Monday, April 21, 2014

Modi and the media


The international media are predictably on an anti-Modi crusade. They blame him for killing more than 700 Muslims in 2002 (not for the death of over 200 Hindus in the same riots, nor for the death of 58 Hindus in the Muslim attack triggering the riots), shortly after his accession to power in Gujarat. They hardly report the fact that he won all his judicial trials and was twice cleared by a Supreme Court investigation. And if they do, they try to overrule these telling facts, by citing anti-Modi “sources” and “Indian observers”. So, they accuse Modi of complicity in mass murder, even in “genocide”.


Modi’s alleged guilt

Only high-quality media would try for some perspective, most just lead their readers by the nose towards focusing on this event in isolation. Thus, Congress secularists killed three thousand Sikhs in 1984, and their leader Rajiv Gandhi failed to take the event seriously, let alone taking some responsibility for it. No media outrage followed, neither then nor twelve years later. In 1971, the Pakistani persecution of the East Bengali Hindus killed at the most conservative estimate hundreds of thousands, yet those Hindus did not become a matter of concern the way Indian Muslims are today. (On the contrary: when Taslima Nasrin’s book Lajja focused on the East Bengali Hindus’ renewed massacre of December 1992, most commentators falsely claimed that she was persecuted for her feminism and kept her siding with the Hindus out of view.) Most media faithfully keep up the pretence that the Gujarat riots are at the centre of South-Asian history. 

The international media are mostly ignorant of what exactly goes on in distant and exotic India, or they just parrot their Indian contacts, not wanting to know just how partisan these are. But even someone ignorant of Indian situations should be struck by some anomalous data.

For instance, Modi has been in power for more than twelve years after the massacre. If he had intended to murder Muslims (and “genocide” implies intention, it is not a policy accidentally causing deaths, such as Chairman Mao’s Great Leap Forward), it is strange that he didn’t use any occasion during those twelve years to kill even more Muslims. After all, he had the means to kill a few million of them. Instead, even the Muslim massacre of dozens of Hindus in the Akshardham temple in the Gujarati city of Gandhinagar didn’t provoke a retaliation, let alone a government-induced massacre. Many riots and bomb attacks have taken place in other parts of the country, killing a few Muslims and hundreds of Hindus, but Gujarat remained peaceful all through. The media have not remarked just how anomalous this fact is, they have not even reported it.


Predictions of doom

They also warn that the BJP’s probable victory constitutes a “threat to India’s secular fabric”. First of all, they assume that India is a secular state, which it is not. Every secular state on earth by definition observes equality before the law for every citizen regardless of religion. India, by contrast, has different family law systems (marriage, inheritance) depending on one’s religion, e.g. Muslim men can immediately impose a divorce while all others have to pass judicial procedure (thus also causing discrimination by gender for Muslim men vs. Muslim women). Moreover, it has arrogated the right to reform Hindu law, while it passively abides by the other law systems, e.g. it has abolished Hindu polygamy but continues to allow Muslim polygamy. So, it discriminates between religions. It extends those discriminations legally and constitutionally to the fields of education (where minorities are privileged over the Hindus) and places of worship (where politicians plunder Hindu temple funds while respecting those of churches and mosques, sometimes even financing these out of Hindu temple funds). This is quite unsecular, and the only party announcing the abolition of these discriminations, the only party which wants to make India a secular state, is the BJP.

Secondly, the media forget that they have already made these predictions before, viz. when the BJP came to power in 1998. At that time, they prophesied that the BJP would be terrible for “India’s secularism”, that it would come down on minorities as well as on low-castes and on women, and that it would “throw a hundred million Muslims into the Indian Ocean”. They were all proven wrong on every single count by reality. If India was a secular state and the BJP was anti-secular, then it had for six years every chance to abolish the secular state and persecute all the groups mentioned. Did it? And why should media who were proven totally wrong in the past, be more accurate in their predictions for 2014?

Finally, since the much-discussed riots, Narendra Modi has concentrated on fighting corruption and on building Gujarat’s infrastructure and economy. While the so-called secularists were trying to refocus on communal conflicts, he was working on purely secular matters, and scoring impressive successes in these. Now, to confirm the impression that Modi is secular while his enemies are fond of communal issues, the anti-Modi media explain why the public should ignore his secular achievements and get worked up about a communal matter that happened twelve years ago.


Blaming the West

While it is easy to demonstrate that the international media give a very partisan version of India’s 2014 election campaign, a correct explanation of this phenomenon is much harder to come by. From the Hindu side, I keep reading that “the West” is imposing an anti-Modi view on the poor hapless secularists in India. Hindus who despair of the hostile coverage routinely allege that the West has it in for the Hindus, and that this negative reporting on Modi is part of a vast Western conspiracy. In reality, the West doesn’t normally care for who wins in India. Thus, the unexpected progress and indirect accession to power of the Communist parties in 2004 did not cause a ripple in the media.

