Wednesday, July 16, 2014


As NDA II seeks to open a debate without contextualising the inequities of all personal lawys, here is a piece that clears the cobwebs

MARCH 1994


By Teesta Setalvad


Caught between the Sangh Parivar which has communalised an essentially secular concern for a uniform civil code and the orthodox Muslim leadership resistent to any change, the women's movement and other secular-democratic forces seem to have been gripped by - an intellectual -- paralysis. Unless these organisations de-communalise the demand and shift the focus of the debate to gender justice - not just Muslim, but all peronal laws in India are loaded against women - the uniform civil code issue may prove to be a lethal weapon


Among the numerous weapons stock-piled in the saffron brigade’s propaganda arsenal, the one labelled 'Uniform Civil Code' arguably has the most lethal potential. NO doubt, the Ramjanmabhoomi movement carried the BJP and the Sangh Parivar to dizzying heights in a very short time. But ultimately, the Ayodhya dispute to be self-limiting. Devoid of any rational content, it had only an emotive appeal.

The 'One Country, One Law' demand, on the other hand, appeals to reason as well. Why should a secular society have different laws for different segments of the population? The Muslim insistence that the Union government change the law of the land to nullify the Supreme Court judgement in the Shahbano case in 1986 and the All India Muslim Personal Law Board's callous disregard of the demand for an end to the instant divorce (talq-talaq-talaq) practice in the middle of 1993 has created a public perception are totally hostile to any idea of social reform. This has only added emotional charge to what also appears to be a fairly rational argument. Nothing could better serve the propaganda needs of the Sangh Parivar. But for the fact of its electoral reverses in the assembly elections last November, the saffron brigade was expected by many to open up a new-battle front.

If Muslim orthodoxy has done its bit to aid- the RSS cause, the women's movement In particular and secular-democratic forces in general. too, cannot escape their share of the blame for letting the Hindutvavaadis totally dominate and distort the debate on badly needed reforms in all family laws in India. Through its constant argument that enacting a uniform civil code will bring about national integration, the Sangh Parivar has succeeded in making many Hindus believe that, one, only “separatist-minded” Muslims are opposed to a uniform law, and, two, the uniform civil code will only affect Muslims.

But a dangerous, if unintended, result of this silence was the smug belief among large sections of the Hindu majority, including no communal people, that while the law-abiding, secular-minded Hindus had peacefully accepted the codification of Hindu family laws in the '50s, Muslim personal law was still thickly laden with gender inequities. The Sangh Parivar's propaganda machinery played a big role in generalising and accentuating this false perception.

The lapse seems even more unforgivable because the ground level experience of women's groups throughout the country has shown that women living under all the existing personal laws- Hindu, Muslim, Christian – were victims of harassment and discrimination

Nafisa Hussain, a BJP office bearer who has petitioned the Supreme Court of India demanding a Uniform Civil Code, is for Hindu communal forces a glaring example of the sorry status of Muslim women. But the thousands of Hind Women who are deserted or denied their right to equal share in family property are of no concern to them. Polygamy is today an offence under Hindu personal law but the Muslim personal law still has a provision for four wives. The Sangh Parivar which never tires of high-lighting this inequity in law, never breathes a word about the fact that the practice, is more widely prevalent among Hindus than among Muslims.

Last June, the Ahl-e-Hadith sect inadvertently sparked a nationwide debate by reiterating their long-held stand that the widely prevalent practice of instant divorce (talaaq-fa1a.qtalaaq) among Indian Muslims was un-Islamic. But the ulema took the strange position that though triple-talaq is reprehensible in the eves of Islam, its legality cannot be questioned.

Undaunted b this, a large number of Muslim men and women publicly demanded an immediate end of this anti-women and anti-Islamic practice. It was an opportunity for women's ground and other secular-democratic minded people to intervene and to reinforce the reformist voice would-it not have been pro: woman and secular to demand that the talaaq-I-tafwid and khul, the corresponding right for the Muslim woman to unilaterally divorce her husband must be in all fairness available to her?

Christian women in India have so far fought unsuccessfully for their right to divorce. Only now, there are indications hat they may succeed in seeing a long overdue amendment to the Christian Marriage Act passed. The Hindu women's battle for a just and equitable share in property still has a long way to go.

A gender bias does undoubtedly exist in Muslim personal law. But it is undeniable that Hindu, Christian, Sikh, Buddhist. Jain and tribal women also carry the same unfair burden because of the family/customary laws applicable to them.

