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Rajmohan Gandhi answers PM Modi’s question on why BR Ambedkar resigned in 1951

In his new book Understanding the Founding Fathers (Aleph), writer and historian Rajmohan Gandhi attempts to answer questions, such as: Would someone like Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel have led India better than Jawaharlal Nehru did? Was Mohandas Gandhi a Hindu revivalist? In an email interview with Charmy Harikrishnan, the grandson and biographer of the Mahatma answers PM Narendra Modi’s question on why BR Ambedkar resigned in 1951; comments on the Modi government’s selective appropriation of Gandhi and other national heroes; and compares the present-day rhetoric on nationalism and “Bharat Mata Ki Jai” with the founding fathers’ views. Edited excerpts:

You frame this book as a response to questions posed by two disparate individuals, Swami Sachidanand from Gu jarat and Professor Perry Anderson from the University of California. Why did you choose these two characters? 

Actually, the criticisms of Gandhi and Nehru levelled by Swami Sachidanand and Professor Perry Anderson cancelled one another. However, answering them was useful. It produced a reminder of the exceptional leadership that Gandhi, Jawaharlal Nehru, Patel and Ambedkar gave to India between 1946 and 1951. My wish to answer the criticisms was independent of present-day rhetoric. The record of that old period simply needed to be set straight. None of the four figures mentioned above was perfect, but they comprised a superb team that gave our republic a start we can be proud of. A reminder of their words also serves as an antidote to some of today’s toxic rhetoric. This book is a welcome by-product.

How valid is Modi’s and the Sangh Parivar’s belief that Patel would have made a better PM than Nehru, not least because Patel died in 1950?

An imagined Patel 10 or 20 years younger than he was in 1947 may well have made a wonderful PM, and possibly a better PM than Nehru. But the actual Patel of 1947, who was 14 years older than Nehru, was too unwell to be PM. Two months before his death in December 1950, he said that the choice of Nehru as PM had been the right one. Can anyone claim that Patel made that remark only to please someone? That would only be slandering the great man, whose tongue was always true to his mind.

With all the friction between them, Nehru and Patel were, above all, partners who wonderfully complemented each other with their gifts and also their constituencies.Nehru carried the masses and the intellectuals with him, and Patel carried the party and the civil services. Their supposed rivalry was not even a tenth as important as their collaboration.

Moreover, in 1946-47 the people of India loved Nehru and overwhelmingly wanted him as PM. Between 1947 and 1950, no one, neither Patel nor anyone else, suggested that Patel should have been PM. It was only decades later that hypothetical and pointless `if only’ questions were introduced.

FM Arun Jaitley said that `the ideology of nationalism guides our beliefs and philosophy’. How different is this from the founding fathers’ view of nationalism? 

Gandhi’s understanding of nationalism as expressed in Hind Swaraj in 1909, more than 100 years ago, never changed. He wrote then: `India cannot cease to be one nation because people belonging to different religions live in it… Those who are conscious of the spirit of nationality do not interfere with one another’s religion… In no part of the world are one nationality and one religion synonymous terms; nor has it ever been so in India.’ As for Ambedkar, this is what he wrote in a preface dated January 1, 1945, to the second edition of his significant book, first published in 1941, Thoughts on Pakistan: `It is a pity that Mr Jinnah should have become a votary and champion of Muslim Nationalism at a time when the whole world is decrying against the evils of nationalism… But isn’t there enough that is common to both Hindus and Musalmans, which if developed, is capable of moulding them into one people?… If Hindu Raj does become a fact, it will, no doubt, be the greatest calamity for this country…’ Compare the Sangh Parivar’s view of nationalism with these two conceptions and draw your own conclusions.

Should a refusal to say Bharat Mata Ki Jai be considered as disrespect to the Constitution? 

When demonstrators in Mumbai supporting the abortive naval mutiny of February 1946 tried to force Mumbai-wallahs to shout Jai Hind, Gandhi responded by saying that to `compel a single person’ to `shout Jai Hind’ was to drive a nail `into the coffin of Swaraj in terms of the dumb millions of India’ (Harijan, March 3, 1946).

Bharat Mata Ki Jai was favoured by many of our founders. I do not know whether Dr Ambedkar was enamoured of it. But forcing, coercing, or compelling anyone to recite any slogan, no matter how noble, is a violation of the constitutional guarantee of free speech, which includes the right to remain silent. Forcing you or me to say something is the only issue here, not the nobility of a slogan. When compulsion is legitimised, the weak -the helpless, the excluded, Dalits -are the worst sufferers. Then you are empowering the bullies.

What do you think of the selective appropriation of the founding fathers by the Sangh Parivar and the BJP government -when Gandhi’s cleanliness is celebrated but not his pluralism; when Ambedkar is lauded in broad terms but his rejection of Hinduism is swept un der the carpet?

This double-speak is so obvious. Still, I welcome the selective praise given by the Hindu Right to Gandhi and Ambedkar. It gives everyone the chance to ask leaders of BJP and the Sangh Parivar at any level, local, state or national: `What do you think of Gandhi’s insistence on pluralism? What is your comment on Ambedkar’s apprehensions of Hindu Raj?’

PM Modi said at the 6th Ambedkar lecture: `Why was it that Dr Ambedkar had to resign from the ministry? This part of history is either forgotten or diluted.’ How do you respond to that?

That resignation, which occurred in 1951, was indeed unfortunate. But why did Ambedkar resign?
Because an obdurate Hindu Right (which had its presence in the Congress as well) was pressurising Nehru against the Hindu Code Bill which was piloted by Ambedkar with Nehru’s strong support.

