People during a protest against the death of Tabrez Ansari, at Jantar Mantar on June 26 | ANI
People during a protest against the death of Tabrez Ansari, at Jantar Mantar | ANI fie
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Historically, the term Hindu was a geographical identifier. In the 1st millennium BC, Greek and Persian texts called everyone who lived in the land across the Sindhu (Indus) River a Hindu. Today, the term Hindu solely identifies itself with religion and culture. So, when Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh chief Mohan Bhagwat says that “everyone living in India is a Hindu”, it is not only cultural and religious imposition, but also makes India stand at the precipice of turning into another Saudi Arabia or Israel or Pakistan.

The centralisation of power in India, in recent times, is for all to see. Today, the nation of more than a billion people is seemingly governed by, at best, two names — Narendra Modi and Amit Shah. Everyone in the central cabinet has to toe their line. Ministers’ cluelessness within the government, when it comes to major decisions, sticks out like a sore thumb. A case in point being demonetisation. No one knew about this major economic decision except for a handful of handpicked people.

Centralisation of power may at first make the leader seem strong, powerful and commanding. But it inevitably dilutes democracy and takes the nation towards autocracy.


Also read: FIR against celebrities for criticising lynching: Does impact matter or is speaking up enough?


Pakistan, after tryst with dictatorship

Nowhere is the impact of centralisation of power more visible today than in Pakistan. In spite of the country claiming to be a democracy, a lot of power is in the hands of its army, which has led Pakistan through phases of dictatorships, be it under Muhammad Zia-ul-Haq or Pervez Musharraf.

A most certain feature of this centralisation of power, which almost always happens to fall into the hands of the majoritarian class, is the deplorable plight of the minorities. In Pakistan, too, the Ahmadiyas, Hindus and Christians are being discriminated against audaciously. Asia Bibi, a farm labourer from Punjab’s Ittanwala village, spent nine years of her life in solitary confinement on charges of blasphemy. Her crime was that she, a Christian, had drank a sip of water before passing it over to the Muslim women she worked in the farms with. Days later, Asia Bibi was dragged out of her house by a mob led by a cleric, accused of having insulted Prophet Muhammad, badly beaten up, and sentenced to death by a court. Her case made international headlines and Asia Bibi was finally freed — but she had to leave the country and move to Canada.

The stark similarity between India and Pakistan is for all to see. India’s Muslims, Dalits and Adivasis are beaten, humiliated and punished the same way. Cases of mob lynching don’t lead to convictions despite video evidence while victims, even dead ones, are charged with crimes like cow slaughter, or activists spend years in jail without bail.


Also read: We can’t talk about Gandhi if we don’t speak up on Kashmir and lynchings


Saudi Arabia, religion is constitution

Then there’s the problem of overbearing ideologies that tend to lead the political narratives of countries like Saudi Arabia. Even though Saudi Arabia is an absolute monarchy, according to the Basic Law of Saudi Arabia adopted by a royal decree in 1992, the King must comply with Sharia (that is, Islamic law) and the Qur’an.

The Qur’an and the Sunnah are declared to be the country’s constitution. Under the garb of the Sharia, draconian laws like the male guardianship system are passed, although it has no footing in Islam. The Saudi state essentially treats women as permanent legal minors.

A man controls a Saudi woman’s life from her birth until her death. Every Saudi woman must have a male guardian, normally a father or husband, but in some cases a brother or even a son, who has the power to make a range of critical decisions on her behalf.

There’s also the dilution of human rights in countries that operate on the basis of religion. Three of Saudi’s leading scholars are likely going to be executed for trying to bring reforms in the country. The scholars have been convicted under multiple charges of terrorism. UN experts condemned the kingdom’s “continued use of counter-terrorism and security-related laws against human rights defenders”. In fact, India has also seen multiple arrests of intellectuals under the Unlawful Activities Prevention Act.


