14. "Hindu Fascism"
14.1. Hinduism, Hitler's mother?A Contention often heard in secularist circles, is that this Hindu revivalism is a form of Hindu fascism. Specifically, a BJP in power would soon reveal itself to be a Nazi government-- but then it would be too late. I will not bother about quoting all the people who have made such allegations (there are many), and just deal with the substance of this allegation.
Actually, there are two radically different allegation of Hindu fascism. One merely is an allegation against the current wave of Hindu communalism. The other one says, that Hinduism is intrinsically fascist. The best-known proponent of the latter theory is V.T. Rajshekar, who publishes the fortnightly Dalit Voice from Bangalore. He builds his views on Ambedkar's. But at the same time, he strongly subscribes to the theory that the Aryans invaded India, and instituted the cast system to preserve their racial purity, much like the Apartheid system in South Africa.238
In fact, all his anti-Hindu views are put forward in ethnic and even racial terminology. The non-caste Hindus and the minorities are for him the oppressed nations of India, oppressed by the Aryan invaders who constitute the upper castes.
Of course, the racial view of caste, a product of the British fascination for race theories, has been debunked scientifically.239 Even Ambedkar rejected it.240 By now, the whole notion of Aryan invasions has come under fire. Western scholars start recognizing what many Indian scholars have since long pointed out : that there is not a single piece of proof for the whole theory, and that all the known relevant facts can just as well be explained with alternative and equally coherent theories.
But since is lost on Mr. Rajshekar. He has published a book in the West, titled Dalit -- the Black Untouchables of India. On the cover is a photograph of, I presume, the writer. And the first thing you notice is : but this man is not black. He is quite a Caucasian, or white man, though slightly more suntanned than Europeans, but not at all a negroid type. And you start to realize : this man is a crackpot. In order to attract American Black support, or for other propaganda reasons, he makes the caste system into a racial issue. The rich white Aryan Brahmin invaders oppress the poor black non-Aryan Shudra natives.241
Now this has a lot to do with Hitler. He too was a crank racist. While the reprehensible racism in South Africa is at least based on a actual racial difference between black and white, Hitler based his anti-Jewish racism on the erroneous notion that the difference between Germans and Jews is racial, which is biological nonsense. Moreover, he too had borrowed the concept of the Aryan race, which the British had developed in India, but which was totally alien to the Hindu tradition. Rajshekar has borrowed the same theory in the same place. He holds the same kind of crank notion that the difference between upper and lower castes is a racial one. So, Hitler-Rajshekar bhai-bhai. With them, everything gets drawn into racial categories. The only difference is that Hitler is on the side of the Aryan race, while Rajshekar is on the opposite side.
Thus, in an article about the Israeli technician Mordechai Vanunu, Dalit Voice says that he is a Sephardic Jew (migrated from the Muslim countries), who are oppressed by the Ashkenazi Jews (migrated from Europe, and founders of Israel). When the technician revealed to the world some nuclear secrets of Israel, this was portrayed as an element in the ethnic struggle of oppressed (dalit) Sephardim against Zionist Ashkenazim, who also oppress the Palestinians. So it all fits : Dalits and Muslims should form a front against the Brahmins, therefore Dalits support the Palestinians, therefore they oppose the Zionists who are Ashkenazi Jews, and link up with the oppressed Sephardic Jews. But here the racist logic breaks down : it so happens that the hard-liners in Israel, like many in the Likud Party, are precisely these Sephardim, who have fled Muslim countries and have no love lost for the Arabs, while the Ashkenazim are generally more liberal. This goes to show once more the nonsense of these racial conspiracy theories on which the Hitler and Rajshekars of this world feed.
So, what remains for the enemies of Hinduism to dub intrinsically fascist about Hinduism? The caste system, of course. Even if it is not racist, it is not equalitarian and institutionalizes inequality on the basis of people's birth (just like in racism). Therefore, the caste system is reprehensible. And therefore Hinduism is reprehensible (through a remote influence of Marxism, everything gets reduced to its social dimension, so Hinduism equals caste system).
This matter is far too large and complex to decide in just one chapter, so I will limit myself here to some general remarks. Firstly, there is a distinction between theory and practice. This may seem an easy way out, often used by soft-Leftists when confronted with criticism of the implementation of socialist theory in the praxis of the Soviet system (But that is not the real socialism !). But the distinction is pertinent. On the one hand there were ideologues of the four varnas, the functions in society with their allotted duties and privileges, and they wrote Shastras in which they tried to fit reality into the scheme, complete with a slant in favour of their own caste. On the other there was the existing reality of jatis, roughly endogamous groups, roughly coinciding with occupations, but far more diverse and in motion than the crystalline theoretical framework of Chaturvarnya.
Secondly, this social system did not exist in isolation. Thus, centuries of foreign domination must have had an impact on it. We can say a priori that when leading groups in society come to groan under the weight of foreign oppression, they themselves will weigh heavier on the lower groups. That would not be the case if the new rulers would engage in reform of the existing society, but the Muslims never did this (in spite of the new myths about Islam as bringing socialist reforms). A society that is put on the defensive, will harden and develop internal friction. Again it may sound like an easy explanation, but it is just quite plausible that a part of the inhuman traits of the caste system as recent generations found it, must be attributed to later outside influences like the impoverishing, brutalizing and demoralizing effect of Muslim rule.
When we study its theoretical conception, we find that the caste system is quite the opposite of Nazism in essential respects. Let us think clearly about this very charged matter. In the caste system, we may distinguish the following components:
The first point says merely that difference is recognized. This is not as evident as it sounds. Islam and Communism champion equality, which in practice means uniformity.
The second point means that these groups are defined by the role they play in society, and that duties as also privileges are allotted accordingly. This does not mean that the higher ones grab all the privileges. Thus, one who has the duty to guide society by communicating knowledge, commits a crime when he is untruthful, or drunk, whereas these things are of no consequence when committed by a manual labourer. This allotting of duties also concerns the different age-groups. As any anthropologist can tell you, the distribution of duties among age-groups is one of the most evident features of tribal society. That is why the varna division is considered together with the division of life in stages, the ashramas, so that Hindu social philosophy is known as Varnashramadharma. While this recognition of different roles with their own duties and privileges is by no means a complete answer to every possible social question, it at least provides a framework which is perfectly true to universal human experience.
The third point means that one's qualities are largely determined by birth. The most natural division of mankind, the two sexes, a division which brings with it a definite role, duties and privileges, is determined by birth. One's gunas of qualities, which determine one's vocation in society, are in turn partly determined by heredity. At this point Hindu society has hardened a statistical law, which generally makes people follow in their parents' footsteps, into a rigid steel frame. In reality, an individual's swadharma (own duty, own way) may differ from that of his parents, and that is why the Bhagavad Gita (which is of course only one voice in the plurality of Hindu tradition) simply states that one's varna is determined by one's guna (quality, type), regardless of whether this guna is in turn determined by heredity, by environment and education, or who knows, by the stars at birth. Of course, this is a point where historically the divergence between theory and practice has become quite substantial.
The fourth point is to modern socialists perhaps the most horrible : a hierarchy between the groups. Well, there is an undeniable hierarchy between social functions, even where an equalitarian law system has firmly taken root. Thus, an employee is equal, as a human being and as a citizen, to his employer; the work both do is equally indispensable; yet, the employee's work is by definition determined by the tasks his employer allots him. So, while there is equality between human beings, there is a logical hierarchy between functions. In that sense, the Vaishya function is superior to the Shudra function. Similarly, a ruler, even while autonomous in his decisions (remember secularism), is dependent on knowledge and a social philosophy, but the thinkers who devise this intellectual and ideological framework, should be independent in their thinking, free from the rulers' interference. In that sense, the Brahmin function is logically superior to the Kshatriya function, even while rulers are more powerful and wealthy than thinkers.
In my opinion, it is this logical hierarchy of social functions which the early ideologues of Varnashramadharma had in mind. It is but human that people with a higher function were also honoured accordingly. But in how far that was translated into a cruel anti-human inequality in actual village and city life, is another matter. It is too vast to go into it here. Suffice it to say that I have become a bit skeptical of the abysmally grim picture of the caste system which all of us have been fed, after actually living among Hindus of both high and low castes, and after studying the research done by modern-educated Indian scholars. As Meenakshi Jain has indicated, it is not because certain Brahmins were particular about not eating with other people etc., that other castes felt inferior or oppressed by this uptight and unprofitable kind of behaviour (much less inclined to imitate the difficult Brahmin lifestyle, as the Sanskritization theory would have it).
In Catholic circles, like in religion class, we used to get some testimonies from the missions, now and then. When asked for examples of how horrible the caste system is, missionaries would always mention the distance Brahmins keep from the inferior non-Brahmins. But so what? For orthodox Brahmins, as I have known some in Varanasi, I myself am an avarna, and they will not have dinner with me. But I don't feel offended by that. If they think I am impure (and I am : I have eaten many a beef steak in my life), then that is their choice. I don't really care, and I think most Shudras in India's long history didn't care. But they did not not care in the intolerant way of the iconoclastic modernists, who like to trample on somebody else's rules and taboos : while they themselves did not observe the near-obsessive purity rules of Brahmins, they would not think of forcing Brahmins out of their purist seclusion.
The effort to rewrite history and to see integration instead of separation and enmity as the norm of interaction between the different communities, should not be directed to the history of Hindu-Muslim relations (where it is gross distortion), but at the history of caste relations (where it is a correction of the extremely divisive picture created by the missionaries and colonialists). There was plenty of co-operation, amity and human concern across caste lines.
On the other hand, as in other societies, there has existed oppression in Hindu society too. And this has been aggravated in the last few centuries by the decreasing prosperity, which in turn was due to Muslim oppression and plundering, to the disruption of India's economy by its forcible integration into Britain's colonial trade system, and to the victory of modern industry over the indigenous industries (which also affected non-colonies like China and Iran). Increasing poverty invariably increases social friction and oppression.
While rejecting the immensely black picture which the missionaries have painted of Hindu society, and which has been very much interiorized in the Indian collective consciousness and is still being reproduced by the self- proclaimed Ambedkarites today, we need not deny that oppression and misery existed. And it must have taken the shape of the social structure in force, which happened to be the caste system. No-one in his right mind is inclined to denigrate the efforts at "bringing the Backward Castes into the mainstream of Indian society" (to use the politicians' expression). On the stand taken by the Hindutva people on the caste system, see ch.14.2. Now, in essential respects the caste system is the opposite of Nazism. This counts not only for the idealized theory but even for the raw practice. First of all, this system is not at all centralized. The traditional Hindu society knows many layers of social organization : family, kula, upajati, jati, varna. Now, this layeredness of society, this devolution of many organizational functions to intermediary levels, is the strongest possible buffer against dictatorship and totalitarianism.
When analyzing why the French Revolution quickly degenerated into a reign of terror and a dictatorship, Hegel state that it was the destruction of the intermediary levels of social organization which led to this polarization between the naked individual and the all-powerful state authority.
The first task of totalitarian-minded people is to break down those organizational units which they cannot control. In Orwell's Nineteen Eighty-Four, the protagonist of the narrative regains a measure of mental independence from Big Brother's total control, when he falls in love with some girl. Suddenly there is an emotional relationship, i.e. another form of human interaction than Big Brother's state, a bond which escapes Big Brother's control. These simple natural forms of human togetherness, like the family, the clan, the tribe, no matter what their drawbacks, are the strongest possible protection against totalitarianism.
Traditional societies all had clans and tribes. With the building of empires, these lost some of their importance. But the atomization of society into isolated individuals who find nothing above them but the all-powerful state, is largely a modern phenomenon, and fascism is one extreme outgrowth of it. It is not only factually incorrect to attribute the characteristics of fascism to a traditional society like the Hindu society, it also gives proof of a total incomprehension of larger historical categories, like modern vs. traditional, hierarchy vs. totalitarianism.
The unique thing about Hindu society is that it kept this tribe-wise and clan-wise organization even after setting up very large integrated state structures. By contrast, Mohammed, in his bid to form a state (after the admired models of the Persian and Byzantine empires), wanted to destroy these intermediary levels. Thus, he is not at all clan- and family-minded. While Confucianism, Judaism or Hinduism are very family-centered, Islam does not ordain family stability, but gives a man all the freedom to break up the family he started, by simply declaring to his wife: Talaq Talaq Talaq. Moreover, Mohammed explicitly wanted his followers to put the loyalty to Islam above the loyalty to the clan.
One may consider this an element of universalim, rising above narrow loyalties. That is certainly how Muslim apologetics puts it. But the other side is that the primitive loyalty to the natural family unit merely gets replaced by another, more demanding narrow loyalty: to the Prophet, to Big Brother.
All dictators like uniformity. The Spanish dictator Franco worked hard to destroy the linguistic diversity in Spain by suppressing the use of Catalan and Basque. Similarly, Stalin wanted to abolish all ethnicity and language diversity. These subnational identities were anathema to a centralistic dictatorial mind. It so happens that Islam too insists on uniformity, even in very small things. In world history, it is perhaps only the Mao outfit of the Chinese communists that matches the uniformity of appearance among Muslims. Women Should wear burqa, and men should trim their beards after the Prophet's example. This outer uniformity is expressive of an imposed uniformity of behaviour and belief. I do not find this uniformist loyalty to the Prophet any more open-minded or universalist than the "narrow loyalty" to a tribe.
There is reason for suspicion against people who need to trample upon natural loyalties before they can establish their brotherhood. It is like a scorpion, who lifts his prey up from the ground and then stings. These natural social units are the ground under people's feet, and if you want to enlist them in your own power trip, you have to take them out of these natural units, and make them vulnerable to your claims on them, by isolating them.
It is quite possible to teach people universal values and awareness of the larger whole, without breaking open the existing divisions in society. Actually, calling clans and tribes a division conceals the fact that they are just as much units, levels of integration. Few buildings these days are built from one massive rock ; the normal thing to do is to integrate smaller units into bigger and yet bigger ones. The global civilization which we are building today, will not be made up of scattered individuals. Organizationally, it will be a hierarchy of intermediary levels of integration, a two- way combination of unity and diversity. The current revival of ethnicity throughout the world is just one example of man's natural resistance against atomization.
The essence of Varnashramadharma, the social philosophy that allots different duties to differently minded groups of people, as well as to the different age-groups, and that allows communities to develop at intermediary levels between individual and state, is quite the opposite of the uniformization so typical of totalitarian systems.
14.2. Hindutva and the "evils of Hindu society"In the secularists' tirades, the Hindutva people are systematically portrayed as upholders of inequality and of all the evils of Hindu society.
Remark : the very expression evils of Hindu society, which Nehru routinely used, is totally out of bounds when Hindu is replaced with Muslim or another community. The expression "the crimes of the Muslim conquerors", or "the evils of Muslim society" (like anti-modern backwardness, persecution of non-Muslims, slavery, the inferiority of women), are sure to provoke shouts of communal ! There is also no one to describe the social problems in the West as "the evils of Christian society", as if all worldly problems can be reduced to the impact of the prevalent religion.
In fact, the unity of Hindu society, and the promotion of the backward castes in the mainstream of society, has always been a major plank of Hindu organizations like the RSS. In its literature242, the RSS boasts of having received compliments from such non-communalist people like Mahatma Gandhi and Jayaprakash Narayan, for its entirely caste-free structure and working. Nonetheless, for decades after it was set up, it was mostly an organization of Brahmins and, increasingly, Vaishyas.
It seems that recently, the caste-wise composition of the RSS is changing. According to a recent report, "much to the despair of the Marxists and secularists alike, it is not the upper caste that dominates the Sangh's shakhas. It is ironically the middle castes and rising Dalits."243 An RSS member is quoted saying :"All our best attended shakhas are in the poor areas, not in the alienated middle class or rich upper caste suburbs or cities or towns. In simple words, the new Sangh Swayamsevak is mostly a backward caste or Dalit."
So, the following analysis by Sunil Adam is just another Leftist lie : "The Muslims only serve as a negative target of Hindu consciousness so as to marginalize the contradictions of the Hindu social order and at the same time maintain the social and political status quo, which is the actual object of Hindutva."244 While totally denying the historical fact of the unprovoked all-out Muslim attack on Hindu society during centuries on end, and while reducing the thrust of the Hindutva movement to an anti-Muslim thrust, it repeats the classic Marxist fallacy of reducing everything to a matter of class (c.q. caste) contradictions. Moreover, it ascribes to the Hindutva movement an intention of maintaining the social and political status quo: this goes contrary to all statements of intention by the Hindutva leaders.
Of course, we may be dealing here with the rhetorical trick of ascribing intentions to people : "You say that this is what you want, but it is not what you want. I will tell you what you really want." This is a venomous act of psychological imperialism : not even letting people decide for themselves what they intend. Unless of course you can prove from their actual behaviour that it is something else they want. But the burden of proof is on the accuser. So, the Hindutva movement is innocent of casteist conservatism until the contrary is proven. For establishing such proof, Mr. Adam will have to explain away all the anti-caste statements of Hindutva leaders (all eyewash ?) and all the testimonies that the RSS and affiliated organizations are indeed caste-free.