Even when mouthed for purely political reasons, expressions from the Hindu Right in support of Dalit rights, and for equality among Hindus, should be welcomed. Yet a key question must be asked.Will the Hindu Right also demand justice for Muslims? Or does it only long for an anti-Muslim `consolidation’ of Hindus?
The Hindu Right should ask itself: Why did Gandhi, and Ambedkar, and Patel, and Nehru, all four of them, oppose Hindu Raj? Why did they find Hindu Raj very different from liberty and justice for all?

What do you make of the persecution of Kanhaiya Kumar, on the charges of being anti-national, and the celebration of him? 

It is only on TV that I have seen and heard Kanhaiya Kumar. He seems to be remarkably clear in his thinking and wise in his speaking, and remarkably resilient as well. Many, including me, have high expectations from him. I pray that he will remain true to himself and will neither be cowed down by attacks nor fooled by praise.

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India: Historian D.N. Jha’s Reply to Arun Shourie

D.N. Jha’s Reply to Arun Shourie

[A shorter version appears in the Indian Express of 9 July 2014 athttp://indianexpress.com/article/opinion/columns/grist-to-the-reactionary-mill/.]

I was amused to read ‘How History Was Made Up At Nalanda’ (28 June 2014, the Indian Express) by Arun Shourie, who has dished out ignorance masquerading as knowledge – reason enough to have pity on him and sympathy for his readers! Since he has referred to me by name and has charged me with fudging evidence to distort the historical narrative of the destruction of the ancient Nalandamahavihar, I consider it necessary to rebut his allegations and set the record straight instead of ignoring his balderdash.

My presentation at the Indian History Congress, to which Shourie refers, was in 2006 and not 2004 as stated by Shourie. It was not devoted to the destruction of ancient Nalanda per se – his account misleads readers and pulls the wool over their eyes. It was in fact focused on the antagonism between Brahmins and Buddhists, for which I drew on different kinds of evidence including myths and traditions. In this context I cited the tradition recorded in the 18th century Tibetan text, Pag-sam-jon-zang by Sumpa Khan-Po Yece Pal Jor, mentioned by B N S Yadava in his Society and Culture in Northern India in the Twelfth Century – with due acknowledgement, although in his pettiness Shourie is quick to discover plagiarism on my part! (I may add that “Hindu fanatics” are not my words but Yadav’s, which is why they are in quotes. How sad that one has to point this out to a winner of the Magsaysay Award!)

In his conceit Shourie is disdainful and dismissive of the Tibetan tradition, which has certain elements of miracle in it, as recorded in the text. Here is the relevant extract from Sumpa’s work cited by Shourie: “While a religious sermon was being delivered in the temple that he [Kakut Siddha] had erected at Nalanda, a few young monks threw washing water at two Tirthika beggars. (The Buddhists used to designate the Hindus by the term Tirthika). The beggars, being angry, set fire on the three shrines of Dharmaganja, the Buddhist University of Nalanda, viz. — Ratna Sagara, Ratna Ranjaka including the nine-storeyed temple called Ratnodadhi which contained the library of sacred books” (p.92). Shourie questions how the two beggars could go from building to building to “burn down the entire, huge, scattered complex.” Look at another passage (abridged by me in the following paragraph) from the History of Buddhism in India written by another Tibetan monk and scholar, Taranatha, in the 17th century:

During the consecration of the of the temple built by Kakutsiddha at Nalendra [Nalanda] “the young naughty sramanas threw slops at the two tirthika beggars and kept them pressed inside door panels and set ferocious dogs on them”. Angered by this, one of them went on arranging for their livelihood and the other sat in a deep pit and “engaged himself in surya sadhana” [solar worship], first for nine years and then for three more years and having thus “acquired mantrasiddhi” he “performed a sacrifice and scattered the charmed ashes all around” which “immediately resulted in a miraculously produced fire” which consumed all the eighty-four temples and the scriptures some of which, however, were saved by water flowing from an upper floor of the nine storey Ratnodadhi temple. (History of Buddhism in India, English tr. Lama Chimpa & Alka Chattopadhyaya, pp.141-42).
If we look at the two narratives closely they are similar. The role of the Tirthikas and their miraculous fire causing a conflagration are common to both. Admittedly, one does not have to take the miracles seriously, but it is not justified to ignore their importance as part of traditions which gain in strength over time and become part of the collective memory of a community. Nor is it desirable or defensible to disregard the long standing antagonism between Brahmins and Buddhists, which may have given rise to the Tibetan tradition and nurtured it until the 18th century or even later. It is in the context of this Buddhist- Tirthika animosity that the account of Sumpa assumes importance; it also makes sense because it jibes with Taranatha’s evidence. Further, neither Sumpa nor Taranatha ever came to India. This should mean that the idea of Brahminical hostility to the religion of the Buddha travelled to Tibet fairly early, became part of its Buddhist tradition, and found expression in 17th-18th century Tibetan writings. Acceptance or rejection of this kind of source criticism is welcome if it comes from a professional historian but not from someone who flirts with history as Shourie does.

Of the two Tibetan traditions, the one referred to by me has been given credence not only by Yadava (whom Shourie, in his ignorance, dubs a Marxist!) but also by a number of other Indian scholars like R K Mookerji (Education in Ancient India), Sukumar Dutt (Buddhist Monks and Monasteries of India), S C Vidyabhushana (Medieval School of Indian Logic), Buddha Prakash (Aspects of Indian History and Civilization), and many others. They were all polymaths of unimpeachable academic honesty and integrity. They had nothing to do, even remotely, with Marxism: which is, to Shourie in his bull avatar, a red rag.

