Why Subramanian Swamy doesn’t deserve to be JNU vice-chancellor

No university in this country can afford to have a hatemonger as its vice-chancellor who is best known for spewing venom and stoking rumours. (Image: Wikipedia)

No university in this country can afford to have a hatemonger as its vice-chancellor who is best known for spewing venom and stoking rumours. (Image: Wikipedia)

In an article titled “The RSS game plan” published in Frontline magazine (Volume 17 – Issue 02, Jan 22 – Feb 04, 2000) a Harvard-educated economist wrote, “Today the creeping fascism of the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS) is coming upon us.” He mentioned that the RSS leaders were frustrated at the fact that “symbolically, the bhagwa dhwaj (saffron double triangle flag) does not yet flutter from the Red Fort; but the hated tricolour which no RSS office can hoist even on August 15, still does.”

He accused the RSS of conniving to convert India into a Hindu Rashtra and stated that the saffron organisation had also prepared a rough draft on the lines of which the new Indian Constitution would be framed. He wrote that as per this draft, “The present bicameral Parliament would be replaced by a three-tier structure. At the apex will be a Guru Sabha of sadhus and sanyasis (read the VHP activists)…. All legislation and money bills will have to originate in the Guru Sabha and be passed by it before being sent to the Lok Sabha. The Guru Sabha will also be the judicial commission to nominate the Supreme Court judges, and impeach them.”

He mentioned that “Christians are being targeted by the front organisations of the RSS in order to terrorise and ghetto-ise all minorities” and that Hindutva justice meant “minorities can best look forward to liberation through mercy killing.” Who was the author of this piece? The answer (much to the surprise of many Hindutva maniacs) is Dr Subramanian Swamy!

Hindutva heart-throb, 2G scam whistle-blower and modern India’s biggest conspiracy theorist Dr Subramanian Swamy has a political history worth reading. Not only did Dr Swamy oppose the Emergency imposed in 1975 by Indira Gandhi-led Congress party, he was also responsible for bringing down Atal Bihari Vajpayee’s Bharatiya Janata Party government in 1999. As is visible from the extracts of the article Dr Swamy wrote several years back for Frontline magazine, he did not have much admiration for the kind of politics which was being played by the Sangh Parivar. In fact it appears that Dr Swamy detested Hindutva’s hate politics.

But things have changed now. After having spent many years in a state of political oblivion, Dr Swamy returned to the fore of Indian politics by blowing the lid off the 2G spectrum scam and advocating an extreme form of Hindutva. In the lead up to the 2014 General Elections, Dr Swamy officially merged his Janata Party with the BJP and formally became part of the Sangh Parivar.

This is nothing but a clear case of political opportunism. A person who vociferously criticised Hindutva politics in the past now happens to be one of its biggest advocates. News reports have suggested that Dr Subramanian Swamy has been offered the position of vice-chancellor of Jawaharlal Nehru University by the Union HRD ministry. People supporting his candidature might claim that he is a suitable candidate for the job as he possesses a PhD from the prestigious Harvard University and also attended the Hindu College at the Delhi University and Indian Statistical Institute in Kolkata while pursuing graduation and post graduation, respectively.

As far as his administrative accomplishments are concerned, Swamy is a five-time member of Parliament and has served as the Union law minister. He surely isn’t like Gajendra Chauhan who has been accused of being under qualified for the chairmanship of Film & Television Institute of India in Pune. Dr Swamy is a well-educated individual having substantial administrative experience but he certainly isn’t the right man to lead a university like JNU.

No university in this country can afford to have a hatemonger as its vice-chancellor who is best known for spewing venom and stoking rumours. Let us not forget that Dr Subramanian Swamy was expelled from Harvard University on account of his extremist views which became public following the publication of a bizarre article. Shortly after a terrorist attack in Mumbai on July 13, 2011, Dr Swamy wrote an article in DNA newspaper titled “How to wipe out Islamic terror” (July 16, 2011). This article became the reason behind the booting out of Dr Swamy from Harvard.

Dr Swamy who had earlier lambasted the RSS for aspiring to turn India into a Hindu Rashtra wrote, “Declare India a Hindu Rashtra in which non-Hindus can vote only if they proudly acknowledge that their ancestors were Hindus. Rename India Hindustan as a nation of Hindus and those whose ancestors were Hindus.” Does such a man deserve to be the vice-chancellor of a central university? In fact does he even deserve to be in public life? The founding fathers of the Indian Constitution rejected the notion of a Hindu Rashtra and established India as a secular state. They granted every Indian citizen universal adult suffrage.

