Time for Stock Taking: a 2019 view
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One of the good things about writing a book review is that you can get to read a book more than once. With the first month moves of Modi 2.0 looking appeasement oriented to some, it was time to dust off my copy of the classic compilation by Sita Ram Goel, “Time for Stock Taking: Whither Sangh Parivar” (TST). By early August 2019 though, a completely new dynamic took place with the nullification of Article 370. Thus, this re-read is with a somewhat different lens.
Here we shall look at some of the concerns that were raised by public intellectuals and political leaders from almost 25 years ago. There is something spectacular about TST: it is not very often that we find a compilation of so many writers weighing in on the same subject. This is one book I often tell liberals to read, if they are ever willing to read Hindus that is. Few are, and if they do a sincere read, they may not stay westernised liberal for long.
The first two sections of TST alone are a classic unto themselves. Sita Ram Goel asks the responders to comment on some key questions relating to Islam, Christianity, the Sangh Parivar, and Indian history. With over 60 writers providing their views, it is a treasure to read these influencers as they answer these broad questions. A few come across as surprisingly clueless, regurgitating Marxist histories, displaying a dhimmitude of the Congress-Left variety. Then there are several who wrote in “Beast Mode”, sparing none. In short, a wider range of answers than one would expect. Reprinting some of the responses would make this a very long review, but here are a few anyway to give the reader a sense of why just these first two sections of the book make it a worthwhile read.
- Japanese remember Hiroshima and Nagasaki; Jews have recorded crimes against them, but the ruling class in India is prepared to negate, even falsify history. Since socialism has totally collapsed where it was born, no reason why all leftist parties should not be disbanded and declared illegal.
- The Hindu proclamation that “different paths lead to God” certainly does not mean that any and every crass act can lead to God simply by calling it “religion”. Such slogans have prevented Hindus from speaking fearlessly. If our ancestors ever talked as such, it could only be said to have emanated from a state of desperation which they may have found themselves due to more than a thousand years of political subjugation that often leads to intellectual deterioration resulting in perverted thinking as well. The Dewaswom Board, only a dept. of the government of Kerala, was always anti-Hindu.
- The openness of Hinduism does not mean that we should teach our children the myth all the religions are the same when they are not. Ask the misguided Hindus to read the Quran, the Sunnah, and the Bible before they make ridiculous statements of the type mentioned in this document.
- Even the Arabs did not accept Islam willingly. Early history of Islam testifies to this. To overcome their sense of shame and guilt, the converts were told that the pre-Islamic period was a period of darkness. Generations of Muslims were fed the same myth as an article of faith. If Islam did indeed oppress and enslave the Muslims first, it’s not relevant as now the Muslims have then gone on to do the same to non-Muslims. Both Buddha and Mahavira were dissenters. In Islam, then and also today, they would have been beheaded as apostates.
- The extraordinary spirit of humanity that was extended to Muslims by the Hindus who allowed them to continue to live in India as equal citizens (post 1947), drew little appreciation from the Muslims. People are more or less the same all over the world – many good, some bad – except, of course, where they are subjected to inhuman brainwashing.
- Does Hinduism have the equivalent of warlike terms like Ghanima Mujahid, Shahid, Jiziya, Zimmi, Jihad, Dar-ul-Islam, Dar-ul-Harb, Ghazi, etc. in any one of its scriptures? None at all. Aggressiveness and militancy against heathens, infidels and bourgeoisie in the form of Crusades, Jihads and Class Wars is in-built into their theologies and ideologies which strive to establish their own world orders.
- Weaning away entire communities of Muslims away from Islam is rather difficult to imagine. Weaning away individual Muslims is also no easier: it is like asking an individual Hindu to cut off all his ties with his caste and community. In the case of a Muslim individual, it is worse: hated by his erstwhile jaamaatwaaalas, shunned by secularist and leftist Hindus, ignored by a caste bound Hindu society, and only indifferently welcomed by a conscious Hindu, his position is not likely to be an enviable one.
- One wonders if the personalities of Jesus, Mohammed and Marx had not existed, World History would have probably been without so much blood flow. Why should there be a final prophet when there were previous prophets and while the capacity for spiritual knowledge can be found in all people?
- Muslims are at present victims, not only of Islam but also of the fatwa-mongering mullahs. In secular and democratic India, no one should be allowed to exercise any kind of extra judicial power over others. All of them are too terrified of their fatwa mongering mullahs to come out in the open.
- Unless immediate and profound action is taken there will be more Pakistans, Isaistans, Akalistans, Buddhistans, Marxistans, Indo-anglostans, and so forth.
