May 29, 2002
By Angana Chatterji
As India and Pakistan face each other in a grave confrontation,
mainstream US media continues to be largely inattentive to,
about, the serious situation in the subcontinent. As 1.4 million
Pakistani troops and nuclear arsenals are on high alert, as
generals play political games over divided Kashmir, as Pakistan
third missile test in three days, the sun sets on the Pacific
Asians in the United States remain terrified that India and
Pakistan stand on
the verge of a dangerous war over Kashmir.
The Indian central government, dominated
by Hindu nationalists, continues to
prioritize sectarian and non secular agendas. India pledges
that it will go
to war with Pakistan unless Islamic separatists stop their
attacks on Indian
Kashmir. India continues to insist that the situation in Kashmir,
thousands have died, is entirely the responsibility of Pakistan
separatist groups. India's persistent refusal to address the
might well leave the fate of the Kashmiris in the hands of
fundamentalists. India is yet to take responsibility for its
violation of the rights and lives of Kashmiris, while Pakistan
use terrorism as state policy. India and Pakistan must understand
will not resolve the injustices of history, it will only condemn
further and exacerbate the very tensions that are sought to
In addition, in the recent carnage of
Muslim minorities in Gujarat in
February and March this year, the saffronized central and
demonstrated an abysmal display of militant Hindu dominance.
The police and
government in Gujarat perpetrated violence against Muslims
in the State.
Police mistreatment in India of 'lower' caste and class peoples,
religious groups, women, tribals, intellectuals, activists,
and others bears evidence to the unstable and insecure conditions
non dominant and disenfranchised communities in India continue
to live. All
that is sacred in the Constitution, all that our ancestors
struggled for, all
that remains of the memory of M. K. Gandhi, is being desecrated.
In the midst of this, the majority of
the Hindu Indian business community in
the US maintain a complicitious silence, refusing to accept
consequences of Hindu nationalism. They continue to actively
fundamentalist Hindu organizations that are registered as
charities in the
US, ostensibly working to promote and protect Indian heritage
Such organizations utilize funds raised in the name of 'culture'
social division, intolerance and brutalization of minorities
in India. Groups
across the US, such as the Coalition Against Communalism and
progressive organizations, meet and struggle to build a political
where Hindu xenophobia can be confronted. Hinduism, unlike
Islam, has a
benevolent image in the West/North as a religion of peace.
Hinduism in the
West is often held and peddled as an abstract textual entity,
vacant of the
radical inequities that make up its cultural and historical
Hindu organizations maintain that Hindu culture and Hindus
in India are being
marginalized, that there is an Islamist plan for the genocide
of Hindus, and
that Hindu fundamentalism is a fiction conjured by the secular
As an Indian I struggle against the failures
of India's democracy, and I am
horrified at who we have become as a nation and as a people.
I ask myself how
India might commit to a secular and democratic society that
injustices and entrenched oppressions. Violence in the name
of religion has
to stop and as a nation India must accord full and executable
minority groups. We must defy Hindu nationalism and its systematic
violence against minorities. We must insist on examining the
political climate in which relations between India and Pakistan
deteriorate, and the crimes committed by both states in the
name of freedom.
We must not support the fabric of resistance connected to
the use of terror
on the part of states and groups. We must take responsibility
for the unjust
histories through which our nations were conceived. It will
extraordinary courage and commitment of us all.
Angana Chatterji is a professor
Social and Cultural Anthropology at the
California Institute of Integral
Studies in San Francisco.
Dawn, Pakistan, June 02, 2002.
Titled: 'A Grave Confrontation'
Dissident Voice, US, June 2002.
Titled: 'India/Pakistan: Mourning This Time.'
Frontline, India, Volume 19, Issue 12,
June 8-21, 2002.
Economic and Political Weekly, India,
Volume 37, No 22, June 01, 2002.