Seema Guha https://www.opendemocracy.net/taxonomy/term/17717/all cached version 17/02/2019 22:07:21 en Crushing dissent: NGOs under threat in India https://www.opendemocracy.net/openglobalrights/seema-guha/crushing-dissent-ngos-under-threat-in-india <div class="field field-summary"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <p><img src="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/GuhaJuly15.jpg" alt="" width="140" /></p><p>Can NGOs and India’s political opposition stop Modi’s civil society clampdown? A contribution to the <a href="https://opendemocracy.net/openglobalrights" target="_blank">openGlobalRights</a> debate, <a href="https://www.opendemocracy.net/openglobalrights/funding-for-human-rights" target="_blank">Funding for Human Rights</a>.</p> </div> </div> </div> <p dir="ltr">Non-governmental organizations (NGOs) in India have been put on notice. By recently <a href="http://www.thetimes.co.uk/tto/news/world/asia/article4464038.ece" target="_blank">denying entry to Greenpeace</a> and <a href="https://nonprofitquarterly.org/policysocial-context/26029-india-puts-ford-foundation-on-notice.html" target="_blank">placing the Ford Foundation on its watch list</a>, the Modi government has sent a clear message to all NGOs: be very, very careful. “The target is not just Greenpeace,” says Anil Chaudhuri, coordinator of Indian Social Action Forum (INSAF), “but also the thousands of smaller NGOs working with communities in tribal areas&nbsp;and forests.” </p><p dir="ltr">The effect has been profound. Locating the offices of smaller Indian NGOs is becoming more difficult as many remove their signage. “We don’t want to draw attention, as [we] never know when a policeman or … official [will] come and trouble us,’’ said the director of a small NGO in North Bengal that works closely with the police to rescue young girls from traffickers. His is not a foreign funded outfit, but the fear of being targeted has permeated the entire Indian NGO community.</p><p dir="ltr">Of course, neither the Ford Foundation nor Greenpeace will really be affected; they are too large and established. Instead, those feeling the most impact will be the smaller outfits who cannot defend themselves and can’t work without outside help. According to <a href="https://www.opendemocracy.net/openglobalrights/lenin-raghuvanshi/in-india-pervasive-paranoia-blocks-progress-on-human-rights" target="_blank">Lenin Raghuvanshi</a>, founder and director of the Peoples’ Vigilance Committee on Human Rights (PVCHR) in Uttar Pradash, many smaller groups will shut down without foreign aid. Those most at risk are working against discrimination, a topic India’s upper castes typically refuse to support.</p><p dir="ltr">What is driving India’s civil society clampdown? Prime Minister Modi swept to power in May 2014 on an economic development platform, promising acche din (better days) for all Indians. He was massively funded by a corporate India tired of the previous government’s economic non-performance. With unwavering faith in Modi, Indian industry is looking to smooth the way towards land acquisition and subsoil mineral access, both of which are often found in tribal areas across the country.</p><p dir="ltr">Modi has travelled widely, exhorting foreign businessmen to “make in India” and turn the country into a manufacturing hub. Clearly, he ignores <a href="https://www.opendemocracy.net/openglobalrights/medha-patkar/pure-hypocrisy-india%E2%80%99s-fear-of-foreign-funding-for-ngos" target="_blank">the hypocrisy of courting foreign investment</a> while restricting NGOs from doing the same. Still, <a href="http://www.tradingeconomics.com/india/foreign-direct-investment" target="_blank">foreign direct investment (FDI) has not increased significantly</a>, and overseas businesses say there is still no sign that doing business in India is getting much easier. Modi’s National Democratic Alliance knows that unless it creates sufficient jobs, its popularity will suffer, and so the government sees NGOs, especially those in the environmental sector, as an impediment to growth.</p> <!--Image/Credit/Caption Begins--> <div style="color: #999999; font-size: 11px; line-height: normal; font-style: italic; text-align: right;"> <img style="max-width: 100%; background-color: #ffffff; padding: 7px; border: 1px solid #999999;" src="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/GuhaJuly15.jpg" width="444" /> <br />Demotix/Nishant Ratnakar (All rights reserved) </div> <p style="color: #666666; font-size: 12px; line-height: normal;"> An Indian NGO highlights the environmental consequences of a commuter rail line project in Bangalore by holding a funeral for felled trees in the train's path. </p> <hr style="color: #d2d3d5; background-color: #d2d3d5; height: 1px; width: 85%; border: none; text-align: center; margin: 0 auto;" /> <!--Image/Credit/Caption Ends--> <p dir="ltr">“This government…is driven by corporate interests and feels NGOs are against development,” explains NGO leader Raghuanshi. He rejects the claim, however; “We want development,” he says, “but not at the cost of marginalised communities or …the environment.” </p><p dir="ltr"><span class="print-no mag-quote-left" style="line-height: 1.5;">'We want development, but not at the cost of marginalised communities or …the environment.' &nbsp;</span>Indian officials are also pursuing action against activist Teesta Setalvad and her husband, Javed Anand, both civil rights activists and journalists in charge of <a href="http://www.sabrang.com/" target="_blank">Sabrang Communications</a>, a group dedicated to fighting India’s societal divisions. Sabrang publishes a monthly magazine, Communalism Combat, and runs a program called Khoj, which teaches tolerance and secular values to Mumbai school children. Setalvad and Anand are also trustees of <a href="http://www.cjponline.org/" target="_blank">Citizens for Justice and Peace</a> (CJP), a group that offers free legal aid and is currently a co-petitioner seeking criminal charges against Modi and 62 other government officials for their involvement in the Gujarat violence of 2002. </p><p dir="ltr">In 2006, Ford Foundation gave $200,000 to Sabrang, and NGOs speculate that the government has targeted the New York-based donor because of this grant. Since 2010, the police have repeatedly charged Sabrang director Teesta Setalvad with all manner of legal violations. </p><p><span style="line-height: 1.5;">Attacks on environmental NGOs are not entirely new, however. Prior to Modi’s election, the Congress-led government had a similar mind-set, especially when dealing with anti-nuclear activists. In fact, it was Congress that created the first laws restricting foreign donations to local NGOs in 1976, and Congress once again tightened that law in 2010. Over the years, all manner of governments have used these laws to harass local non-profits.