But no, Mr. Adam gives no proof of anything. Assured that no-one in the arena will contradict him, he continues :"The economic and political mobility of lower castes is one of the factors that stirred the upper castes to resurrect the question of Hindu identity during the early eighties. In other words, for Hindutva to succeed it has to accomplish the twin and contradictory tasks of uniting the country's majority under the Hindu banner and also ensure that a majority among them accept their place in the social and political hierarchy prescribed by the pristine Brahminical religion..."
Now, this is where Mr. V.P. Singh's decision to implement the Mandal Commission Report recommendations comes in. This Commission recommended that, after the Scheduled Castes and Tribes, who have been getting 22.5% reservations in recruitment and promotions in government service as well as in education (though these quota have not been filled up in many cases), the principle of reservation be extended to the Other Backward Castes (Classes, says the Report, but then it enumerates castes). V.P. Singh's decision was clearly meant to attract the Backward Caste vote (46% of the Indian population, according to an old census). It could at the same time split the Hindu vote, pitting high against low castes.
Opponents feared that this split would not be limited to election day, and that Mandal would tear the whole social fabric apart. Enemies of Hindu society also looked at it that way. Said Prof. Rajni Kothari :"The Mandal Report has the potential to finish off the supremacy of Vedic Hinduism." The effect of the caste-based reservations would be, to strengthen caste identity (with opposing caste interest). But while in traditional society the caste system was a harmony model (this nice-sounding term is a curse to Marxist ears), this newly strengthened caste consciousness would foment caste enmity. It would also frustrate the drive to unify Hindu society.
As Mr. Adam says :"It is this [Hindu-unifying] scheme of things that the Mandal Report... is capable of upsetting. Whether the Hindu identity will submerge caste identity or vice versa will depend on which is a better agent of politicization, caste or religion. In other words, India today has the paradoxical choice of choosing between caste, which has a secularizing impact, and Hindutva which can lead the nation to an unknown destiny."
Paradoxical indeed. While anti-Hindu pamphletry and rhetoric largely focuses on the horrors of the caste system, which is depicted as intrinsic to this horrible Hinduism, we now get to read that caste will break Hinduism. Caste is the evil of Hindu society, it is a hierarchy prescribed by the pristine Brahminical religion, but now we get to read that it has a secularizing impact.
It is not only a logical paradox, or rather contradiction. There is also a moral contradiction in Mr. Adam's reasoning, which I would re-word as follows :"Hinduism is reprehensible because of caste ; because we want to kill caste, we want to kill Hinduism ; now, in order to kill Hinduism, we are going to strengthen caste." These secularists have been saying that they think they can use it as a weapon against Hinduism, they have no scruples in promoting it as progressive and secularizing. So, the Janata Dal people who have been decrying the Janmabhoomi movement as a threat to national unity, as well as the communists (from whom one had expected many ugly things, but not the promotion of a non-Marxist category like casteism), as well as most non- Congress secularists, have applauded the divisive Mandal plan.
Anyway, while the secularists use every occasion to demonstrate how unprincipled they are except for their commitment to the destruction of Hinduism, Hindus need not unduly worry over the issue of caste-based reservations. Its impact would not be all that deep. In some southern states, large reservation schemes have already been implemented during the eighties. While it is said that these have harmed the efficiency of the administration, they have not spectacularly affected caste relations. And while it may be unfair against upper-caste people, it may have the beneficial effect of encouraging them to enter and develop the private sector, instead of settling for a life in the bureaucracy.
If I may make a few blunt generalizations about caste, I would venture to say that the rise of the Backward Castes may well be a very beneficial development for Hindu society. When I look at the caste titles of the Communist leaders and of the most rabid secularists, I notice they are mostly high-caste people. The upper castes have intensely collaborated with the Muslim and then the British ruler, they are largely an alienated lot with little sympathy for their own culture and society. Some of them, in fairness, have fought until their back was broken. Others have simply prostituted themselves with the rulers for generations. By contrast, the lower castes have fought the Muslim invaders tooth and nail. Contrary to the modern myths of Islam bringing relief to the oppressed low-castes, they suffered badly under the Islamic onslaught : e.g. the lands the Muslim rulers took to set up their zamindari were mostly taken from these agricultural and cattle-rearing castes.245 Moreover, thanks to their limited schooling, these low-castes have not yet massively imbibed all this pro-Muslim and anti- Hindu propaganda that passes as history in the school curricula. So today, the Backward Castes are not only the numerical centre of gravity in a democratic Hindu society, they are also less contaminated with anti-Hindu bias.
With that, I have said more than enough in terms of caste considerations. The real work for revitalizing Hindu society has to be done by individuals, and these are found in any caste and community.
Incidentally, the upheaval over Mandal has brought out a fact which should be rather embarrassing for the missionary propaganda. The Dalit Christians are low- caste people who have been lured into conversion with the promise of (1) eternal Salvation by Jesus Christ the Saviour, our Lord, and (2) freedom from the low-caste status as well as from poverty. These Dalit Christians held a demonstration in Delhi to demand reservations, on the plea that they are still as poor and low-caste as before conversion.
The Ram Janmabhoomi movement has demonstrated, more than anything else, the fact that Backward Castes and Scheduled Castes and Tribes, in spite of all the ploys to wean them away from Hinduism, still very much identify themselves with Hindu demands, such as a symbolic restoration of the damage Islam has done. In the tribal belt in southern Bihar, Mr. Advani's rathyatra got a rousing welcome.
The communal riots too show how the efforts by Muslim parties and by the anti-Hindu Bahujan Samaj Party to forge an alliance of low-castes and Muslims against the high-castes, are not having much of the desired result. In the Hyderabad riots, Muslims attacked a Harijan quarter, primarily because they expected these Harijans to be unorganized and weak. A local Harijan leader has confirmed this to me. Even more telling was the violence in Bijnor, U.P. on October 30. There, the District Magistrate confirmed to journalists that the violence had been instigated by a local Muslim politician, and he added that the city was a stronghold of the BSP, but that the communal riots had just as much pitted the Muslims against the Harijans.246 The Ghaziabad riot on 26 January 1991, with nine casualties, was nothing but an attack of a Muslim pro-Saddam demonstration on Valmikis (a Scheduled Caste) who were celebrating Republic Day.247.
These incidents conform to a larger pattern in Indian history. Contrary to the fables of the low-castes being sympathetic towards Islam, it is they who have always opposed it tooth and nail. Today in Pakistan, the large majority of the remaining Hindus are very poor Backward Caste people. If Islam is so good for them, and Hinduism so harsh, why have they continued to stick to Hinduism and suffered so much trouble and oppression by Islamic society for it? It is time we realize that the caste system has in fact protected Hindu society against total islamization, and that even low-caste people took pride in their caste so that they preferred their place in Hindu society to absorption in the atomized Muslim community.248
So, the stand of the Hindutva people is not : Hinduism has sinned terribly by having this caste system, therefore it has to imitate Islam and abolish caste. It is rather :the caste system had its use sometime in the past, over the centuries it has come to carry a lot of unhealthy social equations and attitudes, and now it has become socially irrelevant and a factor of divisiveness, therefore it is time for us to abandon it.
14.3. Arya and SwastikaA very crude kind of anti-Hindu propaganda, sometimes used by American Protestant sects in warning the youth against the dangers of Hare Krishna etc., points out that Hinduism and Nazism have a central symbol in common : the swastika. I have also heard the comparison from Ambedkarites who, taking V.T. Rajshekar's lead, systematically refer to Hindus as "Hindu Nazis".249
For the latter category, it may be of interest to know that the swastika is just as much a central symbol in Buddhism, Ambedkar's chosen religion. In China, the swastika is known as a Buddhist symbol. Moreover, in the Aryan mythology of the post-Ambedkar Ambedkarites (if a teacher gets killed, it is by his pupils), the Hindus were invaders who destroyed the Hindus civilization, of which the Dalits are the legitimate descendants. Now, this pre-Hindu Indus civilization already used the swastika. The swastika is quite a sanatana symbol, not bound up with any nation or ideology. It is also found among peoples outside the Hindu sphere of influence.
It is because of his fallacious doctrine of the Aryan race that conquered both Europe and South Asia, and because of a mistaken belief that the swastika was typical of the Aryan peoples, that Hitler adopted this symbol as a symbol of his Aryan state. But of course, the legitimate Aryans, i.e. the Sanatana Dharmins of whatever ethnicity or race, and of whatever sect including Buddhism, cannot be blamed for Hitler's misconceptions nor for Hitler's crimes that gave a bad connotation to this symbol.
People who believe in magic, and in the independent power of symbols, infer from this primary belief, that Hitler's spectacular rise to power may have been due to the power inherent in the swastika. In a moralistic variant on this superstitious theme, some people believe that the evil which Hitler committed under the swastika flag, must somehow be inherent in the swastika symbol. And from there, as they keep on inferring, they start suspecting that some mysterious evil is inherent in Hindu culture.
This reversal of the swastika's meaning, from a sign of luck (always depicted on the hand of opulent Ganesh) to a sign of evil, is somewhat like the story of the Christian image of the devil : he is depicted with buck's horns, a clear reference to the horned god of Paganism (like the Pashupati on one of the Indus seals). The positive imagery of Paganism got integrated into Christian imagery, but then as the symbol of evil. Now that we are no longer bound by the compulsions of the missionary project, we may clear the horned god, as well as the swastika, of the evil aura with which outsiders have covered them.
For Hindus who have migrated to the West, especially the U.S., there is a practical problem : if they display the swastika on the gates of mandirs, or other places, outsiders think that this is some Nazi outfit. Worse, people who have personally suffered under the Nazi regime, may feel painfully reminded. I think it is a matter of sensitivity to display those swastikas only in very modest ways, for as long as people who have lived through the horrors of the Nazi regime are with us. Meanwhile, the Hindus abroad should educate the public about the real meaning and hoary tradition of this symbol, so that some time in the next century the Swastika may regain its rightful place as a profound and timeless symbol, untainted by the accidental and misconceived association with Nazism.
With all this talk about the misuse of the swastika, it may be useful to briefly restate its basic meaning. The word comes from su-asti, it be good, as in the Sanskrit greeting Pratah swasti, good morning. So, swastika means auspicious-maker or sing of auspiciousness. What the swastika visually depicts, is the solar cycle, be it during the day or during the year. It shows the circular movement at the four cardinal points : sunrise, noon, sunset, midnight ; or spring equinox, summer solstice, autumn equinox, winter solstice. As such, it is a shorthand for the Zodiac as well as for all macrocosmic and microcosmic cycles. It signifies the completeness as well as the dynamics of the Whole. Being primarily a solar symbol, it is normally (except in black-and-white print) painted in solar colours like red, saffron or gold ; while the Nazi swastika was black.
Like the swastika, the term Arya, which is rather central in Hindu tradition and more so in Nazism, is in need of rehabilitation. Of course, the term does not indicate a race, but a quality of character.250 When Buddha gives a short formulation of his teachings, he calls it the Arya Satyani, the four Noble Truths.251 If the secularists have been inhibited about the use of the word Arya as proving the Fascist character of Hinduism, it is partly because of this terminology used by Buddha, the hero of their mythical anti-Brahmin revolution.
The term Aryan was used by the Nazis in opposition to the term Semitic. It so happens that both have
the Hindu tradition in the largest sense, and the Jewish-Christian-Islamic tradition. The Nazis used the terms in the second meaning, vaguely basing it scientifically on the first meaning. For the third meaning, they didn't have the brains not the philosophical inclination to go into it.
Aryan and Semitic are shorthand for two radically differing approaches to religion. With "Semitic" are meant the religions claiming revelation from the one and only God. In primitive Shamanistic cults, there may be spirits speaking through the Shaman, but that is never a unique and definitive revelation from a unique Creator- god. Similarly, there were oracles where a god was supposed to speak through a human medium ; the point is that there were many of them. But the revealed monotheistic religions carry with them a typical fundamental doctrine that sets them apart from all other religions.
On the one hand, their God speaks to people at a specific moment in history, at a specific place, so that the beneficiaries or immediate witnesses are limited in number, certainly less than all of humanity. On the other hand, their God is the only one, so that all the other people on earth either have to get other revelations from this one God, or they are not getting revelations at all, except false ones from false gods. While the first option was theoretically possible, the Semitic religions have effectively chosen the second. This implies that humanity gets divided into two : those whom God has personally addressed, and those whom he has ignored. So, we get Jews and Gentiles, Christians and Pagans, Muslims and Kafirs.
Of course, every tribe used to divide the world into the tribe and the rest. The tribe was home, the rest was unsafe and foreign. And every group identity, tribal or other, can give rise to hostility against other groups. As an application of this general rule, even religious group identity could be the basis of polarization and conflict. However, the polarization between the One God's Chosen Community and the rest of humanity was of a radically different nature than these ordinary group antagonisms.
The tribal division was a division between people on an equal footing. The others had their own identity and interests, with which our own might sometimes be incompatible, but there was nothing intrinsically evil or wrong about them. We had gods, and so had they. Both of us worshipped the sun god, or the goddess of fleeting time who devours us all, or the Unknown god, with local accents and variations, but not radically different. For instance, in Homer's epic about the Trojan war, you see some of the gods side with the Greeks and other gods side with the Trojans. They shared the divine sphere between them.
This basic equality is broken in the Semitic religions. There, one part of humanity has God on its side. That implies that whoever stands against it, stands against God, with no divine friends on his own side. There is now a fortunate part of humanity, and another part which is doomed and cursed. Religion in its public aspect used to be a unifying thing, a celebration of a cosmic oneness transcending the biological social and other differences between the realms of nature and the members of a society. Now it became a divisive thing, pitting the Chosen against the doomed.
In this psychology, it is quite normal that all the non- human layers of the cosmos, who, just like the doomed part of humanity, were ignorant of God's unique revelation, were all deprived of their sacredness. The golden calf and other idols of the Gentiles were smashed. The sacred trees of the Pagans were felled. The holy cows of the Kafirs were slaughtered. And all this cosmos was given to Adam and Eve for their pleasure. Henceforth, a tree was nothing but timber
Thus, the Semitic religions constitute a radical break with natural religiosity, which had always made nature share in the manifestation of the divine, and which had never thought of limiting the awareness of the divine to one community.
In books written in a monotheistic cultural milieu, this revealed monotheism is always portrayed as a great step forwards in the march of humanity. However, in real terms I cannot see one genuine advantage that has accrued to humanity thanks to the is revelation-based monotheism. It is said that this monotheism meant the end of superstition, of people praying to godlings for favours. But people have prayed to this new. One God for the same favours. Worse, is there a bigger superstition than the belief that you are specially favoured over the other part of humanity, and that God is on your side ?
By contrast, the Aryan religious tradition has not pretended to be the special recipient of a unique divine revelation. The divine is manifest everywhere, be it in different ways and to different degrees. It is not excluded that some elements/times/places/animals/people are more sacred than others, but the difference is only gradual. There is a divine oneness of all entities in the cosmos. If at all you want to give this outlook a philosophical name, you could say that roughly, it is monism. That means, the assumption or perception that somehow everything is of one essence.
This Aryan tradition has found its classic formulation in the Sanskrit writings of entire lineages of human beings, referred to as Rishis. However, it is also present in Pagan traditions outside the area where Sanskrit was the language of culture. There are outward differences but a fundamental akinness with Pagan traditions the world over. If you analyze Pagan practices of ritual, sacrifice, incantation, you find the same presupposed attitude towards the cosmos : a basic awareness that it is one.
This basic awareness will be present in the religious feeling of many a member of the Semitic religions. But there, it is overlaid with the doctrinal assumption of a fundamental and irreducible two-ness of the cosmos : on the one hand God and His chosen ones, on the other hand the godless remainder. The degree to which individuals feel bound by their formal allegiance to this doctrine, may differ widely. And we will not judge the individuals. But we may give an opinion on the doctrine of the One God who reveals Himself to/through a specific individual, has brought an absolute division of mankind in the minds of its adherents, and this mental division has in turn caused untold suffering in persecutions and holy wars.
So, I cannot honestly compare the Aryan and the Semitic approach, and neutrally say that they are merely different. There is an inequality between the two. I think the Aryan approach is fundamentally more wholesome than the Semitic approach.
Because of this inequality, I think it is important to choose other terms for these basic doctrinal categories, than Aryan and Semitic. For, these terms also denote people. They may not denote races, as Hitler thought, but they do denote language groups, and people identify to quite an extent with their language. Moreover, these two types of religious outlook do not historically coincide with the said language groups.
The Bible was written in Hebrew and the Quran in Arabic, while Jesus spoke in Aramaic (though his words were preserved in Greek translation), all three Semitic languages. Nevertheless, there was a lot of Paganism in this language area before revelation-based monotheism took over. It is often forgotten that the Arabs whom Mohammed tried to convert, were just as much polytheists as the Hindus, and that they fought equally hard to preserve their Kaaba as the Hindus fought to repeat that the Jewish tradition lost the aggressive edge, which form the most reprehensible effect of the Semitic outlook, long ago.
