Our 16 Favourites of 2015: Editors’ Picks

The following is a carefully curated list of the best essays, analyses, expositions, opinion and scholarship that was featured on IndiaFacts in 2015.

It’s two days past the new year, a fun time to make lists and look back at 2015, which seemed to zoom by and ended before we realized it. Apart from other lists at IndiaFacts, we like to think this one as an In-house Special, a carefully curated list of the best essays, analyses, expositions, opinion and scholarship that was featured on IndiaFacts in 2015. Agree or disagree with our choices? Please leave a comment to let us know.

Happy reading!

1. Responding to Mehdi Hasan – How Hindus Should Engage Their Opponents

By our regular columnist, Kalavai Venkat whose unapologetic shredding of Al Jazeera journalist and anchor Mehdi Hasan is a true delight to read.

The fundamental and most important point to remember all times is this: our enemies are not interested in a dialogue. They want to demonize Hindutva, Hinduism, and the Hindus. They want to portray Muslims and Christians as victims. A Hindu participant should either refuse to participate in such hostile programs or be prepared to confront them. I advocate the latter choice.

 

2. Heading for Politically Correct Suicide

A compelling longform by Sumedha Sarvadaman that provides both a damning indictment of political correctness surrounding Islamism and warns us about the dangers of succumbing to political correctness.

I often wonder, is it that when Obama ‘warns Americans against blaming Islam for terrorism’, he knows he has ‘no choice’? As who knows which ‘well-assimilated’ American Muslim might get ‘enraged’?

This global political correctness is suffocating and stifling millions of ordinary citizens who are steadily browbeaten into silence and cowardice. Indeed, it has long stopped being mere political correctness. It is suicidal stupidity.

3. Religious Crusades of the CIA

One of the all time blockbusters at IndiaFacts, this should occupy the top rank in the annals of stupendously well-researched pieces. Arvind Kumar is incisive, knows how to connect the dots, and…oh well, just read the damn thing!

Among the murkier chapters in the history of the Central Intelligence Agency, the attempt to destabilize societies around the world using religion warrants attention….After the creation of the CIA , Christian missionaries played a very important role in destabilizing various countries and in carrying out espionage activities on behalf of the CIA. The most recent high profile example of the US using religious missionaries as Trojan horses to cause disturbances in India was in the case of the agitation against the Kudankulam nuclear power plant.

4. Forgotten Hindus of the Champa Kingdom

Where Brannon Parker delves into the history of the global influence of Sanatana Dharma over the centuries and unearths this gem of an essay about the forgotten Hindus of Vietnam’s Champa Kingdom. Informative, illuminating and moving.

Champa was a formidible Hindu kingdom, renowned for its immense wealth and sophisticated culture. Its major port was Katti­gara. Nearly 2,000 years ago, Claudius Ptolemy wrote of Cattigara and outlined it on his map of the world. Modern scholarship has confirmed Cattigara as the forerunner of Saigon (modern day Ho Chi Minh City). Cattigara was, in fact, the main port at the mouth of the Mekong River, a name derived from Mae Nam Khong, the Mother Water Ganga.

5. Bharata Must Reclaim Aapaddharma

A lesser known upakhyana (sub-story) in the Shanti Parva of the Mahabharata teaches us extraordinary lessons in statecraft and the invaluable lesson of Aapaddharma (dharma in times of emergency or crisis) as Sandeep Balakrishna elucidates.

I desire, O grandsire, to hear of that superior intelligence aided by which a king, conversant with the scriptures and well versed with morality and profit, may not be stupefied even when surrounded by many foes. I desire to hear… about the manner in which a king should conduct himself when he is assailed by many foes. When a king falls into distress, a large number of foes, provoked by his past acts, range themselves against him and seek to vanquish him. How may, a king, weak and alone, succeed in holding up his head when he is challenged on all sides by many powerful kings leagued together? How does a king at such times make friends and foes?… With whom should he make war and with whom should he make peace?

6. Abrahamic ideology inspires extraterritorial loyalty

The venerable Manasatarangini’s original exposition that dives deep into the core of Abrahamic ideology and world history, and gives some hints as to how Hindus need to deal with such ideologies. One of the seminal pieces of its kind on the subject. A must read.

History teaches us that Islam was successful in destroying the religiously tolerant system established by the Mongols and establishing itself as the exclusive religion of many of the successor Mongols states…Thus, in the match between “secularism” (as desired by many Hindus) and Islam, the verdict clearly favored the latter.

Going entirely against “secular” positions, Hindus should limit the role of monotheists in their political, legal and administrative apparatus.  

