Book:Ayodhya and After by Koenraad Elst

Posted on August 5, 2010


Ayodhya and After:
Issues Before Hindu Society

by Koenraad Elst

(New Delhi: Voice of India publication;
The complete text of this book
can be accessed at

Reviewed by Ramesh N. Rao

[Editor’s intro: Ramesh N. Rao
is an associate professor of Communication at Truman
State University, Missouri, and serves on the Consultative Committee on Indic Traditions and Conflict Management at Columbia University. He worked as a copy editor at The Hindu
and completed a Ph.D. in Communication at Michigan
State University.” — c.j.s. wallia]

Koenraad Elst was born in 1959 in Leuven, Belgium. He graduated in Chinese Studies, Indo-Iranian studies, and philosophy at the famed Catholic University in Leuven. He also studied Indian philosophy at the Banaras Hindu University. He has written, in English, on the Ayodhya issue and the modern socio-political issues in India. He has also written on language policy issues, contemporary politics, history of science, and Oriental philosophies in Dutch.

Elst begins this book by saying, “I am not a Hindu. And I am certainly not a Muslim. So, when I started writing my earlier book Ram Janmabhoomi vs. Babri Masjid, a Case Study in Hindu-Muslim Conflict, in the spring of 1990, I was an outsider to this conflict between Hindus and Muslims. But as I ventured deeper into the unique configuration of forces now existing in India, I saw that this was not a conflict between just any two communities. It is not just a struggle between one self-interest andanother self-interest. It is a struggle between very unequal contenders,with very unequal motives for waging this struggle at all.”

This book is ambitious in scope, pungent in its criticisms, and clearly pro-Hindu, in the sense that it is a call for the resurgence of Sanatana Dharma. It is pungent, even vitriolic in its criticisms of the left/pseudo-secular combine in India that Elst feels is more to blame than the”Islamic communal leaders” for the present day conflicts, for the lack ofself-confidence among Hindus, and for the confusion that prevails in India.

In the first chapter, Elst argues that the historicity of the Rama Temple in Ayodhya can be established by weighing the variety of materials available to scholars. He posits that while Hindus did worship at the Janmabhoomi site prior to 1528, the ancient history of the temple is not what he is concerned with as much as the fact that Hindus have a genuine tradition of worshiping at that site, and therefore the place, like other sacred places, merits respect. Was the temple destroyed and a mosque constructed over it by Babar in 1528, or by Mohammed Ghori in 1194, or by any other Muslim king in between the two dates? Elst considers the point moot. He says that there is archaeological evidence to prove the existence of a Hindu temple at least since the eleventh century. The work done by prominent archaeologists like B.B. Lal supports Elst’s thesis.

In the second chapter he draws an analogy between the Jerusalem Temple Mount controversy and the Ayodhya controversy and draws up the followinglist of dis-similarities: one, in Jewish theology there is a belief thatonly the Messiah, when he comes, should rebuild the Temple. No such beliefis involved in Ayodhya. Two, in Jerusalem the disputed area is a sacred place to both religions involved, whereas in Ayodhya, the Muslims have never attached religious significance to the site. Third, in Jerusalem, it is the Muslims who have been worshipping at the Temple and the Jews whowant to claim it, while in Ayodhya, it is the Hindus who have been worshipping and who are also claiming the site.

Chapters 3 to 7 lay the foundation for the rest of the book. Chapter 3 deals with history, Indian history that modern, ideologically inclined scholars have given their peculiar twist to; the next two chapters deal with the complex issue of how the Indian courts have approached the Ram Janmabhoomi controversy. And chapter 7 deals with Muslim communalists and the support that they get from both “vote-bank” politicians, interested in short-term gains, and those others who have an ideological agenda.

