Thursday, December 27, 2018

Shaktatantra conference in Sanchi

Buddhism was far away at this sacred place of Buddhism, where the very different approach of Shaktism was in focus. Very interesting conference, esp. for those who know little about Srividya and related esoteric subjects. No time for a export, but  I may niet down the questions or remarks that were triggered in me.

1/ When a question was raised about the contrast between the "patriarchal" Vedas and "woman-centred" Tantra, the panelists correctly said that positing such a contrast was already an interiorization of a purely modern prejudice. While correct, what was missing from the response was the only thing that can really put down such misconceptions, viz. an argument of authority. In support of this mistaken but populair claim, Wendy Doniger had been cited as authority, a prominent case of "underinformed but overopinionated"; against that, I volunteered a reference to Prof. David Gordon White, who in his book Kiss of the Yogini argues that the claim is wrong and that the Vedas already contain many Tantric themes. Mind you, Hindu activists tend to locate him as much in the enemy camp as Doniger, but he happens to know the Tantric material and so his conclusion is fairer to Hindu tradition, true to the data rather than to the lens of (a fashionably applied) psycho-analysis.

2/ When Prof. Lorilia Biernicki discussed  texts where the usual Tantric role division was reversed, with the male pole being likened to the body and the female to consciousness, I remarked that this answers to a social reality. Traditionally, women were seen as immersed in time-consuming worldly pursuits like preparing food and looking after children and other needy people, while men had a more regular life with time for yogic pursuits. But a common fact of life in Western yoga circles is that it is women who engage in yogic practice whereas their men pooh-pooh these "flaky pastimes" to focus on material pursuits instead.  So male ~ material, female ~ spiritual.

3/ When Prof. Jeffrey Lidke discussed the neuroscientific research about certain brain areas and mechanisms corresponding to certain states of consciousness, including synesthesia ("hearing smells", "seeing sounds"), I admitted that this was exciting and innovative stuff, but perhaps not so relevant. In the Samkhya worldview, which has permeated Hindu philosophy in general to some extent, there is a strict separation between Purusha, pure consciousness not immersed in the objects of consciousness, and on the other Prakrti, nature, which includes every single instance of object consciousness, both sensory perception and its digestion (Manas), and the awareness and elaboration of mental objects like memories and imaginings (Buddhi), which even includes synesthesia and other altered states of consciousness. The goal of yoga is not an altered state of consciousness, it is only a zero state consciousness: Purusha, "the seer resting in his own form", as Patañjali says. The Pofessor agreed in essence, but pointed out that this concerns Shaktatantra, not Samkhya-Yoga or Vedanta.

4/ A similar remark was provoked by Prof. BVK Sastry's discussion of some of Tantra's many complicated categories, like the ten Mahavidyas, the six or seven Chakras, the six Kañcukas or veils between the individual and the universal planes, etc. The oldest known definition of yoga, in the Katha Upanishad, simply says that it consists in closing the senses and stilling the mind, yielding the highest state. It was and is all so simple in the beginning. Hasn't Hindu civilization made an unnecessarily complicated, huge detour? Same answer: this is the Tantric view, which is a different one.

5/ Prof. Shubhada Joshi related the whole Shaktatantra topic to Indian Marxism. As an honorary member of the Kumarila Bhatta Samiti, i.e. the Indian society of ex-Communists, I listened attentively to her rattling off a whole string of Marxist names, who happened all to be Brahmins. This included Debiprasad Chattopadhyay (philosopher specialized in ancient Indian materialist worldviews), CPI leader SA Dange and a few more, and could have included prominent names like Communist Party founder MN Roy, Kerala CM EMS Namboodiripad, Bengal CM Buddhadev Bhattacharya, Nepal PM Pushpa Kamal Dahal (Prachanda) and many other leaders and ideologues of the various Communist factions. This made me wonder, and ask her (alas, no time for much of an answer), if there is not something congenial between Marxism and Brahminism. Original Brahminism was austere, and very different from common Hinduism with its sentimental moralism and its idol-worship in temples, as autobiographically testified by RSS Sarma in the Telugu novel The Last Brahmin. Contrary to popular devotional Hinduism, philosophies like Samkhya and Mimamsa were godless in their own way. Wasn't it somehow natural that of all Hindus, it was specifically the Brahmins who felt disproportionately attracted to Marxism?

6/ Chinese-American Prof. Robin Wang expounded on the female principle in Daoism, and compared it to goddess worship in India. But more starkly than even she had outlined, the two views are quite different. In Hinduism you get assertive and combative goddesses, like tiger goddess Durga killing the demon, or Kali chopping off heads. They are the type over whom Western feminists go ga-ga. But Chinese goddesses like Nüwa, Xiwangmu or Guanyin are more traditionally feminine, somewhat like Our Lady in Catholicism. The whole lore of Yin and Yang, the female and male principles, does not say the two are interchangeable, nor that Yin is something like Yang as feminists would wish. On the contrary, the Yin principle is celebrated as submissive and following and soft (e.g. in Laozi's famous veneration of "the spirit of the valley" cited by Prof. Wang), as the opposite of the Yang principle. The whole Yin-Yang dichotomy is sexist par excellence, and there is nothing bad about that.

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Wednesday, December 26, 2018

Even more on Hinduism

 (written in January 2018, published in the forthcoming issue of the ICHR bulletin)

What does American academe think about Hinduism nowadays? Well, just like in questions about God, the answer “depends on what you mean by that term”. Geoffrey Oddie, general editor of the series including the present collective book, Hinduism in India, thematizes the term in the first chapter. The original geographical meaning of Hindu as “Indian” remained in use into the late 19th century, when native converts called themselves “Hindu Christians”. Yet since the entry of the Muslims in the Middle Ages, it had acquired a second meaning which gradually became standard, viz. an Indian non-Muslim, a Heathen. Today, it has become quite unacceptable to describe an Indian Muslim or Christian as Hindu, and RSS chief Mohan Bhagwat draws a lot of flak when he asserts once more that “every Indian is a Hindu”.

Just like e.g. Greek philosophy, divided in different mutually antagonistic schools yet understood as a single project when looked at from the outside, Hinduism was heavily conscious of its divisions in Shaivas vs. Vaishnavas, Sankhya vs. Vedanta, etc., until confrontation with an outsider made it realize its relative unity. From at least the 13th century, doxographers like Madhavacharya see a pan-Hindu essence, able to compete with the creeds defining Islam and Christianity. In this book, unfortunately, while this is correctly enunciated, it remains only a sociological nod to a human reality but without any ideological flesh: no attempt is made to analyse just what this core could be contentswise.  