Now juxtapose the Tibetan tradition with the contemporary account in the Tabaqat–i-Nasiri of Minhaj-i-Siraj, which Shourie not only misinterprets but also blows out of proportion. Although its testimony has no bearing on my argument about Brahmanical intolerance, a word needs to be said about it so as to expose Shourie’s “false knowledge” – which, as G B Shaw said, is “more dangerous than ignorance.” The famous passage from this text reads exactly as follows:

“He [Bakhtiyar Khalji] used to carry his depredations into those parts and that country until he organized an attack upon the fortified city of Bihar. Trustworthy persons have related on this wise, that he advanced to the gateway of the fortress of Bihar with two hundred horsemen in defensive armour, and suddenly attacked the place. There were two brothers of Farghanah, men of learning, [Nizamu-ud-Din and Samsam-ud-Din] in the service of Muhammad-i-Bakht-yar, and the author of this book [Minhajuddin] met with at Lakhnawati in the year 641 H and this account is from him. These two wise brothers were soldiers among that band of holy warriors when they reached the gateway of the fortress and began the attack at which time Muhammad-i-Bakhtiyar, by the force of his intrepidity, threw himself into the postern of the gateway of the place, and they captured the fortress and acquired great booty. The greater number of inhabitants of that place were Brahmans, and the whole of those Brahmans had their heads shaven; and they were all slain. There were a great number of books there; and, when all these books came under the observation of the Musalmans, they summoned a number of Hindus that they might give them information respecting the import of those books; but the whole of the Hindus were killed. On becoming acquainted (with the contents of the books), it was found that the whole of that fortress and the city was a college, and in the Hindui tongue, they call a college Bihar” (Tabaqat-i-Nasiri, tr. H G Raverty, Calcutta, vol 1, 1881, pp.551-52).

The above account mentions the fortress of Bihar as the target of Bakhtiyar’s attack. The fortified monastery which Bakhtiyar captured was “known as Audand-Bihar or Odandapura-vihara” (Odantapuri in Biharsharif, then known simply as Bihar). This is the view of many historians but, most importantly, of Jadunath Sarkar, the high priest of communal historiography in India (History of Bengal, vol. 2, Dacca, 1948, pp.3-4). Minhaj does not refer to Nalanda at all: he merely speaks of the ransacking of the “fortress of Bihar” (hisar-i-Bihar). But how can Shourie be satisfied unless Bakhtiyar is shown to have sacked Nalanda? Since Bakhtiyar was leading plundering expeditions in the region of Magadha, Shourie thinks that Nalanda must have been destroyed by him – and, magically, he finds ’evidence’ in an account which does not even speak of the place. Thus an important historical testimony becomes the victim of his anti-Muslim prejudice. In his zeal, he fudges and concocts historical evidence and ignores the fact that Bakhtiyar did not go to Nalanda from Bihar (Biharsharif). Instead, he proceeded to Nadia in Bengal through the hills and jungles of the region of Jharkhand, which, incidentally, finds first mention in an inscription of AD 1295 (Comprehensive History of India, vol. IV, pt. I, p.601). I may add that his whole book, Eminent Historians, from which the article under reference is excerpted, abounds in instances of his cavalier attitude to historical evidence.

It is neither possible nor necessary to deny that the Islamic invaders conquered parts of Bihar and Bengal and destroyed the famous universities in the region. But any one associating Bakhtiyar Khalji with the destruction and burning of the university of Nalanda would be guilty of gross academic dishonesty. Certainly week-end historians like Shourie are always free to falsify historical data, but this has nothing to do with serious history, which is always true to evidence.

Shourie had raised a huge controversy by publishing his scandalous and slanderous Eminent Historians in 1998 during the NDA regime and now, after sixteen years, he has issued its second edition, from which the article under reference has been excerpted. He appears and reappears in the historian’s avatar when the BJP comes to power and does all he can to please his masters. His view of the past is no different from that of the Vishwa Hindu Parishad and the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh and their numerous outfits, consisting of riff-raff and goons who burn books that do not endorse their views, who vandalize art objects which they label blasphemous, who present a distorted view of Indian history, and who nurture a culture of intolerance.
These elements demanded my arrest when my book on beef eating was published, and they censured James Laine when his book on Shivaji came out. It is not unlikely that Shourie functions in cahoots with people like Dina Nath Batra, who targeted A K Ramanujan’s essay emphasizing the diversity of the Ramayana tradition; Wendy Doniger’s writings, which provided an alternative view of Hinduism; Megha Kumar’s work on communalism and sexual violence in Ahmedabad since 1969; and Sekhar Bandopadhyaya’s textbook on modern India, which regrettably does not eulogise the RSS. Arun Shourie seems to have inaugurated a fresh round of battle by fudging, falsifying and fabricating historical evidence and providing grist to Batra’s mill.

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Modi – Faking Numbers to Magnify Historical Distortions #Feku

Chaining 1,200 Years
Our PM’s recalculation of how long Indians have been ‘slaves’

Good lawyers and good historians have one thing in common: both are quick to spot the crucial small print that ordinary folk miss the significance of. So, as politicians and the media were concentrating on the big picture of Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s maiden Lok Sabha speech, historians were struck by his reference to “1,200 years of slavery”, which, he said, had left Indians with a slavish mentality. “This slave mentality of 1,200 years is troubling us,” he said. “Often, when we meet a person of high stature, we fail to muster courage to speak up.”

What is troubling historians, though, is his view of India’s colonial history, which, according to him, spans 1,200 years. The conventional view is that it lasted 200 years—those of British raj. So where did the remaining 1,000 years come from? Clearly, Modi was propounding what Mridula Mukherjee, former professor of modern Indian history at JNU, described as the “standard Hindu communal view of history”, which regards the period of Muslim rule also as a period of slavery. The problem is that even then the numbers don’t add up. Muslim conquest of the subcontinent began around the 12th century and was effectively over by the 18th century, though it lingered on until 1857. Modi’s account still leaves us with 400 years to account for, spawning jokes on the internet. On Twitter, someone going by the name ‘Angry Brown Man’ wrote: “Narendra Modi claims India has faced 1,200 years of slavery? Is prohibition not on in Gujarat anymore? ‘Coz he is obviously high as kite.”

