people to marry
across interfaith lines it’s been undermined in Pakistan and Bangladesh
has the same law I’m not sure it existed but son anymore but in violation have to
renounce your religion if you married somebody of another religion which it
was quite a dangerous thing to do it people may not want to do it but even
though this law exists there were groups of people there cells as they also sort
of BHP or RSS people in the courts because you have to put up notices put
up a notice these notices of monitored so it’s dangerously interfaith
conference particularly couples who are running away from their family to marry
in order to do that and so you find instances where women go to court or
they get persuaded they get told stories about the man event and in tomorrow he’s
already married here several otherwise you know that parents are contacted you
have magistrates making it mandatory to Solomon eyes inter-religious marriages
only with the prior permission of district collectors which is not the law
at all so there has been an undermining attack on marriages I mean a physical
attacks woman my own mind my name is Akita bell was killed for having had an
interfaith marriage and there’s a man called Babu Bajrangi who is a BJP he was
a strong man who recovered many Hindu women who married Muslim men or men from
other regions of Guus and with the help of the no judiciary kidnapped these
women and forced them to divorce their husbands and arrange their marriages to
Hindu men so the courts have been an arena of struggle they
secular law people do take recourse to it but in positions of danger and
meanwhile there’s a discourse about Muslim women that they must only solve
these problems within their community that that is often from the Liberals and
the secularists saying to Muslim women that you the the pluralism of laws is
actually part of the fabric of India tolerance and Muslim law in India has
remained unreformed so it’s much much more backward than law in Pakistan and
Bangladesh the co-state had reforms of Muslim law whereas Hindu law and those
countries remain until the unreformed and not at all protective so so you have
the situation where you had a case with where various Muslim open that women’s
organizations took the case against what’s called triple Tala that is the
sort of repudiation divorce to the Supreme Court and the Supreme Court
ruled in their favor but then the measures the government brought in would
not do so much protective of women as criminalizing the men so it was about
taking a stance that in the end didn’t help so the woman who would actually
take in that case then you know argued against the government’s measures but
what’s really frightening from the point of view of looking at this in Britain is
that Indian Muslim law the most backward as I said the subcontinent is often used
in the informal Sharia Courts in this country because their purpose of course
is to rollback any kind of law in other parts of the world of Muslim
law and use the worst forms and that many India liberals don’t understand
this and actually don’t understand the links between what’s happening there and
what’s happening here and yet we hear Muslim feminists say exactly what we’re
saying that’s happening in this country is that women will be pushed into these
alternative forums as alternative dispute resolution and so on that they
get out of the course reports not being able to because their rights in in in
the courts so it’s a complicated situation which the women’s movement has
tried to negotiate through as I said through individual law reform but it
hasn’t really solved this problem now as well as the issue of marriage issue
protection of the Tao which needs to into your people’s thought to be dealing
in capital in Legally or eating beef and so on there is being a major attack on
not to some freedom of expression and on writers and rationalist but on the
scientific temper itself and I think the best commentator we can think of is
actually a Pakistani free thinker and friend Pervez Hoodbhoy who’s been
involved with various campaigns against nuclear armament with Pakistan and and
many other things and he said he talks about how narrow his being as the first
Prime Minister who existed on this scientific temper and being put that in
the Constitution again highly unusually we sit and good boy says if this hadn’t
happened instead of being noted for its exceptional space program and brilliant
string theorists India would have become a garbage dump for every kind of
crackpot science medical research would have concentrated on medicines made from
cow urine and cow dung the celibacy of peacocks would be under
scrutiny astrology would because somebody said peacocks fertilized by
their tears astrology would be taught in place of astronomy and instead of
teaching actual mathematics there would be Vedic mathematics as in Pakistan
Darwinian evolution would be considered heretical and destructive of religious
faith and in in Indian academia academics of Indian origin abroad also
has its own versions of these arguments and particularly in an area of study
called science studies nikodem II called Meera Nanda has argued that the academic
left has no resources to deal with the religious right an anti-science views
because it’s become so relativist in its own thinking and this is meant that
science studies is that it lent itself to the promotion of Hindutva views on
science which is distinct from but allied to other anti science theories
from Christian and Muslim fundamentalists in other words while
euro-american and Indian academics can recognize populism fascism and far-right
movements as a threat when they come from the majority yeah their answers to
embrace the same ideas where they’re classified is the other if universalism
is rejected as a principle then the only means of determining where you stand is
either to stand with your tribe or stand with the tribes on the other and in the
course of all that this attacked on the scientific temper we come back to one of
the central theories that that Bin’s in both were in place because if it’s a
land of blood and soil the land of the territory and the land of the people in
it and if those people are RN then we have then they have to be the original
inhabit of India the people known as the Aryans
and goal worker one as I said one of the early ideologue said out of the heap of
hypotheses we reject all and positively maintain that we Hindus came into this
land from nowhere but an indigenous churn of the soil always from time
immemorial and natural masters of the country here we compile the inimitable
Vedas reasoned out a philosopher Lhasa field the absolute the last word on the
subject built our sciences and arts and crafts here we progressed in cultivation
industries and trade flourished and prospered a great nation of a great race
profit propounded the one religion which is no make-believe but religion in
essence and therefore all scientific studies in archaeology linguistics and
so on have to be manipulated in order to show that the audience came first and
there was actually a huge urban civilization in India which more and
more sites which have been discovered very very advanced in civilization to
two major sites in on Pakistan the Harappa mohenjo-daro but there have been
excavations done on modern day India soil as well but it becomes a problem as
to what to do with these excavations because scientific methods of finding
DNA from very ancient corpses thousands of years almost a thousand years old
have been found and the recently according to India today a report
