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Hinduising India: Secularism in Practice

Posted by on Feb 15th, 2010 and filed under FEATURED, World. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0. You can leave a response or trackback to this entry


OF all the postcolonial states of Africa, Asia, and the Middle East, India is regarded in academia and media as a secular state. This paper challenges the academic and media consensus of the notion that India is a secular state. It does so by marshalling empirical evidence that far from being state practicing neutrality between religious affiliations of Indian society or equidistance from all religions, the Indian state is actually and directly involved in Hinduization of the country. It does so by promoting Hinduism through “reform” and favoritism at state expense.  While the constitution guarantees educational and cultural autonomy as well as religious freedom, in practice, there are widespread and systematic violations by state institutions. In public employment, the state follows discriminatory policies to perpetuate Hindu majority by restricting religious freedom. The discriminatory policies are most visible in affirmative action policies and recruitment in the army.  Contrary to some academic writings, the paper establishes that Hinduization of Indian state is not only associated with the votaries of Hindutva represented by a “family,” parivar of Hindu militant groups.  The notion of India as a Hindu state predates the creation of postcolonial state in 1947, and was inherent in the militant, right wing of Congress Party that perceived Christians and Muslims as foreigners.  There is, the paper demonstrates, major continuity between the educational, cultural and employment policies pursued by Indian state regardless of party in power. The paper is based on primary Indian sources and interviews in India and abroad.

Political secularism may be defined as the separation of religious activities from those of the state, customarily referred to as "the separation of church and state” in the west. Secularism in theory then would mean that religion and state cannot occupy the same space. The state in its governmental capacity does not promote any religion or religious group, nor intervene in religious affairs. It cannot even be involved in interpretation or “reform” of any religion much less favor one over any other. This model of secularism may be characterized as maximum separation between state and religion except on manifest grounds of morality, health, and public order. Theoretical formulation, interpretation, and implementation of secularism have varied in several countries. Writing in 1963, Donald E. Smith posed the question: Is India a Secular State? Replying in the affirmative, Smith described India “a secular state in the same sense in which one can say that India is a democracy.” 1 Prakash Chandra Upadhyaya “uses the term “majoritarianism” to characterize the official nationalist brand of Indian secularism.”2 According to Ashutosh Varshney, “Secularism, in its Indian usage, has…come to mean religious equidistance, not non-involvement.”3 Gary Jacobsohn in a comparative study of secularism developed three models. He characterizes these models of secularism as assimilative (exemplified by the United States), visionary (Israel), and ameliorative (India).  American assimilative secularism seeks to preserve religious liberty in the private sphere, while urging political assimilation in the republic.  Israel’s visionary secularism involves the coexistence of the vision of Israel as a state for the Jewish people with commitments to preserve religious liberties and cultural autonomy.  India’s ameliorative secularism involves a commitment to promote the transformation of enduring social inequalities, some of which are related to religious belief and practice, while recognizing the autonomy of religious groups in some ways. 4 My paper challenges the formulations of these three authors as well as a host of others who hold the view that India is a secular state regardless of the particular model of secularism it follows. In challenging the conventional wisdom, I demonstrate that far from upholding state neutrality or equidistance between various religions and its adherents, the Indian state is in fact engaged in Hinduising it by reforming, promoting and advancing Hinduism, often at the expense of other religions.  India’s secularism in fact translates into Hindu assimilationism. Evidence for Indian state’s policy of Hindu assimilationism comes through an examination of a. state promotion of Hinduism through reform and favoritism; b. promotion of Hindu beliefs and practices; c. erosion of educational, cultural and religious autonomy; d. conflation between Hindu and Indian cultures resulting in the exclusion of Christians and Muslims from the national mainstream.

Promotion of Hinduism through reform and favoritism

Abolition of caste, untouchability, sati, and opening up Hindu temples and the like may be desirable goals for societal amelioration.  Article 25 (2) of the constitution calls for providing “social welfare and reform [and] throwing open of Hindu religious institutions of public character to all classes and sections of Hindus…” Pritam Singh questions, “why should a secular state be concerned about the social welfare and reform only of one religion? Why should a secular state be concerned with the…reform of only Hindu temples?” 5 The answer Singh provides is familiar, “the overriding concern behind these social reform measures was to prevent the exodus of the Dalits… from the Hindu fold.”6 The state, whether run by Congress or BJP has been involved in favoring Hinduism by promoting inter-caste marriages through financial incentives including a complete package of gifts including the thread worn by married Hindu women known as mangala sutra!7 Promoting inter caste marriages may or may not be a desirable goal depending on individuals’ choice. In the words of Pratap Mehta, the “Indian state has used state power to consolidate Hindu identity in more ways than one can list.  The state, for the first time, created a territorially unified body of Hindu law, transcending numerous regional divisions. Supreme Court judges not only promulgate public purposes; they act as authoritative interpreters of Hindu religion, defining what is essential to it and what is not. The state runs thousands of temples across the country, appropriated in the name of social reforms or financial propriety.”8

A forest has been destroyed writing about why the state has not changed Muslim Personal Law, when it did so in the case of Hindus.  In other words, since the state has changed the family laws of one segment of the population, it ought to do so in the case of others in order to ameliorate the condition of women. There is near consensus in the Muslim community that while changes in the interpretation of the shariat as applied through Muslim Personal Law is possible, the right to change it rests in the community, not the state.  At a minimum, the initiative must come from within the community in an environment free from threat to cultural and religious identity.  Given the acute sense of insecurity generated by the unending state-sanctioned violence, state-sponsored pogroms (Bombay 1993; Gujarat 2002) and culturecide exemplified by the elimination of Urdu, most Muslims resist assimilation through uniform civil code. The opposition to change in personal law is not to be understood as approval of injustices to Muslim women, who like women everywhere are less than equal in Islamic societies. Those actively advocating change in the Muslim Personal Law from within the community represent a minority opinion confined to a thin layer of secularized intellectuals, with no influence in the community.  Liberal, left-wing, centrist Congress opinion seeking reform of Muslim Personal Law is genuinely motivated by a desire to ameliorate the condition of Muslim women, but the motivation of the Congress right wing and Hindutva gang, known as Sangh parivar is driven by Hindu assimilationalism.  As Rina Verma Williams noted, “ethnic conflict over the personal laws was caused by Hindu interference in Muslim Personal Law after 1984. Prior to 1984, different communities refrained from interfering in each other’s personal laws. In 1984, however, part of the Hindu community began mobilizing to reform Muslim personal law or even abolish the personal laws and establish, one, uniform law (as in the traditional conception of the nation-state).  This mobilization led to Hindu-Muslim conflict over the personal laws.  India’s experience indicates that we must-rethink the assumption of legal uniformity underlying the traditional conception of the nation-state….ethnic harmony prevailed when the personal laws of different communities were not threatened. A new conception of the nation-state, that accommodates legal diversity, may be more relevant for many of today’s multi-ethnic states than the traditional “one nation, one law” conception.” 9 One way to reform Muslim Personal Law might be for the state to sponsor an elected Muslim forum to legislate Islamic laws, thus legitimizing and institutionalizing religious autonomy.10

