Novelty of Activism & Its Lack of Imagination

Activism around the world, particularly in India, has been reduced to an ill-defined attitude of unrelenting rage towards a marginally understandable disarray of mass observations. Concise reasoning and rampant objectivity have lost all their valor, as more each day reach for easy numbers and popularized statements of pseudo-revolutionaries instead. Activism today is no less pronounced on novelty since the salt marches by Gandhi. It required showmanship before, and so does it today. The essential difference that stands out, is the evolution of what is to be considered as a novelty and the impact made by a novelty act. In the 1930s, walking through the streets with your own package of homemade salt was an unobserved act by the average public at the time, hence a novelty act, that evoked a significant reaction, or rather successfully delivered a vindicated point to the masses. That was 1930, a time where words were considered more hurtful than sticks or stones, unlike obvious walls of paradoxical emotions today. Words no longer hurt, and violence never did much either. Activism means taking action, and in 1930s words were no different. Today, an action is not recognized by the expenditure of emotional and physical concentration towards a goal, but through its success or failure to grab attention and provide an embarked dictation onto the public. To be an activist, is to mean to succeed, not strive to achieve a vague state of moral fulfillment. Activism is not about donation box revolutions or Facebook profile picture interpretations. It has surpassed the prior historical limitation of the effects of words and preceding concepts, and has divulged into a realm of imaginative states that looks straight to implementing solutions. Activism is no longer an aim to publicize, rather achieve through innovative means. Imagination in today’s age is too precious to waste on designing posters and leaflets, when with all we have today it’s only the lack of imagination that remains as a step between aiming and achieving. Activism is no longer only for masses either, it can and will be championed by the individual as well.  All you need is some imagination. Stop maintaining the drudgery of the political scene by cracking the tired mother-son jokes on Rahul Gandhi as you did when he first arrived on the national scene 9 years ago. You want change, then just imagine it. Anything less, is always your own fault.

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Why I respect the Naxals & support the stone pelters of Kashmir?

Most Indians would have made up their minds to judge the following piece of writing as frivolous, inflammatory and anti-national way before even finishing to read the entire topic sentence, forget analysing the whole article first.  Now prior to getting involved in the arguments of as to what cons equates us Indians into being rash and un-thoughtful in our judgements, I would first like to define the term ‘Nationalism.’ There is a broad selection of definitions relating that to the term of ‘Nationalism’ which vary on levels of complexity, understanding and most of all historical precedence. For our purpose, we will take an explanation that is recognized and understood by the aam aadmi.

“Nationalism is a sense of national consciousness exalting one nation above all others and placing primary emphasis on promotion of its culture and interests as opposed to those of other nations or supranational groups.”

(Source: Merriam-Webster Online Dictionary)

India is a land overrun by hard-line nationalists who were thrown right from the sight of birth into an endless pit of misguided facts, beliefs and an irrational hate for reason that goes beyond the nation, national interest or national prestige.  In a response to my question – “What unites India?” Suhel Seth (TV talking head & Newspaper columnist) replied that it was the idea of Indianness, sadly not the idea of India” that truly unifies the country, its citizens and more necessarily their religions. Based on his language and my understanding, I interpreted Indianness as something that identifies with the brand image of India. For example: the food we eat; the clothes we wear; the way we talk; the way we live; the things we enjoy; etc. The idea of an India is that of a land bound by the amalgamation of its people of all religions, languages and cultures through self-accustomed choices. Going a step further, I came to the premise that it is the threat to this Indianness that hampers an Indian mind and forces it to impede the sight of what is right and is needed to be done, and glances in a more egotistical and self-centred approach of thinking. We Indians are just not able to cope with even the slightest of variations in our accepted standards of authenticated forms of Indianness in our daily being, ranging from the nation’s administrative boundaries to a wrinkle on the national flag and everything in between.  This lack of self-questioning and argumentation against the fundament entities of what is claimed to radiate India, and hence Indianness, has lead to the fuelling of two most violent and scrutinised issues of our homeland which ideally correspond the exposed outlook – the Naxal uprising & the struggle for Kashmir.

On 18th March, 1967, the Siliguri Kishan Sabha, a local Peasants’ Council of a city of West Bengal, announced that it was ready for an armed revolt to redistribute all land controlled by the landlords or jotedars, and end centuries of barbarous exploitation. On 23rd May, a sharecropper Bigul Kisan, near an unheard village of Naxalbari, entered a piece of land with his plough and his ox and was beaten up by the henchmen of the local jotedar over a land dispute. On 24th May, Inspector Sonam Wangdi led a police posse to arrest the peasant leaders. He was ambushed by a group of tribals and was killed in a rain of arrows. The next day, the peasants called a meeting at Prasadjote district in Naxalbari. The version of what precisely unfolded that day differs from person to person, but a total of 11 people died in police firing, including seven women and two children. The events that occurred over the week urged other tribals and lower economic classes to join the movement and stand a chance to regain their ancestral lands from the higher class landlords, a task their government had failed or ignored to execute for scores of years since India gained its independence. The movement got its name from the place, Naxalbari, where the uprising initially began and came to be known as – The Naxal Movement. Over the next 43 years that the Naxal movement has managed to resist extinction, it has made several twists and turns through the medium of addition and subtraction of new and old ambitions and ways of accomplishing them. It is not necessary for us to either agree or disagree with these changes, but to observe the things that have remained constant. The displacement of tribals from their ancestral land, the only alteration being the higher class landlords have been replaced by Multi-National Corporations (MNCs), and the continued ignorance of our government’s stance towards their developmental and social struggles. According to a report published by the Asian Indigenous & Tribal People Network titled ‘The State of India’s Indigenous & Tribal People 2009,’ the Ministry of Tribal Affairs in its Draft National Policy on the Tribals stated that nearly 85.39 lakh tribals have been displaced until 1990 on account of mega developmental projects like dams, mining, industries and conservation of nature etc. Tens of thousands of tribals have been displaced from 1990 onwards without proper rehabilitation; no study has been conducted in regard to displacement and rehabilitation of tribals in the country.

