[OPE-L:7075] Communal Upheaval as Resurgence of Social Darwinism

From: Rakesh Bhandari (rakeshb@stanford.edu)
Date: Fri Apr 26 2002 - 12:51:44 EDT

Following up on the report Jerry forwarded on the massacres in 
Gujarat, I am giving the Economic and Political Weekly website 
address for a recent article by Jan Breman on  "Communal Upheaval as 
Resurgence of Social Darwinism". If one is interested in the full 
analysis (excerpt below), he should probably go to the website soon 
as this article will be removed.



The end of the Hindutva politics of exclusion is not yet in sight. 
Before my departure from Ahmedabad, I acquired a pamphlet urging the 
Hindu majority to avoid all economic transactions with Muslims. The 
call for a total boycott - don't buy from their shops or engage in 
business with them, don't employ or be employed by Muslims - is not a 
new one and the same message of systematic discrimination already 
circulated in previous rounds of communal rioting. There is also the 
appeal in the text to Hindu men to keep their daughters and sisters 
under close scrutiny lest they fall prey to the lust of the bestial 

  The hatred radiating from these sentences is as ignominious for the 
targeted males as it is  for the females belonging to the majority, 
who are portrayed as lacking the will and the  capability to be in 
charge of their own virtue. One could, of course, argue that the 
separate niches occupied by Hindus and Muslims in the labour market 
militate against exclusion from economic life of a newly created 
segment of untouchables. I am not so sure that such a plan of action, 
contingent upon a more comprehensive blueprint and backed up by the 
kind of intimidation we have already witnessed, would prove to be 
abortive in the end.

    The design does not seem to be so dissimilar from what happened 
during the initial phase of the Nazi regime in Germany. Prior to the 
actual elimination of Jewish people from mainstream society by the 
state, their property was identified and either destroyed or 
confiscated. In the latest orgy of violence in Ahmedabad, which 
combined a killing spree with the selective and ruthless destruction 
of Muslim shops, garages and other business establishments, I see a 
notable resemblance to the Kristallnacht in the early 1930s when the 
policy of German Nazification began in earnest. Seen from that 
perspective it is quite
  alarming to observe the complete absence of feelings of shame and 
remorse among those who propagated or participated in the Ahmedabad 
onslaught after the worst of the pogrom   was over. The dominant mood 
was rather one of glee and satisfaction, or even a sense of 
fulfilment, expressed in statements such as 'they had it coming' or 
'they got what they deserved'. The chairman of the VHP in Ahmedabad 
went on record as proudly claiming that 'it had to be done'.5 What 
sort of future does the Sangh parivar leadership have in store for 
the religious minority in the country? As second-class citizens, as 
the apex body of the RSS made clear at a recent Bangalore meeting: 
'Let the Muslims understand that
    their real safety lies in the goodwill of the majority'. Such 
phrases come dangerously close to labelling them as Untermenschen.

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