Blood and Soil in Narendra Modi’s India

A Reporter at Large

The Prime Minister’s Hindu-nationalist government has cast two hundred million Muslims as internal enemies.

By Dexter Filkins

On August 11th, two weeks after Prime Minister Narendra Modi sent soldiers in to pacify the Indian state of Kashmir, a reporter appeared on the news channel Republic TV, riding a motor scooter through the city of Srinagar. She was there to assure viewers that, whatever else they might be hearing, the situation was remarkably calm. “You can see banks here and commercial complexes,” the reporter, Sweta Srivastava, said, as she wound her way past local landmarks. “The situation makes you feel good, because the situation is returning to normal, and the locals are ready to live their lives normally again.” She conducted no interviews; there was no one on the streets to talk to.

Other coverage on Republic TV showed people dancing ecstatically, along with the words “Jubilant Indians celebrate Modi’s Kashmir masterstroke.” A week earlier, Modi’s government had announced that it was suspending Article 370 of the constitution, which grants autonomy to Kashmir, India’s only Muslim-majority state. The provision, written to help preserve the state’s religious and ethnic identity, largely prohibits members of India’s Hindu majority from settling there. Modi, who rose to power trailed by allegations of encouraging anti-Muslim bigotry, said that the decision would help Kashmiris, by spurring development and discouraging a long-standing guerrilla insurgency. To insure a smooth reception, Modi had flooded Kashmir with troops and detained hundreds of prominent Muslims—a move that Republic TV described by saying that “the leaders who would have created trouble” had been placed in “government guesthouses.”

The change in Kashmir upended more than half a century of careful politics, but the Indian press reacted with nearly uniform approval. Ever since Modi was first elected Prime Minister, in 2014, he has been recasting the story of India, from that of a secular democracy accommodating a uniquely diverse population to that of a Hindu nation that dominates its minorities, especially the country’s two hundred million Muslims. Modi and his allies have squeezed, bullied, and smothered the press into endorsing what they call the “New India.”

Kashmiris greeted Modi’s decision with protests, claiming that his real goal was to inundate the state with Hindu settlers. After the initial tumult subsided, though, the Times of India and other major newspapers began claiming that a majority of Kashmiris quietly supported Modi—they were just too frightened of militants to say so aloud. Television reporters, newly arrived from Delhi, set up cameras on the picturesque shoreline of Dal Lake and dutifully repeated the government’s line.

As the reports cycled through the news, the journalist Rana Ayyub told me over the phone that she was heading to Kashmir. Ayyub, thirty-six years old, is one of India’s best-known investigative reporters, famous for relentlessly pursuing Modi and his aides. As a Muslim from Mumbai, she has lived on the country’s sectarian divide her whole life. She suspected that the government’s story about Kashmir was self-serving propaganda. “I think the repression is probably worse than it’s ever been,” she said. She didn’t know what she might find, but, she told me, “I want to speak to those unheard voices.”

In both Hindi and English, Ayyub speaks with disorienting speed and infectious warmth; it is difficult to resist answering her questions, but she might have another one before you finish responding to the first. On the phone, she invited me to meet her in Mumbai and try to get into Kashmir, even though foreign correspondents were banned there during the crackdown. When I arrived, she handed me a pair of scarves and told me to buy a kurta, the typical Indian tunic. “I am ninety-nine per cent sure you will be caught, but you should come anyway,” she said, laughing. “Just don’t open your mouth.”

Ayyub and I landed at the Srinagar airport two weeks after Modi’s decree. In the terminal was a desk labelled “Registration for Foreigners,” which she hustled me past, making sure I kept my head down. The crowd was filled with police and soldiers, but we made it to the curb without being spotted, climbed into a taxi, and sped off into Srinagar.

Even from a moving car, it was clear that the reality in Kashmir veered starkly from the picture in the mainstream Indian press. Soldiers stood on every street corner. Machine-gun nests guarded intersections, and shops were shuttered on each block. Apart from the military presence, the streets were lifeless. At Khanqah-e-Moula, the city’s magnificent eighteenth-century mosque, Friday prayers were banned. Schools were closed. Cell-phone and Internet service was cut off.