In November 2009, the Indian government initiated Operation Green Hunt – a paramilitary offensive against the Naxal rebels, for which 50,000 troops were dispatched. Since then, close to 650 members of the security forces, nearly a 1000 civilians and about 400 Naxalites have been killed, either through directly or indirectly violence. Majority of public outrage has gone against the government for being unable to curb rising movement, and the Maoists leaders who are seen as terrorists out to capture their motherland under a sheet of authoritarian governance. If you notice here, this is the first instance where I have used the term Maoists, and not Naxalites. The reason I did so, is to identify a crucial difference. A tribal or a lower class member who initially joined the movement in his or her own right, after being repetitively left thwarted and aggravated by the government, to regain some form of self-determination for the sole purpose of earning back lost ownership of one’s property or estate, a stable livelihood or ones and one’s loved ones security can be termed as a Naxal. Whereas, an individual who preferable joined the movement to fight against the forces of a claimed failed state for the sole purpose of capturing sovereignty over the region and establishing a distinct classification of governance based on the principles and dynamics of Maoism can be termed as a Maoist. The issue of whether to viciously eliminate all Maoists is an action up for debate, but the task of killing deprived citizens of India who have been forced to the path of violence after consistent negligence of the administration towards their troubles cannot be justified through any logic, facts or reason. Any personal who till now is known to have raised such or similar focal points in the realms of the Indian society, governance or bureaucracy, has been harshly criticized by both the diluted public and the political forces of our nation. In most cases, such as of (Writer & Activist) Arundhati Roy, individuals have been branded as Maoist sympathisers or worse as an enemy of the state, when in fact the only act they can be found guilty of is preserving human life and upholding the principles of morality which include the acts of accepting ones responsibilities and failures. Submission to failures is an act that nationalism backs to be resisted, even at the price of hindering the truth. The threat of erosion and dismemberment of the current Indian political system, which structures out to be an integral part of brand India, has disarrayed ourselves into performing acts of mass killings in the name of callous justice, so just as to protect the tag of Indianness attached to our nation in the name of nationalism.

The duty of an ideal citizen is to obey the rules of law and to honour the constitution, while the obligation of a parliamentary government is to implement the same constitution to the fullest of its abilities and to keep a check on the interests of its citizens. Both the Indian government and the Maoist leaders are a part of the same hypocrisy. The government kills its citizens in the name of defending the nation, while the Maoists kill the powerless in the name of a class struggle against the power hungry.  The only victims that remain are the ones that lie in between – the deprived citizens-come-Naxals and the aam aadmi.

Before laying the case for rightful assertion of support to the stone-pelters of Kashmir, I would foremost like to provide a snippet on the history of pre-disputed Jammu and Kashmir.

Jammu and Kashmir came into being as a single political and geographical entity following the Treaty of Amritsar between the British Government and Gulab singh signed on March 16, 1846. The Treaty handed over the control of the Kashmir State to the Dogra ruler of Jammu who had earlier annexed Ladakh. Thus a new State comprising three distinct religions of Jammu, Kashmir and Ladakh was formed with Maharaja Gulab Singh as its founder ruler. The feudal dispensation in the State, however, was too harsh for the people to live under and towards the end of a hundred years of this rule when their Indian brethren were fighting for independence from the British under the inspiring leadership of Mahatma Gandhi and Pandit Jawahar Lal Nehru, the Kashmiris led by a towering personality, the Sher-I-Kashmir Sheikh Mohammad Abdullah, rose against the autocracy. The autocratic rule came down heavily on the people’s freedom movement.

(Source: The Official Website of Jammu and Kashmir Government)

In the aftermath of Partition, the princely states of India, which had been left by the Indian Independence Act 1947, passed by the exiling British Empire, to choose whether to accede to the dominion of Union of India or the new dominion of Pakistan or to remain outside them as an sovereign independent state. The same proposal of choices was made to the then Maharahaja of Jammu and Kashmir Hari Singh, a man against whom a movement of fierce discontent and rebellion had by now reached the zenith of sustainability. Yet, when such a preference was being presented to Hari Singh, neither the Indian National Congress nor the Muslims League raised any objections. Both the interest parties were locked in a battle of nationalists, with each wanting to acquire as much sovereignty over a land as they could, for the desire of structuring a nation on the standards of democracy.  It can be argued that it was the dire suspicion of each other that forced them to overlook and shelter the self believed greater good, but it cannot be deprived of the truth that the right to choose a good which would alter the lives of people for the better or worse could only be made by either the people themselves or leaders backed by popular support. The issue essentially became complicated when Hari Singh opted to establish an authoritarian regime of his own, instead of acceding to any dominion. Hence, this lead to the balkanisation of public opinions into three major groups – pro-Indian, pro-Pakistani and the least heard pro-Kashmiri, which would fuel the dispute over the coming generations.

In the autumn of 1947, an army of armed Pathans, tribesmen from Pakistan’s North-West Frontier Province, marched into Srinagar with the solitary intention of freeing their Muslims brothers from the shackles of a pro-Hindu imperialistic rule. Then on 26th October, 1947, Hari executed the Instrument of Accession, a legal document that settled the question of the accession of the Jammu and Kashmir princely state to dominion of Union of India in exchange for help to overcome the Pathan invasion. India refused to come to his aid unless he acceded to India, irrespective of whether Hari Singh’s action represented the desires of the majority of Kashmiris. Thus, the preceding action triggered the first Indo-Pakistan war, merely months before after their newly established independence. After a yearlong bloodshed over the disputed territory, India moved the case to the UN Security Council which order an immediate ceasefire between the two now rival nations, and proposed to monitor the conflict of Kashmir.  On 21th April, 1948, UN Security Council passed Resolution 47, which asked of Pakistan to evacuate its army from the territory of Jammu and Kashmir and prevented it from including itself in the territory’s politics. According to the resolution, India would retain a minimum military presence in the region and was asked to hold an impartial plebiscite, to express the opinions of the general public, on the foundations of which a final resolution to end the dispute could be made. At the time, both governments agreed to the resolution, but Pakistan failed to withdraw its troops off Kashmiri soil. In consequence, Pakistan violated the conditions for holding a plebiscite. Ever since, several organizations, institutions and nations have tried to intermediate a solution to this endless dispute, but all have been forced to shake their heads in agony of disappointment as both the India and Pakistan restrict to budge from their inconsiderate stands. Much like the issue of the tribals and the Naxals, not largely has changed for the people of Kashmir whose voices still go vary and unnoticed in the backdrop of a Pakistani administered propaganda.