</span></p><p dir="ltr">The government often catches NGOs out because many do not have the proper training or knowledge to fill out legal forms or file paperwork. As a result, official investigations typically do reveal violations. </p><p dir="ltr">And yet, former Congress leader Sonia Gandhi launched her government in 2004 by packing her National Advisory Council with NGO representatives. In fact, her son and Congress General Secretary Rahul Gandhi met representatives of several NGOs this week, including Greenpeace activist Priya Pillai. Now that Rahul has declared his support for India’s NGOs, the Congress party is likely to challenge the Modi government. “This kind of crackdown on NGOs is neither acceptable in our democratic society, nor appropriate or healthy for democracy,” says Congress spokesperson Randeep Surjawala.</p><p dir="ltr">If India’s NGOs unite against official harassment, and if Congress parliamentarians lend their support, Modi’s government may find it increasingly hard to crush dissenting voices.</p><p><span class='wysiwyg_imageupload image 0'><a href="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/wysiwyg_imageupload_lightbox_preset/wysiwyg_imageupload/537772/EPlogo-ogr-4_2.png" rel="lightbox[wysiwyg_imageupload_inline]" title="imgupl_floating_none"><img src="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/article_large/wysiwyg_imageupload/537772/EPlogo-ogr-4_2.png" alt="" title="imgupl_floating_none" width="300" height="115" class="imagecache wysiwyg_imageupload 0 imagecache imagecache-article_large" 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class="field field-rights"> <div class="field-label">Rights:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> CC by NC 4.0 </div> </div> </div> openGlobalRights openGlobalRights Seema Guha South Asia Funding for Human Rights Closing Space for Civil Society Wed, 15 Jul 2015 08:30:00 +0000 Seema Guha 94199 at https://www.opendemocracy.net भारत में मानव मलमूत्र हटाने के कार्य (मैनुअल स्केवेंजिंग) को समाप्त करने के लिए हिंदू धार्मिक नेताओं को बोलना पड़ेगा https://www.opendemocracy.net/openglobalrights/seema-guha/%E0%A4%AD%E0%A4%BE%E0%A4%B0%E0%A4%A4-%E0%A4%AE%E0%A5%87%E0%A4%82-%E0%A4%AE%E0%A4%BE%E0%A4%A8%E0%A4%B5-%E0%A4%AE%E0%A4%B2%E0%A4%AE%E0%A5%82%E0%A4%A4%E0%A5%8D%E0%A4%B0-%E0%A4%B9%E0%A4%9F%E0%A4%BE%E0%A4%A8%E0%A5%87-%E0%A4%95%E0%A5%87-%E0%A4%95%E0%A4%BE%E0%A4%B0%E0%A5%8D%E0%A4%AF-%E0%A4%AE%E0%A5%88%E0%A4%A8%E0%A5%81%E0%A4%85%E0%A4%B2-%E0%A4%B8%E0%A5%8D%E0%A4%95%E0%A5%87%E0%A4%B5%E0%A5%87%E0%A4%82%E0%A4%9C%E0%A4%BF%E0%A4%82%E0%A4%97-%E0%A4%95%E0%A5%8B-%E0%A4%B8%E0%A4%AE%E0%A4%BE%E0%A4%AA%E0%A5%8D%E0%A4%A4-%E0%A4%95%E0%A4%B0%E0%A4%A8%E0%A5%87-%E0%A4%95 <div class="field field-summary"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <p><span class='wysiwyg_imageupload image imgupl_floating_right 0'><a href="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/wysiwyg_imageupload_lightbox_preset/wysiwyg_imageupload/549299/Guha1.jpeg" rel="lightbox[wysiwyg_imageupload_inline]" title=""><img src="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/article_xsmall/wysiwyg_imageupload/549299/Guha1.jpeg" alt="" title="" width="140" height="97" class="imagecache wysiwyg_imageupload 0 imagecache imagecache-article_xsmall" style=""/></a> <span class='image_meta'></span></span><span style="font-size: 13.3333339691162px; line-height: 21.6666679382324px;"></span></p><p>दलित समुदायों द्वारा कच्चे सीवेज को एकत्रित करने की प्रथा के विरूद्ध भारत में हिंदू धार्मिक नेता प्रबलता से अभियान चलाने के लिए अनिच्छुक रहे हैं, और यही कारण इस प्रथा के उन्मूलन करने के प्रयासों की प्रगति को धीमी कर रहा है। openGlobalRights की बहस, <a href="https://www.opendemocracy.net/openglobalrights/religion-and-human-rights" target="_blank">धर्म और मानव अधिकार</a> के लिए एक योगदान। <em><strong><a href="https://www.opendemocracy.net/openglobalrights/seema-guha/to-end-manual-scavenging-in-india-hindu-religious-leaders-must-speak-up" target="_blank">English</a></strong></em></p> </div> </div> </div> <p dir="ltr">आज़ादी के उनहत्तर वर्षों के बाद भारत में "मैनुअल स्केवेंजिंग" (मानव मलमूत्र हटाने के कार्य) पर एक हाल ही में प्रस्तुत <a href="http://www.hrw.org/reports/2014/08/25/cleaning-human-waste" target="_blank">ह्यूमन राइट्स वॉच की रिपोर्ट</a> में देश के अधिकतर भागों में प्रचलित एक घृणित प्रथा पर प्रकाश डाला गया है। </p><p dir="ltr">छियानवे पृष्ठों की इस रिपोर्ट के अनुसार राज्य और केन्द्रीय कानूनों के बावजूद स्थानीय अधिकारी अभी भी अक्सर दलितों या "अछूतों" को उँची जातियों के मानव मलमूत्र को प्राचीन उपकरणों के माध्यम से साफ़ करवाते हैं, जिससे अक्सर उनके हाथ और पैर कच्चे मलमूत्र के संपर्क में आते हैं। इन "शुष्क शौचालयों" के अधिकांश सफ़ाई कर्मचारी महिलाएं होती हैं, क्योंकि दलित पुरुषों को खुले में शौच के लिए इस्तेमाल किए जाने वाले सेप्टिक टैंकों और क्षेत्रों की सफ़ाई करनी पड़ती है। उनके काम की भयानक परिस्थितियों के अलावा, इन निम्न-जाति के सफ़ाई कर्मचारियों को अक्सर हिंसा, उत्पीड़न और मज़दूरी रोक देने जैसी समस्याओं का सामना करना पड़ता है।</p><p dir="ltr">मानव मलमूत्र हटाने के कार्य (मैनुअल स्केवेंजिंग) को अपराध घोषित करते हुए नवीनतम कानून को सभी राजनीतिक दलों के समर्थन के साथ 2013 में भारत की संसद ने पारित किया था। और फिर भी, स्केवेंजिंग कायम है। पहले की सरकारें पिछले कानूनों को लागू करने में विफल रही हैं, और उन्होंने घरों, व्यवसायों और संस्थाओं में चलते पानी के शौचालयों की स्थापना को सर्वोच्च प्राथमिकता नहीं बनाया है। </p><!--Image/Credit/Caption Begins--> <div style="color: #999999; font-size: 11px; line-height: normal; font-style: italic; text-align: right;"> <img style="max-width: 100%; background-color: #ffffff; padding: 7px; border: 1px solid #999999;" src="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/Guha_1.jpg" alt="" width="444" /> <br />Flickr/Bobulix (Some rights reserved) </div> <p style="color: #666666; font-size: 12px; line-height: normal;"> A Dalit man cleans a sewer in Amritsar, India. </p> <hr style="color: #d2d3d5; background-color: #d2d3d5; height: 1px; width: 85%; border: none; text-align: center; margin: 0 auto;" /> <!