The latest UNDP report's remark that India's reputation as a model constitutional protector of the country's remarkable cultural diversity has begun to fray because of the 2002 'genocide' in Gujarat is outrageous ignorance and insolence of the report's authors.
According to the UN Convention on the Prevention and Punishment of the Crime of Genocide, 'genocide' refers to 'acts committed with the intent to destroy, in whole or in part, a national, ethnical, racial or religious group.' Note that little word 'a' in that definition.
When Nazi Germany extinguished six million of a single group called Jews, that was genocide.
When, in 1984, Congress party goons extinguished over 3,000 of a single group called Sikhs, that too was genocide.
In 1989-1990, when some Muslims in the Kashmir valley slaughtered some 10,000 Kashmiri Pandits, killed or raped their women in front of their eyes, and ultimately expelled some 350,000 Pandits from their homes, that was genocide of a religious group.
In Gujarat 2002, however, of the total deaths (as per the home ministry's official annual report for 2002-2003, page 6), about a third were Hindus (including 59 charred in a train compartment) and 200 in all were killed in police firing. If, at one stage, 100,000 Muslims were struggling in relief camps, so were 40,000 Hindus. Thus, Gujarat 2002 was not genocide of one ethnic community as the UNDP report alleges.
Secondly, the authors of that report want us to believe that but for Gujarat 2002, the constitutional secularism of Indian democracy has by and large fulfilled its promise of all communities living in a paradise of religious pluralism. That's a falsehood. The truth is documented in the book Riots & Wrongs (India First Foundation, New Delhi, 2004) written by R N P Singh, an ex-officer of India's Intelligence Bureau who was honoured with the President's Police Medal and Indian Police Medal.
Statistics cited by Singh show that communal violence in India occurred in each and every year from 1954 to 1985. The total number of communal incidents in those 31 years was 8,449 (an annual average of 273), the total number of persons killed in that period was 7,229 (an annual average of 233), and the number of persons injured in those incidents was 47,321 (an annual average of 1,526).
After 1985, communal riots have also occurred in every year from 1986 to 1995, and in 1997, 2002 (besides Gujarat), and 2003.
Today's 'secular' journalists in denims and Lalu-like politicians in khadi are the fundamentalist secularists who believe that communal riots in India are caused by the RSS-VHP-BJP trinity. And pinko historians salivate in tracing Hindu-Muslim riots to British colonial scheming. But history again tells a different tale. In their 564-page narrative on India's long road to independence, Anthony Read and Davis Fischer write, 'The British may have utilized the division between Hindus and Muslims, but they certainly did not invent it: there had been communal friction since at least the time of Aurangzeb' who ruled India from 1658 till his death in 1707. (The Proudest Day, PIMLICO, 1998, page 78).
However, the first reported Hindu-Muslim riot took place in 1713 AD -- 212 years before the RSS was formed, 251 years before the VHP was founded, and 289 years before the Gujarat riots broke out after 59 Hindus were burnt to death in a train. Indeed, before the RSS was born in 1925, Singh's book records the occurrence of some 150 Hindu-Muslim riots and, unbelievably, of four riots between Muslims and... Parsis!
If Golwalkar and his so-called Hindu fanatics were not yet on the scene, why had those pre-1925 riots happened? A glimpse of the truth can be had from those four Muslim-Parsi riots traced to Bombay by Singh's book.
In 1850, a Parsi journalist published a photograph of Mohammad Paigambar in his newspaper. Muslims started assaulting all Parsis. In 1851, a magazine edited by a Parsi youth gave an account of the Prince of Arabia and an undiscovered villain posted a lithograph portrait of the Prophet on the entrance of a mosque. That was enough for Muslims to belabour Parsis.
In 1857, Muslims killed a Parsi high priest and a notorious Parsi character for his supposed insult to Islam and for receiving from the British what was deemed as only a mild punishment. The 1874 riots too originated because of a Parsi's translation of an American writer's article on the Prophet. (BTW, does all that tell us why India's modern-day journalists do not touch Islam with a barbed pen?)
It was thus abundantly clear more than 150 years ago, if not more, that their religion, Islam, was the be-all and end-all of Muslims in India. Even Mohandas Karamchand Gandhi failed to alter that mindset. It was but a matter of time before Pakistan was carved out from British India with accompanying rivers of human blood and oceans of human tears. Not satisfied, the new Islamic country invaded the Kashmir valley to secure its possession on religious grounds.