Conversely, in Aryan Iran, under the Sassanian dynasty, we see the Aryan religion of Zoroaster take on an equally exclusivistic attitude as is typical for the Semitic religions, complete with temple-destruction, idol-breaking and persecution of Manichaeans and Buddhists. Later, many Aryan-speaking people have been converted tot he Semitic creed of Islam. In Europe, most followers of the Semitic religion of Christ, are speakers of Aryan languages. In Africa and other places, the division in Aryan and Semitic has no linguistic (much less a racial) relevance.
So, I propose to renounce the habit of using Semitic as shorthand for "revelation-based monotheistic" religions. The use of the word Arya as shorthand for Sanatana Dharma can continue, but one should be careful not to give secularist slanderers a chance of falsely associating it with the Aryan race nonsense.
But before renouncing the Semitic habit myself, I will use the term Semitic one last time, in order to show how Nazism itself, for all its anti-Semitic rhetoric, very much fitted into the Semitic tradition.
As Girilal Jain has convincingly argued, Nazism was an extreme realization of the 19th century secular nationalism in Europe. This secular nationalism was in its general attitude towards mankind a direct heir to the Semitic legacy carried into Europe by Christianity. There is a straight lineage from Moses' Chosen People to Hitler's Herrenvolk (superior people). The radical division of mankind into the chosen insiders and the lost outsiders is very much present in this secular nationalism.
A not-so-secular slogan of the impeccably secular Nazi state, written on the belt of the German soldiers, was : Gott mit unsp (God with us). This notion can be traced straight to Moses, from whom it had made a second lineage to Mohammed's jihad.
Because of Hitler's dislike for Christianity, and because of some Nazi intellectuals' rhetoric involving the pre- Christian German mythology, many people, especially Christians, have considered Nazism as a return to Paganism.252 That is a case of being fooled by a superficial semblance. In the Nazi ideology, the Germanic mythology had no place whatsoever. There was a certain flirting with themes from Germanic mythology since the mind-19th century at the latest, the best-known being Richard Wagner's operas (as there had been an exploration of Greek mythology since the Renaissance). So, by the time of Nazism, there were some artsy upper class people and some weird intellectuals playing with this ancient Germanic imagery, but there is no trace of any ideological influence from those fairytales on the actual political thought of the Nazis.
Incidentally, today there is a new revival of Pagan religion in Europe. In Britain we have had the New Druids, both formal groups who claim to revive the ancient Celtic traditions, and individuals who explore whatever lore has survived, combining it with astrology, Oriental mysticism, and more such ingredients. This movement started in the romantic 19th century, in the same climate in which Wagner wrote his Ring der Nibelungen and Lohengrin, and it has continued with ups and downs till today. In Germany too, there is now a rediscovery of pre-Christian Germanic religion. Apart from the fact that these New heathens have to reconstruct this lost tradition from stray fragments and outsiders' testimonies, they also face the problem of this association of ancient Germanic lore with Nazism. But they manage to convince themselves and others of the utter superficiality in the Nazis' appropriation of this ancient imagery, and of the inherent tolerant and open- minded attitude of the Pagan civilization. In today's Germany, an estimated 20,000 people regularly participate in gatherings where the ancient or neo-ancient rites are conducted, most of them intellectuals with decent jobs.
If we look at the basic points in the Nazi programme, we do not find anything there that can be traced to Germanic Paganism. Anti-Semitism (i.e. anti-Judaism) has nothing whatsoever to do with Germanic Paganism, it is a strong Christian tradition. Especially the Russian Orthodox Church and the Roman Catholic Church in Hitler's Austria gave it implicit or explicit ideological support. Authoritarian political thought has nothing whatsoever to do with the Germanic tribal organization, which was largely democratic, with an elected king and a regular all-tribe assembly meeting. It had more to do with the secular organization of the Roman empire (which model had loomed large over the European polity all through the Christian period), which has also influenced the Church organization. The same Roman influence we find in outward forms like the uniformist discipline, the Roman salute and the fondness of grand parades. Secular nationalism, glorification of the state, genocide, racial purity and uniformity, all these essential ideological elements of Nazism have nothing whatsoever to do with the Pagan religion. Neither the Germanic Paganism, nor the Hindu Paganism with its swastika.
It is important to stress this profound foreignness of Nazism to pre-modern Paganism, because once Hindus set out to rediscover the social philosophy and other elements of their own traditions, there will of course be some secularist ignoramus who will say that "this is just what Hitler did".
The Nazi kind of nationalism was also of the Semitic kind. Rather than seeing the nation as one step on the ladder in the organizational hierarchy, below civilization and humanity, and above regional, tribal and family units, it denied this gradedness. Instead, it divided the world in outsiders and insiders, thus in principle opposing itself to the rest of the world, and imposed uniformity on the nation, discouraging all subnational groupings. Again, this exclusivistic and uniformist nationalism is opposed to the Pagan outlook.
The dominance of monotheism has strongly promoted that single most essential trait of the monotheistic mind : simplistic crudeness. For a well-known example, monotheists are idol-breakers : they are for God's unity, therefore they are against diversity. Their mental culture is too crude to see that multiplicity does not exclude unity, even while polytheists know fully well that there is one divine essence in all their gods (who anyway are all projections of the one but multi-faceted human consciousness). Most modernizers these days are appallingly limited to black-and white categories in their thinking. For instance, in the present discussion of multi-level integration, they are of course for slogans like unity and integration, and therefore they are against any narrow and chauvinistic championing of region, sect, language group etc. Their only concept of unity is to raze everything flat, then there will be no more difference and disunity, so that will be the realization of unity, equality etc. This is Hitler's and Stalin's approach to national integration.
Yet, real modern scientific thinking is gradual. It handles in-between categories (such as probability between certainty and uncertainty). This is formally a rediscovery of the old Pagan world-view. There is not just the absolute one God and the absolutely profane plural world, as in monotheism. There is a lot of life between the two. There is both sacredness and profaneness within the world, as there is both oneness and plurality within the divine. Similarly, there are in-between levels between the individual and the state, with units who entertain a certain specificity rather than submitting to uniformity.
A typically simplistic fallacy of the monotheistic mind is the one heard so often in the anti-Mandir rhetoric :"But Ram is everywhere ! Ram would be ashamed if he saw how attached you people are to something as profane as a spatial location and a structure of bricks !" Of course God is everywhere. And yet, there is a sanatana, ineluctable tendency in man to make the sacred present within the world, by consecrating certain parts of space and time, and demarcating them from the profane parts. We like to create difference, and make some places and some times special. Even the monotheists have had to yield to this natural tendency. Even though Allah is not in any place and time in particular, the Muslims have places of pilgrimage, festival days, a special day for prayer (Friday), a special month for fasting (Ramzan). The uniformizing monotheists can't help recognizing certain more sacred parts in space and time. So it is quite alright for Hindus to say : no, not any place will do, we want the one site that we have considered sacred since centuries. Sacred means : not just any.
This Semitic simplistic crudeness, the same which prevents secularists from properly understanding the Ayodhya issue, is present in many modern unhealthy forms of nationalism, among them Nazism. They see their nation in isolation, as an absolutely independent unit, which on the other hand excludes all subdivisions within the nation. In a healthy international set-up, there are grades of independence, which are proportional to the grades of separate identity between ethnic and linguistic units.
A case in point is "Khalistan". The Sikh community is distinct by its dress, and by its specific choice of Hindu scriptures and parampara. It is not distinct by language, for Panjabi (if at all it can be considered a language rather than a Hindi dialect) is also spoken by Hindus and Muslims ; and its scriptures are in Hindi, the language of crores of non-Sikh Hindus. It is not distinct geographically, for it has always lived mixed with other communities. It does not have a separate political history, for Ranjit Singh's empire was a state ruled by a Sikh, but by no means a Sikh state in which Sikhdom was shared by all or even the majority of the citizens. So, by the United Nations criteria for recognition as a separate nation, the Sikhs don't qualify at all. To the extent of the distinctness of their identity, they are entitled to, well, cultivating the things that make up their identity, but not to a separate state.
There has been a gradual increase of Semitic influence on the Sikh community during this century, or rather, on the Akalis who have set themselves up as the leaders. They have exchange the Hindu concept of God's oneness, through many forms, for the Semitic concept of God's unicity, inimical to all personified depictions or goods. They have reshaped their gurus into prophets, intercessory mouthpieces of God, with guru Govind Singh as the "last and final prophet". These prophets have revealed the words that make up Sikh Scripture, and made the Sikhs into a "people of the Book". The chief influence is of course that of Islam, but the general depreciation for polytheism and idolatry which the British brought, has also played a role.
It is no wonder that with this artificial Semitic identity, some Sikhs have developed a Semitic concept of nationalism, not admitting of any gradations. They began applying the crass simplistic reasoning of absolutizing their small measure of distinctness into a separate nationhood, and denying their internal differences and sub-identities for the sake of uniformity. They have a separate dress, therefore they have a separate identity, therefore they are entitled to an independent state. On the other hand, within their own community, they accept no differences and impose the Khalsa Sikh identity on the otherwise pluriform Nanakpanthi community : any Sikh who is not a Khalsa Sikh is not a real Sikh. Absolute cleavage with other communities and uniformity within the community, these are the essential ingredients of modern nationalism, generated in the Semitic cultural context of late- Christian Europe.
For the sake of national integration in India, it is imperative to set the record straight, to reverse this process of absolutizing any minor difference in identity into a separatist claim to a nation-state. In the specific case of the Sikhs, the obvious fact should be made clear, that Sikh identity is integrated in a hierarchy of differentiation within Hinduism : it is a Bhakti sect within the broad Vaishnava tradition within Sanatana Dharma.
In general, a theory of graded integration of distinct communities via a hierarchy of political levels that does justice to this distinctness should be evolved. That is the Aryan answer to a world-wide problem of plural- identity states, which has been aggravated by the Semitic absolutist approach.
14.4. "They killed the Mahatma""It is extremely symbolic that Advani is the heir of Nathuram Godse who, in pursuit of what he was convinced was his duty to India, shot dead the man who had chanted the name of Ram all his life till his last breath", writes M.J. Akbar.253 Many others make the same allegation, mostly more sharply.
Before going into the facts of the matter, let us make the observation that today the name and especially the murder of the Mahatma are being exploited to the fullest by people who are crusading against that which was Mahatma Gandhi's first concern and loyalty : Hindu society. As is clear from the Mahatma's polemic against the Christian missionaries, he was first and foremost a Hindu, who opposed all designs to destroy Hindu culture.254 And it was because he loved and served Hindu society, that he could take the freedom to criticize it. Those who criticize Hindu society and its defenders today, not as its well-wishers but as its enemies, and who do not hesitate to invoke the Mahatma's authority to prop up their Hindu-baiting designs before a population with an increasingly hazy memory of the Mahatma's real commitment, are traitors to the Mahatma's message. These people, from the shameless Jawaharlal Nehru down to his sycophants like M.J. Akbar, are in no position to lecture Advani about Gandhi the Ram bhakt.
Now,let us get the facts straight. In 1948, Nathuram Godse was an active member of the Hindu Mahasabha. Many workers and leaders of this organization were also members of the Congress, the party which Akbar in his article seeks to portray as the absolute antipode of the communal forces. Since 1925 there existed another Hindu organization, the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh, which did not intend to be political. Godse, who was a Maharashtra Brahmin just like the founders of the RSS, had left this organization some time before he killed Gandhi, because he didn't find it radical enough.
In 1947, the Mahatma's decades-long attempts to forge Hindu-Muslim unity ended in utter failure, when the Muslim League, supported by an overwhelming majority of the Muslim electorate, forced Partition on India. It should be a lesson for those who talk lightly of national integration and Hindu-Muslim unity, that even the Mahatma couldn't influence the Muslim community leadership. In the perception of millions of Hindus, especially those who had too flee their homes in what had suddenly become Pakistan, this Partition was very much the Mahatma's personal failure and responsibility : he had carried on a policy of concessions to the Muslims in order to appease their ever-increasing demands, and they had only become more arrogant in the process.
As if to confirm their views, he went on a fast to death in order to force the Hindus and the Indian government into a number of concessions. Among them: the Hindu refugees who were staying in mosques in Delhi had to vacate them and find a place elsewhere, and the Indian government had to pay Pakistan's share of the treasury which the British had left, to Pakistan, a country with which it was actually at war in Kashmir. All his demands were meet, and he stopped his fast.
This one-sided string of demands on the Hindus, and this masochistic habit of instilling guilt into his own community and swallowing all the Muslim crimes without protest, immensely angered many Hindus, among them Nathuram Godse. He couldn't take it any longer, for him the very name of the Mahatma made my blood boil. So, with the complicity of a few friends, he murdered the Mahatma.
The Indian people, which was so angry with the Mahatma the day before, now re-installed him as the living saint they used to venerate, and as he was now dead, they made a myth out of him. A myth that contained the beliefs which the day before had been seen by everyone to lie shattered by reality.
Conversely, there was a lot of violence against the Hindu Mahasabha. There was also large-scale violence against the Maharashtra Brahmin community to which Godse belonged, much like the anti-Sikh violence after Indira's murder (in both cases M.J. Akbar's Congress is generally believed to have actively fomented this violence).
The great beneficiary of the Mahatma's murder was undoubtedly Jawaharlal Nehru. It marginalized the Hindu Mahasabha, and whatever other Hindu activist party existed, completely. Without the murder, Nehru and his Congress would have had to answer for he betrayal of the election promise that India would remain united, and for the immense suffering to which they were a party by accepting Partition.Now, he had an occasion to ban and possibly destroy what he hated most of all: the organizations which championed Hindutva.
In this case, the fact that Nehru benefited immensely by the Mahatma's murder, will not lead us to the conclusion that he must have been behind it.255 For, the principle that he who benefits must have committed the crime, only applies if people act rationally. Now, Nathuram Godse's act was anything but rational. Not only did he do the biggest possible damage to his own political cause. He also did not even punish the source of the Partition disaster that had angered him so much. If he had killed Jinnah, it would still have been murder, but it would somehow have been logical. But killing the Mahatma was like being beaten up by street toughs and then coming home and killing your father in revenge. It was quite irrational.
It is therefore quite improbable that the Hindu Mahasabha as such had a hand in the murder. In fact, Godse had been angry with party leader Savarkara for being too co- operative with the new Indian government. At any rate, the party leadership was not involved in the murder : that was the judge's opinion, when he fully acquitted Savarkar, whom the prosecutor for the state, at the express instigation of Nehru, had also accused of complicity in the murder. The party leader's non- involvement was so clear, that the prosecutor did not appeal against the acquittal.
As is well known, Godse and his accomplice Narayan Apte were hanged, and several others were sentenced to life imprisonment, of which they actually did some fifteen years.256
Now, what does L.K. Advani have to do with all this ? He has been a member of the RSS since decades. His party, the BJP, or at least its earlier incarnation, the Jan Sangh, was formed by RSS members who wanted to give a political dimension to the movement, in 1951. So, his party did not exist at the time of the Mahatma's murder, but the mother organization RSS was very much around (in fact, RSS chief Guru Golwalkar was one of the first to condemn the murder as a heinous crime, but that condemnation was of course so common that it couldn't prove much0. So the question becomes: is the RSS anyhow "the heir of Nathuram Godse", as M. J. Akbar wants us to believe ?
After the murder, Nehru, who saw his chance, banned not only the Hindu Mahasabha but also the RSS, and jailed many RSS workers. However, the prosecutor could not find any trace of complicity, and did not prosecute any RSS man. So, in a juridical sense, the RSS had nothing at all to do with the murder. And M.J. Akbar and similar propagandists have to exploit people's ignorance in order to pass off their association of L.K. Advani with Nathuram Godse.
Now, one could say that the RSS was co-responsible for the murder in the vaguer sense that they crated the atmosphere for it (the same way secularists today allot guilt for the riots). And it is undoubtedly true that the RSS was against Partition and therefore against the Partition managers, including the Mahatma. He had done so many fasts unto death to force Hindus, why had he not done one to stop the Muslims from partitioning the country ? This question lived in the minds of many Indians, and probably the RSS was vocal in expressing this anger against the Mahatma's passivity in the face of Partition. There is no doubt that they did their part in strengthening the anti-Gandhi mood in the country. But they did not create the atmosphere for Godse's act : Godse knew them since years and he was through with them. Godse didn't need the RSS (on which he looked down as being merely a culture organisation) to make up his mind about Gandhi and about how to punish him.