Since the first rebellion in 1989, the death toll in Kashmir has closed in to 47,000, and this is a government figure which many Non-Government Organizations (NGOs) have often contested and claim the actual figure to be twice the accepted size. Up to 20,000 civilians have been estimated killed during the turmoil, and more than 10,000 labelled as disappeared. In this war of nationalists, the only winner seems to be death and the biggest victims appear to be the people of Kashmir.  The common man or aam aadmi of Kashmir has been pulled into a vicious cycle of murders, assassinations and explosions; a cycle which is claimed to be the decider of all his outstanding concerns, but neglects to include his words, opinions or beliefs. Today in Indian mass culture, Kashmir is seen upon as a rightful assertion of Indian power and ownership, and Pakistan as a contender to this title. Kashmir has become a proxy war between the two nations, which fails to find a solution on the tables of dialogues. A crucial question that arises from the preceding statement is of knowing as to why India chooses to open a new chapter of dialogue with Pakistani forces each year to resolve an issue that doesn’t concern them, or less can be resolved through a more productive dialogue with the people of Kashmir? The issue of Kashmir has been marginalised by popular disbeliefs and egoistic standings into an issue between India and Pakistan, rather than the obvious truth of an issue of the people of Kashmir with both India and Pakistan. Every outrage or differential opinion that originates in Kashmir which goes against India or its mass accepted beliefs is labelled as Pakistan or separatist power sponsored. Kashmir has become a mere commodity of ownership for Indians, and more essentially a momentous part of Indianness and nationalist prestige. A more humane approach that fluctuates from the general mass philosophy to the issue is dismembered and ridiculed as a separatist roar or a traitor-ish tone against the nation.  After two distinct picks of means by adjacent generations of Kashmiris, starting off with a fight for votes and then fallings into the arms of guns and violence, a new generation has picked up stones and the advancements of protests to make their voices be heard and their dreams of independence from Indian chauvinism and nationalist ignorance, to their troubles and problems, be seen and felt. Individuals of all age groups, may they be 8 year old infants or 90 year old experienced heavyweights, and sexes have come together to join the movement which has risen to be called as – The Stone-Pelters Movement of Kashmir.

In the not so distant past, Arundhati Roy made a deceleration that – “Kashmir needs freedom from India.” In a counter-response to her statements, BJP spokesperson Prakash Javadekar said that her remarks are “against national spirit and nationalism,” and that “she is attacking the integrity of the country” which “is nothing short of sedition.” Contextualising further from her declaration, I have conclude that it is not India from which Kashmir requires freedom, but the thought of Indianness, as demonstrated by the BJP.  In 1951, a popularly elected Constituent Assembly, led by Sheikh Abdullah, unanimously ratified the accession of Kashmir to India in trade for a promise of running a more autonomous administration in, and for issues relating, to Kashmir. He was later to be arrested on 8th August, 1953, and imprisoned for 11 years only to be replaced by, son of the tyrant ex-Maharaja of Jammu and Kashmir Hari Singh, Karan Singh. Hence, India chose prestige over peace.

In the end, to capsulate the entire subject matter, it can be duly advocated that India and Indians are required to step out of the shadows of an -“India is always right, and always the best” mind-set and see the world for what it is, not what it should be. And, instead of striving to project and impose the philosophy of Indianness, we should endeavour to configure and oblige to a better idea of an India. The world is bursting of colours beyond orange, white and green.

I would like to finish with two quotes from the greatest minds of our time:

“Nationalism is an infantile disease. It is the measles of mankind.”

–          Albert Einstein

“…Where the clear stream of reason
has not lost its way into the dreary
desert sand of dead habit…
let my country awake.”

–           Rabindranath Tagore (Geetanjali)

The Idea of an India: My INDIA

India :

A theoretical aspiration for the foreseen potential where individuals are harmonized  in thought, belief and social structure that revolves around the sight and persistence of an argumentatively sustained and publically advocated holistic good that encompasses every aspect of human nature, belief, action and historical precedence.

The preceding statement is my personal embodiment for an idea of an India. Here the term India stands for more than the less significant or closed minded appeal for the unification of the people of a particular fraction of land and their amalgamation into a singular national identity. India is, and should be, more than just the amalgamation of religions or a secular attitude towards distinct cultures or persistence on the basis of menial commonalities. We need to break free off this historical myth that India is the land of religions, and fathom a new and more effective ethos than just slumbering in the soothing comfort of a belief in a common god. India was initially established as a social experiment by our past greats in order to see how far the elusive dream of a hormonal peace can actually be contextualized. Generations later, this quenching thirst for an unprecedented accumulation of hearts, souls and minds has been disarrayed into minor glorifications and propounded national ego. We are no longer that social experiment whose success startled the western world; instead we have been reduced as a major cogwheel in the very same system of gods and gold that initially we went out to disprove.

Our golden bird never left us at stray; it was us who allowed it to be ceased in dismay. That old bird cannot be reiterated, but a new one can for surely be ignited.

Think beyond our religion; beyond our economy; beyond our people.

Think beyond India, for an idea of an India.

What is justification?: A hypothesis on the justified world.