Also read: Feminism a Woodstock-inspired fad, snug families can check rape, says new RSS book


Israel, a nation-state

Israel, a country for the “Jews”, much like India which is being pitched as the country for the “Hindus”, implemented a contentious nation-state law in July 2018, declaring itself the Jewish homeland and putting a priority on Jewish-only communities. Those who drafted the law say it is aimed at boosting Israel’s Jewish character. Parliamentarians from Israel’s Arab sector, which makes up roughly one-fifth of the country’s 8.5 million population, say that this law has effectively turned them into second-class citizens.

Israel has also introduced some of the most draconian anti-immigrant laws in an effort to stop mainly sub-Saharan Africans seeking refuge from conflict and poverty. The law allows the state to imprison illegal migrants for life, and detain them and their children for three-year terms if they are caught entering Israel. This coming from a community that has seen first-hand persecution of a demonic level in Europe and elsewhere.


Also read: Mob lynching in Jharkhand again: Beaten up for ‘selling beef’, tribal man dead, 2 critical


India’s turn

The current Hindutva-propagating Narendra Modi government is similarly trying to focus on governance guided by religion. Its National Register of Citizens (NRC) is a similar exercise like Israel’s anti-immigrant law that seeks to expel Rohingya refugees from Myanmar and “illegal” immigrants from Bangladesh. Moreover, the government’s Citizenship Amendment Bill will be one of the primary ways through which India will be pushed into a space where it cannot be called secular anymore. It’s a tool to disenfranchise Muslims — with overt remarks about wanting to implement the NRC all over the country — and anyone refusing to see the bill’s true nature is only playing the fool.

Home Minister Amit Shah names every immigrant community in the country except Muslims as people who are eligible for citizenship in India. Hindu Rashtra is now being explicitly mentioned and the ‘secular’ Constitution rarely referenced. If illegal immigrants are being vetted through religion, we are no longer a secular state. We are a theocracy.

India has since antiquity held a unique identity — one that cannot be easily defined. But today, India wants to identify itself with one culture, one religion and one law. Much like Saudi Arabia, Pakistan and Israel does.

The author is a political observer and writer. Views are personal.

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59 Comments Share Your Views

59 COMMENTS

  1. For Reliance, which is run by Asia’s richest man, Mukesh Ambani, the deal is a way to keep moving the company from its roots in energy and chemicals toward faster-growing sectors like telecom, television and retailing.

  2. I would like to state that I have served in the Indian Army and fought two wars with Sikh, Maratha and Muslim troops. All of them fought extremely well. In the Regiment we gladly attended all three religious functions without hesitation. We never felt religious animosity coming in the way. Our world was insulated from politics, religious fundamentalism and communal divide.
    When I retired from the Army and settled down I came in contact with the ‘outside’ world. It was a shock how our politicians divide the people in every which way they could. It is sad to see my civilian friends that I have made and live among so divided in their opinions and beliefs. I also find religious leaders spouting and lecturing their followers on how their religion is superior to others. I find die hard Hindus criticising other religions. Some of their leaders have openly advocated lynching of anyone transporting cows for slaughter where in primarily Muslims were the victims. Mullahs have instructed Muslims not to saute our flag when the national anthem is being played. Our own ex Vice President would not do so.
    We were never a Nation till the British subjugated us. Sadly now we are drifting apart thanks to our politicians. Thankfully our Armed Forces are still united and are not affected. The sad part is that the politicians and bureaucrats are playing dangerous games with our soldiers. we see our Chiefs making statements on fighting two and half wars and other statements which are in the realm of the Government. We have allowed all cantonments to be opened to public primarily because a former RM had a house in Secunderbad Cantonment and couldn’t do that exclusively for that one. One bomb blast in a Cantonment will shake up the Govt but they will blame it on the failure of the Security while escaping responsibility.
    God bless our Nation. Jai Hind!

  3. Cultural context of India must always remain Hindu, as 80% of population is Hindu and a few % hinduism derived religions. Other religions are free to exist minus conversions. There are many countries with official religions , Sri Lanka-Buddhist , China -Communist, Pak/Bangladesh -Islam , Burma – Buddhist , Mexico -Catholic , Almost all south American countries are official catholic , All middle east countries are official Islamic , Where is a Official Hindu Country on this planet ? Declare India an Official Hindu country and the pesky issues with cultural context will be over.