--Image/Credit/Caption Ends--><p dir="ltr">परंतु, गहरी सांस्कृतिक और धार्मिक परंपराओं पर आधारित इस प्रथा को सरकारी प्रशासक अकेले नहीं रोक सकते हैं। हिंदू मान्यताएं, जैसे आम तौर पर करोड़ों भारतीय लोग समझते हैं, इस धारणा का समर्थन करती है कि कुछ समूहों का सामाजिक रूप से उच्च जातियों में पैदा होने वाले लोगों के मलमूत्र को साफ़ करने के लिए ही जन्म होता हैं। </p><p dir="ltr">और सबसे बड़ी समस्या यह है कि हज़ारों समकालीन हिंदू धार्मिक नेताओं में से केवल कुछ ही ने &nbsp;गंभीर और सतत रूप से इस मुद्दे को उठाया है। </p><p dir="ltr">इससे पहले openGlobalRights पर, धार्मिक विशेषज्ञ <a href="https://www.opendemocracy.net/openglobalrights/arvind-sharma/rights-in-hinduism" target="_blank">अरविंद शर्मा</a> ने यह बहस की थी कि हिंदू मान्यताएं अक्सर, मानव अधिकारों के साथ संगत होती हैं और हो सकती हैं। यदि एक प्राचीन शास्त्र जाति के बारे में सख्त विचारों को बढ़ावा देता है, तो दूसरे कम कठोर मायनों में इनकी व्याख्या करते हैं। </p><p dir="ltr"><span class="print-no mag-quote-right" style="line-height: 1.5;">क्यों इस अपमानित और स्वास्थ्य के लिए हानिकारक कार्य के लिए इतने कम हिंदू धार्मिक नेता अभियान चला रहे हैं? क्यों मैनुअल स्केवेंजिंग का कार्य अभी भी केवल निम्नतम जातियों को सौंपा जाता है?&nbsp;</span>यह बात सही है। फिर भी, असली प्रश्न यह है: क्यों इस अपमानित और स्वास्थ्य के लिए हानिकारक कार्य के लिए इतने कम हिंदू धार्मिक नेता अभियान चला रहे हैं? क्यों मैनुअल स्केवेंजिंग का कार्य अभी भी केवल निम्नतम जातियों को सौंपा जाता है? इस धर्म-आधारित विरोध के अभाव को हिंदू धर्म के रक्षक आसानी से समझा नहीं सकते हैं। </p><p dir="ltr">चन्द्र भान प्रसाद, एक अग्रणी दलित विद्वान, का कहना है कि हिन्दू आध्यात्मिक नेता जाति के विरूद्ध इस लिए नहीं बोलते हैं क्योंकि यह उनके धर्म का आधार है। उनका कहना है कि, “अगर आप जाति प्रथा को त्याग देंगे, तो हिन्दुत्व कमज़ोर पड़ जाएगा, क्योंकि यह धर्म उस पर आधारित है।” </p><p dir="ltr">नई दिल्ली में आधारित एक पर्यावरण-संबंधित गैर-सरकारी संगठन, <a href="http://www.chintan-india.org/" target="_blank">चिन्तन</a>, की भारती चतुर्वेदी ने इस बात से सहमति जताई। उनका कहना है कि हिन्दू “धार्मिक नेता जाति व्यवस्था से अपनी पवित्रता प्राप्त करते हैं” और जाति के विरूद्ध व्यापक रूप से लागू किसी भी आलोचना का समर्थन करना, “अपनी आम मान्यताओं के विरूद्ध जाना होगा।” </p><p dir="ltr">भारत के हिन्दू धार्मिक नेताओं के विपरीत, नवनिर्वाचित भारतीय प्रधानमंत्री, नरेन्द्र मोदी, ने एक बड़े पैमाने पर स्वच्छता को संबोधित करने का फैसला किया है। महात्मा गांधी के जन्मदिवस पर, मोदी ने “<a href="http://www.thehindu.com/news/national/modi-launches-my-clean-india-campaign/article6468047.ece" target="_blank">मेरा स्वच्छ भारत” अभियान का आरंभ किया</a>, और वादा किया कि वह अक्टूबर 2019 तक, भारत के प्रत्येक घर में चलते पानी वाले शौचालयों की स्थापना सुनिश्चित करेंगे। परंतु, उन्होंने जाति और मैनूअल स्केवेंजिंग को अपनी घोषणा से बाहर रखा है, यह समझते हुए कि उनकी पार्टी के कई राजनीतिक समर्थक हिंदुओं की ऊँची जातियों के सदस्य हैं और शायद उन्हें जाति-आधारित आलोचना पसंद नहीं आएगी। बल्कि, प्रधानमंत्री का संदेश एक स्वच्छ भारत बनाने के बारे में है, जिसमें हम सभी योगदान दे सकते हैं। &nbsp;</p><p dir="ltr">मोदी की पार्टी, भारतीय जनता पार्टी (बीजेपी), जान-बूझकर हिन्दू मतदाताओं का समर्थन मांगती है, परंतु उनका ज़ोर पूरे हिन्दू समाज की एकता पर है। इसके परिणामस्वरूप, पार्टी निम्नतम जाति, दलितों, के साथ चुनावी समर्थन जुटाने के लिए काम कर रही है। अतीत में, कई दलित कान्ग्रेस को वोट देते थे, परंतु कुछ वर्षों से वह अपना समर्थन उत्तर प्रदेश में दलित बहुजन समाज पार्टी के देने लग गए थे। हालांक 2014 के राष्ट्रीय चुनावों में, <a href="http://www.thehindu.com/opinion/op-ed/the-story-of-dalit-vote-between-the-bjp-and-the-bsp/article6090744.ece" target="_blank">दलितों ने कई राज्यों में अक्सर बीजेपी के लिए वोट किया</a>। </p><p dir="ltr">गोरखपुर के बीजेपी के एक तेजस्वी नेता, श्री योगी आदित्यनाथ, इस बात से अस्वीकार करते हैं कि हिन्दू धर्म निम्न जातियों को बाहरी समझते हैं। उन्होंने मुझसे कहा कि “सभी हिन्दू हैं” चाहे “वे शौचालय या मलमूत्र ही क्यों न साफ़ करते हों। निम्न जाति या उच्च जाति में कोई अंतर नहीं है — ये सभी हमारे धर्म का अंश हैं।” यह पार्टी की आधिकारिक पंक्ति है, एक कोशिश ताकि हिन्दू वोट बैंक न बँटे। आदित्यनाथ का कहना है कि हिन्दू धार्मिक नेताओं ने हमेशा ही दलितों और अन्य निम्न जातियों के लिए काम किया है, परंतु पत्रकार विरले ही इन प्रयासों के बारे में सूचना देते हैं। उन्होंने मुझसे कहा, “आप लोग इस बात को मानना नहीं चाहते, ” परंतु &nbsp;बीजेपी “दलितों के लिए स्कूल चलाती है, जब वह अपने बच्चों की शादियाँ करना चाहते हैं, तो हम उनकी मदद करते हैं...सभी हिन्दू हैं। आप लोग पक्षपाती हैं।” </p><p dir="ltr">और तब भी, कड़वी सच्चाई यह है कि भारतीय समाज को बीमार करने बाली कई बातें जातिवाद से जन्म लेती हैं। यह लोगों के जन्म पर उन्हें दर्जा देती है, और यह मानती है कि जाति के अनुक्रम से बाहर या निम्न स्तर के लोग सबसे कठोर, निम्न, और अपमानजनक कार्य करने के लिए बने हैं। &nbsp;</p><p dir="ltr"><a href="http://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/city/pune/Manual-scavenging-continues-in-Maha-despite-ban-Survey/articleshow/43848985.cms" target="_blank">महाराष्ट्र जैसे राज्यों में अभी भी मैनुअल स्केवेंजिंग प्रचलित है</a>, जहाँ सरकार का कहना है कि वह शायद ही कभी होता है। कानून ऐसे लोगों की मानसिकता बदलने के लिए कुछ नहीं कर सकती है जिन्हें सदियों से यह पालकर बड़ा किया गया है कि कुछ लोग जन्म पर हकदार होते हैं, और कुछ नहीं। &nbsp;</p><p dir="ltr">उत्तरी भारत के पवित्र शहर, हरिद्वार, के एक धार्मिक संघ, जूना अखाड़ा के प्रधान, स्वामी अवधेशानाद गिरी, न मुझे बताया कि बदलाव धीमा है परंतु है ज़रूर, और यह कि “सभी हिन्दू आध्यात्मिक नेता छुआछूत के विरूद्ध उपदेश देते हैं।” और फिर भी, मैंने शायद ही कभी मीडिया की ऐसी रिपोर्ट पढ़ी होगी जिसमें यह कहा गया हो कि हिन्दू नेता मैनुअल स्केवेंजिंग का विरोध कर रहे हैं। यदि धार्मिक नेता सही में विरोध कर रहे हैं, तो वह उतना ज़ोर से नहीं कर रहे कि विश्वासियों का इन पर ध्यान जाए, विशेष रूप से भारत के विशाल गाँव के क्षेत्र में। उदाहरण के रूप में, हाल ही में सितम्बर 2014 में, पूर्व के एक राज्य, बिहार, में मंदिर के कर्मचारियों ने <a href="http://www.reuters.com/article/2014/09/30/us-foundation-india-caste-idUSKCN0HP1DE20140930" target="_blank">एक हिन्दू मंदिर को स्वच्छ और शुद्ध किया</a> क्योंकि राज्य के मुख्यमंत्री और एक निम्न जाति के राजनेता, जीतन राम मांझी ने इस स्थान के दर्शन किए। </p><p dir="ltr">बीजेपी के पूर्व महासचिव, गोविन्द आचार्य का कहना है कि इस बड़े बीजेपी परिवार के एक सहबद्ध संगठन, विश्व हिन्दू परिषद, के धार्मिक नेताओं ने छुआछूत के विरूद्ध कई वर्षों से काम किया है और “इसे धरती पर सबसे बड़ा पाप मानते हैं।” और फिर भी, वीएचपी के बहुत कम ही नेता सार्वजनिक रूप से ज़ोर देकर मैनुअल स्केवेंजिंग के विरूद्ध बोलते हुए नज़र आए हैं। &nbsp;</p><p dir="ltr">छूआछूत, मैनुअल स्केवेंजिंग और शुष्क शौचालयों का चलन शायद अब समाप्त होने वाला हो। शायद प्रधानमंत्री मोदी का स्वच्छ भारत अभियान इसमें मदद करेगा। भारत में मैनुअल स्केवेंजिंग करने वालों के लिए बदलाव दर्दनाक रूप से धीमा है, परंतु