Western countries have no direct stake in Indian politics. Not even the Americans, who have invaded several countries and toppled several governments in the last two decades, well after the end of the Cold War, plan to invade India, it simply is too big for that; let alone small and fading powers like Britain. Hindus who like to feel important, imagine that there exists and anti-India policy, but such a policy exists only in India’s Islamic neighbours, not in the West. In fact, the secularist bloc encourages Hindu activists to blame the West, this way they don’t direct their attention to the Muslim factor nor to the secularists themselves.

An anti-Hindu motive is in evidence among the Christian Churches, but they control only a small part of the relevant media. More important is the Western Leftist and anti-racist animus, which is strategically anti-majority and ideologically anti-Hindu, because Hinduism is construed as the last stronghold of racism. One element they focus on, is the Hindu majority’s “oppression” of the Muslims, a privileged community whom they defend in the West and therefore also defend in India. Another is the alleged oppression of the lower by the higher castes as allegedly decreed by Hinduism. While some Hindus imagine that the Aryan Invasion Theory is long dead, in fact it is very alive among India-watchers: they think that Hinduism, which they falsely equate with Brahmanism, is the religion of race-conscious white Aryan invaders who imposed a kind of Apartheid (called varna, “colour”, interpreted as “skin colour” and meaning caste) on the dark natives. Anti-racism has conquered the West and is turning it against “intrinsically racist” Hinduism. So, this is a Western agenda which turns Western intellectuals against Hinduism.

Yet, normally this would be relegated to the past, and the anti-caste work of Modi’s Hindu movement would be acknowledged. Even if these missionary, anti-“Islamophobic” and “anti-racist” objections to Hinduism were deemed vitally important, they would still not overrule the acceptance of whichever democratic choice the Indian voters make. Except that there is a third and even more powerful factor: the influence of the Nehruvian secularists on their Western contacts (press correspondents, academic India-watchers) and hence on Western public opinion. A dog is wagging its tail here, but it is not an imperialist West dictating anti-Hinduism to its Indian sepoys. It is the West that is the tail, the dupe, the follower carrying out received orders; and it is a certain class of Indians that is the dog, manipulating the Westerners.


Practical conclusion

Because the Hindu nationalist movement has always and willfully neglected the intellectual and public relations side of its struggle, the communications channels are massively in the hands of their enemies. The bottleneck in the information flow pertaining to all things Indian is controlled by them. It is they who egg the Western pressmen and India-watchers on to fight Modi to the death.

Any sympathizer of Hinduism or of a genuinely secular state in India should endeavour to correct the news about this election campaign, firing e-mails stating the real facts at the erring media. But the outspoken bias of the international media has been built up over the long term by the Nehruvian secularists, and it will take more strategic savvy and a more systematic effort to dislodge the present power equation.       

(Hindu Human Rights, 21 April 2014)

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Monday, April 14, 2014

Rajaram, Witzel, and Racism




What follows is a comment on the article “Recycled racism in a new bottle” by Navaratna S. Rajaram, published on 10 February 2014 by Vijayvaani.


The Kozhikode workshop

But first a correction to a recent post by the Professor who is attacked in the article. Harvard Sanskrit professor Michael Witzel has published a report on the Vedic workshop in Kozhikode, January 2014: In it, he mentions me as “a ‘reformed’ Hindutva writer”, and says that I questioned two speakers “insistently and even a bit aggressively” about the Aryan debate. While this is not an important issue, the contentious Aryan question implies that even small mistakes can develop into dramatic rumours, so I’d better set them straight.

The two questions I asked in sessions where he was present (and which I didn’t intend to be “aggressive”), in fact pertained to the famous Rg-Vedic hymn 1.164, where a lowing cow and her calf are repeatedly mentioned, as well as “the syllable”, hinting at but not really affirming a connection between the two. I cited Witzel’s own jocular comment on his own Indo-Eurasian Research list that this meant the syllable Aum really was an alternative vocalization of “Mooh” (which I consider quite likely), and asked the scholars what the conclusion of their own research was. Both remained non-committal, calling it possible but not really bringing any progress to the debate. In the parallel sessions however, which Witzel laments as necessitated by the too large numbers of papers, I did ask two speakers, who based their conclusions partly on the Aryan Invasion Theory, whether they had any evidence for this theory. Both refrained from offering any hard evidence, one said that it is established well enough and not seriously questioned, the other cited a few authorities to this effect, most of all Witzel himself.

I was at the workshop genuinely to listen, to assemble information on the current thinking among a large number of scholars specialized in ancient Indian culture. I had no intention or expectation of convincing anyone, though I was pleased to find that a number of younger scholars sought me out to know more about the Out-of-India Theory. Publicly, the Aryan question was not discussed at all. For Witzel, the reason was that “it is a purely political and not a scholarly topic”. And this is also exactly the opinion of Witzel’s fiercest opponent, Dr. Navaratna S. Rajaram.