As chief minister of Gujarat, Modi used the same phrase in his independence day speech last year, prompting Business Standard columnist Mihir Sharma to note that “even on Independence Day, he couldn’t help saying that India has been ‘a slave to others for 1,000-1,200 years’. I know his maths is bad, but I suspect he’s not calculating from the Battle of Plassey.” But forget maths. The bigger question is: what was Modi trying to do raking up ancient/medieval history in a speech about development and building modern India? He’s not known to make throwaway comments, so it may be argued he was simply trying to emphasise the need for greater national pride. But surely there are less controversial ways of doing that, say, by highlighting independent India’s achievements in science and technology, its robust democracy, the fact that it defied dire western predictions and emerged as a model of democratic stability in the region. Instead, he chose what could be interpreted as equating national pride with Hindu pride, branding Muslim rule as slavery. As Debobrat Ghose, aFirstpost commentator, asked: Is prime minister Modi trying to bring about a paradigm change in the way we perceive our history?

Noted historian Mushirul Hasan dismisses  Modi’s claims as “falsification of history”. But Modi’s supporters say he was stating facts. “The phrase ‘1,200 years of slavery’ is neither saffronisation nor colourisation of history, but only a reference to the deep conditioning of slave mentality that Indians have undergone over the centuries,” says Prof Makkhan Lal, a pro-RSS historian who was at the centre of a row over rewriting NCERT history books.

I asked Ashok Chowgule, the VHP’s working president (external), why Modi chose to hark back to Muslim rule now. He replied by cataloguing the “brutality” of Muslim conquerors and quoted from Ame­r­i­can historian Will Durant’s book The Story of Civilisation, describing the Islamic conquest of India as “probably the bloodiest story in history”. The VHP’s line seems to confirm that Modi’s remark was a none-too-subtle attempt to keep old ghosts alive and a nod to the RSS view of Indian history. Significantly, it came on the heels of HRD minister Smriti Irani’s reported plans to introduce a “Hindu perspective” in school textbooks.

Meanwhile, although it is true that many Indians still suffer from a colonial hangover—even the swadeshi Sangh parivar, for example, worries more about what appears in The Economist orTime magazine than in Indian publications—the tendency is slightly exaggerated. The new generation of Indians has no such complex. If anything, there is now a reverse snobbery, which often manifests itself in the form of a false sense of national pride (especially among BJP supporters) inspired by the hype over India’s new status as an emerging superpower. In Britain, Indians are the most cocky lot, and constantly try to distance themselves from their poorer subcontinental cousins.

But coming back to Modi’s remark, here’s a party which dismisses the 2002 Gujarat riots as old history and tells us to “move on” and stop obsessing about something that happened 12 years ago. Yet, it itself remains trapped in the past. Hopefully, in future, Modi will talk more about moving forward than looking back. And, yes, get his maths right.

Read mor eherre – http://www.outlookindia.com/article/Chaining-1200-Years/291200

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Gujarat schools textbooks claim Japan ‘launched a nuclear attack on US’ #WTFnews

It’s history, but not as we know it:

By DARSHAN DESAI

PUBLISHED: 22:24 GMT, 16 June 2014 |

Mahatma Gandhi was assassinated on October 30, 1948.

Japan launched a nuclear attack on the United States during World War II. 

A new country named ‘Islamic Islamabad’ was constituted after Partition with its capital at ‘Khyber Ghat’ in the Hindu Kush mountains. 

All South Indians are ‘Madrasis’. 

These aren’t examples of bloomers from some third-rate tourist guidebook, but gems from history in social science textbooks that have been fed to 50,000 Class 6-8 students of government-run English-medium schools in Gujarat.

Mistakes galore in textbooks

The textbooks were put together by a panel of experts from the Gujarat Council of Educational Research and Training (GCERT) and Gujarat State Board for School Textbooks (GSBST), who decide the curriculum.

These were the same textbooks in which a chapter on the life and times of Prime Minister Narendra Modi was proposed, only to be shot down by the BJP leader himself.

The state government has woken up and appointed a panel of experts drawn from private schools to review and revise these textbooks.

Official sources say new and revised textbooks will be out in the market in time for the new academic session.

The error-ridden books have, however, been used to teach impressionable students till now.

Mistakes and bloomers weren’t the only problems with the textbooks.

Instances of what social scientist Achyut Yagnik calls the “intellectual poverty” of the textbooks’ anchors abound.

The creation of stereotypes seems to be an aim. According to the Class 8 Social Science textbook:

“People in east India wear clothes above ankle as there is more rainfall. Ladies wear sari in a peculiar manner.”

It says the majority of people in eastern India reside in “houses made of wood and bamboo”.

The textbook goes on to say: “Idli and dosa are famous in south India. Madrasi food is very famous.”

In another reference, it goes on to club the Rath Yatra of Puri with South Indian festivals, including Onam and Diwali in Kerala.

English hasn’t been spared either. Here’s a sample from the Class 6 textbook: “You might have heared, read and seen that the Earth is round. Whereas, you stay on the Earth, you can not come to know the shape of Earth; because the Earth is too much vast.

“Why we do not feel that the Earth is round? Is the Earth really To whom it is like? Just imagine, round? The Moon-uncle is telling. Come on to my surface and see from the edge. The travellers of the space had taken the photographs of the Earth from the space – see it.”

Translated from Gujarati

Unbelievable? Here’s another: “The man found grains like wheat, jav etc. automatically in the various part of India’s soil. So the people of India (in that time) collected and preserved that grains for food. They met each other often and often and often, and so ‘Socialism’ increased. We are getting the residues of premature mankind since 20 lacs years ago in India.”

That these textbooks are translated from their Gujarati equivalents, and poorly at that, stands out.

According to Samir Barua, former director of Indian Institute of Management, Ahmedabad, who was drafted by the state government back in 2001 to review the textbooks after he wrote a series of newspaper articles about the bloomers in them: “The authors of Gujarat school books are not competent.”