  4. Zainab is learning pretty quick, but I can’t say the same for the moderators of the comment section. They seem to be moving in the negative direction and have become closet-minded or worse, hiding inconvenient Truths under the mat. That’s one way to stop growing. I am going to give the moderators the benefit of doubt. Let’s do a redo for their sake:

    Maybe, they thought my quotes on the prophet’s words regarding immigration and communal harmony in the 7th century were not fit for consumption for their 21st century readers, so they probably decided to ‘protect’ their readers/ base from al Lah’s revelations. OK, I can understand context and timelines matter. But, what about this 21st century islamic legal website advocating muslims not to live in non-muslim countries? Again, I am not kidding when I said pseudo liberals and muslims are the last to know about islamic teachings. This will prove that true! Here’s Fatwa 13363 issued on the topic, “Can muslim live in Kaffir countries?” ( https://islamqa.info/en/answers/13363/can-muslims-settle-in-kaafir-countries-for-the-sake-of-a-better-life) Go ahead read it for yourself.

    You can’t hide a dead body in the house for ever, sooner or later neighbors are going to sniff it out! Likewise, Truth always reveals itself. Where are you going to hide this?

  5. In South Asia India was the only nation where pluralistic democracy worked. Pakistan, Bangladesh, Sri Lanka, Burma, Bhutan, Nepal—all these nations went the religious way. They suffered majorly because of that. Sri Lanka does better than Indian on development. But its violent history has much to do with the majoritarian Buddhist sentiment against the Tamil Hindus. Let us see what BJP-RSS politics is going to give to India. History tells us to be alarmist. If history is a teacher, no good lesson here.

  6. This is an alarmist article ,amplifying , exaggerating a flaw that has cropped of late , though it exists in latent form in all societies.Such articles would do no good to anybody , we are no where near or close to Israel , Pakistan or Saudia Arabia in any sense .And the reason for this is that India is a union of states with nothing in common between say Sikkim and Goa .We are not a free country because of our rulers , we are a free country inspite of them .Our judiciary , government arms represent a poor developing nation where the chances of inviting trouble are more than the chances of inviting fortune .That has been always so and it will be so unless India gets out of impoverishment .All this has nothing to do with religion .

  7. Always amusing to read the Mohammedan discourse on “what is Hinduism” and “Lectures on Secularism” series of articles.
    Never mind the fact that there are 45 Islamic states where even carrying a Gita or saying Jai shree Ram in public can get you arrested or worse – but let as hear the lectures from the Mohammedans on “tolerance” and “secularism” !!
    The terror and total panic shown by the sickular and pseudo intellectual brigade to the political mobilization of Hindus is endlessly amusing and satisfying to witness – especially since their own sale of their community votes has now become irrelevant.

    So please continue to educate us Hindus about “secularism” and tolerance and “liberal society” and see how far that gets your ilk…

  8. Why the Print puts disclaim at the end of every anti -Hindu, Anti-Modi article ” views expressed are personal” Why you are afraid of disclosing your mentality ? The readers are not fool . please note this type of articles are read by matured readers , not by impressionable young persons. Don t remain disillusioned .

  9. Author of this article appears to me to be a great pessimist. Has he a hidden hope that India would disintegrate and become another Pakistan? Let him enjoy his dreams. But citizen-voters like me believe firmly that India will remain a great democracy, and that India will march forward and that too successfully.

  10. Traditionally powerful groups in India have reposed their faith on Modi, Amit Shah at this point of time. They can do no wrong. Persecution of minorities is a political strategy which gives dividends like it does in many Muslim majority countries. But as nation this kind of policy is ultimately selfdeafeating as it leads to overall social regression and failure as a state.

    • Sorry. Majoritarian anti minority politics is also being played all over . Same politics is being played in Buddhist countries like Sri Lanka, Myanmar and predominantly Christian countries like USA with some European countries also joining the game.

  11. Another Schizophrenic & hypocritical article with complete lack of knowledge of the histories of India, Israel specifically.