Erosion of Educational, Cultural and Religious Autonomy

The constitution provides in Articles 15-17, 25-30 and directive principles (Articles 330-339, and 350) for the benefit of minorities.  But as Ranu Jain has shown, the implementation of the rights has been subject to the interpretation of courts leading to an endless struggle between the state and the minorities.11 Most famously and astonishingly, on narrow technical grounds, the Allahabad High Court judged in 2005 that Muslims did not found Aligarh University!  Only a concerted political campaign restored the University’s minority character.12 Cultural rights of minority groups to teach their languages has been under attack since independence. Aggressive promoters of Hindi successfully prevented tribal languages such as Santhali (spoken by 3.6 million), Bhili (spoken by 1.25 million) and Lammi (1.2 million speakers) from recognition in the constitution to inflate their own numbers.13 Oomen has shown that “Bhojpuri, Brij Bhasha, Magadhi, Maithili, Rajasthani, and Chhattisgarhi, to mention but a few, are treated as mere dialects of Hindi, in order to project Hindi speakers as the biggest speech community and to legitimize it as the national language.  In the process, nothing short of a culturecide has taken place.”14 The provinces’ reorganization created states along linguistic lines a decade after independence, a Punjabi subah was, however, delayed by a further decade due to its association with Sikhs. The state also victimized Urdu, closely associated with Islamic culture. Urdu literacy has all but perished in Delhi and Uttar Pradesh outside the madarsas due to the relentless Hindization policies pursed by Congress and BJP governments. No government school in Uttar Pradesh teaches Urdu even as an optional subject and members of UP legislature cannot take oath in any language other than Hindi. 15 Urdu-speaking population is decreasing in UP since the 1960s, as indicated by the census, which is an evidence of successful homogenization campaign of the successive Congress governments.16 The elevation of Hindi at the expense of all other languages nearly fulfils the slogan "Hindi, Hindu, Hindustan" coined by Pratap Narayan Mishra:

Cahuhu jusco nij kalyan to sab mili Bharat santan !

Japo nirantar ek jaban hindi, hindu, Hindustan !

If your well-being you really want, O children of Bharat !

Then chant forever but these words Hindi, Hindu, Hindustan.

Article 25 (1) of India’s constitution proclaims, “all persons are equally entitled to freedom of conscience and the right freely to profess, practice and propagate religion.”  However the Hindu assimiliationists in the Congress Party have been opposed to it as can be gleaned from the debate in Constituent Assembly. Puroshottam Das Tandon, later President of Congress summed up their views by saying “We Congressmen deem it very improper to convert from one to another religion or take part in such activities.”17 Some Hindu assimilationists equate conversion with denaturalization.   Soon after independence, in 1954, the Congress government of Madhya Pradesh pioneered anti-conversion legislation by constituting a committee to look into the matter. Several hundred untouchables converted to Islam in Meenakshipuram, an obscure village in Tamilnadu in 1981-82, prompting the central government to take a series of coercive measures to prevent further change of religion.18 Since that date to 2007, as many as eight states—Arunachal Pradesh, Chhatisgardh, Gujarat, Himachal Pradesh, Madhya Pradesh, Orissa, Rajasthan, and Tripura, passed legislation against conversion. In Rajasthan, the BJP-headed legislature passed a law against forced conversions in April 2006, but in May, the governor refused to sign the bill, so it has not become law.  Gujarat, led by the pogrom-tainted chief minister Narendra Modi’s BJP government passed a law in September 2006 restricting conversion to Islam but facilitating conversion of Buddhists and Jains to Hinduism, forcing the governor to return it to the legislature.19 Only in one case there has been a move to rescind restrictions on religious freedom. A new administration in Tamlinadu led by Karunanidhi rescinded anti-conversion act of 2004 in June 2007, passed by a previous government (1991-96) led by Jayalalita.20

The laws apply against “forced” or “induced” religious conversions require government officials—district collector in one instance---, to assess the legality of conversions and provide for fines and imprisonment for anyone who uses force, fraud, or “inducement” to convert another. In the case of Gujarat, promising nirvana upon conversion to Buddhism, according to Fr. Cedric Prakash, can come in the definition of “inducement.” 21 When poor citizens do not have access to government officials on routine matters of water and power supply, one can imagine what kind of access they will have on sensitive matters such as changing faith. However, reports of persons having been arrested, still less prosecuted, under these laws are not common.  Nevertheless, these laws can sometimes result in a hostile atmosphere for religious minorities, as states in which these laws exist tend to be those in which attacks by extremist groups are more common—and often happen with greater impunity than elsewhere in India.  For example, the state of Madhya Pradesh, which is headed by the BJP, was the scene of an increasing number of attacks in 2005.  In June 2006, a report by the NCM found that Hindu extremists had frequently invoked the state’s anti-conversion law as a pretext to incite mobs against Christians.  The NCM report also found that police in Madhya Pradesh were frequently complicit in these attacks. Since August 2008, there has been large-scale anti-Christian violence in Orissa and Karnataka, the states in which BJP rules in a coalition government or on its own. The anti-Christian violence is driven by the BJP’s intolerance of conversion to faiths other than Hinduism.  According to them, people are being attracted towards other faiths since there is nobody to explain the culture and traditions of Hinduism.”22 The anti-conversion laws, both by their design and implementation favor Hinduism over minority religions, as the law encourages conversion from other religions to Hinduism but not vice-versa. Executive measures often do not need legislation as evidenced by the promotion of Hinduism at state expense with an explicit purpose to limit religious freedom. Almost every state has a department of Hindu endowments, their mission is to look after the secular aspects of religious establishments, but experience shows that they go beyond their mandate. Andhra Pradesh, governed since 2004 by a Congress administration, is led by a Christian chief minister Y.S. Rajasekhara Reddy. Under his administration, the Hindu Endowments Department “decided to revive pujas and rituals in old temples to prevent the possibility of religious conversion at the village level.  Officials expect that regular spiritual activity in villages will prevent people from converting to faiths other than Hinduism.   The desire to keep a Hindu majority intact motivates the state governments, whether run by Congress or BJP to prevent the exodus of Dalits and other disadvantaged groups into Christianity or Islam.  The Supreme Court judges have often defined who or what is a Hindu against the wishes of groups wanting to define themselves otherwise, exemplified by a case soon after independence. When Satsanghis, a puritanical sect declared itself outside the Hindu fold, the Supreme Court ruled against them as it did subsequently in many other cases, thus constructing a Hindu identity.23

