Is Hindutva compatible with secular democracy | BY Zafar Aziz Chaudhry

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Is Hindutva compatible with secular democracy

This article considers that how Indian P.M. Narender Modi plays a double game by affirming that his government believes in and also enforces unfettered Hindu nationalism, and at the same time runs it on the principles of secular liberal democracy, which are in effect discordant and counter-productive to the rules of the Secular government.

Both policies are incompatible with each other and are doomed to fail in the long run. It may be remembered that India’s estimate as a secular state can be greatly valued rather than the narrow indian nationalism.

Nationalism is defined as a sense of national consciousness, exalting one nation above all others, and promoting its culture and interests as opposed to those of other nations.

Thus there is an element of superiority of one nation over others, which in our region is mostly due to religion.

On the other hand the term Secularism refers to the separation of religion from statecraft, which means that the state should not discriminate among its citizens on the basis of religion.

It should neither encourage nor discourage the followers of any religion. Anybody who is familiar with recent Indian history knows that India’s forefathers made this widespread country into a single secular, democratic state, which could only unite its multiplicity of religions and sects, despite occasional religious or sectarian violence.

For nearly over six decades the political complexion of India by and large remained the same and worked smoothly.

NarenderModi;s history shows that he is a life-long member of RashtriaSwayamsevekSangh (RSS), a paramilitary Hindu Nationalist Organization founded in 1927 and inspired by the fascist movement of Europe.

Adolf Hitler was their greatest hero. Just as the Fascists of Germany took great pride in their racial superiority and purged their country of the Jewish minority, the same way the RSS have faith in their Hindu superiority and believe that all entities other than Hindus are interlopers who should be gradually eliminated from the Indian soil.

They were so die-hard that in 1948 one of the former members of RSS murdered Mahatma Gandhi for being too soft on Muslims.

The followers of RSS mostly dominated by upper-caste Hindus have since led many vicious assaults on minorities.

In 2002 when Modi was chief Minister of Gujerat, a train carrying pilgrims was returning back after destruction of Ayodia mosque when it caught fire as a result of which 57 persons were burnt alive.

In retaliation to that under orders of Modi as C.M. the Hindu mobs of Gujerat at his provocation went crazy and massacred 2000 Muslims, raped their women and displaced thousands from their houses.

The Police was ordered not to interfere and let the Hindus mob and ransack Muslim’s property.

At such gruesome occurrence, Modi never felt sorry and arrogantly remarked that, ‘To every action, there is reaction, and justified all atrocities committed against Muslims.

‘Hindutva’ a recently coined term is often confused with ‘Hinduism’ which has its religious connotations.

But when we see its militant character effulgently embarking upon the entire length and breadth of the country in their full saffron outfit; it indicates a major change in the outlook of its people and leaders.

The Indian slogan of its secular character has been completely subdued to make room for Indian Nationalism which in Hindi is the same thing as ‘Hindutva’.

In essence the Indian Nationalist character (Hindutva) is replacing the age-old secular character of India which was built on the enlightened values of the founding fathers of India like Gandhi, Nehru, Tagore, Ambedkar, Patel, Azad, and others.

Another great intellectual of India and internationally famous writer Arundhati Roy has written that this ‘marks the moment when a deeply flawed, fragile democracy has transitioned – openly and brazenly – into a criminal, Hindu-fascist enterprise with tremendous rightist support’.

She adds that the Indians now appear to be ruled by gangsters fitted out as Hindu god men, in whose book, ‘Muslims are public enemy number one’.

Arundhati Roy has been described as “ the conscience of India” in Time’s 2014 list of 100 most Influential people.

Thus she has a voice that counts.The U.N. Human Rights commissioner has also called the Indian law of 2019 as “fundamentally discriminatory in nature.”

Since Narender Modi came to power in India, his primary object seems to proceed with a vengeance against Muslims and to make their lives terribly hard so that not only they be treated with discrimination, but also their further entry into India should be banned.

Hence Narender Modi got passed “The Citizenship (Amendment) Act in 2019 which provided a path to all religions of the world to become Indian citizens except the Muslims.

It allowed entry in India to only those who had entered India by 31 December 2014. It was a bad law because it failed to treat all minorities equally and fairly.

It was a clear attempt to declare Muslims as second class citizens. I wonder why this law was not thrown out by the Supreme Court of India for being discriminatory and violating the constitution.

This policy was not only condemned by its own citizens, but also by the political circles of world at large.

Here Muslims were discriminated against all the rest of the nations of the world. This manifestly revealed the hidden motives of Modi to make lives of the Muslims miserable in India and also to stop their future entry in that country, so that they may become extinct one day.

It may be remarkable that a country that is home to the largest Muslim population outside of Muslim- majority countries( nearly 220 million and 14.45% of India’s total population ) breaks the basic foundation of India as a secular state.

Hinduism is the name given to the most ancient and persistent religion on the Indian subcontinent, and Hindutva is the name by which the ideology of the Hindu right, represented by the political party BharatiyaJanata Party, or Indian People’s Party (BJP), is known.

Most of the intellectuals of India have abhorred the idea of “Hindutva” which is likely to put an end to the secular ideal of India which is presently the basis of its honour and respect in world community.

This image can only subsist if Modi stopped flaundering with this Hindutva ideology whose continuous assertion would certainly kill its age old ideology of Secularism, converting it into a theocratic state.

So it is no surprise that politician of Shashi Tharoor’s stature, in his book ‘Why I am a Hindu’ , has come out with a personal Hindu manifesto that would also largely explain the liberal Indian’s stand towards religion and humanism.

‘Why I Am A Hindu’ does not have the provocative power of an earlier book by Dalit scholar KanchaIlaiah’s ‘Why I Am Not A Hindu’.

Tharoor’s account is a lucid, and persuasive of his own journey within Hinduism and he sharply reminds us about the urgent need to reclaim Hinduism from the Hindutvadis.

—The writer is former member of Provincial Civil Service.

 

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