But Dr Swamy does not agree with us. His contempt for the Constitution is visible from his own writings as he wants India to be converted into a Hindu Rashtra wherein non-Hindus will lose their right to vote and be elected as public representatives if they do not acknowledge their Hindu ancestry. Other unconstitutional suggestions of Dr Swamy included enacting “a national law prohibiting conversion from Hinduism to any other religion. Re-conversion (to Hinduism) will not be banned.” He also wanted to “remove the masjid in Kashi Vishwanath temple and the 300 masjids at other temple sites.”

That’s the kind of India that Dr Swamy envisions. Dreadful, isn’t it? A person who does not acknowledge India’s secular character and vouches for the creation of a Hindu Rashtra wherein Hindus and non-Hindus will not be equal citizens should never have been considered for any high office leave alone the office of the vice-chancellor of Jawaharlal Nehru University.

The students of JNU can never be expected to respect a person like Dr Swamy who has turned himself into a butt of jokes owing to his conspiracy theories which somehow tend to hint at the Hindu origins of every great innovation or invention that the world has witnessed. Dr Swamy belongs to that rare variety of political hypocrites who sometimes simultaneously espouse Hindutva chauvinism and minority politics. On one hand he stated, “If half the Hindus voted together, rising above caste and language, a genuine Hindu party would have a two-thirds majority in Parliament and the Assemblies” but he did not miss out on an opportunity to play the minority card while accusing the Congress of opposing Purno Sangma’s presidential candidacy in 2012 simply because he was a “Christian” and “tribal.”

There can be no defence for Dr Swamy’s irrational antics. Even Union HRD minister Smriti Irani cannot come out to justify Dr Swamy’s conception of India which is fascist, racist and discriminatory. Nor can she standby even one of Dr Swamy’s ridiculous conspiracy theories pertaining to the murder of Sanjay, Indira or Rajiv Gandhi. But then she might just do it as one does not expect much from an education, minister who stands accused of having lied about her own educational qualification.

The FTII row has failed to teach Modi sarkar a lesson. If there is even an iota of truth concerning Dr Swamy’s appointment as JNU VC then the BJP government should get prepared for a vicious backlash from academics and students who will not allow the communalisation of the country’s universities at the hands of individuals like Dr Swamy.

http://www.dailyo.in/politics/subramanian-swamy-vc-jnu-delhi-rss-hindutva-hindu-rashtra-minority-politics-communalism/story/1/6409.html

(This article was originally published in DailyO.) 

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Obama’s caution on religion: Why Modi needs to pay attention

Barack Obama, the 53-year-old leader American President went on to cite Article 25 of the Indian Constitution to remind Indians of the "right to freely profess, practise and propagate religion." (Image: Associated Press)

Barack Obama, the 53-year-old leader American President went on to cite Article 25 of the Indian Constitution to remind Indians of the “right to freely profess, practise and propagate religion.” (Image: Associated Press)

In the final speech of his India visit, US President Barack Obama told the audience at Delhi’s Siri Fort Auditorium that India would progress as long as it is not “splintered” on religious lines. The 53-year-old leader even went on to cite Article 25 of the Indian Constitution to remind Indians of the “right to freely profess, practise and propagate religion.” Obama’s exhortation on religion was his strongest message to the Modi government.

Ever since his arrival in India on January 25, Obama and Modi concentrated on increasing the trade relationship between the USA and India. During the course of the visit, the Indian government focused on showcasing the nation’s rising military might and economic progress. The domestic media was all praise for Modi’s new friendship with “Barack” who acknowledged the Indian PM’s popularity by comparing his reception at Madison Square Garden to that of a “Bollywood star”.

But the proof of the pudding is in the eating. Throughout his visit, Obama stood shoulder to shoulder with Modi as shutterbugs immortalised handshakes and hugs. The only opportunity Obama had to address the Indian populace alone, without the presence of Modi, was at Siri Fort Auditorium. And he used the opportunity to raise the concerns of the US about India.