Promotion of Hinduism at State Expense

State-sponsored promotion of Hinduism began shortly after independence and took many forms. Independent India began its course on the midnight of 14th August as Hindu astrologers declared 15th August as “inauspicious.”24 The ubiquitous Congress Party poster issued with the picture of Prime Minister Nehru in the first post-independence national election of 1952 with the icon of a pair of sacred cows asked voters to “vote Congress for a stable, secular, progressive [italics supplied] state.” In fact the sacred cows remained the Congress Party symbol. On the night of 22-23 December 1949, Hindu idols “mysteriously appeared” in  a sixteenth century mosque, actively used for worship as the Baburi Mosque, in Ayodhya, Fayzabad. The U.P. Congress administration promptly locked the mosque through a court order, and effectively turned it into a temple.25 In western India, the Somanatha temple in Gujarat stood empty and forgotten through much of the period before independence. Thereafter, Gujarati Congress leaders like Deputy Prime Minister Sardar Patel and K.M. Munshi campaigned for its restoration. In May 1951, the temple was built with money provided by Gujarat government.26 In addition to the funds Gujarat provided, in the Congress-ruled Uttar Pradesh, “a system of indirect taxation was devised to pay for the restoration of the temple.” 27 Overruling Nehru’s opposition, President Rajendra Prasad, “with the chanting of Vedic hymns by Brahmin priests, hailed the partial restoration of the temple… [and] took a prominent part in the functions by installing the jyotilingam image in the temple.”28 Evidently, the Indian officials had not heard of the axiom, “Public funds for Public Purposes.”29 To an academic observer, it was “clear that the whole inspiration of this project, with which high government officials (but not Nehru) were so closely identified, was far indeed from the approach which is expected of the secular state.  The plea that the deputy prime minister and the president were acting as individuals in their private capacities is not adequate justification for such activities; the influence and prestige of high office inevitably becomes associated with whatever they do in public.”30 Rajendra Prasad’s successor S. Radhakrishnan “always went to pay respects to Sri Shankaracharya whenever he visited Delhi,” which may have in turn pressured a future incumbent to do likewise.31 When he became President, “Zakir Husain called on Jagadguru Sri Shankaracharya of Srinegri. Placing flowers and fruits at the feet of the Jagadguru, Husain…touched the Swamiji’s feet in reverence and took leave.”32 While the conduct of the two immediate successors of the first president was certainly against the spirit of secularism, it was not directed against religious beliefs of anyone. But the state-sponsored rebuilding of Somanatha had far reaching significance as it encouraged Hindu extremists to claim, and in worst case, destroy the Baburi Masjid. The UP administration led by Congress governments developed Ayodhya as a Hindu religious site from 1949 to 1980s, including unlocking the Baburi Masjid as a place of Hindu worship in 1986. Directly inspired by Deputy Prime Minister Patel’s example, a future Deputy Prime Minister L.K. Advani began his ratha yatra from Somanatha against Baburi Mosque in 1990, culminating in its demolition two years later in 1992.33 The crazed Hindu mob that applied the jack hammers on the mosque in December 1992 was merely completing the task began under Nehru.34 Numerous examples may be cited of state sponsorship of explicitly Hindu religious activities. The central government for instance, promotes Amarnath yatra in Kashmir, officially advertizing it in explicitly denominational terms as a “yearning for moksha which can move the devotees to the challenging heights of Kashmir and will be a fitting gesture of solidarity with our valiant soldiers who have been fighting the enemy to defend our borders.”35 In other words, “what is merely a religious pilgrimage of Hindus has been elevated as a patriotic enterprise.”36 On a trip to United States in 1984, Telugu Desham’s A.P. chief minister N.T. Rama Rao found nothing objectionable in spending state funds on medallions with Hindu gods’ images for distribution among Indian Americans of all faiths as part of a promotion kit to invite investments in his state. 37 Post offices in U.P. sell bottled Ganga water, sacred to Hindus, and marketed through Garhwal Vikas Mandal, a public sector undertaking.38

Hindu Environment in State Institutions: The Armed Forces

According to Shashi Tharoor: "The Army is still a splendid advertisement for India…  The army has no place for bigotry in its ranks: prejudice and discrimination on account of caste or religion are completely unknown." 39 The Army emphasizes inter group harmony.  Every officer, junior commissioned officer or jawan, whatever his religion attends and takes active part in the festivals of all religions represented in a unit.  Religious teachers whether pundits, maulawis, or granthis are trained to impart their particular religious teaching but with due respect to all faiths.  Every Sunday, the whole unit generally attends a religious gathering at a given time. 40 Contrary to this rosy picture, the press reports the celebration only of Hindu festivals, such as Dassera, Divali, Durga puja, Rakhi Poonam, never of the Eids and Christmas for instance.41 Jhatka, not halal meat is served in most officers’ messes and jawans’ langar forcing observant Muslims to eat vegetarian.

Moreover, several events since the 1980s point to emerging problems.  First, the refusal of the army authorities to permit Friday prayers (an Islamic obligation and must be performed in congregation) has given rise to complaints similar to the refusal to allow Muslim soldiers to grow beards, in contrast to the Sikhs, who are permitted to keep them.42 The Air Force also requires existing staff to shave off beards.43 Second, the physical environment of the cantonments, secular for quite some time, has undergone changes. The “cantonment towns now have focal point—the Hanuman temple, dedicated to the Hindu deity of valor.”44 A former Lt. General proudly describes the erection of a Hindu temple in the Rajputana Rifles regimental center on government expense.45 Unlike temples, permission to build mosques in Kanpur and Pune cantonments was denied.46 Worse, an already existing mosque in Danapur cantonment was demolished in July 2005, while an army officer desecrated a Delhi mosque two years later.47 Private sainik, military schools receiving grants from the state impart an exclusively Hindu notion of India rather than of a multi-religious nation.48 Given the socialization centered on a single religious tradition, no wonder that the foundation stone of Army Welfare Organization’s housing scheme began with bhoomi pooja, a Hindu ceremony.49 Concurrent with the Hinduization, army trucks show images of Hindu deities, calls put to the army authorities begin to play Hindu devotional music when put on hold, officers and men display outward symbols of their religion such as vibhuti, sacred ash and tilak, caste marks on the forehead.50 Although the Army explicitly prohibited visible religious signs and symbols over the uniform for men on active duty, yet there are reports of violations.51 India’s modern military arsenals are christened with names that resonate with Hindu religious overtones.  For example, the medium-range and intermediate range missile is named Agni (fire); the short-range surface-to-air missile is named Trishul, (trident), a weapon also wielded by the Hindu god of destruction, Shiva.  The anti-tank missile is named Nag, serpent missile.52 The proclivity of some top military officers to draw values to be inculcated (even when universal in import) only from one tradition, in this case from Hinduism can cause resentment.  For instance, Gen. B.C. Joshi, the Chief of Army Staff exhorted his troops to "to follow the Path of Dharma" and moral obligations "enshrined in the two Vedas—Rigveda and Arthaveda."53 Rear Admiral Vijay Shankar announced that henceforth new naval cadets would be supplied copies of Ramayana for class room exercises.54 Third, invitation to politicians like Bal Thackerey and Tarun Vijay (of Shiv Sena and RSS respectively) to military events caused dismay among Indians committed to inter-group harmony. Gen. Shankar Roy Choudhury evidently paid tributes to Hindu Mahasabha leader and founder of BJS/BJP, a rabidly anti-minority organization.55 Fourth, by allowing the anti-Muslim, anti-Christian Vishva Hindu Parishad to distribute denominational gifts, such as the rakhis, (sacred Hindu wrist-bands given by women to men as a token of sisterly love) to the jawans-regardless of religious affiliation, the army has permitted its premises to be used for sectarian purpose.56 Although the then chief Gen. V.P. Malik—having opened the Pandora’s box by inviting the RSS and the SS chiefs—is reported to have asked them to “leave the army alone,” 57 yet the VHP is clearly undeterred. In February 2003, it sent anti-Christian, anti-Muslim inflammatory literature to the armed forces. 58 The danger of introducing known anti-minority politicians into the armed forces premises seems to have either been lost on the authorities or to show that some of them may be sympathetic to organizations such as the VHP.  However, this is not to suggest that the army can or should ban all religious practices by the men that constitute it.  Any such measures will be constitutionally invalid.  It is the manner in which religion can be imposed on minorities or misused by any group—minority or majority that is the heart of the issue.