This book is, after all, more focused on contemporary Indian sociology than on religious contents through classical or vernacular sources. The latter are featured mostly in the chapters on folk Hinduism (with the “little traditions” contrasting with the Sanskritic “great tradition”), the religious role of ghost-possession, and the modern guru movements. Really existing Hindu society is studied more closely in chapters on its economics, healing traditions, the impact of modernity and specifically of the media, transformations in the institute of marriage, Hindu law, and of course the caste system. The latter chapter is not the usual litany against Hinduism as “nothing but caste religion, the religion that decrees inequality between people”, but juxtaposes that view with its opposite, that “we are so embroiled in understanding caste system that the other salient aspects of caste has been relegated to the back seat” (p.272).

This way, some papers approach scholarly objectivity; but truth to tell, most contributors do show their bias to a limited degree, as they drink in this default position during their Indology studies. Contrary to their Arabic or Chinese counterparts, the Indian Studies departments have been structurally anti-Hindu for decades, so the absorption of this bias is no surprise. Mercifully, it is mostly insinuated here in small doses so that only the expert will notice.

Thus, the Moplah violence during the Khilafat movement was directed against “Kerala landlords” (p.109) as if was merely a social and not a religious struggle, a negationist thesis promoted by the Communists. This way, Hindus are spirited away from the “victim” category and turned into exploiters who only deserved what they got. Likewise, the not-so-innocent Saint Thomas legend, unhistorical (he never set foot in India) anti-Brahmin blood libel (they never murdered him) but profitable to the Christian mission, is uncritically taken for granted (p.103). The Hindus are accused of being “discriminatory” (p.17) because caste-based reservations are (or rather, were) limited to the broadly defined Hindu category, not extending to Christians or Muslims. In fact, this is a logical corollary of Christian and Muslim propaganda that their religions know no caste and that any Dalit convert ceases to be a Dalit. Indeed, when establishing the first caste reservations in 1935, the British expressed willingness to extend this privilege to the missionaries’ flock, but those missionaries refused. They still had a sense of consistency and honour.

In most cases, no malice need be involved: the Indology departments typically attract India-lovers who innocently swallow the uniquely hostile bias without really realizing it. In the section of “secularism”, however, Timothy Lubin makes claims (or merely repeats them, as most authors do) that can’t stand scrutiny at all. Unfocused outsiders may have swallowed them, but to actually prepare a paper on that very subject and then still calling India a “secular state” (p.50), admitting that this claim is criticized yet remaining silent on the prime reason for this criticism, viz. the constitutional as well as the effective discriminations against Hindus and Hinduism esp. in education and temple management, is either blindness or bad faith.

It is the most eminent among the contributors, Robert Eric Frykenberg, who goes the farthest in expressing his bias. He shudders to think what an “absolute majority” for the BJP would do (p.116). Well, since 2014, the party does have an absolute majority, and what calamity has befallen India? To explain the BJP’s policies in the 21st century, he has nothing better to show than the same two worn-out quotes from the RSS leader-to-be, MS Golwalkar, penned down in 1938 (p.116). He likens the Hindu Nationalist organizations to Fascism, in the US the single gravest allegation you can possibly make, and calls them “totalizing, if not totalitarian” (p.116). He slanderously alleges that Hindu leader VD Savarkar was complicit in the Mahatma Gandhi murder, against the police findings and the judicial verdict. Short, the same tone you routinely find in India’s dominant anti-Hindu media, apparently the uncritically swallowed source of his view of Hinduism.  

When I first met him, at Wisconsin University’s Annual South Asia Conference in 1995, the India-watching community was filled with foreboding about an imminent BJP breakthrough to power. The experts were outdoing each other in predicting how terrible BJP rule would be: “They will come down on Dalits and women”, “They will abolish democracy”, “They will throw all Muslims into the Indian Ocean”. None of those academics has ever publicly recanted or apologized, yet the BJP has been in power now for ten years (1998-2004, 2014-18, and even for thirteen days in 1996) and nothing of the sort has happened.

Or has it? Not if you live in the real world, but the parallel world which the Indologists have created for themselves is different. Frykenberg claims the post-Godhra riots (the anti-Hindu Godhra pogrom itself, trigger of what followed, remains unmentioned) resulted in “10,000 Muslims killed”, i.e. reality times ten (p.115). He thinks the Vajpayee government went all out with an “authoritarian agenda of ‘saffronization’ aimed to ‘Hinduize’ all institutions and to bring minority people ‘into the Hindu fold’ by whatever means necessary” (p.115); in reality, the few Hindu Nationalist intellectuals were desperate at the party’s lackadaisical treatment of the cultural frontline, where it left the power equation untouched and proved to have no higher ambition than an ever-elusive pat on the shoulder from the secularists. The term “saffronization” mainly referred to Vajpayee’s creation of a chair for Indian Studies in Oxford, that ended up being given to a vocal enemy of Hindutva.  

It has been the same thing under Narendra Modi: no “draining the swamp”, no overhaul of key educational or research posts, only an inconsequential bias towards Hindutva-reputed artists in the awarding of prizes, and doling out posts to useless gerontocrats as reward for their lifelong service to the party. “BJP secularism” proves to be a very enduring doctrine, the maker of government policy, yet it is steadfastly ignored by the India-watchers. So, next to some informative chapters, a few mainly just tell us what is wrong with present-day Indology, or rather, with “South-Asian Studies”.  

Will Sweetman and Aditya Malik, eds. (under general editor Oddie, Geoffrey): Hinduism in India: Modern and Contemporary Movements (Sage, New Delhi, 2016). Pp. xviii+312. Rs 795/-. ISBN: 978-93-515-0099-5

Dr. Koenraad Elst, Visiting Professor at Indus University, Ahmedabad

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Tuesday, December 18, 2018

The European view of the Indo-European Homeland

The European view of the Indo-European Homeland

 (Pragyata , December 2018)

The present publication is an English translation of Alain de Benoist’s book The Indo-Europeans. In Search of the Homeland, brought out by Arktos, London 2016. It has to be understood from the outset that the French original’s second and last edition dates from 1997, and no attempt has been made to provide an update. The most recent Indo-Europeanist trend discussed here is the briefly popular Anatolian Homeland Theory by Colin Renfrew, thoroughly refuted here and by now also gone out of fashion among professionals.

Out of India

Even more conspicuous by its absence is the Out-of-India theory (OIT). At this point I declare my interest: the 2001 issue of de Benoist’s yearbook Nouvelle Ecole carried an article by myself presenting the Out-of-India Theory (OIT), a complete first for its readership. It was at once gainsaid (some would say “refuted”) in articles by leading Indo-Europeanist Jean Haudry and also by editor de Benoist himself. Of course I don’t mind the expression of rival opinions, not even when they articulate the readership’s own sensibilities. But at least it is undeniable that since then, he knows about the OIT. Therefore adepts of the OIT, or more generally of any responsible search for the Homeland, may object with indignation that the OIT is passed over in silence in this book.