The base material, he said, is always in Gujarati and the translators are of poor quality.

Bloomers

Yagnik also points to the lopsidedness of these books.

“The National Curriculum Framework 2005 was never implemented by Gujarat and there is a political bias here. For instance, the GCERT-engineered textbooks have only one paragraph on the 350 years of Mughal rule in India,” said Yagnik.

Speaking to Mail Today, he cited the first semester textbook of Class 7 that contains a chapter on the medieval age but has just a paragraph on Mughal rule.

The chapter devotes itself largely to how Mahmud of Ghazni looted “India and Saurashtra (in Gujarat)”.

Read more: http://www.dailymail.co.uk/indiahome/indianews/article-2659424/Its-history-not-know-Gujarat-schools-left-red-faced-textbooks-claim-Japan-launched-nuclear-attack-US.html#ixzz353nlTW7W

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History of the date 26 for India

 

 

26/1: Gujarat Earthquake

26/2: Godhra Train Burning

26/7: Mumbai Floods

26/11: Mumbai Terror Strikes

26/12: Tsunami

 

26/5: Modi as PM

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Califia Feminists Took Education Out of Classrooms #womenrights

By Clark A. Pomerleau

WeNews guest author

Sunday, December 8, 2013

Launched in 1975, this group of Southern California feminists provided an alternative to mainstream academia’s attempts to tie feminism to university courses, focusing on community education, says Clark A. Pomerleau in this excerpt from “Califia Women.”

 

Mealtime at Califia Community.
Mealtime at Califia Community.

 

Credit: Courtesy of Betty Jetter, from Jetter’s collection

(WOMENSENEWS)– In response to entrenched inequalities in the post–World War II United States, Americans who supported gender equality built on political opportunities to find each other and create the country’s largest social movement.

Califia Women: Feminist Education Against Sexism, Classism, and Racism

By the 1970s, the proliferation of feminist organizations in Los Angeles was representative of the nation’s largest cities. Southern California feminists built on previous leftist education experiments to plan Califia Community in 1975. They drew on their social networks to bring women (and their children) together for a week or long weekend to learn from each other’s experiences, imagine and live an alternative to mainstream society, frame issues and organize to change the social order. For a decade of summers, Califia Community collective members facilitated conferences at campsites that alleviated mainstream pressures. The experience strengthened many women’s sense of shared culture and collective identity as “Califia women.”

Califia Community, which dissolved in 1987, is significant both in its own right and as a lens on its times. There has been little study of sustained grassroots feminist educational activism outside of the formation of college courses, even though the feminists who considered themselves “second wave” were dedicated to community-based consciousness raising, leadership training, organizing and revision of knowledge about women and gender. Grassroots groups that did community education tended to be significantly smaller than Califia Community and usually lasted fewer than five years, while women-only trade programs outside established vocational training venues have received scant scholarly attention.

Local-Level Dynamics

This book extends beyond most previous scholarship’s focus on the late 1960s and early 1970s, widely acknowledged leaders and the East Coast or Midwest. Scholarship on feminism of the 1960s to 1980s continues to need case studies that correct generalizations based on national overviews. Local-level dynamics confirm the multiplicity of competing views that feminists generated. Analyzing Califia Communityhelps to explain how New Left political and countercultural concerns influenced multi-issue feminists to blend tactics and goals in practices that they and later scholars have classified separately as “radical feminism,” “cultural feminism” and “separatism.”

Early participants at Califia had a range of gender expressions, sexual orientations, class backgrounds and races/ethnicities. Leaders built on that diversity and were especially concerned to advance antiracism and coalition work among races and ethnicities. Over their decade of conferences, Califia women developed their training on identity variation in ways that help clarify issues of feminists’ differing sexual orientations, classes and races.

The Califia experiment illustrates that 1970s feminists often mobilized women from overlapping social networks, built institutions with volunteer-based resources and sustained interest through strong social relationships, a shared sense of culture and the powerful emotions feminists felt when working together against injustices. Califia women adapted their priorities over time in response to their participation in feminist debates and to external pressures from right-wing organizing.

Going Beyond the Local

Looking at Califia in relation to nationwide developments reveals how feminists expanded their content and tactics, the strengths and weaknesses of lenses like identity politics and methods like consciousness-raising and consensus and ways in which members of the Right repeatedly attacked feminism. Many of these issues remain salient.

Across the United States, the number of participants in feminist groups and the movement’s visibility to mainstream Americans expanded enormously over the 1960s, 1970s and 1980s.

Betty Brooks, who helped establish and run Califia Community, spoke to the ways in which many women felt swept up in a collective movement that altered the course of their lives. She said:

“There was a giant wave that was happening. And I guess I could say that that wave picked me up, although I was already in the ocean of women’s liberation. You know there’s two aspects of all this — women’s rights work and women’s liberation. And so I would say . . . that the most important thing that Califia did was really to raise women’s consciousness about their own individual liberation and the connection to the big ‘isms’ . . . which surround us like smog, which are sexism, racism and class. And it was that younger generation of women, the second wave of feminists, the people who had been in the political liberation movements of the ’60s, that focused in. . . . They walked out of mainstream politics and said that the ‘personal is political.’ So that Califia was picking that up. We were really the only radical group of people [in Southern California] trying to do that kind of work–to try to raise people’s consciousness in a different way than just keeping it in a small group. I mean, we really want to pick up the big stuff.”

 

— Betty Brooks (Califia Community founder and collective member, 1975–1983)

Excerpt from “Califia Women: Feminist Education Against Sexism, Classism, and Racism” by Clark A. Pomerleau (Copyright © 2013 by the University of Texas Press). Used by permission of the University of Texas Press. For more information visit .

 

 

Clark A. Pomerleau is an associate professor of history at the University of North Texas and also facilitates diversity training.