There is quite a difference between demolishing the Mahatma's myth (a myth which M.J.Akbar's Congress Party continues to exploit even today) or criticizing his policies, and killing the man. The anti-Mahatma things which the RSS people said and wrote, were to my knowledge not more vicious than the anti-Advani propaganda which the secularists spread today (being a bigot, vicious, rabid, fascist, another Barbar, Jinnah, Hitler, etc.) And if tomorrow a lunatic kills Advani, we will not accuse the secularists of committing or even inspiring the murder. They may be proven liars, but that does not make them murderers.
14.5. Hindu nationalism"The Hindu communalists' claim to being patriotic is wholly suspect. The RSS and the Hindu Mahasabha have a shameful history of collaboration with the British, especially in 1942. Their support to the colonial state, unlike the communists', did not even have that redeeming feature or fig leaf : the choice of a lesser evil against fascism. It came from utterly despicable, base and crass motives." Thus spake praful Bidwai.257
Praful Bidwai repeats here a classic from the communist gallery of lies : that the communists collaborated with the British as a matter of choosing the lesser evil and first fighting fascism. It is simply not true that the communists joined hands with the British because they wanted to fight fascism. When England formally, declared war on Nazi Germany in 1939, the communists didn't move. Stalin had a pact with Hitler, and so the communists did not fight Hitler. It was only when Hitler attacked the Soviet Union, that the communists joined the anti- fascist struggle. The communists' loyalty was not to India, not to Britain, not to the cause of anti-fascism, but solely to the Soviet Union. The only redeeming feature in the communists' collaboration with the British, was that it was part of their collaboration with the Soviet Union.
Praful Bidwai writes an articles against communalism and accuses communalists of "utterly despicable, crass and base motives" for their collaboration with the British. So that must be his judgment about the Muslim League, which always consistently collaborated with the British, and which was wholly unconcerned with fig-leaves like the anti-fascist struggle. We may add that Bidwai's communist friends supported the Muslim League's Pakistan demand, and that they spied for the British and got many freedom fighters jailed.
The Hindu Mahasabha had always been in the anti-colonial struggle. Its leader Savarkar had spent many years in a penal camp on the Andamans for complicity in anti- colonial murder. We may disagree with what he said, but as titles go, he had deserved his title Swatantryaveer (hero of independence). When he wanted Hindus to join the British army during the war ("Hinduize all politics, militarize Hindudom"), this was not a betrayal of the freedom struggle, but rather a potentially very effective strategy for obtaining quick independence. Savarkar's calculation was that after the war, the British would find before them a Hindu army, well-trained in the war against the Japanese, well-armed and well-organized, against which they would not even want to wage another colonial war.
Why does Bidwai mention 1942, and not, say, 1944? Because in 1944 all parties including Congress collaborated with the British, while 1942 was the year of the Quit India movement. This movement was no doubt patriotic, but it was a great failure. It did nothing for independence, and it did not even achieve its real objective : bringing Congress back in the centre-stage of Indian politics. But at the same time, Subhash Chandra Bose was joining the Axis powers and organizing the Indian National Army to invade and liberate British India. Now, let's see who collaborated with the British against his own people. Jawaharlal Nehru declared that when Subhash Chandra Bose would set foot on Indian soil, he would fight him. That is, Nehru would collaborate with the British against the Japanese-backed Indian National Army. Taking our cue from Praful Bidwai, we must ascribe to Nehru "utterly despicable, crass and base motives".
Anyway, what a strange exercise : dealing with the allegation that the Hindu activist parties are not India nationalists. I had thought that at least would be granted to them. It just goes to show how rabid (to use one of their favourite terms) the secularists' hatred for the Hindu communalists has become : they just kick around whichever way they can, now reverting to the more familiar allegation of national revanchism, irredentism (reclaiming territory on historical grounds) and narrow chauvinism.
Let us consider these more familiar allegations, which would be an element in common with the aggressive nationalism of Germany, Japan and Italy in the thirties (and with that of China in 1950-62). Take irredentism : designs to annex territory based on historical claims. In some RSS publications, you see maps of Akhand Bharat, which are roughly British India : including Myanmar (Burma), but not including Afghanistan. So, it might seem they somewhere have a design to annex Myanmar one day. In fact, Myanmar was never a part of India, it was only the British who lumped the two together for a while.
On the other hand, Afghanistan was a full part of the Hindu cradle up till the year 1000, and in political unity with India until Nadir Shah separated it in the 18th century. The mountain range in Eastern Afghanistan where the native Hindus were slaughtered, is still called the Hindu Kush (Persian :Hindu slaughter.) It is significant that one of the very few place-names on earth that reminds us not of the victory of the winners but rather of the slaughter of the losers, concerns a genocide of Hindus by the Muslims.
It seems that many people who champion the Hindu cause, do not have a good knowledge of Hindu history. But others do at least know of Afghanistan's having been a part of Hindu culture, for I have heard once, as an illustration of the expansionist ambitions of the Hindu communalists, that they want the shuddhi of Afghanistan. It was quoted by a secularist, with the suggestion : isn't that irredentist, and therefore fascist?
Well, no. As long as shuddhi means the Hindu variety of conversion, there is nothing wrong with organizations like the Arya Samaj going to Afghanistan and performing shuddhi of the Afghans, that is, ritually leading them back into the Hindu fold. Of course, one doesn't see it happen just like that. But then, one doesn't see it happen after military conquest either. No cases are known to me of forced shuddhi, even in the heady twenties when Shuddhi and Tabligh movements competed for converts. Shudhi can only come after a conscious and free decision of the human being involved. On that condition, there is nothing wrong with the Shuddhi of Afghanistan.
There are also, no doubt, some cranks who think that all countries with some Indian influence have to be brought together in a Greater India : Iran, Tibet, Sri Lanka, Malaysia, Thailand, Cambodia, Indonesia. But since some of the same cranks also believe that everything comes from India (my native tongue, Dutch, is said to have been brought by the Daityas), this Greater India would really comprise the whole world. Yeah, why not the whole world one big Hindu Rashtra? The thing is that such people, while politically totally unimportant, are somehow visible enough within the Hindutva movement, to give the whole movement a bad name.
The one questionable and even objectionable element in the nationalism of Hindutva prophets like Savarkar and Golwalkar, as well as of Jawaharlal Nehru for that matter, is this 19th century European concept of a territorial nationalism. Savarkar defined a Hindu as someone for whom India is both his fatherland and holyland258. The two words are important in the definition : a Chinese Buddhist may consider India his holyland, but since he is not an Indian native, he is not a Hindu; and an Indian Muslim, conversely, is not a Hindu because his holyland lies in Arabia.
Now, why tie the definition of Hindu to this piece of land? The Hindus in Bali, Guyana etc. are just as much Hindus as those in Bharat. One can migrate and yet retain Hindu culture. Of course, the name Hindu is really a geographical term (Hind is Persian for Sindh), but then the task for Hindu thinkers should be to free Hinduism from this territorial definition, rather than to confirm it.
It is said that Shintoism is Japan's national religion (as opposed to so-called universal or imperialist religion). Alright, but Shinto does not mean Japan, it means the way of the gods. So, if you define a religion, you should say something about its contents, not just about its geographical location. "The way of the gods" may be still very rudimentary as a definition, but it says at least that it is a method or practice (a way) involving the divine in a kind of personalized way (the gods, as opposed to an atheist or nirguna system). That is more than Hindu, which means just of India.
Savarkar put things upside down. He was a nationalist, pledging allegiance to this piece of earth now called India. But what is special about this country, so special that Savarkar builds a religion on it? There is nothing special about this country, except that historically it happens to be the cradle of Hindu society, and that society in turn derives its worth from its practicing and embodying a certain culture, Sanatana Dharma. It is because of Sanatana Dharma that this society is worth serving and preserving, and in turn it is because of Hindu society that Hindusthan is worth loving and defending. But this culture can be transplanted or re- created elsewhere, and then that other country is as much fatherland and holyland.
This territorial nationalism centered on Bharat Mata only confuses the issues before Hindu society. For instance, it occasions all this silly talk about Muslim Indians cheering for Pakistan in cricket games, and having extra- territorial loyalties to the area from which their religion was imported. But so what? The problem with Islam is not at all that it is foreign. The problem with Islam lies not in its geographical but in its ideological origins. The problem is not one of nationalism vs. extra- national loyalties, it is one of culture and ideology : an exclusivist anti-humanist creed vs. a pluralist and integrally humanist culture. The Islamic problem is not one of loyalty to Pakistan or Mecca, but one of self- righteousness and intolerance.
As long as the Hindu nationalists continue to define the Muslim problem as a problem of nationality, of "joining the national mainstream" and of "being Indian first and Muslim next", they are trapped in 19th century state nationalism, with all its puffed-up patriotic emotionalism. They are evading the confrontation between two incompatible ideologies/cultures, which no patriotism or loyalty to the state can unit. For instance, asking the Muslims to identify themselves as Mohammedi Hindus is not only very unrealistic, it constitutes a refusal to recognize the true (exclusivist and therefore averse to assimilation) character of Islam, in the name of a superficial Hindu nationhood.
There is no good reason why Muslims or anyone else should direct his first loyalty to the Indian state. That state is nothing but an instrument to regular society and facilitate the citizens' fulfillment of their own life aims. If Muslims want to direct their loyalty towards an international religious community, they are free to do so, as long as they abide by the law of the land. The way forwards for the Hindu movement, is to redefine the problem in terms of ideology and civilization, and to address the challenge of Islam not at the level of ineffective emotional categories like loyalty and identifying with the nation, but at the ideological level. And when it comes to loyalty, this should not be directed towards such accidental matters as a territory or a nation in which we happen to be born, but towards the eternal values embodied in Hindu civilization.
Hindutva ideologue V.D.Savarkar was a territorial Hindu, but culturally he was quite alienated. The well-known example: he advocated meat-eating and even meet-eating. Savarkar reasoned: if beef is more nutritious, then drop all the taboos, and kill cows for their meat. If seems many of his (formal and informal ) followers still think that the Hindus can only defeat the meat-eating Muslims if they give up vegetarianism. What nonsense this is: what are you fighting for if you believe that "in order to better defend Hindu culture, I have to give up Hindu culture"? If you think you have to forsake your culture identity, you only have this territorial identity left.
And then, paradoxically, you arrive at the same point where the Nehruvian secularists are. They too advocate a culturally neutral, territorial patriotism. Both in the Hindu movements and in the anti-Hindu secularist movements, people are saying that you should be Indian first. What is this, being India? What is that, Bharatiyatva? Human beings are not different by the land they inhabit. They develop a certain distinctiveness by the value-system they practice, by the social ways that mould them, by the mental outlook that is instilled in them. So you can have a commitment to certain values. But a commitment to a certain piece of earth can only be superficial. And if this basically superficial attachment to this territory gets mystified, as happened with the secular nationalisms in some European countries, then the consequences are evil.
Of course, when there is a football game, I want the team from my town to win. If it's an international game, I want my country's team to win. It would be a bit ridiculous to support the other town, the foreign country. So, that much territorial patriotism is alright. But one's basic commitment should be to more substantial things than that. A country can only acquire a value, and be an object of commitment, if it becomes historically linked with a substantial value. As long as India is conceived as culturally neutral, it is just a piece of land, not really worth any commitment. Forget about Bharatiyatva. The day when the world has one global culture, and that day is not too far off, these concept of territorial patriotism, of Indian-ness or American- ness etc. will only apply in football stadiums.
However, today the Indian state has an important function as the abode and defense of a culture which could hardly thrive otherwise. Since Hindu society is surrounded by Islamic and Communist enemies out to destroy Hindu culture, this state acquires a more than territorial importance. India is not culturally neutral, because objectively it is the only defense of Hindu culture against its enemies. So, as abode and defense of Hindu culture, this land and this state can count on the Hindus' allegiance and attachment. At this secondary level, nationalism becomes meaningful.
That Savarkar, one of the foremost Hindutva leaders, could be so careless about Hindu culture even while defending it, is significant for the advanced state of self-forgetfulness that threatens to submerge Hindu society. And in this nationalistic and directed to Bharat Mata, than cultural and directed to Sanatana Dharma.
If at all the nationalism in the Hindutva movement would develop fascist overtones (and I do not see that at present), it would be due to its not being Hindu enough, and being too secular-nationalist. Compare with the relative unimportance of national borders in medieval Europe when it was all Catholic and unconcerned with nation-states. It was the larger religious and cultural idea (the Brahmin level) that could keep in its place the political idea of the state (the Kshatriya level). Similarly, a deeper knowledge and understanding of Sanatana Dharma would soon dedramatize and ultimately dissolve the problems of religionalism and sectarianism.
For instance, Sikh separatism is based on externalities like beards and turbans, and on a defective and distorted understanding of Hindu and Sikh doctrine. If today Hindu politicians have to advocate a tough line in Punjab, and sending in the army, it is because they themselves (as well as all the traveling sadhus and other consciousness-raisers of Hindu society) failed to check the spread of ignorance and misconceptions about the Sikh tradition.
Saying that India only makes sense as the eggshell in which Hindu society lives, and that India takes its identity from Hinduism, may not be the position taken by Savarkar, who put this the other way around, but at any rate it is the position considered Hindu communalist par excellence by the secularists. Yet, the position is wholly correct. But for Hinduism, there would not have been an Indian Union. Suppose that, as some foresaw a century ago, all Hindus would have been converted to Islam or Christianity. What would happen then, can be seen from such happy Muslim-Christian bhai-bhai countries like Lebanon, Cyprus, Sudan, Kosovo (Yugoslavia), Nagorny-Karabakh. The country would have been split at the very least into a Muslim North and a Christian South.259
In the sense that Hinduism is the cultural reason for India's very existence, India cannot exist but as a Hindu Rashtra. Let us see what the secular alternative is.
In a secular India, there is room for different religions, right? This pluralism is either a negative pluralism : we don't care, be whatever you want to be. In that case, you have a neutral state. That is the official position today, and it is not generating much enthusiasm. The minorities don't want it, because they feel threatened by majority rule. They fear that a neutral state regulated by majority vote, would uniformize at the expense of the weaker elements in the plural set-up. They allege that, against its own professing, the preserving of the minorities' identity is made an issue, and when the majority of the weak, an anti-democratic policy of championing the minorities against the majority is enforced. And so, everyone is unhappy.
The alternative to this neutral pluralism is a positive pluralism. Underlying it, there is philosophy that positively gives a full-blooded foundation and justification to plurality. That philosophy exist : it is called Sanatana Dharma, and a state founded on it could well be called a Hindu Rashtra. In this state, the different components of the plural set-up are recognized as such. This state would be different from a uniform democracy, in that it would recognize plural subsystems. This recognition of plurality is, once more, the very opposite of fascism.
Integrating different units of identity into a large identity, is one of the foremost socio-political problems of today. And it is an issue on which the Hindu tradition has interesting approaches to offer. Since it is such a vast and important issue, I will limit myself in the following chapter to the one aspect of it that is highlighted at present in this discussion : minorityism vs. majoritarianism.
14.6. MajorityismThe BJP has been saying that the government and some political parties indulge in minorityism. This means that they have promised or given special privileges to the minorities, chiefly the Muslims, in exchange for their political support. Two other reasons for this pampering the minorities may be " the approval of the Muslim countries, with whom Nehru and his successors established a special relationship (party made necessary by the Nehru-created Kashmir problem, on which a united Muslim front had to be prevented), and the satisfaction of a mental desire to be secular. In my opinion, the last factor, the mental cluster of secularism, the need to prove oneself non-Hindu and pro-minorities, is the most important one.
The examples of systematic institutional minorityism cited most often are the separate personal law based on the Shariat, the special status of the Muslim-majority state Jammu and Kashmir, the immunity of minority schools and places of worship from government interference or take-over. Examples of occasional political minorityism are the numerous unequal treaties before independence between Congress and the Muslim league, the creation of a Muslim-majority district in Kerala by redrawing of district borders, the overruling of the Shah Bano verdict with legislation, the creation of a minorities commission (under the Janata government of which some BJP leaders were Cabinet ministers). These do not add up to a full oppression of Hindu society by the Muslim minority, but they do constitute real discriminations.
Opposing this minorityism, the BJP has put forward the slogan : Justice for all, appeasement of none. This means that there should be no discrimination between individuals, between states, or between any intermediary levels of organization, on the basic of religions. Thus, instead of a Minorities Commission, there should be a Human Rights Commission, because members of the majority can have grievances too. Instead of immunity for minority schools, there should be immunity for schools run by any community. In fact, many members of the Constituent Assembly who voted this Articles 30 giving guarantees to the minority educational institutions, acted on the assumption that majority institutions would wrong, the Article should be reconsidered. A common civil code should be enacted. Articles 370 should be scrapped and Kashmir should be fully integrated.
So, what the BJP demands here, is that the rules of democracy be applied without any exemptions or exceptions on communal grounds. To any democratic-minded person, this would seem quite unobjectionable. Not so to the Indian secularists.
