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Religious Freedom and Mass Conversion in India
 9780812250923, 0812250923

Table of contents :
Cover
Contents
Introduction. Religious Freedom and the Right to Convert
PART I. MOBILITY
Chapter 1. Mass Movement Christians: Religious and Social Mobility
Chapter 2. Ambedkarite Buddhists: Religious and Political Mobility
Chapter 3. Mizo Jews: Religious and Spatial Mobility
PART II. IMMOBILITY
Chapter 4. Prosecution: Anticonversion Legislation
Chapter 5. Prevention: Losing Affirmative Action
Chapter 6. Persecution: The Love Jihad Rumor
Conclusion. A More Equal Freedom
Notes
Bibliography
Index
A
B
C
D
E
F
G
H
I
J
K
L
M
N
O
P
R
S
T
U
V
W
Y
Z
Acknowledgments

Citation preview

Religious Freedom and Mass Conversion in India

PENNSYLVANIA STUDIES IN HUMAN RIGHTS Bert B. Lockwood, Series Editor A complete list of books in the series is available from the publisher.

RELIGIOUS FREEDOM AND MASS CONVERSION IN INDIA

Laura Dudley Jenkins

U N I V E R S I T Y O F P E N N S Y LVA N I A P R E S S PHIL ADELPHIA

Copyright  2019 University of Pennsylvania Press All rights reserved. Except for brief quotations used for purposes of review or scholarly citation, none of this book may be reproduced in any form by any means without written permission from the publisher. Published by University of Pennsylvania Press Philadelphia, Pennsylvania 19104-4112 www.upenn.edu/pennpress Printed in the United States of America on acid-free paper 1 3 5 7 9 10 8 6 4 2 A Cataloging-in-Publication record is available from the Library of Congress ISBN 978-0-8122-5092-3

CONTENTS

Introduction. Religious Freedom and the Right to Convert

1

PART I. MOBILITY Chapter 1. Mass Movement Christians: Religious and Social Mobility

33

Chapter 2. Ambedkarite Buddhists: Religious and Political Mobility

62

Chapter 3. Mizo Jews: Religious and Spatial Mobility

97

PART II. IMMOBILITY Chapter 4. Prosecution: Anticonversion Legislation

133

Chapter 5. Prevention: Losing Affirmative Action

158

Chapter 6. Persecution: The Love Jihad Rumor

180

Conclusion. A More Equal Freedom

216

Notes Bibliography Index Acknowledgments

227 275 299 311

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INTRODUCTION

Religious Freedom and the Right to Convert

Why has religious freedom advocacy in India restricted religious freedom? How can people on both sides of contentious debates over religious conversions draw on religious freedom arguments? The right “freely to profess, practise and propagate religion” in India’s constitution is one of the most comprehensive articulations of the right to “change . . . religion or belief,” a human right included in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.1 Yet from the late colonial era to the present, mass conversions to minority religions have inflamed majority-minority relations in India and complicated the practice of this right. Currently, both defenders and critics of mass conversions in India base their arguments on the freedom of religion. While defenders (usually from religious minority communities, which include Muslims, Christians, Buddhists, and Jews) say the government should protect converts’ freedom to change religions, critics (usually from the Hindu majority community) respond that the government should protect converts’ freedom to remain in their ancestral religion. A growing number of state-level freedom-ofreligion bills and laws restrict conversions. At the heart of these controversies are different conversion narratives. Critics say mass converts are victims of overzealous proselytizers promising material benefits, but defenders insist the converts are agents choosing to convert for spiritual reasons. These lines of argument extend back to the 1930s and 1940s, when emerging human rights frameworks and early social scientific studies of religion each privileged a prototypical (but not at all typical) convert: an individual making a purely spiritual choice. India’s mass converts did not fit this model, sparking scrutiny of their individual agency and spiritual sincerity.

2

Introduction

I trace this growing preoccupation with converts’ sincerity and agency through competing narratives about three mass conversion movements: • Mass movement Christians in the 1930s • Ambedkarite Buddhists in the 1950s • Mizo Jews in the 2000s Chapters on each of these movements show that social, political, or spatial mobility accompanied religious mobility. Mass conversion provided an important escape hatch for marginalized castes and tribes. But critics denied that such groups could decide for themselves to convert or, if conversion aided their mobility, argued that they were not converting for spiritual reasons. If oppressed, converts lacked agency; if overcoming oppression, they lacked sincerity. Each narrative undermined their religious freedom. These mass conversion movements, and resulting narratives questioning converts’ sincerity and agency, set the stage for three central challenges undermining the human right to freedom of thought, conscience, and religion in India today: • Legislation limiting “forcible” and “induced” conversions • Affirmative action for lower castes that excludes Muslims and Christians • Rumors that Muslim men systematically seduce women to convert them Chapters on each of these strategies illuminate how they immobilize potential converts and reinforce assumptions that women, Dalits (lowest castes), and Adivasis (indigenous tribes) inherently lack agency, or the ability and autonomy to decide to convert. Like denying their sincerity, denying the agency of converts has facilitated increasing restrictions on religious freedom in the name of protecting religious freedom. By negating the agency of mass converts to minority religions, critics of conversion consider them the objects rather than the subjects of conversion. “To convert” in this transitive sense is an act done to someone else rather than by oneself.2 Transitive conversion, or proselytism, is a more contested human right than the right to convert oneself.3 Examining the

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politics of mass conversion in India helps to explain a human rights conundrum: freedom of religion is “so central that almost nine of every ten contemporary constitutions” include it.4 Yet many living under these constitutions are not as religiously free as others. “Religious freedoms are consistently promised, yet frequently denied.”5 This chapter introduces my narrative approach to conversion politics, the book’s engagement with other scholarship, and the constitutional and human rights backdrop for religious freedom in India, with a focus on conversion rights. It introduces key terms (“Dalit,” “Adivasi,” and “Hindu nationalism”) and previews the subsequent chapters: case studies of historical and contemporary mass conversion movements, followed by analyses of particular legal and political anticonversion strategies. This trajectory of conversion rights in India is one articulation of religious freedom in practice. Neither a legal ideal awaiting full implementation nor an ideal way of life disconnected from the state, religious freedom is, rather, “a specific, historically located technique of modern governance.”6 Thus it demands specific, historically located study. This book features the governance of religious conversions in late colonial and contemporary India.

Conversion Narratives and Religious Freedom Much of politics and the law is a contest of narratives. —H. Porter Abbott7

Interpretive analysis, due to its “research purpose of understanding meaning making in particular sites,” is well suited to this inquiry, and conversion narratives provide fascinating source material for interpretation.8 Conversion narratives are a long-standing genre, typically converts’ testimonies about their own conversions. Such “spiritual autobiography” has played a prominent role within certain religious traditions: Puritans’ oral and print narratives of personal conversions and Quakers’ testimonies and proclamation tracts, both arising in the mid- seventeenth century, are examples of conversion narratives as religious practice.9 Conversion narratives also have been a valuable source for scholars of these and many other religions, including Catholicism,10 Islam,11 Eastern Orthodox Christianity,12 Buddhism, and more.13

4

Introduction

My analysis of conversion narratives expands on the typical scope of such studies by including both converts’ narratives about themselves and other people’s narratives about converts. I contrast converts’ own perspectives on their mobility with the often patronizing assumptions about converts, women, and lower castes and the incendiary ideas about religious minorities embedded in other people’s narratives about converts and conversion. Even defenders of converts often reiterate and respond to the predominant critical narratives as they attempt to prove the sincerity or agency of converts. We produce and consume narratives every day, and not just in literature, theater, or the arts. Politics, religion, and law are rich narrative sources, and narrative approaches offer several useful concepts to interpret these arenas. For instance, the texts of laws against forcible conversion, discussed in Chapter 4, invoke “shadow stories” about one of the most slippery aspects of law, motives.14 An incendiary rumor about conversions to Islam, discussed in Chapter 6, relies upon a “masterplot,” or story told again and again in various forms, tapping into our “deepest values, wishes, and fears.”15 In addition to tracing literary narrative techniques like shadow stories and masterplots, my narrative approach draws on the work of feminist political scientists. To challenge normalized representations, I adopt Cecelia Lynch’s method of “tacking back and forth” between dominant and alternative interpretations, by contrasting narratives about converts with narratives by them.16 Samantha Majic’s use of narrative in policy analysis is particularly germane. While recognizing that narrators and narratives vary in their power and influence, she shows how complex, individual narratives can complicate dominant stories, contest and inform policies, and, more specifically, challenge assumptions that women are “duped innocents” (a notion that frequently appears in predominant narratives about converts).17 In addition to tracing dominant stories that have become “like eyeglasses we have worn a long time,” I heed the critical race theorist Richard Delgado’s plea for “counterstories” that “challenge a stock story and prepare the way for new one.”18 The conclusion recommends the dissemination of counternarratives, or oppositionist storytelling, as one tool to achieve social justice in the realm of religious freedom. Narrative sources discussed in this book start with India’s Constituent Assembly debates and the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. Subsequent chapters range from official to unofficial narratives, including

Religious Freedom and the Right to Convert

5

state-level conversion laws, government forms, court decisions, politicians’ speeches, activists’ writings, archived documents, and various print, electronic, and social media representations of converts. Non-elite narratives include oral histories and missionary accounts.19 A few elite sources include voices from the margins, literally in the case of marginal notations by missionary survey researchers struggling with nonstandard responses by converts. Why don’t I study conversion itself instead of what people are saying and writing about it? Interpretive political scientists recognize that language and the way it constructs meaning are central to politics; narratives constitute and shape governance. This interpretive (“word-based, meaning focused”) project approaches “the study of politics through the lens of contested meanings.”20 Rather than judging whether converts are “really” converting, I consider why people are asking this question and how they are answering it. Craig Martin, discussing how to approach authenticity in the study of religion, asks “(1) Who is identified by (2) whom as (3) what, and (4) with what effects?”21 In this spirit, rather than gauging authenticity, the following chapters interrogate who is identifying whom as authentic converts and focus on the emergence and use of sincerity and agency as markers of authenticity and the impact of these criteria on people’s lives. Hence, this narrative focus does not mean that I ignore the material world; the deprivation, discrimination, or violence many people face remains central. How do conversion narratives relate to these problems in people’s lives? While also capturing competing or alternative narratives about conversions, the following chapters trace several predominant narratives about conversion and converts in contemporary India and the ways these narratives harm the rights of converts and minorities. My notion of predominant narratives is related to dominant interpretations, or metanarratives, which are “constructed and reproduced most frequently by those in power” and shape “what kinds of actions leaders and their publics are supposed to take”; thus, they are key targets for critical reinterpretation.22 Predominant narratives “predominate” in two senses: these are narratives that both prevail over time and emerge from dominant groups, which may vary depending on the level of analysis or historical period. Both Christian and Hindu elites, despite their distinct spiritual backgrounds, have repeatedly reinforced a predominant narrative that agency and sincerity are essential for real conversions, particularly when expressing their

6

Introduction

qualms about mass conversions. I focus on the 1930s to the present, when this narrative, which had roots before this period, took off in India. Predominant groups fortifying this narrative (and appearing in this book) include Christian missionaries, Hindu elites ranging from Mohandas Gandhi, known for his ecumenism, to current majoritarian Hindu nationalists, Jewish critics of immigration from India, and UN rapporteurs on freedom of religion or belief. Predominant Narratives #

predominate over time # by predominant groups

Predominant narratives about converts and conversion undermine human rights in the following ways. Predominant narratives about conversions privilege an idealized model of the convert as an individual freely choosing one faith out of a marketplace of beliefs. This emphasis on belief and individual choice is a Protestantinflected ideal that does not even capture the experience of most Protestant converts. (How central is belief to people’s religious lives? How many converts convert in a social vacuum?) Under this narrative, group converts are suspect. Predominant narratives about conversions create an implementation problem: how does one assess whether conversion is by force versus agency? Judges, bureaucrats, or others involved in the governance of religious freedom cannot read people’s minds. Too often their assessments are based on stereotypes about social groups: Christians bribe or induce converts; Muslims convert through force or seduction; women and lower castes or tribes are too gullible to convert freely. Predominant narratives about conversions suggest that any social, political, or geographic mobility associated with conversion nullifies converts’ sincerity and thus their authentic right to convert. Most people convert for mixed reasons, including practical ones, and their conversions have multiple impacts on their subsequent lives.23 Scrutiny of the motives of converts, particularly mass converts, can easily throw their sincerity into question if sincerity is equated with a purely spiritual choice. Predominant narratives about conversions stigmatize certain religious minorities and favor religious majorities. Long-standing tropes of Muslims using force and Christians using inducements to achieve mass conversions

Religious Freedom and the Right to Convert

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mean that conversion-related political debates and laws disproportionately impact these groups. For instance, anticonversion laws (Chapter 4) give undue credence to rumors about conversions via force or allurement (such as the “love jihad” hysteria in India; see Chapter 6), exacerbating xenophobia and putting minority communities at risk. In contrast, activists of the Hindu Right evade scrutiny of group conversions by dubbing them homecomings (ghar wapsi) rather than conversions. Predominant narratives about conversions suggest that some religions are inherently more conducive to religious freedom. Narratives about Hindu tolerance and Christian sincerity and agency associate these religions with religious freedom, leaving members of other religions struggling to fit into these models in order to exercise religious freedom.24 Taking narratives seriously and all of these problems into account, I call for a more equal freedom, with the goal of protecting not just the rights of discrete religious groups but also the rights of people to convert between and among different groups. Current national and international laws and organizations are increasingly “framing social difference through religious rights and freedoms,” a trend that results in several negative outcomes, as articulated by Elizabeth Shakman Hurd in Beyond Religious Freedom: “These efforts single out groups for legal protection as religious groups, mold religions into discrete faith communities with clean boundaries, clearly defined orthodoxies, and senior leaders who speak on their behalf, and privilege a modern liberal understanding of faith” in ways that clash with “lived religion.”25 From this longer list of problems, I focus on the ways predominant religious freedom narratives and related governance “mold religions into discrete faith communities with clean boundaries” and “privilege a modern liberal understanding of faith.”26 While Hurd focuses on the “dissenters, doubters . . . and nonorthodox,” arguing that to “fix religion in law . . . effaces the indeterminacy of evolving and contested sets of traditions,” I will focus on another unbounded group, converts, revealing the disconnect between legal representations of “discrete faith communities” and the lives—and rights—of the converts who make leaps of faith between them.27 Whereas Hurd critiques the “new global politics of religion,” I have a longer historical sweep and narrower geographic focus: India’s domestic politics of religious freedom from late-colonial social and constitutional debates up to contemporary state legislation, Supreme Court decisions, and anticonversion campaigns. Although the focus is India, transnational factors play a role in the practice of religious

8

Introduction

freedom related to conversion in India. Transnational factors and influences range from the deliberations of the UN’s Commission on Human Rights (discussed below) to an influential Methodist missionary from the United States in India (Chapter 1), a nongovernmental organization devoted to returning “lost tribes” to Israel (Chapter 3), and the texting application WhatsApp (Chapter 6).

This Project’s Engagement with Other Scholarship Religious freedom and conversion politics in India are salient and contentious issues, inspiring both headlines and scholarly publications in recent years. Besides Hurd’s critique of the international politics of religious freedom, this project owes a huge debt to prior scholarly work on conversion in India. The literary scholar Gauri Viswanathan’s argument in Outside the Fold that “conversion ranks among the most destabilizing activities in modern society” is an inspiration for my examination of the social, political and spatial mobility of converts and the role of narrative in the practice of rights.28 Like the law minister and Buddhist convert Dr. B. R. Ambedkar, I interpret this destabilization via conversion as a potentially positive outcome, a way to achieve equality through (rather than despite) religious freedom.29 Rowena Robinson’s sociological research, including the volume Religious Conversion in India, reveals the wide range of conversion experiences in India, undermining assumptions that the only legitimate converts are individual, spiritual agents.30 Rupa Viswanath’s The Pariah Problem draws on previously untapped archival sources to document the ways missionaries, social reformists, and colonial administrators cast caste, particularly untouchability, as a religious, rather than political or economic, problem. Brilliantly illustrating the way narratives impact material relations, Viswanath’s study shows how the narrative of caste as religious perpetuated the slavery of the lowest castes by absolving the state from responsibility and keeping post-1858 colonial officials from interfering—an example of religious freedom condoning unfreedom. Religious reform movements arose to solve the caste problem but never succeeded.31 One such reform movement features in The Limits of Tolerance: Indian Secularism and the Politics of Religious Freedom by C. S. Adcock, who focuses on the Arya Samaj in Punjab and the United Provinces in the late

Religious Freedom and the Right to Convert

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nineteenth and early twentieth centuries, with particular attention to the Gurukul Party, founded in 1901 by one faction of the Arya Samaj. Her study reveals the role of disputes over the Arya Samaj and shuddhi (sometimes translated as “conversion” or “reconversion”) in the development of the ideal of religious tolerance.32 Tolerance remains both prevalent and problematic in contemporary Hindu nationalist rhetoric, because it glosses over continuing religious and caste discrimination and oppression. This book builds on these insightful literary, sociological, and historical accounts to address more recent politics, including current challenges to minorities, such as the revival of Hindu reconversion campaigns, as well as minority conversion movements to emancipate oppressed populations. For instance, the caste reforms critiqued by Viswanath and Adcock contrast with Ambedkar’s more radical approach, which will be the focus of Chapter 2. Ambedkar perceived religion as one of several dimensions of caste-based oppression in need of change. His attention to the intermingled material/ spiritual bases of caste discrimination and the multiple modes of attack needed to annihilate caste are a focus of that chapter. My findings complicate or deepen the work of other scholars. Rudolf C. Heredia’s Changing Gods: Rethinking Conversion in India is an accessible call for interfaith dialogue and an overview of notable individual conversions and mass conversions. His chapter on personal journeys includes theological and philosophical discussion of Ambedkar’s conversion to Buddhism;33 in contrast, my Chapter 2 on Dalit Buddhists challenges the notion of conversion as a personal journey. That chapter’s oral histories of two of the thousands of people who converted along with Ambedkar show that solidarity was central to their experience. Goldie Osuri traces genealogies of conversion and anticonversion efforts through film and other narrative forms, making critical contributions to sovereignty studies within political philosophy and cultural studies. Her work is a valuable complement to my case studies of how specific conversion movements and particular predominant narratives about mass converts shaped subsequent political and legal anticonversion strategies.34 My research challenges the conclusions of several scholars of religious freedom. Problematizing Religious Freedom by Arvind Sharma advances our understanding of the varied cultural foundations for religious freedom but fails to problematize an idealized notion of Hindu tolerance (debunked by Adcock’s historical work and my contemporary work) and does not scrutinize the discriminatory aspects of the politics of conversion in India.35

10

Introduction

While challenging predominant Western and Protestant notions of religious freedom, I do not substitute an idealized Hindu tolerance but instead examine the practical problems these ideals, whatever their origins, can cause for religious minorities and converts to a variety of religions. Not just Christian but also Hindu and Jewish critics of converts routinely deny their agency or sincerity and, thus, their religious freedom. Several scholars have rejected religious freedom as inevitably discriminatory. Winnifred Fallers Sullivan’s United States–based work on “the impossibility of religious freedom” finds further support in her coedited volume documenting the many malfunctioning and discriminatory attempts to implement religious freedom around the world.36 Due to the “unstated and often opportunistic assumptions about what counts as religion”—and, in my research, who counts as a convert—religious freedom may be impossible.37 As Saba Mahmood points out, so far in modern Middle Eastern history, minorities constructed by state building, global geopolitics, and the freedom of religion itself (and supposedly the “greatest beneficiaries” of this freedom) have experienced a freedom that either (1) supported Christian proselytization or (2) served to “consolidate the majoritarian ethos of the emergent modern state.” This outcome, she argues, is not a misuse of an otherwise “noble principle” but is embedded in the “conceptual architecture of the right to religious liberty itself and its global history.”38 My study traces this problematic conceptual architecture and global history in another context, India, but does not reject religious freedom altogether. Sullivan et al. conclude: “To continue to use the word [religion] in law is to invite discrimination.”39 I share their disenchantment with “religious freedom,” which seems to result in discrimination against women and various minorities whenever and wherever it appears. Yet I will not take a human right off the table when nondominant groups are finally gaining traction by using the concept.40 The Dalit Buddhists (see Chapter 2) used the new constitutional right to freedom of conscience in their conversion movement, and the Dalit Christians and Muslims (see Chapter 5) also draw on this right in their claims for legal rights to jobs and university admissions for lower castes. I take to heart Sullivan’s skepticism of “those in the academic world eager to offer their work as a how-to manual for government,” given the religious right’s predominant narratives of religious freedom in the United States, India, and around the world.41 But rather than ceding the construction of religious freedom to the religious right by abandoning

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the concept as either impossible or fatally flawed, I conclude by considering the possibilities rather than the impossibility of religious freedom. This book’s focus (on mass rather than individual conversions), scope (from late-colonial conversions through the present day), breadth (including women, lower castes, and several religious minorities), and analytical framework (conversion narratives and religious freedom) will, I hope, further contribute to the vibrant field of religious freedom and conversion politics. In the chapters that follow, I engage with the theoretical and empirical insights of the scholars mentioned above and others, including Arjun Appadurai, Talal Asad, Amrita Basu, Stephan Greenblat, Saba Mahmood, Martha Nussbaum, James C. Scott, and Meera Sehgal. After an introduction to conversion rights in India’s constitution and the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, both developed in the 1940s, an overview of the next chapters will set the stage for the arguments to come. Religious Freedom and Conversion at the Inception of India’s Constitution Article 25 of the Indian Constitution (1949) (1) Subject to public order, morality and health and to the other provisions of this Part, all persons are equally entitled to freedom of conscience and the right freely to profess, practise and propagate religion. (2) Nothing in this article shall affect the operation of any existing law or prevent the State from making any law— (a) regulating or restricting any economic, financial, political or other secular activity which may be associated with religious practice; (b) providing for social welfare and reform or the throwing open of Hindu religious institutions of a public character to all classes and sections of Hindus. Explanation I.—The wearing and carrying of kirpans shall be deemed to be included in the profession of the Sikh religion. Explanation II.—In sub-clause (b) of clause (2), the reference to Hindus shall be construed as including a reference to persons professing the Sikh, Jaina or Buddhist religion, and the reference to Hindu religious institutions shall be construed accordingly.42

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Introduction

India’s constitution came into effect in 1950 and is still (with many amendments) the law of the land today. The constitution emerged from heated debates in the Constituent Assembly, which met periodically from 1946 until it adopted the constitution in 1949. Thus, conversion rights and religious freedoms emerged in India against the backdrop of the developing Universal Declaration of Human Rights (1948). Rather than a comprehensive examination of Indian constitutional law on religious freedom, the following is a discussion of Article 25 and the Constituent Assembly debates.43 Conversion debates included the threat of coerced conversion, the role of religious propagation, and the association of particular minority communities with each of these practices. Ultimately, the Constituent Assembly adopted the following religious freedom clause (Article 25, clause 1): “Subject to public order, morality and health and to the other provisions of this Part, all persons are equally entitled to freedom of conscience and the right to freely profess, practice and propagate religion.” India’s religious freedom clause has typical caveats (public order, morality, and health) but also wide-ranging protected activities (to profess, practice, and propagate). The former provide many reasons to restrict religious freedom, while the latter provide a broad right to freely practice religion, thus setting up tensions, such as challenges to propagation in the name of preserving public order (one subject of Chapter 4). Order is a conservative concept, preserving relations of dominance: “The legal concept of public order privileges the beliefs, values, and practices of the majority religious tradition in any given polity.”44 Clause 2 addresses minority rights that complicate the practice of religious freedom in India. Clause 2(b) says this article shall not prevent the state from “providing for social welfare and reform or the throwing open of Hindu religious institutions of a public character to all classes and sections of Hindus.” Although avoiding the term “caste,” this clause alludes to caste discrimination, mentions the role of the state and religious institutions in social reforms pertaining to caste (elaborated upon in Chapters 1, 2, and 5), and implies that “caste” is a Hindu phenomenon (contested in Chapter 5). Later in this same constitutional clause, a telling phrase—“the reference to Hindus shall be construed as including a reference to persons professing the Sikh, Jaina or Buddhist religion”—clarified the boundaries of religions in ways that impacted legal and political definitions of conversion for years to come.45 Conceptualizing Buddhists as a sect of Hinduism, for instance,

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could defuse the radical mass conversion to Buddhism from Hinduism featured in Chapter 2. This phrase also made it easier to open the Scheduled Caste category (eligible for government policies benefitting lower castes) to Sikhs and Buddhists, while excluding Muslims and Christians (Chapter 5). Contemporary Hindu nationalists deny that conversions to Hinduism are conversions at all but are, rather, homecomings (Chapter 4), a stance bolstered by this constitutional clause, which “supersizes” Hinduism to include other religions that most adherents would consider distinct.46 The Constituent Assembly’s Advisory Committee on Fundamental Rights considered various clauses relating to freedom of religion, including one about coercion: “Conversion from one religion to another brought about by coercion or undue influence shall not be recognised by law.” This proposal shows that concerns about forced or induced conversions were on the minds of Constituent Assembly members following the controversies over mass movement conversions to Christianity by largely lower-caste communities. The chairman of the Constituent Assembly Advisory Committee, Sardar Vallabhbhai J. Patel, explained that they rejected this proposed clause as “unnecessary” in light of the more general clause chosen, reporting, “The Committee came to the conclusion that this general clause is enough so far as fundamental rights are concerned. On further consideration this clause seemed to us to enunciate a rather obvious doctrine which it was unnecessary to include in the constitution, and we thought it better to leave it to the legislature.”47 State legislatures did pass laws against forcible or induced conversion. One of the most contested words in the Constituent Assembly deliberations was the word “propagate.” Even supporters of including the verb “propagate” among the religious freedoms made a point of distinguishing it from “convert,” especially in the context of mass conversions. As the Constituent Assembly member Shri K. Santhanam, a Tamil Brahmin, argued: Propagation is merely freedom of expression. I would like to point out that the word “convert” is not there. Mass conversion was part of the activities of the Christian Missionaries in this country and great objection has been taken by the people to that. (Those who drafted this Constitution have taken care to see that no unlimited right of conversion has been given. People have freedom of conscience and, if any man is converted voluntarily owing to freedom

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Introduction

of conscience, then well and good. . . . But if any attempt is made by one religious community or another to have mass conversions through undue influence either by money or pressure or other means, the State has every right to regulate such activity).48 Santhanam’s reference to “money or pressure” indicates continuing concern about coercion and foreshadows the induced- or forced-conversion laws to come. The Constituent Assembly debates include earlier articulations of present-day rhetoric about Muslim and Christian converts, in particular efforts to link the former with coercion and the latter with inducement. One Hindu critic of the right to propagate, the Constituent Assembly member Lokanath Misra, argued that this right applied only to Christians and Muslims, who would “over run” Hindus: Vedic culture excludes nothing. . . . In the present context what can this word “propagation” in article 19 mean? It can only mean paving the way for the complete annihilation of Hindu culture, the Hindu way of life and manners. Islam has declared its hostility to Hindu thought. Christianity has worked out the policy of peaceful penetration by the back-door on the outskirts of our social life. . . . Indeed in no constitution of the world right to propagate religion is a fundamental right and justiciable. . . . . . . Let not the Constitution put it as a fundamental right and encourage it.49 Thus Misra associated Hinduism with no conversions (“Vedic culture excludes nothing”), Islam with forced conversions (“Islam has declared its hostility”), and Christianity with induced conversions (“peaceful penetration . . . on the outskirts of our social life”—an apparent allusion to the lower caste mass movement Christians). Despite Misra’s arguments, the right to propagate made it into the constitution. The Constituent Assembly, through open debates, repeatedly rejected some majoritarian arguments.50 Yet innuendos similar to Misra’s persist in contemporary anticonversion and anti-minority narratives. For instance, Ratna Kapur has traced the Hindu Right’s rearticulation of religious freedom and the sway of their interpretations in recent Supreme Court decisions over the use of religious

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appeals in political campaigns and the dispute over a religious site in Ayodhya: “Through the Hindu Right’s construction of Hinduism as the truly tolerant religion, the right of religious minorities to profess and propagate their ‘intolerant’ religions is cast as a violation of freedom of religion.”51 The “Hindu Right has argued that, unlike Christianity and Islam, Hinduism is the only religion in India that is committed to the value of religious tolerance because it does not aim to proselytize or gain converts. According to this logic, then, since secularism is about toleration and only Hindus are tolerant, then only Hindus are truly secular.”52 In this way, the narratives of the Hindi Right twist religious freedom (and allied principles like secularism and toleration) to “reproduce and reinforce Hindu majoritarianism.”53 My critique of ghar wapsi and reconversion in Chapters 4 and 5 challenges the majoritarian premise that Hindus do not proselytize or convert. India’s constitutional debates introduced or amplified persistent narratives about minorities and conversions. The Constituent Assembly members Misra (speaking against the right to propagate) and Santhanam (defending the right to propagate) both portrayed minorities as a threat to freedom of conscience due to conversions, particularly mass conversions. This has become a predominant narrative. Absorbing Jains, Sikhs, and Buddhists into Hinduism in Article 25(2b) is another. These predominant narratives set the stage for additional laws limiting conversion (Chapter 4), legal interpretations restricting the rights of converts from Hinduism (Chapter 5), and negative political and social media campaigns about Muslim conversions and converts (Chapter 6), which have been detrimental to lower castes and religious minorities in India. Yet one of India’s most famous converts, B. R. Ambedkar, was also the chief architect of India’s constitution as chair of the Drafting Committee. A few years after completing the Indian Constitution, Ambedkar led a mass conversion of lower castes to Buddhism (Chapter 2). What was his proposed constitutional language on religious freedom? His “Memorandum and Draft Articles on the Rights of States and Minorities,” which he submitted to the Sub-Committee on Fundamental Rights on March 24, 1947, included the right “to convert” and a non-establishment clause. Neither of these appeared in the constitution, but they speak to Ambedkar’s core concerns and goals.54 His non-establishment proposal reflected his longstanding apprehension that elite Hindus would dominate India after independence. Unlike some of his colleagues in the Constituent Assembly

16

Introduction

quoted above, Ambedkar did not recoil from the word “convert.” He had already decided to convert from Hinduism and was contemplating which religion he and his followers would embrace. Ambedkar did not endorse unfettered freedom; freedom became a subsidiary concern with the end of colonial rule and the dawn of a democratically elected legislative system.55 India’s transformational constitutionalism included a commitment to equality as central to (not competing with) freedom. “Transformational constitutionalism,” in the words of Sandipto Dasgupta, meant that “freedom from colonial domination was not merely a question of ascribing hitherto unavailable political rights to citizens, but also one of correcting the abject conditions of poverty, underdevelopment, and inequality bestowed by colonial policies.”56 This transformational project counters narrow conceptions of religious or any other freedoms standing in the way of progress toward equality or a more equal freedom.57

Religious Freedom and Conversion in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights Article 18 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (1948) Everyone has the right to freedom of thought, conscience and religion; this right includes freedom to change his religion or belief, and freedom, either alone or in community with others and in public or private, to manifest his religion or belief in teaching, practice, worship and observance.58 The work of India’s Constituent Assembly percolated alongside the developing Universal Declaration of Human Rights (1948). Jawaharlal Nehru’s sister, Vijaya Laxmi Pandit, led India’s first UN delegation in 1946 and became the first female president of the UN General Assembly in 1953.59 Thus Nehru, who became independent India’s first prime minister, was attuned to international human rights developments, referring to the UN in a speech before the Constituent Assembly on January 22, 1947, and Constituent Assembly members were sensitive to the global interest in human rights after World War II.60 Some Constituent Assembly members couched their support for religious rights in human rights terms. For instance, Mohamed Ismail, a Muslim League member from Madras, argued in favor of the verbs “professing, practicing and propagating one’s faith” as a right

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17

“recognised as an inalienable right of every human being, not only in this land but the whole world over and I think that nothing should be done to affect that right of man as a human being.”61 Although those verbs do not appear in the UDHR, Ismail cloaked his argument in human rights rhetoric.62 The most direct connection between the Constituent Assembly and the UN’s developing human rights framework was Hansa Mehta. Hansa Mehta, a Gujarati Brahmin Hindu representing Bombay, was a member of the Constituent Assembly and its Fundamental Rights Subcommittee.63 She was also India’s representative on the UN Commission on Human Rights, which met in 1947 and 1948 to draft the Universal Declaration, generating a “commingling of ideas” among India’s and the UN’s visions for the future.64 Mehta’s 1949 speech “Human Rights in the Indian Constitution” made a point-by-point comparison (including the freedom of religion clauses) of “how far the Fundamental Rights in the New Constitution come up to the International Standard as laid down in the Declaration of Human Rights,” concluding that the Indian Constitution “has done well.”65 She noted that the Constituent Assembly approved the fundamental rights “almost at the same time that the General Assembly of the United Nations at their Session in Paris passed the first part of the International Bill of Human Rights viz. the Declaration of Human Rights prepared by the Human Rights Commission.”66 Mehta saw national law as a way to enforce the new international standard: “The Declaration of Human Rights is not a legal document so that no legal action can be taken on the violation of any of its provisions. It certainly has a moral sanction behind it. . . . The chapter on the Fundamental Rights in the new Constitution on the other hand, is a legal document. The rights as defined in that chapter are justiceable rights.”67 Mehta seemed more engaged with implementation questions than with the exact wording of the religious freedom clause, but her point about national implementation of human rights law is important. Indeed, this book focuses on the national implementation of religious freedom, rather than on international legal developments in this sphere. While the UDHR did not determine India’s clause or vice versa, the interaction between the developing international and national norms is interesting in three ways. First, the UDHR and Indian Constitution were written about the same time and with one key overlap in personnel, Hansa Mehta. Second, Nehru, Mehta, and Constituent Assembly members such as Ismail from time to

18

Introduction

Figure 1. UN Commission on Human Rights, The Commission Chairman, Mrs. Eleanor Roosevelt (right) with Mrs. Hansa Mehta of India. Photo by Marvin Bolotsky.

time drew on the language of the UN or of human rights, and others, ranging from Ambedkar to Misra, drew on international constitutional comparisons in their work.68 Third, although not parroting the UDHR, India’s adoption of the phrase “freedom of conscience” in its constitution is in keeping with the Universal Declaration’s emphasis on religion as “thought,” “conscience,” and “belief”—wording that constitutes conversion as an interior change. This articulation of religious freedom in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights is not as “universal” as the UDHR’s title implies. Lydia Liu’s work on P. C. Chang, vice chair of the UN Commission on Human Rights, has drawn needed attention to the role of non-Western participants and philosophical contributions to the UDHR.69 The international participants no doubt had varied bases for supporting the religious freedom clause, a

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19

topic in need of further study. But the religious freedom clause undeniably resonates with both Western political theory and Christianity (particularly Protestant Christianity), impacting conceptualizations of conversion.70 Consider John Locke’s statement: “True and saving religion consists of the inward persuasion of the mind. . . . And such is the nature of the understanding that it cannot be compelled to the belief of anything by outward force.”71 Locke’s influential narrative of religious freedom underscores the individual’s “inward,” “true” “belief” (the need for sincerity) and denies the legitimacy of “outward” factors that might “compel” or “force” a belief (the importance of agency). In addition to Western political philosophy, Christians influenced the UDHR: “American and European Christian activists played a key role in shaping Article 18 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights at the end of the Second World War, suffusing it with a ‘Christian personalist’ ethos that persists in the right’s enshrinement of conscience (over other aspects of religion) to this day.”72 As chair of the Human Rights Commission that authored the declaration, Eleanor Roosevelt’s Protestant “Christian sensibilities” infused her politics, as articulated in her book The Moral Basis of Democracy, although she also demonstrated her “open-mindedness,” according to the law professor Mary Ann Glendon.”73 Beyond the Protestant Eleanor Roosevelt, supporters of the freedom of religion clause and protection of the right to change religion included non-Protestants and even non-Christians. Charles Malik, a Greek Orthodox Christian from Lebanon on the Human Rights Commission, proposed and championed the right to change one’s beliefs in the Universal Declaration, a clause that caused consternation among several Muslim majority countries and Sweden.74 Mohammad Habib, an Indian Muslim delegate to the Third Committee on the declaration, meeting in 1948, argued in favor of including the right to convert or be converted, noting that the Indian Constitution would include this right.75 Although arguably rooted in Western political theory and a Protestant notion of individual belief, the articulation of religious freedom in the UDHR gained enough diverse support that the General Assembly’s final vote on the religious freedom clause inspired abstentions but no nays.76 The Universal Declaration shifted from the prior, League of Nations’ recognition of the “collective, practical, and political dimensions of religious affiliation” to prioritize the “individual conscientious decision and the right to change religion.”77 So, while prioritizing the right to convert,

20

Introduction

the declaration simultaneously narrowed this right by equating conversion with an individual conscientious decision, casting off conversion’s potentially collective, practical, and political dimensions (dimensions that will feature prominently in the following chapters about mass conversions). The first half of Article 18 includes an individual’s right “to change his religion or belief,” but the subsequent phrase, “either alone or in community with others,” applies only to “teaching, practice, worship and observance,” not conversion. Akin to Hindu majoritarian narratives of religious freedom influencing the practice of this right within India, a Christian majoritarian approach to religious freedom pervades major texts and interpretations of international law. Influenced by Christian psychological approaches of scholars such as William James,78 academics and human rights practitioners idealized an individual making a spiritual decision to convert (exercising agency and sincerity). Such a convert became the gold standard—and most worthy subject of religious freedom rights related to conversion.79 Peter van der Veer, an anthropologist of religion and society in India, argues that the missionary encounter spread a “discourse of spirituality that comes to characterize Protestants, Catholics, Muslims, Hindus and Buddhists alike, and it is a decidedly modern discourse.”80 This prototypical convert permeates international human rights documents from the UDHR through Article 18 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (1966) and contemporary UN reports on religious freedom. A comprehensive overview of international law related to freedom of religion is beyond the scope of this chapter, but contemporary UN special rapporteurs continue to emphasize individual beliefs, sincerity, and agency in international legal assessments of religious freedom.81 The UN special rapporteur on freedom of religion or belief, Asma Jahangir, devoted a section of her 2005 report to conversion, responding to “alleged forcible and so-called ‘unethical’ conversions,” especially in the wake of the 2004 Indian Ocean tsunami. She reiterated the notion that “freedom of religion and belief of adults basically is a question of individual choice.” If the converts are agents—“adults able to reason on their own and there is no relation of dependency or hierarchy between missionaries and the objects of the missionary activities”—missionary activity does not violate religious freedom, she concluded. Jahangir advocated that alleged “unethical” conversion “be addressed on a case-by-case basis” to examine “each individual situation,” furthering the prototype of a lone figure choosing a belief.82

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21

While Jahangir preferred that concerns about “conversions or how they might be accomplished should be raised by the alleged victim,” the subsequent rapporteur, Heiner Bielefeldt, generalized about vulnerable groups needing protection. In 2014 he emphasized the problem of forced conversion of women and girls and critiqued “clandestine conspiracies”; however, he did not acknowledge the problem of rumors about conversion conspiracies demonizing minorities.83 He devoted much of his 2012 report to the question of conversion rights. Although people embody their conversions in behavior and social relations, he defined conversion of oneself as entirely internal (in contrast to the external action of converting of others), pointed to the problem of forced conversion, and defended individual choice as the basis for the religious freedom to convert.84 Given the Christian Protestant character of this articulation of religious freedom as primarily an internal choice by a sincere agent, it is interesting that Hindu nationalists also have emphasized agency and sincerity, critiquing Christian missionaries in their own terms and adopting the international gold standard of the ideal convert. In fact, the gold standard has become ubiquitous, an unexamined assumption of many who are not religious majoritarians.85 Non-elites, including lower-status Hindu or Christian communities, other religious minorities, some women, and mass converts tend to fall outside this gold standard and find their religious freedoms circumscribed.

A Note on Terminology and Demography: Religious Minorities, Dalits, Adivasis, and Hindu Nationalists Some conversion narratives foster demographic anxieties about the relative numbers of various religious communities in India. In addition to—and sometimes overlapping with—religious minorities, India’s lower-caste and tribal populations are minorities in both the numerical and socioeconomic senses of the term. Although census data do not do justice to complex, changing, and at times syncretic religious (and other) identities, some basic demographic and terminological background will be helpful for readers less familiar with India. According to the 2011 census of India, Hindus are 79.80 percent of India’s population; Muslims, 14.23; Christians, 2.30; Sikhs, 1.72; Buddhists, 0.70; Jains, 0.37; Other, 0.66; and Not Stated, 0.24 percent.86

22

Introduction

“Dalit” means “crushed” or “oppressed” and refers to the lowest social strata of the caste system, castes so low as to be considered outside of the system. Many continue to experience discrimination, poverty, and violent attacks. Also previously called untouchables, Harijans, Depressed Classes, or the particular caste names of their distinct and diverse communities, many Dalit castes are officially listed by the government as Scheduled Castes (SCs), a term stemming back to the colonial Government of India Act of 1935. Today SC status makes them eligible for initiatives to advance their socioeconomic status or protect them from atrocities.87 Scheduled Castes are about 16.6 percent of India’s population.88 Although the legal Scheduled Caste category is limited to Hindus, Sikhs, and Buddhists, the practices and structural impacts of untouchability transcend religious boundaries. The term “Dalit” is not always used by the communities themselves, but it is widely recognized across India, and Dalit political activists and artists have adopted the term to foster solidarity across religious and regional boundaries and to call out oppression.89 “Adivasi” means “indigenous” or “original inhabitant” and refers to another set of socioeconomically disadvantaged and culturally and historically disparate communities in India; the communities themselves do not always use this term, but it is widely used throughout India.90 Also known as tribes or tribals, many Adivasi communities are listed by the government as Scheduled Tribes (STs), making them eligible for reservations and other programs and protections, because their poverty and illiteracy rates exceed those of the general population.91 This term also originated with the Government of India Act of 1935, and STs are still defined on the basis of antiquated criteria stemming back to the colonial era: “(a) indication of primitive traits, (b) distinctive culture, (c) geographical isolation, (d) shyness of contact with the community at large, and (d) backwardness.”92 This patronizing definition glosses over their interactions and roles in Indian history, because Adivasis were not as isolated as the official definition suggests.93 According to the 2011 census, Scheduled Tribes are about 8.6 percent of the national population, although in some states, such as Mizoram, they are a majority. Many Adivasi communities have had their own traditional religions. Some still practice these, but others have syncretic practices or have become Christian, Hindu, or other religions.94 Hindu nationalists include a variety of individuals and organizations advocating Hindutva, a majoritarian notion of a Hindu nation, and strategically excluding or, in some cases, subsuming various minorities in the

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23

process. Hindu nationalists include a variety of interlinked organizations associated with the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS; “national volunteer association”) founded in 1925. Rightwing and often militant, the RSS has both national leaders and a web of affiliated local cadres. The RSS also has many offshoots, including several that appear in the following chapters: the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), a national political party; the Vishva Hindu Parishad, a social movement organization, and its militant youth wing, the Bajrang Dal; the Rashtra Sevika Samiti, a women’s organization; and the Akhil Bharatiya Vidyarthi Parishad, a student organization.95 Hindu nationalists are a political subset of Hindus, and are largely, although not entirely, upper caste.

Overview of the Chapters to Come Chapters 1 through 3 are case studies of mass conversion movements that resulted in social, political, or spatial mobility and sparked debates over the sincerity and agency of the converts. Chapters 4 through 6 each feature a contemporary limitation on conversion, via prosecution, prevention, or persecution. Each restriction is premised on assumptions that lower-caste, tribal, or female converts lack agency or sincerity, especially if converting in groups. This book concludes that narratives reinforcing narrow conceptions of conversion and questioning the sincerity or agency of converts ultimately restrict religious freedom. I chose the three mass conversion movements featured in the early chapters because these cases reveal how debates over mass conversions evolved and shaped ideas of religious freedom in pivotal periods—the 1930s, the 1950s, and the present—and include a range of religions, Christianity, Buddhism, and Judaism. The 1930s were the late colonial period, when early political dichotomization of majority and minority religions and of “national” and “foreign” religions shaped controversies over low-caste conversions to Christianity. The 1950s mass conversions to Buddhism occurred during the formative years of early independence and the era of Prime Minister Jawaharlal Nehru and Congress Party dominance. The current case of the Mizo Jews occurs against the backdrop of rising Hindu nationalism and the BJP holding power at the center. Debates over these mass conversion movements in three different eras (Chapters 1–3) show that challenges to converts’ religious freedoms are not

24

Introduction

a recent, BJP invention; rather, they are rooted in these earlier eras, leading to some surprising narrative consistencies across time and religious communities. Yet the steady growth of Hindu nationalism means that longstanding narratives about converts have been put into practice through new legislation, litigation, and campaigns (Chapters 4–6), menacing religious minorities to an unprecedented degree. Focusing on mobility, mass conversion and debates over sincerity, Part I begins with a chapter on mass movement converts and J. Waskom Pickett’s influential study of them. The mass conversions of many low-caste communities to Christianity during the late colonial era inspired much skepticism by the 1930s. Church leaders and donors in the West had expected individual, elite converts and were taken aback by impoverished communities converting en masse. Gandhi criticized the enticements of missionary health care or educational facilities and encouraged the lowest castes to remain in the Hindu fold. International journalists dubbed the mass converts “rice Christians.” To counter such critics and attempt to prove that these were valid conversions, the American Methodist missionary J. Waskom Pickett (1890– 1981) carried out a survey of nearly four thousand converts, documenting their spiritual motives. Influenced by the American psychologist and philosopher William James’s (1902) study of individual conversion experiences, Pickett’s Christian Mass Movements in India: A Study with Recommendations, published in India and the United States in 1933, applied new social survey methods to the study of religion.96 Even as many mass movement converts articulated social, medical, or romantic reasons for becoming Christians, Pickett’s influential study doggedly foregrounded ideals of individual agency and spiritual sincerity. The mass movement Christians, their critics, and their defenders shaped the terms of subsequent debates by raising a persistent question: does social mobility via conversion signal insincerity and taint the right to convert? Chapter 2 turns to the political mobility of the Dalit Buddhists. In 1956, India’s first law minister and chief architect of the Indian Constitution, B. R. Ambedkar, converted with approximately three hundred thousand to five hundred thousand other Dalits to Buddhism. During his long fight against caste discrimination, Ambedkar audaciously declared, twenty years prior to his conversion, “I will not die a Hindu.” He publicly pondered which religion to embrace and included vows to reject Hindu practices in his Buddhist conversion ceremony.

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Figure 2. A religious site in Maharashtra claimed by both Buddhists and Hindus. The statue in the center is the mass conversion leader Dr. B. R. Ambedkar. Photo by Laura Dudley Jenkins.

By shifting adherents from the majority religion (Hinduism) to a minority one (Buddhism), this conversion had political implications in the new democracy and legal implications, since certain rights or protections were still allocated on the basis of one’s religious community. Oral histories of Ambedkarite Buddhist converts show that conversion can be both spiritual and political in motivation and impact. Their accounts, along with the writings and speeches of Ambedkar, provide a counterpoint to the Christian mass movement narratives by asserting the agency and sincerity of lower-caste converts regardless of the large numbers and multifaceted purposes of their conversions. They challenge the notion that religious and political conversions are incompatible, and they expand a predominant emphasis on religious freedom to include religious equality and fraternity. Since the 1970s, the Bnei Menashe community of Mizoram, India, the focus of Chapter 3, has claimed to be one of the ten Hebrew lost tribes. Many are converting (or reconverting, in their view) to Judaism from

26

Introduction

Christianity. After investigating their claim to be one of the lost tribes, Israel’s chief Sephardic rabbi recognized their Jewish descent in 2005, facilitating their spatial mobility. Israeli and American Jewish and Christian Zionist organizations have helped to fund their formal conversions and migration to Israel. (The return of the lost tribes, some Christian Zionist funders believe, could expedite the second coming of Christ.) The Indian and Israeli governments have periodically halted the exodus of the Mizo Jews from India. Indian officials raised concerns that visiting rabbis were de facto missionaries, inducing vulnerable tribal communities to convert to Judaism. Israeli critics were skeptical about the spiritual sincerity of the Mizo Jews, because their conversions gave them access to Israel and new homes in its settlements. Nevertheless, their migration to Israel resumed in 2013. Indian, Israeli, and American narratives about the Mizo Jews, or Bnei Menashe, contrast with their own accounts, which emphasize their agency, choices, and devotion. Moreover, Jewish migration to Israel, or aliyah (literally, “ascent”), is itself a religious act, countering narratives that suggest the opportunity for spatial mobility negates the spiritual sincerity of these converts. Part II of the book turns from mobility to immobility, documenting three strategies to prevent conversions. The predominant narratives continue to stress the insincerity of converts to minority religions but also increasingly to question these converts’ agency. Chapter 4’s examination of conversion legislation illustrates this dynamic. Some laws against forcible conversion predate India’s independence, while others have been enacted in various Indian states in recent years. Usually called freedom of religion laws, they target induced and forcible conversions. By refuting the sincerity of induced converts or the agency of forced converts, government officials can thus limit conversion in the name of religious freedom. Sometimes ignoring converts’ own testimony about their decisions to convert, government officials writing or implementing these laws presume that force or inducement influences certain kinds of converts, characterizing female, low-caste, tribal, or mass converts as vulnerable. The laws themselves reinforce such paternalistic presumptions since several states include higher penalties for conversions of lower castes or women. Other laws require preregistering conversion ceremonies with a government official, an attempt to monitor such ceremonies, given India’s history of mass conversions. Since the election of Prime Minister Narendra Modi in 2014,

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27

reenergized Hindu nationalist organizations have launched new reconversion campaigns targeting religious minorities. By calling these group conversions ghar wapsi, these organizations deny that this is conversion at all. Hindu nationalist activists have proposed a national law against forcible or induced conversions, which, like its state-level precedents, would target minorities through narratives of forced conversions to Islam and induced conversions to Christianity. Turning to another legal device to quell conversions, Chapter 5 documents how Dalits lose their eligibility for caste-based affirmative action if they convert to Islam or Christianity, a policy shored up by fears of mass conversions to these “foreign” religions. Originally only available to Hindu Scheduled Castes, quotas in government employment and higher education are now open to Sikh and Buddhist Scheduled Castes. Lower caste Sikhs and Buddhists were successful in their efforts in part because these religions were previously subsumed under Hinduism in the constitution; yet legally super-sizing Hinduism in this way denies the distinct religious and minority identities of Sikhs and Buddhists. Dalit Christians and Muslims face another difficult trade-off: exercising one right, the right to convert, causes them to lose another, the right to access affirmative action programs. Scholarly studies and government reports now acknowledge the impact of caste discrimination in Muslim and Christian communities in India, yet cases before the Supreme Court challenging the denial of affirmative action to Dalit Christians and Muslims have dragged on for over a decade without resolution. In contrast, the Supreme Court in 2015 decided that Christians who “reconvert” to Hinduism are eligible for affirmative action if their forefathers were Scheduled Caste Hindus. The justices cited writings of B. R. Ambedkar and scholarship on Dalit Christians—using these narratives in ways their authors never anticipated—to support a decision that incentivizes conversions to Hinduism while maintaining the penalty for conversions to Christianity or Islam. Counternarratives in the form of oral history and analyses by a Dalit Christian plaintiff and an activist for Dalit Muslims challenge the current legal status of these intersectional groups. In addition to these legal mechanisms to repress conversions, formal and informal political and media representations contribute to unease and even panic about mass conversions. Chapter 6 scrutinizes the love jihad rumor in India—the notion that Muslim men are seducing and converting women of other religions to Islam. This chapter traces the trajectory of the

28

Introduction

love jihad idea from a single, dismissed court case to a global internet meme. In 2009 the parents of two Hindu women attending college in the southern Indian state of Kerala pressed charges against two Muslim men, claiming they had seduced their daughters to convert them to Islam. Although the women testified that they willingly ran away with these men, and the court dismissed the charges, the love jihad idea took off. Spread and embellished via speeches, lawsuits, newspapers, websites and the texting app WhatsApp, extreme versions of the love jihad rumor conjure thousands of young men trained by the Pakistani intelligence services and supplied with motorbikes, cell phones, and fashionable clothing to seduce Hindu and Christian girls, convert them, and produce Muslim offspring. In 2013 politicians spoke of the love jihad in speeches shortly before the deadly anti-Muslim riots in the northern Indian city of Muzaffarnagar. In 2015 Hindu nationalist politicians used the specter of a love jihad to promote their proposed national law against forcible or induced conversions, and a leading instigator of love jihad hysteria became the chief minister of India’s largest state in 2017. After tracking the spread of this idea, I interpret it as the current version of a much older conversion narrative that undermines the rights of women and religious minorities by obfuscating women’s agency and stoking Islamophobia. Counternarratives include an op-ed by the actor Saif Ali Khan and statements by Hadiya Jahan, the young woman at the center of a Supreme Court case over a purported love jihad. Counternarratives in this digital environment face immediate backlash but remain crucial. Despite increasing recognition that religions and religious communities are dynamic rather than static, national and international human rights frameworks for religious rights continue to prioritize preservation rather than change. Many advocates of religious rights privilege the maintenance of religious traditions and communities. This emphasis can make conversion a threat to freedom rather than central to freedom. The chapters on mass conversions to Christianity, Buddhism, and Judaism show that spiritual mobility is completely intertwined with social, political, or spatial mobility, undermining narratives that mobility is evidence of spiritual insincerity. The chapters on attempts to immobilize converts illustrate how denying a convert’s agency denies her right to convert. Legal, political, and popular media narratives of force, allurement, scheduled castes, love jihadis, and mass conversion harm religious minorities. Religious freedom should encompass both the right to maintain and the right to change one’s

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religion; however, activists, politicians, judges, and journalists routinely deny the agency or sincerity of converts to minority religions, especially if they are mass converts, women, or members of lower castes or tribes, undermining their religious freedom. In light of these challenges, what alternatives can promote the possibilities of religious freedom? Conversion politics in India bolsters recent arguments that religious freedom seems, in practice, doomed to discriminate. The definitions of what “religion” and “freedom” are and narratives about which religions promote religious freedom or who a “real” convert is all favor dominant groups.97 The conclusion calls for a more equal freedom. In India, the United States, and beyond, religious freedom arguments increasingly facilitate discrimination against various minorities. Conversion narratives of and about converts reveal the construction and workings of religious freedom and the ways it promotes or suppresses people. Religious freedom has not been the commonly assumed “neutral mechanism by which competing religious claims can be adjudicated.”98 This does not mean we should jettison religious freedom. While converts are never entirely free, they could be more equally free.

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PART I

MOBILITY

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CHAPTER 1

Mass Movement Christians: Religious and Social Mobility

Fear that lower-caste and Adivasi people will convert en masse has provoked political backlashes against conversions.1 Such anxieties extend back to large-scale conversions of lower castes to Christianity in the late colonial era.2 Mass conversions to Christianity started in South India by the 1700s and, from the 1830s, spread north into virtually every province of British India and some princely states.3 Protestant missionaries in the 1880s began to use the term “mass movement” to describe these large, interconnected conversions, often by lower-caste groups, and the term spread widely by the early 1900s.4 Mohandas Gandhi increasingly criticized the mass movements as a threat to poor and uneducated groups and to anti-colonial unity. Missionaries tried to prove the sincerity and agency of mass converts to several audiences, including nationalist critics like Gandhi, international funders of missionaries, and potential future converts. To do so they drew on “evidence” such as conversion narratives or images documenting the converts’ transformations.5 In the early 1930s, one of the most influential defenders of mass movement conversions used a novel technique: a social scientific survey of converts. To prove that mass converts were sincere, or “valid,” converts, J. Waskom Pickett (1890–1981), a Wesleyan Methodist missionary from the United States, directed a survey of nearly four thousand converts from ten areas in India to document the preponderance of spiritual motives. Many converts surveyed were from Dalit communities, known at the time as untouchables or Depressed Classes. Pickett’s Christian Mass Movements in India: A Study with Recommendations, published in 1933, stood out because he pioneered “scientific” and statistical conversion narratives when most missionary accounts were either spiritual reflections

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Chapter 1

Figure 3. From the Wesleyan missionary F. Coyler Sackett’s book, Vision and Venture: A Record of Fifty Years in Hyderabad. This is an example of visual evidence of conversion in the context of the Christian mass movements, from a chapter entitled, “The Units That Went to Make up the Mass.” Photograph from F. Coyler Sackett, Vision and Venture: Fifty Years in India (London: Cargate Press, 1931).

or amateur ethnographies.6 Pickett imbued his text with faith in both science and religion. Pickett’s survey measuring the spiritual motives of mass movement Christians in the 1930s popularized the increasingly predominant narrative that true converts were individual agents choosing spiritually sincere beliefs. Rooted in Protestantism and early psychological scholarship on religion, this emphasis on individual belief extended beyond Protestants. As discussed in the introduction, in the 1940s individual belief became central to articulations of religious freedom in the Indian Constitution and the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. Although he is not single-handedly responsible for spreading notions of sincerity and agency, Pickett’s conceptualization of a valid convert popularized this prototype within India.

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To this day, critics of conversion in India routinely question the spiritual sincerity or agency of converts to undermine the rights of those who do not fit this norm. Pickett’s study and personal papers demonstrate that Pickett himself found motives of converts to be multifaceted and groupconversion dynamics to be complex. Nevertheless, in his analysis and conclusions he crammed unruly data about mass movement converts into the idealized model of the sincere individual convert, contributing to the persistence and popularity of this predominant narrative.

Mass Movement Christians and Their Legacies The mass movement conversions of untouchables to Christianity in the late colonial era challenged both nationalist and missionary assumptions about the lower strata of Indian society. Mass conversions particularly worried Mohandas Gandhi. He hoped to keep the lowest castes, which he called Harijans, meaning “people of (a Hindu) god,” within the Hindu fold.7 Meanwhile, missionaries had envisioned initially converting individual elites, who would help convert other sections of society.8 Lower-caste communities requesting conversions as a group surprised them. Dubbed “rice Christians” by some journalists and competing missionaries, mass converts elicited skepticism among many church leaders and donors, who had a more individualized conversion ideal in mind.9 Through his survey, J. Waskom Pickett tried to show that the new Christians were valid converts, document their motives, assess the opinions of their neighbors, and make recommendations for future missionary work. Pickett’s Christian Mass Movements in India, published by American and Indian publishers in 1933, was an early application of scientific survey methodology to the study of religion. Based on this and his other books, as well as book advertisements, book reviews, personal writings, drafts, and correspondence, I will examine Pickett’s varied mass movement conversion narratives for three divergent audiences: nationalist critics, especially Gandhi; Christian skeptics (in India and abroad); and the low castes known at the time as Depressed Classes, especially their leader, Dr. B. R. Ambedkar.10 Ambedkar announced in 1935, just two years after Pickett’s study was published, that he would not die a Hindu, leading to a frenzy of speculation among leaders of various religious communities: would Ambedkar and his followers join their religion? With the Depressed Classes up for grabs,

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Chapter 1

Pickett’s research gained new attention, as he and others drew on it to try to woo Ambedkar and the lowest castes to Christianity. The Christian mass movements have several contemporary legacies. One is Hindu nationalist fears, perennially revived by politicians and activists, that Hindu majority status will be lost due to growing minority populations, despite the fact that the national census consistently records Hindus as a sizeable majority of India’s population. The latest official percentages (from the 2011 census) are 79.80 percent Hindus and 2.30 percent Christians.11 This “fear of small numbers” is prevalent in India but certainly not unique to this country.12 Demographic fears and suspicion of missionary tactics vis-a`-vis the so-called weaker sections of society set the stage for periodic attacks on Christian churches and Christians, including missionaries, and a range of state laws monitoring or limiting forcible and induced religious conversions, the focus on Chapter 4.13 A second legacy of the mass movement conversions is the large number of Christians of lower-caste heritage, many still facing caste discrimination both within and outside of Christian communities.14 Separate congregations, communion cups, and cemeteries demonstrate the existence of caste hierarchies regardless of religion in many communities. Facing ongoing discrimination, Dalit Christians have pressed for affirmative action benefits, known as reservations, that other Dalits (administratively known as Scheduled Castes) receive.15 Currently, Dalit Christians and Dalit Muslims are not recognized as Scheduled Castes. Their ongoing campaign to be included among the Scheduled Castes, on the basis of religious freedom, is discussed in Chapter 5. A third legacy is subsequent mass conversions, particularly among lowerstatus groups. Although he ultimately decided against Christianity and chose Buddhism, the leader of the Depressed Classes, B. R. Ambedkar (see Chapter 2), made his public decision to leave Hinduism after many of the Christian mass movements had already occurred. As we will see in this chapter, his declaration that he would not die a Hindu sparked a flurry of missionary speculation about a potential influx of converts into Christianity. Mass conversions of lower-caste groups to various religions continue, such as the conversion of Dalits to Islam in Meenakshipuram in 1981 and, more recently, conversions of Dalits to Buddhism in Patapar, Gujarat, in October 2013, as well as other annual conversions on October 14, the anniversary of the day Ambedkar and his followers became Buddhists.16 Mass conversions to Hinduism are currently still sparking political debates in India.17

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A fourth legacy, and the focus of this chapter, is a predominant narrative that spiritual sincerity and individual agency are litmus tests for authentic conversion. This religious and political narrative is better understood against the background of the mass movements of the past and an analysis of the preoccupations and arguments of their critics and their defenders. J. Waskom Pickett’s defense of these converts is peppered with complications of the paradigmatic individual, spiritual convert, but his public conclusions ultimately reinforced this paradigm.

Who Is Eligible for Freedom? Sincerity and Agency Narratives The sincerity narrative has two interlinked emphases: belief, or conversion as primarily a change of mind rather than practices, and spirituality, a premise that conversion motives can and should be purely spiritual as opposed to material or political. Both elements stress interior rather than exterior change. The sincerity narrative is linked to the agency narrative in that a convert is supposed to be an individual with the agency, or autonomy and capability, to make that personal decision to convert to new spiritual beliefs. These normative narratives about converts were not unique to India. Webb Keane suggests that the “sincere belief model” was “at the heart of a moral narrative of modernity” that accompanied the global spread of Christianity, especially Protestantism.18 For Talal Asad, the principle of “moral autonomy” spread with the project of modernity, along with, in Keane’s view, a “vision of self that must be abstracted from material and social entanglements.”19 Saba Mahmood, Nathaniel Roberts, and Gauri Viswanathan critique liberal presumptions about autonomous agency in the context of religion or conversion:20 Is anyone entirely autonomous? Is any decision or belief purely spiritual? No, but Viswanathan traces “the fictionalization of religious experience as self-engendered and separable from the authority of law and other institutions,” demonstrating the reach and sway of this narrative.21 Thus, as discussed in the introduction, international and constitutional lawmakers embedded a spiritual, belief-centric conception of religion and a choice-centric conception of freedom into religious freedom clauses. This chapter focuses on narratives promulgated by an American missionary in India in the early 1900s. The sincere agent model of conversion

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was gaining traction in both America and India at this time. In the United States, William James’s influential “Christian psychology” approach to conversion focused on the “intense religious experiences of individuals” through written first-person accounts.22 James’s Varieties of Religious Experience, originally published in 1902, included his attempts to empirically study the interior experiences of converts. One of his students, Edwin Starbuck, pioneered the use of questionnaires as a way to study conversions (to Protestant Christianity).23 Gauri Viswanathan, in her literary analysis of conversion, reads James as an exemplar of the “myth of autonomous religious experience.” To Viswanathan, “the pressure of . . . social and political constraints upon the presumed autonomy of religious experience is precisely what is absent in a work like James’ Varieties of Religious Experience.”24 American psychological approaches accentuated existing Protestant emphases on sincere belief and individual agency, reinforcing a predominant narrative that a convert is an autonomous individual choosing a new belief. Meanwhile in India, “authenticity talk” about Christian converts emerged by about 1895, according to the historian Rupa Viswanath. Discussions of converts’ authenticity included themes of sincerity and agency but had a distinct genealogy in India. This narrative followed a large number of mass conversions by lower-caste communities in colonial South India and proposals for Pariah agricultural settlements managed by missionaries. (Pariahs are a Dalit caste.) Such Pariah settlements undermined the system of slavery predicated on Pariah landlessness.25 Challenges to the authenticity of converts became a tool in the arsenal of upper caste critics of the land scheme in the regional press. The Madras-based newspaper the Hindu in 1895 critiqued the use of the land proposals as “bait to draw Pariahs into the Christian fold.”26 Such arguments initiated “the adoption and dissemination by Tamil publicists of the Christian idea that religion should be rooted in an autonomous spiritual realm, and that conversion was only legitimate when motivated by the spirit.”27 By 1903, arguments that missionaries used agricultural settlements to induce Pariahs to convert appeared in Telugu and Tamil newspapers as well.28 Both missionaries and their critics were skeptical about the capability of the lowest castes to have purely spiritual motives, due to their extreme poverty and material deprivation.29 Their agency—or autonomy and capability to choose to convert—was also in question. The Hindu’s reference to Pariahs being tempted, like animals, by missionary “bait” is just one example of a narrative denying their agency. Such narratives emerged in north

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India as well during this time. Charu Gupta’s analysis of cartoons depicting Dalit converts to Christianity in Uttar Pradesh around the turn of the century provides several stunning examples. One published in the Hindilanguage magazine Chand in January 1929 “caricatured the Dalit as a ‘football’ being kicked by the pandit (Brahman priest), but being grabbed by the maulvi [Muslim religious teacher] and the padre (Catholic priest).”30 Denigration of mass converts’ sincerity and agency delegitimized their conversions at that time and persists today. In other words, we must ask: who is “eligible for ‘freedom’ ”?31 By examining the governance of religious freedom in practice, we dig below the surface of the idea of religious freedom to see its workings, including “trials of sincerity” and of agency. As Yvonne Sherwood argues, “Trials of depth or sincerity place the law in the simultaneously sinister and absurd position of playing omniscient deity and peering into the soul.”32 This tendency is not restricted to judges (whose sinister and absurd positions will be discussed in Chapters 4 and 6). How else can we peer into the soul? According to Pickett, and a growing number of his contemporaries, the answer to this conundrum was survey research. We must also ask: Whose souls are scrutinized? Who exactly is “called upon to divulge their putatively secreted contents in order to demonstrate their autonomy and authenticity? For this demand is not made of all subject-citizens with equal insistence,” observes Viswanath.33 By focusing on J. Waskom Pickett’s survey of lower-caste mass movement converts to Christianity, this chapter uncovers one mechanism that helped to popularize within India the now predominant narratives of sincerity and agency as litmus tests for authentic conversion, tests that were and continue to be applied more frequently to marginalized communities. Laws, litigation, and political speeches to this day continue to represent certain converts (lower castes, Adivasis, women, or anyone converting in a group) as lacking in sincerity or agency. Such narratives restrict poor, female, and/or lowercaste persons’ freedom to convert—in the name of protecting their religious freedom. The 1930s are a key period in the development of these narratives in India. Many scholars have examined Mohandas Gandhi’s influential criticisms of lower-caste conversions to Christianity, and responses to him, during this decade, including insightful contributions by the historian Chandra Mallampalli, the anthropologist Nathaniel Roberts, and the theology professor Sebastian C. H. Kim.34 Historians have addressed several impacts of

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Pickett’s 1933 study, which responded to Gandhi’s critiques as well as to Christian concerns “about the legitimacy of group conversions from depressed classes.”35 Eliza F. Kent observes that Pickett granted the mass movements “a certain validity” through the “cool language of sociology.”36 Mallampalli credits Pickett with attracting “international attention” to mass converts in India and documenting the challenges they posed for Indian churches.37 Susan Billington Harper argues that Christian Mass Movements in India demonstrated “the complexity of motives behind conversions” in mass movement areas.38 To this historical scholarship on Pickett, I add a focus on the development of political practices of religious freedom. In particular, this and the following chapters feature case studies of key moments in which predominant conversion narratives developed and spread. Predominant narratives have enabled a sliding scale of religious freedom for different populations, while counternarratives challenged their premises. Although converts responding to Pickett’s survey provided counternarratives that challenged neat distinctions between material and spiritual motives or between agency and inducement, their unmediated voices appear only in a list of forty survey responses that could not be standardized. Otherwise, Pickett categorized and deployed the survey data to conclude that most mass converts were spiritually authentic agents, thus reinforcing predominant narratives emerging in both the United States and India. In addition to its focus on conversion narratives and freedom, this chapter also will contribute to prior historical work by drawing on Pickett’s personal papers archived at Asbury University Library in Wilmore, Kentucky, the subject of only a few scholars’ research.39 I now turn to Pickett’s survey and Christian Mass Movements in India, with particular attention to his representations of mass converts as spiritual and autonomous decision-makers, despite some wayward data. I then turn to his other publications and archived papers to examine Pickett’s conversion narratives for three important audiences: nationalist Hindus, skeptical Christians, and the Depressed Classes.

J. Waskom Pickett: A Quest for Spiritual and Scientific Validity Jarrell Waskom Pickett was a Wesleyan Methodist missionary who also became known as a “mission theorist” due to his systematic studies of mass

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movements.40 He became a missionary at the urging of his former college roommate, the missionary E. Stanley Jones, who arranged for Pickett to come to India in 1910 to take over a Methodist church when Stanley moved on to other opportunities. During his forty-six years in India, Pickett was a “pastor, district superintendent, editor of the Indian Witness, and bishop of the Methodist Church in India.”41 A surveyor of mass movement Christians and author of several books, Pickett may have even influenced the wording of the religious liberties clause in the Indian Constitution, including the right to propagate religion. Late in his life, Pickett recalled giving suggestions on the wording of this section.42 A December 1948 letter to Pickett from his friend, the Bengali Baptist H. C. Mookerji, vice president of the Constituent Assembly and chair of the subcommittee on minorities, gives suggestive but not conclusive support to this claim. The letter noted that “we have at last passed our Fundamental Rights including the right to propagate our faith” in a celebratory tone that implied both Mookerji and Pickett supported this clause and may have previously discussed it.43 Whether they did or not, the clause is consonant with Pickett’s Protestant views. Prior to these constitutional developments, Pickett defended propagation and conversion by directing the mass movement survey in India for the National Christian Council of India, Ceylon and Burma, with some financial and technical help from New York’s Institute for Social and Religious Research.44 This institute existed from 1921 to 1934 and was funded with $3 million from John D. Rockefeller Jr., inspired by his “belief in the application of scientific methods in the religious field.”45 The president of the institute, John R. Mott, exuded the confidence in scientific objectivity typical of his era. Despite his own long-standing leadership of the Young Men’s Christian Association (YMCA) and extensive Christian mission work, he declared the institute “the first serious and extensive effort to apply to religious phenomena the methods of social research without the distorting influence of ecclesiastical or theological bias.”46 Religion was an impetus for early survey research. The Institute for Social and Religious Research had emerged in the aftermath of the collapse of the wildly ambitious Interchurch World Survey, arguably the “most extravagant” and ambitious project to emerge from the early survey movement, consisting of 140 boards and 35 Protestant denominations.47 After its collapse due to methodology (a five-hundred-question survey), as well as “political controversy, denominational split, and financial overextension,” the more circumscribed institute emerged to sponsor about seventy-five research

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projects and a hundred publications, including Christian Mass Movements in India.48 The 1930s were the dawn of survey research in the United States.49 Prior surveyors included national census administrators, as well as English and American social reformers of varied political and religious persuasions, who pioneered social surveys from the 1880s to the 1890s, usually with a focus on the poor and with an aim to influence policy.50 In these early social surveys, such as the one by W. E. B. DuBois, The Philadelphia Negro (1899), the term “survey” meant an overview of many forms of information but typically involved fieldwork, a large scope, and quantification of many individual cases.51 By the 1930s, American survey research was becoming more focused on particular instruments, such as a “schedule” to standardize questions and systematize observations. The institute was in the thick of this transition, as the ministers who led their earliest social surveys were being replaced by professional social scientists.52 Although Pickett was a minister, he drew on the new methods. Based on a standardized questionnaire and nearly four thousand interviews in ten different communities within India, Pickett’s was one of most ambitious surveys up to that time in the non-Western world.53 Pickett’s mass movement study was multidenominational and influential. For instance, the Disciples’ missionary Donald McGavran tried to build on Pickett’s findings to induce more mass movements, declaring, “There has come a book sent by God, and its name is ‘Christian Mass Movements in India.’ ”54 McGavran’s Church Growth Movement was based on the premise that “the best way to induce a mass movement was to encourage the conversion of an entire community (or in this case a caste) en masse, rather than focusing on individuals or single families.”55 Pickett and McGavran, along with A. L. Warnshuis and Rev. G. H. Singh, were the coauthors of Church Growth and Group Conversion, in which McGavran defines “church growth” as “a process of spiritual reproduction whereby new congregations are formed” and argues that “great growth has almost always been caste-wise.”56 Further surveys of additional converts resulted in additional books by Pickett published in the US and India in 1938: Christ’s Way to India’s Heart focused on conversions among Hindus of the “Middle Classes,” and Christian Missions in Mid India: A Study of Nine Areas with Special Reference to Mass Movements focused on conversions in the Central Provinces, Central India, and Rajputana.57

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Pickett was concerned with both spiritual and scientific validity. The first sentence of his introduction to Christian Mass Movements reveals the impulse for his study: “Since the beginning of Christian mass movements in connection with Protestant missions, large and influential sections of the missionary body and of the Indian church have questioned their spiritual validity,” including the converts’ “motives for seeking recognition as Christians.”58 In short, “how real” were mass conversions?59 Thus Pickett addressed “criticisms of the motives of mass-movement converts,” which are “so numerous and come from so many and such responsible sources that they cannot be ignored.”60 The responsible sources he mentioned include an unspecified “distinguished American minister” and Mohandas Gandhi.61 In the chapter “Motives Underlying MassMovement Conversions,” Pickett responded to critics by representing mass conversions in India as congruent with William James’s descriptions (quoted by Pickett) of a “sudden and complete conversion” in which “the man is born anew,” achieving a new, even heroic, “level of spiritual vitality.”62 James’s descriptions of conversion emphasized both agency and sincerity and avoided any suggestion of ambiguity. Pickett quoted James’s reminder that a “small man’s salvation will always be a great salvation for him,” implying the applicability of James’s model to the Depressed Classes.63 He lamented that James passed away before studying mass conversions and noted the limited progress of psychology, which had “not yet perfected instruments with which one may analyze another’s mind.”64 Pickett seemed to want to study individual conversion experiences like James did; yet he was working with mass converts. Attempting to reconcile this tension, Pickett did a survey, a method based on individual responses but resulting in mass data and conclusions. The survey team’s search for Jamesian individual and spiritual salvation emerged in a passage in Christian Mass Movements on their research methodology. This passage described a few respondents’ initial (often material) responses to a question—why did you convert?—and subsequent discussion with surveyors that seemed to discredit these initial responses. Pickett argued that informants tend to remember the most “dramatic” reason for conversion first. For example: “An old man, asked why he became a Christian, after a moment’s thought, replied, ‘My uncle was beaten by the village landlord.’ But, a few minutes later, he mentioned he had been studying in a Christian school, had learned that only Jesus can redeem from sin, and

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had long been urging his parents and others of his caste to become Christians.”65 One can only imagine the few minutes of conversation with the survey staff, but Pickett interpreted the latter answers as “much stronger” motives at the time of conversion.66 Based on 3,947 answers by heads of households to his queries on conversion motives, Pickett grouped mass movement converts’ responses into four categories: In Group 1 (Spiritual Motives) are placed all answers that had been recorded under the heads: “seeking salvation,” and “convinced by the preacher,” and also all such answers as “to know God,” “to find peace,” “because of faith in Jesus,” “because of the love of God,” etc. In Group 2 (Secular Motives) are placed all answers that had been recorded as “sought help of the missionaries,” “in hope of education for the children,” “for improved social standing,” “had agricultural service” and “had medical service,” and also all answers that revealed a hope of personal gain not definitely spiritual, such as “to marry a Christian girl,” “because the landowners oppressed us,” etc. In Group 3 (Social Reasons) we put all answers checked as “family was being baptized,” and “brotherhood was being baptized,” and such answers as “I didn’t want to remain a Hindu when my relatives were Christians,” or “My people told me to do so.” In Group 4 (Natal Influences) is composed of those whose replies were entered as “child of Christian parents.” Their parents were Christians when they were born or became Christians while they were quite young, so that they were brought up in the Christian faith. Where motives or reasons belonging to two or more of the above classifications were mentioned, the men concerned were put in each group for which their answers qualified them.67 Pickett tabulated the replies and concluded that the largest group converted due to spiritual motives and the smallest group converted for secular reasons. The final scores: spiritual motives 34.8 percent, secular motives 8.1 percent, social reasons 22.4 percent, and natal influences 34.7 percent. Such representations of converts as spiritually motivated agents dominated Pickett’s study. Surveys are a method based on individual responses, and questions such as “why did you convert?” presumed that the convert (for this

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study, just heads of households, predominantly male) was an agent making a personal decision. The history of surveys includes what Bonilla-Silva and Zuberi call “white logic,” whereby white elites, who consider themselves objective, fit answers of nonwhite or colonized people into preexisting categories, rather than perceiving them as capable of meaning making.68 I will refrain from an extended methodological critique of Christian Mass Movements but just comment on “objectivity.” The Christian leanings of the surveyors were well known to the respondents, who, according to Pickett himself, observed the surveyors march into their villages preceded by a band and, sometimes, dancers. A worship service and brief explanation of the survey followed this parade. In one village “loud protest was made against the fifteen minute address of the director, because it was not sufficiently sermonic in character.”69 The people in that village, at least, seemed to have a better grasp of the religious nature of this scientific enterprise than the surveyors themselves. Despite his conclusion that individual, spiritual motives predominated, Pickett recognized the highly mixed motives of groups and even individual respondents. Not all of the responses fit into the standardized answers printed on the survey forms. Although Pickett doggedly foregrounded sincerity and agency in his conclusions, recalcitrant data emerged in the form of handwritten notes in the margins of the questionnaire forms and notebooks used for the study (responses the enumerators could not fit into standard categories). In a section entitled “All Sorts of Motives,” Pickett reveals that while “more than 3400 were adequately represented by the standardized replies printed in the forms to facilitate recording and classification,” 200 replies to the question “Why did you become of Christian?” were “recorded in words.”70 The unclassifiable answers form counternarratives to the study’s conclusions: 1. 2. 3. 4. 5. 6. 7.