Obama’s emphasis on preserving diversity indicated perhaps that Washington wasn’t as concerned about the increasing financial clout of India as it was about the increasingly apparent religious bigotry.

So why did the most powerful person on the planet choose to caution a country which is known for encouraging pluralism and secularism?

The answer lies in the fact that ever since the Modi government has taken to office, fringe groups belonging to the Hindu Right have increased their vitriol towards minorities, mainly Muslims. In Uttar Pradesh, BJP MP Yogi Adityanath raised the false bogey of “love jihad”, claiming that Muslim men were eloping with Hindu women to convert them and increase the Muslim population. Uddhav Thackeray, quoted in the Shiv Sena mouthpiece Saamna, backed Yogi Adityanath, stating, “Love jihad is an international conspiracy to destroy the Hindu culture.” In another speech, Adityanath also claimed that the rise in the population of a certain community was the reason behind the UP state government failing to maintain communal harmony. The notion of “love jihad” didn’t inspire the electorate, however, as the BJP recorded a poor show in the UP by-elections. Interestingly, the same state had provided the party with over 70 legislators in the earlier held general elections.

But the Sangh Parivar learnt no lessons and carried on with their agenda.

In October, Vishwa Hindu Parishad patriarch Ashok Singhal told reporters that since the BJP government had majority, it must fulfil its promise of building a Ram temple in Ayodhya. In Ghaziabad the next month, Praveen Togadia said that the Ram temple would be built at “any cost”.

By the time December came, incendiary comments were flying thick and fast. Union minister Sadhvi Niranjan Jyoti made the reckless “ramzaadon” remark at a public meeting in Delhi. Instead of being shown the door, she walked free with an apology. Sakshi Maharaj, a BJP MP, referred to Mahatma Gandhi’s assassin Nathuram Godse as a “patriot”, while BJP UP chief Laxmikant Bajpai claimed that the Taj Mahal was an ancient temple.

Such proclamations were not limited to the lesser known leaders. RSS Sarsanghchalak Mohan Bhagwat repeatedly stated that India was a Hindu Rashtra, while External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj demanded that the Bhagavad Gita be declared as the country’s “national scripture.” But the biggest controversy of all was the alleged forceful conversion of 300 Muslims to Hinduism in Agra, resulting in pandemonium inside Parliament.

As the Hindu Right grabbed headlines, their Muslim counterparts were not far behind. The politics of competitive communalism was underway. Samajwadi Party leader Azam Khan demanded that the control of the Taj Mahal be handed over to the state Waqf Board; earlier in April 2014, he had said that the Kargil war was won by Muslim soldiers.

MIM leader Asaduddin Owaisi tried a reverse definition of “ghar wapsi”, proselytising that the real homecoming would be when people returned to the Islamic faith.

Unfortunately, the communal atmosphere wasn’t limited to merely hate speeches. In June 2014, a Muslim techie was beaten to death by a group of Hindu fundamentalists. Communal tensions spread in several cities including Delhi, Meerut and Vadodara.

Films and books fell victim too. While protests greeted against Aamir Khan starrer PK, Tamil author Perumal Murugan decided to stop writing after his book Madhorubhagan became mired in controversy. All this was conveniently happening at a time when Dinanath Batra was orchestrating the rewriting of Indian history books and ridiculous myths were being propounded. PM Modi joined the bandwagon by claiming, among other things, that people in ancient India knew plastic surgery (as evident from the elephant head of Lord Ganesha!).

It was under these circumstances that Obama reminded the government of the need to safeguard the freedom of religion. Not that it made much of a difference. Shortly after Obama left, there was another controversy around an advertisement published by the government on the occasion of Republic Day which had printed the original preamble to the Constitution, which did not have the words “secular” and “socialist”. The Shiv Sena was quick to call for the deletion of the word “secular” from the Preamble, even as the government defended the advertisement.

Political leaders in India need to realise that it is economic progress is hollow if religious amity is not preserved. But for that to happen, all political parties would have to rise above politics and stop playing the religion card.

http://www.huffingtonpost.in/saif-ahmad-khan/obamas-caution-on-religio_b_6629886.html?utm_hp_ref=india

(This article was originally published in The Huffington Post.)

