I watched the debate on secularism being essential for democracy in India on NDTV. It was quite disturbing to watch. Old Right-wing falsehoods about India's founding parents not wanting to build a secular state in India were repeated. This will only help the Hindu Right's cause.
I was also disappointed to hear the arguments of Pavan Varma. He pointed out Nehru asking Rajendra Prasad not to attend Somnath inauguration as a "distortion" of secularism. Really? Never seen a more warped argument made in "defence" of secularism. Nehru understood what it meant.
All the usual suspects were there. 'Islam', 'Muslims', 'Left-wing historians'. Varma said, "We may not like the word secularism, by all means amend it, but the concept behind it for a democracy like ours is very important...." Saying this in secularism's defence. Amazing clarity!
There has been such promotion of militarism in India that in the last few years, Independence Day has been reduced to the celebration of the armed forces only. A nation needs its armed forces to protect its sovereignty, but the armed forces should not symbolise the nation.
Sadly, the deification of the military is what we are seeing increasingly, which has resulted in a culture that scoffs at anyone raising any questions about the armed forces. The result is a thin-skinned military that takes umbrage at its depiction in movies and web series.
It has also resulted in a poorly informed citizenry that thinks the armed forces won them their freedom. The fiction that has been peddled in the last few years that it was the INA that won India her Independence has aided in the crafting of this new mythology.
It's a tad surprising to see Indians cheering Turkey's decision to reconvert Hagia Sophia into a mosque. I also see claims that the Ottoman Sultan and not the Mughal emperor was the spiritual and religious leader of Indian Muslims. No, he wasn't. The Mughal emperor had that role.
Emperor Humayun had sent a diplomatic letter to Sultan Suleiman ‘the Magnificent’ in which he had recognised him as the Caliph of his lands but stressed that he was the Caliph of India and as great as Suleiman. Obviously, this was disliked by Sultan Suleiman. He never replied.
When Emperor Akbar assumed the throne, congratulatory messages came from the Uzbeks and Safavids but not from the Ottomans. Akbar later rubbed it in by assuming the title of Shahenshah, which was a formal announcement that we in India have nothing to do with the Ottoman Caliph.
Assam erupts in rage over #CitizenshipAmendmentBill. BJP offices are being attacked. Posters of Narendra Modi and Sarbananda Sonowal have been torn and their effigies burnt. Police have lathicharged, fired tear gas and rubber bullets. Slogans of "BJP go back" are being raised.
Looking at people through the prism of Hindutva is what will prove to be BJP's undoing, as the situation in Assam has shown right now. Religion can never be a binding factor. If you didn't learn that from Pakistan breaking into two countries, you will never get it. #BharatBandh
Did you know that there have been many instances of students from colleges dropping out and joining ULFA just because of this #CitizenshipAmendmentBill? Did you know how long it took to end the insurgency there? And do you realise that what was dead is being resurrected now?
The targeted attack on former VP Hamid Ansari is very unfortunate. Just shows how difficult it is in India today in this Hindutva environment to express ideas and opinions. A few things need to be said on Partition, though, and I hope my readers will be kind to me. #HamidAnsari
The Hindutva forces and their votaries present a strange contradiction. On one hand they want to squarely blame Congress for Partition, but on the other, they get worked up if someone says Indians were also responsible for it. They blame Nehru but get angry when Patel is named.
Do people think that Muslims all of a sudden rose up one day and decided that they wanted a separate country called Pakistan? It's amazing that the Hindutva brigade still believes in fairy tales where everything is black and white and where there are clear heroes and villains.
The unfurling of the Tricolour at Red Fort yesterday to mark 75 years of the formation of #AzadHindGovernment was a sorry spectacle of political opportunism. Half-truths, falsehoods were used to tar the memory of national icons. So I want to say a few things about Netaji & INA.
It's a patently false charge that Netaji or INA have been forgotten or that they were never treated kindly or honoured. In all our schools, colleges and universities, we read laudatory accounts of Bose and INA. We read hagiographies. There was no criticism, only hero worship.
Unlike what Prime Minister Narendra Modi claimed, Netaji and INA were lionised by successive Congress governments and the party. It was actually nationalist propaganda peddled by the Congress that Netaji and INA were understood as the truest patriots and not the old Indian Army.
This morning's Asomiya Pratidin newspaper has front-paged a disturbing news. Some group has been illegally constructing a 'Ram-Janki' temple within the historic Shiva Doul (or Sivadoul) at Sibsagar, which is protected by ASI. How did it happen under ASI's watch? @ASIGoI
Assam does not have a Ram-Sita temple tradition; only in the Bhaonas are Ramayana episodes enacted. As the report also suggests and is palpable to any local reader, this clandestine operation is possibly the handiwork of some Hindutva group from outside Assam.
Sibsagar locals chased out the workers and stopped the construction work. They have also given an ultimatum of 24 hours to raze this illegal structure. It is shocking that something like this could happen in a protected monument.