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Politicization of religion in contemporary media: Highlighting national politics of Hindus in BJP government

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The politicization of religion is not a new term to anyone. There exists a correlational relationship between religion and political means. Achieving your target using religion as a tool is simply the politicization of any religion and is a point from where religious conflicts emerged. Since the arrival of religion, the rulers are making their way out using the postulates of any religion. As it was stated in the times of clashes between Christians and Muslims in Spain it was an initiation of reforming religion and giving world a way to look from different perspectives towards religious implications and practical applications. Now shifting the paradigm towards the politics of contemporary world. One would vividly state that whatever the region is let it be Europe, America or Asia every place and state has and is using religion for their benefit. Citing an example of Indian state would be more appropriate as it is at present pursuing an ideology which is culminating towards politicization of religion at intra and inter state level. The Hinduism widely practised religion alongside Buddhism and Islam has been used against negative terminologies in modern day politics in India. The BJP government has been in power since 2014. The regime was able to convince local Hindus and uses religion to divert their thinking. It actually controls the hierarchical development going on for decades. Eventually, the technological advancements and improvement in modes of media will pave way for BJP to strengthen their politics in the name of religion. If remain in power it will continue to do the same by taking help from radical wing RSS whose ideology is practised widely in India as Hindutva.

India lies in a location  which is subject to many predictions. Looking at present time from historical perspectives it ultimately take anyone towards the roots causes which is cultural indifferences among the two very prominent factions the Hindus and Muslims alike. The political indifferences came later in effect as that of religious or cultural practices among masses due to lack of general awareness. But soon it was realized the majority will rule out minority it was a matter of grave concern for the Muslims. That was the basis for partition of subcontinent. But the level of grudge or hate never dies from the opponents. They still perceived each other as a threat to their ideology, existence and ultimately to their settlement in international arena. This is the reason the hard core realist nationalist Hindus are adopting such policies that will directly target their opponents using religion.  The majoritarian regime leader Modi is governing all the political and religious affairs. Within their social and cultural cast system it is also portraying division within same branch. The differentiation  is a matter taken up so seriously by the locals to address their grievances. So as a tactic the BJP is suppressing the voices of oppressors using extremist group RSS. As noted only major minority like Muslims is a bone of contention giving rise to escalate Kashmir conflict.

Hindutva is very much there in early 1900 and since it has always been politicised for personal gains. But during the rule of congress it did not appear at front line. Even though congress was also involved in raising and enhancing India’s economic status. This economic well being is also adopted by BJP. Though the political domains of congress and BJP were entirely different as their was a major class difference.  Since Modi regime came in power Hindutva starts projecting its power domain. Violence became an essential part of their strategies against minorities particularly towards Muslims as they perceived them to be their enemies.. Hindutva is followed by RSS which contradicts with Hinduism  the central theme of entire politics in mainland India.  RSS is basically an offshoot of Sangh parivaar and a right wing paramilitary organisation which is every where in India and countering all activities against anti RSS ideology. They want to establish India for Hindu nationals at massive scale. They are directly promoting Hindutva ideology in the name of Hindu community prosperity. The movement in Germany and Italy gives them enthusiasm to do something for their nation with the help of violence. Diversity and inclusivity should be removed from Indian soil ultimately bringing universality and uniformity in their value and structural system.

As discussed by Eviane Leidig in his paper that the fascist ideology of Nazi regime provide Hindus to flourish and drive Hindutva ideology ultimately introduce violence as an essential element of their hegemonic political framework. The inviting of Modi regime to redefine its political agenda and reintroduce the fascist organisation RSS through modification. Hindutva is not a concept of nation building or to promote national as argued. Rather it is manifesting and demonstrating ethno nationalistic approach. BJP is one root of RSS that is exercising power and that RSS is true nationalism( kalim Siddiqui). Hinduism represents the totality of thoughts experiences and insights of all major races (PDT Archary, 2014). Dr. Radhakrishnan, the renowned philosopher says, “Hinduism is an inheritance of thought and aspiration living and moving with the movement of life itself an inheritance to which every race in India has made its distinct and specific contribution.” The terrorist movement was blended with a nascent Hindu revivalism( Richard D. Lambert). In 1925 a Maharashtrian Brahman founded RSS at Nagpur place to become a powerful striking arm in combating the Muslim political forces. That was in true essence the demand of this particular organisation. In earlier 20th century militant Hinduism was in full force.(Sir Percival Griffiths). It is again a matter of psyche as Anderson talks about how to form unity among masses by uniting them under the umbrella of religion, language and culture.