Even less known is the fact that while an anti-woman bias pervade; all existing personal laws a communal bias is evident not only in some of the provisions of Hindu family laws, but even the supposedly-secular Special Marriages Act. The laws of the land predictably discriminate against all women; they also treat Hindus as a special category as compared to non-Hindus. To cite a few examples:
*          The anti-women enactment of a special law for divorced Muslim women in the wake of the Shahbano controversy happened in the floodlight of negative publicity. However an amendment to the Special Marriages Act in 1978, with the primary objective of preventing property accruing to Hindu women, was enacted almost clandestinely and with hardly any murmur of protest. Following this amendment in the avowedly secular law, on contracting a civil marriage, a Muslim, Christian, Parsi or Jew no longer has access to her or his personal law of succession. They are governed by the Indian Succession Act, 1925. But a Hindu, Buddhist, Jain or Sikh shall, on contracting the same civil marriage, retain his or her personal law of succession. The obvious beneficiary of this amendment is the Hindu male and the loser, the Hindu woman.

*          Under the Hindu Succession Act, 1956, the female heirs (of Class 1) do have a right to reside in a portion of the family home. But the right to claim partition is given exclusively to male heirs.

*          Under the Hindu Marriage Act, 1955, the post-marriage conversion by either spouse furnishes to the other a ground for divorce. In other words, change of religion is treated under this Act as an unpardonable matrimonial offence. But this right to divorce is given only to the spouse who continues to remain a Hindu.

*          Under the Hindu Succession Act, 1956, children born to a Hindu after she/he has adopted another religion and the descendents of such children are disqualified from inheriting the property of a Hindu relative.

*          Under the Hindu Minority and Guardianship Ad, 1956, if either parent renounced Hinduism, the person who has committed this “offence" is automatically deprived of the right to remain the natural guardian of a minor child. There exists a gender bias too: the Hindu mother cannot act as guardian of her child unless the father is dead or otherwise disqualified.

*          Presently, adoption is a legal right available only to Hindus. This leads 'to extremely discriminatory conditions to the non-Hindu partner. Under the same Act, the natural father of a Hindu child can give or take in adoption without, in law, caring how his non-Hindu wife reacts to it. But the wife can veto his action only if she is a Hindu. Most significantly, only a Hindu child can be adopted and the right to adopt a son is denied to any person who has a Hindu son, grandson or great-grandson.

*          In the case of maintenance too, similar gender and communal biases exist: a non-Hindu wife cannot claim maintenance from he Hindu husband (either while living with him or separately). But a Hindu wife enjoys the right to live separately from her husband on grounds of his conversion without forsaking the right to be maintained by him

*          Certain income-tax benefits accrue in secular India only to Hindus who can prove that their income comes from the proceeds 0fa"Hinduundivided family."(HUF). The Supreme Court has held that 'there need not be more than one male member to form an HUF and the tax benefits in such a case should be levied on the joint family and not on the male as an individual.”

Instead of maintaining a silence on all these anti-women and pro-men or pro-Hindu provisions of family laws, should not the debate on reforms in family laws be re-framed by secularists incorporating all these arguments with a correct perspective?
First and foremost, this will

First and fore most, this will help in de-communalising the argument for change. By creating a public awareness that anti-women provisions exist in ail personal law and that the necessity and urgency for change is to remove these biases, the anti-Muslim thrust of the saffron campaign will be blunted.

When that happens, Hindutva's unstated demand of a Hindu hegemony on family laws will stand exposed. Then both the supporters and opponents of reforms can be expected to cut across the religious divide with the holy hierarchies of different faiths possibly standing on the same side.

The battle is not going to be easy. The hi-jacking of a debate which should have centred around the question of gender justice by Hindu communalists has accentuated anxisty among the minorities, who see the demand for a Uniform Civil Code as an attempt to rob them of their religious and cultural identity. The communalisation of the debate has on1 helped strengthen the hold of Muslim orthodoxy which in any case is resistant to change. But it is a battle that will have to be fought. And fought squarely. Not merely to re-gain lost ground from the saffron brigade but to strive towards gender just family laws.

Even among the secularists, opinion is sharply divided on whether tactically and on principle, the argument should be for a uniform civil code or for simultaneous reforms and parallel codification of separate family laws. While one viewpoint argues strongly for a Gender Equal Family Code that culls out the best principles from all existing family laws and offers a legislation that is both pluralistic and nondiscriminatory, He second still favours reform within existing personal laws,

Says Professor S. P. Sathe from Pune who has been working on drafting a Gender Equal Family Code: “Personal laws were never considered a part of freedom of religion." In his view, the freedom of religion, a fundamental right guaranteed under article 25 of the Indian Constitution, is not absolute and has beer, carefully drafted to subject it to prevailing notions of public order, morality and health.

He adds, 'Is preservation of your personal law tantamount to your sense of identity? No community's identity should depend upon how badly we treat our women. The inclusion of the Directive Principle of State Policy (Article 44) that clearly lays down the intention of the State to work towards a uniform civil code makes this clear."

Other advocates of a similar position argue that such a, change must come and come quickly. “Otherwise; the aggressive argument of Hindu communalists will gain more credence. We must take the debate to a different plane, argue for plurality within the same code. The whole issue must be re-framed to create a reformists v/s status quoits polarisation," argues a leading feminist from Bombay who preferred anonymity.

