HOME | ABOUT US | Speaker | Americans Together | Videos | www.CenterforPluralism.com | Please note that the blog posts include my own articles plus selected articles critical to India's cohesive functioning. My articles are exclusively published at www.TheGhouseDiary.com You can send an email to: MikeGhouseforIndia@gmail.com

Wednesday, August 15, 2018

Happy Independence Day to my fellow Indians

Tiranga does it you,
Happy independence day! 

The strongest bond you have is with the maa that gave you janam, and the maa whose mitti is embedded in your ung, and every ung. Whose mitti gave you food, water, air, and nourishment. No matter who it is, apni mitti sub ko pyari hoti hai, us may jo kashish hai o beyond description hai. Hum sab pay us maa ka udhaar hai. Isi liye, no matter where we go or where we live, we always want to add to her well being. 

I grew up attending and leading the marches on Independence Day and Republic Day, and every time I see the Tiranga, it brings peace to me and one of the renditions that I hear again and again is this one - it gives me goosebumps and my eyes well up. 


It has an unbelievable calming effect on you. Let me know if you feel the same.  

Here is my message on this Independence day 

Jai Hind

Mike Ghouse


Together as Indians, we are Hindus, Dalits, Muslims, Sikhs, Christians, Jains, Atheists, Nastiks, Buddhists, Bahá'í, Adivasis, Tribals, Jews, Bo’s, Qandharis, Bakarwals, and others. Anyone who breathes the air off the land; drinks the water, eats the food and or chooses to be an Indian is an Indian. We are all Indians and are created equal, no one is more privileged than the other. 

Our freedom is precious, and we are born to be free. We have to ask ourselves on a daily basis, are we doing our share of work in keeping ourselves free from hate, anger, ill-will, jealousy, revenge, and arrogance? 

Dharma; that is the righteousness in us and needs daily dressing, we should not allow any evil force, particularly the political parties to pit one Indian against the other. 

Each one of should speak out whenever some of us resort to killing, lynching, harassing, or threatening any one of us. 

Each one of us should make an effort to build a cohesive India, where we get along with each other, live our lives and let others live theirs. This is the key to building safe societies for every resident of the nation. 

The real heroes of India are those who relentlessly “criticize” their government because they do not want their government to falter and make decisions that will mess up the social structure of the nation. They keep the government on their toes. After all, they are elected to serve us not the other way around. The real heroes rise the nation for the common good of all. Their work brings people together, and their effort is to restore harmony among Indians.

The following abstract is a part of the speech by Ethiopia's Prime Miniter, and it has relevance to India where criticism of Government is immediately labeled as anti-Indian by the right-leaning political parties. "What we all need to understand is that building democratic system demands to listen to each other. The people have the full right to criticize its servants, to elect them, and to interrogate them. Government is a servant of the people. This is because our governing principle is popular sovereignty. In a democratic system, the first and last principle ought to be that of striking differences of opinion by listening to each other."

It reminds me of a part of our immortal declaration of independence.  "That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed, That whenever any Form of Government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the Right of the People to alter or to abolish it, and to institute new Government."

American Democracy is our model, it is one of the most stable systems in the world. Criticism of our government is one of the reasons for our stability. If Indians can understand this, we have strengthened the Indian Democracy forever.  

Patriotism is not the destruction of others.
Patriotism is not standing by the government.
Patriotism is criticising the government. 
Patriotism is doing your share of work for the common good of fellow countrymen. 

Each one of us should do our share of work to build a cohesive India where authentic sab ka saath, sab ka vikaas ho. Sab ka Samman ho, aur sab ko Nyay Miley.

Articles worth reading

Visit and enjoy the "Patriotic Songs" on the right column at http://mikeghouseforindia.blogspot.com

Dr. Ghouse is a community consultant, social scientist, thinker, writer, newsmaker, and a speaker on Pluralism, Interfaith, Islam, politics, terrorism, human rights, India, Israel-Palestine and foreign policy. Mike is committed to building cohesive societies and offers pluralistic solutions on issues of the day.  


