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The violence has spread to Bangalore now

I just heard in the news that two churches in Bangalore have been attacked. notanangel78  and others going to church please be careful, and everyone spread the word. Take care.

Update: it's three churches now.
Violence over religious conversions continues in Orissa, while spreading to Karnataka and Kerala.

The Karnataka CM is unhappy with "forced conversions" and his government wishes to examine the flow of foreign money to missionary organisations.

Meanwhile, the debate rages on.

I think it is only a matter of time before someone (and I don't mean someone on the internet) suggests that we ban conversion altogether.

I have precious little to add to the debate, and will repeat opinions offered before: that conversions - legitimate or illegitimate - do not justify violence, that there are laws to deal with "forced conversions", and that plenty of people are being targeted even though they have nothing to do with conversions. Also, while I do not suppose that there are no conversions that are caused by inducements, such conversions have to be in a minority, since it simply makes no sense from the point of view of those who are trying to convert. 

I suppose one question that is not asked often enough is why conversion - legitimate or "tricked" - makes people so angry. Let us suppose that someone is tricked into conversion. Of course, something of this sort is wrong and should simply not be permitted. But while rape, murder and large-scale corruption only induce yawns from us, why is this crime seen as so particularly nasty? Why does it make people so angry?

I'm not asking these merely as rhetorical questions. I think there is a lesson here in how identity-based conflicts work. If one were to read through the comment threads that I have linked, one will find that most commentators fit into one of three categories: those condemning the violence, those who believe that these conversions are largely the result of financial inducements (some of whom, it must be said, are against the violence), and those who believe that conversion of any sort is wrong and should be stopped immediately.

(I will not address arguments based on demographic paranoia. I think most people have enough sense to see through them)

Of second category, I have this to say: most of them are actually from the third category, but are intelligent enough to see that no rational arguments can be offered against legitimate religious conversion. Hence, the idea that most of these conversions are "tricked" holds great appeal - you can offer a seemingly rational argument that also lets you be "loyal" to your group. I am not saying that this is a conscious thought process. But this is something that most people are susceptible to.

I think we might underestimate the proportion of Hindus who feel that religious conversion of any sort is wrong. These people are not necessarily fundamentalists. Most of them do not hold that Islam and Christianity are faiths alien to India, or that India is an essentially Hindu nation (although one may find both these opinions frequently enough on the internet).

They reason they are angry, I think, is that they see conversion as an attack on Hinduism. Conversion may be seen as an attack in two senses: one, it propagates the idea that Hinduism is an untrue religion, and two, because it reduces the number of Hindus   causes Hindus to "defect" from "their group" and hence be "disloyal". Both are, of course, ridiculous reasons to oppose conversion. But I think it is by and large true that they lie at the root of the anger over conversion.

In which I'm a meanie

I have this terrible habit. I procrastinate. No, wait, that's not accurate. My terrible habit is this: I procrastinate, and when I procrastinate, I go through old posts on my friends' journals. Today, It was rythm's turn. And guess what I found? Ladies and gentleman, I present a writer (who btw, is not rythm). He is quite a writer, this fellow. Excerpts from a most brilliant work of art of his:

Road was empty and there was no one around

When the road is empty noooo.... the no one will never be the around only. Only the that you understand.

A lovely breeze was blowing...

Yes, lovely breezes do blow.

Boo boo booCollapse )
If this doesn't make your head spin, go through the comments section.

You know, I'd have let this go, but this guy actually *wants* to be a writer.

Because I must link

Lazy post

Kapil Sibal writes crappy poetry. Please shut up, minister.

Barkha Dutt, a St Stephens alumnus, laments reservations for Christians in the institute. I can't believe this is even legal. 

Blasphemy no more?

Swaminathan S Anklesaria Aiyar's view on Kashmir most closely resembles my own. Honestly, I did not think a day would come so soon when I would see such an editorial in a mainstream newspaper. I do not like the idea of Kashmiri independence (because I think it would be better for both us and them to remain together), but I support a people's right to self-determination. But I wonder what effect independence would have on Hindu nationalism in India, and am certain that it would make Kashmir more theocratic.

ETA: This reminds me a little bit of what the Dalai lama had to say about Tibetan independence from China. He said in an interview that if Tibet were to become independent, it would still have China for a neighbour, and would need to have a friendly relationship with China. Which is why he wants the freedom struggle to be non-violent. I think there is a lesson for Kashmir here. If Kashmiris choose independence (if and when they are given the choice), it would be best for them to convince the Indian people first of the justness of their cause. You might even say that they could not achieve independence without doing that. The anger and irrationality they have displayed over the Shrine land row is not helping their cause.

