October 23, 2017

Five myths about Nazis | Thomas Childers

The Washington Post, October 20 2017

Five myths about Nazis

It wasn’t Hitler’s hateful rhetoric that earned him the lion’s share of his support

[Photo] Adolf Hitler is saluted as he leaves the Nazi party's Munich headquarters in 1931. (AP)

By Thomas Childers

(Thomas Childers, author of "The Third Reich: A History of Nazi Germany," is the recently retired Sheldon and Lucy Hackney professor of history at the University of Pennsylvania.)

White nationalists have been seeking (and finding) attention frequently this year, in the form of widely publicized protests and rallies. But for all the attention focused on this new wave of Nazi imitators, the original Nazi party, which unleashed chaos on the world in the early decades of the twentieth century, is still shrouded in myths. Here are five of the most persistent.

Myth No. 1
Adolf Hitler was bankrolled by big corporate donors.

In his biography of Henry Kissinger, historian Niall Ferguson notes that “old man Thyssen” — that is, German steel magnate Fritz Thyssen — “bankrolled Hitler.” Businessmen such as Thyssen using their financial assets to assist the Nazis was “the mechanism by which Hitler was funded to come to power,” according to John Loftus, a former U.S. attorney who prosecuted Nazi war criminals.

But the Nazis were neither “financed” nor “bankrolled” by big corporate donors. During its rise to power, the Nazi Party did receive some money from corporate sources — including Thyssen and, briefly, industrialist Ernst von Borsig — but business leaders mostly remained at arm’s length. After all, Nazi economic policy was slippery: pro-business ideas swathed in socialist language. The party’s program, the Twenty-Five Points, called for the nationalization of corporations and trusts, revenue sharing, and the end of “interest slavery.” Capitalism, the Nazis charged, “enslaves human beings under the slogan of progress, technology, rationalization, standardization, etc.”

The party largely depended on grass-roots sources of funding (membership dues, subscriptions to the party press, admission to events and so forth). The Nazi propaganda machine — the dances, the “German evenings,” the concerts, the speeches — was also a moneymaking operation, as is made clear in entries in Joseph Goebbels’s diary.

Once in power, however, the Nazis did receive funding from corporate sources, as business leaders were given fat contracts for armaments production and construction projects. The regime also seized Jews’ assets, from valuable art to private savings and investments. And it took control of Jewish-owned companies in what the Nazis called the “Aryanization” of the economy.

Myth No. 2
Jesse Owens’s 1936 Olympic wins embarrassed Hitler.

“Although Adolf Hitler intended the 1936 Berlin Games to be a showcase for the Nazi ideology of Aryan racial supremacy,” the History Channel wrote in 2013, “it was a black man who left the biggest imprint on that year’s Games.” Such retellings of Owens’s stunning four-gold-medal win are common: “Owens shattered the myth the Nazis so desperately craved to display,” CNN claimed in 2015 . “80 years ago, Owens destroyed the Olympics’ racial hierarchy and humiliated Hitler,” the news site Splinter declared a year later.

Yet while the public (especially in the United States) focused on Owens, the Germans actually won the Olympic medal count , surpassing the favored Americans. Germany walked away with 33 gold medals to America’s 24, 26 silver to America’s 20, and 30 bronze to America’s 12.

Hitler took great pride in hosting the Olympics, and for him the event was a roaring success — even according to Owens, who told the press : “When I passed the Chancellor, he arose, waved his hand to me, and I waved back to him. I think the writers showed bad taste in criticizing the man of the hour in Germany.”

Myth No. 3
Racist ideology was the key to Hitler’s rise.

“Sixty-five million Germans yielded to the blandishments and magnetism of this slender man . . . whose fervor and demagogy swept everything before him with outstretched arms as the savior and regenerator of the Fatherland,” the New York Times wrote in May 1945. That Hitler ascended because of his hateful, racist rhetoric is now so much a part of his legend that, according to one German writer, it is taught in the country’s schools: “Germans have internalized that the reason why Adolf Hitler was able to rise to power was that no one stood up for the Jews.”

