Hindu dharma is implicitly at odds with monotheistic intolerance. What is happening in India is a new historical awakening... Indian intellectuals, who want to be secure in their liberal beliefs, may not understand what is going on. But every other Indian knows precisely what is happening: deep down he knows that a larger response is emerging even if at times this response appears in his eyes to be threatening.

Wednesday, December 26, 2007

A Malay(s) in Asia

Sandeep Sharma
Hindu Voice UK, August 2007

Often touted as the model of a modern Islamic state many were surprised at the recent upsurge of Hindu protests in Malaysia. A nation with a ten per cent Indian population and thirty percent ethnic Chinese after all could hardly afford to be perceived as biased, or so I thought.

The sight of thousand of Hindus under the energetic leadership of the HINDRAF (Hindu Rights Action Force) carrying placards bearing the pictures of the apostle of non violence, Mahatma Gandhi and proudly waving the Malaysian national flag were mercilessly subjected to water cannon and tear gas by an unrelenting police and army. Worse still was to follow as the leaders of the HINDRAF were either thrown abruptly into jail whilst others fled underground to escape state repression. A few days later murder charges were thrown against 31 Hindus taking shelter in an ancient Hindu temple from the attacks of the police.

A shocked Indian government suddenly was locked in a war of words with Malaysian ministers at the apparent outpouring of hate against the Hindus of Malaysia.

What has gone wrong?

When examining the requests of the Indian minority I was gently surprised to note that they talked of equal rights in the voting system of an equitable business structure not constitutionally favouring a certain ethnic/religious group. The whole issue revolved around a predominantly working class and economically and socially marginalised community stepping into the modern world and demanding to be treated with equality and respect in the community of modern man.

For the first time I had seen Hindus operating outside of the Indian subcontinent so vociferously demanding their basic human rights. I had almost become accustomed to see Indian people accepting their lot as despised minorities in countries such as Fiji operating a constitutional apartheid against Hindus or being deported en masse from East Africa with hardly a whimper from the world community. Instead all we hear are glowing tales of millionaire Non Resident Indians making goods in the west and leaping from success to economic success without taking into account the millions toiling and working hard from the islands of Fiji to Malaysia to South Africa and on to the West Indies.

The Malaysian government is torn between the demands of resurgent Islam which cannot tolerate the existence of a Hindu minority struggling for equal rights as witnessed by some of the more wild statements emanating from their ministers talking of the protesters as ‘terrorists’ and ‘traitors’

The Hindus have a history in Malaysia from the conquering expeditions of the great king Rajendra Chola and more recently as indentured labourers arriving almost 150 years ago. They have contributed to the tapestry that makes up today’s Malaysian society and as they progress are entitled to an equal share of the pie for themselves and for their children. Human rights cannot be selectively applied and if Malaysia is truly to become the model of a tolerant Islamic country then the powers that be need to indulge in some serious introspection to decide in which direction they wish to take their nation state. The choice lies between a tolerant forward thinking modern society willing to take its place in the League of Nations or the spiralling and medieval society rooted in extremism and hatred the end result of which can only result in disaster.

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