Both of them, probably very surprised to find each other in the same bed, assert that the Aryan debate is over and has been definitively decided. Both think that this debate only shows signs of life once in a while because of its political interest and in spite of its scholarly resolution. Only, Witzel thinks that the AIT has won the debate and its denial only survives because it is politically useful to the Hindutva forces, while Rajaram thinks the AIT has been refuted and only survives because it is politically useful to anti-Hindu forces as well as to various other political movements, including racism. It is this motive that he also discovers in Witzel, as he explains in the VijayVaani article.


Rajaram’s position

We summarize Rajaram’s central contention: “Following the Nazi horrors and the American Civil Rights Movement race is now a dirty word.” Yet: “Some writers, even academics at supposedly prestigious institutions, continue to produce works advancing racist positions behind thinly veiled sophistic arguments while avoiding overtly racist terms.” Namely, Harvard Sanskritist Prof. Michael Witzel’s latest book: “The Origins of World Mythologies is the latest addition to this dubious genre by a singular scholar.”

He presents Witzel as “more activist than scholar”, and lists as proofs his interventions to thwart Hindu proposals to eliminate the Aryan invasion theory from the chapter on Hindu history in California schoolbooks, and to ban Dr. Subramanian Swamy, after the latter’s anti-Muslim utterances, from teaching economics at Harvard.  

Not that physicist Rajaram has to teach lessons about Sanskrit studies. He writes for instance that Witzel “claims to have found dialectic changes in the Rigveda around 1200 BC soon after the non-existent Aryan invasion”, but this observation was already worked out in the 19th century to explain the archaic and non-standard language of the Vedas. Rajaram repeatedly and unknowingly displays his unfamiliarity with the field. Moreover, in his publications including this very article, he passes as a “scientist and historian”. He has a diploma and a career as scientist to his credit, but as if that were not good enough, he also claims to be a historian. This, he is not.

We do not believe in diploma fetishism, so we accept that someone without a history diploma can still be a historian, namely if he does the work of a historian, applying the historical method. This, however, Rajaram haughtily refuses to do. Case in point is his dogged rejection of the very basis of the whole Indo-European theory, even preceding the question of the Homeland, viz. the linguistic finding of a kinship between most Indian and European languages. For him comparative and historical linguistics is a “pseudo-science”.

For this reason, he rejects any quest for a homeland, even if it is India, and therefore also rejects the so-called Out-of-India Theory as detailed by Shrikant Talageri. For years already, he has been saying that the Aryan debate is over and has been won by the AIT skeptics. It is this reputedly authoritative assertion that was believed by the unsuspecting California Hindus and led to their defeat in the textbook affair.   

His scholarly contributions confine themselves to refuting the Aryan Invasion Theory, without proposing an alternative explanation for a linguistic kinship that he rejects. In this respect, his discovery of the relevance of the Seidenberg findings about the anteriority of Baudhayana’s mathematics to Babylonian mathematics (which dates Baudhayana’s late-Vedic writings dramatically earlier than hitherto assumed) remains pivotal in the Aryan debate. But for a presentation of the whole Aryan problem, he simply and willfully lacks the knowledge.



Though not comprehending the scholarly basis of the Aryan debate, Rajaram must be gifted with telepathic powers, for he can read other people’s motives, even where they haven’t expressed them. He can see through any “camouflage” and identify people’s true reasons. Thus:

“Witzel’s latest book looks at world mythologies, going back 100,000 years when the first anatomically modern humans were identified in the African Rift Valley. From there he claims to trace two tracks of mythological development - the Gondwanian and the Laurasian. But this is just camouflage, for his agenda is ultimately racist.”

Oh yes, Witzel must be a racist: as a German, he has it in his blood. But Rajaram’s telepathy loses some of its shine when he claims mere hearsay as his source of authority: “As Tok Thompson of the University of Southern California exposes (as do others), Witzel claims that these represent two races in the world, distinguished by both myth and biology.”

How would he know? I am a witness to the genesis of this claim. On an improvised e-group of some thirty people, functioning in December 2013 to February 2014, only two had read this book, an Indo-American computer scientist and myself. Both had read the book from cover to cover and both asserted at this point that they had not come across any racism. Rajaram and his allies, who are now spreading this article of his, had not even seen the book. He does not know what Witzel said in that book and merely relies on two book reviews: mine (, which doesn’t have this accusatory slant, and the said Tok Thompson’s (

Rajaram makes his readers believe that he is quoting Witzel, when in fact he is quoting Thompson’s review: “As seen by Witzel, ‘…the dark-skinned Gondwana are characterized by ‘lacks’ and ‘deficiencies’ … and are labeled ‘primitive’ at a ‘lower stage of development’, while the noble Laurasian myths are… the only ‘true’ creation stories, and the first ‘complex story’, which the Gondwana never achieved. On the face of it, the common African origin of modern humans is acknowledged, but the sting is in the tail: the dark-skinned Gondwana never progressed beyond their primitive stage to catch up with the ‘noble Laurasians’ -- their superiors in biology as well as intellect and character.”

