Christophe Jaffrelot

French political scientist (born 1964)

Christophe Jaffrelot (born 12 February 1964) is a French political scientist specialising in South Asia, particularly India and Pakistan.

Christophe Jaffrelot


  • In other words, Indian Muslims did not aim to blend into an Indian nation, but to fight within the Indian context alongside other communities to achieve the right to live freely, that is, following the rules of their religion and law (the sharia). Peter Hardy concluded from this, “In 1920–2 Abdul Kalam Azad and the Jamiyat were advocating the mental partition of India”.
    • The Pakistan Paradox: Instability and Resilience,translator=Cynthia Schoch ,Oxford University Press 2015
  • Spokesmen for the Muslim elite invited the British to weigh quantitative criteria against qualitative aspects that could only argue in favour of the heirs to the Mughal Empire. This rhetoric in defence of Muslims was coupled with a sort of thinly veiled threat: not only were the Muslims superior in quality and heirs to a rich history, but they also wielded an influence that they could use against the British if necessary.
    • Jaffrelot, Christophe. The Pakistan Paradox (p. 41). Oxford University Press
  • Violence broke out on 27 February in Godhra, a district headquarters in eastern Gujarat. Fifty-seven Hindus were killed, including 25 women and 14 children, who were burned alive aboard the Sabarmati Express...
    Those who were originally from Gujarat and were returning home aboard the Sabarmati Express had gathered together in a few coaches. They chanted Hindu nationalist songs and slogans throughout the entire voyage, all the while harassing Muslim passengers. One family was even made to get off the train for refusing to utter the kar sevaks' war cry: “Jai Shri Ram!” (Glory to Lord Ram!). More abuse occurred at the stop in Godhra: a Muslim shopkeeper was also ordered to shout “Jai Shri Ram!” He refused, and was assaulted until the kar sevaks turned on a Muslim woman with her two daughters. One of them was forced to board the train before it started going again...
    The anti-Hindu riot was thus a reaction to provocation from Hindu nationalist activists. The aftermath of the events clearly showed that the violence reached unprecedented proportions precisely because of the political strategy these Hindu nationalists employ.
    • Christophe Jaffrelot describing the Godhra train burning attack
    • Communal Riots in Gujarat: The State at Risk? July 2003. HEIDELBERG PAPERS IN SOUTH ASIAN AND COMPARATIVE POLITICS.
  • In 1924 the Dalits of Vaikham in the state of Travancore launched a satyagraha to gain access to a local temple, or at least to use the road adjacent to the temple. Gandhi supported this mobilisation and went to Vaikham, but his dialogue with the local priests did not bear fruit. The latter rejected all his compromise proposals and their arguments prompted him to re-examine his position about Untouchability . . . He lost interest in the Vaikham movement and in various public meetings later declared himself to be a sanatanist, that is a follower of the Sanatana Dharma, the ‘eternal religion’ according to the orthodox Hindus.
    • quoted from Malhotra, R., Nīlakantan, A. (2011). Breaking India: Western interventions in Dravidian and Dalit faultlines
  • For Phule, Jesus Christ epitomises equality and fraternity. He also regards him as the spokesman for the poor. . . . Through the vernacularisation of Christian values and symbols, Phule endowed people with a new, positive identity.
    • Commenting about Jotiba Govindrao Phule. quoted from Malhotra, R., Nīlakantan, A. (2011). Breaking India: Western interventions in Dravidian and Dalit faultlines
  • Jobless plebeians joined Bajrang Dal and other similar lumpen organisations and started to get a sense of identity by fighting for the cow.
    • Mahaprashasta, Ajoy Ashirwad. 2020. Not Hindu Nationalism, But Society That Has Changed’: Christophe Jaffrelot. 25 January. Accessed May 15, 2022. Interview in TheWire. also quoted in Malhotra, R. & Viswanathan V. (2022). Snakes in the Ganga : Breaking India 2.0.
  • The Hindutva of Savarkar was conceived primarily as an ethnic community possessing a territory and sharing the same racial and cultural characteristics, three attributes which stemmed from the mythical reconstruction of the Vedic Golden Age.

Quotes about Christophe Jaffrelot

  • During that period, the French scholar Christophe Jafferlot was instrumental in providing significant amounts of atrocity literature about the 2002 Gujarat riots, which then flooded the Western media.
    • S. Balakrishna, Seventy years of secularism. 2018.
  • The French researcher Christophe Jaffrelot, who is one of those experts who have uncritically swallowed quite a bit of secularist lore about the Hindu movement from their Indian guides, is very popular in Indian secularist circles. [...] Christophe Jaffrelot is also one of several French India-watchers who have exerted pressure on the French daily Le Figaro to fire its (allegedly pro-Hindu) India correspondent Francois Gautier.. This stamps him a fine member of the select club of opinion hegemons who prefer to enforce their hegemony by silencing dissidents rather than facing them in debate.
    • Elst, K. (2010). The saffron swastika: The notion of "Hindu fascism". I.108, 298.
  • Jaffrelot consistently portrays Hinduism and Hindu social leaders, including Mahatma Gandhi, as caste-biased. Gandhi is portrayed as someone who compromised himself in his fight against untouchability and backtracked to an orthodox Hindu identity. .... Jaffrelot measures the positive qualities of any social reformer by how much he distanced himself from Hindu society. ...While Jaffrelot resorts to convoluted ways to invent racism in the Hindu polity, he develops a blind eye to the racism prevalent in the forging of Dravidian identity.. He eulogizes E.V. Ramasami as an ‘egalitarian in a western individualist vein’. Jaffrelot completely glosses over the fact that Kudi Arasu , the official journal of Ramasami's movement, praises Hitler explicitly and draws parallels between Jews and Brahmins.... He praises the racist Afro-Dravidianism of Periyar as ‘an explicitly ethnic conception of the low castes’ identity'. He compares their situation to that of the blacks in South Africa.
    • Malhotra, R., Nīlakantan, A. (2011). Breaking India: Western interventions in Dravidian and Dalit faultlines
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