Time has turned Hindutva fascist Vajpayee into a moderate

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Atal Bihari Vajpayee’s writings clearly indicate that he held both Muslims and Christians (more specifically Muslims) as foreigners and viewed their patriotism with suspicion. (Image: PIB)

The Narendra Modi led NDA government at the Centre has declared to bestow Bharat Ratna, the highest civilian honour to former Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee. With this award, Vajpayee finds himself amid the likes of several iconic Indians from various fields including BR Ambedkar and Sachin Tendulkar.

But was Vajpayee the kind of leader he is projected to be by the BJP today? Was he an accommodative consensus builder or was he just another Hindutva fascist, who has turned into a moderate with the passage of time?

The answer unfortunately rests in the fact that Vajpayee was as foul mouthed a leader as the likes of Sadhvi Niranjan Jyoti. In an article titled ‘Sangh is in my soul’, Vajpayee had written, “… We don’t want to destroy this diversity. The other task is to assimilate the non-Hindus, like Muslims and Christians in the mainstream. They can follow the faith of their own conviction. No one can object to it. We worship trees, animals, stones, and what not. We have hundreds of ways of worshipping God. They can go where they want. But this country must be looked upon as the motherland for them. They must have a feeling of patriotism for this country. But the Islamic division of the world into ‘Darul Harb’ and ‘Darul Islam’ comes in the way.”

He had further stated, “Islam has yet to learn the art of existing and flourishing in a country where Muslims are in a minority. They cannot convert the whole of India to Islam. After all, they have to live here. So they have to recognize this fact. And today it has become a matter of grave concern and deep thinking in the Muslim countries. Because Quran offers no guidance in this regard, it only talks of killing kafirs or converting them to Islam. But they cannot do it always and everywhere. How can they do it where they are in a minority? If they try to do it, a major clash will take place and only the members of the minority will be killed.”

Vajpayee’s writings clearly indicate that he held both Muslims and Christians (more specifically Muslims) as foreigners and viewed their patriotism with suspicion. Moreover, Vajpayee made certain highly misleading remarks about the Quran, the holy book of Muslims. The Quran speaks of religious freedom in numerous verses (2:256 & 109:6) wherein it states that “there is no compulsion in religion” and “to you, your religion and to me, mine” but Vajpayee sought to make hysterical remarks like the Quran sanctioning murder of non-Muslims.

Vajpayee’s tone seemed to be similar to that of AIMIM leader Akbaruddin Owaisi as he spoke of a “major clash” between Hindus and Muslims. The only difference in Vajpayee’s prophecy being that such a clash would lead to the killing of “only the members of the minority.”

Further, Vajpayee was often touted as the “right man in the wrong party” vis-a-vis the issue of Babri Mosque demolition. After all innocent Vajpayee wasn’t even present in Ayodhya on December 6, 1992 when his party was at the forefront of crucifying Indian secularism by razing the Babri Masjid to the ground! But was Vajpayee really innocent?

In a rally held on December 5, 1992 (a day before the demolition of the Babri Mosque) at Jhandewalan Park in Lucknow, Vajpayee had said, “There is no question of stopping. By doing kar seva in Ayodhya we will not be disrespecting any court order, by doing kar seva we will be respecting and obeying the Supreme Court order.”

Vajpayee went on to state that the court had allowed them to conduct “bhajan, kirtan programmes” at Ayodhya but they could not be done by “one person” nor could they be done by “standing”. He argued that there was a need for “even more people for kirtan”, which was a clear nod for mobilization of large number of Hindus before marching to Ayodhya.

Thereafter, through appropriate use of concealed language, Vajpayee gave the nod for the demolition of the Babri Mosque by saying, “There were sharp stones that came out, no one can sit there, the ground has to be levelled, it has to be made fit for sitting.”

The Liberhan Commission set up by the Government of India to investigate into the demolition of the Babri Mosque was clever enough to see through Vajpayee’s bluff. It not only indicted Vajpayee for being a part of the conspiracy to destroy the Babri Mosque but also labelled him as a “pseudo-moderate”.

