Connect with us

Opinion

Has The End of the Democratic-Secular Polity Begun?

The Kashmir Monitor

Published

🕒

on

IST

By Shamsul Islam

India, sadly, is witnessing the Hindutva juggernaut running amok crushing whatever was democratic, liberal and egalitarian in the Indian polity. The RSS as the charioteer is not ashamed of this vicious campaign, instead, taking credit for it. It was not long back that it used to claim apolitical status. Even when its cadres like Atal Bihari Vajpayee and LK Advani became rulers of India it would assure the nation that RSS was a socio-cultural organization and had nothing to do with politics. Organiser, mouthpiece of the RSS, in its editorial of February 6, 2000 went on to declare that, “the RSS is not a political party. It does not take part in elections nor its office bearers are supposed to become office bearers of any political party. The RSS has no election symbol nor its leadership or members have ever endeavoured to seek political office. It is a social-cultural organization trying to inspire all national activity.” In fact, it was the pledge RSS made to the first home minister of India, Sardar Patel as a condition for withdrawal of ban on it for playing a role in the assassination of Father of the Nation, MK Gandhi.

But since Modi’s becoming PM of India in March 2014, who describes himself as Hindu nationalist, situation has deteriorated for the worst. Now RSS sets the agenda and executes Hindutva politics which keeps democratic-secular India on the ventilator. Even the ventilators which include independent judiciary, neutral bureaucracy, Parliament and office of the President of the Republic have faltered in fulfilling their task of safeguarding our polity.

 

The President and PM neither talk to the media nor explain about burning issues faced by the nation. However, RSS boss, Mohan Bhagwat as the ideologue of the ruling Hindutva group makes statements about the direction of the government. He has become the de-facto ruler of India. He is allowed to hold conclaves, as the only speaker, outlining the Hindu nationalist polarizing agenda, at institutions like Vigyan Bhawan which were meant to deliberate on strengthening our democratic polity. The latest parvachan or sermon was delivered at the RSS headquarters on the eve of Vijaydashmi, also the foundation day of RSS in 1925.

Abandoning any façade of respecting Indian constitutional polity and its processes he demanded that an ordinance should be brought in by the government for building the temple at Ayodhya at the place of demolished Babri mosque on December 6, 1992. It looked as if his chelas or cadres of RSS governing India had solved all critical problems like, violence against Dalits, hunger, poverty, unemployment, violence against women, absence of health and educational facilities and only issues like Ram temple are to be solved!

According to RSS, this mosque was built after demolishing temple at the birth place of Ram at Ayodhya in 1528-29 by a military commander of Babar (1483-1530). It is to be noted that this mosque was razed to ground by Hindutva goons despite RSS leaders’ undertaking to the then Parliament, the Supreme Court and the PM (Narsimha Rao) that mosque would not be touched. According to him “the construction of the temple is necessary from the self-esteem point of view; it will also pave the way for an atmosphere of goodwill and oneness in the country”.

Interestingly, the issue of destruction of Ram temple was never raised before 1881. RSS raised the issue of Ram temple only after 1949 and never during the British rule since its birth in 1925. Moreover, Tulsidas (1532–1623 during the times of Akbar) who penned Ramcharitmanas, the epic which popularized the story of Ram as God in northern India nowhere in his work in Avadhi language mentioned this destruction. Bhagwat’s call for a law for the temple is open denigration of the Supreme Court of India which is presently hearing the mosque-temple dispute.

How RSS and its current boss, Bhagwat are out to undo the constitutional proprieties will be clear from their brazen opposition to the Supreme Court judgment on allowing women of all ages to visit Sabarimala temple in Kerala. Interestingly, the judgment was delivered by the chief justice of India who enjoyed respect in the Hindutva circles. His argument was that “We [he meant Supreme Court] should have built consensus. The devotees should have been consulted…the premise of the tradition that has been accepted by society and continuously followed for years together was not taken into consideration. The version of heads of religious denominations and faith of crores of devotees was not taken into account”.