The “superiority in biology” is purely Thompson’s addition, and the offending references to race are not in evidence in Witzel’s book, a fact which gives the lie to Thompson’s claim that Witzel’s text is “explicitly racist”. He still has to prove his effective allegation that it is implicitly racist, but it certainly is not “explicitly” racist – otherwise he would certainly have quoted the racist statements in it. The racism allegation is now a cheap way of capturing the moral high ground in the West, where anti-racist egalitarianism has become the state religion (a development that has escaped the notice of many Hindu nationalists, who tend to wallow in anachronism), and I have seen it used numerous times to destroy people, on a very slender factual basis or even against the pertinent facts.

Witzel never calls the Laurasian myths “noble” and never speaks about skin colour, which is not what defines his Gondwana-Laurasia dichotomy: the Tamils are as dark as Nelson Mandela, yet they are Laurasians. The Chinese or the Mayas are not white either, but they are Laurasians. He observes that Gondwana mythology “lacks” some Laurasian themes, such as the dragon-slayer or the end-time; but that does not mean it is objectively “deficient”. Girls “lack” what boys have, but it is to be hoped that Tok Thompson doesn’t deduce therefrom that they are “deficient”: their sexual apparatus, including their distinctive capacity to bear children, is less obvious, but is as valuable and necessary as that of the boys.

Finally, Rajaram has also pointed out common themes and universals that transcend his bifurcation. Thus, the Kundalini doctrine, which exists in the “Laurasian” culture of India (and, I may add, in recognizable form also China), also appears among the Gondwana shamanisms of the Australian Aboriginals and the San (Bushmen). On the improvised e-mail list, several Hindus got angry with me for citing the kinship of a venerable Hindu doctrine with these “Bushmen”.



Thompson then goes on to challenge the truth of Witzel’s division of the world’s myths into two types, citing some Laurasian peoples of North America (which he himself has studied) as not having the typically Laurasian myths of the dragon-slayer, the end-time etc. This may be true: bifurcating mankind culturally after millennia of interaction and ever new waves of emerging or changed stories is an ambitious claim, and Witzel may have reached too high. Or he may not have, that remains a matter for debate among specialists. At the end of his book, Witzel himself admits his own limitations in studying the whole world’s myths and solicits mythographers to volunteer corrections.

What I find very valuable in Witzel’s thesis is his charting a world tree of myths. Of course a first attempt is bound to be seriously imperfect, and the very nature of the reconstruction of ancient myths and their development necessarily has parts which history has made invisible and irretrievable. But unlike Rajaram and Thompson (as very partially known to me through his review), he dares to project verifiable trends deep into the past. Thus, in linguistics, Witzel espouses (and Thompson lambasts) the notion of “Nostratic”, the putative ancestor of many Eurasian and North-African languages. It is simply obvious that the historically attested fragmentation of languages also took place for dozens of millennia before the invention of writing, and that conversely, the reconstruction of ancient languages from a comparison of their modern daughters can in principle be projected into prehistory. Similarly, the principle of a global family tree of myths is impeccable even though its actual reconstruction is only at its beginning. Moreover, this universalism emphasizes the unity of mankind, a position which I had learned to consider anti-racist.

On 15 May 2014, Witzel comes to London to lecture on this debate, and I will reserve my definitive judgment on Thompson’s critique of his book until hearing his own defence.

As for Rajaram, he is back in telepathy mode: “If supported, the notion of the superior white and inferior dark races will be scientifically validated. This is the real agenda of the book, but its ‘science’ is rubbish; it does not even rise to the level of pseudo-science. Mythology is just a camouflage to push this prejudice that is simply not worth spending time over. What interests us are the history and motives lurking behind the book.”

Exactly: the book doesn’t interest him, he will pass judgment on it without even reading it. This is like those Western AIT-espousing philologists who denounce Shrikant Talageri’s work all while accidentally spilling the beans that they haven’t read it (for a recent example, see his fresh discovery of Hans Hock’s ill-informed denunciation). Incidentally, while Western academics have lambasted Talageri as well as myself, the most fiercely negative reviews of both his and my latest book on the Aryan question (The Rigveda and the Avesta c.q. Asterisk in Bharopiyasthan) were written by Rajaram. At the time I decided to ignore it, but hostile as well as anti-scholarly attittudes have accumulated so badly in circles I used to consider friendly, that at least I now have to acknowledge the fact.



Undaunted, Rajaram keeps denouncing Witzel’s unread book: “Except for the terminology, its arguments are indistinguishable from those of Houston Chamberlain (Inequality of Races), Arthur de Gobineau and other race theorists who provided justification to the Nazi idea of the superior Aryan race. It is important to note that their source was not Indian but European, more specifically Teutonic German. They worshipped Teutonic deities like Thor and Odin, not Vedic ones like Indra and Varuna. Their Swastika was also the German Hakenkreuz (‘hooked cross’) not the Indian svasti symbol.”