Justification is a term which on initial perception or audition is construed to be as a tool towards validation or vindication of one’s argument pertaining to an issue or subject or matter of individual or group concern.  Any argument, whether intellectual or comical, is articulated according to precedence or a belief that has been constantly maintained in awareness through the exploitations of two central questions – What is to be held as justified? And by whom or, more appropriately, by how many it is held?  Each form or type or method of justification is based on the roots of three main sources of empowerment through impartment – History, Religion and Intuition, with each varying on levels of societal value, effectiveness and sustainability. This trinity of justifiable opinions and actions, all carry altering impressions towards what an individual, or a community, holds to lead towards a happy or at least a satisfied living. This is a mean which I have always presumed to be self-contradictory and derogatory. How can an interpretation of human satisfaction from the past or fiction or sense, which has to be assumed by a majority, dictate the devise of happiness for the present if time, space and human behaviour are all believed to be erratic factors? Hence, taking into consideration the manners of justification, or claimed justification, and initiatives of happiness, claimed happiness, that persist in our social world today, I have come to conceive a simple thought. Justification in itself is not justified; notions of contemporary individual satisfaction are a prerequisite.

 

Every justification is premised on a principle difference of what is to be held as right or wrong.  In order to thoroughly elucidate my stand and comprehend the fundament deficient in our, recent or past, methods of justification I must first hypothesize as to what is right. However, in order to perceive the right, I shall foremost have to classify the assorted alleged rights that bear to exist in our world, and derive the core facet of a satisfied human living which maintains the key to a utopian or most feasible ideal right. The sense or knowing of virtue or morality is deemed on three pillars – History, Religion and Intuition.  Here intuition includes the self-inflicted emotional or physical gratifications or dismay that may be caused by the consequences of supporting or patronising an action or opinion and the intellectual self-argumentation that a person manoeuvres a thought in the course of formulising it as a personal belief. And so, intuition is being regarded as a thought provoked by sense. History and religion even though are two distinct entities; certain sects of spiritually active individuals hold them to be two parts of a whole. For this reason, I shall delineate each form of the possible combinations. For an individual who holds history to be the guiding factor towards morality, will believe in that opinion or action to be right which holds a populist precedence, and which is maintained to be as a verified and authenticated fact of occurrence by the guardians of past. An individual who maintains religion to be his or her guiding authority towards a moral compass, will retain that to be right which all is claimed or prophesied to be, by their respective  prophets or champions of the faith,  within the sphere of what shall generate prospects for both their mortal and after life. An  individual who moderates in-between the two and perceives religion as the beginning and history its continuation, will mediate his or her beliefs in what his or her faith gathers to be most indispensable and what time has come to make as being essential towards  preserving a healthy ethnical  being. And at last an individual who holds his or her inner indications or conscious, which have no substantial explanations, to be the director of a right which in no aspects interferes or rather encourages a state of tranquil and proportionate mental and physical being. Within the realms of each particular outlook of morality and ethics, there are many existing commonalities. In the democratic sense, which is the prevailing sense of our times, right is what the majority holds to believe in and advocate towards a more physically and emotionally rewarding prolonged life, and possible afterlife. The commonalties between the heterogeneous rights have been the vital basis for the unification and imagination of a democratically structured and chosen collective right.

 

All the pivotal rights that I deemed to classify overlook the zenith of a true justification, which is the necessity for a confirmation and certification of an act or belief by a higher authority or a being in touch with the mystic greater truth that eludes mankind. In every instant of time, there have been several mystics or holy men and women who claim to be in a state of osmosis with such an evading legitimacy, but none have provided more than words on paper or through vocabulary to legitimise their eloquence. Their inability has forever nourished the eternal human mechanical reaction of questioning one’s existence in an attempt of solidifying it. Why should an individual believe what another claims to be a reality that only he or she can foresee? Hence, I believe if none attain the gift to corroborate their facts, then they are nothing more than an opinion of mine. The rights induced from religion, history and intuition all enclose the equivalent deficiencies. An act or opinion justified in the forgone past by another individual does not legitimise the infinite acts or opinions held in the present, unlike the position that history has from eternity preserved. An act or opinion justified by a considered prophet or champion of faith who says to be in direct exchange with a higher metaphysical entity lacks the same virtues of authentication, and consequentially cannot be asserted as a proof of a superior norm of right. An act or opinion justified on the foundation of an individual’s emotional or physical reactions towards an issue or entity is similarly redundant as it lacks hard evidence that can be comprehended by the human psyche. Hence, religion, history or intuition, with a motive of their existence alone, cannot be the grounds for a foundation of a healthy and satisfied human existence. All exemplified entities are variable to human thought and existence, and have undergone countless measures of retraction and restatement with the coming of a newer age at several locations of time.

 

If history, religion or intuition is not to be the firm centre of a content living or society, then what ought to be? An aspect that lies in common within all forms or types or avocations of right is happiness. Instead of formulising what happiness is for a human being through the utilisation of past preferences or the words of a believed holy person or book or natural human inclinations, why not consider the choices of the contemporary strand of beings? I consider every form of happiness to be in a direct or indirect relation with an individual freedom to act and think. In order to corroborate this derived elemental facet of a content human living, I must beforehand develop its meaning in union to the three types of individuals. There being individuals based on emotions, on desires and on reason. For an individual who believes that happiness lies in a kinship or camaraderie, will require the freedom to feel and perform on behalf of their sustenance and well being. An individual who holds desires of whether power, wealth or lust as a corridor towards happiness, shall require the luxury of acting in an attempt for their attainment. An individual who believes knowledge to be the ultimate director towards a fulfilled being, shall need the freedom to question anything or everything in order to departmentalise facts concerning towards finding a larger whole. Individual freedom is crucial to ease all outlines of individuals, and therefore should be the foremost governing ingredient towards the innovation of a right.