Because I was tired of the devil. To change my character. To escape from cholera. To marry a good girl. So I could amount to something in life and go to heaven. Because I was sorry for my sins. Because Jesus rescued me from the devil.

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8. 9. 10. 11. 12. 13. 14. 15. 16. 17. 18. 19. 20. 21. 22. 23. 24. 25. 26. 27. 28. 29. 30. 31. 32. 33. 34. 35. 36. 37. 38. 39. 40.

To do my duty. To fight the devil and help my children. Because I wanted instruction. Because I didn’t want to be a fool all my life. To receive help from God. Because the landowners oppressed us. Because Chamars are stupid, and I didn’t want to remain a Chamar. Because I didn’t want to hinder God’s spirit. To get rid of my sinful habits. Because I thought the Christian religion best for me. Because I saw advantages while I live and after I die. Because God worked in me and I had to do it. To take the name of God as a protector. Because I liked Christian people. Because our missionary helped us against the Brahmans and the Rajputs. Because I wanted God’s blessing on our family. To obtain peace in my heart. Because the love of Jesus won me. Because I was a devil and God made me a man. Because Jesus is better than Krishna. Because I was sick of gods who couldn’t hear my prayers. To get a wife for my younger brother. For Jesus’ sake. Because I like the teaching. Because this religion melted my heart. Because a British soldier in France taught me to worship God and to love Jesus. To be saved from forced labor. Because I wanted to know God. Because it was right. Everyone ought to be a Christian. Because I was unhappy as I was. Because the wise men of my caste said I should. Because I was invited to do so several times. The Christians were always after me. For many reasons it seemed best.71

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These marginalia revealed lived religion and blurred any neat arguments about whether converts were spiritually sincere agents or not. Wanting to “amount to something in life and go to heaven” and to “fight the devil and help my children” fused spiritual and material motives. How could one even assess “agency” in answers like: “because this religion melted my heart,” “to do my duty,” and “because I didn’t want to be a fool all my life”? At the end of this list, Pickett simply concluded, “The motives that lead Indian people to Christ in mass movements are the motives that lead people anywhere to him.”72 This passage is quite different from the rest of the book. Pickett did not try to force these converts’ responses into an idealized western or Protestant model but, rather, made the provocative argument that these mixed motives were not all that different from the motives of converts anywhere. In most of his chapter “Motives Underlying Mass Movement Conversions,” he legitimized mass movement converts by using his survey results to argue that they converted like spiritually idealized Protestants. But in this more reflective passage, he suggested that Protestants anywhere are really a bit more complicated, and more like these mass movement Christians, than they might readily admit. Like this nuanced passage, Pickett’s personal papers further complicate the conclusions of Christian Mass Movements in India and the predominant conversion narrative it promoted. Drawing on Pickett’s other published writings and personal papers, I now turn to the ways Pickett narrated mass movement conversions to engage three key groups—Gandhi and nationalist Hindus, Indian and Western Christians, and B. R. Ambedkar and the Depressed Classes. These groups were very different from each other as well as internally diverse. To legitimize Christian mass converts, and to try to gain more converts, Pickett needed to juggle wide-ranging audiences. His public emphasis on the spiritual sincerity and agency of Christian mass movement converts was an effort to assuage three very different audiences. Gandhi and Nationalist Hindus Gandhi was not the only nationalist on Pickett’s radar. In a private memorandum about the importance of the mass movement study, Pickett mentioned that a “school of Hindu politicians is demanding legislation to make

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Mass conversions illegal. The Editor of the Indian Social Reformer is supporting the demand, although he professes admiration for much Mission work and reverence for the character of Christ. In two Indian states legislation has been enacted forbidding change of religious affiliation except on a license secured from a government official designated for the purpose.”73 Early anticonversion legislation (see Chapter 4), was one impetus for Pickett’s mass movement study. Another was Gandhi’s widely publicized criticism of mass movements. Mohandas Gandhi suggested that mass movement conversions were neither genuine nor freely chosen. By 1931, he emphasized both sincerity and agency in his publication, Young India: I hold that proselytizing under the cloak of humanitarian works is, to say the least, unhealthy. It is certainly resented by the people here. Religion, after all, is a deeply personal matter, touching the heart. Why should I change my religion because a doctor who professes Christianity has cured me of some disease. . . . Or why should I, while in a missionary educational institution, have Christian teaching thrust upon me? . . . Conversion, in the sense of self-purification, self-realization, is a crying need of the times. That, however, is not what is meant by proselytizing.74 Although he wove into this passage his own conceptualizations of conversion, including self-purification and self-realization, Gandhi tapped into the increasingly predominant sincerity narrative through his description of religion as a “deeply personal” matter “touching the heart” and into the agency narrative through his opposition to material inducements such as medical care or to Christian teaching being “thrust upon” students. The British and American press widely covered Gandhi, including his views on missionaries, which even inspired a question in the British Parliament on May 4, 1931, shortly after this Young India article was picked up by London’s Daily Mail.75 In addition to worries about missionary-induced divisions within the anti-colonial struggle, Gandhi knew the impact conversions could have on communal electorates, a right granted by the India Bill of 1935. This bill, part of colonial constitutional reforms to give limited legislative power to some Indians, split legislative seats and voters on the basis of electorates

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defined by religious identity to ensure some minority representation, particularly of Muslims. Thus large-scale conversions away from Hinduism would have political implications. Moreover, the Depressed Classes had demanded their own communal electorate, which was supported by B. R. Ambedkar and opposed by Gandhi. Gandhi wanted to keep the Depressed Classes within Hinduism, both religiously and politically, although in this campaign to oppose separate electorates, he emphasized caste as a religious phenomena that could not be fixed by political means. In 1932 Gandhi wrote letters opposing a separate electorate for the Depressed Classes, stating, “For me the question of these classes is predominantly moral and religious,” rather than political, and “this matter is one of pure religion.”76 Ultimately a 1932 compromise known as the Pune Pact gave the Depressed Classes reserved seats but not a separate electorate (meaning that non– Depressed Class voters could vote to fill those seats). By 1936, in response to Ambedkar’s announcement that he would not die a Hindu and his essay Annihilation of Caste, Gandhi had changed his tune on caste as a matter of “pure religion,” writing in his publication Harijan that “caste has nothing to do with religion.”77 Debates over whether caste or conversion are religious or political persist, because they are both (as Ambedkar recognized), yet people increasingly tried to classify them as one or the other. Despite this tendency to try to distinguish the secular from the religious, Peter van der Veer argues that “it is important to understand the secular and the religious as mutually interdependent” and that this “interdependence is crucial in the formation of the nation-state.”78 As Gauri Viswanathan observes, the colonial state had routinely “legislated subjectivity” to the detriment of converts, often treating them for legal purposes as “essentially someone who had not converted.”79 Communal electorates were another example of this secularreligious interdependence, as new political institutions reinforced the categorization of citizens on the basis of religion. By the 1930s, missionaries trying to stay above the fray and avoid charges of illicit conversions attempted to negotiate their way through the changing religious-political terrain. For example, the minutes of the Methodist Episcopal Church in the South Asia Central Conference of 1936, for which Pickett served as one of four conference presidents, carefully included a greeting to Gandhi (even though he was absent) and a special resolution concerning Ambedkar’s announcement that he would not die a Hindu. That special resolution

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included preparations for possible conversions. Perhaps in sensitivity to Gandhi’s critiques of proselytizing and mass conversions, the conference resolution stated that at least six months of preparation prior to conversion should be practiced by missionaries.80 Such preparation guidelines could counter arguments that mass converts did not have a chance to make an informed spiritual decision or were swept away by a crowd. Gandhi continued to criticize mass movement converts after the publication of Pickett’s Christian Mass Movements, and Pickett continued to address Gandhi’s arguments in subsequent writing.81 For example in Christ’s Way to India’s Heart (1938), Pickett quoted and responded to an article by Gandhi from the Harijan (June 19, 1937 issue), entitled “Why They Convert.” Gandhi’s article quoted a critical report by the Shahabad (Bihar area) District Harijan Sevak Sangh, a Gandhian organization for lower castes. Pickett took particular umbrage at the following passage about Christian converts from that report: “Not a single instance can be found in which the acceptance of the new faith was due to any religious convictions. . . . The reasons for conversion may be roughly described as economic or socio-economic.”82 Gandhi also challenged the agency of the Depressed Classes, describing them as “ ‘cows’ who could not understand the distinction between Christianity and Hinduism” in a conversation with John R. Mott, president of the organization that had funded Pickett’s study.83 Pickett tried to counter Gandhi with his surveys about the spiritual sincerity of lower-caste converts. For instance, one Brahmin convert interviewed for Pickett’s study vouched for Mala converts despite his initial skepticism. He and his family at first thought they converted “to receive favors from the Mission,” but he got to know a Mala Christian clerk who refused a bribe, “read his Bible every day and talked to me for hours at a time about Christ. Here was godliness where I least expected to find it.”84 Pickett’s private papers reveal a tense relationship with Gandhi. When he first heard Gandhi, at an address, he recalled that Gandhi’s “speech frightened me,” and his relationship with Gandhi proved to be riddled with disagreement over mass movement converts.85 On the one hand, Pickett’s private reflections capture one missionary’s concerns about Gandhi. On the other, public papers in Pickett’s archive capture attempts to assuage Gandhi’s concerns about missionaries. In 1939, for example, a Methodist newsletter proclaimed: “As communalism is a curse to India and impedes its progress, we as Christians should repudiate it, standing for the country rather than merely for our community.”86 Another passage in the same

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newsletter also promotes sentiments Gandhi would endorse: “We should welcome the coming of self-government and encourage it by word and deed. The Church as a Church can take no part in political life, but Church members should be free to join any political party they may desire, even Congress. There is no necessary clash between the Congress and the Christian movement.”87 Yet notations on Pickett’s personal copy of this newsletter, in which the phrase “even Congress” has been crossed out with a pen, suggest, perhaps, lingering worries about Gandhi.

Christian Skeptics in India and Abroad Upper-caste Indian Christians critical of the influx of the Depressed Classes were another important audience for Pickett, who took to heart the question one Indian layman posed to him: “Please inquire whether massmovement converts are real Christians.”88 His study, an attempt to answer this question, sold better in India than the United States. The Lucknow Publishing House had released an Indian edition of the mass movement study for 150 rupees in 1933, the same year as the American edition.89 Pickett recognized the concerns of this audience by listing reasons for the “large numbers of educated Indian Christians [who] are severely critical of mass movements.” These reasons included opposition to the resulting reduction in the Indian Christian literacy rate, uneasiness about child marriage occurring in mass movement areas, and caste prejudice.90 But a book review of Christian Mass Movements criticized his “superficial” summary of Christians’ concerns: “What corrective has been applied in the past to the race for mass conversions has been due mainly to the outspoken expression of opinion which the better judgement of Indian leaders had dictated. Having benefitted from the criticism and been impelled to undertake a thorough inquiry of this kind, the Director of the Survey should have taken care not to have shown the Indian Church in ridiculous perspective.”91 Although the book sold relatively well in India, clearly Pickett did not always satisfy his Indian Christian audience. Pickett also had to appeal to American Christians on his fundraising tours in the United States. He recalled raising money there for the mass movement study and an educational institution in India that he helped support: “I went to America in January 1929 and began visiting men and

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women, pleading for support.” Just before the stock market crash that ushered in the Great Depression in the United States, within nine months I was assured of $50,000 for the Mass Movement study and of $136,000 for the Lucknow Christian College. The budget for the mass movement study taught me a lot about the cost of making such a study. My first request for the funds for the purpose was but $19,500. The Institute of Social and Religious Research responded that it was not possible to make a productive study for less than twice that much. My revised budget asked for $35,000. The Institute replied that they would be glad to give $40,000 on condition that the total expenditure be estimated at $50,000 and an additional $10,000 be provided from some other source.92 The US funding came with strings attached, perhaps due to a particular interest in caste or a methodological concern: “Pressure from our financial supporters in the U.S.A. made it necessary for us to eliminate Assam [from the mass movement study] because tribalism rather than caste was the dominant force in controlling social and religious conditions there. . . . We reluctantly omitted Assam from our study.”93 Pickett’s survey-based conclusions that the largest percentage of mass movement converts were spiritually sincere seemed to resonate with his Christian audiences. In unused material for his memoir, which was published after his retirement, Pickett reflected upon the impact of his study on his former critics among the Christians: “It seemed for some time that the old controversy about group conversions had been settled. Literally scores of ministers who had repeatedly spoken against mass movements wrote me that they had been convinced by the evidence revealed in ‘Christian Mass Movements in India.’ ” Still, “a few stalwart opponents” persevered, although Pickett felt they “probably did so without reading the book.”94 Pickett’s mass movement study defended the agency of individual mass movement converts, but in his more candid personal papers, Pickett critiqued his skeptics’ overemphasis on individualism, something he saw as an American trait. He noted that “group actions in religion can in many cases be completely valid and offer certain values that are sadly missing where people accustomed to group action are compelled to make separate decisions and lose the help that all of them would have received if they had

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been encouraged to act together. Many Americans have suffered heavily from excessive individualism.”95 Unlike his survey, in which mass converts became a conglomeration of “separate decisions,” this passage proclaims the validity, even superiority, of “group actions in religion.” In addition to his publications, Pickett’s sermons provided conversion narratives for his Christian audiences. He gave sermons in the United States with Indian examples and sermons in India with Biblical examples, in both settings supporting the mass movement conversions in India. For example, for an American audience, Pickett drew a parallel between Paul and a mass movement convert: Now St. Paul gives us a good example of conversion. He is travelling along the road to Damascus, breathing out slaughter against Christians. The Lord Jesus appears to him and makes him realize his mistake. He turns and becomes a Christian and a preacher of Christ. I could tell you many stories of conversion in our own times. A South Indian youth hated all Christians and for three years trained himself to organize persecution of Christians. A pamphlet wrapped around something he had bought in a bazaar arrested his attention. After reading it late at night he couldn’t sleep. God spoke to him and before morning he was converted. When I met him he was said to have led three hundred Hindus to Christ.96 Notes for another sermon, “The First Christian Mass Movement,” given in India, draws parallels between Israelites and the Depressed Classes: 1. In this mass mov’t area a sermon on the first Christian mass movement. 2. Jesus the friend of sinners-the outcastes of Israel. . . . 6. God has often chosen the oppressed of [as?] instruments of his service. The Israelites the depressed classes of Egypt. Exceptions like Paul and John Wesley. But in every generation God has made plentiful use of the poor, the underprivileged.97 By likening mass movement converts to the individualized and idealized conversion story of Paul, and by likening the Depressed Classes to Israelites in Egypt, Pickett created narratives to legitimize mass movement conversions for American and Indian Christian audiences.

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Ambedkar and Depressed Classes Another audience for the mass movement study was potential converts among the Depressed Classes, who became the key audience after Ambedkar’s 1935 announcement that he would not die a Hindu.98 Buddhists, Muslims, Sikhs, Jains, Hindus, and Christians all tried to appeal to potential converts at the All-Religions Conference of the All-India Depressed Classes Conference in Lucknow in May of 1936.99 Afterward, the Indian Christian Messenger (June–July 1936 issue) expressed regrets: “We are sorry that some of our own faith appeared at this kind of ‘religious auction’ ” and that those “anxious to import millions en masse into their fold” had participated in this “unbecoming event.” This publication of the Indian Christian Association, United Provinces, went on to bifurcate spiritual from political conversions, entreating the Depressed Classes to “not seek transference into other communities prompted only by economic, social, and political reasons. . . . It is SPIRITUAL ASPIRATION that should be their first (absolutely first) concern and they should meet leaders of various religions as seekers after spiritual satisfaction but not hold public religious bazaars such as the one held recently in Lucknow.”100 A persuasive pamphlet based on Pickett’s study became an alternative means to attract the Depressed Classes. In 1936 J. Holmes Smith published a 72-page booklet in India by compiling key passages from the 382-page Christian Mass Movements and some additional commentary. This digest, wrote E. Stanley Jones in a new foreword for the booklet, made “available to a larger public the facts that underlie the Christian Mass Movements.” Jones declared, “It is the judgment hour of religion. And the astonishing thing is that the ‘outcaste’ has become the judge!”101 This foreword by Pickett’s old friend Jones welcomed the “declarations of Dr. B. R. Ambedkar and his followers that they seek to lead the Depressed Classes out of Hinduism into a faith which will strike from their necks the degradations of the past. . . . The spiritual destiny of some seventy million people is an issue of such momentous importance that it is clearly our duty to make available all of the material relevant to the weighing of the issues involved.”102 Framing his argument in light of Ambedkar’s reputation as an intellectual and rational leader, Jones predicted, “The leaders of the Depressed Classes will be wise enough not to base their decision upon words. . . . It requires a thorough, fair-minded survey of exactly the type made by Dr. Pickett.”103

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Jones, like Pickett before him, stressed the numbers—the scientific nature and large scope of the survey, the ten areas and thirty-eight hundred households—with a heady confidence in the new science of survey research. Jones surmised that Ambedkar and the Depressed Classes would be asking, “What has the religion in question done for the Depressed Classes?” and would find answers in Pickett’s study. Although this question seems to conflict with Pickett’s emphasis on the predominance of spiritually sincere motives, Jones may have thought it would resonate with Ambedkar. Ambedkar viewed sincere conversion as the “full deliberation of the value of religion and the virtue of the different religions” and incorporated both spiritual and material concerns into sincerity, a point to be taken up in Chapter 2.104 Pickett corresponded with his missionary colleagues about Ambedkar’s views, and their responses suggest Pickett was initially optimistic that Ambedkar might choose Christianity. A 1937 letter to Pickett from E. Stanley Jones included the comment: “I am glad to hear . . . Dr. Ambedkar is so favorable toward Christianity.”105 J. Z. Hodge wrote to Pickett recommending a book that was soon coming out (“The Mahar Folk” by Rev. Alexander Robertson of Nagpur) that “should appeal to Dr. Ambedkar” and asking “do you think you could show it to Ambedkar and get him to write a brief forward?”106 One handwritten remembrance, entitled “Great Indian Leaders I Have Known” included Pickett’s recollections of meetings with Ambedkar before he chose his new religion. According to Pickett’s account, Ambedkar seriously contemplated conversion to Christianity and even requested baptism: I had been elected bishop by the Cent. Conf in India and was assigned to live in Bombay shortly after Ambedkar had denounced Hinduism as responsible for the crimes against the so-called Outcastes of India. He announced that he was not going to live on as a Hindu and was going to seek a religion which he could hold without shame. Time does not permit me to extend as much as I would like about Ambedkar. He came often to our apartment in Bombay to talk to me about Christianity and the process by which he and his associates might become Christians. One night we were on our knees in prayer when he begged me to baptize him. I could not do it because he would not publicly declare his Christian faith.107

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In this handwritten essay, Pickett is much more admiring of Ambedkar than of Gandhi, calling Ambedkar “the truly great recognized leader of the Depressed Classes of India.”108 Competing attempts to recruit Ambedkar frustrated Pickett: “India has recently witnessed the spectacle of the President of the Hindu Mahasabha appealing to Dr. Ambedkar, leader of a section of the Depressed Classes which has renounced Hinduism and declared its purpose to adopt another religion, to choose Sikhism and thus remain within the Hindu social system.”109 Engulfing the Depressed Classes, and even Sikhism, within Hinduism are examples of what I have called Hindu “supersizing.”110 This is a way to keep lower castes and even mass converts within the Hindu fold through a broad definition of Hinduism. As we will see in Chapter 2, even Buddhism and, most astoundingly, Ambedkar himself have been reappropriated by some Hindu politicians. Ambedkar’s eventual turn to Buddhism must have been a great disappointment for Pickett. Long after Ambedkar’s decision had been made, Pickett remained concerned about competition from other religions, including Buddhism. “I have been informed recently by several letters from India that Buddhism is now being propagated among people who had been asking for Christian instruction.”111 Although initially giddy about a large potential pool of converts led by Ambedkar, Christian missionaries’ hopes were ultimately dashed. Despite attempts by Pickett, Jones, and Smith to circulate Pickett’s findings via their pamphlet and make the case for Christianity, some of Pickett’s narratives failed to hit the mark. Pickett’s incremental rather than revolutionary approach to uplifting the Depressed Classes was at odds with Ambedkar’s vision. A passage from Christian Mass Movements, also reproduced in Smith’s 1936 booklet under the heading “Christianizing the social order,” could not have appealed to Ambedkar or many of his followers: Much abatement of oppression has resulted from the improved morals, the increased cleanliness, and the public service of Christian converts and also from the recognition that they have become genuinely religious people. Relatively little abatement has resulted from fighting for rights. We recommend that court cases be discouraged and that efforts to free converts from oppression be centered on winning the respect of the oppressors. It is very important that the

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attention of converts be turned from their grievances to their privileges and obligations as Christians.112 Championing the mass movement converts as “genuinely religious people”—sincere individual believers—Pickett, in this passage, downplayed their material and political grievances and deprivations as a group. He knew that critics routinely pointed to Depressed Class deprivations to deny their religious agency or Depressed Class demands to deny their religious sincerity. But if he hoped to appeal to Ambedkar, Pickett’s strategy of discouraging legal challenges and avoiding fights for rights fell short. Although Ambedkar also encouraged cleanliness, morals, and winning respect, he staunchly advocated for redressing grievances and fighting for rights.113 Pickett’s decidedly anti-revolutionary stance helps explain the failure to ultimately convince Ambedkar and his followers to join the Christian mass movement converts. Surveys and Sermons: Pickett’s Arguments and Ambiguities Pickett’s arguments, ranging from his surveys to his sermons about mass movement converts, helped to popularize an increasingly predominant narrative that genuine converts exhibit both agency and sincerity. Critics of mass converts, by denying that they had these attributes, tried to curtail their freedom to convert. Even defending converts’ sincerity or agency, as Pickett did, reinforced the paradigm, suggesting that converts lacking these qualities were not “valid.” Following Gauri Viswanathan, I examine “conversion narratives as products of tension between civil society, religion, and political authority.”114 Although the paradigm resonated with Pickett as a Protestant, he was also responding to both Christian and Hindu critics as he defended the mass movement converts on these grounds. Pickett did not introduce the agency-sincerity narrative to India, but he did contribute to its predominance, influencing to this day which converts political authorities consider eligible for religious freedom. Mass conversions inspired resistance from those with a vested interest in static religious boundaries, such as upper-caste landowners losing unpaid Dalit labor; Hindus worried about a declining share of legislative seats; Christians concerned that mass movements would tarnish them by increasing illiteracy, child marriage, and lower-castes in their ranks; and anticolonial nationalists trying to avoid divisions within the anti-colonial

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movement. To block conversions, these critics, from varied religious and ideological backgrounds, began to discredit mass movement converts as inauthentic by questioning their motives (sincerity) or ability to make religious decisions (agency). With the onset of “authenticity talk” around the turn of the century, critics began pointing to any social mobility of converts as evidence to undermine their religious mobility.115 Elite critics at home and abroad looked askance at the Depressed Class converts. In their eyes, any perceived material advantage or social mobility enjoyed by converts nullified the (interior, imperceptible) spiritual dimension of mass conversions, rendering such converts insincere. At the same time, complete material deprivation or absence of social mobility also nullified conversions in the eyes of elite critics, because they did not consider such converts agents. In the words of one such critic, writing in the Hindu newspaper in 1903, an impoverished, lower-caste person could not possibly make a decision to convert “due to intellectual and spiritual conviction.”116 As mass conversions continued, in 1931 Mohandas Gandhi began to challenge missionary proselytization for not producing sincere agents, reinforcing the notion of conversion as a “deeply personal matter” of the “heart.” By seeking out and measuring sincerity and agency among mass movement converts, Pickett tried to legitimize these converts but failed to problematize an increasingly dominant ideal. Pickett’s defense of mass movement conversions ranged from surveys to sermons. By asking individuals about religious choices and conglomerating these answers to reveal a plurality of “spiritual” converts, Pickett and his famous survey promoted the perennial fixation on the sincerity and agency of converts in India. Likewise, in a sermon, he equated a mass convert with the apostle Paul, the sincere agent prototype. Even while juggling several audiences, including nationalist Hindus, Christian skeptics, and the Depressed Classes, Pickett pursued and highlighted the increasingly predominant narrative. Yet his study and reflections on the mass movements also reveal fissures in this story. Despite his argument that mass converts were sincere, Pickett’s wider writings, including the recently published The Confirmation of the Gospel, highlight the ambiguities of sincerity; lived religion (even among Protestants) does not conform to the Protestant-inflected ideal of interior, beliefbased sincerity, and neither do many converts.117 Even in his earlier study,

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Christian Mass Movements, Pickett’s list of non-standardizable reasons for conversion challenges linear, before-and-after notions of sincere conversion. Although not a trained anthropologist, Pickett’s rather primitive survey fieldwork complicated the equation of sincerity with an individual choosing a new belief. Likewise, contemporary scholars, particularly anthropologists, are well aware that converts do not flip a belief switch. Michael Lambek notes, “For some, conversion is a matter of adding on a new set of practices without fully relinquishing the practices one has held until then,” and thus religious freedom for many entails not “purity, sincerity, and linear transformation” but rather “heterogeneity, irony, and recursivity.”118 Robert Hefner argues that conversion is “not always an exclusivistic change of religious affiliation requiring the repudiation of previously held beliefs” as held by contemporaries of Pickett, such as the influential American scholar A. D. Nock, who defined conversion as “the reorientation of the soul of an individual . . . the positive response of a man to the choice set before him.” Rather, conversion, even to Christianity, “assumes a variety of forms because it is influenced by a larger interplay of identity, politics, and morality.”119 Reflections in Pickett’s papers about Gandhi, Ambedkar, and the future of the Depressed Classes show that he was aware of this interplay of identity, politics, and morality. Indeed, his data and writings about conversions illustrate the difficulty of maintaining the appearance of spiritual motives in a world in which spirituality was being collapsed into the political structure itself. The communal electorates initiated by the India Bill of 1935 and, that same year, Ambedkar’s announced intention not to “die a Hindu” chipped away at a crumbling distinction between religious, social, and political mobility. Gauri Viswanathan observes that contemporary and international scholarship on religion features the “recovery of belief not as private epiphany but as wordly activity,” but missionaries like Pickett in the 1930s felt pressure to represent conversion as a private epiphany, even while increasingly aware of the worldly activity in which they were engaged.120 Despite concluding that mass converts had agency, Pickett’s wider writings reveal agency’s ambiguities. His work evoked an idealized AngloAmerican Protestant model of conversion to appease critics of the mass movements, yet he also expressed some discomfort with excessive individualism in religious matters, defending the spiritual and social value of group conversions. Both his published study and private ruminations revealed

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problems with the idealized convert/agent. For one, his surveyors just questioned heads of households, never addressing the agency of the other occupants. Second, in unpublished drafts, he wrote favorably of the group support offered by mass converts, in contrast to the “excessive individualism” of Americans. Finally, Pickett cautioned missionaries not to promote too much agency, or a fight for rights, among the Depressed Classes. Pickett’s multivalent narratives caught up with him in this instance. His suggestion that the Depressed Classes focus on “winning the respect” of their oppressors might have appealed to Gandhi. But recommending that they turn away from “fighting for rights” and against “grievances” and focus instead on “their privileges and obligations as Christians” would have repelled Ambedkarite champions of agency in all its facets. Pickett’s defense of converts as religious agents, on the one hand, and efforts to keep their political or economic agency under control, on the other, is an example of the tendency of many missionaries (as well as Gandhi) to not challenge caste’s economic, social, or political bases but increasingly relegate caste (and its reform) to the religious (spiritual, interior) realm.121 This tendency was exacerbated by the fact that converts’ social, political, or economic mobility could be used to undermine their spiritual sincerity via the increasingly predominant narrative. Unlike many of his contemporaries, Pickett was able to perceive mass converts’ agency and sincerity regardless of their poverty, large numbers, and multifaceted motives. Indeed, he doggedly sought out evidence of agency and sincerity among the Depressed Classes through extensive follow-up questioning by surveyors if necessary. In contrast, Ambedkar challenged the assumptions behind narratives about the Depressed Classes, assumptions often shared by both their critics and defenders. In his writings and speeches, he demolished the dichotomies of political versus religious conversion and individual versus mass conversion. He obliterated the notion that political and religious conversions were incompatible. How could one achieve political liberation without an empowering religion and spiritual unity? He challenged the supposed irreconcilability of individual and mass conversions through the insight that one could achieve individual agency through group empowerment. By recognizing and even promoting a wider range of legitimate conversion experiences, Ambedkar undermined the predominant narrative that Pickett applied and popularized. Ambedkar’s premises make it harder to restrict religious freedom in the name of “defending” marginalized groups. His approach is an important

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counterpoint to missionary accounts, illustrating the importance of combining both the narratives of “foreign missionaries, ecclesiastical bodies, or colonial authorities” and the “the initiatives, adaptations, and creativity of Indian converts” in modern Indian political history.122 Such counternarratives, in the context of the mass conversion to Buddhism that Ambedkar led in 1956 and its aftermath, are the subject of Chapter 2.

CHAPTER 2

Ambedkarite Buddhists: Religious and Political Mobility

(9) I regard all human beings as equal. (10) I will strive for the establishment of equality. . . . (13) I will have compassion for all creatures and will care for them. . . . (19) I renounce the Hindu religion which has obstructed the evolution of my former humanity and considered humans unequal and inferior. . . . (21) I consider that I have taken a new birth. (22) From this time forward I vow that I will behave according to the Buddha’s teachings. —Some of the twenty-two vows made at the conversion of Dr. B. R. Ambedkar and hundreds of thousands of his followers on October 14, 1956, in Nagpur, India

In 2015, the state government of Gujarat retracted a new school textbook commemorating Dr. B. R. Ambedkar’s 125th birth anniversary. Why? The publisher had added to the text the twenty-two vows made by Ambedkar and hundreds of thousands of his followers when they rejected Hinduism and their low-caste status and converted to Buddhism en masse in October 1956. Ambedkar had been neglected in Indian school and university curricula for years.1 Recently, the central government of India and some state

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governments have increasingly commemorated Ambedkar, but, as the textbook incident reveals, it has been a guarded embrace.2 For instance, on March 21, 2016, the same day as the foundation-stonelaying ceremony for the Dr. Ambedkar National Memorial in Delhi, Prime Minister Narendra Modi himself delivered the Dr. Ambedkar Memorial Lecture but extolled a heavily curated sampling of Ambedkar’s ideas. Activists I met later that afternoon recounted with bitter amusement that Modi’s speech partially included Ambedkar’s labor-inspired exhortation to “educate, agitate and organize”—but left out the word “agitate.” In the soothing, 3-D animated rendering of the government’s planned memorial to this incendiary advocate for India’s most oppressed people, well-dressed visitors stroll around a giant book-shaped building and through tranquil gardens featuring Buddhist architectural elements, accompanied by new-age music.3 The retracted Gujarati textbook, planned to prepare students for an Ambedkar quiz competition, was another instance of this official half-embrace. The blunt force of Ambedkar’s twenty-two conversion vows, ranging from repudiating Hinduism to establishing equality, was too much. Even after Ambedkar’s death, his words managed to defy defanged portrayals of his legacy.4 Bhimrao Ambedkar (1891–1956), affectionately known by the paternal honorific Babasaheb, was not only the leader of the largest mass conversion in history but also an economist, sociologist, lawyer, author, educationalist, architect of India’s constitution, and independent India’s first law minister.5 He used his wide-ranging expertise to analyze and fight all aspects of caste. Born into poverty as a so-called untouchable, he pursued advanced degrees overseas at Columbia University and the London School of Economics, with a scholarship from the Maharaja Gaekwad of Baroda, and became the leading advocate for the rights of India’s lowest castes in the decades preceding and following independence.6 Expanding on the work of prior anti-caste intellectuals and activists, such as Jotirao Phule (1827–1890), Savitribai Phule (1831–1897), and E. V. R. Periyar (1879–1973), as well as Western scholars he encountered abroad, such as John Dewey (1859–1952), Ambedkar established a comprehensive project to annihilate caste.7 This project, featured in much prior scholarship, included not only religious conversions but also constitutional provisions; political parties; educational institutions; quotas in legislatures, bureaucracies, and universities; women’s empowerment initiatives; literary

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and artistic revivals; self-defense corps; and social movements that continue to this day.8 The preferred name for many contemporary Ambedkarites and politically engaged members of the lowest castes is Dalit, meaning “ground” or “broken or reduced to pieces.”9 Used by Ambedkar in the 1920s and adopted more widely in the decades after his death to refer to Dalit literature in the 1950s and Dalit Panther activism in the 1970s, the term “Dalit” evokes Ambedkar’s direct, often scathing, tone.10 Because some Buddhists rejected the term “Dalit Buddhists,” telling me they were no longer Dalit after conversion, while others used both terms, in this chapter I use Buddhist, or Ambedkarite Buddhist, to reflect the socially engaged Buddhism championed by Ambedkar. The terms “Depressed Classes,” “untouchables,” and Gandhi’s term, “Harijans,” all in use during Ambedkar’s life, appear in his writings and thus in some of the discussions below as well. This chapter features a selection of Ambedkar’s writings and speeches as well as the life narratives, in the form of recorded oral histories, of two Ambedkarite Buddhists. In the context of the voluminous writings and speeches of Ambedkar, growing scholarship on his life and work, and increasing publication of Dalit life narratives, my contribution is quite specific. I highlight how Ambedkarite Buddhist conversion narratives (by Ambedkar himself, ca. 1936 and 1956, and by two of his contemporary followers) challenge the circumscribed notions of conversion, agency, and sincerity undergirding the predominant narrative of an idealized individual and apolitical convert choosing to change beliefs. In contrast to that predominant narrative (explicated more fully in the previous chapters), Ambedkar and Ambedkarite Buddhists expand our understanding of religious freedom in the context of conversions to more fully include mass converts, women, religious minorities, and lower castes (who together, Ambedkar pointed out, constitute a majority in India).11 Finally, Ambedkar and Ambedkarite Buddhists bring needed attention to a trifecta that includes not just religious freedom but also religious equality and fraternity. Ambedkar’s Annihilation of Caste (1936) captures all of these contributions: “You must give a new doctrinal basis to your religion—a basis that will be in consonance with liberty, equality, and fraternity, in short, with democracy. . . . This means a complete change in the fundamental notions of life. It means a complete change in the values of life. It means a complete change in outlook and in attitude towards men and things. It means conversion . . . it means a new life.”12

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The Mass Conversion to Buddhism After years of frustrated activism to give the Depressed Classes freedom to enter temples, use public water tanks, and attend schools, Ambedkar made an announcement that was “intended as both a shock and a threat.”13 On October 13, 1935, before ten thousand people gathered at the Bombay Presidency Depressed Classes Conference in Yeola, Ambedkar announced, “I will not die a Hindu, for this is in my power.”14 From the beginning, this was not a solitary choice. Indeed, the conference passed a resolution: “We should now make our society independent of the so-called touchable classes. The untouchable classes ought to try to win, single-mindedly, a place of equality and respect for our community in another society in Hindustan.”15 In contrast to the countless physical and psychological dangers, deprivations, and humiliations facing low castes, conversion was “in their power,” a freedom they could activate at will.16 In response to Ambedkar’s announcement and the resolution, however, Gandhi countered, “But religion is not like a house or a cloak which can be changed at will.”17 He suggested the impossibility of the religious freedom to convert—at least for some people. Gandhi’s response belittled the potential Depressed Class converts, as he contrasted the “anger of a high-souled and highly educated person like Dr. Ambedkar” with the “millions of unsophisticated and illiterate Harijans” who “will not listen to him . . . when they have disowned their ancestral faith” and whose “lives, for good or evil, are entwined with those of Caste Hindus.”18 The tentacles of the caste system and ongoing discrimination did indeed prove difficult to escape. The label for these former untouchables became “neo-Buddhists,” distinguishing them from other Buddhists in order to mark their place in the caste hierarchy. Gandhi’s narratives about “unsophisticated” lower castes and the stickiness of one’s “ancestral faith,” despite conversion, reappeared for years to come, as we will see in the religious freedom laws against induced conversions (Chapter 4) and the court decision about cross-generational reconversion to Hinduism (Chapter 5).19 Yet Ambedkarite Buddhist conversion narratives are much more sophisticated than Gandhi’s analysis and tell another story—that of the power of disowning an ancestral faith and the life-changing impacts of Buddhist conversions. In October 1956, more than twenty years after Ambedkar’s announcement and a few months before his death, between three hundred and five hundred thousand people, mostly from the Mahar caste,

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converted to Buddhism with Ambedkar.20 Ambedkar’s conversion, and the largest group of converts, was in Nagpur on October 14, 1956, followed by another mass conversion in Chandrapur, another city in Maharashtra, on October 16 as well as other group conversions in other areas and states. This group action after twenty years of deliberation was very different from the sudden, individual conversion of Paul on the road to Damascus, the prototype shaping many predominant narratives of conversion and religious freedom by this time. Ambedkarites did not think, as Gandhi had claimed and criticized, that conversion was a momentary action like changing “a house or a cloak.” The historian Gyanendra Pandey characterizes Dalit mass conversions as “one step in an ongoing transformation and selfmaking,” in contrast to an individual act or awakening.21 Although punctuated for many by a huge mass conversion ceremony, conversion, in Ambedkarite narratives, encompassed many aspects of converts’ lives, throughout their lives, not merely a single shift in beliefs. Sincere conversion meant much more than spiritual change. Agency was not an individual attribute. And freedom was inextricably linked to equality and fraternity.

Ambedkar’s Writings and Speeches Ambedkar’s work on religious freedom in the Constituent Assembly in the 1940s was sandwiched between his 1935 announcement and 1956 conversion. As noted in the introduction, not all of his ideas made it into the constitution’s clauses related to religious freedom. For instance, his “Memorandum and Draft Articles on the Rights of States and Minorities,” which he submitted on March 24, 1947, to the Sub-Committee on Fundamental Rights as one of its members, included the right to convert as well as a nonestablishment clause. Neither of these proposals to protect the interests of India’s religious minorities ultimately appeared in the constitution.22 Later, as law minister, Ambedkar insisted on equality in the context of religious freedom, especially for women and lower castes. His conviction that religious freedom, particularly of a majority, should not trump equality triggered his resignation as law minister in 1951, when the parliament refused to support the reforms in the Hindu Code Bill. Sharmila Rege notes that the bill “posed the imminent threat of women gaining access and control over resources and property, the possibility of removal of restrictions

Figure 4. Statues of Dr. B. R. Ambedkar stored in the courtyard of the Dr. Ambedkar Foundation, started by the government of India in 1992. Photo by Laura Dudley Jenkins.

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of caste in marriage and adoption, and the dawn of the right to divorce” and thus would have undermined the “structural links between caste, kinship and property that form the very core of Brahmanical patriarchy.”23 Members of Parliament opposed the Hindu Code Bill in the name of the religious rights and freedoms of Hindus.24 Ambedkar, in contrast, had a more holistic and intersectional view of freedom, meaning he recognized the intersecting, exponential impacts of gender, caste, class, and religion on women’s lives. For instance, he argued in a 1952 speech that a woman must “retain her wealth and rights, to help retain her freedom.”25 In other words, as the historian Aishwary Kumar argues, Ambedkar refused “to think about equality without freedom,” and I agree, but my emphasis is on how he refused to think about freedom without equality, both stances challenging classical liberal assumptions that one compromises the other.26 Long before the political philosopher Martha Nussbaum wrote “But liberty is only fair if it is truly equal liberty,” Ambedkar argued and fought for the fusion of freedom and equality.27 Ambedkar not only contributed ideas about freedom but also conceptions of what is religious. Revisiting his intellectual contributions can deepen contemporary, prosaic thinking about religious freedom. At a time when the realm of the religious was increasingly circumscribed, Ambedkar was, in Kumar’s articulation, “refusing precisely this nationalist-theological separation between the immanent and the transcendent, between the ethical and the political.”28 For Ambedkar, Buddhism was both. Thus his leap of faith was not just a new set of beliefs but an ethical compass, a mode of local, national, and international community organizing, and an explicitly and unabashedly religious and political act. In addition to his constitutional compromises and thwarted Hindu Code reforms, a fuller picture of Ambedkar’s legacy emerges from writings and speeches from 1936, the year after he announced his intention to convert, and 1956, the year he converted. They reveal, in his unmediated words, groundbreaking thinking on conversion and religious freedom. I feature just a sliver of his English-language work from his staggering output in both English and Marathi.29 From 1936, I will focus primarily on his essay “Away from the Hindus,” his address to the All-Bombay District Mahar Conference, held May 30–31, 1936, and Annihilation of Caste, an undelivered speech published May 15, 1936. From 1956, I will focus on his twenty-two vows and his reflections the day after his October 14 conversion in Nagpur.

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What Is Sincerity?

Ambedkar refuted the idea of sincerity as “pure” spirituality separate from political, social, or economic concerns by positing religion as fundamentally social, and sincerity as putting spirituality into action. How could you be sincere and do nothing about the situation of untouchables? How could you be an untouchable and sincerely follow Hinduism? Ambedkar’s essay “Away from the Hindus” responded to four common criticisms of his announcement and of his followers’ conference resolutions in 1935 and 1936 to not die Hindus. Ambedkar itemized the four principal objections as follows: 1. What can the Untouchables gain by conversion? Conversion can make no change in the status of the Untouchables. 2. All religions are true, all religions are good. To change religion is a futility. 3. The conversion of the Untouchables is political in nature. 4. The conversion of the Untouchables is not genuine as it is not based on faith.30 The first two objections relate to efficacy, and the following two are versions of the sincerity critique. The Untouchables were damned if they did not gain something by converting (objection 1) and damned if they did (objections 3 and 4). If one argued against objection 1, that the Untouchables can indeed gain something by conversion, one reinforced the objections that the conversion is “political” or “not genuine as it is not based on faith.” These common criticisms of Dalit conversions exemplify a pattern observed by the anthropologist Saba Mahmood: “The values of the minority in any polity are . . . more subject to the hermeneutics of suspicion, the question always open as to whether their beliefs are sincere or merely instrumental.”31 In his essay Ambedkar decimated his critics’ “puerile and inconsequential” arguments by dismantling their premises, including limited notions of genuine, or sincere, conversions.32 In fact he attacked this last objection first. He gave examples from European history of the many mass conversions to Christianity “without any religious motive,” throwing into question the ideal type of the individual convert making a spiritual decision, even in Protestant history.33 He then challenged Gandhi’s emphasis on

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“ancestral faith” (mentioned above), arguing against the way “religion has become a piece of ancestral property” passed from father to son. “What genuineness is there in such cases of conversion?”34 In contrast, the untouchables’ conversion would only happen “after full deliberation of the value of religion and the virtue of the different religions.” It would, he concluded, be “the first case in history of genuine conversion.”35 Contemplating both the value and the virtue of religion in general and of particular religions, Ambedkar, an economist by training, melded (rather than split) moral and cost-value assessments into the process of sincere conversion. While deliberation seems consonant with the predominant conversion ideal, Ambedkar differed by seeing no impediment to group deliberation rather than individual deliberation and to weighing both spiritual and societal pros and cons. To objection 3, that Untouchable conversions would be political, Ambedkar made an important distinction that undercuts sincerity critics. He distinguished between “a gain being a direct inducement to conversion and its being only an incidental advantage.”36 As we saw in the mass movements chapter, and will see again in Chapter 3, on Mizo Jews, conversion critics use any evidence of advantage to undercut the sincerity of converts. As we will see in Chapter 4 on laws against induced conversion, conversion critics blur the legal and practical distinction between incidental advantage and inducement, portraying any perceived advantage as inducement. In contrast, Ambedkar (like Pickett in his more unguarded and nuanced moments) recognized the mixed motives of all converts, concluding that objection 3 is only valid if the untouchables converted “for political gain and for nothing else.”37 Ambedkar saw objection 2—that all religions are good and true—as “the Hindu merely trying to avoid an examination of Hinduism on its merits” by “taking shelter under the attitude created by the science of comparative religion.”38 As articulated above, he considered sincere conversion to be the examination of religion, and particular religions, on their merits. Although all religions may pursue the good, a potential convert must examine what the good is in each. Although he had not yet decided which to choose, Ambedkar set the terms for his examination: “One religion holds that brotherhood is good, another caste and untouchability is good.”39 To Ambedkar, this was a distinction worth making, even if one risked undermining fuzzy Gandhian unity or comparative-religious-studies-induced

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generalizations. Brotherhood could not be achieved by glossing over discrimination or cruelty. His evocation of brotherhood and kinship in this essay, like his wider writings on fraternity, challenge and deepen discourses limited to religious freedom by providing a more expansive and inclusive vision of religious freedom and also by considering religious fraternity and religious equality. His early discussions of fraternity deepened later in his life into the Buddhist notion of maitri, sometimes translated as “friendship” and translated by Ambedkar as “fellowship.”40 The sociologist Rowena Robinson has drawn needed attention to the concept of fraternity, which was taken seriously by the Constituent Assembly and is reappearing in Indian Supreme Court decisions, but has long been overshadowed by freedom and equality in law and largely ignored in social science.41 Ambedkar is an exception; in “Away from the Hindus,” he addressed fraternity and equality in his response to objection 1. Objection 1 was, in Ambedkar’s view, “the only objection worthy of serious consideration”: “What can the untouchables gain by conversion?” Ambedkar perceived and attacked the predominant prototype lurking behind that question. “The objection proceeds on the assumption that religion is a purely personal matter between man and God. It is supernatural. It has nothing to do with social.”42 He countered, drawing on the history of religions, that “it is an error to look upon religion as a matter which is individual, private and personal.”43 He went further: “Religion becomes a source of positive mischief if not danger when it remains individual, private and personal.”44 He argued that the untouchables could gain through conversion by ending their “social isolation” and their “inferiority complex.”45 The former is an exterior change and the latter an interior change, but both are social. Via conversion, argued Ambedkar, untouchables could “join some non-Hindu community and thereby become its kith and kin,” replacing isolation with fraternity, including simply eating and drinking together.46 Conversion to a religion that would allow untouchables to feel themselves “the equal of every other human being” should also, he argued, remove their inferiority complex.47 Gaining religious fraternity and equality, social aspects of conversion, were central to Ambedkar. They should not be overshadowed by religious freedom, especially when freedom is defined narrowly as a choice that is only sincere if it is individual, private, and personal and about God or the supernatural.

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What Is Agency? If you want to gain manuski [humanity or self respect], change your religion. . . . If you want power, change your religion. If you want equality, change your religion. If you want independence, change your religion.48

Ambedkar’s call for mass conversion in order to gain humanity is one of the most powerful articulations of the human right to religious freedom. Ambedkar knew that mass conversion could give Depressed Classes more agency through the power of numbers. As discussed in Chapter 1, on mass movement conversions to Christianity from the lowest castes, various critics of mass conversions (ranging from Indian nationalists to funders of missionaries) looked at the Depressed Classes prior to conversion and said their powerlessness made them ineligible for legitimate conversion. In contrast, Ambedkar considered their lives during and after conversion and saw that they would both gain self-respect and have a large community of coreligionists behind them. For instance, he contrasted the “utter tyranny” over three or four Depressed Class families in a largely Hindu village with the better treatment of one or two Muslim families. “Behind those two families there is the whole might and power of Muslim India. . . . You should look for this indispensible power from some source outside the Hindu fold.”49 The might and power of the community would enable individual agency. Ambedkar recognized the importance of individual choice without reifying it into the sole definition of a convert’s agency. In Annihilation of Caste, his own individual choice was clear: “I have decided to change.”50 In this statement he sounds like the prototypical convert. But in the rest of the essay, his vision of agency is much more expansive, because, in practice, an individual’s agency cannot be separated from equality for her group. Reification of agency as individual choice is particularly damaging when majority-mandated religious conformity is portrayed as individual choices or “freedom of belief” that needs to be protected (often to the detriment of dissenters, minorities, or women). To Ambedkar, following immoral, irrational rules was neither freedom nor religion. First, it is not freedom: “Reason and morality are the two most powerful weapons in the armoury of a reformer. To deprive him of the use of these weapons is to disable him for action. How are you going to break

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up caste, if people are not free to consider whether it accords with reason? How are you going to break up caste, if people are not free to consider whether it accords with morality?”51 Second, following immoral, irrational rules is not religion at all. Whereas religion, to Ambedkar, was principles that guide decisions, the Vedas and smritis were rules to follow; they were “nothing but a mass of sacrificial, social, political, and sanitary rules and regulations, all mixed up. What is called religion by the Hindus is nothing but a multitude of commands and prohibitions.”52 It was “at best legalized class-ethics. Frankly, I refuse to call this code of ordinances religion.”53 Such blunt appraisals are why the Annihilation of Caste speech was never given—he was uninvited by his hosts, a Hindu reformist organization—but also why the printed text became such a phenomenon, leading to multiple reprintings. As law minister, he later attempted to reform these “rules” of Hinduism, particularly those that limited women’s agency, resigning in 1951 when the parliament refused to support his Hindu Code Bill. The political scientist Rina Verma Williams argues that, with the weak reforms eventually passed in the watered down Hindu Code Bill, “Nehru’s government, in effect, finished the task begun by the British—and not by any divergent logic, but by similar use of the rhetoric of noninterference and the selective incorporation of Hindu public opinion.”54 The rhetoric of noninterference in religious matters combined with selected (elite male) Hindu opinion about religious matters is not a solid basis for religious freedom. In contrast, Ambedkar’s holistic and intersectional view of freedom (encompassing not just religious, but economic, social, and political freedoms) for women and girls meant he stepped on the toes of some religious freedom advocates. He championed education for girls, delaying marriage, and letting “each girl who marries stand up to her husband, claim to be her husband’s friend and equal, and refuse to be his slave.”55 The historian Shailaja Paik illuminates the impact of his challenge to both casteism and patriarchy on Dalit women’s “individual and collective” agency: “Most significantly, he challenged Dalit women through his writings, speeches and public activities, created possibilities, and worked for their individual and collective agency in order to be independent, organize effectively, uplift themselves and emancipate the Dalit community. In the process, Dalit women found a way to create agency, womanhood, and a full humanity denied to them by both upper-caste elite nationalists and liberal feminists; they enacted their choices within constraints, and gained more, rather than less.”56 Ambedkar

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and Ambedkarites offer a holistic, intersectional articulation of freedom and recognize agency even when it is collective or constrained—indeed, people must be particularly agential under those conditions.

What Is Freedom? Liberty, Equality, and Fraternity Through Buddhism

On October 15, 1956, the day between the conversion ceremonies in Nagpur and Chandrapur, Ambedkar reflected on several questions, including, “Why did you accept Buddhism?” His own conversion narrative emphasized the changes that Buddhism would enable: “Progress can come only in the Buddhist religion. . . . Rivers flow separately in their own countries, but do not remain distinct when they meet in the sea. They become one and the same. The Buddhist brotherhood of monks is like the sea. In this Sangha [Buddhist community] all are equal. It is impossible to know Ganga water from Mahandi water after both have merged in the sea. In that way, after coming into the Buddhist Sangha, your caste goes, and all people are equal.”57 Mass conversion as “rivers flowing” is a powerful metaphor for freedom, but the metaphor continues, as the rivers merge into the sea, signifying equality and fraternity. This narrative articulates the relationship between freedom, equality, and fraternity, achievable, in Ambedkar’s view, via mass conversion to Buddhism. As he argued in his last book, The Buddha and His Dhamma, without such a common morality, there can only be “liberty for some but not all . . . equality for a few but none for the majority. What is the remedy? The only remedy lies in making fraternity universally effective.”58 Ambedkar’s narrative the day after his conversion ceremony also emphasized that, to the mass converts, Buddhism was simultaneously new and ancient, immortal and changeable, Indian and global. We have found a new way. This is a day of hope. This is a way of success, of prosperity. This way is not something new. This path was not brought here from somewhere else. This path is from here, it is purely Indian. The Buddhist religion has been in India for two thousand years. Truly speaking, we regret that we did not become Buddhists before this. The principles spoken by Bhagvan Buddha are immortal. But the Buddha did not make a claim for this, however.

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There is an opportunity of making changes according to the times. Such open-mindedness is not found in any other religion.59 Buddhism was “purely Indian,” but, at the same time, Ambedkar noted that “all the world respects the principles of Buddhism. In America there are two thousand Buddhist institutions. In England, at an expense of 300,000 rupees a Buddhist temple has been built. Even in Germany there are three or four thousand Buddhist institutions.”60 This wider solidarity would be a source of strength. Finally, Ambedkar saw in Buddhism an ethical compass that would direct people to actively change to improve themselves and work to relieve others’ suffering: Other religions and the Buddhist religion are very different. In other religions, change will not occur, because those religions tell of a relationship between man and God. Other religions say that god created the world. God created the sky, wind, moon, everything. God did not leave anything left over for us to do. So we should worship God. . . . According to the Christian religion, there is, after death, a Day of Judgment, and all depends on that judgment. There is no place for God and soul in the Buddhist religion. Bhagvan Buddha said there is suffering everywhere in the world. Ninety percent of mankind is distressed by sorrow. Suffering mankind should be freed from sorrow—this is the basic work of Buddhism.61 Like this commentary the day after his conversion, Ambedkar’s The Buddha and His Dhamma, completed the same year as his conversion, articulated Buddhism as consonant with “social ethics and rationality” and, in the words of the historian Anupama Rao, “the basis for a new society founded on the principles of equality, liberty, fraternity and human compassion. . . . Not simply an act of religious conversion, Ambedkar’s turn to Buddhism was an extraordinary, ultimate enactment of ethical conviction.”62 In short, this examination of a selection of Ambedkar’s writings and speeches related to the mass conversion demonstrates that Ambedkar did not take premises for granted but rather provided intellectual insights and tools enabling subsequent generations to continue to critique conventional notions of conversion, sincerity, agency, religion, and freedom, especially the way their definitions impact lower castes, women, and minorities. To

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objections that the conversion of untouchables “is political” or that it is “not genuine as it is not based on faith,” Ambedkar countered by arguing that sincere conversion is a decision based on weighing the virtues and values of religions, making the anticipated mass conversion of untouchables “the first case in history of genuine conversion.”63 He contrasted this sincerity with unknowingly inheriting your parents’ religion or blindly following rules rather than adopting principles. In contrast to the reification of agency as individual choice—which too often meant lots of individual choices to follow the rules of a majority and trample minorities—he knew that individual freedom could not be separated from equality for groups such as women or lower castes and a sense of fraternity. He offered a nuanced analysis of the relationships between the ideals of liberty, equality, and fraternity (or maitri). How could one exercise religious freedom without religious equality and fraternity? B. R. Ambedkar’s writings and speeches, like the life narratives of those who converted with him, provide an intellectual “expansion pack” that can revitalize the moribund notions of religious freedom currently benefitting those in positions of power.

Life Narratives of Ambedkarite Buddhists Dalit life narratives are “one of the most direct and accessible ways in which the silence and misrepresentation of dalits has been countered.”64 Yet a proliferation of Dalit life narratives sparked debate over the “consumption” of Dalit autobiographies.65 I draw inspiration from Sharmila Rege’s approach to life narratives, or testimonios. Rather than applying elitecentric theories to the realities of Dalit lives, Rege sought theoretical insights within the testimonios themselves, as “narratives of dalit women’s historical experience become crucial to thinking and theorizing not because they present an unmediated version of ‘truth’ but because they destabilize received truths.”66 Rege discussed how these narratives countered a previous overemphasis within sociology on upper-caste ideologies of the caste system by instead focusing on experiences of caste-based oppression.67 Ambedkar himself experienced the “continuous, definitive and naturalized aspects of everyday upper-caste brutality” and recognized the power of communicating those experiences to others.68 In recent groundbreaking studies, Dalit women’s narratives have provided new interpretations of issues ranging from education to violence.69

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In addition to countering ideologies of caste with experiences of caste, the narratives below also counter predominant ideologies of conversion with experiences of conversion—enriching our ideas about conversions and the meanings of religious freedom. Unlike many of Rege’s written narratives by Dalit women, the following are transcribed oral histories. Oral histories are inherently nongeneralizable, and two testimonies cannot represent the hundreds of thousands who converted or reveal trends or patterns among them. But each convert offered perspectives that are, in Rege’s words, “crucial to thinking and theorizing” about mass conversion. Oral accounts are not as polished as written ones, but the work of the conversion scholar Goldie Osuri demonstrates that oral narratives by converts are ideally suited to reveal the “affective dimensions of conversion.”70 The oral histories that follow were recorded to allow transcription and proceeded with minimal questioning by me. I carried out several oral histories and focus groups in Marathi and English with people who converted in 1956.71 The two histories included below were carried out in English because these individuals spoke English much better than I spoke Marathi, and the way they expressed themselves in English was arguably closer to their intended meaning than a translation into English would have been. When they used non-English words, however, I do include translations in brackets. Pawde and Alone viewed these histories to give feedback, minor editing for clarification, and final permission. My position as an American, female researcher and admirer of B. R. Ambedkar’s advocacy and writing influenced who I was able to meet and the conversations we had; different scholars would have elicited different stories. Others will also read these stories differently. Following Rege, I present the life stories with only brief introduction, no interruption, minor thematic reorganization, and concluding reflections, as the narratives “invite different ways of being read.”72

Kumud Pawde: “Am I Not Human?”

Kumud Pawde converted to Buddhism as a teenager with her family in Nagpur on October 14, 1956. She went on to get an advanced degree in Sanskrit, a language that women and Dalits were traditionally prohibited from studying, and became a Sanskrit professor. An author and activist in Nagpur, her critical narrative of her life, Antasphot, was originally published

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Figure 5. Kumud Pawde. Photo by Laura Dudley Jenkins.

in 1981.73 She discussed her life with me over two days in her home in Nagpur in 2002. Ultimately, political power belongs in conversion. . . . Religion will help. Otherwise, we cannot fight this injust[ice]. . . . The thing is that, as you learn more and more and as you know more and more about yourself, you see the human rights. . . . Buddha says every person, maybe man, maybe woman . . . [has] human rights. Am I not human? Women also were treated, and are being treated today now, just like untouchables. They were not allowed to learn or to teach . . . like Shudra [lower castes]. . . . Women and Shudras were not permitted or not allowed to learn. So learning or studying is part of human rights. . . . These people who were doing more difficult work, they were cast down. By whom? By those who were not . . . [doing] production for [the] nation. Nowadays the same thing is being done. Those who

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were in production . . . they were fourth class . . . Those who are not working in production, only in writing and talking and doing, they are treated like gods. . . . Because Ambedkar [was] studying Buddhism . . . so we went—we were children, boys and girls . . . of twelve and thirteen years— we were reading the books and we had library in our street. And there were many Jataka tales [Buddhist stories]. He [Ambedkar] studied all religions, Christianity, Islam, Buddhism, Sikhism . . . and then came to . . . Buddhism. So he said, “That taught my people . . . their rights.” . . . We went regularly. Then there was girls’ week. And I was only nine years old and thirty to forty girls of my age were coming there. And we were taking our exercises, we were telling stories . . . They were telling us . . . [to] volunteer. . . . We had our basti [poor neighborhood] library, and from that library I read . . . [about] Dr. Babasaheb Ambedkar. And in that book I read that he [faced discrimination in school] because he belongs to . . . Mahar community. And so he was not allowed. . . . Woman [too] . . . she was not allowed to learn some things. So from then, I decided to take Sanskrit as my career. . . . And I did. I became professor of Sanskrit, then the head of the department. And . . . my story of Sanskrit, it is published in English.74 My father was . . . against all Hindu rituals, and my mother was worshipping the goddess. . . . My grandfather, my mother’s father, was a very religious man. . . . He died in . . . 1952. And conversion was ’56. . . . My father was against . . . Hinduism, not believing [in] any god. . . . After conversion, then you saw these people removing Hindu gods. That particular date, 14th October we got [up] early in the morning, 5 o’clock . . . all children—we are seven, three sisters and four brothers. . . . My mother was washing . . . we were taking baths . . . my grandmother and my mother were preparing . . . because we stayed there for from eight to nine, ten. And I was student of my college . . . so I saw many friends there. Many fellows of my college, boys and girls were present there . . . and I saw Dr. Babasaheb Ambedkar

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giving his lecture. And such a big personality . . . [I was] very impressed by his personality and his lecture, and his analysis of everything—[which is] why I prefer . . . conversion. . . . I was college student, so I could remember that day . . . From 8 a.m. to 10 p.m. we stayed . . . and talked with friends. . . . My sister . . . was with me. She was only 2 years old. It was October 1956. . . . I was . . . seventeen years old. Everything, everything I remember. From morning to night we were staying on the ground, which I showed to you. And we had taken our tiffins [lunch boxes] with us. We had taken our water with us. And not only myself, all the basti, not only one basti, but all of Nagpur, the north, the east, dakshina [south], southwest, all Nagpur. Not only Nagpur, but all villages outside. . . . We were wearing white . . . white saris and blouse, and we went there. . . . My mother was wearing white sari, not like this, but . . . different, Maharashtra style . . . nine yards. . . . She was a primary teacher, a school teacher. . . . The conversion of women was taken in his [Ambedkar’s] presence and . . . lakhs [hundreds of thousands] of women were present in that conversion. Because he was saying that . . . progress of any of society depends upon women . . . how they are cultured, how they are educated. . . . My [future] husband . . . he was union president, students’ union president. . . . So, Babasaheb asked him, “Will you be ready to marry a Dalit girl?” So he said nothing for a minute—he thought for a minute, and said, “Yes, I am ready to marry a Dalit girl. And I will invite you to my marriage if I marry with a Dalit girl.” Babasaheb, as a students’ leader, had asked this question, before [the conversion]—I think it [was] maybe 13th of October. . . . There were conversions of untouchables . . . previously to . . . Christian[ity] and Islam . . . because of insult . . . people of my caste embraced Islam first. Then French came, so Christians came to this land; then they embraced Christianity. Because of equality and . . . to avoid all types of insult by Savarna [upper caste] people. . . . They think only of god, but why and how they cannot ask.

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But when they . . . embraced Buddhism, there was cultural revolution. We asked how and why, and we got answers. So after conversion, we can write, we can read, we can . . . think rationally. . . . Dalit literature movement came into existence. This was . . . cultural revolution . . . achievements by Dalit because of this conversion to Buddhism. . . . Oppressed people are fighting with [the] system. That’s the identity of the change, its root. . . . Yes, fighting about human rights. Based on equality, based on justice, based on freedoms. Though we have freedom, though we have got freedom . . . we still . . . were slaves of this caste system. . . . The whole time I was studying—all persons from the same Brahmin caste are not . . . of the same attitude. Some are good; some are bad, stick to the tradition. Some of my teachers encouraged me to learn Sanskrit, and those were Brahmins. . . . I had to face some problems [from others]. . . . I could hear what they’re talking about me . . . our holy books, our holy scriptures, now will be pollut[ed] by this girl. She will touch those books. . . . 17th of April 1962, is my wedding. . . . My husband gave me inspiration to become [a] social worker. I was in ivory tower . . . only reading and writing were my hobbies. I was not concerned with masses. My whole world was different from masses. But one day . . . my husband came to me and asked me to teach in night school. So I refused. Because night school people or students were . . . hotel boys, hotel workers, mail workers, factory workers . . . the lowest strata of society. . . . And in those days, girls were not allowed to go out after evening, so that was also [a] difficulty. . . . So I told him that I’ll ask my father—if he gives me permission, I will come. So my father [did] give permission, and I started to teach in night school. It was the first starting of my social work. . . . There was one school for girls, ungranted, not sanctioned by the government . . . so I was going there. In those days, I would go there in the morning, 6:30. Up to 11:00 I was teaching those girls. Then I used to come to my college . . . to study my post-graduation. Up to 3:00 pm I was in my college. Then I used to go to library because I had no time to study, so 3:00 to 6:00 pm I used to sit regularly. . . .

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After coming home, 6:30 pm, I was going to teach night school students up to 10:00. After taking my dinner, then I used to study again. It was up to 12 o’clock because I would have to get up early in the morning. Yes, this was my routine. . . . So we [my husband and I] were both from different colleges. But for . . . this purpose—imparting knowledge to Depressed Class and Dalit people—we came together. And after four years, we married. . . . In ’58 I started to teach in night school. Then he asked— proposed [to] me. . . . He belonged to that higher caste. . . . [My father] was very progressive. And I told him about my marriage. Usually, girls were not talking about marriage in India, frankly, with their parents. But my father and we, sisters and brothers, were behaving like friends. . . . He did not oppose me. He only said, “You do whatever you like. But . . . because [of] different conditions of higher caste and lower caste, major issues will be obstruction to your marriage. Then you should take a handle of the situation.” I think this is good advice. But my husband was with me. He did not go to [the] village from where he had come, after marriage . . . very bad reaction from his society. . . . Nobody comes to his house. . . . It is very traditional system all over India. Such a kind of treatment. Still people were very anxious, how they’re going, very eager to know. My nerves were not fitting good with me because I belong to Dalit. They were not inviting me for social functions. Because of your caste. Some people, some neighbors were talking badly about my caste. . . . Hindus. When you go . . . everywhere, people cannot forget your caste. . . . They ask, “What’s your caste?” And if you’re Dalit, they ask [you] to sit down not on [the] bench, because the bench is polluted by you sitting [on] it or touching it. . . . In the rural area, the atmosphere is very difficult, even up to today. . . . Wherever you go, your identification is your caste [even though] you may be rich . . . you may be in big prestigious position in government. Buddhism has made [me] . . . to think first, to think of situation, to think what [is] women’s position, to think [of] our existence as a human being.75

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Pawde’s question, “Am I not human?”—like Sojourner Truth’s “Ain’t I a Woman?” speech—underscored the challenges of being both a woman and a member of an oppressed minority group.76 She highlighted the human rights issues of Dalit women, including parallels between lower castes and women, such as similar restrictions on what they were allowed to learn, and the distinct oppressions when caste and gender intersect, such as the discrimination she faced after her intercaste marriage. She theorized a close connection between Buddhism and her growing awareness of and advocacy for human rights. Sincere conversion to Buddhism was not, for Pawde, purely apolitical spirituality: “Ultimately, political power belongs in conversion.” Pawde is agency personified. Despite being young, lower caste, and female, attributes that trigger calls for “protection” from conversion, she became the master of her fate. Mass conversion, rather than inhibiting individual agency, promoted her empowerment. Throughout her life, the process of becoming an Ambedkarite Buddhist was rooted in communities, from the gaggle of nine-year-olds gathering at the basti library to read Buddhist tales, to her reading of Ambedkar’s struggles as a student and her chance to hear him in person in 1956. This community continued to extend out from her close-knit family—to her college friends hanging out all day at the ceremony and to her social work circles. These communities ignited and nurtured her ambitions, even when her neighbors “talked badly about my caste” or people whispered she would pollute the Sanskrit texts, and her nerves frayed because “everywhere, people cannot forget your caste.” Even her father, perhaps inspired by Ambedkar’s advocacy for women, treated her like a “friend,” encouraging her to “take a handle of the situation” if she faced problems due to her intercaste marriage, rather than forbidding it. Although many upper castes did not recognize her as a caste-free Buddhist, the mass conversion community enhanced her own agency and fortitude. In addition to challenging overly individualistic definitions of agency, Pawde’s narrative about community support embodies the Ambedkarite ideal of fraternity. Like Ambedkar, Pawde valued fraternity and pursued equality, not just freedom. “Though we have freedom,” she said, “we still . . . were slaves of this caste system.” The mass conversion was a “cultural revolution” by oppressed people “based on equality, based on justice, based on freedoms.” Her social work, which began with teaching night classes in the midst of her own grueling study schedule, expanded her circle of fraternity to

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include even lowly hotel workers and promoted their struggles for equality. Ambedkarite Buddhism, rather than encouraging detachment from the world, is socially engaged. The conversion/revolution extended beyond October 14, 1956, and into the Dalit literature movement, in which Pawde participated. Her conversion narrative encompasses ongoing, caste-based struggles over public spaces (ranging from benches to neighborhoods), intercaste marriages, labor exploitation, and educational access. Conversion included private and public decisions and actions. October 14 was pivotal but neither the beginning nor the end of the conversion. Y. S. Alone: “My Existence Is Radicalized”

Y. S. Alone is a professor in the School of Arts and Aesthetics, Jawaharlal Nehru University, and an activist. His parents converted to Buddhism in the mass conversion (diksha) led by Ambedkar in Chandrapur, Maharashtra, on October 16, 1956, two days after the mass conversion in Nagpur. Alone has spoken and published on many aspects of art history, Ambedkar, and Buddhism, including the recent article “Caste Life Narratives, Visual Representation, and Protected Ignorance.”77 Seated in his office at Jawaharlal Nehru University in 2016, he recounted key moments in his own life narrative and the influence of Buddhism in his life. My parents were converted to Buddhism in 1956 under the leadership of Dr. Ambedkar, and I was born in 1963, so we were already Bauddha [name used by many Ambedkarite Buddhists to describe themselves], Buddhist. . . . The ingrained hate and anger against groundbreaker and the entire Buddhist community, and for that matter the Scheduled Caste community, is enormous. . . . It never goes off from their mind consciousness, and therefore it always created hindrances in getting the things done or, for that matter, to be, to do, or to initiate anything new. And the Brahminical cultural nationalism has overpowered so much, the very construction of the nation from the Brahminical viewpoint has always created lot of obstructions in the conversion ceremony process as well as in many other issues. . . . See, I am all post-1956. So the situation in my home was completely different . . . no question of belief in God, no question of divinity,

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no question of full existence of soul, no question of rebirth. . . . It has always been emphasized, the scientific view of life. . . . So we were born and brought up in that typical Buddhist house . . . and we never followed any kind of a Hindu festival. So the festivals which we always followed and celebrated was Babasaheb Jayanti, this conversion, Buddha Jayanti, Mahatma Phule Jayanti, Savitribai Phule Jayanti, and Shahu Maharaj Jayanti [anti-caste social reformers’ birthdays]. We used to celebrate our festivals. So neither mystic nor mythic is attached with the festivals. So one has to see as to how a particular community is trying to create alternative cultural practices. And this has happened in Maharashtra, and then it started spreading from Maharashtra. So I was born in that particular setup and therefore, like right from the beginning, right from our childhood, the god doesn’t exist in our head. So my father would say—Show me a god, I will beat him with sandals and shoes. That is what he would say. So you can understand the kind of radical radicalness he had. . . . I think this is the biggest revolution ever happened in the history of the world, where people came back home, packed all their gods and goddesses, and threw them in one go. I mean this is something amazing that happened on 14th of October 1956 and 16th of October 1956. . . . [My parents] do talk about 16th of October . . . and how Babasaheb had come . . . and one [of] my relatives . . . happened to accompany the Babasaheb, during that time, and Babasaheb was very furious because people came to know . . . that Babasaheb would be attacked if he traveled . . . from Nagpur . . . [by] that regular road via Jam and Warora. . . . So therefore he was brought to Chandrapur via Nagbhid-Mul road in order to avoid any kind of a confrontation . . . and he was very furious that . . . you . . . bring me from such a long way . . . because the road was not very good during that time. And [he said] you know nothing would have happened to me. . . . He was very devil-dare type person and he—you know after the diksha [conversion]—he was very tired. So he did not speak much except that twenty-two pledges, which he himself pronounced and people recited. People really waited for him and after the diksha, after that ceremony, a lot of my older cousins

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. . . and lot of people, you know, they lined up, they queued up to see him and just wanted to have one glimpse of him. So the photograph which was clicked during that time of the conversion . . . my father was part of that. . . . And my entire family was part of it, they were part of it . . . and then he [Ambedkar] came out of the guest house room—the place was popularly known as circuit house, a government guest house bungalow—and he saw and he realized that people had been waiting for him. So he came out, then he had a small speech in front of them. . . . And also there was a lot of antagonism because in politics during that time . . . because in Maharashtra it was a big political party, Republican Party of India [a political party initially proposed by Ambedkar], which was the main political opposition. Every time it would be a fight between Congress and the RPI, that’s it. And then . . . gradually the Congress managed to . . . break the RPI groups . . . to be fragmented a lot. . . . Many people argue that what is the benefit of conversion if there is no material benefit of the conversion. That has been argued out a lot. No. The question is how, what kind of material benefit you wish to expect. And no community in the world can rise without the state’s support. It is erroneous to think that a community can rise on its own. . . . Now there has been a consistent violation of the directive principles of the state policy, which is enshrined in the constitution. So what he [Ambedkar] argued even during his lifetime . . . he said there are many things which the next generation has to take up and fight . . . you have to enact those laws. So he always believed in the constitutional democracy, constitutional framework. And that is why . . . the followers of Dr. Ambedkar have always talked the constitution. . . . What people wanted is the implementation of constitution, not anything else. It’s not that they want some one thousand rupees per head, or . . . one hundred thousand rupees per head. No, that has never been the demand. The demand has always been that of implementation of constitution and upholding the basic principle of

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equality of the citizen. That has been the demand, and that has been the consistent quest for our democratic society. . . . It’s only the Ambedkar movement which has been fighting for it. Not only democratic right of equality but also the dignity of life, that is also equally important. . . . You know in, like in my area . . . every day we would gather . . . when I was in primary school during that time, there was one person, Mr. Kotangle, he would come to our Buddha Vihar [temple] and he would tell us about Buddhism, he would tell us about Buddha’s discourses. . . . So we had these kind of regular discourses when we were kids, and also some of the elders from our own locality, they picked up this idea of reading and explaining The Buddha and His Dhamma [Ambedkar’s last book, on Buddha’s life and Buddhism, published posthumously in 1957]. Initially it was published in English. There was not a person who could . . . read and then explain it in Marathi or Hindi. But when the Marathi translation was made available, people started reading that book and started talking about it. This is how it is. Well today I see very differently. Of course you know that book was very badly criticized by the Mahabodhi Society, by Sri Lankans, by the Burmese and the Japanese when it was actually published. And there was . . . no one among us to defend that book. I mean today [if] there is a criticism, I can comment and hopefully defend that and . . . I can also give the counter references and everything. . . . But during that time . . . there was no, there was not a single person who was into academics, who really understood the dynamics of the utility of the academics and the research and all those things. But . . . we were always told that we should be like Babasaheb, we should learn like Babasaheb, that we should study like Babasaheb. So, so that kind of idea was constantly put, constantly told to us by our parents, by our brothers, by our sisters, by all our leaders in the family, our leaders in the locality, whether the person is literate or illiterate. That’s the beauty of it. Like even a literate person who has studied something and [is] doing a government job would say, you should learn like Babasaheb, study like Babasaheb. And even a simple

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laborer would also say . . . you must go to school and study like Babasaheb. . . . So today I ask—when people say the twenty-two oaths administered by Babasaheb is not good—I ask the counter question, what is nonBuddhist in it? Even if you take twenty-two pledges, what is nonBuddhist in it? Is there anything which is non-Buddhist? And second thing . . . when he sees the Sri Lankan Buddhism and the Burmese Buddhism, he [Ambedkar] realizes the problems and the polarizations, and the ritual practices that have crept in, in the Sri Lankan Buddhism practices as well as in the Burmese Buddhism practices. And he was against that ritualistic Buddhism, and he said since we don’t have any kind of a ceremony as such, so therefore it is difficult to sustain, and I am going to formulate these twenty-two pledges as part of that process for anybody who wants to be Buddhist. . . . I became aware [of these debates over Ambedkarite Buddhism] when I got into my post-graduation. I trained to be a painter. . . . There was a fierce political debate. There was a fierce debate on Buddhism, Marxism, and all these things . . . all those debates in Marathi language. It did not happen in English language, more today the English academia is debating. We had those debates in Marathi long ago in 1970, 1980, 1990. . . . We already witnessed all those debates. . . . [Ambedkarite Buddhism] is instilling great confidence that you are to believe in yourself . . . believe in self-enlightenment. And that message goes in every household . . . how you have to be master of your own. There is nothing called destiny, that you are to create your things. And that gives tremendous confidence . . . the very idea that a person is not dependent on divinity. . . . That brings change in the society because it innovates, it also brings material change, it also brings spiritual change, it also brings intellectual change . . . it also brings cultural change. Because ultimately . . . Babasaheb did not say you have to be like this and like that. . . . I will not say you should do marriage ceremony like this or like that. . . . Take a pledge that I accept you as my wife, I will treat you equal, I will treat your parents and everybody as like my parents. . . . So, similarly, girl also is supposed to take that

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pledge. . . . Today the marriage ceremony has become very simple, like everybody gathers in the hall as per the person’s capacity . . . in the Buddha Vihar . . . in the court of law. So those, those options are all available, like the options were available even to me. . . . My marriage is an arranged marriage but it is a registered marriage . . . because I need the sanctity of [the] constitution . . . I did it in the court. . . . While studying as artist in Nagpur, India . . . I used to make use of the Buddhist symbols in my painting, but somehow I was struggling hard because what has happened during our training process in our fine art college. . . . My identity was very much there . . . [but] modernity was all about formalism; modernity was not at all getting engaged with the social modernity, the cultural modernity. I mean there are a number of issues associated with the society and that particular part was never part of all-category [beyond Dalit castes] thinking. And that is also the reason why there was such an effort on the part of the Indian academics not to preach about Ambedkar fully in the field in academia. That has been a very consistent project of bypassing [this] . . . political thinker. . . . I came to art history, I studied art history in its purest form and tried to think. And I found a lot of limitations even in art history, and when Ambedkar’s “Revolution and Counterrevolution in Ancient India” was published . . . everybody was in shock. But not many people were willing to accept that kind of a proposition, that kind of understanding of ancient India. And I always thought that Babasaheb needs to be interpreted in a theoretical tone. . . . I can give you one example. . . . Today you read Habermas, right? [Ju¨rgen] Habermas’ communicative action theory, right? . . . When Babasaheb wrote Thoughts on Pakistan . . . he writes, can partition be avoided? And he says yes. Then he says, what are the means? He says if both the parties agree for shared aspirations. And this agreeing . . . for shared aspirations . . . is nothing but what Habermas talks about communicative action theory. . . . I’ll just give you another example. In 1936, when Babasaheb wrote Annihilation of Caste . . . he was the first person to present the critique of Brahminical discourses, the Imperial discourses and the

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Marxian discourses. He was the first person to do that. And he has done more than even the so-called post-colonialists. . . . To me theory is something like producing the key to understand certain phenomenon and to explain certain phenomenon. . . . So in 1936, Babasaheb was writing about, in Annihilation of Caste, about this whole idea of change, that nothing remains static; everything is changing . . . the Buddhist concept of impermanence. . . . In 1956 he wrote nothing is permanent, everything is changing, being is becoming; and today we understand the concept of being and becoming through the likes of [Gilles] Deleuze. He [Ambedkar] was writing for people to be able to understand. And he was opposed to speculative metaphysics. Because once you get speculative, your objective gets completely diminished. It’s very simple. . . . He did not write in the typical philosophical language. That’s it. Not the jargon-oriented kind of language, but his statements are very clear. . . . Today I’m saying all those things because I’ve read so many things. . . . But when we were studying in our under-graduation and post-graduation, no such kind of a looking at things was available to us. And when I did my art history, what do you study in art history? . . . formalism . . . iconography . . . and then you talk about all the postmodernist paradigm to interpret this work of art. That’s it. It doesn’t go beyond that. And it never ever empowered us to see the traditions which are outside the canons. But when I was doing my . . . Ph.D., you know, I was studying caves, researching on Buddhist caves. But I went on seeing . . . the visual practices, the visual culture which my own community was developing. I had no camera to capture all those things during that time. Today I have everything, I can easily go and capture. . . . The digital technology has really brought a lot of change. . . . Art history was so expensive earlier but today it is not so when it comes to the collection of the visual data. . . . The first person who talked about Ambedkar in art history, in Indian art history, was M. N. Deshpande [archeologist and art historian]. When there was a seminar . . . and he was talking about Ajanta and Ellora and all those caves [Buddhist caves, temples, and sculptures carved out of mountains in Maharashtra] . . . he made a statement that the Dalits were Buddhist community in India. And therefore Ambedkar made them Buddhist.