This criticism is misplaced, for there is a perfectly honourable explanation: this book dates back to 1997, when India as Homeland candidate did not figure in de Benoist’s horizon. If criticism is persisted in, it should be directed at the publisher, who chose to republish a book from a past stage of an ongoing debate without providing an update.

There is only passing mention of the (not yet thus called) OIT in its earlier European version, ca. 1800. It has only been called OIT since 1996, and many watchers of the Homeland debate have only gradually learned about it. Even then, they have mostly misunderstood it: while most Hindus reject a more westerly Homeland, it is not true that they therefore subscribe to what Westerners would consider its opposite scenario, viz. an emigration from India. Once you accept the linguistic kinship of Europe and India, you have to assume either an immigration into India or an emigration from India; but most Hindus have never fully interiorized this kinship.

Thus, most Indian archaeologists state authoritatively that the Harappan area shows no sign of an invasion of immigration that could be identified as IE or “Aryan”; but this doesn’t imply that they have explored or even just affirmed a reverse migration from India. Their horizon usually stops at the Khyber Pass and they have no notion of, nor interest in, what has happened in Central Asia and Europe. I find this situation deplorable, but something similar exists on the Western side, that stonewalls any Indian contribution to the debate.     

The New Right

Alain de Benoist can rightfully be called the mastermind of the New Right, or in the French original, the Nouvelle Droite. This is a European continental phenomenon, to be distinguished from the Anglo-Saxon Thatcher-Reaganite New Right. The latter was anti-socialist, pro-capitalist, sceptical about communal identity issues, and in the US mostly Christian. The Nouvelle Droite, by contrast, is decidedly against Christianity (one of its icons is the late Lithuanian Indo-Europeanist Marija Gimbutas, much discussed here, who was cremated with Pagan rites), pro social security, against the ongoing post-socialist precarization, against the pursuit of “ever more” brought on by Capitalism (as contrasting with the “nothing in excess” of the Greek philosophers), against unlimited growth, against one-dimensional economic man with his “rugged individualism”.

What makes it “rightist” is its favouring of ethnic and communitarian identities against homogenizing globalism, and its scepticism of the Social Justice Warrior’s ideal of equality, favouring “differentialism” instead. What makes it “new” is that, as against the old monarchists and followers of a leader/dictator, it has nothing against democracy, often even favouring forms of direct democracy; and against the old nationalisms with their cramped emphasis on homogeneity, it favours European unity (official motto: “unity in diversity”) in a federal or confederal form, with ample space for regional identities.

A part of the Nouvelle Droite’s construction of the European identity is not to identify Europe with Christianity, as conservative Christians (and many non-Christian non-Europeans) do, but to bring in the somewhat older Indo-European (IE) identity. The Christian argument is that tribal Europe only became a self-conscious unit by acquiring a common Christian identity: the first time “Europe” (from Phoenician Ereb, “evening, west”, used by the Greeks for the lands west of the Aegean Sea, roughly greater Greece minus Ionia) got used in its present meaning, was in the reporting about the Frankish Christian victory against the Moorish invaders in the battle of Poitiers/Tours in 731. But the New-Rightists look deeper, at the IE cultures of most of Europe before Christianization was imposed.

This is a bit strange, because the oldest European language, Basque, is not part of the IE family; and even Basque is an immigrant language, or at least from the absolute rim of Europe, the Caucasus. This Northwest-Caucasian origin, dating back 8,000 years or so, has been demonstrated by the late Georges Dumézil, who otherwise remains a reference point for the Nouvelle Droite.

The Uralic languages (Finnish, Estonian, Hungarian, Sami/Lapponic, and a dozen more languages in Russia on both sides of the Ural mountains), similarly have immigrated, viz. from Central Asia. They are not IE either, but the settlement of their part of Europe happened in parallel with the great IE trek westwards. This reached the Atlantic coasts of Portugal, Ireland and Iceland, but where exactly did it start?

The Homeland

The currently prevalent theory put this Homeland (or Urheimat) somewhere near the Volga river, again on the eastern rim of Europe, in what the Russians call the Yamna or Pit-grave culture, beyond 3,000 BCE. In the centuries after 3,000 BCE, this Yamna population spectacularly broke through Central Europe, leaving a deep archaeological and genetic footprint. Next it filled up or assimilated the remaining pockets of Western Europe, with some non-IE or “Old European” languages holding out in parts of Italy and Spain well into the Roman period, possibly in Scotland even beyond.

As for the Indo-Europeans, they too are immigrants. Either they came from India, as Europeans thought ca. 1800 and many Indians think today: or, according to the presently dominant position, they came from the rim of Europe, from Pontus, the area north of the Caspian and Black Seas. That is the mainstream hypothesis, but Alain de Benoist sets out to amend it slightly.

First he goes over the entire history of this debate, starting with Willian Jones’s famous 1786 speech before the Asiatic Society of Bengal. Or rather, starting earlier: though not having similar dramatic consequences, the announcement of a kinship between the Indian and European civilizations had already been made just years before the announcement of a linguistic kinship between India and Europe, by Voltaire, Immanuel Kant, Johann Herder and others. Insufficient attention is paid to the little-known fact that in the first decades, the Out-of-India Theory was deemed natural in Europe.

Next, de Benoist gives a good factual overview of the march of IE linguistics, deemed to have started with the first book on Sanskrit grammar by Franz Bopp in 1816. He introduces the main episodes, such as the controversy since ca. 1870 between the Genealogical Tree model and the Wave model, which pay too little c.q. too much attention to the influence of neighbouring languages upon one other. This factual presentation of the history of the Indo-Europeanist discipline is certainly the greatest merit of the book for laymen.

Gradually, the linguistic distance between Sanskrit and the reconstructed ancestral language (Proto-Indo-European, PIE) was theorized to become bigger, and in proportion with this, the geographical distance between India and the putative Homeland. In much of the 19th century, Bactria remained a candidate, favoured e.g. by Friedrich Max Müller. From the 1920s onwards, the needle pointed more and more stably to Southwestern Russia. But before that, it had pointed to most regions west of India, including the Balkans, the Baltics, Germany, Scandinavia, Belarus, and even Atlantis. In the 1990s, Anatolia was also briefly in favour, but the consensus among Western Indo-Europeanists reverted to the East-European steppe lands. To explain the language family’s actual presence in India, the only explanation was the Aryan Invasion Theory (AIT). This is assumed here, though without any ado because it is not deemed to be the object of controversy. The only controversy is between different Homelands in Europe: East or Central.