 

Distinct individual freedoms are bound to clash for overlapping wishes for bringing ease to their respective disgruntled lives. For a prosperous shared right to be conventionalised, all individuals must be either persuaded by reason, influence or force into a state of occupation within the realms of a common good that is considerate to each variety of individual interests. Violence and non-violence are two opposing elements which can both be exploited towards reaching a same end. The end I derived is of society caring towards individual freedoms within the rule of a common good. This rule can either be attained through the means of physical harm or mental and societal torment.   Violence has always remained a tool towards attaining one’s personal craving and trumping any other wistful contenders. Non violence is no different to violence in apart from replacing physical harm with mental and societal torment towards reaching a conditioned end. A struggle being non-violent cannot be the sole reason as of which an individual’s or a group of individuals need is to be respected and adjusted within the restrictions of a common goal oriented democratic community. The aspect of harm being done to separate individual freedoms and facets of a satisfied living are also to be contemplated. Why use violence or non violence to invent a society which holds individual freedoms at the apex of its provisions? In every community or group of individuals, there is always a minute fraction of beings whose desires are to remain unbound by the confines of a common good and the welfare of a community. These persons of unbound wants cannot be persuaded to see the prospects of living in such a mutual harmony based democratic community, and consequently require something more far effective or coercive to carry them under the observant eye of such a condition of being in order to restrict their personal freedom from conflicting with any other’s. The use or effect of this deployment of violence or non violence can also only be measured in deference to effects on individual freedoms, as they are the only portions that can truly be verified.

 

Individual freedom is the most achievable ideal form of measure for right, and subsequently justification, as being the only variable in a system of equations designed around human satisfaction that actually can be verified. However, the implementation of such a standard of right requires the extremes of time, resources and labour which not all of the varied human societies possess. I believe there to be three major standards of implementation that have always seemed to exist at varied points of time. The first standard of right is of the established, where a community abides by the most fine print of a collectedly decided upon rule or law by its citizens. They are able do so since they comprise the requisite resources, public support and social harmony needed for such an elaborate human organization to functions proficiently. The second or inferior standard of right is of the establishing, where a community abides by the most crucial and fundamental aspects of right while disregarding the less imperative fine print. In such a community, the citizens either do not withhold the necessary resources or lack social harmony or mass public support to enforce the rules or laws of such a superlative right to the finest extent of its capabilities. For this reason, they rely on the most crucial aspects of supervision. And last and the least preferable standard of right is of the nearly non-existent, where the citizens are preoccupied by far more severe and dire needs of attention like nourishment, shelter, etc to bare a snag to their minds about instituting a collective interest directed module of rules or laws. Such a community is troubled by wars, famine and balkanisation of individual views or outlooks which curb them from imagining a collective strain of thought or voice. Like the distinct individuals of a mutually concerned community, these three varying standards of an identical society need to develop a vision towards the integration of universal, societal and individual interests in order to prolong a healthy running planet and function as a singular organism aiming towards an objective or goal.

 

In the end, to capsulate the entire matter of distress, we human beings have failed to provide individual freedom with the obligatory extent of our concentration while configuring the right and justified, by outwardly replacing it with conjectures of history, religion or intuition. A satisfied individual is less likely to disrupt the harmonized prospering bond of a cooperative social entity, and hence not hamper advancement and progress from taking place.  Like any other proposition of a society, this society also lays vulnerable to the variations of time, space and human behaviour. Nevertheless, it is apt for the present based upon the existing variables harboured from modifications and alterations.

Hindutva: Influences & Effects on the Liberal Secular Democracy of India

This article examines the exponential growth of Hindutva politics in the liberal secular democracy of India. The success of the Hindutva lies in the failure of the liberal secularist institutions who have discarded their founding principles for power tugging politics. Hindutva is not a response to pseudo-secularism; it is a response to the concept of secularism which is viewed as a threat to the organic functioning of the Hindu motherland by Hindu nationalists who aspire to revive the glorious Hindu past. For these intentions they desire to mobilize public outrage pertaining to issues regarding sexuality, masculinity and accurate historical interpretation against the so called foreign invaders who illegitimately seem to exist in India, mainly the Muslims community. In India, this cause is being championed by the RSS and the Sangh Parivar who act as its sole campaigners and custodians.

Hindutva is a term used to describe movements advocating Hindu nationalism. The term Hindutva was coined by Vinayak Damodar Savarkar, the leader of a supremacist Hindu group known as the Akhil Bharat Hindu Mahasabha, in his 1923 book entitled Hindutva: Who is a Hindu? In his book, Sarvarkar exhibits that the Indian national identity is personified in the Hindu culture, which amalgamates not only Hinduism as a religion but also a language, Sanskrit and its main vernacular derivative, Hindi, the worship of Hindustan (“Land of Hindus,” it primarily refers to the Republic of India) as a sacred land and the Hindu sect. He produced the motto “Hindu, Hindi, Hindustan!” Savarker also insisted on the necessity of the religious minorities in India to pledge allegiance to the dominant Hindu identity and to hold back the demonstrations of their beliefs within the realms of the private sphere. One of Savarkar’s admirers and a fellow Hindu Mahasabha member, Keshas Baliram Hedgewar, inspired by the ideological attitude of Hindutva, formed the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS; National Volunteers Organization) in 1925, which in the coming period of time would become the sole custodian and campaigner for the cause of Hindutva in India. After Sarvarker, Hedgewar as the first Sarsanghachalak (supreme leader) of the RSS and his successor, M.S. Golwalker, took on the priority of reframing the Hindus and the Hindu society according to the fundaments of Hindutva, and further contextualizing the impression of Hindutva from a mere conception to a way of life. This precedence lead to the creation of a range of RSS affiliates such as the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP; Indian People’s Party), the Vishva Hindu Parishad (VHP; World Hindu Council) and various other institutions which would all combine under an umbrella organization called the Sangh Parivar (Family of Associations). It has been argued over the past, and is still in the present, that the RSS acts as the shadow-head of the Sangh Parivar, a claim which the RSS rigorously denies in order to sustain the homogenous characteristic of the Sangh Parivar which is vital to its purpose, as the Sangh Parivar acts as a metaphor for the horizontal unification of the Hindus in the country.