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So that [was] . . . the first . . . utterance [of that kind] in the history of Indian art history, but it remained an utterance. It didn’t go beyond that, to be very frank. But I was very close with M. N. Deshpande. . . . He found that that was very right . . . for Ambedkar to be a Buddhist. . . . When he did the keynote address on Ajanta Seminar in Baroda way back in 1988, . . . at that time he was exDirector General, Archeological Survey of India, . . . speaking in that gathering and uttering the name of Ambedkar was something alien to everyone present in that gathering. . . . So it’s only recently . . . that started changing and Ambedkar is being discussed in art history . . . in every discipline. . . . When I was a student at JNU [Jawaharlal Nehru University] . . . you know, JNU happened to be a different place, and we already had some Buddhist students over here, neo-Buddhist students, Ambedkarite Buddhist students, and then we also formulated a group called United Dalit Students Forum, which is still going on. And I was conducting Ambedkar study circle classes for the students during that time. So there has always been a consistent effort to sensitize our own students because Babasaheb had made one beautiful statement. You know, he said, the slave needs to be sensitized of his slavery. He needs to be made conscious of his slavery. Then only then he will revolt against the slavery. A beautiful statement he made, and we always follow him in letter and spirit. Because for us, it was our social responsibility. For us it was our political responsibility. For us it was the responsibility of creating mind consciousness. . . . Indeed today when they do some programs, it very much gets extended outside the Dalit community. During our time it was not so. But is today it, it is very much there. . . . And so things are going on now, a lot of old practices still creep in and people are still under that God-above Hindu rituals and Hindu practices. But slowly they’re going off. It is taking time. It’s not that everybody [is] like I am, but my existence is radicalized.78 In addition to his evocative stories of his family’s interactions with Ambedkar and the Ambedkarite Buddhist community, Ambedkarite Buddhism suffused Alone’s notion of conversion. Conversion as change is in consonance with both Buddhist notions of impermanence and Ambedkar’s

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statement in Annihilation that “everything is changing.” To Alone, conversion was a comprehensive change—spiritual, cultural, social, political, and intellectual. In his recollections about growing up Buddhist, he included political challenges, intellectual discourses, and festivals honoring social reformers. Ambedkarite Buddhism brought “change in the society because it innovates, it also brings material change, it also brings spiritual change, it also brings intellectual change . . . it also brings cultural change.” All these forms of mobility and change went hand-in-hand rather than competing with or invalidating each other. Conversion was action, not just belief. As he grew up, Alone used Buddhist symbols in his painting and researched both ancient Buddhist caves and the changing visual cultures of his own community. Ambedkarite Buddhism infused his priorities and perspective as an art historian who uncovers “traditions which are outside the canons.” Indeed he noted that Ambedkarite Buddhists have social and political responsibilities to meet and educate others to overcome slavery. Meeting for Buddhist discourses as a child was a formative experience, and he continues to educate others about caste, Buddhism, and Dalit popular culture through his scholarship, meetings, and public speaking. Thus conversion for his community has been an inherently individual and social process: “My existence is radicalized.” Even though he himself was not a convert in the prototypical sense— his birth was after the “moment” of conversion in 1956—the process of conversion and radicalization (of himself and his community) persisted throughout his life. Finally, Alone’s conversion narrative articulates the political and constitutional emphases of Ambedkarite Buddhists, who “have always talked the constitution.” Notably the constitutional priority he mentioned most often was not freedom but equality, or “upholding the basic principle of equality of the citizen.” Readers will gain different insights from these narratives, but for me, the words of Ambedkarite Buddhists, like the words of Ambedkar discussed above, expand narrow conceptions of religious freedom and conversion. Rather than a sudden shift in beliefs, conversion was a process that encompassed and impacted many aspects of Ambedkarite Buddhists’ lives: personality, education, marriage, literature, social work, and art history. Sincerity was not confined to a narrowly defined spirituality but included rationality and political action. Agency was an individual and group attribute. And freedom could not be separated from equality (especially in education) and fraternity (friendship, maitri) for all, including lower castes, religious minorities, and women.79

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Conclusion: Religious Freedom, Equality, and Fraternity When I give conference presentations or lectures for my students about the conversion of thousands of Dalits to Buddhism with B. R. Ambekdar in October of 1956, someone usually raises a hand to ask if they “really” converted. Lower-caste mass converts still inspire skepticism about their agency and sincerity. The twenty-two vows of Ambedkar, at first glance, seem to be an attempt to make a clean break from Hinduism and avoid any confusion about whether they “really” converted. Half of the vows are devoted to leaving Hinduism behind and half to embracing Buddhism. Yet they also epitomize Ambedkar’s fusion of religion and politics, belief and action, personal and political. Consider vow 19: “I embrace today the Baudda Dhamma discarding the Hindu Religion which is detrimental to the emancipation of human beings and which believes in inequality and regards human beings other than Brahmins as low born.” Converts vowed not only to “believe in the principal that all are equal” (vow 9) but also “try to establish equality” (vow 10).80 Amberkarite Buddhists’ life stories reveal the hard work involved in establishing equality in their own and others’ lives. Conversion for Ambedkar was not solely or even primarily an individual, interior change of belief. If not just “believing in” but also “establishing equality” are religious acts, freedom of religion, specifically freedom of conversion, means more than the ability to change your mind. Rather than taking a side in debates over whether Ambedkar’s conversion was either a “political stunt” or an “entirely spiritual . . . discovery of moral truth,” Gauri Viswanathan perceptively sees his conversion as unproblematically both: “a rewriting of religious and cultural change into a form of political intervention.”81 Buddhists’ narratives likewise conveyed that their actions in school, family, academia, social work, and politics, not just their spiritual beliefs, were Buddhist. Ambedkarite Buddhist conceptions of religion expanded beyond the predominant Protestant notions of sincere belief to provoke sincere action beyond a lofty spiritual realm. If, on the other hand, a religion (in Ambedkar’s view, Hinduism) impeded action or change, he questioned whether it was a religion at all. In this sense, he narrowed the definition of religion by bluntly denying that Hinduism was a religion, as in his address to the AllBombay District Mahar Conference.82 That religion which regards the recognition of man’s self-respect as sin is not a religion but a sickness.

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That religion which allows one to touch a foul animal but not a man is not a religion but a madness. . . . That religion which teaches that the unlearned should remain unlearned, that the poor should remain poor, is not a religion but a punishment.83 Some point out that “religious freedom” is an oxymoron, since religions tend to restrict us in various ways. As Michael Lambek eloquently puts it, “The very idea of freedom of religion is paradoxical; it is the freedom to be unfree in a particular kind of way.”84 For Ambedkar, the religiously sanctioned “unfreedom” of caste went too far. Ambedkar disqualified Hinduism from religion, declaring it instead a set of rules, or even a sickness, madness, and punishment that is incompatible with freedom due to caste. The Buddhists’ narratives described “ingrained hate and anger” against them, blocking those who wanted “to be, to do, or to initiate anything new,” in Alone’s words.85 They each depict the educational, marriage, and religious freedoms restricted in the name of a Brahminical patriarchal conception of Hindu religious freedom, and the key individuals (a parent, friend, teacher, spouse, or mentor) who overcame that limited conception and supported their equality. In addition to expanding what freedom meant while contracting what counted as religion, Ambedkar highlighted other ideals that are increasingly neglected in the realm of religious rights, particularly equality and fraternity. Recent critiques of an exclusive focus on religious freedom highlight the need for his balanced approach. Winnifred Fallers Sullivan makes the case that religious freedom is impossible because, in United States courts of law, pursuit of religious freedom has resulted in inequities and unfreedoms for many groups.86 The Politics of Religious Freedom adds further support for this argument, drawing on research from around the world.87 In a roundtable on the latter book at the American Academy of Religion in the fall of 2015, the editors were asked for alternative concepts. Saba Mahmood suggested “religious equality.” Ambedkar prioritized equality; inequality is what drove him from Hinduism. In comments to the Associated Press on October 15, 1935, shortly after his famous announcement, he said, “We have decided one thing . . . that the Hindu religion is not good for us. . . . Inequality is the very basis of it.” Ambedkar’s pursuit of equality, and of freedom to change religions to gain equality, were central to his sense of religious freedom. In contrast with Gandhi, Ambedkar said, “I do not agree

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that man must have his ancestral religion if he finds that religion repugnant to his notions of the sort of religion he needs as the standard for the regulation of his own conduct and as the source of inspiration for his advancement and well-being.”88 This emphasis on advancement and change resonates with the Ambedkarite Buddhists’ narrative accounts of transformation and revolution. Of the many democratic ideals, freedom receives different emphasis in different cultures, carrying, for instance, “a much heavier symbolic weight in the United States than in other liberal democracies.”89 Elizabeth Shakman Hurd argues that a North American- and European-dominated “global politics of religious freedom” marginalizes people who do not fit standard notions of religion or freedom; transnational advocacy groups, government officers, and even interfaith organizations devoted to religious freedom increasingly take “the right to choose to believe (or not) as the essence of what it means to be free.”90 In contrast, Ambedkar’s three democratic ideals are not only a valuable amendment to the increasingly singleminded emphasis on narrow conceptions of religious freedom but also a more stable and just tripod upon which to build democracy. He was not averse to American or Western ideas about democracy, including (but not limited to) freedom. Indeed he read widely, inspired by the French Revolution, Buddhist precepts, and his former professor at Columbia University, John Dewey. As in his twenty-year search for a religion, he carefully weighed the virtues and values of the democratic principles he adopted and concluded, “If you ask me, my ideal society would be based on liberty, equality, and fraternity. And why not?”91 These ideals permeate India’s constitution, even though not all of Ambedkar’s proposals made it into the religious freedom clause. Likewise, his twenty-two vows did not make it into the schoolrooms of Gujarat, at least not in an official textbook. (They are all over India and the world in print and digital form, thanks to Dalit publishers and activists.) By canceling the Ambedkar textbook, the state government of Gujarat continued a long tradition of elites deciding what other people (women, lower castes, Gujarati schoolchildren) were allowed to learn. The Ambedkarite Buddhist life stories speak to the power of learning the forbidden (Sanskrit), the scorned (art history outside the “canon”), and the revolutionary (Dalit literature). The twenty-two vows pose a revolutionary threat to conventional, circumscribed notions of religious freedom. The state of Gujarat has passed a freedom of religion law that requires converts to submit a

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form to their district magistrate stating their reason for converting.92 The censorship of the textbook, like the conversion form (a sincerity and agency litmus test; see Chapter 4), stems from a limited notion of freedom and a total neglect of equality and fraternity. In addition to critically reshaping the meaning of “religion” and “freedom” in the context of religious freedom, Ambedkar and Ambedkarite Buddhists remind us to value, promote, and protect religious equality and religious fraternity, ideals that could counterbalance increasingly exclusionary, discriminatory, and divisive battles over religious freedom.

CHAPTER 3

Mizo Jews: Religious and Spatial Mobility

In Aizawl, the capital city of Mizoram, several enormous churches and a few mosques and Hindu temples dwarf two unobtrusive synagogues, their signs hidden behind gates or posted so high that those passing by could easily miss them. With help to find the obscure entrances, I attended services in those synagogues in the spring of 2014. After one Friday evening service, we shared homemade “wine” (juice, because Mizoram was a dry state) and challah (slices of white bread from the local Holy Cross Bakery, because Mizoram is a predominantly Christian state) to celebrate the start of Shabbat. The Jews of Mizoram believe that Mizos (an ethnolinguistic group in northeast India) are the Bnei Menashe, descendants of one of the ten ancient lost tribes of Israel. After formal orthodox conversions to Judaism, members of the Bnei Menashe community have migrated to Israel under the law of return. They, along with others in India, Israel, and the United States, advance varied narratives about this community, ranging from Knesset testimony to Christian Zionist YouTube videos. Whereas Mizo Jews tend to emphasize their present-day Jewish piety and practices, many of their allies look back to ancient Jewish history or forward to the end of days. Their critics downplay religion and stress the economic and political aspects of their conversion and migration. These divergent depictions of the Mizo Jews have implications for their religious freedom, especially their rights to convert and to migrate. For some, they are a group defined by changes of identity (converts and migrants). For the Bnei Menashe, being Jewish and Israeli is not a change but a return. One narrative, the Israeli chief Sephardic rabbi’s recognition of Mizo Jews as descendants of Israel, resulted in spatial mobility for some via formal conversions and the right of return. Another representation, the Mizo

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Jews as the fulfillment of Biblical prophecy, inspired funding from American Christian Zionists for Mizos to settle in Israel. But critical depictions of the Mizo Jews as missionary pawns, economic migrants, or imported settlers denied their sincerity or agency, impeding their religious freedom. As in the preceding chapters on earlier movements of Christians and Buddhists, a predominant narrative that genuine converts must exhibit sincerity and agency continues to inhibit the religious freedom of yet another Indian religious minority. The Mizo Jews themselves complicate this predominant conversion narrative. Identifying as a lost tribe challenged the notion that they are converts at all. Making aliyah is returning rather than migrating. To the Bnei Menashe, aliyah is not a sign of ulterior motives but rather the epitome of Jewish sincerity. A Lost Tribe? Although Mizoram remains largely Baptist and Presbyterian, a legacy of missionary involvement since the 1890s, over the last thirty to forty years an estimated seven thousand people in Mizoram and its neighboring states have been practicing Judaism.1 These Jews are reclaiming what they consider to be their ancient heritage. After investigating their claims, in 2005 the chief Sephardic rabbi of Israel, Shlomo Amar, officially recognized the Bnei Menashe as descendants of Israel but instructed them to participate in orthodox conversions to Judaism to enable aliyah or return.2 Israeli and American Jewish organizations have helped to fund their air travel and religious training in preparation for formal conversions. Some US-based Christian Zionist donors to their cause hope the tribe’s return will help fulfill Biblical prophecy and speed the second coming of the Messiah. About 3,000 Mizo Jews have moved to Israel, from the first group of 6 in 1989 up to a recent group of 102 in early 2017.3 Like the mass movement Christians in the 1930s, and the Dalit Buddhists in the 1950s, the Mizo Jews are a marginalized community. The Mizo Accord of 1986 ended a twenty-year secessionist conflict with the government of India, but Mizoram remains estranged from the mainland of India, in part due to its remote location in the northeast, between Bangladesh and Myanmar, and in part due to its distinct demographics.4 About 94 percent of the people living in Mizoram are members of official Scheduled Tribes (ST), a constitutional term for various indigenous and historically disadvantaged Adivasi communities, one of the highest ST percentages

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of any state in India; of the ST population in Mizoram, 77 percent are Mizo tribes and 90.5 percent are Christians.5 The Mizo Jews are a religious microminority, immersed in a country that is over 70 percent Hindu and a state that is over 80 percent Christian. Although there are other Indian Jewish communities elsewhere in India and Israel, including the Bene Israel, Cochin, and Baghdadi Jews, those in northeast India are isolated in a region dominated by Christianity.6 Mizoram’s airport features a cross so large it is visible from a plane when approaching for landing. The state capital, Aizawl, is permeated with Christianity. Older Presbyterian and Baptist churches abound, along with new constructions being built by more recently established congregations, such as Seventh-Day Adventists. Local businesses include Israel Digiprint, Zion Hardware Store, and Exodus Sumo [SUV] Service. The local radio stations and Mizo Idol competition (underway at a local auditorium and on cable TV during my stay in 2014) featured Christian rock and gospel music. Handel’s “Hallelujah Chorus” wafted from the hotel kitchen as I ate breakfast. Even the interior of the police station was decorated with a map of Israel. Thus being a Jewish lost tribe in this context is simultaneously a radical disjuncture from the local Christian religious identity and an embrace of the local reverence for Israel, the Holy Land. Conversion is religious mobility, but in practice it is hard to disentangle conversion from social, political, or spatial mobility. Mobility is easier to perceive than motives, so critics use apparent social, political, or spatial mobility accompanying conversions to question the sincerity of converts. If a convert to Judaism moves to Israel, for instance, skeptics assume that her observable move to Israel was driving her conversion (rather than more indecipherable spiritual motives) and conclude that she is spiritually insincere. To Jewish converts and their allies, however, the move to the Holy Land is religious too—aliyah, literally “ascent”—and this spatial mobility actually reinforces rather than undermines the sincerity of the conversion. The Bnei Menashe’s conversion and migration constitute an en masse change with two dimensions, spiritual and spatial, both captured in the concept of aliyah. This is an extreme case of cultural mobility. In Cultural Mobility: A Manifesto, Stephen Greenblat proposes a research agenda including both the movement of cultural artifacts or ideas and the movement of people. In other words, his questions and approach apply to the spread of the idea of the lost tribe as well the subsequent migration of the lost tribe itself. “What are the cultural mechanisms of interaction between

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states and mobile individuals? What happens to cultural products that travel through time or space to emerge and be[come] enshrined in new contexts and configurations?”7 Utilizing a narrative approach, championed by Greenblat in this and his prior work on “engaged representations,” I address the impact of culturally mobile narratives on a culturally mobile population’s religious freedom.8 This chapter features many different textual and visual narratives about the Mizo Jews—by people in Mizoram itself, elsewhere in India, in Israel, and in the United States. Examining these representations demonstrates the persistence of debates about sincerity and agency over conversion up to the present day, challenges the notion that spatial mobility negates religious sincerity, and introduces a conversion trope: the lost tribes of Israel. Unlike the negative tropes, like rice converts or neo-Buddhists, which are sometimes associated with the Christian or Buddhist mass converts (see Chapters 1 and 2), the transnational fascination with Jewish lost tribes has been more useful to the converts and their allies than to their critics. This notion made mass conversion more palatable to some Indians, even some Hindu nationalists, by depicting it as a community’s return to its “original” religion, somewhat akin to Hindu notions of shuddhi or reconversion. Like other conversion tropes examined in this book, the lost tribe idea took on a life of its own. In this case, it mobilized unexpected allies, namely Christian Zionists, with some unintended consequences. Mizo Jewish converts and their allies emphasize three religious representations of the Mizo Jews—an ancient lost tribe, a contemporary and observant Jewish community, and fulfillers of Biblical prophecy. Who favors these retrospective, contemporary, or prospective portrayals? Mizo Jews themselves and some of their Israeli allies emphasize their current practices, while others in India and in Israel tend to focus backward on their roots as a lost tribe. US-based Christian Zionists primarily look forward to the fulfillment of prophecy leading to the end of days. Such narratives have convinced more Mizos to join Jewish communities, the Israeli chief rabbi to grant them religious recognition, and Christian Evangelicals to fund their aliyah. In contrast, critics’ representations downplay religion, pointing to the spatial mobility of this community to question the sincerity of Mizo Jews and their allies, or to the mass character of the movement to question their agency. Using such narratives, government officials in India and Israel have periodically impeded Bnei Menashe conversions and immigration. My goal

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Figure 6. Synagogue in Sihphir, Mizoram. Photo by Laura Dudley Jenkins.

is not to determine whether the Mizo Jewish community really is a lost tribe or not; rather, I assess varied Bnei Menashe narratives—first those of the Mizo Jews themselves and their allies, then those of their critics—and consider the practical implications of these narratives for their religious freedom.9

Narratives by Mizo Jews and Their Allies Ranging from local to national and international perspectives, the following discussion includes Mizo Jews’ self-representations and then expands outward to the work of historical and genetic researchers elsewhere within India. Beyond India, Shavei Israel (or “return to Israel”), a Jerusalem-based, Jewish nongovernmental organization devoted to returning lost tribes, records news and events involving this community in social media and newsletters. Finally, American Christian Zionists have yet another view of the Mizo Jews, whom they encounter via the mass mailings, website, and DVD ministry of the International Fellowship of Christians and Jews. The following analysis begins with narratives looking back to ancient tribal roots, then turns to narratives of the community’s current practices, and concludes with narratives looking ahead to the “end of days.”

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Retrospective Narratives: Ancient Lost Tribe Although most emphasize their current Jewish practices, Mizo Jews claim lost tribe origins. People all over the world have professed to find, or to be, lost tribes, including various Native American, British, Ethiopian, Chinese, and other communities. According to the “mythohistorical legend” of the lost tribes, Assyrians exiled ten of the twelve Hebrew tribes (named after sons and grandsons of Jacob) from the Northern Kingdom of Israel around 722 B.C.E.10 The Mizo Jews consider themselves to be Bnei Menashe, which means “sons or descendants of the tribe of Menasseh,” who was the son of Jacob’s son Joseph, major figures in both the Jewish Torah and Christian Old Testament. In addition to the Mizo Jews themselves, Indian researchers from outside the Mizo Jewish community also focused on the lost tribe idea. Seeking remnants of ancient Jewish cultural practices or genetic links to Israeli populations, they tried to assess whether this community is “Jewish” or not. Although some Israelis are more concerned with the Mizos’ current practices, prominent religious figures, including the chief Sephardic rabbi, as well as a team of rabbis who visited northeast India, investigated the lost tribe claim prior to recognizing the community as descendants of Israel. The lost tribe trope also featured in the International Fellowship of Christians and Jews’ promotional materials about Mizo Jews, aimed at Evangelical Christians and Christian Zionists, who learned about the Jews of northeast India through DVDs and fundraising appeals for the Wings of Eagles program to return Jews to Israel. Mizo Jews’ Self Representations

Although the Mizo Jews I met during the spring of 2014 tended to emphasize their current practices, some brought up their lost tribe origins. A middle-aged man and older woman living near the Kovevei Tzion synagogue explained that the synagogue’s name meant “waiting for Zion.” According to the legend of the lost tribes, they have been waiting a very long time.11 The chairman (on leave) of this synagogue, Liyon Fanei, said, “Since we are lost tribe of Israel, Bnei Menashe, we have a duty to perform, to go and practice Judaism.”12 Once Fanei had brought this up during our conversation, I asked him about the lost tribe history. “All Mizos’ ancestors have village priests,” he explained. These priests “would chant that they are

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sons/children of Menashe, but we didn’t know [the] meaning” of that word. “But when we got the Bible from the Christians, we understand that Menashe is from Bible. . . . We are totally different from other tribes around us.”13 This commentary captures the appeal of the lost tribe narrative, because being Jewish is simultaneously a return to a local tribal religion and to a globally recognized religion. In response to these self-representations, others in India have looked into the lost tribe theory. A Mizo Christian historian in Aizawl compared Mizo and Jewish accounts of ancient traditions to argue that Mizo Jews are indeed a lost tribe. Biological researchers in Kolkata did genetic analysis and concluded that it is possible that the community is descended from a lost tribe. Indian Historical and Genetic Researchers

Zaithanchhungi (who goes by one name), an amateur historian in Aizawl, painstakingly interviewed community elders and compared various Jewish and Mizo traditions, such as animal sacrifice, a shofar-like horn, or the use of the term “Menashe” by local priests in chants. A retired life insurance agent, Zaithanchhungi utilized her people skills and contacts to speak with the oldest people she could find in many of the villages she used to visit in her former career.14 She published her findings in a short book, Israel-Mizo Identity, in 2008. This book summarizes many of the cultural connections that led her to conclude that the Mizos are the Menashe tribe.15 A Christian, Zaithanchhungi introduces the lost tribe idea through Deuteronomy 28:64: “And the LORD will scatter you among all peoples, from one end of the earth to the other; and there you shall serve other gods, of wood and stone, which neither you nor your fathers have known.”16 The ten tribes of Israel, she writes, “after 70 A.D. were oppressed by other nations and were scattered in 72 countries. Some even came to India and China. Those who went to China also settled there permanently and took part of the construction of the Great Wall of China.”17 Some, she suggests, due to this forced labor, “might have run away from there” and come to what is now Mizoram.18 Although they lived with many different peoples and cultures over the last two to three thousand years, argues Zaithanchhungi, Mizo “culture and traditional practices are more akin to those of Israelites than those of the Mongolians, the Chinese or the Burmese.”19

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She documents this in the rest of her book through comparative analysis of oral traditions, festivals, and material culture such as textiles. For example, she came across an oral tradition, documented in missionary histories of the Mizos, that “God gave them a written language on parchment, but a dog ate it up, so they lost the writing.”20 Zaithanchhungi interprets this legend, which explains the lack of a written Mizo language prior to missionaries rendering Mizo into Latin script in order to evangelize, as possible evidence that the Mizos once carried a parchment Torah. She suggests that the dog may be a metaphor for a Chinese emperor who destroyed books and scrolls to maintain power during the time period when the Great Wall was being built. Zaithanchhungi collected her own oral historical evidence as well, such as examples of the terms “Menase” or “Menasia” being used in sayings and chants, a possible connection to the tribe of Menashe. For instance, in a signed statement pasted onto page 44 of the copy of her book that she gave me, Ngurliana Sailo recalls: “In 1929 at Chapchar Kut (Festival) I also accompanied the Priest to the outskirt of Buallawn Village. After the sacrifice was completed we returned to the Chief’s house. We asked them to open the door for us. The Chief and his men asked, ‘Who are you?’ We replied, ‘We are the children of Manasia, We are good people.’ So, they opened the door and we all entered the house as well.” Parallels between traditional Mizo and ancient Jewish rituals, including sacrifices and festivals, constitute other chapters in Israel-Mizo Identity. Turning to material culture, Zaithanchhungi notes similarities between a Jewish prayer shawl and a ubiquitous Mizo textile still used as a baby carrier. “The traditional pattern of the Mizo ‘Naupuakpuan’ and Jewish prayer shawl ‘Tallith/Tzit Tzit’ are almost identical.”21 Each is white with long fringes and dark (black or blue) stripes on each end. These are just a few of the many parallels discussed in Israel-Mizo Identity. Zaithanchhungi continues to do research on the Chinese Jews of Kaifeng, who, she suggests, have ties with the Mizos.22 While Zaithanchhungi carried out her historical and cultural analysis in Mizoram, scientists in Kolkata investigated the potentially Jewish roots of northeast Indians through DNA analysis.23 Although genetics has played a key role in other lost tribe situations (such as the so-called Cohen gene of the Lemba community in southern Africa), the evidence on the Bnei Menashe remains suggestive but inconclusive. The idea that there is a genetic test for Jewishness is contested to begin with, and the one published report on the Bnei Menashe is not peer reviewed. The project, entitled “Tracking

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the Genetic Imprints of Lost Jewish Tribes Among the Gene Pool of KukiChin-Mizo Population of India,” was carried out by four researchers at the National DNA Analysis Center, Central Forensic Science Laboratory, in Kolkata, and published by Genome Biology. The research was funded by a government grant to the laboratory. The researchers compared about four hundred blood samples from five tribal communities in Mizoram “either with populations sharing Jewish ancestry or with local populations along the probabl[e] route of migration of the Jewish ancestry claimant Mizoram tribes.”24 Although tests on the male side did not support lost tribe claims, the researchers found that the “incidence of maternal Near Eastern lineages among the Mizoram tribals suggests their claim to Jewish ancestry cannot be excluded.”25 The authors’ genetic analysis slides into the realm of social science at times, mentioning that the Bnei Menashe celebrate ceremonies and festivals similar to those of Jews and even citing a travelogue/memoir by American Jewish author Hillel Halkin to conclude that “their oral traditions and socio-cultural procedures present striking parallelism with Judaism.”26 They also frame the genetic analysis in racial and gendered terms. On race: “Given their marked East Asian appearance, we attempt to trace genetic signatures of Near Eastern origin in their maternal and paternal lineages amongst expected extensive East Asian admixture.”27 On gender: “The females of any population represent the torchbearers of their social tradition and more so among Jewish communities where Jewishness has been defined by maternal descent in absence of priestly approval.”28 The gendered and racialized framing of the Bnei Menashe’s genetic makeup implies that their findings—that there are Near Eastern markers on the women’s side—seem more significant. While correct about the traditional emphasis on matrilineal descent within Judaism, the scientists’ discussion of race and gender reinforces problematic ideologies that races are genetically distinct and that women are inherently reproducers of the boundaries of ethnic groups or nations, a notion critiqued most influentially by Nira YuvalDavis and Floya Anthias in their feminist work on nationalism.29

Israeli Allies: Shlomo Amar and Shavei Israel

By 2003, about one hundred Bnei Menashe per year were being allowed to enter Israel on tourist visas and engage in intensive study leading to formal

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conversions.30 After a long campaign, the chief Sephardic rabbi’s 2005 decision to recognize the Bnei Menashe group as descendants of Israel affirmed their claims to be descended from the Menashe tribe but also required formal conversions due to the long period during which many were practicing Christians. Although Amar’s decision does not have a publicly available, published rationale, his evaluation of the Bnei Menashe seems to have drawn on Zaithanchhungi’s study as well as the genetics article. When six rabbis came from Israel to Aizawl in 2004, they met with Zaithanchhungi, who has pictures of the delegation prominently displayed in her living room. This visit by the delegation in the year preceding the decision suggests that they were aware of and perhaps drew upon Zaithanchhungi’s research. Amar’s spokesman, Rabbi Eliyahu Birnbaum, said, “The Chief Rabbi sent a delegation of two dayanim (judges) to India last year [2004] to conduct a thorough investigation of the community and its origins. After a thorough review of their findings, it was decided that the Bnei Menashe are in fact descendants of Israel and should be drawn closer to the Jewish people.”31 Although the genetic evidence was not decisive, the genetics article, which became publically available online the year prior to Rabbi Amar’s decision, may also have played a role, although it is unclear whether the study or positive press about it was an influence.32 The BBC mentioned the genetic report in a 2005 article on the chief rabbi’s decision.33 Kolkata’s Telegraph newspaper reported that the DNA study “validated the claim of the community.”34 No one was happier with Rabbi Amar’s religious validation of the Bnei Menashe community’s claims than Shavei Israel, a leading champion of the Mizo Jews as a lost tribe. Its website features both textual and visual narratives, including embedded YouTube videos, in support of its efforts to discover and encourage lost tribes in Asia, Europe, and South America and to gain political and monetary support for their aliyah, including lobbying the Israeli government to allow the Bnei Menashe to make aliyah. For his work with lost tribes, the Shavei chairman, Michael Freund, has been nicknamed the Indiana Jones of Judaism. His work builds on the prior work of Rabbi Eliyahu Avichail, the first international advocate for the Bnei Menashe and founder of Amishav, an organization devoted to returning the lost tribes, formerly directed by Freund.35

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One video, entitled “Conversion Authority Visits Bnei Menashe in Kfar Hasidim,” neatly encapsulates Shavei’s multifaceted campaign, which includes retrospective, contemporary, and prospective elements.36 Kfar Hasidim is an absorption center in Israel, where hundreds of Bnei Menashe have arrived to prepare for conversion or reconversion prior to settling elsewhere in Israel. Interspersed with the story of the Bnei Menashe’s absorption process, a trifecta of face-to-face testimonials makes a comprehensive argument that the Bnei Menashe really are Jewish—historically/ biologically, socially, and religiously. The three testifiers also emphasize different time frames—the past, the present, and the future. Although the main message is that the Bnei Menashe are Jewish, repeated over and over, these different emphases build rhetorically over the course of the film. The first expert, the chairman of Shavei, Michael Freund, presents the historical/genetic argument from what appears to be his own living room. Framed by his lamp and fireplace, he calmly explains to us that the Bnei Menashe were “exiled from the land of Israel more than 2,700 years ago by the Assyrian Empire. Despite wandering in exile for so long [camera cuts to kids wandering in a dusty path of the absorption center] they are now finally making their way back [cut to Bnei Menashe women sitting in pews] home, to the land of their ancestors [cut to Bnei Menashe kids behind row of Israeli flags on a rope], to the land of Israel.”37 The Bnei Menashe community, some Indian researchers, the Sephardi chief rabbi of Israel, and the Shavei organization all contribute to narratives that this community is or may be descendants of a Hebrew tribe that left what is now Israel several thousand years ago. The cultural parallels between traditional Mizo and Jewish practices, such as chants, sacrifices, or textiles, are mentioned by Mizo Jews and most comprehensively documented by a local Christian ally, the historian Zaithanchhungi. Because the genetic evidence is inconclusive, neither supporters nor critics of the Menashe/Mizo lost tribe theory have based their strategies solely upon biological or genetic narratives. A combination of ancestral and cultural narratives about ancient connections may have influenced Rabbi Amar’s decision to recognize the Bnei Menashe as descendants of Israel and are one line of argument popularized by the organization Shavei.38 At the same time, contemporary Mizo Jews, as well as their allies and critics in Israel, often look to contemporary religious practices to make their identity claims.

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Contemporary Narratives: Practicing Jewish Community Mizo Jews’ Self Representations We ourselves are proof of our Jewishness. —Zvi Huata, a Bnei Menashe Israeli, testifying before the Knesset Committee for Immigration, Absorption and Diaspora Affairs.39

The Bnei Menashe tend to emphasize that they are currently very observant Jews, an emphasis voiced by Zvi Huata in his request to an Israeli legislative committee to focus on “we ourselves”—living, practicing Jews—as “proof of our Jewishness.” Even Mizo Jews who mention the Menashe tribe do not claim they have been practicing Judaism consistently for thousands of years since the tribe left Israel. The Bnei Menashe embraced or revived their Jewish practices and traditions around the 1970s.40 Liyon Fanei freely acknowledged that “usually we are born Christian” and become Jewish, although the revived Jewish community has been around long enough to include some children who were born into Jewish households. Fanei noted that “Judaism is a way of life,” one which they are learning and living.41 They persist even though some of their practices have created problems for them in their day-to-day activities. Observing Shabbat (the Jewish Sabbath, from sundown Friday through Saturday) can be difficult in Mizoram, due to pressure to go to school or participate in festivals on Saturdays. The Young Mizo Association, a huge organization that many Mizos are involved in, often schedules social service projects or organizational meetings on Saturdays. Yet the Mizo Jews continue to observe Shabbat.42 At sundown on Friday, Jews at the Khovevei Tzion Synagogue follow orthodox Shabbat rules, such as not flipping light switches. I had to remember to stop taking notes at the synagogue and to not call members after sundown on Fridays. Light switches, pens, and phones are tools, and work is not allowed on Shabbat in Orthodox Judaism. After a Friday service of over two hours, members routinely return to the synagogue on Saturday afternoon for more prayers, singing, and discussion, and again on Sunday for classes. Many members of the synagogues in Aizawl spoke some Hebrew, honed through Hebrew lessons on Sundays after Shabbat was over. Most people I met at the synagogues introduced themselves by first names with some Jewish religious or Israeli cultural significance, such as Yacof (Jacob),

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Itzkhak, Benjamin, and Shalom. The Bnei Menashe community’s selfrepresentations as contemporary, practicing Jews extended to material culture, especially clothing. Women covered their heads with scarves, velvet hats, or winter caps for Shabbat services and, in some cases, on other days as well. A woman at one of the synagogues explained this was the rule for all married women.43 Men wore kippah (small caps), and many had tallit (prayer shawls). The classic tallit (a white rectangular cloth with tassles at four corners and blue trim) is the fabric that the local historian Zaithanchhungi found similar to a typical white and black woven cloth made in Mizoram, often used as a baby carrier. Colorful kippah produced by Bnei Menashe immigrants now living in Israel have been sold online by an organization for lost and dispersed Jewish communities.44 For many, “Our dream is making aliyah to Israel, so for that we have to prepare ourselves” said Fanei.45 Such preparations include coming together in the synagogue not only for prayer services but also for community sing-alongs of Jewish songs and lessons to develop knowledge of Hebrew, history, and Israel’s customs. During one such lesson on Sunday after Shabbat was over, a young Mizo man, more casually dressed than the day before in a track suit, but still wearing a kippah and prayer shawl, elicited verses from students ranging from children to older adults to illustrate Hebrew phrases he wrote on a whiteboard. Teens in the class alternated between note-taking and checking their text messages. Thus, they live as contemporary, practicing Jews.46 Israeli Allies

Contemporary religious practices are tangible and thus appeal to Israeli legislators or officials trying to make practical decisions about the immigration of the Bnei Menashe. In a hearing about the Bnei Menashe by the Knesset Committee on Immigration, Absorption and Diaspora Affairs, the committee chair, Colette Avital, was particularly interested in their current Jewish practices: Chair Colette Avital: What do you mean “act like Jews”? Do they practice the commandments, do they officiate circumcision? Rabbi Maimon (Conversion Courts): Yes they act like Jews . . . they learn, in addition to the Judaism they already have, about half a year. When they arrive in Israel they learn another six

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months. They do the whole procedure just like any other conversion.47 In addition to “acting” like Jews, including studying to learn more about Judaism, the Bnei Menashe also look and sound like Jews, according to their allies. An account by the leader of Shavei about the visit of a delegation of four Israeli rabbis to the Bnei Menashe in Mizoram emphasizes that they look and sound Jewish: “Dozens of men wearing kippot and tzitzit and women wearing long sleeves and head-coverings gather at the entrance, greeting the delegation with Hebrew songs and hearty cries of ‘Shalom.’ Many have tears in their eyes as they wave Israeli flags briskly in the air.”48 Posts on Shavei’s website and social media often show Bnei Menashe participants during traditional Jewish holidays. In one Chanukah photo, smiling children peer at a large plate of donuts. Food fried in oil, traditionally served for Chanukah, symbolizes the miracle of the lamp that burned for eight days despite having only enough oil for one. The ancient Menashe tribe would have left Israel prior to the events commemorated on Chanukah, so this is not one of the traditions discussed in Zaithanchhungi’s book, practices common to both ancient Jews and ancient Mizos. Rather, they started to celebrate this holiday more recently, when they began learning about contemporary Judaism. Shavei’s portrayal of the Bnei Menashe at Chanukah thus reinforces presentday narratives about their current practices. Shavei’s representations of the Bnei Menashe, via newsletters, Facebook, Twitter, and YouTube, have been designed to lobby the Israeli government to bring the Bnei Menashe to Israel but also to raise money to assist the community in their current Jewish practices by building a ritual bath for conversions in India and a Bnei Menashe community center in Israel. Their social media emphasizes the visibly Jewish practices of the Bnei Menashe. For example, in the video, “Conversion Authority Visits Bnei Menashe in Kfar Hasidim,” smiling rabbis (the Conversion Authority) walk directly toward the camera as they arrive outside the Kfar Hasidim Absorption Center, which houses newly arrived Bnei Menashe immigrants, who in 2014 resumed their immigration from Mizoram and the neighboring state of Manipur. The handheld camera seems to be on the lookout for striking visual cues of Jewishness, as it suddenly swerves to capture one rabbi’s handshake with a Bnei Menashe man with long Hasidic sidelocks (pe’ot).49 A jump cut to another Bnei Menashe man shows him pumping his arm

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around in a circle to initiate the loud singing of a Hebrew song by the assembled group, who have colorful clothing, kippah and other head coverings, Jewish prayer shawls, and Israeli flags.50 This scene shifts in space and time and perspective, as the camera peers down from the front of a classroom (with the observing rabbis) upon rows of Bnei Menashe seated and sorted geometrically into female and male halves of the room (again demonstrating Orthodox Judaism, this time spatially). The video’s narrator informs us, in an authoritative BBC-like accent, that the conversion authority was “impressed by the wide Jewish knowledge the new immigrants had accumulated” in this classroom.51 Like other community centers in Israel, the interior decoration and furnishing of the classroom represent “Western, middle-class Israeli life.”52 A second face-to-face testimonial focuses on the present, with the message that the Bnei Menashe are socially Jewish, that they fit in. “Devora Kupang, New Immigrant from Manipur India,” a woman in an outdoor, paved area with kids playing nearby, says solemnly, with furrowed brow: “People accept us, and we feel very warm and welcome here. We are so happy and it is really wonderful.”53 A subsequent shot shows small children who have emerged from their own preschool classroom. They have made some toys out of colorful plastic blocks—guns, a sword, and a semiautomatic weapon. The boy with the latter pushes to the front and points his semiautomatic directly at the camera, while a boy behind him waves an Israeli flag.54 The narrator does not need to note (although Shavei does so in other publications) that the Bnei Menashe children grow up to join the Israeli Defense Forces. The visual narrative in this video reinforces the idea that the Bnei Menashe are contemporary practicing Israelis in addition to Jews, a theme echoed by the image at the top of the Shavei web page that featured the video in June 2015. Across the top, an image of the Western, or “Wailing,” Wall in Jerusalem was the background behind a snapshot-style photo of a group of smiling Bnei Menashe girls. They each had Israeli flags painted on their faces—one on her forehead, one on her chin, others on cheeks and noses—a visual metaphor for the Jewishness/Israeliness of this Asian community.55 Israeli tourist narratives also emphasize contemporary Jewish practices. One form of spiritual tourism includes the lost tribes as destinations.56 The Kolkata-based Telegraph newspaper reported that the Jews of Mizoram were requesting money from the government of Israel for a guesthouse for visiting Jews. Makabia Zadeng noted, “We need a guesthouse for Jews in the

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state as any orthodox Jew does not take food in an ordinary hotel. The food has to be holy, cooked by a Jew.”57 India is a popular tourist destination for Israelis after their national military service. The following blog entry by a young Israeli tourist legitimizes the Bnei Menashe as Jews and potential Israelis by mentioning not just traditional kosher practices but also the community’s awareness of Israeli pop culture: We’re headed to a Mizoram tourist lodge which has been commandeered for us by the local Shavei Israel Bnei Menashe community. To prepare kosher food at the lodge, the community bought all new utensils and spent hours preparing a great meal for us. As we walk off the bus and into the lodge’s courtyard, weary after a brutal journey, we are greeted by almost 100 members of the local community, some in traditional Mizo tribal attire. . . . A group of Bnei Menashe girls sing Sarit Hadad’s hit Shema Israel Elokhai, in Hebrew. It’s the first time we’ve heard any of them sing a popular Israeli hit, and not just a classic Jewish song. And the reason quickly reveals itself: I notice there are two Israeli girls here, mouthing the words as the Bnei Menashe choir sings.58 This blogger goes on to encourage “regular Israelis” and not just “Orthodox religious people” to visit the Bnei Menashe in India: “There must be many who, if they knew about these communities, could come and visit and infuse the Bnei Menashe with some contemporary, secular Israeli culture. Perhaps teach them some new songs, not that there’s anything wrong with Am Yisrael Chai, but how much of that one can they sing if and when they make aliyah?”59 Building on a long history of travelers documenting in letters or travel accounts their encounters with potential lost tribes of Israel, both tour operators and Israeli tourists play up the blend of the exotic and the familiar embodied in the Bnei Menashe.60 The Bnei Menashe and their Israeli allies, including some Knesset members, the Shavei organization, and Israeli tourists visiting India, narrate the many ways these Jews act, look and sound Jewish (and Israeli) as they study, sing, cook, eat, dress, play, celebrate, and make aliyah. Some feature the Bnei Menashe’s observant religious practices, which are the main concern of the Knesset committee and the Conversion Authority. Other narratives, such as the video of “armed” preschoolers, the newly arrived immigrant’s

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testimonial, and the young Israeli’s travel blog, emphasize they these immigrants will fit in socially and contribute to contemporary Israeli communities.

Prospective Narratives: Fulfillment of Prophesy I am part of the fulfillment of the vision of the Messiah. —Amos Tungnung, Bnei Menashe man61

None of the Bnei Menashe I spoke with in Mizoram emphasized that they were a fulfillment of prophesy, but the third face-to-face testimonial in the Shavei video features such a statement, by “Amos Tungnung, New Immigrant from Manipur, India,” a neighboring state of Mizoram.62 His simple statement foregrounds the idea that the Bnei Menashe are not only biologically, historically, socially, and religiously Jewish but also the fulfillment of prophesy. This line of reasoning is more prevalent in the representations of the Bnei Menashe by Christian Zionists and by some Jewish organizations, such as Shavei, who work with Christians. Some Jews and Evangelical Christians believe that gathering scattered Jews back into Israel will lead to the coming of the Messiah. This would be the Messiah’s first appearance according to Jews and the second according to Christians. One scholar of American Christian Zionists, while recognizing a degree of diversity and flexibility in other aspects of their beliefs, calls this “a core conviction of Christian Zionists and many Jews: that the establishment of the state of Israel and the ingathering of the Jews represent the living fulfillment of biblical prophesy.”63 The following analysis focuses on prophetic narratives about the Bnei Menashe, first from Shavei and then from the International Fellowship of Christians and Jews. Israeli Allies: Shavei

Shavei’s prophetic themes may stem from its friendly relations with Christian Evangelical funders, such as the International Fellowship of Christians and Jews. Another Jewish organization, Amishav, also dedicated to returning lost tribes and the first Israeli organization to engage with the Bnei Menashe as a lost tribe, reportedly “broke with” Freund, the chairman of Shavei, over the issue of “receiving funds from Christians.”64 The exact

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nature of the financial relationship, if any, between Shavei and the International Fellowship of Christians and Jews (IFCJ) is murky.65 Shavei has worked with Christian Evangelical organizations such as the IFCJ by coordinating efforts to fund the Bnei Menashe aliyah, if not by receiving funding directly from them. Shavei’s prophesy theme in its materials on the Bnei Menashe reaches the niche audience with which this resonates. This theme features in their online video about the Conversion Authority’s visit. In addition to the recent immigrant at the absorption center stating that he is “part of the fulfillment of the vision of the Messiah,” Michael Freund’s testimonial uses the word “prophesy.”66 In an intertextual moment,67 when Freund said “prophesy” on my laptop screen when I was watching the video in June 2015, he simultaneously invoked ancient textual references to the Jewish Torah/Christian Old Testament and triggered a pop-up Google ad that appeared across the bottom of the Shavei video: “Free Bible Prophesy Book. You can understand Bible Prophesy.” I clicked. “Where can you find answers for an uncertain world? You can learn crucial information about future prophetic events—the time of the end.” To the right was a large red rectangle with the words “Request a Free Copy,” which linked to a Christian, prophesy-oriented website. Shavei’s prophesy narrative reaches out to potential allies beyond sympathetic Jewish communities. US Allies: Christian Zionists

Numerous Biblical references to the return of scattered populations cause some to believe that the return of the lost tribes will precipitate the coming of the Messiah.68 For example, one such passage, Isaiah 11:11–12, states: “In that day the Lord will extend his hand yet a second time to recover the remnant which is left of his people, from Assyria, from Egypt, from Pathros, from Ethiopia, from Elam, from Shinar, from Hamath, and from the coastlands of the sea. He will raise an ensign for the nations, and will assemble the outcasts of Israel, and gather the dispersed of Judah from the four corners of the earth.”69 Some Christians supporting the return of the lost tribes to Israel find inspiration in an ideology known as premillennial dispensationalism.70 This is a future-oriented view predicting (before Theodor Herzl even called for a modern Jewish state) that Jews would return to their old homeland. The term “premillenial dispensationalism” refers to their belief that seven eras (known as dispensations) will culminate in a Kingdom

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Age, during which the end-times will occur prior to the Millennium, which is the thousand-year reign of Christ on Earth predicted in Revelations 20. Drawing on a literal reading of Biblical passages from books including Revelations and Jeremiah, this ideological vision of the end-times includes the Rapture (Christians joining Christ in the clouds), the Antichrist reigning for seven years, the Jews rebuilding the Temple, one-third of the Jews converting to Christianity (the rest are killed), and the battle at Armageddon led by Christ.71 This constellation of beliefs suggests that premillennial dispensationalists’ views of Jews are complex, to say the least, but premillennial dispensationalism undergirds some American Christians’ Zionism, especially support for rebuilding the Temple and, most relevant for the discussion here, the return of Jews to Israel. Premillenial dispensationalism continues to be influential among an estimated 10 percent of white American Evangelicals.72 The IFCJ, led by American Rabbi Yechiel Eckstein, is a Chicago-based organization that mobilized Evangelical Christians to help financially support the Bnei Menashe’s aliyah until 2007.73 Based on Smith’s definition of Christian Zionism, “political action, informed by specifically Christian commitments, to promote or preserve Jewish control over the geographic area now comprising Israel and Palestine,” the IFCJ is Christian Zionist in orientation.74 It has “transported tens of thousands of Jews to Israel from the former Soviet Union, Ethiopia, and, most recently, India, through its On Wings of Eagles program,” funded primarily by Evangelical Christians.75 In addition to Chicago, the IFCJ has offices in Canada, Israel, and South Korea.76 Among other strategies, the IFCJ appeals to future-oriented, premillenial dispensationalist themes in its DVDs and related study guides as well as its fundraising appeals via online and bulk-mailed solicitations. I do not assume that all donors have the same motivations. While some evangelical donors may be motivated to speed up the fulfillment of prophesy, others’ motives are perhaps better explained this way: “By cooperating with prophesy, they are working to achieve its fulfillment.”77 Others may be moved to donate by IFCJ’s many images and stories of babies, children, and/or poverty among Jews around the world. Rather than try to assess what is motivating specific donors, I will focus on the IFCJ’s portrayal of the Mizo Jews; their focus on prophesy is prominent enough to suggest that it has been effective. Two recurring themes emphasize the (not-too-distant) future: first, returning the lost tribes as a fulfillment of prophesy and, second, recognizing the imminence of the end of days and the Messianic age.

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The first DVD in Rabbi Eckstein’s Journey to Zion series is on the theme of prophesy.78 In this series, Eckstein appears on a set featuring two huge menorahs and an open Torah displayed on a stand, a scene staged for the Christian viewer, as this is not typical of a synagogue. He gives warm and engaging lectures before a largely middle-aged audience of Christians studiously taking notes while seated in folding chairs, evoking a churchbasement multipurpose room or lecture hall.79 The lectures are interspersed with some footage of Eckstein in Israel, brief advertisements about IFCJ’s various charities, an 800 number to call for another free DVD about prophesy, and an “Ask the Rabbi” segment, in which the first question was about the location of the Armageddon.80 In his lecture on prophesy, Eckstein tries not to overstate the Jewish view of prophesy—“We don’t say this is going to happen”—while simultaneously appealing to dispensationalist ideologies. We (Jews) look back, he says, and try to discern the “footprints of God,” arguing that “what happened over the past fifty years certainly seems to be the fulfillment of prophesies from thousands of years ago.”81 After the birth of the state of Israel, the next fulfilled prophesy he discusses is the return of the lost tribes: “We can say that the ingathering of the Jewish people from Ethiopia, from India, from America, from France, from the land of the North, and the . . . former Soviet Union, and the Ukraine, we can say that that is a miracle and that that is the fulfillment of prophesy. All the prophets who spoke about the day that would come when the nations of the world would give up their Jews and the Jewish people from four corners of the earth will return to the land of Israel, we can say that that day is today.”82 He lists the reunification of Israel and the inclusion of the Temple Mount in the Jewish state as other prophesies and then elaborates further on the returning tribes: And just recently we discovered this group in India in the northeast on the border of Burma (it’s actually called Myanmar now) in the area of Mizoram and Manipur. Six thousand descendants of the tribe of Menashe. And we are bringing them now to Israel on Wings of Eagles. And there are more and more of these ancient tribes, lost tribes of Israel that are being rediscovered. So you want to kick in now what the Talmud says? It’s a sign of the end of days. Can we say that? We can say we think so. [dramatic pause] We can say this all certainly points in that direction, that the Messiah, the Messianic age is near.83

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The lost tribe and their return signal the immanence of the Messiah, the second powerful theme of the IFCJ, one that gives a sense of urgency to Eckstein’s message and, perhaps, sparks his Christian audiences to take action today. After briefly backpedaling to acknowledge that we cannot speak definitively about the future, Eckstein continues on the Messianic age theme: “But we can hope and plan and anticipate and pray for that future that we both [Christians and Jews] long for, and I do believe that many of us Jews today would see, in the events of our day, miracles and prophesies being fulfilled and that we are indeed living in times that are imminent, and we expect in a very imminent way that coming of the Messiah and the fulfillment of all those other prophesies. . . . May that day come soon, speedily in our time, Amen.”84 IFCJ direct mailings reinforce this theme and the sense of urgency. For example, a letter from Eckstein opens with “I am not a prophet” but moves on to warn, “Wait until it is too late and suffer grave consequences!” and “these are not normal times!”85 Given the lack of specific Biblical instructions to help Jews return to Israel, a fact that might make potential donors feel ambivalent about appeals to do so, Eckstein’s emphasis on time running out seems designed to stimulate a “let’s hedge our bets” mentality— and more donations.86 The urgency pervades IFCJ publications, including study guide questions: “What changes in your life might you make to get ready for Jesus’ return?”87 In case potential donors are skeptical of the need to help Jews return to Israel, other IFCJ materials feature images of cute babies in India. One such baby appeared near an online link on their website to “donate now.” No materials mention—and probably most Christian donors are unaware—that the Mizo Jews are converting and emigrating from a largely Christian state. Christian Zionists are also largely unconcerned with Israeli religious or legal debates over who is a Jew: Indeed, “issues that might drive the Israeli rabbinate to distraction are not relevant for Christian Zionists.”88 In short, the IFCJ exhorts Evangelical Christians to support Mizo aliyah through carefully calibrated appeals emphasizing their roles in the fulfillment of prophesy and Messianic, end-of-days ideologies. Also significant is what the IFCJ materials do not discuss. The IFCJ does not mention that the Mizo Jews are relatively recent converts from largely Presbyterian or Baptist upbringings (at least in their immediate rather

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than distant past) or that the settlements into which many relocate are among the most disputed territories in a contested part of the world, one of the key points raised by the critics.

Narratives by Critics Due to controversies over their conversions and aliyah, the Bnei Menashe’s migration stopped for several years, but when I visited Aizawl in the winter of 2014, they had recently resumed moving to Israel. Notably, this time they were undergoing their formal conversions to Judaism within Israel rather than India. The critiques of the Bnei Menashe that triggered these policy changes contrast with the narratives of the Mizo Jews themselves and their allies. Critics’ representations downplay past ancestry, current practices, or future predictions. Indeed, they sideline religion altogether in their discussions, instead pointing to the spatial or economic mobility of this community to question the Mizo Jews’ sincerity, or to the mass character of the movement to question their agency. Sincerity critiques are more prevalent among Israelis. I first consider this type of critique, specifically, the argument that Mizo Jews are economic migrants rather than sincerely spiritual Jews. I then turn to arguments that these converts lack agency, a common theme of both Indian and Israeli critics, troubled by the idea of mass conversions and migrations. Prominent critics include officials in Israel’s Ministry of Immigrant Absorption and Ministry of the Interior, especially in periods when the Labor Party dominated the government, and in India’s Foreign Ministry, especially under the Congress Party prime minister Manmohan Singh.

Questioning the Sincerity of Spatially Mobile Converts Israeli critiques of the Mizo Jews’ spiritual sincerity are more plentiful than Indian critiques along these lines. Perhaps the idea of returning to one’s original religion is more familiar to Hindus, who recognize and in some cases advocate the practice of reconverting to Hinduism, known as shuddhi. Israeli critics, on the other hand, question the Bnei Menashe community’s sincerity, arguing that they are really economic migrants trying to come to Israel to increase their standard of living.

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Israeli Critics: Bnei Menashe as Economic Migrants

“We are witnessing a phenomenon that non-Jews are eager to join the Jewish faith, if to do so means to come to Israel and to upgrade their standard of living,” argued Israel’s immigration minister Yair Tsaban in 1994 in response to some of the earliest Bnei Menashe immigrants.89 Their arrival in Israel in the 1990s, prior to the Chief Rabbi’s recognition of them, provoked Israeli debates not only over their specific claims but over the broader question of Israel’s law of return policy: “A tiny band of Indians who believe they are members of one of the 10 ‘lost tribes of Israel’ are at the heart of a growing controversy over Israel’s law of return. For the first time since the establishment of the Jewish state, senior government officials are asking publicly whether the time has come to change the policy that any Jew, from anywhere, can claim instant citizenship upon arrival in Israel.”90 Although the law of return endured, some Israelis were so doubtful about the Bnei Menashe community’s sincerity that they started reconsidering this founding ideal of the state of Israel. To such Israelis, the legal right to return to Israel as Jews created grounds to suspect the Mizo Jews’ religious sincerity. A prominent critic of the Bnei Menashe aliyah, the Jerusalem Post correspondent Amir Mizroch, pursued this line of argument in his articles and his blog for the newspaper about his trip to India in November 2008. By invoking the material advantages of becoming Jewish (a “winning ticket”!), he undercut the sincerity of the Bnei Menashe: “Some see immigration to Israel as a winning ticket out of a hopeless cycle of poverty. Northeast India is largely underdeveloped, and opportunities for self-betterment are rare. The vast majority of the population are subsistence farmers and menial laborers. As word spreads about Judaism and Israel, increasing numbers are showing interest in the faith and its promise.”91 Bnei Menashe allies, such as Stephan Epstein, who created a website about them, recognized the power of this economic-migrant narrative in Israel and tried to acknowledge and counter it with a Jewish-exile narrative: “Bnei Menashe look to Zion, not for washing machines or microwaves but for a fulfillment of a dream they carried with them during their exile of 2,700 years.”92 Allies like Epstein and the NGOs Amishav and Shavei tried to shift the Bnei Menashe narrative from economic/spatial mobility toward spiritual/spatial mobility by focusing on the ingathering of the lost tribes. But arguments that the lost tribes need to come home to Israel sparked this

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rejoinder by the immigration minster Yair Tsaban: “We cannot . . . fulfill all the prophecies of the Bible. We must be willing to leave something for the Messiah to do when he comes.”93 Critics of Mizo immigration used the imagined desirability of Israeli life to deny the religious sincerity of this community. Labeling them economic migrants in search of a better standard of living immobilized some Bnei Menashe. Even after the chief rabbi’s religious/legal recognition of the community, the Ministry of the Interior’s bureaucratic/legal power impeded the immigration of the Mizo Jews for several years. In October 2007, the minister of the interior, Meir Sheetrit, reportedly told the Jewish Agency (an Israel-based international NGO that facilitates aliyah) not to “go finding me any lost tribes, because I won’t let them in any more.”94 Questioning the Agency of Mass Converts Both Indian and Israeli critics questioned the agency of the Jewish converts. Some Indian government officials cast doubt on the Mizo converts’ agency by complaining to Israeli officials about proselytizing rabbis engaging in mass conversions in India’s border regions. Israeli narratives painted a picture of the Bnei Menashe as potentially massive numbers of converts streaming out of India, or as pawns of pro-settlement political forces in Israel or of Christian funders in America. Indian Critics: Bnei Menashe as Gullible Mass Converts Susceptible to Foreign Influences

Critics in the Indian government viewed the Bnei Menashe as mass converts being manipulated by “aggressive” rabbi-missionaries and as minorities vulnerable to foreign influence rather than as agents making their own religious decisions. The Indian government is leery of missionaries and has various national and state laws (see Chapter 4) to monitor and control missionaries and conversions.95 When six rabbis came from Israel to formally convert two hundred Bnei Menashe to Judaism in September 2005, after the chief rabbi’s recognition of them as “legitimate candidates for conversion,” the Indian government pressured Israel to put a stop to such conversions on Indian soil.96 The rabbis were unauthorized foreign missionaries, a term not often applied to rabbis but, government officials concluded, a label with some basis in this case.

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The Israeli Foreign Ministry spokesman Mark Regev reported that “Indian authorities, through official channels, told us they do not view positively initiated efforts at conversions to other religions.”97 The Israeli Foreign Ministry official Amos Nadai testified before the Knesset immigration committee that the director general of Indian’s Foreign Ministry in charge of relations with the Middle East “told us, and I quote, ‘There is a feeling that Israel is trying to aggressively convert Indian citizens. This issue is of great concern to India.’ ”98 One of the least proselytizing religions in the world had run afoul of India’s regulations pertaining to missionaries and conversion. Although Hindu nationalists were among the most prominent critics of the Christian and Buddhist mass conversions (see Chapters 1 and 2), in this case it was Prime Minister Manmohan Singh’s Congress-led government that pressured Israel to slow conversions and bring its rabbis home. In fact Congress’s critical stance regarding the Bnei Menashe conversions contrasted with the previous, more lenient Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP)– dominated central government, led by Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee. Amos Nadai of the Israeli Foreign Ministry “said there were indications from official Indian sources that mass conversions of Indian citizens was illegal.”99 Nadia’s explanation illuminates the way changing governments can change narratives, and thus policies and legalities, of mass conversion: “Perhaps under previous Indian governments we had more diplomatic leeway to reach creative solutions. We could have tried to explain that Bnei Menashe have already embraced Judaism and that the conversion is only a technical thing. . . . But this government is less friendly than the previous government. There is no partner to talk to.”100 Vajpayee had maintained warmer ties with the Israeli government, facilitated by parallel conceptions of religious nationalism and concerns about Muslim minorities. The BJP’s relative lack of attention to the Bnei Menashe movement may stem from the fact that most Mizo Jews were converting from Christianity rather than Hinduism. The purportedly secular Congress Party government’s higher level of concern over the Jewish conversions can be understood in light of cooling India-Israel relations and ongoing fears of foreign influences in a restive border region. Mizoram and its neighboring states have a fraught relationship with the central government of India, due to the northeastern Indians’ history of ethnic separatism, distinctive Christian identity, and experiences of racial discrimination when visiting or living in “mainland” India.101 Mizoram has

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been a state only since 1987, and statehood was granted as a means of “placating the demand for sovereignty and complete independence raised by such insurgent groups as . . . [the] Mizo National Front (MNF) almost since the time of Independence.”102 This helps to explain why Indian officials quelled foreign meddling in the state, even by members of a religion that is one of the smallest in India. Indian officials told Israeli officials to stop “aggressive” or “initiated efforts at conversions” by Israeli rabbis, a narrative emphasizing the Mizos’ lack of agency and need for protection.103 Interestingly, this narrative of Mizo passivity coincides with central government concerns that the Mizos actually have too much agency, given their history of violent separatism. Nevertheless, descriptions of Mizos as benign and naive dominate official accounts, such as the book on Mizoram in the States of Our Union series. This text reveals more about the wishful thinking of the Ministry of Information and Broadcasting than anything about Mizo culture, asserting: “Mizos are by nature simple, leading a quiet happy life.”104 This central government narrative of Mizos as happy, simple, and quiet (in other words, lacking in agency) contrasts with central government worries about Mizo separatism (in other words, too much agency). Whether they are portrayed as mass converts being manipulated by rabbi-missionaries or potentially secessionist minorities vulnerable to foreign influences, Indian government narratives about the Mizo Jews tend to deny their agency or ability to make their own religious decisions. India’s official pressure on Israel impeded, within India at least, the orthodox conversions the Bnei Menashe needed for immigration to Israel. Nevertheless, even with smaller numbers coming on tourist visas to Israel, the Shavei organization reported that by 2010 about seventeen hundred Bnei Menashe had moved to Israel, with about seventy-two hundred remaining in India. In January 2010, Shavei Israel and the Jewish Agency announced a creative plan to bring several hundred Bnei Menashe at a time by train to Nepal for conversion, in order for them to enter Israel as recognized Jews and in larger numbers.105 This workaround was an attempt to evade the critics’ conversion barriers in India and immigration barriers in Israel. Perhaps due to Nepal’s own legal limitations on conversions, the Bnei Menashe found this plan unworkable and currently fly to Israel, where they stay in absorption centers studying and formally converting prior to settling elsewhere in Israel. Thus India successfully pressured the Israeli government to withdraw support for formal mass conversions within India.

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Israeli Critics: Bnei Menashe as Hordes of Mass Converts and Pawns for Settlements

Israeli critics of the Bnei Menashe’s aliyah in the mid-1990s pointed to the massive numbers of potential Jewish converts from India, portraying the initial arrivals as the “tip of the iceberg.”106 Over a decade later such narratives continued, as Amir Mizroch warned of the “expansion of the pool of potential new Jews, and new olim [immigrants on aliyah], to unimaginable numbers.”107 The specter of massive conversions and immigration raised xenophobic tensions about an influx from a vaguely understood group, different in appearance from most Israelis and assumed to be impoverished. “The people here didn’t know how to relate to me at all, because here I am, I look Oriental and, um, I’m from India, and I say I’m Jewish,” commented Shimon Gangle, a Bnei Menashe man in Tel Aviv, in the documentary film Salaam, Shalom.108 At one point Israelis feared mass conversions into Judaism from another segment of the Indian population, the Dalits: “A note of hysteria was introduced into the public discussion this month after newspapers reported that Israel’s ambassador to India, Ephraim Dubek, sent a secret cable to the Foreign Ministry warning that representatives of another Indian group, the Dalit, numbering many millions, had recently inquired about the possibility of emigrating to Israel.”109 Dubek expressed concerns about potential mass conversions to Judaism by between “250 million and 300 million” Dalits in India. “Some want to go to Israel and some want to be in touch with Israel and some want protection from the Israeli Embassy in case they have troubles here. It is very complicated.”110 This story of hordes of converts (lacking individual agency) desperate to move to Israel (lacking spiritual sincerity) builds on the critical portrayals of Indian mass converts that developed in the 1930s and 1950s in the context of lowercaste conversions to Christianity and Buddhism. To counter these visions of mass conversion and exodus, Shavei chairman Freund made arguments akin to those made by Christian missionaries during the mass movements of the 1930s, outlining the orderly process that turns individuals into converts and denying any chaotic “mass rush”: “I’m confident that it’s not out of control. There are various safeguards in place to prevent a loss of control. You have to go to synagogue for at least one year; you must get circumcised. There are hurdles a person must overcome before he is brought into the pool of potential olim. There are no masses

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of Indians breaking down the doors of the Beit Shaloms in Mizoram and Manipur to convert to Judaism and make aliya. There has never been a mass rush.”111 By asserting these “safeguards” and “hurdles” facing converts, Freund tried to address the critics’ assertions that millions of Indians might suddenly become Jewish. In addition to emphasizing the mass nature of conversions, critics questioned the agency of the Bnei Menashe by portraying them as the pawns of pro-settlement politicians.112 For example, Ophir Pines-Paz, a member of the Knesset, censured the “cynical use” of the Bnei Menashe, arguing that populating the settlements with Bnei Menashe families was dangerous for the migrants and for stability in Hebron, where many ended up living: “To bring them from nowhere to nowhere—is there a reason they need to be shot on the roads? Did they do something bad to someone? Who gives you the moral authority to make such cynical use of people?”113 Many Bnei Menashe settled in Kiryat Arba, a settlement overlooking the West Bank city of Hebron, which is significant in the history of the settlement movement. Rabbi Moshe Levinger and sixty followers came to Hebron as holiday visitors in 1968 and, famously, never left, inspiring many future settlers. Hebron was home to the American-born settler who killed twenty-nine people in a mosque in 1994. According to Shalom Goldman, the settlers in Kiryat Arba, Hebron “are among the most militant and violent Israelis living in the territories.”114 Other Bnei Menashe are in the city of Migdal HaEmek, a development town (or Ayarat Pitu’ah) for Jewish immigrants from all over the world in Israel’s northern district, which is the only Arab majority district in Israel. Others are in the southern city of Sderot, which has suffered many missile attacks over the years.115 These locations are ideologically and demographically significant and potentially dangerous. Whereas some Israelis are critical of the Bnei Menashe becoming settlers, particularly in Hebron, this plan is in keeping with Christian Zionists’ ideas about the restoration of Israel. A statement by US senator James Inhofe (R-OK) on the floor of the Senate demonstrates how the objectives of some pro-settlement Israelis coincided with his Christian Zionist ideology: “Hebron is in the West Bank. It is at this place where God appeared to Abram and said, ‘I am giving you this land,’ the West Bank. This is not a political battle at all. It is a contest over whether or not the word of God is true.”116 Many Bnei Menashe live in areas that are congruent with Christian Zionists’ and pro-settlement Israelis’ ideas but face Arab and left-wing Jewish criticism. The restoration idea so prevalent among Christian Zionists is

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not as influential among Jews in Israel, where Sergeo DellaPergola has observed a “decline of the ‘ingathering of exiles’ myth” as a basis for understanding Israeli support for aliyah.117 Israelis become more ambivalent when American Christian Zionist donors, from another nation and religion, facilitate the inflow of impoverished Jews from all over the world. The Israeli professor Faydra Shapiro reported that “millions of dollars” from the International Fellowship of Christians and Jews (discussed above), together with John Hagee Ministries, have facilitated aliyah and that Christian Zionist organizations have “actively and concretely promoted the immigration of hundreds of thousands of Jews to Israel.”118 According to the IFCJ website, “On Wings of Eagles assists needy Jews making aliyah (immigrating to Israel). They come from all over the world—Russia, Argentina, India, Muslim countries, and elsewhere.”119 IFCJ raises “large sums of money” in “American churches.”120 In 2008 the IFCJ pledged 20 to 30 million dollars to facilitate the Bnei Menashe aliyah and took out full-page newspaper advertisements to pressure the offices of acting Prime Minister Ehud Olmert and Interior Minister Sheetrit (after his “I won’t let them in any more” comment) to resume the Bnei Menashe’s aliyah. Notably, Sheetrit’s full comment concluded, “Let them go to America.”121 These commentaries suggest that American Evangelicals are the real movers behind the aliyah, not the Mizo Jews themselves. Christian Zionists materially facilitate aliyah but open the door to narratives that undercut the perceived agency, and thus legitimacy, of the Bnei Menashe in Israel. Narratives featuring the sheer numbers of potential migrants, their vulnerability within politically volatile settlements, and the magnitude of the resources from abroad for their migration each raise questions about the agency of the Bnei Menashe. Some of these narratives contributed to policies restricting the mobility of this community, as when their aliyah was “repeatedly stalled by various interior ministers whose main concern is that once the gates are opened to these people, their numbers will be unlimited.”122 Their aliyah was “frozen” by Avraham Poraz, the minister of the interior from 2003 to 2004, “in part because a large percentage of the Bnei Menashe ended up settling in Judea, Samaria [in the West Bank] and Gaza.”123 Mass conversion and the spatial mobility it facilitated raised red flags in both India and Israel, resulting in constraints on conversions and on migration. Narratives denying the sincerity of mobile converts or the agency of mass converts bolster these limitations on the Bnei Menashe.