“The moment we do this and show that Hindus, and Hindu males also benefit from preferential treatment like the income-tax exemption granted for the HUF, communalists of all hues will unite together on the same side of the fence."

Others like noted researcher and Bohra reformist, Asghar Ali Engineer feel that 'it is not, strategic at this stage to talk I of uniform civil code as it may be misunderstood.’ But he is in complete agreement that principles of gender justice must be fought for. 'If on this question the individual communities, whoever they are, do not take the initiative then the State may have to take step,” he adds.

The first viewpoint argues for a comprehensive cote on personal laws based on the best provisions of existing Muslim, Hindu, Christian or secular-western laws as the only practicable solution This, it is argued, is not merely desirable but also more feasible in practice since the trappings of tradition, custom and faith would make it very difficult for women to seek justice under separate personal laws; The second position maintains that reform and codification of the existing personal laws is more realistic as it would be more easily accepted by different  communities; this would not  threaten ethnic and religious  identities: and rights concerning marriage, divorce and  inheritance that are so much a matter of custom, tradition and religious belief would be easier for a larger numbers of women to assert. Either way, women's organizations and all secular-democratic forces would do well to urgently initiate and alter the terms of the debate. Failure to do so now will leave them as paralysed when the 'One Country, One law' demand builds into a storm as they were when the kar sevaks assembled in Ayodhya in December. 1992.


Diversity within personal laws

The Hindutvavaadi clamour for a uniform civil code is justified on the ground that it will help bring “national interation".

How a commonality in personal laws can realise this ideal when a common criminal law has failed in eradicating crime is a question only they can, answer. Brahmanical cultural hegemony, not national integration, is more likely to be their real objective.

The oft-peddled argument of the saffron camp is based on yet another falsification: except for the minorities a uniformity in personal laws already exists. In fact, there is a lot of diversity within all the existing personal laws.

            For example,
            #          Despite the Hindu Marriage act, customary law still works as far as divorce is concerned: if you can prove it is a custom, out of cow? divorce is possible Both
HMA and Hindu Succession Act allow many other customary laws.

#          Tribals who form 8 per cent of the population are governed by customary tribal law: Among the Santhal and Bhil tribals, women cannot hold property. Its only now that they have started demanding protection against polygamy. .

#          Christians in Assam and Coorg and other Christian tribes in Bihar and Orissa have been application of the Indian Succession Act, 1925.

#          Even the Shari'at Act of lB37, codifying Muslim law and binding civil courts to apply its provisions to all Muslims relating to matters of family laws and relations is out of bounds for Muslims of J & K where the existing customary law takes precedence over it.

#          For the Muslims of Goa, the Portuguese family and succession laws still apply

#.         For the Sunni Bohras of Gujarat and the Muslim Ghirasias of Bharuch, Hindu customary law has been applied pre-and post- Independence "in the Interests of uniformity."

#          Muslims of Kerala have retained their marrumakadaysm system. It is not shared by Muslims in other parts o India.

Tuesday, July 15, 2014

DN JHA's Significant Reply to Arun Shourie's Lies Now in Hindi ansliteration by Mayank Saxena