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Gujjus of the world, unite! And follow Modiji in a fantastic tour across India

ILLUSTRATION BY SORIT
WHAT IF…
For Seerji By The Sabarmati
Gujjus of the world, unite! And follow Modiji in a fantastic tour across India.

Charles Darwin may have convinced the world that human beings evolved from apes. But we in India know better. Our Great Leader Narendra Modi, whom we cover non-stop on TV, has revealed the truth. The full truth and nothing but the truth. All human beings evolve from….Gujaratis! Great leaders like Shyama Prasad Mookerjee may have spent their lives thinking they were Bengalis, but Modiji has discovered the well kept secret that they were actually Gujaratis (just as he discovered this about some people who are lovable puppies but have the inconvenient habit of coming under his car). Those puppies too are Gujaratis because ALL ARE Gujaratis! And like Shyama Prasad, is it not inevitable that the Mukherjee Dada in Rashtrapati Bhawan would be one too? So when the auspicious day comes he will happily swear in Modiji because, under the thick Bengali accent, he is no rosogulla loving Bong but a secret consumer of dhokla and Khakra.

And now that our PM-to-be has turned out to be such an outstanding student of history, it is time to share with him the story of the other Italian connection. We know that Modiji is against “Rome Raj” and wants to keep the nation safe from people who have dubious connections with Italy and Pakistan (in that order). We also know that he has a great vision for Bharat and if he said that Taxila is in Bihar, it is because he is inspired by the Akhand Bharat ideology of the great Guru Golwakar, and in any case, under him, India will soon declare war and over-run Pakistan and Taxila will become part of Bharat Mata. Jai Bajrangbali!

But back to the Italian connection. As a first history lesson, Modiji must learn that those half pants he wore for years, those smart khaki shorts, were inspired by the uniform of the fascists of Italy. A close associate of its founder Dr Hedgewar, B.S. Moonje travelled to Italy, met Mussolini and was so impressed with the military drills that he recommended them to RSS to follow. But then Modiji knows that Mussolini and gang were good Italians, which cannot be said for other Italians…

Now that we have dealt with the fundamentals of creation, origin of man and Italy, we offer some suggestions for what Modiji can say in his great speeches as he travels across India.

Kashmir: Modiji is a brave man so he must go to Kashmir and tell all those terrorists off. Just as he airlifted all the Gujaratis out of Uttarakhand after the quake, he can promise to lift all the Pundits back into the valley. He will literally set the place on fire.

Delhi: Modiji has long cribbed about the rule of the Delhi Sultanate. Now he can depose them and say that the time has come for the true descendant of man (euphemism for Gujarati) to rule from the Lal Qila. But he must take care not to mistake Lal Qila for the popular brand of basmati rice.

Punjab: All Modiji has to do is start wearing turbans. He may not accept headgear from Muslims but he can accept them from Sardars. He can then pretend to be a Sardar and crack Punjabi jokes but he must take care to see that they are not Sardar jokes.

Agra: The credit for the Taj must not go to Shah Jahan. It was built by a Hindu King named Agrasen after whom Agra is named. The VHP has been saying this for years and Modiji went to the same school. He must say this loudly without confusing Agra for Anand.

Kolkata: Modiji must share with the people that Netaji Subhash Chandra Bose was very fond of Shyama Prasad Mookerkee who was born in Gujarat. It was Netaji who encouraged him to start the Hindu Mahasabha to challenge the Nehru dominated Congress. Bengalis in any case believe that Netaji was done in by mysterious forces and Modiji must inform them that their Gujarati brother Shyama Prasad too died mysteriously. The people in this city love conspiracy theories and this should click.

Orissa: All that Modiji has to do here is remind the people that he is a great friend of the corporates like POSCO, Vedanta and all the mining companies and that he will transform their standard of living to that in Gujarat. In return the people here just have to hand him their lands (and give him their vote). Should work.

Andhra Pradesh: The last time Modiji went there, he bungled a bit when he said Jai Telengana and Jai Seemandhra in the same speech. No matter. The next time round he can tell jokes about Tenalirama, a court jester. If he feels the need to be more strident, he can always say that the Charminar was built by a Hindu king. If he wants to woo Muslims he can also say that Sardar Patel (whom he now owns) was not in favour of sending the army to annex Hyderabad. Modiji will in this way reveal that he is a real secularist.

Kerala: We have written a speech for this state: “My dear brothers and sisters, we in Gujarat and Kerala have a great tradition of fishing and trading. Christopher Columbus who had planned to come to Gujarat lost his way and landed in Kerala at Kappad and met the Shahzada Red Indians here. If Sardar Patel was alive he would have sent him packing. Another person called Vasco da Gama also came and met the Shazada Red Indiana.” It is likely that after this BJP spokesperson Meenakshi Lekhi will be asked to explain who are the Shahzada red Indians. Being a smart lady she will say “arrey, red Indians, brown Indians all are Indians only”.

Karnataka: Since Vijayadashami is a big day for the entire Sangh parivar, Modi must promise to requisition the Mysore palace for all future celebrations and airlift the entire Sangh leadership from Nagpur for this. And just as there is a grand temple at Somnath in Gujarat, he can promise to make lavish refurbishments of the Keshav temple in Somanathapura.

Tamil Nadu: So what if Periyar threw slippers at all the Hindu gods and godesses. Modiji has a friend in Madame Jayalalitha and he can initiate a grand temple scheme that will have idols of both Periyar and Amma. That way he will present his friend as the true inheritor of the Dravida movement.

Maharashtra: Best if Modiji talks only about business in this state. If he mentions Shivaji and mixes him up with the Shirdi Sai Baba (as he is prone to) his friends in the Shiv Sena will turn on him and even Raj Thackeray will have to keep him at an arm’s length. We advice the utmost caution in this state.