The topic can better be analysed through the lens of Realism. A theory developed to study role of states. But since it was more of a rationale one and that a state fights for its own interests. In this case we are analysing a unitary actor and its power politics. It accounts for inter relations. We are not focusing on intra state dynamics using realism. Its tools for examine state apparatus in international world should be used to determine internal dynamics as well. Since the clash of minorities always existed in Indian soil for any matter but might is right is always applicable. This applicability when combines with state interests will become a driving force to achieve your status. As noted Modi regime has never been held accountable for its injustices and atrocities. That is because of party power maximization and whatever is intended will be done. Violence and use of force to achieve targets has been utilised.

Secondly, looking at the dynamics of politics and the pattern followed widely the knowledge power relations as explained by power elites of society, ultimately shapes the nature of politics. Projecting your interests in terms of public interests has been done since decades by politicians.

Hinduism is an ancient religion and Hindutva is an ideology pursued by far right group and political party BJP following RSS that was primarily formed in 1925.Since 1990 BJP is exercising its power on the Indian land. However the winning of 2014 and 2019 election further strengthen their bond .The religion and political philosophy has been of paramount importance in Indian politics. The term Hinduism and Hindutva are contrasting at every phase and  yet the distinction is not achieved at ground level reality. Hinduism can be followed by all Hindus but Hindutva can’t be. The historical evidence as reported by the scholars defined during the tenure of British government introduced the term Hindutva to represent it as a culture so the amalgamation of all the religious group brings at a unity level. A challenge proposed by east West to counter their hegemonic rule.  For them the Hinduism is a subset of Hindutva. The religious oppression was an outcome of Hindutva. Their clash with Muslim who ruled over India. The Hindutva practitioner sees Gandhi not as a prime leader even his assassination was not dis regarded and Godse was exonerated. The Hindu resistance to entire Muslim rule was featuring RSS.

Although the Hindu  nationalism has been perceived as fascist as they also belongs to political philosophies not as religious affiliations. The nationalism of Hindus combines with role organization of RSS aimed at purifying and promoting the concept.  The formation of BJP has been come out as a result of this coalition. The contrast between Indian nationalism and that of Hindu nationalism greatly varies.  it lies in the contrast of religious revivalist and reform movements in different parts of India.

However in 2004 BJP was voted out of office and faced the Backlash but then the revival was seen in the Indian politics that ultimately formed the Mainstream politics. The economic growth was enhanced to block political motive that it hosts the morale of local Hindus but developing a sense of eradication deprivation and encounter grievance.. this policy was good in terms of modernization of ill structured society and arriving at a level with the globalists. The more better you are economically then financially the more your say will be favoured in different arena. It is the way to the commitment of Hindutva ideology as aright wing political party in the parliament. referring to its oppressive policies against the minorities the case study of abrogation of a special status of Kashmir is key example where the combined effect of RSS reference and Hindutva is finally merged with BJP execution of agenda. The details will be discussed in this paper along with references. Among the prominent leaders was one of Singh. He was considered as a reformist as he brings Hindutva very much in line with BJP linking it with RSS goals and principles. It is Hindutva which defines the India in terms of Hindu culture and values.  BJP ignites the politics of India by spreading hate for Muslims through every possible matter. How it politicised religion is evident through its speeches and marches for political gain by using Hindu God as an instrument to achieve that.

Analysis of Kashmir policies through the lens of media is important because it went through a lot since decades. At present it is suffering a lot due to political amendments in polices as per the will of BJP politicians in parallel to RSS .when it comes to the politics of religion Indian media is of major help. let it be any case but the Perks and  privileges obtained by them is beyond explanation. Projecting narratives of political leaders while interpreting religion has been a tool for politician and state runners. Spreading and expansion of land marketing of anti Hindus has been supported under the umbrella of religion.. although the legitimacy of religions is not directly explained but manipulation do exists. the method of governance and strategies being adopted can provide a perfect platform for demonstration of such ideas. Modi regime is trying to redefine and revive the concept of oneself do identity as a state and nation gradually bringing down and side lining the minorities of other religion.