Now with a base laid down, we shall pursue the teachings of Hindutva in detail. In the very first RSS text, We or Our Nation Defined (1939) by M.S. Golwalker, Golwalker proposed, echoing Savarkar’s view, that the Hindu nation is composed of five essential components: the Hindu Race, the Hindu Territory, the Hindu culture, the Hindu Religion and the Hindu Language. He claimed that each component acted as a division of an organic society to emphasize the interdependence of all its members and to suggest the necessity of a single political system. He gave emphasis to understanding the Hindu territory in its symbolic dimension as a Goddess or Divine Mother. The borders of the Motherland differ from text to text, from period to period; the current standard of acceptance includes all of South Asia. In Golwlaker’s logic, Hindu nationalists have the right to determine the fate of non-citizens and their symbols on the Hindu territory. In his view, a social body functions well only when its individuals perform their economic, social and religious duties (Dharma). Golwalker also applied the supplementary notion that no individual can be branded as a true Hindu, unless he or she competently embraces the Hindu identity through the accurate practice of dharma. He proclaimed that the Hindu social body was weak and disorganized because dharma was neither clearly understood nor correctly observed. On the basis of preceding motif, Golwalker and other RSS theoreticians, hold blame, which persists into the present, on the foreign forces which had illegitimately entered into India – mainly the Christians, the Muslims and the British, for the disintegration of the Hindu society.

Hindu nationalists, disregarding the universal understanding of time, reproduce time in a twofold division based on the pretences of Hindutva– Satyuga (the Golden Age) and Kaliyuga (the Age of Decline).  The Satyuga period coincides with the rise of the contemporary Hindu culture and living, where as the Kaliyuga period transitions with the degradation of Hindu society during the domination of foreign invaders – the Muslims and the British. Both the terms, Satyuga and Kaliyuga, were borrowed from the understandings of Brahmanism (one of the types of Hinduism) in order to disguise the imprint of the British framework on the Hindu nationalist periodization, and as well as to authenticate the Hindutva understanding for the non-politicized Hindus. Indian Historians have countered this obsession of Hindu nationalist on stressing historical Islamic brutality by rendering several visible heterogeneous Islamic regimes that existed in India, especially the most peaceful ones. Another essential aspect, to Hindutva, taken from the British is that of masculinity and sexuality. Hindu nationalist consider the Hindu race to be the “martial race,” initially termed by the British to classify the colonial Brahmin army and civil service, which is superior is every facet, should it be physical strength, military preparedness or leadership capability, to the unsophisticated and barbaric identity of the Muslims. According to Hindutva, the Muslim men are portrayed as highly primitive and nymphomaniac individuals who are out to claim the moral chaste of the elegant and composed Hindu women and by extension to the Hindu territory signified as a chaste Mother goddess. In contrast, the Hindu men are presented as weak punitive beings who have failed to protect the honour of their Motherland and its women, and hence can only retrieve their pride though the power of Hindutva.

 

History is a vital asset to the cause of Hindutva as it forms the corner stone for the need of restoration of the righteous Hindu past. In view of the fact that history contradicts with what Hindu nationalists have to say, Hindu nationalists have taken up the task of rewriting Indian history, and reinvesting memory, by making selective use of notions drawn from colonial discourse and practice such as the eternalness of Hindu-Muslim conflict. During the BJP-led coalition government (1998-2004), the BJP, political wing of the RSS, in order to appease the RSS and drive the forces of Hindutva changed text books and courses in schools and colleges to emphasize the glories of Hinduism. The BJP initiative of rewriting history was lead by the Minister of Human Resources and Development Murli Manohar Joshi. One of the main acts of Joshi was to reconstitute the Indian Council of Historical Research (ICHR), filling it with Sangh sympathisers. The council was required to review and suppress documentations from the national archives for years running up to 1947. Most of the documentations suppressed were mainly statements made by the Hindu nationalists indicating their reluctance towards support to the freedom movement lead by the Indian National Congress against the British – a part of the historical record that might undermine the Sangh’s patriotic credentials. New revised texts were released that emphasized on the widespread destruction committed by Muslim rulers who were illustrated as foreign intruders, but omitting atrocities committed by Hindu rulers. The texts also carried an altered verdict on the Indo-Aryans (one of the earliest settlers in India) who were represented as original Indians and that their Vedic culture (traditional Hindu culture) was entirely indigenous to India, a claim strongly contested by most scholars.

 

Golwalker believed democracy, capitalism and socialism to be failed western concepts to improve the human condition. Another prominent Hindutva advocate Deendayal Upadhyaya felt that centralization of power, economic and politics is implied in both socialism and capitalism which would stall the progress and satisfaction of inner peace, an essential ingredient for embracement of the Hindu identity as per guidance of Hindutva. This sort of outlook towards the economy and the market lead towards the conception of the idea of Swadeshi or Indian capitalism, which along with the principle of decentralisation formed the foundation for Hindutva economic policies. The spirit of Swadeshi is intended to prevent the Hindu nation from becoming unnecessarily dependent on foreign capital and avoidance of conspicuous consumption. The Hindu nationalists are in opposition to Indians acquiring a technical fetish for foreign machinery, in its place they wish to focus the nation’s attention on attaining the technology and capital required for the industrialization of villages or rural India. Swadeshi policy is seen as prerequisite by the Hindutva forces for the preservation of the Hindu culture against the evils of globalisation, which is observed as a threat to the nation’s sovereignty and self respect by the dominance of MNCs. During the 1980s, under the command of Rajiv Gandhi, the then Prime Minister of India, the Indian National Congress initiated a major drive for the liberalization of the Indian markets from the “Licence Raj” (a term coined around the governmental restriction for MNCs in India) .This meant dismantling of the public sector and heavy imports in terms of foreign technology and capital as well as technological co-operation and joint ventures with foreign firms. The Congress also contented for relaxations in foreign economic policies and government taxation of the MNCs, which was highly criticized by the RSS who envisioned it as a monetary invasion of foreign goods. In protest the RSS published a pamphlet listing the brand names of 326 foreign products and mentioned an alternative Indian product which could be used instead. The document was highlighted by major contradictions which at one end argued India had been reduced to the state of beggars through the rape of Indian resources by the MNCs, while at the same time proclaiming that India had all the necessary available resources required to transform itself into a super power. The entire incident focused attention on the double stance of the RSS and its affiliates, mainly the BJP, who was initially pro-liberalization.