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Conclusion Are the Mizo Jews ancient exiles or economic migrants? Devout Jewish settlers for Israel or imported cannon fodder? Photogenic inhabitants of a spiritual tourist destination or harbingers of the second coming of Christ? While illustrating the varied uses of identity narratives, this case study of the Bnei Menashe throws into question any assumption that an identitybased movement defines its own identity. Groups defined by identity change (including converts and migrants) are particularly susceptible to conflicting depictions, particularly when their mobility occurs en masse. Many people with different agendas have taken an interest in the Mizo Jews, resulting in varied representations of this community, their motives, and, ultimately, their rights. Whereas Mizo Jews tend to emphasize their present-day Jewish piety and practices, many of their allies look back to ancient Jewish history and others look forward to the end of days, inspired by the trope of the lost tribe. Their critics downplay religion and stress economic and political aspects of their migration to delegitimize them. Ambedkar’s recognition that religion and politics are entangled in people’s lives (see Chapter 2) is a counterpoint to their critiques. Such entanglement should not make converts ineligible for religious freedom. Greenblat’s questions about cultural mobility and “interactions between states and mobile individuals” inspired my attention to the movement of ideas about the lost tribe in addition to the mobility of the tribe itself. What do the Mizo Jews teach us about “cultural products that travel through time or space to emerge and be[come] enshrined in new contexts and configurations”?124 The Mizo Jews themselves, along with others in India, Israel, and the United States, appropriated and adjusted the idea of the lost tribe in their divergent (religious, historical, genetic, economic, cultural, legal, or political) portrayals of this group. Narratives ranging from “descendants of Israel” to “fulfillment of Biblical prophecy” facilitated mobility. Others restricted it. Greenblat calls for closer examinations of such impediments to mobility: “What are the mechanisms at work when movement encounters structures of stability and control?”125 Narratives of sincerity and agency are one such mechanism. The governments of Israel and India have periodically halted the conversion and exodus of Mizo Jews, as some Indians became concerned that visiting rabbis were de facto missionaries and some Israelis were suspicious of the

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immigrants’ motives or dismayed by their placement in disputed settlements. Such controversies impeded formal conversions and stopped the migration of the Mizo Jews for several years. Critical narratives limited the religious freedom to convert, especially when spatial mobility was at stake. How? Government officials in both India and Israel selectively restricted the right to convert and, in this case, the linked right to immigrate based on narratives that the converts lacked sincerity or agency. The legibility of spatial as opposed to spiritual movement made it easier for critics of the Mizo Jews’ sincerity to be persuasive. As seen in Chapters 1 and 2, although conversions routinely have multiple motivations, skeptics deny converts’ sincerity by linking conversions to other forms of mobility —in this case, spatial or economic mobility. If a convert, crossing a religious boundary, simultaneously crosses a geographic or class boundary, opponents use these multiple forms of mobility to deem the conversion illegitimate. If numerous converts do this, critics become even more suspicious. For instance, arguments that Mizo Jews make aliyah to upgrade their standard of living carried enough weight to inspire debates in Israel not only over the Mizos but also over the law of return, a bedrock principle of Israel’s national identity. The illegibility of the internal aspects of conversion meant that the Bnei Menashe and their allies recorded and amplified as many visible or audible signs of sincerity as possible, such as their practices, dress, and singing, to counter the insincerity arguments. The supposed incompatibility of economic redistribution and recognition as a Jew evokes the political philosopher Nancy Fraser’s critique of the “false antithesis of redistribution and recognition.”126 As a matter of justice, both goals need attention. At the very least, one should not preclude the other. Suggesting that Jews may make aliyah and benefit from a redistribution of resources should not be grounds to deny them recognition as Jews. And who is scrutinized for sincerity in this way? The way some Israelis critiqued the Mizo Jews, and previously the Ethiopian Jews, as economic migrants has an undeniable racial dimension.127 Fraser’s solution is compelling: “Only by looking to integrative approaches that unite redistribution and recognition can we meet the requirements of justice for all.”128 In addition to questioning their sincerity, critics pointed to the Mizo Jews’ mass conversions as evidence that they lacked the agency necessary for true conversion. The Israeli immigration official testifying before a Knesset committee implied they were dupes brought “from nowhere to nowhere”

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to increase the Jewish population in controversial settlements.129 Indian officials complained to their counterparts in the Israeli government about aggressive conversions by foreign rabbis. Concerned about a restive border area, an avowedly secular and supposedly religious minority-friendly Congress Party government, rather than the previous, Hindu nationalist BJPled government, was the most critical of the conversions of the Mizos to Orthodox Judaism within India. Manmohan Singh’s Congress government pressured Israeli officials to stop conversions of supposedly vulnerable populations initiated by outsiders. A contemporary generation of Hindu nationalists, whose predecessors had been prominent critics of the mass conversions to Christianity and Buddhism (see Chapters 1 and 2), viewed this case of mass conversion differently. The lost tribe idea evoked a return to the converts’ original religion, akin to shuddhi; this also was a mass conversion from Christianity rather than from Hinduism. Thus Indian critiques focused more on the Mizos’ lack of agency in the face of aggressive converters than on their sincerity and largely stemmed from Congress officials. Skepticism has pervaded decades of conversations about minority group conversions in India. The Bnei Menashe complicate and counter this skepticism with their multifaceted version of cultural mobility. To them, conversion and aliyah together are intertwined forms of religious/spatial mobility and the ultimate expression of both their sincerity and their agency. Religious people—devout Christians in Aizawl and the United States and many religious Jews in Israel—seemed to find it easier to reconcile the simultaneous religious and spatial mobility of the Mizo Jews than did more secular people. Indeed aliyah made their conversion seem more rather than less sincere. One final story illustrates this point. Christians as well as Jews in Mizoram long to see Israel, a popular destination for Mizo tourists. A Bnei Menashe community member told me that their Christian neighbors were initially skeptical about them but accepted them as religiously legitimate once the first batch of Jewish immigrants departed to live in Israel. Of the many people discussed in this chapter, it was the more secular critics who doubted the Jews’ sincerity, finding material explanations more convincing. This suggests that the assessment of converts and their rights cannot be left to a purely secular system or personnel; yet traditional religious elites as gatekeepers are also problematic. These three chapters featuring case studies of mass religious conversions show that secular authorities

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sort religious and political motives, as if these can be neatly separated; are quick to see and give weight to political motives or mobility; and view these as tainting and disqualifying converts. Traditional religious authorities elevate their own interpretations of their religions and of conversion. Both types of authorities are elites likely to discount the perspectives of people of different races, sexes, religions, sects, classes, or nationalities. This tendency will reappear in extreme form in Chapter 6, in which an adult female convert’s perspective is ignored by her father and even some judges, who take on the role of custodians of her religious agency. How, then, can the intertwined goals of religious freedom and religious equality be better achieved? Unless there is a compelling reason not to, converts should be taken at their word about the authenticity of their conversions. Those concerned about “fake” conversions could examine and rectify the structural inequalities that underlie their suspicions, rather than delegitimizing converts. Why do people want to leave Mizoram? Why do some Israelis question the Jewishness of Asians? Exposing and combatting economic stagnation and racism are worthier targets of political attention than questioning the Mizo Jews. Self-determination, in the most essential sense that a person can determine who her “self” is, sustains religious freedom and religious equality. Mass conversions connected to other forms of mobility do not fit the predominant model of singular, spiritual conversion, but that is not grounds for waiving the rights of such converts to determine their religious selves. The conundrum of who should judge converts will be taken up in Chapters 4 and 5, on disputes over the legal status of converts under “religious freedom” laws and affirmative action (reservation) laws. These case studies will further demonstrate that taking converts at their word is preferable to administrative, legal, or religious elites judging their sincerity or agency.

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PART II

IMMOBILITY

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CHAPTER 4

Prosecution: Anticonversion Legislation

“Convert” is a noun (a convert), an intransitive verb (I convert), and a transitive verb (I convert them). The Latin root vert (turn) and con (an intensifier) combine to mean that someone or something has completely changed. Conversion unsettles the status quo. One way to disrupt conversions is to scrutinize how completely these converts changed (sincerity). Another is to query who is doing the converting, the convert or a converter (agency). Both questions pervade India’s anticonversion laws, litigation, and documentation, which perpetuate and reinforce the deficient but increasingly predominant narrative that a valid convert must evince sincerity and agency—or not be eligible for religious freedom. In the twentieth century, mass converts in India experienced social, political, and even spatial mobility along with their religious mobility. This and the following chapters shift the focus from mobility to immobility by delineating three strategies to impede conversions or demonize converts. Each strategy reinforces predominant conversion narratives by stressing the insincerity of converts to minority religions and questioning their agency. Legislation against forcible and induced conversion epitomizes this dynamic. Some anticonversion laws predate Indian independence, but more laws have been proposed or enacted in several states since 1947. Proponents label them freedom of religion bills or acts, but opponents argue that the legislation represses freedom. By refuting the sincerity of “induced” converts or the agency of “forced” converts, government officials utilize these laws to delegitimize and suppress conversions—in the name of religious freedom. In 2016 the UN special rapporteur on freedom of religion or belief, Heiner Bielefeldt, stated, “The internal dimension of freedom of thought, conscience, religion or belief (forum internum) even enjoys unconditional

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protection pursuant to article 18 (2) of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, in which it is stated that: ‘No one shall be subject to coercion which would impair his freedom to have or to adopt a religion or belief of his choice.’ ”1 Religious freedom acts in India seem to implement article 18, yet this chapter reveals that these acts are coercive and reduce the freedom of converts to adopt a religion of their choice. Heavy-handed strategies to pressure people to convert impair freedom, but dissuading converts via reporting requirements or threats of legal action also impair freedom. Even more troubling from a human rights perspective are blanket assumptions that certain categories of people cannot make religious decisions for themselves. Sometimes ignoring converts’ own testimony about their decisions to convert, government officials writing or implementing India’s religious freedom laws presume that force or inducement influences certain categories of converts: female, low caste, Adivasi, impoverished, or mass converts. This paternalism is evident from the higher penalties under some state laws for converting lower castes or women and from the questions asked on conversion registration forms. Some laws require preregistering conversions with a government official or even getting permission. Official conversion narratives—including the acts themselves and the mandatory forms resulting from the acts and associated rules—divide converts into categories with different degrees of religious freedom. Since Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s 2014 election, reenergized Hindu nationalist activists have proposed a national law against forcible or induced conversions, which, like state-level precedents, would target minorities.2 “Forced” has become the code for conversion to Islam and “induced” for conversion to Christianity. These connotations build on long-standing Hindu nationalist tropes associating Muslims with “death,” Christians with “luring away the poor,” and Hinduism with “homecoming.”3 Consequently, the wording of conversion legislation triggers “shadow stories,” a narrative device that fills in missing facts with assumptions and timeworn tales. Hindu nationalist organizations have launched campaigns to convert groups of people from minority religions to Hinduism. Because they target communities that often are categorized as especially vulnerable under anticonversion laws (such as Adivasis, officially known as Scheduled Tribes, and Dalits, or Scheduled Castes), Hindu conversion efforts could run afoul of these laws themselves. Yet in Hindu nationalist narratives, the group

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conversions to Hinduism are ghar wapsi, or “homecoming,” and thus not conversions at all.

Shadow Stories In narrative analysis, a shadow story is one “in which the gaps in the narrative are so great as to prevent the story from achieving some general reader satisfaction that it is complete. . . . It is we, as the readers, who do the completing of the story by filling in its many inevitable gaps.”4 Shadow stories are a useful concept for legal analysis, because “the most challenging gap that we are called upon to fill in a narrative of criminal law is motive.”5 Even in civil cases, motives are usually obscure: “Motive is necessarily out of sight. It is inferred from evidence, but can never be produced. It is something you can neither hold nor see.”6 Thus skilled lawyers help weave shadow stories for juries. The relationship of shadow stories to law is not limited to testimony, lawyers’ arguments, or juries. Lawmakers also create shadow stories, implied in and by the language of the laws themselves. Some laws purport to protect a majority from a bogus threat from minorities. Even if no prosecutions occur, the passage of such laws gives gravitas to xenophobia. For instance, anti-Sharia legislation in several states in the United States has accompanied rising prejudice against Muslims.7 In 2014, Texas state legislator Jeff Leach introduced an anti-Sharia bill (against “foreign law”), and in 2015 the mayor of Irving, Texas, Beth Van Duyne, accused local Muslims of having an anti-American Sharia court. Later that year, fourteen-year-old Ahmed Mohamed brought a clock he had made to his Irving school, excited to show it to his friends and teachers. Against the backdrop of Islamic threat inflamed by the anti-Sharia law, one of his teachers looked at the clock and saw a bomb. School officials called the police, who handcuffed and detained Mohamed.8 India’s anticonversion laws, seldom used to prosecute anyone but still reinforcing xenophobia, are another example of how laws can evoke a shadow story about “threatening” minorities. The noted legal ethnographer Srimati Basu argues that “people narrate their lives through the logic of laws even though they rarely encounter formal cases.”9 India’s anticonversion laws imply and activate shadow stories. Forced or induced conversions evoke decades of anti-minority rhetoric about mass conversions via Muslim

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conquests or Christian missions. Characters for the shadow stories appear in these laws, namely Scheduled Castes, Scheduled Tribes, and women, the so-called victims. The questions asked on the forms required to administer many of these laws reinforce assumptions about the characters, both villains and victims. As Basu argues, “Legal guidelines become signs with which to communicate.”10 Passing these laws and requiring registration of converts and conversions, supposedly to protect vulnerable converts, reinforces and perpetuates shadow stories of forced or induced mass conversions. Shadow stories are an example of what Marc Baer, a historian of Ottoman conversions, calls “normative tales.” Baer draws on legal and administrative accounts of conversions to reveal how state or religious authorities “offer lessons . . . about how the different groups that made up society were supposed to interact. These narratives serve as prescriptions for appropriate social interrelations” among different religious communities and between men and women.11 Shadow stories are a compelling way to tell such normative tales.

A Brief History of Anticonversion Legislation The Constituent Assembly’s Advisory Committee on Fundamental Rights considered and rejected a constitutional clause against conversion by “coercion or undue influence,” delegating this issue to subsequent legislative action. The Advisory Committee considered clauses relating to freedom of religion, including, “Conversion from one religion to another brought about by coercion or undue influence shall not be recognised by law.” Narratives about forced or induced mass conversions had appeared during previous controversies in the 1930s over mass movement conversions to Christianity by lower-caste communities and an array of colonial-era conversion laws. Yet Sardar Vallabhbhai J. Patel, the chairman of the Constituent Assembly Advisory Committee, explained that they rejected the proposed clause as “unnecessary.” It “seemed to us to enunciate a rather obvious doctrine which it was unnecessary to include in the constitution, and we thought it better to leave it to the legislature.”12 Subsequently state legislatures passed laws to monitor and outlaw forced, induced, and fraudulent conversions. As mentioned in Chapter 1, the missionary J. Waskom Pickett worried that such laws restricting conversions would become even more widespread, and they have.

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Various colonial-era public safety, apostasy, and conversion laws regulated conversions. British administrators, although most were Christian, did not unreservedly support Christian missionaries, because such conversions and responses to them could cause law and order problems. An 1839 legal challenge to conversion in Bombay included accusations of “undue, improper, and fraudulent means to convert and seduce” a young convert “from the religious faith of his ancestors [Zoroastrianism] and family,” foreshadowing similar language in contemporary laws.13 Most colonial limits on conversions, however, were in indirectly ruled princely states rather than directly ruled British India.14 Over a dozen princely states had such laws, ranging from politically prominent states (Udaipur, Bikaner, Jodhpur, and Kota) to minor ones (Patna, Kalahandi, Raighar, Surguja).15 By the early twentieth century, argues the historian Barbara Ramusack, princes were grappling with and, in some cases, contributing to the “increasingly bounded nature of communal categories,” including caste and religious groups.16 As boundary crossers, converts came under increasing scrutiny by the 1930s, and several princes enacted anticonversion laws. Some appeared after the low-caste leader Ambedkar’s 1935 announcement that he would “not die a Hindu” and Gandhi’s statement against conversions in his August 22, 1936, issue of Harijan: “If the leaders of different religions in India ceased to compete with one another for enticing Harijans into their fold, it would be well for this unfortunate country.”17 Limiting mass conversions by lower castes, known at that time as Harijans or Scheduled Castes and widely assumed to be gullible and easy to “entice,” was one justification for such laws. Scheduled Tribes, who were converting in large numbers to Christianity in several Indian regions in the late 1800s and early 1900s, were another concern.18 Many of the colonial-era conversion laws were in relatively minor princely states with substantial Adivasi populations (also known as Scheduled Tribes). Contemporary conversion laws, several in states with “large tribal minorities,” continue this pattern.19 Chakradhar Singh ruled the small, northern princely state of Raigarh from 1925 to 1947. The 1936 Raigarh State Conversion Act was the precursor for several acts to follow. Goldie Osuri’s analysis of the Raigarh Act traces the “twin discourses of order and protection” that continued in the Constituent Assembly debates and the conversion laws to follow.20 The goal of “order” was essentially a goal of stasis. Who were the laws “protecting”? Osuri argues, “Anti-conversion laws . . . were not enacted to protect tribals,

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Table 1. Some Pre-independence Legal Limits on Conversion Act

Year

Approximate Contemporary Location

Raigarh State Conversion Act

1936

Contemporary Chhattisgarh

Patna Freedom of Religion Act

1942

Contemporary Bihar

Sarguja State Apostasy Act

1945

Contemporary Chhattisgarh

Udaipur State Anticonversion Act

1946

Contemporary Rajasthan

Source: Arpita Anant, “Anti-conversion Laws,” Hindu, last modified December 17, 2002, accessed December 1, 2016, http://www.thehindu.com/thehindu/op/2002/12/17/stories/ 2002121700110200.htm.

dalits or lower-caste groups, they were enacted to protect the interests of exploitative landlords, and the threat that lower caste and tribal groups represented to the princely states through their organization and participation either in the broader nationalist movement or separatist politics.”21 The Raigarh Act included a requirement that converts should register with a government officer their intent to convert. “After having satisfied himself that the intent to convert was bona fide, the officer could grant permission to convert” and would “maintain ‘a register of all such applications and the orders passed by him thereon.’ ”22 Similar registration practices continue in some current laws. In another striking example of anticonversion continuity, a former raja of Raigarh State announced and led a reconversion, or “Operation Homecoming” conversion campaign, during the 2003 state elections.23 Supposedly “protective” conversion laws—based on narratives of lower castes, Adivasis, and women as helpless, incapable of religious agency, and in need of careful monitoring—inhibit change. They protect the status quo and current elites. The elites who have promoted these laws are not just Hindus concerned about India remaining Hindu, although members of the Hindu nationalist Bharatiya Janata Party are the most prominent advocates of such laws today.24 Even secular national leaders, such as India’s first prime minister Jawaharlal Nehru, were concerned that conversions would contribute to separatism in regions dominated by Adivasis or “tribal” communities who were converting in large numbers to Christianity.25 Today’s anticonversion laws resonate beyond overtly Hindu nationalist elites to other political elites, such as the Congress-led state government in

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Table 2. National Anticonversion Bills: Proposed but Not Passed Bill

Year

Indian Conversion (Regulation and Registration) Bill

1954

Backward Communities (Religious Protection) Bill

1960

Freedom of Religion Bill

1979

Sources: Arpita Anant, “Anti-conversion Laws,” Hindu, last modified December 17, 2002, accessed December 1, 2016, http://www.thehindu.com/thehindu/op/2002/12/17/stories/ 2002121700110200.htm; Christophe Jaffrelot, Religion, Caste and Politics in India (New York: Columbia University Press, 2011), 161.

Himachal Pradesh that passed that state’s act and rules in 2006 and 2007.26 Nevertheless, proposed national legislation has failed. The failure of national anticonversion bills and the legal challenges to the state laws reflect the tension between these freedom of religion initiatives and the religious freedom clause of the Indian constitution.27 The Backward Communities (Religious Protection) Bill of 1960 gives a clear title to the shadow story perpetuated by anticonversion laws, a story of certain, backward groups needing protection from conversion. “Backward” is a constitutional category, encompassing Scheduled Castes (Dalits), Scheduled Tribes (Adivasis), and other socially and educationally “backward classes.” This phrase from India’s constitution is the origin of the officially listed “Other Backward Classes,” colloquially known as OBCs.28 The OBCs benefit, along with Scheduled Castes (SCs) and Scheduled Tribes (STs), from some forms of affirmative action known as reservations (the focus of Chapter 5).29 While Dr. B. R. Ambedkar championed protections for the backward classes during his work on the constitution, his subsequent leadership of the mass conversion to Buddhism suggests he would abhor a state “protecting” backward classes from conversion. Rather, he advocated conversion as a way to challenge the social order (see Chapter 2). The impetus for anticonversion legislation, rooted in colonial bureaucratic and princely impulses to maintain order and the status quo, now encompasses postcolonial electoral impulses to construct majorities. Regardless of shifts in motivations or justifications, political leaders and administrators have used the laws to patronize and scrutinize lower castes, Adivasis, women, and group converts, making them less eligible for religious freedom. The narratives perpetuated within and through these laws

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have remained remarkably consistent, and the laws leave much room for bureaucratic interpretation of conversions and religious freedom, ultimately restricting or threatening minorities.

Language of the Current Laws The acts and their associated rules have faced both academic critiques and legal challenges of the paternalism and discrimination they enable.30 Pratap Bhanu Mehta, for instance, writes, “Anti-conversion legislation is illegitimately paternalistic. It sets up the state as an agency that is in the business of saving our souls by putting it in judgement of our motives when we ‘choose’ our religion.”31 I argue that the language of the legislation casts more suspicion on the motives and abilities of certain communities. In addition to the acts, rules, and a court decision striking down parts of the Himachal Pradesh Act, I examine the forms required by some laws, a source as yet unscrutinized by scholars. In several states converts must fill out forms for their district magistrates, who then fill out additional forms about converts and conversions in their districts. These official documents simultaneously publicize and restrict convert’s narratives. Jacques Derrida wrote of forces “which demand the narrative of the other, seek to extort it from him, like a secret-less secret, something that they call the truth about what has taken place: ‘Tell us exactly what happened.’ ”32 Ironically, under several of these freedom of religion acts, an official demands a conversion narrative, in other words, a forced or induced narration. The states of Odisha (formerly Orissa), Madhya Pradesh, Chhattisgarh, Arunachal Pradesh, Gujarat, and Himachal Pradesh have freedom of religion acts.33 Tamil Nadu’s act was repealed.34 Other states have proposed bills that have not passed.35 Religious freedom bills (not yet acts) include one in Rajasthan that was never signed by the state governor and two amendments to existing acts. In Maharashtra, Atul Bhatkhalkar of the Bharatiya Janata Party (the opposition party) introduced a private member bill against forcible conversion in the State Legislative Assembly in July 2015 “amidst pandemonium by ruling party and Opposition members, exchanging allegations and slogans,” but the bill did not get any traction.36 Politicians’ calls for similar legislation in Jharkhand and Uttarakhand have not yet materialized.

Table 3. Postindependence Freedom of Religion Acts and Rules Name

Year

Notes

Orissa Freedom of Religion Act

1967

Orissa Freedom of Religion Rules

1989

Madhya Pradesh Freedom of Religion Act (Dharma Swatantrya Adhiniyam)

1968

Madhya Pradesh Dharma Swatantrya Adhiniyam rules

1969

Chhattisgarh Dharma Swatantraya Adhiniyam

1968

Chhattisgarh became a state in 2000, formed from parts of Madhya Pradesh, and inherited an identical act.

Arunachal Pradesh Freedom of Religion Act

1978

Not implemented due to rules never being framed by state government

Tamil Nadu Prohibition of Forcible Conversion of Religion Act

2002

The Tamil Nadu government headed by Chief Minister Jayalalitha repealed this on May 18, 2004.

The Tamil Nadu Prohibition of Forcible Conversion of Religion (Repeal) Act

2006 (Act no. 10 of 2006)

Further formalized the demise of the law and was “deemed to have come into force on the 18th day of May 2004.”

Gujarat Freedom of Religion Act

2003

Gujarat Freedom of Religion Rules

2008

Himachal Pradesh Freedom of Religion Act

2006

Several legal challenges in the state high court, including a challenge to the prior permission requirement, were withdrawn in 2015 (Rev. Stanislaus Fernandes and 4 petitioners v. State of Gujarat and 1 respondent C/SCA/1582/ 2009).1

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Table 3. (Continued) Name

Year

Notes

Himachal Pradesh Freedom of Religion Rules

2007

In 2012 the state’s high court upheld banning conversions by force, inducement, or fraudulent means but struck down the rule that those planning to convert need to give thirty day’s notice to the district magistrate (EFI v. State of Himachal Pradesh CWP no. 438 of 2011.)

Source: The Times of India, “Hearing Likely Today on Anti-conversion Law,” last modified June 19, 2014, accessed December 13, 2016, http://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/india/ Hearing-likely-today-on-anti-conversion-law/articleshow/36780154.cms.

1

Postcolonial lawmakers modeled subsequent conversion laws on prior ones, so the laws have much in common. They typically call them freedom of religion acts (in Hindi, Dharma Swatantrya Adhiniyam). In Orissa (1967), Madhya Pradesh (1968), Arunachal Pradesh (1978), Gujarat (2003), and Himachal Pradesh (2003), the acts are “to provide for [Gujarat’s 2003 act adds here “freedom of religion by”] prohibition of conversion from one religion to another [or, in Arunachal Pradesh’s 1978 act, from one “religious faith” to another “religious faith”] by the use of force or inducement [in Madhya Pradesh’s 1968 and Gujarat’s 2003 acts inducement is replaced by “allurement”] or by fraudulent means.” Several words in these laws merit closer scrutiny: first, “inducement” and “allurement”; second, “force” and “fraud”; and, third, the names of groups that trigger higher penalties if they are being converted.37 Subsequent acts emulate either Odisha’s 1968 use and definition of “inducement” (“the offer of any gift or gratification, either in cash or in kind and shall also include the grant of any benefit, either pecuniary or otherwise”) or Madhya Pradesh’s 1968 use and definition of “allurement” (“offer of any temptation in the form of: (i) any gift or gratification in cash or kind; (ii) grant of any material benefit, either monetary or otherwise”).38 These definitions reinforce the predominant conversion narrative that a “real” convert is untainted by material considerations and that conversion is a purely interior, spiritual decision. The laws’ shadow story impugns both

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Table 4. Some Postindependence Freedom of Religion Bills Name

Year

Notes

Rajasthan Dharma Swatantrya Bill

2006, reintroduced 2008

Not signed into law by state governor, dropped by state government in 2011.1

Chhattisgarh Dharma Swatantrya (Sanshodhan) Bill

2006

Proposed amendment would increase fines and terms, require that those intending to convert someone “apply for permission” from the district magistrate thirty days before, and add: “The return in [sic] ancestor’s original religion or his own religion by any person shall not be construed as ‘conversion.’ ”

Maharashtra Freedom of Religion Bill

2015 (similar bills were discussed or introduced in 1996, 2005, 2013, and 2015)

In 2015, a private member bill was tabled but not passed.

Madhya Pradesh Freedom of Religion (Amendment) Bill

2013

Proposed amendment would increase fines to three years, 50,000 rupees, or both, with higher fines for converting a woman, Scheduled Caste, or Scheduled Tribe (four years, 100,000 rupees, or both).

1

Source: Pioneer, “Rajasthan Govt Plans to Drop Religion Bill,” April 15, 2011.

converts, who are supposedly swayed by “temptations,” and converters (such as religious leaders officiating conversions), who are purportedly paying “cash” for converts. Inducement and allurement evoke long-standing narratives about Christian missionaries, extending from milder, preindependence writings of Gandhi to extreme, anti-Christian rhetoric of the contemporary Hindutva movement.39 The shadow story creates two forms of unease: Residents may assume that if their state legislature saw a need to pass this law, such exchanges of cash or benefits for conversions must be a major problem. Religious organizations doing any kind of development

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work will feel uneasy and intimidated by the vagueness of language such as “or otherwise,” “any temptation,” and “in kind.” The meanings of “force” and “fraud” are also murky. Definitions of these words are largely modeled on Orissa’s 1967 act: “ ‘force’ shall include a show of force or a threat of injury of any kind including threat of divine displeasure or social excommunication.” And, “ ‘fraud’ shall include misrepresentation or any other fraudulent contrivance.”40 How is a judge or administrator to assess threats of “divine displeasure”? Or whether religious discussions are truth or “misrepresentation”? Even the term “religion” in legal practice is fraught with ambiguity, leading to difficulties for minority religious adherents due to courts determining “what counts as religion” or as “religious.”41 The abstractions of “divine displeasure” and religious “fraud” are even harder to operationalize in an evenhanded way in societies made up of many religious and nonreligious groups. A 1972 court decision upholding the Orissa law, Yulitha Hyde v. State of Orissa, stated: “Threat of divine displeasure numbs the mental faculty; more so of an undeveloped mind and the actions of such a person thereafter, are not free and according to conscience.” Noting (as “background” for this analysis) the claim that “the down trodden sections of society ordinarily take to Christianity as an escape,” Judges R. N. Misra and K. B. Panda interpreted “threat of divine displeasure” to be a valid extension of the term “force” beyond just bodily force.42 In his incisive critique of this and other decisions about conversion and religious speech, Pratab Banu Mehta finds a “fairly stable set of assumptions about citizens,” namely that when “an exhortation is made in the name of religion, we are incapable of receiving the expression on our own terms; incapable of managing our own responses, condemned to receiving these expressions unfreely and helplessly.”43 If religious agency is an oxymoron, a district magistrate or judge can easily categorize any conversion as “forced.” But the judges in Yulitha deemed some citizens more incapable than others, arguing that “down trodden” groups, assumed to have “undeveloped minds,” cannot withstand religious appeals. They agreed with Odisha’s state lawmakers, whose shadow story asserted that certain groups are more gullible and helpless than others, necessitating a sliding scale of fines and punishments. Religious freedom laws that have differential punishments, depending on who the converts are, reinforce the idea that some citizens’ minds are more undeveloped than others. Laws in Odisha, Madhya Pradesh, Chhattisgarh, Gujarat, and

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Himachal Pradesh (and previously in Tamil Nadu) impose higher fines or prison terms on people who convert a minor, a woman, or a person belonging to the Scheduled Castes or Scheduled Tribes. The shadow story is that all these populations are childlike, and thus they are converted “unfreely and helplessly.”44 This narrative obscures, and thus undermines, their religious agency. Presumed to be inherently unfree, they do not qualify for religious freedom.

Rules and Registration Forms The official framework of procedures and forms required under some state laws both compel and shape the narratives of converts. Which parameters limit the story converts can tell? What are the implications of having to reveal your conversion to your government rather than keeping it private? Registration rules range from requirements to report a conversion afterward (as in Madhya Pradesh), to giving notice thirty days ahead (as in Himachal Pradesh, prior to a successful legal challenge discussed below), to obtaining prior permission from the district magistrate (as in Gujarat). Besides acts, which legislatures pass, relevant administrative bodies may create rules under a parent act to implement it, and these rules often include required forms.45 For instance, the Orissa Freedom of Religion Rules, enacted in 1989, detail the application of the 1967 Freedom of Religion Act in that state. These rules require both administrative surveillance and citizen self-reporting through a series of forms. Each district magistrate must maintain lists of religious institutions or organizations and persons “directly or indirectly engaged for the propagation of religious faith in the district” and “may call for a list of persons with the religious faith, receiving benefits either in case or in kind from the religious organisations.”46 Such lists are an administrative check on “sincerity.” To determine agency, the process in Odisha is even more elaborate. The convert must report in advance: “any person intending to convert his religion, shall give a declaration before a Magistrate, 1st Class, having jurisdiction prior to such conversion that he intends to convert his religion on his own will.”47 In addition, the “concerned religious priest” must submit Form A with details about the conversion and the convert(s) fifteen days prior to conversion. Besides the time, exact location, and religions being converted

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from and to, the “priest” must provide extensive details about the convert(s). These details include the convert’s name, father, address “in full” (with lines for House No., Ward No., Mohalla, Village, Tahsil, and District), age, sex, occupation, monthly income, marital status, dependents’ names, and guardian (if convert is a minor). Form A even asks “whether [the convert] belongs to Scheduled Caste or Scheduled Tribe and if so, Particulars of such Caste or Tribe” and requires the “name of at least two persons other than the priest/the persons giving intimation to remain present at the time of conversion ceremony.”48 The conversion narrative induced by Form A reduces the convert to categories and records data (age, sex, income, caste or tribal status, etc.) that can impugn a convert’s agency based on assumptions that certain types are not agents but victims. Indeed two witnesses are required to protect potential victims from force or inducements. The witness requirement presumes the converts—who have also reported in advance their conversions of their “own will”—cannot be taken at their own word. The Orissa Rules then instruct the district magistrate, the top Indian Administrative Service officer in charge of a district and its revenue collection, to make any conversion report a police matter: “On receiving the intimation under sub-rule (2), the District Magistrate shall inform the concerned Superintendent of Police in detail who shall pass on the information to the concerned Police Station and the Officer-in-charge of the Police Station shall ascertain objection, if any, to the proposed conversion by local inquiry and intimate the same to the District Magistrate.”49 The district magistrate must use Form A to fill out Form B (to document receiving Form A), keep a “register of conversion” (Form C), and send a monthly report to the state government (Form D). Form D requires numbers of reported conversions, including “religion from which converted” and “religion to which converted.”50 Madhya Pradesh’s rules of 1969 include similar forms.51 Via this banal but complex bureaucratic language, Odisha’s rules require surveillance of converts, including numerical tracking to reveal any potential mass conversions, particularly by populations seen as vulnerable. Despite required statements by converts about converting of their “own will” and two witnesses other than the priest, the rules also instruct police to “ascertain objection” in the locality, reinforcing the notion that almost anyone’s word is more valuable than that of the converts. These procedures expose detailed information about converts, including their personal

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addresses and the place and time of conversions, first to the district magistrate, then the police superintendent, the officer-in-charge, and the area residents via the “local inquiry” by that officer. Such local inquiry publicizes conversions, potentially endangering the lives of missionaries and religious minorities in Odisha, where tensions over conversions run high. Odisha is the state where the missionary Graham Staines and his six- and ten-yearold sons were burned to death in their car in 1999. Staines, an Australian, had worked among Adivasis and people with leprosy in Odisha for decades. Dara Singh, the leader of the mob responsible and ultimately sentenced to life in prison, had links to the Hindu right-wing Bajrang Dal. Local Christians who are not missionaries are also at risk. In 2007–2008, for instance, Odisha experienced a wave of anti-Christian violence.52 Gujarat’s rules do not just inform the district magistrate but require an “application for prior permission for conversion to another religion.”53 In addition to the typical questions on many states’ forms, Gujarat’s Form A (the application for permission) asks: 10. For how long the person converted has been subscribing to the religion which he/she has renounced? 11. Reasons for conversion.54 Question 10 feeds into the homecoming shadow story, discussed below. Of all the forms and questions, question 11 is the most direct attempt to document sincerity. Gujarat’s Form A, at first glance, seems directed at transitive conversion, at the person who is converting someone else. But anyone “taking part directly or indirectly in such a ceremony” must fill out the form, capturing intransitive conversion, or the converts themselves: “Whoever converts any person from one religion to another either by performing any ceremony by himself for such conversion as a religious priest or by organizing such ceremony or taking part directly or indirectly in such a ceremony, shall obtain prior permission of District Magistrate having jurisdiction, by making separate application in Form A for each person for such conversion, either in person or by registered post with acknowledgement due.”55 The permission requirement has inspired legal challenges and petitions. The Gujarat Dalit Sanman Sangharsh Manch (a lower-caste organization) submitted a petition to the governor in September 2016 to remove this prior permission requirement: “Manch convener Jayanti Makadiya told The Sunday Express

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that he explained to the governor that the said provision was in violation of the fundamental right to freedom of conscience and freedom to profess, practice and propagate religion under Article 25 of the Constitution of India. Makadiya said that those trying to convert faced lot of problem [sic] because of this provision as the government authorities harassed those willing to convert and those willing to attend the conversion ceremony because of prevailing political situation.”56 This petition illustrates the ongoing harassment and restrictions on religious freedom enabled by the freedom of religion act, rules, and forms in Gujarat. Gujarat also requires converts to submit Form C, “Intimation Regarding Conversion from One Religion to Another,” within ten days of their conversion or face penalties.57 Like Form A, Form C requires the convert’s name; which religions the convert is converting from and to; the convert’s address, age, sex, guardian, marital status, spouse’s full name and address, occupation, and monthly income; how long the convert subscribed to the religion he or she has renounced; reasons for conversion; name and address of the place where conversion has taken place; date and time of conversion; and the name and address of the religious priest who performed the ceremony. Finally, to capture anyone who failed to submit Forms A and/or C to the district magistrate, the last item prompts converts to provide a list of: 15. Name/Names and address/addresses of the person/persons who has/have taken part in the conversion ceremony. The district magistrate shall “maintain a register of conversion” (Form E) and send quarterly reports to the government (Form F) with “the particulars of applications, intimations, grant/refusal of permission and containing such other particulars as are mentioned therein.”58 In addition to the problems of surveillance, documenting the exact time and place of individual conversions (and then adding up the individuals in monthly reports) reifies the predominant narrative of conversion as the moment an individual changes his or her mind, in contrast to the social and lengthy process of many conversions (see Chapter 2). Himachal Pradesh does not require prior permission but does require prior notice through a form the convert completes and signs. On Form A, the converts must circle “Scheduled Caste,” “Scheduled Tribe,” or “General Category” (which means neither SC nor ST), write which religion they are

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leaving and which they are embracing, their date of birth, and “declare that the said conversion is on [of] my own will and without use of any force or inducement.”59 Form A, by necessitating personal attestations that conversions are of their “own will,” suggests that the converts will be taken seriously. However, the rest of Himachal Pradesh’s rules and forms, by collecting demographic data to downplay converts’ agency and giving district magistrates wide latitude to launch investigations, undermine this presumption. For example, Rule 3(2) states the district magistrate may “get the matter enquired into by such agency as he may deem fit.” Under Rule 5, if the district magistrate finds that a conversion has taken place or “is likely to take place through the use of force or inducement or without the requisite notice, he shall enter the particulars of the case in the Register of Forced Conversion in Form-C and refer the case along with all material adduced during the course of the enquiry to the Police Station.”60 The mandatory documentation necessitated by religious freedom rules in various Indian states focus on data to assess converts’ agency or sincerity. Gandhi foresaw the difficulties of such a test when he wrote in 1935, during the mass movement controversies, “How is the Christian to sound the sincerity of the conviction of his hearers? By a temporary trial? Any test that can be conceived will fail even to be reasonably conclusive. No one but God knows a man’s heart.”61 Consequently, the questions on conversion forms must reveal only the administrators’ assumptions about which categories of people are capable of agency and sincerity and, thus, religious freedom. The Gujarat forms question sincerity: “11. Reasons for conversion.” This item prompts a convert to provide reasons (in the plural) but allows only a single line for the convert’s own conversion narrative. While seeming to acknowledge the reality that converts have multiple reasons, this prompt can trap the convert, as any listed reason that could be characterized as “allurement” violates the Gujarat Freedom of Religion Act. All states that have conversion forms collect information on attributes associated with limited agency (sex, low income, and SC or ST status), which could also build the case that allurement or force is involved. By tracking these attributes and numbers of converts, district magistrates monitor potential or actual mass conversions. Finally, the rules and forms necessitate surveillance of converts, recording exactly where and when conversions take place and the names and home addresses of anyone even “indirectly” involved. How do these forced narratives impact religious freedom? The information required on the forms reinforces suspicions about the sincerity and agency

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of certain groups of converts, allows state surveillance and tracking of actual or potential mass conversions, and exposes converts by publicizing their names and addresses and the times and locations of conversions.

Arrests Anticonversion laws provoke anxiety in both majority and minority communities, even as the tenuous rationale for such laws makes it difficult to prosecute anyone. Whether one is a Hindu bureaucrat reading monthly conversion reports from all the district magistrates in a state, or a convert to a minority religion trying to write “reasons” for your conversion and list the names of everyone indirectly involved, freedom of religion acts, rules, and forms create tension.62 Arrests and prosecutions are not even necessary to provoke this anxiety, although they exacerbate it by making the threat of prosecution more ominous. It is beyond the scope of this chapter to count or document all arrests or prosecutions, but an online search of national and state newspapers indicated that prosecutions are rare. The 2012 Himachal Pradesh High Court decision striking down elements of its religious freedom legislation noted that only one case had been registered in that state, even though the 2006 act and 2007 rules had been in place for several years.63 The few news reports about arrests under freedom of religion acts suggest that officials sometimes disregard assertions of sincerity or agency by lower-caste or group converts when deciding to arrest people for forced conversions. For instance, the Times of India in 2002 reported that two priests and one nun were jailed in Chhattisgarh for converting a group of people from a lower caste through allurement: “Twenty-two persons, including seven women belonging to Satnami community, converted to Christianity. . . . The converted families have sent written communication to the district magistrate . . . claiming they changed their religion voluntarily without any allurement. . . . They claimed they had changed their religion after reading the Bible and there was no pressure on them.”64 Even though the converts jumped through the hoop of adopting the idealized (individual sincere agent) model of conversion, and provided written testimony to that effect, government authorities arrested the priest and nuns, seeming to heed only certain attributes of the converts: they were lower caste, a group, and included females, thus presumably not individual sincere agents.

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Madhya Pradesh is the site of several recent arrests recorded in national or regional newspapers. This is an area with a higher-than-average Adivasi population and history of legislation to control conversions stemming back the Raigarh Act of 1936 (discussed above).65 In 2014, missionaries from the majority Christian state of Mizoram, in northeast India, were arrested in Madhya Pradesh, in central India: “Seven people, including two women, from Mizoram had been held under the MP Freedom of Religion Act on September 12 for allegedly offering money to Sunil Prajapati to embrace Christianity in Badwah of Khargone district. While Badwah police claimed that Sunil was the complainant, others said local VHP [Vishva Hindu Parishad] and Bajrang Dal activists had taken up the matter with police.”66 In 2015 in Madhya Pradesh, a man and woman were arrested while addressing a gathering; the police officer in charge, D. D. Bairagi, told the Times of India that “villagers said they were being assured huge financial profit if they consent.”67 In 2016 in Madhya Pradesh, three Christians were arrested after three recent converts “alleged that they were promised jobs. . . . Residents said police were accompanied by right-wing activists during the arrests.”68 Hindu right-wing activists, including local members of the Vishva Hindu Parishad and Bajrang Dal, appear in these news articles about arrests under religious freedom laws. Most arrests and investigations target Christians or Muslims. According to Musaddique Thange of the Indian American Muslim Council in written testimony about India’s conversion laws for the United States Congress in 2016, “Not one case of forced conversion is known to have been applied to conversions into Hinduism.”69 How could this be?

Ghar Wapsi: A Narrative Slight of Hand The spate of anticonversion legislation in the 2000s coincided with ghar wapsi (“returning home”) campaigns, which spiked in 2014.70 Hindu nationalist organizations use the term in campaigns to reconvert Muslims or Christians. These campaigns sometimes use a rite known as shuddhi. Dayanand Sarasvati, who founded the Hindu reformist Arya Samaj in 1875, later adapted an older purification ritual called shuddhi (used by upper castes to remove defilement and regain caste purity) to create this reconversion rite.71

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Although the term is still used, the historian C. S. Adcock warns, “Appearances of continuity between Arya Samaj shuddhi activities” in the 1920s and contemporary Hindu nationalist ghar wapsi campaigns can be “deceiving” because Arya Samajists defended the right to proselytize, and contemporary Hindu nationalists deny both this right and the argument that they themselves are proselytizing.72 The political scientist Christophe Jaffrelot argues that since the 1980s, Hindu nationalists have moved away from the term shuddhi and its elaborate rituals. As they simplified and routinized conversions to Hinduism, they adopted terms like dharm parivartan (religious change), dharm prachar (religious diffusion), or pratyavartan (return).73 The latter reinforces the homecoming narrative of ghar wapsi. Ghar wapsi campaigns target the “destitute” and “are almost always group conversions and not about individuals making choices,” observes the political scientist Manjari Katju.74 They do not fit the predominant model of the ideal convert. Could not the people organizing ghar wapsi campaigns, which result in group conversions of marginalized communities to Hinduism, be prosecuted under anticonversion laws too? For Hindu converts, however, a happier shadow story—homecoming—implies that they are not converting at all but simply returning to their original and primary identity. This increasingly predominant homecoming narrative (referring specifically to Hindu conversions) appears in Gandhi’s responses to mass conversion in the 1930s and continues in some state laws. Gandhi did not feel that shuddhi was even necessary in cases of mass converts reembracing an ancestral religion. In his view, readopting a prior indigenous religion was not conversion at all. Gandhi went a step further than most current laws by arguing that an initial conversion away from one’s indigenous religion, if forced or induced, was also not a conversion; thus converting back was unnecessary. “If a person, through fear, compulsion, starvation or for material gain or consideration, goes over to another faith, it is a misnomer to call it conversion. Most cases of mass conversions, of which we have heard so much during the past two years, have been to my mind false coin. Real conversion springs from the heart and at the prompting of God, not of a stranger. . . . I would therefore unhesitatingly readmit to the Hindu fold all such repentants and without ado, certainly without any Shuddi. Shuddi is not applicable in such cases.”75 The Himachal Pradesh Freedom of Religion

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Act, 2006 comes closest to this conceptualization of conversion. Himachal Pradesh prohibits conversion by “force or by inducement or by any other fraudulent means” and states that “any person who has been converted from one religion to another, in contravention of the provisions of this section, shall be deemed not to have been converted.”76 Given the open-ended definitions of inducement and fraud, discussed above, this clause allows the state broad discretion to deny that conversion happened, regardless of the convert’s own stance on the matter. Nevertheless, these nonconversions are, simultaneously, illegal conversions. The idea of indigenous religion and homecoming is in some conversion laws, including those of Himachal Pradesh in north India and Arunachal Pradesh in the northeast, a state where the majority of the population is Adivasi (or members of Scheduled Tribes). The Arunachal Pradesh Freedom of Religion Act, 1978 is particularly focused on conversion away from “indigenous faith,” including Buddhism, Vaishnavism (focused on the worship of Vishnu, a god in the Hindu tradition), and nature worship, including worship of Donyipolo.77 The concern with protecting indigenous religions is a response to rapid conversions to Christianity in Arunachal Pradesh in the last few decades, occurring about a century after the movement toward Christianity in Mizoram, another northeastern Indian state (see Chapter 3). Some Hindus consider the animist religions of Adivasis in Arunachal Pradesh to be a “substratum” of Hinduism.78 Like their treatment of the Dalit community, some Hindu nationalists try to subsume Adivasis into supersized Hinduism while hierarchically keeping them at the bottom. For example, the Hindu nationalist Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS) promotes Donyipolo events and schools, and December has a new holiday, Indigenous Religion Day.79 The Himachal Pradesh Freedom of Religion Act, 2006 also contains a built-in preference for “original” religion. Whereas the murky language of the other states’ acts allows government officers to use the acts selectively to promote or punish their preferred religious communities, Himachal Pradesh’s act mandates a preference for original religion. Converts must give thirty days notice to their district magistrate of their intention to convert (or risk a 1,000-rupee fine), so the district magistrate can “get the matter enquired into;” but “no notice shall be required if a person reverts back to his original religion.”80 Although the term ghar wapsi is not used in the law, the use of the adjective “original” and the verb “revert,” rather

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than “convert,” conveys the same narrative. This clause sparked a legal challenge that reached the Himachal Pradesh High Court, to which we now turn.

The Himachal Pradesh High Court Freedom of Religion Case Evangelical Fellowship of India and Act Now for Harmony and Democracy vs. State of Himachal Pradesh challenged the state’s freedom of religion act and rules. The 2012 decision covers several of the issues addressed above, including transitive and intransitive conversion, registering converts, and “original” religion.81 In their 2012 decision, the two-judge bench of Deepak Gupta and Rajiv Sharma did not dispute that conversion by force, fraud, or inducement should be illegal. In their existential terms, “If persons are made to change their religion due to ‘force,’ ‘fraud’ or ‘inducement,’ this would wreck the very basic framework of our society and lead India to total annihilation.”82 The judges reinforced the problematic but predominant narrative that a convert should be an individual agent choosing a belief: “Conversions in our country are permissible if the conversion is by the free will of the convertee. We are also of the opinion that each and every citizen of this country has a right not only to follow his own beliefs but also has a right to change his beliefs.”83 The juxtaposition of “free will” and “convertee” is jarring. “Convertee” makes the convert an object of conversion, an object who is, nevertheless, supposed to exhibit free will. Relying on the predominant model of a convert as an individual believer, this interior notion of religion and conversion is the basis for the judges’ decision to strike down the requirement to report a conversion: “A person’s belief or religion is something very personal to him. The State has no right to ask a person to disclose what is his personal belief.”84 When opposing the 1,000-rupee fine for not reporting conversions in advance, however, the judges do not portray converts as agents. Instead they declare that by “making the non-issuance of the notice a criminal offence, the State has, in fact, made these poor and down-trodden people criminals, whereas the main thrust of the Act should have been to deal strictly with the persons who convert people by ‘force,’ ‘fraud,’ or ‘inducement.’ ”85 If authorities, like the judges in this case, assume converts are poor and downtrodden victims, they will construe many conversions as “forced.” The judges

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defended converts’ rights but on a problematic basis, namely, a rather limited notion of conversion and a dim view of converts. Finally, the two-judge bench in Himachal Pradesh found unconstitutional the clause that said converts did not need to report conversions to one’s “original religion.” They pointed to the absurdity of practical situations under this clause: “If a person born in religion A, converts to religion B, then converts to religion C and then religion D . . . if he converts back to religion B or C, he is required to give notice, but if he converts back to religion A, then no notice is required.”86 Therefore, they found this clause “discriminatory and violative of Article 14” of the Indian Constitution, which states: “The State shall not deny to any person equality before the law or the equal protection of the laws within the territory of India.” Article 15 prohibits discrimination on grounds of religion, race, caste, sex or place of birth. Their generic example of religions A, B, C, and D avoided consideration of which particular religions would be considered “original,” a phrase potentially favoring Hindus. But their consideration of equality and discrimination in this religious freedom case is a precedent worth emulating. The chief architect of India’s constitution, B. R. Ambedkar, called for liberty, equality, and fraternity (see Chapter 2). Although he might not agree with the whole decision, he would likely approve of this attention to the equality (and inequality) of religious liberty.

Conclusion: Forced or Induced Narrations Why do people convert? This seems an innocent question. . . . But the question is not entirely innocent. At any rate, it is based on assumptions that are at least as interesting as the answers. —Talal Asad, “Comments on Conversion”87 11. Reasons for conversion. —Gujarat Freedom of Religion Rules, 2008, Appendix, Forms A and C88

The questions asked on government forms used to implement freedom of religion acts may reveal something about the converts, but they reveal more about administrators’ assumptions about which categories of people are

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capable of agency and sincerity and, thus, religious freedom. Such reporting requirements, supposedly to preserve religious freedom, deny another religious freedom—the freedom to keep one’s beliefs private. The UN special rapporteur on freedom of religion or belief recently defended the right of people to “keep their convictions to themselves.”89 Past and potential future mass conversions by marginalized groups are the backdrop to the shadow stories playing out in these laws. Conversion is both transitive and intransitive.90 Sebastian C. H. Kim points out that in controversies over conversions in India, Hindus have been more concerned about Christians “converting others” (transitive conversion) and Christians have focused on “converting oneself” (intransitive conversion) as a constitutional right: “While Hindus argued that conversion was violence, being something imposed upon people from the outside of their socio-cultural and religious sphere, Christians argued that conversion was the result of a search to satisfy their needs, and that ‘outsiders’ were merely instruments to help people make a personal decision to change.”91 Not all Hindus and Christians fall into these lines of argument. Nevertheless, these incompatible views of transitive and intransitive conversion and, thus, different assessments of the agency and sincerity of converts are at the heart of disputes over the religious freedom acts. Denying agency or sincerity undergirds the denial of religious rights. The question of converts’ agency and sincerity is central to the contemporary religious freedom acts against forced or induced conversions. Given our inability to see “inner states,” other measures (such as gender, caste, tribe, income, or number of converts) became proxies for agency (or lack thereof) in such cases. If a convert lacks agency, she must have been forced or lured and could not be sincere. Adjudicating what counts as religion is much discussed in the literature on religious freedom and is an area of the law that is rife with potential discrimination against nondominant religious communities.92 Determining who counts as a convert is another important arena of discrimination in the name of religious freedom. By disregarding the agency and sincerity of poor, Scheduled Caste, Scheduled Tribe, female, or group converts to minority religions, government officials can deny their ability to exercise religious freedom. In another definitional sleight of hand, converts to Hinduism are not real converts either, just people “returning home.” Thus they elude scrutiny under the freedom of religion laws used to report, question, and investigate converts to minority religions. These inequalities in the implementation of freedom of religion laws reinforce

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Ambedkar’s insight (see Chapter 2) that freedom and equality must go hand in hand. In addition to their unequal implementation, the language of the laws, rules, and forms reinforce inequalities by perpetuating predominant narratives. Despite their bogus premises, which mean prosecutions are rare, anticonversion laws, by threatening prosecution and fortifying shadow stories, generate fear to mobilize majorities and harass minorities. In the legal shadow stories within these freedom of religion acts, the notion of forced conversion conjures Islam, the specter of induced conversion evokes Christianity, and the phrase original religion refers to supersized Hinduism. The laws discussed in this chapter amplify and give gravitas to longstanding suspicions of conversion, particularly group conversions to minority religions. Predominant conversion narratives subsume the voices of the converts themselves, who are discounted by judges, fined by district magistrates, and forced to reveal their castes, incomes, home addresses, and reasons, as they narrate their conversions onto the thin lines of Form A. These laws enact a shadow story of “religious protection,” supposedly to safeguard “backward” and female citizens. Instead the laws protect the status quo and those in power from the potentially destabilizing impact of mass conversions.

CHAPTER 5

Prevention: Losing Affirmative Action

That’s me in the corner That’s me in the spotlight Losing my religion —R.E.M.

Dalits become ineligible for caste-based affirmative action for Scheduled Castes (SCs) if they convert to Islam or Christianity. Originally only available to Hindu Scheduled Castes, quotas, known as reservations, in legislatures, government employment, and higher education are now open to Sikh Scheduled Castes (since 1956) and Buddhist Scheduled Castes (since 1990). Precedent facilitated the success of the Sikh SC and Buddhist SC demands. These two religious communities were previously subsumed under the category of Hindu in Article 25 of the constitution and in religious personal laws, a legal maneuver facilitated by Sikhism and Buddhism’s origins on the Indian subcontinent.1 Yet legally supersizing Hinduism in this way also denies the distinct religious and minority identities of Sikhs and Buddhists.2 Dalit Christians and Muslims face another difficult trade-off: as they or their ancestors exercised one right, religious freedom and the right to convert, they lost another, the right to access affirmative action programs. Losing reservations is a conversion prevention policy that specifically targets Dalits and penalizes them for picking a religion outside of supersized Hinduism. Christianity and Islam appeal to some Dalits, resulting in periodic conversions, including the mass movement Christians discussed in Chapter 1 and a Dalit group’s conversion to Islam in Meenakshipuram, Tamil Nadu, in 1981.3 Why penalize such conversions? Hindu nationalists portray Islam

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and Christianity as foreign, or anti-national, threats to Hinduism, despite centuries of Muslims and Christians living in what is now India.4 Others simply prefer the status quo. For example, some Scheduled Caste Hindus do not want to increase the number of people competing for the opportunities reserved for SCs. Although we cannot know how many members of Scheduled Castes decide not to convert to Islam or Christianity or try to hide their conversions, the potential material penalty for losing SC status is a significant disincentive. Losing their religion has a cost to converts and their families in terms of lost access to political, educational, or employment opportunities. As we saw in Chapter 4, even if people do convert, they may be tempted to rejoin the Hindu fold via reconversion campaigns known as ghar wapsi (literally “returning home”). This chapter details how a 2015 Supreme Court decision, K. P. Manu versus Chairman, Scrutiny Committee for the Verification of Community Certificate, made it more appealing for SCs to reconvert by reinstating SC eligibility, even generations after conversion from Hinduism. The Supreme Court panel referred to the writings of Dr. B. R. Ambedkar and to scholarship on caste discrimination against Dalit Christians in ways their authors never anticipated—to support a decision that incentivizes conversions to Hinduism while maintaining the penalty for conversions to Christianity or Islam. How? The justices used the fanciful conversion narrative of “eclipse.” In contrast to the decision in the K. P. Manu case, several linked cases before the Supreme Court challenging the denial of affirmative action to two Dalit Christians and one Dalit Muslim have dragged on for over a decade without resolution. Scholarly studies and government reports now acknowledge the impact of past and present caste discrimination on Muslim and Christian communities in India.5 Oral histories of one of the Dalit Christian plaintiffs and a longtime activist for Dalit Muslim rights complicate the Supreme Court’s eclipse metaphor and other predominant legal narratives linking caste with Hinduism. They also illustrate the personal and political toll of governments managing and defining converts in discriminatory ways. Managing and Defining Selves Gauri Viswanathan argues that “religious conversion in the political context of British colonialism is reduced to being an expression of the individual’s

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shifting allegiances to community, not of self-transformation or spiritual illumination.”6 Because civil laws of marriage and property (known as personal laws) varied by religious community, colonial-era judges focused on the allocation of benefits tied to community categories and were skeptical of the agency and sincerity of converts. So “private, subjective changes that occur in colonial societies are progressively regulated by the laws that manage and define self, even when that self moves from a natal community and religion.”7 Personal laws on the basis of religion and reservation policies on the basis of caste continued after independence, perpetuating the legal management and definition of selves. The way law manages and defines “self” in spite of the complex and multifaceted nature of all selves is at the heart of intersectional legal criticism. Intersectionality originated in critical race, legal, and feminist theory. In Ange-Marie Hancock’s articulation, intersectional analysis reveals “the interaction of categories of difference (including but not limited to race, gender, class and sexual orientation) . . . recognizing that these . . . influence political access, equality, and the potential for any form of justice.”8 People have multiple, overlapping identities, some resulting in oppressions. Religion and caste (and more) supplement Hancock’s brief list of “categories of difference.” The intersection of these oppressions results in complex forms of discrimination often unforeseen by lawmakers. Intersectional analysis shows that low-caste Christians and Muslims fall through the cracks of India’s quota system, limiting these policies as a route to social mobility for certain people due to their religious affiliations and, in some cases, their decisions to convert. Denying affirmative action benefits to these communities is a denial of their religious freedom. Yet this policy flows from predominant conversion narratives. These predominant narratives privilege the freedom to remain in or return to one’s ancestral religion over the freedom to convert to another religion. The religious requirement for SC reservations makes many Dalits ineligible for both religious freedom and affirmative action. They have to pick one. As we saw in the previous chapters, predominant conversion narratives also deny the agency or sincerity of entire categories of people, including mass converts, descendants of converts, lower castes, women, and religious minorities. Indeed, contemporary “scrutiny committees” and courts often examine lower-caste converts attempting to access affirmative action because that benefit throws into question the sincerity of their conversion.9

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The religious litmus test for recognition as a Scheduled Caste is why legal and administrative questions over their sincerity can arise: are they really converting to benefit from SC reservations? This current situation echoes Viswanathan’s description of earlier judges who “devalued” converts’ expressions of faith.10 Colonial-era judges focused on the allocation of legal rights tied to different community categories and were skeptical of the agency of converts, prompting Viswanathan to ask: “Does race intervene as a factor to mitigate willed changes of belief?”11 For example, “British judges characteristically dismissed convert’s repeated assertions of Christian sentiments as having less to do with belief or conviction than with the power and forcefulness of missionary instruction.”12 Current administrators view lower-caste converts with similar skepticism, demanding a series of externally validated certificates to prove their caste and religious identities. The K. P. Manu decision makes it easier to reconvert and regain SC status, but this chapter will show that giving up SC status by converting away from Hinduism is still a huge risk. Viswanathan observed that “private, subjective changes” were increasingly “regulated by the laws that manage and define self,” a colonial response to conversions that continues in postcolonial India.13 The Indian government’s tendencies to manage and define selves are sometimes in tension. In an apparent effort to define more selves as Hindus, the Supreme Court in the K. P. Manu decision opened the Scheduled Caste door wider to anyone reconverting to Hinduism, even generations after conversion, while ignoring Dalit Christian and Muslim petitions to remove the door. At the same time, administrators manage SCs with so many scrutiny committees and certificates that one would think twice before converting to any religion, even Hinduism, but particularly before giving up SC status by converting away from Hinduism. After a discussion of caste and religion in the context of reservations and conversions, a brief introduction to the Scheduled Caste category is followed by two contemporary efforts to adjust its boundaries, one repeatedly postponed and one successful. Whereas the three linked cases before the Supreme Court demanding Scheduled Caste status for Dalit Muslims and Dalit Christians have been in legal limbo for many years, the Supreme Court more quickly conferred Scheduled Caste status on K. P. Manu, a grandson of Christian converts, after he “reconverted” to Hinduism. Inspired by Richard Delgado’s juxtaposition of personal, activist, and judicial narratives in “Storytelling for Oppositionists and Others,” I contrast

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the dominant, judicial narrative in K. P. Manu with counterstories, namely, the petitions and oral histories of Franklin Caesar Thomas, a Dalit Christian plaintiff in the Dalit Christian and Dalit Muslim case pending in the Supreme Court of India, and Navaid Hamid, a long-standing advocate for Dalit Muslim rights.14 In the following analysis of how the justices in K. P. Manu manage and define self and how plaintiffs such as Franklin Caesar Thomas define themselves, I give particular attention to the legal and personal interpretations of the relationship between caste and religion and the practical implications of prevailing legal narratives for the religious freedom of minorities.

Caste and Religion Recent scholarship unlinks caste and religion. Sumit Guha’s Beyond Caste: Identity and Power in South Asia, Past and Present challenges the idea that caste is a religious phenomenon, and Rupa Viswanath’s The Pariah Problem historically traces how linking caste and religion (and ignoring caste’s economic and other aspects) in the colonial era perpetuated the de facto enslavement of lower-caste persons. Long before these scholars, B. R. Ambedkar was writing about caste among not only Hindus but also Muslims, Sikhs, and Christians (notably, not Buddhists), although he argued that for Hindus caste had more social significance, consequences for “breach of caste,” and religious consecration.15 Shefali Chandra advocates “delinking caste from a predictable association with ritual” and understanding “how caste is enmeshed instead within certain forms of privilege—themselves produced by the state’s project of nation building.”16 Indeed, as Gyanendra Pandey observes, “As the colonial state’s codification and classification of ‘customary’ divisions and practices developed, and the question of numbers gained importance, Hindu leaders and reformers grew active in the effort to ‘reclaim’ the Dalits and ‘reeducate’ them in their identity as Hindus.”17 Cricket Keating notes the different types of rights granted to lower-caste groups and religious minorities by the Constituent Assembly.18 This left those straddling these intersecting categories in a difficult position. For instance, although Dalit Christians and Muslims arguably faced “double discrimination,” benefiting from both religious minority and lower-caste rights was politically untenable.19 Different views of the relationship

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between caste and religion that emerged during the nationalist struggle continued to impact policies. In Aishwary Kumar’s articulation: “Ambedkar’s galvanizing 1935 declaration at Yeola—that he was born a Hindu but would not die as one . . . cleared the ground for a rather insurrectionary separation of faiths.”20 “Gandhi’s dream,” on the other hand, was that “India’s religious difference could be formulated . . . in the language of spiritual concentricity, of which Hinduism forms the outermost, all encompassing orbit of faith and citizenship—an orbit within whose boundaries every other belief falls, excluded but absorbed.”21 But Hinduism was not all encompassing; although Sikhism and Buddhism were subsumed for some legal purposes, Christianity and Islam were still outside. At the same time, Scheduled Castes were legally corralled into Hinduism. Gyanendra Pandey summarizes the SC dilemma: “All the indications were that the Dalits would have to remain very lowly Hindus—a minority that could not be made part of the majority but that the majority would not treat as a minority either.”22

The Scheduled Castes Arguably the oldest affirmative action policies in the world are those that emerged in British India in the 1800s.23 The use of reservations extends back to colonial-era policies, especially in southern and western India.24 Through the 1935 Government of India Act, the Scheduled Caste category encompassed and renamed the Depressed Classes category, a target of some prior reservations. Initially used to ensure limited political representation for the lowest, formerly “untouchable,” castes in the late colonial era, today the benefits accruing to this SC category of Indian citizens include reservations in legislatures, government jobs, and university admissions and specific protections under the Prevention of Atrocities Act. In the transition to independence, leaders such as B. R. Ambedkar revised but retained reservation policies to continue to uplift segments of society that lagged behind socioeconomically.25 From the constitutional debates to the present, reservation rights and conversion rights have been entangled. Some saw them as a trade-off. In the Constituent Assembly debates, one argument for including the “right to propagate” (of particular interest to Christians) in the religious freedom clause was that Christians gave up reserved seats. L. Krishnaswami Bharathi

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of Madras said: “The matter was thoroughly discussed in the Minorities Committee, and they came to the conclusion that this great Christian community which is willing and ready to assimilate itself with the general community, which does not want reservation or other special privileges should be allowed to propagate its religion along with other religious communities in India.”26 This mentality meant Christians could have either propagation or reservation, not both. The sociologist Rowena Robinson notes the missed opportunity in the Constituent Assembly to mention the distinct needs of lower-caste Muslims and Christians and to address their disadvantages through reservations. Indeed, Christian and Muslim members of the Constituent Assembly, in contrast to Sikh members, did not explicitly address these inequalities within their communities, except for one acknowledgment by a Christian member on the very last day, when the constitution draft was complete. On November 23, 1949, T. J. M. Wilson said: “By giving up reservations, whatever we may have lost we have gained tremendously, because this has mainly contributed to . . . the secular character of the state on which depends our very existence as a minority community.” Again, Christian reservations were a trade-off for something else, in this case, the “secular character” of the state. Wilson continued, acknowledging who paid the price for this tradeoff: “I may here raise my voice for an unfortunate section of my community—the Harijan Christians. . . . The parents of these children come to us with tears in their eyes to tell us that their children have been driven out of schools and deprived of their education because scholarships had been stopped for them, while the children of their brothers and sisters who are non-converts are continuing their studies.”27 This brief and last-minute mention of Harijan Christians speaks to the material costs of conversions out of the Scheduled Caste category, which continue to this day. Article 341(1) of the Indian Constitution gave the president the responsibility for specifying the Scheduled Castes. The 1950 Scheduled Castes Order listed these communities and included a significant clause: “No person who professes a religion different from Hinduism shall be deemed to be a member of a Scheduled Caste.” This clause was gradually expanded to include Sikhism and Buddhism. Notably, the current Dalit Christian / Dalit Muslim public interest litigation before the Supreme Court (featured below) demands that this clause be deleted altogether to preserve religious freedom, rather than simply adding Christianity or Islam to the growing list of religions that can be professed by Scheduled Castes.

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At the time of Ambedkar’s conversion in 1956, the clause in the 1950 Scheduled Caste Order did not yet include Buddhists. When discussing his conversion, Ambedkar had to grapple with the potential political and socioeconomic costs of leaving Hinduism, namely, giving up the hard-won but religiously restricted reservation policies—policies that he had championed and protected in the constitution. He declared, nevertheless, the day after his conversion: “Even after conversion to Buddhism, I am confident, I will get the political rights.”28 However, Ambedkar died shortly after his conversion. Buddhists were not included as SCs until the 1990s and still have difficulty getting SC certificates.29 Reservations in India function as a quota system: a certain percentage of slots are “reserved” for disadvantaged categories of citizens (although not always filled) in legislatures, government jobs, and university admissions. Legislative reservations provide quotas for Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes at the national level and were expanded in the 1990s to include quotas for women at the local level.30 The following categories are currently eligible for reservations in central government jobs and government funded institutions of higher education: (1) the SCs, which includes Dalits (formerly, untouchables) who are Hindu, Sikh, or Buddhist; (2) the Scheduled Tribes (STs), which do not have a similar religious restriction and include some Christians but rarely Muslims; and (3) the Other Backward Classes (OBCs), a list of castes or communities determined by a complex calculus of social, educational, and economic indicators of disadvantage (coupled with the political savvy and resources to apply for and claim this status if not already on the list); official OBC lists include some Muslim and Christian groups. Some states and institutions also offer reservations for Muslims or women. In short, whereas OBCs and STs can be of different religious communities, the SC category is closed to Christians and Muslims. Christian and Muslim activists are working to claim SC status through social movements and litigation, arguing that caste discrimination is not coterminous with a certain religion.31 Like the many scholars and government reports that have demonstrated the continuing salience of caste within Indian Christian communities, scholars and government commissions show that Indian Muslims on average are socioeconomically behind other religious populations and that Muslim Dalits are worst off of all.32 Some Christian and Muslim Dalits have been demanding inclusion within the SC category for years and filed a court case in 2004.33 Although the case inspired several of the reports just

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cited, it has yet to be decided. A case involving a cross-generational SC “reconvert” from Christianity to Hinduism, however, has been decided. The Hindu “Reconvert” Case Justices Dipak Misra and V. Gopala Gowda decided K. P. Manu versus Chairman, Scrutiny Committee for the Verification of Community Certificate (Supreme Court of India, civil appeal no. 7065 of 2008) on February 26, 2015. The grandson of Christian converts, K. P. John converted to Hinduism in 1984 at age twenty-four, changed his name to K. P. Manu, and received a community certificate documenting that he had changed from Christian Pulaya to Hindu Pulaya. In this case, K. P. Manu appealed the decision of a scrutiny committee, upheld by the High Court of Kerala, to remove his SC status because they did not accept that he was a member of the Hindu Pulaya community. The Supreme Court overruled the high court by arguing that his caste could be resurrected generations later via reconversion to Hinduism. In their decision, the Supreme Court justices Misra and Gowda scrutinized the sincerity of lower castes and selectively linked and unlinked caste and religion via an eclipse narrative. This narrative enabled them to materially reward a convert to Hinduism by renewing his SC status, while acknowledging but disregarding caste discrimination in other religious communities as a basis for SC claims.34 First, although their decision ultimately welcomed Manu back into the Hindu fold, the judges endorsed scrutinizing the sincerity of lower-caste converts into Hinduism and into a reserved category. A declaration by the convert is not enough. Also necessary are evidence of community acceptance of the convert and observable behaviors, including caste rites. A document, the community certificate, must be produced. The principle of “definitive traceability” of the caste identity claimed is the preferred standard.35 K. P. Manu’s certificate, stamped with a date and included in the decision, reinforced the predominant (but very limited) notion of conversion: an individual convert’s moment of decision to switch religions. That moment of conversion contrasts with a more common pattern of conversion as a deliberative process, as discussed by the historian Gyanendra Pandey and supported by B. R. Ambedkar’s conversion and the oral histories of Ambedkarite Buddhists discussed in Chapter 2.36 The certification process both reinforces the prototypical yet atypical individual decision to convert and denies a SC individual’s ability to vouch for his or her own

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decision. The veracity of an SC conversion does not rest on that individual’s testimony. It must be verified by an approved community certificategranting organization and, in some cases, a scrutiny committee, a high court, and even, in this case, the Supreme Court. According to the K. P. Manu decision, the convert must engage in “the Hindu rites and customs” that are “meant for the caste.”37 Consider these ironies: SC reservations are an attempt to incorporate castes that are outside the pale of the community, but in order to benefit as SCs, converts must demonstrate community acceptance. The reservations are a mechanism to overcome discriminatory rites and customs, but in order to become eligible for reservations by gaining SC status, an individual must be observably participating in caste-specific rites and customs.38 Prioritizing rites and customs over socioeconomic disadvantages stems from a legal and administrative overemphasis on the religious nature of caste as opposed to its economic or other aspects. This overemphasis extends back to the late colonial era, as documented by the historians Rupa Viswanath (on the conceptualization of the “Pariah problem” as a religious one) and Pandey (how caste, in colonial sociology, “passes into culture” as an “essential condition of India” to justify colonial rule, and, later, Gandhi’s struggle in the 1920s against the “ ‘sin’ of untouchability”).39 This link between caste and religion (specifically, Hinduism) continues but gets more complicated in a judicial conversion narrative used in the K. P. Manu decision—the metaphor of an eclipse. This metaphor comes from an earlier case (Kailash Sonkar v. Maya Devi 1984 2 SCC 91), quoted at length in the K. P. Manu decision: “In our opinion, when a person is converted to Christianity or some other religion the original caste remains under eclipse and as soon as during his/her lifetime the person is reconverted to the original religion the eclipse disappears and the caste automatically revives.” In Kailash Sonkar, the court noted that if “a person reconverted to the old religion had been converted to Christianity since several generations, it may be difficult to apply the doctrine of eclipse to the revival of caste,” but that question did not arise in that case. In K. P. Manu, the judges decided the eclipse and revival could apply across several generations. Notably, in this metaphor, the sun is caste, and the darkness is minority religions. The eclipse metaphor epitomizes the selective unlinking of caste and religion, allowing Hindu reconverts to gain SC benefits while other converts cannot. The K. P. Manu decision includes vivid descriptions of the caste

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disabilities of SC Christians. It even discusses Pulaya Christians, as in the following passage, quoted from the government’s Mandal Commission Report (1980): “In the presence of rich Syrian Christians, the Harijan Christians had to remove their head-dress while speaking with their Syrian Christian masters. They had to keep their mouth closed with a hand. . . . It was found that the Syrian and Pulaya members of the same Church conduct religious rituals separately in separate buildings.”40 But these descriptions of discrimination against Dalit Christians are used only to show that caste persists after conversion from Hinduism (like the sun temporarily hidden behind the moon), to be eventually revealed again after the eclipse by reconversion. Thus these caste disabilities, documented at great length in the K. P. Manu decision and compelling evidence for Dalit Christian reservations, are not utilized in that way. Instead, the judges quote scholarship on Dalit Christian lives—including the research of the Mandal Commission, Dalit Christian scholars, and even B. R. Ambedkar—to show not that Dalit Christians have caste but that they have latent caste, which can be revived upon conversion to Hinduism. That period of living as a Muslim or Christian is when caste is eclipsed by another religion. This metaphor smooths over the contradiction between the socioeconomic reality of Dalit Muslim and Dalit Christian discrimination and the legal status quo that SCs are only Hindu (or Sikh or Buddhist). What are the implications of this narrative? Given the potential material benefits of SC status, the result is that Dalit Muslims and Dalit Christians continue to be penalized, but a Hindu “reconvert” gets a windfall. To put this in perspective, when the scrutiny committee rejected K. P. Manu’s claim for SC status on the basis of reconversion and thus considered him a Christian, the state was to “remove him from service and recover a sum of 15 lakhs rupees toward the salary paid to him.”41 He had worked for Malabar Cements, a state undertaking in Kerala.42 When the Indian Supreme Court later recognized his reconversion to Hinduism and SC status, it ordered, “The appellant shall be reinstated in service forthwith with all the benefits relating to seniority and his caste, and shall also be paid backwages up to 75% within eight weeks of today.”43 The material impact of judges’ conversion narratives is significant. In addition to reservations, other policies use the SC category and have material implications. If one is not included in the SCs, the SC/ST Prevention of Atrocities Act does not apply. This hate-crime legislation is an attempt to punish and deter a chilling range of atrocities that still impact

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SCs and STs, including forcing them to eat “inedible or obnoxious substances,” dumping “excreta, sewage, [or] carcasses” in their homes or neighborhoods, forcing them to parade naked, taking their land, and more.44 In addition, official statistics about crimes against SCs do not include violence against Dalit Christians or Muslims, thus understating the extent of these problems.45

Dalit Christian and Dalit Muslim Cases A Dalit Muslim case (Writ Petition Civil No. 47 of 2006) has been linked with several Christian Dalit cases (Writ Petition Civil No. 180 of 2004, No. 625 of 2005, and No. 94 of 2005) in joint litigation spearheaded by the Centre for Public Interest Litigation (CPIL) and Franklin Caesar Thomas.46 Dalit Christian and Muslim litigation and social movement demands have sparked various government inquiries, including “Dalits in the Muslim and Christian Communities,” a report prepared for the National Commission for Minorities.47 But the cases remain in limbo at the Supreme Court level, with no decision for over a decade. In her historical work on the freedom struggle in South Asia, the historian Wendy Singer notes the value of including both official documentary sources (such as court decisions) and oral narratives; the latter “demonstrate the value of maintaining separate voices, rather than amalgamating them as imparting a single past.”48 The following counternarratives by a Dalit Christian plaintiff and an activist for Dalit Muslim rights are at odds with those of Supreme Court justices Misra and Gowda. Rather than trying to reconcile or “amalgamate” these, I examine the fissures between them and their implications for converts. I recorded, transcribed, and excerpted them below, with some thematic organization, followed by my brief analysis. I presented drafts of their histories to Thomas and Hamid for their feedback, minor editing for clarification, and final permission.

Franklin Caesar Thomas: “If Ever You Introduce Me, Introduce Me as a Dalit Christian” Franklin Caesar Thomas, one of the plaintiffs in the joint litigation before the Supreme Court, is a Dalit Christian from Tamil Nadu, now living in

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Delhi. A mechanical engineer and lawyer, he has pursued the case as second petitioner since it was filed on March 22, 2004. Thomas spoke with me in New Delhi on March 30, 2016, just after the twelfth anniversary of filing his case: [Scheduled Castes, historically, were] those who are mending the old shoes, those who are doing drumming duty, those who are doing the menial job . . . cremating the dead body, doing agricultural slavery work . . . drumming during the time of festival, drumming during the time of death. This was the profession of my community, where I belong. I belong to Paraiyar community. [He shuffles through his legal papers relating to the case.] See for example, see here, my community: the petitioner number two . . . who is a Scheduled Caste member of Paraiyar community converted to Christianity. . . . Let me come to my life. So I was a Dalit Christian. . . . My grandfather, they were going to a Catholic church. . . . My parent’s parent parent parent, maybe two hundred years before, they might have converted. . . . We were facing the caste discrimination in the Catholicism. Upper castes . . . they were not allowing us to sing along with them/dominant caste Christians. Separate seats had been allotted in the church. . . . Because of the opposition from our ancestors’ side regarding caste discrimination, they (Church authorities) sent us to another church, which was situated at Periyavarseeli from Pudar Attamanur. There also, one caste was dominating us. . . . Even we were not allowed . . . to sit along with them. We had been given separate seats; we had been served communion separately. My ancestors, they were facing humiliation; they objected: why [is] the church hierarchy allowing such a thing? . . . Finally, tussle arose between upper caste and our community. My grandfather beat some of the fellows. Even they had a real fight, even some arms fight. Finally they beat our grandfathers. They retaliated. My ancestors just kicked and attacked them, some of them. . . . They did not file the police complaint/criminal cases. . . . Then . . . my grandfathers went to foreign countries. They were serving Britishers there in Malaysia; . . . my aunt also. . . . Because they came from

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foreign Malaysia, they did not want to allow the discrimination. That is why they rebelled . . . when they came back. So they were not allowed to come to the church . . . so then . . . in their own way they were worshipping God, Jesus Christ, in my native place. . . . [My grandfather] along with the Muslims, he was doing trade . . . was selling mutton in the market. . . . He had some land also, small land. . . . Small hut is there, all the villagers were coming to the church. . . . So then my father in 1932 was born. . . . My father’s name is M. F. Thomas. My grandfather’s name is Francis. . . . My people were facing famine in that area, 1934, ’35, lots of famine, 1936, ’37, distress, poverty. . . . My father did not have even a notebook for continuing his studies. . . . For the past two centuries, we dwell in Soosaiyapuram, Manakkal, Lalgudi, Tiruchirapalli District, Tamil Nadu. My father was a Catholic from Periyavarseeli Parish of Kumbakkonam Diocese in Tamil Nadu during his childhood time (during that time my ancestors were attached to Periyavarseeli Parish). My mother, namely Stella Mary of Newman Village, Thiruvaiyaru Taluk, Thanjavur District, was Catholic from another parish, namely Megalathur of Kumbakkonam Diocese.

Caste and the Church

Whenever I visited . . . that parish of Peiyavarseeli during the [Saint Mary’s] festival time, they would give us some rice and some sort of mutton . . . [in an] open place; only Dalit will eat there. . . . I would go, lunchtime. Even [those] lands (which were used for rice production for usage in the festivals . . .) were given/donated by the Dalit Christians in that parish and other affiliated village Dalit Christian parishes, for God . . . but all the lands were in the hands of the upper caste people. Even the church is also ruled by the upper caste priests and the people. . . . They will throw us alms, throw us some food there. . . . Childless couples of the Dalit community contributed lots of lands to the . . . church, but all the lands are in the hands of the church, under the non-Dalit rulers . . . so, like begging, they will offer us some food.