Hinduisation of State Culture

The association of Hindu temples with Indian culture no doubt encourages semi-government institutions to use Hindu images in publicity, for example by banks. Underneath the slogan “Our service is religion,” an advertisement of the State Bank of Hyderabad shows what is unmistakably a picture of Sri Venkatesvara temple in Tirupati, popular among South Indian Hindus.59 A large stone image of reclining Vishnu located at the entrance to the inspector-general police’s headquarter in Bangalore greets visitors, many non-Hindus mistaking it for a temple!60 Government’s official functions, whether at state or central level, invariably begin with Hindu rituals and songs, exemplified by the cases of lighting the lamps, or placing coconuts on water-filled brass pots, and the recitation of slokas, hymns. Examples are numerous. For instance, on 14 November 1986, India International Trade Fair began with Vedic hymns by a choral group.”61 In September 1993, Air India took delivery of a Boeing 747 in Seattle, Washington, where a “puja was performed by Swami Gahananda of the Ramakrishna Mission invoking Lord Ganesha.”62 The present writer witnessed a ship launch at Vishakhapatnam amidst saffron-robed, ashen faced sadhus singing bhajans, fit for a Hindu event than a national one. The central government honors scholars of various languages through a hierarchy of awards named in Sanskrit such as Padma Shri, Padma Vibhushan and the like, which seem proper for some languages but not for others like Arabic, Persian and Urdu. British India honored literati with titles such as Shams al-Ulama, “sun among scholars,” for Arabic, Persian, and Urdu writers.  The colonial state, in retrospect, may have been fairer than the national state.  The Andhra Pradesh Health Minister, S. Aruna, a newspaper reported, “laid the foundation stone of the new building of the state dental college with bhoomi puja…two ministers, an MLA, and a host of officials including the Director-General of Health Services, joined the puja.”  63 During a dry spell of weather, a Central Minister for Agriculture S.B. Satyanarayana Rao suggested that “Yagnas should be performed at all villages,” to solve the water crisis.” 64 In the same vein, authorities came up with the idea of a pani yatra, pilgrimage to end water shortage, unmindful of the fact that Osmanabad inhabits Hindus as well as non-Hindus, to whom the pilgrimage was meaningless.65 Preparing for a blast off, the Indian Space Research Organization scientists placed miniature replicas of the rocket in Hindu temples and sought blessings before launch amidst Vedic hymns, to no official disapproval.66 In an official environment soaked with Hindu rituals, it is not surprising to see a sign that greets bathers desiring to wash in the waters of a hot spring in a Bihar town, “Entry of Muslims is prohibited by the order of the Patna High Court.”67 Regardless of religious affiliation, all airhostesses of the official Air India and Indian Airlines are required to wear bindi, a caste mark on their forehead and greet passengers with folded hands in the Hindu fashion of namaste, just as is required of Indian Administrative Staff officers. Door Darshan newsreaders are also compelled to wear bindi in violation of secular norms.68

Hinduisation Through All India Radio and Door Darshan

Before television broadcasting became widespread in the early 1980s, the state-controlled All India Radio (AIR) was the major source of information and entertainment. With virtual monopoly of airwaves, the AIR began its morning programs with “Vande Mataram and Mangala dhwani, (auspicious sonance) …a result of ministerial fiat in the early 1950s… [followed by], Vandana, Hindu lyrics.”69 According to a former Director-General of AIR, U.L. Baruah, “while in theory, the lyrics are chosen…for their noble words and sentiments which should have a universal and nonsectarian appeal, the songs actually included are in praise of one Hindu deity or the other, so much so that days are earmarked for them. Thus Sri Venkateshwara Suprabhatam is broadcast by practically all stations in Andhra Pradesh on Saturdays…70 What about the daily recital of Ramacharitramanas? Evidently, the minister for information and broadcasting decided the recital of this music as he deemed it cultural rather than religious.  The same was held true of Braj madhuri, recounting the legend of Sri Krishna.71 In response to the criticism of Hinduisation through airwaves, the AIR began a program of Quranic recitations on Fridays and Christian devotionals on Sundays but these were exceptional and broadcasted only occasionally from select stations. The language of AIR for most of its north and central Indian stations was a healthy mix of Hindi and Urdu called Hindustani.  Just before independence, Sanskritization set in when Sardar Patel removed those favoring Urdu from AIR.72 India’s Central Board of Film Certification, (CBFC) also known as Censor Board is a department of the Central government. Among other functions, it certifies the language of motion pictures. The CBFC denied Urdu its right by certifying films like Anarkali, Chaudhwin ka Chand, Mughal-i Azam, Mere Mahbub, Mirza Ghalib, Taj Mahal, and Umrao Jan Adaa as Hindi, whereas the songs and dialogues in the films are unmistakably Urdu, highly Persianized at that.  Moreover, the CBFC routinely passes films stereotyping Muslims as crooks, terrorists and rapists, while buckling under pressure of police and Shiva Sena when a film was mildly critical of their role in the pogrom of Muslims in 1993. The CBFC allowed preview of producer Mani Ratnam’s Bombay to Bal Thackerey and police, and deleted portions of film the Shiva Sena leader and his khaki- clad collaborators wanted.73 Bal Thackerey had remarked during the 1993 pogrom that Muslims deserved the same fate as Jews under Nazi Germany.74 Five years later, the CBFC forced producer Mahesh Bhatt to delete portions of his film Zakhm critical of police violence against Muslims.75