It’s true that Nazi racism, especially rabid anti-Semitism, was always on the surface. Hitler was an ideological fanatic, and his ideology attracted a small but intensely loyal core of supporters during the party’s early years — 3 to 6 percent of the electorate during its first obscure decade. Even in regional elections throughout the 1920s, the Nazis’ share of the electorate never reached 10 percent.

The truth is that Hitler rose on the strength of his skill as a political strategist, more than anything else. The Nazi Party’s propaganda staff became masters of negative campaigning, launching vicious assaults on the establishment parties and the “system” they supported. They were convinced that details didn’t matter; indeed, Nazi claims were often outright lies. The Nazis also promised everything to everybody, pledging higher sale prices for farmers and lower food prices for workers in the cities. The contradictions abounded, and opposing parties never tired of pointing them out.

Such criticism did not faze the Nazis in the least. They either ignored it or railed that this sort of whining was what was wrong with German politics. Hitler understood that there are times when desperate, angry people want two and two to be five, and he swore that the Nazis would make it so. After the onset of the Great Depression, the party saw its vote totals jump dramatically in 1930, then rocket to 38 percent in July 1932 — a huge increase over its early, more strictly fanatical days.

Myth No. 4
Hitler was a forceful, decisive leader.

In 2010, Wisconsin state senatorial candidate Dane Deutsch sparked controversy by tweeting: “Hitler and Lincoln were both strong leaders. Lincoln’s character made him the greater leader whose legacy and leadership still lives on!” Echoing his sentiment, a 2016 Los Angeles Times op-ed held that, like Russian President Vladimir Putin, “Hitler was a strong leader with good poll numbers too.”

But Hitler was, in reality, a vacillating, indecisive leader who drove his lieutenants, and later his military, to exasperation with his long delays and shifting, often contradictory decisions. His closest advisers complained frequently about his inability to make a clear call. In 1935, for example, Hitler announced the Nuremberg Laws, which, among other sinister things, made Jews noncitizens. But who was to be considered a Jew? Would a half-Jewish person, for instance, count? Party and state officials argued for months about this, but despite their pleas for a solution from their Führer, Hitler refused to clarify the situation.

Making matters worse, Hitler’s decisions were rarely committed to paper; instead, he preferred issuing vague verbal orders that contributed mightily to the confusion around his stances. Once he had finally decided on a course of action, nothing could change his mind — but reaching that decision was often a long, circuitous, frustrating process.

Myth No. 5
The Third Reich was well-organized.

Since World War II, the Nazi regime has gone down in popular culture as, among other things, a paragon of brutal, mechanistic optimization. Novels refer to “Nazi-like organization,” newspaper articles to “Nazi-like discipline” and encyclopedia entries to “Nazi-like efficiency.” Perhaps bolstered by an overall impression of Germans as methodical, orderly people, we tend to imagine that the Third Reich embodied these characteristics to the nth degree.

In fact, the regime was, according even to the memoir of Hitler’s minister of armaments and munitions, Albert Speer , more like organized chaos. Offices and agencies of party and state often overlapped or were given identical responsibilities, creating confusion. There were, for example, five different military, state and party agencies charged with leadership of the war economy. Hitler was also fond of creating ad hoc bodies to operate alongside (but often in conflict with) established party or state agencies.

Hitler explained this approach to governing by claiming that in this situation, “the strongest gets the job done.”

Thomas Childers, author of "The Third Reich: A History of Nazi Germany," is the recently retired Sheldon and Lucy Hackney professor of history at the University of Pennsylvania.

[Cultural Heritage] The Taj is Everybody's | Jyoti Punwani

rediff.com - October 23, 2017

The Taj is Everybody's

'It is obvious that the lakhs who come to see it do not see it through the prism of religion,' says Jyoti Punwani.