The point of this book, except for giving an overview of the Homeland debate’s different phases, is to reopen the debate and relocate the Homeland more to the West, in Central Europe. This way, the IE-speaking tribes no longer carry the “odium” of being immigrants, interlopers into an earlier but long-disappeared Old-European culture. Instead, they become the undisputed core of Europe, the real native Europeans. To anchor the language family even deeper in Europe, the stage of Proto-Indo-European unity is pushed back beyond the Neolithic to the end of the Ice Age in the Mesolithic (more than 10,000 years ago, rather than the usually assumed 6,000), all on the strength of already existing hypotheses by legitimate scholars. This would satisfy the Nouvelle Droite’s identity project, viz. with IE as the backbone of Europe.

In 1997, one could still, narrowly, plead ignorance about the revived OIT. But to republish the book two decades later as if nothing had happened in this eventful period is a bit bizarre. It is but an extreme of an attitude common among Indo-Europeanists, viz. to stonewall any arguments for the OIT and ignore it as not worth mentioning.


The book’s frontpage sports an imaginative action picture of Ötzi, the 5500-year-old “Iceman” found in the melted ice of the Ötztal in South Tirol. He has become something of a mascot of the Euro-Nationalists. Back then it was not known yet, but today we know that he constitutes a formidable pointer to Indian origins.

Prof. Subhash Kak (Was the Indian Sub-Continent the Original Genetic Homeland of the Europeans?”, Swarajya, 16 Jan. 2016) reports: “Researchers at the European Academy of Bolzano (EURAC) (…) picked on the stomach bacterium ‘Helicobacter pylori’, which is found in all human populations, with two major strains that are Asian and African. The modern Europeans have ‘H. pylori’ that is a hybrid between Asian and African bacteria. In research published in the 8 January, 2016 issue of the Science Magazine, the EURAC authors announced that the Iceman’s stomach has ‘H. pylori’ that is of Indian origin (but now extinct) and not related to the hybrid variety of the modern European ‘admixture’. This means that Indians as migrants were present in Europe in 3300 BC.”

For good measure, he extends this suspicion of an Indian origin to another European icon: “The Gundestrup cauldron found in a peat bog in Denmark and estimated to have been made about 2000 years ago has images of Indian deities on it (including, most strikingly, that of a goddess worshiped by two elephants, Gajalakshmi), and thus may have been done by craftsmen of Indian origin, perhaps in Thrace. Trade between India and the West has been traced back to the third millennium BC. Such continuing interaction must have led to diffusion of art and culture.”

Euro-nationalists are, even more than most academic Indo-Europeanists, blind to the input from India. De Benoist has later informed himself a little about this Indian element, but many of his followers still stonewall this information. And even he was ignorant of it back in 1997, a moment in time perpetuated by the present book.

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Sunday, November 11, 2018

Thoughts on Armistice Day

It is presently 11 a.m. on 11 November 2018, one century after the armistice that ended the Great War, later renamed as World War 1. In Paris, unreached target of the German attack in 1914, in Brussels, capital of "brave little Belgium" that moved Britain into joining the war, and all over the frontline in France and Belgium, it is a prosaic rainy weather, fitting for a commemmoration of four years in the mud.

In Britain, the atmosphere around these annual commemorations has been one of mourning, of national resolve, and of victory. After all, they ended as winners in this war that they had not wanted nor prepared for.  On the side, it also delivered them huge territorial gains in Africa, taking over the German colonies, and in the Middle East, semi-colonizing Ottoman territories in the Levant and the Gulf region.

In France, they also mourn as well as celebrate victory, having acquired smaller slices of these two areas and a large chunk of Germany. But there has also, to the exasperation of US president Woodrow Wilson and Versailles negotiations observer John Maynard Keynes, been a strong element of vengeance, and not so innocently: is was a major cause of World War 2.

At the present commemoration, French president Emmanuel Macron impressed on us the need "not to forget the lessons of World War1". He seems to mean that, now as then, nationalism is a force for evil, thus stabbing at his political opponents in France and the European Union, such as the Brexiteers. But then nationalism has precisely been the spirit of the annual commemorations, certainly in the interbellum but even after that.

In Belgium, the same line is followed as in France but with less fanfare and less grimness. It was also a victor and acquired Rwanda and Burundi as well as a small German territory on the border. Fortunately, nothing came from the plan to give Belgium, whose Godfrey of Bouillon had been the first Crusader king of Jerusalem, the League of Nations' mandate over Palestine. Moreover, together with the new national project of  colonizing Congo from 1909 onwards (before that, it was a private property of Belgian king Leopold II), WW1 and its memory created a new sense of national unity in this artificial state. Yet, in conformity with the drab and down-to-earth national sprit, the "patriotic duty" to celebrate this victory is much less than in France. There has also been a prominent pacifist interpretation of World War 1, crystallized in the slogan "Nooit meer oorlog" (No more war) in a Flemish monument at WW1 site Diksmuide/Dixmude.

My hometown Leuven/Louvain was, in the worldwide French-British propaganda, the proverbial site of German barbarity after the invading army had burned down the university library (it was later rebuilt with American money under the motto: "Furore Teutonico diruta, dono Americano restituta"; in it, the Sino-Japanese department, where I studied, was a gift from the Japanese emperor). Its landscape is marked by the memory, with the central street being called Bondgenotenlaan/Allies' Avenue and the central square Fochplein/Foch Square, after the French commander-in-chief, Marshall Ferdinand Foch. However, significant for the lack of any hurrah spirit over the victory, our mayor recently changed this name, explaining that "Foch was a war criminal".

It is undeniable that the army commanders on all sides sent numerous soldiers to the slaughter for extremely little military gain. That is why, as an India-watcher, I am really puzzled at supposed peace apostle (but British loyalist) Mahatma Gandhi recruiting for the British war effort, so that thousands of Indian young men came to die for nothing in the misery of Flanders' Fields.

At any rate, "we shall remember them": not for some great cause they could have fought for, but for their personal bravery and sacrifice.

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Tuesday, November 6, 2018

Happy Diwali now with a Diwali Tree (though still missing a Bank Holiday)

This post is in reference to an initiative by Anil Bhanot of which the presentation is reproduced in appendix 1 below, viz. the introduction of the "Diwali Tree" (I don't know in how far the text in header is not already a sarcastic conveying of this novelty). Two things are problematic with this "Diwali Tree".