In section III, David Frawley and Suresh Desai’s essays dive into the difference between Dharma and Dogma, as well as the implications of allowing conversions to Islam and Christianity. As one author pointed out: “Go prove Christianity in the west first, by bringing back European Christians into the fold, rather than planting in Asia.”
Section IV covers the first victims of Islam, the Muslims themselves. Using the experience of Salman Rushdie and Ibn Warraq, it is a reminder that unlike other religions, a Muslim critic of Islam is not just asking for exile for life, but must also hide, even if living in the West! Due to fundamentalists being present, dissent is not possible by the Muslims, which does make a non-Muslim feel a level of sympathy for Muslim plight.
There remains the issue of how Islam has adapted. As one writer states: “Islam, particularly political Islam, has totally failed to cope with the modern world and all its attendant problems – social, economic and philosophical” A separate article can be written on what type of Muslim country models succeed, and under what conditions. In the early days of unbridled expansion, violence, murder, enslavement and genocide were the methods of growth and sustenance. In today’s world, it appears that countries must have abundant natural resources to retain the virulent political Islam, else adaptation to a far more liberal model following international law (or being in tune with Western interests) is required to survive.
There are also comments on other pertinent issues including Sufism (“Ludicrous to say Sufism is the real Islam when it is a heresy”), Islam as “religious fascism”, Islam’s interpretation of science as (Islamic) religious knowledge, and so forth. More books such as those written by Ibn Warraq are needed, and in today’s era of distributed social media and YouTube videos, many are coming forward.
If this critique of Islam is true, then what about the Islam apologists? They mainly shy away from the honest critique, because they “realised that such arguments could just as well be used against their own (Christian) cherished beliefs” One (of many) reasons Christianity wears a softer face compared to Islam is because of the collapse of its traditional strongholds in Europe and North America. This is the kind of challenging book that women in the business of being feminists, social justice warriors and animal rights activists must read. Their blind spot towards critiquing Islam appears either deliberate or cowardly.
Section V: the revealing press reports mention statements that have been made by all parties in the 1990s, and for followers of today’s politics, the contrasts as well as similarities are quite interesting. We are lucky to have such a compilation of news article readily accessible. The number of writers who talk from both sides of their mouth is astounding but it is now 2019, a naya Hindustan. Films like the Accidental Prime Minister and Uri would never have made it to the screen in the 1990s. In 2019, the dhimmitude writing is what is under review as the public is of a different generation, and is speaking up.
Some words, carefully nurtured by the Brits before independence, remain in play 70 years later. “Misapprehensions” among the minorities, a term that needs burial. “Minority fears” in India are imaginary and a concoction of the secularist cult, carrying on from the British. “What needs allaying is the majority fear that it will no longer be tormented by Islamic Gangsterism”, as Sita Ram Goel points out. One writer asks “why it (the government) is trying to reason with fundamentalists instead of telling them firmly that their threats and protests will not be tolerated”.
Appendix I on the Tabligh section, written by Sita Ram Goel, could be summarized perhaps as “how the Islamists use deception to achieve their aims”. The rebranding especially of the high born foreign Muslim aristocracy, the Ashrafs, as they turned into full-fledged collaborators with the British post 1857 will probably shock the uninformed. The idea of the nationalist Muslim is not be confused: their version of Akhand Bharat is all of India, but for Islam.
Appendix II gives the chilling overview of the Bangladeshi infiltration into India. Keep in mind, the estimate of the infiltrators in the 1990s itself is running into 13-14 million. There are a number of reasons for this very old migration, including poor land management and poor economics, as well as porous borders with Muslim dominated villages on the Indian side, make their transition less noticeable. Any rational moves to curtail this infiltration finds its loudest defenders in Muslim politicians on the Indian side, along with cooperating Hindu vote-bank loving leaders. The movement of Rohingyas too is mentioned. The book ends with Kissinger’s chilling prediction that the greater Islamisation of India may lead to a rapprochement with Pakistan, but in a way that India’s Hindus may not prefer.
This is a book that is probably 4 or 5 short books in one, a real treat on a time machine for any serious researcher regardless of political affiliation. For those liberals who are keen to find a Sangh critique from Hindus, this book will be useful, but in unexpected directions.
It is almost 2020. Article 370, Uri surgical strike, Balakot. It is thus time for a redux: a new stock taking with an updated set of questions posed to some of the sharpest public intellectuals of today’s India. Some who appeared in this 1997 compilation are still active, while a new generation has also risen, ready to take on these old questions and some newer ones.
Time For Stock Taking: Whither Sangh Parivar, Compiled and Edited by Sita Ram Goel, 1997, Voice of India publications
Sita Ram Goel: The Rishi of a resurgent India, Navaratna S Rajaram, November 2014, IndiaFacts.org
Remembering a Karmayogi, Virendra Parekh, May 2015, IndiaFacts.org