  12. What have you done? I never thought I would say this: I am concerned for you, Zainab!

    What made you write against the Saudis? They are like the gods of islam drawing direct lineage and authority from the prophet himself. Are you aware what they did to your fellow journalist and countryman Jamal Khashoggi? The poor guy went to get his divorce papers and the prince had him chopped to pieces…in a foreign embassy to boot. His sons never even received the body parts to do a proper burial. Haven’t you heard about the death threats on a fellow muslim women and writer Ayaan Hirsi Ali (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fe_cuzsmmHU)?

    Now onward, Hajj is totally off for you. You can’t set foot in Saudi Arabia or Pakistan. You can’t even have any middle-eastern country or Pakistan as a layover in your future international flights. You just put a fatwa on yourself! I am not kidding! Those men of your faith put fatwas on cartoon characters like Mickey Mouse and Jerry! Sheikh Muhammad Al-Munajid put on hit on Mickey Mouse calling Mickey “one of Satan’s soldiers” and decreed that household mice and their cartoon cousins must be “killed in all cases”, according to the U.K.’s Daily Telegraph. And get this—the guy’s not your average nutjob—Munajid used to be a former diplomat at the Saudi embassy in Washington D.C. He made the remarks on Arab television network al-Majd TV after he was asked to give islam’s teaching on mice. But don’t worry, Mickey won’t be alone. Munajid also put a hit on Jerry from “Tom and Jerry”. Maybe, you could rent a flat with Salman Rushdie along with Mickey Mouse and Jerry!

  13. Preoccupation of some with other religions… It’s not everyone’s view Ma’am. We are feeling suffering felt by others and we empathise with all. This is spirit of Hinduism which is fading very quickly in pseudo-Nazi. They are not Aryans but rather demon worshippers in the guise of Hinduism. Don’t be fooled by them. God is watching.

  14. Mam, firstly we have to find out reason of growing strength of RSS politics. The reason is muslim treat themselves differently. They adopt arab culture in the name of islam now bjp is just using arab political method to govern. Never ever any muslim criticize their fellow for adopting arab culture. Be it education, population, dress, food religion is first for muslim.Now hindu also saying religion first and BJP is gaining strength like saudi monarch. The solution is Make education totally secular at the graduation after that anyone if wanted go for study of Din in madarasa or in sanskrit vidyapeeth.Muslim follow the Great Akbar
    ‘s philosophy of din I ilahi .They must understand that religion is personal and your public appearance cannot dictated by religion. Move with time.adopt a lifestyle which is in since with time. It is arabic way of lifestyle of muslim causes impediment in developing fraternity. RSS is just using this difference as excuse to say they are foreigners.

  15. “One nation, one religion, one culture” – this is a false narrative peddled by the author. Hindus, Jains, Sikhs, Buddhists and Christians are all included in Citizenship bill. Only Muslims are excluded because they are the ones persecuting and driving people of other religions in Bangladesh and Pakistan. The Modi government wants to protect victims not perpetrators.

  16. Zainab, does India have a blasphemy law like Pakistan? Or a provision stating that only people of certain religion, can occupy certain high offices?
    Why demonizing the nation in pursuit of your hatred for one political party?
    Also while you are at it, give one example of an ideal muslim majority nation, that can serve as a role model for this ‘hindu nation’.

    • This lady and Shivam Vij are the two useless columnist on the print. The lady is Islamist of the highest level. Why the print gives space to such people, what next giving space to terrorist next.

  17. the bulk of the comments here support the author’s view by spewing bigotted venom! not only the government but also the people begin to resemble rightwing fanatics from the named countries.
    where is my india that promoted brotherhood, and supported the oppressed?

    • Brotherhood is mutual, muslim and Christians can have every free ride against others from conversion to their propaganda. There will be backlash.

  18. More Theocratic you are, the more you look like other Theocratic state.Israel, Pakistan and the entire Middle East countries are examples.

  19. Thanks for accepting that India was far better than Pakistan and Saudi Arabia before Modi.
    Yes I agree that cow group is spreading hatered among the people and slowly India is changing into Pakistan by taking religion into its hand.

  20. Since you realize mentioned nations have one common ‘tumor’ ideology. Better ‘people’ stop ‘bookish’ drama else would be sanitized.