In January 1987 an eighteen month-long serial of the Ramayana based on the manas began airing at prime time on state-run Door Darshan. Directly inspired by and cashing on the popularity of the show, ten months after the conclusion of Ramayana, the Vishva Hindu Parishad, called on Hindus to make holy bricks inscribed with Rama’s name for use at Ayodhya after demolishing the Baburi Mosque.  Building on the success of Ramayana, the Door Darshan began a 48-episode series called Chanakya, about the “Indian Machiavelli,” at a time when India was experiencing political convulsions generated by the movement to build a temple atop Baburi Mosque.  Chanakya has long been central to the construction of a Hindu identity of India, and Door Darshan, a state-run institution helped advance the Hindutva perception of the nation.76 The Door Darshan’s stereotypes Muslims as terrorists as exemplified during its coverage of the violent decade of 1990s.77 When it broadcasts serials pertaining to historical figures—Ghalib, Tipu Sultan--- for example, they are caricatured into modern stock characters, stripped of their cultural identity.78

Promotion of Hinduism: Beyond Beef

Article 48 of the Indian constitution titled “Organization of agriculture and animal husbandry,” seems innocuous at first sight, but when read in its entirety it is clear that under the guise of an economic measure, the state is promoting Hinduism by “prohibiting the slaughter of cows and calves and other milch and draught cattle.”79 In 1955, the Central government instituted an award Gopal Ratna, presented to owners of highest milk-yielding cows meeting “the most politically potent of the Hindu demands.”80 According to political scientist Kancha Ilaiah, “beef cannot be served in Air India, Indian Airlines, and armed forces dining halls, Rashtrapati Bhavan, the presidential residence, and a host of other state sites.”81 When Dalit students decided to open a beef stall on the Osmania University campus in 2006, the then-Vice Chancellor M. Sulaiman Siddiqi refused permission.82 Extending the meaning of cow-slaughter ban, the Inspector-General of Prisons R.S. Gupta banned Eid in Tihar Jail with the offensive remark that “since this festival is non-veg, so I cannot allow it to be celebrated here.”83 Restrictions on Hindu food taboos are now extending beyond beef. The Supreme Court upheld in 2004 in Om Prakash v. State of UP, a ban on sale of any meat, fish or eggs at anytime in the year in Rishikesh. In 2005, the Chhattisgarh High Court ruled that “eggs should not be sold in public places as it hurts the sentiments of vegetarians,” while Supreme Court held that the definition of cows includes buffaloes, thus they cannot be slaughtered.”84 The court verdicts no doubt encourage the Hindu groups clamoring to prevent inclusion of eggs in the lunch for students in Karnataka.85 The imposition of Hindu taboos on others stems from the framing of India as a Hindu state and society by Congress86 especially in competition with BJP, as seen from its vociferous espousal of the same issues as BJP.87 In a commercial broadcasted over Door Darshan for a National Dairy Development Board product, Maneka Gandhi, the minister for environment beamed in 1994, “I am a vegetarian because I am an Indian.”88 Kancha Ilaiah counteracts by rejecting the cow as the symbol of all Indians, for him and others the buffalo is more representative both because it more ubiquitous as well as devoid of association with one religion.89 Student lunch precede by a Hindu prayer in several states in violation of secular norms.90

Hinduization Through Education and Public Culture

What kind of education would be imparted to the school children? Who would write what contents in the books, especially those textbooks in history, social studies and languages? This has been a contentious matter in India since the 1930s. The Muslim League protested the inclusion of Hindu mythology, ideas, and symbols in public-funded schools during the 1937-39 Congress rule in provinces.91 Disregarding Muslim protest, Congress governments in post 1947 U.P. continued their pre independence educational policies, prompting Syed Abulhasan Ali Nadvi to term it as “cultural aggression” as far back as 1960s. 92 In the late 1970s, the first non-Congress administration at the national level was unable to resolve the issue of biased text books.93 Consonant with the Hindu intensification in school curricula, the Ramayana and Mahabharata began to be taught in Delhi to all students while nothing comparable from other religions in the wake of the TV serial Mahabharata.94 Under a Congress administration, the annual conference of union and state education ministers began since independence with invocation of Sarasvati, the Hindu goddess of knowledge.95 The occasion on 3 December 1997 was no different, as school children sang Sarasvati Vandana, in the presence of the president and prime minister in New Delhi. When some ministers objected, Murli Manohar Joshi, the central minister belonging to BJP affirmed that “It is nothing new.  Right from the days of Nehru, invocations have been sung.”96 At the same event in 1998, students routinely recited the Sarasvati Vandana. This time the non-BJP ministers led by the then Andhra Pradesh education minister and Dalit leader, K. Pratibha Bharati objected and walked out of the conference.97 With the coming of BJP to power in UP, the government ordered the compulsory recitation of Vande Mataram and Sarasvati Vandana, but relented only when faced with Muslim opposition. 98 Textbooks were not changed despite protest even after a new administration took office in 2004 at the center.99 A judge in Allahabad, U.P. High Court opined that “it is the duty of every citizen of India…irrespective of caste, creed or religion to follow the dharma propounded by Bhagwad Gita.”100 The BJP-led central government, among other Hindutva measures, encouraged the University Grants Commission to “introduce graduate and post-graduate courses in Vedic astrology.”101 A BJP-ruled state of Madhya Pradesh, made Surya Namaskar, sun worship, compulsory on all students, withdrawing the measure when Muslims protested.102 The Karnataka government, formed by a coalition of BJP and other parties, decided in July 2007 to scrap Christmas holiday, slipped in as part of the reorganization of school year into a semester system, much to the dismay of minority Christians in the state.

Discrimination on the Basis of Religion in Public Employment

Article 16 (2) of the constitution says that “no citizen shall, on grounds only of religion be ineligible for, or discriminated against in respect of, any employment or office of the state.” In practice, however the situation is different. Right after independence, Kashmir’s largely Hindu army was absorbed in the national army, while Hyderabad’s largely Muslim army was disbanded rendering nearly 20,000 unemployed. As I have demonstrated elsewhere, India’s 1.5 million army’s most important infantry units are named after religious (Sikh for example), ethnic (Gurkha), and caste and region (Rajput, Garhwal) regiments.  Anyone not belonging to these religions or castes or regional groups is excluded. Given that these regiments constitute a bulk of the army, the continuation of the single-ethnic-religious regiments represents a clear violation of the constitution.103 India’s new paramilitaries and espionage agencies excluded Muslims for long and now Sikhs are also distrusted since the 1980s.

The Scheduled Castes have long been the beneficiaries of an affirmative action system for public employment, education, and electoral system, but only if they remain within the Hindu and Sikh religion per Presidential order of 1950 and 1956 respectively. When several thousand Dalits converted to Buddhism in 1956, the state governments quickly withdrew the benefits,104 restoring it with an amendment to the order only upon massive protests in 1991. The affirmative action plan is not designed to benefit the poor on a purely economic basis.  It is designed to benefit only those who have been branded Hindu, thus it is not religion-blind. Christian and Muslim poor are thus denied the benefits of reservation simply because they profess a religion other than Hinduism.105 Tamilnadu removed a state employee on conversion to Islam in pursuance of this policy as early as 1983 per government order.106 In Andhra Pradesh, government forced an SC convert to Islam to resign his position after he declared his conversion.107 Former Prime Minister V.P. Singh echoed the views of many when he demanded the state to “remove the “communal clause” from the constitution” in matters of reservation.108 Benefits of affirmative action are contingent upon a person remaining within the Hindu fold. If a person converts to another faith after availing benefits, he or she must resign the job or return the money to the state. As the courts have ruled, it is possible to resume Scheduled Caste status if the SC person reconverts from any other religion back to Hinduism!