Monday, August 13, 2018

Saffron terrorism on the prowl in India

By Syed Ali Mujtaba,
The ugly face of Hindutva terrorism has once again come to limelight with the arrest of three persons in Maharashtra for conspiring to carry out “terror activities” in several of places of the state.
According to Anti-Terrorism Squad (ATS), it has recovered 22 items from the accused home in Pune. These include; 20 crude bombs, two gelatine sheets, a note on how to prepare bombs, one six-volt battery, a few loose wires, transistors, glue etc. The bombs recovered were all active and ready to be used.
It is apparent that the suspects were up to do something sinister because such a huge cache of dangerous items points that they were meant to launch a coordinated attack at several targets. The suspected targets could have been in Mumbai, Pune, Satara, Solapur and Nallasopara.
Muslim’s ‘Bakrid’ festival that falls on August 22, 2018, could have been the day of attack as that day animal sacrifice is being done as part religious obligation. This can be inferred because all those arrested in this case belong to one or other Hindu radical group.
Those arrested are Vaibhav Raut (40), Sharad Kasalkar (25). Raut is a sympathiser of the Hindu right wing organization Sanatan Sanstha. He is also a member of the Hindu Govansh Raksha Samiti and active in carrying out raids against beef traders for allegedly ferrying banned meat in the locality. Raut was under police watch and was arrested from his two-storey bungalow in Nallasopara along with another accused, Sharad Kasalkar.
The third accused, Sudhanwa Gondhalekar from Satara, is a member of the Shri Shivapratishthan Hindustan whose chief Sambhaji Bhide was booked by Pune Police in two criminal cases related to violence near Bhima Koregaon on January 1, 2018.
A note recovered from Sharad Kasalkar house mentions the procedure to make a bomb and also had the phone number of the third accused, Sudhanwa Gondhalekar. The ATS had found that the duo was in constant touch with each other and had the knowledge of handling explosive. They were also training other members to make bombs.
The ATS is also probing links between these three accused with the murders of Narendra Dabholkar, Govind Pansare and MM Kalburgi and Gauri Lankesh that took place in recent past. The ATS sources said; the three accused frequently visited Sanatan Sanstha offices, whose members are the prime suspects in some of these murders.
The origin of Hindu terror activity can be traced to the rise of Hindutva politics in India that fanged since 1990. The collective Hindutva masculinity manifested itself in the demolition of the Babari mosque in 1992. In its aftermath, the Mumbai communal riots that took place, was an organized terror act orchestrated by Hindu groups.
The foremost name among all such group is that of Bajrang Dal whose activist burnt alive, an Australian missionary, Graham Staines, along with his two young sons in Orissa in 1999. This heart rendering event is cited as early example of Saffron terror in India.
The post Godhra train tragedy that triggered communal riots in Gujarat in 2002 is another example of organized crime carried out by armed Hindutva cadre. A carnage of communal mayhem was launched on the helpless Muslims to show force and instil terror in their hearts.
Ever since Hindu terror is on rise in India. Sanatan Sanstha, Hindu Janajagruti Samiti, Hindu Yuva Sena, Abhinav Bharat, and Shri Shivapratishthan Hindustan are some of the Hindu terror outfits, whose names are surfacing regularly in the media.
They are operating from Maharashtra, Karnataka and Goa and their violent attacks are sheer terrorism. They are per-meditated, politically motivated, and carried out by non-state actors against unarmed civilians. Their targets are not the immediate victim but the larger community whom they want to terrorize.
In 2007, Abhinav Bharat, a Hindu fundamentalist group, was reported to have carried out twin blasts in the Samjhauta Express train killing sixty-eight people mostly Muslims.
In the same year, Ajmer blast took place outside the holy shrine of Sufi saint Moinuddin Chishti that killed many devotes and alleged to be the handiwork of Hindu terror group.
Again in 2007, the Mecca Masjid bomb blast took place in Hyderabad that killed 14 people. The prime suspect of this blast was Swami Aseemanand.
Then the Malegaon bomb blasts took place at a Muslim burial ground in 2008, killing 8 and injuring 80. An Army officer, Prasad Shrikant Purohit, Sadhvi Pragya Singh Thakur, Shiv Narayan Gopal Singh Kalsanghra and Shyam Bhawarlal Sahu were all accused in this case.
The Malegaon bomb blasts, Mecca Masjid blast, Samjhauta Express blast, Ajmer Dargah blast all have one thing in common; all were carried out by one or other Hindu terrorist group.
In more recent years, the name of Bhartiya Gau Raksha Dal (BGRD), a non-profit organization registered in 2012 is surfacing as a part of saffron terror group. In the name of protecting cows, the BGRD is ‘lynching’ Muslims and so far have killed 28 such people. Their operational base is in Haryana, Western UP and Rajasthan.
These inchoate images of changing India are a very alarming trend. Has anyone thought out where the saffron terrorism is taking India? The Hindutva terror modules on prowl are actually targeting India, and a section of its citizen. The consequence of such terror act is beyond anyone’s comprehension.
The violent acts by the Hindu terror groups is creating deep communal divide in the country. The failure of the government to bring to justice the perpetrators of such crime has emboldened the Hindutva terror outfits.
At the same time its backlash is casing huge unrest among the Muslim community. If this phenomenon goes unchecked, may surely alienate the Muslim youth and force them to turn to militancy, as we saw in post Ayodhya phase. It will see another round of Muslim terror crimes in India.
(Syed Ali Mujtaba is a journalist based in Chennai. He can be contacted at syedalimujtaba@yahoo.com )

Sunday, August 12, 2018

Hindu Nation, Hindu Rashtra, de facto

There is nothing wrong with a Hindu Nation, and it will not be run by the principles of Hinduism but will be run by radicals who are hell-bent on killing others or forcing others in into obedience.   Nothing wrong with Islamic, Christian, Jewish or Buddhist nation either, but none of them will be ruled by their principles. Among Hindus you have RSS group, Christians you have the Neocons, You have the Settlers among the Jews, ISIS among the Muslims and the radicals among Buddhists.

Religions are beautiful and a majority in each one of them are afraid of the tiny number of radicals and have in effect allowed the radicals to be the poster boys of their respective religions. 

We should look to have democracies and the rule of law where a criminal is a criminal and you don't felicitate them with flowers ( BJP Ministers), or March in the support of rapists, or encourage them with your silence (like Mr. Modi). Religions are personal and we should respect the otherness of each faith, and knock off the arrogance that one is more privileged than the other.