A lot of people consider Vajpayee to be secular because he apparently asked Narendra Modi to do his ‘Raj Dharma’ in the aftermath of the 2002 post-Godhra riots in Gujarat. But if one sees the complete video of that press conference, then in the end Vajpayee expresses his confidence in Modi and says that the he is doing his ‘Raj Dharma’. It doesn’t end over here. People’s Democracy (Vol 26, No. 22, June 9, 2002) reports the controversial remarks of Prime Minister AB Vajpayee at BJP’s summit in Goa on April 12. He is on record having said, “Jahan jahan Musalman hain ghul milkar nahi rehte hain” (wherever there are Muslims they don’t live in peace). He added, “They don’t want to mix with others. Instead, they want to preach and propagate their religion by creating fear and terror in the minds of others.”

Does such a man deserve the Bharat Ratna?

The BJP is merely interested in furthering its political legacy. But the sad reality is that this award would make Vajpayee a national icon in the eyes of several generations to come. But the truth is that he was an Islamophobic, hate monger. With the passage of time, the masses seem to have forgotten Vajpayee’s views.

It is disheartening to see how the Bharat Ratna has been politicized. Equally disheartening is the manner in which it is being handed out. The Congress government made the timing of the announcement of the award coincide with Sachin Tendulkar’s last test match. BJP has followed their footsteps and made the announcement just one day before Vajpayee’s birthday.

Such ceremonial announcements seem to erode the credibility and stature of the award. Why should the timing coincide with an event concerning the awardee – be it his last test match or yet another birthday?

But such is politics and it would continue to be so.

http://twocircles.net/2014dec27/1419700335.html#.VJ7pEF4AMA

(This article was originally published on TwoCircles.net)

A response to Hindu Rashrtra & Idea of India

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Representational Image via TCN

In an article published for The Millennium Post titled “Hindu Rashtra and the idea of India” (25th August, 2014), Delhi University Associate Professor Dr Sangit Ragi argued, “A river is always identified with and known after the dominant stream. So is the culture. When RSS talks of Hindu Rashtra it signifies the majoritarian makeup of this nation, which defines both its character and distinctiveness.” If we try and reconcile this analogy of Dr Ragi with the idea of India then we would but obviously conclude that India as a nation represents a culture which is Brahminic in nature, masculine in terms of gender and heavily tilted in favour of Hindi-speaking and comparatively fair skinned North Indians.

It doesn’t take an Einstein to figure out that this interpretation of India is flawed since it only takes into account the dominant groups and conveniently ignores the innumerable minorities and linguistic tribes whose traditions are now intrinsically intertwined with the DNA of India.

Dr Ragi’s article is premised on justifying two controversial statements of RSS Sarsangchalak Mohan Bhagwat which were made when he was addressing the Vishwa Hindu Parishad. Dr Ragi has carefully broken those two statements into three broad points which he identifies as the following, “India is a Hindu Rashtra and Hindutva is its national identity. Secondly, Hindutva has the unique capacity of assimilatory integration which no other religions have. Thirdly, the role of the Sangh should be to see that the Hindu society does not suffer from the social vices of untouchability and economic disparity. Hindus must come together leaving aside their social prejudices.” In order to justify these three points, Dr Ragi adapts three distinct lines of argument which can be classified as a classic rant of those who have come to be associated with the Hindu right wing movement in India.

In regards to the first point, Dr Ragi mentions that RSS’s claim of India being a Hindu Rashtra is nine decades old and that it “does not sync with the left liberal framework of interpreting India which is highly influenced by colonial and missionary historiography.” Dr Ragi argues that while the left might not identify India as a Hindu Rashtra, it is an idea which was even shared by Mahatma Gandhi whom Dr Ragi says the leftists “consider the father of the nation.” The veiled sarcasm which this statement contains clearly shows how apprehensive are RSS ideologues in regards to Gandhi’s stature as the Father of the Nation. They find themselves juxtaposed as they tend to argue that their conception of India is philosophically Gandhian while simultaneously trying to sympathize with the assassin of Mahatma Gandhi ie Nathuram Godse, formerly an RSS man.