Here are some myths he can use in Madhya Pradesh and Rajasthan:

  • there is no village in India where the Pandavas have not spent their vanvaas.
  • every water-fall flows from the locks of Lord Shiva.

With Minu Ittype and Panini Anand. A version of this appears in print

 

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NaMo’s mythology

English: Image of Narendra Modi at the World E...

English: Image of Narendra Modi at the World Economic Forum in India (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

 

Jug Suraiya
12 November 2013, 10:17 PM IST

 

 

 

Can Narendra Modi legitimately lay claim to the political ideology of Sardar Patel, in whose honour he’s erecting a huge, 2,500-crore statue made of pieces of iron collected from all over India as a symbol of national unity?

An impassioned countrywide debate has erupted over the issue, with participants from both sides of the secular-vs-saffron fence citing historical facts – sometimes facts selectively chosen to buttress their arguments – to prove their point.

This emphasis on historical accuracy, necessary as it is, misses a fundamental point. The figure at the centre of the controversy – Narendra Modi, not Sardar Patel, who played a major role in the unifying of modern India – has scant regard for history himself. As critics have pointed out, in his speeches Modi has confused the Gupta dynasty with the Mauryan, and has placed Taxila in Bihar, to name just two examples of the liberties he has taken with history.

Indeed, Modi could well echo the words of Henry Ford, who famously said that history was bunk. NaMo has little time and less respect for that has-been called history. He’s too busy creating a far more powerful and compelling narrative about himself: the narrative called mythology.

In choosing to replace factual history with fabled mythology, Modi has struck a chord deeply embedded in the psyche of many Indians. It is often said that Indians, by and large, are an ahistorical people. The sorry state of our ancient monuments, which are vandalised or left to crumble in malign neglect, is a symptom of this indifference to the past. Instead of history, many Indians prefer mythology, which is history dressed up in a superhero costume, like Krrish-3.

The Sangh Parivar and its followers have long favoured mythology over history, an example being their recreation of Lord Rama as a real being whose birthplace is Ayodhya. V S Naipaul has noted the preference of many Indians for mythology as opposed to history. He describes how when travelling on a local bus in Kashmir, they came across a dilapidated shrine. One of Naipaul’s fellow passengers said the shrine was 5,000 years old. Another corrected him, saying it was 10,000 years old. Naipaul, who knew the history of the shrine, tried to tell them that it was in fact built in the previous century and was not much more than 150 years old. But he found no one was interested in this. After all, why settle for a mere 150 years when you could opt for 5,000 years, or even 10,000? Why shortchange ourselves with miserly history when we can indulge ourselves with the unlimited largesse of mythology?

And that is exactly what Modi is doing. Urging us to break free from the confining shackles of history and emerge triumphant into the realm of mythology whose legendary vistas are not fenced in by the barbed wire of facts. As Vyasa and Valmiki did millennia ago, NaMo is scripting his own mythology for 21st century India, with himself as the central character.

History? Take it out of the back door with the rest of the garbage.

 

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#India- Not to miss: Modi sir’s history class #mustread #Feku #Namo

AKASH DEEP ASHOK NEW DELHI, NOVEMBER 12, 2013 |

Scene: A group of impish-looking students are sitting in a class in session. The teacher is seated in a chair on a slightly-elevated podium and speaking to them.

Modi: History is treacherous. At times, you make it. At times, it makes you. Sometimes it forgets you. Some other time you forget it. That last one plagues me.

A student: Sir, you were telling about how Biharis defeated Alexander The Great.

Modi: Oh yes. See, how I forget. Anyway, I told you how Alexander’s army conquered the entire world, but was defeated by the Biharis. That’s the might of this land.

Another student: But sir, Alexander defeated by the Biharis…?!

Modi: That’s why I keep saying an understanding of politics is crucial to learning history. Not all gaffes are meant for guffaws. Historical gaffes can be political. Likewise political gaffes can be historic, too!

What I meant to say about Alexander was not easy to understand. Let me explain. A young Chandragupta Maurya met Alexander at one of his camps near Taxila. Greek historian Plutarch makes a mention of this meeting in his famous book ‘Parallel Lives: Life of Alexander’. Chandragupta wanted Alexander’s help in ridding India of the tyrannical rule of the Nanda dynasty. However, the meeting did not fructify and Alexander apparently lost his temper and asked the young Chandragupta to leave his camp.

Now you see the correlation here. Chandragupta was a Bihari. Even if that’s in doubt, he and his successors ruled Bihar for more than a couple of centuries. Right?

Students, in a chorus: Right, sir.

Modi: And Alexander lost something when he met Chandragupta, even if it was his temper only. Right?

Students, in a chorus: Right, sir.

Modi: That’s what I meant to say: Alexander was defeated by the Biharis. That’s the might of this land. Am I crystal clear now?

Students, in a chorus: Right, sir.

Modi: There is another angle to prove how I was cent per cent right about Alexander.

After Chandragupta became the king, he became well known in the Hellenistic world for conquering Alexander the Great’s easternmost satrapies, and for defeating the most powerful of Alexander’s successors, Seleucus I Nicator, in battle.

Now you re-analyse what I had said. I said: Alexander’s army conquered the entire world, but was defeated by the Biharis. That’s the might of this land. Did I say Alexander or Alexander’s army?

Another student: Sir, but you also said Taxila, the learning hub of ancient times, was in Bihar.

Modi: Yes, I did. And I stand by it even today. See, Bihar, then called Magadh, was the seat of power. It ruled India, a name which did not exist then. So where could Taxila be?

Students, in a chorus: Bihar, sir.

Another student: But then, you recently said Nehru did not attend Patel’s funeral and they flashed photographs of a grim-looking Nehru at his funeral.

Modi: 
Exactly. Nehru was Patel’s friend of a lifetime. He was too shocked to be there mentally. Physically, he might have attended the funeral. But did I specify mentally or physically?

