The continuing tale of Religious Politics (South Asia)
#1
To continue with a thought from one of my earlier posts,
I Wrote:Actually, for me, on reading about India's history since independence, it becomes amply clear that the time before and after Nehru's reign represented a significant break in Indian politics. The rise of regional and religious chauvinistic politics was pretty much completely after Nehru's time and was a response to Indira's dictatorial policies. So, though one cannot really separate out economics from either social or economic issues, I see Nehru's main contributions as more in the social and political field than in economics.

The above are some of my thoughts about the overwhelming omnipresence of religion-based politics in India.

I think the same could be said about the rest of South Asia too. Pakistan was founded as an Islamic state, but Islamism as a political force mainly came into prominence after the regime of Zia Ul Haq. Of course, the present day issue of Islamism and fundamentalist terrorism is altogether a vast problem facing Pakistan, as well as to a certain extent, Bangladesh.

India, although it was founded as a secular republic, has repeatedly seen the worst kind of atrocities committed by various groups under the name of religion. Beginning with the mass riots of partition, continuing with the rise of the Jan Sangh and RSS, reaching the heights of anti-Sikh riots led by the Congress party, the Babri Masjid demolition-riots and the recent pogrom conducted by Hindu extremists in Gujarat.

Thus, for a large part of the past century and continuing into the twenty first century, South Asia has been a hotbed of mischief created by religious lunatics and cynical politicos using religion as a pawn in their own little power games.

However, pure abstract religion by itself is definitely not the root cause of the problems of South Asia. If one looks at the socio-economic factors going on in the background even as religious mania plays out in the front, it is evident that they play the major, if not the actual real role in religious politics. One only has to see the vast economic disparities and rampant anti-social medieval practices to find the main reasons behind the apparent facade of religious extremism, religious politics and atrocities committed in the name of religion. The vast economic divide which exists in the sub-continent is such an obviously evident phenomenon that it almost has become a fact of life for most of the people. It is also quite shocking to see some of the backwards customs and traditions, like caste-based discrimination, untouchability, gender-based discrimination (all of which have unfortunately become part of the living tradition among many peoples), followed among the people of the sub-continent.

In order to examine some of the manifestations of religious extremism on a case by case basis, let us begin with the partition riots. It is evident that these riots were the result of the post-colonial hangovers which led to the bloody partition of the country. The innocent people who were massacred on both sides of the so-called borders were all victims of the brutal legacy of colonialism in the Indian sub-continent. Going on to the rise of Hindu fundamentalist parties and organizations, once again, we see these coming about more or less due to the crisis of leadership in the central government after the death of Nehru, which led to the dictatorship of his daughter, Indira Gandhi, who rose to power on false promises of "socialism" and other political rhetoric like "garibi hatao" all of which in hindsight are revealed to be mere slogans to ensure the Nehru-Gandhi family's continued grip on the Indian leadership. The bloody riots which took place after her assassination were once again cynical political moves by the ruling Congress party to play out the fears of the majority by placing the blame entirely on a minority (and making us forget the actions which led to the assassination in the first place). Similar reasons were behind the Babri Masjid demolition and the subsequent riots as well as the Gujarat pogrom, both of which were once again cynical ploys by political forces to play out the fears and suspicions of the majority and persecuting a minority for perceived "crimes".

With such a bloody background to it, is there any hope for a secular and inclusive form of politics anywhere in this region?
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#2
Seems like an old thread (from 2011). Not sure if the author is still active on this forum.

(21-Apr-2011, 08:31 AM)madhav Wrote: In order to examine some of the manifestations of religious extremism on a case by case basis, let us begin with the partition riots. It is evident that these riots were the result of the post-colonial hangovers which led to the bloody partition of the country. The innocent people who were massacred on both sides of the so-called borders were all victims of the brutal legacy of colonialism in the Indian sub-continent.

What is the evidence that shows that the partition riots were the result of the post-colonial hangovers and not of Hindu-Muslim enmity? And what does post-colonial hangovers mean? My understanding is that post-colonial hangovers should result in violence against colonial masters. That is not what we saw/see in South Asia. I suspect these riots are simply due to religious xenophobia.

PS: Added later. We seem to blame our colonial masters for all kind of issues. Though they do deserve blame in most instances is it fair to blame them for sectarian violence?
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