Ever since Hindutva first laid its steps towards entry into mainstream Indian politics, it has been argued that its chief contender in India is the Indian constitution itself, which safeguards the rights and interests of the minorities who are entitled citizens of the nation. This is a false belief in view of the facts that the Indian constitution, instead of being used as a prime weapon against the polarizing tactics of Hindutva, is the main symbol of triumph and prolongation of anti-secular politics in India, which have existed ever since the birth of the constitution on 26th January, 1950. The term secularism has a wide variety of definitions and implication which differ on a scale of equality and equal opportunities of an individual in a society. Taking the most minimalist scale of vindication of the term secularism it can be observed that the Indian constitution has failed even to full fill the most basic requirements of equal treatment of all religions and religious communities, through the provocation of four principle flaws.

The first principle flaw of the constitution being – Article 1. Name and territory of the Union (1) India, that is Bharat, shall be a Union of States. The naming of India as Bharat reflects the influence of the Hindutva-minded sections of the constituent assembly who wanted the name to reflect the primordial glorious Hindu past, previous to the invasions of foreign intruders who disrupted its being. The fact that the word Bharat is not used again through the entire text points to the huge amount of symbolism involved. The name “Bharat” is derived from the name of the legendary king Bharata in Hindu mythology, the term is commonly used by passionate Hindus. The name was adopted in August 1949 after a Hindu sanyasin (woman who has devoted her life to the ways of Hinduism) went on a fast which she threatened to continue until her demands were to be fulfilled, namely adoption of the Hindi language as the national language and that India should be renamed Bharat.  The exercise of the word “Union” in the opening article instead of “Federation” is also questionable.  During the cabinet sessions before independence, it was decided upon that the constitution would provide significant powers to the state and keep a weak central in the sight of protecting minority rights. But soon after the partition and formation of a separate Pakistan for the Muslims, the Congress backtracked for a strong center instead, in spite of still existing minorities in the nation including a respectable numbers of Muslims and Sikhs, among other different smaller communities.

The second flaw present in the Indian constitution is – Article 25.(2) (b) providing for social welfare and reform or the throwing open of Hindu religious institutions of a public character to all classes and sections of Hindus Explanation I The wearing and carrying of kirpans shall be deemed to be included in the profession of the Sikh religion Explanation II In sub clause (b) of clause reference to Hindus shall be construed as including a reference to persons professing the Sikh, Jaina or Buddhist religion, and the reference to Hindu religious institutions shall be construed accordingly. Article 25 (2) (b) fundamentally undermines the secular character of state in favour of the Hindus. The state shows a particular interest in the restoration and maintenance of the places of worship of a specific religion only, in this case Hinduism. This highly contradicts the state’s secular position as it is only concerned about the welfare of one religion, while ignoring others. The article in addition goes on to classify individuals practising the faith of Sikhism, Jainism and Buddhism as a subset of Hinduism. The constitution includes anyone in the definition of a Hindu who is not a Muslim, Christian, Parsi or Jew. This clause was incorporated, and still remains, in the constitution in the mist of heavy opposition by the Sikh, Jain and Buddhist community, both before and after its addition. This can be clearly viewed as a legal move by the state of forming an organic and homogenous Hindu identity, as which the Hindutva forces aspire to achieve.

Third flaw in the constitution stated as follows – 48. Organisation of agriculture and animal husbandry The State shall endeavour to organise agriculture and animal husbandry on modern and scientific lines and shall, in particular, take steps for preserving and improving the breeds, and prohibiting the slaughter, of cows and calves and other milch and draught cattle. The specific insertion of the clause prohibiting the slaughter of cows and calves in the constitution acts as a clear indicative of the religious bias and preferences of the dominant Hindu majority, for who cows are sacred creatures, among the constitution makers. This specific inclusion meant the exclusion of the interest or preferences, by the state, of separate religious communities – mainly of the Christians and the Muslims, who are recognized beef-eaters.

The fourth and most integral flaw as of relation to anti-secular politics, in the Indian constitution is that of – Article 343. Official language of the Union. (1) The official language of the Union shall be Hindi in Devanagari script. Article 351. Directive for development of the Hindi language. It shall be the duty of the Union to promote the spread of the Hindi language, to develop it so that it may serve as a medium of expression for all the elements of the composite culture of India and to secure its enrichment by assimilating without interfering with its genius, the forms, style and expressions used in Hindustani and in the other languages of India specified in the Eighth Schedule, and by drawing, wherever necessary or desirable, for its vocabulary, primarily on Sanskrit and secondarily on other languages. The significance accorded to Hindi language and the Sankrit language in the constitution demonstrates a strong pro-Hindi and pro-Hindu bias in the Indian constitution, which according to Hindutva is one of the five essential components for the competent functioning of the Hindu nation.  The article also includes the provision that it is the duty of the state to further expand the mass appeal and understanding of the language Hindi, while at the same time utilising Sankrit as it’s the primary source of vocabulary and ignoring other languages as secondary. The grave influence of Hindu nationalists can be observed on the state through its obsession with the renewal and preservation of the Sankrit language, which is key to the purpose of a unified Hindu nation due to its heritage links with the primeval golden age, despite the fact of it being a dead language spoken only by a few Sankrit enthusiasts.

