Editorial for Vocabulary


Is The Hindu A Victim?

The targeting of Amarnath Yatris in Anantnag has sparked off a familiar narrative: Hindus are victims in their own land. According to this shopworn line, Hindus suffer in silence while attacks on Muslims are highlighted.From Paris to Manchester, every time Islamist terror strikes a western city , it is used to put the entire Muslim community in India on notice, even though as George Bush famously said, “India is a country which does not have a single al-Qaida member in a population of 150 million Muslims.“ The Hindu victimhood narrative which is nothing but an Islamophobic war cry against minorities, needs to be busted.

Yes, those who died in Anantnag were innocent Hindu pilgrims. Yes, their killers may have been motivated by a radicalised Islam that spurs violence. But is that enough reason to spin a comprehensive story of Hindus at the mercy of a pincer attack from Islamic zealots and liberal “Hindu haters“? Such an imagined attack is not only dangerous fantasy but also deliberate strategy to create a fear psychosis when in fact the Hindu experiences no fear from minorities and is perfectly safe and free to practice his religion in whichever manner he wants. Deliberately manufactured “insults“ like Dhoni as Krishna on a magazine cover or whipped up  rage over a few seconds of azaan or imagined slights to Hinduism in books and movies are only means to keep the pot boiling and politicise both religion and society.

Islamophobia reigns supreme, making Hindutva a mimic of extremist Islam. The fixation on the Islamic threat has meant that there are politicised Hindus now agitating for blasphemy laws, public punishment of crimes, some even issuing fatwas. Islamophobia is also growing because of perceptions of “appeasement“ of Muslims and a selective application of laws. But the special privileges sometimes granted to orthodox maulanas by short-sighted “secular“ politicians cannot now be used to demand appeasement of radical Hindutva forces who are claiming total immunity from the law.

The fact is Muslims are the worst victims of terrorism. In 2011BBC reported 82-97% of terrorism-related fatalities over the last five years were Muslims, the Shia-Sunni conflict has resulted in the Muslim brotherhood turning on itself and in Kashmir the overwhelming majority of the thousands killed in militancy have been Muslims. So who’s the victim here? Images of Muslim groups targeting Hindu shops in Bengal’s Basirhat are troubling, but equally nasty  and sinister are the fake photographs being circulated on social media designed to push a strategic campaign that Bengal has become a hub of hatred for Hindus.

Are Hindus victims in Bengal? No, they certainly are not, which is why the fake photos on social media found no resonance among the citizenry which palpably experiences no fear of Muslims. In fact, across India the Hindu experiences no fear at all from the Muslim, however relentlessly “love jihad“ campaigns are pushed by Hindutva foot soldiers. The exodus of Kashmiri Pandits was a terrible blot on Kashmir, and exposes the failures of successive governments in Srinagar. But is that reason enough to claim Hindus are under threat across the country?
The Sachar Committee report showed horrifyingly low levels of education and healthcare among Muslims, falling rate of Muslim representation in bureaucracy and police, female literacy lower than SCs and STs; it showed only one out of 25 students in undergraduate colleges and one in 50 in post graduate colleges are Muslims. If the community was “pampered“ and “appeased“ why doesn’t this show in rising incomes and education? Or are we confusing the political patronage of imams with the average Indian Muslim?
The pernicious whisper campaign that Muslims are reproducing faster than Hindus and will soon outnumber the majority is a myth as shown by the website India Spend, which reveals through figures that fertility rates are higher among poorer communities, both Hindu and Muslim, and are not based on religion.The Left and RSS outfits murdering each other in Kerala are comprised of Hindus on both sides. In fact whether it is the murders of Junaid, gau rakshaks lynching Pehlu Khan, the attack on a Muslim family in a train, or the slapping of sedition charges on those setting off crackers after an India-Pakistan cricket match, the reality is that it is Muslims who are the true victims of the narrative of muscular `nationalism’.