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When I was eating in that open place on a banana leaf . . . that person who was teaching me English in Saint Joseph College Higher Secondary School, Tiruchirapalli, he was pouring some sambar, soup to me. “Hey you are here!” [He was a] dominant caste man from that particular hamlet (Periyavarseeli Parish Church), where our forefathers were treated as slaves. “You are here! This place is for the Dalit. We are giving them free food. You are also here. You are part of them.” “Yes I am part of them! The land which was given to this parish, it was given by my people, in the name of faith. As a capitalist, you people have captured all the lands. . . . Merely by throwing this sort of free food to us, you are enjoying everything.” . . . I revealed my bitter experience directly. Even my grandmother and aunts would ask me, go, you have to go and see the Festival of Saint Mary. . . . When I go there, some of these upper caste people, they will use . . . some of the Dalit girls as sexual victims, even. . . . The dominant caste Christians . . . they will bring the [Saint Mary] statue . . . (like Hindu tradition, they will put it on cart, they will pull this Saint Mary statue attached [to a] car) . . . only through upper-caste hamlets. The upper-caste priests and the people would not allow the Dalits to carry the idols of Mary and Saints to place it in the car; even the car procession would not reach the Dalit Christians’ hamlets.

Caste and Religion

Regarding the scheduled caste, they are the outcaste, they are not under the purview of Hinduism. They are outcaste. They don’t have any relationship to Hinduism. They are outcaste. . . . I am not a critic of Hinduism, but I am a critic of Brahminism. . . . The entire Christian religion is ruled by the dominant caste, particularly Catholicism is ruled by the hard-core Brahmins and other dominant-caste people. We are twice discriminated. Thrice discriminated: by the society, by the church, and by the government. Even by the Dalit Hindus . . . even by the Dalit Sikhs and Dalit Buddhists. Even [as] we are fighting for this [SC] privilege, even no Dalit

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Hindu, no Dalit Sikh, and no Dalit Buddhist is coming forward to fight along with us for getting the Scheduled Caste privilege. . . . India is a caste affected country . . . Mostly all are having the caste mindset, caste prejudice. . . . Even my community, Paraiyar community, is degrading the washermen community; washermen community is degrading this cobbler community. So the hierarchical level, step by step, we are suppressed by . . . caste supremacy, caste mind. Description of Conversion Process for a Scheduled Caste Person

Thomas is not himself a convert but described the process in his home state of Tamil Nadu if he were, hypothetically, to convert: First, voluntarily I go to the temple, am getting the conversion certificate. Based upon the conversion certificate, I will declare in the newspaper that I have gone to Hinduism, by taking Hindu name. Then I will take a photocopy of the paper cutting, the original, and this conversion certificate, I will apply to the . . . concerned state government. . . . It will be published in the government gazette, my conversion. . . . In Tamil Nadu it is the Department of Stationary and Printing, they will publish it in their gazette. Then with that gazette copy, I have to convince some of the Dalit Hindus. See if I am a Paraiyar, I have to consult to get the positive concurrence of the Hindu Paraiyar community to accept me as one among them (Hindu Paraiyars). Four, five fellows will attest me, that I have converted to Hinduism, that I am living along with them, that I live in their caste and religious environment. . . . I have to get the certificate. With the [community attestation] certificate, I have to go to the revenue authorities. . . . So with all these things I have to approach the Tehsildar. . . . [This] revenue authority will inquire all these things, whether it is a fact or not. Then they will conduct a survey here and there; they will see the reality. Then they will issue the [SC] certificate that you are so and so, Dalit Hindu, you are entitled to get the Scheduled Caste privilege. Reconversion and Forced Conversion

When this privilege is not given to the people, people are reverting back to Hinduism to avail the Scheduled Caste status. . . . When I

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was a small boy, entire village—it was a Catholic village, my maternal grandfather’s village. . . . Now of entire village half of them have reconverted to Hinduism to avail the Scheduled Caste status, officially. So they become officers . . . now some of them have become doctors. So en masse conversion is there, and it is nothing but a forced conversion. Here in India . . . by showing a material benefit, if you convert a person from one religion to another religion, it is nothing but a forced conversion. Those who are instigating, forcing others to follow other religions should be prosecuted. In this case, government of India itself is forcibly converting the Dalit Christians to come to Hinduism by showing the material benefit. Whom should we prosecute? Thomas’s oral history counters the judicial eclipse narrative by showing how caste is constantly revealed in the lives of Dalit Christians—not just when they convert to Hinduism—as when his teacher discovered at a festival that he was a Dalit and exclaimed, “You are part of them.” Disputing the legal linkage of caste with Hinduism, he reports specific examples of Brahminism within his Catholic community, ranging from segregated worship and festivals to land grabs and sexual assault. His description of the conversion process for Scheduled Castes conveys that, far from an individual moment of decision, conversion for Scheduled Castes is a slog though bureaucratic paperwork and various authorities to certify that the conversion is “real.” Finally, his commentary on the material stakes of conversion for Scheduled Castes flips the forced and induced conversion arguments typically used against Christians or Muslims, pointing instead to the material inducement to become Hindu.

Navaid Hamid: “It’s a Religious Freedom Issue with Political Connotations” Navaid Hamid is the president of the All India Muslim Majlis-eMushawarat. We first spoke two decades ago, when he was beginning his advocacy for SC status for Dalit Muslims.49 Because Muslims are among the most socioeconomically disadvantaged populations in India, some activists have demanded reservations for Muslims in general, a policy that

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a few states have implemented; others have argued that Dalit Muslim communities should be eligible for Scheduled Caste reservations.50 The latter claim is based on documented casteism within some Muslim communities in India, as well as a religious freedom argument: Dalits should be able to choose any religion without penalty. Nevertheless, the legal category “Scheduled Castes” continues to exclude Muslims. Long-standing narratives about lower castes motivated by material inducements leaping en masse into minority religions fuel the opposition to recognizing Muslim or Christian Scheduled Castes. The fear is that widening access to reservations would remove the material inducement to remain Hindu (or Buddhist or Sikh) and that Scheduled Castes (16.6 percent of the population of India according to the 2011 census) would increasingly join the ranks of Indian Muslims and Christians. Due to the lack of resolution in the decades since we last spoke, Hamid’s advocacy on this issue continues. We met at the India Islamic Cultural Center in Delhi on March 25, 2016, to discuss the contemporary situation. [The government has] denied equal rights to Dalit Christians and Dalit Muslims. . . . There are two basic reasons. One is religious reason. The other is political reason. . . . When this presidential order was promulgated in 1950, only simple reason was to deny . . . the underprivileged class, the Dalits, the choice to have the right to adopt and follow religion of their choice. . . . It’s a religious freedom issue with political connotations, interrelated. . . . In last seventy or so years, in spite of the silver lining that it is one of the vibrant democracies of the world . . . the people in political parties are slowly converting it into a majoritarian democracy. All shades of political leadership have that kind of wishful thinking, that is shall remain a majoritarian democracy. Some are aggressively following it, implementing it, and some are silently in agreement to that.

Constituencies Reserved for Scheduled Castes Not Open to Muslim Candidates

At times of delimitation of constituencies, you know, from state to national level, the constituencies are delimited or notified in such a

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manner that Muslims don’t become a major factor in the decisions of the election process. . . . The biggest flaw in the delimitation process is that . . . it cannot be challenged in courts. That’s why Sachar [chair of the 2006 Sachar Commission51] . . . has rightly pointed out that eighty-two constituencies which has Muslim population more than that of the Scheduled Caste population are reserved [for SCs]. Eighty constituencies. In Parliament. Eighty. . . . There are dozens of constituencies which has more Dalit population than the Muslim population. They are in general category [meaning not reserved for SCs]. So it’s a doubleedged sword. Not Just Hindu Nationalist Parties Dragging Feet

Why the political parties, even the secular political parties . . . even the Congress Party, or even the constituents of the Secular Front, who were ruling for ten years, why haven’t they responded? That is the basic question. You know, once Dalit Muslims and Dalit Christians are accepted as Scheduled Castes, these constituencies will be become open for Dalit Muslims and Dalit Christians. Number one. And number two, it will open the floodgates for conversion. . . . This 1950 presidential order is nothing but a communal presidential order. . . . Government of India is not inclined to respond to that [Dalit Christian and Muslim case]. I am amazed why the Supreme Court is not taking a decision on that. . . . It should decide. It is a case of fundamental right, the right to equality. This 1950 order is not only against the fundamental right to profess a religion, but it is against fundamental right of equality. . . . This is religious jingoism. When I said that the political parties are slowly working to gradually convert it into a majoritarian democracy . . . they wish that Dalits should remain within the ambit of Hinduism. . . . In South there is a huge conversion movement. People are converting to Christianity in South India. But they are not registering themselves as Christians, because of the simple reason that they fear that once they register themselves as a Christian they will lose the reservation facility. . . .

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There are laws in certain states which requires that if somebody wishes to convert from one religion to another, that citizen needs to report it to the authorities. . . . This violates the fundamental right to profess and propagate religions of my choice. . . . The problem is . . . it [anticonversion legislation] is passed by the legislature, and who are elected to the legislature? The people from the majority community! If you have systematically denied the right to minorities to have their own representation in legislature, how their voices will be heard? In his account, Hamid emphasized a far-reaching material impact of the current policy limiting SCs to certain religions: the underrepresentation of Muslims in political office is exacerbated by the misuse of reserved SC constituencies to augment the Hindu majority. Majoritarian strategies protecting those in power transcend the blatant Hindu nationalists and become tools of other major parties too, even those espousing secularism. In Hamid’s view, the political underrepresentation of Muslims, due to reserving constituencies with large Muslim populations for SCs and not allowing Muslims to be SCs, has contributed to other religious freedom problems, including the anticonversion legislation passed in several states. As noted above, reservation policies for Scheduled Castes include reserved legislative seats, meaning that only SC candidates can run in certain constituencies. Hamid noted the Sachar Commission Report finding, based on analysis of state assembly elections in Uttar Pradesh, Bihar, and West Bengal, that many constituencies with high concentrations of Muslims were notified as reserved for Scheduled Castes.52 Thus Muslims could not run for office in those constituencies, and Muslim voters could not elect Muslim representatives in many of the districts that would be most likely to support Muslim candidates. Thus equity policies for lower castes became a tool of political inequity for Muslims. Hamid argued that legally defining SC Muslims out of existence denies both the freedom of religion and the fundamental right to equality for Dalits and Muslims. Comparing the Judicial and Activist Conversion Narratives Both the court decision and the activist narratives illustrate the material stakes of conversion for SC converts, although they drew different conclusions. The scrutiny committee, the high court, and the Supreme Court

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matter-of-factly decided whether Manu could keep his job or not and whether he could retain his salary or be forced to pay it back. While this was routine for the administrators and judges involved, Thomas argued that these material stakes rise to the level of forcible conversion. Hamid noted the wide-ranging impact of Scheduled Caste constituencies that cannot be contested by Muslim or Christian candidates. Both the judges and activists also reveal the scrutiny Scheduled Caste converts undergo. While the court concentrated on the process from the scrutiny committee up to the Supreme Court and endorsed the doctrine of traceability, Thomas described the difficulties of the labyrinthine steps one must take even prior to reaching the scrutiny committee. While the K. P. Manu decision makes it easier for former SCs to regain SC status if converting to Hinduism, it is by no means easy. Hamid critiqued the conversion reporting requirements in several states (see Chapter 4). The judges and activists entirely disagree over the relationship of caste and religion. Thomas and Hamid depict the toll of casteism on Christian and Muslim lives, including their social interactions, property rights, and political power. The Supreme Court overshadows these lived realities with its focus on religious aspects of caste and the fanciful doctrine of eclipse. Forcible conversion is not distinctively Muslim or Christian, as the advocates for anticonversion laws (discussed in Chapter 4) assume. If socalled forced or induced conversions are to be avoided in the name of religious freedom, they should be avoided equally for all. In fact, however, the current delineation and administration of the Scheduled Castes category induces people to convert from Christianity and Islam to supersized Hinduism, as Thomas described when discussing in his grandfather’s village. When lower castes convert in the other direction, they practice without “registering themselves as Christians” to avoid losing precious SC rights, as Hamid recounted. The religious limit on the SC category sets up a system in which the sincerity of lower-caste converts is automatically suspect (due to the reservation rights at stake), resulting in lengthy and complex steps to prove one’s conversion. Finally, the convenient legal narrative of eclipse perpetuates the status quo, sidestepping the persistence of casteism and Brahminical hierarchies in the lives of Dalits of all religions. Both Thomas and Hamid were critical of the Hindu right but clear that they are not the only ones to blame for the current predicament of Dalit Christians and Muslims. They criticized others, including Brahminical Christians and all political parties, who have supported the hierarchical

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and majoritarian status quo, both through their actions and their inaction, including, in the words of Thomas, putting the 2004 case “in the cold storage.”

The Intersectional Predicament of Dalit Christians and Muslims Intersectional analysis has drawn needed attention to the ways elites, via blunt laws and policies, often disregard the cumulative impact of different types of discrimination on the life chances of someone who is black and poor and a woman, for instance. My analysis takes this a step further to look at how elites (including judges and politicians) legally and strategically elide or divide different types of identities in ways that benefit dominant groups. Intersectional analysis reveals how caste and religious identities intersect. I argue that certain caste and religious identities legally overlap when it is in the interests of the Hindu majority to say they do. Despite the growing body of scholarship unlinking caste and religion or arguing that caste is not just a religious phenomenon but also—even primarily—economic, social, and political, the Supreme Court of India in K. P. Manu continued to link caste and religion. It did so selectively, however.53 Misra and Gowda’s judicial conversion narrative is an example of what Gyanendra Pandey has called “a variety of moves to consolidate the Hindu community.”54 This judicial maneuvering harms Dalit Christians and Muslims. One negative impact is that judges scrutinize the sincerity of members of lower castes who convert, relying on outside proof of conversion. Another is the lived results of the eclipse narrative about caste and conversion, which shuts caste identity on or off to maximize those considered Hindus and penalizes converts to minority religions. The result is unequal religious freedom.

CHAPTER 6

Persecution: The Love Jihad Rumor

In 2009, the parents of a female MBA student in Kerala filed a habeas corpus petition against two Muslim men accusing them of “luring . . . two girl students doing MBA at a college in Pathanamthitta and later forcing them to convert to Islam.”1 The Kerala High Court judge K. T. Sankaran, in his decision denying bail to the accused, referred to the notion of a broader “love jihad,” in which Muslim men were supposedly seducing and converting Hindu victims. The MBA students testified that they willingly eloped with their Muslim husbands and converted without coercion.2 The Kerala High Court ultimately called off the investigation in December 2009.3 In November 2009, the Karnataka High Court dismissed a similar case filed by the Hindu father of Silja Raj after police investigating her elopement found no evidence of a love jihad.4 Nonetheless, the concept of love jihad became a political rallying cry and an internet meme, applied arbitrarily to marriages between Muslim men and female converts, especially those without parental permission. Seemingly legitimized by Judge Sankaran’s discussion in his bail decision and popularized in newspaper coverage of the case, the phrase also spread via websites and social media, including the free texting application WhatsApp, and through political speeches, additional lawsuits, and doctored images. Reiterated and embellished over time, the love jihad rumor, in extreme versions, conjured the specter of mass conversions induced by thousands of young men trained by Pakistan’s Interservices Intelligence Agency and supplied with motorbikes, cell phones, and fashionable clothing to seduce Hindu and Christian girls and produce Muslim offspring. In 2013, politicians warning of love jihad contributed to tensions and deadly riots in the northern Indian city of Muzaffarnagar. In 2014, Hindu nationalist politicians used the narrative of love jihad to promote their proposed national

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Figure 7. A typical appeal to Hindu brothers about the purported love jihad, easily spread on the internet via mobile phones, email, and social media. Image from TwoCircles.net.

law against forcible or induced conversions.5 Activists, journalists, judges, and police departments repeatedly examined and debunked the love jihad rumor. Yet, like a virus, the love jihad notion periodically resurfaced, sometimes in another region, after periods of dormancy. In this chapter, I trace and interpret love jihad conversion narratives, with a primary focus on the period from 2009 to 2015. I followed the rumor using Google Trends to track over time the number of online searches for the term “love jihad,” and Google Alerts, to receive email alerts when Google found new online content using this term. Drawing on texts from periods during which Google searches for the term “love jihad” spiked, I interpret love jihad narratives using the concepts of masterplot and character type. Selected narratives include a court decision, police reports, an online newspaper, and a visual image and encompass different regions where couples have been accused of being involved in a love jihad. The love jihad masterplot is one type of predominant conversion narrative. Love jihad narratives tap into a masterplot or “recurrent skeletal story” shared by a culture or community that shapes key ideas such as identity,

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justice or threat.6 Masterplots feature stock character types. Contemporary love jihad narratives parallel similar stories told in the past about the threat Muslim men supposedly posed to women of other communities, stories that shared similar themes if fewer motorcyles or terrorism overtones than in the present. The characters in this masterplot include a sinister, sexy Muslim man and an innocent, gullible non-Muslim damsel in distress, incapable of choosing for herself to convert. The former lacks sincerity, and the latter lacks both agency and sincerity. The converter is insincere in his love, the convert insincere in her new religion. According to this masterplot, the female convert lacks both religious sincerity (because she is carried away by love or lust rather than sincere beliefs) and agency (because she is duped by her lover). Given these faulty premises, religious freedom does not mean her freedom to convert but rather her need for protection from conversion. Islamophobic and patriarchal elements fuse into a conservative narrative to keep women and minority men in their places and to restrict choices about marriage and conversion. The patriarchal elements of the masterplot raise anxiety about women spending time outside the home in cybercafes, colleges, or call centers. The Islamophobic elements reinforce old anxieties about the Other, who might challenge the majority’s position of power by marrying their women and having many children. These children would increase the minority group’s numbers, because the father’s identity trumps the mother’s identity in this patriarchal/Islamophobic mindset. In short, the masterplot of love jihad exacerbates both Islamophobia and sexism and ultimately restricts religious freedom. Like the supposedly protective anti-forcible conversion policies discussed in Chapter 4, this masterplot denies the agency of female converts and exaggerates the (nefarious) agency of minority men while casting aspersions on the sincerity of both. Advocates for anticonversion laws even use love jihad to argue for their necessity. For instance, Kerala High Court judge Sankaran’s bail decision in a purported love jihad case concludes by mentioning other states’ laws against conversion by force or inducement and suggesting that the citizens and government of his state “consider whether any such law should be enacted for the State of Kerala.”7 In practice, love jihad conversion narratives thwart the agency of women, Muslims, and converts, especially women who are Muslim converts. These narratives have motivated parents to keep their “girls” close to home, police to arrest men who elope with women of another community, class mates to beat up

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minority students, and neighbors to force Muslims in their village to leave. Examination of the love jihad hysteria and its aftermath will shed light on the insidious effects of such rumors on the human rights of minorities and women. The love jihad narrative denies their sincerity and agency, and thus their freedom of religion (and other freedoms as well), all in the name of “protecting” religious freedom.

Persecution in the Guise of Religious Freedom Building on Chapters 4 and 5, this examination of the love jihad rumor illustrates a third mode of restricting conversions, a mode that goes a step beyond prosecution via anticonversion laws or prevention via religionspecific reservation policies, to promote persecution. In the name of protecting the religious freedom of Hindu, Christian, or Sikh “girls,” people spreading or believing the rumor keep women home and/or attack minority men. As Saba Mahmood has observed, “There are many times when invoking this right [to religious freedom] can work against peaceful religious coexistence and actually exacerbate sectarian conflict. It depends who’s using it, what context it is being used in, whose interests are being championed and whose interests are being squelched.”8 What is striking about the love jihad masterplot is the way it resonated, spreading from Hindu parents to the courts, politicians, and religious minority communities, even pitting the Christian and Sikh minorities against the Muslim minority—in the name of religious freedom. Why do members of religious majorities fear and attack minorities? How do activists and politicians use gender to reinforce xenophobia and xenophobic nationalism? Scholars have addressed these puzzles about religion and political violence, but gaps remain. One area needing more research is the role of gender, and particularly of women from majority communities, in Islamophobic masterplots. Another gap is case studies tracing how timeworn tropes about minorities have been revamped for the internet age. The following love jihad analysis fills these gaps while documenting how conversion narratives about supposed violations of women’s religious freedom actually violate the religious freedom of both women and India’s Muslim minority. Some members of majority populations succumb to the “fear of small numbers” including “demographic fears” that can inspire majority group

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members to persecute or even attack minorities.9 How do these fears develop? Paul Brass documented the role of rumor in the “institutionalized riot structures” behind Hindu-Muslim violence in India. In contrast to the inevitability of Samuel Huntington’s “clash of civilizations” thesis, Brass revealed the specific precipitants of violence, including both logistics (such as “rioter” recruits bussed into minority enclaves) and language (such as “fire tenders” starting and spreading rumors about minority communities).10 Although Brass highlighted the key role of rumors and networks of persons maintaining communal tensions, his work did not extend to the spread of rumors via the internet and smart phones. Although one of his case studies involved an alleged kidnapping of a young Hindu girl, more attention to gender dynamics would enrich his contributions. Analysis of the love jihad rumor reveals the role of both social media and gender. Rumors that minority men threaten majority women are particularly effective catalysts for violence or persecution. Abduction or rape of women by men of another community are common themes preceding outbreaks of intergroup violence, as seen in the work of Veena Das on the partition of India and Pakistan, Silva Meznaric on the build up to the war and break up of Yugoslavia, and Amii Larkin Barnard on the history of lynching in the United States.11 Tapping into similar sexual and communal anxieties about interactions between minority males and majority females, tales of conversion via seduction are among the most incendiary of this genre. Tensions between Muslims and Coptic Christians in contemporary Egypt often center on such rumors, going both ways—sometimes the aggressive converting male is a Copt and sometimes a Muslim—depending on who is fomenting the story.12 In India, stories of conversion via seduction extend back to at least the 1920s, when campaigns in north India to save Hindu women from Muslim men spread via “newspapers, pamphlets, meetings, handbills, posters, novels, myths, rumours and gossip.”13 Allegations ranged from “rape, abduction and elopement, to luring, conversion, love and forced marriages.”14 Abductions of Hindu women were “prominent” among the “epidemics of rumours” preceding the anti-Muslim pogrom in Gujarat in 2002.15 Lines between force and love, abduction and elopement, rape and conversion blurred into vague existential threat. Such campaigns provoke fear on all sides. Muslims live in an “ecology of fear,” as constant innuendos that they are a threat to the majority could inspire a backlash at any point.16 Hindus experience a “siege mentality.”17 Although there is much literature on Islamophobic renditions of Muslim

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men oppressing Muslim women, fewer scholars have focused on the supposed threat they pose to women of other communities.18 Meera Sehgal’s insightful work is an exception. Developed during her fieldwork among women of the Hindu right-wing Rashtra Sevika Samiti, Sehgal defines a “feminized siege mentality” as “a learned disposition in which female members of a community perceive themselves as potential prey to male members of a community of ‘outsiders,’ ” based, in her study, on embodied practices and “discourses of Hindu women’s victimization by Muslim men.”19 Sehgal differentiates “feminized and masculinized discourses of insecurity,” which “gender segregated wings” of the Hindu nationalist movement generate: “Both discourses argue that the need of the hour is to become ‘powerful’—generally interpreted as becoming strong, disciplined, well-trained and organized. The difference between the two discourses lies in what the male and female wings interpret these concepts to mean; in how men and women are addressed; in the kinds of power envisaged for women and men (and what that power should be used for).”20 The following case studies build on Brass’s insights into rumor and communalism by focusing on conversion narratives, gender, and electronic media. They build on Sehgal’s feminized siege mentality and gendered insecurity theories in two ways. First, love jihad discourses transcended the Hindu community, generating Christian and Sikh campaigns to counter this imagined threat to their religious freedom. Second, I examine male and female responses to the supposed siege. Indeed much of the anti-love-jihad rhetoric could be considered male “hysteria,” a term historically and pejoratively applied to women.

Tracking the Love Jihad Meme Those spreading and periodically activating the love jihad narrative are the “fire tenders,” discussed by Brass, “who maintain the fuel at a combustible level, sometimes stoking it, sometimes letting it smolder.”21 Google Trends and Google Alerts suggest that after the term “love jihad” emerged (and was debunked) in Kerala and Karnataka in 2009, the rumor resurfaced in north India prior to the 2013 Muzaffarnagar riots and again in both the north and the south in 2014–2015. The case studies below are from these periods, when Google Trends indicates that people who google were particularly curious about love jihad.

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Searches for “love jihad”

Sept 2014

Oct 2009

2005

2007

2009

2011

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2015

Figure 8. Google Trends, Web Search Interest: Love Jihad—Worldwide, 2004 to 2015. The 0–100 scale on the y axis shows “total searches for a term relative to the total number of searches done on Google over time.” Image prepared by Murat Yilmaz from Google Trends graph.

Google Trends tracks Google searches for a term rather than overall occurrences of a term on the internet. Counting the number of times a phrase, like “love jihad,” appears online can be misleading. First, a rise in the number of times a type of incident is reported or mentioned online does not mean a rise in actual occurrences of that incident, especially in the case of imaginary incidents like a love jihad.22 Second, a rise in the number of times a phrase appears on the internet does not necessarily mean a rise in the number of people interested in that word or phrase. The number of searches for that phrase better captures this. Figure 8 indicates how the search term “love jihad” was trending over time. It does not capture the interest of people who do not have access to or choose not to use smart phones, computers, or Google. The graph shows the rise and fall of searches for “love jihad” (in English) relative to all Google searches. A falling line does not necessarily mean a decline in total searches for the term but does indicate a fall in its relative popularity compared to other searches.23 Google is the most popular search engine in India and worldwide.24 Figure 8 does not reveal enough detail for a statistical analysis (although one op-ed writer on the topic of love jihad quipped that “ ‘regression analysis’ struck me as a wonderful title for an inquiry into why a section of the BJP is sliding backwards into 1990’s-era rhetoric of Hindu grievance”).25 Nevertheless, the graph is helpful in two ways. It indicates that the term “love jihad” (in English) was popular enough at various points to show up at all as a trend (although Google does not reveal what determines this

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Google Trends threshold). Google Trends also allowed me to focus on key years and months when love jihad was in the air. The graph featured in Figure 8 shows piqued interest in “love jihad” among Google users in October 2009 and September 2014. Both were national (Lok Sabha) election years, and Hindu nationalist mobilization strategies in some constituencies probably contributed to the spikes.26 A rise in the relative number of searches does not mean all these searchers believed the rumor. They could have been searching for many reasons—to learn about the idea, spread it, fight it, or follow it for any other reason, such as my own searches while writing this chapter. In short, the relative number of searches includes both proponents and critics of the idea that a love jihad is occurring, as well as those trying to form an opinion on the matter.27 Besides using Google Trends, I set Google Alerts to inform me when online content appeared using the term “love jihad” and saved examples of this content as pdfs. Many of the narratives I examine in the case studies came from these alerts. Future studies of this topic should focus on print media, including regional media archives in India. According to Google Trends, “love jihad” searches occurred primarily in India, with more limited interest in the United Kingdom and the United States relative to total searches in these countries. Beyond India, anti-love-jihad petitions have circulated globally via Change.org, and the phrase appeared in various protests, such as one against a proposed mosque in the UK. “Romeo jihad” was an alternative term used in the media in 2009 as a synonym for “love jihad,” but its popularity waned. A Romeo and Juliet masterplot would have featured a sympathetic male and agential female from different communities, a cast of characters that is not as useful for critics of boundary transgressions. “Romeo Jihad” searches reached the threshold to be measured by Google Trends from 2005 through April 2006, but after a brief and minor uptick in March 2008, when “love jihad” searches rose more dramatically, “Romeo jihad” searches flat-lined and were no longer occurring in significant enough numbers to appear on Google Trends. Romeo jihad romanticized boundary crossers; love jihad delegitimized them by equating them with different archetypes: a Muslim villain and non-Muslim damsel in distress. The latter plotline resonated with both an old masterplot and the ongoing “war on terror” in India and abroad, as proponents of the love jihad idea portrayed the Muslim seducer/ converter as a cog in a vast conspiracy of global extremist Islam.

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Interpreting Love Jihad Narratives: Earlier Iterations A masterplot undergirds love jihad narratives. A masterplot is a “recurrent skeletal story” that often includes regular characters or “types.”28 Contemporary love jihad tales parallel similar ones told in the past about the threat Muslim men supposedly posed to women of other communities. These older stories have similar themes, if fewer high-tech gadgets or geopolitical overtones than the present iterations. The characters in this masterplot include a seductive and forceful Muslim man and a helpless non-Muslim damsel in distress. She is incapable of choosing for herself to convert. Conversion masterplots about Christians and Muslims in India differ: Christians supposedly entice converts with material or medical aid, whereas Muslims purportedly seduce or force their converts. The latter story line is not unique to India. Muslim men converting non-Muslim women through seduction or force have appeared in European conversion and piracy narratives since at least the early modern period.29 An example of the seductive Muslim in contemporary popular culture is the Turkish Muslim Pamuk’s ill-fated seduction of the English Christian Lady Mary in the BBC television series Downton Abbey. In India, state-level lawmakers embedded into colonial and postcolonial laws the idea of religious minorities either forcing or inducing conversions, giving majority community hysteria unfounded gravitas (see Chapter 4). In addition to permeating the language of such anticonversion laws, the love jihad masterplot weaves through narratives as varied as colonial census reports and Hindu nationalist rhetoric. Although not yet using the term, colonial administrators reinforced nascent love jihad narratives, as Gauri Viswanathan’s reading of the Bengal Census report of 1901 as romance novel illustrates.30 In the census table on “causes of conversion to Mohammadanism,” common plots were “She was enticed away by a Muhammadan, who subsequently converted her and married her,” or she “fell in love with her Muhammadan paramour, who converted her to his faith.” The table also included men converting due to female lovers, people converting “while in sick bed,” or “owing to straitened circumstances,” or even after joining “a band of magicians” and then falling in love. One woman converted “of her own accord” as did a few men. Only a handful converted due to belief, or “conviction of the truth of Muhammadism.”31 What is interesting about this census table is the way these varied and social reasons for conversion complicate the subsequent standardization of

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ideal conversion as an individual change in belief. The table also illustrates the tendency for official narratives to downplay the agency of female converts, a tendency that continues to this day. Overall, enumerators did not perceive female converts as agents; several entries report that a paramour “converted her,” making the women an object of conversion rather than the subject. Yet glimmers of female agency peek through census enumerators’ summaries. One glimmer is the single instance in which an enumerator noted that a woman “embraced Muhammadism of her own accord,” and two examples of husbands converting for Muslim wives. Of particular interest for this chapter, the table encapsulates several earlier conversionvia-seduction narratives, precedents for the masterplot undergirding the love jihad rumor. The Muslim male as seductive aggressor is a long-standing figure in the Hindu nationalist playbook. Love jihad rumors find a ready audience due to what Amrita Basu calls “the preoccupation of Hindu nationalists with the supposed strength, virility and aggression of Muslim men. Hindu communalists speak incessantly of how much meat Muslims consume, the numbers of children they bear, and their physical stamina.”32 Peter van der Veer notes the “theme of ‘Muslim lust’ and the threat it posed to Hindu women” in Hindu nationalist discussions of masculinity in the late colonial era. “Stories of abduction of Hindu women during riots belonged to the standard repertory of Hindu nationalism. . . . A numerical obsession, originating in the colonial census operations, was combined with the fear of emasculation.”33 The other stock character in the contemporary love jihad narrative also precedes the coining of this term; the Hindu woman converting to Islam is a victim or, at best, capricious. The Hindu nationalist M. S. Golwalkar, leader of the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh, in his writings in the 1930s and ’40s, emphasized force, victimhood, and the “conquest” of local populations by Muslims, and included gendered images such as the “rape of the Motherland.”34 Rohit De documents the late colonial “concern over Hindu women converting to Islam” in the context of the 1942 Calcutta High Court decision that closed off conversion as a way for a woman to escape her Hindu marriage. This decision illustrated “the role of the courts in aiding a community’s management of its women” by downplaying a “woman’s ‘capricious’ decision to convert.” Hindu men’s sense of being under siege was not just driven by the Muslim male but also by the female convert, observes De: “The ability of women to breach patriarchal authority and

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community boundaries caused severe anxieties.”35 These anxieties continue today. Sikata Banerjee illuminates how stories “dramatizing Muslim desire for Hindu women,” like Queen Padmini’s decision to die rather than marry a Muslim ruler besotted with her, continue to circulate in India, constructing Muslim and Hindu masculinities.”36 Kalyani Devaki Menon’s ethnographic fieldwork with women of the Hindu Right in Delhi documents a speaker at a 1999 Hindu nationalist training camp for women in Delhi echoing this ideology, warning that Muslims had a plan to convert a hundred thousand “girls” to Islam per year through force and teaching that Hindutva “requires you to control your sexual urges.”37 During her participant observation in a Rashtra Sevika Samiti training camp for women in the 1990s, Meera Sehgal heard a lecture warning young women about “men wearing fancy clothes, driving Maruti cars and Hero-Honda motorcycles, hanging around the gates of girls’ schools. They pretend to be in love with our girls. . . . Ultimately, the girls get fooled by their sweet talk and land up in Saudi Arabia.”38 The history of Islam and conversion in South Asia is complex, involving varied traditions, regions, periods, modes, and impulses.39 Nevertheless, as the aptly patriarchal term “masterplot” suggests, a repeated story line can dominate the public imagination, putting minorities at risk and restricting women’s mobility. The notion of love jihad built on these prior iterations. Google Trends (Figure 8) indicates piqued interest in love jihad among Google users in October 2009 and September 2014. Narratives from these two periods reveal the varied forms yet similar themes of the love jihad masterplot. These love jihad narratives have taken many forms, including websites, audiotapes, pamphlets, speeches, news articles, and government documents.40 Two are nested narratives: first, a 2009 Kerala High Court document that includes within it, due to extensive quotations, two judgments and two police reports and, second, a 2015 IndianExpress.com article featuring and discussing a doctored publicity photo of Kareena Kapoor that appeared on the cover of a Hindu nationalist magazine. Nested Narratives Circa 2009: Kerala High Court Judgments and a Police Report A 2009 High Court of Kerala judgment, Shahan Sha, A. and Anr. vs. State of Kerala, by Judge K. T. Sankaran, denied anticipatory bail for two men

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accused of being involved in love jihad activities. The following documents were all included in this judgment: an initial judgment from September 29, 2009, calling for a police investigation and report, the subsequent police report (embedded in the judgment), an order from the judge to the police for more clarity, another police report, and a final judgment denying bail on November 6, 2009.41 The term “love jihad” gave an older masterplot a catchy title. Judge Sankaran did not invent the title, which had circulated on the internet before (see Figure 8), but by referring to it in his decision, he gave it official gravitas and suggested that, beyond the two conversions in the case, mass conversions might be taking place: Before disposing of these Bail Applications, I am of the view that some additional information with regard to the number of similar cases which occurred during the last three years in the State of Kerala is required. The Director General of Police shall file a statement within a period of three weeks from today, touching upon the following aspects: (1) Whether there is a movement called “Romeo Jihad” or “Love Jihad” working in the State of Kerala? (2) If so, what are their plans and projects? (3) Which organisations are involved in such activities? (4) Where does the money come from for all these activities? (5) How many school and college students and youngsters were thus converted to Islam during the last three years? (6) Does the alleged project involve an all India basis and magnitude? (7) Has it got financial support from abroad? (8) Is there any connection between the “Love Jihad” movement and counterfeiting, smuggling, drug trafficking and terrorist activities?42 In addition to using the term “love jihad,” Judge Sankaran fits the case details into the masterplot by slotting the persons involved into the relevant character types, whose “motivation and personality are an integral and often fixed element of the masterplot. As such they can be powerful rhetorical tools when activated.”43 Conveniently, to protect the “victim girls,” he labels them like a casting director “as ‘the Hindu girl’ and the ‘Christian girl.’ ”44 The judge undermines any assumption that women in an MBA program might be capable of making their own decisions by persistently calling them “victim girls.” The accused, in contrast, are both named (with

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identifiably Muslim names) and also repeatedly labeled as Muslims: “Shahan Sha is a Muslim. The victim girls were studying for MBA Course. They are friends. Shahan Sha was their senior in the college. At one point in time, he was expelled from the college.”45 Another Muslim enters the scene, Shahan Sha’s friend Sirajudeen, the second petitioner in this case. He had not been expelled but had another dubious distinction from the perspective of parents considering a life partner for their MBA student: He was a KSRTC bus conductor. The cast is complete: two savvy, sketchy Muslims and their potential prey. Activating character types in a court case in this way “can absorb the complexity of a defendant’s human nature into the simplicity of type.”46 Judge Sankaran’s judicial narrative describes the characters’ meeting: “It would appear that the relationship between the Hindu girl and Shahan Sha started as a result of a telephone call. The intimacy developed. From the inception onwards, it is alleged that Shahan Sha spoke ill about Hindu religion and its tenets, beliefs and traditions.” Not only is the seducer a Muslim, but he is, by this account, an intolerant Muslim who disrespects Hinduism. This passage also red flags cell phones as objects of concern. Eventually, community organizations as far north as Uttar Pradesh worked to ban mobile phones for girls to keep them safe from the threat of love jihad.47 After all the characters met, various events happened to the Hindu and Christian girl, which are narrated in the passive voice: “The Hindu girl was taken to Shahan Sha’s house,” and later, “Two ‘deeds of agreements to marry’ were executed. The girls were made to sign the documents.”48 The judge’s conversion narrative likewise denies the women’s agency: “Shahan Sha was constantly compelling the girl to convert to Islam. She was in utter confusion. It is alleged that Shahan Sha stated to the girl that unless she converted into Islam immediately, their relationship would come to an end. At last, she agreed.”49 In this narrative she initially lacked agency: Shahan Sha was “constantly compelling” her, and she was in “utter confusion.”50 Even when she finally became the subject of a sentence and “agreed,” she lacked sincerity: she converted to continue the relationship with her boyfriend. Thus the judge used freedom of religion in his argument to argue “This right does not extend to the right to compel a person professing a religion to convert to another religion. Compulsion is alien to the right conferred under Article 25 of the Constitution of India. The freedom of one man shall not entitle him to encroach upon the freedom of another.”51 The gendered language in the judge’s discussion of religious

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freedom reinforces the man as free, and an(Other), in this case a woman, as encroached upon, needing protection to remain free. The term “alien” builds upon the image of Shahan Sha as the intolerant Muslim, implying that compulsion in religion is anti-Indian, perhaps imported from Pakistan.52 Within days after this decision was published, this “alien” theme appeared in more extreme form in a pamphlet (discussed below) connecting love jihad with Pakistani terrorist organizations. Shahan Sha’s lawyers tried to produce “evidence” of the converts’ agency and sincerity. Like J. Waskom Pickett many years before, the lawyer grappled with the difficulty of proving the converts’ interior states of mind. Whereas Pickett’s quest for proof (see Chapter 1) led him to survey research, Shahan Sha’s lawyer turned to official testimony (or lack thereof) and affidavits. According to Judge Sankaran, Shahan Sha’s lawyers’ pointed out that the women appeared in court three times and “did not state to the Honourable Judges that they (the girls) were compelled to convert to Islam or that the offence alleged was committed by Shahan Sha and Sirajudeen;” nevertheless, the judge concluded, “I do not think that this is a material fact.”53 The lawyer’s petition tried to correct the judge’s conversion narrative by citing affidavits: “Petitioners were advised to swear to an affidavit before the Notary to be shown before the police officials that they are living together as husband and wife and that there is no compulsion in their relationship and that they embraced Islam voluntarily without force or coercion. The said affidavit was sworn on 12-8-2009.” As Sankaran saw only “victim girls,” he disregarded even their sworn declarations of sincerity and agency.54 Judge Sankaran also offsets the women’s religious freedom by prioritizing the parents’ rights, although these appear nowhere in Article 25 as a reason to limit religious freedom: “The rights of the parents to bring up their children in the way all of them like, also cannot be lost sight of. Simply because a boy or girl has become major, that does not mean that the parents have no say in the matter of their future and their career. . . . The right conferred under Article 25 of the Constitution does not enable a stranger to deny the rights of the parents of the girls. Article 25 is aimed at protecting individual freedom. It is not aimed at destroying the family set up and culture.”55 This passage reveals an incentive for the love jihad narrative beyond Hindu nationalist politics: parental concern that daughters are increasingly eluding their guidance in marriage decisions. Sankaran’s conversion narrative reads like a horror story for Islamophobic parents: The

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“girls,” he writes, “stated to their parents that they were going to Ponnani to convert to Islam. The telephone call was snapped thereafter.”56 Besides summarized smatterings of Shahan Sha’s petition, police reports quoted verbatim in the decision offer counternarratives to the love jihad masterplot championed by Judge Sankaran. Even though Judge Sankaran selectively drew on the police reports to try to shore up the love jihad idea, the police remained skeptical of love jihad, and another judge eventually dropped the case. Responding to the list of eight questions Sankaran posed to the police, Kerala’s director general of police (DGP) submitted a terse set of answers to each on October 18, 2009: “No organization or movement called ‘Love Jihad’ or ‘Romeo Jihad’ is so far identified . . . no clear evidence . . . no reliable evidence . . . no concrete information . . . no actionable information.” But the DGP’s report also mentioned “reasons to suspect that there are concerted attempts to persuade girls to change their religion after they fall in love with Muslim boys,” namely “unconfirmed source information” that “some groups are actively working among youngsters encouraging conversions by such techniques; that young men who are engaged in such pursuits are said to be receiving funds from abroad directly or indirectly for purchasing clothes and vehicles and for availing legal help etc.”57 Sankaran asked for more clarity. The DGP explained, murkily, that he had received “some information from some units based on source inputs, which suggested the clandestine designs of certain groups aimed at religious conversion through deceitful means, inter alia, under the guise of love.”58 But these three reports were “at variance with the other fifteen reports,” were “based on hearsay,” and “no cogent and coherent materials were available in the three reports mentioned above to make an unambiguous statement regarding the truth of the allegation of compulsive religious conversion.”59 Nevertheless, in his final decision Sankaran quotes the three reports, which he requested from the DGP. One states that the plan “is to trap brilliant upper caste Hindu and Christian girls from the well to do family, especially those who are studying for professional courses and employed in IT sectors”; moreover, the report suggests that “muslim fundamental [sic] organizations are also arranging money from some foreign countries in the Gulf. But veracity of this information has to be ascertained.”60 Sankaran summarizes another report stating that “3000 to 4000 conversions after love affairs have taken place” and referencing “similar activities in Uttar Pradesh, Pune in Maharashtra, Bangalore in Karnataka

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where it is learnt that several Hindu girls were converted to Islam.”61 In these hearsay, legalistic, and police accounts, the converts remain objects rather than subjects of conversion. These unfounded reports, quoted in the decision and included in news reports on the sensational case, set off a macabre version of the childhood game of telephone, in which repetition of a story results in more and more inaccuracies.62 Despite the ultimate dismissal of the case by the Kerala High Court, each time narrators repeated the love jihad story, they embellished it with new details, more places, and higher numbers of converts, painting love jihad as a major threat to religious freedom in India.

A Hysterical Game of Telephone: October 2009 and Its Aftermath The love jihad characters, plotline, and call to action—protecting women’s religious freedom from alien compulsion—continued in the hysterical afterlife of the Kerala court decision. The initial October 9, 2009, decision and call for police investigation inspired politicians to take the issue several steps further, declaring that there was Pakistani involvement, alluding to their own “surveys” of the problem, launching agitations, and even setting up hotlines. The Kerala state president of the Hindu nationalist Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), P. K. Krishnadas, held a press conference calling for a “a high-level probe . . . into the alleged ‘love-jihad’ by extremist outfits.”63 A team of police officers should “unearth all aspects of the movement, he said, adding that Pakistani intelligence agency Inter-Service Intelligence (ISI) was behind this movement.”64 Politicians in other states latched on to the love jihad frenzy. Sri Rama Sene founder and president, Pramod Muthalik, “at a press conference organized to promote Hindu Mahasabha candidates” in Pune, Maharashtra, announced a nationwide agitation (“expected to start in December”) against the love jihad, described as “the latest tool being used by miscreants to promote anti-national activities,” and stated that “according to a survey conducted by us, Hindu girls are being duped by some Muslims involved in anti-national activities.”65 The Hindu Mahasabha, founded in 1915, articulated “the quest for Hindu assertiveness and manliness, and the fears of Muslim aggression and corporate strength.”66 The Rama Sene is a more recent organization, notorious for advocating war with Pakistan as well as

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attacking women in a Mangalore pub (in January 2009) to defend Indian “culture.” The love jihad idea was the perfect blend of these two ideological strands, and the Rama Sene president ran with it. A few weeks after his initial press conference on this issue, a Times of India article out of Bangalore quoted Muthalik announcing the national Save Our Daughters, Save India campaign, to start in Karnataka and target “college campuses, hostels, coffee shops and picnic spots” with “booklets on love jihad, stickers, posters and CDs.”67 He claimed that three thousand girls were victims of the love jihad but that many had returned to the Hindu community. His “evidence” included, in addition to the surveys he alluded to in his earlier comments to the press, “affidavits from many girls explaining the conditions under which they lived with Muslim families.”68 Finally, he alleged that “13 madrassas were involved in the love jihad cases, and sought an inquiry into their activities and even a ban,” jumping on a global bandwagon of madrassa paranoia in a country in which madrassas fill an educational void for many rural, poor Muslims.69 In Mangalore, Karnataka, the Hindu nationalist Vishva Hindu Parishad (VHP) and Bajrang Dal leaders called on their district administration “to form special squads to check Love Jihad activities in their district,” “urged the heads and managements of educational institutes to be alert and initiate stringent action,” and told parents to “keep and eye on their school/college going children or [children going] for jobs and see that they should not get trapped in the Love Jehad racket.”70 In their comments to the press, these leaders listed many types of places that could be centers of these “heinous activities,” adding to the general paranoia: “commercial establishments and cloth stores,” “hostels,” and “places like pubs,” as well as “cell phone shops” and “cyber centres.”71 Echoing the Rama Sene’s invocation of the dangers of coffee shops and picnic spots, these warnings about places where unsupervised young women might venture taps into anxieties about the increasing social and spatial mobility of some upper- or middle-class young women. The feminized insecurity narratives of Hindu nationalist organizations include fear of sexual violation by the Other, which “shapes the experiential world (public and private) . . . particularly of upper-caste Hindu women, in a literal way from a very young age.”72 The emphasis on employed or college-going women as targets of these Romeos is particularly conservative, an effort to keep these “girls” close to home and supervised. Usually at odds, the VHP and some Christian organizations agreed to cooperate to protect their girls. K. S. Samson of the Christian Association

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for Social Action in Kochi, Kerala, stated, “Both Hindu and Christian girls are falling prey to the design. So we are cooperating with the VHP on tackling this.”73 They each took measures for their own communities. The VHP set up a “Hindu helpline” and claimed to have received fifteen hundred calls. According to “Vineesh, who manages the helpline,” “Many of these callers wanted to congratulate us for our efforts and some were threats.”74 The Kerala Catholic Bishops Council issued “guidelines for Christian parents warning them to be more careful about their wards,” and the secretary of the council’s Commission for Social Harmony and Vigilance confirmed for the press that the love jihad is “shocking but it is happening. Many Christian families are getting affected.”75 One minority turning on another was a troubling turn of events, illustrating the power of the masculine siege mentality. The masterplot transcended a Hindu audience via shared patriarchal hysteria about protecting “our” girls from Muslims, provoking male public surveillance. Internet sites have been even more inflammatory than the mainstream media or politicians. I could find a reference to only one other case filed in connection with the so-called love jihad in October 2009.76 Yet one internet site stated that four thousand girls had been abducted and converted; that site embellished the themes broached by politicians above, bumping up the number of victims, adding details about the victimhood of the women, emphasizing the special vulnerability of women in college or employed outside the home, playing on the threat to Hindu numbers by alleging orders to breed more Muslims, and declaring that there was foreign funding, now from even farther away: Trapping Non Muslim girls (read as Hindu girls) in the web of love in order to convert to Islam is the modus operandi of the said organization. Already more than 4000 girls have been converted to Islam by this Jihadi Romeos. . . . As per the instructions to recruits of this organization, they have to love a Hindu girl within the time frame of 2 weeks and brainwash them to get converted and marry within 6 months. Special instructions to breed at least 4 kids have also been given. If the target won’t get trapped within the first 2 weeks, they are instructed to leave them and move on to another girl. College students and working girls should be the prime target. Once completed their mission the organization will give 1 lakh [100,000] Rupees and Financial help for the youth to start business.

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Free Mobile Phone, Bikes and Fashionable dresses are offered to them as tools for the mission. Money for this Love Jihad comes from the Middle East. Each district have [sic] their own zone chairman’s to oversee the mission. Prior to College admission they make a list of Hindu girls and their details and target those whom they feel vulnerable and easy to be brainwashed.77 That narrative appeared on a website for Hindu Keralites, described as “global community of dedicated Hindu Keralites with a peace mission.”78 Comments following that posting added even more hyperbole and hysteria to the masterplot, which spread to national and international websites by early October 2009. Asia News, an international Catholic news compilation site, and Jihad Watch, based in America, are both organizations that claim to support religious freedom. Without fact checking, they also picked up the story, drawing on the speculations of Justice Sankaran in his decision and the myth he helped to spread of the four thousand girls forcibly converted to Islam.79 Full consideration of the international spread of the love jihad idea is beyond the scope of this chapter but merits further study. In her study of American Islamophobia, Deepa Kumar documents a parallel shift during this same year, 2009, to emphasize “homegrown terrorists” and jihad in our midst, as well as the rise of Islamophobic networks and activists, including the author of jihadwatch.com.80 In the US and UK, “love jihad” Google searches became numerous enough to be measured on Google Trends (Figure 9). The 0–100 scale on the y axis shows “total searches for a term relative to the total number of searches done on Google over time.” Google Trends sets the point of highest relative interest at 100.81 Meanwhile in India, the rumor spread north to Delhi. The Jawaharlal Nehru University (JNU) branch of the Akhil Bharatiya Vidyarthi Parishad (ABVP), a Hindu nationalist student organization, drew on the internet hysteria and the Malayalam dailies Kerala Kaumudi and Malayala Manorama to compose and circulate a memo entitled “Love Jihad—To Trap Hindu Girls . . . !!!”82 The memo referred to the “naı¨ve Hindu girls” as both “prey” and “Love Bombs” of a “Pakistan-based terrorist organization” and criticized the Kerala police for saying the women “had actually eloped out of their free will” in order to ignore the “racket.” The ABVP argued that the “Jihadis” were “exploiting the weaknesses of women, i.e., new and

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Figure 9. “Love Jihad” Searches on Google Trends: USA and UK Comparison. Image prepared by Murat Yilmaz using Google Trends data.

trendy dresses, cinema, ice cream, sightseeing trips, etc. . . . under the guidance of trained experts in this field and extensive preparation.” One jihadi, they reported, provided female students “photocopies required for their project work, and asked the girls to convert in exchange for it.” The ABVP memo said JNU was a target of these operations and warned “all the Hindu, Sikhs [sic] and Christian girls not to get trapped in the ‘LOVE’ of Muslims as there is a high possibility of them being converted.” This message pitted religious minorities against each other and denigrated the autonomy of female college students by suggesting they would convert for ice cream or photocopies. By playing on social anxieties about mass conversions and about women working and attending college, reinforcing ideas of women as reproducers of the community, and ignoring any possibility of women’s free will in relationships across religious lines, these politicians, journalists, activists, and bloggers reinforced damaging ideas of women as brainwashed victims breeding the next generation of terrorists. Calmer voices quelled some of the hysteria. After the October 2009 burst of interest, according to Google Trends, the relative number of searches for love jihad declined for a time. Yet the term still popped up. An article published in January 2013 quoted the leader of the Rashtra Sevika Sangh, the women’s wing of the Hindu right, saying Muslims were being encouraged to elope with Hindu

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girls with monetary rewards that varied depending on the caste of the girl: “The remuneration for Rajput girls is Rs one lakh and for Brahmin girls is Rs two lakhs.”83 A dispute that initially left three young men dead on the outskirts of Muzzaffarnagar, Uttar Pradesh, in August 2013 spiraled into wider violence by the end of September 2013. Politicians warning of love jihad helped to inflame the communities, leaving at least sixty-two people dead and over fifty thousand people, mostly Muslims, displaced, many remaining in refugee camps for years afterward.84 Love jihad hysteria swept across religious, state, and even national boundaries. In February 2014 an image purportedly produced by love jihadis, promising cash payments for seducing various communities’ girls—7 lakh (700,000) rupees for a Sikh girl, 5 lakh for a Brahmin girl, 4 lakh for a Catholic, and 3 lakh for a Protestant—went viral in Gujarat. A similar message—ranging from 6 lakh rupees for a Gujarati Brahmin to 1.5 lakh for a Buddhist—circulated via WhatsApp in Uttar Pradesh in 2014.85 In addition to drawing various religious minorities into the frenzy, these messages were easy to spread across national borders because WhatsApp is a popular way to text internationally for free. In early 2014 the United Kingdom–based Sikh Council alerted the Sikhs of Amritsar, Punjab, that “charming” Pakistanis were trying to marry and convert Sikh girls in the UK, citing (as support for the idea of a long-standing jihadi campaign) the report of the Kerala Catholic Bishops Council from years before.86 Previously a UK-based Sikh organization had piggybacked on former UK home secretary Jack Straw’s controversial statement in that men of Pakistani origin see “white girls” as “easy meat”; rather than criticizing this remark, the leader of the National Sikh Organization in the UK complained that Sikh girls were not mentioned as victims too.87 A few months after the BJP swept the general elections in the spring of 2014, love jihad was the cover story on the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh– affiliated English and Hindi magazines.88 The BJP’s electoral victory at the national level seemed to further embolden politicians and activists. Politicians had referred to love jihad in campaigns in Gujarat and Maharashtra, and BJP member of Parliament Yogi Adityanath publicized love jihad even further in the Uttar Pradesh by-elections over the summer and early fall of 2014. The Election Commission chastised Adityanath, but this did not prevent love jihad and lovejihadexposed from becoming trending topics on Twitter.89 By September 2014, a Durga Vahini (Hindu women’s organization) activist, Chetna Sharma, was warning against love jihad in a

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Figure 10. Activists of newly formed Hindu right-wing organization India Against Love Jihad hold placards and form a human chain during a demonstration in Bhopal, India, September 12, 2014. Photograph from EPA/SANJEEV GUPTA (European Pressphoto Agency).

program for Hindu women in Aurangabad, Maharashtra, while other activists traveled village to village in Uttar Pradesh to spread the word, and the BJP’s party president in Uttar Pradesh stated that Muslims “can’t do what they want by force in India, so they are using the love jihad method here.”90 In September 2014, the relative searches for “love jihad” on Google spiked to their highest level (see Figure 8). By October, non-Muslim women dressed in fake hijabs and marched against love jihad.91 Trying to quell the hysteria, the Bollywood actor Saif Ali Khan wrote an editorial published in the Times of India on October 16, 2014: “I don’t know what ‘love jihad’ is. It is a complication created in India. I know intermarriages because I am a child of one and my children are born out of it. Intermarriage is not jihad. Intermarriage is India.”92 But his counternarrative did not prevent (perhaps it even inspired) a branch of the young women’s wing of the Hindu Right to use a doctored photo of his wife, the Bollywood actor Kareena Kapoor Khan, on the cover of their magazine a few months later, implying that she was a victim of the love jihad. This image publicized the rumor within yet another state, Himachal Pradesh, and later appeared in the national newspaper Indian Express.

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Nested Narratives, 2015: Himalaya Dhwani Magazine Image of Kareena Kapoor on Indianexpress.com In 2015, a modified publicity photo of Kareena Kapoor Khan (an actor of Catholic and Hindu parentage married to an actor of Muslim and Hindu parentage) adorned the cover of Himalaya Dhwani, a Hindu nationalist, Hindi-language magazine for young women in the state of Himachal Pradesh.93 Even though this couple transcends religious categories, the image’s use—for a cover story on love jihad—reiterated an old pattern of controlling the “sexual identity of the Hindu women so as to divide all other groups from one another.”94 In the image, Kareena Kapoor Khan’s face is divided in half. On the left, she has her usual glamorous makeup and jewelry but, in addition, are two things she does not wear typically (digitally added for the magazine cover image): a half revealed large red bindi on her forehead and red sindoor powder in the parting of her hair, both markers of a married Hindu woman. On the right, a black niqab (a veil worn by some Muslim women) covers all but her eye, the symmetrical division evoking dual religious allegiances.95 From left to right, symbols of a Hindu wife and a Muslim wife create a composite symbol of a change—a Hindu woman becoming Muslim, a conversion. She looks directly at us, smiling slightly, happy as a Hindu wife; her smile disappears as a Muslim wife. The flames in the background suggest potential violence or passion that caused this conversion. The fire could be a warning, a prediction, or a call to violence. While sinister, the flames also seem silly and melodramatic, like a hokey special effect. The glamorous Kareena Kapoor Khan (always filmed and photographed in gorgeous clothing, lighting, and settings) with a slapdash, digitally created burka and cheap flame background is a visual oxymoron echoed by the verbal oxymoron written below it in large, color-coded text. Under the Hindu side of Kareena’s face, the English word “love,” transliterated into Hindi’s Devanagri script, appears in orange. (Saffron is a symbol of Hindus and Hindu nationalist organizations). Under the Muslim side of her face, the Arabic word “jihad” is transliterated into Devanagri in green (the color associated with Muslims in India due to films, political campaigns, mosque color schemes, the Pakistani flag, etc.). “Love jihad” is not translated, even though Hindi has its own words for love, struggle, and war. Another common use of the English word “love” by Hindi speakers is “love marriage,” which means choosing your own spouse, running off with

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someone not chosen or approved by your parents. In other words, it is not a traditional or entirely positive word for the concept of love. Jihad in Arabic, literally meaning “struggle,” is widely misunderstood but evokes Muslim terrorism and elicits Islamophobic responses. Each word—“love” and “jihad”—is designed to raise hackles, not by appealing to logos (happily married and burka-free Kareena Kapoor Khan is clearly not a victim of a sinister plot to seduce and convert Hindu girls) but to pathos (Is love marriage corrupting our culture and family structure? Are jihadi Muslims not just bombing Mumbai but also marrying the most beautiful women in India?)96 In case anyone was unsure that this is xenophobic Hindu nationalist propaganda, the creators of the magazine cover spelled it out for us in Hindi: dharmantaran se rashtraantaran (from religious conversion, national conversion). This conversion narrative divides Muslims, especially Muslim converts, from the nation, via the social myth of love jihad. “There are two intersecting areas of investigation that call for special attention within discourse theory. They are the formation and dissolution of political identities, and the analysis of hegemonic practices which endeavor to produce social myths and collective imaginaries.”97 The Hindi phrase states that changing religion means changing national allegiance, shifting loyalties to regional rival Pakistan. This hegemonic discourse simultaneously attempts to “dissolve” a more unified Hindu-Muslim Indian nationalism. The words “love jihad” just above are the “social myth and collective imaginary” conflating seduction/conversion/subversion. The embodied speech of Kareena’s image highlights the role of gender in this conversion narrative. The image reinforces a traditional assumption that Kareena, as a woman, automatically took on her husband’s identity and converted to Islam (she did not). She has agency; she chose to marry a Muslim and chose not to convert to Islam.98 As a woman, “gender roles . . . limit that agency to certain kinds of script: but such roles are not wholly predetermined and can also be subverted.”99 Kareena went off script. Challenging this subversion, the image invokes “metaphors of community . . . in gendered terms” to reinscribe a hegemonic set of boundaries for femininity, family, reproduction, religion, and nation.100 The image itself became a story in the English-language national newspaper Indian Express, in its entertainment section.101 Genre within genre, the political print-magazine cover appeared in the celebrity news. Although the Indian Express article included criticism of the image and its use, the

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online story further spread the image digitally, because readers could quickly tweet, like, or email the article via icons on the top of the page, giving the image an afterlife beyond the date of original publication and moving it to additional computers or smartphones. Together, the verbal and visual oxymorons were internally tense, catchy, tweetable, and hashtaggable—lovejihad—in short, easy to spread. Although the crude image of Kareena as a victim of love jihad more blatantly negates her agency, the Indian Express coverage did not give her a voice either (to be fair, she may have declined an interview). Her husband, Saif, got the last word in the story with a link to his earlier “exclusive column” for the Indian Express critiquing the idea of love jihad. In addition to his explicit counternarrative, the celebrity news items and images surrounding the article provided clickable counterpoints to the love jihad masterplot, such as a linked article on Kareena and Saif’s family vacation pictures tweeted from a beach in the Maldives. She was clearly not kidnapped, oppressed, or wearing a burka.102 Thus, at the top of the article, you can tweet it, and at the bottom you can click on another article about tweets from the subjects of the first article. The genre is circular, visual, interactive, mobile—providing ways to spread a catchy image or idea further than ever before, but also, in this case, to counter it with alternative views or contradictory images. Further intertextual analysis reveals Kareena’s wider media presence, including her much publicized marriage to Khan and her romantic movies with other Muslim Bollywood leading men, some of whom have also married Hindu wives.103 When this image appeared, she was to appear in a movie, Bajrangi Bhaijaan, incorrectly rumored to be about a HinduMuslim romance.104 But the rumors of a love jihad movie, starring Salman Khan and directed by Kabir Khan, added to the controversy surrounding the image. The Himalaya Dhwani image’s creators seemed to be pushing back against perceived transgressions of boundaries between Hindu women (represented by iconic Kareena) and Muslim men, especially handsome Muslim men of Bollywood who keep getting the girl (in film and in “real” life). The image’s creators tapped into the desire or “pleasure gained from fantasizing about lost objects,” namely, Hindus’ desire for Kareena, “lost” to a Muslim man, and into the fear of Muslim masculinity and the reproduction of Muslim babies in Hindu wombs in a nation some want to define as Hindu.105

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Readings of the image would vary by audience. Because it ended up on IndianExpress.com, some audience responses to the image appear in the comments section. Several comments were on the theme of reality. Is love jihad real? Is that really Kareena? Are you a real Hindu? For example, one commenter wrote: Love Jihad Reality or fiction how do you know that she is kareena kapoor?? when you cannot see her full face in the image???? she might be digital image which looks like her........?????????106 Another person replied to a comment by a love jihad skeptic: “Wait till the Muslims sieze power and crush you like the disgusting and poisonous rat that you are.You are no Hindu.Your comment revals your Muslim DNA, perhaps a secret witheld from you [sic].”107 These were just a couple of the sixty-nine comments responding to the Indian Express article when I downloaded it in June of 2015, some questioning what is real, some denying others’ realities, each a unique response to the meaning of the image and article. The Muslim DNA narrative seems extreme but is typical of this genre, anonymous online commentary. The author removes agency from religion entirely, dubbing someone a Muslim due to a supposedly revealing comment and their biological makeup. Ironically this presumably Hindu commenter is forcibly declaring the subject of his wrath to be a Muslim—a forced conversion?

Significance: Reinforcing Islamophobic Patriarchy The masterplot of love jihad is not just literary imaginings but also a potent brew of Islamophobia and patriarchy that harms Muslims and women. Akin to some of the post-9/11 rhetoric in the United States, contemporary Hindu nationalists propagate “a mythical history of medieval Muslim tyranny and present-day existential threat, demanding mobilization and revenge.”108 Contemporary panic over conversions to Islam contributes to the sense of existential threat that can provoke violence. Periodic mass violence against Muslims in India is a recurring tragedy, and politically motivated evocations of historical and contemporary mass conversions to Islam

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via seduction or force—despite much scholarship debunking these efforts—contribute to the tenuous situation of contemporary Indian Muslims.109 Rumors involving threats to women can be particularly potent stimuli of intercommunity violence.110 Smaller-scale violence is another form of persecution. Haimanti Roy’s work on the partition of India and post-partition Bengal draws needed attention to violence that is “small scale, sporadic, and threatening psyche rather than the body,” although in many cases it also threatens bodies. Such “routine violence,” she notes, has been precipitated by “rumours aimed at maximizing minority insecurities; and through embellished representation of communal incidents in the public media, political speeches, and thinly veiled state propaganda. Together they created a continuous ecology of fear.”111 One example of the ecology of fear generated by love jihad hysteria was an attack in February 2015 against a Muslim computer science student after he appeared in a viral WhatsApp photo with his female Hindu college classmates in Mangalore, Karnataka. In a classroom and dressed in school uniforms, the victim was seated next to a row of women while another male classmate posed jauntily draped across their laps, an image of camaraderie that became sinister when plugged into the masterplot of Muslim seducers and college girls at risk. In the words of the assistant commissioner of police, Ravi Kumar, “After the photograph was circulated on social media sites, a vigilante group got other students from the college to identify the deviant youth and on learning that he was probably a Muslim, decided to attack him.”112 While the proliferation of love jihad narratives caused Muslims to experience the psychic and physical toll generated by this routine violence, the narratives caused some non-Muslims to experience a different form of fear—a siege mentality. Meera Sehgal’s insightful identification of “gendered siege mentalities” in her work on Hindu nationalism is apropos. Islamophobic propaganda frequently involves disingenuous calls to save Muslim women from Muslim men (a variant on colonizers claiming to be “saving brown women from brown men”).113 Less studied is the role of non-Muslim women or female converts to Islam, who also feature in Islamophobic conversion narratives. As Sehgal documented through participant observation in Samiti camps for young Hindu women, the Rashtra Sevika Samiti cultivates the master frame that the women are under threat from Muslim men and reinforces this through embodied practices, such as highly impractical self-defense classes utilizing daggers—classes that make the students feel even less secure.114 As

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mentioned above, the Samiti has incorporated the love jihad narrative into its curriculum, adding the religious threat of conversion via seduction to the violent threat previously emphasized. At one such camp in Aligarh, the city’s leader of the VHP commented that their training complemented Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s “beti bachao beti padhao” (save daughters, educate daughters) campaign, launched in January 2015. The Aligarh VHP leader’s version of saving and educating girls was that “we cannot allow the girls to sit with Muslim youths over coffee or go on movie outings. Such behavior will confuse the girls and they will be misled. We have to advise them about the perils of ‘love jihad.’ ”115 In addition to dagger practice, the class in Aligarh to save women from love jihad included air rifles. By advocating self-defense and a feminine form of power (shakti), Hindu women’s organizations could challenge hegemonic masculinist Hindu nationalism.116 But narratives about confused and misled girls undercut this challenge; moreover, how women will use air rifles to defend themselves from perilous coffee outings remains murky, contributing to a vague but existential threat from a male Other—a feminized siege mentality. Masculinized siege mentalities include the idea that Hindu men must equal the “physical strength and sexual virility” of Muslims and protect Hindu women’s honor.117 Embodied practices reinforce the masculine version of the siege mentality too. For instance, in one campaign against love jihad, women and girls tied rakhi bracelets not only on their brothers, typically done on the Hindu holiday of Raksha Bandhan, but also more widely on the men in their communities. This campaign called on men as “brothers” to protect their sisters from Muslims, reinforcing the notion of women as vulnerable and dividing men into Hindu protectors and Muslim predators.118 Through dagger and rifle training and tying rakhi, embodied practices reinforce the gendered siege mentalities of love jihad. This predominant conversion narrative is a backstory condoning persecution of minorities and surveillance and policing of women. In the name of girls’ empowerment and religious freedom, love jihad hysterics advocate religious, spatial, and marital immobility for women. Clamping down on mobility and communication in the name of religious freedom, activists and parents have restricted women’s access to public spaces (such as the coffee shops and movie theaters mentioned above), mobile phones, and two-wheelers due to the alleged threat of love jihad.119 Some purported victims are actually taken into custody, supposedly for

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their own protection. Like the 2009 Silja Raj case in Karnataka, in one 2015 case in a village in Meerut, Uttar Pradesh, the convert herself, who eloped with her Muslim lover, was taken into government custody. Her husband, Kaleem, was put in jail and charged with rape and forced conversion. Persecuting couples through bogus legal charges, threats, or protests outside their homes or wedding halls are all strategies of love jihad fire tenders. These fire tenders may be parents, as in this Meerut case, or activists, as in another recent case in Mandya, Karnataka, in which the couple had parental support.120 The parent-initiated case in Meerut spread in the Hindi press, and activists of the Hindu Right then took it up as love jihad. But the woman told the court “she was an adult” and now married to Kaleem. Further asserting her agency, she “told the police that she had gone with Kaleem out of her own will and filed a case against her parents.” The Allahabad High Court eventually released the couple to start their life together. Kaleem’s remarks to the press proclaim not only their rights but also their agency and sincerity: “We just fell in love. We are adults and we had the right and we still do have, to decide what to do with our lives.” Recognition of their agency and sincerity, he now knows all too well, was necessary to utilize their rights. Kaleem summarized the impact of the predominant narrative denying the agency of his wife and the sincerity of the couple: “Because of the propaganda and politics I had to go to jail. All because people wanted to thrust their own interpretation on us.”121 The narrative strategy of love jihad serves two functions: demonizing Muslim men and regulating women’s sexuality. The outcome is activists, neighbors, or even family members persecuting Muslims or converts to Islam, interreligious couples, or people accused of interreligious interactions. Harassing and attacking people branded as love jihadis coincided with the related trend of anti-Romeo squads. These voluntary male squads, encouraged by some local politicians, particularly in north India, purport to protect women from harassment on the streets and gained increased fervor from the love jihad rumors. Islamophobic patriarchy can be a powerful political force in some constituencies. In the north Indian state of Uttar Pradesh, Yogi Adityanath became chief minister in 2017 after amplifying the fake news of love jihad. He gained further fame by championing anti-Romeo squads roaming the streets to harass and attack Muslim men and young couples out in public, in the name of protecting women and girls.122

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The love jihad masterplot resonates beyond Hindutva activists to regulate women’s sexuality. In the fall of 2017, the Ladakh Buddhist Association reported a love jihad. Although a thirty-year-old convert to Islam from Buddhism wrote that she married her husband “of her own volition, as they had fallen in love while working in a Delhi-based NGO,” the Buddhist Association stressed “that her consent was obtained under duress.”123 The masterplot inspires violence by demonizing Muslim men. In late 2017, in a graphic video from the state of Rajasthan, “a man in a red shirt bludgeons a migrant from behind with an axe. The victim, identified as a labourer from West Bengal, is then doused with kerosene and set alight. . . . ‘If you spread love jihad in the country, this will be your fate,’ the man says, ‘Stop love jihad.’ ”124 This narrative puts minorities, women, and converts (especially intersectional combinations of these categories) at risk—in the name of protecting not only religious freedom but also women’s freedom.

Hadiya Jahan’s Counternarrative What happens when the love jihad narrative is taken to its (il)logical conclusion? In May 2017, the Kerala High Court forced Hadiya, an adult convert to Islam who married her Muslim husband against her father’s wishes, to return to her natal home and nullified her marriage. After she testified before the Supreme Court, the court allowed her to leave her parents’ home only to put her under the supervision of her college administrators. Her father, judges, and school administrators became custodians of her religious freedom. The Supreme Court also called on the National Investigation Agency (NIA), the central government’s counterterrorism law enforcement agency, to investigate love jihad. The Supreme Court eventually overturned the nullification of her marriage but instructed the NIA to keep working on the issue. When religious freedom becomes a pretext for judges, fathers, or male authorities to become custodians of women’s religious agency, it is time for a closer look at the politics and practices of religious freedom—and at the counternarrative of the convert herself. On May 24, 2017, the Kerala High Court annulled the marriage of Hadiya and Shafin Jahan, calling their marriage a sham and example of love jihad, and ordering Hadiya, age twenty-four, to live in the custody of her Hindu father, K. M. Asokan, who had brought the case. Hadiya had converted to Islam while in college and later married Shafin. Shafin Jahan

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challenged the High Court decision (Shafin Jahan v. K. M. Asokan), so in August 2017 the Indian Supreme Court had an opportunity overturn the Kerala High Court’s decision and accept Hadiya’s assertion that she converted to Islam and married her husband of her own free will. Instead, the Supreme Court ordered the NIA to probe into love jihad activities. But an October 2017 Supreme Court hearing, under a new chief justice, Dipak Misra, suggested that a twenty-four-year-old woman “cannot be controlled by her father.”125 In November 2017, a Supreme Court bench finally heard from Hadiya herself. Krishnadas Rajagopal’s detailed report about the hearing reveals that the justices were so unsure about the agency of this allegedly indoctrinated woman that they seemed reluctant to hear to her own testimony, even though they had requested her presence in the court: The judges appeared uncertain whether they should at all interact with Hadiya, who had travelled from Kerala and stood a few feet away from them. . . . During the first hour, the judges seemed to be wrestling with the issue whether they should first interact with Hadiya or peruse the material produced by the National Investigation Agency (NIA), allegedly showing that she was indoctrinated. . . . “What will come first? Should we first have dialogue with the adult [Hadiya] and then go on to judge whether there was any kind of indoctrination or involuntariness involved. Or is it vice versa?” the Chief Justice asked. . . . [Additional Solicitor General Maninder] Singh [representing the NIA] . . . rejected the idea of a court interacting with a “programmed” individual to glean consent. “Even in case of indoctrination, I am not sure that the law and courts can intervene against a person’s right to free choice . . .126 unless, the person is about to commit a crime,” Justice Chandrachud responded. . . . “You [the Bench]127 called her here to ask her about her consent as an adult. Why don’t you go straight ahead and ask her first what she wants?” Mr. [Kapil] Sibal [senior advocate] submitted. . . . Vexed, the court suggested an adjournment till Tuesday to reflect on the issue.

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However, advocate P. V. Dinesh, appearing for Kerala State Women’s Commission entered the fray. “This lady has been standing here for over an hour. She understands English. She is a doctor. She has been called several names by those here. It will be now unfair, if she is not given a chance to speak for herself,” Mr. Dinesh told the court. It was after this Hadiya was asked by the Chief Justice to come forward to have her say.128 When Hadiya did speak, she countered the conversion narrative that she was a programmed victim, whose freedom needed to be protected by her father or the court. She clarified that she was indeed a “human being” and wanted “freedom.” “You have any dream for the future?” Justice D. Y. Chandrachud asked Hadiya. “Freedom, release!” 25-year-old Hadiya replied. . . . Finally, when the emphasis came on whether she wanted to return to her studies, Hadiya replied in Malayalam that “Absolutely. But first I must be considered a human being.” She said she had been kept in “unlawful custody.”129 As they decided to let her leave her father’s home to complete her college internship in homeopathy, the justices made sure to appoint a male administrative guardian at her college. While perceiving no problem with this patriarchal chain of guardians, Justice Chandrachud actually lectured her for requesting that her husband be her guardian. When Chief Justice of India Dipak Misra asked her whether she wanted a local guardian in Salem during her 11-month internship, Hadiya chose Safin Jahan, who she had allegedly married after converting to Islam. “Please tell her a husband cannot be his wife’s guardian. A wife is no chattel. She is an individual with her own mind and talents . . . You [Hadiya] must have the ability to stand up on your own feet and live a life of dignity,” Justice Chandrachud admonished her gently.130 The justice exhorted her to stand on her own feet, after she had just stood before them for an hour while the court deliberated whether she was capable of testifying about her own consent. Chandrachud’s patronizing lecture

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on Hadiya’s women’s rights, delivered while making the decision that she needed a guardian but denying her preferred one, shows the sway of a predominant conversion narrative: that female converts are victims of Muslim men, and Hindu men are their protectors. In her counternarrative, Hadiya stated, “I want freedom . . . I want to complete my studies and live my life according to my faith and as a good citizen,” but the court allowed her to leave her parents’ home only to put her under the supervision of her college dean.131 At that point, in comments to the media, she “stated, clearly and firmly, her demand for ‘freedom’ and her desire to live with her husband, the person she ‘loves the most’. ‘I am demanding basic rights that every Indian citizen has. It has nothing to do with politics or caste. All I want is to talk to people I like.’ ”132 Yet male authorities (her father, dean, and judges) remained custodians of her religious and personal freedom. On January 23, 2018, the Supreme Court told the NIA to stop investigating Hadiya and Shafin’s marriage but to continue the broader investigation. Chief Justice Misra told the NIA, “You cannot investigate the marital aspect [of the case]. . . . You cannot investigate whether she married a good person or a bad person.”133 On March 8, 2018, the Supreme Court decided that “the High Court should not have annulled the marriage” and credited Hadiya’s testimony: “We say so because . . . we had directed the personal presence of Hadiya alias Akhila Asokan; she appeared before this Court on 27th November, 2017, and admitted her marriage with appellant No. 1.” The bench clarified that “investigations by the NIA in respect of any matter of criminality may continue,” but Hadiya is “at liberty to pursue her future endeavors.”134 As with prior couples discussed above, the love jihad scenario did not hold up in the face of Hadiya’s clear counternarrative. However, her path to being heard was tortuous, and the love jihad masterplot gained renewed notoriety through this high-profile case and its referral to the NIA.