1/ Though it evokes a genuine scene from the Ramayana, viz. Hanuman's fetching the Sanjivani tree (I actually didn't realize it was a tree), or rather the mountain on which it stands, in order to cure Lakshman's wound, this scene is not the one that founds the Diwali festival, viz. the welcome home for Sita and Rama. A purist remark, but if you introduce new symbolism, you'd better start by doing it right.

2/ Justifying the leap over this anomaly is the NRIs' eagerness to Hinduize the Christmas tree, with Diwali being the principal festival the way Christmas is the principal one for Western Christians (for the Orthodox, the emphasis is more on Easter). This is the usual Hindu inferiority complex before "normative" Christianity at work. But the Christmas Tree is not really Christian, it is the Christian digestion of the older Yule Tree. This in turn is a symbol of the World Axis, physically the polar axis (pointing to the Pole Star, being the star on top of the tree), highlighted by the objective and measurable fact of the Winter Solstice, when the Sun turns northward and is, as it were, reborn. Hinduism always had this festival as well, at least since Vedic times, though the last 17 centuries it has been obscured a bit by the confusion with the precessionally progressing entry point of Capricorn (Makar Sankranti, now on 14 January and thus ever farther from on Winter Solstice, ca. 21 Dec.). But even the Makar Sankranti festival is colloquially equated with Uttarayana (= Winter Solstice), so it is still meant as a celebration of the Solstice/Yuletide. Now, everywhere on earth a straight tree (like the evergreen used in the north) is an eminent natural symbol of the world axis, and if tradition really evolve, they had better adopt and incorporate this universal symbolism rather than doing yet another kowtow to Christianity by clumsily adopting a transparent imitation now introduced as the Diwali Tree.

To sum up, my unsollicited advice to my Hindu friends is: simply accept the pressure (massive in the West, on the increase in India) to celebrate the Yule period with a Tree, but emphasize that you are divesting it of its (anyway historically incorrect) Christian associations. Many ex-Christian Westerners do adorn their houses with a Yule Tree and concomitant symbolism (e.g. holly), but without a cowshed with the Holy Family, as is typical is Christian Nativity art. Hindus are in the same position. So if at all they are ready to enrich their festival cycle with the custom of setting up a tree, let it emphatically not be a symbol associated with Christianity, but a natural universal symbol.

For a comparison: the use of green in the flag of Hindu organizations is often a sign of dishonourable kowtows before Islam (e.g. the BJP), but could just as well be interpreted in terms of the universal symbolism of the green colour: nature, greenery, growth. You can divest it of its Islamic association and (as Madhu Kishwar clarified to me) reclaim the universal sanâtana meaning of green.

Appendix  1

From Anil Bhanot, I received an announcement on 6 November 2018 under the header "Happy Diwali now with a Diwali Tree though still missing a Bank Holiday"

Diwali Tree – Launch on 2 November 2018 @Peepul Centre by Rita Trust with our VIP’s the Little Peepul Day Nursery Children 7000 years ago there lived a king Rama who along with his wife Sita and his younger brother Lakhsman were all having an adventure in a jungle living in a small garden hut called Vatika surrounded by many animals and colourful flowers and trees. Sita suddenly saw a golden deer hopping around their hut Vatika and she loved it so much she wanted to have it as her own pet so she could look after it. She asked her husband Rama if she could have it. Rama then tried to catch the golden deer but the deer was playful and ran away. Then both the brothers Rama and Lakshman went chasing after it to catch it for Sita. while the brothers were away chasing the golden deer, trying to catch it, Sita was left all alone in her Vatika hut. Then another bad king Ravana from a nearby kingdom came and snatched poor Sita and took her to his kingdom. Sita was very beautiful and Ravana wanted to marry her so Ravana proposed to her on his knees but Sita said No because she said she was already married. How can you have two husbands or two wives? You can’t. You only have one husband and one wife. But although Ravana did a bad thing to take away Sita from her Vatika hut he was educated and civilised and so he accepted Sita’s refusal of marriage. However now he had another problem, it was his pride and he didn’t want to return Sita back to Rama. He wanted to keep her against her will in his palace gardens and so he made her another Vatika palace there so that she wouldn’t miss her own Vatika hut in the jungle. He gave her maids and servants to make exotic foods, gave her lovely clothes but she just wasn’t interested. She simply wanted to be back with her husband Rama. She was very upset and crying all the time.
Well on the other side when Rama and Lakshman came back home to their jungle Vatika hut they couldn’t find Sita anywhere so they started searching for her everywhere in the jungle.
Then they came across a monkey king who ruled over all the monkeys in the jungle and he told Rama that the king Ravana had taken away Sita to his kingdom across the seas. Then Rama and an army of monkeys with the help of Hanuman built a bridge across the sea to go and get Sita back. There was a big battle between Rama and king Ravana, during which Rama’s brother Lakshman got badly injured and was on his last breadths. The doctor said he could only be cured by a magical herbal tree called Sanjivani which grew on a certain mountain Dronagiri in the Himalayas.
Hanuman the monkey king wanted to help and he flew to the mountain where the tree was and he brought it just in time so the doctor could make the herbal potion to cure Lakshman.
That herbal tree is what we call the Diwali Tree, for us a Bay tree which is ever green all year round and it’s good for us, we can grow it, water it, and let Mums and Dads use its leaves in cooking because herbs are good for our health like the herbal potion brought Lakshman back to life and made him strong again. The Basil herbal tree may be used too which is from the same family of Bay Tree. the way Rama rescued Sita from Ravana and then they came back home to their palace and all the people in the city celebrated their coming back from the jungle, where they had an adventurous time too, but now they were back home in their own kingdom and so people welcomed them by lighting lamps and that is why we call that day ‘Diwali or Deepavali’ – which means the ‘lamps lighting day’ – to signify ‘light over darkness’, the good winning over the bad people like Ravana who had done a very bad thing, first to snatch Sita from her own Vatika hut against her will and then to force her to live in his palace garden in a new Vatika palace, all against her will, like a prisoner, when poor Sita had done nothing wrong. That was all very bad.
On Diwali day Hanuman, the monkey king, who was always playful with all the children in King Rama’s kingdom would take the kids on flying trips, he’d give rides on his shoulders and bring them presents from wherever he had gone on his flying trips. The kids loved to play with his long tail too. Diwali people thank God for bringing Goodness into their lives, Hindus have done it for about 7000 years since Rama and Sita came home, the Jains have done it since Mahavira was enlightened by God about 2600 years ago on Diwali day and Sikhs celebrate it as ‘Bandi-Chhord’ day because on Diwali day about 400 years ago Guru Hargobind was freed from prison of another bad king’s holding people against their will when they’ve done nothing wrong. So when good things happen people thank God. There is only one God but like we are all different we thank him in many names and forms, as in different religions. In fact Hindus have many Gods but they are all part of the only One God, which people share as many Gods. We have to share everything like we share the one God, we share the Sun, the Air, the Earth and all its trees, which we must look after too. Our Diwali tree is evergreen so we can use it even as Xmas tree and so on every year if we look after it.
Diwali day is a day of family fun & games, gifts, foods, lighting lamps, planting and watering trees especially herbals ones like the Bay Tree, we are launching today as the Diwali Tree.
Anil Bhanot OBE
Founder Trustee Rita Trust
Diwali Tree Launch: Anil Bhanot, who conceptualised the Diwali Tree launching it today, dressed up as Hanuman and sitting in the Hanuman Cave designed by the Little Peepul Day Nursery, together with a forest tree and a golden deer, told the above Diwali story to the children, who later gave him a big thank you and they were seen telling their parents the Diwali message of ‘s
haring’ everything, including God.