Indian secularism may be “majoritarianism,” as Upadhyaya suggested if we accept that Hindus constitute Indian majority population, which I contend elsewhere that it is problematic.109 Contrary to Varshney, I demonstrate that secularism in its Indian usage is in fact proximity to Hinduism, not religious equidistance.  Its “ameliorative” character, contrary to Jacobsohn is motivated at least partially by a desire to curb conversion to religions other than Hinduism and to construct a Hindu out of a myriad of sects, a new primordialism.  Again contrary to Jacobsohn, Indian state secularism in fact restricts cultural, linguistic and religious autonomy. The root cause of the state’s Hinduisation stems from the Indian elite’s perception of Christians and Muslims as less Indian than Hindus.  Their notion of India, coterminous with Hindus led them to draft the apparatus of the state in a manner designed to assimilate into Hinduism whoever is not proven to be Christian or Muslim. Article 1 of the constitution, describes “India, that is Bharat,”110 to denote the founding father’s conception of the nation, which in the words of Girilal Jain, the late editor of The Times of India, has “In all but name…been a Hindu rashtra since 1947.  This is unpleasant from the Muslim point of view.”111 Given that Muslims are the “other” for many in right wing upper caste Hindu elite, Jain mentions only Muslims as being unhappy with the Hindu rashtra. Had he been an academic he would have added that many religious Hindus seeking church-state separation, Buddhists, Christians, Dalits, STs, and Sikhs, not to speak of liberal to Maoist/Naxalite shade of Indian opinion-- are also unhappy with the Hindu rashtra. But as William Gould has demonstrated, the making of Hindu rashtra since 1947 has roots in Congress’s use of an explicit Hindu idiom in the political language since late nineteenth century.112 The preface to the Hinduisation of the state was written long before 1947.

The author is grateful to Professors Peter Flugel, SOAS, John Mansfield, Harvard University Law School, Chris Queen, Harvard University, Haimanti Roy, MIT, and Theodore P. Wright, Jr. emeritus, SUNY-Albany for comments on the earlier drafts of the paper. Thanks also to Shiben Banerjee, a graduate student at MIT’s Department of Urban Studies. I am responsible for views expressed in the paper.

Omar Khalidi is on the staff of Aga Khan Program for Islamic Architecture at Massachusetts Institute of Technology, in Cambridge, Mass and an independent scholar. He is the author of Muslims in Indian Economy, 2006; Khaki and Ethnic Violence in India, 2003; and edited Hyderabad: After the Fall, 1988, and wrote numerous articles on Indian politics, urbanism and architecture.  His academic interests are in the upward and downward economic mobility of ethnic groups, nationalism, and minorities in the politics and society of India.

1 Donald E Smith, India as a Secular State, Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press, 1963.

2 Prakash Chandra Upadhyaya, ‘The politics of Indian secularism’, Modern Asian Studies, 26 (4), 1992,

p 815.

3 Ashutosh Varshney, Ethnic Conflict and Civic Life: Hindus and Muslims in India, New Haven, CT:

Yale University Press, 2002, p 56.

4 Gary J Jacobsohn, The Wheel of Law: India’s Secularism in Comparative Constitutional Context,

Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press, 1993.

5 Pritam Singh, ‘Hindu bias in India’s ‘‘secular’’ constitution: probing flaws in the instrument of

governance’, Third World Quarterly, 26 (6), 2005, p 915.

6 Ibid.

7 See Aarti Dhar, ‘Inter-caste marriages: center for more incentives’, The Hindu, 15 September 2006,

internet edition; Prerana Thakurdesai, ‘The big fraud Indian wedding’, India Today, 25 June 2007,

pp 40–41; and ‘Modi eschews controversy’, The Hindu, 30 January 2007, in which the

Gujarat Chief Minister reveals that the state provides Rs50 000 per couple for inter-caste

marriage. When Punjab extended the same scheme to include Christians and Muslims, the BJP

protested. See ‘BJP accuses Punjab CM of appeasing minorities’, The Hindu, 25 October 2006,

internet edition.

8 Pratap Mehta, ‘Why the BJP is calm’, The Telegraph, 4 March 2004, internet edition.

9 Rina Verma Williams, ‘Reconceptualizing the nation-state: religion, personal law, and ethnic conflict

in India’, PhD thesis, Harvard University, 1998, pp 1–2.

10 Jon B Fullerton, ‘Social unity and self-determination of peoples’, PhD dissertation, Harvard

University, 1997.

11 Ranu Jain, ‘Minority rights in education: reflections on Article 30 of the Indian Constitution’,

Economic and Political Weekly, 11 June 2005, pp 2430–2441.

12 ‘AMU circles hail verdict’, The Hindu, 25 April 2006, internet edition; and AG Noorani, ‘Diversity in

university’, Hindustan Times, 17 October 2005, internet edition.

13 Sadhana Saxena, cited in Singh, ‘Hindu bias in India’s ‘‘secular’’ constitution’, p 918.

14 TK Oomen, ‘Insiders and outsider in India: primordial collectivism and cultural pluralism in nation-

building’, International Sociology, 1 (2), 1986, p 66.

15 Omar Khalidi, ‘Politics of official language status for Urdu in India’, Journal of South Asian and

Middle Eastern Studies, 27 (3), 2004, pp 53–77.

16 Ibid.

17 Constituent Assembly Debates, Vol III, New Delhi: Lok Sabha Secretariat, 1946–66, p 484. Similar

views were expressed by Krishna Kant, Congress MP. See ‘Voluntary moratorium on conversion’,

Muslim India, March 1992, pp 132–133.

18 ‘Plan of Action’, secret note from the Ministry of Home Affairs, text as published in Surya and The

Statesman, 16 November 1982 and republished in Muslim India, February 1983, pp 89–90.

19 Manas Dasgupta, ‘Bill violative of freedom of religion: Gujarat governor’, The Hindu, 1 August 2007,

internet edition.

20 ‘Bill to repeal anti-conversion law passed’, Asian Age, 1 June 2006, internet edition.

21 Conversation with Fr Cedric Prakash in Cambridge, MA, 21 June 2008.

22 The statement of P Sundara Kumar, Commissioner of Hindu Endowments, as reported in ‘State to

pay pujas in old temples’, Deccan Chronicle, 9 July 2007, internet edition.

23 Marc Galanter, ‘Hinduism, secularism and the Indian judiciary’, Philosophy: East and West, 21 (4),

1971, pp 467–487.