Indian intelligence agents are widely understood to monitor the rosters of local hotels, so Ayyub and I, along with an Indian photographer named Avani Rai, had arranged to stay with a friend. When we got there, a Kashmiri doctor who was visiting the house told us to check the main hospital, where young men were being treated after security forces fired on them. The police and soldiers were using small-gauge shotguns—called pellet guns by the locals—and some of the victims had been blinded. “Go to the ophthalmology ward,” the doctor said.

At the hospital, we found a scene of barely restrained chaos, with security officers standing guard and families mixing with the sick in corridors. While I stood in a corner, trying to make myself inconspicuous, Ayyub ran to the fourth floor to speak to an eye doctor. After a few minutes, she returned and motioned for me and Rai to follow. “Ward eight,” she said. Thirty gunshot victims were inside.
“ ‘Too many tote bags,’ they said.”Cartoon by Will McPhail

As the three of us approached, a smartly dressed man with a close-cropped beard stepped into our path and placed his hand on Ayyub’s shoulder. “What are you doing here?” he said. Rai looked at me and quietly said, “Run.” I turned and dashed into the crowd. The bearded man took Ayyub and Rai by the arm and led them away.

Ayyub grew up in Sahar, a middle-class neighborhood of Mumbai. Her father, Waquif, wrote for a left-wing newspaper called Blitz; later, he was a high-school principal and a scholar of Urdu, the language of north India’s Muslims. Rana remembers midnight poetry readings, when her father’s friends crowded into the living room to recite their verses. The Ayyubs were the only Muslim family on the block, but they weren’t isolated. They went into the streets with their neighbors to celebrate Hindu festivals like Holi and Diwali, and twice a year they opened their home for Muslim feasts. “The sectarian issue was always there, but we were insulated from all that,” Ayyub said. “All of my friends growing up were Hindu.”

Muslim-Hindu harmony was central to the vision of India’s founders, Mohandas Gandhi and Jawaharlal Nehru, who laid the foundation for a secular state. India is home to all the world’s major religions; Muslims constitute about fourteen per cent of the population. As the British Empire prepared to withdraw, in 1947, Muslims were so fearful of Hindu domination that they clamored for a separate state, which became Pakistan. The division of the subcontinent, known as Partition, inspired the largest migration in history, with tens of millions of Hindus and Muslims crossing the new borders. In the accompanying violence, as many as two million people died. Afterward, both Pakistanis and Indians harbored enduring grievances over the killings and the loss of ancestral land. Kashmir, on the border, became the site of a long-running proxy war.

India’s remaining Muslims protected themselves by forging an alliance with the Congress Party—Gandhi and Nehru’s group, which monopolized national politics for fifty years. But the founders’ vision of the secular state was not universally shared. In 1925, K. B. Hedgewar, a physician from central India, founded the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh, an organization dedicated to the idea that India was a Hindu nation, and that Hinduism’s followers were entitled to reign over minorities. Members of the R.S.S. believed that many Muslims were descended from Hindus who had been converted by force, and so their faith was of questionable authenticity. (The same thinking applied to Christians, who make up about two per cent of India’s population. Other major religions, including Buddhism and Sikhism, were considered more authentically Indian.)

Hedgewar was convinced that Hindu men had been emasculated by colonial domination, and he prescribed paramilitary training as an antidote. An admirer of European fascists, he borrowed their predilection for khaki uniforms, and, more important, their conviction that a group of highly disciplined men could transform a nation. He thought that Gandhi and Nehru, who had made efforts to protect the Muslim minority, were dangerous appeasers; the R.S.S. largely sat out the freedom struggle.

In January, 1948, soon after independence, Gandhi was assassinated by Nathuram Vinayak Godse, a former R.S.S. member and an avowed Hindu nationalist. The R.S.S. was temporarily banned and shunted to the fringes of public life, but the group gradually reëstablished itself. In 1975, amid civic disorder and economic stagnation, Prime Minister Indira Gandhi suspended parliament and imposed emergency rule. The R.S.S. vigorously opposed her and her Congress Party allies. Many of its members were arrested, which helped legitimize the group as it reëntered the political mainstream.