Summarizing all of the detailed arguments and the careful substantiation that Elst provides is difficult to do briefly, so I will go to one of the chapters that I consider seminal to the book, and that is chapter 14, which he titles “Hindu Fascism.” In that chapter Elst brings to bear the kind of clear-eyed and straightforward analysis, free of jargon, free of grand theorizing, and free from the kind of convoluted and obfuscating mental gymnastics that the “progressive scholars” love to exhibit. Every grand pronouncement or fatuous claim or easy take on Indian politics and Hinduphilosophy and culture is exposed for what they are.The likes of M.J. Akbar, Abu Abraham, and Prem Shankar Jha, who hog English media space in India and mostly get away with their pontifications with rarely an eye-brow raised don’t get away that easily here. Let me give an example: Abu Abraham, writing in the Times of India, on 10 December, 1990 says: “The obverse side of the coin of ‘minorityism’ is that the majority is held to be the victim of discrimination by the state.To indulge the minorities is automatically to discriminate against the majority. On the other hand, ‘majoritarianism’ cannot, in this scheme, entail discrimination against the minorities because, unlike minorityism, which is an unnatural distortion, majoritarianism is natural and healthy.” Elst points out that “majoritarianism” is not a Hindu “scheme” as much as a devil-term and a straw-man constructed by the “progressives” and pseudo-secularists simply to confuse the valid and accepted rule of law–the majority gets to make policy, or those who get a majority of the votes get to govern. Also, “indulging the minorities” automatically means discriminating against the majority. The case in point that Elst highlights is that of Article 30 which allows minorities to open subsidized schools whereas the majority is denied it.

With well-chosen analogies, carefully considered examples, and clearly argued points Elst takes on all comers. He is not afraid to point out some of the weaknesses of the RSS/Hindutva stances. He is right to point out the anti-intellectual trend in the RSS (till recently) that made it easy prey for those, especially good in the use of Marxist philosophy and the English language, to beat them up and bruise them in the media and in academe. He questions the allegiance to a “land” (India) and how that might weaken the “real” Hindu philosophy/value system that is the Sanatana Dharma. He criticizes Veer Savarkar for his call to Hindus to eat beef and for his mistaken belief that eating meat would “strengthen” Hindu resolve.The RSS and the VHP clearly would argue with Elst about the importance of pitrubhumi (fatherland) and how a person is Hindu only if s/he accepts India’s a divine or holy land (punyabhumi).

The book suffers somewhat from poor proofreading: locutions such as “unrespectful,” “unsecular,” and the lack of distinction between “economic system” and “economical system.” One of the things that the clever, sophisticated left-leaning media and scholars gloat over is the rather poor command over English that the Hindutva brigade exhibit. Anyway, despite some of the carelessness in language use and the uneven copyediting, the book does not suffer seriously in its ability to convey its message. I recommend this book highly for anyone whowants to understand the dynamics in modern India. Elst, an “outsider” has done a better job than any “insider” in challenging the “official” versionsof history and the politically correct rendering of events and issues inmodern India.

Now, to see how Elst has been “received” by his detractors I will reproduce the complete text from a web-site of a student group at the University of Wisconsin, Madison. The group, Chingari, claims to be a group “committed to promoting a progressive agenda on issues of concern to South Asians such as gender equality, secularism, and freedom of expression.”

Following is the text of their message and my comments.

Chingari: “We, the members of Chingari, are dismayed and outraged that Koenraad Elst is being taken seriously as a scholar at the upcoming University of Wisconsin South Asian Studies conference. As members of a politically progressive collective, we are wholly committed to individual freedom of expression, no matter how repugnant one may find the ideas expressed. We also recognize that a free discussion of conflicting viewpoints is a healthy and necessary part of any academic conference.”

Ramesh: Serious scholarship is deemed capable only by people whoseworks one likes. Serious scholarship is “theory in search of data,” i.e., the superimposing of some critical, marxist, feminist, post-modern, jargon-laden and fanciful speculation on minuscule amounts of data. All that these “progressive groups and scholars” are interested in is the spouting of theory. Their understanding of the “realities” on the ground is pitiful.