Interestingly, RSS always want strict execution of the Judiciary’s judgment whenever practices of minority communities, especially Muslim and Christians are judicially outlawed. Moreover, by the logic of Bhagwat that tradition that has been accepted by society and continuously followed for years together should not be violated, the Sati, widow-remarriage, Untouchability, child marriages and slavery would never have been banned in history. It showed what side RSS is.

Unfortunately, the RSS opposition to the entry of women in the Sabrimala temple has not been verbal only. RSS, BJP and its open and hidden organizations have been involved in organizing aggressive protest against the Supreme Court judgment. These organizations have declared CPM led Kerala government as anti-Hindu and working overtime to turn Kerala into another Ayodhya.

BJP president, Amit Shah, perennial source of spitting communal venom criticized the verdict as ‘impracticable’. Thus he indirectly declared that ‘Hindus’ would not accept the Sabrimala verdict of the Supreme Court and turned this issue into Communists versus ‘Hindus’. According to NDTV, “BJP President Amit Shah’s speech in Kerala using, typical of his style, the language of a school bully, should be seen as a direct assault on the Supreme Court of India.” This call completely disregarded the fact that Kerala government was simply trying to implement a judgment of the highest court of India which was delivered by a Bench which was headed by a known ‘Hindu’ chief justice, Dipak Mishra. The Kerala Chief Minister, Pinarayi Vijayan has rightly commented that

“It is obvious that both BJP and RSS want political capital out of it, and are instigating devotees. Their only intention is to polarize the society for a few votes…These forces have a long history of adopting such diabolical political games. Their only intention is to polarize society on communal lines. For this, they have gone to the extent of indulging in violence and creating strife. Even the abode of Ayyappa was used as a camp for anti-social elements and criminals. We have maintained restraint, considering the sanctity of the place. Let me make it very clear that the Government of Kerala will not tolerate any such acts henceforth. We will ensure that the Supreme Court verdict is implemented in letter and spirit”.

This exposure comes from a CM who has not wilted under the mass frenzy of Hindutva organizations and vowed to implement the judgment of the highest court of justice of India.

The RSS which is talking of the sensibilities and beliefs of the Kerala Hindu devotees of Sabrimala has been genetically believer in gender discrimination. It does not allow women in RSS. It has a separate women’s wing which is known as Mahila sevika samiti (society of women servants) where as male RSS body is known as swayamsevak or volunteer force. Women RSS cadres remain identified as servants not volunteers.

So far as RSS love for Keralite Hindus is concerned we must compare it with the wretched ideas of 2nd boss of RSS, MS Golwalkar who also remains the most prominent of RSS ideologue till date. Golwalkar was invited to address the students of the School of Social Science of Gujarat University on December 17, 1960. In this address, while underlying his firm belief in the Race Theory, he touched upon the issue of cross-breeding of human beings in the Indian society in history. He said:

“In an effort to better the human species through cross-breeding the Namboodri Brahamanas of the North were settled in Kerala and a rule was laid down that the eldest son of a Namboodri family could marry only the daughter of Vaishya, Kashtriya or Shudra communities of Kerala. Another still more courageous rule was that the first off-spring of a married woman of any class must be fathered by a Namboodri Brahman and then she could beget children by her husband. Today this experiment will be called adultery but it was not so, as it was limited to the first child.” [M. S. Golwalkar cited in Organizer, January 2, 1961, p. 5.]

The above statement of Golwalkar is highly worrying in many respects. Firstly, it proves that Golwalkar believed that India had a superior Race or breed and also an inferior Race which needed to be improved through cross-breeding. Secondly, a more worrying aspect was his belief that Brahmans of the North (India) and specially Namboodri Brahamans, belonged to a superior Race. Due to this quality, Namboodri Brahamanas were sent from the North India to Kerala to improve the breed of inferior Hindus there. Interestingly, this was being argued by a person who claimed to uphold the unity of Hindus world over. Thirdly, Golwalkar as a male chauvinist believed that a Namboodri Brahman male belonging to a superior Race from the North only could improve the inferior human Race from South. For him wombs of Kerala’s Hindu women enjoyed no sanctity and were simply objects of improving breed through intercourse with Namboodri Brahamanas who in no way were related to them. Nobody on this earth can beat RSS in hypocrisy and double-talk.