The R.S.S.’s original base was higher-caste men, but, in order to grow, it had to widen its membership. Among the lower-caste recruits was an eight-year-old named Narendra Modi, from Vadnagar, a town in the state of Gujarat. Modi belonged to the low-ranking Ghanchi caste, whose members traditionally sell vegetable oil; Modi’s father ran a small tea shop near the train station, where his young son helped. When Modi was thirteen, his parents arranged for him to marry a local girl, but they cohabited only briefly, and he did not publicly acknowledge the relationship for many years. Modi soon left the marriage entirely and dedicated himself to the R.S.S. As a pracharak—the group’s term for its young, chaste foot soldiers—Modi started by cleaning the living quarters of senior members, but he rose quickly. In 1987, he moved to the R.S.S.’s political branch, the Bharatiya Janata Party, or B.J.P.

When Modi joined, the Party had only two seats in parliament. It needed an issue to attract sympathizers, and it found one in an obscure religious dispute. In the northern city of Ayodhya was a mosque, called Babri Masjid, built by the Mughal emperor Babur in 1528. After independence, locals placed Hindu idols inside the mosque and became convinced that it had been built on the former site of a Hindu temple. A legend grew that the god Ram—an avatar of Vishnu, often depicted with blue skin—had been born there.

In September, 1990, a senior B.J.P. member named L. K. Advani began calling for Babri Masjid to be destroyed and for a Hindu temple to take its place. To build support for the idea, he undertook a two-month pilgrimage, called the Ram Rath Yatra, across the Indian heartland. Travelling aboard a Nissan jeep refitted to look like a chariot, he sometimes gave several speeches a day, inflaming crowds about what he saw as the government’s favoritism toward Muslims; sectarian riots followed in his wake, leaving hundreds dead. Advani was arrested before he reached Ayodhya, but other B.J.P. members carried on, gathering supporters and donations along the way. On December 6, 1992, a crowd led by R.S.S. partisans swarmed Babri Masjid and, using axes and hammers, began tearing the building down. By nightfall, it had been completely razed.

The destruction of the mosque incited Hindu-Muslim riots across the country, with the biggest and bloodiest of them in Mumbai. At first, Ayyub’s family felt safe; they were surrounded by friends. But, after several days of mayhem, a Sikh friend, whom the family called Uncle Bagga, came to tell Waquif that a group of neighborhood men were coming for his daughters. Waquif was frightened; Rana, who was then nine years old, had been stricken by polio and, though she was largely recovered, the illness had weakened the left side of her body. That night, she and her older sister Iffat fled with Bagga. They stayed with some relatives of his for three months, before the family reunited in Deonar, a Muslim ghetto a few miles away. “I felt helpless,” Rana told me. “We were like toys, moved from one place to another by someone else.”

Deonar is an impoverished neighborhood of fetid sewers and tin shacks. The Ayyubs, accustomed to a middle-class existence, found their lives transformed. “We were living in a very small place, very dirty, on a very crowded and dirty street,” Rana said. Mumbai had been transformed, too. When she enrolled in a predominantly Hindu school nearby, her classmates called her landya, an anti-Muslim slur. “That is the first time I ever really thought about my identity,” she said. “Our entire neighborhood—our friends—were going to kill us.”

For the R.S.S., the initiative in Ayodhya paid off spectacularly. Membership soared, and by 1996 the B.J.P. had become the largest party in parliament. During the dispute over Babri Masjid, Ashis Nandy, a prominent Indian intellectual, began a series of interviews with R.S.S. members. A trained psychologist, he wanted to study the mentality of the rising Hindu nationalists. One of those he met was Narendra Modi, who was then a little-known B.J.P. functionary. Nandy interviewed Modi for several hours, and came away shaken. His subject, Nandy told me, exhibited all the traits of an authoritarian personality: puritanical rigidity, a constricted emotional life, fear of his own passions, and an enormous ego that protected a gnawing insecurity. During the interview, Modi elaborated a fantastical theory of how India was the target of a global conspiracy, in which every Muslim in the country was likely complicit. “Modi was a fascist in every sense,” Nandy said. “I don’t mean this as a term of abuse. It’s a diagnostic category.”

