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Editor's Note

Stand up & speak out

Print edition : May 20, 2022 T+T-

There is no appeasement of Muslims any more as ‘pseudo-secularists’ had been accused of doing since Independence. Now it is the majoritarian bigots who are appeased by allowing them to hound Muslims, attacking their places of worship, bulldozing their residences and means of livelihood, their cultural symbols, their food and sartorial choices. This is the perverted sense of secularism in the Sangh Parivar parlance.

This is the culmination of a century-old project founded on the concept of cultural nationalism, as opposed to the inclusive territorial nationalism propounded by leaders of the freedom movement. Vinayak Damodar Savarkar, who laid the ideological foundation for the two-nation theory years before Mohammed Ali Jinnah expounded the idea, did not mince words when he defined, in 1923, his idea of nation and who belonged to it:

“To every Hindu… this Bharat bhumi is at once a Pitribhu and a Punyabhu—a fatherland and a holy land. That’s why… some of our Mohammedan or Christian countrymen who had originally been forcibly converted to a non-Hindu religion… are not and cannot be recognised as Hindus. For though Hindustan to them is Fatherland as any other Hindu, yet it is not to them a Holyland too. Their holy land is far off in Arabia or Palestine.”

Then came M.S. Golwalkar, with a cruder definition: “For a Hindu, he gets the first sanskar when he is still in his mother’s womb… We are therefore born as Hindus. About the others, they are born to this world as simple unnamed human beings and later on, either circumcised or baptised, they become Muslims or Christians. There is thus no room for compromise.”

Then came Mohan Bhagwat: “Whose country is Germany? It is a country of Germans, Britain is a country of Britishers, America is country of Americans, and in the same way Hindustan is a country of Hindus. It does not mean that Hindustan is not the country of other people… The term Hindu covers all those who are the sons of Bharat Mata, descendants of Indian ancestors and who live in accordance with the Indian culture [read ‘Hindu’ culture]”

Until 2014, Sangh philosophers had interpreted their view of India. The idea, however, was to create an India in their own image.

Then came Narendra Modi, with a development man tag conferred on him by ever grateful Big Boys of Indian capitalism, and he presented himself as the Sangh Parivar’s best bet to take forward its hundred-year project.

If “someone else is driving a car and we’re sitting behind, even then if a puppy comes under the wheel, will it be painful or not? Of course it is. If I’m a Chief Minister or not, I’m a human being. If something bad happens anywhere, it is natural to be sad.” That was not a comment blurted out by a fringe element. That was a comment made by Narendra Modi, a Chief Minister aspiring to be the Centre. The reference was to the anti-Muslim pogrom in a State ruled by him.

He quickly washed that sadness down by mocking the riot-affected Muslims in relief camps with his infamous comment, ‘We five, ours fifty…’, and referring to the camps as child-producing centres.

What has changed since then? CM is PM. Cars are bulldozers. And the ‘puppies’ live in constant fear and repressed anger. Fringe is centre and centre is fringe. Fair is foul and foul is fair.

As the bulldozers move in, the honourable Prime Minister has chosen to be silent. Sections of the media have turned into ‘cheergirls’ celebrating the fours and sixes of the stormtroopers in saffron.

But for those who cherish the idea of India, silence is not an option. If they don’t stand up and speak out now, they never will be able to in future. Dissent, says Howard Zinn, is an act of patriotism.

In the land of Bulldozer Babas, it is not easy to be patriotic. As Peter Seeger puts it: ‘Down through the centuries, this trick has been tried by various establishments throughout the world. They force people to get involved in the kind of examination that has only one aim and that is to stamp out dissent.”

But properties of matter ensure that that too is not easy. Dissent, like water, finds its way.

R. Vijaya Sankar

Editor

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