What unshackled Hindutva zealots are doing in the largest State of the Indian Union would suffice to know what is happening to the minorities in UP led by a Hindutva zealot who hates secularism and democracy. The State is witnessing highest number of incidence of violence against Christians ever in history. According to a press report from the ground zero, “Uttar Pradesh, a most populous state in north India, considered to be the most populous country subdivision in the world and led by a sitting high priest of Gorakhpur temple, Chief Minister, Yogi Aditya Nath is witnessing the highest number of violence against Christians. What’s noteworthy is, it is happening in a district headquarters located to the northwest of the district of Varanasi, which is a parliamentary constituency of Prime Minister, Narendra Modi…In September [2018] alone, UP has witnessed 25 incidents, out of which 20 were in Jaunpur. Overall, since January 2018, the state has witnessed 59 out of 190 incidents of violence against Christians in India…In these 190 incidents of violence against Christians in 2018 from January to September, 135 women and 115 children were either physically injured or mentally disturbed.”

Sadly, Nobel Peace Prize winner and child rights activist Kailash Satyarthi was the chief guest at the event. He took along his wife there and told the RSS gathering that the future belonged to RSS. It is like Malala Yousafzai who was co-recipient of the Nobel with Satyarthi going as chief guest to the foundation day programme of Lashkar-e-Taiba led byHafiz Saeed in Pakistan. Some analyst thought that Satyarthi went to RSS programme as RSS/BJP government has ‘files’ on him. It may not be the only reason. He has been a member of the ‘sleeping cell’ of RSS and when Hindutva politics is losing support, all such characters are being asked to come in open and help the organization. Earlier Pranab Mukherjee was asked to come to RSS graduation ceremony (June 7, 2018) for the same reason.
(Shamsul Islam is a retired Professor of University of Delhi.Email: notoinjustice@gmail.com Courtesy: countercurrents.org)


The Kashmir Monitor is the fastest growing newspaper as well as digitial platform covering news from all angles.

Advertisement
Loading...
Comments

Opinion

Not in the Mahatma’s name

The Kashmir Monitor

Published

on

By Apoorvanand

The recent uproar over the glorification of Mahatma Gandhi’s assassin, NathuramGodse, by the BharatiyaJanata Party’s Bhopal candidate Pragya Singh Thakur has forced her party to tick her off. It should be a solace for us that there is at least one non-negotiable in Indian politics, that the political cost of the celebration of the murder of the Mahatma is formidably high! But now we would be told to let the matter rest as she has been chided even by her mentors.

Let us look at the implication of this approach, that Ms. Thakur, sans this statement, should be acceptable to us as a potential representative in Parliament. She continues to be the ‘symbol of Hinduism’, as she claimed Prime Minister NarendraModi had said of her. Our satisfaction over the condemnation of Ms. Thakur makes us forget that she is being audaciously presented as the most fitting answer to secular politics, which holds that a person accused of attacks on Muslims cannot be a people’s representative in India.

 

The idea that a Hindu can never indulge in a terror act is, in fact, another way of saying that terror acts are always committed by non-Hindus. Or, by Pakistan, which for BJP leaders is a proxy for Muslims. Union Home Minister Rajnath Singh, while talking about the Samjhauta Express blast case acquittals, claimed that it was unimaginable to accept that Hindus could be involved in such acts, and that he believed that in all such crimes there was the hand of Pakistan. A crime has been committed, and since the Hindu suspects cannot (being Hindus) do it, it can only be Muslims even if they are not caught — this is the underlying assumption.

It is this theory which is being thrown at us by the BJP by presenting Ms. Thakur as its choice for the electorate of Bhopal. It has another sinister aspect. She was selected knowing well that she could not be a choice for Muslims. Her selection is therefore a message to Muslims that by not voting for her, they disregard the sentiments of Hindus, thus showing intolerance towards the majority.

By supporting her, the ‘symbol of Hinduism’, they have a chance to endear themselves to the Hindus. If they don’t, they would always be a suspect.

This argument is not new. Many pundits, while accepting that Mr.Modi was a divisive figure, urged Indians to choose him as he was the best bet for the economic development of India. So, can Muslims be so sectarian as to think only about themselves while the greater national interest is at stake?