Of late, they have coined a new term, which should brand this democratic equality as really a component of fascism: majoritarianism. The right term to oppose minorityism would have been majorityism, i.e. espousal of the majority cause, but they chose the uglier majoritarianism. This is too bad for them, because the term can be analyzed as "espousal of the majoritarian cause", so not championing a (majority) community, hence communalism, but championing the majoritarian principle. And there is nothing objectionable in the majoritarian principle: it is the very working principle of our democracy.
In fact, the secularists are quite correct in not describing the opposition to minorityism as majorityism. Opposing the favouring of minorities need not indicate a favouring of the majority, it may just as well stem for a concern of the working principle of the current from of democracy, viz. decision by the majority.
"The true test of a democracy is the justice that the minority gets in the system. The majority will always get its share whatever the system", writes M.J. Akbar260.
With that, white minority rule in South Africa certainly passes the true test of democracy. M.J. Akbar implies that all struggle against minority regimes oppressing majorities was futile, since majorities cannot possibly be oppressed.
But Hindus point out that they are really discriminated against in the laws of the land, and that minorities do get privileges which are unthinkable in most genuinely secular states.
If we apply Bipan Chandra's definition of communalism, viz. attributing common secular interests to people on the ground of a common religion. then we must consider M.J. Akbar's statement as an application of communalist thought categories. There is absolutely no questioning of the religious rights of the minorities in India, so if Mr. Akbar raises issues involving the minorities, it must be non-religious issues, in which the category of religious community (minority) does not properly apply. >From the moment the religious rights of the minorities are guaranteed, any other talk of minorities is fundamentally communalist. Every single article of law not dealing with the exercise of religious community as a legally relevant unit of organization, is an element of communalism in the legal framework of the state, and should be repudiated in a truly secular-set-up.
A religious community is only a lawful category in strictly religious matters. In these, there is already discrimination against the Hindus. The state governments can (and do, as recently in Kerala) take over the management of Hindu temples, not of minority places of worship. They can (and do, as in West Bengal) take over school started by Hindu organizations. Apart from the secular aspects of education, there is religious discrimination against the Hindus in that the imparting of Hindus tradition is hampered, as well as the creation of a Hindu atmosphere in a school (e.g. through the selective recruitment of teachers, to which the minority schools are fully entitled).
Both in the letter and spirit of the Constitution and in actual practice, Hindus as a religious community are discriminated against in matters of temples management and education. These discriminations are at least partly encroachments on the exercise n the exercise of the Hindus' constitutionally guaranteed religious freedom. Just imagine what rhetoric and agitation would be lunched if such discriminations had applied to the minorities.
Then there is the matter of the separate civil code for the minorities. Marriage and inheritance laws are, perhaps on top of some sacramental dimension, quite secular matters. Recognizing and institutionalizing inequality between the citizens of India in these secular matters on the basis of their religion is definitely a case of constitutional communalism. Or rather, let us not be too harsh on the Constitution itself, for it does call on the law-maker to eventually abolish the religion-based law systems. It is political communalism on the part of the parties that refuse to implement the constitutional provision for the eventual enactment of a common civil code.
It has been said, by commentators ranging from Girilal Jain to Mani Shankar Aiyar, that this common civil code should not be forced on the Muslims, that they should agree to it voluntarily, without any pressure being put on them to do so. As a matter of practical policy in the given situation, that makes good sense. However, as a matter of principle, the position that a common law decided on by a democratic majority, should not be imposed on an unwilling minority, opens the door for all kinds of minority veto rights that make a mockery of the democratic principle that decision are taken by majority vote. One can justify this position by saying that a minority's personal law is not the whole country's business, so that the relevant majority whose choice should determine the democratic decision, is not the majority of the entire nation, but merely the emerging in the democratic process within the community.
This reasoning would from part of a philosophy of multi community integration, in which as many powers as possible are devolved to the lowest possible level, in this case the religious community (since personal law is associated with religious commandments). This philosophy is currently gaining in relevance in a world which, with its increasing global integration, is discovering the socio-political value of decentralization: while matters of global concern are to be decided at the global level, national decisions should be retained at the national level, which in turn should not usurp decisions that can be taken at the regional level, and this in turn should devolve to the local level decisions that can be taken at that level. This decentralization trend (which is visible, for instance, in the increasing recognition of the substate regions as political units in the European Community) is linked with the modern small is beautiful philosophy, applied to political decision-making.
Of course, this decentralization of power to the proper and lowest possible level, is akin to the decentralized structure of Hindu society, which always was commonwealth of (occupational as well as religious) communities. It is quite in the spirit of Hindu tradition, tough not in the spirit of the Constitution, to leave the Muslim community its personal law.
The separate status for the state of Kashmir (Article 370) is again a discrimination in secular matters on the basis of religion, viz. its being a state with a Muslim majority. Nehru sycophants have tried to explain this irresponsible and communalist Article as follows: "The special problems of Jammu and Kashmir do not arise only out of the fact of its being a Muslim-majority state. It is also a state coveted by a foreign power which has thrice gone to war with India to capture the state,... whose territory is partly under hostile foreign occupation,... which is geopolitically located in the cockpit of international intrigue."261
In fact, each of these problems can be reduced to this one fact that it is a Muslim-majority state and is therefore claimed by Pakistan under the terms of the Partition of British India. With a Hindu majority this would be radically different, and it would not even want the separate status granted by Article 370. Moreover ,none of the said problems justifies a separate status. On the contrary, in most countries they would lead to an extra strong integration into the Union, if not permanent central rule
But our Nehruvian knows it all better: "It is with a view to addressing ourselves to these very special problems... that the constitutional device of Article 370 was evolved." If that is true, then we must recognize in all sincerity that this device has been ineffective. It has not stopped the Chinese from annexing parts of Karakoram and Ladakh, it has not stopped Pakistan from invading it twice more, it has not prevented the ongoing skirmishes over the Siachen glacier, it has not prevented the general spread of secessionism, it has not prevented the Kashmiri Muslims from practicing majorityism at the expense of the Hindu and Buddhist areas of Jammu and Ladakh and from hounding out the Hindu minority of the Kashmir valley, and it has not given private investors the confidence to go in and bring some genuine economical development. Short, in every geopolitical, communal and even economical respect, it has been an outrageous failure.
But our Nehruvian spokesman remains, like his mentor, adamantly blind to the feedback from reality :"In the circumstances, the demand for abrogating Article 370 is totally misplaced. It would only result in the further alienation of the people of Jammu and Kashmir..."
Firstly, subtract people of Jammu: they would welcome the full integration with India, either through the abrogation of Article 370 of through separate statehood for itself and Union Territory status for Ladakh. Secondly, subtract Hindus of Kashmir: they would gladly welcome full accession to India. But then, they have already fled to areas that are really India. Thirdly, why would the people of Kashmir feel alienated by integration? That seems a contradiction. It might be more accurate to say that Nehru has treated the Kashmiri Muslims like spoiled children, afraid to refuse them anything, so if you tell them now that they will get equal treatment with the rest, they become very nasty.
The blatant communal discrimination that guarantees the Muslim majority in Kashmir by forbidding non-Kashmiris to settle there, is also defended by our Nehruvian :"There is little practical scope for settling any considerable body of outsiders in the valley. What land there is, is already under the plough." By these standards, outsiders should be prevented from settling in Bombay.262 Moreover,"there would not be many Indians from elsewhere in the country who would wish to actually settle there..."
But abrogating communalist Articles is a matter of principle, of upholding the basic constitutional and democratic principle of non-discrimination, and is not dependent on just what number of people it will affect in practice. As BJP spokesman K. L. Sharma said :"Equal status to all states and equal rights to all citizens is the BJP secularism."263 Moreover, as a political precedent, Article 370 affects millions of people, viz. those in states where separatist movement are encouraged by it and use the demand of the extension of Article 370 to their own state as a propaganda item or bargaining chip ("our ultimate concession short of independence").
Of course, it is not certain that the abrogation of Article 370 will make much of a practical difference for Kashmir itself in the near future. As long as the secessionist terror continues, and even for some time after that, not even the refugees will go back, let alone other. But at least the principle of India's integrity will have been restored. And it will discourage the secessionists in Kashmir and elsewhere, as well as the Pakistani agents, to see that India is reasserting its integrity on at least the level of legislation, that one level where terrorist created ground realities need not be taken into account and where principles can be upheld without compromise.
The argument of the secularists against the allegations of minorityism is that Hindus should be generous, and that they are not entitled to a persecution complex since their very majority makes it impossible for them to become the object of injustice. Moreover, the Muslims are a poor and wretched community who must be suffering a lot of discrimination otherwise they would not be so underrepresented in government jobs, business, the army, the universities: how can Hindus claim they are put at a disadvantage by this pitiable minority?
As often, the secularists defend their case by confusing issues. There is a difference between suffering legal constitutional discrimination, and being poor. In the Islamic Republic of Malaysia, the Chinese are second- class citizens, legally discriminated against as being non-Muslims, yet they are very successful in business, and considerably wealthier than the Muslim Malays. If the Muslims in India are poor, it is not at all because of discrimination, as should be clear from the record of other minorities. If Sikhs are overrepresented in government services and the security forces, if Christians are overrepresented in education, if Jains are overrepresented in business, it is not because of preferential treatment by the law or by the executive. In fact, if we drop the false socialist parlance, these communities are not over-represented in the said fields, it is more accurate to say they are great achievers.
And the Muslims, unfortunately, are on average poor achievers. That is almost entirely due to one single factor: their poor schooling. This factor in turn may be reduced to Islamic factors like large families, low status of women (keeping them uneducated and thus less able to teach their children and to create an education- friendly atmosphere for them), and stress on Quranic rather than secular studies. Short, the hold of Islamic orthodoxy over the Muslim community is by far the largest factor in Muslim community is by far the largest factor in Muslim backwardness (as well as fostering its ghetto mentality).264
By contrast, while Hindus may be doing alright economically etc., they do objectively suffer legal discrimination. They are denied certain constitutional rights and guarantees, as well as many political favours, and that constitutes a real inequality even if it is not impoverishing. The secularist line that Hindus should bear discrimination without complaining, since there are worse things in life (such as this abysmal poverty which these wretched Muslims have to suffer), presupposes that Hindus have no sense of honour. It assumes Hindus don't mind being second-class citizens, as long as they make a decent living. This presupposition certainly fits the stereotype, created in the centuries when Hindus were sharply discriminated against in the laws laid down by Muslim rulers. But that does not justify continuing legal discrimination.
Moreover, on top of this undeniable political and legal discrimination, Hindus perceive a serious threat to the very existence of their culture and society, when they look across the borders and into the future. Their acute sensitivity to minorityism is strengthened by the perception that the minorities indulge in aggression against the Hindus wherever they get the chance, and that they are also growing stronger by the day.
When you consider the population trends in the Indian Subcontinent, it seems inevitable that Muslims will make up 50% of its population in less than eighty years. Extrapolating the trends within India, it will be less than fifty years until the Muslims are again 24% of the population, the percentage which in the forties was enough to enforce Partition. Add to that the millions- strong illegal Muslim immigration into India, which will only accelerate as population pressure increases in Pakistan and Bangla Desh. So, the majority status of the Hindus is by no means guaranteed. Moreover, the so- called minority is in fact the Indian department of a world-wide movement, from which it effectively gets moral and financial support.
It is no fable or prejudice that Muslims as a community have the highest birth-rate in practically every country where they co-exist with other communities. In some article that set out to debunk this propaganda, three countries were cited as counter-examples. Unfortunately, the writer had not chosen his concocted examples very well : one of them was Lebanon. The cause of the civil war there, apart from the legitimate reaction against Palestinian take-over tactics, has been the fast rise in Muslim population, which rendered the earlier power division on a communal basis disproportional. The Muslims, now in the majority, want to abrogate the old power division and freely exert their majoritarian powers. The Christians fear that this will cause a speedy end to their age-old presence in Lebanon.
In Pakistan, family planning is a joke. The responsible ministry is at present headed by a fundamentalist Muslim, Saddar Niazi, who boasts of being one of fifteen children. He has declared that the pressure for family planning was a holdover from the liberal secularism of Benazir Bhutto, and that he did not intend to implement the policies of a woman charged with corruption and overwhelmingly voted out in the 1990 election.265 His stand is not exceptional, rather it is the rule among Muslim governments. At any rate, Pakistan's birth rate stands at 3.2%, almost the doubt of India's.
Bangla Desh, the world's most densely populated country and perhaps the only Muslim country that ever seriously considered a family planning policy (apart from the moderate states Egypt and Indonesia, and in contrast to Malaysia, which has actively encouraged a high birth rate among its Muslims), today also has a birth rate markedly higher than India's. Both Pakistan and Bangla Desh consciously seek to solve their overpopulation problem at least partly by dumping excess people in India, where they can be useful for the long-term pan- Islamic design.
Kashmir has been an eye-opener for the Hindus if one was needed. In the first part of 1990, more than two lakhs of Hindus, practically the entire non-Muslim population, were driven out from the Valley. Refugee Arvind Dhar testifies: "The aggression has been entirely one-sided. All central government employees (generally Hindus) were asked to leave their jobs, and those who did not were placed on a hit-list. One newspaper (Al-Safab) had a headline in March asking all Hindus to vacate within 48 hours of face bullets".266
Predictably, secularists and Muslim communalists have joined hands to deny the propaganda that Kashmiri Muslims have unleashed a purely communalist campaign of violence against the Hindus. Some papers declared that it was actually the Hindu refugees who were "creating a communal crisis"267 by fleeing to Jammu or Delhi. In their Newspeak, which calls terrorists militants, the refugees are called migrants, and it is an interesting illustration of the perversion of India's political parlance to see how even the refugees themselves have sometimes adopted this secularist-imposed usage.
Syed Shahabuddin declared, along with some moderate Kashmiri Muslims, that the Hindus could come back to Kashmir, and that their property was being looked after by their Muslim neighbours.268 But the first- hand information of refugee Arvind Dhar tells a different story:"All my movable property has been stolen and my house was burnt a month ago. But Mr. Shahabuddin says that migrants' property is being looked after.
Bhushan Bazaz, president of the terrorist-sympathizing J&K Democratic Forum pontificates:"As far as the migrants are concerned, they should show boldness in returning to their native land. They committed a great blunder in migration... The migrants should take it for granted that they will not be harmed, physically or emotionally, if they return to the valley immediately".269
It is worth quoting a reply: "By advising the migrants, many of whom live in squalor in camps mourning the death of their kith and kin, to 'return to the valley boldly, taking it for granted that they will not be harmed...', Mr. Bazaz is mendaciously suggesting that these hapless people have fled the Valley out of an imaginary fear at someone's instance. The naked truth is that the peace- loving and peaceful non-Muslims were forced to flee... when they found that the goodwill of their well-disposed but unarmed Muslim neighbours... was of no avail to them against the orgies of selective murder, rape and arson perpetrated by armed Pak-trained militants... Considering that even a few gullible migrants, including a lone woman, were recently gunned down within hours of their return, one wonders whether Mr. Bazaz's facile assurance of safety to migrants emanates from his desire to fool the uninformed or to propitiate India-baiters in Pakistan".270 The kashmiri militants, Bushan Bazaz, Syed Shahabuddin, the Nehruvian defenders of Article 370, they are all, each in his own way, objectively part of the strategy of the anti-Hindu forces on the Kashmir front.
The Kashmir Samiti has produced a report titled Riots in Kashmir, listing 85 temples destroyed in the valley, and claiming that 550 Hindus had been killed (630 with security men included; official figure 495) in the Islamic purification campaign in 1990.271 And one cannot just blame Pakistan, for even a secularist paper admits: "There is no evidence to suggest that the average Kashmiri is fed up with the militants. Everywhere ordinary people are sheltering 'the boys fighting for a cause".272 The common Muslims in Kashmir believe in the two-nation theory. After all, Islam itself instills the communal separateness in its followers. It is a communalist ideology through and through, and all the talk of Kashmiriyat as a bond between Hindus and Muslims have proven to be just wind as soon as the call for a separate Dar-ul-Islam was spread.
In Pakistan, the dwindling percentage of 1% Hindus ekes out an existence in constant fear of the never-ending harassment=92s and attacks by the Muslim majority (which is untroubled by any minoritism). A secularist paper, prudishly and secularly titling: "Ethnic violence drives Sinhis across the border", lets out the truth in the small print: "According to [refugee Sukh Ram], most of the Hindus are forced to desert their homes because of their religion. 'We are not allowed to pray peacefully in the temple of celebrate Hindu festival=92s he said".273
Moreover, at several places in Sindh, cremation grounds had been usurped by Mohajirs274, funeral procession were attacked with stones, and women were not safe either. Pakistan Hindu leader Raja Chander Singh, who left Benazir's Pakistan People's Party to form the Pakistan Hindu Party, says that the Hindu migration to India is now (proportionally) bigger than during the Partition day: "The future of Hindus in Pakistan is very bleak... They are leaving because of fear".275
So the Hindus flee, and Pakistan likes it that way :"The Pakistani leaders... seem to be encouraging Hindus to leave the country".276 A 16-year-old boy is quoted saying: "We all think here that Pakistan is a country for Muslims and only Hindusthan is the country for us Hindus". Perhaps this accomplished fact had better be faced: Hindusthan is the homeland and refuge for the Hindus fleeting Muslim states. Since India is not willing to defend the rights of the Hindus in the Muslim neighbour states, it should automatically grant citizenship to Hindu refugees (as Israel does to Jews).
