India’s nuclear deal and Indian Muslims

Posted on July 5, 2008. Filed under: India, Muslims, Nuclear, Politics |

NDTV, a leading news channel based in New Delhi, India, reported about two sources claiming that the majority of Indian Muslims were against the nuclear deal. One, from a survey apparently conducted by a newspaper owned by a top ranking leader (and also a Muslim) of the Samajwadi Party, whose leadership have officially indicated favouring the nuclear deal. The survey apparently found 70% of Indian Muslims against the deal. The second was an excerpt from an interview with a representative of a Muslim religious organization who claimed that if the “deal was against” national interest and also with and and in favour of the USA, then Indian Muslims will be against it, and any party who went forward with or favoured the deal would have to face the displeasure (“narazgi”) of Indian Muslims.

As pointed out in an earlier post, all this is playing very nicely into the hands of those who have all along claimed that if not for the majority, at least for the leadership of Indian Muslims, their religion comes before their country, and that their hearts lie outside of India. Further where the question of choosing between India’s growing strategic interests and the strategic interests of Muslim majority countries are concerned, Indian Muslim leadership will choose the latter.

Most news channels outside of India carried the news of Kashmiris in the western part of the state agitating violently against the land transfer order. Since then, the government of the state has taken over responsibility for arrangements for the annual pilgrimage to the Hindu shrine of Amarnath, and the agitation in the western part has calmed down. However, the eastern part dominated by Hindus, is now up in flames, and this has not seen the light of media interest outside India. Many Hindus who were evicted and forced to flee their homesteads in the western part by violent Islamic militant movements in the past, have taken refuge in the east. It is predictable that this Hindu agitation will learn from the success of their Muslim counterparts in the techniques that can guarantee Indian state protection of religious claims over land, territory and people. However they probably do not have much hope while there are political parties in power at the centre who are dependent or see themselves as dependent on Muslim electoral support.

In the end, it is all leading to a consolidation of the “Hindu”. It will be the height of stupidity to think that the BJP will bring back a mythical regime of “repressive Brahmanical orthodoxy and theocracy”. After all, such a consolidated Hindu polity and regime “never existed” according to “academic historians”, whose myriad papers are devoted to trying to establish that the “Hindu” never existed – it was always a motley and rag-tag collection of confused sects constantly and bitterly fighting each other (a prime example would be the papers by Prof. R. Thapar).

If any in the leadership of BJP has illusions about “returning to Brahmin rule” or continuing to support caste based hierarchies, then such tendencies will be rooted out from practical competitive electoral politics. If BJP can consolidate itself as “nationalist” rather than “Hindu”, it will be virtually assured of very nearly absolute power. It will then only be a matter of time. On the other hand, if it fails to invent itself as a “no-nonsense” nationalist party not recognizing caste or province or language, India has real chances of moving towards a “democratically elected dictatorship” – a la Roman Republic, for most societal transformations of the order required in India, are usually initiated by democratic chaos and completed under dictatorial regimes (my variation on Gramscian theory).

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