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Aug. 22 2009 - 10:28 pm | 18 views | 1 recommendation | 10 comments

Cyclone Singh: Right-Wing Introspection in India?

A tearful, bewildered Jaswant Singh has been expelled from his party of old, the BJP, and his new book, Jinnah: India–Partition–Independence, has been banned in Gujarat. The reason? ‘Ideological deviation’, according to the BJP’s party leadership, because Mr Singh has praised Mohammad Ali Jinnah and criticised India’s first home minister and hero of the independence struggle, Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel.

That is how an editorial in Pakistan’s Dawn summarizes what has happened to Jaswant Singh, India’s former Defense, Foreign and Finance minister, and for more than thirty years, a stalwart of the BJP, the right-wing, most would say Hindu nationalist party, that formed the government from 1998 – 2004.

Singh spent the last five years of his life researching a biography about Muhammad Ali Jinnah, the head of the Muslim League and the founder of Pakistan. The book — which I have not yet acquired — apparently eviscerates the popular demonization of the man. It argues that Jinnah was a true Indian nationalist and that he was avowedly secular and did not ascribe to anti-Hindu sentiment. Singh believes that through the 20th century it was necessary for India to have a demon and Jinnah served that role. He compares Jinnah to the early Gandhi and suggests that Jinnah was just as significant/honorable. (An interview that Singh had with Karan Thapar is quite revealing). None of this is very new to those who follow this stuff closely but it is significant coming from someone of Singh’s stature.

The biography further emphasizes that the creation of Pakistan — which might have been averted had a federal system been adopted — occurred due to political failures. And that, many of those political failures should be imputed not to some ideological or religious ambition in Jinnah (as the orthodox Indian opinion holds), but to the stubbornness of one Jawaharlal Nehru, who was then President of the Congress Party and became the first Prime Minister of India. Nehru’s children and grandchildren, through the Congress Party, essentially ran India for a good part of the 20th century, until they were temporarily removed from power by the BJP’s conservative-populist-capitalist program (of which Jaswant Singh was a major component).

Singh says that Nehru, influenced by socialist political theory since a trip to Europe in the 1920’s, was dead set on creating a centralized state in India, and would not accede to Jinnah’s decentralized and federalist vision — a vision in which Muslim rights would have been protected; a vision, incidentally, that Jinnah shared with Gandhi, the leader of the Hindu masses, and Maulana Azad, the Muslim member of the Congress Party, who had opposed the creation of Pakistan. In other words, according to Singh’s reading, the original sin that is Pakistan — a view of the nation that many Indians hold but is obviously not shared by Pakistanis — is not purely one devilish Muslim figure’s fault but also implicates other Indian heroes. It is evident to see why this proposition would be incendiary in India.

Singh points out that Jinnah was animated by a desire to protect the largely poor and uneducated minority Muslim population from Hindu majoritarianism in a united India. While Singh thinks that Jinnah’s concern was more or less legitimate — which itself is a controversial position — he does believe that Jinnah ultimately failed in what he set out to do, because after the Partition, millions of Muslims were still left within India, and were “abandoned” and “bereft of a sense of kinship.” (Today India contains the third largest Muslim population in the world and many are stuck at the lowest rung of opportunity and dignity).

Incidentally, Singh is not the only one of the leading BJP figures to have praised Jinnah and then pay the price for it. A few years ago, LK Advani, who was then President of the BJP, was forced out of the party’s leadership position because on a trip to Karachi he praised the secular character of Jinnah. I did not follow that incident and do not have any more to say about it.

Singh seems somewhat shocked by the reception to his book, at least with respect to what the BJP has done to him. In his own words he believed that the biography would create a furor in Pakistan, since there are many Pakistanis who — incorrectly — think that Jinnah was some kind of charismatic religious figure intent on creating an Islamic state and would have never tried to strike a deal with Hindus. Further, it was logical to believe that the book would create a controversy within the ruling Congress Party in India, since it was their founder, Nehru, that Singh’s revisionism implicates as also being responsible for the Partition.