Mike Ghouse

Hindu Rashtra, de facto


Hindu Rashtra, de facto
It is at once a society, civilisation, nation — and state

Written by Christophe Jaffrelot | Published: August 11, 2018 12:16:34 am
Hindu Rashtra, de facto

Most of the lynchings reported between 2015 and 2018 were perpetrated by vigilante militias or the result of the atmosphere they created, often using social media. (Illustration: Mithun Chakraborty)

The media often presents cow-related lynching cases as spontaneous reactions of the mob. Certainly, some ordinary people take part in them. But the perpetrators’ ideological orientation could be surmised from the fact that they often make their victims raise slogans such as “Gau mata ki jai (Hail the cow-mother)” or “Jai Hanuman (Hail Hanuman)”. That the choice of victims for assault had less to do with cow protection than with underlying hostility toward Muslims is clear in the way Hindu cow-breeders and transporters have been spared during attacks — Pehlu Khan’s truck driver got away with a mere slap, whereas the others, all Muslims, were beaten (one of them to death). More importantly, most of the lynchings reported between 2015 and 2018 were perpetrated by vigilante militias or the result of the atmosphere they created, often using social media.

The most visible Hindu nationalist organisation in this domain, the Gau Raksha Dal (GRD), has chapters in Punjab, Uttar Pradesh, Rajasthan, Himachal Pradesh, Gujarat, Madhya Pradesh, Maharashtra, Goa, Delhi and Haryana. In Haryana, one of the movement’s strongholds, the GRD emblem is a cow’s head flanked by two AK47s. Elsewhere, daggers replace firearms on the movement’s coat of arms. In practice, its members use cruder instruments like cricket bats, hockey sticks, lathis and so on.

In Haryana, the GRD and police have arrived at a division of labour. The president of the Haryana GRD, Yogendra Arya, told Ishan Marvel, the author of a remarkable piece of investigative journalism (‘In the name of the mother’, The Caravan, September 2016): “We have a huge network of volunteers and informants. […] As soon as someone sees something fishy, they call us up, and we then inform the volunteers of the relevant district, and the local police, who then set up joint nakas — checkpoints — to catch the smugglers. […] Police can’t do what we do, they have to follow the laws. They don’t have the resources and network we have.” The GRD thus acts as a community cultural police, with members closely monitoring the deeds of those who deserve not only to be reported, but also punished.

In Haryana, the convergence of two types of policing — official and unofficial — has reportedly been strengthened by the creation of a “cow task force” within the state police. An IPS officer heads this network, which has specialised officers in each district. These officials allegedly work with the GRD: In some respects, the state subcontracts policing tasks to non-state actors, turning them into a para-state force.

The other Indian state that criminalised beef consumption by law in 2015, Maharashtra, has taken similar steps. The state government appoints Honorary Animal Welfare Officers to implement this new law — former gau rakshaks have been hired for these jobs.

In Haryana, the osmosis between vigilante groups and the state goes well beyond this. Yogendra Arya, the national vice-president of the GRD, sat on the board of the Gau Seva Ayog, a Haryana government institution devoted to cow welfare, along with 10 others, who like him are longstanding members of the Sangh Parivar. The lack of distinction between non-state actors and government authorities has probably never been so great.

These developments have triggered a new dynamics of state formation, as defined by Bruce Berman and John Lonsdale. In their study The Unhappy Valley, Berman and Lonsdale distinguish the formation of the state as a social institution and state-building as an administrative process. Reasoning solely in terms of state-building tends to reduce authority only to official agents and their actions. Berman and Lonsdale take into account private actors who work their way into the process of state formation through the “vulgarisation of power”, which involves commandeering public authority to further private ends. This approach has obvious heuristic advantages for the analysis of Hindu vigilante groups and their relationship to the state.

Collusion between police and Hindu nationalist movements is indeed evidence of the start of a transition from a state-building process, in which the administrative and coercive apparatus is supposed to treat all citizens equally, to a state-formation process wherein majoritarian non-state actors impose a social and cultural order. What adds a layer of complexity to Berman and Lonsdale’s model is that in India, these non-state actors enjoy state protection. Though the authority they exercise is illegal, it is nevertheless seen as legitimate by the state in that it is inspired by the values and interests of the dominant community to which the government is accountable. In that sense, the Sangh Parivar is more of India’s deep state than a parallel government, all the more so as the BJP is part of the Parivar. This shift from a neutral state to an ideological Hindu Rashtra illustrates a form of violent majoritarianism that can be observed in all countries where vigilantes bring minorities to heel with the more or less tacit agreement of shadow forces that share their biases or ideology (the relationship between white supremacists’ militias and the police in the US could provide other examples).

In addition to the Sangh Parivar’s influence at the grass roots and within the state apparatus, another variable needs to be factored in, as evident from the way a police officer recently bowed to UP Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath on Guru Purnima. In that case, the authority of the saffron-clad chief minister was not only due to its temporal power but also because of his spiritual authority, a status no political leader has had in India. That is conducive to still another type of state, theocracy.

Not only has the prime minister abstained from condemning lynchings, some legislators and ministers have extended their blessings to the lynchers. Only a few of the lynchers have been convicted so far. Whenever lynchers have been arrested, the local judiciary has released them on bail. If the executive, legislature or judiciary do not effectively oppose lynchings, India may remain a rule-of-law country only on paper and, in practice, a de facto ethno-state.

The Hindu Rashtra label, in fact, perfectly describes the process at stake: It refers as much to a people united by blood ties, culture and social community codes, and a political framework. It is at once a society, civilisation, nation and state. In this way, the Sangh Parivar’s work partakes in a new formation of the state, the formation of a de facto Hindu Rashtra based on unofficial, societal regulation with the blessing of the official state. If one day the Constitution of India is amended, it may become a de jure Hindu Rashtra.