Students, in a chorus: No, sir. You did not.

Modi: Any more questions? Or should we wrap up the class? Where is the monitor?

A bearded, healthy-looking student, who goes by the name of Master Shah, casts a menacing look at the students who obediently rise to leave the room.

The curtain falls.

All the characters used in this one act play are imaginary. Any resemblance to anybody in politics is merely coincidental.

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Tuesday, November 12, 2013

modi

Long years ago, at a cultural event in a European country, the then Indian Ambassador (let him not be named) introduced the modernist Hindi novelist and poet, Agyea (who also carried the name Vatsayan) as the famous author of the Kama Sutra. As was to be expected, his subsequent career in the foreign service receives a set back.

Unlucky man, born at the wrong time among the wrong set of rulers whose fetish about factual accuracy in public pronouncements after all thwarted his flamboyant leap of imagination, whereby a modern day writer was transmogrified into an avatar of the ancient Vatsayan. You might say, what could have been a more telling remark on the unbroken continuities of the Sanatan Dharma wherein time and space are but ephemeral shadows skimming as mere superficial illusions  over the the deep mysteries of the timeless and the spaceless? Yet, far from being rewarded, the poor servicer was to suffer pedestrian rebuke.

Think how this victim to facticity might have flourished under a prospective Narendra Modi prime ministership of Bharat.

Months before being sworn in as prime minister of this land of no beginning and no end (Hegel was to write “India has no history; it is a repeat of the same old majestic ruin”), Mr. Modi has been giving us glimpses and intimations of how a creative and esemplastic (to use Coleridge’s famous description of the “Primary Imagination”) Mind (as opposed to mere mind) may with a wave of two majestic fingers alter time and space at will to suit a great vision.

Thus, among the fanciful gems that he has thus far strewn among the public spaces and at thousands of gawking hoi polloi are the following:

–that the Macedonian warrior-king, Alexander, was defeated in a battle along the Ganges river proximate to the Indian state of Bihar; fact: Alexander never crossed the Setluj in western Punjab, returning westward to die of an affliction in Alexandria (Egypt);

–that the ancient seat of learning, Taxila, was also in Bihar, when in fact that also was in western Punjab (now Pakistan);

–that the Mauryan emperor, Chandragupta (emperor Ashok’s grandfather) was actually Chandragupta II of the Gupta dynasty; between the two lay some eight centuries of historical time;

–that the first Prime Minister of India (who, don’t you know. was the chief wrecker of India’s domestic and foreign fortunes, however great a man and world leader you might have thought him) did not have the grace to attend the funeral (1950) of the then Home Minsiter/Deputy Prime Minsiter of newly Independent India  as a last expression of his sibling resentment, as it were; fact: not only did Nehru love and admire Patel, as Patel did him, despite many principled differences on policy, but was the chief distressed mourner at the latter’s funeral;

–that the late Shyama Prasad Mookherjee, a born and bred Bengali, was a “great son of Gujarat”; that he it was who established the “India House in London under the very nose of the English”; that he was considered the “guru of Indian revolutionaries”; and that the said Mookherjee “died in 1930, but before he did so, he expressed the wish that his ashes be kept carefully so they could be returned to a free India.”

Poor Mookherjee was of course innocent of all these attributions; he was a Bengali, who first joined the Congress party, then switched to the right wing and became the founder of the Jana Sangh (1951); he died in a hospital in Srinagar, Kashmir in the year 1953.

The man Modi was speaking of was Shyama Krishna Varma.  But as the Bard queried, “what is in a name?”  For all you know, Germany might have been England, and India the Soviet Union; thus, Hitler may have been Churchill, and Gandhi may have been Stalin. Which tells us how limiting, after all, dry -as -dust facts can be when, in fact, there need be no end to what the mind may do with history and/or geography, from time to time as the “national interest” dictates.

Mr.Modi is slated to address we are told more than a hundred rallies more till the time arrives for the General Elections to India’s Parliament in early 2014. Minds bogle in salivating anticipation of how many creative splendours yet await us. At the rate he is going, it is a safe bet that by the time we come to the event, our inspired head-pieces may have learnt to reformulate the history and geography of this ancient land in ways that the rest of the world may have become part of the Sanatan landscape of our refurbished Hindutva vision.

Remember, after all, what a not-so-old document of the Vishwa Hindu Parishad told us:

–that  “Jerusalem was actually Yedu Shalyam, which means the shrine of the Lord of the Yadus i.e. Krishna”;

–“that the Dome on the Rock in Jerusalem and the nearby Al-Aqsa mosque, are ancient temples of the Hindu deity, Krishna”;

–“that St.Paul’s Cathedral in London was originally Gopal Mandir”;

–“that the Notre Dame church in Paris was actually the temple of Devi Bhagwati, Parvati alias Durga”;

–that “Paris itself was actually the Hindu city of Parameshwariam”;

–that “the K’aaba at Mecca was originally a gigantic Vishnu temple”;

–and, to cap all history, that “in pre-Christian times all people everywhere in the entire world were Hindus.”

(Cited from H.K.Vyas, VHP, Communist Party of India Publication, 1983; Vyas sources these gems to the Hindu Vishwa,journal of the Vishwa Hindu Parishad.)

Clearly, then, Mr.Modi’s reconstructions of facts issue from well-established tradition of the Hindu right wing, wherein historiography is more often a matter of unanalyzed prejudice and timely convenience than of adherence to fact and evidence.

What wonders then might be unleashed on domestic and foreign fora once Mr.Modi becomes India’s  most erudite first executive; and, alas, what a future the unlucky afore-mentioned Ambassador may have been thought to have lost by having done service under mere mortals who had not the largesse to leap the fact to make a “new heaven and a new earth” (quoting now both Coleridge and Wordsworth, who in turn drew from the Book of Revelation.)

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