Muhammad Ali Baig
WHAT is India? What is the outlook and domestic policy orientation of India? How India is a pluralist, secular and the largest democracy in the world? Where stands the dichotomy between rhetoric and reality when it comes to Indian claims? What are those elements which are acting as India’s ‘attack dog’ while marginalizing the minorities, pariahs and undesired people? And more importantly, what is the linchpin and concept of ‘Indian Nation’? These queries though sound a bit too different or perhaps appear to be indifferent – but surely these questions would unveil some very interesting yet dangerous things being going on in India. Quite fascinatingly, India is such a unique state that hosts the strongest government-sponsored discourse about pluralism, secularism and democracy. It is also distinctive in its character that it maintains such a pacifist and peace-loving orientation that is absolutely unmatchable in relation to the entire world. The pacifist and non-violent teachings of Gandhi and the philosophy of non-alignment spearheaded by Nehru – have had their foundations in the life and character of Ashoka – the mythical Hindu King.
What is Indian identity? Quite contrary to the government-led narrative, it is noticeable that India could not define itself over the past seven decades. Nevertheless, the apparently democratic governments tried their best and up to some extent successfully – kept the entirely different nations with different religions, ethnicities, languages, cultures, races, castes, creeds and tribes – under one banner called India. Apart from the relentless and calculated efforts, there exists not a single ethnic marker in India that can act as a binding force and an instrument of shared identity for India to claim its population as one nation. Back in 1920s, when an atheist but extremist Hindu named as Vinayak Damodar Savarkar felt badly of ‘identity crisis’ or perhaps being fearful of Muslim exceptional characteristics – tried to redraw the contours of ‘Hindu Nation’. He presented his concept in 1923 titled as ‘Essentials of Hindutva’. Again in 1928 Savarkar published a monograph entitled ‘Hindutva: Who is a Hindu’? He laid down the foundations of ‘Hindu Nation’ based upon three entities; i) race, ii) culture and iii) nationalism. It was a deliberate and desperate attempt made by Savarkar to carve out the basic contours to overcome ‘identity crisis’. Savarkar was deeply influenced by the Akhil Bharatiya Hindu Mahasabha that was a reactionary organization to counter Muslim-dominated All India Muslim League.
However, after the partition of India in August 1947 – the affiliates of RSS and Hindutva ideology remained influential in Indian politics. The first and foremost indicator of this instrumentalism was the assassination of Gandhi at the hands of Nathuram Godse – an active member of RSS on January 30, 1948. Vinayak Damodar Savarkar was the primary suspect behind the assassination since he motivated Godse to get the job done. Nehru was the primary beneficiary of Gandhi’s assassination; however, Savarkar was acquitted by the court and Nehru was not prosecuted since he was then Prime Minister of India. It is noticeable that ‘Hindu India’ has been maintaining an ‘attack dog’ ever since to do the dirty work and to intimidate and inflict fear on the hearts and minds of its undesired segments of population. If minorities are that much complacent in India then, why Sikh leader Jarnail Singh Bhindrawala and Babbar Khalsa wanted secession from India? Why Operation Blue Star was executed to wreak death and destruction on Sikhs? Why Prime Minister Indira Gandhi was shot dead by her own two Sikh guards? Why Rajiv Gandhi was assassinated by means of a suicide bombing conducted by a Tamil girl named as Dhannu? Why Babri Masjid was demolished by extremist Hindus? Why an organized carnage was conducted to eliminate Muslims at Gujarat in 2002? The ‘Hindu India’ does not have answers to these questions but all these acts of terrorism point fingers towards Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS) – the epicentre of Saffron Terrorism. There exists no such thing called as ‘Indian Nation’ – instead quite the contrary, the concept of ‘Hindu Nation’ (Hindu Rashtra) has been dominating India. The concept of Hindu Rashtra was put forward by Savarkar and later one it was advanced by Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS) and its affiliated organizations. The ‘Hindu India’ is completely acting upon the fallacy put forward by Charles Lamb that ‘You Must Love Me and Love my Dog’.
It is quite patronizing that Gurmehar Kaur – a 20 year old female student from Delhi University has become the voice of the unheard. She and her fellows have gallantly resisted to the Akhil Bharatiya Vidyarthi Parishad (ABVP) – an RSS affiliated extremist right-wing Hindu student organization. Time magazine named Kaur in the list of 100 influential people who could become leaders. This resistance is not limited to Gurmehar Kaur but Indian academia and literary people such as Ananthamurthy (late) have already started to refuse and oppose Hindutva ideology. U. R. Ananthamurthy openly defied RSS in his posthumous book ‘Hindutva or Hind Swaraj’ (2016). The ongoing episode at Aligarh University is also an eye opening incident. The people of India must have to open their eyes by resisting to the enforced Hindutva ideology. RSS and its affiliates have greatly faded the identity of India. While at the same time the RSS is accelerating its militant wings to eliminate resistance and opposition to Hindutva ideology and right-wing Hindu politics. Why the entire world has closed its eyes on Saffron Terrorism in India? The world must abandon its habit of ignoring the ‘Hindu Terrorism’ and its growing momentum and intensity in India and the disputed territory of Jammu and Kashmir. It is Saffron Terrorism that has a spill over effect in the neighbouring Myanmar and has motivated Buddhist leaders to conduct organized pogroms and ethnic cleansing of Muslims.
— The writer is freelance columnist based in Islamabad.