Hindutva and Hinduism

Radicals are in every faith tradition without exception, they are insecure men and women who believe their security comes from annihilating others who differ. They believe in their own myths and live in eternal fears that others are out to get them.

Hinduism is a beautiful religion, like all other religions. The problem is not between Christians, Hindus, and Muslims, it the radicals among them, who are few in numbers but extreme and reckless. Sadly since Modi came to power, the radicals among Hindus are emboldened and have resorted to violence and killing of fellow beings.  I bet, those innocent Hindus are taken for a ride by the politicians like Amit Shah and Narendra Modi for their gains. 

Ashutosh Varshney is a respected Scholar and I his scholarship is valued. 

‘A battle between Hindutva and Hinduism is coming’

Courtesy - Indian Express

In a wide-ranging conversation, Walter Andersen speaks of the changing nature of the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh, how it was influenced by its different sarsangchalaks and the challenges that lie ahead of the organization

Written by Ashutosh Varshney | Updated: August 11, 2018, 2:01:20 pm

Walter Andersen is on the faculty of the Johns Hopkins University, Washington, and Tongji University, Shanghai.

Walter Andersen is, perhaps, the only scholar to have observed, or studied, the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS) for nearly five decades. In intellectual circles, it is normally believed that as an organisation, the RSS is impervious and impenetrable. Its functioning is not available for scholarly scrutiny, unless one happens to be an insider or a firm sympathiser. That is why the publication of The RSS: A View to the Inside, a new book Andersen has co-written with Sridhar Damle, is a true intellectual event (The duo had also produced a book, Brotherhood in Saffron, three decades back). Andersen is on the faculty of the Johns Hopkins University, Washington, and Tongji University, Shanghai, and before that, he was a leading South Asia specialist of the US State Department for over two decades. At a Gurgaon hotel where he is staying, he recently spoke with Ashutosh Varshney, professor of Political Science, Brown University and contributing editor, The Indian Express.

Let us start in a biographical vein. When did you start working on the RSS and why?

As a PhD student at the University of Chicago, I came to India with a two-year grant to study student politics, but I stayed on for four. I came in the late 1960s and was in India until the early 1970s. Lloyd and Susanne Rudolph, the great India scholars, were my mentors. I was planning to study why students enter politics, focusing on Allahabad, old Delhi and a district in Kerala. That is when I encountered the Akhil Bharatiya Vidyarthi Parishad (ABVP), the student wing of the RSS.

When was the ABVP born? You say in the book that it was among the first “affiliates” of the RSS?

The first affiliate was a woman’s group, the Rashtriya Sevika Sangh, going back to the 1930s. Then was born the Jan Sangh, followed by some schools, independently organised. Then came the labor union, the Bharatiya Mazdoor Sangh, and the ABVP, both roughly at the same time in the late 1950s and early 1960s. The model that was developed was as follows: Each affiliate of the RSS would be led or overseen by a prachaarak, a full-time RSS functionary. After the death of Shyama Prasad Mukherjee, Deendayal Upadhyay was asked to lead the Jan Sangh and Dattopat Thenagdi led the Mazdoor Sangh. Thengadi was also associated with the formation of the ABVP. By the time I came to India, the ABVP had developed a strong unit at Delhi University. I got very curious about the organisation behind it, the RSS. Through pure happenstance, I met Eknath Ranade, a remarkable man.

The RSS: A View to the Inside is written by Walter Andersen and Shridhar Damle. It is published by Penguin Viking. The book is priced at Rs 699.
What was his position?

He was a senior RSS prachaarak in Delhi. He was interested in western philosophy. At the University of Chicago, Leo Strauss, an influential political philosopher, was one of my advisors. Ranade began to ask me questions about Straussian ideas. We started meeting every two weeks at the RSS headquarters in Delhi. He would teach me Indian philosophy and I would enlighten him on Strauss. One day, he asked me if I would like to meet the head of his organisation, MS Golwalkar. I said yes. A month later, I was informed that I would be escorted to Nagpur. A student of Delhi University, an RSS activist, took me to Mumbai by train. We travelled third class. We reached Mumbai and I spent the night in a Chitpavan Brahmin area of Mumbai. Next day, another person came and took me to Nagpur, again in third class. I was put up in the house of the head of the Mazdoor Sangh, who was away. Then, I was taken to the RSS headquarters, where I met Golwalkar. He set up a schedule for me. I was to come every morning for breakfast for five days and we would chat about a whole range of things. He also talked about the book he had written, A Bunch of Thoughts. It is actually not a book, but a series of speeches.

And what about We or Our Nationhood Defined, the other book by him that a lot of us have read?

He never discussed it. I later discovered that it was not his book. The consensus is that even though his name was on We or Our Nationhood Defined, he was not its author.

The consensus you are referring to pertains to the scholarly world, or one shared in Hindu nationalist circles, too?

Their own people don’t know about it. It is my scholarly judgment, though it is based on the opinions of several Hindu nationalists. We or Our Nationhood Defined is, of course, a harsher document about the minorities of India.

What emerged from your meetings with Golwalkar?

What came out was a clearer understanding of Hindutva. Golwalkar was spiritual, not religious. He did not follow religious rituals. He said, as he also did in A Bunch of Thoughts, that for him, India as a nation was a living god. This view was very similar to the one adopted by the romantic nationalists of 19th century Europe – that nation is that unit to which we owe our ultimate devotion, not to a religious God. The RSS is not a religious organisation. That is why, as the idea evolved further, MD Deoras, the next sarvsanghachalak (chief), opened the RSS to Muslims in 1979. His argument was that an overwhelming proportion of Indian Muslims were converts from the Hindu community. They were not foreigners. His idea of Hindutva moved towards a territorial idea. To some extent, the idea came from Savarakar.