Yet that is not what has happened.

From what I have gleaned, the book is about to become a huge hit in Pakistan, with orders from Pakistan exceeding orders from India by 3 to 1. Further, Congress has had a fairly muted reaction, whereas it has been the BJP that has, to put it mildly, lost its head. As a consequence of his expulsion, which occurred on the phone, Singh is spilling all sorts of secrets.

One of the most significant revelations Singh has made is that that in 2002, after a gruesome massacre of nearly 2000 Muslims in Gujarat, then Home Minister, LK Advani, apparently counseled the prime minister, Atal Bihari Vajpayee, against taking action against Narendra Modi, the man most people believe to be responsible for the massacre, despite that glowing profile in The Atlantic.

Not satisfied with that revelation, Singh has further said that he covered up for Advani during the so called Kandahar crisis, an incident where terrorists took 166 hostages and demanded the release from Indian prison of two of their most notorious comrades — and the Indian government capitulated. The BJP, which had long taken a hard line towards terrorists, with Advani serving as Home Minister, had pretended that they didn’t know about the deal and at the time Singh had reaffirmed that position. Now that the BJP has soured on him, he is saying that at the time he was “economical” with the truth. We’ll have to wait and see what else comes out.

The international media — along with many liberals who want to utilize the book as a means to advance India-Pakistan rapprochement — will be pushing the line that this is entire fiasco is all caused by the fact that Singh has essentially praised a Muslim, and not just any Muslim, but the man who founded Pakistan. I am most definitely not an expert in Indian politics but this claims strikes me as only as partly true. I think it is a little childish to think that Indian reservation cum antagonism towards Pakistan has solely to do with the figure of Jinnah or the fact that Partition occurred. There is the matter of all the subsequent wars, the water issue, the Kashmir issue, the nuclear arms race, and so forth. Sure, the Partition antagonized the Indians, but if Pakistan and India had become like the U.S. and Canada, it would have been praised. In other words: I don’t think the Partition — by which I mean the political chess match that led to the Partition — is the touchstone of Pakistan-India relations.

I think the real issue in Singh’s expulsion is his implicit suggestion that Sardar Vallabhai Patel, a Gujarati contemporary of Jinnah, Nehru and Gandhi, who was responsible for uniting the princely states of India — Wikipedia compares him to Otto von Bismark — was also responsible for the Partition. This is what has gotten Singh in hot water, as evidenced by the fact that Gujarat is the place where his book has been banned, largely because Patel’s followers believe that it defames Patel. A columnist at The Asian Age named Anand Sahay agrees with me and writes: “Jaswant ’sin’ is wondering why BJP should idolise Patel.” Further, after their electoral defeat to Congress earlier this year, the BJP had been trying to appropriate Patel as someone who represented their core values. By Singh coming in an undermining Patel you suddenly have the “ideological deviation” that, I think, really led Singh to get exiled.

Another thesis, advanced by Soutik Biswas at BBC, is that the BJP is in political wilderness, and that this book was an attempt by a senior member to try and bring some Muslim voters into their fold after a crushing defeat. This is not implausible. I can imagine that perhaps a few years ago some senior members decided that the best way to bring Muslim voters in would be to try and appeal to the secular ones — the ones that could make a political compromise with the Hindu nationalism of their party. On this particular issue I have only speculation.

Before I stop with all this rambling genuflection, I do want to point out how this book is likely to be received in Pakistan. There are going to be two responses. One I have already identified: a sense of hope that the truth about the Partition is finally coming out and by virtue of the realization that were no saints in 1947, only fallible politicians making botched compromises, some kind of emotional truce might be imminent. But there is a second darker response as well: some Pakistanis are undoubtedly going to argue that if “those Hindus” could make a power-play against “us Muslims” back in 1947, they can and are doing it ever since, and it was a great idea that the Partition occurred and it would be a mistake to ever trust an Indian again.

