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[OPIRG-EVENTS] (Dec3,2002) Indian Secularism Under Trial [Lecture]

** Indian Secularism Under Trial: with Sidharth Bhatia
Tuesday, December 3, 2002
12:00 PM to 2:00 PM

Sidharth Bhatia is a Toronto-based columnist for Indian and international newspapers; a television producer, filmmaker, teacher and Associate Press Fellow at Cambridge University, U.K. He will discuss the following issues:

* What are the reasons behind the emergence of militant Hindu chauvinism?
* From whom does militant Hinduism get support?
* What are the implications for a secular, democratic India if militant Hinduism is not checked?

Background: Sectarian riots in the western Indian state of Gujarat claimed hundreds of lives in early 2002. Following an incident in which 59 Hindus, including women and children, were burnt to death in a train compartment, Hindu mobs sought revenge, selectively targeting Muslim homes and commercial establishments. Most of the people killed in the upsurge of violence that followed were Muslim. Commentators have called the riots pogroms and even ethnic genocide.

Communal riots are not new to India, but the Gujarat riots were different due to:

* The clinical nature of the killings and the systematic selection of targets, a relatively new phenomenon.
* The Hindu rioters included people from comfortable, middle-class backgrounds.
* Most important of all, the state, instead of guaranteeing the security of Muslim and Hindu citizens alike, actively sided with the Hindu rioters and allowed the killing of the Muslims to go on unchecked.

The Gujarat violence therefore needs to be analyzed within the framework of a larger socio-political context: the emergence of militant Hinduism in India. Extremism by the majority is dangerous in any multicultural society. In a diverse country such as India, an extremist majority puts at risk social harmony, the stability of the state and democratic and secular values.

Second Floor Board Room
* 200, 1 Nicholas Street
Ottawa, Ontario, Canada
K1N 7B7
No pets or animals allowed.
No smoking.
Wheelchair accessible.

Cost: free
Ages: all-ages
Languages: English, Hindi
No childcare available.
No pets or animals allowed.
No sign-language interpretation is provided.
No smoking.
Wheelchair accessible.

* Veena Gokhale
Phone: (613) 241-1333 ext. 221
Phone: (613) 241-1333 ext. 229
Fax: (613) 241-1129
E-mail: vgokhale@sapcanada.org

* South Asia Partnership Canada: SAP
Website: <http://www.sapcanada.org/>

(Event: Lecture; Politics and Democracy)

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