But that raises a complex issue. For Savarkar, even if born in India, Muslims (and also Christians) were not Indians/Hindus (the two categories were identical for him), for they could meet only two of the three criteria he laid out in Hindutva: territorial (bhumi, land of India), genealogical (pitribhumi, fatherland) and religious (punyabhumi, birthland of religion). Even in principle, Muslims could not satisfy — unlike the Sikhs, Jains and Buddhists — the third criterion. Their religion was not born in India. Hence, he argued, they could not be true Indians/Hindus. If you have a primarily territorial idea, a la France and US, then Muslims born in India are by definition Indian. I don’t read Savarkar as propounding a territorial definition of nationhood in this sense. How did Deoras handle this issue, while opening the RSS to Muslims?

Savarkar, as you know, was an atheist. He was not religious. For Savarkar, the nation had a cultural context – or icons, traditions, stories with which one could identify, much like England. Anyway, the movement was one towards territoriality. It is not that the cultural definition entirely disappeared. But, for Deoras, everybody, or almost everybody, in India was a Hindu. He was the first one to use the term Hindu to cover everyone. (And Mohan Bhagwat, the present sarsanghchalak, also refers to everyone as a Hindu: Muslims, Christians, everybody.) Deoras was also against the caste system and untouchability. Golwalkar never spoke openly against the caste system. Deoras also started proposing the idea that non-Brahmins could be prachaaraks, the highest position that one can reach after three years of training and the pledge that goes with it.

You say in your book that there are about 6,000 prachaaraks today. What pledge do they take?

They take an ascetic pledge: they give up connections to the family, material wealth and become, in a sense, wedded to the RSS.

Can they be married?

Some do marry, but most do not. It has been described by some as a casteless Hindu monastic order. They perform a vital function. They are made leaders of the affiliate organisations. That, in my view, keeps the RSS family together.

Your book says that by 2015, there were 36 such affiliated organisations.

36 formal affiliates, including the latest one aimed at female empowerment, called Stree Shakti. There are more than a hundred waiting for a formal status, which entails a process and the judgement by the RSS that the organisation has now reached an adequate level of maturity.

Is Bajrang Dal a formal affiliate?

It is an affiliate of the VHP, not of the RSS. However, VHP is an affiliate of the RSS.

Did you have access to all sarsanghachalaks? Did you have conversations with all?

All, except Sudarshan.

How does one become a sarsanghachalak?

The predecessor chooses the successor. There is no election.

How has the RSS mode of functioning changed? You say in the book that it began with an emphasis on character building (charitra nirmaan). And now, it wishes to influence the state and policy process.

Its initial view of social transformation rested on the foundation of character building in daily shakhas (assemblies). But with its number of affiliates rising, it started going in the direction of influencing the state. Its labor union, its farmers organisation, its school system, the Swadeshi Jagran Manch, even religious affiliates like the VHP have to deal with the government, for the government is all-pervasive in India. With RSS prachaaraks leading all these affiliates, positions had to be formed on the domain-specific engagement with the state. For example, not simply the Jagran Manch, but even the labor union, BMS, has been opposed to foreign direct investment (FDI), whereas the BJP, the affiliate that runs governments, has been in favor of increasing FDI since the late 1990s, especially under Modi. Something like that right away necessitates engagement with the government (both when the BJP is in power and when it is not). There have been tussles over land acquisition, too. Character building remains important, but having an impact on policy and the state is now a significant RSS objective as well. The RSS could not have but gone in the latter direction, for the welfare of all of those groups that its affiliates organise critically depends on government policy and state action.

When clashes between affiliates emerge, what does the RSS do?

The RSS proper sees itself as a balancer, a mediator, among the affiliates. If no compromise can be reached, it prefers to postpone decision-making on a particular issue until a later date. But it essentially seeks to craft compromises, when internal family differences arise. In the older days, for example, it used to have diatribes against FDI. But as BJP governments started courting FDI for technology, growth and especially jobs, the RSS toned town its opposition to FDI. The RSS stridently opposed Vajpayee for its FDI embrace. Bhagwat’s response to Modi’s FDI stance has been muted.

What is the RSS view of Modi’s economics, especially foreign economic policy, demonetisation and GST?

The RSS was undoubtedly responsible for Modi’s rise to the top. But it views Modi’s economics with scepticism. Modi is more open to FDI and foreign trade than the RSS would like. His demonetisation and GST directly hurt groups that are the original base of the organisations: the small traders. The RSS, of course, did not pass a resolution against demonetisation or GST. That is now how it works. But it sought to influence how these policies would be implemented – to ease the burden on small traders.

May we return to the cultural issues now? Let us first examine on language and gender, and then turn to caste and religion, which we have already discussed to some extent. On language politics, it is well known that the RSS was originally committed to promotion of Hindi. Now that the RSS has expanded its base in the South and East, can it continue to insist on the primacy of Hindi?