I think that the latter position is intellectually bankrupt. Just as Jinnah was not inherently anti-Hindu — something Singh has painstakingly made evident — men like Gandhi and Nehru were not inherently anti-Muslim and it is high-time that Pakistani academics begin evaluating the Hindu actors of history with an honest eye. After all, at one point Gandhi was ready to give the Prime Ministership of a united India to Jinnah. Further, it was due to a freak error on the part of a Muslim leader of Congress that Nehru even got to the position where he had the ability to influence the decision-making to such a large extent. I am referring to Maulana Azad, the Muslim leader of Congress, who gave up the presidency of the party to Nehru in 1946. Azad was for a united India and opposed to the idea of Pakistan, but more or less shared the federal understanding that Jinnah had. Had he been in power a compromise would have been more likely. In his memoirs he calls giving up the presidency to Nehru a “blunder” of “Himalayan dimensions.”

I acted according to my best judgment but the way things have shaped since then has made me realise that this was perhaps the greatest blunder of my political life. I have regretted no action of mine so much as the decision to withdraw from the Presidentship of the Congress at this critical juncture. It was a mistake which I can describe in Gandhiji’s words as one of himalayan dimension.

Had Azad kept the highest post in Congress, it is conceivable that the Partition might not have happened or if it would have happened perhaps not so suddenly or haphazardly.

I think, ultimately, the pain of the Partition of 1947 does not have to do with the political disagreements that led to it, but to the aftermath, to the trains of blood, to the organized rape, to the communal violence, the refugee camps and the dispossession. Those were things that could have been prevented — that should have been prevented! — and the failure to take care of them is what haunts the subcontinent. The specter of a million lives lost. That is the discussion that must happen today. I don’t think it will be career politicians who will lead us to that.

My other hope is that in the coming days people who have spent their lives studying these issues will chime in on the debate that is brewing and help out of depth hacks like me.


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    Mr. Eteraz,

    It seems to me that this all superficially seems academic, who did what decades ago. Does it really matter “who lost Pakistan” in the 1940’s now at the beginning of the 21st century? The partition is a fact that is not going to change anytime soon so what is the big deal.

    However the great upheaval that has accompanied the release of this book clearly indicates that there is some important contemporary issue that the partition question serves as a surrogate for. Specifically that would seem to be the comparative position of Muslims in India vis-à-vis Hindus. Right-wing nationalists take the position that India is a strictly Hindu nation in which non-Hindus (Muslims, Sikhs, Christians, Parsi, &c) are at best guests and at worst – well have seen what the worst is. To praise any Muslim leader in any way seriously undermines the fundamental logic of the nationalist position, and of course Jinnah was not just any Muslim leader.

    The bigger question is that of the social base of the Hindu supremacy position. There are those who would benefit (and have benefited) from Hindu supremacy over non-Hindus. This is at the end of the day the real issue.

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    Dear Ali Eteraz, a few thoughts in response to some things you have said in your article. Posting in parts. — Ashok

    Part I:

    First, the Gujarat violence of 2002 was started by Muslims burning alive 59 Hindu pilgrims in the Godhra train carnage incident, in a pre-meditated plan executed by five Muslim terrorists (who stocked up 150 liters of Petrol the night before for the precise purpose of killing the pilgrims, and goaded the locals against the pilgrims) with suspected Pakistan/ISI hand. See this report of the first of two parts of the extensive investigation being conducted by the commission headed by former supreme court Justices Nanavati and Mehta: http://www.rediff.com/news/2008/sep/27godhra.pdf . The inescapable fact that must be noted is that, without the gruesome Godhra train carnage of Hindus, there would not have been the gruesome post-Godhra violence and deaths of so many: official tally of post-Godhra violence casualities: 790 Muslims and 254 Hindus, add to that 59 Hindus killed in the train carnage.