DN JHA's Significant Reply to Arun Shourie's Lies 
Now in Hindi
Transliteration by Mayank Saxena
जब नालंदा में इतिहास विनष्ट कर डाला गया!
डी एन झा
यह पूर्व केंद्रीय मंत्री और भूतपूर्व पत्रकार अरुण शौरी को डी एन झा का उत्तर है, यह पूर्ण संस्करण है; जिसका संक्षिप्त संस्करण इंडियन एक्सप्रेस समाचार पत्र में प्रकाशित हो चुका है।
Ruins of Ancient Nalanda University
नालंदा विश्वविद्यालय के अवशेष
मैं अरुण शौरी का लेख कैसे नालंदा में इतिहास गढ़ा गया(How history was made up at Nalanda) पढ़ कर हैरान था, जिन्होंने अपनी अज्ञानता को पाठकों के सामने ज्ञान के तौर पर पेश किया और ज़ाहिर है इसके लिए उन पर दया और उनके पाठकों से सहानुभूति बरतनी चाहिए। क्योंकि उन्होंने सीधे मेरा नाम लेते हुए मुझ पर प्रमाणों से छेड़खानी कर के प्राचीन नालंदा विश्वविद्यालय के विध्वंस से सम्बद्ध ऐतेहासिक तथ्यों में हेरफेर के आरोप लगाए, मुझे लगता है कि उनके आरोपों का खंडन करते हुए, उनके प्रलाप की उपेक्षा कर देने की जगह सीधे हिसाब बराबर करना उचित है।     
भारतीय इतिहास कांग्रेस 2006 में (2004 नहीं जैसा कि शौरी ने कहा) मेरा प्रस्तुतिकरण, पुराकालीन नालंदा के ध्वंस को लेकर नहीं था, हालांकि अरुण शौरी ऐसा कह के पाठकों को गुमराह करते हुए उनकी आंखों में धूल झोंकते हैं। दरअसल वह ब्राह्मणों और बौद्धों के बीच के प्रतिरोध पर आधारित था, जिसके लिए मैं मान्यताओं और मिथकों पर आधारित विभिन्न प्रमाण प्रस्तुत किए। इस संदर्भ में ही मैंने 18वीं सदी के तिब्बती आख्यान पाग-साम-जोन-ज़ेंग में बताई गई परम्परा का स्रोत सहित उल्लेख किया, जिसका उल्लेख बी एन एस यादव ने अपनी 12वीं सदी में उत्तर भारतीय समाज और संस्कृति नाम की पुस्तक में (पृ. 346) किया था। लेकिन अपनी संकीर्णता से मजबूर शौरी ने जल्दबाज़ी में इसे साहित्यिक चोरी बता दिया। मैं ये भी बताना चाहूंगा कि हिंदू कट्टरपंथी मेरे नहीं अपितु बी एन एस यादव के ही शब्द हैं, अतः कोट्स में हैं। कितना दुखद है कि एक मैगसेसे पुरस्कार प्राप्त पत्रकार को यह भी बताना पड़ रहा है।
अभिमानी शौरी, तिब्बती संस्कृति की उस परम्परा का दम्भ से खंडन करते हैं, जिसमें कुछ चमत्कार के अंश है और यह पुरालेखों में है। शौरी किस तरह से सुम्पा के कार्य का उल्लेख करते हैं, उसका एक उत्तम उदाहरण है, काकुट सिद्ध द्वारा बनवाए गए एक मंदिर में जब प्रवचन चल रहा था, कुछ युवा भिक्षु दो तीर्थिका (बौद्धों द्वारा हिंदुओं के लिए प्रयुक्त शब्दावली) भिक्षुओं पर मार्जक जल फेंक रहे थे। भिक्षुओं ने क्रुद्ध हो कर बौद्ध विश्वविद्यालय नालंदा के धर्मगंज के तीन तीर्थों को आग के हवाले कर दिया, जिसमें रत्न सागर, रत्न रंजक और पवित्र पुस्तकों के पुस्तकालय वाला नौ मंज़िल का मंदिर रत्नोदधि भी शामिल था (पृ. 92)। शौरी प्रश्न करते हैं कि कैसे दो भिक्षु एक इमारत से दूसरी में जा कर पूरे विशालकाय और विस्तृत प्रांगण को आग लगा सकते हैं। अब एक और गद्य पर नज़र डालिए, जिसे 17वीं शताब्दी के बौद्ध भिक्षु एवम् विद्वान तारनाथ ने भारत में बौद्ध धर्म का इतिहास पुस्तक में लिखा है,