It cannot, and it does not. Apart from the southern and eastern expansion, one issue also is the medium of instruction in its school system. RSS schools teach pupils in their mother tongue, though Hindi might be taught as a subject. The other interesting development is its changing attitude towards English. The aspiring middle class, whose support the RSS seeks, wants to learn English. English also heavily contributes to national power in the international system today. The RSS could not have simultaneously sought, as its goal, a rise in India’s national strength and continued its strident attacks on English. Hindi is not exclusively promoted any more.

On caste, there are several questions. First, what is the RSS view of affirmative action?

In the middle of the Bihar election campaign in 2015, Mohan Bhagwat had said that it was time to review caste-based affirmative action. The RSS had taken that position for long. But a political storm broke out, upon which Bhagwat quickly backtracked. And an impression grew that Bhagwat’s statements had hurt the BJP. So, even if the RSS wants affirmative action reviewed, it recognises it is too politically dangerous in the Indian context.

Another question concerns RSS opposition to the caste system. If it wants to integrate the lower castes in a way that promotes Hindu unity, what is the best way to do it? Sanskritisation (prescribing Brahminical behavioural norms for lower castes) or something else?

Sanskritisation was Golwalkar’s preferred model. But starting with Deoras and his attack on the caste system, it has been decreasing in importance. Deendayal Upadhyay’s writings also spoke of egalitarianism as an ideal.

If so, why not have Dalits or OBCs as sarsanghchalaks? All sarsanghchalaks thus far have been from the upper castes, and actually, excluding one (Rajendra Singh), all have been Brahmins.

There have been Dalit and OBC prachaaraks. Modi, an OBC, was a prachaarak. An OBC or Dalit sarsanghchalak is only a matter of time.

What is the RSS view on BR Ambedkar? We know that the RSS was originally opposed to the Indian Constitution, whose principal architect was Ambedkar. We also know that the RSS opposed Ambedakar’s attempt to reform Hindu family laws.

Whatever the past, Ambedkar is now a hero.

But Ambedkar was anti-Hindu. His writings make it plain that the caste system, an unmitigated evil, is the essence of Hinduism. He also abandoned Hinduism before his death.

That is exactly why, I believe, there will eventually be a battle between Hindutva and Hinduism. Hindutva emphasises the oneness of Hindus, whereas ground realities are very different. Let me give an example. Following the egalitarian ideology, Tarun Vijay, an RSS ideologue and former editor of Panchjanya and Organiser, once led some Dalits into a temple in central India, where they had not been before. He was beaten up, but few in the RSS family vocally supported him. They kept mostly quiet. As one important RSS functionary put it to me, the key question is: how do we keep our organisation intact if we do move towards an egalitarian Hindu society?

Let us turn to gender and family now. What is the RSS view of an ideal Hindu nari (woman)?

Golwalkar writings definitely emphasised that being a wife and mother were the ideal roles for a woman. But there is also a strain of thinking that idolises the Rani of Jhansi, and her valiant fight against the British during 1857. Both images have existed.

What if a woman is gravely unhappy in a marriage? Does she have the right to divorce?

I have certainly known RSS women, who were divorced. But there is no doubt that the RSS
places a great deal of emphasis on the value of the family and a woman’s role therein.

Let us finally return to the relationship of the RSS and Muslims. Your book says that Golwalkar repeatedly used the term “ek hazaar saal ki ghulami” (one thousand years of servitude). Your also say that Deoras changed that, and in 1979, opened the RSS to Muslims. Narendra Modi has often used the term “barah sau saal ki ghulami” (twelve hundred years of servitude), which is more in the Golwalkar vein than in the Deoras mold. At any rate, the implication of the Golwalkar and Modi statements is that India’s colonisation began with the arrival of Muslim rulers either in the 8th century in Sindh or the 11th century in Delhi. This militates against the historian’s argument that it is the British who started colonising India in 1757. The Delhi Sultanate or the Mughal era was not a period of colonisation. However offensive Babur or Aurangzeb were, the other Mughal kings Indianised themselves, even married into Rajputs, and developed commitments to India. The British did not Indianise themselves. They were the real colonisers. How can one justify the term Mughal colonialism?

I don’t think many RSS activists, or even prachaaraks, would disagree with the distinction you are making between the British and Mughals. When Deoras invited Muslims to join the RSS, he did argue that Muslims were mostly India-born, and therefore Indian.

But despite that ideological development, PM Modi returned to the Golwalkar understanding.

There is clearly a generic problem, here. Even those RSS ideologues, who want Muslims to enter the RSS, would like them to accept India’s “historic culture”.

But India’s “historic culture” — the arts, the languages, the everyday manners, the poetry, the architecture, the music — have a lot of Muslim contributions.

I agree. But they continue to argue that South Indian Muslims, or Indonesian Muslims are ideal Muslims. South Indian Muslims speak the regional languages; and Indonesia, a primarily Muslim country, has the Ramayana as its national epic.

But that implies that Urdu, which was widely spoken in North India, is not an Indian language, which is so hard to accept. Urdu was not born in the Middle East.


Another important issue ought to be discussed. If, after Deoras, Muslims were accepted as Indians in principle and they were then welcomed in the RSS and BJP, how is it that in the 2014 elections in UP, a state nearly 19 per cent Muslim, the BJP did not select even one Muslim candidate to run on a BJP ticket? They might be welcome in the organisation, but it seems they were not deemed worthy of representing even one constituency.

Winnability is the primary criterion in candidate selection. I have repeatedly asked BJP leaders, shouldn’t you nominate more Muslims for political seats? The response invariably is that they cannot win. But, in my opinion, if they believe in their own ideological evolution, they must represent Muslim interests better.