    Second, while any killing of innocent lives is inhuman, the scale of the violence that took place in Gujarat in 2002 is dwarfed by the horrific genocide and ethnic-cleansing of Bangladeshis conducted by Pakistan in 1971, where 3 million people were killed (most of them Hindus, and likely most of them from lower/dalit castes), 200,000 women were raped, and tens of millions were displaced: http://www.liberationwarmuseum.org/liberationwar.html#01 During March 25 through November of 1971, Pakistani forces, upon direct order from their generals and commanders. killed an average of 12,000 people and raped 800 women every. single. day. for. 250. days. The world sat and watched, and still ignores and/or refuses to acknowledge the Holocaust-scale genocide committed by Pakistan in 1971.

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    Part 2 (of my response to Ali Eteraz):
    Third, it appears that those Muslims that stayed in India at partition were generally poor and not well-educated compared to those that left for Pakistan (the better-off took their toys and left for Pakistan), and they have a much higher population growth rate than the rest of India, which further slows down the community’s development. Using the official Indian census figures from 1951 and 2001, Muslims population grew by a factor of 3.95x over that period of 50 years, compared to 2.72x for Hindus, 2.85x for non-Hindu/Muslim (combined non-Muslim growth factor is 2.73x.) That’s 44% higher rate for Muslims compared to non-Muslims in India. These are based on official census figures, which pegged the Muslim population at 13.4% in 2001 (some unofficial estimates of the Muslim population in India are in the 17-25% range.) When a subpopulation which was poor and not well educated to begin with grows 44% faster than the rest of the population in a poor, sapped, illiterate, resource-drained (from 1300 years of foreign invasions, and the plundering and oppression which ensued) underdeveloped country (which was the state India found itself in, at independence), it is only natural that their development will be that much slower than others’. It’s much harder for a poor child growing up with 5 other siblings to make it in life than for a kid raised in a 2 or 3 kid family unit of similar economic circumstances. Compounding the problem, many Muslim leaders and clergy wanted to maintain their control of their communities, and so instead of asking the government for regular secular schools to be built in their communities, they went with Muslim Madrassa schooling which imparts religion-driven education (many of them them teach Arabic as the third language, instead of local native Indian languages, for example) instead of progressive and general purpose education needed to get ahead in India and the modern world. It’s easier to blame others, Hindus and India here, than to take responsibility for one’s own actions. From day one, India should have put in place a 1 or 2 children per couple policy (for everyone) with strong disincentives for having more than two children (except for farmers in rural areas, as farming takes many hands in the family, and their economic and environmental footprints are not as adverse as is the case with non-farming communities.)

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    Part 3: Continuing from Part 2.. One needs to compare where Indian Muslims were at independence with where they are today (and factor in population growth) to assess progress made, which the Sachar committee report (linked to by the story contibutor) doesn’t seem to have done. Compared to the state of Hindus in Pakistan (and Bangladesh) where Hindus have been killed and marginalized, many Muslims have risen to prominent positions in India, including the only two Muslim billionaires (in USD) in the Indian subcontinent, namely Mr. Azimji Permji (CEO of Wipro) and Yusuf Hamied (CEO of Cipla, founded by his father Dr. K.A. Hamied), as well as Dr. Abdul Kalam, India’s much respected and admired former President, and Scientist/Engineer. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Islam_in_India#Prominent_Muslims_in_India , and Muslims now dominate every area of the lucrative Bollywood film industry. The fate of Hindus and other minorities in Pakistan has been miserable. Some 15% in the post-Partition Pakistan were Hindus. Today, combined Hindu population in Pak/Bangla is about 10%, and hardly any of them is visible in anything that goes on in Pakistan, forget about becoming billionaires, or rising to positions of political power in Pakistan. About 2.5 million Hindus were murdered by Pakistan in 1971, and the remaining Hindus in Pakistan (even Bangladesh’s Muslim majority rulers, despite India helping liberate their country, have oppressed their Hindu minority in many ways since then) live persecuted lives, terrorized by fundamentalist elements that have enjoyed much support from the Pakistani government/military/ISI establishment through the years. Pakistan’s laws such as the “anti-blasphemy” law (passed by Zia Ul-Haq) have been used to persecute just about every minority community there is in Pak, namely Hindus, Christians, Jews, and even many Islamic sects (Ahmadis, Ismailies, and even the 21% Shia minority). Hundreds of temples that existed in the Indian territory that became Pakistan were systematically destroyed and removed; there are only a dozen or two Hindu temples left in today’s Pakistan. Compare that to the scores of Mosques in India (one in every nook and corner), many of the older ones among them built over the temples razed by Islamic invaders. Pakistan has not only come to become home for scores of terrorist groups, sadly, but it has also been one of the worst persecutors of minorities through these 62 years of its existence. Hopefully things will get better in the future, but the 62 years of accumulated history of Pakistan is tragic on the human front, including the human cost of the 4 wars it frivolously waged against India (the 1948 and 1965 wars and the 1999 Kargil incursion were direct wars of aggression by Pakistan. The Bangladesh liberation war came about because Pakistan was killing millions, most of them Hindus, and flooding India with tens of millions of refugees, which was a severe burden on an already struggling Indian economy. Of course, the genocide began when West Pakistani powers did not want to accept the result of the election that an East Pakistan based party won,) and countless incidents of terrorism launched against India from Pakistani soil, including the Mumbai terrorist attack of November 2008, and most importantly, the development the leaders of Pakistan deprived Pakistani people of, by going with “bang India up any way we can” mission for all these years, and making it their top national priority.