  21. This article is steeped in generalities and ignores important aspects of how political parties might view critical issues. Just a couple of these are: (1) border control; and (2) social reform. Every political party across the world has a view on border control. This includes the US, the UK, France, Australia and even Japan. The case of Rohingyas falls in that ambit. The NRC issue is not yet settled. Let’s wait and watch how much envelop Amit Shah is ready to push when it comes to execution. Coming to social reform. A lot of legal stamp has been put on social ills since William Bentinck abolished the abhorrent practice of SATI. This writer fails to give credit to BJP for passing the law on Triple Talaq,,a social ill that was left lurking for far too long, thus giving one side of the argument on BJP’s ‘anti-muslim orientation’.

    Yes, we can debate the tone and the rhetoric, but this is nothing new, and doesn’t indicate that there has been a vast transformation in the country’s ethos.. The UK’s current prime minister described a muslim woman as a ‘letter box’ (https://www.independent.co.uk/news/uk/home-news/boris-johnson-muslim-women-letterboxes-burqa-islamphobia-rise-a9088476.html), yet he has not hesitated in appointing a muslim as his chancellor. Muslims have not stopped migrating to UK as well. Similar instances are seen in the US, Denmark etc. So are these countries also turning into Saudi, Israel, Pakistan?

    And finally, the author fails to even mention China’s persecution of Uyghur muslims on an industrial scale. A word of criticism for China, which though has lower standards of human rights, would have completed the article. In short, this article lacks depth while it runs thin with multiple comparisons.

  22. Followers of your religion have committed horrendous crime doesn’t mean people of every religion will do the same.

  23. Mullahs are very organized in the way they operate. Systemic cleansing of other religions and thought processes is a mastered art. The world should learn from them and then eradicate this sick psychology. Wherever it takes

  24. It’s about time India found it’s civilizational roots and identity. Enough of the deracination, carefully nurtured by 70 years of political propaganda. Indian Muslims have to reconcile with the fact that they too belong to the Indian civilization. Their way of worshipping may have changed to a religion that originated outside India, but that does not mean that they have to disown their own civilizational ancestry. But that is precisely the problem – Indian Muslims seem to have come to identify themselves with the Arabian culture and the brutal invaders and reject their own Indic heritage. Writers like Sikander should help Indian Muslims reconcile their Indic civilizational heritage with their current religion, which are perfectly compatible. Instead, they are playing the victim good card – very tragic.

  25. I want India to become like Israel. Pure free market economy, world class infrastructure, powerful armed forces, POK and aksai chin back in India’s Kitty, zero tolerance to terrorism.

    • Israel is root of Jesus and not Eswar, Krishna or Shiva.
      World has only 2 important people.
      One is Jews for technology from whom India rush to get.
      Next is Muslims from whom you cry for oil.
      So to become India a great nation respect Christian and Muslim people in your land instead of killing them like what is been done to minority people in Pakistan.

      • Jews we respect, Muslim and oil? The days are numbered. Why we respect others? Respect is mutual. By your logic Christian and Muslim should leave and have settlement in middle East, vatican.

  26. Consider how a nationwide NRC exercise would be perceived in Bangladesh, especially the vitriolic rhetoric that precedes it. MEA should make its assessment known to the government. We will lose our only friend in South Asia. The tragedy is our discourse is so far removed from objective facts. We are moving back in time, while Bangladesh is making a success of globalisation.

    • Bangladesh is already a rich country. It’s highly globalised and powerful economy can bring down Indian economy if India proceeds with NRC. Bangladesh is come to India to see what poverty is and also to explain how to become entrepreneur a and become aglobal powerhouse economy. By kicking them out the sanghis are making a poor country like India poorer

      • It is a rich country, are you being sarcastic. The hangover of Awami league may go and soon. As Islam has inherent issue. India is preparing for beyond that.