24 Ramachandra Guha, India after Gandhi, New York: Harper Collins, 2007, p 21.

25 AG Noorani (ed), The Babri Masjid Question, 1528–2003: A Matter of National Honor, New Delhi:

Tulika, 2003, esp ch V, ‘How a masjid was converted into a temple’.

26 Romila Thapar, Somanatha: The Many Voices of a History, New Delhi: Penguin, 2004, p 191.

27 Smith, India as a Secular State, p 387.

28 Ibid.

29 A similar argument can be made against the government’s ‘Haj airfare subsidy’ paid to pilgrims. The

Muslim leadership has demanded it be scrapped as it is unislamic to perform Haj at state expense.

Syed Shahabuddin, ‘Haj subsidy is a fact and must go eventually’, Milli Gazette, 15 September 2002,


30 Smith, India as a Secular State, p 387. Nehru categorically opposed the rebuilding. See his Letters to

Chief Ministers, II, ed G Parthasarathi, New Delhi: Oxford University Press, 1985–89, pp 388, 462;

and Thapar, Somanatha, pp 189–194.

31 M Mujeeb, Dr Zakir Husain: A Biography, New Delhi: National Book Trust, 1972, p 238.

32 Ibid.


33 Peter van der Veer, ‘Ayodhya and Somnath: eternal shrines, contested histories’, Social Research,

59 (1), 1992, pp 85–109.

34 Zoya Hasan, ‘Communal mobilization and changing majority’, in David Ludden (ed), Making India

Hindu, New Delhi: Oxford University Press, 2005, p 92.

35 Gautam Naulakha, ‘Pilgrim’s progress causes regression’, Economic and Political Weekly, 8–15 July

2006, p 2976.

36 Ibid.

37 Theodore P Wright, Jr & Omar Khalidi, ‘Majority Hindu images, stereotypes and demands of the

minority in India: the backlash’, Journal of the Institute of Muslim Minority Affairs, 12 (2), 1991, p 328.

38 ‘Keep off the business of faith’, Times of India, 5 June 2008, internet edition.

39 Shashi Tharoor, India from Midnight to Millennium, New York: Harper, 1998, p 338.

40 Maj Gen Afsir Karim, The Indian Armed Forces: A Basic Guide, New Delhi: Lancer Publishers, 1995,

p 58; and ‘Many faiths, one army’, Indian Express, 25 August 1999, internet edition.

41 ‘Military men come together for Mata Here’, Deccan Chronicle, 5 October 2000.

42 ‘Army order on Juma prayers’, Radiance, 26 June–2 July 1994, p 1. The order in question is the

Ministry of Defence letter no 85347 (R.G-5) COV C dated 25 April 1995, with effect from 10 June

1994; also cited in Gautam Navlakha, ‘Politics of silhouetted anger’, Economic and Political Weekly,

18–25 February 1995, p 367. See also ‘Growing of beards by army personnel: memo to home

minister’, Radiance, 6–12 October 1991, p 1.

43 Asrarul Haq Qasimi, ‘Air force and bearded muslims’, Milli Gazette, 16–20 September 2003, p 16.

Circular No AIR-HQ/C23406/24/PS dated 24 February 2003 was signed by Air Chief Marshal S


44 KM Kulkarni, ‘The cantonment towns of India’, Ekistics, 277, 1979, pp 218–219.

45 Lt Gen AM Sethna & Lt Col Valmiki Katju, Traditions of a Regiment: The Story of Rajputana Rifles,

New Delhi: Lancers, 1982, pp 213–15.

46 Seventh Annual Report of the Minorities Commission for the Period 1-4-1984 to 31-3-1985, New Delhi:

Controller of Publications, 1987, p 52; and ‘Plea against bungling of Waqf properties’, Radiance,

2–8 November 1997, p 22.

47 ‘Protest against demolition of Bihar mosque’, Milli Gazette, 1–15 July 2005, p 5; and ‘Army officer

desecrates Delhi mosque’, Milli Gazette, 16–31 July 2007, p 4.

48 Veronique Benei, ‘Serving the nation: gender and family values in military schools’, in Patricia Jeffrey

& Radhika Chopra (eds), Values and Education, New Delhi: Sage, 2005, ch 6.

49 Foundation of public sector housing with Bhoomi Puja’, Muslim India, January 1988, p 40.

50 Saikat Datta, ‘Reminder from the army HQ: don’t wear religion on khaki sleeves’, Indian Express,

17 July 2004, internet edition.

51 ‘Army asks jawans not to wear rings or sacred threads’, Deccan Chronicle, 19 January 2004, p 9; and

Datta, ‘Reminder from the army HQ’.

52 Srini Sitaraman, ‘Colonialism, masculinity, and revivalist Hindu nationalism’, Journal of South Asian

and Middle Eastern Studies, 30 (3), 2007, p 76.

53 ‘New army chief stresses need to uphold human rights’, India News, Washington, DC: Indian

Embassy, 15 July 1993, p 7.

54 New Indian Express, 13 April 2001, quoted by MC Menon, ‘Saffronization of navy, too!’, Milli

Gazette, 1–15 June 2001, p 7.

55 Gautam Chanderi, ‘Gen Shankar Roy Choudhury’s tribute to Shyama Prasad Mukherjee’, Hindustan

Times, 7 July 1999, internet edition.

56 ‘Bhagwat spews fire at Fernandes’, Hindustan Times, 23 February 1999, electronic edition. This

refers to Admiral Vishnu Bhagwat’s charge that Gen VP Malik invited the Shiv Sena leader to the

army investiture parade at Shivaji Park, Mumbai. ‘VHP gift-wraps Ram with free ACs’, Hindustan

Times, 20 August 1999, electronic edition. The VHP delegation visiting the soldiers at the army base

hospital in New Delhi were received and taken on a tour by Brig YD Sharma, the hospital


57 ‘Leave us alone’, Communalism Combat, 7 (52), 1999, p 36.

58 ‘Hindutva newsletters mailed to defense officers’,, 22 February 2003.

59 Advertisement in Forum for Better Hyderabad, Annual Number 2004–2005, Hyderabad, 2006.

60 Smith, India as a Secular State, p 387. In September 2007 the Maharashtra government ordered police

stations to stop celebrating Hindu ceremonies and to remove idols.

61 Syed Shahabuddin’s letter to the prime minister, ‘Hindu rituals in official functions’, Muslim India,

January 1987, p 8.

62 India Abroad, 10 September 1993, p 24.

63 ‘Foundation for college building laid’, The Hindu, 9 October 2001, internet edition.

64 ‘Central minister wants yagna for rains’, Deccan Chronicle, 11 May 2000, internet edition.


65 Anupama Katakam, ‘A walk to save water’, Frontline, 19 June–2 July 2004, at http:// For an excellent account of

religious environmentalism in India, see Meera Nanda, The Wrongs of Religious Right, New Delhi:

Three Essays Collective, 2005.

66 GS Radhakrishna, ‘Space science in Lord’s hands’, The Telegraph, 5 May 2005, internet edition; and

‘Missile launch with help from gods’, Indian Express, 27 April 2007, internet edition.