The beautiful Taj Mahal -- a vision in white in this early morning picture shared by Subrata Chatterjee.

I first saw the Taj Mahal when I was in school. The sight of it literally took my breath away.

After that, every time I've seen it, the effect has been the same. I haven't seen the other wonders of the world, but I know, as does everyone who sees it, that the Taj Mahal is indeed a wonder -- how can anything so solid be so ethereal, as if suspended in air?

As I took in every inch of the monument as a 11 year old, I remember thinking that had I lived in Agra, this would have been the place I would come to study, and also to read my vacations away.

For months after that, I dipped into a fantasy world in which I would get to choose a different spot inside the monument every day to settle down with my books.

That fantasy never left me.

As soon as my child turned five and old enough to appreciate man made marvels, I made sure he saw the Taj before it became all yellow. I remember gasping with surprise as we got the first glimpse of the monument.

Why had I imagined it yellow? It was as it was: Gleaming in the sunlight, a treasure all ours.

The only thing that made me angry whenever I visited the Taj was the way it had been looted by the British. If it was so breathtaking now, what must it have been then!

Growing up, the only debate I heard about the Taj was the story that Shah Jahan had the hands of the artisans who actually built the monument cut off so that they couldn't replicate it.

A terrible thing, if true. But sadly, even such alleged cruelty couldn't detract from the pleasure I got from the monument every time I saw it.

Nor could poet Sahir Ludhianvi's anger that the monument mocked at the love of the poor who couldn't afford to display their love so extravagantly.

ik shahanshāh ne daulat kā sahārā le kar

ham ġarīboñ kī mohabbat kā udāyā hai mazāq

merī mahbūb kahīñ aur milā kar mujh se

Of course, there was P N Oak who said the Taj Mahal was actually a temple. Though we laugh at him, there are people who believe this, and even teach this to their children.

But never had I imagined there would come a day when those ruling us would spew hatred for the Taj Mahal.

The recent hateful remarks against the Taj bring back another hate speech. Akbaruddin Owaisi in his infamous speech in Nirmal (then in Andhra Pradesh) in 2013, threatened 'Hindustan' that if Muslims were driven away, they would take all 'their' treasures with them.

The remark immediately exposed the younger Owaisi's mentality.

He looked at Hindustan through the lens of 'us' (Muslims) as separate from 'Hindustan'. It was 'us' Muslims that had given this separate entity 'Hindustan' the monuments that all Hindustanis took pride in.

Now here's the BJP doing exactly the same, but in reverse. What is Sangeet Som saying?

Forget the colossal ignorance he displays by saying that its maker imprisoned his father, when actually Shah Jahan was the one imprisoned by his son. By now, BJP leaders have displayed so much ignorance of history, we are no longer surprised.

What Som is saying echoes Akbaruddin Owaisi's viewpoint. For Som, the Taj was built by 'them' (Muslims) and so 'we' (Hindus=Indians) cannot relate to it.

If Som is right, Owaisi was right too and so was Jinnah and his theory that Hindus and Muslims constitute separate nations.

Indeed, when the news that the Taj Mahal had been dropped from Uttar Pradesh's tourism booklet reached Pakistan, a friend there asked disbelievingly if it was true. She was sickened when informed that the CM of the state had said it was not part of India's cultural heritage.

Though he changed his stand later, in his original remark Adityanath too was echoing the two-nation theory.

But not all Pakistanis would feel sick by Adityanath's statement. Many would just say: 'Give it to us please. It belonged here anyway.'

Many Pakistanis have started saying: 'It took 70 years, but finally you did prove that our quaid-e-azam (Jinnah) was right, that Hindus and Muslims cannot co-exist.'

Surely he was not.

Despite Adityanath and Som and those who lynched Mohammad Akhlaq in Dadri getting government jobs, the two-nation theory can never be right. And it is not some obstinate idealism that is behind this belief.

Reports from across the country reassure us that even today, despite the Sangh Parivar, bonds between Hindus and Muslims remain strong.