With all this persecution of Hindus by these poor wretched minorities, it is quite understandable that Hindus feel they should reassert their own democratic rights. They have done enough for the minorities by recognizing their democratic rights and religious freedom. Justice for all without any unequal appeasement of any religious community should be enough in a secular democratic state. But here they have to confront the watchdogs of secularism, who know it all better.
A.S.Abraham writes: "The observes side of the coin of 'minoritysim' is that the majority is held is to the victim of discrimination by the state. To indulge the minorities is automatically to discriminate against the majority. On the other hand, 'majoritarianism' cannot, in this scheme, entail discrimination against the minorities because, unlike 'minorityism', which is an unnatural distortion, 'majoritarianism, is natural and healthy".277
The last sentence is merely a scheme attributed to the Hindus by Mr. Abraham, as part of the old rhetorical trick: if you can't beat their argument, attribute to them a weak or stupid argument and attack that instead. The very term 'majoritarianism' is not a Hindu scheme, it is of the secularists' own making , coined as a swearword for religiously neutral democracy. It is obvious that to "indulge the minorities" automatically means discriminating against the majority. Privileges mean inequality, and if one party is more than equal, the other is less than equal. No-one would object to the minorities' right to open (subsidized) schools, were it not that the majority is denied this right. Today, this right is a privilege of the minorities and a discrimination against the majority. Of course, there is nothing objectionable or anti-national in this right of the minorities, so the discrimination should be abolished by extending the same right to the majority (incidentally, this discrimination, laid down in Article 30, is glossed over in mr, Abraham's column).
For Mr. Abraham's brand of secularists, constitutional guarantees of religious freedom and non-discrimination are not good enough:"The fact is that 'minorityism' inheres in the very idea of secularism." So, he concedes to Mr. Advani that the Indian secularists are indeed champions of minorityism.
However, as a citizen of a fully secular state, I strongly object to Mr .Abrahams minorityist statement. I have never heard of minorityism either as a term or as a concept somehow functional in our secular system. We do not give religious minorities a veto against decisions enacted by a democratic majority.
Let us take the example Mr.Abraham himself gives. He concedes that "superficially, the Advani position looks unexceptionable", consisting of "reasonable demands for secularizing our affairs". However, it is not truly secular, for if it were, "then they would also have to stop demanding a ban on cow slaughter, which is a religiously motivated proscription that cannot be endorsed by a secular state". As usual, out secularists prove their point by mixing things up. There is a difference between the motives for which a state enacts a law (which in a secular democrat is not Scriptural authority but the will of a majority of the people), and the motives that make the people favour the enactment of this law (with which the state has no business: they may be religious motives as well as any other).
The nice thing about democracy is that it allows for difference between countries. If a majority of the people in my country favor cow slaughter, then we can practice cow slaughter; and if a majority in India opposes it, then the Indian state can ban it. Both countries adhere to the political form of democracy, but the contents of their policies are different, reflecting the different will of the respective nations. Democracy is a formal concept, it is a procedure of decision making, not concerned with the contents of (nor with the motives for) the decisions.278 so if a majority of the Indian citizens favour a ban on cow-slaughter, then the secular state does not avail of a Thought Police to check out their religious or other motives or this political choice. A secular democracy merely registers the will of the majority and enacts laws and policies accordingly.
At this point, there might be one limitation: unlike the Islamic republics, who ride roughshod over the religious rights of minorities, a secular state should safeguard the religious community in India that imposes on its adherents the duty to slaughter cows. So, from a secular viewpoint, no compromise whatsoever is needed, and nothing stands in the way of enacting a ban on cow slaughter, provided a majority votes for it. And at any rate, there is nothing objectionable, or threatening to the secular character of the state, in a citizens' initiative to create opinion in favour of such a ban.
The Muslim League always objected to a ban on cow slaughter, and demanded a veto right for the Muslim community on every issue. Today, many Hindu politicians have interiorized this demand for a minority veto right, and don't ever dare to suggest a ban on cow slaughter for fear of provoking the Muslim veto. In a secular democracy, the veto right of a religious minority is limited scrupulously to those decisions that directly the exercise of their religious freedom. Banning cow slaughter is not among them, so the democratic secular republic of India can certainly enact a ban on cow- slaughter the day a majority of citizens decides in its favour.
As Mr. Abraham himself writes: "A secular state, such as we are committed to building, is one in which the religious beliefs of its citizens are of no consequence to it. It regards them indiscriminately as equal citizens are of no consequence to it. It regards them indiscriminately as equal citizens under the law." More precisely: the religious beliefs of the citizens are of no consequence to the form (the procedure) of the decision-making, but they may of course be an element in the contents of the decisions, to the extent that the sovereign citizens choose to take them into account.
Minorityism, by contrast, means that you give special legal rights and political favours to citizens on the basis of their professing certain religious beliefs (or rather, on their belonging to certain religious communities with political clout). Minorityism does interfere with the form of democracy. In India, while not overwhelmingly affecting the democratic policy, it does thwart the principle of equality in several domains.
Mr. Abraham attributes the wrongs of minorityism to another ideology, invented by his own tribe for the sake of rhetoric, majoritarianism: "Just as 'minorityism' is indispensable to secularism, so 'majoritarianism' is its antithesis. To be 'majoritarian' is to want the religious beliefs of the majority to colour, indeed to determine, the values, goals and institutions... This is an agenda for theocracy masquerading as 'genuine' secularism."
All decisions are determined by beliefs. To adapt an example from Indian tradition: if you believe the rope in the dark room to be a snake, your decision not to go in will have been determined by the belief that it was a snake, not by the reality that it was a rope. Instead of belief, we could better say more neutrally: perception. If a majority of the representatives of the people decide to have a state-run economy, then that decision has its roots in a belief or perception that such an economical system will be best suited to realize national goals (of which the choice again is based on the belief that, for instance, distributive equality is more important than wealth creation etc.). It is for the democracy not important whether this belief is correct. Observers of economical history may believe that the faith in a state-run economy is unfounded, but before this minority belief can democratically influence policy, they will have to persuade a majority to adopt this belief.
You cannot get out of this: in a democracy, decisions are made on the (issue-related) belief of the majority. One may deplore that these beliefs are often inadequate but it is beyond the role and the power of the state to help it; the thinkers and educators of the people have to raise the people's consciousness so that its beliefs become more adequate to reality. Non-despotic democracy can only register and translate into policy the actual perception of a majority of the people.
So, by definition, "the beliefs of the majority do colour, indeed determine, the values, goals and institutions" of a secular democratic state. Sometimes, some of these beliefs are codified into a doctrine roughly called a religion. Well, the secular state has no business with that, as long as these beliefs do not interfere with the formal principles of the secular democracy itself. Thus, the Islamic belief that non- Muslims must be treated as third-class citizens and debarred from taking top government jobs, is intrinsically incompatible with secular democracy, and must on that ground be prevented from determining the institutions of the state.
But legislatively acting on the belief that cows are worth protecting against slaughter, is quite compatible with secular democracy, even if a minority doesn't think that highly of cows. After all, imposing the order "Keep off the grass" in city parks does just the same thing as imposing a ban on cow slaughter in India. There exists a minority of people who don't believe parks ought to be equipped with healthy lawns. They don't mind healthy good-looking lawns, just like beef-eaters don't mind unslaughtered cows, but they believe that for themselves the freedom to take a shortcut across the lawn is more valuable. Others may respect the lawn, but they don't feel any duty to respect it themselves. Yet, nobody in a secular democracy objects to the imposition of the majority's respect for nice-looking lawns on this unrespectful minority.
This imposition of a uniform behaviour on a population with non-uniform beliefs is unavoidable in government relative to public affairs, and is no way a threat to the secular and democratic character of the polity. It become undemocratic only when a minority imposes its chosen rules of behaviour on a majority, and it becomes unsecular only when a religious authority rather than the will of a majority lays down the rules.
Now, what is the fuss about this majoritarianism effectively about? What possible policies would constitute this threatening phenomenon of majoritarianism, it cannot be the issue of cow slaughter, or the re-adoption of Vande Mataram as the anthem, much less the abolition of the discrimination against Hindus in education or temple-management. Mr. Abraham gives exactly one example, and I don't think he has another :"When the `majority'... wants to build a temple on a site which the `majority'... believes is the birthplace of Ram, then the proper course of action for the state is to assist, and certainly not to hinder that project. If it so happens that a mosque stands on the site, then not to allow the temple to be built for that reason is to be guilty of `minorityism'." this argument deserves some scrutiny.
First of all, the word majority as the term for Hindu society is a creation of the secularists. If Mr. Abraham distances himself from it here, through the quote marks, it is because he is using the term here in another sense, in fact its proper, democratic sense :a majority of opinion on the specific issue under consideration. By distancing himself from the term in this meaning, he wants to sow doubts that it is really a majority of the Indian people that want the Mandir to be Built. Well, that can be ascertained by a referendum, as the BJP has demanded.
Secondly, democratic states the world over do have the right to expropriate people or communities when they consider it necessary for the common good- a category to which a concrete meaning is given by the perception of a majority. Not only are roads built on land expropriated from unwilling landed farmers :sometimes as a matter of social reform policy, poor landless peasants are given lands expropriated from unwilling landed farmers. The majority of poor people can impose harsh measures on the rich minority. Stealing from the rich to give to the poor, you may consider it just or unjust, but it is one of the options in a democracy. And it is sometimes done, and then mostly justified as a corrective measure for past injustices (a case in point : positive discrimination policies like job reservation). So, if a majority decides to take something from a minority, it is not yet fascism, in fact it is more probably socialism.
Nevertheless, the point which Mr. Abraham makes, is that in a majoritarian (i. e. democratic) system, no minority is safe from the possible extortions by the majority. For instance, in Bangla Desh the property of the Hindus has been threatened by the Enemy Property Act (the democratic caliber of Bangla Desh is poor, but it is quite certain that even otherwise, no majority would have come forward to prevent the enactment of this law). In fact, in most countries, democratic or not, minorities are at the mercy of the majority. What protects the minorities is not so much the democratic character of the state, but the effective rule of law and/or the kindness and tolerance of the majority.
Let us narrow the discussion down to the example under consideration : taking over a place of worship. On what ground was it reprehensible that the Soviet government, claiming to be a people's government, claiming to be a people's government (a claim which we will concede here for the sake of the argument), expropriated the places of worship in order to transform them into temples of modernity and socialism (like factories and bureaucratic offices)? The majority of dialectical-materialist peasants and workers took from the minority of feudal and petty-bourgeois obscurantists their places of worship. This was reprehensible because (granting all other claims) it interfered with the exercise of these people's religious freedom.
Taking a single, or let's say three, mosques from the Muslim minority, is less than a denial of their religious freedom. But it is a small factual encroachment on the material exercise of their religious rights. As such, it can be justified as a, merely symbolic, righting of an old wrong. In a juridical sense, the communities that own and use the mosques, or their Waqf boards, can certainly be considered the successors to the rulers that built these mosques and initiated the worship that is continuing there. So, demanding from them these few places as a delayed and merely symbolic compensation for the wrongs inflicted by the erstwhile mosque-builders, while leaving them all the freedom and maybe even financially assisting them to set up alternative mosques nearby, is not at all misplaced, nor unjustifiable, nor in violation of internationally accepted limitations to a government's rights of expropriation.
However, the point about majoritarianism is not so much whether the expropriation of three contentious mosques is justified. The point is that a majority has the power to enact such expropriation regardless of its being justified or not. Conversely, a minority does not have the power to enact a similar expropriation, even if justified. A case in point: the Hindus in Bangla Desh have no democratic power to reclaim some of their sacred places which the Muslims laid waste, not in Babar's or Aurangzeb's time, but the last few decades. This separation between justice and power is of course one of the most fundamental political problems that humanity faces. A minority cannot democratically enforce its claims, even if justified; while a majority can, even when its claims are unjustified. A majority can democratically enact blatantly unjust laws and constitutional provisions ( as it effectively does in Pakistan, Malaysia and other Muslim countries).279
That possibility of the majority riding roughshod over the minorities is indeed present in the democratic system. Yet normally it doesn't happen. Most majoritarian democracies do not oppress their minority communities. The very fact of running a pluralistic democratic polity will condition people to be respectful towards all the different components of their society. The outright oppression of a minority by the majority almost exclusively happens where other ideological factors condition the majority community to disrespect towards the minorities. The most important such factor in the world today, you guessed it, is Islam.
So, it is not he system of majoritarian democracy that will make minorities oppressed and reduce their members to second-class citizens. It is the contents that the majority gives to the polity, that may have this effect. In Bangla Desh and Pakistan, Hindus have been oppressed by the Muslim majority in almost equal measure under dictators as under democratic governments. Not the political system, but the chauvinistic anti-Kafir attitude of the majority community brought this about. In Hinduism, such fostering of intolerance towards non- Hindu communities, let alone active oppression, is not sanctioned by Scriptures or other sources of doctrine. Even if the continuing Islamic aggression against Hindus, both in the Islamic republics and in India itself, provokes Hindus to an anti-Muslim polarization, this will remain a peripheral and occasional tendency.
There is simply no danger at all that the normal majoritarian form of democracy will lead to any oppression of the religious minorities in India. By contrast, it is already a fact that minorityism, the policies with a bias towards the religious minorities, has effectively led ( even within a formal structure of majoritarian democracy ) to a number of discriminations against the Hindus on the basis of religion. In most majoritarian democracies in the world ( all except the few Islamic republics that know democracy ), there are no legal or political discriminations against the minorities ( first of all because minorities are only recognized as a relevant category in some very few contexts, otherwise there are merely individuals).
But then, in most majoritarian democracies in the world, there is no minorityism either. The recent claim of some secularists that minorityism is essential to democracy. That Hindus suffer from discrimination favouring the minorities, is not an effect inherent in the prevalent political system. It is a policy followed by Hindu politicians of their own free will. And it can stop the moment these Hindu politicians come to their senses, and stop enacting or maintaining discriminating laws against their own people.
This minorityism is not a legislative or constitutional problem ( except secondarily ), it is primarily a problem of mentality. And it is not so much a problem created by the aggressive minorities, it is at least partly created by the morbid willingness in Hindu politicians to appease minority arrogance. So, solving the problem of minorityism requires chiefly a change of mentality in Hindu society. It should free itself from the wholly mistaken notion that it owes the minorities anything. It has not done them any injustice ( which is more than what at least the Muslim minority can say ) even in centuries past, and fully discharges its human and democratic duty by giving members of minority communities full citizen's rights and equality before the law, as well as full religious freedom. Hindus should realize that there is no reason at all for them to co-operate in policies that impose on them an inferior status in matters like education, settling in Kashmir, temple management, or marriage rights. Hindus should shake off the mental chains ( nowadays called secularism )that make them tolerate these political and constitutional injustices.
14.7 Targeting a minority"Majority communalism is far worse than minority communalism, for minority communalism can only lead to secessionism, while majority communalism leads to fascism", so some secularists say, citing Nehru as their guide in this vision of things.
It is what the white minority in South Africa has been saying for some time : if we oppress them, it is only oppression, but if they get a chance to oppress us, we will be exterminated. No Indian secularist is known to have come out in support of this reasoning. The comparison with South Africa is fair to this extent that, generally, the problem posed is the same : in how far does democracy (in South Africa called majority rule) have to modified in order to give safety and autonomy to non-territorial sub-units of a nation ? India need not be apologetic about having this problem in common with South Africa: it is one of the main political problems of today's world.
It is a fact that majorities can do a lot more harm to minorities, once they really want to, than the reverse. The Germans never could have taken on the Jews the way they did, if the Jews had formed the majority.
Then again, it is not the number of heads that counts, but the effective power. When as army invades a country, it is mostly outnumbered by the populations it is out to subdue. The Conquistadores who committed the final solution on the native American population of the Caribbean and much of the South American continent, were vastly outnumbered by the population they exterminated. It is not just numbers and military might that count, but also the unscrupled will to go to such an extreme.
Moreover, what is a majority ? In Western Armenia in 1915, the Christian Armenians outnumbered the Muslim Turks. But the Turks on Armenia were not left to themselves, they had a support base in Turkey proper. And they exterminated the Armenians in that area. The same thing, minus the genocide, we have seen in Cyprus: the Turkish minority, claiming oppression by the Greek majority, called in big brother Turkey, and imposed its will (Partition) on the helpless majority.
So, calling the Hindus a majority, is a statement that must be qualified in different respects. They are fragmented. They are outnumbered by the Muslims worldwide. In the Subcontinent, the Muslims already number one third of the population (in 1981 it was 28% and increasing fast). Most of all, the Hindus don't have the ruthless determination to impose their will, of which the Muslims gave proof when they forced Partition on the country.