कई दलितों को अभी भी अपने से “बेहतर” उच्च-वर्ग के लोगों के मलमूत्र को बहुत कम उपकरणों, पैसों, या सुरक्षा के साथ साफ़ करना पड़ता है। </p><p dir="ltr">यदि मुख्य हिन्दू धार्मिक नेता एक ज़ोरदार और सक्रिय भूमिका निभाएं, तो बदलाव तेज़ी से हो सकता है। </p><p><span class='wysiwyg_imageupload image 0'><a href="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/wysiwyg_imageupload_lightbox_preset/wysiwyg_imageupload/537772/EPlogo-ogr-4_2.png" rel="lightbox[wysiwyg_imageupload_inline]" title="imgupl_floating_none"><img src="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/article_large/wysiwyg_imageupload/537772/EPlogo-ogr-4_2.png" alt="" title="imgupl_floating_none" width="300" height="115" class="imagecache wysiwyg_imageupload 0 imagecache imagecache-article_large" style=""/></a> <span class='image_meta'></span></span></p><fieldset class="fieldgroup group-sideboxs"><legend>Sideboxes</legend><div class="field field-read-on"> <div class="field-label"> 'Read On' Sidebox:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <p><a href="http://www.opendemocracy.net/openglobalrights-translations/openglobalrights-%E0%A4%B9%E0%A4%BF%E0%A4%82%E0%A4%A6%E0%A5%80 "><img src="http://www.opendemocracy.net/files/OpenGlobalRights-highlight4-hindi.png" alt="" width="140" /></a></p> </div> </div> </div> <div class="field field-sidebox"> <div class="field-label"> Sidebox:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <p><a href="http://www.opendemocracy.net/openglobalrights/religion-and-human-rights" target="_blank" onMouseOver="document.Imgs.src='http://www.opendemocracy.net/files/Religion_Inset_2.png'" onMouseOut="document.Imgs.src='http://www.opendemocracy.net/files/Religion_Inset_1.png'"> <img src="http://www.opendemocracy.net/files/Religion_Inset_1.png" width="140" name="Imgs" border="0" alt="Religion and human rights – Read on" /></a></p> </div> </div> </div> <div class="field field-related-stories"> <div class="field-label">Related stories:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/openglobalrights/james-ron-david-crow-shannon-golden/%E0%A4%8F%E0%A4%95-%E0%A4%B5%E0%A4%BE%E0%A4%B8%E0%A5%8D%E0%A4%A4%E0%A4%B5%E0%A4%BF%E0%A4%95-%E0%A4%9C%E0%A4%A8%E0%A4%B8%E0%A4%BE%E0%A4%A7%E0%A4%BE%E0%A4%B0%E0%A4%A3-%E0%A4%AE%E0%A4%BE%E0%A4%A8%E0%A4%B5%E0%A4%BE%E0%A4%A7%E0%A4%BF%E0%A4%95%E0%A4%BE%E0%A4%B0-%E0%A4%86%E0%A4%82%E0%A4%A6%E0%A5%8B%E0%A4%B2%E0%A4%A8-%E0%A4%95%E0%A5%87-%E0%A4%B2%E0%A4%BF%E0%A4%8F-%E0%A4%B8">एक वास्तविक जनसाधारण मानवाधिकार आंदोलन के लिए संघर्ष </a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/openglobalrights/meenakshi-ganguly/%E0%A4%95%E0%A5%8D%E0%A4%AF%E0%A4%BE-%E0%A4%AD%E0%A4%BE%E0%A4%B0%E0%A4%A4-%E0%A4%AE%E0%A4%BE%E0%A4%A8%E0%A4%B5-%E0%A4%85%E0%A4%A7%E0%A4%BF%E0%A4%95%E0%A4%BE%E0%A4%B0-%E0%A4%AE%E0%A5%87%E0%A4%82-%E0%A4%8F%E0%A4%95-%E0%A4%85%E0%A4%82%E0%A4%A4%E0%A4%B0%E0%A4%B0%E0%A4%BE%E0%A4%B7%E0%A5%8D%E0%A4%9F%E0%A5%8D%E0%A4%B0%E0%A5%80%E0%A4%AF-%E0%A4%B2%E0%A5%80%E0%A4%A1%E0%A4%B0-%E0%A4%AC%E0%A4%A8-%E0%A4%B8%E0%A4%95%E0%A4%A4%E0%A4%BE-%E0%A4%B9%E0%A5%88">क्या भारत मानव अधिकार में एक अंतरराष्ट्रीय लीडर बन सकता है?</a> </div> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/openglobalrights/neera-chandhoke/%E0%A4%AD%E0%A4%BE%E0%A4%B0%E0%A4%A4-%E0%A4%95%E0%A5%80-%E0%A4%86%E0%A4%A7%E0%A4%BF%E0%A4%95%E0%A4%BE%E0%A4%B0%E0%A5%8B%E0%A4%82-%E0%A4%95%E0%A5%87-%E0%A4%B2%E0%A4%BF%E0%A4%8F-%E0%A4%A4%E0%A4%A5%E0%A4%BE%E0%A4%95%E0%A4%A5%E0%A4%BF%E0%A4%A4-%E0%A4%95%E0%A5%8D%E0%A4%B0%E0%A4%BE%E0%A4%82%E0%A4%A4%E0%A4%BF">भारत की आधिकारों के लिए तथाकथित क्रांति </a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/openglobalrights/ravi-nair/%E0%A4%AE%E0%A4%BE%E0%A4%A8%E0%A4%B5%E0%A4%BE%E0%A4%A7%E0%A4%BF%E0%A4%95%E0%A4%BE%E0%A4%B0-%E0%A4%B8%E0%A4%82%E0%A4%97%E0%A4%A0%E0%A4%A8%E0%A5%8B%E0%A4%82-%E0%A4%95%E0%A5%87-%E0%A4%B2%E0%A4%BF%E0%A4%8F-%E0%A4%A8%E0%A4%BF%E0%A4%A7%E0%A5%80%E0%A4%95%E0%A4%B0%E0%A4%A3-%E0%A4%AA%E0%A4%B0-%E0%A4%89%E0%A4%B8%E0%A4%95%E0%A5%80-%E0%A4%AA%E0%A4%95%E0%A4%A1%E0%A4%BC-%E0%A4%95%E0%A5%87-%E0%A4%B2%E0%A4%BF%E0%A4%8F-%E0%A4%AD%E0%A4%BE%E0%A4%B0%E0%A4%A4-%E0%A4%95%E0%A5%8B-%E0%A4%9A%E0%A5%81%E0%A4%A8%E0%A5%8C%E0%A4%A4%E0%A5%80-%E0%A4%A6%E0%A5%87%E0%A4%A8%E0%A5%87">मानवाधिकार संगठनों के लिए निधीकरण पर उसकी पकड़ के लिए भारत को चुनौती देने का समय </a> </div> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/openglobalrights/v-suresh/%E0%A4%85%E0%A4%A8%E0%A5%81%E0%A4%A6%E0%A4%BE%E0%A4%A8-%E0%A4%94%E0%A4%B0-%E0%A4%A8%E0%A4%BE%E0%A4%97%E0%A4%B0%E0%A4%BF%E0%A4%95-%E0%A4%B8%E0%A5%8D%E0%A4%B5%E0%A4%A4%E0%A4%82%E0%A4%A4%E0%A5%8D%E0%A4%B0%E0%A4%A4%E0%A4%BE%E0%A4%8F%E0%A4%82">अनुदान और नागरिक स्वतंत्रताएं </a> </div> </div> </div> </fieldset> openGlobalRights Seema Guha Response article Religion and Human Rights openGlobalRights हिंदी (Hindi) Thu, 27 Nov 2014 10:00:00 +0000 Seema Guha 88195 at https://www.opendemocracy.net To end manual scavenging in India, Hindu religious leaders must speak up https://www.opendemocracy.net/openglobalrights/seema-guha/to-end-manual-scavenging-in-india-hindu-religious-leaders-must-speak-up <div class="field field-summary"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <p><span style="line-height: 1.5;"><span class='wysiwyg_imageupload image imgupl_floating_right 0'><a href="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/wysiwyg_imageupload_lightbox_preset/wysiwyg_imageupload/549299/Guha1.jpeg" rel="lightbox[wysiwyg_imageupload_inline]" title=""><img src="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/article_xsmall/wysiwyg_imageupload/549299/Guha1.jpeg" alt="" title="" width="140" height="97" class="imagecache wysiwyg_imageupload 0 imagecache imagecache-article_xsmall" style=""/></a> <span class='image_meta'></span></span>In India, Hindu religious leaders are reluctant to campaign loudly against the collection of raw sewage by oppressed communities, and this is slowing progress in abolishing the practice.