The swastika existed in Europe at least since Roman times, so the Nazis didn’t need India to make it their own. Neither Gobineau nor Chamberlain was German, though they did indeed represent the peak of racism as an ideology. Gobineau, like the Nehruvian secularists, adored Sufism, which he saw as an expression of the Iranian genius. Of Chamberlain, I assume he may have picked up some ideas from his adopted German environment, including the Heathen revival which predated his own work. Pagan revivalism has came up in Sweden in the 16th century with the Storgothic movement, in the 17th in England with the neo-Druid movement (of which Winston Churchill became an ordained officiant) and the 18th in Brittany and Germany. It was mainly a form of cultural archaeology, not really Pagan and anti-Christian, hence the preponderance of Christian priests and vicars among its researchers and propagators.

I have said and written many times that “nationalism is a misstatement of Hindu concerns”. Here we have another illustration of my thesis. Germanic religion was closely akin to Vedic religion. For Christians, the followers of both will go to hell. For scholars, Varuna corresponds roughly to Odin, and Indra quite precisely to Thor. For nationalists, however, they are very different: Odin and Thor, like Jesus, are non-Indian, while Varuna and Indra are Indian. Like many so-called Hindu nationalists, Rajaram doesn’t care two hoots for difficult theological issues like the exact difference in worldview between the different religions, and prefers the much easier division in national and foreign. His attack on Odin and Thor will be applauded by Christians, since they will recognize it as an attack on Varuna and Indra. We already saw Rajaram agreeing with his enemy Witzel, and now we see him do the work of the Christian missions.



Rocket science

More vintage Rajaram, the telepath who can divine the unseen agenda behind an unread book: “Ideas once central to the Aryan myth resurfaced in various guises under labels like Indology and Indo-European Studies -- and now as mythology. Witzel’s book is only the latest exercise in this attempt to prove the superiority of one race over others; supposedly a study on world mythologies, it has a hidden race-based agenda.”

Indology and Indo-European Studies existed before race thinking became dominant in the second half of the 19th century. Indo-European reconstruction followed into the footsteps of the reconstruction of the Uralic family in the 18th century, and ran parallel with the reconstruction of the Afro-Asiatic family tree. The basic finding of Indo-European Studies, viz. the kinship and ultimately equality between the then Indian underlings and European masters, was welcomed by many Indians as a ground for emancipation, just as it was used by the colonizers as a justification for their presence in India. So, the political uses of a theory could vary widely, but the correctness of the theory is not decided by the uses made of it. “E = mc²” is not invalidated by its use in the Hiroshima nuclear bomb. Any “scientist” should know that.

Thus, rocket science was quite literally developed by the Nazis. The American space organization NASA was led by the erstwhile Nazi Wernher von Braun. By Rajaram’s reasoning, rockets are Nazi. Rocket scientists such as himself, who has worked as a consultant for the NASA, must also be gravely tainted with the Nazi brush. If he calls Indo-European Studies or its practitioners racists, then by his very own criteria, he stands exposed as a Nazi. Of course, I am not saying that, but he himself is implying it. 

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Wednesday, April 9, 2014

The Gujarat textbook affair


(Excerpted from my book Return of the Swastika, Voice of India, Delhi 2007, Ch. 1.3-4)


            The secularists are bad losers.  They are the kind of pupil who tampers with his school report before showing it to dad.  For fifteen years, I have seen them bluffing to obscure the fact of their defeat in the Ayodhya evidence debate.  Now, their thesis of a Hindutva fascism had not been confirmed on any score at all even after six years of BJP rule at the Centre.  So, they had to make up some evidence for the same.

            While the BJP hadn’t behaved like Nazis in practice, at least we could turn them into mental Nazis, just regular Indians but who harboured a morbid admiration for the Nazis?  Fresh from the textbook controversy at the National Council for Educational Research and Training (NCERT), secularist attention was turned to the textbooks in Gujarat, supposedly a Hindutva hellhole under BJP Chief Minister Narendra Modi.  There, it was alleged, children were indoctrinated with pro-Nazi propaganda.

            In the inevitable Times of India (30 September 2004), one Harit Mehta claims: “In Modi’s Gujarat, Hitler is a textbook Hero”.  Let’s hear his story: “Gandhi is not so great, but Hitler is.  Welcome to high school education in Narendra Modi's Gujarat, where authors of social studies textbooks published by the Gujarat State Board of School Textbooks have found faults with the freedom movement and glorified Fascism and Nazism.  While a Class VIII student is taught ‘negative aspects’ of Gandhi's non-cooperation movement, the Class X social studies textbook has chapters on ‘Hitler, the Supremo’ and ‘Internal Achievements of Nazism’.”

            Readers familiar with secularist and generally Indian English discourse will know that “Supremo” is a simple descriptive term, meaning “the man at the top”.  It does not imply that the user of the term is an admirer of the person designated “Supremo”.  Thus, the secularists themselves often refer to the RSS Sarsanghchalak as the “RSS Supremo”, though they hate him.  As for the internal achievements of Nazism, practitioners of the “political abuse of history” (to borrow the title of a 1989 pamphlet by the JNU historians) may prefer morality tales in black and white, where the evil German race supported Hitler in spite of his purely negative achievements, but genuine historians acknowledge that the Nazi programme contained attractive points and the Nazi regime achieved real successes in some fields, otherwise Hitler’s popularity and rise to power would have been unexplainable.