revealed details of history committee convened by the Office of the Director
General of the Archaeological Survey of India its task according to the
committee was to present a report that will help the government to rewrite
certain aspects of ancient history the minutes of the meeting apparently set
out its aims to use evidence such as archaeological finds and DNA to prove
that today’s hill directly descended from the lands first
inhabitants many thousands of years ago and make the case that ancient Hindu
scriptures are in fact not myth and the problem is of course that the the DNA
evidence shows that the the people buried there are not related to areas of
the thought by linguistics and other material to have come out of Central
Asian steppes and gone westwards through Europe and come eastwards into India and
of course we share common language for common language family languages called
enjoy European languages but they’re not the original inhabitants according to
this and there were earlier inhabitants and that’s so far what the data shows
but if it threatened a collaboration with Harvard problems about how to bring
this out because how do you say it um so Hindutva continues to have promoters and
there I mean there are academics and they’re not all Indian academics is a
lot of European academic sitting in various universities in America and
Belgium and so on they promote some of these views but others apart of
conspiracies and guts and I just want to tell the story of a woman called
savithri lady who actually happen to be the aunt of a friend of mine
I called Samantha Banerjee who’s a an Indian writer on the Left he had also
been a table and Knutson he was actually was a nook sir
not to scold one but he abandoned that he actually wrote about Naxalism and
very critically about the left later but anyway he had an aunt who was born to a
brief father an English mother married and became known as savithri daily and
writer called maryam aragonés did a brilliant and I think it would still
hear it on BBC iPlayer a radio documentary about her so she became a
passionate fascist and having traveled to India she learnt Indian languages
married a Brahman whom she believed to be an Aryan like herself and forged
elaborate synthesis of Nazism and Hindu myth in which Hitler was a man against
time and destined to bring about the end of the Kali or the Dark Ages and usher
in a golden age of Aryan supremacy in her time she was venerated by the Hindu
right and by European and American Nazis today she’s being rediscovered by Golden
Dawn and the alt-right and Maryam Aragonese writes it isn’t hard to find
discussions of her book on neo-nazi web forums especially the lightning and Sun
which expands the theory that Hitler was an uptown and an incarnation of the
Hindu god Vishnu and gold in the furnace which urges true believers to trust the
socialism will National Socialism arise again the American extreme-right website
counter-current hosts an extensive online archive of her life and work and
have used a reaching a wider public through all tribe leaders such as
Richard Spencer Steve Bannon former Trump strategist and
chair right but who have taken up the account of history as a cyclical battle
between good and evil a theory she shared with other 20th century mystical
fascists now there’s much that I’ve left out including the writers movement that
objected to the killing of the rationalists and the lynchings by
returning their wards scientists who returned their awards you know actually
classic terrorism where Hindu groups decided that they would answer Muslim
terrorism Baba they said last four blasts and put bombs
in shrines and trains and so on but one of the things that I want to say about
this growing movement is that some of the most frightening things it’s doing
it’s not doing unto strength it’s doing out a weakness it is not very popular at
the moment and that is what’s making it particularly dangerous that is why then
these deflections are these very obvious stitch ups going on I mean more obvious
than normal because the government was failed in what it set out to do gained
power not on a Hindutva platform I mean that was the gambling underneath but it
came to power promising development promising money in people’s pockets
promising jobs and it’s failed to do that and just as these police raids that
I started with were being carried out there’d been a major report from the
Reserve Bank saying that one of its flagship policies which is to withdraw
certain currency notes called D monetization had actually caused a huge
dip in the economy’s growth so anybody who thinks that the killing of some
Muslims or Christians or others is worth it for a growing economy they need to
think again because actually it hasn’t succeeded in its own aims and it it’s
also I think relevant to say that the many of the
it is fought a lot apart me against the Muslim as the other but also about
drawing in valid movements that valid groups because they lives and I never
cease they have heavily proselytized over and have drawn some in but there is
be a war for the hearts and minds of the victim of RC groups and there is a war
going on with corporate interests and I don’t mean the wall of the Marxist
Leninist groups the Maoist were to call the nut cells which which I think are
utterly dangerous and run protection records murdering people and killing
policemen and so only run protection rackets and so on in the areas they
aren’t they you know and that they don’t share any sense of commonality with them
but there is a vamos range of other groups of rationals leftist liberal etc
who do see the Indian Constitution as their main protection and who do
organized movements around it and the even the foundation of the RS and the
arya samaj in the 19th century with its with its concern that population about
conversions about drawing people back into the fold
is still being echoed today and the foundation of the invertible movement in
maharashtra where they aren’t very many muslims actually there weren’t the kind
of communal violence that was going on in in north india at that time it’s
quite significant that some historians have said that there were rationalist
movements it were very active in Mahara in Maharashtra at that time menapii 19th
century social reform rationalist movements and there had been
also a maker organizing and mobilizing and the people who were killed were also
not just writers but organizers and organizers worked across villages and in
many places debunker the first who’s killed was somehow
activists in the wake of his death anti superstition law was finally passed that
he’d been campaigning for in recognition of his work so there’s always been this
back and forth about how in what ways you include the most marginalized in
what ways you make the part of the self are they are they there because they
have constitutional rights as individual citizens because they have a right not
to have atrocities committed against them or they thought didn’t do fold
where they become a look to the fold where they become part of the foot
soldiers of atrocities against others which unfortunately has happened and
that’s why the secularism of India is like the secularism of Bradlaugh is one
that is founded not only in issues about free speech or the individual functions
or the all those things matter it’s it’s founded in an absolute commitment to
dealing with the issues of the most marginalized and the most oppressed you

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