Chingari: “However, support of a person’s right to express their ideas is not to be confused with the obligation to extend recognition. We feel that the extremely hateful and vicious views of Koenraad Elst demand closer scrutiny than has obviously been done. Elst’s thought is deeply totalitarian. It expresses a profound contempt for humanitarian ideals. No doubt Elst is an intelligent man, and he presents his idea couched in a scholarly style. Malignant ideas with footnotes are, however, still malignant.”

Ramesh: The claim that while they are for freedom of expression and the free discussion of conflicting viewpoints some people need not be invited to address such conferences shows how these glib, fancy,”progressive” students wish to impose censorship. Let us also see what they take to be “hateful” and “vicious” ideas. When they express such ideas, or when those they like express such ideas, it is scholarship. Forexample, a Dalit “champion” that the so-called progressives would be loathe to criticize is V.T. Rajashekar who says in his book “Aggression on Indian Culture,” As the 20th century comes to an end, the Aryan imperialism must come to an end… A bloody revolution is in the offing. Don’t miss this historic opportunity.’ And Rajashekar is not a minor nut propagating his vicious hatred somewhere in the boonies. He is quoted profusely in aWashington Post article whose India correspondent claims that Rajashekar is an authentic intellectual Dalit activist. When someone they don’t like use the same words and ideas, they become “hateful” and “vicious” and “malignant”.Can such talk be benign, by any chance? What do they mean by saying that Elst’s views are “deeply totalitarian?” Remember, these “progressive” students are steeped in Marxist ideology, do not have anything negative to say about Russia or China, totalitarian systems (one recently changed) that have annihilated about many millions of their own, and without blinking an eye, they pirouette around and blame the other of being totalitarian.

Chingari: “We believe that Elst is in no need of a new forum that will help him disseminate his propaganda which would otherwise go unexpressed or unheard. Those who are interested in reading what he has to say regarding religion, history, language, and politics can easily obtain his writings, both here and in India. Published by the Voice of India, Elst’s books are marketed by the Hindu right-wing and are available at bookstores throughout India. The University of Wisconsin Memorial library carries four of his publications, as do many other university libraries in this country. We in fact encourage interested people to read his books — it is only by being informed about what people like Elst have to say that those interested in building a democratic, tolerant, and violence-free society in South Asia and elsewhere can be truly effective in response. ‘”

Ramesh: These students don’t want to give Elst a hearing. They are afraid that if he does get to speak, he might come across as a scholar who has indeed done his homework, a scholar who has collected data and is not merely parroting fancy theory, and as someone seriously and effectively able to question the “given wisdom” of the “progressive scholars.” Their gratuitous use of the term “Hindu right-wing” to describe people who do not belong to their camp (the camp that now labels itself “progressive” instead of taking on the opposite of “right wing,” i.e., “left wing”) shows how quickly and easily these people use the tactics of demonizing and caricaturing, which they, most of all, should know is part of Goebbelsian and communist propaganda technique. That Elst is rejected by “mainstream” publishers under the thumb of the left is then used to blame him for havinghis publication under the “Voice of India” imprint. Finally, they succumb to the habit of painting an idyll that “democratic, tolerant, and violence-free society” which is just around the corner if only people followed the “progressive” pied-piper.