काकुटसिद्ध द्वारा नालंदा में  निर्मित मंदिर के पवित्रीकरण के दौरानयुवा एवम् शरारती भिक्षुओं ने दो तीर्थिका भिक्षुओं पर मार्जक जल फेंक कर उन को द्वार से अंदर आने से रोकने के लिए उन पर भयंकर श्वान छोड़ दिए। इससे आक्रोशित भिक्षुओं में से एक अपनी आजीविका के प्रबंध हेतु चला गया तो दूसरे ने स्वयं को एक गहरे गड्ढे में अवस्थित कर स्वयं को सूर्य साधना में लीन कर लिया।पहले उस ने ऐसा 9 साल के लिए किया और फिर 3 साल और बाद उसने मंत्रसिद्धि प्राप्त कर ली। उसने एक बलि दी और अभिमंत्रित राख चारों ओर फैला दी, जिस से तत्काल एक चमत्कारिक अग्नि प्रज्जविल हुई और उस ने सभी 84 मंदिरों और पांडुलिपियों को लील लिया, जिस में से कुछ नौ मंज़िले रत्नोदधि मंदिर के ऊपर के तल से बहते जल से बच गई। 
(भारत में बौद्ध धर्म का इतिहास – अनुवाद: लामा चिम्पा एवम् अलका चटोपाध्याय, सारांश पृ. 141-42)
अगर हम इन दोनों वृत्तांतों पर गहनता से विचारें, तो ये एक जैसे ही हैं। तीर्थिकों एवम् चमत्कारिक अग्नि की भूमिका दोनों में एक ही सी है। निश्चित तौर पर हम चमत्कारों को सत्य नहीं मान सकते हैं लेकिन पुरातन परम्पराओं के हिस्से के तौर पर उनकी अहमियत को कम कर के नहीं आंका जा सकता है, जो समय के साथ मज़बूत हुई हैं और सामूहिक श्रुतियों का हिस्सा बन गई हैं। न ही ब्राह्मणों और बौद्धों के मध्य शत्रुता के तत्व को नकारा जा सकता है, जो तिब्बती परम्परा में भी पहुंचा और उसकी यात्रा का 18वीं सदी के अंत बल्कि बाद तक हिस्सा रहा। सुम्पा के आख्यान को भी बौद्ध-तीर्थिका प्रतिरोध के संदर्भों में देखा जा सकता है; और तारनाथ के प्रमाणों के मुताबिक भी यह तार्किक लगता है। यही नहीं सुम्पा और तारनाथ में से कोई भी कभी भारत नहीं आया। इसका सीधा अर्थ यह है कि ब्राह्मणों और बौद्धों की शत्रुता की ये परम्परा तिब्बत तक इससे पहले पहुंच चुकी थी और वहां की बौद्ध परम्परा का अंग बनी, जिसे 17वीं-18वीं सदी के बौद्ध अभिलेखों में लिपिबद्ध किया गया। इन तथ्यों को लेकर किसी भी प्रकार की स्वीकृति या खंडन की समीक्षा का स्वागत होना चाहिए लेकिन किसी प्रबुद्ध इतिहासकार की ओर से न कि शौरी सरीखे इतिहास के धोखा करने वाले शख्स की ओर से।
मेरे द्वारा उल्लिखित तिब्बती परम्पराओं में से एक की विश्वसनीयता को न केवल बी एन एस यादव प्रमाणित करते हैं (जिन्हें शौरी अपनी अज्ञानता में मार्क्सवादी कहते हैं!) बल्कि अन्य भारतीय विद्वान जैसे कि आर के मुखर्जी (प्राचीन भारत में शिक्षा), सुकुमार दत्त (भारत के बौद्ध भिक्षु एवम् मठ), बुद्ध प्रकाश (भारतीय इतिहास एवम् सभ्यता के आयाम) और एस सी विद्याभूषण जो इस अभिलेख को बौद्धों और ब्राह्मणों के बीच वास्तविक संघर्ष के फलस्वरूप ब्राह्मणों के आक्रोशित होने और सूर्य देवता की 12 साल तक तपस्या के बाद अग्नि को बलि देने और उसके बाद समिधा में जलते अंगारों को बौद्ध मंदिरों पर फेंकने से जोड़ते हैं, जिसने नालंदा के महान पुस्तकालय को नष्ट कर दिया, जिसे रत्नोदधि के नाम से जाना जाता था (भारतीय तर्कशास्त्र का इतिहास, डी आर पाटिल, पृ. 516, बिहार के पुरातात्विक अवशेष, पृ. 327)। उपर्लिखित विद्वान न केवल प्रसिद्ध हैं बल्कि उनकी ईमानदारी और विश्वसनीयता असंदिग्ध है। उनका मार्क्सवाद से दूर-दूर तक कोई सम्बंध नहीं है, जिसे शौरी अपनी अकड़ में लाल चीथड़ा कहते हैं।