Let us now turn to the recent lynchings. Your book says that the higher echelons of the RSS and BJP don’t approve of lynchings. But how does one align your claim with the following: ministers in Modi government have expressed sympathy for lynchers, even garlanded those convicted of lynching (though out on bail), but the Prime Minister has not taken them to task. Indeed, though the Prime Minister has spoken against lynchings, his most forceful denunciations came when Dalits were hit. When Muslims are attacked by lynch mobs, he, at best, makes perfunctory remarks, if at all.

I haven’t thought clearly about the Muslim-Dalit distinction you are drawing, nor does the book talk about it. I will think more systematically about it.

Let me ask a final question. What are the major challenges that the RSS and/or the BJP face, moving forward?

I think they face three major challenges. The likely battle between Hindutva and Hinduism is the first one. The second is how to handle vigilantism. A final challenge is how to deal with the urban-rural split in India’s political economy. The countryside is really suffering.

Thursday, August 9, 2018

Whitewashing India's Religious Freedom

 Whitewashing India's Religious Freedom

India has an impeccable history of welcoming the stranger and giving refuge to the oppressed, rejected and the evicted. She has welcomed Jews, Christians, Zoroastrians and the Baha’is. Indeed the very first mosque built outside of Arabia was in India by a Hindu King in the state of Malabar. The Tibetan Buddhist refugees found a home in India; the Ahmadiyya Muslims felt secure, so were the displaced Bangladeshi and Afghan refugees.

This beautiful pluralistic 5000-year-old tradition of India is in peril now. BJP and its affiliates (The Sangh Parivar) that govern India "currently" are hell-bent on destroying that heritage. They want to force non-Hindus into obedience and tell them what they can eat or believe, and whom they can marry or live as 2nd class citizens. They want to free India from Christians and Muslims, and plan to convert them by 2025 to Hinduism.  Indeed, the ISIS had given similar options to the Christians and Yazidis. 

Make no mistake about it; Hinduism is a religion of peace like all other religions. The problem is not between people of faith, but the radicals.

A few Indian American organizations linked to the Sangh Parivar want to whitewash the situation. They want to portray that everything is hunky dory in India.  

Hunky dory it is not, the  Congressmen and Senators are fully conversant of the harassment, lynching, raping and killing of Christians, Dalits, Muslims, Sikhs, Atheists and others in India. 

It is time for the Indian Americans to save the honor of India and restore her pluralistic heritage that got derailed in the last four years. 

The prosperity of a nation stands on her two firm legs; economic growth and social cohesion, one will not sustain without the other.   

 If the minorities continue to live in apprehension and fear, the whole nation gets engaged in useless battles and the prosperity will come to a grinding halt, and the country will limp until it reaches a new life or loses all that was achieved.  

The confidence of foreign investments in a nation spurs the growth, India’s IT industry,  call centers, and businesses have raised the standard of living for many. As long as the investors feel secure about their investments they will pump in more funds. However, when they see chaos emerging with the nations discriminative practices, harassment, lynching, rapes and killing of the minorities, they will pull out and everyone stands to lose.

It was embarrassing to note the missing presence of India at the religious freedom conference held by the Department of State in July 2018. If the violations continue, India may get stamped as a "Country of Particular Concern” for violations of religious freedom. It will hurt India, particularly the business community and the information technology sector. 

The whitewash report produced by the Hindu America Foundation is understandable. No Indian wants India to lose, but neither should we compromise on the truth to look good. We hope to produce an accurate state of the union; after all, India's emblem includes the phrase, Satyameva Jayate - Truth triumphs.

The majority of Indians of all faiths believe in Pluralism, i.e., respecting the otherness of other.  It is not Hindus either,  but the radicals among Hindus that are causing the problems with the subtle encouragement from the BJP government.

Quotes from the HAF, reported by Jha;

"The Indian government provides "unprecedented" religious accommodations to its religious minority population, says a report by a US-based Hindu advocacy group." 

The truth is far from it. It sounds like the majority is doing a favor to the minorities in 'accommodating' them.  It is like saying "we give equal rights to women" who the hell are we to give them their rights, to begin with, the rights were theirs.  Indeed, every Indian is guaranteed those rights; we are all equal citizens. No one has more privileges than the other. 

"To bring greater stability to the region and prevent the growth of radical Islamist and Communist/Maoist terrorism." This statement is too hypocritical and divisive to exclude radical Hindutva terrorism from the list.  The issue is not with Hindus or Muslims; it is with radicals among them. 

"Overall, it seeks to show the broader story of religious freedom and pluralism in India, which is often not, reflected in the media or US policy circles." Indeed, India was a pluralist nation until the Hindutva brigade took over the country four years ago.  

We need to come together and appeal to the Government of India, to issue visas to the commissioners of the USCIRF to investigate the Sikh Genocide, Massacre of Muslims in Gujarat, killing of Christians, Rapes, and lynching of Dalits, and harassment of Sikhs. If the commission gives a clean certificate, it will help boost the investor confidence in India; on the other hand, if India's record is of particular concern, then it is time to fix it than pretending to be holier than thou.  

I would appeal to the Hindu America Foundation to issue press releases condemning the lynching of Muslims, killing of Christians, harassment of Dalits, and Atheists, by condemning each event, it will give them the credibility to be a legitimate pluralist organization for Human rights. 