&nbsp;</span><span style="line-height: 1.5; font-family: Helvetica, sans-serif; background-image: initial; background-attachment: initial; background-size: initial; background-origin: initial; background-clip: initial; background-position: initial; background-repeat: initial;">A contribution to the&nbsp;</span><a style="line-height: 1.5;" href="https://www.opendemocracy.net/openglobalrights" target="_blank"><span style="font-family: Helvetica, sans-serif; background-image: initial; background-attachment: initial; background-size: initial; background-origin: initial; background-clip: initial; background-position: initial; background-repeat: initial;">openGlobalRights</span></a><span style="line-height: 1.5; font-family: Helvetica, sans-serif; background-image: initial; background-attachment: initial; background-size: initial; background-origin: initial; background-clip: initial; background-position: initial; background-repeat: initial;">&nbsp;debate,<span>&nbsp;</span></span><a style="line-height: 1.5;" href="http://www.opendemocracy.net/openglobalrights/religion-and-human-rights" target="_blank"><span style="font-family: Helvetica, sans-serif; background-image: initial; background-attachment: initial; background-size: initial; background-origin: initial; background-clip: initial; background-position: initial; background-repeat: initial;">Religion and Human Rights</span></a><span style="line-height: 1.5; font-family: Helvetica, sans-serif; background-image: initial; background-attachment: initial; background-size: initial; background-origin: initial; background-clip: initial; background-position: initial; background-repeat: initial;">.&nbsp;</span><a style="font-style: italic; font-weight: bold; line-height: 1.5;" href="https://www.opendemocracy.net/openglobalrights/seema-guha/%E0%A4%AD%E0%A4%BE%E0%A4%B0%E0%A4%A4-%E0%A4%AE%E0%A5%87%E0%A4%82-%E0%A4%AE%E0%A4%BE%E0%A4%A8%E0%A4%B5-%E0%A4%AE%E0%A4%B2%E0%A4%AE%E0%A5%82%E0%A4%A4%E0%A5%8D%E0%A4%B0-%E0%A4%B9%E0%A4%9F%E0%A4%BE%E0%A4%A8%E0%A5%87-%E0%A4%95%E0%A5%87-%E0%A4%95%E0%A4%BE%E0%A4%B0%E0%A5%8D%E0%A4%AF-%E0%A4%AE%E0%A5%88%E0%A4%A8%E0%A5%81%E0%A4%85%E0%A4%B2-%E0%A4%B8%E0%A5%8D%E0%A4%95%E0%A5%87%E0%A4%B5%E0%A5%87%E0%A4%82%E0%A4%9C%E0%A4%BF%E0%A4%82%E0%A4%97-%E0%A4%95%E0%A5%8B-%E0%A4%B8%E0%A4%AE%E0%A4%BE%E0%A4%AA%E0%A5%8D%E0%A4%A4-%E0%A4%95%E0%A4%B0%E0%A4%A8%E0%A5%87-%E0%A4%95" target="_blank">हिन्दी</a></p> </div> </div> </div> <p dir="ltr">Sixty-nine years after independence, a recent <a href="http://www.hrw.org/reports/2014/08/25/cleaning-human-waste" target="_blank">Human Rights Watch report</a> on “manual scavenging” in India has highlighted an abhorrent practice still prevalent throughout much of the country. </p><p dir="ltr">The 96-page report notes that despite state and federal legislation, local authorities still often force Dalits, or “untouchables”, to clean the human excreta of upper castes with primitive tools, often exposing their hands and feet to raw waste. Most cleaners of these “dry toilets” are women, since Dalit men tend to deal with septic tanks and fields used for open defecation. In addition to their terrible working conditions, these lower-caste cleaners often face violence, harassment and withholding of wages. </p><p dir="ltr">The latest law making scavenging a crime was passed by India’s Parliament in 2013, with the support of all political parties. And yet, scavenging persists. Successive governments have failed to implement earlier laws, and have not made installation of running water toilets in homes, businesses and institutions a top priority. </p><!--Image/Credit/Caption Begins--> <div style="color: #999999; font-size: 11px; line-height: normal; font-style: italic; text-align: right;"> <img style="max-width: 100%; background-color: #ffffff; padding: 7px; border: 1px solid #999999;" src="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/Guha1.png" alt="" width="444" /> <br />Flickr/Bobulix (Some rights reserved) </div> <p style="color: #666666; font-size: 12px; line-height: normal;"> A Dalit man cleans a sewer in Amritsar, India. </p> <hr style="color: #d2d3d5; background-color: #d2d3d5; height: 1px; width: 85%; border: none; text-align: center; margin: 0 auto;" /> <!--Image/Credit/Caption Ends--><p dir="ltr">Government administrators alone, however, cannot prevent a practice based on deeply rooted cultural and religious traditions. Hindu beliefs, as popularly understood by millions of Indians, endorse the notion that certain groups were destined at birth to clean the waste of those born into socially higher castes. &nbsp;</p><p dir="ltr">And what is most problematic is that few of the thousands of contemporary Hindu religious leaders have taken the issue up in a serious, sustained way.</p><p dir="ltr">Previously on openGlobalRights, religious expert <a href="https://www.opendemocracy.net/openglobalrights/arvind-sharma/rights-in-hinduism" target="_blank">Arvind Sharma</a> argued that Hindu beliefs can, and often are, compatatible with human rights. If one ancient text promotes strict ideas about caste, others interpret it in far less rigid ways. </p><p dir="ltr"><span class="print-no mag-quote-right" style="line-height: 1.5;">Why are so few Hindu religious leaders campaigning loudly against this demeaning and unhealthy job assigned to the lowest castes?&nbsp;</span>True enough. Still, the real question is this: why are so few Hindu religious leaders campaigning loudly against this demeaning and unhealthy job? Why is manual scavenging still assigned to the lowest castes? This lack of religious-based protest is something that defenders of the Hindu faith cannot easily explain.</p><p dir="ltr">Chandra Bhan Prasad, a leading Dalit intellectual, says Hindu spiritual leaders do not speak out against caste because it is the foundation of their religion. “If you abandon [the] caste system,” he explained, “Hinduism will weaken, because the religion is built on it.” </p><p dir="ltr">Bharati Chaturvedi of <a href="http://www.chintan-india.org/" target="_blank">Chintan</a>, an evironmental NGO based in New Delhi, concurred. Hindu “religious leaders, she says, “derive their sanctity from the caste system,” and any far-ranging critique of caste “would be going against the grain.” </p><p dir="ltr">Unlike India’s Hindu religious leaders, the newly elected Indian prime minister, Narendra Modi, has decided to address sanitation in a big way. On the birthday of Mahatma Gandhi, Modi <a href="http://www.thehindu.com/news/national/modi-launches-my-clean-india-campaign/article6468047.ece" target="_blank">launched a “my clean India” campaign</a>, promising to ensure installation of running water toilets in every Indian home by October 2019. He has kept caste and manual scavenging out of this narrative, however, realising that many of his party’s political supporters are members of the Hindu upper castes, and might not take kindly to caste-based criticism. Instead, the prime minister’s message is all about building a clean India, something which everyone can get behind. </p><p dir="ltr">Modi’s party, the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), consciously courts Hindu voters, but its emphasis is on all-Hindu unity. As a result, the party has been working with Dalits, the lowest caste, to mobilize electoral support. In the past, many Dalits voted for Congress, but over the years, some have switched allegiance to the Dalit Bahujan Samaj Party, in Uttar Pradesh. In the 2014 national elections, however, <a href="http://www.thehindu.com/opinion/op-ed/the-story-of-dalit-vote-between-the-bjp-and-the-bsp/article6090744.ece" target="_blank">Dalits in other states often voted for the BJP</a>.