Indian Secularism Under Trial
3 Dec 02
South Asia Partnership Canada presents
A talk and discussion on
Indian secularism under trial: the emergence of militant Hinduism and the future of Indian democracy
by Sidharth Bhatia
Toronto-based columnist for Indian and international newspapers; television producer, filmmaker, teacher; Associate Press Fellow at Cambridge University, U.K.
When & Where: 12-2 pm, Tuesday, December 3, 2002,
2nd floor Conference Room,
1 Nicholas St., Ottawa (Don’t forget to bring your lunch!)
Background: Earlier this year, sectarian riots in the western Indian state of Gujarat claimed hundreds of lives. Most of the people were Muslim. Following a gruesome incident, in which 59 people, all Hindus, including women and children, were burnt to
death in a train compartment, Hindu mobs went on the rampage, selectively
targeting Muslim homes and commercial establishments. The riots have been
called a pogrom and even ethnic genocide.
Religious riots are not new to India, but there were important differences
this time. For one, the clinical nature of the killings and the systematic selection of
targets is a relatively new phenomenon. Secondly, the participants included
people from comfortable, middle-class backgrounds. Most important of all, the
state, instead of guaranteeing the security of its citizens, was an active
player and participant.
These events therefore need to be looked at in a larger socio-political
context – the emergence of militant Hinduism in India. Extremism by
the majority is dangerous in any multicultural society, in a diverse country
like India, it has vastly troubling implications social harmony
and indeed the stability of the state.
The talk will answer the following questions, among others: What are the reasons behind the emergence of militant Hindu chauvinism? Where does the movement gets its sustenance? Most crucially, what are the implications for secular, democratic India if this phenomenon is not checked?
For more information please contact Veena Gokhale, India Program Manager at firstname.lastname@example.org; Ph: 613-241-1333 ext. 231