But going by secularist parlance, and calling the Hindus the majority community, there is still no reason to postulate an imminent re-enactment of the German vs. Jewish story of 1933-45, with the Hindus exterminating the Muslims.
First of all, the relations between the communities concerned are very different in two cases. The Jews had not forced a Partition on Germany. They had no history of Persecuting and massacring the Germans. They were not sending infiltrators from a neighbouring Jewish Republic (they were actually preparing to set up a Jewish state in far-away Palestine). They were not forcibly occupying a piece of German territory. They were not starting riots.
The Jews were blamed for all Germany's problems. The economic crisis was because of : "Jewish capitalists". So was the German defeat in World War I (in which many Jews even outside Germany had in fact supported the German war effort). Decadence was attributed to Jews like Sigmund Freud. The Communist threat was attributed to the Jew Karl Marx (who merely had a Jewish-born, but converted, father).
This does not apply to the Muslims in Hindu perception. Poverty, the defeat against China, the non-victory against the Tamil Tigers, corruption, unemployment, India's poor showing in the Olympics, all these are not blamed on the Muslims. The Muslims are blamed for creating riots (which is at least partly correct), for oppressing and hounding out the Hindus of Bangla Desh, Pakistan and Kashmir, for having inflicted Partition on India (all correct, except that it is done by some rather than by the Muslims, but it is certainly done under the banner of Islam). Then there are some allegations of things that in the short term are not actual problems for the Hindus, such as refusing family planning and a common civil code. But it is absolutely not true that Hindus attribute all their problems to the Muslim hand, the way the Germans (and generally also the Poles and the Russians) used to do with the Jews.
According to M.J. Akbar, : "just as Hitler had given a frustrated Germany a target and that target was the Jew, so through the Ram Janmabhoomi movement, a frustrated country was given a target and that target was the Muslim".280
Before we analyze this comparison, I would like to point out that Mr. Akbar is in absolutely no position to blame anyone for making people into a target the way Hitler did with the Jews. Mr. Akbar is a Muslim, a congressman , and a Nehru worshipper.281 Now, the Muslims are still doing what Hitler did : blaming the Jews for all the problems. So many Muslim or Arad resolutions on any topic include condemnations of the Zionist entity. When someone falls out of favour with a Muslim dictator, he tends to get caught spying for Israel, and hanged. When Khomeini counter-attacked Iraq, he declared his real goal was Israel. When Muslims made a slander film about Rushdie, he was portrayed as a Zionist playboy. Stereotypes about the influence of the Jewish-controlled press282 and the Jewish capitalists, which in Europe count as unpermissible expressions of anti-Semitism, are current in Arab and pro-Arab comments on the Arab-Israeli problem.
And don't try to be clever by making a distinction between Jews and Zionists. In Europe quite a few bomb attacks are committed by anti-Zionist Muslims against Jews, including doctors, schoolchildren and citizens who have no plans of settling in Zion. The Islamic terrorists are not making that distinction, and neither are the Islamic governments who plan to destroy the state of Israel. If Israel will be destroyed, it will be with a chemical or nuclear holocaust killing millions of Jews. And then the Congressmen who have continued Nehru's policy of total support for the anti-Israeli cause, will say :Wir haben das nicht gewusst.283
In fact. Nehru himself fluently went from anti-Zionist to anti-Jewish. This is what he wrote: "In practice the Hindu is certainly not tolerant and is more narrow-minded than almost any person in any other country except the Jew".284 (in practice, Nehru was certainly not tolerant and he was more narrow-minded than almost any other person in any other country except Hitler)
So, before Mr. Akbar starts to elaborate comparisons with Hitler's propaganda of blaming everything on the Jews, he should first of all belongs, are reiterating Hitler's propaganda till today.
Now, in M.J. Akbar's comparison, Jews were made a target for Germans by the Nazis, and Muslims are made a target for Hindus by the Hindutva organization. At one point, which M. J. Akbar does not mention, the comparison is correct: in both cases, the hatred aroused was nothing new, but a centuries-old animosity with stable historical roots.
While Islamic anti-Judaism (or "anti-Semitism") had three causes :
Let us compare this with the Hindu attitude towards the Muslims:
So, these are the suspicions Hindus have against Muslims. It is possible that inflammatory speeches occasionally manage to transform that suspicion into violence. But M.J.Akbar is trying to fool us if he says that it is the BJP/VHP campaign that has created this suspicion and made the Muslims into a targeted group. Firstly, the collective memory of the crimes of Islam is quite established among the Hindu populace, which doesn't need campaigns for knowing about these crimes. Secondly, if there has been a Hindu awaking in recent years, it is not thanks to any campaign, but thanks to reality. It is the stands taken by the Bukharis and Shahabuddins, the plight of the Hindus in Kashmir, Punjab, Bangla Desh, and the endless riots started by Muslim criminals, that has caused the Hindu masses to stop and think. The BJP/VHP have not created the Hindu wave, they are merely riding it.
It is not entirely impossible that the Hindu-Muslim conflict will further escalate and turn India into a giant Lebanon. As Hindus are afflicted more seriously with more Muslim violence, they may start reacting in kind. It is the secularists, like Tavleen Singh and Madhu Limaye,287 who are painting this picture of the near future. While I am 100% sure that Hindus will not start a conflict on that scale, they may join it unreservedly once a minority really gets it going. It is certainly not the Hindu communalists who will create such a situation: they wouldn't know what to do with it, they just don't have the martial character and equipment for it.
14.8 AuthoritarianismIt is alleged that the Hindu movement is against democracy:"For the VHP, Ayodhya is not an end but the means to an end. It has become both the justification and the rallying point for a coldly calculated bid to mobilize support under the banner of recalcitrant, vengeful Hinduism. What it is doing is not to defend Hinduism - the very idea that this is necessary in a country where 85% of the population is Hindu is ludicrous - but to hijack the symbols of Hinduism to serve the political end of creating an authoritarian state".288
There are not too many facts known that could give rise to this allegation. And in fact, I am sure the allegation has not grown out of interpretation of given facts. It has grown out of the slogan fascist! When someone is called fascist, on the basis of whichever aspect of his behavior or thought that the may have in common with historical fascism, the (intended) effect is to associate him with all aspects of fascist thought and behaviour. So, if someone is a fascist because he "singles out a minority for attacks, like Hitler did to the Jews", he thereby also becomes an imperialist, anti- democrat, advocate of violence, genocide-planner, racist, etc. That us the most important reason for the sloganesque allegation of being anti-democratic, which has been levelled against the whole Hindutva movement.
During the Janmabhoomi controversy, the BJP has demanded a referendum. Is this anti-democratic ? It is a shortcut to deciding on the will of the people, cutting through the corrupt horse-trading of the political parties, through the perverse arithmetic of the British constituency-based (first-past-the-post) election system, and through the secularist mental inhibitions of Hindu politicians. As demanded in South Africa, democracy will imply that the majority has the freedom to act as the majority.
Another case of implied anti-democratic bias among the secularists,was all this nonsense of accusing politicians of building vote banks. Well, that is precisely what the democratic game is all about : pleasing the voter. If the secularists are against this (though they support politicians in building Muslim vote banks), then they should say clearly that they are against rule by the voters. They could take the aristocratic line, like Plato, who pointed out that democracy could only be the rule of the vulgar, the uninformed, the people with no vision, because they are the most numerous. They could say: we are elitist, we advocate the imposition of our own principles as a state policy, and we don't want voters to come in our way.
Of course, it is a fact that far-sighted leaders are often unable to rally a majority, and have to give way to demagogues. That is one of the problems of democracy, and those who decry others as anti-democratic are themselves not sufficiently conscious of the inherent imperfections of democracy. They should admit that democracy as we know it is not the final word in government by the people. At any rate, the solution for this distance between principle and popular support has so far been, to consider this as a challenge to the politicians. They have to convince people of the correctness of certain views and policies. So, rather than imposing principled policies on the people, as aristocrats would do, they should endeavor to make the people a party to the principled policies they propose.
So, far, the Hindutva politicians have not anywhere advocated the abolition of the democratic system (as opposed to the communists, who openly advocate the installment of the Dictatorship [of the Proletariat through its Vanguard Party). The BJP stresses that it wants a common law for all and equality for all regardless of religion, things that are considered evident in all democratic countries in the West.
One thing that might be mentioned against the democratic credentials of the Hindutva movement, is that Bal Thackeray, the Shiv Sena leader, has made some naughty remarks about dictatorship. In some interview I read, he was asked what he thought of Subhash Chandra Bose's remark that India needed one year of dictatorship to get on the right track. And he replied with a grin that he fully agreed. But so what? For such remarks, the secularists call Thackeray an unabashed advocate of dictatorship, but they don't do the same thing about Subhash Bose, just mentioned as saying the thing which Thackeray merely confirmed. They don't mention the numerous well-meaning foreign commentators who have opined that India is too vast and complex and backward for democracy to function and to preserve the country's unity.289 Anti-Hindu anti-fascists of Congress obedience, like M.J.Akbar and M.S.Aiyar also tend to gloss over Indira, who actually practiced dictatorship. They all forget to point out that Marxism-Leninism, a strong component of the secularist front, by definition aims at the establishment of dictatorship. And they all forget that the point is not what off-hand remarks Mr. Thackeray makes in casual conversation, but what his party offers as a programme. In the Shiv Sena programme, you do not find any demand for the establishment of dictatorship.
There have been a few incidents of the Shiv Sena using muscle power against opponents. But this again does not prove authoritarian ambitions, unless you add that other parties, who use large-scale muscle and gun power especially at election time, have even stronger ambitions for dictatorship. But the parties I mean have succeeded each other in forming the government at the centre, so they have been in the best possible position to launch dictatorial rule, and yet they stepped down when they lost their majorities. So I don't think their authoritarian thrust is that strong, and the same thing counts for the Shiv Sena.
About the RSS, it has been said that its organizational structure is authoritarian. In an interview, Subramaniam Swamy (an erstwhile Jan Sangh leader, presently Commerce Minister in Chandra Shekhar's cabinet) once said that the RSS could not be called fascist because it did not advocate or organize violence, but that its authoritarian structure as well as its anti-intellectural bias are elements which the RSS has in common with fascism. And the two are related: an anti-intellectual bias inculcated in the rank and file, implies that the leader is doing the thinking for them, and they just obey.
The structure of the RSS is at least partly democratic. The general secretary, or Sarkaryavaha, is elected by the 450 district leaders, who meet twice a year (the Pratinidhi Sabha). The constitution of the central executive (Karyakarini Mandal), with about fifty members, is more intricate, with both elected and nominated members. The really controversial point is that the RSS top man, the Sarsanghchalak, is not elected at all, but appointed by his predecessor, like in a monastic parampara (teacher-pupil lineage.)
I do not know of any statement by any RSS leader in which he advocates the RSS organizational structure as his chosen model for the organization of the state. So, a distinction must be made between the political programme (which the RSS as a self-described cultural organization does not have, but which may be surmised from the programme of the affiliated BJP) and the internal functioning.
We may compare this with the Roman Catholic Church where the pure is elected by bishops who themselves have been hierarchically appointed, not elected. The idea is moreover that it is the Holy Spirit who arranges the election result by inspiring the bishops. So, the Church is not a democracy. Nor is the Jesuit order or any other Catholic order. Nevertheless, it does not follow that the Church, a nonpolitical organization, intends to reshape the secular polity after its own model. And it doesn't follow that Catholic politicians are anti- democratic and planning to impose the organizational model of the Church on the secular polity.
It would only give proof of historical incompetence, if one starts using the typically modern category fascist for those pre-modern and pre-democratic types of organization. In the general polity, everybody s entitled to participation in the decision-making process. But in a private organization, the founders may reserve themselves the right to select candidates for leadership functions on the basis not of popularity but of loyalty to the project which the founders had in mind. They have the right to set up such an undemocratic structure, without being deemed an enemy of the political democracy in society at large. In the Communist Party, they do not allow just anyone to become a member, take part in the decision-making, elect the leadership, and thus perhaps force policies on the party for which it was not created (in which case the party would be helpless against a hostile take-over by a large group who collectively join and claim a majority). There is nothing democratic about the Communist Party, yet it is the communists' democratic right to privately run an undemocratic organization. By being a member of society, you have the right to political participation; but that does not necessarily count for private organizations.
So, an organization can follow a Parampara-system of appointment of the leader without being politically anti- democratic. Nevertheless, the leadership of the RSS is partly elected, though not by the mass of ordinary members, but by a group of people who have already climbed several steps on the RSS leader.
In its actual functioning, it seems there is a stable consensus between the different components of the RSS leadership. A Sunday Mail report states that "the titular head, like the pope, remains infallible as far as far as orders go. Never has a single order of the Sarsanghchalak been questioned till date in the Sangh's history. This is not due to any totalitarian dictate, as the Left would believe, but because the Mandal and the Pratinidhi Sabha are like huge counter weights in a balance checking the powers of both the Sarsanghchalak and the Sarkaryavaha."290 It is therefore not accurate or objective to describe the RSS structure simply as authoritarian, much less as fascist.
Nonetheless, it is still quite possible that a certain follow the leaders spirit prevails in the RSS rank and file, and that independent thinking is not encouraged. I have been told that the late Guruji Golwalkar got angry when he saw people reading papers or books. He would ask : "Don't you have anything more useful to do for the Sangh?" And when you see the total intellectual output of the RSS people, it is not much. Subramaniam Swamy is probably right when he ascribes an anti-intellectual bias to the RSS.
Now, if they would compensate for this near-absence on the intellectual front with great activity on the street violence and terrorist front, then they would be feared and dangerous, and their role would be comparable to the Nazi squads around 1930. But they are not active on the violent front, in the spite of all the propaganda put out by allegation journalists. Several times, dozens of their people got massacred by the Khalistanis: what violence has ensued? Compare with the massacre of Sikhs that Indira's followers committed after Indira's murder : who is a fascist then ? They do not even react in kind when they are violently provoked. It is therefore that they are not getting much respect. The secularists despise people who don't take to violence, like the Tibetans, and they support people who take to terrorism, like the Palestinians.291
If they replaced thought with muscle, then others would be victims of their anti-intellectual bias. But now, it is they themselves who are paying dearly for their refusal to develop an intellectual dimension and to wage the struggle on the ideological front. There they leave the field entirely to the Leftists and secularists. One cannot even say they are on the defensive. Look at the humiliating consequences which their anti-intellectual bias has had on them. Whenever anything happens, they are accused and spit at, by those who are having the entire debating arena to themselves.
In the forties, they opposed Partition, together with the Hindu Mahasabha. Everyone else ended up agreeing to it. Yet, in articles written then and today, you find that they are being accused, without any proof, of "provoking" Partition by "frightening" the Muslims into support for the Muslim League.292 Unbelievable: the only innocent ones are being made the culprits by the united front of culprits. This shows how weak they are: it is always the week who are being blamed293
By contrast, the Communists, who betrayed their compatriots to the British, and who actively worked for Partition, were back on top within a few years, respected and imitated by many other politicians including Jawaharlal Nehru. Why ? Because they had a thought system which was widely broadcast and fashionable, and by which everyone was influenced, so that everyone owed them a certain ideological allegiance. But the Hindutva force were mute cows without an ideology, much less any intellectual or media impact on the general public. Even the millions of refugees from Pakistan, who should have become a reliable popular basis or vote bank, could not be attracted with a political analysis that could pinpoint the causes of their problem and indicate a solution: the Hindutva people had no analysis, merely some emotions and slogans.
During the Emergency, many socialists were left untouched by Indira, while the RSS was made to bear the brunt of the repression. But when the Janata government was formed, the same socialists, who had come to power on the blood and sweat of the RSS workers, demanded that the RSS members of the government choose between their seat and their RSS membership. There was no come out in their defense, no front or committee of intellectuals of expose the utter dishonesty and absurdity of the whole dual membership issue. Everybody thinking was moulded by the Left, and had no affinity or sympathy with RSS thought. Everybody felt some allegiance to socialism and would not go against a socialist demand. And in shame the RSS people were sent into the wilderness.
These events prove at least that the RSS is not at all a fascist movement. Hitler would not have been treated like that, and otherwise he would not have borne it without protest (in fact, having made it into the government, he would never have given it up). But more importantly, these events prove that the RSS is totally absent from the debating arena. Their anti-intellectual bias makes them into a passive object of abuse and ideological vilification. They don't have an intellectual apparatus with which they would be able to put their enemies in their proper places. They also don't have a propaganda apparatus to put forward their viewpoint (which would have been the first priority of any fascist, as of any communist party.) Therefore, they are at the mercy of their enemies. Fascism should be made of sterner stuff.