Came the Constitution of India on January 26, 1950, founded on noble secular principles although its architect, Dr B R Ambedkar, was convinced about his thesis that Muslims cannot co-exist with non-Muslims (Thoughts on Pakistan, Thacker & Co, Bombay, 1946).
This thesis has been subsequently endorsed by several Muslims themselves. Thus, in The Telegraph, Calcutta, of April 29, 1986, Tara Ali Baig wrote that the problem with the Muslims is that they 'insist on living lives by a fixed set of laws laid down for them in an Arab country long ago, which even today they consider inflexible, unalterable doctrine. This is the real root of the separate existence of Muslims in India. They do not know where to turn except to Mecca and the home of their religion.' Muslim intellectuals in India like eminent jurist M C Chagla, ex-politician and scholar Dr Rafiq Zakaria, and senior journalist M J Akbar have shared this view.
The conflict of interest between Muslims and non-Muslims and, what's more, between intra-Muslim sects themselves, has been substantiated outside India. The research findings of Jonathan Fox (published in his book Islam And The West) on the Cold War and post-Cold War activities of Islamic groups support Samuel Huntington's thesis that 'Islam is one of the greatest participants in civilizational conflicts'. As observed in the Journal of Peace Research (vol 38, no 4, 2001, Sage Publications, London), the Islamic civilization is conflicting with all other religions and not just the West.
By ignoring the fallout of the inherently inimical nature of Islam, the UNDP report errs further by believing that all over the world people can have multiple and complementary identities without creating a conflict between the assertion of ethnicity and the honouring of citizenship obligations.
Citing the factual situations in Lebanon, Cyprus, Israel, Bulgaria, Yugoslavia, Algeria, Egypt, Iran, Afghanistan, India, Russia and China, R N P Singh concludes, 'Muslims, whether in minority or majority, are always in conflict with others on one cause or the other. They never agree to join the mainstream with the non-Muslim majority and always demand separate land, separate law, separate educational institutions, and separate concessions. Their usual approach is to launch jehad or holy war against non-Muslims.'
This reality is slowly but surely dawning on the advanced Western world where Muslim immigrants are swelling by the day. Unlike India's ostrich-like media, leading newspapers abroad are beginning to look sharply at Islam's tenets.
Take Britain, where Muslim immigrants are now in the third generation stage. According to a recent poll in that country, 13 percent of British Muslims 'approved of a renewed terrorist assault, on the scale of the 9/11 outrage, on targets in America and Britain'. (India Link International magazine, London, June-July 2004 issue).
In that same publication are the views of Sarfraz Manzoor, the deputy commissioning editor at Channel 4, and of Lord Nazir Ahmed. Manzoor condemned 'the alienated and angry young Muslims who, though born here, do not accept Britain as their homeland.' Lord Nazir was critical of the imams in England who deliver fiery sermons and bemoaned, 'Young Muslims who come under the influence and spell of such narrow-minded imams are filled with nothing but animosity and absurd notions about Britain and the British people.'
In the Netherlands, a recent survey of 813 Dutch adults by TNS NIPO pollsters for De Volkskrant newspaper found that 36 percent of the Dutch feel threatened by Muslims in the Netherlands and only 15 percent regard their culture positively.
In Italy, writer Stefania A, an Italian ex-Muslim woman, recently condemned the social, political, and religious attitude of Muslim immigrants to Italy, bemoaned their unwillingness to do anything to integrate themselves with Italians, and told them to leave if they were not satisfied with what Italy offered them.
There is also France where the head scarf for Muslim schoolgirls caused such a furore among the Muslim community and forced the government to be determined to ban its wearing.
Taking Europe as a whole, the increasing assertiveness of Muslims has resulted in some intellectuals predicting the continent's name being changed in the near future to 'Eurabia.'
Finally, the USA. More and more mainstream journalists are uncovering facts that will wean away the naïve belief that Islam is a religion of peace. The latest is from Nicholas D Kristoff. Writing in The New York Times, he made the telling assessment, 'We have quite properly linked the fundamentalist religious tracts of Islam with the intolerance they nurture.' (Reproduced in The Asian Age, Mumbai, July 20, 2004.)
It's a tragedy of our times then that the UNDP report's authors chose to wear blinkers when it gushed about cultural diversity being compatible with integrated citizenship without taking the Islamic world into account.
By the way, how much does producing a UNDP report cost? What purpose does it, and other such UN reports, serve? Might it not be better for the world body to spend that money, howsoever small or big, on offering succour to the victims of such genocides as were perpetrated on the Sikhs in 1984 and the Kashmiri Pandits in 1989-1990?