 If this was not the age of technology then for sure there will be no update or coverage of this issue worldwide. it is playing its role in both positive or negative manner. In Indian state the media is in control of government institutions.. the year 2019 was of paramount importance in Indian history of BJP as they divided, abrogate and breach Indian constitution by removing special status to the state of Jammu and Kashmir. Although on political grounds the BJP didn’t follow the constitutional procedures but initiate another debate on the way towards success by the media. They succeed in bringing humanity at stake and  taking back all the basic necessities that was used as tactics to unite Hindu nationalist and pleased RSS activists. the media highlights this very aspect in a way as what seem to be the narratives of BJP leaders in a  very nicely manner and communicate it with each other and even by being biased in nature  When reporting about Hindutva agenda and Activities of RSS activists.  it is one of the ultimate agenda of Hindus of BJP.

. Looking at present and predicting future is inviting more hatred among hard-core  realist Hindus against all minorities. The execution of such policies that will promote violence will remain part of politics in India as all forms of exploitation of religion will appear on screen. the mode of advancement will be highlighted by state controlled media and will flourish Hindutva. The minds of people will be controlled by projecting policies that will promote public interest and demand. Having hold on public is like you will be in power possession until general public satisfaction is achieved. It is only BJP regime that will promote the cause of Hindutva at a much larger scale with media and religion exploitation as an only approach.

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South Asia

Economic And Political Reform Is Needed In Sri Lanka, Not State Violence

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Image source: Wikipedia

Sri Lanka’s worst economic crisis since independence has highlighted years of political and economic mismanagement and a reliance on state-sanctioned violence in response to legitimate protests. Legitimate reform and respect for human rights is required if the island nation is to act in the best interests of its people.

The crisis has resulted in the import-reliant country’s foreign currency reserves running dry, meaning that the government is unable to pay for imports of basic goods, including food and fuel. Rising inflation of 17 per cent has meant that any food available is now too expensive, with a kilogram of rice costing 500 rupees when it previously cost 80. The lack of fuel has meant that Sri Lankans are suffering through 12-hour power cuts, with the government asking people to work from home to save fuel.

Making matters worse, the government has defaulted on its foreign debts for the first time since independence. Sri Lanka’s debt is approximately $51 billion, making it now reliant on negotiations with its creditors, such as the Asian Development Bank, to pause payments so basic goods can be purchased.

As always, these issues are affecting Sri Lanka’s most vulnerable, particularly those in poorer rural areas, the elderly and people with disability. There are reports of people dying while lining up for fuel in the heat. This has the potential to worsen into a significant humanitarian crisis, with half the country sinking into poverty and food insecurity rising.

This is a big step back for a country that was once regarded as one of Asia’s success stories, formerly enjoying economic growth, burgeoning industries and a wealthier middle class. The was a sign of a country that was beginning to rebuild after a brutal civil war that affected all Sri Lankans.

While the government has blamed the crisis on the coronavirus pandemic and the subsequent drop in tourism, the cause is closer to home, and the government deserves significant blame.

The President, Gotabaya Rajapaksa, previously slashed taxes and focused on domestic markets rather than exports, creating an economy reliant on imports, which created unsustainable levels of debt. The government has also racked up huge debts to fund irresponsible infrastructure projects which has severely depleted the country’s foreign reserves. The banning of imports of chemical fertilisers left Sri Lanka’s large agriculture sector crippled and increased debt through the reliance on importing food.

The Rajapaksa family has ruled Sri Lanka for over two decades, with Mahinda Rajapaksa ruling as President between 2005 and 2015 and then as Prime Minister until his recent resignation. Gotabaya Rajapaksa has served as President since 2019 and several family members have long held prominent positions within the military and government. This has resulted in rampant nepotism, corruption and poor economic decisions that have turned the public away from the once popular family.

The crisis in Sri Lanka has led to nation-wide protests, which have rapidly turned violent. Protesters have stormed government buildings and government forces have been injured. Citizens are justifiably angry about years of poor economic decisions that has crippled the economy, leaving millions without the most basic of goods.

Authorities have reacted to this unrest with a heavy handed approach. The deployment of the military with orders to shoot looters on sight and the use of water cannons and tear gas had led to two deaths of the arrest of over two hundred people, including peaceful protesters. President Rajapaksa has also declared two state of emergencies, severely restricting the rights of Sri Lankans and giving authorities sweeping powers to detain legitimate protesters or those breaking curfew. This raises serious concerns about the governments respect for human rights and will do little to rebuild trust in government.