Chingari: “Below we have presented just a sampling of Elst’s writings to give a sense of the man’s ideas. But we encourage everyone interested to read his texts in their entirety, and judge for themselves whether or not Elst is an “intellectual” worth fraternizing with. “Excerpts from the Writings of Koenraad Elst:”Koenraad Elst, Ayodhya and After: Issues Before Hindu Society, Voice ofIndia, New Delhi. Chingari: “Elst’s hatred of Islam and secularists, and championing of the extreme Hindu right-wing agenda, is abundant in his writings. His wild and unsubstantiated contentions make a mockery of reasoned scholarship. Elst: “But the point is, while one cannot blame the Muslim propagandists for painting a rosy picture of the religion they try to sell,we now see ’eminent historians’ spreading this untruthful item of propaganda, in books which are required in many universities. They even lecture others and call them communalists if they don’t swallow these Islamic-cum-Nehruvian lies.” (p. 111-112)

Ramesh: Elst is absolutely right in his claim that some scholars in India have “white-washed” the Muslim invasions of India. Let me quote from one of the latest articles by Arun Shourie titled “The Policy of General Toleration'”: “Despite the pressure of a section of the orthodox theologians,” the “distinguished historian” Satish Chandra assures the Class XI student, “this policy of broad toleration was maintained duringthe Sultanate.” Really? What policy do we find narrated in the accounts ofIslamic historians of the time, in the accounts, that is, of the veryauthorities on whose books our “distinguished historians” would have toconstruct their “theses” ? What events do they celebrate ? What do thoseIslamic authorities say were the motives which impelled the rulers of thetime ? “Fortunately, the intrepid Sita Ram Goel has set out four hundred pagesof extracts and evidence from the leading Islamic historians of those days in his decisive work, Hindu Temples : What happened to them, Volume II (Voice of India, Delhi, 1993). Even a small sample from that mountain of evidence will be sufficient to indicate how much it is that our “eminenthistorians” conceal. “Sultan Alau’d-Din Mujahid Shah Bahmani (AD 1375-1378) the account inTarikh-i-Firishta, op. cit. : Vijayanagar (Karnataka): “Mujahid Shah, onthis occasion, repaired mosques which had been built by the officers ofAlla-ood-Deen Khiljy. He broke down many temples of the idolaters, and laidwaste the country; after which he hastened to Beejanuggur…. The King drove them before him, and gained the bank of a piece of water, which alone divided him from the citadel, wherein the Ray resided. Near this spot wasan eminence, on which stood a temple, covered with plates of gold andsilver, set with jewels : it was much venerated by the Hindoos, and called,in the language of the country, Puttuk. The King, considering its destruction a religious obligation ascended the hill, and having razed the edifice, became possessed of the precious metals and jewels therein….” “Sultan Ahmad Shah I Wali Bahmani (AD 1422-1435) : inTarikh-i-Firishta, op. cit. : Vijayanagar (Karnataka) : “Ahmud Shah,without waiting to besiege the Hindoo capital, overran the open country;and wherever he went put to death men, women, and children, without mercy,contrary to the compact made between his uncle and predecessor, MahomedShah, and the Rays of Beejanuggur. Whenever the number of slain amounted to twenty thousand, he halted three days, and made a festival celebration of the bloody event. He broke down, also, the idolatrous temples, and destroyed the colleges of the brahmins. During these operations, a body of five thousand Hindoos, urged by desperation at the destruction of their religious buildings, and at the insults offered to their deities, united in taking an oath to sacrifice their lives in an attempt to kill the King, as the author of all their sufferings….” Now, is Elst wrong in arguing that Muslim propagandists and Indian scholars in the last fifty years have tried to conceal the devastation thatmany Muslim kings wrought on India and Indians? How many of these so-called progressives visited the ruins of the Vijayanagar kingdom in Karnataka? They are afraid of doing so because the blinders that they
have put on themselves and the wool that they are trying to pull over people’s eyes may both come off!
Elst: “To sum up, the communal problem’ in India is largely the muslim problem’, or rather, the Islam problem’. Islam is communal through and through, preaching a total abyss between its own community members andthe rest of humanity. So, very generally, the cause of communal riots isIslam. The cure is Sanatana Dharma.” (p. 194) “…Islam has to be put ideologically on the defensive….in thepublic arena, and within non- Muslim communities, there Islam shoulddefinitely be put on the defensive.” (p. 243)