अब तिब्बती परम्परा को समकालीन संदर्भों में तबाक़ात ए नसीरीउफ़ मिन्हाज ए सिराज के समकक्ष रखते हैं, जिसकी न केवल शौरी ग़लत व्याख्या करते हैं बल्कि उसे संदर्भों से ही अलग कर देते हैं। हालांकि इससे मेरे ब्राह्मणवादी कट्टरपंथ पर तर्क पर कोई फ़र्क नहीं पड़ता लेकिन उनकी ग़लत जानकारी की पोल खोलना भी अहम है, जिसे जी बी शॉ ने कहा है, अज्ञानता से भी अधिक घातक...। इस हिस्से को ग़ौर से पढ़िए,       
वह (बख़्तियार खिलजी) उस देश के अलग अलग हिस्सों में लूटमार करता रहा जब तक कि उसने बिहार के उस संरक्षित नगर पर आक्रमण नहीं किया। समझदार सलाहकारों की सलाह से वह कवचों से सुरक्षित 200 घुड़सवारों के साथ बिहार के उस किले के द्वार पर पहुंचा और अचानक हमला कर दिया। मुहम्मद बख्तियार के साथ दो फ़रग़ाना के विद्वान थे, एक निज़ाम उद् दीन और दूसरा सम्शम उद् दीन, जो इस क़िताब (मिन्हाज) के लेख थे; वो 641 ई. में लखनवाती से मिले और ये उसी के हवाले से है। जिस वक़्त धर्म योद्धाकिले के द्वार पर पहुंच कर हमला कर रहे थे, तब ये दोनों बुद्धिशाली भाई उसके सैनिक थे, जब मोहम्मद बख़्तियार ने ख़ुद को द्वार पर खड़ा कर दिया और उन्होंने किले पर कब्ज़ा कर के ढेर सारा लूट का माल बरामद किया। उस स्थान के अधिकतर रहवासी ब्राह्मण थे, उन सभी के शीश मुंडे हुए थे और उन सभी का क़त्ल कर दिया गया। वहां पर भारी संख्या में पुस्तकें थी; जब उन किताबों को मुस्लिमों ने देखा तो उन्होंने हिंदुओं से उन पुस्तकों का आयात सम्बंधी  ब्यौरा देने का आदेश दिया; लेकिन सभी हिंदू मारे जा चुके थे। उन किताबों की जानकारी मिलने के बाद ज्ञात हुआ कि वह पूरा शहर एक महाविद्यालय था, और हिंदी ज़ुबान में वो उसे बिहार विद्यालय कहते थे (तबाक़ात ए नासिरी, अंग्रेज़ी अनुवाद – एच जी रावर्टी, पृ. 551-52)
उपर्लिखित उल्लेख बिहार के किले को बख़्तियार के हमले का निशाना बताता है। जिस किलेनुमा मठ पर बख़्तियार ने कब्ज़ा किया था, उसे औदांद बिहार अथवा ओदांदपुरा विहार कहा जाता था (बिहार शरीफ़ में ओदांतपुरी, जिसे बाद में बिहार कहा गया)। यह अदिकाश इतिहासकारों का मत है लेकिन सबसे अहम तौर पर जदुनाथ सरकार का भी, जो भारत में साम्प्रादायिक इतिहास के पुरोधा हैं (बंगाल का इतिहास, भाग 2, पृ. 3-4)। मिन्हाज निश्चित तौर पर नालंदा की बात नहीं कर रहा, वह मुश्किल से ही बिहार के किले की लूटमार की बात करता है (हिसार ए बिहार)। लेकिन शौरी कैसे संतुष्ट हो सकते हैं, जब तक कि बख़्तियार द्वारा नालंदा की लूटमार साबित न हो जाए। चूंकि बख़्तियार मगध के क्षेत्र में अपने अभियान पर था, अतः शौरी सोचते हैं कि नालंदा उस ने ही नष्ट किया होगा, और चमत्कारिक रूप से वह उसके लिए उद्धरण ढूंढ लेते हैं, जिसमें उस स्थान की बात ही नहीं है। नतीजतन एक अहम ऐतेहासिक घटना, उनके मुस्लिम विरोधी पूर्वाग्रह का शिकार हो जाती है। अपने उत्साह में वे उस तथ्य को गढ़ने और गड़बड़ाने लगते हैं कि बख़्तियार नालंदा गया ही नहीं; “वह मुस्लिम विजय अभियान का शिकार होने से बच गया, क्योंकि वह दिल्ली से बंगाल के मुख्य मार्ग पर नहीं पड़ता था बल्कि अलग रास्ते पर था। (ए एस ऑल्टेकर, रोरिक्स की धर्मस्वामी की जीवनी के परिचय में)। ओदांतपुरी पर हमले के कुछ समय पश्चात जब तिब्बती भिक्षु धर्मस्वामी 1234 ई. में नालंदा गया तो उसे कुछ इमारतें मिलीं जो सुरक्षित थीं और उनमें कुछ पंडित और भिक्षु निवास करते थे तथा महापंडित राहुलश्रीभद्र से निर्देशित थे। दरअसल बख़्तियार संभवतः बिहारशरीफ़ से बंगाल के नदिया की ओर झारखंड की पहाड़ियों और जंगलों से हो कर बढ़ा, जो घटनाक्रम के मुताबिक , 1295 ई. के अभिलेखों में सबसे पहले मिलता है (भारत का वृहत इतिहास, भाग 4, पृ. 