On February 27, 2002, a passenger train stopped in Godhra, a city in Gujarat. …….. https://www.newyorker.com/magazine/2019/12/09/blood-and-soil-in-narendra-modis-india

One thought on “Blood and Soil in Narendra Modi’s India

  1. U missed the most important weapon of the Chaiwala

    It is the Hindoo Bania Media – WHICH HAS DECLARED JEHAD ON THE INDIAN MUSLIMS.dindooohindoo

    https://theprint.in/opinion/indian-media-waging-holy-war-against-muslims-hyenas/400407/

    To understand the media lynching of Muslims – you need skills of deconstruction and analytics

    Step 1

    WHat is the definition of a Hindoo ? dindooohindoo

    The wisdom of the “children of Cyrus,Darius and Xerxes”,encapsulates the “transcendence of Human thought”, the “Deuterosis of the Dindoo”, as under:

    A “Persian dictionary”,titled “Lughet-e-Kishwari”,published in Lucknow in 1964,gives the meaning of the word Hindu as “chore [thief], dakoo [dacoit], raahzan [waylayer], and ghulam [slave].

    Step 2

    Media in Hindoosthan – Big Picture – North India

    This is not the USA or EU, wherein intellectuals,ideologues,idealists and philosophers,own,manage and edit newspapers.In India or Hindoosthan,the media is owned by rapacious banias,brokers and pimps,fronting for politicians and tycoons, blackmailers ,extortionists,murderers and rapists.

    In the North of India,the entire media is owned by banias,and financed by banias,politicians and political parties. It is either owned by the banias,or the bania is a front man,for the mafia or the politicians and political parties. These banias are English illiterate,and a race of liars,thieves and cheats – a race of pure Indians,id.est., they are not Rig Vedic invaders.They have atypical Indian features,and are easily identifiable.

    Step 3

    Media in Hindoosthan – Big Picture – South India

    In the South of Hindooland,the media is mainly owned by Political parties – as the media,is a working capital guzzler,
    and the media needs cash (not bank loans),to operate.With the parties in power,the government ad blitz,is done
    through these outlets,and the money is also bled out,to generate cash,for the politicians.As time passes,some of
    these media entities,are listed on stock exchanges

    Some South based newspapers and media houses ,are owned and run by the weasels and impotenticas,of the Brahmin race – like the Hindu etc.,id.est.,Tamil and other South Indian vermin Brahmins.

    Step 4

    What is the Bania filth (Marwari-Gujarati-Kayastha scum).

    It is the Bania filth who worked as spies for each invader into Hindoosthan ! They also funded the wars of the Mughals and Sakas and Huns. There is not one 1 record in history of them having stood up for anything ! They sold their women to the invaders

    The Birlas,Goenkas,Bajajs and other bania filth built their empire by sending their women to Nehru for his peccadilos.They also funded Ambedkar in London – result that – Ambedkar spoke not one word against the Bania vermin !

    95% of the NPA and Bank Frauds in North India upto the borders of the Vindhyas are on account of Bania vermin ! No one talks of the said statistic as every media house is owned and managed by banias or has 75% of the advert revenue from Banias

    The entire banking system is designed as a wealth transfer system to move funds from Indian clowns in SB accounts and Fancy Bonds – which funds Banias ,who steal the money for Netas ,and the avail of CDR/OTS

    To hide all of the above and their history,the bania media owners are now,paragons of ethics,morality and democracy.These rats who did not shed their urine, in a single war of the Hindoo nation,since the war of “Bharata”,are exhorting Indians to die for the natoon,and also,exhorting the dubious courage of foolish Indian soldiers from poor,backward and destitute families.

    This is Hind–oooo-sthan !

    Step 5

    The real owner of the Media and the Media Busines Model

    In essence,the actual and quasi owners of the media,are the banias and the politicians – as the revenue model, of the
    news,is based on advertisements – which are sourced from corporates,owned and managed by banias,or managed by brahmin/bania and kayastha vermin.Corporate adverts,are based on TRPs – but the Govtt ad blitz and propoganda,is based on discretion of politicians,and their pimps,in the media.