The swift and determined move by the BJP to reject her statement on Godse is a clever ploy to make this issue irrelevant while judging her. It is as if we are asked to judge Godse, setting aside the act of murder of Gandhi by him. There are ‘respectable’ people who feel that Godse spoilt his case by murdering the Mahatma. They regret this folly as they believe that there was strong merit in his ideological stance. According to them, he rightly opposed the Muslim appeasement of Gandhi, his anger at the dangerous friendliness of Gandhi towards Pakistan is correct, and his impatience with the unwise and impractical pacifism of Gandhi is to be understood if we want to make India strong.

We are asked to understand that there was a reason Godse was forced to kill Gandhi. We are asked to not treat him as a simple criminal. He was driven by high ideas. To make him a man of ideas, he is constantly humanised. We have seen over the years people talking about his childhood, his education, his editorship. Gandhi must have done something really horrible to provoke a thoughtful human being to turn into an assassin. If anything, they imply, he was a just assassin!

So, we are asked to move away from the trivia, that is the act of the murder, to the substantive, the issues raised by Nathuram in his ‘brave defence’ in the court, which had moved people to tears even then.

The RashtriyaSwayamsevakSangh (RSS), unlike the Islamic State and the Maoists, understands it well that an individual and identifiable act of violence makes it abhorrent and repulsive for the masses, whereas anonymous acts of violence are always more palatable. It was therefore important for Savarkar to distance himself from his disciple, Godse, to remain respectable. For the RSS it was necessary to disown Godse to be able to keep working on the majoritarian ideas he shared with or had learnt from Savarkar and the RSS. No known RSS hand soils his hands with blood; yet it is the politics of the RSS, not at all different from Godse’s, which makes blood flow.

Gandhi had said again and again that it would be better for him to die if India were to become inhospitable to Muslims. He was talking to those who were objecting to the recitation from the Koran at his prayer meetings. Death he could accept but not the narrowing of his heart! Neither bowing to threats or force! In the same invocation, he said, if you ask me to recite the Gita at gun point, I would refuse to obey you.

Gandhi told his audience, your heart is also large. Don’t constrict it. It is this challenge which needs to be accepted. It requires immense bravery of intelligence and humanity to be able to hear Gandhi. This intelligence would tell us that the distancing from the murder of the Mahatma by the co-travellers of Godse is in fact a strategy to enlarge the space for majoritarian ideas and draw more and more Hindus towards them, thus making Gandhi irrelevant while keeping his facade decorated.

Continue Reading

Opinion

Why I want Pragya Thakur to win

The Kashmir Monitor

Published

on

By Saba Naqvi

Regardless of whether NarendraModi remains Prime Minister or not I want terror accused Pragya Thakur to win from Bhopal. The esteemed leadership of India’s pre-eminent political party chose a terror accused as a candidate and they must endure her tenure as MP.

Pragya may be a poisonous vendor of hate and violence but she is not a hypocrite. Ever since she spoke her mind on describing NathuramGodse, the individual who shot MK Gandhi to death, as a patriot, the BJP national leadership has claimed to be disturbed. The Prime Minister spoke up after her statement, saying, he would never forgive her for what she had said and the party stated that it had initiated disciplinary action against her.

 

But by the time the party took this position, many members of the BJP had come up with twisted arguments somehow justifying Pragya’s validation of the assassin of a figure many revere as a Mahatma or Great Soul. Party members exposed their own problematic ideological heritage that included non-participation in the freedom movement led by Gandhi. Some of them could not help but reveal their own natural impulse to drop the veneer of falsehood and come clean on how they do indeed believe that Godse was a patriot despite having killed Gandhi.

The Godse remark in just two days exposed the ideological underbelly of the ruling party that does indeed have members who believe that Gandhi was a villain who loved Muslims and Pakistan. That’s why Godse, by his own account in a famous trial, shot him. A must-read for those who wish to engage with this debate is the book titled “The Men Who Killed Gandhi” by ManoharMalgonkar.