Where the Taj is concerned, it is obvious that the lakhs who come to see it do not see it through the prism of religion.

There is one more factor.

Never before would it have even occurred to me to notice this, but as Supreme Court human rights lawyer Colin Gonsalves said in an interview to Rediff.com: 'We are living in Kalyug.' So we respond like creatures of Kalyug.

Hence, it needs to be pointed out that the long list of Indians who have actually gone out of their way to preserve the Taj -- be they citizens who moved the courts to stop the destruction of the environment around it, the judges who ordered its protection at great human and financial cost, heads of the National Green Tribunal who lashed out at governments over its neglect, or historians who waxed eloquent in praise of it -- this long list comprises all faiths.

Consider the names: Justices T S Thakur, C Nagappan, Kuldeep Singh, Faizan Uddin, Swatanter Kumar; citizens M C Mehta, Rajkumar Singh, Bhim Singh Sagar, D K Joshi, Surendra Sharma, R Nath...

So when UP's Minister for Religious Affairs and Culture Laxmi Narayan Chaudhary said: 'The Taj is not a symbol of any religion and is nobody's', he was both right and wrong.

Though it has a mosque on its premises, the Taj is not a religious symbol.

But far from being nobody's, it is everybody's.

Sangeet Som's remarks have been condemned across the board, including by Dr Karan Singh, the first 'regent' of Kashmir after its accession to India, known for his scholarship in Hinduism.

But what matters more is what ordinary Indians think.

When former UP minister Azam Khan said that the Taj Mahal should be handed over to the wakf board, Agra's residents shouted him down.

Now come reports that they have given the same treatment to Som. Indeed, Vishal Sharma, the Agra tourist welfare centre secretary, has been quoted as having said that if people had to choose between the Taj and the state's BJP government, they would choose the Taj.

There is just one question for Adityanath, Chaudhary and Som: Have you ever seen the Taj?

October 22, 2017

India: Lotus shadow over the Taj (Anuradha Bhasin Jamwal)

Kashmir Times, Sunday, October 22, 2017

Lotus shadow over the Taj
By Anuradha Bhasin Jamwal

ye chaman-zār ye jamunā kā kināra ye mahal

ye munaqqash dar o dīvār ye mehrāb ye taaq

ik shahanshāh ne daulat kā sahārā le kar

ham ġharīboñ kī mohabbat kā uḌāyā hai mazāq

Thus wrote Sahir Ludhianvi about Taj Mahal. The poet neither challenged the historic richness of the monument nor its architectural feat that makes it one of the seven wonders of the world. His words were simply a rebuke at the symbolisation of the monument, which signifies the architectural grandness and the financial and political might of an emperor, with love.

Moghuls who ruled India for almost three centuries left their mark on every aspect of Indian society through an assimilation of cultures their ancestors brought from outside and absorption of existing ones. Art and architecture flourished during their periods, enriching India with some of the finest sites of heritage that is a matter of pride for any Indian. The magnificience of grand monuments like Fatehpur Sikri today narrate the tale of the grandeur of the times and of the people who lived and visited the palace-city. Fatehpur Sikri today stands as a grand monument that is a blend of both Islamic and Hindu elements in its architectural designs. The Agra Fort, Red Fort in Delhi and many other Moghul monuments gifted to India unique architectural styles which were an amalgam of Persian, Turkic and Indian patterns, as well as engineering feats including water works. Unlike these symbols of robust life, the Taj Mahal was a tribute of one Moghul king to his beloved wife, a tomb where they both lie buried. So does that make it a symbol of love? Or symbol of death? It is for the individuals to draw their own conclusion. But the architectural grandeur of the Taj, a white marble wonder like a drop of pearl in the backdrop of the calm banks of Yamuna river, its fame and significance is global and undeniable.