    There are several loss making media outlets,in the pathetos of Hindoosthan – for decades – but they do not fold their
    business. Foolish people ask Y ? Several Editors and Owners,of Large media houses,and loss making media outlets – act as
    pimps,of the politicians.They provide access to politicians and baboos for large contracts,loans,acquisitions and licences.
    That is the REAL business model,and then,there is the “conversion” operation – wherein,the Politicians get paid in cash,
    for the Govt ad blitz done,via the media entity.The conversion is more profitable,for loss making media entities,for obvious
    reasons.

    The rate for rotatng the cash of the politicians,is half the SBI PLR (Medium term PLR).Banks do not lend to media outlets –
    and so,the working capital of these outlets,is funded by the cash of the politicians and banias.

    Hence,the real owner of the media,is the politician and the bania financier.The Bania CEO, is meant to manage cash flow and
    has no intellectual imputs.It is thus,obvious, that the media has to peddle the line and ideology,of the politicians,and the
    ruling dispensation.

    Step 6

    Media Antics and Tactics

    To ring fence themselves,the Indian Media has made defamation laws – which suit their needs,and the media house is owned by a myriad maze of Trusts,NGOs,Firms,Partnerships and Corporates – which makes criminal liability,impossible.The self regulatory bodies of the Indian media,are all bogus,and are meant to dissuade the plaintiffs.The media vermin,can destroy any politician,and also, any Judge – and so,no Judge has ever sent an Editor,or Onwer of a media outlet,to jail.The Dubious Hindoo nation,has no concept of “punitive damages”,on anybody.

    Besides,the media is pampered with nil duty on newspaper imports,EPCG schemes for newsprint makers and other sops for the media.In addition, they get land and property concessions at prime locales,but at sub prime rates.To keep the moolah flowing,these vermin,have award ceremonies of dubious credibility,to pamper the egos of politicians and tycoons,and banias – to keep the cash flowing – an exercise,in cheap antics and perfidy,wherein the media and the awardees,are complimenting each other,with an audience of morons,waxing eloquent on the merits of Indian Democracy !

    Step 7

    Y Anti – Muslim Media Tone

    1st the public,has to get some basic concepts clear

    The media owners = Bania vermin,and in a few cases,Brahmin vermin
    The media editors = Brahmin vermin,and in some cases,Bania filth
    The media lawyers = Brahmin vermin,Punjabi banias and some Sindhi Ani’s
    The Politicians = All Right Wing Hindoos (In North India)

    Who are these people,and the raucous heathens and menials,which comprise the audience of the TV media,and the regional language print newspapers. These are the offspring of the rapes of women by the Sakas,Scythians,Mughals, Afghans, Turks,Mongols etc.It is said that Rajput harlots poured kerosene on their vaginas,before they committed suicide.The debauched history,of the hindoo cowards,is haunting the Hindoo – after 2000 years.

    What are the Indian Muslims ? They are converts from the lower castes.If the Mughals and Turks,had not ruled the Hindoos,these lower castes – would have been destroyed.Islam redeemed the Dalits and lower castes.However, the DNA is that of a Hindoo coward,still – and that is Y,West Asians mock Indian Muslims,and call them “Hindoos” – even in Mecca ! Many West Asians,do not even consider Indian Muslims,to be Muslims.

    The deep reservoir of that Hindoo shame,has been converted into Muslim hate,by the Politicians – as that is the core of the Hindoo DNA.If there were no Muslims – the Hindoos would target the Dalits.It is the evolution of shame and humiliation,into HATE and VITRIOL – which is a tried and tested formula,in several nations.The media acts as a tool,for the “accentuation and catalysis” of the anti-muslim agenda,by distorting and hyping incidents, WHICH ARE CREATED AND NURTURED BY THE IB,NIA AND THE POLITICIANS (as a part of a conscious strategy of assymetric war,on the Indian Muslims and a perpetuation of, a monotony of propoganda)

    The formula of the politician,is simple – to create an issue each week of the year, in order to bring diffident and marginal hindoos,into the right wing hindoo cult – and let the opposition splinter the Muslim vote,into different parties.The Fact is that 90 % of the Hindoos,do not care for NRC/CAA,and also,believe that the Tabligh,is a Corona Bomb.That fact (which is the “Core DNA” of the Hindoo), and the media lynching,have fed on each other.