Ramesh: Bill Clinton may proclaim at the United Nations, as he did onSeptember 21st, 1998 that Islam is a great religion, and that the anti-terrorist measures that the U.S. has taken is not aimed againstMuslims. World politics is complex, and I am not going to try and unravel it here; but let me say that Bill Clinton was in his usual public relations mode when he said what he said. It may also be interesting to recall what Naipaul said about Marxism. To paraphrase, he said that he had less problems with Marxism as he did with Marxists and the Marxists’ lack of respect for human life. May we say the same about the Muslim invaders who devastated India? And why should Elst be blamed for the selective pussy-footing of “progressive” scholars? One may, if one belongs to the”progressive” camp say that the Muslim invasions and depredations are of old vintage, and that it is hateful to bring them up now as we get ready tousher in a new millennium. But how do we then explain the three wars withPakistan in the last fifty years? How do we explain the driving out of Kashmir of 200,000 Pandits, and the killing, raping, and destruction ofproperty of Hindus that have taken place there in the last 15 years? The study of Islam and the effects of the propagation of Islam should be done objectively and critically. It is no use trading emotional language. The “progressive” students’ selective quoting of text lifted out of context does make them propagandists, not progressives. Elst: “Pride in being Indian means, for 99%, pride in Hinduism (unless you are a secularist distorter and consider the Islamic invaders’ avowed objective of destroying Hindu culture also as “culture” and as “Indian”).So, this legitimate pride has to be nourished with broad and in-depth knowledge of Hindu culture. The two enemies of this effort are the pseudo-secularist morbidity that glorifies the destroyers of Hindu culture, and discourages its study altogether…” (p. 356)

Let me summarize some of the activities and papers at the South Asian Conference in Madison last November. From November 5th throughthe 7th , 1997 the University of Wisconsin hosted the Annual Conference on South Asia. Two panels and a variety of individual presentations were devoted to “Hindu Nationalism.” Lisa McKean of the University of Sydney argued that the Vishwa Hindu Parishad of America is a “fascist”organization which remits funds to its illegal sister organization in India. She described the VHP-sponsored groups in the U.S. as “front organizations” for a larger fascist cause. She also accused the late Swami Chinmayananda of initiating unwanted physical contact with women, including herself, and called him a “master manipulator.” She termed the monthly magazine, Hinduism Today, as a front paper supporting militant activities.To cap it all, she said that Hindus moving into professional positions as”infiltrators” working for the cause of Hindu fundamentalism. She was praised at the conference as a “bright, young, progressive scholar” and one of the “progressive secularists” at the conference even suggested that universities should perhaps ban the Hindu Students Council of America. At the same conference, one Indian “secularist” suggested that India was an artificial entity which “…requires fascism to maintain its existence.” Yet another referred to the “dirty communal imprint” that Hindus leave on Indian society, and that the Hindu Sangram Parishad’s efforts in India to spread Sanskrit constituted “militant activity.” True to the”progressives” love of the “other,” and hatred of oneself, the Ramayana andthe Mahabharata were referred to as “communalist, oppressive, and inspirational to fascists.” The Conference organizers allowed the”Overseas Friends of India” of Shrewsbury, Massachusetts to have a booth at the conference venue. This group believes and proclaims that Hinduism is”unrivalled in sheer bigotry and intolerance,” that Hindus plan pogroms of minorities and are guilty of having “banished Buddhism” and having “forced Jainism into a sect of Hinduism.” They also proclaimed that rape is the normal response of a Hindu male to a “minority” woman; that Harijans werenot Hindus; that Harijans are not allowed to convert to Christianity or Islam; and that the lack of availability of beef in India is the “denial of protein to a poor population”. So, is Elst wrong in exhorting Hindus to be proud of their heritage? Is he making false accusations against these”secularists” and “progressive scholars.”