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    Part 4: Continuing from Part 3… These reasons alone justify why India should never have been divided. An undivided India (with a secular and pluralistic democracy as what the current India has) which respected its long civilizational heritage, as well as the constructive ones of the influences in the preceding 1000 years, with the establishment and strict maintenance of law and order as well as securing the nation from foreign threats, and building and paving way for a modern India that’s fair and equitable to everyone would have worked out much better for all its people, Hindus, Muslims, Sikhs, Christians, and a whole host of religions that came to call India home over the millennia, and it could also have become an Eastern cultural epicenter of the world that’s home to so many religions, languages and sub-cultures.

    Most people in the Indian subcontinent (including Pakistan) have their ancestral and cultural roots in the 5000+ Indian civilization, regardless of their current religious affiliation. That civilization thrived until the Islamic conquests and conversions began at circa 1000 AD, and the missionary activities and colonial rule which followed from around 1500 AD. An important part of that Indian legacy was that, Indian mathematicians, with their inventions of formal grammar (500 BC, by Panini for Sanskrit), the number zero, and the decimal and binary place-value number systems (these during 5th-8th centuries) laid the foundation for modern mathematics, and with it to modern science and technology. Please see: http://www-history.mcs.st-andrews.ac.uk/history/Projects/Pearce/index.html That’s heritage that every person with roots in the Indian subcontinent should take great pride in, and others should hold respect for.

    The truth is sometimes harsh, but only when people can be honest with one another can trust emerge and, in turn, peace and unity evolve therefrom. I came across this post http://www.indianexpress.com/story-print/505795/ by Meghnad Desai on the Jaswant episode where he ratifies Jaswant Singh’s description, and gives what appears to be a brief and accurate account of how the partition came about.

    That’s it for now, but if I think of some additional thoughts, I will return to post them. Thanks for writing and reading.

    – Ashok

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    “Right-wing nationalists take the position that India is a strictly Hindu nation in which non-Hindus”

    I can’t speak for the fictitious strawman construct of “Right-wing nationalists,” but the BJP government at the center under PM Vajpayee governed rather progressively, and started many initiatives to extend the economic growth to all sections of the society which were later adopted or extended by the Congress administration. Vaypayee extended his arms in friendship when he visited Pakistan in 1998, but his warmth was reciprocated by Pakistan by infiltrating Kargil and starting a war there in 1999 (many people killed, unnessarily as a result of that aggression by Pakistan.) Leaving out the 2002 Gujarat violence (which was triggered by a Muslim terrorist cabal plotting and charring to death 59 Hindu pilgrims, after goading the local Muslims to come in thousands and pelt stones at the stopped train. Please see my other posted comment for the report), Vajpayee’s regimes was also socially liberal and progressive.