Seventy-one years after that crime on January 30, 1948, we have come to the point where a candidate contesting in an election for Parliament embraces the Godse world view. What’s more, a member of Modi’s council of ministers, AnantkumarHegde, endorsed her position. The MP from Karnataka had earlier kicked up a storm when he had said that “we are here to change the Constitution”. Yes, the same Constitution he took an oath to protect.

Hegde’s also received a show-cause notice to explain his position and on May 17 BJP president Amit Shah said the party’s disciplinary committee would submit a report on the matter in 10 days, after the election verdict, that is. There was more: the BJP media cell chief in Madhya Pradesh, the state from where Pragya is contesting, was brazen enough to say that Gandhi was the father of the nation of Pakistan. The BJP suspended him.

So how do we read the ideological contortions ever since Pragya uttered the “Godse is a patriot” words? One could say that the BJP is trying to occupy the space of both extreme and moderate in a national ideological pendulum that has shifted right-wards. It’s not a bad ploy—the ideological family plays to the more core beliefs, that are to be revealed step by step, and just in case some voters find them unpalatable, there are the “reasonable” elements as well.

And, voila! Modi becomes a moderate who is being stern with the fringe! That is a useful projection at a time when there is the possibility of needing some allies post-23 May. The BJP has made this ideological journey before, of being all things to all men. Earlier, former Prime Minister AtalBihari Vajpayee was offered up as the moderate to LK Advani, the architect of the Ram temple movement, who brought the BJP to national prominence. Today Modi today is the moderate who is speaking up against the hardliners, who are called “fringe” by those who believe it’s all part of a great national purpose.

It’s not. The “fringe” has been mainstream for some years now. Much before Pragya was presented to the nation as a candidate for parliament, the BJP leadership chose an unabashed Muslim-hating monk of a religious order to be the chief minister of India’s most populous state. All these debates about ‘moderate’ and ‘hardliner’ are a farce designed to make the BJP constituency feel better about themselves. It’s part of the good cop/ bad cop tactic.

To conclude, therefore, I want a terror accused to win, just so that we can, as a nation, get a reality check on where we have landed up. And just in case someone wants to ask me about whether I am afraid, here is my reply: I am so certain about the courage of my convictions, that there is no fear, although I do feel some shame for those who have tied themselves into knots over something about which there should have been no ambiguity. Bring on Pragya and let’s see what happens next.

Continue Reading

Opinion

The ‘unpeople’ of India

The Kashmir Monitor

Published

on

By Abdul Khaliq

Muslims now have to live with the bleak truth that the most powerful political party and its ideological parent, with tentacles spread across the country, are pathologically hostile to Muslims.

I fear for our future as a secular, multicultural country that once celebrated a richness of culture and tradition. Till not long ago we affirmed our common humanity even as we celebrated our differences. Our nation represented diversity, kindness, compassion and a revulsion of extremist views. But, over time, our collective souls have been deadened by violence, deepening communal and caste divides and the most perverse thinking. The cosmopolitan spirit has been throttled by hyper nationalism, populism and a deep distrust of the liberal values of tolerance and inclusion. A creeping majoritarianism is spreading across the land.

 

In this overheated, protracted election season, Muslims are up against it, caught between a rock and a hard place. Theirs is an Orwellian world where they are the “unpeople”— a term coined by George Orwell in his scary masterpiece 1984, to define those whose names and existence had been erased because they had incurred “Big Brother’s” ire. Muslims now have to live with the bleak truth that the most powerful political party and its ideological parent, with tentacles spread across the country, are pathologically hostile to Muslims. What makes their plight infinitely worse, is the fact that even the major allegedly secular party has consigned Muslims to social invisibility. Can one trust a party that is afraid to even allude to the Muslims’ problems, let alone address them?

When the PM evoked the 1984 mass slaughter of Sikhs and quoted Rajiv Gandhi’s infamous justification about the inevitable effect of the falling of a big tree, why did the Congress president not hit back by recalling the 2002 Gujarat riots and Modi’s Newtonian observation justifying the killing of hundreds of Muslims as a reaction to an action? He refrained, not for any ethical reason, but simply for fear of being seen as empathetic to Muslims and their problems and of equating the two tragedies. Caught between the flagrant hostility of the right-wing and the fraudulent concern of the secular front, Muslims are India’s outcasts.