7. Has tolerance become a curse for Sanatana Dharma?

Dr. S.R. Ramaswamy’s prescient essay on how the innate tolerance in Hinduism has become a curse for its very survival over the centuries. His range and depth of erudition shines forth in every sentence. A collector’s item.

The sole motive for concocting the Aryan Invasion Theory was to deny, refute, and despise the antiquity of Santana Bharata’s ancient culture and civilization…

Several hugely significant chapters of Indian history have been erased from our memories. It suffices to name only two. The first is the fact that the loot from the Battle of Plassey directly contributed to England’s industrialization. Secondly, the modernization of the British army was achieved only after looting the Marathas. The fact that not one textbook on Indian history mentions such substantial events and their impact on India and Indians is nothing short of amazing.

Hindus have no option but to strengthen themselves intellectually and institutionally.

8. Why Christianity poses a clear threat to India

One of the seminal pieces by IndiaFacts regular, Rakesh Simha who, in this courageous essay tells the truth about Christianity’s continuing disruption of the fabric of Indian society, and nation. It’s one of the most widely read pieces on IndiaFacts.

If you could sum up the history of Christianity in India in one word, that word would be ingratitude…Christian fundamentalists thrive on suffering and disaster. In February 2001, T. John, the Karnataka civil aviation minister and a member of the Orthodox church, described the Gujarat earthquake, which resulted in death of over 20,000 people, as “the punishment of God to the people for ill-treating Christians and minorities in the state.”

9. Rending the veil of historical negationism in India

A scholarly review of Dr. S.L. Bhyrappa’s bestselling novel, Aavarana by Bharavi. A brilliant longform, this is perhaps the only review of the book that explores the novel in such depth. A must read.

Aavarana is a literary efflorescence (detractors would like to say recrudescence) of what the likes of Sita Ram Goel, Arun Shourie and Koenraad Elst have painstakingly achieved for serious history writing over the last few decades – an exposé of the official Indian negationism of the career of Islam in India, as well as the legal censorship of all doctrinal critiques of Islam that has prevailed for most of independent India’s recent history. The denial of asylum to the Bangladeshi atheist-feminist writer Taslima Nasreen and the denial of an Indian visa to Salman Rushdie by the Indian government are merely two notable manifestations of this self-imposed censorship.

10. Historical Hindu Responses to Abrahamism

Yet another original gem from the pen of Manasatarangini. The author traces how Hindus responded to both the Abrahamisms over the millennium and concludes by citing extensively from the work of Sridhar Venkatesh Ketkar.

Hindus were among the early victims of the second Abrahamism in the holy war of Gregory in the region of Armenia, which had a Hindu colony and rulers of Hindu descent in the early part of the 300s of the Common Era…

Ketkar had been critical of Mohandas K Gandhi’s handling of the nationalist freedom movement [1]. In turn, Gandhi opposed Ketkar’s Gujarātī encyclopedia effort…

Ketkar felt that by adopting the occidental term “religion,” the Hindus were constraining themselves to the narrow bounds within which the Abrahamistic west operated. Hence, he felt that Hindus should return to their own nuanced terminology using the terms dharma, mārga, sādhana, mata sapradāya, and sādhya for which he tried to give rigorous definitions based on Hindu tradition.

11. How an Economist Wrecked the Nalanda Revival

Another all-time bestseller on IndiaFacts by Dr. S.R. Ramaswamy who systematically exposes the role of Nobel Laurete Amartya Sen in wrecking the revival project of the Nalanda University. Dr. Ramaswamy wields his pen like a surgeon’s knife: calm, controlled and precise. Excellent read.

The heart of the ancient Nalanda University lay in the study and the imparting of traditional learning in various subjects. Therefore, it caused immense public disappointment when the economist Amartya Sen, who has absolutely no knowledge of these traditional disciplines, was appointed to head the revival project.

The fact that Amartya Sen, throughout his long career, has heaped scorn on everything that is rooted in the Indian tradition, is self-evident. In this background, the widespread allegation that he has used the Nalanda revival project to further his own agenda is not baseless.

Amartya Sen has justified the inherent, barbaric violence and iconoclasm of Muslim invaders as “but this nature is in their blood.” In the same vein, Amartya Sen’s wisdom-laden thesis denies Hindus the right to avenge this unprovoked violence. Indeed, Amartya Sen grants only Muslims the right to take pride in this “nature is in their blood.”

12. The Hindu View on Food and Drink

Yet another all-time blockbuster on IndiaFacts. Shatavadhani Dr. Ganesh and Hari Ravikumar trace the Hindu view on food and drink, practices, traditions, and outlook related to food right from the Rg Vedic period up to modern times. Needless, this piece attracted controversy as well as sparked a vibrant debate.