Dr Ragi then delves into the beliefs of Gandhi and states how he considered India to be a nation much before the arrival of the English and goes onto mention Gandhi’s opposition to the Aryan Invasion Theory. He lists out a series of public figures and intellectuals whom he terms as “cultural nationalists” and those “who all subscribed to and located the nucleus of the Indian nation in Hindu culture and Hindu civilization.” Interestingly, on analysing the work of several people whom Dr Ragi has mentioned, it can be easily said that those persons themselves can be accused of Islamophobia. For example, in his book Satyarth Prakash, Arya Samaj founder Swami Dayanand Saraswati has related the Islamic concept of paradise to that of a brothel. In an interview to the Editor of Prabuddha Bharat (April 1899), Saffron saint Vivekananda while talking about conversions and re-conversions declared, “And then every man going out of the Hindu pale is not only a man less, but an enemy the more.” In two successive articles titled “Myths about the Swami”, Arun Shourie, another mascot of Hindutva, discusses about Vivekananda’s views on Islam, Quran and Muslims wherein he quotes him as saying, “For instance, the Mohammedan religion allows Mohammedans to kill all who are not of their religion. It is clearly stated in the Koran ‘Kill the infidels if they do not become Mohammedans.’ They must be put to fire and sword.”

Even Mahatma Gandhi cannot be completely absolved of harbouring Islamophobia since he had his own prejudices in relation to Islam/Muslims. In an article titled “What may Hindus do” (Young India, 19 June, 1924), Gandhi writes, “The Mussalman generally being in a minority has as a class developed into a bully. Moreover, being heir to fresh traditions he exhibits the virility of a comparatively new system of life. Though in my opinion non-violence has a predominant place in the Quran, the thirteen hundred years of imperialistic expansion has made the Mussalmans fighters as a body. They are therefore aggressive. Bullying is the natural excrescence of an aggressive spirit.”

The larger point pertains to the fact that if these “cultural nationalists” were so bigoted in their thinking and dared to associate Islam with brothels, violence, terror, intimidation and bullying then how their beliefs in regards to the idea of India be considered as supreme? The idea of India is too complex and massive to be associated with the thinking of a particular set of people. It resides into the hearts, minds and lives of a billion plus Indians and not merely icons whose ideology matches that of the RSS.

Going further, Dr Ragi quotes Nehru to suggest how India’s first Prime Minister associated Indian culture with Hindu culture and applauded the assimilatory nature of the religion, an argument which was simply echoed by Bhagwat. In the next couple of paragraphs, Dr Ragi praises the culture of debates and open thinking in Hinduism while debunking the Semitic faiths of Islam and Christianity as “intolerant towards others” simply because they “operate through revealed ideas, through one text and one prophet.” This is one subject wherein the Hindu nationalists tend to be highly ignorant.

Probably they are unaware of the fact that there are multiple interpretations of the Bible and the Quran. In the case of the Bible, there is even difference in the text of the revealed book belonging to the different denominations. Biblical criticism is no alien to Christian civilization and they can in no way be considered as inferior to Hindus in terms of engagement in religious debates and scriptural criticism. Similarly, Islam has also had its fair share of debate and discussion. Besides the Quran, Muslims refer to several Hadiths which are an account of the Prophet’s sayings and actions. Different denominations hold different account of Hadiths to be authentic and hence exists heterogeneity which is overpowered by the homogenous belief in but one God.

The Hindu right’s attempt to portray Semitic religions as parochial is an argument in vain. Christian and Islam are not premised on one idea. There are multiple ideas concerning belief in God, worship, rituals, pilgrimage as also other things like marriage and sexuality. The ideas are flowing not from solely Muhammad and Jesus but from the life and teachings of numerous prophets including Noah, Abraham and Moses. These ideas are enunciated in the Holy Book ie the Bible and the Quran, respectively and further enumerated in other books authored by human beings. Hadiths and Seerahs can be a case in point. How is this tradition different from Hinduism? In Hinduism, Vedas are considered to be the revealed text and other books serve as an extension to the Vedic ideology. This shows that the Hindu nationalist is being dishonest when he is trying to relegate Semitic religions to an inferior intellectual status.

Every religion has been engaged in tussles which have led to large-scale bloodshed. When Dr Ragi drags in Nehru to say that religious fanaticism was alien to “Indian culture” (to be read as “Hindu Culture”), why does he not mention about the gruesome persecution of Buddhists at the hands of Brahmins during the time of Pusyamitra Sunga? Dr Ragi speaks of Hinduism’s assimilatory nature by referring to Buddhism and Jainism but why does he not refer to the Jain community’s struggle of being granted minority status instead of being identified as Hindus? Why doesn’t Dr Ragi try and explain the reasons because of which Hinduism’s assimilatory nature has failed to take within its ambit the Dalits and other lower castes? Every religion and religious community faces its own issues. To hold Semitic religions as barbaric and intolerant and to do nothing apart from singing praise of the Hindu civilization is an act of intellectual dishonesty.

