Yoginder Sikand

Indian writer and academic

Yoginder Singh Sikand (born 1967) is an Indian writer and academic who has written several books on Islam-related issues in India.

QuotesEdit

  • In the fascist Hindutva imagination, the Indian Muslims are continuously reviled as Pakistani "fifth columnists," as "enemies of the nation" and so on, and their patriotism is said to be suspect. The Muslim as the menacing "other" occupies a central place in Hindutva discourse, and this has been used to legitimize large-scale anti-Muslim violence.
    • Abu-Rabi', Ibrahim, ed (2006). The Blackwell Companion to Contemporary Islamic Thought. p. 88. 

Why I gave up on social activismEdit

Why I Gave Up On 'Social Activism' By Yoginder Sikand 19 April, 2012
  • All that energy and enthusiasm that went into my contribution as a 'social activist' and in the cause of the 'Revolution' paid me well in material terms, however, though I have to say that this wasn't the only or even major reason why I was in the business of championing the 'Revolution' in the first place. I won generous scholarships to go abroad to do a Ph.D. and then two post-doctoral projects to study various aspects of 'marginalised groups' in India. I was invited to attend conferences in over two dozen countries to pontificate on the same subjects. I was appointed as a full professor in an Indian university and was paid handsomely for the articles and books that I continued to churn out, machine-like, all about the 'oppressed'. In addition, I was assigned projects by several NGOs to study the 'oppressed', for which I was well rewarded financially. Although I have to say that I did not quite intend this to begin with, writing and conferencing about the 'oppressed' soon turned into a lucrative source of livelihood for me. I was actually, and quite literally, living off the misery of the 'oppressed', although I did not fully realise it then.
  • But all that came with a heavy personal price. The more I identified with the 'Revolution' of the 'oppressed', the more unbearably negative I became as a person.
  • There was nothing at all good in Hindu traditions or in America or in Capitalist Modernity, for instance, I convinced myself, for I was hooked onto the 'progressive' and 'radical' rhetoric that 'upper' caste Hindus in general (including most of my own family!) and almost every single American was complicit in perpetuating 'oppression'.
  • Negativism, then, was a defining feature of being 'progressive', and that's what I began to revel in. But such negativism was almost entirely one-sided in 'activist' circles, for to be counted as a 'real' 'social activist' it was simply unthinkable that the 'oppressed' could be faulted for almost anything at all. For a 'social activist' to even mention, leave alone condemn, the foibles of the 'oppressed communities'--gender injustice or caste rivalries among Dalits or the obscurantism and misogyny preached in many Muslim madrasas or the terror attacks and killings of innocents by Naxalites and radical Islamists--was tantamount to nothing less than treason. Reports about such matters were generally dismissed as 'malicious ruling-class propaganda' or 'malicious Brahminical brainwashing' or even as an 'understandable reaction of vulnerable minority communities to ruling caste/class/imperialist oppression'. Sometimes, if these were grudgingly admitted to be true, they were sought to be passed over in silence in order to 'respect the sensibilities of the oppressed' or as 'minor contradictions' that ought not to be addressed on the grounds that it would allegedly 'divide' the oppressed, 'sabotage' the struggle against 'oppression' and thereby 'play into the hands of the real opressors'. If you only just pointed out that there were serious faults in the madrasas that needed to be urgently addressed (even for the sake of the Muslim children who studied therein) or that Muslim Personal Law was seriously biased against Muslim women or that many Dalits who had taken advantage of the system of protective discrimination behaved with fellow Dalits almost as shabbily as did their 'upper' caste Hindu 'oppressors', you were sure to be shouted down as a 'government agent' or a 'paid stooge of Hindutva forces', not only by fellow 'progressives' but also by a whole host of voices among the communities whom you had spent years trying to defend and promote. If you even so much as mildly hinted that the conditions of Muslims in India weren't half as bad as sections of the Urdu media wanted people to believe or that the Muslims in this country had much more freedom than in any Muslim-majority state or that untouchability was no longer as rampant as it once was in some parts, you were bound to be accused of betrayal and your motives were rumoured to be entirely suspect. If you acknowledged that probably less Muslims were killed by Hindus in riots in India every year than the number of fellow Muslims slaughtered by their co-religionists in the 'Islamic' Republic of Pakistan or in God-forsaken Afghanistan or that the plight of religious minorities in many Muslim countries, particularly those ruled by theocratic regimes, was much worse than in India or that some Dalit officials were neck-deep in corruption, you were bound to be hollered at for allegedly being a 'traitor' to 'The Cause' of the 'oppressed'. The very same folks who egged you on to write about their problems and to take the Hindutva beast by its horns (for they were either too scared to do it themselves or didn't have the same writing skills or the same access to the English media) would shrilly denounce you as an 'agent' of this or the other 'power' if, in your quest to be honest and balanced, you pointed out even some of the mildest of their faults. It was as if by definition the 'oppressed' were spotless angels who could do no wrong and their 'oppressors' wholly and incorrigibly demonic.
  • The very same folks who egged you on to write about their problems and to take the Hindutva beast by its horns (for they were either too scared to do it themselves or didn't have the same writing skills or the same access to the English media) would shrilly denounce you as an 'agent' of this or the other 'power' if, in your quest to be honest and balanced, you pointed out even some of the mildest of their faults. It was as if by definition the 'oppressed' were spotless angels who could do no wrong and their 'oppressors' wholly and incorrigibly demonic.

External linksEdit

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