601)। मैं ये भी कहना चाहूंगा कि यह पूरी किताब, प्रबुद्ध इतिहासविद्, जहां से संदर्भित लेख लिया गया है, घुड़सवार सेना के रवैये से लेकर ऐतेहासिक प्रमाणों से भरी है और भारतीय अतीत को लेकर विपरीत धारणा देती है।
यह नकारना न तो सम्भव है और न ही ज़रूरी है कि इस्लामिक आक्रमणकारियों ने बिहार और बंगाल के हिस्सों को जीता और प्रसिद्ध विश्वविद्यालयों को नष्ट किया। लेकिन अरुण शौरी के बख़्तियार खिलजी के नालंदा विश्वविद्यालय को जलाने और नष्ट करने से सम्बंध जोड़ने की कोशिश, इतिहास से जानबूझ कर खिलवाड़ करने का अद्भुत उदाहरण है। ज़ाहिर है कि सप्ताहांत भर के लिए इतिहासकार बन जाने वाले शौरी और उनके जैसे अन्य हमेशा ही ऐतेहासिक तथ्यों से खिलवाड़ के लिए स्वतंत्र हैं, लेकिन इससे सिर्फ और सिर्फ गंभीर ऐतेहासिक शिक्षा की कमी ही सामने आती है।
शौरी पहले ही निंदनीय और मिथ्यावादी इमीनेंट हिस्टोरियन के 1998 में एनडीए सरकार के दौरान प्रकाशन से अच्छा खासा विवाद खड़ा कर चुके थे और अब 16 साल बाद, उन्होंने उसका दूसरा संस्करण जारी कर दिया है। वे भाजपा के सरकार में आते ही अपने इतिहासकार अवतार में आ जाते हैं, अपने आकाओं को प्रसन्न करने का प्रयास करते हैं और उनकी थाली से टुकड़े गिरने की प्रतीक्षा करते हैं। उनके प्राचीनकाल को लेकर विचार विश्व हिंदू परिषद्, राष्ट्रीय स्वंयसेवक संघ और उनकी असंख्य अनुषांगिक इकाईयों और गुंडों से अलग नहीं हैं; जो विरोधी विचारों की पुस्तकें जलाने, उनके मुताबिक ईशनिंदक कलाकृतियों का ध्वंस, भारतीय इतिहास का भ्रामक संस्करण बनाने और असहिष्णुता की संस्कृति का पोषण करने वाले हैं। मेरे गोमांस खाने को लेकर अध्ययन के प्रकाशन के बाद इन्होंने मेरी गिरफ्तारी की मांग की थी और जेम्स लेन की शिवाजी पर किताब आने के बाद उसको प्रतिबंधित करवा दिया। यह संयोग नहीं है कि शौरी, दीना नाथ बत्रा जैसे लोगों के साथ सौहार्दपूर्ण दिखते हैं, जिन्होंने ए के रामानुजन के रामायण परम्परा की विभिन्नता को लेकर निबंधों; हिंदुत्व को लेकर वैकल्पिक नज़रिए पर वेंडी डोंगियर की पुस्तक; 1969 से अहमदाबाद में साम्प्रदायिकता और लैंगिक हिंसा पर मेघा कुमार के शोध और आरएसएस की निंदा करने वाली शेख बंदोपाध्याय की पाठ्य पुस्तक को निशाने पर लिया।
संभवतः अरुण शौरी ने अपने छद्म, ग़लत और गढ़े गए ऐतेहासिक साक्ष्यों को पुनः दूसरे संस्करण में प्रस्तुत कर के एक ताज़ा युद्ध का उद्घोष कर दिया है, जिससे बत्रा और उनके जैसों को पूरा लाभ मिल सके।
(डी एन झा, दिल्ली विश्वविद्यालय के इतिहास विभाग के पूर्व प्रोफेसर और विभागाध्यक्ष रहे हैं। उनकी अहम क़िताबें अर्ली इंडिया और द मिथ ऑफ द होली काऊ हैं। )
D N Jha is Former Professor and Chair, Department of History, University of Delhi. His important publications include Early India and The Myth of the Holy Cow.