In one of his concluding paragraphs, Dr Ragi says, “It (RSS’s idea of Hindu Rashtra) does not ask Muslims and Christians and other religious denominations to dissolve their faith and start following the Hindu religion. It is merely asking the non-native faiths which emerged due to conversion of the native population at certain point of history not to denigrate their forefathers and share and own up the common cultural tradition.” He cites the example of Indonesia and mentions how the country has honoured its Hindu past and tradition by referring to the country’s national symbol and airlines. While speaking of such practises, he says, “That neither has weakened Islam nor have they belittled Islam.”

By referring to Indonesia, Dr Ragi has made a grave error. He probably doesn’t know of the length to which Indonesia has gone to safeguard its minorities and make them feel secure. A case in point could be the fact that during the drafting of the Indonesian Constitution, the word Allah in the Constitution was replaced by the word Tuhan which even the Hindus of Indonesia could relate with. RSS men might argue what’s in a name but when they insist Muslims and Christians to identify themselves as “culturally Hindu”, they are inadvertently doing the right opposite of what Indonesia did, a country which even BJP patriarch Lal Krishna Advani too has praised in the past.

In an article which spans over 1,600 words, Dr Ragi has only devoted 167 words while talking about what the Sangh Parivar is doing to end untouchability and create greater cohesion within the Hindu community. The word count is reflective of the dichotomy which faces the Sangh Parivar. Instead of devoting their energy and time in trying to prove why India is a Hindu Rashtra, why Hindutva its principle identity and why all Indians are culturally Hindus, the Sangh Parivar should concentrate on breaking the barriers of caste within the Hindu community. They should help in the evolvement of a Dalit narrative in this country and not subscribe to the age-old Brahimic supremacism. If they do so, they shall certainly justify their claims of working towards cultural assimilation because their other objectives are far from being assimilatory but are rather overtly polarizing.

http://twocircles.net/2014sep04/1409791542.html#.VU9Xrvmqqkq

(This article was originally published on TwoCircles.net)

History shows how much RSS hated the Indian Constitution and loved Manusmriti

During the year 1949, when the Constitution of India was being formulated by the Drafting Assembly under the able-leadership of Babasaheb Ambedkar, an editorial appeared in RSS mouthpiece Organiser which expressed dismay over the Constitution containing nothing “Bhartiya” and that it had hardly borrowed anything from the staggering work of Manu ie “Manusmriti”. On 25th January 1950, a day before India was declared a republic, a retired high court judge by the name of Sankar Subbha Aiyar wrote an article in the Organizer titled “Manu Rules Our Hearts” in which he demanded on behalf of the RSS the enactment of the Manumsriti as the law of the land.

Manusmriti is an ancient text which glorifies caste oppression like no other book. For thousands of years, the book was used as a law code to systematically oppress and suppress the lower castes. When Babasaheb Ambedkar initiated the Dalit uprising, thousands of Dalits burned several copies of the Manusmiriti as a depiction of their empowerment and freedom from the clutches of religious orthodoxy.

Volunteers of the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh. (PTI)

Volunteers of the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh. (PTI)

Even the pioneers of the Hindutva movement ie Savarkar and Golwalkar were not left far behind in their praise of the Manusmriti. Savarkar, the man responsible for coining the term Hindutva, saw the Manusmriti “as the scripture that is most worshippable after the Vedas” and “basis of the spiritual and divine march of the nation”. MS Golwalkar disparaged democracy as alien to Hindu ethos and glorified Manu by calling him “the first, greatest and the wisest lawgiver of mankind.”

Today, the RSS claims itself to be a socio-political organization. Is it not the responsibility of the Sangh to come out and clarify its position regarding the Indian Constitution? Does the RSS still consider it a glamorous idea to enact laws as given in the Manusmriti? Narendra Modi has written a book dedicated to Golwalkar titled “Shree Guruji: Ek Swayamsevak”. It is time that the mainstream media asks the man whom it is projecting as the next prime minister as to how come could he write such words of praise for a communal and anti-constitution person. Believe me, the RSS and Mr Modi will find it very tough to answer these questions.