India Insight

U.N. report says real risk of Indian religious strife

It did not get great publicity but a recent U.N. report on religious freedom in India offers a stinging image of a country suffering from communal divisions and mob-inspired religious persecution.

 It argues there is a very real risk of a repeat of a tragedy like the Gujarat riots of 2002, when more than 2,000 people, mainly Muslims,were killed by Hindu mobs.

The U.S. Special Rapporteur of religion or belief Asma Jahangir, a well-respected Pakistani human rights activist, travelled to India last March to prepare the report. It catalogues violence and discrimination faced by India’s religious minorities, whether Muslim or Christian or Sikh.

“Organised groups claiming roots in religious ideologies have unleashed all pervasive fear of mob violence in many parts of the country.” the report, released on Jan. 26, says.

 “There is at present a real risk that similar communal violence might happen again unless political exploitation of communal distinctions is effectively prevented,”

The dark side of Hindu nationalism?



    The slow peeling of the onion around the involvement of Hindu militants in the Malegaon and Modasa bomb blasts last month in the western states of Maharashtra and Gujarat in September has shown a murky network of religious radicals that may have both implications for India’s politics as well as its anti-terrorist policies.

For years, bombs in India have mostly been blamed on Islamist militants. Even attacks on mosques were often blamed on Islamists seeking to spark communal tensions between India’s majority Hindus and minority Muslims.

Both national and international press  have focused on the growing Indian-born Islamist militants who are trying to attack the Indian state.

Jury still out on Indo-U.S. “unclear” deal

US President Bush raises his glass for a toast with Indian Prime Minister Singh at an official dinner …US President Bush raises his glass for a toast with Indian Prime Minister Singh at an official dinner …You could be forgiven for thinking that the civilian nuclear deal with the United States is all about whether India holds early elections or not.

Every newspaper is speculating if Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, who has staked his personal reputation on the deal, will resign to disassociate himself from an administration that failed to save a pact keenly watched by the world.

But are these the arguments India should be debating in the short-term or should we be discussing the real benefits and drawbacks of the deal?

What do you have to do to be worthy of your own statue?

Two statues were in the news this week, both controversial in their own way. First, Mayawati, the chief minister of Uttar Pradesh, ordered a 45-day-old statue of herself be pulled down to be replaced by a bigger one.

File picture of MayawatiThen Mumbai announced it was building a statue of Shivaji Bhosle, a 17th-century Hindu warrior king more often known by the honorific title Chhatrapati Shivaji. The statue, city officials said, would grace Mumbai’s Back Bay and be taller than New York’s Statue of Liberty.

Mayawati’s self-aggrandisement has provoked a mixture of amusement and scorn. The Hindustan Times pointed out that it takes a certain kind of chutzpah to spend public money on statues of yourself. Amit Varma, who blogs at India Uncut, worries we are at the start of a slippery slope: how long before Mayawati wants a statue of herself taller than Lady Liberty?