Chingari: “Elst titles a section Islam and Nazism’ to make the preposterous and unfounded claim of ideological similarity between Islam and Nazism.
Elst: “It may sound shocking to some people that I have compared the Hindu-Muslim relations with the Jewish-German relations of the Nazi period. While in Israel you get to hear more comparisons of Muslims with Nazis, in India it may still be unfashionable…. Now, I don’t have to distort history in order to make my comparison of Islam with Nazism. In very essential characteristics, the role of Islam in Indian history is the same as the role of Nazism in German-Jewish history.” (p. 224)”

Ramesh: It is all right for progressives to label Hindus as Nazis and fascists. “Look what Hitler did with the symbol of Swastika! Is it not aHindu symbol?” This is the cry heard from many of these “progressive”students, who happen to use little snippets of Hindu lore and symbolism to besmirch Hinduism, just like the myriad Islamic and Christian organizations do all around the world. If any reader has doubts about the demonizing of Hinduism just surf the web for “progressive,” “Muslim,” and “Christian”websites.

Chingari: “The following quote targets Ashgar Ali Engineer, a well-knownl iberal Indian Muslim intellectual. Engineer has worked tirelessly towards eliminating communalism and intolerance from South Asian society and has published numerous books towards that end. The quote is particularly significant for its last sentence: “Defeat him.” In the current climate of terror against Muslim artists, intellectuals, and others by the Hindu right-wing, this intentionally vague imperative has a dangerous and threatening ring. Elst: “By no manipulation can Ashgar Ali Engineer recognize [Hindus]as ‘people of the Book’. So they are unmitigated Kafirs, and have to be given a choice between Islam and death. That is the true tradition of Islam… Until mr.[sic] Engineer rejects the Islamic division of mankindi nto Muslims and Kafirs… he is exactly as guilty of communal strife as the worst fundamentalist. Defeat him.” (p. 232) ”

Ramesh: Elst argues that the division of peoples by Muslims into Kafirs and Momins is essentially laden with conflict, and is an agenda forconversion or for elimination. He also makes the valid point that Mr.Engineer is loathe to take on the hardline Muslims because his own life then would be in danger, and he would be called an apostate for questioning one of the basic tenets in the Koran. If the “progressive” student group is so worried about the “intentionally vague imperative,” (Defeat him), Iwonder where their sensitivities are when they use the words”totalitarian,” “fascist,” etc., to label Elst. Why, what is good for the goose not good for the gander? And why can’t “defeat him” be interpreted differently? We do try to defeat our opponents in elections, in debates,in arguments, don’t we? Does it mean that we wish to exterminate the opponent? In the wild-eyed fantasy world of these wet-behind-the-ears graduate students who have little sense of history, who have little command over their own languages, who have little patience for studying their own literature and culture, a “defeat him” rhetorical flourish constitutes the end of the world! .

Chingari: ” The basic argument made by Elst in his book “Negationism” is that Muslims’ relationship to Hindus over the past 1000 or so years is closely comparable to the Nazi’s attempted genocide against the Jews. Elst attempts to claim that just like pro-Nazi “revisionists” or “negationists” who try to deny the factual history of the Holocaust, pro-Muslim “negationists” (read pseudo-secular intellectuals) systematically try to conceal what he sees as Muslims’ attempts to annihilate the Hindus. “This argument is not only a profound misrepresentation of the history of India, it also serves to radically divest the particular horror that was the Nazi-perpetrated Holocaust of its significance for human history. ”

Ramesh: The Nazi execution of millions of Jews and even many more of others in Europe is an event of recent memory, and so has powerful connotations, both real and symbolic. What happened in India, from around the year 900, has not yet been told in history books. In fact, there hasbeen a careful and well-managed conspiracy to keep the details out. Sita Ram Goel, one of those scholars who was marginalized by the”progressive/left/Muslim” cabal that ruled the Indian Council of Historial Research, has done yeoman work in unearthing and translating Muslim accounts of the devastation that Muslim kings visited upon India. That the”progressives” don’t want to read it doesn’t mean that others shouldn’t and that others cannot make certain analogies with more recent events. The easy and politically correct summaries of past history by “progressives”should be taken for what they are: an attempt to whitewash history, and to blame the victims.