There are more vegetarians in India than the rest of the world combined (we can get a sense from this list). There is a widespread notion that such a high level of vegetarianism is due to Hinduism…

Although animal sacrifices were prevalent in the Vedic period, there were already some attempts to reduce this. They came up with the idea that instead of killing an animal, one could offer heartfelt praise to the gods or a fuel-stick or cooked food (see RVS 8.19.5 and 8.24.20 for example).

In later times, they even developed an ingenious theory that a person who eats meat will—in his next birth—become the meat eaten by that animal (Śatapatha Brāhmaa 9.6.1.3).

13. India’s Thought Cops are Angry with Modi

This is the ultimate blockbuster at IndiaFacts. The fearless Tufail Ahmad deconstructs not only the general crop of Narendra Modi haters but blows up Pratap Bhanu Mehta’s Left-liberal thesis condemning the current Indian Prime Minister. Pure gold.

P.B. Mehta’s ideological-political base is located here: the kind of secular politics his tribe of academics and commentators supported ran the roost in the 1980s when the secular government of Prime Minister Rajiv Gandhi surrendered before India’s vocal Islamists.  

Mr. Mehta, your tribe is responsible for three historic decisions that have damaged the Indian Republic…

Equally, Mehta’s ideological-historical base can also be located here: his ideological cousins and ancestors supported the Khilafat Movement, an Islamist political enterprise supported by India’s secular politicians led by Mahatma Gandhi and the global Islamists of the era – the Ali Brothers. Along with the Aligarh movement, the Khilafat movement would lead to the division of India in 1947…

Since the Amartya Sens and P.B. Mehtas are the power brokers of India’s intellectual discourse, Sharma was speaking truth to that power, and thus his tribe felt offended at the truth being revealed in this way.

It is instructive that the culture minister was speaking in the context of renaming the Aurangzeb Road after A.P.J. Abdul Kalam who is not liked by P.B. Mehta’s clan, who instead love and defend Aurangzeb, the butcher of Hindus.

14. The Indian Tradition Of Growing And Sharing Food

India’s best known demographer and authority on Dharampal, Dr. J.K. Bajaj’s fine exposition of the Indian tradition of growing and sharing food. At several levels, it makes for sad and moving reading. A compelling and richly rewarding read.

India is hungry. For almost two hundred years, the average availability of food grains in India has remained below 200 kg per capita per year, which the British administrators considered to be the minimal requirement for staving off famines. The country, it seems, reached a state of near famine within a few decades of the coming of the British, and we have remained in that state ever since…

Indians, up to the present times, seem to have always looked upon an abundance of food as the primary condition of civilisation, and sharing of food was for us the primary discipline of civilised living. And indeed it is the discipline of civilised living that we call dharma.

15. I am Left and You are Wrong

Where Mayuresh Didolkar firebombs several citadels of Leftist discourse and tactics of bullying, smear campaign, and labelling. A great read on how to spot and tear apart Leftist argumentation.

I recently finished reading American thinker Ben Shapiro’s book “Bullies- How the Left’s culture of fear and intimidation silences America”. In this book the author has demonstrated with case after case how the unholy nexus of NGOs, media and the socialist government is usurping the fundamental rights of its own citizens in the name of political correctness and inclusiveness…

Trashing patriotism for allowing refuge to scoundrel is the same as trashing criminal justice system for promising “fair and vigorous representation to the accused…” Please remember Mr. Johnson said “last refuge” not “defining characteristic”.

If we do not recognize and highlight the ideological inconsistencies of the Leftist narrative and expose the dangers it poses to our society, we will be the first society to lose our freedom without bloodshed.

It would be the kind of coup that will make any liberal proud.

16. The Maratha Military Genius: The Battle of Palkhed

And finally, IndiaFacts resident historian-cum-reviewer par excellence, Abhinav Agarwal brings to light a crucial battle that changed the course of late-medieval Indian history, demonstrated the military genius of the Marathas and reestablished their supremacy as a pan Indian power. The author gives full vent to his narrative powers. A must read.

Aurangzeb, in his last days, had come to the realization that a military victory over the Marathas was not possible, and had been exploring on what terms to “purchase peace…”

Baji Rao’s army travelled fast, and they travelled light. If anyone was slow-moving and lumbering, it was the Nizam’s army. Second, the guerrilla tactics so famously perfected by Shivaji had neither been forgotten nor allowed to rust. Institutional memory was intact.

 

Baji Rao made up for travelling light by “living off the country.” A war had to be fought to be won, and not by constraining yourself with contrived and utopian rules of chivalry. Where compromises needed to be made, they were made. Baji Rao understood that.

IndiaFacts Staff articles, reports and guest pieces