Mehta specifies: “The Class X book presents a frighteningly uncritical picture of Fascism and Nazism. The strong national pride that both these phenomena generated, the efficiency in the bureaucracy and the administration and other ‘achievements’ are detailed, but pogroms against Jews and atrocities against trade unionists, migrant labourers, and any section of people who did not fit into Mussolini or Hitler's definition of rightful citizen don't find any mention.  ‘They committed the gruesome and inhuman act of suffocating 60 lakh Jews in gas chambers’ is all the book, authored by a panel, mentions of the holocaust.”

So, even in the partisan reporting by the Times of India, at least in the fine print, it is admitted that the textbook (1) does mention the Holocaust, detailing its death toll as 6 million, and (2) adds an explicit condemnation of the Holocaust as “gruesome and inhuman”.  The title of this article and even more so the titles of all the derivative articles in the world press alleging Holocaust denial are thereby rendered mendacious.  The reporter, or more formally the Times of India editor, responsible for the article titles, stands exposed as a liar.  All those who based their stories on the Times of India headline, stand exposed as either accomplices in the lie or silly fishwives.

Mehta continues: “The section on ‘Ideology of Nazism’ reads: ‘Hitler lent dignity and prestige to the German government within a short time by establishing a strong administrative set up.  He created the vast state of Greater Germany.  He adopted the policy of opposition towards the Jewish people and advocated the supremacy of the German race.  He adopted a new economic policy and brought prosperity to Germany.  He began efforts for the eradication of unemployment.  He started constructing public buildings, providing irrigation facilities, building railways, roads and production of war materials.  He made untiring efforts to make Germany self-reliant within one decade.  Hitler discarded the Treaty of Versailles by calling it just ‘a piece of paper’ and stopped paying the war penalty.  He instilled the spirit of adventure in the common people.’” 

I have checked with the original (Social Studies textbook, standard 10, Gujarat State Board of School Textbooks, 2003 reprint of the 1993 edition, p.71), and the last-quoted sentence reads in full: “He instilled the spirit of adventure in the common people, but in doing so he led Germany to extreme nationalism and caused the Second World War.”  This was obviously not meant as a compliment to the Nazis, which is why the Times of India chose to unquote it.

The wording is clumsy, but the account is not untruthful.  Hitler was a charismatic speaker, he did pursue an anti-Jewish policy, he did advocate German racial superiority and he did discard the Treaty of Versailles.  His Keynesian economic policies were indeed successful in the short run, particularly in pushing back unemployment, which is why they were emulated by many social-democratic governments after 1945.  So, the textbook gives a balanced account of the Nazi era: acknowledging its economic and diplomatic successes up to 1939, but also teaching about the anti-Jewish policies and the “gruesome and inhuman” Holocaust.

But the Times of India is against balanced history-writing, and not only on the subject of Nazism.  Thus, India’s leading newspaper rejects any account of Mahatma Gandhi that is less than hagiographical: “A few classes junior, students in Gandhi's home state read that the Bapu really may have been overrated.  In the chapter on ‘Gandhian Era and National Movement’, there's a section sub-headlined ‘The Negative Aspect’.”  Here at least, the Marxist hard core in the educational establishment should not have any objections against the so-called BJP textbooks, for in his day, Gandhiji was fiercely criticized by the Left.  Oh yes, there were negative aspects to the Mahatma’s career.

            The story of the “Nazi” schoolbooks got picked up quickly, lies and all, in policy-making circles in Washington D.C.  On 15 March 2005 the US House of Representatives heard Rep. John Conyers introduce House Resolution 156, reintroduced a few days later as Resolution 160, indicting Narendra Modi:

“Condemning the conduct of Chief Minister Narendra Modi for his actions to incite religious persecution and urging the United States to condemn all violations of religious freedom in India. (…) Whereas the Supreme Court of India has reported that those arrested in connection with the bombings and retaliatory attacks on Hindus in India have claimed that they carried out their actions ‘in revenge for the state-assisted killings of Muslims in Gujarat’; Whereas the United States Department of State has discussed in one of its reports the role of Chief Minister Modi and his government in promoting attitudes of racial supremacy, racial hatred, and the legacy of Nazism through his government's support of school textbooks in which Nazism is glorified; Whereas the United States Department of State has found that Chief Minister Modi revised the text of high school social studies textbooks in Gujarat schools to describe the ‘charismatic personality’ of ‘Hitler the Supremo’, and the ‘achievements’ of Nazism at great length, while failing to acknowledge the Nazi extermination policies, the concentration camps, and the religious persecution that occurred under the Nazi regime; Now therefore, be it Resolved, That the House of Representatives (1) condemns the conduct of Chief Minister Narendra Modi for condoning or inciting bigotry and intolerance against any religious group in India, including people of the Christian and Islamic faiths; (…)”

            Note the exculpation of the numerous Islamic terror attacks on Hindus as “retaliatory”.  This is now the standard secularist line: any and every Islamic crime is an understandable “retaliation” for the central event of Indian history, the Gujarat riots.  It makes me wonder whether Rep. Conyers would dare to say on the  floor of the House that Islamic attacks on Americans are “retaliatory”.  Yet, that exactly is the explicit message of the perpetrators, who invoke American mass killings of Iraqis and the like as the justification for “hitting back” at America. 