Chingari: “Some quotes from the book: Elst: “It would be a bit harsh to say it before a Jewish audience, but it is nonetheless an incontrovertible fact: one of the earliest genocides has been described and ideologically motivated in their own [the Jewish]sacred Scripture…” (p. 7) “… Muslims are the most likely carriers of the Islamic disease called communalism…” (p. 43) “It is mathematically certain that Islam will disappear.” (p. 119) “It is fashionable to bracket the Hindu awakening with Hitler…, but if any religio-political movement deserves comparison with Nazism, it is definitely Islam.” (p. 143) “

Ramesh: Elst is neither prim nor shy. He wears his mind on his sleeve (to put a spin on an old cliche). He responds to the “progressive” polemics with his own. Why should he not? Why is it acceptable to call Hindus “totalitarians,” “fascists,” etc., and not to slap those labels on those who use those labels? Also, each of the quotes above can be dissected and found to contain more than mere kernels of truth. I don’t know about Islam disappearing though unless the Taliban-Iran slugfest gets real ugly! But we also need to acknowledge that for fundamental Islamists it is not Hinduism that is the main enemy. It is the West, it is technology, it is their inability to deal with the fast changes in the world, it is the questioning by “progressives” of the role of men and women in society, etc. That these “progressives” shut a blind eye to the Algerian massacres, the Taliban reversion to stone-age culture, the Iranian theocracy should all be pointers to why Elst says what he says.

Chingari: “The ideas expressed by Elst are no mere bombast without any real consequences. To take only the most recent example: according to newsreports, the famed Indian artist M.F. Husain has been singled out for attack by elements of the Hindu right-wing. Husain is an acclaimed artistof international repute. In some of his paintings he has depicted Hindu goddesses as partially nude. Claiming that this is somehow an attack on Hindu society (notwithstanding the fact of the temples of Khajurauo), Hindu right-wing spokespeople have called for a ban on Husain’s art. These proclamations have been followed by a well-organized attack by their supporters on a state museum in the city of Ahmedabad, where over two dozen of Husain’s most treasured works were destroyed. Ironically, there is a striking resemblance of this destruction of artworks to fascist attacks on Jewish art during the Nazi period.”

Ramesh: There we go! Back to the Jews and their decimation by Hitler and gang. One attack on Husain’s rather mediocre art, and it constitutes a fascist attack. A hundred thousand Hindu temples destroyed in the past,and quite a few more in Pakistan and Bangladesh and England in the recent past and they have to be forgotten for the good of communal harmony. That there are goons and buffoons in every group doesn’t make the group one of thugs and jokers. How many “goondas” did the Congress-I unleash after Indira Gandhi’s assassination on innocent Sikhs? How many gentlemen are in Laloo’s camp? Don’t the CPI and the CPM hire and use “musclemen” to get their way? Are the Muslim men who plot assassinations and local riots “educated” and”law-abiding”? The point is, the conflicts that plague India at the present have no easy fixes. To blame one group and ignore the rest is not in the best interests of the country. Next, should we see consequences only in certain writing by certain authors. Wouldn’t these “progressive” students like to see Elst’s works banned?! That’s what they are saying, but they don’t have the courage to say so explicitly. If we can make a causal connection from what is in a book and what is on television to actions taken by people, we would either have heaven on earth or hell on earth. However, life is mitigated by other causal factors, and one need not lecture the “progressive” but under-informed students about the need to do some further reading and some careful homework before jumping to the conclusions that they have jumped to.

Closepet N. Ramesh, Ph.D.
Associate Professor, Communication
Language & Literature Division
Truman State University
Kirksville, MO 63501, USA

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