    “Muslims, Sikhs, Christians, Parsi, &c) are at best guests”

    Sorry. You couldn’t be further from the truth(, and are saying because you’ve absorbed all the spins being leveled against Hindus by anti-Hindu and anti-India crowd.) Members of all of these religions and faiths are all integral part of India, and most Hindus think that way. Remember, India is a secular democracy, whereas, for a comparison, Pakistan is an Islamic republic where most minorities (Hindus, Christians, Jews, and even Muslim minority sects) have been severely persecuted over the years. See this for an example of an Islamic sect , which was instrumental in building Pakistan, now being oppressed there: http://www.thepersecution.org/50years/build.html

    “and at worst – well have seen what the worst is.”

    Again, please do not forget that the Gujarat violence was the result of burning alive 59 Hindu pilgrims.

    As for the “worst,” may I suggest you to find out about the 3 million civilian subjects killed by Pakistan in what is now Bangladesh in 1971? You can do so, by starting with this: http://www.liberationwarmuseum.org/liberationwar.html#01

    “To praise any Muslim leader in any way seriously undermines the fundamental logic of the nationalist position”

    You are mistaken here as well. Indians love their former President Dr. Abdul Kalam, a Muslim. The reason being, he loves India and its rich heritage, considers himself an Indian first, is a scholar with many accomplishments. Also, Maulana Azad is also held in very high regard by all Indians, including Hindus. Why? Because he was a patriotic leader who was an Indian at heart, and did not attack Hindus with the usual animosity seen in the divisive elements of the Muslim community of the Indian subcontinent. I grew up thinking of Azad as one of my heroes. A hand shake takes two hands. When you hand is bitten off every time you extend it, you will learn to stop extending it. That’s the reality of what happened to Hindus since the 1300 year long struggle which began with brutal Islamic conquests starting in the 7th century.

    “and of course Jinnah was not just any Muslim leader.”

    You will be surprised how receptive Indians and Hindus are to the truth of the matter, if the truth in this matter can be figured accurately. I do now believe that Jinnah was a secularist (and may have had a soft corner for India after the partition. I have heard that he longed to return to Bombay to visit his place of birth, That touched me.), but I also think that he was heeding the advice of some divisively oriented people. Hindu philosophy is rooted in the Sanskrit saying “Satyameva Jayate” which means “Truth Alone Triumphs,” and not coincidentally, it is the slogan on India’s national emblem: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Satyameva_Jayate

    “The bigger question is that of the social base of the Hindu supremacy position. There are those who would benefit (and have benefited) from Hindu supremacy over non-Hindus. This is at the end of the day the real issue.”

    Again, a false impression you seem to have gained from the spins and smears against Hindus. In reality, Hindus want to respected, and are all too eager to respect in return (often, even to be point of becoming obsequious). I don’t know how many Hindus you know in person, but they are generally very docile and easy going people, “live, let live” kind. In terms of religions, India gave birth to 4 major religions, hosted many smaller religions over hundreds of years of people that come to India to escape persecution elsewhere, and many of them flourished (eg, the Tata are of the Parsi faith, and they are a super wealthy and leading industrial power house in India). See: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Parsi

    In fact, as Jewish folks acknowledge, India is one of the only countries where Jews were never persecuted by the majority (Hindus in India). See: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/History_of_the_Jews_in_India

    It really pains me, as a progressive minded human being that happens to be a Hindu and is also proud to be one (in fact, Hinduism and other Dharmic religions are the very sources of progressivism in my opinion, with their values of ahimsa, spirituality etc), to see so much gratuitous smearing of Hindus and Hinduism going on, and progressives and intellectuals absorbing those spins without sufficient examination.

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    I feel a little embarrassed about the typos in my comment (ashok@7:39 pm on 08/23/09) and tender apologies to the readers for the same. It appears that posted comments cannot be edited at T/S. Since the intended meaning should be quite evident from the context, I am not posting an improved version of the comment. Thanks!