Appendix 2: Anil Bhanot's feedback

Dear Koenraad

First of all I have the utmost respect for your academic works on Hinduism and your many corrections of ill-propaganda of Hinduism not only by the conversion led missionary zealots claiming exclusivity of their God but many Hindus as well. My approach however is less academic but more to be practical and thus I am narrating the part of story here just to make it more attractive to children and our youth who otherwise miss it altogether. As for the green colour it is one of the colours of a beautiful rainbow as are others all of which are presented in the signage. 

I hope people will like the idea of Diwali Tree and explain to children the Hanuman's story of Sanjivani Bootie and who knows maybe at Xmas people will start using this Bay Herbal Tree as its evergreen and has its uses too. 

I am with you on always correcting the wrongs but please stay with me on expanding the rights. 

Happy Diwali. 


Appendix 3: Answer to Anil Bhanot's feedback

Dear Anil,

Of course I can see the beauty of the artwork on the appended photographs and their use in imparting the Ramayana and Hindu tradition in general. I should have started by congratulating you with it. I was principally reacting to the element of imitation of the Christmas Tree tradition, possibly not at work in your own mind but certainly operative in the minds of many who will adopt it.

My general point, of which the present instance is but an illustration, is that the ongoing exposure to the Christian world need not lead to the acceptance of Christian doctrines, symbols or customs. Ill-informed Hindus tend to adopt elements from a tradition which they call Christian, often in its most Christian and least rational form. People like the Brahmo Samaj, Arya Samaj, RK Mission and Mahatma Gandhi remained totally blind for the scholarly deconstruction of the Bible which was going on in the West,showing how spurious Christian historical claims often were, or how borrowed "Christian" customs often were. Instead, they swallowed the missionary idealized image of Jesus and of Christian history hook, line and sinker and even made it part of their worldview and ritual. This may have been understandable in the circumstances of the Hindu Renaissance, but it is an unforgivable mistake to perpetuate such misconceptions today.

Sorry if with this debate I distracted anyone from Diwali revelry.


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Friday, September 21, 2018

In support of Satyapal Singh’s Private Bill against anti-Hindu discriminations

On 22 September 2018, an ad hoc group of Hindu citizens led (to my knowledge) by Rahul Dewan, Bala Ramya Rohini and Pushkar Agnihotri, will work out a charter of Hindu demands and present it to the Narendra Modi government, the public and the media. The text will be finalized during the conference, but in essence, it is a move in support of a Private Bill introduced in the Lok Sabha by Dr. Satyapal Singh prior to his becoming a Minister. It is Private Member’s Bill No. 226 of 2016 to amend Articles 26 to 30 of the Constitution, of which a copy can be found at, or below. The central request from the Government is to get it passed by the current Parliament itself at the earliest. The organizers emphasize that “this does not take any rights away from any groups, but ensures that all sections including Hindus are treated equally under the law”.

This initiative for a public statement in support of Satyapal Singh's Private ill for amendments annulling the anti-Hindu discriminations is correct and potentially historic. If the media pick it up, the government will not be able to ignore and stonewall it (which it otherwise probably would do). I had been advocating a policy in this sense since my book On Modi Time in 2015, but like so much free and unsolicited advice by pen-pushers, this had been to no effect at all. I had been wondering why, during this historic window of opportunity which may never come back, so few Indians take this issue up. Now I am relieved to note that news of Hindu society's death was premature after all. Congrats to those who took the initiative.

The Private Bill and the present initiative will surprise a part of the Indian public and the vast majority of the foreign India-watchers, as they don’t know (or the knaves among them feign not to know) that there exists any anti-Hindu discrimination at all. They are even less prepared for the fact of BJP secularism, an ideological development (described by me since a decade or so) that pin-pricks their whipped-up depiction of the BJP as a fanatically Hindu party.

For the record, I am publishing another piece of free and unsolicited advice, viz. the one I wrote on the Indic Academy forum: about how to formulate this demand towards the public.

’It is vital to publicize this as a demand for equality and secularism, rather than to focus on its importance for Hinduism. On Hindu forums like this one, you can of course discuss the beneficial implications for Hindu civilization, such as conferring the freedom to impart your own inheritance to the young generation and abolishing the main reason why Hindu communities seek to leave the sinking ship of the legal category "Hindu". Towards non-Hindus, in contrast, it will be necessary to emphasize not the way the amendments will serve Hindu interests, but why they are a necessary application of secularism and legal equality.

‘The non-Hindus are not concerned with any Hindu benefits. As far as Christians and Muslims are concerned, the only good Hindu is a converted ex-Hindu. For all the predators feasting upon the dying body of Hindu society, there is nothing valuable in trying to revive it. But in the Indian context, they are more or less forced to pay lip-service to the principle of secularity. Now, it is not hard to remind them that "secular" implies "equal before the law regardless of religion". Going by that principle, it becomes obvious that they should support (rather than oppose) the abolition of religious discriminations.

‘Since decades I hear Hindutvavadis pontificate how all Hindu problems will be solved by declaring India a Hindu Rashtra. Really? Instead, it is purely a waste of energy on an impotent symbol that had better been expended on substantial Hindu gains. The Hindu Rashtra demand can only make you enemies, or strengthen their enmity and confirm their anti-Hindu prejudices ("Hindu Taliban"). Chandragupta, Vikramaditya, Raja Bhoja and all the other Hindu kings didn't waste anything at all on declaring a "Hindu Rashtra". (Though admittedly, the Maratha "Hindu Pad Padshahi" or “Haindava Swarajya” comes close.) This is an example of how contemporary Hindus will to better to follow Chanakya rather than Golwalkar, and to go for Hindu Dharma rather than Hindutva. And in this case, for law reform rather than for hollow rhetoric.