</p><p dir="ltr">Sri Yogi Adityanath, a fiery BJP leader from Gorakhpur, denies that Hindusism regards lower castes as outside the fold. “All are Hindus,” he told, me, regardless of “whether they are cleaning toilets or excreta. Lower caste or upper caste does not matter—they are all part of our religion.” This is the official party line, an attempt not to divide the Hindu vote bank. Adityanath says Hindu religious leaders had always worked for the betterment of Dalits and other lower castes, but that journalists rarely report on these efforts. “You people don’t want to acknowledge all this,” he told me, but the BJP “has schools for Dalits… [we] help families when they want to get their children married…. All are Hindus. You people are biased.” </p><p dir="ltr">And yet, the bitter truth is that many of the ills plaguing Indian society flow from the caste system. It ranks people at birth, and regards those outside or at the lower end of the caste hierarchy as born into the most rigorous, menial and demeaning of jobs. </p><p dir="ltr">Manual scavenging is still <a href="http://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/city/pune/Manual-scavenging-continues-in-Maha-despite-ban-Survey/articleshow/43848985.cms" target="_blank">prevalent even in states like Maharasthra</a>, where the government claims it rarely takes place. Laws do little to change the mindset of people brought up for centuries in the belief that some are entitled at birth, while others are not. </p><p dir="ltr">Swami Avdheshanada Giri, head of Juna Akhada, a religious sect in the northern Indian holy city of Haridwar, told me that change is slow but sure, and that “all Hindu spiritual leaders now preach against untouchability.” And yet, I rarely read media reports citing Hindu leaders protesting manual scavenging. If religious figures are really protesting, they are not doing so loudly enough for many believers to take notice, especially in India’s vast countryside. As recently as September 2014, for example, <a href="http://www.reuters.com/article/2014/09/30/us-foundation-india-caste-idUSKCN0HP1DE20140930" target="_blank">temple staff “cleansed” and “purified” a Hindu shrine</a> in the eastern state of Bihar after Jeetan Ram Manjhi, a lower-caste politician and chief minister of state, visited the location. </p><p dir="ltr">Govind Archarya, former BJP general secretary, says Hindu religious leaders of the Vishwa Hindu Parishad, an affiliate of the larger BJP family, have long worked againt untouchability, regarding it the “worst sin that can be committed on earth.” And yet, few VHP leaders ever appear to speak out publicly and forcefully against manual scavenging. </p><p dir="ltr">Untouchability, manual scavenging and dry latrines may well be on their way out. Perhaps prime minister Modi’s “clean India” campaign will help. Change for India’s manual scavengers is painfully slow, however, and many Dalits are still forced to clean the waste of their upper-caste “betters” with few tools, compensation or protection. </p><p>Change would go much faster if prominent Hindu religious leaders were willing to play a louder, and more active, role.</p><p><span class='wysiwyg_imageupload image 0'><a href="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/wysiwyg_imageupload_lightbox_preset/wysiwyg_imageupload/537772/EPlogo-ogr-4_2.png" rel="lightbox[wysiwyg_imageupload_inline]" title="imgupl_floating_none"><img src="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/article_large/wysiwyg_imageupload/537772/EPlogo-ogr-4_2.png" alt="" title="imgupl_floating_none" width="300" height="115" class="imagecache wysiwyg_imageupload 0 imagecache imagecache-article_large" style=""/></a> <span class='image_meta'></span></span></p><fieldset class="fieldgroup group-sideboxs"><legend>Sideboxes</legend><div class="field field-read-on"> <div class="field-label"> 'Read On' Sidebox:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <p><a href="http://www.opendemocracy.net/openglobalrights"><img src="http://www.opendemocracy.net/files/openGlobalRights2.jpg" alt="" width="140" /></a></p> </div> </div> </div> <div class="field field-sidebox"> <div class="field-label"> Sidebox:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <p><a href="http://www.opendemocracy.net/openglobalrights/religion-and-human-rights" target="_blank" onMouseOver="document.Imgs.src='http://www.opendemocracy.net/files/Religion_Inset_2.png'" onMouseOut="document.Imgs.src='http://www.opendemocracy.net/files/Religion_Inset_1.png'"> <img src="http://www.opendemocracy.net/files/Religion_Inset_1.png" width="140" name="Imgs" border="0" alt="Religion and human rights – Read on" /></a></p> </div> </div> </div> <div class="field field-related-stories"> <div class="field-label">Related stories:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/openglobalrights/arvind-sharma/rights-in-hinduism">The rights in Hinduism</a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/openglobalrights/larry-cox/human-rights-must-get-religion">Human rights must get religion</a> </div> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/openglobalrights/fr-cedric-prakash-sj/politicization-of-hindu-faith-in-india">The politicization of Hindu faith in India </a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/openglobalrights/parsa-venkateshwar-rao-jr/starting-at-top-why-rights-groups-need-to-engage-religiou">Starting at the top: why rights groups need to engage religious leaders</a> </div> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/openglobalrights/daniel-philpott/no-human-rights-without-god">No human rights without God</a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/openglobalrights/michael-bochenek/real-power-of-rights-is-not-religion">The real power of rights is not religion</a> </div> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/openindia/ankur-betageri/why-i-decided-to-reject-hinduism">Why I decided to