We will also write a letter urging Prime Minister Modi to speak out forcefully against harassment of any Indian and pledge that no Indian has more privileges than the other. Ambassador Sam Brownback says, if evil acts get condemned as they occur, they will be choked and will not see the light of the day. 

Finding solutions video in Hindi-Urdu Language
Mike Ghouse, is president of the Center for Pluralism and is committed to fostering cohesive societies where no human has to live in apprehension or fear of the other. His India Blog is http://MikeGhouseforIndia.blogspot.com 

Published in the following News agencies:






Whitewash pieces




Wednesday, August 8, 2018

India from Chaos to Cohesion

Yes, we can make that happen- please feel free to share, let's restore India to its greatness
Video Language: Hindi/ Urdu

An action is required on your part

Video on Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/MikeGhouse2/videos/1998169576901767/?t=42

Sunday, August 5, 2018

India Together - Fostering a cohesive India

I am a volunteer like each one of you, wanting, among other things to do my share of work in contributing towards a cohesive India, where no Indian has to live in apprehension or fear of the other. 

Given the divisiveness we are witnessing in India, we have to take steps to restore the Dharma, the righteousness in a society where people trust each other, live their lives and let others live theirs.

Here is the preamble for an India together Campaign;

India has an impeccable history of welcoming the stranger and giving refuge to the oppressed, rejected and the evicted. She has welcomed Jews, Christians, Zoroastrians and the Baha’is. Indeed the very first mosque built outside of Arabia was in India by a Hindu King in the state of Malabar. The Tibetan Buddhist refugees found a home in India; the Ahmadiyya Muslims felt secure, so were the displaced Bangladeshi and Afghan refugees.

This beautiful pluralistic 5000-year-old tradition of India is in peril now.  A few politicians are hell-bent on destroying that heritage. They want to force minorities into obedience and tell them what they can eat or believe, and whom they can marry or live as 2nd class citizens.  We can ignore this if it is a random individual screaming on the streets, but it has the backing of many members of the ruling party.  We cannot compromise on our integrity to satisfy the short-term urges of the radicals.  We cannot let this continue even if someone has pulled a joke, this fire will envelop everyone, and in the end, it will destroy our civilization. 

Make no mistake about it; the problem is not between people of faith, but the radicals. A good Hindu, Muslim, Christian or other will never hurt another individual, let alone kill. As a society we need to invest our time and energy in finding why a few people hate the others so much, much of it is injected by their parents, teachers, friends, and politicians, poor souls need to be free from such influences. 

India together Campaign

When you are watching a movie, invariably you go through a range of emotions, but at the end, there is a sense of joy when you see the family members making it up to each other, or when a couple is reunited or when justice is served. It is because you are inherently good and the sense of goodness is evoked in every human with a few exceptions.  

The new routine for many of us is to watch short video clips on WhatsApp or Facebook. Is there anyone out there who does not feel good when the Indian Army personnel is talking about treating all soldiers fairly, when one needs blood, he does not care if the blood is coming from a Hindu, Muslim, Christian, Sikh, Dalit, Jain or a Parsee. A good video example;-https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=D5XptU6-Vm0

Don't we feel good when we help each other? When you support a disabled person crossing the street, don't you feel good? Don't you share that clip with your friends?

If you are a Muslim stand up for the rights of Dalits, and if you are a Sikh stand up for the rights of Christians, and if you are a Christian stand up for the rights of Hindus..... in the end, it opens our hearts and minds to stand up for each other. We have to kill the selfishness in us to serve our own, and instead server others for the long-term good.

On the other hand, when you watch a clip full of hate, what does it do to you? Does it make you angry, hateful and revengeful? It zaps your energy. Being at peace is a natural state, getting worked up ain't. 

Humans are drawn to greater good, and they feel good when a family comes together, they feel good when they can stop a bad guy from beating a child or a woman, they feel good when you prevent a woman from being harassed. 

We have a responsiblity now to encourage what is right, not because it is noble or God wants it, but because it makes us feel good and secure and live in peace with each other. 

Dr. Frank Islam has chosen to encourage good news, every week I see an article promoted by him that awakens a sense of goodness. I see Nupur Sharma, Vinod Dua, Ram Punyani, Arfa Khanum, Acharya Laksmishankracharya, Acharya Pramod Krishnan and a whole lot of them committed to bringing about a change.  None of us would know everyone, but those whom we know, we must be appreciated.    I am sure there a many of you out there who are doing great things. If we can pull our resources and invest our time, energy and money in shaping the society, we will find purpose and meaning in our lives, at least it will bring relief from apprehension. 

Social media has become the most powerful medium to communicate ideas, and Whatsapp and Facebook have become the vehicles to carry the chosen message. 

We have an opportunity to mitigate chaos spread by a few and flood the market with excellent videos and positive news to build up positive energy. If the people around us are secure, our security is guaranteed. 


Produce one to two minutes videos and share it on the social media - and see how you can bring about the change.

It's easy to produce videos that we can cheer, but the purpose is to for the angry ones to see the goodness. We can cause them to dig in their heels or we can work on having them see another point of view - that of getting along and live their lives and letting others live theirs.
You can bring a gradual, sustainable and positive change through this campaign

It takes thinking, commitment,  effort, and money to do this, if you can, welcome. Come up with ideas, write the script, discuss with friends and produce it.  

Mike Ghouse

Thank you

What do we do at the Center for Pluralism
Pluralism studies in Religion, politics, society, culture and workplace

Mike Ghouse
Center for Pluralism
Washington, DC
(214) 325-1916