In India, its significance goes beyond the artistic to pure economics as well since this monument rated as one of the seven wonders of the world fetches India more than half its foreign tourists and foreign exchange as well. Only a foolish mind would ignore the Taj Mahal while re-drawing the tourist map. And, only an illiterate and obsessed mind would root it out on grounds that it is not part of Indian culture.

The Moghuls not only conquered India. They expanded horizontally and vertically building it as their home and assimilating the cultures and influences they brought from outside with the local existing cultures and enriching India like never before. Unlike many other conquerors in history, who plundered and looted India’s wealth, they became one with India and consolidated for the first time the country as a huge empire. Needless to point out that there is enough historic evidence to show that in ancient India when Hindu kingdoms fought each other they looted and plundered each other’s monuments and temples because these were store-houses of wealth.

The contribution of Moghuls in changing this trend from plundering to consolidating and strengthening cultural spaces is a valid proof of their Indianness. The Mughals took keen interest in paintings that depict a collaboration of Indo-Persian synthesis. The art flourished under each ruler and paintings of the Mughal era depict themes from fables of Persian literature and Hindu mythology, and gradually assimilated realistic subjects like portraits, royal life, festivals, events like hunting and battles. These paintings today occupy a place of pride in many museums in India and across the world. Literature flourished too. Apart from the famous biographies like Abul Fazl’s Akbarnama, the Mughals also promoted Hindi literature. Akbar wholeheartedly patronised Hindi poetry. Sursagar by Surdas, Ramcharitamanas by Tulsidas and the Persian-Sanskrit dictionary were documented at this time.

By and large, Mughals were great lovers of music. Babar is recorded to have composed songs. Akbar’s court was adorned by famous musicians like Tansen of Gwalior and Baz Bahadur of Malwa. Shah Jahan was fond of vocal and instrumental music. The two great Hindu musicians of his time were Jagannath and Janardhan Bhatta. But Aurangzeb who was a puritan dismissed singing from his court. However, ironically, the largest number of books on classical music were written in his reign. Bahadur Shah Zafar was one of the finest Urdu poets of his times. The Mughals also promoted traditional dance and brought to India the famous kathak dance, which till date is performed and applauded globally. Kathak is legitimately both Hindu and Islamic and many a tales of Hindu mythology continue to be enacted through dance form by Kathak exponents today.

India has a long history from loose small kingdoms to its final consolidation under British regime who also left it divided into two dominions in 1947. It has been shaped by many influences and cultures which became part and parcel of India. Does the majority religion alone signify the country? This is legitimately and historically a flawed argument.

The Taj Mahal is being rejected by the BJP on grounds that it was built by a treacherous king and a traitor. India reached its zenith and nadir during the Mughal era and many Mughal kings were known for their benevolence. Some Mughals collected high taxes including Jaziya but they spent every little penny in India and did not take it outside the country. If there are some instances of brutality, that was the way of life under the monarchs who have ruled not just India but any other part of the world from time to time. How do Mughal emperors qualify as traitors?

After this argument did not cut much ice among public in India, the BJP leaders have now appropriated the site of Taj Mahal, imagining that there once existed a temple. There is no historical evidence of such an assertion barring the weird theories of some Hindutva proponents. While there is abject silence within the BJP at the highest echelons of power and the ‘Mann ki Baat’ man has nothing to reveal or clarify amounting to tacit patronage to the likes of Yogi Adityanath, Vinay Katiyar and Sangeet Som. The pattern is all too familiar. Such a discourse earlier led to demolition of Babri Masjid, a parallel that was only found in Afghanistan with the fall of the historic Bamiyan Buddha statues. The BJP-RSS are inching towards converting its army into Hindutva Talibans. They denigrate symbols that carry even a feeble glimpse of Islamic element in them or appropriate them. The Taj, that occupies a prime place of pride in the hearts of many Indians for all its architectural and artistic worth, is today being stamped with a lotus. Sadly, this is not the lotus the poet, Mahshar Badayuni had in mind when he wrote of Taj Mahal:

“Allāh maiñ ye taaj mahal dekh rahā huuñ

Yā pahlū-e-jamunā meñ kañval dekh rahā huuñ”

(Oh! Lord, am I beholding Taj Mahal

Or on the banks of Yamuna, a lotus in its splendor)

India: The new attack on the Taj Mahal is ominous (Manini Chatterjee)

The Telegraph

Malignant mindset

- The new attack on the Taj Mahal is ominous
Any physical assault on the Taj Mahal would lead to an international scandal that they can ill afford 
It is a measure of what has become of us as a people and a nation that we are actually applauding - or at least heaving an almost audible sigh of relief - at the turn of the Uttar Pradesh chief minister, Yogi Adityanath, as a "good cop" in the latest episode of Hindutva's perverse pantomime.
A couple of days after the Bharatiya Janata Party member of the legislative assembly from UP, Sangeet Som, lashed out at India's most iconic symbol and actually received support - and no reprimand - from his party leaders, Adityanath assured us that the Taj Mahal was going to be safe after all.
Addressing a rally in Meerut on October 15, Sangeet Som - who is an accused in the Muzaffarnagar riots case - justified the UP government's removal of the Taj Mahal from a brochure listing important tourist destinations in the state.
Som said, "Many people were pained to see that the Taj Mahal had been removed from the list of historical places... what history... which history... the person who made Taj Mahal imprisoned his father - he targeted the Hindus of Uttar Pradesh and India... if these people still find place in history, then it is very unfortunate... and I guarantee that history will be changed."
He went on to add: "Today, the governments of India and UP are working to bring that history on the correct path... from the history of Ram to Krishna, Maharana Pratap to Shivaji Rao, they are trying to incorporate them in the books... and the blots which are in our books, be it of Akbar, Aurangzeb, Babar - the government is working to remove them from history."
That Som was not speaking on behalf of the "loony fringe" but echoed the views of his party became clear when one of the BJP's official spokesmen, G.V.L. Narasimha Rao, sought to justify Som's view of history.
Speaking to The Indian Express, Rao said, "As a party, we do not have a view on any individual monument. But, broadly speaking, the period of Islamic rule - around 800 years - was a period of extreme exploitation, insane barbarism and unprecedented intolerance to the other faith. If anyone tries to gloss over these facts, it will be actually distorting history."
It is, of course, pointless to discuss the facts of history with the likes of Som and Rao. Som couldn't care less that Shah Jahan, who built the Taj Mahal, was imprisoned by his son and did not imprison his father. And Rao - like his brethren who have learnt "history" in the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh shakhas - has probably never heard of Akbar's Din-i-Ilahi, does not know of the astonishing efflorescence of a syncretic culture under Mughal patronage, and will certainly not be able to explain how Hinduism survived and thrived in the subcontinent in spite of the "unprecedented intolerance" of 800 years of Muslim rule.
Over the last few decades, we have become used to the outrageous remarks and the unprecedented intolerance of the Hindutva forces directed towards India's history. But that they should now be targeting what is arguably the world's most famous monument to eternal love and sublime beauty was, to millions of Indians, shocking beyond words. And that is perhaps why Yogi Adityanath's words were seized upon as reassuring.
On October 17, the UP chief minister told reporters in Lucknow, "It is not necessary to go into why Taj Mahal was built, who built it, and for what purpose... What is important is that Taj Mahal was built by the blood and sweat of India's labourers and sons." He also let it be known that he will visit Agra later this week and probably announce a package for the beautification and upkeep of the environs around the Taj.