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    You seemed to have replied to my response to Mr. Eteraz’s blog but my name is not “Vickie” and you did not hit the “reply to this” tab so it was not clear to whom you were responding, otherwise I would have replied sooner.

    I believe that you have misunderstood my posting. I was not speaking about the Hindu peoples nor of the religious beliefs of Hindus but the views of certain political forces. There are, in the US, Christian fundamentalists who would argue that he US is, or ought be, a strictly Christian nation. This is not say all Americans believe this, nor that all Christian believe this, nor even that all Christian American believe this, just that certain right-wing interests do.

    Hindu fundamentalism is a political, not a religious movement, just like Christian fundamentalism. They need to be discussed in political terms for the discussion to have any meaning.

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    Hi David,

    I did hit the “reply to this” tab, and when the text entry box appeared, it said (for some reason unknown to me) “Post your comment reply to Vickie (****),” hence my address to you as Vickie, but I later noted that your screen name was “davidlosangeles” and was then left confused (I reconciled thinking that, perhaps, the screen name was different from your real name.) Anyways, sorry about the confusion created from my learning the ropes around here (great looking site, BTW.)

    Since the site software is still in its beta, there may well be some bugs in it. As I am typing this (and, again, I clicked the “reply to this” tab to get here), I am seeing the following header above the text box:

    Post Your Comment Reply to Obama Mania « Tales of a Fattractive Egyptian Woman
    Click here to cancel reply.
    which, as before, is misleading and confusing, and does point to possible bugs in the software. Perhaps the developers of the site may want to look at this?

    Response to the substance of your comment shortly.

    – Ashok.

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    David, a long response which I had intended to write will have to wait for lack of time, but a few quick remarks, and a few questions if you would like to answer them, follow.

    “There are, in the US, Christian fundamentalists who would argue that he US is, or ought be, a strictly Christian nation.”

    Q1: Do you support Israel being the Jewish nation?
    Q1B. Do you support Pakistan being an Islamic Republic?

    Also, note that Hinduism (and Buddhism, Jainism and Sikhism, the other major Dharmic religions) are native to India as they were born in the Indian subcontinent (Hinduism existed for 5000+ years), whereas Christianity is not native to the US, but reached its shores from migration (eventually leaving the natives, i.e. Native Americans, in a severely marginalized state, teetering on possible extinction.) Islam and Christianity reached and spread in India only in the last 1000-1300 years, and are not native religions of the land.

    “Hindu fundamentalism is a political, not a religious movement, just like Christian fundamentalism.”

    Q2. Could please specify exactly what you mean by “Hindu fundamentalism?”

    Before you answer, please keep in mind what Will Durant, an English author, wrote in his 1935 book “The Story of Civilization: Our Oriental Heritage” (page 459): “The Mohammedan conquest of India is probably the bloodiest story in history. The Islamic historians and scholars have recorded with great glee and pride the slaughters of Hindus, forced conversions, abduction of Hindu women and children to slave markets and the destruction of temples carried out by the warriors of Islam during 800 AD to 1700 AD. Millions of Hindus were converted to Islam by sword during this period.”

    Q3. If some colonial rulers had destroyed the Mecca+Medina shrines and built churches over them, would you, or would you not, support restoring the Islamic shrines after independence was restored to that land?

    Q4. If X is the demographic identity that’s the strongest for you personally, how would you feel if 200 people of X identity were locked inside a train compartment by a Muslim mob of thousands, with 59 X’s charred to death from being burnt alive with 100 liters of Gasoline.

    Q5. How would Christian organizations in the US react to organized Muslim (or Hindu, for that matter) missionary-equivalent groups, engaged in converting millions of US Christians (including some entire townships) into that other religion? And how would you feel about the conversions and the expected reactions?

    I would also like to request you to go over http://tinyurl.com/ind-math as that gives a sense of how sophisticated the Indian civilization (in which Hinduism played a central unifying role) was, when the foreign assaults on it began 1000-1300 years ago, and eventually left it sucked dry (and mutilated with the partition.)

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