Even when they got the largest mass movements in Indian history going, the Ram Janmabhoomi campaign, they were not capable of putting the secularist Babarwadis on the defensive. While in the historical Ayodhya debate the secularists had no case at all, still they could get away with depicting the solid Ram Mandir case as distortion of history, myth etc. On the strength of the evidence, the Hindutva leaders should have been capable of instilling a massive confidence in all struggle of truth against falsehood. But no, they resorted to the weaker, anti-intellectual and somewhat dishonorable line that it is faith and not historical evidence that has to decide the issue. And even among their own followers, they did not wage a campaign to inform them about the hard facts of the matter and the larger issues at stake, assuming that the massive Hindus sentiments were enough.294
Sentiments are enough to get a Ram Janmabhoomi movement going, they are perhaps enough to make that one-issue movement succeed, but they are utterly insufficient when it comes to building a long-term movement for the defense and development of Hindu society. A purely physical movement, of which the intellectual dimension is limited to rumours and slogans, cannot realize (in fact, not even formulate) its goals.295 Any movement can only succeed if it has an ideological backbone. So, the point about this unwillingness to develop an intellectual thrust is not that it is fascist : it isn't. The point is that it is a sure formula for not achieving anything in the long run.
14.9. Fascism in India : where is it ?L.K. Advani is described by M.J.Akbar as having "an interesting blend of falsification of history and his own cool and convincing personality".296 What is more: "He and Vajpayee are the careful camouflage of decency' over a nasty, vicious and blood-thirsty movement." Now, I wouldn't dare to say such crass things about a fellow human being, but since Mr. Akbar has said them himself, he will allow me to leave the sentences intact but with himself as the subject : Mr. Akbar has an interesting blend of a convincing personality (he has convinced many that he is an authority on communalism) and shameless falsification of history. Moreover, he is the careful camouflage of decency over a nasty, vicious and blood- thirsty movement.
That M.J.Akbar is a falsifier of history, should be clear from his postulation, in the very same article, of a thousand years of brotherhood and amity between Hindus and Muslims, and "of shared culture, of a shared civilization, a shared vision". In reality, as can Islamic history, Islam in India was "a nasty, vicious and blood-thirsty movements". It is never preached or practiced brotherhood and friendship with the Hindus. It has never shared Hindus society's culture and vision. That one occasion when emperor Akbar ceased persecuting the Hindus, there was a Sirhindi to reprimand him.297 That one occasion when Dara Shikoh translated Hindus writings and considered them the mother of the Book, there was an Aurangzeb to kill him. Islam was out to exterminate the Hindus civilization, as it has exterminated the cultures of Arabia, West and Central Asia.
To this vicious and blood-thirsty movement, M.J.Akbar is giving a camouflage of decency.
If fascism is to erupt in India in the sense of organized attempts at extermination of selected minorities, it will be in the pockets where Hindus are the minority, and it will be Hindus who get singled out for massacre. So far, the massacres in Punjab and Kashmir have not been intended as steps towards extermination, merely as a tactic to scare the Hindus into fleeting, which has worked very well in Kashmir, and has not been entirely without results in Punjab. If this gets really out of hand, Hindus may retaliate with mass-slaughter wherever they can. While the minority separatists have the guns, the enraged Hindus will have the numbers.
So, a mass killing of minority people is not excluded as a possibility. However, it will only take place if minority terrorists first go very far in their violence against Hindus. Unlike the entirely unprovoked Nazi terror against the peaceful Jewish minority, Hindus will attack the minority community only after being very heavily provoked. The entire history of jihad in India, of communal riots, and of the Partition story, corroborates it. When M.J.Akbar compares the riots of 1989-90 with those of 1947, he is mistaken as to the magnitude of the riots, but the may be right in the tacit analogy that in each case (1947, Bhagalpur, Aligarh, Hyderabad) the Hindu violence was merely a reaction to minority violence.
A tendency of fascism taking shape in India exists among the self-proclaimed leaders of a different majority, or pretended majority. There are attempts to forge an anti- Hindu front including all the minorities, the Scheduled Castes and Tribes, and the Other Backward Castes, against the upper-caste Hindus. One of the embodiments of this drive is V.T.Rajshekar's writing, another is Kanshi Ram's Bahujan Samaj Party. These people claim that all the said groups are the big majority (Bahujan) of India, oppressed by the minority of Aryan invaders. They are finding that many of the groups they are claiming as belonging in their anti-Hindu front, are strongly attached to Hinduism. Nevertheless, their ideology claims that the majority is in fact not Hindu, and that this anti-Hindu majority should remove the upper castes from their positions and seize power. And they are quite unabashed about favouring ruthless methods to root out Brahmin rule. Kanshi Ram is on record as saying about the Khalistanis, that he personally doesn't care for Khalistan, but I like their methods.298 V.T.Rajshekar announces: "As the 20 the century comes to an end, the Aryan imperialism must also come to end.... A bloody revolution is in the offing. Don't miss this historic opportunity".299
An earlier anti-Brahmin activist, Ramaswamy Naicker, had said that "we will do with the Brahmins what Hitler did with the Jews". Another slogan of his was: "If you see a snake and a Brahmin, kill the Brahmin first". While the comparison of the German anti-Jewish attitude with the Hindu anti-Muslim attitude doesn't hold in most respects, the comparison with the Dalit (including missionary, Dravidian, Ambedkarite etc.) anti-Brahmin attitude is more exact. Just like the Jews, the Brahmins get depicted as: foreign (Aryan invaders), keeping themselves separate, observing maniacal purity rules, having a large inter-state network employing a common language (Yiddish/Sanskrit), very book-oriented, deceivers, always favouring their own kind, dressed distinctively and ridiculously, cowardly but cunning, rich and keeping the others poor.300 Most of the things the Nazis said about the Jews, are being said by the anti-Brahmin movements about the Brahmins, including that they are a mere minority, and that they have to be shown their place by the majority, and be deprived of the undeserved power they wield.
That may not yet add up to Nazism but when I see the potential for violence in this movement, as well as its increasing self-righteousness, I know where in India a kind of fascism may erupt. But in the near future I don't see this budding fascism catch on among the masses. For that, they are all still too Hindu, not inclined to self- righteous fanaticism.
14.10.Who reads Hitler anyway ?When you are accused of a crime, you are considered innocent until proven guilty. There is one exception :the meta-crime of making false allegations, or slander. When you utter an allegation, you are guilty of slander, while the other party remains innocent. This changes when you furnish proof for your allegation: then the other party is considered guilty and you cease to be a slanderer.
By these standards, all the people who postulate an ideological lineage from Hitler to Advani, are guilty of slander. For, so far I have not seen this oft-repeated allegation substantiated by any evidence whatsoever. For instance, Madhu Kishwar.
In an article with the promising title In defense of our dharma, she writes that the BJP, RSS and VHP "display much greater fascination with Hitler's ideas and campaigns than with the Ramayana or other Hindu religious texts".301 That the ruling secularist dispensation has strongly discouraged the study of Hindu tradition, is a fact of which even the Hindutva movement shows the consequences, and the study of Hindu tradition in Indians schools and other media should be a top priority indeed. But that is not Madhu Kishwar's point. Apart from saying that the Hindutva campaigners are illiterates, she also says that they seek inspiration in Hitler's ideas and campaigns: "Their inspiration comes from Hitler, not from Ram".
Now, this is a statement which can easily be checked. First of all, both the Hindu Mahasabha (1906) and the RSS (1925) came into being before anyone in India knew Hitler. Savarkar's Hindutva (1923) was published three years before Hitler's Mein Kampf. Clearly, the inspiration to organize and defend Hinduism at the political level, does not stem from Hitler, and it did not need any outside impulse.
Secondly, the RSS and the Hindu Mahasabha existed when Hitler came to power. Have they sided with Hitler ? Have they even called on its followers to follow Subhash Bose and join the Axis war effort against the British ? Subhash Bose's title Netaji was just the Hindi equivalent of the German Fuehrer, Hitler's title, and the Italian Duce, Mussolini's title, yet he is not, for that, accused of being Hitlerian. But of course, since the Hindutva people are at the receiving end of all the blame, their non-support to Hitler is being turned against them, as collaboration with the British in 1942 and supported them in 1944, and yet they are accused neither of effectively supporting the Axis nor of collaboration with colonialism. The Communists opposed the British in 1940 (under Stalin's pact with Hitler) and supported them after 1941, yet after independence they have not been branded as collaborators with either fascism or colonialism. They can get away with it, while the Hindu parties are covered with abuse regardless of the stand they take.
The RSS has not glorified Hitler when he was successful in any larger measure than most Indians at that time (the facts of the extermination camps were not known until 1945, and for the rest most Indian were skeptical about the British propaganda). It would not even prove genuine fascist convictions, for many non-fascist leaders outside Europe were very impressed with the material success of Hitler's non-colonial empire, and with his formidable challenge to the colonial powers. Whatever the evil inherent in fascism, what outsiders got to see in the thirties, was that Hitler succeeded where democratic republics failed, and in the early forties, that he captured or threatened the centres of several colonial empires. So many leaders outside Europe, from Argentina's trade-unionist Juan Person to the Multi of Jerusalem, were enthusiastic about the Axis successes. And yet, where is the proof that took inspiration from Hitler, though at the time his name didn't carry the stigma it carries today ?
Hitler applied some general principles in order to achieve success. He strengthened discipline in German society. Just like Indira Gandhi during the Emergency. Just like Mao Tse-tung in China : what little positive achievements are to his credit, follow from the fact that the he could actually enforce his laws whereas the previous regime was hampered by chaos. Hitler didn't invent discipline, it was always a formula for effectiveness, and if the RSS believes in cultivating discipline within its organization (and that merely as a matter of character building, not as a model for running society as a whole), then that is just an application of universal principle, not Hitlerian or fascist. Unless and until Madhu Kishwar comes up with proof that the RSS chose its ideology and methods in express imitation of Hitler (and explains why in spite of such borrowing the differences are so big), she is a slanderer.
Hitler had made it perfectly clear where he stood and what he wanted, in his book Mein Kampf (My Struggle), written years before his take-over. His speeches are also available. So, please point out where Mr. Advani and other Hindu leaders have quoted Hitler. Failing that, apologize for the slander.
Another case of slander is Mani Shankar Aiyar's article The Saffron Swastika.302 Since I don't want to feel like a schoolteacher, I will not bother about the string of mistakes Mr. Aiyar makes about the pre-Nazi German politics and politicians. It is indeed very difficult to write about some distant country without making mistakes. But saying that Gustav Steersman, a true statesman who had nothing to do with majority-baiting or minority appeasement, was "remarkably like Nehru in his commitment to democracy and his opposition to majority communalism", is of course an unabashed declaration of his intention to distort the German situation any which way so as to make it comparable with the Indian situation.
Before we listen to Mr.Aiyar=92s pontification about the Jews in Germany, we should make it clear that here is yet another Nehruvian with an anti-Israeli bias which sometimes comes close to anti-Jewish bias. I have been quoting him enough in this book, so let me rather quote with approval a reply to one of his tirades against Israel: "I was surprised to read in the article A catechism for communalists (July 29) the false information about Israel. Israel is a secular state, and Muslims, Christians and other minorities have the same rights of Jews. Mani Shankar Aiyar mentions the Muslims 'driven out or Israel but nowhere once does he mentions the thousands of Jews killed, massacred and driven out of curious. Arab, where Jews lived as third class citizens and in constant fear. In fact, the largest ethnic group in Israel today consists of refugees from Arab and Muslim lands".303
Now, the comparison with Nazism. It is of course a plain lie, Mr. Aiyar, that Hitler ever campaigned on a platform Appeasement for none, justice for all. it was never the Nazi perception that the Jews were being appeased by the state. It was there perception that the Jews were accumulating wealth and power through violent agitation etc. There was no appeasement issue miles around.
When economic crisis struck, "Hitler blame it all on the Jews. The BJP...blames it all on...our largest minority." This again is simply not true . The economic non-success of India is first of all the handiwork of Soviet-infatuate sleepwalker Jawaharlal Nehru, and more recently things have been made worse by the socialist policies to which most Indian politicians still subscribe (not only V.P.Singh, under whose tenure things suddenly looked critical). But no one is blaming the Muslims for this.
If the Jan Sangh/BJP had been a fascist party, it would have grabbed power long ago, and kept it. Since the fifties, it has had the percentage of votes Hitler had in 1928. The percentage of unemployed youth available for enlistment in Private militias has been continually higher in India than in Germany before Hitler's rise to power. The Jan Sangh formed part of the government in 1977-79: unlike the Nazi party, it did not take the occasion to liquidate democracy altogether.
Mani quotes an apocryphal statement attributed to Hitler by Thomas Mann:"I am not an anti-Semite. It is just very regrettable that the Jews have this unfortunate identification with Marxism". And then he equates this with an imaginary statement which he thinks sums up Advani's views:"I am not an anti-Muslim. It is just very regrettable that the Muslims have this unfortunate identification with Babar and Aurangzeb." Of course, one shouldn't really walk into the trap of replying to Mr. Aiyar's rhetoric. He is a proven liar, and there comparisons are not really meant to inform or to argue a point. They are meant to put Hindus on the defensive and make them waste time on coping with such Hitlerian allegations. Nonetheless, it may be instructive to show up the falsehood to which the secularists have to resort in order to be able to blacken the Hindus.
Firstly, while Mr.Aiyar has yet to prove that Mr. Advani is an anti-Muslim, it is clear enough that Hitler lied when (if ever) he said that he was not an anti-Semite. This is not only clear when one has the benefit of hindsight, it is quite clear when one reads Hitler's own big statement Mein Kampf. Hitler did not cultivate a Jewish following, the way the BJP woos the Muslims and counts two Muslims in its leadership. Even without wooing the Muslims, without organizing minority cells in its party units, and without this rhetoric of Muslims being mohammedi Hindus, the BJP would not be anti- Muslim in any way comparable to Hitler's anti-Jewish stand. The most important ideological difference is that Hitler was against a group of people, the Jewish race, regardless of their behaviour (including their confabulated identification with Marxism); while the Hindutva people are against a particular doctrine and attitude, the anti-Hindu stand of some Muslim leaders, rooted in the anti-Kafir doctrine of Islam. Hitler wanted to exclude the largely well-integrated Jews, while the BJP wants to "draw the minorities (who are kept in the ghetto by their bigoted leaders) into the national mainstream."
Secondly, the Jews' "unfortunate identification with Marxism" is not only a fable, it is also based on the crank racist assumption that Marx remained a Jew even after his father had converted to Protestantism and he himself had become an atheist. By contrast, the Muslims' "unfortunate identification with Babar and Aurangzeb", while never postulated by Advani (except in Mani's slander story), does make sense in the case of a few vocal Muslim leaders, who insist on continuing Babar's and Aurangzeb's occupation of Hindu sacred places even while knowing fully well (in contrast to the common Muslim) that they had built their mosques in Mathura. Varanasi and Ayodhya for the sole reason of terrorizing and humiliating the Kafirs . In that sense, some Muslim leaders are indeed the ideological descendants of Babar and Aurangzeb.
Thirdly, Marx did not invent his theories in the name of Judaism, while Babar and Aurangzeb did commit their crimes in the name of Islam. Marx had no identification with Judaism, while Babar and Aurangzeb had of course a strong identification with Islam. But I repeat that L.K.Advani has never attributed any identification with Babar and Aurangzeb to the Muslim community in India. It is significant that Mr. Aiyar has to make his case on the strength of imaginary statement.
If at all Mr. Aiyar wants to link the use of this term to the politics of the 1930s, he should infer that the BJP, or whoever accuse the secularists of appeasement of Muslim arrogance, attributes to :the " Muslims (i.e. those Muslims that wrest concession by means of threats) the same arrogance that the democracies perceived in the Nazis". Well, the scale is certainly different, but in both cases the democratic forces are indeed dealing with the same phenomenon : the Nazis demanding territory through force, and Muslim fanatics demanding privileges and indeed territory (first Pakistan, now Kashmir) through force.
It is not Hindu society that will bring forth fascism, not even through this Boy Scouts-like unarmed kind of militantism embodied in the RSS. Hindu society just doesn't provide the necessary cultural basis for fascist politics. But Islam has an effective track record akin to that of fascism, with large-scale acquisitions of territory, extermination of unwanted communities ,ruthless oppression and reduction of whole populations to the status of third-class citizens, and most of all, with a similar mind-set : division of humanity into chosen ones, inferior ones and doomed ones, and glorification of war and conquest.
To conclude this chapter about the allegation of Hindu fascism, it deserves mention that most original Western publications dealing with the Hindu Mahasabha, RSS, Jan Sangh or BJP, just don't seem to be aware of the notion that these could be fascist movements305, or they reject the allegation explicitly after closer consideration.306 Objective outsiders are not struck by any traces of fascism in the Hindutva movements, let alone in the general thought current of anti-imperialist Hindu awakening. While one should always be vigilant for traces of totalitarianism in any ideology or movement, the obsession with fascism in the anti-Hindu rhetoric of the secularists is not the product of an analysis of the data, but of their own political compulsions.
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