|Reading their lips?|
The Americans are now reading Pakistani textbooks. Guess what they found? The US Commission on International Religious Freedom produced a 139-page report that said:
“Pakistan and social studies textbooks are rife with negative comments regarding India and Great Britain, but Hindus are often singled out for particular criticism in texts and in interview responses.”
Surprise! There is no anti-US sentiment? When it suits them, they whip up this line of thought and start preparing their flying machines. For Indians, this will not be news. However, putting Britain and India in the same league makes it look like an ‘Anglo-Indian’ voodoo doll that must be hit at. This would necessarily hark back to the Partition, and in some ways the Mountbatten-Nehru tango did powder the floor for others to slip.
This is not to say that there are no elements in Pakistan that feel such hatred towards India and Hindus as there are such groups in India too that do so towards Pakistan and Muslims all over the world, including their own citizens. Yet, the US will not dare to write such a tome on India, and it will see no reason to analyse the pushing of certain subjects in secular syllabi. I would like to clarify that I am not denying such hatred in Pakistan, but feel the need to question the intent of an outside force to compile such a report. It is obvious that the motive is to use this as one more ruse to raise the hardliner bogey.
The chairperson of the commission Leonard Leo said:
“…the teaching discrimination increases the likelihood that violent religious extremism in Pakistan will continue to grow, weakening religious freedom, national and regional stability, and global security. Although an unbiased review of history would show that Hindus and Muslims enjoyed centuries of harmonious co-existence, Hindus are repeatedly described as eternal enemies of Islam. Hindu culture and society are portrayed as unjust and cruel, while Islam is portrayed as just and peaceful.”
The violent religious extremism has political dimensions. Pakistan has been tossed about from military regime to feudal democrats to corrupt politicians. All these have one thing in common – allegiance with the United States of America. Not once in the history of Pakistan has there been a violent religious extremist movement that ran the government. Besides, those who get killed due to such extremism are mostly the majority Muslim population. It does not in any manner justify the killings of minorities, but the other point needs to be emphasised repeatedly as well.
The Indo-Pak hate-fest is beyond just religious extremism. Look at both countries and the protest movements within. What are they about? In India, communalism is a huge problem, but not the only one. Pakistan has to often deal with enemies forced upon it. Let us also understand that the hatred is not restricted to the uneducated and brainwashed lot; it often reveals itself among the educated elite. There are historical reasons and opportunistic reasons. And it is something that Indians and Pakistanis need to think about, instead of another covert colonial power.
Has this concerned US Commission not heard about the Kentucky Fried Democrat?
|Beshear feels the heat|
It is a curious case that in a country where levitating yoga gurus and chants have become part of pop culture, a politician sitting before Hindu deities is reprimanded. Kentucky governor, Steve Beshear attended a ceremony for a manufacturing unit owned by a Hindu. It is the Hindu practice to bless such places.
The opposition came from the Republican challenger, David Williams:
“To get down and get involved and participate in prayers to these polytheistic situations, where you have these Hindu gods that they are praying to, doesn't appear to me to be in line with what a governor of the Commonwealth of Kentucky ought to be doing. He's sitting down there with his legs crossed, participating in Hindu prayers with a dot on his forehead with incense burning around him. I don't know what the man was thinking.”
Participating in any kind of ritual necessitates the suspension of disbelief, so chances of him thinking are pretty slim. More so, since Beshear reportedly won the elections in 2007 playing his Christian card and later, in office, “gave more than $40 million in tax incentives to a creationist Christian group to spur the construction of a Noah's Ark theme park”.
In the great country, a politician is rubbishing idolatry and making it into a ‘my god versus your god’ battle. Except for the political noises, this controversy will die down. It is not like some bearded fellow asking the governor to eat dates to co-opt him into a jihad. Yet, it is disconcerting to notice such blatant criticism. There have been the dot-busters and other groups, but they were not political or legitimately political at least.
So, what was Beshear’s trip this time?
"While I can't say for sure that this is the first time that a boomy pooshim ceremony has been performed for a business on Kentucky soil, I can certainly say that I don't want it to be the last one.”
Well, it sure is boomin’ and pushin’ if he is thinking about the 250 jobs to the area and a $180 million investment that this plant will bring for which he attended the bhoomi pujan ceremony.
Rajan Zed, a Hindu leader, called on Williams to apologize, noting that if Williams were to win the Nov. 8 election, “he would be the governor of all Kentuckians, including Hindu Kentuckians”.
Beshear has been re-elected, but it is not because he crossed his legs. And it is never “for all”. There are always strings attached. And attacked.
I wish some American organisation decided to file a long report on the disparities within the different states and how manifest minorityism really is. Here’s lookin’ at yo weeds…
(c) Farzana Versey