Instead of the use of violence to crush protests, the government needs to take responsibility and undertake meaningful economic and political reforms to address the crisis and quell unrest.

Human rights need to be at the forefront of any solution. The United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights, Michelle Bachelet, has rightly called for any attacks on civilians and peace protesters to be independently and transparently investigated. State of emergency declarations and curfews should also cease, allowing Sri Lankans their right to peacefully protest about legitimate issues of concern. Any peaceful protester illegally detained needs to be released immediately.

The government should also work with international partners to find rapid solutions to critical problems, such as providing basic goods to their citizens. The decision by the World Bank to provide $600 million in assistance and ongoing negotiations with the International Monetary Fund are welcome. But more needs to be done.

The government needs to undertake meaningful economic reforms, including reversing damaging tax cuts and reducing debt, so the IMF will agree to a more substantial financial package that allows the country to recover.

The democratic process also needs to be respected. The government should maintain dialogue and consult with other political parties’, civil society and non-governmental organisations to find adequate solutions to the economic and political problems facing the country.

This includes negotiating with opposition parties to reach political solutions that lead to ongoing stability. However, while the embattled President has replaced his brother as Prime Minister in an attempt to ease political pressure, the opposition has so far refused to join an administration with the Rajapaksa family. A political solution may need to be found that finally breaks the link with the Rajapaksa’s so Sri Lanka can move forward as a nation.

Sri Lankan’s have shown that they desire legitimate change in response to this unprecedented crisis. They demand meaningful political and economic change that will allow Sri Lankans to buy basic goods and reduce poverty. The government, whether it includes the Rajapaksa’s or not, needs to listen to the people and not respond with violence by respecting their human rights and undertaking meaningful change.

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South Asia

“Haqeeqi Azaadi” or “Political Invasion”?

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You call it a “Long March” or an “Azaadi March” or a “Haqeeqi Azaadi March” and lastly according to some people “Political invasion of the capital”; whatever attempt it may be, the impact of this “Long March” will not be “Short” at all. Seems like history is repeating. Yesterday, it was PTI, later it was TLP, then JUIF, PDM & now again PTI. This reminds us about a Supreme Court’s historic judgment on Faizabad Sit in by Supreme Court, which is quite relevant again in these crucial times. The historic judgment of Supreme Court on Suo moto quotes that “The leaders of the dharna intimidated, hurled threats, abused, provoked and promoted hatred. The media provided unabated coverage. Inflammatory speeches were delivered by irresponsible politicians. Some unscrupulous talk-show hosts incited and provoked citizens.” Isn’t the situation once again similar? Doesn’t it seem like history is repeating? Few analysts consider it to be a worst kind of situation.

Supreme Court writes in its judgment that “the freedom of speech and expression and of the press are fundamental right. However, these rights cannot be used to denigrate or undermine the glory of Islam, security or defence of Pakistan, friendly relations with foreign States, public order, decency or morality or in relation to contempt of court, or commission of or incitement to an offence.  He categorically mentions that “PEMRA Ordinance mirrors the restrictions as set out in Article 19 of the Constitution and further prohibits broadcasts which are, “likely to create hatred among the people or is prejudicial to the maintenance of law and order or is likely to disturb public peace and tranquility.” So, Supreme Court has already given clear instructions that if some event is likely to disrupt peace and tranquility, media broadcasts can be prohibited.

Insiders say that we are in a dead end and this is the most crucial time of history for Pakistan, especially when the economic fate has to be decided by IMF on 25th May when Imran khan marches on Islamabad. So let’s playout the possible upcoming scenarios which political stakeholders may have to consider;

  1. Marching towards Islamabad with huge crowds is one thing but forcing a government to dissolve assemblies with this crowd is another thing. Imran Khan very well knows this is a do or die situation for his political career as well. He knows his March will only succeed if he can force an early election.
  2. Bringing larger mobs to Islamabad will only be fruitful if there is some kind of disruption by the present government or by the PTI itself. IK knows that a prolonged sit in without happenings in the red zone won’t be impactful.
  3. PTI leaders have been repeatedly convincing people including government employees, Army officers and police to bring their families in their Haqeeqi Azaadi March. The question which arises is that “Why IK doesn’t bring own family members to join the “Jihad” or “Haqeeqi Azaadi”?
  4. IMF has to take crucial decision on Pakistan’s economic fate. Without an IMF Package, a Srilanka type scenario may arise. The decision will come on the same date as of long march, on 25th May. This is a do or die situation for Pakistan’s economy. So the leaders of this March should definitely come with a futuristic economic plan and tell the masses how will they get rid of this dire economic situation.
  5. While Srinagar Highway will be full of Marchers led by the so-called Ambassador of Kashmir, a big decision is expected to come from Srinagar about Yasin Malik. Unfortunately, it is expected that his sentencing maybe announced on 25th May as well.