In today’s India, where all issues across the political spectrum are seen through the lens of identity politics, Muslims are vilified for their custom, dress and tradition. They are physically attacked for the food they eat, discriminated against in employment, housing, and even civic amenities, and, they are routinely victimised by law-enforcement authorities simply for being Muslim. Social media is awash with the most hateful, stereotypical portrayal of Muslims as terrorist sympathisers, baby producing factories and worse. Although India has been the home of Islam and its adherents for much more than a millennium, Muslims today are constantly pilloried about their loyalty to the nation.

All assessments about Muslims are universalised, in black and white and deeply problematic. In a conversation with two CRPF sub-inspectors who have recently returned from Kashmir (I did not reveal that I was Muslim), I was told that “these Muslims are a nuisance as even their women throw stones at us.” Please note that the stone-throwing by the disgruntled Kashmiris is perceived as a common trait of Muslims — all 190 million of them. Their other complaints were that Muslims support Pakistan and insist on eating only halal meat. When I asked how the civil unrest in Kashmir could be resolved, I got an answer that stunned me: “Make sure that the police force in Kashmir is recruited only from the Shia community and they will teach these Sunnis a lesson!” How well have the British taught us the art of “divide and rule” and of polarising communities! The conversation filled me with anguish at the gratuitous distrust and hatred for Muslims. The animosity runs deep and is expressed by ordinary citizens in a matter-of-fact tone that is unnerving.

I recall clearly the sense of cautious optimism among Muslims when NarendraModi assumed power in 2014. His swearing-in was a strikingly symbolic moment, epitomised by the presence of the Pakistani PM that signalled hope of rapprochement with Pakistan (Indian Muslims know through experience that their well-being is linked to this crucial relationship). The PM represented a more decisive polity that promised an equitable social order expressed most eloquently in the Socratic slogan, “Sabkasaathsabkavikas”. This slogan encapsulated this nation’s foremost mission of fostering social solidarity based on the principle that every human being matters. Minorities felt reassured by the PM’s emphatic assertion in 2015 that “my government will not allow any religious group, belonging to the majority or minority, to incite hatred against others, overtly or covertly.” He repeatedly made appeals to preserve our core values of diversity, tolerance and plurality, calling on Hindus and Muslims to work together to fight poverty instead of fighting one another. His stunning embrace of Nawaz Sharif on Christmas Day 2015 filled everyone with hope.

On the ground, however, India began witnessing a deepening cultural mutation as vigilante squads terrorised and lynched Muslims in the name of protecting the cow, launched “gharwapsi” campaigns that have all but ended the freedom to choose one’s faith and used “love jihad” to stifle any kind of solidarity between the two communities. Minorities began to believe that the present dispensation’s aim is to convert India into the Hindu Rashtra of Hindutva where Muslims and Christians would live as second-class citizens. The current election rhetoric has only exacerbated those fears. The BJP LokSabha candidate for Barabanki boasted that “NarendraModi has made attempts to break the morale of Muslims. Vote for Modi if you want to destroy the breed of Muslims.”

We are on the cusp of having a new government at the Centre. Opinion polls and the most reliable — the bookies — predict victory for the NDA, but with a reduced majority. Ironically, the return of Modi as PM is the best hope for peace within the country and the neighbourhood. Imran Khan was right when he said that only Modi could help resolve Kashmir. He is the only leader with the power to rein in the lunatics whose purpose in life is to polarise communities and engage in eternal war with Pakistan. In any case, the new government’s first task would be to combat the overpowering atmosphere of distrust and hate bedevilling society which constitutes the foremost threat to the nation, more so than terrorism. The creation of a truly secular society free of prejudice and discrimination must be the prime mission.

Continue Reading

Latest News

Subscribe to The Kashmir Monitor via Email

Enter your email address to subscribe to The Kashmir Monitor and receive notifications of new stories by email.

Join 1,010,396 other subscribers

Archives

May 2019
M T W T F S S
« Apr    
 12345
6789101112
13141516171819
20212223242526
2728293031  
Advertisement