‘As for the BJP leadership, unconcerned with Hindu interests nor with degrees of secularity but certainly understanding the language of electoral calculus, to them it must be emphasized that a principled stand is a vote-getter. You see it all the time: parties shouting lofty principles from the rooftops during election campaigns, only to relapse in humdrum everyday dealings once in office. To be sure, instituting these purely secular amendments won't endear you to the contractors of the Christian or Muslim vote-banks, who will not give the BJP their votes; but then, everybody except the occasional BJP buffoon knows that they have not done so in the past election either, no matter how secular the promise of Development. (Well, there may have been one or two, but if they could value development over their own religion, they can likewise see the fairness of equality before the law.)  Only the Hindus will ever vote for the BJP, and it is they who will turn out in vast numbers to cast their vote for the party that has freed Hindu Dharma from the legal discriminations that presently hold it back.

‘On this list, we have heard some voices pleading that the vast majority is too busy with their daily needs and duties to concern itself with this issue. It seems that there are always Hindus (BJP men and others) ready to thwart any initiative that threatens to serve Hindu interests. And indeed, Hindus are selfish and think of their own families' interests before those of their society. As a polite outsider, I would never dare to say this, but then I am only quoting what numerous Hindus have confided to me. Moreover, to whisper to you a little secret, Westerners are not much more public-spirited either. Anyway, it is true that the multitudes are not going to move a finger for this consequential matter of principle. Nor, for good measure, will they move a finger to get a toilet for their neighbour built, or any other item on the public development agenda.

‘But for those things, you have the elected political and the self-appointed intellectual leadership class. It is this class that expends effort and time to devise and execute development policies, or to work out matters of principle. What the overly busy multitudes are expected to do, is only to cast their votes, which is a very brief effort and in which voting for the one party takes no more breath than voting for the other. In representative democracies, people are quite accustomed to leave policy-making to a selected leadership class. Even in Switzerland with its referendum democracy, common people do a bit more deliberating on policy matters, but apart from casting their votes a few times per year, they too leave the nitty-gritty of politics to the professionals. So, the priorities on the multitudes' busy agenda do not come in the way of this Delhi conference on policy-making regarding the anti-Hindu and un-secular parts of India's legislation.’

Appendix 1: full text of Satyapal Singh’s Private Bill




BILL No. 226 of  2016

Short title.

Amendment of article 15.

Amendment of article 26.


further to amend the Constitution of India.

BE it enacted by Parliament in the Sixty-seventh Year of Republic of India as follows:—

1.  This Act may be called the Constitution (Amendment) Act, 2016.

2. In article 15 of the Constitution, clause (5) shall be omitted.

3. The existing article 26 of the Constitution shall be renumbered as clause (1) thereof and after clause (1) as so renumbered, the following clauses shall be inserted, namely:—

"(2) Notwithstanding anything contained in article 25, the State shall not control, administer or manage, whatsoever, any institution, including its properties, established or maintained for religious or charitable purposes by a religious denomination or any section thereof.

(3) All laws in force in the territory of India in so far as they are inconsistent with the provisions of this article shall, to the extent of such inconsistency, be void.

(4) The State shall not make any law which enables it to control, administer or manage, whatsoever, any institution, including its properties, established or maintained for religious or charitable purposes by a religious denomination or any section thereof, and, any law made in contravention of this clause shall, to the extent of such contravention, be void.

(5) In this article the expressions "law" and "laws in force" have same meaning as respectively assigned to them in clause (3) of article 13.".

4. The existing article 27 of the Constitution shall be renumbered as clause (1) thereof and after clause (1) as so renumbered, the following clause shall be inserted, namely:—

"(2) No moneys out of the Consolidated Fund of India, the Consolidated Fund of a State, the Contingency Fund of India or the Contingency Fund of a State or out of the fund of any public body shall be appropriated for advancement or promotion of a section of citizens solely or primarily on the basis of their religious affiliation or belonging to one or more religious or linguistic denomination.".

5. In article 28 of the Constitution, after clause (3), the following clause shall be inserted, namely:—

"(4) Nothing in this Constitution shall be deemed to forbid the teaching of traditional Indian knowledge or ancient texts of India in any educational institution, wholly or partly maintained out of State Funds.".

 6. In article 29 of the Constitution, in the marginal heading, for the words "interests of minorities", the words "cultural and educational rights" shall be substituted.

7. In article 30 of the Constitution—

(a) in the marginal heading for the word "minorities", the words "all sections of citizens, whether based on religion or language", shall be substituted;

(b) in clause (1), for the word "minorities", the words " sections of citizens" shall be substituted;

(c) in clause (1A) for the words "a minority", the words "a section of citizens" shall be substituted; and

(d) in clause (2), for the words "a minority", the words "a section of citizens" shall be substituted.

Amendment of article 27.

Amendment of article 28.

Amendment of article 29.

Amendment of article 30.









As per our Constitution, the State has no religion. The State has to treat all religions and religious people equally and with equal respect without, in any manner, interfering with their right to freedom of religion, faith and worship. As evident from the sub-text of the debates of the Constituent Assembly, the rights assumed for the majority were only made explicit to the minorities as an assurance to the latter in the backdrop of the peculiar circumstances then prevailing in the aftermath of partition. In any case, it was never the intention of the makers of our Constitution to deny to the majority the rights expressly provided to the minority. Yet, it gradually led to interpretations that only the minorities were given rights withheld from the majority generating an unhealthy feeling of discrimination among the majority community. It goes without saying that nursing any real or perceived grievance against the State by any section of citizens, majority or minority, is detrimental to the unity and integrity of the country.

Article 26 bestows rights on all religious denominations, irrespective of majority or minority, to establish and maintain institutions for religious and charitable purposes, to manage their own affairs, and to own, acquire and administer property thereof. In a catena of judgements, the Supreme Court iterated the same. In Ratilal Panachand Gandhi  v. State of Bombay, it was held "in regard to affairs in matters of religion, the right of management given to a religious body is a guaranteed fundamental right which no legislation can take away. On the other hand, as regards administration of property which a religious denomination is entitled to own and acquire, it has undoubtedly the right to administer such property but only in accordance with law. This means that the State can regulate the administration of trust properties by means of laws validly enacted; but here again it should be remembered that under article 26(d), it is the religious denomination itself which has been given the right to administer its property in accordance with any law which the, State may validly impose. A law, which takes away the right of administration altogether from the religious denomination and vests it in any other or secular authority, would amount to violation of the right which is guaranteed by article 26(d) of the Constitution". The apex Court in Pannalal Bansilal Pitti v. State of Andhra Pradesh opined "While articles 25 and 26 granted religious freedom to minority religions like Islam, Christianity and Judaism, they do not intend to deny the same guarantee to Hindus. Therefore, protection under articles 25 and 26 is available to the people professing Hindu religion, subject to the law therein. The right to establish a religious and charitable institution is a part of religious belief or faith and, though law made under clause (2) of article 25 may impose restrictions on the exercise of that right, the right to administer and maintain such institution cannot altogether be taken away and vested in other party; more particularly, in the officers of a secular Government".