The government also has limited options. They are arresting leaders of PTI. They are raiding houses in their own panic mode which will further incite the situation. The removal of fuel subsidiary has become inevitable and when it happens it will be the most unpopular decision. Rising, Inflation will cut purchasing power. Finalization of IMF program has brought them to a dead end.

The dread is in the air. 25th May is around the corner. It is Crucial. It is Do or Die for Pakistan. We must fear!!

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South Asia

When Politics turns Personal; The Toxic Allegations & Accusations become a Norm

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Image source: timeofpakistan.com

There is something happening beneath this political turmoil which is NOT looking good!!

Whenever Political landscape turns into a Personal battleground, defeats become unacceptable. These past few days are a perfect case study to see that how Political elite in Pakistan has done whatever it took it to stay in power. In this power grab scenario, there could be numerous losses including the integrity of institutions. We have unfortunately entered into a very dangerous phase, where some political stakeholders have put all stakes at risk, where they have stretched their limits beyond a constitutional limit, all to gather mass support, all to stay in power and avoid defeat. Is it a threat of losing power? Is it a double game? Is it a practical hybrid war we are fighting?  Whatever it is, it doesn’t seem to be good. All is at stake, all is at risk and all is toxic.

As if the political temperature was not noxious enough, Shireen Mazari Saga took place. Once again, accusations, allegations and assumptions started pouring in against the state institutions. Soon after her arrest, her daughter, a lawyer herself Imaan Zainab Mazari alleged that her mother was beaten by male police officers during the arrest. But few minutes later, a video clip surfaced that showed clearly that her mother was arrested by Female Police officers in broad daylight and as per the law. Lie number 1 of the daughter stood exposed. Within moments, without any cogent evidence the lady, known for many controversies in the past targeted state institution for such an act, although the anti-corruption already had taken responsibility of her arrest.

Abuse of power can never be tolerated, regardless of who it targets or from where it emanates. This mantra is true and everyone has an equal belief on it but let’s take a deep dive to see that how politics turned dirty in this case, how blame game took place and how this entire episode was used as a tool to churn propaganda against Army leadership and Armed Forces.

1. The anti-corruption police had arrested Shireen Mazari and she herself accepted that Prime Minister and Interior minister were responsible for my arrest. But the mother daughter nexus brazenly started blaming institutions without any solid evidence. Shouldn’t there be an inquiry on this too?

2. PTI was always of the opinion that why courts were opened mid night to send IK packing while he wasn’t listening to anyone however when same court gave a verdict in favor of PTI ex minister, late night, it was celebrated and much appreciated by Shireen Mazari & IK who have been spearheading anti judicial tirade until recently. Isn’t it blatant hypocrisy? Judicial inquiry has been ordered by the Court which is a positive sign, but the serious allegations which Mazari nexus have raised must also be inquired during this newly formed judicial inquiry. Should the Judiciary not question them on hurling these baseless allegations?

3. The present government, whose Police itself arrested Shireen Mazari disowned this attempt. Attorney General displayed his ignorance about the matter in front of the court. So, somehow the government created this impression in the public eye that they are not to be blamed for the arrest of Shireen Mazari. Was it a double game? Or a deliberate effort to discredit institutions?

Pakistan is already facing serious economic downfall, political uncertainty and civil strife. PTI has also announced Long March to Islamabad on 25th May which is likely to further exacerbate already fragile political and economic instability. It has become quite evident now for achieving petty political ends, our political elite has no serious resolve to address the crisis confronting the country. Country is being deliberately pushed to limits of economic and political dead end. The political immaturity and lack of vision to handle the crisis situation is also hurting the repute of institutions amidst internal political wrangling. If political leadership doesn’t come to grips of the critical situation prevailing which is likely to aggravate further in coming days, people of Pakistan in particular and the country in general are likely to suffer unprecedented damage. Political elite must put its acts together and steer the country out of prevalent political and economic crisis by showing sagacity and political wisdom until it’s too late.

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