After this expression of American brain-dead parroting of Indian secularist propaganda, it was no surprise that the USA subsequently refused an entry visa to Narendra Modi when he was scheduled to visit the country.  The stated reason was his violation of the International Religious Freedom Act.  Indo-American Communists and American Christian fanatics jointly hailed this ban as a great success for their own lobbying.



The Gujarat textbook affair, bis


Indian secularist discourse is, among other unpleasant things, very repetitive.  If it has discovered a successful line for incriminating the Hindus, it is bound to repeat and revive that line endlessly.  So, a few months after the American domino effect of the “Nazi textbook” offensive, the Times of India’s Tina Parekh claims in her title that “Modi's Gujarat worships Hitler” (23 July 2005).  Note first of all the wildly exaggerated language: nowhere in her actual report is any fact mentioned that amounts to “worship”, a concept of which the secularists have no experience anyway.

            It seems the reprints of the indicted textbooks hadn’t changed sufficiently.  So this is her story: “The world over, it would be outrageous to attribute the Holocaust, in which millions of Jews were butchered by Nazis, to German nationalism, without the faintest hint of condemnation.  But not in Gujarat where, a year after the eruption of a controversy over distortion of history in school textbooks, students got updated books that continue to talk about Nazism as ‘a co-ordination of nationalism and socialism’.” 

Are we now supposed to feel scandalized?  What else did she think Nazism, or National-Socialism in full, really was?  Yes, much as Indian leftists may want to deny it, Hitler did pursue a form of socialism along with nationalism.  Only socialists would read that as a form of praise.  And as we have already seen, even the unchanged textbooks did condemn the Holocaust.  There was no reason to change an account that happens to be factual, even if authored by Congress-appointed historians, and even if misrepresented by Ms. Parekh as follows: “In the revised social studies textbooks for classes IX and X, grave distortions persist along with an uncritical appraisal of Hitler and his Nazis.  Times of India last year raised the issue of glorification of Hitler in the Class X textbook, but that book is still taught in classrooms across the state because the BJP government took the defence that these books were introduced during the previous Congress regime.”

Then she mentions the Class IX social studies textbook which apparently covers the same ground and again “glorifies Hitler”.  As proof, she quotes: “Hitler adopted aggressive policy and led the Germans towards ardent nationalism.”  And: “Due to severe nationalism of Italy and Germany and their aggressive policy, the nations of the world thought of forming groups.”  Once more, the account is not untruthful, eventhough the wording is embarrassingly clumsy.  Twice it mentions Hitler’s “aggressive policy”, which only the Times of India reads as a way of “glorifying Hitler”.  It is simply a lie to say that the book treats the Nazi record “without the faintest hint of condemnation”.

The BBC News website (, 23-7-2005, “‘Nazi’ row over Indian textbooks”) immediately relayed the story worldwide: “Human rights campaigners in India's Gujarat state have condemned school textbooks which they say praise Hitler.  The books are issued by the Hindu nationalist state government.  One includes a chapter on the ‘internal achievements of Nazism’.  A Jesuit priest and social activist, Cedric Prakash, says the books contain more than 300 factual errors and make little mention of the holocaust.”

            The Jesuits are wiser than the secularists, who are smitten with hubris and drunk on their currently unlimited power.  Whereas the Times of India prefers to quote itself and highlight its own earlier “revelations” on the matter, the Jesuit leaves the honour to others and positions himself as a humble go-between for the “protests from parents, peace activists and educationists”.  The secularists’ lies are bound to get exposed one day, and their names will become synonymous with “liar”, but the Jesuits have famously perfected the art of “lying without lying”.  Rarely do they get caught in the act of uttering an actual lie, even when their audience comes away with an understanding of matters that is different from the truth.  They won’t formally lie by alleging that the book denies or ignores the Holocaust, but create the same effect among receptive audiences by saying that it “makes little mention” of the Holocaust.  But what is “little” in schoolbooks that have to cover the causes, conduct, outcome and after-effects of World War 2 in just a few pages?  As I’ve been able to verify, all the other subplots of Nazi history are equally rushed through in a few sentences, if discussed at all.

The BBC has learned a thing or two from the Jesuits.  It is often aggressively partisan but has perfected the art of creating a false semblance of even-handedness.  In this case, it also gives a say to the accused party: “The Gujarat government has dismissed the charges as baseless.  A senior official from the state education department told the BBC that anomalies arose when the book was translated from Gujarati into English, and are being quoted out of context.”