Conclusion Love jihad is the contemporary incarnation of a long-standing masterplot about seductive Muslims inducing women to convert. Internet and social media transmissions of this narrative are faster than ever and often anonymous. The way masterplots warp our intake of information combined with

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the way we digest internet/social media content spells trouble for Muslim men and female converts, especially those in a relationship with each other. Masterplots are one way predominant narratives become hegemonic. Masterplots “exert an influence on the way we take in new information, causing us to overread or underread narratives in an often unconscious effort to bring them into conformity with a masterplot.”135 With the everincreasing flow of information, they may become more influential as a way to make sense of the torrent. Abbott wonders whether our identities are so tied up in masterplots that we cannot break free once one is activated: can we change our minds if countervailing evidence shows us a masterplot does not apply?136 This chapter documents the extent of the hysteria surrounding love jihad, as those fighting this purported menace deny sincere agency in the face of clear and publically available evidence. Judge Sankaran saw only “victim girls.” Magazine publishers and internet trolls suggested that even superstar Kareena Kapoor Khan was a victim. Activists protested outside homes and wedding halls despite clear assertions by couples and in some cases their families that a marriage was by no means love jihad. “It appears that when confronted with the phenomenon of conversion from Hinduism to Islam, especially by Hindu women, certain kind of Hindus lose their logical faculties.”137 How do we counter unfounded xenophobic rumors if they persist despite being repeatedly disproved? Before the “love jihad” phrase emerged, similar rumors circulated for centuries. If disproving them is not the answer because old rumors morph into new versions, and new versions can spread even more quickly electronically, what can be done? Counternarratives can help break or at least disrupt the distorting lenses of a powerful masterplot. The rise of Google searches for “love jihad” is alarming, but searches can pull up pages spreading this rumor or countering it. My Google alerts tended to have an arc—initial stories reporting accusations of love jihad, followed by coverage of subsequent events and debates, and, eventually, critics and officials saying love jihad is nonsense. Often the couple in question eloped, and as those stories emerged, “actual incidents of conversions due to romance and love together weave a narrative thread. . . . Identities are recast to disrupt the logic of communal boundaries.”138 For example, the Meerut couple discussed above, after being released from custody, eventually settled happily in their home together, a story covered by the national media. NDTV featured the wedding of the couple in Mandya accused of love jihad. Filmed outside their decorated wedding hall as guests arrived, and later posted on YouTube and getting

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close to two hundred thousand views, the story featured supportive families and guests, despite the protesters and threats, in a happily-ever-after story incompatible with love jihad.139 Saif Khan’s column reframing his marriage with Kareena by telling the stories of his family also dislodged the masterplot. Hadiya Jahan’s clear testimony before the Supreme Court and national newspapers refuted the NIA lawyer’s claim that she was “programmed” and incapable of giving consent to conversion or marriage. Besides debunking lies point by point, telling stories of couples that clearly belie the masterplot is an important way to fight such xenophobic rumors. Indeed the storytelling movement within critical legal studies and critical race theory advocates the potential of narrative as “countermajoritarian argument.”140 In the short term, some counternarratives challenging love jihad (including couples’ testimonies and police reports) contradicted the masterplot and its character types in courts of law. In the longer term, these and other counternarratives (including, as discussed here, anything from entertainment news and YouTube videos to editorials) together can revise the love jihad masterplot and other predominant conversion narratives, which together function as a master frame. According to the work of the social movement scholars David Snow and Robert Benford, “The emergence of competing frames can suggest the vulnerabilities and irrelevance of the anchoring master frame, thus challenging its resonance and rendering it increasingly impotent.”141 I will return to these possibilities in the conclusion to this book. How does the love jihad rumor relate to this book’s critique of the model convert as sincere agent? The problem with this model is assuming, first, that certain types of people are (or are not) sincere or agents and, second, that the individual sincere agent is the only “real” convert. The love jihad rumor exemplifies these problems. First, the rumor popularized the assumption that women are not agents capable of choosing for themselves to convert but are, rather, “victim girls,” “love bombs,” or even “meat.” The rumor perpetuated the assumption that Muslim men seduce women to induce them to convert. These material reasons, related to the body (sexual or physical force) rather than the mind, are not the idealized, interior, or spiritual reasons. Thus the “girls” are neither agents nor spiritually sincere, and the men, purportedly paid money to convert women, are not sincere either. Note the character types of this masterplot: the female convert is gullible and vulnerable (lacking agency) and carried away by passion or lust (insincere), and the Muslim man is a physical and sexual threat,

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motivated by money and other rewards (insincere). Second, the love jihad masterplot reinforced the predominant narrative of the sincere agent by demonizing those who convert due to marriage. Although marriage between members of different religious communities is a common reason for religious conversions, it is a reason that that is neither individual nor based on contemplating and choosing a different set of doctrines or beliefs in a private, eureka moment. Love jihad hysterics took such couples, who did not fit the idealized convert model, and plugged them into a long-standing masterplot. Hysteria over mythical mass conversions allows persecutors of interfaith couples to claim the banner of religious freedom. But the love jihad rumor is a case of religious freedom being used not to protect people’s rights but to persecute nondominant groups, especially religious minorities and female converts.

CONCLUSION

A More Equal Freedom

The defense of religious freedom is a focus of state, national, and international scrutiny and new legislation. At first glance, human rights advocates might simply applaud this increased attention to a core, internationally recognized human right. A closer look, however, reveals how religious freedom policies, laws, and narratives can undermine equality, promote discrimination, and actually deny religious freedom for all. Religious freedom is a system of governance, not the absence of it. The Indian intellectual and activist B. R. Ambedkar recognized that the governance of religious freedom and religious equality were integrally intertwined and worked to enact that insight as chief architect of the Indian Constitution and leader of the largest mass conversion in history. Years later, the American political philosopher Martha Nussbaum argued in her work on freedom of conscience, “But liberty is only fair if it is truly equal liberty.”1 I contend that the governance of religious liberty is not truly equal and, worse, increasingly entrenches inequalities. Mass conversion movements by marginalized communities in the 1930s, 1950s, and 2000s sparked the predominant conversion narratives that have shaped both the concept and practice of religious freedom in India. The prototype of a sincere, individual agent making a decision to convert emerged and solidified. Religious freedom narrowed as (1) sincerity and agency became prerequisites for the exercise of religious freedom, (2) sincerity became synonymous with apolitical spiritual belief, and (3) sincerity and agency became equated with privileged and powerful individuals. A more equal freedom would challenge predominant conversion narratives that privilege sincerity and agency because, in practice, restricting religious freedom to sincere agents has reproduced unequal power relations. To powerful people, less powerful converts appear to lack agency, and to privileged people, less privileged converts exhibiting any hint of mobility appear to lack spiritual sincerity.

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In addition to tracing and critiquing the predominant conversion narratives in India from the 1930s to the present, each chapter of this book has incorporated responses to these narratives, demonstrating the potential of counternarratives to challenge and reframe religious freedom in practice. These counternarratives included mass movement Christians’ nonstandard survey responses, Ambedkarite Buddhists’ oral histories, Mizo Jews’ practices and testimony, legal challenges to freedom of religion acts, arguments for recognition of Scheduled Caste Christians and Muslims, and rebuttals of the love jihad misinformation campaign. These voices reveal the challenges of religious freedom without equality. They demonstrate that marginalized groups not only exercise agency and sincerity in their conversions but also expand, even explode, these concepts. Agency is not just an individual attribute, and religious sincerity can occur in contexts of social, political, and spatial mobility. A more robust understanding of religious freedom would include religious equality. We should not assume marginalized groups lack agency or sincerity, because this presumption is too often a pretext for denying their religious freedom. As Saba Mahmood so eloquently showed through her work on “docile agents,” religious agency takes many forms and is often overlooked in analyses of Muslim women.2 Sincerity, too, is often disregarded, particularly in cases of mass conversion, as critics point to any political implications to cast doubt on converts. Challenging predominant conversion narratives of agency and sincerity involves several steps: first, recognizing the agency and sincerity of mass converts and other counternarrators, such as those discussed in this book; second, more broadly, challenging predominant assumptions about agency and sincerity that blind us to the agency of mass converts and the sincerity of political converts; and, third, expanding beyond agency and sincerity as the (currently crucial) indicators of converts’ legitimacy and eligibility for freedom. This means, for now, fitting outliers into the currently predominant framework; in the longer term, questioning that framework; and, ultimately, promoting a wider range of frameworks and understandings of conversion and religious freedom.

Implications for Religious Freedom in Other Contexts The range of countries that legally limit conversions to protect a variety of religious majorities shows that the conversion controversies inspiring this

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book extend beyond India. Indeed, several newer laws to limit conversion in the South Asian region mimic Indian “religious freedom” laws. More broadly, the use of religious freedom to perpetuate inequalities extends to my own country, the United States. One contemporary political initiative promotes “freedom of religion” through a proposed First Amendment Defense Act (FADA). This is not a “rights” victory. FADA would selectively carve out exceptions and exemptions from antidiscrimination legislation, abetting discrimination against same sex couples and LGBTQ people, reducing their freedoms. My critique does not pit liberty versus equality or call to reduce freedoms in order to achieve equality in a zero-sum sense. Rather I argue that freedom is already being reduced for many groups and that we should replace the selective, majoritarian religious freedom so prevalent in the world today with a more equal freedom. Freedom and liberty have a special resonance in the United States, but let us not forget the words of John Adams, in his letter to Patrick Henry the day before the signing of the Declaration of Independence: “A more equal liberty than has prevailed in other parts of the earth, must be established in America.”3 What is the United States doing to achieve a more equal religious liberty today? Unfortunately, as in India, states in the United States have been passing “religious freedom” laws that promote discrimination. The United States’ federal Religious Freedom Restoration Act, passed in 1993 and inspired by a Supreme Court decision against Native American plaintiffs, was initially seen as a bipartisan win for minority religious rights advocates. Twenty-one states adopted similar legislation, most recently in Indiana and Arkansas.4 But these laws resulted in so much systematic discrimination against women, LGBTQ people, and others, that the American Civil Liberties Union withdrew its support for this law in 2015 and called for amendments “so that it cannot be used as a defense against discrimination.”5 Indiana’s amendment did provide certain nondiscrimination protections on the basis of sexual orientation or transgender identity, but it failed to state that its Religious Freedom Protection Act “cannot be used to undermine any nondiscrimination protections.”6 President Trump pledged to support the FADA, introduced in the House of Representatives on June 17, 2015, and the Senate on March 8, 2018.7 The United States Constitution’s First Amendment, which includes freedom of religion—“Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion or prohibiting the free exercise thereof”—and freedom of

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speech, is broad. The FADA is narrow. It defends people with a particular religious conviction and their right to discriminate against certain others. FADA “prohibits the federal government from taking discriminatory action against a person on the basis that such person believes or acts in accordance with a religious belief or moral conviction that: (1) marriage is or should be recognized as the union of one man and one woman, or (2) sexual relations are properly reserved to such a marriage.”8 In other words, it allows people to discriminate against LGBTQ people by framing this form of discrimination as religious freedom. It frames government action against anti-LGBTQ discrimination as discrimination against religious or moral people. The “discrimination” from which it is protecting certain discriminators includes the risk of losing their tax-exempt status as religious organizations. This national FADA bill builds on state-level freedom-of-religion initiatives. Kansas, for instance, passed the Campus Religious Freedom Act (SB 175) in 2016, allowing student groups to discriminate against those who do not “adhere to the association’s sincerely held religious beliefs.”9 This act undermined the nondiscrimination policies of the Kansas Board of Regents and educational institutions in the state that prohibited recognized and funded student organizations from discriminating on the basis of race, sex, religion, sexual orientation, or gender identity. It allows students to discriminate and continue to get funding from the taxpayers and other students who are victims of their discrimination, as long as their association is discriminating “sincerely.” In the United States, the sincere, individual believer now encompasses associations and even corporations. Like the Kansas legislature’s notion of religiously “sincere” student associations, the US Supreme Court in 2014 recognized the “religious freedom” of Hobby Lobby and two other forprofit corporations. Based on the “sincere Christian beliefs” of the owners, the Supreme Court majority allowed the corporations to deny women health coverage for certain forms of contraception, despite the Health and Human Services Department’s argument that it is “difficult as a practical matter to ascertain the sincere ‘beliefs’ of a corporation.”10 India has shown us the slippery slope of religious sincerity tests. The sincerity question seldom arises for dominant groups, while the sincerity of less powerful groups is constantly questioned and difficult to “prove.” Protecting conversion as solely an individual right shatters the reality of social and collective conversions. Moreover, the individual model of the

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sincere believer has been stretched to encompass collectives if a group has some clout, even in the supposedly individualistic United States. The seemingly effortless expansion of the model of the sincere “individual” to some groups (religious-majority student organizations and for-profit corporations in the United States) is in stark contrast to the way the model of individual sincerity is used to deny rights to less powerful groups (minority mass converts in India, or people who sincerely believe in marriage between two women). The invisibility of sincerity is a double-edged sword. It is an easy way to undercut the religious freedoms of minorities and marginalized groups, who are painted as insincere and thus ineligible for freedom, and is a carte blanche for more dominant groups, who can now, in the United States, assert religious sincerity to legally discriminate or to avoid providing crucial medical coverage to women. This book demonstrates that in India, too, members of majority religions are more likely to be seen and treated as sincere and as agents. This majoritarian dynamic in the implementation of religious freedom transcends particular religions. In addition to Christian-majority America and Hindu-majority India, the discriminatory religious freedom act in the India state of Tamil Nadu served as a model in Buddhist-majority Sri Lanka, where Jathika Hela Urumaya, a Buddhist political party, proposed the Prohibition of Forcible Conversion Bill in 2004.11 Although that proposal failed, legal prohibitions of induced conversions spread in South Asia. Hindu-majority Bhutan’s 2008 constitution prohibits conversion by “coercion or inducement” (as in India, potentially glossing over the agency of converts).12 Buddhist-majority Myanmar’s 2014 conversion law outlawed “undue influence or pressure” on converts and mandated that they inform local authorities (who, while supposedly protecting them from pressure, might, as in India, put pressure on converts).13 In Hindu-majority Nepal’s 2015 constitution, one cannot “convert a person of one religion to another religion” (reifying a transitive notion of conversion).14 All of these legal developments make it easier to question, and ultimately undermine, the agency of converts. These articulations of religious freedom underscore that, when it comes to conversion, Hindus are not necessarily more tolerant, Christians are not necessarily more merciful, Muslims are not necessarily more just, and Buddhists are not necessarily more loving. Regardless of which religion holds the majority, majoritarian religious freedom laws dissuade converts, defend majority groups’ numerical dominance, and intimidate religious minorities.

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When they are becoming pervasive, one cannot argue that discriminatory religious freedom laws or arguments are exceptions, that it is the distinctive nature or tenets of a particular religion that necessitate a discriminatory law, just for a narrow purpose, in order to preserve religious freedom.15 That slippery slope should be shut down. While I do not engage in an exhaustive comparison of religious freedoms worldwide, this book has built on the contributions of international scholars calling for more research on the governance of religious freedom in particular times and places.16 In particular, Greg Johnson’s “Reflections on the Politics of Religious Freedom” made me consider who is eligible for freedom. Like Johnson, in the context of his research on Native Hawaiian religious disputes, I cannot advocate jettisoning religious freedom altogether just when nondominant groups are in some instances finally gaining some traction by using this concept. At the same time, these groups must make their claims “in terms analogous to dominant religious tropes” to be legally legible.17 Predominant conversion narratives exemplify this dynamic in India. Power plus the right narrative secures freedom for some. In Johnson’s words, “The characters on the world’s religious stage are now outsized versions of themselves—puffed up on steroids, battle ready, putting on a hell of a show, and eligible for freedom.”18 Who is eligible for religious freedom? This question opened research pathways for me in the Indian context and remains salient for research worldwide. My work, in turn, points to paths and approaches for future comparative researchers on conversion freedoms, namely: decentering predominant narratives by examining the range of converts’ experiences; documenting unequal applications of the freedom to convert; scrutinizing efforts to prosecute, prevent, or persecute converts under the guise of religious freedom; and comparing which converts are considered eligible for religious freedom and which are subjected to patriarchal or punitive practices impeding their freedoms. When leaders of a majority religion try to characterize systemic discrimination as a collection of individuals’ “free” choices to follow a religious doctrine that is also a xenophobic, sexist, majoritarian doctrine, we need to take a closer look at religious freedom. Rather than valorizing freedom above all and then systematically making people ineligible for freedom on the basis of who they are, we must balance freedom, equality, and fraternity, as Ambedkar advocated, to create a better basis for democracy. Equal freedom in the pursuit of fraternity was his goal. But it is not simple. It necessitates rewriting

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or overturning existing religious freedom legislation to prevent its use as a euphemism and cover for discrimination legislation. It necessitates ongoing, careful, and comprehensive empirical analyses of the impact of religious freedom in practice on all persons and groups in a society. Who is affected by the implementation of religious freedom in practice, and in what ways? Who benefits and who loses? Who is subject to surveillance, who is charged, who is ignored, who is sidelined, who is penalized, who is vilified, and who is attacked? This book shows, for example, that members of minority religions are scrutinized and charged under anticonversion laws. Lower-caste, female, poor, or group converts’ voices are often disregarded in the subsequent proceedings. Scheduled Caste Christians and Muslims are sidelined in current reservation policies and ignored in their efforts to rectify the situation using religious freedom arguments. Muslim men, and Hindu women who convert or marry them, are vilified and attacked through Islamophobic campaigns to “protect” women’s religious freedom. In the Uttar Pradesh state elections of 2017, Yogi Adityanath, one of the chief proponents of the fake news of a love jihad, became chief minister of India’s most populous state, unleashing anti-Romeo squads and attacks on Muslim men and interfaith couples.19 Predominant conversion narratives support this sliding scale of religious freedom for different populations. Counternarratives, however, can challenge their premises.

Countering the Predominant Narratives of Religious Freedom The predominant narratives about religious freedom today deify agency (in an individualistic sense) and sincerity (equated with spiritual, interior belief) and not only fail to protect but even demonize religious Others outside of this mold. This limited basis for religious freedom, a potentially emancipatory concept, creates our current predicament. Through case studies of mass conversions, the focus of the first half of this book, I traced the development of this limited underpinning for religious freedom and some compelling alternatives, such as the non-standardizable responses to J. Waskom Pickett’s Christian Mass Movements survey, the Ambedkarites’ socially engaged Buddhism, and the Mizo Jews’ aliyah. These counternarratives challenge the notion of sincerity as a pure spirituality separate from any material or political factors. They undermine the

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assumption that agency is an attribute of individuals in positions of dominance. In their own narratives, mass converts, often from disadvantaged communities, experienced spiritual, social, political, and spatial mobility. These varied forms of mobility were also spiritual, and their conversions were a collective form of agency. Tensions between agency and sincerity as litmus tests for genuine conversion create a conundrum for mass converts. Talal Asad, in his brilliant “Comments on Conversion,” points out that “what is not always made clear in narratives of conversion employing the concept of agency is what theoretical work that concept is doing.”20 Agency in conversion narratives is rooted in “the old Protestant doctrine of individual responsibility,” on the one hand, and “the spirit of capitalism” with its “mutually dependent figures of the entrepreneur and consumer.”21 The shadow story of India’s anticonversion laws feature these characters, with the priest as entrepreneur, and the convert as consumer. The narrative of converts as individual consumers of religion makes mass converts suspect, and “backward” converts particularly so. The predominant (but, as this book has repeatedly shown, inaccurate) narrative of converts as individual consumers of religion also brings to light a fundamental tension between agency and sincerity. Asad articulates this tension: “Conversion is regarded by moderns as an ‘irrational’ event or process, but resort to the idea of agency renders it ‘rational’ and ‘freely chosen.’ ”22 To be eligible for religious freedom, a modern convert must possess both agency and sincerity, yet religious agency necessitates rational choice, and religious sincerity necessitates an irrational leap of faith. How can a convert demonstrate both? This catch-22 is how dominant groups make many converts ineligible for religious freedom. Yet such attempts to immobilize converts, the focus of the second half of this book, also provoke counternarratives. They include affidavits and testimony of converts to prove they were neither induced nor seduced, activists pushing for the removal of the religious restrictions on Scheduled Caste status, and happily married couples dispelling rumors of a love jihad. All of these counternarratives illustrate the potential for a more equal religious freedom and debunk assumptions that any convert is completely autonomous. Women, lower castes, and poor people (and especially women who are lower caste and poor) are likely to be more aware of the constraints they face in everyday life because they face more of them. The idealized notion of an autonomous individual, freely exercising his agency,

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emerged out of a largely masculine political philosophical tradition.23 This ideal should not be the prerequisite for exercising the religious freedom to convert. Rather, following Gauri Viswanathan, my focus on the governance of religious freedom treats “conversion narratives as products of tension between civil society, religion, and political authority” in order to counter the “fictionalization of religious experience as self-engendered and separable from the authority of law and other institutions.”24 Heiner Bielefeldt, the UN special rapporteur on freedom of religion, noted in his 2016 report that “governments actually refer to broad and unspecified ‘security’, ‘order’ or ‘morality’ interests in order to curb religious criticism, discriminate against minorities, tighten control over independent religious community life or otherwise restrict freedom of religion or belief, often in excessive ways.”25 His critique applies in India, where public order and morality are listed in the religious freedom clause of the constitution as legitimate reasons to curb religious freedom. This book goes a step further than Bielefeldt’s critique to show that governments (including politicians, legislators, judges, and bureaucrats) are also increasingly referring to religious freedom itself to deny religious freedom. Using a right to fight that same right is a disturbing trend in the word today—fighting equal rights for women to “protect” women, challenging affirmative action by using antidiscrimination laws, and undermining religious minorities with religious freedom statutes. Thus, counternarratives to imagine a more equal religious freedom are crucial. The Declaration on the Elimination of All Forms of Intolerance and Discrimination Based on Religion or Belief of 1981 articulates a more equal freedom in terms of “the recognition, enjoyment or exercise of human rights and fundamental freedoms on an equal basis.”26 In addition to international law, India can draw on its own political thought, namely the corpus of writings and speeches by Ambedkar, who denounced attempts to preserve brahminical patriarchy in the name of religious freedom. Non-elite voices are also needed to counter the tendency to perceive members of powerful groups as agential beings and members of less powerful groups as coerced and exploited victims.27 Aloysius Irudayam, Jayshree P. Mangubhai, and Joel Lee establish the importance of “assertions” or “words as weapons” for human rights in their work on Dalit women’s counternarratives: “It is through the ‘assertive word’ that they express their self-identity as Dalit women and reclaim their dignity as human beings.”28 Beyond empowering themselves as narrators of their

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own experiences, counternarratives by marginalized communities are essential to reshape social norms. Both elite and everyday counternarratives about a more equal religious freedom are important because, as Zachary Elkins, Tom Ginsburg, and Beth Simmons argue, “domestic mobilization is crucial for the efficacy of international norms.” They show that freedom of religion is in 88.9 percent of national constitutions in the post–Universal Declaration of Human Rights era, yet “getting to rights, it seems, may require taking multiple paths.”29 Building social support for the religious freedoms of others is one such path. A 2006 Pew Survey of ten countries showed that “respondents are highly concerned about religious freedoms, if the freedoms are their own. . . . In nine out of ten countries, large majorities consider it ‘very important’ to live in a country that protects ‘my’ religious freedom. . . . The gap between supporting ‘my’ religious freedoms and the freedoms of ‘others’ ranged from a high of 30 points in India to a low of 3 points in Chile, with the United States falling at 6.”30 Social support for religious freedom for others matters because “the state’s ability to deny freedoms often relies on cultural and social supports of the society as a whole.”31 Societal support for denying religious freedoms of others includes such examples as Bajrang Dal members bringing complaints about “forced” conversions to district magistrates (Chapter 4), widespread political opposition to expanding affirmative action to Dalit Christians or Muslims (Chapter 5), and social media networks spreading the love jihad rumor (Chapter 6). Counternarratives are essential to build support for the religious freedom of people outside one’s own community. In addition, converts provide more nuanced ideas about religious freedom, particularly the connections between religion and politics and between freedom and equality. Converts, especially the Ambedkarite Buddhists and Mizo Jews, break down false dichotomies between religion and politics, demonstrating their linkage in lived experience. The notion that any political implications or overtones nullify the sincerity of conversion is nonsensical. Opening our eyes to the fusion of religion and politics may shock those accustomed to the separation of church and state as a bulwark of religious freedom. Ambedkar advocated this separation in the sense that there should be no official state religion but recognized that in people’s lives, religious and political ideas and actions are entangled. This entanglement should not be a legal basis for making converts ineligible for religious freedom.

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Other counternarratives show that freedom and equality are two sides of the same coin. This theme resonates with advocates for Christian and Muslim Dalits, judges critical of aspects of India’s freedom of religion laws, and couples accused of love jihad. The contemporary push for religious liberty around the world must include attention to whether religious freedom is, in practice, equally available to minority religious communities and less powerful members of societies. Just asserting in laws or constitutions that they have this freedom is not enough. Broader social and political equality undergirds access to freedoms, including religious freedoms. For instance, love jihad rumors are a product of vile shadow stories plus patriarchy, which Hadiya refuted and defied in her statements to the court and the press when demanding her freedom. As Navaid Hamid, the activist for Dalit Muslims, pointed out, the disenfranchisement of Muslims contributed to the passage of problematic religious freedom laws at the state level. As converts in the states with these laws discovered, their religious decisions and other personal information had to be recorded in advance via invasive bureaucratic rules, supposedly to protect their freedom. Judges in Himachal Pradesh found that one aspect of these freedom laws (not having to report if converting to one’s “original” religion) was discriminatory; that part of their decision was a step toward a more equal freedom. At the very least, religious freedom should not be used to undermine the equality demands of minority or less powerful groups. When dominant groups perpetuate narratives, they predominate for a time but not forever or completely. In his essay “Living On—Border Lives,” Jacques Derrida writes, “There is no meaning outside of context, but no context permits saturation.”32 Predominant narratives are powerful, but they do not saturate us. And those living “border lives”—interfaith couples, Ambedkarite Buddhists, Dalit Christians, Dalit Muslims, Mizo Jews, and others who make leaps of faith—create new meanings despite their challenging contexts. It is my hope that this book has increased awareness of the more equal freedom they epitomize through their words and lives.

NOTES

Introduction 1. Central Government Act, Article 25 in the Constitution of India 1949, accessed February 3, 2016, http://indiankanoon.org/doc/631708. United Nations, “Universal Declaration of Human Rights,” accessed February 3, 2016, http://www.un.org/en/universal-declaration -human-rights/. 2. Talal Asad, “Comments on Conversion,” in Conversion to Modernities, ed. Peter Van der Veer, 263–273 (New York: Routledge, 1996). 3. Paul M. Taylor, “Religion and Freedom of Choice,” in Religion and Human Rights, ed. John Witte Jr. and M. Christian Green, 170–187 (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2012), 175–180. 4. Zachary Elkins, Tom Ginsburg, and Beth Simmons, “Getting to Rights: Treaty Ratification, Constitutional Convergence, and Human Rights Practice,” Harvard International Law Journal 54, no. 1 (Winter 2013): 72. 5. Brian J. Grim and Roger Finke, Price of Freedom Denied: Religious Persecution and Conflict in the 21st Century (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2010), 25. Although religious freedom is the “ ‘grandparent’ of many other human rights,” it suffers from “broad non-compliance,” according to W. Cole Durham Jr., Matthew K. Richards, and Donlu D. Thayer, “The Status and Threats to International Law on Freedom of Religion or Belief,” in The Future of Religious Freedom, ed. Allen D. Hertzke, 31–66 (New York: Oxford University Press, 2013), 31–32. 6. Elizabeth Shakman Hurd, Beyond Religious Freedom: The New Global Politics of Religion (Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press, 2015), 15. See also Saba Mahmood and Peter G. Danchin, “Politics of Religious Freedom: Contested Genealogies,” South Atlantic Quarterly 113, no. 1 (Winter 2014): 1–8, 5. 7. H. Porter Abbott, The Cambridge Introduction to Narrative. 2nd ed. (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2008), xiii. 8. Peregrine Schwartz-Shea and Dvora Yanow, Interpretive Research Design: Concepts and Processes (New York: Routledge, 2012), 70. 9. D. Bruce Hindmarsh, The Evangelical Conversion Narrative: Spiritual Autobiography in Early Modern England (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2005), 1, 44–47. 10. Mary Ann Reidhead and Van A. Reidhead, “From Jehovah’s Witness to Benedictine Nun: The Roles of Experience and Context in a Double Conversion,” in The Anthropology of Religious Conversion, ed. Andrew Buckser and Stephen D. Glazier, 183–198 (Lanham, MD: Rowman & Littlefield, 2003).

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11. Karin van Nieuwkerk, Women Embracing Islam (Austin: University of Texas Press, 2006). 12. Daniel Winchester, “Converting to Continuity: Temporality and Self in Eastern Orthodox Conversion Narratives,” Journal for the Scientific Study of Religion 54, no. 3 (2015): 439–460. 13. D. Bruce Hindmarsh, “Religious Conversion as Narrative and Autobiography,” in The Oxford Handbook of Religious Conversion, ed. Lewis R. Rambo and Charles E. Farhadian, 343–368 (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2014). 14. Abbott, Cambridge Introduction to Narrative, 183. 15. Abbott, Cambridge Introduction to Narrative, 46. 16. Cecelia Lynch, “Critical Interpretation and Interwar Peace Movements: Challenging Dominant Narratives,” in Interpretation and Method: Empirical Research Methods and the Interpretive Turn, ed. Dvora Yanow and Peregrine Schwartz-Shea, 300–308 (Armonk, NY: M. E. Sharpe, 2014), 305–307. 17. Samantha Majic, “ ‘I’m Just a Woman. But I’ve Never Been a Victim’: ReConceptualizing Prostitution Policy Through Individual Narratives,” Journal of Women, Politics, and Policy 36, no. 4 (2015): 365–366. 18. Richard Delgado, “Storytelling for Oppositionists and Others: A Plea for Narrative,” Michigan Law Review 87, no. 8 (1989): 2415–2416. 19. Barbara N. Ramusack and Sharon Sievers, Women in Asia: Restoring Women to History, (Bloomington: Indiana University Press, 1999), xxi. 20. Dvora Yanow and Peregrine Schwartz-Shea, eds., Interpretation and Method: Empirical Research Methods and the Interpretive Turn (Armonk, NY: M. E. Sharpe, 2014), 433; Timothy Pachirat. “We Call It a Grain of Sand: The Interpretive Orientation and a Human Social Science,” in Interpretation and Method: Empirical Research Methods and the Interpretive Turn, ed. Dvora Yanow and Peregrine Schwartz-Shea, 426–432 (Armonk, NY: M. E. Sharpe, 2014), 426. 21. Craig Martin, A Critical Introduction to the Study of Religion (New York: Routledge, 2014), 161. 22. Lynch, “Critical Interpretation,” 303. 23. “Conversion almost always has practical explanations: fighting addiction, bottoming out, facing a medical crisis, or other psychological or material factors,” observes Timothy J. Steigenga, “Political Science and Religious Conversion,” in The Oxford Handbook of Religious Conversion, ed. Lewis R. Rambo and Charles E. Farhadian, 401–425 (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2014), 413. Eliza Kent argues, “One of the most important contributions of feminist scholarship on conversions has been to demonstrate incontrovertibly that religious conversion entails not merely a change of worldview or ethos, but a change in lifeworld. Such scholarship challenges Protestant and Enlightenment biases about religion that privilege belief over other dimensions of religiosity.” Eliza Kent, “Feminist Approaches to the Study of Religious Conversion,” in The Oxford Handbook of Religious Conversion, ed. Lewis R. Rambo and Charles E. Farhadian, 297–326 (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2014), 318. 24. For instance, Yvonne Sherwood discusses the tightrope French Muslim women defending the veil must walk because they cannot demonstrate too much agency (wearing the veil must be a religious obligation to be a subject of religious freedom), but they cannot demonstrate too little agency (or wearing the veil becomes coercion and thus not a subject of

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religious freedom). Yvonne Sherwood, “On the Freedom of the Concepts of Religion and Belief,” in Politics of Religious Freedom, ed. Winnifred Fallers Sullivan, Elizabeth Shakman Hurd, Saba Mahmood, and Peter G. Danchin, 29–44 (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 2015), 43. 25. Hurd, Beyond Religious Freedom, 16–17. 26. Hurd, Beyond Religious Freedom, 16–17. 27. Hurd, Beyond Religious Freedom, 13, 16. 28. Gauri Viswanathan, Outside the Fold: Conversion, Modernity, and Belief (Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press, 1998), xvi. 29. B. R. Ambedkar, Annihilation of Caste (New Delhi: Navayana, 2014 [1936]), 303. 30. Rowena Robinson and Sathianathan Clarke, Religious Conversion in India: Modes, Motivations, and Meanings (New Delhi: Oxford University Press, 2003). 31. Rupa Viswanath, The Pariah Problem: Caste, Religion, and the Social in Modern India (New York: Columbia University Press, 2014). 32. C. S. Adcock, The Limits of Tolerance: Indian Secularism and the Politics of Religious Freedom (New York: Oxford University Press, 2013). 33. Rudolf C. Heredia, Changing Gods: Rethinking Conversion in India (New Delhi: Penguin Books, 2007). 34. Goldie Osuri. Religious Freedom in India: Sovereignty and (Anti) Conversion (New York: Routledge, 2012). 35. Arvind Sharma, Problematizing Religious Freedom (Netherlands: Springer, 2012). 36. Winnifred Fallers Sullivan, The Impossibility of Religious Freedom (Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press, 2007); Sullivan et al., Politics of Religious Freedom. 37. Sullivan et al., Politics of Religious Freedom, 7. 38. Saba Mahmood, “Religious Freedom, Minority Rights, and Geopolitics,” in Politics of Religious Freedom, ed. Winnifred Fallers Sullivan, Elizabeth Shakman Hurd, Saba Mahmood, and Peter G. Danchin, 142–148 (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 2015), 142, 145, 147. 39. Sullivan et al., Politics of Religious Freedom, 7. 40. Greg Johnson, “Reflections on the Politics of Religious Freedom, with Attention to Hawaii,” in Politics of Religious Freedom, ed. Winnifred Fallers Sullivan, Elizabeth Shakman Hurd, Saba Mahmood, and Peter G. Danchin, 78–88 (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 2015). 41. Sullivan et al., Politics of Religious Freedom, 238; Hurd, Beyond Religious Freedom; Martha Nussbaum, The Clash Within: Democracy, Religious Violence, and India’s Future (Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 2009). 42. Central Government Act, Article 25 in the Constitution Of India 1949, accessed February 3, 2016, http://indiankanoon.org/doc/631708/. Article 25 is the focus here due to its centrality in conversion questions. For discussion of the many other clauses related to religious equality and freedom in the Indian Constitution, see Nussbaum, Clash Within, chap. 4. 43. For details on the development of the Indian constitution, see Granville Austin, The Indian Constitution: Cornerstone of a Nation (New Delhi: Oxford University Press, 1999 [1966]); and for nuanced discussions of religion, caste, gender and the Indian Constitution, see Cricket Keating, Decolonizing Democracy: Transforming the Social Contract in India (University Park: The Pennsylvania State University Press, 2011). To see how “freedom of conscience and the free profession and practice of religion” emerged from prior colonial bills,

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such as the Commonwealth of India Bill, 1925, modeled on the Constitution of the Irish Free State, 1922, see B. Shiva Rao, ed., The Framing of India’s Constitution: A Study (New Delhi: Indian Institute of Public Administration, 1968), 172. 44. Mahmood and Danchin, “Politics of Religious Freedom,” 5. See also Nathaniel Roberts’s brilliant critique of the widespread associations between religion and social cohesion and between conversion and disorder: To Be Cared For (Berkeley: University of California Press, 2016), 116–123. 45. K. T. Shah initially proposed that “Jain, Buddhist, or Christian” be added after the phrase “throwing open Hindu” (religious institutions), in order to create a list of distinct religions. Later in the same debate, K. M. Munshi supported but reinterpreted this proposal to mean “the word ‘Hindu’ in this section should be widely defined.” Constituent Assembly Debates on 6 December, 1948 Part I, accessed September 26, 2016, https://indiankanoon.org/ doc/1933556/. Ambedkar did not support this amendment at this meeting, and it was voted down only to appear in a slightly different form, as Explanation II of Article 25(2) of the constitution, eventually adopted in 1949. The ostensible intention of this explanation (widening the scope of institutions to be thrown open to all classes and sections of Hindus) seems progressive for minority rights. But Supreme Court justices have used this precedent to deny legal minority status to groups such as Jains, as in Bal Patil & Anr. v. Union of India & Ors. No. 4730 (1999). Supreme Court (India), civil appeal (August 8, 2005). Supreme Court of India Judgment Information System, accessed February 10, 2016, http://www.judis.nic.in/supremecourt/qrydisp .asp?tfnm27098: “The so-called minority communities like Sikhs and Jains were not treated as national minorities at the time of framing the constitution. Sikhs and Jains, in fact, have throughout been treated as part of the wider Hindu community, which has different sects, subsects, faiths, modes of worship, and religious philosophies.” On K. M. Munshi as a Hindu nationalist and the complexities of his relationship with Gandhi and the Indian National Congress and Congress Party, see Manu Bhagavan, “The Hindutva Underground: Hindu Nationalism and the Indian National Congress in Late Colonial and Early Post-Colonial India,” Economic and Political Weekly 43, no. 37 (September 13–19, 2008): 39–48. 46. Laura Dudley Jenkins, “Scheduled Castes, Christians and Muslims: The Politics of Macro-Majorities and Micro-Minorities,” in Minority Studies, ed. Rowena Robinson, 95–117 (Delhi: Oxford University Press, 2012). 47. Constituent Assembly Debates on 30 August, 1947, Part I, “Supplementary Report on Fundamental Rights (Contd.),” accessed December 13, 2016, https://indiankanoon.org/ doc/181341/; Austin, Indian Constitution, 344. 48. Santhanam, in Constituent Assembly Debates on 6 December, 1948 Part I. 49. Misra frames his critique of the word “propagate” in the constitution with the theme of making the “ancient faith and culture” of India great again: “This unjust generosity of tabooing religion and yet making propagation of religion a fundamental right is some what uncanny and dangerous. Justice demands that the ancient faith and culture of the land should be given a fair deal, if not restored to its legitimate place after a thousand years of suppression. . . . Drop the word ‘propagate’. . . . Civilization is going headlong to the melting pot. Let us beware and try to survive.” Misra, in Constituent Assembly Debates on 6 December, 1948 Part I. 50. Manu Bhagavan, “The Hand and the Fist: Human Rights and State Power in India,” in India Now and in Transition, ed. Atul K. Thakur, 141–152 (Delhi: Niyogi Books, 2017).

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51. Ratna Kapur, “A Leap of Faith: The Construction of Hindu Majoritarianism Through Secular Law,” South Atlantic Quarterly 113, no. 1 (Winter 2014):109–128, 124. 52. Kapur, “Leap of Faith,” 112. 53. Kapur, “Leap of Faith,” 116; see also Adcock, Limits of Tolerance. 54. Ambedkar’s memorandum included: “14. The State shall guarantee to every Indian citizen liberty of conscience and the free exercise of his religion including the rights to profess, to preach and to convert within limits compatible with public order and morality. . . . 17. The State shall not recognize any religion as State religion,” quoted in B. Shiva Rao, ed., The Framing of India’s Constitution: Select Documents. Vol. 2 (New Delhi: Indian Institute of Public Administration, 1967), 87. See also Rao, Study, 260; Rao, Select Documents, 64, 87. 55. Sandipto Dasgupta, “ ‘A Language Which Is Foreign to Us’: Continuities and Anxieties in the Making of the Indian Constitution,” Comparative Studies of South Asia, Africa and the Middle East 34, no. 2 (2014): 237–238. 56. Dasgupta, “ ‘Language Which is Foreign to Us,’ ” 234. 57. On the influence of John Dewey on Ambedkar’s approach to democracy and the constitution, especially the need for radical change in social institutions, see Keya Maitra, “Ambedkar and the Constitution of India: A Deweyan Experiment,” Contemporary Pragmatism 9, no. 2 (December 2012): 301–320, 314–316. 58. United Nations, “Universal Declaration of Human Rights,” accessed Feb. 3, 2016, http://www.un.org/en/universal-declaration-human-rights/. 59. Manu Bhagavan, “A New Hope: India, the United Nations, and the Making of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights,” Modern Asian Studies 44, no. 2 (2010): 311–347, 312; see also Marika Sherwood, “India at the Founding of the United Nations,” International Studies 33, no. 4 (1996): 407–428. 60. Bhagavan, “New Hope,” 327; Manu Bhagavan, The Peacemakers: India and the Quest for One World (New Delhi: HarperCollins, 2012), 87; Austin, Indian Constitution, 59. Many post-1948 constitutions adopted rights from the UDHR, as documented in Elkins, Ginsburg, and Simmons, “Getting to Rights,” 77. 61. Ismail, in Constituent Assembly Debates on 6 December, 1948 Part I. 62. Ismail, in Constituent Assembly Debates on 6 December, 1948 Part I. The language of the UN was in the air, permeating the Constituent Assembly’s conversations in more metaphorical ways too. For an example of the latter, consider Shri H. V. Kamath’s language in his speech advocating an amendment to the freedom of religion clause to allow the state to impart “spiritual training or instruction to the citizens of the Union.” In apparent reference to the newly independent India, he remarked: “If we have to make this disunited Nations—so called united, but really disunited nations—really United, if we have got to convert this Insecurity Council into a real Security Council, we have to go back to the values of the spirit, we have to go back to God in spirit and truth.” Kamath, in Constituent Assembly Debates on 6 December, 1948 Part I. 63. Bhagavan, Peacemakers, 83; Austin, Indian Constitution, 350. 64. Bhagavan, “New Hope,” 312. 65. Hansa Mehta, “Human Rights in the New Constitution of India,” Unpublished manuscript, 1949, 1, 5–6, 10. Thanks to Manu Bhagavan for sharing this document. See also Bhagavan, Peacemakers, 128. 66. Mehta, “Human Rights,” 1.

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67. Bhagavan, “New Hope,” 334, 335n62. 68. Misra referred to the Irish Free State Constitution and the USSR in his arguments against the word “propagate.” Misra, in Constituent Assembly Debates on 6 December, 1948 Part I. Ambedkar studied constitutions of other lands and explicitly compared and contrasted these with India’s when presenting the draft constitution in a speech on November 4, 1948. Lok Sabha Secretariat, The Constitution and the Constituent Assembly: Some Select Speeches (New Delhi: Lok Sabha Secretariat, 1990), 107–123. 69. Lydia H. Liu, “Shadows of Universalism: The Untold Story of Human Rights around 1948,” Critical Inquiry 40 (Summer 2014): 385–417. Liu shows how reports of “the drafting process involving the UDHR indicate that Chang engaged in a relentless negotiation of competing universals between Chinese and European philosophical traditions. His method was a translingual reworking of ideas across these traditions—a constant movement back and forth—to open up the universal ground for human rights” (408). 70. Steven D. Smith, “The Phases and Functions of Freedom of Conscience,” In Religion and Human Rights, ed. John Witte Jr. and M. Christian Green, 155–169 (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2012), 156. 71. Quoted in Smith, “Phases and Functions,” 157, from Locke’s A Letter Concerning Toleration (1689). 72. Mahmood and Danchin, “Politics of Religious Freedom,” 6. The American Christian Evangelical movement continues to play a role in the field of human rights, helping to pressure the US Congress to pass the International Religious Freedom Act (IRFA) in 1998 “to monitor and sanction infractions of religious liberty globally,” especially, argue Mahmood and Danchin, “when the victims are Christians and the perpetrators Muslims.” Mahmood and Danchin, “Politics of Religious Freedom,” 6–7. See also Melani McAlister, “US Evangelicals and the Politics of Slave Redemption as Religious Freedom in Sudan,” South Atlantic Quarterly 113, no. 1 (2014): 87–108; and Linde Lindkvist, “The Politics of Article 18: Religious Liberty in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights,” Humanity 4, no. 3 (2013): 429–447. 73. Mary Ann Glendon, “God and Mrs. Roosevelt,” First Things (May 2010): 21–24. Eleanor Roosevelt’s ideas about religious freedom and the fusion of Christian morality and democratic freedoms in her own political thought are encapsulated in the following quotation: “We may belong to any religion or none, but we must acknowledge that the life of Christ was based on principles which are necessary to the development of a Democratic state.” Quoted in Glendon, “God and Mrs. Roosevelt,” 23. See also Eleanor Roosevelt, The Moral Basis of Democracy (New York: Howell, Soskin, 1940). On Roosevelt’s open-mindedness, see Liu, “Shadows of Universalism,” 414. 74. Mary Ann Glendon, A World Made New: Eleanor Roosevelt and the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (New York: Random House, 2001), 69–70; 107. 75. Glendon, World Made New, 154; Johannes Morsink, The Universal Declaration of Human Rights: Origins, Drafting, and Intent (Philadelphia: University of Pennsylvania Press, 1999), 25. 76. Glendon, World Made New, 169. 77. Samuel Moyn, “From Communist to Muslim: European Human Rights, the Cold War, and Religious Liberty,” South Atlantic Quarterly 113, no. 1 (2014): 63–86, 69–70. 78. William James, The Varieties of Religious Experience: A Study in Human Experience (New York: New American Library, 1958 [1902]).

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79. Raymond F. Paloutzian, “Psychology of Religious Conversion and Spiritual Transformation,” in The Oxford Handbook of Religious Conversion, ed. Lewis R. Rambo and Charles E. Farhadian, 209–239 (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2014), 211–213. 80. Peter van der Veer, “Conversion and Coercion: The Politics of Sincerity and Authenticity,” in Cultures of Conversions, ed. Jan N. Bremmer, Wout J. van Bekkum, and Arie Molendijk, 1–14 (Leuven: Peeters, 2006), 9–10. 81. For varied perspectives on subsequent developments in international law related to religious freedom, see Hurd, Beyond Religious Freedom; John Witte Jr. and M. Christian Green, Religion and Human Rights: An Introduction (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2012); Allen D. Hertzke, The Future of Religious Freedom: Global Challenges (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2012); Brian J. Grim and Roger Finke, Price of Freedom Denied: Religious Persecution and Conflict in the 21st Century (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2010). 82. Asma Jahangir, Report of the Special Rapporteur of the Commission on Human Rights on Freedom of Religion or Belief, A/60/399, UN General Assembly, September 30, 2005, accessed September 27, 2016, http://www2.ohchr.org/english/issues/religion/docs/A_60_ 399.pdf, 14–20. 83. Heiner Bielefeldt, Report of the Special Rapporteur on Freedom of Religion or Belief, A/HRC/28/66, UN General Assembly, December 29, 2014, accessed July 19, 2018, http:// repository.un.org/handle/11176/310983, 4, 9, 19. Rumors that minority men threaten majority women are particularly effective catalysts for violence. Seduction/conversion rumors may be the most incendiary, surfacing in the context of India and Pakistan at the time of partition, the buildup to the war and breakup of Yugoslavia, and Muslim-Coptic Christian relations in contemporary Egypt. Haimanti Roy, Partitioned Lives (Delhi: Oxford University Press, 2012); Sabha Mahmood, “Sectarian Conflict and Family Law in Contemporary Egypt,” American Ethnologist 31, no. 1 (2012): 54–62. 84. Heiner Bielefeldt, Elimination of all Forms of Religious Intolerance: Interim Report of the of the Special Rapporteur on Freedom of Religion or Belief, A/67/303, UN General Assembly, August 13, 2012, accessed October 4, 2016, http://repository.un.org/bitstream/handle/ 11176/297385/A_67_303-EN.pdf?sequence3&isAllowedy, 8, 12, 19. 85. Roberts, To Be Cared For, 114. Roberts points to an “elite consensus” in the form of assumptions about conversion. (He focuses on the assumptions that it undermines order and the family and that certain subpopulations need protection from it). He argues that these assumptions “are passively accepted across the spectrum of national elite opinion, including by those who are formally opposed to Hindutva ideology and to anticonversion legislation.” I argue that the “gold standard” convert (evincing agency and sincerity) is also widely shared, by UN rapporteurs, the Hindu Right, and many in between; in other words, it has become a predominant narrative. 86. “Religious Census 2011,” Census 2011, accessed January 27, 2017. http://www .census2011.co.in/religion.php. 87. Laura Dudley Jenkins and Kavita A. Sharma, “Beginning a New Debate on Reserved Admissions for Castes, Tribes and ‘Other Backward Classes,’ ” in Affirmative Action Matters: Creating Opportunities for Students Around the World, ed. Laura Dudley Jenkins and Michele S. Moses, 30–54 (London: Routledge, 2014), 31–33. 88. C. Chandramouli, Release of Primary Census Abstract Data Highlights, Census of India 2011, April 30, 2013. Accessed January 27, 2017. http://idsn.org/wp-content/uploads/user _folder/pdf/New_files/India/2013/INDIA_CENSUS_ABSTRACT-2011-Data_on_SC-STs.pdf.

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89. For elegant and insightful discussions of the term “Dalit” and the communities this term references, see Shailaja Paik, “Mahar-Dalit-Buddhist: The History and Politics of Naming in Maharashtra,” Contributions to Indian Sociology 45, no. 2 (2011): 217–241; Anupama Rao, The Caste Question: Dalits and the Politics of Modern India (Berkeley: University of California Press, 2009), xx–xxi. 90. Megan Moodie, We Were Adivasis: Aspiration in an Indian Scheduled Tribe (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 2015), 31, 4; Townsend Middleton, The Demands of Recognition: State Anthropology and Ethnopolitics in Darjeeling (Stanford, CA: Stanford University Press, 2016), 229n14. 91. Jenkins and Sharma, “Beginning a New Debate,” 31–33. 92. Middleton, Demands of Recognition, 9. 93. Sumit Guha, Environment and Ethnicity in India, 1200–1991 (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1999). 94. Beth Roy, Some Trouble with Cows: Making Sense of Social Conflict (Berkeley: University of California Press, 1994), 38–39. Roy discusses the Hinduization of a tribe. 95. Amrita Basu, Violent Conjunctures in Democratic India (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2015), 12–15. Basu provides a nuanced discussion of the various types of organizations and their relationships and an excellent bibliography of the literature on Hindu nationalism in Violent Conjunctures in Democratic India. See especially 12–13n27. 96. J. Waskom Pickett, Christian Mass Movements in India: A Study with Recommendations (New York: Abingdon Press, 1933). 97. Hurd, Beyond Religious Freedom; Mahmood and Danchin, “Politics of Religious Freedom”; Sullivan, Impossibility of Religious Freedom. 98. Henry Luce Foundation, “Challenging Assumptions: The Politics of Religious Freedom,” accessed February 16, 2016, http://www.hluce.org/files/documents/profiles/challenging _assumptions.pdf.

Chapter 1 1. Soutik Biswas, “India’s Conversions Controversy,” BBC News, last modified September 30, 2008, accessed March 8, 2016, http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/south_asia/7641247.stm; Biswamoy Pati, Identity, Hegemony, Resistance: Towards a Social History of Conversions in Orissa, 1800–2000 (New Delhi: Three Essays Collective, 2003); Udit Thakur, “Are India’s Christians and Muslims Forced to Become Hindus?” Daily Beast, January 28, 2015, accessed March 8, 2016, http://www.thedailybeast.com/articles/2015/01/28/are-india-s-christians-and -muslims-forced-to-become-hindus.html. Pati observes that the fear that minority religions are chiseling away at Hinduism is premised on a problematic assumption. He questions “whether adivasis and outcastes were/are Hindus in the first place.” See Pati, Identity, Hegemony, Resistance, 2. See also Kancha Iliah, Why I Am Not a Hindu: A Sudra Critique of Hindutva, Philosophy, Culture, and Political Economy (Calcutta: Bhatkal Books International, 1996). 2. Susan Billington Harper, In the Shadow of the Mahatma: Bishop V. S. Azariah and the Travails of Christianity in British India (Grand Rapids, MI: William B. Eerdmans, 2000), 81–82. See Harper, In the Shadow of the Mahatma, 180–182, on the demographic scale, locations, and scholarly studies of particular mass movements as well as a nuanced discussion of the problematic term “mass movement.” I nevertheless utilize it in this chapter as a widely recognized term, used at the time by Pickett for his study, although he too discusses its

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pros and cons. See J. Waskom Pickett, Christian Mass Movements in India: A Study with Recommendations (New York: Abingdon Press, 1933), 21–22. 3. Robert Eric Frykenberg, Christianity in India: From Beginnings to the Present (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2008), 239. 4. Geoffrey A. Oddie, “Christianity and Social Mobility in South India 1840–1920: A Continuing Debate,” South Asia 19 (1996): 143–159; John C. B. Webster, A History of the Dalit Christians in India (San Francisco: Mellon Press, 1992), 31–72; Pickett, Christian Mass Movements, 21. 5. Laura Dudley Jenkins, “True Believers? Agency and Sincerity in Representations of ‘Mass Movement’ Converts in 1930s India,” in Converting Cultures: Religion, Ideology and Transformations of Modernity, ed. Dennis Washburn and A. Kevin Reinhart, 435–464 (Leiden: Brill, 2007). In “True Believers?,” I discuss Pickett, F. Coyler Sackett, and Godfrey Phillips. I more recently came across W. J. Noble’s book Flood Tide in India in the Bodleian Library. On the theme of sincerity, Noble wrote: “Said a man in a village of Madras district (and he was typical of thousands): ‘. . . we who were liars are truthful; we who were robbers are honest; we who were drunkards are sober and industrious; we who were idolators now worship the living true God.’ ” See W. J. Noble, Flood Tide in India (London: Cargate Press, 1937), 59–60. As in Sackett’s photographic “evidence,” Noble points out external evidence of interior sincerity: “A good deal can be done with one’s surroundings, when there has been a change of heart” (58). In contrast to previous “filth and wretchedness . . . , to-day, the whole of the population of the outcaste village have been Christians for some years. . . . It will bear comparison with any village in England, for cleanliness, neatness and order. . . . You could eat your dinner off their floors” (62). 6. Pickett, Christian Mass Movements; Jenkins, “True Believers?,” 435–464. I will not put quotations around every instance of “scientific,” “prove,” or similar words but exhort the reader to question every narrative, including the scientific truth claims discussed in the rest of the chapter. 7. Shailaja Paik, “Mahar-Dalit-Buddhist: The History and Politics of Naming in Maharashtra,” Contributions to India Sociology 45, no. 2 (2011): 217–241. Gandhi borrowed the term from a fourteenth-century Brahmin who rejected untouchability, Narsinh Mehta, and popularized it through his weekly journal Harijan beginning in 1932. Many lower castes, however, reject the term as condescending (225). 8. In his essay “Christianizing the Untouchables,” B. R. Ambedkar noted this unsuccessful strategy of appealing to Brahmins as one reason for the slow growth of Christianity. See B. R. Ambedkar, Dr. Babasaheb Ambedkar Writings and Speeches, vol. 5 (Bombay: Education Department, Government of Maharashtra, 1989), 438–439, 444. 9. Rupa Viswanath, “The Emergence of Authenticity Talk and the Giving of Accounts: Conversion as Movement of the Soul in South India, ca. 1900,” Comparative Studies in Society and History 55, no. 1 (2013): 120–141, 130. The historian Chandra Mallampalli reminded me that the term “rice Christians” predates these turn-of-the-century movements, originating in the sixteenth to seventeenth century Roman Catholic missionary context. “Roman Catholic missionaries tracing back to Xavier also oversaw mass movements and raised questions of sincerity. Roman Catholics instituted ‘tests of sincerity’ such as requiring converts to recite the creeds or the Lord’s prayer to demonstrate their true commitment. . . . No doubt the Protestants took the concern to new heights” (personal communication, August 17, 2016).

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10. A graduate of Asbury College, in Wilmore, Kentucky, Pickett and his family maintained a home in Wilmore, and many of his personal papers, sermon notes, drafts, correspondence, photos, and news clippings are in the Asbury (now University) Library. All archival materials in this chapter are from the Pickett Collection, Asbury University Library, Wilmore Kentucky. Thanks to Suzanne Gehring, head of Archives and Special Collections, Asbury University, for permission to use these archives, organization of the materials, and help during and after my visit. 11. “Religious Census 2011,” Census 2011, accessed January 27, 2017. 12. Arjun Appadurai, Fear of Small Numbers: An Essay on the Geography of Anger (Durham, NC: Duke University Press, 2006). 13. Prakash Louis, “Caste-Based Discrimination and Atrocities on Dalit Christians and the Need for Reservations” (Working Paper Series, vol. 2, no. 4, Indian Institute of Dalit Studies, Delhi, 2007), 4–5; Viswanath, “Emergence of Authenticity Talk,” 120–121; Nathaniel Roberts, “The Power of Conversion and the Foreignness of Belonging: Domination and Moral Community in a Paraiyar Slum” (PhD diss., Columbia University, 2008); Goldie Osuri, Religious Freedom in India: Sovereignty and (Anti) Conversion. (London: Routledge, 2013), 159; Laura Dudley Jenkins, “Legal Limits on Religious Conversion in India,” Law and Contemporary Problems 71, no. 2 (2008): 109–127. 14. David Mosse, “Caste and Christianity,” Seminar, no. 613 (May 2012), accessed April 25, 2014, http://www.india-seminar.com/2012/633/633_david_mosse.htm. Rowena Robinson and Joseph Marianus Kujur, eds., Margins of Faith: Dalit and Tribal Christianity (New Delhi: Sage, 2010), 3. 15. Laura Dudley Jenkins, “Becoming Backward: Preferential Policies and Religious Minorities in India,” Commonwealth and Comparative Politics 39, no. 2 (2001): 32–50. 16. Abdul Malik Mujahid, Conversion to Islam: Untouchables’ Strategy for Protest in India (Chambersburg, PA: Anima Books, 1989). See also Indian Express, “In Gujarat, Thousands of Dalits Choose Buddhism for a ‘New Identity,’ ” October 14, 2013, accessed October 7, 2016, http://indianexpress.com/article/cities/ahmedabad/in-gujarat-thousands-of-dalits-choose -buddhism-for-a-new-identity/; Paik, “Mahar-Dalit-Buddhist,” 219. 17. Thakur, “Are India’s Christians and Muslims Forced to Become Hindus?” 18. Webb Keane, “What Is Religious Freedom Supposed to Free?” in Politics of Religious Freedom, ed. Winnifred Fallers Sullivan, Elizabeth Shakman Hurd, Saba Mahmood, and Peter G. Danchin, 57–65 (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 2015), 61; Webb Keane, Christian Moderns: Freedom and Fetish in the Mission Encounter (Berkeley: University of California Press, 2007), 37–51. See also Michael Lambek, “Is Religion Free?” in Politics of Religious Freedom, ed. Winnifred Fallers Sullivan, Elizabeth Shakman Hurd, Saba Mahmood, and Peter G. Danchin, 289–300 (Chicago: University of Chicago Press. 2015), 291, on the discourse of belief and the “true believer,” and its Protestant genealogy. 19. Talal Asad, Formations of the Secular: Christianity, Islam, Modernity (Stanford, CA: Stanford University Press, 2003), 13. Keane, Christian Moderns, 55. 20. Saba Mahmood, “Feminist Theory, Embodiment, and the Docile Agent: Some Reflections on the Egyptian Islamic Revival,” Cultural Anthropology 16, no. 2 (2001): 202–236; Nathaniel Roberts, “Is Conversion a Colonization of Consciousness?” Anthropological Theory 12, no. 3 (2012): 271–294, 274–277. 21. Gauri Viswanathan, Outside the Fold: Conversion, Modernity and Belief (Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press, 1998), 84.

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22. Raymond F. Paloutzian, “Psychology of Religious Conversion and Spiritual Transformation,” in The Oxford Handbook of Religious Conversion, ed. Lewis R. Rambo and Charles E. Farhadian, 209–239 (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2014), 212–213. 23. William James, The Varieties of Religious Experience (New York: New American Library, 1958 [1902]); Paloutzian, “Psychology of Religious Conversion,” 212–213. 24. Viswanathan, Outside the Fold, 84, 83. 25. Viswanath, “Emergence of Authenticity Talk,” 129, 136; Rupa Viswanath, The Pariah Problem: Caste, Religion, and the Social in Modern India (New York: Columbia University Press, 2014), 161–167. 26. Quoted in Viswanath, “Emergence of Authenticity Talk,” 136. 27. Viswanath, “Emergence of Authenticity Talk,” 136. 28. Viswanath, “Emergence of Authenticity Talk,” 139. 29. Viswanath, Pariah Problem, 44; Charu Gupta, “Embodying Resistance: Representing Dalits in Colonial India,” South Asia: Journal of South Asian Studies 38, no. 1 (March 2015): 100–118, 109. 30. Chand, January 1929, 455, quoted in Gupta, “Embodying Resistance,” 110. 31. Greg Johnson, “Reflections on the Politics of Religious Freedom, with Attention to Hawaii,” in Politics of Religious Freedom, ed. Winnifred Fallers Sullivan, Elizabeth Shakman Hurd, Saba Mahmood, and Peter G. Danchin, 78–88 (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 2015), 80. 32. Yvonne Sherwood, “On the Freedom of the Concepts of Religion and Belief,” in Politics of Religious Freedom, ed. Winnifred Fallers Sullivan, Elizabeth Shakman Hurd, Saba Mahmood, and Peter G. Danchin, 29–44 (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 2015), 43. See also Lambek, “Is Religion Free?,” 291, who notes that “belief” is “impossible to ascertain.” 33. Viswanath, “Emergence of Authenticity Talk,” 122. 34. Chandra Mallampalli, Christians in Public Life in Colonial South India, 1863–1937: Contending with Marginality (London: RoutledgeCurzon, 2004), 159–169; Nathaniel Roberts, To Be Cared For: The Power of Conversion and the Foreignness of Belonging in an India Slum (Berkeley: University of California Press, 2016), 131–151; Sebastian C. H. Kim, In Search of Identity: Debates on Religious Conversion in India (New Delhi: Oxford University Press, 2003), 23–36. For a collection of Gandhi’s writings on the topic of Christian missions, see Mohandas K. Gandhi, Christian Missions: Their Place in India, ed. Bharatan Kumarappa (Ahmedabad: Navajivan Publishing House, 1957). 35. Harper, In the Shadow of the Mahatma, 281. 36. Eliza F. Kent, Converting Women: Gender and Protestant Christianity in Colonial South India (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2004), 46. 37. Mallampalli, Christians in Public Life, 166. 38. Harper, In the Shadow of the Mahatma, 281–282. 39. Arthur G. McPhee, The Road to Delhi: Bishop Pickett Remembered 1890–1981 (Bangalore, India: SAIACS Press, 2005), 348. 40. Chad M. Bauman, Christian Identity and Dalit Religion in Hindu India 1868–1947 (Grand Rapids, MI: William B. Eerdmans, 2008), 67. 41. Matt Kinnell, “J. Waskom Pickett (1890–1981),” Asbury University, accessed October 10, 2016, https://www.asbury.edu/offices/library/archives/biographies/j-waskom-pickett. 42. McPhee, Road to Delhi, 348.

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43. Quoted in McPhee, Road to Delhi, 350. 44. Harper, In the Shadow of the Mahatma, 281–282. Harper discusses the impetus for the study and the support of Anglican Bishop V. S. Azariah, a leader of conversion movements and president of the National Christian Council of India, Burma and Ceylon at the time they commissioned the study. See Harper’s fascinating discussion of Azariah’s critique of the distinction between spiritual and material motives of converts on pp. 282–283. See also Mallampalli, Christians and Public Life, 266. Footnote 55 quotes from the NCCI’s proposal to the Institute for Social and Religious Research for the project, located at the School of Oriental and African Studies (SOAS) in the Indian Missionary Council/Conference of British Missionary Societies Archives, box 394, no. 28. 45. Rockefeller Archive Center, “John D. Rockefeller, 1874–1960,” last modified September 1997, accessed May 25, 2014, http://www.rockarch.org/bio/jdrjr.php. 46. John R. Mott, Institute for Social and Religious Research 1921–1934: A Sketch of Its Development and Work (New York: Institute for Social and Religious Research, 1934), 5, 56. The Christian Mass Movement study is listed as funded by them on p. 56 of this booklet. 47. Jean Converse, Survey Research in the United States: Roots and Emergence, 1890–1960 (Piscataway, NJ: Transaction Publishers, 2009), 29. 48. Converse, Survey Research, 30–31; Mott, Institute for Social and Religious Research, 56). 49. Robert M. Groves, “Three Eras of Survey Research,” Public Opinion Quarterly 75, no. 5 (2011): 861–871, 862. 50. Converse, Survey Research, 13. 51. Converse, Survey Research, 18, 21. 52. Converse, Survey Research, 33, 31. 53. Pickett, Christian Mass Movements, 13–14. The areas included in the main study and the major missions were Kistna District, Madras Presidency (Church Missionary Society); South Travancore (London Missionary Society); Chota Nagpur (Evangelical Lutheran); Western United Provinces (Methodist Episcopal); and the Punjab (United Presbyterian). The trial study of the schedules was in Etah District, United Provinces (American Presbyterian). Supplementary studies were in Vikarabad, Hyderabad State (Methodist Episcopal); Barhan, United Provinces (Church Missionary Society); Cumbum, Madras Persidency (American Baptist); and Guntur, Madras Presidency (American Baptist). 54. Quoted in McPhee, Road to Delhi, 9. 55. Bauman, Christian Identity, 67. 56. Donald Anderson McGavran, A. L. Warnshuis, J. Waskom Pickett, and G. H. Singh, Church Growth and Group Conversion, 3rd ed. (Lucknow: Lucknow Publishing House, 1956), 98. 57. J. Waskom Pickett, Christ’s Way to India’s Heart (Lucknow: Lucknow Publishing House, 1938), 1; J. Waskom Pickett, Donald Anderson McGavran, and G. H. Singh, Christian Missions in Mid India: A Study of Nine Areas with Special Reference to Mass Movements (New Delhi: Isha Books, 2013 [1938]), 1. 58. Pickett, Christian Mass Movements, 9. 59. Pickett, Christian Mass Movements, 10. 60. Pickett, Christian Mass Movements, 155. 61. Pickett, Christian Mass Movements, 155–156.

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62. James, Varieties of Religious Experience, quoted in Pickett, Christian Mass Movements, 158. 63. James, Varieties of Religious Experience, quoted in Pickett, Christian Mass Movements, 158. 64. Pickett, Christian Mass Movements, 158. 65. Pickett, Christian Mass Movements, 160. 66. Pickett, Christian Mass Movements, 160. 67. Pickett, Christian Mass Movements, 164–165. 68. Eduardo Bonilla-Silva and Tukufu Zuberi, “Toward a Definition of White Logic and White Methods,” in White Logic, White Methods: Racism and Methodology, ed. Eduardo Bonilla-Silva and Tukutu Zuberi, 3–30 (Lanham, MD: Rowman and Littlefield, 2008), 16–18. 69. Pickett, Christian Mass Movements, 18. 70. Pickett, Christian Mass Movements, 162–163. 71. Pickett, Christian Mass Movements, 163. 72. Pickett, Christian Mass Movements, 164. 73. J. Waskom Pickett, “Some Problems Connected with the Christian Mass Movements in India, 1930,” 6, Series 7 Literary Productions, box 15, file 16, Pickett Collection, underlining in original. 74. Mohandas K. Gandhi, “Foreign Missionaries,” Young India 13, no. 17 (April 23, 1931): 83. This article was picked up by London’s Daily Mail, April 24, 1931, in the article, “Gandhi and the Missionaries: Attack Repeated.” I found the Daily Mail article in file L/PJ/ 108/2189, British Library, London. 75. Daily Mail, “Gandhi and the Missionaries,” April 24, 1931. 76. “Letter of Gandhi to Sir Samuel Hoare,” March 11, 1932, and “Gandhi’s letter to MacDonald,” September 9, 1932, in The Depressed Classes: A Chronological Documentation (Kurseong: St. Mary’s College, n.d., ca. 1938), 4–5. 77. Harijan, July 18, 1936, quoted in B. R. Ambedkar, Annihilation of Caste: The Annotated Critical Edition (New Delhi: Navayana, 2014 [1936]), 326. Ambedkar published this response by Gandhi in the 1937 edition of Annihilation of Caste, and it is included in the 2014 critical edition published by Navayana. 78. Peter van der Veer, Imperial Encounters: Religion and Modernity in India and Britain (Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press, 2001), 16. 79. Viswanathan, Outside the Fold, 15, 14, emphasis in the original. 80. Minutes of the Seventeenth Session of the Central Conference of the Methodist Episcopal Church in Southern Asia, held at Jubbulpore December 28, 1935, to January 6, 1936 (Lucknow: Lucknow Publishing House, 1936), 95–96, box 9, file 2, Pickett Collection. 81. Lalsangkima Pachuau, “A Clash of ‘Mass Movements’? Christian Missions and the Gandhian Nationalist Movement in India,” Transformation 31, no. 3 (2014): 157–174, 167. Pachuau discusses Gandhi’s claims that Pickett exaggerated the numbers of converts. 82. Gandhi, quoted in Pickett, Christ’s Way to India’s Heart, 34. 83. Eleanor Zelliot, Ambedkar’s World: The Making of Babasaheb and the Dalit Movement (New Delhi: Navayana, 2013), 149. 84. Pickett, Christ’s Way to India’s Heart, 43. 85. Pickett, “Great Indian Leaders I Have Known,” eleven pages of handwritten remembrances, 6, box 15, file 25, Pickett Collection. See Harper, In the Shadow of the Mahatma, 316–334.

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86. Daily Indian Witness of the Methodist Episcopal Church, Southern Asia, vol. V, no. 7 (January 7, 1939) (a newsletter), 63–64, box 9, file 2a, Pickett Collection. This sentiment is in keeping with a trend noted by Mallampalli: “Throughout the 1930s, the resistance or refusal of Protestant elites to conceive a ‘Christian community’ in political terms became a fundamental theme of their nationalist position.” Mallampalli, Christians and Public Life, 111. 87. Daily Indian Witness, 63–64, Pickett Collection. 88. Pickett, Christian Mass Movements, 169. 89. Pickett’s friend and fellow missionary E. Stanley Jones noted that more copies of Christian Mass Movements had been sold in India than in the US. See published letter to the editor of the Christian Advocate (January 24, 1935) from Jones, box 15, file 18, Pickett Collection. 90. Pickett, Christian Mass Movements, 315–316. 91. “Christian Mass Movements,” Guardian (Madras), March 15, 1934, box 15, file 18, Pickett Collection. 92. Pickett, handwritten, unused material for Pickett’s memoir My Twentieth Century Odyssey, box 15, file 4, Pickett Collection. 93. Pickett, handwritten, unused material for Pickett’s memoir My Twentieth Century Odyssey, box 15, file 4, Pickett Collection. 94. Pickett, p. 3 of some clipped papers in this file titled “Mass Movements,” box 15, file 4, Pickett Collection. Although Pickett wanted Western support and a Western audience for his book, some of this attention, however welcome, resulted in unwelcome requests. During World War II, Pickett recalled that “several zealous Christian officers” who knew of his mass movement book asked him to do a study to find out where the most valuable military recruits could be found, and assumed “Christians were the most valuable material for national defense.” Pickett declined because he was “too close to being a Pacifist.” See Pickett, box 15, file 4, Pickett Collection. 95. Pickett, box 15, file 4, Pickett Collection. 96. Pickett, “Conversion or the New Birth,” handwritten sermon August 12, 1942, at Kellogg Jr. Church (presumably US), 6–7, box 18, file 46, Pickett Collection. 97. Pickett, handwritten notes on a sermon, date unknown, “The First Christian Mass Movement,” box 20, file 20, Pickett Collection. 98. Zelliot, Ambedkar’s World, 147. 99. Zelliot, Ambedkar’s World, 156. 100. Depressed Classes, 241–242. 101. J. Holmes Smith, Movement of the Depressed Classes into Christianity: A Summary of Dr. J. Waskom Pickett’s “Christian Mass Movements in India”(Lucknow: Lucknow Publishing House, 1936), foreword by E. Stanley Jones. 102. Smith, Movement of the Depressed Classes, 1. 103. Smith, Movement of the Depressed Classes, 2. 104. Ambedkar, “Conversion (‘Away from the Hindus’),” in The Essential Writings of B. R. Ambedkar, ed. Valerian Rodrigues, 219–238 (New Delhi: Oxford University Press, 2004), 221. 105. E. Stanley Jones to Pickett, April 3, 1937, correspondence 1930–1937, box 2, file 2, Pickett Collection.

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106. J. Z. Hodge, letter to Pickett dated April 20, 1937 box 2, file 2, Pickett Collection. 107. Pickett, “Great Indian Leaders I Have Known,” n.d., p. 8, box 15, file 25, Pickett Collection. 108. Pickett, “Great Indian Leaders I Have Known,” n.d., p. 7, box 15, file 25, Pickett Collection. 109. Pickett, Christ’s Way to India’s Heart, 9. 110. Laura Dudley Jenkins, “Scheduled Castes, Christians and Muslims: The Politics of Macro-Majorities and Micro-Minorities,” in Minority Studies, ed. Rowena Robinson, 95–117 (New Delhi: Oxford University Press, 2012). 111. Pickett, handwritten, unused material for his later book, My Twentieth Century Odyssey, box 15, file 4, Pickett Collection. 112. Smith, Movement of the Depressed Classes, 70, passage drawn from Pickett, Christian Mass Movements, 351. 113. B. R. Ambedkar, “Ambedkar’s Advice to Christians,” speech delivered to Indian Christians of Sholapur, published in Janata, February 5, 1938, accessed May 14, 2014, http:// www.ambedkar.org/. (Click on “Dr. B. R. Ambedkar,” then “Thoughts on Dr. Ambedkar,” then “Ambedkar’s Advice to Christians.”) In this speech, Ambedkar said, “Missionaries feel they have done their duty when they convert an untouchable to Christianity. They do not look after their political rights. I find this is a big fault.” 114. Viswanathan, Outside the Fold, 84. 115. Viswanath, “Emergence of Authenticity Talk,” 129, 136. Viswanath, Pariah Problem, 161–167. 116. Critic of Pariah converts, Hindu 1903, quoted in Viswanath, “Emergence of Authenticity Talk,” 138. 117. J. Waskom Pickett, The Confirmation of the Gospel: The Authenticating Role of Good Works (Ann Arbor, MI: Asbury University, 2016), 53–54. 118. Lambek, “Is Religion Free?,” 293, 296. 119. Robert W. Hefner, Conversion to Christianity: Historical and Anthropological Perspectives on a Great Transformation (Berkeley: University of California Press, 1993), 4; A. D. Nock, Conversion: The Old and New in Religion from Alexander the Great to Augustine of Hippo (New York: Oxford University Press, 1933), 7. 120. Viswanathan, Outside the Fold, 15. 121. For an excellent study of this, see Viswanath, Pariah Problem, chapter 1. 122. Chandra Mallampalli, “Caste, Catholicism and History ‘From Below,’ ” in India and the Indianness of Christianity, ed. Richard Fox Young, 144–157 (Grand Rapids, MI: William B. Eerdmans, 2009), 154; See also Chandra Mallampalli, “World Christianity and ‘Protestant America’: Historical Narratives and the Limits of Christian Pluralism,” International Bulletin of Missionary Research 30, no. 1 (2006): 1–8, 4–5, where Mallampalli notes that a “Protestant American prototype” is pervasive but not determinative: “historical trajectories of Christians are not determined by a single story.”

Chapter 2 Note to epigraph: Quoted in Gail Omvedt, Buddhism in India: Challenging Brahminism and Caste (New Delhi: Sage, 2003), 262. 1. Narendra Jadhav, Ambedkar: Awakening India’s Social Conscience (New Delhi: Konark, 2014), 606; Sharmila Rege, Against the Madness of Manu: B. R. Ambedkar’s Writings on Brahmanical Patriarchy (New Delhi: Navayana, 2013), 13.