ETA2: dubaiwalla points out Vir Sanghvi agrees with Swami.


  • Bangalore colleges ban "Ghajini" hairdo. The reason? The only excuse I've heard is that students might find it distracting. Actually, that makes sense. I had a professor in college. He had a very strange bald spot on the back of his head, with further black spots within the bald spot. Whenever he had his back to us, I could not concentrate on what he was saying. The bald spot was so.... fascinating.
  • More silly news: Indian women are turned on by desi Viagra.
  • Gujarat plans laptops for schoolchildren for Rs.1200 apiece. If this works, wow, just wow.
  • In more might-be-good-news-if-it-works-out, progress on an anti-AIDS vaccine.
  • Identity-wankery update: activists demanding "classical status" for the Kannada language delay trains to Tamil Nadu . Weird does not begin to describe it.
  • ABVP threatens to attack Bangladeshi immigrants if they don't leave. Wanking the wrong dick, maybe? Poor immigrants don't piss that many people off, AFAIK. Not yet, anyway.
  • And finally, most of you have probably heard of this but here goes: health minister Ramadoss says India's homophobic laws should go.This was a couple of days back, and the reaction to the normally controversial minister's statements have been... non-existent. I don't understand. When this movie released, RSS & Co were angry. Yet, although what the minister proposes is much more radical than some soft-pornographic film supposedly about homosexuality, there hasn't been a whimper. Explanations?
ETA: India's wins its first ever individual Olympic gold. I wonder how big the overreaction will be. Here's a little Orwell to help put things in perspective. 

On Mondays, I try to think

Orwell was not a socialist, says someone.

Boys and girls, will you please make fun of that for me?

Also, I've been wondering: a free media is essential to making democracy work. So...

1) How free can the media be under a socialist system? If the government does everything then it must also report the news.....

2) What does capitalism do to the media?

The nature of the beast

George Orwell on Antisemitism in England:

above a certain intellectual level people are ashamed of being antisemitic and are careful to draw a distinction between “antisemitism” and “disliking Jews”. The other is that antisemitism is an irrational thing. The Jews are accused of specific offences (for instance, bad behaviour in food queues) which the person speaking feels strongly about, but it is obvious that these accusations merely rationalise some deep-rooted prejudice

These people always say (as Hitler says in MEIN KAMPF) that they started out with no anti-Jewish prejudice but were driven into their present position by mere observation of the facts.

Thanks to Hitler, therefore, you had a situation in which the press was in effect censored in favour of the Jews while in private antisemitism was on the up-grade, even, to some extent, among sensitive and intelligent people.

There is more antisemitism in England than we care to admit

A Jew, for example, would not be antisemitic: but then many Zionist Jews seem to me to be merely antisemites turned upside-down, just as many Indians and Negroes display the normal colour prejudices in an inverted form. The point is that something, some psychological vitamin, is lacking in modern civilisation, and as a result we are all more or less subject to this lunacy of believing that whole races or nations are mysteriously good or mysteriously evil.

Remind you of anything?

On Orwellian habits

From Why I write:

But side by side with all this, for fifteen years or more, I was carrying out a literary exercise of a quite different kind: this was the making up of a continuous ‘story’ about myself, a sort of diary existing only in the mind. I believe this is a common habit of children and adolescents. As a very small child I used to imagine that I was, say, Robin Hood, and picture myself as the hero of thrilling adventures, but quite soon my ‘story’ ceased to be narcissistic in a crude way and became more and more a mere description of what I was doing and the things I saw. For minutes at a time this kind of thing would be running through my head: ‘He pushed the door open and entered the room. A yellow beam of sunlight, filtering through the muslin curtains, slanted on to the table, where a match-box, half-open, lay beside the inkpot. With his right hand in his pocket he moved across to the window. Down in the street a tortoiseshell cat was chasing a dead leaf’, etc. etc.

I used to do this when I first began to read R K Narayan, and had first wanted to write. I must have been thirteen or fourteen at the time. It's a habit I know longer have. Maybe that's the reason I've dried up.

ETA: I should probably point out that in my case at least, this habit was uncontrollable. So one can't cultivate it consciously. I've tried. It hasn't worked. Perhaps some part of your brain has to *really* want to write.


Phani V K

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