  27. So are you saying that India is prosecuting muslims and others ? Show me where muslims are persecuted? If they are indeed they would not have become 17% of the population. They would have become like Pakistan where hindu population got wiped out. The muslims always cry when minority and prosecute others when they become majority. Forget about India, I see the same trend in USA , France and other European countries. I see muslims particularly from Pakistan who complain there is racism in US. One if my son classmate brain washed him the same. Till 11th grade my son always made friends with whites more than any other Desi’s. Suddenly in 12th grade mid way started saying all his white friends are racists. After probing and teasing information from him I realised he made friends with couple of Pakistani guys and they planted this poison. We had similar experience with adult Pakistanis who we came across at work. They believe 911 is done by CIA. Osama bin laden is somewhere safe in Pakistan and they are the victims of all conspiracies around. So we have another Pakistani here trying to push the narrative of what they did in Pakistan.

  28. The fact that Ms. Sikander equates Israel with Saudi Arabia and Pakistan speaks volumes about her understanding and grasp over concepts such as democracy, secularism, liberalism and rule of law.
    Israel happens to be the only nation in the whole of middle-east where women, adherents of minority religions and marginalized communities like the LGBTQ group enjoy the protection of the govt. Where rule of law is upheld and no one is accorded preferential treatment. Even the LGBTQ community can openly celebrate their identity. And yet she clubs it with Pakistan and Saudi Arabia.
    One has become rather used to her bile spewing targeting Modi/Shah/BJP/RSS and of course it surprises no one at all.
    However, her arguments against the Citizenship Amendment Bill ring hollow and specious. If a persecuted Hindu/Buddhist/Sikh/Christian in Pakistan/Bangladesh does not find refuge in India, where else is he/she supposed to go? Is it not common knowledge that minorities are in an abominable state in these nations?

    • This the real case of intellectual masturbation ..what happened to fact based journaism ?? This is how people are writing these days ….draw your conclusion and then pick and choose some crappy facts and write and article ..so even after 10 days of modi getting sowrn in as PM India had suddenly turn anti minority and non secular …I guess this is what a lot of so called intellectuals had wished and it has not happened …i thought the print had some balance and sense but by publishing crazy rant like it will just look like the same biased journism that our country is plagued with ..

  29. Common how can you compare India with above mentioned countries or at least putting India with Pakistan. Not very sure where do you living. Modi is an elected leader and Paki ‘s Army a rogue institution that hijacked entire country. Now you ‘re making a mountain of observation just base on one individual comment on Hindu, Mohan Bhagwat may be a little more influential in current power corridor so be it Gandhi families in previous govt.
    Discovering India and its thousand year old values is our responsibility, we are unnecessary given too much values for long to western tradition & culture, and seeking their approval for everything bad and good I didn’t mean they are bad but we have our own and inclusive culture.

    • Show me where Muslims are persecuted?
      Think suddenly you came out of grave.
      Read about COW Vigilance.
      Read about Varanasi riots.
      What is Godhra

      • Varanasi riot? Godhra happened when the train is burnt. This is not west where Muslim will not get instant reply if they try to harm others.

      • Looks like you are a closet Sanghi. Why are you not talking about persecution of Christian’s . Sikhs. Jains, Tibetans, OCs, OBCs, Dalits and Buddhists. Just deflecting the topic and keeping it only to Muslims and making people fight.

        • Muslim surely, and they should but Sikhs?? Sikhs were targeted by your congress. Christians enjoy larger then life influence in India. If they will play conversion tactics, they others will reply them.

  30. India is today perhaps most like Hitler’s Germany. The fanatic Hindus are mad to wage a war against Pakistan. They would not mind if 10-12 crore people would die in pursuit of their euphoria. Muslims are also partly to blame for this sorry state. They never ask among themselves why so many people hate them. They are not ready to change. Persons like Arif Mohammad Khan are ridiculed by Muslims.

    • You are as clueless and delusional as the rest of the lefty lunatics if you think India is like Hitler’s Germany – delusional fantasy of the liberal dullards. If India was like Hitler’ Germany then librandus like your kind would be lined up on Rajpath and there would be daily executions on DD for all to see. Just because you are political rejects due to your moral, ideological and corrupt deeds you scum defame India and Hindus who spur you now. You expose how right Hindus and Indians have been to reject you reprobates with your comments.

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