Whether he does so or not is, frankly, immaterial because Yogi Adityanath was, and remains, the arrowhead of the Hindutva forces' assault on India's pluralist culture and history, and the Taj Mahal is the latest and most audacious target of their relentless vandalism.
Let us not forget that it was Adityanath who first attacked the Taj Mahal as alien to Indian culture. Addressing a public rally in Darbhanga on June 16 to mark the third anniversary of the Narendra Modi government, the UP chief minister spoke of the changes he had observed in the country over the last three years.
Elaborating, he said, " Pehle jab Bharat ka rashtradhraksha baahar jaate the, wo koi aisi vastu le jaate the jise kaha jaata tha Bharat ka pratik hai, ya jab videshi rashtradhyaksha Bharat aata tha to gift ke roop me Taj Mahal ya aisi koi minar di jaati thi jo Bharat ki sanskriti se bilkul mel nahi khati... Pehli baar aisa hua hai jab Bharat ki pradhanmantri Narendra Modiji bahar jaate hai ya bahar ke rashtradhyaksha yahan aate hai to unhe Srimad Bhagvad Gita pustak di jaati hai, unhe Ramayan bhent ki jaati hai.
(Earlier, when the head of State would go abroad, he would take something as gift that would represent Indian culture. Similarly, when heads of State from other countries visited India, they would be given a replica of Taj Mahal or some minaret not in consonance with Indian culture. For the first time, we have seen that when India's prime minister, Narendra Modi, goes abroad or a head of State comes to India, he is given the Bhagvad Gita or the Ramayana...)"
His remarks served as a signal to the rabble rousers in the sangh parivar - tacitly supported by the top RSS-BJP leadership - that the Babri Masjid was passé; the Taj Mahal itself was now fair game. The stepped-up attacks on the heritage of the Taj since then, interspersed with assurances that it will not be harmed, is part of the sangh parivar's tried and tested pattern of extending the boundaries of malevolence bit by bit, making the most audacious pronouncements seem less outrageous through repeated assertion, and lulling the nation into accepting an ever changing 'new normal'.
The RSS and the Modi regime are clever enough to know that demolishing the Taj Mahal is not an option right now. They may not care for its aesthetic beauty and are virulently allergic to India's Muslim past. But any physical assault on the Taj Mahal would lead to an international scandal that they can ill afford. The Taj is also a lucrative revenue generator, thronged by more Indian and foreign tourists than perhaps any other site or monument in the country.
And so the effort now is to protect the edifice and rob it of its history. It is to this end that a chorus of voices is now making the claim that the Taj Mahal is actually a Hindu temple.
When P.N. Oak first made that assertion, no one - except Hindutva bigots who cannot accept that any culture can better mythic Hindu glory - took him seriously. But today, not only are people like BJP's Vinay Katiyar talking of a Shiva temple that was converted into the Taj, even the Indian Council of Historical Research is planning to fund studies to show that "the Taj Mahal is a creation Hindu masons" who left "swastika marks" on their workmanship.
The Hindutva forces tasted blood by bringing down the Babri Masjid. Not enough of us stood up then to assert that Muslims alone were not "Babar ke aulad"; we all were. Regardless of the chequered course of India's past, every Indian today is a proud inheritor of all that has gone into the making of our rich history and Muslim rule, especially the Mughal period, is very much a part of it. It is evident in our clothing and our cuisine, our architecture and our aesthetics, our language and our lifestyles. Any attempt to divest the Taj of its history and replace it with a potted mythology is an assault not on that timeless monument but on us as a people, on our collective legacy.
Unless we realize this and resist the new vandalism more strongly than we did before, the malignant mindset that manifested itself and ravaged a 15th-century mosque in Ayodhya 25 years ago will metastasize and resurface in a more virulent form in Agra sooner than we may imagine.