There has been widespread legitimate grievance and feeling of discrimination among Hindus that despite the Constitutional provisions and judicial decisions, Hindu temples and religious and charitable institutions are routinely taken over by  the secular State on the pretext of maladministration, mismangement, etc., whereas mosques and churches of the minorities are allowed to be exclusively managed by the respective communities even though article 26 confers right equally upon all sections of citizens. Hindus also genuinely feel that such State control results in despoiling the Hindu religious centres, large scale misappropriation of the temples' income and properties and its redirection to secular purposes by the State, which is a major factor in the grinding poverty afflicting most Hindu temples, priests and their families. In order to maintain the secular character of the State and prevent it from usurping the religious and charitable institutions of any religious denomination or a section thereof, it is felt necessary to amend article 26 of the Constitution.

Article 27 provides that no person shall be compelled to pay any taxes, the proceeds of which are specifically appropriated in payment of expenses for the promotion or maintenance of any particular religion or religious denomination. Hon'ble Prime Minister Shri Narendra Modi as the then Chief Minister of Gujarat had in his speech to the National Developmental Council on 19th December 2007 took the stand that discrimination amongst the eligible beneficiaries based on religion will not help the cause of taking the people of India together on the path of development, and the correct criteria for flow of funds for various schemes and programmes should be based on principles of equity by taking only socio-economic criteria alone. In the interest of maintaining true secular character of the State, there is imperative need for amendment of article 27 forbidding expenditure from the Consolidated or Contingency Fund of Union or any State or from the funds of any public body for any purpose premised solely or primarily on the religious affiliation or language. Language as a primary or sole consideration should also be excluded as certain languages have exclusive association with certain religions which may be used as subterfuge to circumvent the proposed embargo.

Article 28 rightly keeps religious instructions out of public educational system in the country. However, it was never the intention of the framers of the Constitution to keep the study and learning of traditional knowledge systems and civilizational heritage including study of such great texts like the Vedas, the Upanishads, the Mahabharata, the Ramayana, etc. from out of public education system, yet, these have been completely kept out of education system leading to deracination of Indians from their cultural and civilizational moorings which does not augur well for the future of the country. There is thus a case for amendment of article 28 to provide for teaching of our traditional knowledge and ancient texts.

Article 29 confers cultural and educational rights to all sections of citizens, majority or minority, having distinct language, script or culture of their own. However, the word 'minorities' in the marginal heading of article 29 is incongruent with the body of its contents as also with the group heading 'cultural and educational rights'. Such incongruence has the potential for misunderstanding as if these rights are conferred only on minorities. It is, therefore, felt necessary to amend article 29 to remove any doubts.

Our Constitution mandates that the State shall not discriminate on grounds only of religion, race, caste, language or any of them. Article 30, as it stands, confers educational rights on religious and linguistic minorities without saying anything about the majority. If it had not assumed the same rights for the majority, it would not had been passed by the Constituent Assembly. An eleven-Judge Bench of the Supreme Court in T.M.A. Pai Foundation v. State of Karnataka expressed an expansive opinion when it said, "The right to establish and maintain educational institutions may also be sourced to article 26(a), which grants, in positive terms, the right to every religious denomination or any section thereof to establish and maintain institutions for religious and charitable purposes, subject to public order, morality and health". Further, the aspirations for conserving and communicating religious and cultural traditions  and language to succeeding generations is legitimate and applies to all groups, big or small. It is, therefore, felt that the scope of article 30 of the Constitution should be widened to include all communities and sections of citizens who form a distinct religious or linguistic group. Consequent to such proposed amendment, clause (5) of article 15, inserted by the Constitution (Ninety-third) Amendment Act, 2005, loses its relevance and accordingly it is proposed to omit clause (5) of article 15 of the Constitution.

Hence this Bill.


July 6, 2016.

Appendix 2: Syed Shahabuddin’s Private Bill

(A Private Bill with similar implications had been proposed before by a Muslim MP deemed a religious fundamentalist, the late Syed Shahabuddin.)

Bill No. 36 of 1995 LOK SABHA A Bill further to amend the Constitution of India. Be it enacted by Parliament in the forty-sixth year of Republic of India as follows: 1. This Act may be called the Constitution (Amendment) Act, 1995.  2. For article 30 of the Constitution, the following article shall be substituted, namely:—  “30. (1) Any section of the citizens residing in the territory of India or any part thereof professing a distinct religion or having a distinct language, script or culture of its own or forming a distinct social group shall have the right to establish and administer educational institutions of its choice.  (2) In making any law providing for the compulsory acquisition of any property of an educational institution established and administered by a section of citizens, referred to in clause (I), the State shall ensure that the amount fixed by or determined under such law for the acquisition of such property is such as would not restrict or abrogate the right guaranteed under that clause.  (3) The State shall not, in granting aid to educational institutions, discriminate against any educational institution on the ground that it is under the management of a particular section of citizens referred to in clause (1).”. 

STATEMENT OF OBJECTS AND REASONS  Article 30 of the Constitution, as it stands, applies to religious and linguistic minorities. By judicial interpretation, the term ‘minority’ has been extended to include identifiable social groups which form a minority in the population of a State even if they form a majority in the Union as a whole. Similarly, the meaning of the term ‘minority’ has been broadened to include denominations and sects which are generally considered to be part of a larger religious group. In a vast and complex plural society, almost every identifiable group, whether identifiable by religion, including denomination or sect, or by language, including dialects, forms a minority at some operational or functional level, even if it forms a majority at some other levels. In the age of ethnicity that has dawned in the world, all identifiable groups are equally anxious to maintain their identity and they too wish to have the privilege of the right to establish educational institutions of their choice. Indeed, many caste groups have established educational institutions primarily for their own community and, in practice, enjoy the same privileges in matters of administration and management as were originally envisaged for religious and linguistic minorities.  The aspiration for conserving and communicating religious and cultural traditions and language to succeeding generations is legitimate and applies to all groups, big or small. It is, therefore, felt that the scope of article 30 of the Constitution should be widened to include all communities and all sections of citizens who form a distinct social group at any level. Of late, article 30 has been criticised as bestowing a privilege on the minority communities which the majority community does not enjov. The majority community or any section thereof should also be allowed to establish and administer educational institutions of its choice, if it so desires.  Hence this Bill. 



April 20, 1995.

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