Monday, July 14, 2014

India and West Asia June 2014

India and West Asia
Teesta Setalvad
Our Indian brethren from the southern shores of Kerala to northern Punjab who travel to foreign shores for work, be they the ever efficient nurses or other professionals are slowly emerging out of the trauma of the past week. Local authorities have rescued 34 in all while another 39 remain still in captivity though we have been assured they are safe.
The Indian television industry’s honeymoon with the new government continues and it was this continued flush with romance that allowed both the MEA and the PMO to be let off lightly for the Iraq crisis. Imagine the scanrio of just a few months back, and the shreaking notes of television anchors would have matched the breast beating of a Sushma Swaraj (remember her act when one of our poor jawaans was killed at the LOC and she dramatically beat her head at the widow’s feet?) and the shrill warnings of a Modi albeit from faraway Kutch or Gandhinagar. Never mind, now these men and women are quiet and dignified , having achieved what they set out so successfully to do: label a more dignified UPA II and their functionaries as “weak” (by the way at least six jawaans have lost their lives since May 16 2014 at the LOC but their lives obviously are not as heavyweight as those that fell to Pakistanin bullets when UPA II was in power) and rendered a hysterical and communal campaign as “nationalistic”.
Well now we have our manhood firmly back in place so much so that the strongman at the helm has brought erstwhile critics, especially glamorous film stars with ambitious “social issue based” projects backed by finance, to his heels. These are the wonders of democracy, that, if we are not careful, can be reduced to brute majoritarianism, but who cares at the moment at least? The honeymoon is still on…..
Back to West Asia, however. For centuries ad infinitum, the Arabian Sea has proved a vibrant connection for the shores of what we know as India today and the civilizations of South Asia to connect, through business, trade, philosophy and culture. As far back as 2,500 BC water run trade connected Sumeria and Mesopotamia to the civilization that we call the Indus Valley Civilization or that of Mohenjo Daro. This connectivity endured and fascinated scholars and travellers alike. This is how our strong cultural links to Persia and other parts began and grew.
Before Islam came to Kerala’s shores and fascinated a local king to convert to a faith that he believed was egalitarian and democratic, Christianity too (born NOT in the West) but in West asia also first travelled to Kerala and near Kochy we can still visit the first Church built there. Ideas travelled, trade grew,and faiths and belief systems too moved with people and trade. While our textbooks (written with silly supremacist thoughts motivated by aims to divide today’s Indian, Muslim and Hindu) erroneously speak of the “invasions of Mohammad Bin Qasim” into Sind as the beginning of Islam’s forays into the sub-continent, a genuine reading of history will tell us that at least 110 years before that Islam had come to Kerala’s shores and a ruler had willingly (without blood and war) converted to a faith he felt promised a new freedom. (More of this in my next column). Two quiz questions that sit proudly on KHOJ’s website ( are worth asking however:-
Q.1: Who wrote the following words, The Hindus have always been considered by all other people as the custodians of learning and      
A: An Arab Historian Qazi Said
Q.2 Who wrote, “The Hindus are superior to all other nations in intelligence and thoughtfulness. They are more exact in Astronomy and Astrology than any other people.The Brahma Sidhanta is a good proof of theirintellectual powers, by this book the Greeks and the Persians have benefitted?
A. Arab writer Yaquibi in year 895 AD
Those who cynically disregard our own history, or that of our region, are poised to violently disregard it. The present regime’s dealing with West Asia, especially evident through the current crisis bears questioning, and correction.
On May 26, 2014 as the swearing in ceremony of the new government was converted into a clever photo and diplomatic opportunity, one huge lapse in Indian foreign policy terms that was to be reflected in the President’s address to the joint session of Parliament the week after went uncommented upon or unnoticed. Only veteran journo Anand Sahay wrote in the Asian Age about it two days ago,
He referred to Arab sources that suggested that a reference to West Asia has never before been omitted from the President’s address. Since the Modi government had just taken over, the traditional address which is a signpost of government policy was followed with special keenness by the international community. A month after this clear policy shift away from the Arab world that even our erudite commentators “we are the nation and the world” types ignored or failed to notice, we were faced with the crisis of Indian nationals being abducted in Iraq, held hostage to internal and international political conflict. It was then that representatives of West Asian governments noted a bitter irony that while India desperately seeks Arab help to bring back the remaining 39 Indians held hostage by suspected Sunni insurgents in Iraq, India’s latest foreign policy enunciation makes no mention of this country’s ties with the Arab world. Senior Arab diplomats have been flabbergasted by the omission, given the significance of the relationship.
The bulk of India’s oil and gas needs are met from the Arab world, primarily the Gulf states of Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates, Bahrain, Kuwait, Oman, and Qatar, very much part of India’s extended periphery. The overwhelming bulk of Indians abroad live in these Gulf countries mainly Saudi Arabia and the UAE, but also others. According to World Bank’s Migration and Development Brief released recently, their remittances in 2013 was nearly $30 billion, while the total remittances from Indians living abroad in all countries was $70 billion in the same year.
Ignoring the Arab connection implies looking askance at those who send remittances on such an impressive scale that help shore up this country’s balance of payments equation. Mostly these Indians are from the working class, unlike, say, the Indians living in North America. It is the Indian NRIs in north America however, especially those from Gujarat who are vocal and visible for the new regime in New Delhi.
Besides the traditional “civilisational” ties between India and the Arab world, to which India has customarily drawn attention, India looks to the Gulf Arabs for support in the security sector. Not long ago, Saudi Arabia handed over to India top-level Pakistan-trained terrorists hiding in that country on Pakistani passports.
Trade volumes between India and the Gulf states are of a very high order. Incidentally, the bulk of Indian gold imports are from the UAE. For some years, India has looked upon the Gulf Arabs as a rich source of petrodollar investment, although it is yet to work adequately on that prospect.
We have today however a regime in place with a mindset that would prefer to ignore this historical linkage and re-orient it towards Israel. In his over decade long stint as Gujarat’s chief minister, the man at the helm regularly sent elected representatives and policemen even for exchanges to Israel. Now perched in Delhi with the lofty Indian policy regime to confront a more reasoned and historically relevant policy would be in order. The omission of the Arab world from President Mukherjee’s address however is imonous because nothing that the new regime does is without careful calculation or note. We also cannot afford to forget –though forgetting seems the fashionable order of the day—that Subramaniam Swamy –who did his bit to establish the new government but has been ignored post May 2014—clearly enunciated the policy that an RSS/BJP steered New Delhi must follow: Unite Hindus and foment and create a Shia-Sunni divide among Muslims. Be it Mohammed Ali Road in Mumbai, Lucknow, Ahmedabad or Benares, any one with close ties with communities will observe the deliberate stoking of passions between Muslim sects, over issues religio-cultural, that have spilt into violence.
The time has come for a sagacious leadership within Muslims to recognize the challenges and dangers within and without before it is cynically played by a regime determined to divide and rule.