India: Is it legal for poltical party to access someone's voter ID card and publish on social media to prove someone's religion?

[. . .] BJP in Tamil Nadu on Sunday stooped to new low by posting what it claimed was the voter identity card of actor Vijay in a bid to establish his Christian faith

H Raja, an ex-MLA and the BJP’s national secretary, posted a photo of a voter ID card, which appeared to show actor Vijay’s name as Joseph Vijay. Raja wrote, “Truth is bitter.”

Raja had earlier said that he was also trying to establish if the producer of Tamil film, Mersal, Hema Rukmani, too was a Christian. This was after Rukmani rubbished media reports that said the producer had agreed to delete the scene with references to GST in Mersal.
It appears that, according to the BJP, anyone who is not Hindu does not have the right to criticise the government policy regardless of its adverse impact of on the population. Raja’s controversial act also suggests that one needed to practice the Hindu faith to be able to exercise his or her right to freedom of speech.

SEE FULL TEXT AT: http://www.jantakareporter.com/india/bjp-stoops-low-posts-vijay/156217/

Taj Mahal and the Communalisation of Indian Cultural Heritage - Video from The Wire

India: Will Ayodhya again be the epicentre of Hindutva politics ?

National Herald

Ayodhya will be epicentre of Hindutva politics now

Yogi Adityanath with artistes dressed as characters from Ramayana.

Yogi is banking on Hindutva to emerge triumphant in the ballot battle over Bijli, Paani and Sadak

With the promise to revive Ram Rajya, the BJP has made an attempt to keep the Hindutva flame aglow in the politically sensitive state of Uttar Pradesh which holds the key to Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s dream to return to power in 2019.
Ayodhya has now emerged as the epicentre of this plan. The way Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath tried to recreate Treta Yug in this Kalyug by replicating the of Lord Ram along with Lakshman and Sita from `Vanvas’ was a real treat for the eyes. The proverbial Pushpak Viman was replaced with Pushpak chopper and it showered flower petals all over Ayodhya with people standing on their roof tops with folded hands soaking up the dose of Hindutva showered from the sky.
“It is unbelievable,” said Sumitra Sharma, 62, a resident of Ayodhya. “It was an unimaginable site to see Bhagwan Ram descending from sky along with Maiya (Mother) Sita. This must have happened in Treta Yug. Our scriptures have the full details. Yogi ji has just replicated that incident today,” she said, with her hands folded.
Yogi has been able to touch the raw nerve of the people. The actors who played the role of Ram, Sita and Lakshman may have been top models who are used to walking on ramps for top brands. But for the people of Ayodhya, they are their ‘Bhagwan’.
Namrata Verma, pursuing her graduation from a local college had volunteered to light diyas (earthern lamps) on the banks of the Sarayu river. She was enamoured with the beauty of Sita, model Anchal Ghai. Namrata did not know that the model had done ad campaigns for products like Gionee and Samsung but said: “Sita must have been beautiful like this lady.”
The hype created by the BJP government worked. In his almost 35 minute speech, Yogi spoke about Ram Rajya time and again but refrained from talking about Ram Mandir. He spoke a number of times about the negativity associated with Ayodhya but did not elaborate on what he meant by this negativity. He said that his government will respect the feelings of people (bhawanao ka samaan hoga) but did not explain what he meant by `Bhawana’. Whether this means construction of the temple is anyone’s guess.
But he began his speech with the chant of “Jai Sri Ram” and ended the speech with the same chant as the crowd roared in unison shouting “Jai Sri Ram.”
He spoke about Ram Lila being performed by artistes of different countries like Indonesia, Thailand and Sri Lanka, going on to add that they treated Lord Ram as their ancestor and asked as to why we in India question one if he talks about Lord Ram. “This is a matter of pride for us that Lord Ram belonged to this area and everyone here is linked with Maryada Purshottam. This is our heritage and we should protect it,” he said.
He talked about bringing Kashi, Vrindavan, Shakumbari Devi, Naimisaryana and other places of historical importance in the tourism map but refrained from taking the name of Taj Mahal.
Hindutava is Yogi’s trump card this Diwali. He will visit Chitrakoot, another religious place, soon. In the last few months, he has visited Gorakhpur five times, Varanasi thrice, Vrindavan twice and Ayodhya thrice as well.
The big question is whether this exercise will bear fruits in the ballot battle. Will Hindutva emerge winner over development? Will people vote for religion rather than Bijli, Paani and Sadak? Only time will tell.