    Incidentally,the rabid competitive lynching by the media houses – pushes up the TRPs,to the stratosphere – which gets in the corpporate advertisements, and which are then,followed by a political audit (by the politician) – who then,loosens the purse strings,of the state ad blitz,through the preferred media houses – akin to bones,thrown at the dogs,in a manger.

    To add the spice,each TV channel has a posse of rented and dubious Muslims and Nassara – who are not regarded as Muslims,by Islam,and also,derided by Mecca and Rome.These limpet rats are used to provoke Sunni Islam,and make it appear to Hindoo heathens and menials,that there are fissures in Islam – and that,there are some Indian Muslims,fighting the ogres of Islamic Orthodoxy – like Salman Rushdie ! Most Hindoos believe that Shias,Ismailis,Bohris are a “Caste”, within Islam – just like the Hindoos – same same.

    Step 8

    Reductio Asurdum – Expecting idealism and ethics

    If the media is owned by banias and politicians – then Y will the media focus,on the following :

    Corruption – as it is done by banias and politicians,and the politicians,are the sponsors of the state adverts
    Bank NPA and Frauds – as it is done and sanctioned,by banias and politicians,and the banias are the sponsors of the adverts
    Farmers suicides – as no bania dies and banias and politicians gain,by farm overproduction
    Farm moneylenders – as all the financiers and arhatiyas,are banias
    SME doom – as the money is stolen by banias,and politicians
    Manufacturing doom – as that will hurt the oliticians,and the corporate sponsors
    Military doom – as that will hurt the politicians,and the hindoo ego
    Evils of the Hindoo faith – as that will hurt a billion hindoos and politicians,and the corporate sponsors
    Dalit and Lower castes – as that will hurt a billion hindoos and politicians,and the corporate sponsors
    Hunger,poverty,rape and degradation – as that will hurt a billion hindoos,and the corporate sponsors

    Take a sample of Zee – owned by a Bania – who also has,a manufacturing industry.He is English illiterate , and so,has a Hindi channel. His news acnhors – female are middle aged,divorced and with frigid vaginas – who vent their hate on the Muslims. The Men are limpet impotenticas, Brahmins (invariably) and Banias,who have studied in a conservative environ, and have no knowledge of history or philosophy,and also,have no domain of expertise,in any field

    The female saga of the Hindi news anchors,runs across all TV channels in India.The Muslim anchors spare no efforts to bash the Islamic orthodoxy,in order to maintain their secular credentials.Same for the Christian anchors,who spare no effort,to state,that they are “tax paying Indians” and devoutly Indian.

    Take a sample of a TV channel NOT owned by a bania – but owned and run by a poodle of the state.Republic TV.Run by the inept son of a Fokad Fauji –
    Left Right – Left Right – Left Right.Even a donkey has more than IQ.The IQ of the clown,is still in the bootstraps of his father’s shoes.

    Take a sample of a non-bania owner,of a newspaper.The Hindu.Run by a Tamil Brahmin – a race of impotent,dullards and duds – who are a race of cowards and supines – as detailed in the Hindoo scriptures.These vermin,doomed Tamil Nadu and also,India.The man is an iliterate and an impotentica , with Nil IQ.Spying on debauched and dumb politicians and baboos – involves no intellectus.

    Even a Dog can highlight inefficiency and corruption – as in, when a flock of sheep,is out of control or breaks free,or is attacked by a fox or a cattle thief.The dubious Indian Media,has no solutions.The Dog has !

    The question is – what to do with these vermin,in the media – who are the invisible hand,in perpetuating the Hindoo caste system and elitism,in a manner of pernicious stealth.Targetting Muslims,is just a deflection and a diversion, and a small component of that “stealth strategy”.The “media grand plan” works – as Hindoos,are basically a race of “cowards and duds” – else,they would not have followed a “bogus religion”,for 5000 years – which has brought them to the cusp of doom.

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