By contrast, who or what is victimising Hindus? Who is oppressing Hindus? At a time when Muslim political representation is at an all time low, why should Hindus feel under attack? When Hindu mythology , festivals, iconography , imagery is now the dominant culture in art, books, movies and TV shows, when a government that openly declares that it is a Hindu nationalist government rules with a big majority , why on earth should the Hindu feel as if he is cornered?
Of course, a morally bankrupt Muslim leadership has not helped the Muslim cause. Instead they have created and nurtured a grievance. Industry for votes and not taken steps to reduce the sense of Muslim separateness. Luckily , in spite of myopic political leaders, bridge builders still exist and many are toiling to maintain inter-community bridges even as the Sangh is determined to blow them up. Radical Hindus are insisting on victimhood, but the real victims of today ­ the farmer facing debt or the IT engineer facing job loss ­ are neither Hindus or Muslims, only citizens. The Hindu right should realise that a campaign based on creating fear may bring electoral benefits once, but will not work in the long run, because as far as his religion is concerned, the Hindu feels safe and unthreatened.


  1. Shopworn (Adjective) घिसापिटा : (generally used in figurative sense) (of an article) made dirty or imperfect by being displayed or handled in a store.

Synonyms: stale, faded, hackneyed, worn out, banal, trite.

Antonyms: fresh, novel, un-clichéd.

Example: The town itself is a wonderful example of a lived-in, somewhat shopworn , urban relic.

  1. Spur (verb) उकसाना/ प्रोत्साहित करना A thing that prompts or encourages someone; an incentive.

Synonyms: Stimulus, incentive, encouragement, inducement, impetus, prod, motivation, inspiration.

Antonyms: placate, calm, mollify, please.

Example: Profit was both the spur and the reward of enterprise.

  1. Zealot (noun) कट्टरपंथी/ अति उत्साही :a person who is fanatical and uncompromising in pursuit of their religious, political, or other ideals.

Synonyms: Fanatic, Enthusiast, Extremist, Radical, Diehard.

Antonyms: Conservative, Moderate.

Example: The Religious zealot vehemently opposes curiosity or concern for anyone outside their circle.

  1. Blasphemy (nounईश्वर-निंदा : The act or offense of speaking sacrilegiously about God or sacred things; profane talk.

Synonyms: profanity, profaneness, sacrilege, irreligiousness, irreverence, cursing, impiety, desecration, execration.

Antonyms: adoration, worship.

Example: After being suspected of blasphemy, Sumit was fired from his office.

  1. Nasty (Adjective) घृणास्पद/बुरा/ अरुचिकर Highly unpleasant, especially to the senses; physically nauseating.

Synonyms: unpleasant, disagreeable, disgusting, distasteful, awful, dreadful, horrible, terrible, vile, foul.

Antonyms: delightful, gentle, kind, mild, good.

Example: The weather was nasty , very, very stormy and a lot of people were seasick.

  1. Palpably (adverb) स्पष्ट रूप से noticeably or clearly.

Synonyms: clearly, evidently, manifestly, conspicuously, overtly.

Antonyms: vaguely, inconspicuously, indistinctly, unnoticeably.

Example: Because the bank was being robbed, the sense of fear among the patrons was palpable.

  1. Exodus (noun) बहिर्गमन/ प्रस्थानA mass departure of people, especially emigrants.

Synonyms: Mass departure, withdrawal, evacuation, leaving, migration, emigration, flight, escape, fleeing, hegira, hejira

Antonyms: Stay, influx, return.

Example: Because of the exodus of so many refugees from the affected areas, the town’s public shelters were filled to overflowing.

  1. Pernicious (Adjective) हानिकारक/नुक़सानदेह/ घातक Having a harmful effect, especially in a gradual or subtle way.

Synonyms: Harmful, damaging, destructive, injurious, hurtful, detrimental, deleterious, dangerous, adverse.

Antonyms: Advantageous, Assisting, Beneficial, Benevolent, Good, Harmless.

Example: This new form of protectionism has an added pernicious quality.

  1. Grievance (noun) विपत्ति/ परिवेदना : A real or imagined wrong or other cause for complaint or protest, especially unfair treatment.

Synonyms: resentment, ill-feeling, displeasure, exasperation, pique, gripe, whinge, moan, grouch.

Antonyms: Delight, Praise, Blessing, Pleasure.

Example: ‘There’s no doubt rural communities had some genuine grievances ,’ he added.

  1. Whip up(phrasal verb) उत्तेजित होना : to stimulate or to get stimulated.

Synonyms: excite, stir up, agitate, foment, instigate.

Antonyms: calm, soothe, please.

Example: The man whipped up the crowd with a few bad remarks over religion


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