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2. Siddharth Singh, “Uses of an Icon,” Open 7, no. 49 (December 8–14, 2015): 24–31; on the Hindu nationalist Bharatiya Janata Party’s selective cooptation of Ambedkar to get Dalit votes, see Kama Kellie Maclean, “Embracing the Untouchables: The BJP and Scheduled Caste Votes,” Asian Studies Review 23, no. 4 (December 1999): 488–509, 499–501. 3. Ministry of Social Justice and Empowerment and Central Public Works Department, “3D Artistic Rendering of Dr Ambedkar National Memorial at 26, Alipur Road, New Delhi,” YouTube video, 3:59 min., posted by VijayGowda, March 21, 2016, accessed May 12, 2018, https://www.youtube.com/watch?vsiF_tu3Rnho. 4. DNA (Daily News and Analysis), “Gujarat Recalls Book on Ambedkar Referring to Mass Conversion of Hindus to Buddhism,” last modified August 12, 2015, accessed July 19, 2016, http://www.dnaindia.com/india/report-gujarat-recalls-book-on-ambedkar-referring -to-mass-conversion-of-hindus-to-buddhism-2113774; see also Kumar Anand and Parimal Dabhi. “Gujarat Withdraws Books with ‘Anti-Hindu’ Ambedkar Remarks.” Indian Express, last modified August 12, 2015, accessed March 25, 2017, http://indianexpress.com/article/ india/india-others/gujarat-pulls-books-with-anti-hindu-ambedkar-remarks/. 5. Jadhav, Ambedkar, 606; Eleanor Zelliot, Ambedkar’s World: The Making of Babasaheb and the Dalit Movement (New Delhi: Navayana, 2013). 6. Zelliot, Ambedkar’s World, 68–70; Gauri Viswanathan, Outside the Fold: Conversion, Modernity and Belief (Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press, 1998), 211–239. 7. Viswanathan, Outside the Fold, 224–225; Zelliot, Ambedkar’s World, 16, 166. 8. For more on Ambedkar’s life and various aspects of his anticaste projects, see Zelliot, Ambedkar’s World; a bibliography of the entire corpus of Zelliot’s work and chapters featuring scholars inspired and informed by Zelliot are in Manu Bhagavan and Anne Feldhaus, eds., Speaking Truth to Power: Religion, Caste, and the Subaltern Question in India (New Delhi: Oxford University Press, 2008), in which the Zelliot bibliography is on 231–239; see also the multivolume collected works of Ambedkar, Dr. Babasaheb Ambedkar Writings and Speeches. 17 vols. (Bombay: Education Department Government of Maharashtra, 1979–2003). For selections of his writings accompanied by biographic reflections, see Sukhadeo Thorat and Narender Kumar, B. R. Ambedkar: Perspectives on Social Exclusion and Inclusive Policies (New Delhi: Oxford University Press, 2008); Jadhav, Ambedkar; and Valerian Rodrigues, ed., The Essential Writings of B. R. Ambedkar (New Delhi: Oxford, 2004). On religious aspects, see Viswanathan, Outside the Fold, 211–239; on political aspects, see Christophe Jaffrelot, Dr. Ambedkar and Untouchability: Fighting the Indian Caste System (New York: Columbia University Press, 2005); on Ambedkar’s political thought and activism, see chapter 3 of Anupama Rao, The Caste Question: Dalits and the Politics of Modern India (Berkeley: University of California Press, 2009); on his educational advocacy, see Shailaja Paik, Dalit Women’s Education in Modern India: Double Discrimination (New York: Routledge, 2014), 61–68. On quotas in education and government service, see Laura Dudley Jenkins, Identity and Identification in India: Defining the Disadvantaged (London: RoutledgeCurzon, 2003). 9. Eleanor Zelliot, From Untouchable to Dalit: Essays on the Ambedkar Movement (New Delhi: Manohar, 1996), 268. 10. Sharmila Rege, Writing Caste/Writing Gender: Narrating Dalit Women’s Testimonios (New Delhi: Zubaan, 2013), 14; Arjun Dangle, ed., Poisoned Bread (Hyderabad: Orient Blackswan, 1992), xi; see also Shailaja Paik, “Mahar-Dalit-Buddhist: The History and Politics of Naming in Maharashtra,” Contributions to Indian Sociology 45, no. 2 (2011): 217–241, on

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naming practices in Maharashtra, the site of the largest Buddhist conversions; and Ramnarayan Rawat, “Genealogies of the Dalit Political: The Transformation of Achhut from ‘Untouched’ to ‘Untouchable’ in Early Twentieth-Century North India,” Indian Economic Social History Review 52, no. 3 (July 2015): 335–355, 344, on use of the term “Dalit” in north India. 11. With caste and without a “common morality,” Ambedkar argued, “there can be equality for a few but none for the majority.” Quoted in Omvedt, Buddhism in India, 260. 12. B. R. Ambedkar, Annihilation of Caste: The Annotated Critical Edition (New Delhi: Navayana, 2014 [1936]), 311. 13. Zelliot, Ambedkar’s World, 103. 14. Quoted in Zelliot, Ambedkar’s World, 147. 15. Quoted in Zelliot, Ambedkar’s World, 150. 16. For powerful documentation and illustration of Ambedkar’s and others’ experiences of untouchability, see Durgabai Vyam, Subhash Vyam, Srividya Natarajan, and S. Anand, Bhimayana: Experiences of Untouchability—Incidents in the life of Bhimrao Ramji Ambedkar (New Delhi: Navayana, 2011). 17. Quoted in The Depressed Classes: A Chronological Documentation, Vol. 1 (Kurseong: St. Mary’s College, n.d., ca. 1938), 42, located under the heading “15th October 1935— Gandhi’s Views.” 18. Quoted in Depressed Classes, 42–43. See the heading “15th October 1935—Gandhi’s Views,” middle of p. 42. Viswanathan notes “entwined” was “intervolved” in the original; see Outside the Fold, 231. 19. Many scholars have written on the Gandhi-Ambedkar tensions (see Chapter 1 and its sources as well). For a detailed study on the different approaches of Ambedkar and Gandhi to questions of caste, freedom, and, especially, equality, see Aishwary Kumar, Radical Equality: Ambedkar, Gandhi, and the Risk of Democracy (Stanford, CA: Stanford University Press, 2015). A play on the topic is Premanand Gajvee, “Gandhi-Ambedkar,” in The Strength of Our Wrists: 3 Plays, trans. Shanta Gokhale and M. D. Hatkanangalekar (New Delhi: Navayana, 2013), 91–147. 20. Zelliot, Ambedkar’s World, 169. 21. Gyanendra Pandey, A History of Prejudice: Race, Caste and Difference in India and the United States (New York: Cambridge University Press, 2013), 84. 22. B. Shiva Rao, ed., The Framing of India’s Constitution: Select Documents. Vol. 2 (New Delhi: Indian Institute of Public Administration, 1967), 64, 87; B. Shiva Rao, ed., The Framing of India’s Constitution: A Study (New Delhi: Indian Institute of Public Administration, 1968), 260. Ambedkar’s memorandum included “14. The State shall guarantee to every Indian citizen liberty of conscience and the free exercise of his religion including the rights to profess, to preach and to convert within limits compatible with public order and morality. . . . 17. The State shall not recognize any religion as State religion.” Quoted in Rao, Framing of India’s Constitution, 87. 23. Rege, Against the Madness of Manu, 200. 24. Martha Nussbaum, Women and Human Development: The Capabilities Approach (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 2000), 170–171. 25. Quoted in Rege, Against the Madness of Manu, 198–199. 26. Kumar, Radical Equality, 54.

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27. Martha Nussbaum, Liberty of Conscience: In Defense of America’s Tradition of Religious Equality (New York: Basic Books, 2008), 22. 28. Kumar, Radical Equality, 258. 29. See more at the “Writings and Speeches of Dr. Ambedkar,” Ministry of External Affairs, Government of India, last updated October 31, 2017, accessed May 17, 2018, http:// www.mea.gov.in/books-writings-of-ambedkar.htm. 30. B. R. Ambedkar, “Away from the Hindus,” in Dr. Babasaheb Ambedkar Writings and Speeches, 5:403–421 (Bombay: Education Department, Government of Maharashtra, 1989), 403. This essay has no date but was written sometime after May 1936. It refers to another resolution to leave Hinduism at a Conference of Mahars on May 31, 1936, in Bombay, (subsequent to the initial Bombay Presidency Depressed Classes Conference resolution in Yeola in 1935). Ambedkar, “Away from the Hindus,” 404. 31. Saba Mahmood, Preface to “Part 4: Freedom,” in Politics of Religious Freedom, ed. Winnifred Fallers Sullivan, Elizabeth Shakman Hurd, Saba Mahmood, Peter G. Danchin, 265–268 (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 2015), 267. 32. Ambedkar, “Away from the Hindus,” 403. 33. Ambedkar, “Away from the Hindus,” 403. 34. Ambedkar, “Away from the Hindus,” 404. 35. Ambedkar, “Away from the Hindus,” 405. 36. Ambedkar, “Away from the Hindus,” 405. 37. Ambedkar, “Away from the Hindus,” 405. 38. Ambedkar, “Away from the Hindus,” 406. 39. Ambedkar, “Away from the Hindus,” 405. 40. Kumar, Radical Equality, 138. See also 328–336 on maitri. 41. Rowena Robinson, “In Search of Fraternity: Constitutional Law and the Context of Housing Discrimination in India,” Economic and Political Weekly 50, no. 26–27 (June 2015): 54–62. 42. Ambedkar, “Away from the Hindus,” 406. 43. Ambedkar, “Away from the Hindus,” 409. 44. Ambedkar, “Away from the Hindus,” 409. 45. Ambedkar, “Away from the Hindus,” 413. 46. Ambedkar, “Away from the Hindus,” 413, 417. 47. Ambedkar, “Away from the Hindus,” 418. 48. Ambedkar’s address to All-Bombay district Mahar Conference May 30–31, 1935, quoted in Zelliot, Ambedkar’s World, 154. See Zelliot’s endnote 42 of Ambedkar’s World on p. 248 for more discussion of the meanings of manuski. 49. Ambedkar’s address to All-Bombay district Mahar Conference May 30–31, 1935, quoted in Zelliot, Ambedkar’s World, 154. 50. Ambedkar, Annihilation of Caste, 316. 51. Ambedkar, Annihilation of Caste, 303. 52. Ambedkar, Annihilation of Caste, 305. 53. Ambedkar, Annihilation of Caste, 306. 54. Rina Verma Williams, Postcolonial Politics and Personal Laws: Colonial Legacies and the Indian State (Delhi: Oxford University Press, 2006), 115, see also 96–124, especially 102–105.

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55. Quoted in Rege, Against the Madness of Manu, from Ambedkar’s 1942 speech for the All-India Depressed Classes Women’s Conference in 1942. 56. Paik, Dalit Women’s Education, 158. 57. B. R. Ambedkar, “Why Was Nagpur Chosen?,” speech given October 15, 1956, in Nagpur, India, the day after his conversion; accessed July 26, 2016, http://www.columbia.edu/itc/mealac/pritchett/00ambedkar/ txt_ambedkar_conversion.html. 58. B. R. Ambedkar, The Buddha and His Dhamma (Nagpur: Buddha Bhoomi Publication, 1997), 325. 59. Ambedkar, “Why Was Nagpur Chosen?” 60. Ambedkar, “Why Was Nagpur Chosen?” 61. Ambedkar, “Why Was Nagpur Chosen?” 62. Rao, Caste Question, 120–121; Ambedkar, Buddha and His Dhamma. Ambedkar’s turn to Buddhism built on earlier Buddhist anti-casteist movements. See G. Aloysius, Religion as Emancipatory Identity: A Buddhist Movement Among the Tamils under Colonialism (New Delhi: New Age International, 1998), 20–22, 178–194. 63. Ambedkar, “Away from the Hindus,” 405. 64. Rege, Writing Caste/Writing Gender, 16. 65. Rege, Writing Caste/Writing Gender, 9–15; S. Anand, Untouchable Tales: Publishing and Reading Dalit Literature (Chennai: Navayana, 2003). 66. Rege, Writing Caste/Writing Gender, 95. Rege’s focus is “testimonios,” Spanish for “testimonies,” which she defines as “a narrative in book or pamphlet form, told in the first person by a narrator who is also the real protagonist or witness of the events he or she recounts and whose unit of narration is usually a ‘life’ or significant life experience” (17). The ones included in her extraordinary Writing Caste/Writing Gender are largely translations of printed Marathi narratives. Mine are recorded and transcribed (and in some cases translated) oral narratives. 67. Rege, Writing Caste/Writing Gender, 18; see also Uma Chakravarti, Gendering Caste: Through a Feminist Lens (Calcutta: Stree, 2003), 6–7. 68. Shefali Chandra, “World’s Largest Dynasty: Caste, Sexuality and the Manufacture of Indian ‘Democracy,’ ” Dialect Anthropology 38 (2014): 225–238, 233. See also Jadhav Ambedkar, 200; Zelliot Ambedkar’s World, 72–73. 69. Paik, Dalit Women’s Education; Aloysius Irudayam S. J., Jayshree P. Mangubhai, and Joel Lee, Dalit Women Speak Out: Caste, Class and Gender Violence in India (New Delhi: Zubaan, 2011). 70. Goldie Osuri, Religious Freedom in India: Sovereignty and (Anti) Conversion. (London: Routledge, 2013), 159. On oral history, see also Jan Vansina, Oral Tradition as History (Madison: University of Wisconsin Press, 1985), 12–13. 71. Discussed in Laura Dudley Jenkins, “Women’s Empowerment Through Religious Conversion: Voices of Buddhists in Nagpur, India,” in “Speaking Truth to Power”: Religion, Caste, and the Subaltern Question in India, ed. Manu Bhagavan and Anne Feldhaus, 153–164 (New Delhi: Oxford University Press, 2008). 72. Rege, Writing Caste/Writing Gender, 101, 17. 73. Rege discusses this work in Writing Caste/Writing Gender, 305; see Rege’s entire chapter on Pawde and her narrative, 304–343.

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74. Kumud Pawde, “The Story of My Sanskrit,” trans. Priya Adarkar, in Poisoned Bread, ed. Arjun Dangle, 96–106 (Hyderabad: Orient Blackswan, 1992). 75. Kumud Pawde’s oral history, recorded in Nagpur, September 6–8, 2002, by author. 76. Sojourner Truth, “Ain’t I A Woman?,” speech delivered at the Women’s Convention, Akron, Ohio, December 1851, Fordham University, “Modern History Sourcebook,” accessed November 2, 2016, http://sourcebooks.fordham.edu/mod/sojtruth-woman.asp. 77. Y. S. Alone, “Caste Life Narratives, Visual Representation, and Protected Ignorance,” Biography 40 (2017): 140–169. 78. Oral history of Y. S. Alone, professor, Department of Art and Aesthetics, recorded in New Delhi, March 22, 2016, by author. 79. For more on Ambedkar’s support for women in the context of religious freedom, see Rege, Against the Madness of Manu. 80. Zelliot, Ambedkar’s World, 170–171. 81. Viswanathan, Outside the Fold, 225, 212. 82. Held May 30–31, 1936, quoted in Zelliot, Ambedkar’s World, 154–155. 83. Quoted in Zelliot, Ambedkar’s World, 155. 84. Michael Lambek, “Is Religion Free?,” in Politics of Religious Freedom, ed. Winnifred Fallers Sullivan, Elizabeth Shakman Hurd, Saba Mahmood, Peter G. Danchin, 289–300 (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 2015), 298. 85. Oral history of Y. S. Alone. 86. Winnifred Fallers Sullivan, The Impossibility of Religious Freedom (Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press, 2007). 87. Winnifred Fallers Sullivan, Elizabeth Shakman Hurd, Saba Mahmood, and Peter G. Danchin, eds., Politics of Religious Freedom (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 2015). 88. Depressed Classes, 43, located under the heading “15th October 1935—Dr. Ambedkar’s Reply.” 89. Lambek, “Is Religion Free?,” 290. 90. Elizabeth Shakman Hurd, Beyond Religious Freedom: The New Global Politics of Religion (Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press, 2015), 59–60. 91. Ambedkar, Annihilation of Caste, 260, see sec. 14.1. 92. PTI, “Now, Christians Challenge Gujarat Freedom of Religion Act,” Financial Express, January 22, 2015, accessed November 2, 2016, http://www.financialexpress.com/ india-news/now-christians-challenge-gujarat-freedom-of-religion-act/33494/.

Chapter 3 1. The size of the Mizo Bnei Menashe community is difficult to ascertain in part due to the political sensitivity of this issue. Shavei Israel, the nongovernmental organization most directly involved in orchestrating the Mizo Jews’ return, estimates that the population of Jews in Mizoram, together with those in the neighboring Indian state of Manipur and in the country of Myanmar, which borders both of these states, is around 7,200: Bnei Menashe, accessed July 6, 2015, http://www.shavei.org/category/communities/bnei_menashe/?langen. In addition to Mizos, this number includes members of the Kuki and Chin ethnic groups, who, like the Mizos, have small Jewish communities that believe their ancestral tribe of Menashe settled in this region. Smaller communities claiming to be Bnei Menashe exist in Nagaland and Assam as well. Amir Mizroch, “Lost and Found,” Jerusalem Post, January 20, 2009, 1.

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2. They are not the only ones asked to do this. Reformed Jewish converts also must undergo orthodox conversions to be recognized as Jewish and exercise the right of return. 3. Northeast Today, “Over 100 ‘Mizo Jews’ Migrate to Israel This Week,” February 17, 2017, accessed February 17, 2017, http://www.northeasttoday.in/over-100-mizo-jews -migrate-to-israel-this-week/. 4. Pradip Phanjoubam, The Northeast Question: Conflicts and Frontiers (New Delhi: Routledge, 2016), 195. See the entire book for the political and historical background on the northeast region of India, including what is now Mizoram (formerly known as the Lushai Hills), from its incorporation into British-administered Assam to the present, as well as the state of Manipur, home to more members of the Bnei Menashe. 5. The historian Robert Frykenberg discusses the Christianization of the “Mizos” and integration of several tribes into this shared identity: “Originally known as Lushai, Mizos consist of half a dozen cognate tribes.” Robert Frykenberg, Christianity in India: From Beginnings to the Present (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2008), 450. Office of the Registrar General and Census Commissioner, India, Ministry of Home Affairs, Government of India, “Mizoram Data Highlights: The Scheduled Tribes Census of India 2001,” accessed October 27, 2016, http://censusindia.gov.in/Tables_Published/SCST/dh_st_mizoram.pdf; Ministry of Tribal Affairs, Government of India, “Demographic Status of Scheduled Tribe Population of India,” 2011, accessed October 27, 2016, http://tribal.nic.in/WriteReadData/userfiles/file/ Demographic.pdf. (p. 11 of PDF file, in graphic entitled “State wise no. of district where the ST population is more than 50% and between 25% to 50 percent as per Census 2011.”) 6. Joseph Hodes, From India to Israel: Identity, Immigration, and the Struggle for Religious Equality (Montreal: McGill-Queen’s University Press, 2014), 3. See the entire book for the history and struggles of the Bene Israel, an earlier wave of Jews from India to settle in Israel in the first surge of immigration after its founding. 7. Stephen Greenblat, Cultural Mobility: A Manifesto (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2010), 19. 8. Stephen Greenblat, Marvelous Possessions: The Wonder of the New World (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1991). 9. Since I am not assessing the reality of these representations but rather their political and legal implications, I will not always place quotation marks around words such as “lost tribe” or “return,” while recognizing that these are contested terms in the various accounts discussed. 10. Stanford M. Lyman, “The Lost Tribes of Israel as a Problem in History and Sociology,” International Journal of Politics, Culture, and Society 12, no. 1 (1998): 7–42, 7; Tudor Parfitt, The Lost Tribes of Israel: The History of a Myth (London: Weidenfeld & Nicolson, 2002). 11. Conversation with author in Aizawl, February 16, 2014. 12. Liyon Fanei, conversation with author, February 19, 2014. 13. Fanei, conversation with author, February 19, 2014. 14. Zaithanchhungi, conversation with author, February 19–20, 2014. 15. Zaithanchhungi, Israel-Mizo Identity (Aizawl: L. N. Tluanga, 2008), 115. 16. Quoted in Zaithanchhungi, Israel-Mizo Identity, 14. 17. Zaithanchhungi, Israel-Mizo Identity, 14; Zaithanchhungi, typescript on Kaifeng Jews, given to author in 2014.

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18. Zaithanchhungi, Israel-Mizo Identity, 15. 19. Zaithanchhungi, Israel-Mizo Identity, 17. 20. Donna Strom, Wind through the Bamboo: The Story of Transformed Mizos (Madras: Evangelical Literature Service, 1983), 5, quoted in Zaithanchhungi, Israel-Mizo Identity, 20. 21. Zaithanchhungi, Israel-Mizo Identity, 94. 22. Zaithanchhungi, conversation with author, February 19, 2014; Zaithanchhungi, typescript on Kaifeng Jews, given to author in 2014. 23. For a thorough and revealing analysis of the use of genetics to answer the question, who is a Jew?, see Nadia Abu El-Haj, The Genealogical Science: The Search for Jewish Origins and the Politics of Epistemology (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 2012); chapter 5 (181– 217) features the Lemba of South Africa and the Bnei Menashe. 24. Bhaswar Maity, T. Sitalaximi, R. Trivedi, and V. K. Kashyap, “Tracking the Genetic Imprints of Lost Jewish Tribes Among the Gene Pool of Kuki-Chin-Mizo Population of India,” Genome Biology 6 (2004): 1–20, abstract. 25. Maity et al., “Tracking the Genetic Imprints.” 26. Maity et al., “Tracking the Genetic Imprints,” 3; Hillel Halkin, Across the Sabbath River: In Search of a Lost Tribe of Israel (New York: Houghton Mifflin, 2002). 27. Maity et al., “Tracking the Genetic Imprints,” 5. 28. Maity et al., “Tracking the Genetic Imprints,” 8. 29. Nira Yuval-Davis and Floya Anthias, eds., Woman-Nation-State (London: Macmillan, 1989). 30. Testimony before the Knesset Immigration, Absorption and Diaspora Affairs Committee, June 18, 2003. 31. Quoted in Arutz Sheva, “Rabbinate Recognizes Bnei Menashe as ‘Descendants of Israel,’ ” IsraelNationalNews, March 4, 2005, accessed April 14, 2010, http://www.israel nationalnews.com/News/News.aspx/79370. 32. Abu El-Haj, Genealogical Science, 289n33. 33. BBC News, “Rabbi Backs India’s ‘Lost Jews,’ ” last modified April 1, 2005, accessed April 14, 2010, http://newsvote.bbc.co.uk/mpapps/pagetools/print/news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/ south_asia/4400957.stm. 34. “Jews Want a Room to Worship,” Telegraph, last modified December 1, 2008, accessed September 29, 2016, http://www.telegraphindia.com/1081201/jsp/northeast/story _10176144.jsp. 35. Abu El-Haj, Genealogical Science, 205–214. The chapter (181–217) has more details about Amishav and another organization, Kulanu, devoted to the return of the lost tribes, including more details on the Bnei Menashe debates within Israel. See the entire book for a nuanced examination of Jewish “genetic history projects.” I will focus, instead, on Shavei. 36. Shavei Israel, “Video: Conversion Authority Visits Bnei Menashe in Kfar Hasidim,” YouTube, 2:55 min., March 16, 2015, accessed June 11, 2015, https://shavei.org/conversion authorityvisit/. 37. Shavei Israel, “Video: Conversion Authority Visits Bnei Menashe in Kfar Hasidim.” 38. Gaby Wine, “Helping ‘Lost Jews’ Find Their Way Home,” Asian Jewish Life 9 (2012), accessed June 1, 2015, asianjewishlife.org/pages/TOC/AJL_TOC_Issue 9_April2012.html. 39. Knesset Immigration, Absorption and Diaspora Affairs Committee, “Agenda: Settling of Hundreds of New Immigrants from India in Settlements,” June 18, 2003 (translated from Hebrew).

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40. Michael Freund, “Long-Lost Jews,” Jerusalem Post Magazine, last modified March 27, 2002, accessed June 1, 2015. Republished at http://www.kulanu.org/india/indiatribe.php, 24; Zaithanchhungi, Israel-Mizo Identity. 41. Fanei, conversation with author, February 19, 2014. 42. Fanei, conversation with author, February 19, 2014. 43. Conversation with author, February 16, 2014. 44. Kulanu is a US-based nongovernmental organization that assists “lost and dispersed Jewish communities around the world,” Karen Primack, Under One Canopy: Readings in Jewish Diversity (New York: Kulanu, 2003), 2. The Kulanuboutique website selling these kippah, under the tab, “detailed product description,” included its own narrative about the Bnei Menashe: “After thousands of years of exile, they [the Bnei Menashe] are rediscovering their roots and returning to Judaism. More than 300 Bnei Menashe have gone to Israel. Many live in the Gush Katif area, work in agriculture and serve in the army. The rest of Bnei Menashe would like to move to Israel and join the few who have been able to obtain permission from the Israeli authorities to move back home. These brightly colored kippot were hand-crocheted by members of the Bnei Menashe community in Israel.” Viewed on Kulanu, accessed May 12, 2010, http://www.kulanuboutique.com/servlet/Detail?no22. 45. Fanei, conversation with author, February 10, 2014. 46. Observations and conversations with members by author, February 16, 2014. 47. Knesset Immigration, Absorption and Diaspora Affairs Committee, “Agenda: Settling of Hundreds of New Immigrants from India in Settlements,” June 18, 2003, translated from Hebrew. 48. Freund, “Long-Lost Jews,” 1. 49. This Hasidic tradition is from Ashkenazic (Eastern European) rather than Sephardic (Middle Eastern or Mediterranean) roots, so the Bnei Menashe in Israel seem to be observing a range of traditions. I did not observe pe’ot among the people I met in Mizoram, however. 50. Shavei Israel, “Video: Conversion Authority Visits Bnei Menashe in Kfar Hasidim.” 51. Shavei Israel, “Video: Conversion Authority Visits Bnei Menashe in Kfar Hasidim.” 52. Dvora Yanow, “How Built Spaces Mean: A Semiotics of Space,” in Interpretation and Method: Empirical Research Methods and the Interpretive Turn, ed. Dvora Yanow and Peregrine Schwartz-Shea, 368–386 (Armonk, NY: M. E. Sharpe, 2014), 369. 53. Shavei Israel, “Video: Conversion Authority Visits Bnei Menashe in Kfar Hasidim.” 54. Shavei Israel, “Video: Conversion Authority Visits Bnei Menashe in Kfar Hasidim.” 55. Daniel Chandler, Semiotics: The Basics (London: Routledge, 2007), 128. 56. Bneimenashe.com previously advertised tour groups through spirit-of-india.com to visit the Bnei Menashe in Manipur and Mizoram (tours viewed on these websites October 7, 2009). 57. “Jews Want a Room to Worship,” Telegraph, December 1, 2008, accessed September 29, 2016, http://www.telegraphindia.com/1081201/jsp/northeast/story_10176144.jsp. 58. “Bnei Menashe for Everyone,” last modified November 28, 2008, accessed October 7, 2009, http://forecastehighs.com/2008/11/28/bnei-menashe-for-everyone/. 59. “Bnei Menashe for Everyone,” last modified November 28, 2008, accessed October 7, 2009, http://forecastehighs.com/2008/11/28/bnei-menashe-for-everyone/. 60. Simcha Shtull-Trauring, ed., Letters from Beyond the Sambatyon: The Myth of the Ten Lost Tribes (New York: MAXIMA New Media, 1997).

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Notes to Pages 113–115

61. Shavei Israel, “Video: Conversion Authority Visits Bnei Menashe in Kfar Hasidim.” 62. Other Jewish congregations that are more messianic than the ones I interacted with exist in northeast India, according to the Jerusalem Post correspondent Amir Mizroch (“Lost and Found,” Jerusalem Post, January 20, 2009). Perhaps some are in Manipur, the home state of Tungnung, who is quoted here. 63. Stephen Spector, Evangelicals and Israel: The Story of American Christian Zionism (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2009), 10. 64. Matthew Wagner, “Bnei Menashe Conversions Halted After Indian Pressure,” Jerusalem Post, November 9, 2005, 1. 65. According to a Jerusalem Post article, “Shavei Israel is funded by the International Fellowship of Christians and Jews, a coalition of evangelical Christians that provides millions of dollars in financial support to Israel.” An official correction posted later stated: “It was mistakenly reported that Shavei Israel receives funding from the International Fellowship of Christians and Jews.” Wagner, “Bnei Menashe Conversions,” 1. 66. Shavei Israel, “Video: Conversion Authority Visits Bnei Menashe in Kfar Hasidim.” 67. Chandler, Semiotics, 206. 68. Lyman, “Lost Tribes,” 7–9. In addition to Isaiah, additional biblical passages associated with “lost tribe” ideas can be found in Hosea, Obadiah, Micah, Zephaniah, Zechariah, and Ezekiel, see Lyman, “Lost Tribes,” 10–11. 69. The Holy Bible: Revised Standard Version (Minneapolis: Augsburg Publishing House, 1971), 613. 70. Notably, not all Christian Zionists subscribe to this set of beliefs, which some scholars trace back to John Nelson Darby. Smith critiques the assumption that Darby is the “father” of contemporary Christian Zionism, particularly in America, where William Blackstone was arguably a bigger influence. See Robert O. Smith, “The Quest to Comprehend Christian Zionism,” in Comprehending Christian Zionism: Perspectives in Comparison, ed. Goran Gunner and Robert O. Smith, 325–335 (Minneapolis: Fortress Press, 2014), 329. Ammon RazKrakotzkin reminds us that “the first to describe the idea of the restoration of the Jews in modern political terms and as a Western vision were early modern Christian millenarians who regarded the return of the Jews to the Holy Land . . . as the precondition for the Second Coming,” a view featured in their literature from as early as the seventeenth century. Amnon Raz-Krakotzkin, “Secularism, the Christian Ambivalence Toward Jews, and the Notion of Exile,” in Jewish Culture and Contexts: Jews and Judaism in Modern Times, ed. Ari Joscowitz and Ethan B. Katz, 276–298 (Philadelphia: University of Pennsylvania Press, 2015), 290. 71. Spector, Evangelicals and Israel, 14. These expectations of mass Jewish conversions or deaths may explain the colder feelings of many Jews toward Evangelicals, despite many Evangelicals’ warm feeling toward Jews, an unusually lopsided relationship in Pew surveys utilizing a thermometer rating system. See “How Americans Feel about Religious Groups,” and “Americans Say Jews are the Coolest,” July 17, 2014, accessed November 6, 2014, http:// us1.campaign-archive1.com/?u434f5d1199912232d416897e4&idaa3df152b2&ed735 784fd9. 72. Spector, Evangelicals and Israel, 15. A recent vehicle for dispensationalist thought in the 1990s and 2000s was Left Behind, a series of novels (and in 2014, a movie starring Nicholas Cage) based on their end-of-days scenario, a series that has sold more than sixty-five million copies. See Shalom Goldman, Zeal for Zion: Christians, Jews, and the Idea of the Promised Land

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(Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press, 2009), 293. Through Left Behind, the US also exports this ideology to rest of world. See Stephen Sizer, Christian Zionism: Road-Map to Armageddon? (Leicester: Inter-Varsity Press, 2004), 25; Tim LaHaye and Jerry B. Jenkins, Left Behind Series. 16 vols. (Carol Stream, IL: Tyndale House, 1995–2007). 73. Phone conversation by author with one of IFCJ’s Chicago-based staff members, September 17, 2014. 74. Smith, “Quest to Comprehend,” 328. 75. Spector, Evangelicals and Israel, 198. 76. Although the focus of this chapter is on a US-based organization, “Christian organizations that enthusiastically support the state of Israel and the return of the Jews to their ancestral homeland are active in many countries around the globe, including South Africa, Nigeria, Brazil, South Korea, and throughout Europe and North America.” Quoted in Faydra L. Shapiro, “Living in the Hour of Restoration: Christian Zionism, Immigration, and Aliyah,” In Comprehending Christian Zionism: Perspectives in Comparison, ed. Goran Gunner and Robert O. Smith, 161–178 (Minneapolis: Fortress Press, 2014), 167. See also Goran Gunner and Robert O. Smith, eds., Comprehending Christian Zionism: Perspectives in Comparison (Minneapolis: Fortress Press, 2014), 326. 77. Spector, Evangelicals and Israel, 200. 78. This film is not logged in the Internet Movie Database (IMDb), so full credits cannot be provided. It was available for purchase as a DVD on the IFCJ website. International Fellowship of Christians and Jews, “Journey to Zion with Rabbi Yechiel Eckstein, volume 1 Prophesy and the Temple,” (Chicago: International Fellowship of Christians and Jews), DVD series, disk 1, accessed July 29, 2018, https://store.ifcj.org/products/journey-to-zion. 79. These are presumably Christians based on the fact that he is explaining Judaism and his take on Jewish views to them as Christians and based on the questions asked in the “Ask a Rabbi” section of the DVD. Rabbi Eckstein is a popular speaker at churches, according to promotional narrative on his DVDs. See International Fellowship of Christians and Jews, Journey to Zion, disk 1. 80. In his response, Rabbi Eckstein notes that Armageddon is an idea from the New Testament book of Revelations, not the portion of the Bible shared by Christians and Jews. International Fellowship of Christians and Jews, Journey to Zion, disk 1. 81. International Fellowship of Christians and Jews, Journey to Zion, disk 1. 82. International Fellowship of Christians and Jews, Journey to Zion, disk 1. 83. International Fellowship of Christians and Jews, Journey to Zion, disk 1. 84. International Fellowship of Christians and Jews, Journey to Zion, disk 1. 85. Direct mail from IFCJ, dated October 2014, underlining in original. 86. Spector, Evangelicals and Israel, 198–199. 87. International Fellowship of Christians and Jews, “The Biblical Temples Study Guide.” Journey to Zion (Chicago: International Fellowship of Christians and Jews, 2014), 51. 88. Shapiro, “Living in the Hour,” 176. 89. Mary Curtius, “Lost Tribe Applicants Stir Debate on Israeli Citizenship,” Los Angeles Times, August 29, 1994, accessed July 5, 2015, http://articles.latimes.com/1994-08-29/news/ mn-32563_1_lost-tribe, 1. 90. Curtius, “Lost Tribe Applicants,” 1. 91. Mizroch, “Lost and Found.”

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92. Stephan Epstein, “A Long-Lost Tribe Is Ready to Come Home,” Bnei Menashe: Lost Tribe Coming Home, accessed October 7, 2009, http://www.bneimenashe.com/history.html. 93. Curtius, “Lost Tribe Applicants,” 2. 94. Haviv Rettig Gur, “PMO: No Decision Yet on Bnei Menashe,” Jerusalem Post, August 20, 2008, accessed July 1, 2015, http://www.jpost.com/Jewish-World/Jewish-News/PMO-No -decision-yet-on-Bnei-Menashe, 1. 95. Laura Dudley Jenkins, “Legal Limits on Religious Conversion in India,” Law and Contemporary Problems 71, no. 2 (2008): 109–127 and “Diversity and the Constitution in India: What Is Religious Freedom?” Drake Law Review 57, no. 4 (2009): 913–947. 96. Wagner, “Bnei Menashe Conversions,” 1. 97. BBC News, “Israel Halts Indian Conversions,” last modified November 9, 2005, accessed July 29, 2018, http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/south_asia/4422510.stm. 98. Wagner, “Bnei Menashe Conversions,” 1. 99. Wagner, “Bnei Menashe Conversions,” 1. 100. Nadai, quoted in Wagner, “Bnei Menashe Conversions,” 1. 101. The religious identity of Mizo Jews cannot be separated from racism they face, in the eyes of both some “mainland,” or “plains,” Indians and some Israelis. A Bnei Menashe man in Aizawl, Mizoram, described to me how, when he visited Bangalore, one of the most cosmopolitan cities in India, people refused to believe he was from India and repeatedly told him he must be from China, because of his appearance. A series of racially motivated attacks against people from northeast India in Delhi in 2014 is indicative of their estrangement from the national mainstream and contributes to the ease with which Mizo Jews have enthusiastically switched from Indian to Israeli identity. 102. Samir Kumar Das, “Whither Regionalism in India’s Northeast?,” India Review 13, no. 4 (2014): 399–416, 404. 103. Wagner, “Bnei Menashe Conversions,” 1; BBC News, “Israel Halts Conversions,” November 5, 2005, http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/2hi/south_asia/4422510.stm. 104. P. Lalnithanga, Mizoram. States of Our Union Series (Publications Division, Ministry of Information and Broadcasting, Government of India, 1997), 38. 105. Roots: The Shavei Israel Newsletter, published by Constant Contact, January 2010, accessed April 27, 2010, http://archive.constantcontact.com/fs027/1102836659073/archive/ 1102950076029.html. 106. Curtius, “Lost Tribe Applicants,” 2. 107. Mizroch, “Lost and Found,” 13. 108. Vanessa C. Laufer, dir., Salaam, Shalom: The Jews of India, DVD (New York: Filmakers Library, 2001). 109. Curtius, “Lost Tribe Applicants,” 1. 110. Curtius, “Lost Tribe Applicants,” 2. 111. Mizroch, “Lost and Found,” 13. 112. An overview of settlement politics in Israel is outside the scope of this chapter. For a recent article on the subject, see Moshe Hellinger, Isaac Hershkovitz, and Bernard Susser, “The Dialectic Between Confrontation and Commitment: Religious-Zionism and the Settlement Project,” Politics and Religion 9, no. 4 (2016): 843–866. 113. Pines-Paz’s testimony before the Knesset Immigration, Absorption and Diaspora Affairs Committee, June 18, 2003, translated from Hebrew.

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114. Goldman, Zeal for Zion, 284. 115. The Bnei Menashe of Migdal HaEmek rallied in support of the Israeli Defense Forces in July 2014. An article on the Shavei Israel website notes that “most of the Bnei Menashe in Migdal HaEmek have relatives living in the southern city of Sderot, which has received the brunt of more the 10,000 missiles that have been fired at Israel from Gaza over the past decade.” See Shavei Israel, “Bnei Menashe Rally in Migdal HeEmek in support of the IDF,” accessed November 6, 2014, https://shavei.org/bnei-menashe-rally-in-migdal-haemek -in-support-of-the-idf/. 116. Sen. James M. Inhofe, “Senate Floor Statement of Senator Inhofe: America’s Stake in Israel’s War on Terrorism,” December 4, 2001, quoted in Shapiro, “Living in the Hour,” 169. Inhofe is not discussing the Bnei Menashe, but his references to Hebron, where many members of the Bnei Menashe community have ended up living, illustrate the importance, in the eyes of some Christian Zionists, of returning Jews to this area. 117. Shapiro, “Living in the Hour,” 175; Sergio DellaPergola, “The Global Context of Migration to Israel,” in Immigration to Israel: Sociological Perspectives, ed. Elazar Leshem and Judith T. Shuval, 51–94 (New Brunswick, NJ: Transaction, 1998). 118. Shapiro, “Living in the Hour,” 165. 119. International Fellowship of Christians and Jews, “On Wings of Eagles,” accessed July 22, 2018, http://www.ifcj.org/who-we-are/programs/on-wings-of-eagles/. 120. Goldman Zeal for Zion, 307. 121. Gur, “PMO,” 1. 122. Mizroch, “Lost and Found,” 13. 123. Wagner, “Bnei Menashe Conversions,” 1. 124. Greenblat, Cultural Mobility, 19. 125. Greenblat, Cultural Mobility, 19. 126. Nancy Fraser and Axel Honneth, Recognition or Redistribution? A PoliticalPhilosophical Exchange (London: Verso, 2003), 94. 127. Uri Ben-Eliezer, “Multicultural Society and Everyday Cultural Racism: Second Generation of Ethiopian Jews in Israel’s ‘Crisis of Modernization,’ ” Ethnic and Racial Studies 31, no. 5 (2008): 935–961, 950, quotes one Israeli saying, “They brought 5,000 Ethiopians here and sent them all to the welfare department.” Thanks to Adrian Parr for suggesting the resonance with Nancy Fraser’s critique, and for her insights on aliyah as return rather than immigration: “ ‘Return’ implies you already belonged to the place” (pers. comm., December 15, 2016). 128. Fraser and Honneth, Recognition or Redistribution?, 94. 129. Pines-Paz’s testimony before the Knesset Immigration, Absorption and Diaspora Affairs Committee, June 18, 2003, translated from Hebrew.

Chapter 4 1. Heiner Bielefeldt, Elimination of All Forms of Religious Intolerance: Interim Report of the Special Rapporteur on Freedom of Religion or Belief, A/71/269, UN General Assembly, August 2, 2016, accessed December 8, 2016, http://www.un.org/ga/search/view_doc.asp? symbolA/71/269, 7. 2. “Let there be anti-conversion laws in all the States and at the Centre also,” said M. Venkaiah Naidu, the parliamentary affairs minister, in the Lok Sabha. Hindu, “BJP Calls for National Law to Curb Conversions,” last modified April 7, 2016, accessed December 8, 2016,

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http://www.thehindu.com/news/national/agra-conversions-centre-advocates-anticonversion -laws/article6683116.ece. 3. Sikata Bannerjee, Make Me a Man! Masculinity, Hinduism, and Nationalism in India (Albany: State University of New York Press, 2005), 132. 4. H. Porter Abbott, The Cambridge Introduction to Narrative, 2nd ed. (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2008), 183. 5. Abbott, Cambridge Introduction to Narrative, 183. 6. Abbott, Cambridge Introduction to Narrative, 183. 7. Martha C. Nussbaum, The New Religious Intolerance: Overcoming the Politics of Fear in an Anxious Age (Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 2012), 11–13; Joshua L. Mitchell and Brendan Toner, “Exploring the Foundations of US State-Level Anti-Sharia Initiatives,” Politics and Religion 9, no. 4 (December 2016): 720–743, 721–23. 8. Manny Fernandez and Christine Hauser, “Handcuffed for Making a Clock, Ahmed Mohamed, 14, Wins Time with Obama,” New York Times, last modified September 16, 2015, accessed November 2, 2016, http://www.nytimes.com/2015/09/17/us/texas-student-is-under -police-investigation-for-building-a-clock.html?_r0; Elahe Izadi and Lindsey Bever, “The History of Anti-Islam Controversy in Ahmed Mohamed’s Texas City,” Washington Post, September 16, 2015, accessed November 2, 2016, https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/acts-of -faith/wp/2015/09/16/the-history-of-anti-islam-controversy-in-ahmed-mohameds-texas-city/. 9. Srimati Basu, Trouble with Marriage: Feminists Confront Law and Violence in India (Berkeley: University of California, 2015), 59. 10. Basu, Trouble with Marriage, 59–60. 11. Marc Baer, “Islamic Conversion Narratives of Women: Social Change and Gendered Religious Hierarchy in Early Modern Ottoman Istanbul,” Gender and History 16, no. 2 (August 2004): 425–458, 431. 12. Constituent Assembly Debates on 30 August, 1947 Part I, “Supplementary Report on Fundamental Rights (Contd.),” accessed December 13, 2016, https://indiankanoon.org/doc/ 181341/; Granville Austin, The Indian Constitution: Cornerstone of a Nation (New Delhi: Oxford University Press, 1999 [1966]), 344. On the various clauses against conversion “by coercion or undue influence” proposed but rejected in the constitution writing process, see Sebastian C. H. Kim, In Search of Identity: Debates on Religious Conversion in India (New Delhi: Oxford, 2003), 43–50. 13. Quoted in Jesse L. Palsetia, “Parsi and Hindu Traditional and Nontraditional Responses to Christian Conversion in Bombay, 1839–1945,” Journal of the American Academy of Religion 74, no. 3 (September 2006): 615–645, 622. 14. Anjna Masih, “Anti-conversion Laws,” typescript, 2016, 1. 15. Sanjay Ghose, “Unsustainable Laws,” Lawyers Collective, last modified 2001, accessed February 18, 2006, http://lawyerscollective.org/lc_mag/freedownloads/magazine2001/Janu ary%202001/unsus_stein_able_laws.htm. The historian Barbara Ramusack helped me classify these major and minor states based on British gun salutes. A higher number indicated a more significant prince. Udaipur was a nineteen-gun-salute state; Bikaner, Jodhpur, and Kota were seventeen-gun-salute states; Patna and Kalahandi were nine-gun-salute states; and Surguja and Raighar were no-salute states. 16. Barbara Ramusack, The Indian Princes and Their States (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2004), 212.

Notes to Pages 137–140

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17. M. K. Gandhi, Christian Missions: Their Place in India (Ahmedabad: Navajivan Publishing House, 1960 [1957]), 52. 18. Rowena Robinson and Joseph Marianus Kujur, eds., Margins of Faith: Dalit and Tribal Christianity of India (New Delhi: Sage, 2010). For brief histories of Adivasi conversions to Christianity in central India, see pp. 31–32; for eastern India, 76–77; for northeastern India (Mizo Christianity), 170–173; and for western India (Gujarat), 212–215. 19. John B. Carman and Chilkuri Vasantha Rao, Christians in South Indian Villages, 1959–2009 (Grand Rapids, MI: William B. Eerdmans, 2014), 178–179. 20. Goldie Osuri, Religious Freedom in India: Sovereignty and (Anti) Conversion (New York: Routledge, 2013), 35, see also 29–35. 21. Osuri, Religious Freedom in India, 30. Whereas the prince of Raigarh tried to preserve the hierarchical status quo, other princes were more progressive. For example, the Gaekwar of Baroda in 1913 funded B. R. Ambedkar’s overseas education at Columbia University (see Chapter 2). This magnanimity was facilitated by Baroda’s higher level of political status and resources, in contrast to Raigarh. See Columbia University, “In the 1910’s: Off to Columbia, and on to London,” accessed November 18, 2016, http://www.columbia.edu/itc/mealac/ pritchett/00ambedkar/timeline/1910s.html; Chad M. Bauman, Christian Identity and Dalit Religion in Hindu India, 1868–1947 (Grand Rapids, MI: William B. Eerdmans, 2008), 197. 22. Osuri, Religious Freedom in India, 31. She is quoting from Raigarh Conversion Act 1936, 3. 23. Osuri Religious Freedom in India, 30. 24. Sarbeswar Sahoo, “Religious Violence and the ‘Developmental State’ in Rajasthan,” in Perspectives on Violence and Othering in India, ed. R. C. Tripathi and Purnima Singh, 175–194 (New Delhi: Springer, 2016), 191–192. 25. Osuri, Religious Freedom in India, 29. 26. South Asian Human Rights Documentation Centre, “Anti-conversion Laws: Challenges to Secularism and Fundamental Rights,” Economic and Political Weekly (January 12, 2008): 63–73, 63. 27. Other legal tensions include interpretations of Indian federalism. In April 2015, the Law Ministry shot down calls for a national anticonversion law on the grounds that it is a state subject and not under the jurisdiction of the central government. Namrata Biji Ahuja, “Law Ministry Says No to Anti-conversion Law,” Deccan Chronicle, April 15, 2015, accessed December 8, 2016, (http://www.deccanchronicle.com/150415/nation-current-affairs/article/ law-minister-says-no-anti-conversion-law. 28. For a list of constitutional references to the backward classes, see the National Commission for Backward Classes website: National Commission for Backward Classes, “Constitutional Provisions,” accessed December 8, 2016, http://www.ncbc.nic.in/User_Panel/User View.aspx?TypeID1114. 29. For a more thorough discussion of the OBCs, see Laura Dudley Jenkins and Michele S. Moses, eds., Affirmative Action Matters: Creating Opportunities for Students Around the World (London: Routledge, 2014), 34–36. 30. C. S. Adcock, “Debating Conversion, Silencing Caste: The Limited Scope of Religious Freedom,” Journal of Law and Religion 29, no. 3 (October 2014): 363–377; Chad M. Bauman, “Identity, Conversion and Violence: Dalits, Adivasis and the 2007–8 Riots in Orissa,” in Margins of Faith: Dalit and Tribal Christianity in India, ed. Rowena Robinson and Joseph Marianus

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Kuju, 263–290 (Delhi: Sage, 2010), 278–285; J. Coleman, “Authoring (In)authenticity, Regulating Religious Tolerance: The Implications of Anticonversion Legislation for Indian Secularism,” Cultural Dynamics 20, no. 3 (November 2008): 245–277; Laura Dudley Jenkins, “Legal Limits on Religious Conversion in India,” Law and Contemporary Problems 71, no. 2 (Spring 2008): 109–127; Pratap Bhanu Mehta, “Passion and Constraint,” Seminar: The Monthly Symposium, no. 521, “India 2002” (January 2003), accessed December 8, 2016, http://www.indiaseminar.com/2003/521/521%20pratap%20bhanu%20mehta.htm; Osuri, Religious Freedom in India; Sahoo, “Religious Violence”; South Asian Human Rights Documentation Centre, “Anti-conversion Laws.” 31. Mehta, “Passion and Constraint.” 32. Jacques Derrida, “Living On—Border Lines,” in Deconstruction and Criticism, ed. Harold Bloom, Paul De Man, Jacques Derrida, Geoffrey Hartman, and J. Hillis Miller, trans. James Hulbert, 75–176 (New York: Seabury Press, 1979), 87. 33. Odisha became the official name of the state previously known as Orissa in 2011. I will refer to the state as Odisha but use Orissa when referring to pre-2011 legislation in that state. 34. The Tamil Nadu government, headed by Chief Minister Jayalalitha, repealed this on May 18, 2004. The Tamil Nadu Prohibition of Forcible Conversion of Religion (Repeal) Act, 2006, (Act no. 10 of 2006) further formalized the demise of the law and was “deemed to have come into force on the 18th day of May 2004.” 35. Christophe Jaffrelot, Religion, Caste and Politics in India (New York: Columbia University Press, 2011), 157–165 discusses the 1957 Report of the Christian Missionary Activities Committee, also known as the Niyogi Report, and some successful and unsuccessful postcolonial legislative initiatives related to conversion. See also Jenkins, “Legal Limits,” 113–118, on the Niyogi Report and 1999 Wadhwa Commission Report and more discussion of legislative developments in Madhya Pradesh and Odisha. 36. Hindustan Times, “Bill Seeking Anti-conversion Law Tabled in Maharashtra Assembly,” last modified July 24, 2015, accessed December 13, 2016, http://www.hindustantimes .com/mumbai/bill-seeking-anti-conversion-law-tabled-in-maharashtra-assembly/story-Qt 0raOF0cDI9EjCVX18W1I.html. 37. The contemporary freedom of religion acts cited here and throughout this chapter are: Orissa Freedom of Religion Act 1967; Madhya Pradesh Freedom of Religion Act (Dharma Swatantrya Adhiniyam) 1968; Chhattisgarh Freedom of Religion Act (Dharma Swatantrya Adhiniyam) 1968; Arunachal Pradesh Freedom of Religion Act 1978; Tamil Nadu Prohibition of Forcible Conversion of Religion Act 2002; Gujarat Freedom of Religion Act 2003; Himachal Pradesh Freedom of Religion Act 2006. 38. Orissa Freedom of Religion Act 1967; Madhya Pradesh Freedom of Religion Act (Dharma Swatantrya Adhiniyam) 1968. 39. Gandhi, Christian Missions, 85 (from Harijan, March 29, 1942) wrote, for instance, “My respect for my own faith forbids my being indifferent to my children abandoning their parents’ faith without conviction. And I should have little respect for you if you led my children astray by making all kinds of worldly promises in which matters of the spirit had no play.” See also Gandhi, Christian Missions, 78 (from Harijan, December 30, 1939): “It is one thing to preach one’s religion to whomsoever may choose to adopt it, another to entice masses.” The contemporary Hindutva movement takes the notion “inducement” to a whole

Notes to Pages 143–148

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new level; in the words of one Hindu nationalist convert from Catholicism, “The organised conversion business is one of the meanest and most underhanded activities of the human being, on par with war” quoted in Kim, In Search of Identity, 166. Kim is quoting David Frawly (also known as Vamadeva Shastri), from “The Missionary Position,” http://bjp.org/ news/feb1799.html. 40. Orissa Freedom of Religion Act 1967. 41. Winnifred Fallers Sullivan, The Impossibility of Religious Freedom (Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press, 2007), 3. 42. Yulitha Hyde and Others v. State or Orissa and Others A.I.R. 1973 Ori 116, p. 121; case is also at https://indiankanoon.org/doc/453517/, accessed December 13, 2016. 43. Mehta, “Passion and Constraint.” 44. Mehta, “Passion and Constraint.” 45. The contemporary freedom of religion rules cited in here and throughout this chapter are: Orissa Freedom of Religion Rules 1989; Madhya Pradesh Dharma Swatantrya Adhiniyam Rules 1969; Gujarat Freedom of Religion Rules 2008; Himachal Pradesh Freedom of Religion Rules 2007. 46. Orissa Freedom of Religion Rules, 1989, 1. 47. Orissa Freedom of Religion Rules, 1989, 1. 48. Orissa Freedom of Religion Rules, 1989, Form A. 49. Orissa Freedom of Religion Rules, 1989, 1. 50. Orissa Freedom of Religion Rules, 1989, 3–4. 51. Madhya Pradesh Dharma Swatantrya Adhiniyam Rules, 1969, Forms A–D. 52. Rabindra Kumar Pal alias Dara Singh versus Republic of India, Supreme Court of India (January 21, 2011), accessed July 29, 2018, https://indiankanoon.org/doc/1481882/. Bauman, “Identity, Conversion and Violence,” 278–286, critiques the “explanation (and implicit justification)” that anti-Christian attacks, as in Orissa in 2007–2008, are a response to “conversion activities.” The anticonversion laws discussed in this chapter codify this “justification.” The causes of anti-Christian violence are much more complex; on this, see Chad M. Bauman, “Hindu-Christian Conflict in India: Globalization, Conversion, and the Coterminal Castes and Tribes,” Journal of Asian Studies 72, no. 3 (August 2013): 633–653. While keeping these complex causalities in mind, I would argue that publicizing potential conversions through local inquiries by the police is more likely to endanger than to protect religious minorities, women, or lower castes. 53. Gujarat Freedom of Religion Rules, 2008, Appendix, Form A, Gujarat Government Gazette, vol. 49, part IV-B (April 1, 2008). 54. Gujarat Freedom of Religion Rules, 2008, Appendix, Form A. 55. Gujarat Freedom of Religion Rules, 2008, rule 3(1), Gujarat Government Gazette, vol. 49, part IV-B (April 1, 2008). 56. Indian Express, “In Submission to Gujarat Governor, Dalits Seek Softening of Conversion Rules,” September 4, 2016, accessed May 17, 2018, http://indianexpress.com/article/ cities/ahmedabad/in-submission-to-gujarat-governor-dalits-seek-softening-of-conversion -rules-3012484/. 57. Gujarat Freedom of Religion Rules, 2008, rule 5(1) and Appendix, Form C, Gujarat Government Gazette, vol. 49, part IV-B (April 1, 2008). 58. Gujarat Freedom of Religion Rules, 2008, rules 6 and 7, Gujarat Government Gazette, vol. 49, part IV-B (April 1, 2008).

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59. Himachal Pradesh Freedom of Religion Rules, 2007, Form A, Himachal Home Department Notification no. Home-C(A)3–3/2007 (July 7, 2007). 60. Himachal Pradesh Freedom of Religion Rules, 2007. 61. Gandhi, Christian Missions, 49 (from Harijan, September 28, 1935). 62. For more on India’s “secular anxieties,” see Rina Verma Williams and Laura Dudley Jenkins, “Secular Anxieties and Transnational Engagements in India,” in Multiple Secularities Beyond the West, ed. Marian Burchardt, Monika Wohlram-Sahr, and Matthias Middell, 19–37 (Boston: De Gruyter, 2015), 19–21, 33–36. 63. Evangelical Fellowship of India and Act Now for Harmony and Democracy vs. State of Himachal Pradesh, High Court of Himachal Pradesh, Shimla, CWP No. 438 of 2001-A a/w CWP No. 4716 of 2011-E, reserved on 16.07.2012, decided on 30.08.2012, p. 23. 64. Kumar Mishra, “22 Convert to Christianity,” Times of India, August 22, 2002, accessed February 3, 2017, http://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/india/22-convert-to-Christian ity/articleshow/19798972.cms. 65. On Madhya Pradesh and conversions, see Jaffrelot, Religion, Caste and Politics, 157; Jenkins, “Legal Limits,” 113–116. 66. Adam Halliday, “Five Mizoram ‘Evangelists’ Freed on Bail,” Sinlung: Northeast India, September 18, 2014, accessed December 9, 2015, http://www.sinlung.com/2014/09/5 -mizoram-evangelists-freed-on-bail.htmlixzz4SNUcVurH. 67. Times of India, “Two Arrested for Forced Conversions,” October 26, 2015, accessed December 13, 2016, http://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/city/bhopal/Two-arrested-for-forced -conversions/articleshow/49533502.cms. 68. Milind Ghatwai, “Satna Church Row: Pastor, Wife Held on Conversion Charge,” Indian Express, May 23, 2016, accessed December 9, 2016, http://indianexpress.com/article/ india/india-news-india/satna-church-row-pastor-wife-held-on-conversion-charge-2814389/. 69. Musaddique Thange, Written Testimony of Musaddique Thange, Communications Director, Indian American Muslim Council (IAMC)] for “Challenges & Opportunities: The Advancement of Human Rights in India.” (Longworth House Office Building [Washington, DC]: Tom Lantos Human Rights Commission, June 7, 2016), 13. 70. Manjari Katju, “The Politics of Ghar Wapsi,” Economic and Political Weekly 50, no. 1 (January 2015): 21–24. 71. Carman and Rao, Christians in South Indian Villages, 178. See also Jaffrelot, Religion, Caste, and Politics, 56–57. 72. Adcock, “Debating Conversion, Silencing Caste,” 13. 73. Jaffrelot, Religion, Caste and Politics, 163. 74. Katju, “Politics of Ghar Wapsi.” 75. Gandhi, Christian Missions, 84–85 (from Harijan, September 25, 1937). 76. Himachal Pradesh Freedom of Religion Act, 2006, sec. 3, emphasis mine. 77. Arunachal Pradesh Freedom of Religion Act, 1978, sec. 2c; Tehmina Arora, “India’s Defiance of Religious Freedom: A Briefing on ‘Anti-conversion’ Laws,” IIRF Reports 1, no. 2, International Institute for Religious Freedom, 2012, 5. 78. Max Bearak, “A Competition of Converts in Arunachal Pradesh,” India Ink: Notes on the World’s Largest Democracy (blog), New York Times, February 4, 2014, accessed December 3, 2016, http://india.blogs.nytimes.com/2014/02/04/a-competition-for-converts-in-arun achal-pradesh/.

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79. Bearak, “Competition of Converts.” 80. Himachal Freedom of Religion Act, 2006, sec. 4. 81. Evangelical Fellowship of India (EFI) vs. State of Himachal Pradesh, 22–23. 82. EFI vs. State of Himachal Pradesh, 13. 83. EFI vs. State of Himachal Pradesh, 8. 84. EFI vs. State of Himachal Pradesh, 22. 85. EFI vs. State of Himachal Pradesh, 24–25. 86. EFI vs. State of Himachal Pradesh, 23–24. 87. Talal Asad, “Comments on Conversion,” in Conversion to Modernities, ed. Peter Van der Veer, 263–273 (New York: Routledge, 1996), 263. 88. Gujarat Freedom of Religion Rules, 2008, Appendix, Forms A and C, Gujarat Government Gazette, vol. 49, part IV-B (April 1, 2008). 89. Bielefeldt, “Elimination of All Forms,” 6. 90. Asad, “Comments on Conversion.” 91. Kim, In Search of Identity, 171. 92. Sullivan, Impossibility of Religious Freedom, 3.

Chapter 5 1. In one version of Hindu personal legislation, “Hindu” was defined as anyone who was not a Muslim, Parsi, Christian, or Jew. Hindu personal law to this day routinely encompasses Sikhs, Buddhists, and Jains. Rina Verma Williams, “The More Things Change: Debating Gender and Religion in India’s Hindu Laws, 1920–2006,” Gender and History 25, no. 3 (November 2014): 711–724, 715. See also my discussion of Article 25 of the constitution in the Introduction. 2. Laura Dudley Jenkins, “Diversity and the Constitution in India: What Is Religious Freedom?,” Drake Law Review 57, no. 4 (Summer 2009): 913–947, 927–932. 3. Abdul Malik Mujahid, Conversion to Islam: Untouchables’ Strategy for Protest in India (Chambersburg, PA: Anima Publications, 1989). 4. Christophe Jaffrelot, “Hindutva’s ‘Purification’ Drive: Calls to ‘Nationalise’ Muslims Come from a Misreading of Indian Islam,” Indian Express, last modified October 13, 2016, accessed December 13, 2016, http://indianexpress.com/article/opinion/columns/hindutvas -purification-drive-muslims-india-islam-caste-system-3079478/; Romila Thapar, A History of India, vol. 1 (London: Penguin Books, 1990); Richard Fox Young, ed., India and the Indianness of Christianity (Grand Rapids, MI: William B. Eerdmans, 2009). 5. Rowena Robinson, “Minority Rights Versus Caste Claims: Indian Christians and Predicaments of Law,” Economic and Political Weekly 49, no. 14 (April 2014): 82–91; Ministry of Minority Affairs (Misra Commission), Report of the National Commission for Religious and Linguistic Minorities (New Delhi: Alaknanda Advertising, 2007), accessed November 30, 2016, http://www.minorityaffairs.gov.in/sites/default/files/volume-1.pdf; Prime Minister’s High Level Committee (Sachar Commission), Social, Economic and Educational Status of the Muslim Community of India (New Delhi: Cirrus Graphics, 2006, accessed November 30, 2016, http:// www.sabrang.com/sachar/sacharreport.pdf; Indian Institute of Dalit Studies, “Dalit Christians in India: Discrimination and Disparities in Human Development,” policy brief (New Delhi: Indian Institute of Dalit Studies, 2012); John C. B. Webster, A History of the Dalit Christians in India (San Francisco: Mellon Press, 1992), 60–67; Archana Sinha and Mukhtar Alam, Dalit Muslims—Double Exclusion: A Study on Dalit Muslims in Selected States in India (New Delhi:

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Indian Social Institute, 2010). Sonja Thomas, Privileged Minorities: Syrian Christianity, Gender, and Minority Rights in Postcolonial India (Seattle: University of Washington Press, 2018). 6. Gauri Viswanathan, Outside the Fold: Conversion, Modernity, and Belief (Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press, 1998), 88. 7. Viswanathan, Outside the Fold, 88. 8. Ange-Marie Hancock, “When Multiplication Doesn’t Equal Quick Addition: Examining Intersectionality as a Research Paradigm,” Perspectives on Politics 5, no. 1 (March 2007): 63–79, 63–64. 9. Laura Dudley Jenkins, Identity and Identification in India: Defining the Disadvantaged (London: Routledge, 2003), chap. 2. 10. Viswanathan, Outside the Fold, 82. 11. Viswanathan, Outside the Fold, 88. 12. Viswanathan, Outside the Fold, 82. 13. Viswanathan, Outside the Fold, 88. 14. Richard Delgado, “Storytelling for Oppositionists and Others: A Plea for Narrative,” Michigan Law Review 87, no. 8 (1989): 2411–2441, 2416–2435. 15. B. R. Ambedkar, Annihilation of Caste: The Annotated Critical Edition (New Delhi: Navayana, 2014 [1936]), sec. 19, 278. 16. Shefali Chandra, “World’s Largest Dynasty: Caste, Sexuality and the Manufacture of Indian ‘Democracy,’ ” Dialectical Anthropology 38 (2014): 225–238, 238. 17. Gyanendra Pandey, A History of Prejudice: Race, Caste, and Difference in India and the United States (New York: Cambridge University Press, 2013), 64. 18. Cricket Keating, Decolonizing Democracy: Transforming the Social Contract in India (University Park: Pennsylvania State University Press, 2011). 19. On another form of double discrimination, that on the basis of caste and gender, and resulting challenges, see Shailaja Paik, Dalit Women’s Education in Modern India: Double Discrimination (New York: Routledge, 2014). 20. Aishwary Kumar, Radical Equality: Ambedkar, Gandhi, and the Risk of Democracy (Stanford, CA: Stanford University Press, 2015), 258. 21. Kumar, Radical Equality, 259; see also Pandey, History of Prejudice, 66–67. 22. Pandey, History of Prejudice, 65. 23. Thomas E. Weisskopf, Affirmative Action in the United States and India: A Comparative Perspective (New York: Routledge, 2004). 24. Susan Bayly, Caste, Society and Politics in India: From the Eighteenth Century to the Modern Age (New York: Cambridge University Press, 1999), 242; M. N. Srinivas, “Future of Indian Caste,” Economic and Political Weekly 14, no. 7–8 (February 1979): 237–242, 239; Lelah Dushkin, “Backward Class Benefits and Social Class in India, 1920–1970,” Economic and Political Weekly 14, no. 14 (April 1979): 661–667, 662. 25. Jenkins, Identity and Identification; Laura Dudley Jenkins and Michele S. Moses, eds., Affirmative Action Matters: Creating Opportunities for Students Around the World (London: Routledge, 2014). 26. Constituent Assembly, Constituent Assembly Debates on 6 December 1948 Part I, accessed September 26, 2016, https://indiankanoon.org/doc/1933556/. 27. Quoted in Robinson, “Minority Rights,” 85. 28. Quoted in Pandey, History of Prejudice, 64, from Ambedkar’s Writings and Speeches, vol. 17, part III (Bombay: Government of Maharashtra, 2003): 536.

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29. Oral history of Y. S. Alone, professor, Department of Art and Aesthetics, recorded in New Delhi, March 22, 2016, by author. 30. Laura Dudley Jenkins, “Competing Equalities: The Struggle over Reserved Legislative Seats for Women in India,” International Social History Review 44 (1999): 53–75. 31. For more details, see Jenkins, Identity and Identification; Jenkins and Moses, Affirmative Action Matters. 32. Robinson, “Minority Rights”; Ministry of Minority Affairs, Report of the National Commission; Prime Minister’s High-Level Committee, Social, Economic and Educational Status; Satish Deshpande and Geetika Bapna, Dalits in the Muslim and Christian Communities: A Status Report on Current Social Scientific Knowledge, National Commission for Minorities Government of India, November 17, 2008, accessed November 28, 2016, http://ncm.nic.in/ pdf/report%20dalit%20%20reservation.pdf. 33. Laura Dudley Jenkins, “Becoming Backward: Preferential Policies and Religious Minorities in India,” Commonwealth and Comparative Politics 39, no. 2 (2001): 32–50; Laura Dudley Jenkins, “Scheduled Castes, Christians and Muslims: The Politics of Macro-Majorities and Micro-Minorities,” in Minority Studies, ed. Rowena Robinson, 95–117 (New Delhi: Oxford University Press, 2012); Pandey, History of Prejudice, 64; Deshpande and Bapna, “Dalits”; Zoya Hasan, Politics of Inclusion: Castes, Minorities and Affirmative Action (New Delhi: Oxford, 2009), 196–226. 34. Justice Dipak Misra’s nationalist narratives also appeared in a 2016 Supreme Court order mandating the playing of the national anthem at cinema halls. The order states that the national anthem as “the symbol of the Constitutional Patriotism and inherent national quality . . . does not allow any different notion or the perception of individual rights, that have individually thought of have no space [sic]. The idea is constitutionally impermissible.” The order follows an earlier Dipak Misra (Madhya Pradesh High Court) judgment, which, according to Lawrence Liang “is an utter delight for people interested in the curious relationship between law and cinema, but would be less enthusiastically embraced by those looking for constitutional principles.” All quotations from Lawrence Liang, “Jana Gana Mana and the Danger of Passing Sentiment as Law,” Kafila—10 Years of a Common Journey (blog), December 4, 2016, accessed January 30, 2017, https://kafila.online/2016/12/04/jana-gana-mana-and -the-danger-of-passing-sentiment-as-law/. 35. K. P. Manu versus Chairman, Scrutiny Committee for the Verification of Community Certificate, Civil Appeal No. 7065 of 2008, Supreme Court (India), decision February 26, 2015, Justices Dipak Misra and V. Gopala Gowda, accessed November 30, 2016, https://sci.gov.in/ jonew/judis/42426.pdf, 34. 36. Pandey, History of Prejudice, 84. 37. K. P. Manu versus Chairman, 7. 38. For a vivid account of some caste-specific rites and customs, such as dealing with dead bodies and running on foot ahead of a carriage bringing an “honorable” person to one’s village while singing their praises, as well as the costs of not following such rites and customs, read Narendra Jadhav, Outcaste: A Memoir (New Delhi: Viking, 2003), 3–11. 39. Rupa Visvanath, The Pariah Problem, Caste, Religion and the Social Modern in India (New York: Columbia University Press, 2014); Gyanendra Pandey, The Construction of Communalism in Colonial North India (New Delhi: Oxford University Press, 1992), 108, 237. 40. The judges are quoting from Bindeshwari Prasad Mandal, Report of the Backwards Classes Commission, vols. 1 and 2, in part 1, p. 55 (New Delhi: National Commission for

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Backwards Classes, Government of India, 1980), accessed November 30, 2016, http://www .ncbc.nic.in/User_Panel/UserView.aspx?TypeID1161. This entire report on the Other Backward Classes was created because these groups also have some reservations. 41. K. P. Manu versus Chairman, 4. 42. Utkarsh Anand, “Christian Who Reconverts as Hindu SC Will Get Quota Benefits: Apex Court,” Indian Express, last modified February 27, 2015, accessed November 30, 2016, http://indianexpress.com/article/india/india-others/christian-who-reconverts-as-hindu-sc -will-get-quota-benefits-apex-court/. 43. K. P. Manu versus Chairman, 44. 44. The SC/ST (Prevention of Atrocities) Amendment Act, 2015, Gazette of India Extraordinary, part II, sec. 1, p. 3. This amends the 1989 act. See https://tribal.nic.in/Divisions Files/mj/4-preventionofAtrocities.pdf. 45. Prakash Louis, “Caste-Based Discrimination and Atrocities on Dalit Christians and the Need for Reservations,” Working Paper Series, vol. 2, no. 4, (Indian Institute for Dalit Studies, New Delhi, 2007), 4. 46. All Indian Christian Council, “After Four Years, India’s Supreme Court Continues to Delay Decision on Dalit Case,” press release, June 3, 2008. 47. Deshpande and Bapna, “Dalits.” 48. Wendy Singer, Creating Histories: Oral Narratives and the Politics of History-Making (New Delhi: Oxford University Press, 1997), 227. 49. Jenkins, “Becoming Backward.” 50. Jenkins, Identity and Identification, 111–126; Jenkins, “Becoming Backward,” 36–39. 51. Prime Minister’s High-Level Committee, Social, Economic and Educational Status, 2006. 52. Prime Minister’s High-Level Committee, Social, Economic and Educational Status, 25, 269–270 (appendix table 2.2). 53. Padmanabh Samarendra, “Religion, Caste and Conversion: Membership of a Scheduled Caste and Judicial Deliberations,” Economic and Political Weekly 51, no. 4 (2016): 38–48. 54. Pandey, History of Prejudice, 64.

Chapter 6 1. New Indian Express, “HC Tells Centre, State to Probe “Love Jihad,’ ” last modified May 15, 2012, accessed June 1, 2016, http://www.newindianexpress.com/states/kerala/ article133537.ece. 2. India Today, “Youth Says He Has No Love Lost for Jihad,” October 26, 2009, accessed June 1, 2016, http://indiatoday.intoday.in/story/Youthsayshehasnolovelost forjihad/1/67855.html. 3. Don Sebastian, “ ‘Love Jihad’: Kerala High Court Stays Police Investigation,” DNA (Daily News and Analysis), last modified December 18, 2009, accessed June 1, 2016, http:// www.dnaindia.com/india/report-love-jihad-kerala-high-court-stays-police-investigation -1324828. In contrast to Justice Sankaran, according to this report, “Justice M Shashidharan Nambiar said the investigation could not target any particular community. ‘Inter-religion marriages are common in our society and it cannot be seen as a crime,’ he said.” 4. Hindu, “Karnataka Court Discounts ‘Love Jihad’ Angle,” last modified March 4, 2010, accessed July 11, 2016, http://www.thehindu.com/todays-paper/tp-national/tp-karnataka/ karnataka-court-discounts-love-jihad-angle/article139486.ece; Lalmani Verma, “Who Loves

Notes to Pages 181–184

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Love Jihad,” Indian Express, last modified September 7, 2014, accessed July 11, 2016, http:// indianexpress.com/article/india/india-others/who-loves-love-jihad/. 5. Amy Kazmin, “Religious Conversion Debate Divides India,” Financial Times, December 28, 2014. Kazmin reports that “Amit Shah, BJP president and Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s most trusted adviser, put the issue squarely on the agenda last week when he declared that the government wanted a new law against ‘forceful’ religious conversions.” The article also includes an embedded FT video from just one month before: Victor Mallet, “Hindu Nationalists Fear Muslim ‘Love Jihad,’ ” November 28, 2014, video, 4:22 min., accessed June 21, 2016, http://video.ft.com/3913759810001/Hindu-nationalists-fear-Muslim-Love-Jihad/ World. 6. H. Porter Abbott, The Cambridge Introduction to Narrative, 2nd ed. (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2008), 236. Abbott’s definition of masterplot: “Recurrent skeletal stories, belonging to cultures and individuals that play a powerful role in questions of identity, values, and the understanding of life.” A related concept is “master frame,” a hegemonic schema that resonates with and unites members of a social movement. David Snow, “Framing Processes, Ideology, and Discursive Fields,” in The Blackwell Companion to Social Movements, ed. David Snow, Sarah A. Soule, and Hanspeter Kriesi, 380–412 (Malden, MA: Blackwell Publishing, 2007); David A. Snow and Robert E. Benford, “Master Frames and Cycles of Protest,” in Frontiers in Social Movement Theory, ed. Aldon D. Morris and Carol McClurg Mueller, 133–155 (New Haven, CT: Yale University Press, 1992). I prefer “masterplot” to analyze love jihad because it is in some ways more specific (includes characters and storyline) and in others more broad (transcends the Hindu nationalist movement). 7. Shahan Sha, A. and Anr. v. State of Kerala. Bail Application. Nos. 5288 and 5289 (2009), n.d., accessed November 21, 2016, https://indiankanoon.org/doc/576406/, 30. 8. Quoted in Henry Luce Foundation, “Challenging Assumptions: The Politics of Religious Freedom,” accessed February 16, 2016, http://www.hluce.org/files/documents/profiles/ challenging_assumptions.pdf. 9. Arjun Appadurai, Fear of Small Numbers: An Essay on the Geography of Anger (Durham, NC: Duke University Press, 2006). 10. Paul Brass, Theft of an Idol: Text and Context in the Representation of Collective Violence (Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press, 1997), 15–16, 284–286. 11. Veena Das, Critical Events (Delhi: Oxford University Press, 1995), 80–81, who notes even voluntary relationships of Hindus and Muslims triggered state machinery to “save” the women; Silva Meznaric, “Gender as Ethno-Marker: Rape, War, and Identity Politics in the Former Yugoslavia,” in Identity Politics and Women: Cultural Assertions and Feminisms in International Perspective, ed. Valentine M. Moghadam, 76–97 (Boulder: Westview Press, 1994); Amii Larkin Barnard, “The Application of Critical Race Feminism to the Anti-lynching Movement: Black Women’s Fight Against Race and Gender Ideology, 1892–1920,” UCLA Women’s Law Journal 3, no. 1 (January 1993): 1–38, “The practice was cloaked in chivalrous notions: the common justification for a lynching was the alleged rape of a white woman by a Black man” (2). 12. Sabha Mahmood, “Sectarian Conflict and Family Law in Contemporary Egypt,” American Ethnologist 31, no. 1 (2012): 54–62. 13. Charu Gupta, “Hindu Women, Muslim Men: Love Jihad and Conversions,” Economic and Political Weekly 44, no. 51 (2009): 13–15, 13.

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14. Gupta, “Hindu Women, Muslim Men,” 13. 15. Mohan Rao, “Love Jihad and Demographic Fears,” Indian Journal of Gender Studies 18, no. 3 (2011): 425–430, 427. 16. Haimanti Roy, Partitioned Lives (Delhi: Oxford University Press, 2012), 148. 17. Meera Sehgal, “Manufacturing a Feminized Siege Mentality: Hindu Nationalist Paramilitary Camps for Women in India,” Journal of Contemporary Ethnography 36, no. 2 (April 2007): 165–183. 18. Peter Gottschalk, Islamophobia: Making Muslims the Enemy (Lanham, MD: Rowman and Littlefield, 2007), 54, 104–106. Gottschalk critiques the “twin obsessions of oppressed Muslim women and violent Muslim men” (54). Amrita Basu does focus on non-Muslim women: she gives specific examples of unfounded newspaper stories about Muslim men kidnapping, raping, and killing Hindu women, stories that preceded violence against Muslims. Amrita Basu, Violent Conjunctures in Democratic India (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2015): 167–168. 19. Sehgal, “Manufacturing a Feminized Siege Mentality.” 20. Meera Sehgal, “Defending the Nation: Militarism, Women’s Empowerment, and the Hindu Right,” in Border Politics: Social Movements, Collective Identities, and Globalization, ed. Nancy A. Naples and Jennifer Bickham Mendez, 60–94 (New York: New York University Press, 2014), 68–69. 21. Brass, Theft of an Idol, 16. 22. Instances of a term on the internet can be measured by paid services like Crimson Hexagon, which would comb articles, discussion boards, and other online content for the term “love jihad,” providing data on the term’s usage online, regardless of whether the author is perpetrating the rumor, reporting it, or debunking it. The number of times an “event” is mentioned online or in world media should not be confused with instances of that event occurring. A reporter using GDelt made the mistake of confusing the number of reports with the number of instances in a much critiqued report on kidnappings in Nigeria. See the editor’s note with corrections listed above the article by Mona Chalabi, “Mapping Kidnappings in Nigeria,” Five Thirty Eight, last modified May 16, 2014, last accessed November 8, 2016, http://fivethirtyeight.com/datalab/mapping-kidnappings-in-nigeria/. In the case of a rumor like the so-called love jihad, one could find countless reports and zero actual instances. 23. “The numbers that appear show total searches for a term relative to the total number of searches done on Google over time. A line trending downward means that a search term’s relative popularity is decreasing. But that doesn’t necessarily mean the total number of searches for that term is decreasing. It just means its popularity is decreasing compared to other searches.” In other words, “numbers represent search interest relative to the highest point on the chart. If at most 10% of searches for the given region and time frame were for ‘pizza,’ we’d consider this 100. This doesn’t convey absolute search volume.” Google, “Trends Help: Export, Embed, and Cite Trends Data,” accessed November 8, 2016, https://support .google.com/trends/answer/4355164?hlen&rd1. 24. See http://www.alexa.com/topsites/countries/IN for India and http://www.alexa.com/ topsites for the world; Sabha Ali and Sumeer Gul, “Search Engine Effectiveness Using Query Classification: A Study,” Online Information Review 40, no. 4 (2016): 515–528. 25. Sreenivasan Jain, “The Muzaffarnagar Model,” NDTV, September 4, 2014, accessed May 17, 2016, http://www.ndtv.com/opinion/the-muzaffarnagar-model-659379.

