In­dia is not a Hindu Rash­tra

Pakistan Observer - - EDITORIAL & COMMENTS - Kuldip Na­yar Email:kuldip­na­

tion against the whole fam­ily. They did not even raise their voice in protest. What kind of mes­sage must this have sent to the world about a na­tion which is ca­pa­ble of send­ing a man to the moon, when it is steeped in the ante-delu­vian ideas that con­sider beef-eat­ing as a sin?What sad­dens one is the si­lence of those who claim to be sec­u­lar­ists. Will th­ese same chest-beat­ing sec­u­lar­ists also re­main si­lent if Modi to­mor­row per­mits his for­eign min­is­ter to break ties with Ja­pan be­cause the Ja­panese are fa­mous for pro­duc­ing their fa­mous Kobe beef, which is con­sid­ered one of the world’s great­est del­i­ca­cies? Un­for­tu­nately, the Hin­dutva crowd does not re­al­ize that In­dia is ruled by the con­sti­tu­tion and it is not a Hindu rash­tra. The con­sti­tu­tion gives equal rights to Hin­dus who are 80 per cent and the mi­nori­ties who make up the re­main­ing 20 per cent of pop­u­la­tion. To­gether they con­sti­tute the repub­lic.

Modi was right when he raised the slo­gan, sabka saath, sabka vikas, mean­ing thereby that we shall be all to­gether and ad­vance fur­ther hand in hand. But sub­se­quently he and his party BJP ap­pear to have lost way and to­day, whether they like it or not, their gov­ern­ment has come to rep­re­sent a par­tic­u­lar way of think­ing—an in­tol­er­ant In­dia—which has the over­tones of Hin­dutva. Prob­a­bly, the party’s their think-tank has come to be­lieve that they can win more votes by di­vid­ing the so­ci­ety. With assem­bly elec­tions due in UP early next year, the Ba­jrang Dal has be­gun vi­ti­at­ing the at­mos­phere. They are hold­ing more and more ex­er­cises in dif­fer­ent cities where lathis and other weapons are used.

This is a kind of par­al­lel po­lice force and even UP, where the non-BJP gov­ern­ment is cur­rently in power, there are morn­ing and evening pa­rades of ex­trem­ists to in­struct the young re­cruits in the use of lathis. The same fear of Is­lamic dom­i­na­tion that is be­ing ex­ploited by right wing par­ties in the West is be­ing cun­ningly ma­nip­u­lated in In­dia by the BJP and its al­lies.

We for­get that in the demo­cratic struc­ture we have, every­one is free to eat what­ever he or she likes. Noth­ing can be en­forced. In a vast coun­try like In­dia where food and dress change ev­ery 50 kilo­me­tres, di­ver­sity is in­evitable. In­deed, this is In­dia’s strength. Re­spect­ing di­ver­sity keeps our dif­fer­ent units to­gether in a fed­eral struc­ture which we fol­low. The BJP hard­lin­ers who be­lieve they have come to power be­cause of a fun­da­men­tal shift in na­tional val­ues should think again. There is more than a grain of truth in the ar­gu­ment that vot­ers gave them a chance be­cause they had lost faith in the Congress and were look­ing for an al­ter­na­tive.

The Congress will be fail­ing them if it per­sists with dy­nas­tic pol­i­tics. The party must re­al­ize —if it has not done so far—that Rahul Gandhi does not sell. So­nia Gandhi her­self will be a far bet­ter bet than the other lead­ers so far avail­able in the party. The dis­ad­van­tage of be­ing an Ital­ian has dis­ap­peared over the years and she is con­sid­ered as much an In­dian as any­one by birth.

But prob­lem is that she has very lit­tle chance to head the coun­try be­cause the Congress has lost its shine. No doubt, the BJP has Hin­duised pol­i­tics but that is the dom­i­nant think­ing which has caught the imag­i­na­tion at present, thanks to Modi’s lead­er­ship. This think­ing may not last long since the In­dian na­tion is ba­si­cally plu­ral­is­tic. The BJP it­self seems to be con­scious of this be­cause there is some ev­i­dence that it is mov­ing from the right of the cen­tre to the cen­tre.

The predica­ment that plagues the party is that its cadre comes from the RSS. Maybe, that is the rea­son that there is no scam in the gov­ern­ment. How­ever one may dis­like the RSS ide­ol­ogy, its em­pha­sis on in­tegrity can­not be doubted. Yet, there should be no mis­giv­ing on its in­ter­fer­ence in the gov­er­nance. Even top bu­reau­crats are judged on their prox­im­ity to the Hin­dutva phi­los­o­phy.

Modi him­self was an RSS par­charak (preacher). Even now he is a reg­u­lar vis­i­tor to Nag­pur where he in­ter­acts with the RSS lead­er­ship. Some of the ideas he gath­ers from there are re­flected in the pol­icy which his gov­ern­ment frames. This has torned the fab­ric of na­tion’s sec­u­lar tem­per­a­ment in the coun­try and given rise to ex­trem­ist groups in dif­fer­ent re­gions. I only hope that it is a pass­ing phase. But as long as it lasts the pref­er­ence for sons of the soil will be cast­ing a shadow on the idea of In­dia. This is un­for­tu­nate. I hope that the Prime Min­is­ter will re­think his poli­cies so that the ba­sic struc­ture of the con­sti­tu­tion is no way af­fected. —The writer is a vet­eran In­dian jour­nal­ist, syn­di­cated colum­nist, hu­man rights ac­tivist and au­thor.

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