reject Hinduism </a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/openindia/abhilasha-kumar/caste-no-bar">Caste no bar</a> </div> </div> </div> </fieldset> openGlobalRights openGlobalRights openIndia Seema Guha South Asia Response article Religion and Human Rights Thu, 27 Nov 2014 10:00:00 +0000 Seema Guha 88194 at https://www.opendemocracy.net Playing both sides: India’s muted response to the Gaza conflict https://www.opendemocracy.net/openglobalrights/seema-guha/playing-both-sides-india%E2%80%99s-muted-response-to-gaza-conflict <div class="field field-summary"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <p><span class='wysiwyg_imageupload image imgupl_floating_right 0'><a href="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/wysiwyg_imageupload_lightbox_preset/wysiwyg_imageupload/549299/Guha.jpg" rel="lightbox[wysiwyg_imageupload_inline]" title=""><img src="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/article_xsmall/wysiwyg_imageupload/549299/Guha.jpg" alt="" title="" width="140" height="93" class="imagecache wysiwyg_imageupload 0 imagecache imagecache-article_xsmall" style=""/></a> <span class='image_meta'></span></span>With a new right-wing government and a growing number of Indians admiring Israel’s aggressive foreign policy, India’s response to Gaza has been fairly muted. Will Prime Minister Modi reverse the country’s longstanding support of Palestine?&nbsp;<span style="line-height: 1.5;">A contribution to the&nbsp;</span><a style="line-height: 1.5;" href="https://www.opendemocracy.net/openglobalrights" target="_blank">openGlobalRights</a><span style="line-height: 1.5;">&nbsp;debate on&nbsp;</span><a style="line-height: 1.5;" href="https://www.opendemocracy.net/openglobalrights/emerging-powers-and-human-rights" target="_blank">Emerging Powers and Human Rights</a><span style="line-height: 1.5;">.</span></p> </div> </div> </div> <p>With the third largest Muslim population in the world, the Indian public was starkly divided over Israel’s recent military action in Gaza. The existing fissures in society have become even more accentuated with a new right-wing government in power. In recent months, anti-Israel protests have exploded throughout the country, and Muslims weren’t the only ones taking to the streets.</p> <!--Image/Credit/Caption Begins--> <div style="color: #999999; font-size: 11px; line-height: normal; font-style: italic; text-align: right;"> <img style="max-width: 100%; background-color: #ffffff; padding: 7px; border: 1px solid #999999;" src="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/Guha.jpg" alt="" width="444" /> <br/>Shahid Farooq/Demotix (All rights reserved) </br/></div> <p style="color: #666666; font-size: 12px; line-height: normal;"> Anti-Israel protests on August 18th, 2014 in Kashmir, India. </p> <p> <hr style="color:#D2D3D5; background-color:#D2D3D5; height:1px; width:85%; border:none; text-align:center; margin: 0 auto;" /> </p> <!--Image/Credit/Caption Ends--> <p>Like <a href="https://www.opendemocracy.net/openglobalrights/guilherme-casar%C3%B5es/who%E2%80%99s-afraid-of-diplomatic-dwarf-0">Brazil</a>, India’s voice is of little significance in West Asia and the Israel-Palestine peace process. Yet, Israel regularly updates New Delhi on key issues pertaining to Palestine. And until a few years ago, in the hopes that India would become a bigger player in the issue, the Palestinian authority was doing the same. Nonetheless, the political parties in India consistently respond to developments in the region, with an eye to the large Muslim electorate.&nbsp;</p> <p>But India’s response to the Gaza crisis was <a href="https://www.opendemocracy.net/openindia/kanchi-gupta/%E2%80%9Cexpressing-concern%E2%80%9D-india%E2%80%99s-balancing-act-on-gaza">tepid</a> at best. Many middle class Indians, mostly supporters of Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), admired Israel’s aggressive response to Hamas. They believe a strong military response—sending in troops to pursue and destroy Hamas—is the only way to deal with the security threat. The fact that civilians were killed or injured by Israeli air force assaults was largely shrugged off as unavoidable collateral damage.&nbsp;</p> <p>In fact, Israel has become a role model for both the BJP and the extended far-right groups that make up its ideological backbone. As in other parts of the world, there is widespread sympathy for the Jews because of their past history, even among Modi’s detractors and especially within the Hindu middle class. Their admiration for Israel is also linked to military power and Israel’s ability to survive in a hostile Arab neighbourhood. There is no escaping that right-wing Indian support is largely rooted in the fact that Israel’s enemies are Muslim. The country’s right-wing holds a strong grudge against Indian Muslims, largely due to successive Muslim invasions since the 12th century that destroyed Hindu temples.</p> <p>Indian admirers now want Modi to replicate Tel Aviv’s tough stand on terror with Pakistan. Shantanu Barooah, a BJP supporter who is also pro-Israeli, says, “I wish the Indian government would be as tough with Pakistan as Israel has been with Hamas…. If the Indian army were allowed to go in and destroy the terror camps in Pakistan, we would not have had to deal with so many terror attacks.” In fact, the BJP has been extremely critical of the former Congress-led UPA alliance for its soft stand on terrorist acts. Many within the Sangh Parivar and their intellectual supporters fully endorse the idea of Indian troops crossing into Pakistan to destroy what Delhi dubs “the infrastructure of terror”.&nbsp;</p> <p>It is one thing, however, to criticize the government when you are in the opposition. It is quite another to actually deal with terrorism as part of the government. After a terror attack on the Indian Parliament during the NDA rule, India rushed its troops to the Pakistan border, leading to a very tense face-off. The fact that both South Asian nations possess nuclear weapons certainly doesn’t help: any tension here can be exceedingly dangerous. But Modi supporters want a muscular, “Israeli-esque” foreign policy, apparently regardless of the consequences.