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26. On the rise and fall of ethno-nationalist appeals in elections, see Christophe Jaffrelot, “Introduction: The Invention of an Ethnic Nationalism,” in Hindu Nationalism: A Reader, ed. Christophe Jaffrelot, 3–25 (Princeton: Princeton University Press, 2007), 19–24. 27. The name of the month is revealed by hovering over the interactive graph online. Key months are labeled in Figure 8. 28. Abbott, Cambridge Introduction to Narrative, 236, 47. 29. Claire Norton, “Lust, Greed, Torture and Identity: Narrations of Conversion and the Creation of the Early Modern Renegade,” Comparative Studies of South Asia, Africa and the Middle East 29 (2009): 259–268. 30. Gauri Viswanathan, Outside the Fold: Conversion, Modernity, and Belief (Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press, 1998), 163–169. 31. Viswanathan, Outside the Fold, 255–260. In the appendix, Viswanathan reproduces the table from Report of the Census of India 1901: Bengal—Extracts from District Reports Regarding Causes of Conversion to Mohammadanism, appendix II, vol. 6 (Calcutta: 1902). 32. Amrita Basu, “Feminism Inverted: The Gendered Imagery and Real Women of Hindu Nationalism,” in Women and the Hindu Right, ed. Tanika Sarkar and Urvashi Butalia, 158–180 (New Delhi: Kali for Women, 1995). 33. Peter van der Veer, Imperial Encounters: Religion and Modernity in India and Britain (Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press, 2001), 102. 34. Thomas Blom Hansen, The Saffron Wave: Democracy and Hindu Nationalism in India (Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press, 1999), 80, 112. 35. Rohit De, “The Two Husbands of Vera Tiscenko: Apostasy, Conversion, and Divorce in Late Colonial India,” Law and History Review 28, no. 4 (November 2010): 1011–1041, 1029, 1041, 1035, 1014. 36. Sikata Banerjee, Make Me a Man!: Masculinity, Hinduism, and Nationalism in India (Albany: State University of New York Press, 2005), 91. 37. Quoted in Kalyani Devaki Menon, Everyday Nationalism: Women of the Hindu Right in India (Philadelphia: University of Pennsylvania Press, 2010), 140. 38. Sehgal, “Defending the Nation,” 62. 39. Rowena Robinson, “Modes of Conversion to Islam,” in Religious Conversion in India: Modes, Motivations and Meanings, ed. Rowena Robinson and Sathianathan Clarke, 23–28 (New Delhi: Oxford University Press, 2003), 23. 40. Basu, Violent Conjunctures, 15. 41. Shahan Sha, A. and Anr. vs. State of Kerala, “[T]he application for anticipatory bail” was filed by the accused apprehending arrest for “[t]he offences alleged against [them] under Section 120B, 295A, 377 r/w Section 34 I.P.C.,” 10, 2. 42. Shahan Sha, A. and Anr. vs. State of Kerala, 18. 43. Abbott, Cambridge Introduction to Narrative, 185. 44. Shahan Sha, A. and Anr. vs. State of Kerala, 2. 45. Shahan Sha, A. and Anr. vs. State of Kerala, 2. 46. Abbott, Cambridge Introduction to Narrative, 184. 47. Ishita Mishra, “In UP, Community Bans Mobiles for Girls to Fight ‘Love Jihad,’ ” Times of India, last modified September 2, 2014, accessed September 2, 2014, http://times ofindia.indiatimes.com/india/In-UP-community-bans-mobiles-for-girls-to-fight-love-jihad/ articleshow/41472311.cms.

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48. Shahan Sha, A. and Anr. vs. State of Kerala, 6. 49. Shahan Sha, A. and Anr. vs. State of Kerala, 3. 50. Shahan Sha, A. and Anr. vs. State of Kerala, 3. 51. Shahan Sha, A. and Anr. vs. State of Kerala, 8–9. 52. Cassie Adcock, The Limits of Tolerance: Indian Secularism and the Politics of Religious Freedom (New York: Oxford University Press, 2013). Adcock traces the development of the ideology that Hinduism is uniquely tolerant, in contrast to other religions. 53. Shahan Sha, A. and Anr. vs. State of Kerala, 10. 54. Shahan Sha, A. and Anr. vs. State of Kerala, 24. 55. Shahan Sha, A. and Anr. vs. State of Kerala, 28–29. 56. Shahan Sha, A. and Anr. vs. State of Kerala, 5. 57. Shahan Sha, A. and Anr. vs. State of Kerala, 11–13. 58. Shahan Sha, A. and Anr. vs. State of Kerala, 16. 59. Shahan Sha, A. and Anr. vs. State of Kerala, 17. 60. Shahan Sha, A. and Anr. vs. State of Kerala, 19. 61. Shahan Sha, A. and Anr. vs. State of Kerala, 21. 62. Times of India, “ ‘Love Jihad’ Conversions under HC Lens,” October 1, 2009, accessed June 6, 2016, http://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/india/Love-Jihad-conversions-under-HC -lens/articleshow/5074265.cms. For example, this article reported: “After perusing the case diary, the court said that there are indications that several similar instances had taken place in the state. The Judge observed there was a movement called ‘Love Jihad’ or ‘Romeo Jihad’ conceived by some Muslims in Kerala.” 63. Hindu, “BJP Wants Probe into ‘Love Jihad,’ ” October 9, 2009. 64. Hindu, “BJP Wants Probe into ‘Love Jihad.’ ” 65. Times of India, “Rama Sene to Oppose ‘Love Jihad,’ ” October 10, 2009. 66. Hansen, Saffron Wave, 76–77. 67. Times of India, “Rama Sene to Launch ‘Save Our Daughters Save India,’ ” October 31, 2009, accessed November 9, 2016, http://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/city/bengaluru/Rama -Sene-to-launch-Save-our-daughters-Save-India/articleshow/5181924.cms. 68. Times of India, “Rama Sene.” 69. Times of India, “Rama Sene.” 70. Times of India, “Form Squads to Check Love Jihad: VHP,” October 26, 2009. 71. Times of India, “Form Squads to Check Love Jihad.” 72. Sehgal, “Defending the Nation,” 69–70. On masculinity, class, caste, and violence against women in India, see Sonja Thomas, Privileged Minorities: Syrian Christianity, Gender, and Minority Rights in Postcolonial India (Seattle: University of Washington Press, 2018), chap. 2. 73. Ananthakrishnan G, “ ‘Love Jihad’ Racket: VHP, Christian Groups Find Common Cause,” Times of India, October 13, 2009, accessed November 9, 2016, http://timesofindia .indiatimes.com/india/Love-Jihad-racket-VHP-Christian-groups-find-common-cause/article show/5117548.cms. 74. G, “ ‘Love Jihad’ Racket.” 75. G, “ ‘Love Jihad’ Racket.” 76. Times of India, “Focus Shifts to Safety Guidelines in Schools,” under subheading “Notice to Cops on a Father’s Plea,” October 10, 2009, accessed November 9, 2016, http://

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timesofindia.indiatimes.com/city/bengaluru/Focus-shifts-to-safety-guidelines-in-schools/ articleshow/5108714.cms?frommdr. 77. Haindava Keralam, “Love Jihad—A Jihadi Organization to Trap Hindu Girls,” accessed October 9, 2009, http://www.haindavakeralam.com/HKPage.aspx?PageID8276& SKINC. 78. Haindava Keralam, “Love Jihad.” 79. Asia News, “Love Jihad: Luring Girls Online and Forcing Them to Convert to Islam,” October 6, 2009, accessed June 22, 2016, http://www.asianews.it/index.php?len&art 16507&sizeA; Jihad Watch, “Love Jihad: Jihadi Romeos Luring Girls Online and Then Forcing Them to Convert to Islam,” October 6, 2009, accessed October 9, 2009, https:// www.jihadwatch.org/2009/10/love-jihad-jihadi-romeos-luring-girls-online-and-then-forcing -them-to-convert-to-Islam. Jihad Watch quotes from and links to the Asia News story, an example of how one story leads to another. 80. Deepa Kumar, Islamophobia and the Politics of Empire (Chicago: Haymarket Books, 2012), 160, see also 160–173. 81. “The numbers that appear show total searches for a term relative to the total number of searches done on Google over time. A line trending downward means that a search term’s relative popularity is decreasing. But that doesn’t necessarily mean the total number of searches for that term is decreasing. It just means its popularity is decreasing compared to other searches.” In other words, “Numbers represent search interest relative to the highest point on the chart. If at most 10% of searches for the given region and time frame were for ‘pizza,’ we’d consider this 100. This doesn’t convey absolute search volume.” Google, “Trends Help.” 82. Akhil Bharatiya Vidyarthi Parishad (JNU), “ ‘Love Jihad’—To Trap Hindu Girls . . . !!!” Leaflet dated October 12, 2009. 83. Shanthakaka, the Pramukh Sanchalika of the Samiti, quoted in Neha Dixit, “Holier Than Cow: Wisdom on Women from a Rashtra Sevika Sangh Camp,” Outlook India Magazine, January 28, 2013, accessed November 9, 2016, http://www.outlookindia.com/magazine/ story/holier-than-cow/283593. 84. Aman Sethi, “Love Jihad,” Granta: The Magazine of New Writing 130 (2015): 33–47, 42–43. 85. Zee News, “Rs 7L for Sikh Girls, Rs 5L for a Brahmin: ‘Love Jihad’ WhatsApp Message Goes Viral in Gujarat,” last modified February 10, 2016, accessed February 10, 2016, http://zeenews.india.com/news/gujarat/rs-7l-for-sikh-girl-rs-5l-for-a-brahmin-love-jihad -whatsapp-message-goes-viral-in-gujarat_1854149.html; Sethi, “Love Jihad,” 37. 86. Hindustan Times, “ ‘Love Jihad’: UK Sikh Girls’ Exploitation Worries Takht,” last modified January 28, 2014, accessed June 29, 2016, http://www.hindustantimes.com/punjab/ love-jihad-uk-sikh-girls-exploitation-worries-takht/story-6awkCCoAHZDu627o9FIfrN.html. 87. BBC News, “Jack Straw Criticized for ‘Easy Meat’ Comments on Abuse,” January 8, 2011, accessed June 30, 2016, http://www.bbc.com/news/uk-12142177; Yudhir Rana, “Not Just White Girls, Pak Muslim Men Sexually Target Hindu and Sikh Girls as Well,” Times of India, January 10, 2011, accessed June 30, 2016, http://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/world/ pakistan/Not-just-White-girls-Pak-Muslim-men-sexually-target-Hindu-and-Sikh-girls-as -well/articleshow/7254035.cms. 88. Sethi, “Love Jihad,” 36–37.

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89. Sonia Faleiro, “An Attack on Love,” New York Times, October 31, 2014, accessed January 13, 2017, https://www.nytimes.com/2014/11/02/opinion/sunday/its-not-jihad-its -just-love.html; Lalmani Verma, “Yogi Adityanath in Demand Across UP as BJP Star Campaigner,” Indian Express, last modified September 14, 2014, accessed January 13, 2016, http:// indianexpress.com/article/india/politics/every-bjp-candidate-loves-yogi/. 90. Niharika Mandhana, “Hindu Activists in India Warn Women to Beware of ‘Love Jihad.’ Conservatives Claim Conspiracy to Convert Women to Islam; Critics Say the Idea is Nonsense,” Wall Street Journal, September 4, 2014, accessed June 6, 2016, http://www.wsj .com/articles/hindu-activists-in-india-warn-women-to-beware-of-love-jihad-1409874089. 91. Neha Dixit, “ ‘Love Jihad’: War on Romance,” Al Jazeera, October 14, 2014, accessed May 29, 2015, http://www.aljazeera.com/indepth/features/2014/10/jihad-war-romance-india -20141014923212607.html. 92. Saif Ali Khan, “Intermarriage Is Not Jihad, It Is India,” Indian Express, last modified October 16, 2014, accessed June 22, 2016, http://indianexpress.com/article/opinion/columns/ intermarriage-is-not-jihad-it-is-india/. 93. Pooja Nayak, “Kareena Kapoor Becomes Cover Girl for VHP’s Controversial ‘Love Jihad’ Campaign,” DNA, last modified January 8, 2015, accessed January 18, 2015, http:// www.dnaindia.com/entertainment/report-kareena-kapoor-khan-becomes-cover-girl-for-vhp -s-controversial-love-jihad-campaign-2050772. 94. Shefali Chandra, “The World’s Largest Dynasty: Caste, Sexuality and the Manufacture of Indian ‘Democracy,’ ” Dialect Anthropology 38, no. 2 (2014): 225–238, 235. 95. An image of the magazine cover including the text can viewed at “ ‘Love Jihad’: VHP Morphs Kareena Kapoor’s Picture in ‘Himalaya Dhwani’ Magazine,” Financial Express, last modified January 11, 2015, accessed July 26, 2018, www.financialexpress.com/india-news/ vhp-morphs-kareena-kapoor-khans-picture-in-magazine/27737/. It was previously viewable in Nayak, “Kareena Kapoor.” The Indian Express article discussed in this chapter has a more cropped version of the image from Himalaya Dhwani. 96. James Martin, Politics and Rhetoric: A Critical Introduction (New York: Routledge, 2014), 58. 97. David Howarth, Discourse (Philadelphia: Open University Press, 2000), 136, emphasis mine. 98. Bharati Dubey, “Kareena Has Not Converted to Islam: Sharmila Tagore,” Times of India, December 9, 2012, accessed January 5, 2017, http://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/enter tainment/hindi/bollywood/news/Kareena-has-not-converted-to-Islam-Sharmila-Tagore/ articleshow/17533284.cms. 99. Martin, Politics and Rhetoric, 153. 100. Martin, Politics and Rhetoric, 154, 160. 101. Sonal Gera, “Kareena Kapoor’s Morphed Picture Used as Warning Against ‘Love Jihad,’ VHP Says Actress Is Free to Sue Them,” Indian Express, last modified January 9, 2015, accessed June 11, 2015, http://indianexpress.com/article/entertainment/entertainment-others/ kareena-kapoors-morphed-picture-used-as-a-warning-against-love-jihad-vhp-says-actress -can-sue-them-if-she-wants/. This article does not have the entire magazine cover. 102. Dimpal Bajwa, “Saif Ali Khan Holidays with Wife Kareena Kapoor, Sister Soha Tweets Pics,” Indian Express, last modified June 4, 2015, accessed November 10, 2016, http:// indianexpress.com/article/entertainment/bollywood/saif-ali-khan-holidays-with-wife-ka reena-kapoor-sister-soha-tweets-pics/.

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103. Gillian Rose, Visual Methodologies: An Introduction to Researching with Visual Materials, 4th ed. (Los Angeles: Sage, 2014), 191. 104. India Today, “Bharangi Bhaijaan Is a Masala Film, Not About Love Jihad: Kabir Khan,” December 1, 2014, accessed June 27, 2016, http://indiatoday.intoday.in/story/salman -khan-bajrangi-bhaijaan-kabir-khan-kareena-kapoor/1/404602.html. 105. Rose, Visual Methodologies, 159–161, 178, see also Martin, Politics and Rhetoric, 160, Banerjee, Make Me a Man!, 92,105, 115. 106. Gera, “Kareena Kapoor’s Morphed Picture.” The quotation is one of the comments following this online article. The comment was viewed in June 2015 but has since been deleted. 107. Gera, “Kareena Kapoor’s Morphed Picture.” The quotation is one of the comments following this online article. The comment was viewed in June 2015 but has since been deleted. 108. Sumit Sarkar, “Inclusive Democracy and Its Enemies,” Interventions: International Journal of Postcolonial Studies 7 (2005): 304–309, 307–308. 109. Robinson, “Modes of Conversion,” 21, 28–29. 110. Rao, “Love Jihad,” 427. 111. Roy, Partitioned Lives, 148. 112. Quoted in BBC News, “The Indian Muslim Student Beaten for Posing with His Female Classmates,” BBC Trending (blog), February 26, 2016, accessed June 30, 2016, http:// www.bbc.com/news/blogs-trending-31624542. 113. Gayatri Spivak, “Can the Subaltern Speak?,” in Marxism and the Interpretation of Culture, ed. Cary Nelson and Lawrence Grossberg, 271–313 (London: Macmillan, 1988). See her delightful explication of this famous quotation at Shmoop, “Gayatri Chakravorty Spivak’s Quotes,” accessed June 30, 2016, http://www.shmoop.com/spivak/quotes.html. 114. Sehgal, “Manufacturing a Feminized Siege Mentality,” 165–183. 115. Eram Agha, “Stay Away from Muslim Men: VHP to Hindu Girls,” Times of India, last modified June 8, 2016, accessed July 26, 2018, https://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/city/ meerut/Stay-away-from-Muslim-men-VHP-to-Hindu-girls/articleshow/52641826.cms?. 116. Sehgal, “Defending the Nation,” 68–69. 117. Sehgal, “Defending the Nation,” 69. 118. Rajiv Srivastava, “In West UP, RSS’s Rakhi Drive to Fight ‘Love Jihad,’ ” Times of India, last modified August 8, 2014, accessed June 30, 2016, http://timesofindia.indiatimes .com/india/In-west-UP-RSSs-rakhi-drive-to-fight-love-jihad/articleshow/39845725.cms. 119. Shilpa Phadke, “Love Jihad: Restricting Women: The Pattern of Curbing and Controlling Women Plays Out Again in a New Context,” DNA (Daily News and Analysis), last modified September 11, 2014, accessed June 30, 2016, http://www.dnaindia.com/analysis/ column-love-jihad-restricting-women-2017714; Indian Express, “A Sena’s Prescription for Bhopal’s Sindhi Girls,” last modified September 15, 2014, accessed June 30, 2016, http:// indianexpress.com/article/india/india-others/a-senas-prescription-for-bhopals-sindhi-girls/. 120. Sethi, “Love Jihad,” 40; Santosh Kumar R B, “We Were in Love for 12 Years . . . How Can They Call It Love Jihad: Ashita Babu,” Indian Express, last modified April 24, 2016, accessed July 10, 2016, http://indianexpress.com/article/india/india-news-india/karnataka -mandya-couple-hindu-mudlim-wedding-2767591/. 121. Mohammad Ali, “Love Jihad Couple Move in Together,” Hindu, last modified November 22, 2016, accessed July 10, 2016, http://www.thehindu.com/news/national/other -states/love-jihad-couple-move-in-together/article7880921.ece.

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122. Lalmani Verma, “Anti-Romeo and Love Jihad: Experiments in Moral Policing in Uttar Pradesh,” Indian Express, March 24, 2017, accessed March 27, 2017, http://indianexpress .com/article/explained/anti-romeo-love-jihad-experiments-in-moral-policing-in-uttar -pradesh/. 123. M. Saleem Panditl, “Ladakh Tense over Muslim-Buddhist ‘Love Jihad’ Marriage,” Times of India, September 12, 2017, accessed March 8, 2018. https://timesofindia.indiatimes .com/india/ladakh-tense-over-muslim-buddhist-love-jihad-marriage/articleshow/60471076 .cms. 124. Amy Kazmin and Jyotsna Singh, “Video of ‘Love Jihad’ Killing Raises Tensions in India, Financial Times, December 7, 2017. 125. Ashish Kuma Bhargava, “Can Father Control 24-Year-Old: Supreme Court on ‘Kerala Love Jihad’ Case,” NDTV, last modified October 3, 2017, accessed March 8, 2018, https:// www.ndtv.com/kerala-news/can-father-control-24-year-old-supreme-court-on-kerala-love -jihad-case-1757910. An earlier decision by a bench including Justice Misra is featured in Chapter 5. 126. Ellipses in original. 127. Brackets in original. 128. Krishnadas Rajagopal, “Supreme Court Sends Hadiya to Salem in Tamil Nadu to Pursue her Studies,” Hindu, last modified November 27, 2017, accessed March 7, 2018, http:// www.thehindu.com/news/national/sc-sends-hadiya-to-salem-in-tamil-nadu-to-pusue-her -studies/article20994759.ece. 129. Rajagopal, “Supreme Court.” 130. Rajagopal, “Supreme Court.” Ellipses in original. 131. Ramesh Babu, “ ‘Love Jihad’: Hadiya Back in College, Dean Says She’ll Study Under Hindu Name,” Hindustan Times, last modified November 29, 2017, last accessed March 8, 2018, https://www.hindustantimes.com/india-news/kerala-love-jihad-hadiya-back-in-college -official-says-she-ll-continue-studies-under-hindu-name/story-nzegyMqpAcTXEqjs6doT6J .html. Ellipses in original. 132. Snigdha Poonam, “Hadiya Family Feud: A Battle of Rights vs. Relationships,” Hindustan Times, last modified January 27, 2018, last accessed March 7, 2018, https://www .hindustantimes.com/india-news/hadiya-family-feud-a-battle-of-rights-vs-relationships/ story-37C3VrmJkpYKFZTwExFSkO.html. 133. Poonam, “Hadiya Family Feud.” Ellipses in original. 134. Supreme Court Order in Shafin Jahan v. Asokan K. M., March 8, 2018. Crl.A.366/ 2018. 135. Abbott, Cambridge Introduction to Narrative, 236. 136. Abbott, Cambridge Introduction to Narrative, 48–49. 137. Gupta, “Hindu Women, Muslim Men, 15. 138. Gupta, “Hindu Women, Muslim Men, 15. 139. NDTV, “As Ashitha Weds Shakeel in Mysuru, Their Families Dismiss ‘Love Jihad’ Protests,” YouTube video, 1:44 min., posted by NDTV, April 17, 2016, https://www.youtube .com/watch?vwdLaOBLdgdY. 140. Peter Brooks, “The Law as Narrative and Rhetoric,” in Law’s Stories: Narrative and Rhetoric in the Law, ed. Peter Brooks and Paul Gewirtz, 14–22 (New Haven, CT: Yale University Press, 1996), 16. Quoted in Abbot, Cambridge Introduction to Narrative, 188.

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141. David A. Snow and Robert E. Benford, “Master Frames and Cycles of Protest,” in Frontiers in Social Movement Theory, ed. Aldon D. Morris and Carol McClurg Mueller, 133– 155 (New Haven, CT: Yale University Press, 1992), 150.

Conclusion 1. Martha Nussbaum, Liberty of Conscience: In Defense of America’s Tradition of Religious Equality (New York: Basic Books, 2008), 22. 2. Saba Mahmood, “Feminist Theory, Embodiment, and the Docile Agent: Some Reflections on the Egyptian Islamic Revival,” Cultural Anthropology 16, no. 2 (2001): 202–236. 3. John Adams, “Letter to Patrick Henry,” in Letters and State Papers 1799–1811. Vol. 9 of The Works of John Adams, Second President of the United States, ed. Charles Francis Adams, 386–388 (Boston: Little, Brown, 1854), 387. 4. National Conference of State Legislatures, “State Religious Freedom Restoration Acts,” last modified May 4, 2017, accessed July 29, 2018, http://www.ncsl.org/research/civil-and -criminal-justice/state-rfra-statutes.as px. 5. Louise Melling, “Why We Can No Longer Support the Federal ‘Religious Freedom’ Law,” Washington Post, June 25, 2015, accessed November 10, 2016, http://www.washington post.com/opinions/congress-should-amend-the-abused-religious-freedom-restoration-act/ 2015/06/25/ee6aaa46-19d8-11e5-ab92-c75ae6ab94b5_story.html. 6. Tony Cook and Tom LoBianco, “Indiana Governor Signs Amended ‘Religious Freedom’ Law,” USA Today, last modified April 2, 2015, accessed March 24, 2017, http://www .usatoday.com/story/news/nation/2015/04/02/indiana-religious-freedom-law-deal-gay-dis crimination/70819106/. On tensions between religious freedom rights and sexual orientation and gender identity rights, see Kelsey Dallas, “Religious Freedom Advocates Are Divided over How to Address LGBT Rights,” Desert News, January 12, 2017, accessed March 27, 2017, http://www.deseretnews.com/article/865670907/Religious-freedom-advocates-are-divided -over-how-to-address-LGBT-rights.html?utm_sourcePewResearchCenter&utm_ campaignc60a7ab2eb-EMAIL_CAMPAIGN_2017_01_12&utm_mediumemail&utm_ term0_3e953b9b70-c60a7ab2eb-399908057. 7. DonaldTrump, “Issues of Importance to Catholics: Religious Liberty,” last modified September 22, 2016, accessed March 27, 2017, www.donaldjtrump.com/press-releases/issues -of-importance-to-catholics; First Amendment Defense Act, Sen. 2525. 115th Cong. (2018), accessed July 29, 2018, https://www.congress.gov/bill/115th-congress/senate-bill/2525. 8. First Amendment Defense Act, H.R. 2802. 114th Cong. (2015), accessed April 20, 2017, www.congress.gov/bill/114th-congress/house-bill/2802. 9. Exercise of Religious Freedom by Postsecondary Education Student Associations, SB 175, July 1, 2016. Kansas Legislative Sessions, accessed March 24, 2017, http://www.kslegisla ture.org/li_2016/b2015_16/measures/sb175/. 10. Burwell, Secretary of Health and Human Services, et al. v. Hobby Lobby Stores, Inc., et al., No. 13–354 U.S. 1–36 (June 30, 2014), accessed April 20, 2017, www.supremecourt.gov/ opinions/13pdf/13-354_olp1.pdf, 29. 11. Benjamin Schonthal, Tamir Moustafa, Matthew Nelson, and Shylashri Shankar, “Is the Rule of Law an Antidote for Religious Tension? The Promise and Peril of Judicializing Religious Freedom,” American Behavioral Scientist 60, no. 8 (2016): 966–986, 970. 12. “A Bhutanese citizen shall have the right to freedom of thought, conscience and religion. No person shall be compelled to belong to another faith by means of coercion or

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inducement.” Constitution of the Kingdom of Bhutan, “Article 7 Fundamental Rights,” no. 4, 2008, accessed March 27, 2017, http://www.nationalcouncil.bt/assets/uploads/files/Constitu tion%20%20of%20Bhutan%20English.pdf, 14. 13. Benjamin Schonthal and Matthew J. Walton, “The (New) Buddhist Nationalisms? Symmetries and Specificities in Sri Lanka and Myanmar,” Contemporary Buddhism 17, no. 1 (2016): 81–115, 86; Feliz Solomon, “Burma Parliament Approves Contentious Race and Religion Bills,” Irrawaddy, August 20, 2015, accessed March 27, 2017, www.irrawaddy.com/news/ burma/burma-parliament-approves-contentious-race-and-religion-bills.html. 14. Tehmina Arora, “The Spread of Anti-conversion Law from India: A Threat to the Religious Freedom of Minorities,” Lausanne Global Analysis 5, no. 4 (May 2016), accessed March 27, 2017, https://www.lausanne.org/content/lga/2016-05/anti-conversion-laws-india _edn12; Solomon, “Burma Parliament.” 15. For instance, Rina Verma Williams brilliantly describes the use of “religious” arguments to preserve brahminical patriarchy in the context of the Hindu Code debates: They did refer to religious principles and sometimes even texts of Hinduism, as when Jaswant Singh (Independent MP from Rajasthan) declared the HCB went ‘against the tenets of our Shastras and against our Vedas’. . . . But the Hinduism they sought to save was a social system more than a set of religious textual prescriptions. These were not religious scholars arguing that specific principles of Hindu religious texts were being violated; instead the Hinduism that opponents were trying to preserve was a gendered amalgam of custom, interpretation and practice. And they were convinced that altering the ingredients of that gendered social cocktail would lead to the destruction of Hindu society at its core. Rina Verma Williams, “The More Things Change: Debating Gender and Religion in India’s Hindu Laws, 1920–2006,” Gender and History 25, no. 3 (November 2014): 711–724, 716. 16. Winnifred Fallers Sullivan, Elizabeth Shakman Hurd, Saba Mahmood, and Peter G. Danchin, Politics of Religious Freedom (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 2015). 17. Greg Johnson, “Reflections on the Politics of Religious Freedom,” in Politics of Religious Freedom, ed. Winnifred Fallers Sullivan, Elizabeth Shakman Hurd, Saba Mahmood, and Peter G. Danchin, 78–88 (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 2015), 87, 80. 18. Johnson, “Reflections,” 80. 19. Lalmani Verma, “Anti-Romeo and Love Jihad: Experiments in Moral Policing in Uttar Pradesh,” Indian Express, March 24, 2017, accessed March 27, 2017, http://indian express.com/article/explained/anti-romeo-love-jihad-experiments-in-moral-policing-in -uttar-pradesh/. 20. Talal Asad, “Comments on Conversion,” in Conversion to Modernities, ed. Peter van der Veer, 263–273 (New York: Routledge, 1996), 273. 21. Asad, “Comments on Conversion,” 273, 271. 22. Asad, “Comments on Conversion,” 273. 23. Nancy J. Hirschmann, The Subject of Liberty: Toward a Feminist Theory of Freedom (Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press, 2003). According to Hirschmann, women tend to see the world in terms of relational autonomy. Laura Sjoberg explains: “Reactive autonomy is the understanding that we are autonomous, and, when our autonomy is interfered with, we react. The idea of relational autonomy acknowledges that we live in a world of constraint and

Notes to Pages 224–226

273

nonvoluntary obligation; our autonomy is related to the (often gendered) contexts of our lives.” Laura Sjoberg, “The Norm of Tradition: Gender Subordination and Women’s Exclusion in International Relations,” Politics and Gender 4, no. 1 (2008): 173–180, 178. See also Shailaja Paik, Dalit Women’s Education in Modern India: Double Discrimination (New York: Routledge, 2014), 158. Paik writes, “Dalit women found a way to create agency, womanhood, and a full humanity denied to them by both upper-caste elite nationalists and liberal feminists; they enacted their choices within constraints, and gained more, rather than less.” 24. Gauri Viswanathan, Outside the Fold: Conversion, Modernity and Belief (Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press, 1998), 84. 25. Heiner Bielefeldt, Elimination of All Forms of Religious Intolerance: Interim Report of the Special Rapporteur on Freedom of Religion or Belief, A/71/269, UN General Assembly, August 2, 2016, accessed December 8, 2016, http://www.un.org/ga/search/view_doc .asp?symbolA/71/269, 6. 26. United Nations, “Universal Declaration of Human Rights,” accessed February 3, 2016, http://www.un.org/en/universal-declaration-human-rights/. 27. See Samantha Majic, “ ‘I’m Just a Woman. But I’ve Never Been a Victim’: Reconceptualizing Prostitution Policy through Individual Narratives,” Journal of Women, Politics & Policy, 36, no. 4 (2015): 365–387: “Narratives define many policy issues, and in current discussions of prostitution the dominant narrative holds that it is an activity where women are universally coerced and exploited. [65 year old African American former sex worker and activist] Gloria Lockett’s narrative clearly counters this narrative” (380). 28. Aloysius Irudayam, S. J., Jayshree P. Mangubhai, and Joel Lee, Dalit Women Speak Out: Caste, Class and Gender Violence in India (New Delhi: Zubann, 2011), 68. 29. Zachary Elkins, Tom Ginsburg, and Beth Simmons, “Getting to Rights: Treaty Ratification, Constitutional Convergence, and Human Rights Practice,” Harvard International Law Journal 54, no. 1 (2013): 61–95, 92. 30. Brian J. Grim and Roger Finke, Price of Freedom Denied: Religious Persecution and Conflict in the 21st Century (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2010), 42–43; see the report on the survey at Pew Research Center, “Spirit and Power—A 10-Country Survey of Pentecostals,” October 5, 2008, accessed April 20, 2017, http://www.pewforum.org/2006/10/ 05/spirit-and-power/. 31. Grim and Finke, Price of Freedom Denied, 33. 32. Jacques Derrida, “Living On—Border Lives,” in Deconstruction and Criticism, ed. Harold Bloom, Paul de Man, Jacques Derrida, Geoffrey Hartman, and J. Hillis Miller, trans. James Hulbert, 75–176 (New York: Seabury Press, 1979), 81.

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INDEX

Figures and tables are indicated by page numbers followed by fig. and tab. respectively. Abbott, H. Porter, 3, 213 Adams, John, 218 Adcock, C. S., 8–9, 152 Adityanath, Yogi, 200, 208, 222 Adivasi: anticonversion laws and, 137–139, 151; defining, 22; initiatives for, 22; reconversion and, 153; as Scheduled Tribes, 22, 98 affirmative action programs: British colonial, 163; Christians and, 36; Dalits and, 27, 36, 158–159; Hindu reconverts and, 159, 161, 167–168; loss of eligibility through conversion, 27, 158–160; material impact of, 168, 177; Muslims and, 27, 36; reservations and, 139, 158, 163 agency: Ambedkar and, 72–76; ambiguities of, 59–60; conversion and, 1–2, 4–6, 10, 21, 29, 34–35, 37–39; critique of conversions and, 33, 35; denial of female, 182, 189, 192, 199, 204, 208, 210–211; discrediting, 58; incapable citizens and, 144–145; individual belief and, 223; Mizo Jewish converts, 120–122, 124, 127–128; Pickett and, 57; privileged and, 216; registration rules, 145–146, 149; religious freedom and, 144–145, 216; sincerity narratives and, 37 Akhil Bharatiya Vidyarthi Parishad (ABVP), 23, 198–199 aliyah (ascent): Bnei Menashe community and, 98–99, 109, 112, 114, 118–119; Christian Evangelical support for, 100, 115, 117; Christian Zionist support for, 114–117, 125; Israeli critiques of, 120, 123, 125, 127; as religious act, 26; Shavei Israel support for, 106; as spatial mobility, 26, 99, 128; spiritual sincerity and, 99, 128

Alone, Y. S., 77, 84–92, 94 Amar, Shlomo, 98, 106–107 Ambedkar, B. R., 25fig., 67fig.; advocacy of, 76–77, 83; on agency, 72–76; annihilation of caste by, 63–65, 162; Christian attempt to convert, 36, 55–56; commemoration of, 62–63; communal electorates and, 49; on conversion, 8, 35, 54–55, 60–61; conversion to Buddhism, 9, 16, 24, 36, 56, 62–63, 65–66, 74–75, 93, 137, 163, 166; conversion vows, 63; on Dalit conversions, 69–71, 76; democratic ideals of, 157, 221; on equality, 66, 68, 71, 73, 94–96, 216; on fraternity, 71, 95; on freedom, 72–73, 94–96; Gandhi and, 65; on Hinduism, 73; Indian Constitution and, 15; Pickett and, 55–57; politics and, 93; religious freedom and, 64, 66, 68, 71–73, 94–96, 216, 224; reservation policies and, 163; on sincerity, 69–71 Ambedkarite Buddhists: agency and, 83; conversion narratives, 64–66, 95; democratic ideals of, 64, 96; life narratives, 76–77; oral histories of, 25, 77–92, 166; religious concepts of, 93; religious freedom and, 64; social engagement and, 64. See also Dalit Buddhists American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU), 218 Amishav, 106, 113, 119 Annihilation of Caste (Ambedkar), 49, 64, 68, 72–73, 89–90, 92 Antasphot (Pawde), 77 Anthias, Floya, 105 anticonversion laws: anti-minority rhetoric, 7, 135–136; arrests and, 150–151; challenges to, 140; colonial policies, 137–138,

300

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anticonversion laws (continued ) 138tab., 139; fear and, 157; ghar wapsi (homecomings) and, 151; Hinduism and, 151–152; history of, 136–139; immobility and, 133; incapable citizens and, 144–145, 157; love jihad rumor and, 182; lowercaste populations and, 137–138, 177; majority group members, 220; paternalism in, 134, 139; proposed, 139, 139tab.; as protection, 137–139; reconversion and, 153–154; registration rules, 145–150, 155–156; religious freedom and, 133–134, 142–144; shadow stories in, 135–136, 144–145, 156. See also conversion legislation anti-Sharia legislation, 135 arrests, 150–151 Article 25 (Indian Constitution), 11–14 Arunachal Pradesh Freedom of Religion Act, 141tab., 153 Arya Samaj, 8–9, 151–152 Asad, Talal, 37, 155, 223 Asokan, K. M., 209 authentic conversion: autonomy and, 38–40; challenges to, 38; Christian conversion and, 38; individual agency and, 1–2, 5, 20–21, 24, 37; mobility and, 6, 28; spiritual sincerity and, 1–2, 5, 20–21, 24, 37–40 Avichail, Eliyahu, 106 Avital, Colette, 109 “Away from the Hindus” (Ambedkar), 68–69, 71 Backward Communities (Religious Protection) Bill of 1960, 139 Baer, Marc, 136 Bairagi, D. D., 151 Bajrang Dal, 23, 147, 151, 196, 225 Banerjee, Sikata, 190 Barnard, Amii Larkin, 184 Basu, Amrita, 189 Basu, Srimati, 135–136 belief: individual, 19–20, 34, 58–59, 93; privacy and, 154, 156; religious freedom and, 18–20, 72; in sincerity narratives, 37–38, 182 Benford, Robert, 214 Beyond Caste (Guha), 162 Beyond Religious Freedom (Hurd), 7 Bharahi, L. Krishnaswami, 163

Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), 23–24, 121, 128, 138, 140, 195, 200 Bhatkhalkar, Atul, 140 Bielefeldt, Heiner, 21, 133, 224, 233n83 Birnbaum, Eliyahu, 106 Bnei Menashe community: Christian Zionist allies, 114–117; conversion to Judaism, 25–26, 98, 105–108, 118, 120–121; Israeli allies, 113–114; Israeli tourist narratives of, 111–113, 128; Jewish practices of, 108–113; as lost tribe, 25–26, 97–98, 100–103, 106–107, 114; material culture of, 109; migration to Israel, 26, 97–99, 105, 107, 109–112, 118–119, 249n44; prophetic narratives and, 113–114; size of community, 246n1. See also Mizo Jews Bonilla-Silva, Eduardo, 45 Brass, Paul, 184–185 Buddha and His Dhamma, The (Ambedkar), 74–75, 87 Buddhism: affirmative action programs and, 27; Dalit conversions to, 24–25, 36, 65–66, 74–75; ethical compass of, 75; maitri in, 71; mass conversions and, 15, 24–25; progress and, 74. See also Dalit Buddhists Campus Religious Freedom Act (SB 175), 219 caste: church and, 171–172, 174; discrimination and, 12; religion and, 49, 162–163, 167–168, 172–173, 178–179; religious reform and, 8–9; rites and customs of, 167. See also lower-caste populations Centre for Public Interest Litigation (CPIL), 169 Chandra, Shefali, 162 Chandrachud, D. Y., 211 Chang, P. C., 18 Changing Gods (Heredia), 9 Chhattisgarh Dharma Swatantraya Adhiniyam, 141tab. Chhattisgarh Dharma Swatantrya (Sanshodhan) Bill, 143tab. Christian Association for Social Action, 196–197 Christianity: arrests and, 151; authenticity talk, 38; coercion concerns, 14; conversion legislation and, 27; conversion narratives, 188; Hindu attacks on, 36; Hindu conversion, 151; intransitive conversion

Index concerns, 156; in Mizoram, 99; religious freedom narratives, 19–21; reservation rights and, 164; sincere belief model, 37; Universal Declaration of Human Rights and, 19–20. See also Evangelical Christians; Protestant Christianity Christian mass movements: authentic conversion and, 37; Hindu nationalism and, 36; legacies of, 36–37; low-caste conversion and, 24, 33, 35–36, 38; missionaries and, 33–35 Christian Mass Movements in India (Pickett), 24, 33, 35, 40, 42–43, 45, 47, 50–51, 56, 59 Christian missionaries: convert agency and, 33; mass conversions and, 33–35; Pariah agricultural settlements, 38; predominant narratives and, 6; spirituality discourse and, 20; violence against, 147 Christian Missions in Mid India (Pickett, McGavran, and Singh), 42 “Christian psychology” conversion, 38 Christian Zionists: Biblical prophecy and, 100, 102, 113–115; Bnei Menashe community and, 26, 97–98, 100–101, 113, 117; lost tribe trope and, 102; premillennial dispensationalism and, 115; promotion of Jewish migration, 125; restoration of Israel and, 124–125 Christ’s Way to India’s Heart (Pickett), 42, 50 Church Growth and Group Conversion (Pickett et. al.), 42 Church Growth Movement, 42 colonial policies: caste and religion in, 162, 167; conversion laws, 136–137, 188; mass conversions and, 23–24, 33, 35; religious categorization and, 49, 160–161; Scheduled Castes (SCs) and, 22, 163; Scheduled Tribes (STs) and, 22; transformation and, 16 Commission for Social Harmony and Vigilance, 197 communal electorates, 48–49 Confirmation of the Gospel, The (Pickett), 58 Congress Party, 121, 128 Constituent Assembly: coercion concerns, 13–14; conversion debates, 12–16; fraternity and, 71; lower-caste rights, 162; minority narratives and, 15; order and protection discourse, 137; on propagation, 13, 230n49, 232n68; religious boundaries

301

and, 12, 230n45; religious freedom and, 66, 136, 163–164; reservation rights and, 164; Universal Declaration of Human Rights and, 16–18 conversion: certification process, 166–167; “Christian psychology” approach, 38; colonialism and, 159–161; communal electorates and, 48–49; community allegiances, 160; defining, 133; destabilization and, 8; forms of, 59; Gandhi on, 48; interior experiences of, 38; material impact of, 177; political backlash against, 33; practical change and, 228n23; registration rules, 145–149; reservation rights and, 163–165; as social process, 92; spirituality discourse and, 20; transitive/ intransitive, 147, 154, 156; unethical, 20–21. See also forcible conversion conversion legislation: forcible conversion and, 26, 140, 220; religious freedom acts, 142–144; religious freedom limitations and, 26; religious majority protection and, 217–218; South Asian region, 218. See also anticonversion laws conversion narratives: agency and, 1–2, 4–6, 10, 21, 29, 34–35, 92, 189, 216–217, 223; Ambedkarite Buddhists, 64–66, 76–77, 91–92; Christian missionaries and, 33–34; Christians, 188; constitutional priority and, 92; consumers of religion in, 223; counternarratives and, 28, 214; eclipse metaphor in, 159, 167–168; gender and, 203; governance and, 5–6, 224; Hindu nationalism and, 24, 134; interfaith marriage and, 215; lower-caste conversions and, 38–39, 175; mass conversions and, 216; material impact of, 168; Muslims, 188, 203, 212; official documents and, 140; reconversion and, 151–153; religious freedom and, 29; rumors and, 185; sermons as, 53; spiritual autobiography in, 3–4; spiritual sincerity and, 92, 179, 214–217; visual evidence for, 33, 34fig.; women’s religious freedom, 183. See also love jihad rumor; predominant narratives counternarratives: conversion motives and, 40, 61; conversion narrative revision and, 28, 214; Dalit women, 224; importance of, 28; love jihad rumor, 201, 209–214; marginalized communities and, 225; religious freedom and, 4, 217, 222, 224–226;

302

Index

counternarratives (continued ) social justice and, 4; spiritual sincerity and, 222–223 cultural mobility, 99–100, 126 Cultural Mobility (Greenblat), 99 Dalit Buddhists: conversion narratives, 77–84; freedom of conscience rights and, 10; mass conversions, 66, 93; as Scheduled Castes, 158, 164–165; solidarity in conversion by, 9; use of term, 64. See also Ambedkarite Buddhists Dalit Christians: affirmative action programs and, 27, 36, 159, 161, 165; caste and, 171–174, 178; conversions, 158; discrimination and, 27, 36, 159, 162, 168; freedom of conscience rights and, 10; Hindus on, 159; litigation and, 169; oral histories, 169–174; political rights and, 176; as Scheduled Castes, 158–161, 164, 173–174, 176; violence against, 169 Dalit Muslims: affirmative action programs and, 27, 36, 159, 161, 165; caste and, 178; conversions, 158; discrimination and, 36, 159, 162, 168; Hindus on, 159; litigation and, 169; oral histories, 174–177; political rights and, 176; as Scheduled Castes, 158–161, 164, 175–176; violence against, 169 Dalit Panthers, 64 Dalits: affirmative action programs and, 27, 36, 158–159; conversion legislation and, 27, 139; conversion to Buddhism, 24–25, 36, 64, 75–76; conversion to Islam, 36; conversion to Judaism, 123; defining, 22; initiatives for, 22; life narratives, 76–77; literature movement, 84; as Scheduled Castes, 22, 158–159; spiritual sincerity and, 38–39; use of term, 64. See also Depressed Classes; lower-caste populations Dalit women: agency and, 73, 83; counternarratives, 224; human rights and, 83; life narratives, 76–77 Danchin, Peter G., 232n72 Das, Veena, 184 Dasgupta, Sandipto, 16 De, Rohit, 189 Declaration on the Elimination of All Forms of Intolerance and Discrimination Based on Religion or Belief, 224

Delgado, Richard, 4, 161 DellaPergola, Sergeo, 125 Depressed Classes: activism for, 65; agency and, 50, 60; communal electorates and, 49; conversion motives and, 58; Gandhi on, 49–50; mass conversions and, 43, 54–55, 72; spiritual sincerity and, 60. See also Dalits; lower-caste populations Derrida, Jacques, 140, 226 Dewey, John, 63, 95 Dinesh, P. V., 211 Donyipolo, 153 Dubek, Ephraim, 123 DuBois, W. E. B., 42 Durga Vahini, 200 Eckstein, Yechiel, 115–117 eclipse metaphor, 159, 167–168, 174 ecology of fear, 206 Elkins, Zachary, 225 Epstein, Stephan, 119 equality: caste and, 83; fraternity and, 74, 76; freedom and, 74, 76, 92, 157, 226; religious freedom and, 66, 68, 94, 216–217; women and, 73 Evangelical Christians: Biblical prophecy and, 100, 113; funding of aliyah, 115; human rights and, 232n72; lost tribe trope and, 102; Shavei Israel and, 113–114 Evangelical Fellowship of India and Act Now for Harmony and Democracy vs. State of Himachal Pradesh, 154 feminized siege mentality, 195, 207 Fanei, Liyon, 102, 108–109 First Amendment Defense Act (FADA), 218–219 forcible conversion: affirmative action programs and, 178; arrests and, 150–151; legislation against, 26, 140, 220; religious freedom and, 20–21; of women, 21, 27–28. See also love jihad rumor Fraser, Nancy, 127 fraternity, 64, 71, 74, 76, 83, 94 freedom: Ambedkar on, 68, 72–74; as democratic ideal, 95; equality and, 68, 74, 76, 92, 157, 226; fraternity and, 74, 76 Freedom of Religion Act (1967), 145 Freund, Michael, 106–107, 113–114, 123–124

Index Gandhi, Mohandas: Ambedkar and, 65; challenges to sincerity, 58; on communal electorates, 49; conversion narratives, 6, 48, 65; critique of Christian conversions, 24, 39–40; critique of lower caste conversions, 65–66; critique of mass conversions, 33, 35, 43, 48–50, 137; Hindu nationalism and, 47, 163; homecoming narrative, 152; Pickett and, 49–51; on shuddhi, 152 Gangle, Shimon, 123 gender: conversion narratives, 203; insecurity discourses, 185, 196; in Islamophobic masterplots, 183; love jihad rumor and, 184. See also women gendered siege mentalities, 185, 206–207 ghar wapsi (homecomings): campaigns for, 151–152, 159; group conversions and, 152–153; Hindu conversion as, 7, 13, 15, 135, 151–152; indigenous religion and, 152–153 Ginsburg, Tom, 225 Glendon, Mary Ann, 19, 232n73 Goldman, Shalom, 124 Golwalker, M. S., 189 Government of India Act (1935), 163 Gowda, V. Gopala, 166, 169, 179 Greenblat, Stephen, 99–100, 126 Guha, Sumit, 162 Gujarat Dalit Sanman Sangharsh Manch, 147 Gujarat Freedom of Religion Act, 141tab., 149 Gujarat Freedom of Religion Rules, 141tab., 147–149 Gupta, Charu, 39 Gurukul Party, 9 Habib, Mohammad, 19 Halkin, Hillel, 105 Hamid, Navaid, 162, 174–178, 226 Hancock, Ange-Marie, 160 Harijan (Gandhi), 49–50 Harijan Christians, 164, 168 Harijans, 64–65. See also Dalits Harijan Sevak Sangh, 50 Harper, Susan Billington, 40 Hefner, Robert, 59 Henry, Patrick, 218 Heredia, Rudolf C., 9 Herzl, Theodor, 114

303

Himachal Pradesh Freedom of Religion Act, 140, 152–154 Himachal Pradesh Freedom of Religion Rules, 142tab., 148–149 Himalaya Dhwani, 202, 204 Hindu Code Bill, 66, 68, 73, 272n15 Hindu conversion: campaigns for, 134, 151; as homecomings (ghar wapsi), 7, 13, 15, 135, 151–152; incentives for, 159, 161; reconversion and, 159, 161, 168; shuddhi and, 100, 118, 151–152 Hinduism: Ambedkar on, 93; brahminical patriarchy in, 94, 224, 272n15; indigenous religion and, 153; mass conversions to, 36; predominant narratives and, 14–15; reconversion campaigns, 27, 151–152; religious freedom narratives, 20, 94; siege mentality of, 184–185, 206; supersizing, 56, 153, 158; transitive conversion concerns, 156 Hindu Keralites, 198 Hindu nationalism: Adivasi and, 153; anticonversion laws, 134; conversion campaigns, 134; conversion narratives and, 24, 134, 152; defining, 22–23; feminized insecurity narratives, 185, 196; growth in, 24; love jihad rumor and, 28, 180, 181fig., 189–190, 198, 200–203, 205, 207; majority status and, 36; mass conversion critique, 121, 128; organizations of, 23; preoccupation with Muslim men, 189–190; reconversion campaigns, 27; religious freedom and, 21; siege mentality of, 184, 207; xenophobia and, 202–203 Hindu Right: convert arrests and, 151; on Hindu religious tolerance, 15; predominant narratives and, 7; religious freedom and, 14–15; violence against missionaries, 147 Hindu tolerance, 9–10 Hindutva, 22 Hindu women: conversion imagery of, 202–203, 205; feminized siege mentality, 195, 207; love jihad rumor and, 27–28, 180–183, 189–201, 213; transgressions of boundaries, 203–204 Hirschmann, Nancy J., 272n23 Hodge, J. Z., 55 homecoming. See ghar wapsi (homecomings)

304

Index

Huata, Zvi, 108 humanity, 72 human rights: conversion narratives and, 20; counternarratives and, 224; Evangelical Christians and, 232n72; predominant narratives and, 6–7; religious freedom and, 16–20, 72, 216 human rights law, 17 Huntington, Samuel, 184 Hurd, Elizabeth Shakman, 7–8, 95 IFCJ. See International Fellowship of Christians and Jews (IFCJ) India Against Love Jihad, 201fig. India Bill of 1935, 48, 59 Indian American Muslim Council, 151 Indian Constitution: Article 25, 11–14; commitment to equality in, 16; Constituent Assembly and, 12–18; conversion and, 19; development of, 12, 16; individual belief and, 34; Pickett influence on, 41; religious freedom and, 216 Indian demographics, 21–22 indigenous religion, 152–153 individual belief, 19–20, 34, 58–59, 93 Inhofe, James, 124 insecurity discourses, 185, 196 Institute for Social and Religious Research, 41 interfaith marriage, 215, 222. See also love jihad rumor International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, 20 International Fellowship of Christians and Jews (IFCJ): Christian Zionism and, 115, 125; DVD ministry of, 101–102, 114–116; facilitation of aliyah, 125; fundraising appeals, 115, 117; Mizo Jews and, 117; premillennial dispensationalism and, 115; prophetic narratives and, 113–114, 116–117; Shavei Israel and, 114; urgent message of, 117 International Religious Freedom Act (IRFA), 232n72 intersectionality, 160, 179 intransitive conversion, 147, 154, 156 Irudayam, Aloysius, 224 Islam: coercion concerns, 14; conversion and, 190–193; conversion legislation and,

27; Dalit conversions to, 36. See also love jihad rumor; Muslims Islamophobia, 182–184, 193–194, 198, 205, 208 Ismail, Mohamed, 16–17 Israel: Bnei Menashe migration to, 26, 97–99, 105, 107, 109–112, 118–120, 124, 126–127; economic-migrant narrative in, 119–120; Indian government pressure on, 122; Jewish-exile narrative in, 119; lost tribes of, 102, 106–107, 111–112, 116–117; mass conversion fears, 123–124; migration of Jews to, 115–116, 125; pro-settlement politics, 124; restoration of, 124–125; sincerity critiques, 118–120; tourist narratives and, 111–113, 128 Israel-Mizo Identity (Zaithanchhungi), 103–104 Jaffrelot, Christophe, 152 Jahan, Hadiya, 28, 209–212, 214 Jahan, Shafin, 209, 211–212 Jahangir, Asma, 20–21 James, William, 20, 24, 38, 43 Jathika Hela Urumaya, 220 Jawaharlal Nehru University (JNU), 198–199 Jewish migration to Israel. See aliyah (ascent) Jihad Watch, 198 John, K. P., 166 John Hagee Ministries, 125 Johnson, Greg, 221 Jones, E. Stanley, 41, 54–56 Journey to Zion series, 116 Judaism: Biblical prophecy and, 113; Dalit conversions to, 123; lost tribes and, 100–102, 113; Mizo Jewish converts, 25–26, 97–99, 105–108, 118, 120–121 Kahn, Saif Ali, 28 Kailash Sonkar v. Maya Devi, 167 Kapur, Ratna, 14 Katju, Manjari, 152 Keane, Webb, 37 Keating, Cricket, 162 Kent, Eliza F., 40, 228n23 Kerala Catholic Bishops Council, 197, 200 Kerala State Women’s Commission, 211 Kfar Hasidim, 107 Khan, Kabir, 204 Khan, Kareena Kapoor, 201–205, 213–214

Index Khan, Saif Ali, 201, 204, 214 Khan, Salman, 204 Kim, Sebastian C. H., 39, 156 K. P. Manu case, 159, 161–162, 166–168, 178–179 Krishnadas, P. K., 195 Kulanu, 249n44 Kumar, Aishwary, 68, 163 Kumar, Deepa, 198 Kumar, Ravi, 206 Ladakh Buddhist Association, 209 Lambek, Michael, 59, 94 Leach, Jeff, 135 Lee, Joel, 224 Levinger, Moshe, 124 life narratives, 76–77. See also oral histories Limits of Tolerance, The (Adcock), 8 Liu, Lydia, 18 Locke, John, 19 lost tribes: Bnei Menashe community as, 25–26, 97–98, 100–103, 106–107, 113–114, 126; Christian Zionists and, 100, 102, 113–114; Judaism and, 100–102, 113; Messiah and, 113, 117; prophecy and, 115–117 love jihad rumor: annulment of marriage and, 209–212; anticonversion laws and, 182; Christians and, 197; conversion imagery of, 202–205; conversion narratives, 27–28, 180–183, 188, 207, 212; counternarratives, 201, 209–214; curriculum and, 207; denial of agency in, 182–183; digital media and, 202–204; ecology of fear and, 206; Google analysis and, 185–186, 186fig., 187, 190, 198–199, 199fig., 201, 213, 264n23, 267n81; high court judgments, 190–195; Hindu nationalism and, 180, 181fig., 189, 198, 200–203, 205, 207; hysteria and, 183, 185, 188, 195–201, 205, 213, 215; imagined threat of, 185, 195; internet sites and, 197, 264n22; Islamophobia and, 182–184, 193–194, 205, 208; masterplot of, 181–183, 188, 191, 197–198, 205–206, 209, 212–215; Muslim men and, 27–28, 180–185, 189–201, 208–209, 214; narratives of, 208; patriarchal elements of, 182, 189, 208; regulation of women’s sexuality and, 208–209; seduction in, 184, 188–189, 203,

305

206–207, 233n83; social media and, 184–185, 200, 204, 206; violence and, 200; women as victim in, 180, 185, 189–201, 204, 207–208, 212–214; xenophobia and, 202–203 lower-caste populations: agency and, 217; anticonversion laws and, 137–138; conversion to Christianity, 24, 33, 35–36, 38; discrimination and, 36; mass conversions and, 36, 137, 216; religious freedom and, 66, 217; spiritual sincerity and, 38, 179 Lynch, Cecelia, 4 Madhya Pradesh Dharma Swatantrya Adhiniyam rules, 141tab. Madhya Pradesh Freedom of Religion (Amendment) Bill, 143tab. Madhya Pradesh Freedom of Religion Act (Dharma Swatantrya Adhiniyam), 141tab., 151 Maharashtra Freedom of Religion Bill, 143tab. Mahmood, Saba, 10, 37, 94, 183, 217, 232n72 maitri, 71 Majic, Samantha, 4 majoritarian democracy, 175–177 majority group members: anticonversion laws, 220; discrimination and, 218–221; fear of minorities by, 183–184, 188; religious freedom and, 219–220; rumor spreading by, 184; sincerity and, 219–220 Makadiya, Jayanti, 147–148 Malik, Charles, 19 Mallampalli, Chandra, 39–40, 235n9 Mandal Commission Report (1980), 168 Mangubhai, Jayshree P., 224 Manu, K. P., 161, 166, 168, 178 marginalized communities: agency tests, 39, 217; counternarratives, 225; mass conversions and, 152, 156, 216; Mizo Jews as, 98; religious freedom and, 60, 220; sincerity tests, 39, 217. See also lower-caste populations Martin, Craig, 5 masculinized siege mentalities, 197, 207 mass conversions: agency and, 58–59, 120–121; Ambedkar and, 63, 93; Christian skeptics on, 51–52; critique of, 24, 33, 35, 39–40, 43, 48–51, 57; Dalit Buddhists, 66,

306

Index

mass conversions (continued ) 93; Depressed Classes and, 54–55, 72; humanity and, 72; legitimization of, 47; lower-caste populations and, 38–39, 137, 216; marginalized communities, 152, 156, 216; motivation in, 35, 40, 43–47; predominant narratives and, 6–7; resistance to, 57–58; secular critics of, 128–129; social anxieties, 199; spiritual sincerity and, 43, 51–52, 58; survey research on, 39–45. See also Christian mass movements McGavran, Donald, 42 Mehta, Hansa, 17, 18fig. Mehta, Pratap Bhanu, 140 Menon, Kalyani Devaki, 190 Messiah, 113, 117 Methodist Episcopal Church, 49 Meznaric, Silva, 184 minority rights, 12, 15 Misra, Dipak, 166, 169, 179, 210–212, 261n34 Misra, Lokanath, 14–15, 230n49, 232n68 Misra, R. N., 144 Mizo Accord of 1986, 98 Mizo Jewish converts: agency and, 120–122, 124, 127–128; authenticity and, 129; critique of sincerity, 100, 118–120, 127; economic redistribution and, 127; government intervention and, 121–122, 126–128; Indian critiques of, 120–122, 126; Israeli critiques of, 118–119, 123–128; spatial mobility of, 26, 99–100, 118–119, 125–127 Mizo Jews: aliyah and, 98–99, 109, 114–115, 117, 123, 125, 127–128; cultural history of, 104–105; cultural mobility of, 99–100, 126; current practices of, 100, 102, 108–113, 126; exodus of, 26, 98; genetic research and, 103–107; Hindu nationalism and, 23; historical research and, 103–104; identity narratives, 126; IFCJ and, 115–116; Israeli allies of, 105–107, 109–112; as lost tribe, 25–26, 97–98, 100–107, 126; narratives of, 26, 97–107; observance of Shabbat, 108–109; oral histories, 104; prophecy and, 98, 100, 113, 115–117, 126; racism and, 252n101; religious freedom and, 97, 101; religious micro-minority of, 99; self-representations, 102–103, 108–111; synagogue in

Sihphir, Mizoram, 101fig. See also Bnei Menashe community Mizo National Front (MNF), 122 Mizoram: Christianity in, 99; government relations in, 121–122; missionaries and, 98; Mizo Jews in, 97–98, 108; Scheduled Tribes (STs) in, 98–99 Mizroch, Amir, 123 mobility, 6, 26, 28, 99. See also spatial mobility modernity, 37 Modi, Narendra, 26, 63, 134, 207 Mohamed, Ahmed, 135 Mookerji, H. C., 41 moral autonomy, 37 Moral Basis of Democracy, The (Roosevelt), 19 Mott, John R., 41, 50 Muslim men: demonization of, 208–209, 222; love jihad rumor, 27–28, 180–185, 189, 201, 208–209, 214; seduction by, 184, 188–189, 203–204, 206–207, 214, 233n83 Muslims: affirmative action programs and, 27; arrest of, 151; caste discrimination and, 27, 175; conversion narratives, 188, 203, 212; fear and, 184; freedom of conscience rights and, 10; Hindu conversion and, 151; Hindu nationalism and, 189–190; political underrepresentation of, 175–177; predominant narratives and, 6; religious freedom and, 228n24; violence against, 205–206, 209. See also Dalit Muslims Muthalik, Pramod, 195 Myanmar, 220 Nadai, Amos, 121 National Christian Council of India, Ceylon and Burma, 41 National Investigation Agency (NIA), 209–210, 212, 214 National Sikh Organization, 200 Nehru, Jawaharlal, 16–17, 23, 138 neo-Buddhists, 65 Nepal, 220 Nock, A. D., 59 normative tales, 136 Nussbaum, Martha, 68, 216 Olmert, Ehud, 125 oral histories: Ambedkarite Buddhists, 25, 77–92; Dalit Christians, 169–174; Dalit

Index Muslims, 174–177; Kumud Pawde, 77–82; Mizo Jews, 104; Y. S. Alone, 84–92. See also life narratives Orissa Freedom of Religion Act, 141tab. Orissa Freedom of Religion Rules, 141tab., 145–146 Osuri, Goldie, 9, 77, 137 Other Backward Classes (OBC), 139, 165. See also Scheduled Castes (SCs) Outside the Fold (Viswanathan), 8 Paik, Shailaja, 73 Panda, K. B., 144 Pandey, Gyanendra, 66, 162–163, 166–167, 179 Pandit, Vijaya Laxmi, 16 parents’ rights, 193–194 Pariah agricultural settlements, 38 Pariah Problem, The (Viswanath), 8, 162 Patel, Sardar Vallabhbhai J., 13, 136 Patna Freedom of Religion Act, 138tab. Pawde, Kumud, 77–78, 78fig., 79–84 Periyar, E. V. R., 63 Philadelphia Negro, The (DuBois), 42 Phule, Jotirao, 63 Phule, Savitribai, 63 Pickett, J. Waskom: on agency, 57, 59–60; Ambedkar and, 55–57; on anticonversion laws, 136; on Buddhism, 56; conversion motives and, 35, 43–47, 58–59; defense of converts, 37; Depressed Classes and, 56–57, 60; Gandhi and, 49–51; on Hindu nationalism, 47–48; on individualism, 52–53; influence on Indian Constitution, 41; legitimization of mass converts and, 47, 58; as mission theorist, 40–41; objectivity and, 45; sermons as conversion narratives, 53; on spiritual sincerity, 33–34, 40, 43, 45, 51–52, 55, 57, 59–60, 193; survey research and, 24, 33–36, 39–47, 52 Pines-Paz, Ophir, 124 Politics of Religious Freedom (Sullivan), 94 Poraz, Avraham, 125 Prajapati, Sunil, 151 predominant narratives: agency and, 160; boundaries of religions in, 15; dominant groups and, 5–6; Hinduism and, 14–15; individual belief and, 38; masterplots and, 213; minorities and, 15; motivation in, 6;

307

persistence of, 5; prevention of conversions, 26; religious freedom in, 7, 10, 40, 160; sincerity and, 160–161; stigmatization of minorities in, 6–7; undermining of human rights by, 6–7. See also conversion narratives premillennial dispensationalism, 114–115 Prevention of Atrocities Act, 163, 168 Problematizing Religious Freedom (Sharma), 9 Prohibition of Forcible Conversion Bill, 220 proselytism: Christian, 10; Gandhi on, 48, 50, 58; Hinduism and, 15, 152; Jewish, 120–121; mass conversions and, 1; transitive conversion concerns, 2 Protestant Christianity: individual belief and, 6, 19, 34, 38; religious freedom and, 10, 19, 21; sincere belief model and, 37. See also Christianity Protestant missionaries. See Christian missionaries public order, 11–12, 224 Pulaya Christians, 166, 168 Pulaya Hindus, 166 Pune Pact, 49 Raigarh State Conversion Act (1936), 137–138, 138tab., 151 Raj, Silja, 180 Rajagopal, Krishnadas, 210 Rajasthan Dharma Swatantrya Bill, 143tab. Ramusack, Barbara, 137 Rao, Anupama, 75 Rashtra Sevika Samiti, 23, 185, 190, 199, 206–207 Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS), 23, 153, 189, 200 Rege, Sharmila, 66, 76–77, 245n66 Regev, Mark, 121 registration rules: administrative surveillance and, 145–148, 150; administrator assumptions and, 155–156; agency and, 145–146, 149, 156; applications for permission, 147–148; citizen self-reporting and, 145; conversion narratives, 145–146; personal attestations in, 149; public exposure of converts, 147, 150; sincerity and, 149, 156 relational autonomy, 272n23 religion: Ambedkar on, 72–73; authenticity in, 5; caste and, 49, 162–163, 167–168,

308

Index

religion (continued ) 172–173, 178–179; freedom and, 72–73; Hinduism as, 93; politics and, 225; principles in, 73; scientific survey methodology for, 24, 33, 35 Religious Conversion in India (Robinson), 8 religious discrimination, 10, 29, 218–222, 224 religious equality: Ambedkarite Buddhists and, 64, 71, 76, 94, 96; religious freedom and, 25, 217; self-determination and, 129 religious freedom: Ambedkar on, 64, 66, 68, 71–73, 94–95; counternarratives and, 4, 217, 222, 224–226; eligibility for, 39, 221; governance and, 7, 216, 224; human rights and, 16–20, 72, 216; international politics of, 7–8, 20, 126; persecution on behalf of, 183–185, 215; right to propagate, 163–164 religious freedom acts: anticonversion laws and, 140, 142–144; arrests and, 150–151; challenges to, 154–155; conversion narratives, 140, 143; incapable citizens assumptions, 144–145; postindependence, 141tab.–142tab.; registration rules, 155–156 religious freedom bills, 140, 143tab. Religious Freedom Restoration Act (United States), 218 religious minorities: demographics of, 21; ecology of fear and, 206; majority group fear of, 183–184, 188; reconversion campaigns for, 27; siege mentality of, 197 religious reform, 8–9 religious tolerance, 9, 15 reservation rights: Buddhists and, 165; colonial policies, 163; conversion and, 161, 163–164; Dalit Christians and, 36; Dalit Muslims and, 36; Depressed Classes and, 163; legislative seats and, 177; Other Backward Classes (OBC) and, 139; as quota system, 158, 165; religious requirements for, 158, 160, 168; Scheduled Castes (SCs) and, 158, 165, 177; Scheduled Tribes (STs) and, 22, 165 “rice Christians,” 24, 35, 235n9 Roberts, Nathaniel, 37, 39 Robinson, Rowena, 8, 71, 164 Rockefeller, John D., Jr., 41 Romeo jihad, 187, 191, 194. See also love jihad rumor

Roosevelt, Eleanor, 18fig., 19, 232n73 routine violence, 206 Roy, Haimanti, 206 RSS. See Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS) rumors, 184–185. See also love jihad rumor Sachar Commission Report, 176–177 Sackett, F. Coyler, 34fig. Sailo, Ngurliana, 104 Salaam, Shalom, 123 Samson, K. S., 196 Sankaran, K. T., 180, 182, 190–194, 198, 213 Santhanam, Shri K., 13–15 Sarguja State Apostasy Act, 138tab. Save Our Daughters, Save India campaign, 196 Scheduled Castes (SCs): affirmative action programs and, 27, 36, 139, 158–159, 161, 163; anticonversion laws, 139; Buddhists as, 27, 158; conversion process, 173–174, 178; Dalit Christians as, 158–161, 164, 173–174, 176; Dalit Muslims as, 158–161, 164, 175–176; Dalits as, 22, 27, 36; hate crimes and, 168–169; Hinduism and, 163; material impact of conversion, 177–178; reconversion and, 159, 161, 168, 173–174, 178; reservation rights and, 158, 165, 177; Sikhs as, 27, 158; specification of, 164–165 Scheduled Castes Order (1950), 164–165 Scheduled Tribes (STs): Adivasi as, 22, 98; anticonversion laws, 139; Mizoram and, 98–99; reservation rights and, 22, 165; specification of, 165 Sehgal, Meera, 185, 206 self, 160–161 Sha, Shahan, 192–194 shadow stories: anticonversion laws and, 135–136, 144–145, 156; incapable citizens and, 144–145; law and, 135; as normative tales, 136 Shafin Jahan v. K. M. Asokan, 210 Shahan Sha, A. and Anr. vs. State of Kerala, 190–195 Shapiro, Faydra, 125 Sharma, Arvind, 9 Sharma, Chetna, 200 Shavei Israel: Biblical prophecy and, 113–114; Evangelical Christians and, 113–114; historical/genetic argument for

Index lost tribes, 107; International Fellowship of Christians and Jews (IFCJ) and, 114; Israeli tourist narratives and, 112; on mass conversions, 123–124; Mizo Jews and, 101, 106–107, 110–113, 119, 122 Sheetrit, Meir, 120, 125 Sherwood, Yvonne, 39, 228n24 shuddhi, 9, 100, 118, 151–152 siege mentalities, 184–185, 197, 206 Sikh Council, 200 Sikhs, 27, 158, 164 Simmons, Beth, 225 sincere belief model, 37 sincerity narratives: agency narratives and, 37–39; Ambedkar and, 69–71; apolitical spiritual belief and, 216; belief in, 37; discrediting, 58; lower-caste populations and, 38–39; minority groups and, 219–220; model convert and, 214–215; Pickett and, 57; privileged and, 216; registration rules, 149; religious freedom and, 216. See also spiritual sincerity Singer, Wendy, 169 Singh, Chakradhar, 137 Singh, Dara, 147 Singh, G. H., 42 Singh, Manmohan, 118, 121, 128 Smith, J. Holmes, 54, 56 Smith, Robert O., 115 Snow, David, 214 spatial mobility, 26, 99–100, 118–119, 125–127 spiritual autobiography, 3–4 spiritual sincerity: authentic conversion and, 1–2, 5–6, 20–21, 24, 37; counternarratives and, 222–223; critique of, 21, 26, 35; denial of minority religion, 29; lower-caste populations and, 38–39; missionaries and, 33–34, 43; religious freedom and, 7, 10, 20, 37. See also sincerity narratives Sri Lanka, 220 Sri Rama Sene, 195–196 ST. See Scheduled Tribes (STs) Staines, Graham, 147 Starbuck, Edwin, 38 Steigenga, Timothy J., 228n23 Straw, Jack, 200 Sullivan, Winnifred Fallers, 10, 94 Supreme Court cases: affirmative action programs and, 159–160; Dalit Christians

309

and, 169; Dalit Muslims and, 169; management and definition of self in, 160–161; reconversion and, 159, 161, 166–167 survey research: development of, 42; Pickett and, 24, 33–36, 38–47, 52; policy and, 42; religion in, 24, 41; white logic in, 45 Tamil Nadu Prohibition of Forcible Conversion of Religion (Repeal) Act, 141tab. Tamil Nadu Prohibition of Forcible Conversion of Religion Act, 141tab. testimonios, 76–77, 245n66. See also life narratives Thange, Musaddique, 151 Thomas, Franklin Caesar, 162, 169–174, 178–179 transitive conversion, 147, 154, 156 Trump, Donald, 218 Truth, Sojourner, 83 Tsaban, Yair, 119–120 Tungnung, Amos, 113 Udaipur State Anticonversion Act, 138tab. UDHR. See Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR) UN Commission on Human Rights, 8, 17, 18fig. Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR): Christian influence on, 19–20; Constituent Assembly and, 16–18; conversion and, 19–20; development of, 12, 16–18; individual belief and, 34; nonWestern participation in, 18; religious freedom and, 16–20, 225 untouchables, 64–65, 69, 76. See also Dalits Van der Veer, Peter, 20, 189 Van Duyne, Beth, 135 Varieties of Religious Experience (James), 38 Vijpayee, Atal Bihari, 121 violence: against Christian missionaries, 147; against Dalit Christians, 169; against Dalit Muslims, 169; intergroup, 184, 206; love jihad rumor and, 200; against Muslims, 205–206, 209; routine, 206; rumors and, 184, 189, 206, 233n83 Vishva Hindu Parishad (VHP), 23, 151, 196–197, 207

310

Index

Vision and Venture (Sackett), 34fig. Viswanath, Rupa, 8–9, 38–39, 162, 167, 235n9 Viswanathan, Gauri, 8, 37–38, 49, 57, 59, 93, 159, 161, 188, 224 Warnhuis, A. L., 42 white logic, 45 Williams, Rina Verma, 73, 272n15 Wilson, J. M., 164 Wings of Eagles, 102 women: anticonversion laws and, 138–139; conversion narratives, 189; Dalit agency, 73; denial of agency in, 182, 189, 192, 199, 204, 208, 210–211; equality and, 73; forcible conversion of, 21, 27–28; insecurity discourses, 185, 196; patriarchy and,

182; regulation of sexuality, 208–209; relational autonomy and, 272n23; religious freedom and, 66, 68, 183, 193, 195; restrictions on, 182–183, 196, 207–208; rumors of violence against, 184, 189; siege mentality of, 185; victimhood of, 180, 185, 189–194, 197–201, 204, 213–214. See also Dalit women; gender; Hindu women Young India (Gandhi), 48 Young Mizo Association, 108 Yulitha Hyde v. State of Orissa, 144 Yuval-Davis, Nira, 105 Zadeng, Makabia, 111 Zaithanchhungi, 103–104, 106–107, 109–110 Zuberi, Tukufu, 45

ACKNOWLEDGMENTS

For inspirational, intellectual, and practical support, I thank Minoo Adenwalla, Y. S. Alone, Manu Bhagavan, Jangkhongam Doungel, David and Ka¨ren Dudley, Navaid Hamid, Richard Harknett, Surendra Kumar, Chandra Mallampalli, Shailaja Paik, Adrian Parr, Kumud Pawde, Barbara Ramusack, Meera Sehgal, Tina Teater, Thangtinkhuma Thangtin, Franklin Caesar Thomas, S. K. and Vimal Thorat, Betsy Thurman, Monish Tourangbam, Crystal Whetstone, Rina Verma Williams, Joel Wolfe, Murat Yilmaz, M. Crawford Young, Zaithanchhungi, and, especially, Eleanor Zelliot, whose work and legacy continue to inform and inspire me. The Charles Phelps Taft Research Center, UCLeaf, Terrell Carver’s International Political Science Association/National University of Singapore Methods School course on interpretive and visual methods, the NEH Summer Institute on Problems in the Study of Religion, the Converting Cultures institute at Dartmouth’s Leslie Center for the Humanities, and the Third Century Faculty Research Fellowship provided time, travel, and vibrant scholarly communities. I benefited from valuable feedback over several years from discussants, panelists, and audience members at the Annual Conference on South Asia at the University of Wisconsin and the South Asian Muslim Studies Association preconference, the Indian Institute of Dalit Studies, the American Academy of Religion, the Association for Asian Studies, the American Political Science Association, the Conference on the Study of Religions in India, the Oxford University South Asia Research Cluster Workshop on Christianity in India, the National Women’s Studies Association, the Law and Society Association, and the Conference on the Social Practice of Human Rights. Suzanne Gehring, head of Archives and Special Collections at Asbury University, Vivek Srinivasan’s Constituent Assembly search engine, and Sally Moffitt, University of Cincinnati librarian, helped me access necessary sources.

312

Acknowledgments

At Penn Press I am honored to work with Peter Agree, Burt Lockwood, and Lily Palladino and to contribute to their essential series on human rights. Gail Schmitt curbed my addiction to scare quotes and provided insight into the R.E.M. lyrics quoted at the start of Chapter 5. She noted that “losing my religion” is a Southern expression for losing one’s temper or being at the end of one’s rope. These multiple meanings sum up the situation of the convert featured in that chapter and many others throughout the book. For Chris, Isabelle, Priya, Mom, and Dad, all my love, always.