67 Amarrnath Tewary, ‘Challenge over Hindus-only hot spring’, BBC News, 9 July 2007, at http://

68 ‘Screen injustice’, Radiance, 22–28 April 1990, p 2.

69 UL Baruah, ‘Why only the voice of Hinduism on the All India Radio?’, Radiance, 18–24 December

1984, cited in Muslim India, March 1984, p 107.

70 Ibid.

71 Ibid.

72 David Lelyveld, ‘Talking the national language: Hindi/Urdu/Hindustani in Indian broadcasting and

cinema’, in Sujata Patel (ed), Thinking Social Sciences in India, New Delhi: Sage, 2003, pp 355–366.

73 Angie Mallhi, The Illusion of Secularism: Mani Ratnam’s Bombay and the Consolidation of Hindu

Hegemony, Occasional Paper # 31, Department of History of Art, University of Victoria, Canada,

2006, at’s%20paper.pdf. For the partisan role

of the police in Bombay and elsewhere, see Omar Khalidi, Khaki and Ethnic Violence in India, New

Delhi: Three Essays Press, 2003.

74 Time (Asia edition), 5 April 1993, p 23.

75 ‘Bhatt angry over cuts proposed in Zakhm’, Indian Express, 21 November 1998, internet edition.

76 See Nalin Mehta, ‘Archive of imagination’, Biblio, September 2006, p 14; and, more generally, Arvind

Rajagopal, Politics after Television: Religious Nationalism and the Reshaping of the Indian Public,

Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2001.

77 ‘Emergence of unhealthy trends’, Radiance, 6–12 January 1991, p 2.

78 ‘Indian TV’s Ghalib: made for masses’, Indus Review, November 1989, p 1; and ‘TV will air ‘‘Tipu’’

series’, India Abroad, 15 November 1989, p 16.


80 Mehta, ‘Why the BJP is calm’.

81 Conversations with Kancha Ilaiah, MIT, 8 July 2007.

82 ‘Muslim VC chickens out over beef’, was the title of the pamphlet students distributed on campus.

83 Letter from Muslim inmates of Tihar Jail, published as ‘Ban on Eid-ul-Azha in Tihar Jail’, Radiance,

25–31 May 1997, p 25.

84 Imtiaz Ahmad, ‘Court rulings: of eggs and beef’, Economic and Political Weekly, 26 November 2006,

pp 4989–4991.

85 ‘Egg has become a bone of contention’, The Hindu, 26 January 2007, internet edition.

86 Anthony Parel, ‘The political symbolism of the cow in India’, Journal of Commonwealth Political

Studies, 7 (3), 1967, pp 179–203.

87 Uday Mahurkar, ‘Stealing BJP’s thunder: Chimanbhai bans cow slaughter in Gujarat’, India Today,

31 October 1993, p 20.

88 As viewed on Door Darshan, 5 November 1994.

89 Kancha Illaiah, Buffalo Nationalism, Mumbai: Popular Prakashan, 2004.

90 Sahar Khan, ‘Madrasas boycott mid-day meal refusing compromise on faith in Madhya Pradesh’,

Radiance, 1 September 2007, p 19; and ‘A sentimental pilgrim’, blog dated 5 February 2007, at http:///

91 Joachim Oesterheld, ‘Muslims and primary education in the Central Provinces and Berar, 1920–

1947’, Oriente Moderno, 81 (1), 2004, pp 245–262.

92 Syed AbulHasan Ali Nadvi, cited in Smith, India as a Secular State, p 389; and examples from various

state school texts in VK Sinha (ed), Secularism in India, Bombay: Lalwani, 1968.

93 Lloyd I Rudolph & Susanne Hoeber Rudolph, ‘Rethinking secularism: genesis and implications of the

textbook controversy, 1977–79’, in Lloyd I Rudolph, Cultural Policy in India, New Delhi: Chanakya,

1984, pp 13–41.

94 Ausaf Saied Vasfi, ‘After the TV serials: Ramayana and the Mahabharata’, Radiance, 23–29 April

1989, pp 6–7.

95 Kaveree Bamzai, ‘Joshi’s lower education’, India Today, 23 February 2004, p 25.

96 MM Joshi, ‘Those who oppose me are insignificant’, India Today, 9 November 1998, p 26.

97 Anita Katyal, ‘Joshi’s move to introduce Hindutva to education meet raises hackles’, Times of India,

21 October 1998, internet edition. Significantly, the protesting ministers included the Sikh Akali Dal

minister from Punjab, an ally of the BJP.

98 ‘UP withdraws Kalpa Yojana scheme’, Radiance, 13–19 December 1998, p 22.


99 Kaveree Bamzai, ‘Historic mess’, India Today, 9 August 2004, pp 8–9; and ‘Irfan Habib criticizes

failure to reverse saffronization’, The Hindu, 14 July 2004, internet edition.

100 Rajesh Kumar Pandey, ‘Treat Gita as Rashtrya Dharma Shastra: HC’, Hindustan Times, 11

September 2007, internet edition.

101 Bamzai, ‘Historic mess’, p 25; and T Jayaraman, ‘A judicial blow’, Frontline, 9–22 June 2004, at

102 ‘After Vande Mataram, it is BJP Surya Namaskar order in MP’, Indian Express, 1 January 2007,

internet edition; and ‘Mass Surya Namaskar in Madhya Pradesh’, The Hindu, 13 January 2008,

internet edition.

103 Khalidi, Khaki and Ethnic Violence in India; Khalidi, ‘Scheduled for recruitment?’, Hindustan Times,

4 March 2007, op ed on the absence of scheduled castes in the army.

104 Owen M Lynch, The Politics of Untouchability, New York: Columbia University Press, 1969, p 147.

105 Jose Kananaikal, ‘Secular state and religious criterion for reservations’, Social Action, 36 (2), 2002, pp

137–148; and Syed Zafar Mahmood, ‘Provided they profess religion’, Milli Gazette, 16–31 June 2007,

p 4.

106 ‘Harijan government servant to be removed’, Muslim India, November 1983, p 490, citing TN

government department of social welfare.

107 Newstime, 20 October 1990, p 1; and Siyasat, 20 October 1991, p 5, citing GO43 issued by

Kumaraswami Reddy, Principal Secretary, Government of Andhra Pradesh.

108 At a symposium on the Sachar Committee in New Delhi, 12 December 2006.

109 Omar Khalidi, ‘Hindu by default? Inflating religious majority in India’, forthcoming.

110 Pakistan’s usually anti-India Urdu press revels in calling India ‘Bharat’ in order to emphasise its

Hindu character in the same fashion as does the Hindutva.

111 Girilal Jain, ‘Secularism: the contentious creed’, India Today, 15 May 1991, p 70.

112 William Gould, Hindu Nationalism and the Language of Politics in Late Colonial India, Cambridge:

Cambridge University Press, 2004.

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