&nbsp;</p><p><span class="print-no mag-quote-left">India’s response to the Gaza crisis was tepid&nbsp;at best</span></p> <p>On the flip side, equally large numbers in India are horrified by Israel’s excessive use of force. Indian liberals naturally support the Palestinian cause and are appalled that 504 children have been killed, though they do not necessarily approve of Hamas. Yasser Arafat was a hero in India; his PLO earned widespread respect. And although people do distinguish between Fatah and Hamas, many are starting to believe that Hamas has no choice but to do what it has been doing, simply because no one cares for the people of Gaza. Palestinians are the underdogs in the region, and therefore they garner much sympathy among Indian liberals.&nbsp;</p> <p>Although India has historically been left of centre and ideologically committed to the Palestinian struggle, right-wing forces are now gathering momentum. For the first time in recent memory, Indians are asking why Muslims of this country are bothered with what is happening in faraway Gaza, when the community never protests about human rights abuses within India. Naba Kalita, a teacher from Guwahati says, “Muslims in India are bothered about Gaza, but [we] don’t see them [protesting] out in the streets for atrocities on Dalits and women. Is their concern only for fellow Muslims?”&nbsp;</p> <p>These are pertinent questions. Indian Muslims have also distanced themselves from the problems fellow Muslims face in the Kashmir valley. In fact in 2010, when over 100 young Kashmiris were killed during protests in the valley, only NGOs spoke up against this atrocity. This reluctance is partly due to the fact that Indian Muslims have to constantly prove their loyalty to their country. Speaking up for fellow Muslims in the Kashmir valley would incite a harsh reaction from majority Hindus, especially given Pakistan’s history behind the Kashmiri cause. Even liberal MP’s did not speak out, because there was an underlying feeling that Pakistan was instigating the Kashmiri youth. So, while it is fine to talk about Muslim solidarity in far away places like Gaza, Indian Muslims in the rest of the country studiously avoid commenting on Kashmir.&nbsp;</p> <p>The government of India now must find a balance between these two extreme views. New Delhi has excellent bilateral relations with Israel, and has historically supported the Palestinian fight for a homeland. India was the first non-Arab state to recognize the PLO as the sole representative of the Palestinian people in 1974, and the PLO had a small office set up in Delhi. In 1988, India recognized Palestine as a state. In October 2003, when the BJP-led National Democratic Alliance was in power, India voted against Israel’s construction of the security wall.&nbsp;</p> <p>Yet, since 1992 relations between the two countries have improved dramatically. India-Israel trade now amounts to around $6 billion, from a base as low as $200 million in 1992. Israel is now India's second largest supplier of defence equipment, with India about to purchase Barak-1 anti-ship missiles from a formerly blacklisted Israeli company.</p> <p>Both major political parties, the BJP and Congress, support expanding bilateral relations with Israel. Simultaneously, New Delhi has been supporting pro-Palestinian resolutions at the UNGA and in multilateral forums. Reflecting these <a href="http://www.ndtv.com/article/india/no-gaza-discussion-israel-and-palestine-both-friends-sushma-swaraj-559597">conflicting views</a>, the government recently fought to avoid a discussion on the Gaza conflict in Parliament, saying that as Israel was a friend and supplier of defence equipment, it was not right to slam Israel in the House. Foreign minister Sushma Swaraj said: “We have diplomatic ties with both nations. Any discourteous reference can impact our relations with them.”</p> <p>Overall, the Indian response to the Gaza conflict was fairly restrained, following the lead of the Gulf countries. Whether this is due to divisions within the Indian public or the personal inclinations of India’s leaders is still unclear. Even with Modi’s personal preference to back Israel, it seems doubtful that he will reverse India’s traditional policy and simply ignore Palestine. But with domestic calls to pay more attention to human rights inside India, and a strong right-wing that wants to mimic Israeli policy against Pakistan-based terrorists, we will have to wait and see.&nbsp;</p> <p>Modi may just surprise us yet.</p><p><span class='wysiwyg_imageupload image 0'><a href="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/wysiwyg_imageupload_lightbox_preset/wysiwyg_imageupload/537772/EPlogo-ogr-4_2.png" rel="lightbox[wysiwyg_imageupload_inline]" title="imgupl_floating_none"><img src="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/article_large/wysiwyg_imageupload/537772/EPlogo-ogr-4_2.png" alt="" title="imgupl_floating_none" width="300" height="115" class="imagecache wysiwyg_imageupload 0 imagecache imagecache-article_large" style=""/></a> <span class='image_meta'></span></span></p><fieldset class="fieldgroup group-sideboxs"><legend>Sideboxes</legend><div class="field field-read-on"> <div class="field-label"> 'Read On' Sidebox:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <p><a href="http://www.opendemocracy.net/openglobalrights"><img src="http://www.opendemocracy.net/files/openGlobalRights2.jpg" alt="" width="140" /></a></p> </div> </div> </div> <div class="field field-sidebox"> <div class="field-label"> Sidebox:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <p><a onmouseover="document.Imgs.src='http://www.opendemocracy.net/files/Emerging_Powers_Inset_2.png'" onmouseout="document.Imgs.src='http://www.opendemocracy.net/files/Emerging_Powers_Inset_1.png'" href="http://www.opendemocracy.net/openglobalrights/emerging-powers-and-human-rights" target="_blank"> <img src="http://www.opendemocracy.net/files/Emerging_Powers_Inset_1.png" border="0" alt="Emerging powers and human rights – Read on" width="140" /></a></p> </div> </div> </div> <div class="field field-related-stories"> <div class="field-label">Related stories:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/openglobalrights/guilherme-casar%C3%B5es/who%E2%80%99s-afraid-of-diplomatic-dwarf-0">Who’s afraid of the diplomatic dwarf?</a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/openglobalrights/meenakshi-ganguly/can-india-be-international-human-rights-leader">Can India be an international human rights leader? </a> </div> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/openglobalrights/aseem-prakash/misplaced-priorities-global-leadership-and-india%E2%80%99s-domestic-neglect-o">Misplaced priorities? 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