That’s definitely not all he told the reporters, for he can hardly have left unmentioned that upon scrutiny, the textbook turns out to be pretty mainstream in its view of World War 2 history.  Yes, it is a vague on details and shabby in language, not unlike textbooks in many Indian states and on many subjects, but it does teach the principal facts.  The BBC, however, prefers to withhold that crucial information and presents the government spokesman as being evasive by shifting the problem from the English to the Gujarati version of the textbook rather than defending the textbook’s contents in either version. 

Under the present power equation, where the pro-Hindu forces have almost no capable presence in the media and among the influential experts, this kind of libel against a Hindu-minded government is virtually inevitable.  It will keep on happening until Hindus get their act together and their message across.   

On the bright side, though, we should also notice that the Hindu-hating coalition is practically admitting the hollowness of its case if it is reduced to proving “Hindu fascism” with nothing better than the misrepresentation of a provincial school textbook.  Not actual policies, nothing of material consequence to any of the minorities, not even the much-discussed NCERT national history textbooks, only a few paragraphs from two textbooks in a single state, and even those had to be misrepresented for the desired effect.  The uninformed public (which includes quite a few so-called experts) may be fooled by the Hindu-baiters’ bluff, but anyone who scrutinizes the arguments will see through it.  The record of BJP governance has utterly disproved the shrill allegations of “Hindu fascism”.

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Tuesday, April 8, 2014

European unity


People sometimes ask me about my views on Europe and the EU. I don’t have any specific expertise in this field, e.g. I understand nothing of the ongoing discussion of the “Eurobonds”. But I know something of international relations, and understand that we cannot seriously go back to the confinement to small states which Europe was conceived to liberate us from.  I will briefly state where I stand.

Flemings of my generations were Europe-minded as a matter of course, and I still feel that way. One reason is that we don’t have a nation-state to exchange for a European identity. “Belgian” is only a passport identity, there is no such thing as a Belgian nation. Therefore, in supporting European integration, we are not losing or even compromising a nation-state; we never had one. When I hear the Dutch philosopher Thierry Baudet argue for Dutch sovereignty and against the projected European identity, I hear someone speak from a confident sense of nationality, which I realize we have never had.

Another reason is that the European level counts internationally. For us, being from a small country, Europe is the only way to feel big. Maybe the French don’t need Europe to take themselves seriously, or at least they still have the historical memory of greatness, so they know what it feels to be something else than European. But for us, being European is the highest concrete political identity we aspire to.

In today’s and tomorrow’s world, size matters. One day we may have global unity, but during my lifetime, it will be alright if we can already manage continental unity. When we have to deal with giants like India or China, we do have to speak from a sufficiently large platform rather than from a small Dutch or Portuguese or Latvian position.

So much for my general sympathies: I am all for European unity. My study of India’s struggle for its own unity and integrity confirms the importance of a sense of unity over and above the sense of local specificity.

As for the euro currency: I am all for a common currency, which is very practical for borderers (and in Belgium, you’re always near a border) and travellers. Moreover, for Flemish autonomy, it takes away one of the worst hurdles: a Belgian currency would always be used as a blackmail instrument against the plan to break up Belgium. It is always said that the Belgian level will erode between the Flemish and European levels, but we see no such thing happening. In the case of the currency, however, it does. That is one reason to oppose these left- and right-wing radicals who oppose the common currency. However, a common currency requires a common economic policy. That is why I support further political and economic unity.

The problem is the EU’s reach and structure, not the abstract geographical entity Europe (of which democratic Switzerland and Iceland and prosperous Norway are parts, even though they reject EU membership). It is obvious that the EU badly needs to be democratized. The EU has just condemned the Swiss referendum resulting in a majority for limiting immigration, as well as the Crimean referendum yielding an immense majority for accession to Russia. It ignored and overruled the 2005 French and Dutch referendum results rejecting the proposed EU Constitution, which was reintroduced as the Lisbon Treaty. It made the Irish vote again until their referendum yielded the “right” majority, thus making a mockery of people’s sovereignty. As for representative democracy, the European Parliament is not really representative and does not have the power to bring down the effective EU government, called the European Commission.

So, the EU institutions have to be restructured to create a democratic and transparent power hierarchy, and provision must be made for a binding referendum at citizen’s initiative. Many competences in the cultural and social fields should be de-europeanized and given back to the member states, the European level should simply not deal with them.

On the other hand, the EU should speak with one voice on the world stage. Foreign policy and defence competences should be delegated by the states upwards to the European level. A European army should be created, not because we are eager to make war on anyone, but to give credibility to the EU’s diplomacy.

The present situation is neither here nor there. It is very confused and has its priorities backwards. We need to have less EU involvement with quota for butter or so, and more with the serious business of international relations. So, there is a lot of work to do in order to make Europe a fatherland we can love. But this is no reason to back off from the original plan to unite the European countries. I am not a Eurosceptic.

Since Europe is not a very deep concern, I will appeal to a very light kind of authority here.  As Toto Cotugno, the 1990 Eurosong winner from Italy, sang: “Insieme: unite, unite, Europe!”

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