December 6th, 1992, marks a day, of many similar days, of the failure of the state and its constitution to defend the minority sentiments and their sense of security, which being one of their fundamental rights guaranteed by the government, against the violent and chauvinistic forces of Hindu nationalists and opportunist individuals.  After weeks of violent and cynical events, in a climatic ending the Babri Masjid (Babri  Mosque), a structure which stood still for over 300 years, was forced down after being beaten by sticks, hammers and pipes by Hindutva supporters, all in the name of Ram (a Mythological Hindu God).  The mosque was demolished over the historical conflict that whether it was build on the ruins of a temple marking the birth place of God Ram, hero of the Hindu epic Ramayana, by the Mughal Emperor Barbar who invaded India during the 1500’s and began the rein of the great Muhal Empire in India. Although, the mosque was constructed in the city of Ayodhya, believed to be the birth place of Ram according to the Hindu faith, the claim that it existed over the ruins of a temple is contested by the most renowned Indian historians who have found no historical evidence of there ever being a temple on that particular portion of land. The initial conflict began in 1946, when a newly formed militant Hindu organization called the Akhil Bharatiya Ramayana Mahasabha (ABRM; All India Ramayana Great Assembly), an offshoot of the Hindu Mahasabha, claimed to have discovered murtis (icons in which the deities are said to reside) of the monkey God of Hanuman that had appeared below one of the mosque’s domes. They declared that the mosque be demolished and instead a temple be constructed over it signifying the birth place of Lord Ram. The matter went to the Supreme Court which forbided Hindus from worshipping at the mosque.  Over the next 40 years, the conflict remained underground and out of public attention until the 1980’s when the VHP, a self-proclaimed council of the Hindus which had ceased to exist ever before in the history of Hinduism, demanded that need of a temple being built over the mosque be reinitiated. Over the next 10 years the VHP along with political help from the BJP carried about various nationwide movements which included various Hindutva advisories and politician making provocative speeches to raise Hindu outrage towards the cause. At many occasions, the movements turned violent in different states which required the use of force by the police and state securities to control the crow which resulted in the deaths of eleven people. The VHP and BJP used these deaths as a political tool to further increase public anger by holding a public ceremony to immerse their ashes and vow building a Ram temple. Finally on 6th December, 1992, a massive band of Ram temple supporters entered into Ayodhya with the sole purpose of destroying the mosque, in which they succeeded in spite of orders given by the Supreme Court to the respective state government to increase security around the mosque and safeguard minorities. During the mosque’s collapse, there were also numerous cases of violence against the Muslim minorities who have claimed that their wives and children were raped and their men killed by the members of the VHP and its youth organization the Bajrang Dal, in spite of state security being present at the scene of crime.

The last decade has hailed the triumph of Hindutva politics in India with the coming into power of the BJP-led coalition government. This rise has mainly coincided with the failure of the Indian National Congress to uphold its principle of secularism. It has been argued that the Congress has transformed into a pseudo-secularist party whose priorities have shifted to remaining in power. This is an inaccurate belief as it the principle of secularism that is being imposed by the Congress is the main catalyst which is forcing the rise of communal politics. The real issue to the Congress’s decline is the need to apply force through the authority of law to ensure a permanent position of secularist ideals in the society, a need ignored by the Congress officials.  The Congress, over the years, has shown a double stance on the implementation of secularism which can be view through two major incidents. Firstly, the controversial Shah Bano affair. In 1978, a 73 year old Muslim woman, Shah Bano, filled a civil case in the Supreme Court regarding her right to attain alimony from her husband, who after 43 years of marriage had divorced her.  Under the Muslim Personal Law (based on the Islamic directives in the Koran), against the Civil Law meant for rest of the nation, her husband was not required to pay any compensation or support to his wife. In 1985, the Supreme Court declared a verdict favouring Shah Bano’s right to receive financial support from her husband. This incident provoked massive outcry by the Muslim community who claimed that the state was interfering in their religious affairs and demanded the decision to be revoked. Under pressure to maintain power, the Congress passed the Muslim Women’s Protection of the Rights to Divorce Bill that withdrew the rights of Muslim women to further make such appeals in the Supreme Court under the Civil law. This bill was high critiqued by both the general public and Hindu nationalists, who eventually exploited this decision as a platform to emphasize the Congress’s prejudice towards the Muslims which resulted in widespread support for Babri Masjid demolition from the Hindu community who had been left felt cheated. Secondly, the granting of special autonomic rights by the Congress to Kashmir and the north east states, which was analyzed as pampering of minorities by the BJP. Hence, the need of the hour is strict enforcement of the required standards of secularism in India by the Congress to regain its influence and reputation as during the age of Jawahar Lal Nehru.

Over the years, the RSS and the Sangh Parivar have often justified their actions and attitudes towards minorities on the foundation of having a massive backing from the Hindu community. RSS being the nation’s largest volunteer organisation; BJP the largest party in the parliament; Akhil Bharatiya Vidyarathi Parishad (ABVP; All India Students Organisation) the largest Student Union and the Bharatiya Mazdoor Sangh (BMS; Indian Worker’s Union) the largest labour union. These statistics are quite misleading as they form a forged premise for communal and anti-secularist activities to be held out by the Sangh Parivar. Most of the members, or supporters, hardly know anything about what they are fighting for. They are not the religious type who would be making an additional effort to attend religious classes, rituals or services. They lack both basic historical and mythological knowledge on which the ideals of Hindutva as based on. Most members of the RSS, ABVP or BMS initially join the organisation for recreational or further additional services being offered by the institution.  They do not intend to remain lifelong members, and hardly have as parallel extremist beliefs as the RSS or the Sangh Parivar advocates.  Most members come from an economically backward community, mainly rural sectors, where essential needs such as food and educations are hard to obtain, which are provided by the Sangh Parivar institutions at free of cost. These people have had lost all hope of ever introducing some form of improvement  in their living conditions, which the Sangh Parivar exploits for gaining support. Apart from the socially backward, the members also include the economically deprived. These individuals have either been deprived out of certain offered privileges in order to occupy the backward minority quotas or financially harmed by minority run businesses or professional services, which they hold responsible for all their misery and not necessarily the entire minority community.  This proclaimed backing of the Sangh Parivar can easily be broken down through proper implementation of the hundreds of programs and financial assistance schemes being offered by the government.

In conclusion, the success of the Hindutva movement in the liberal secular democracy of India relies on the inefficient application of the theories or models of secularism, democracy and liberalism. The government has failed in providing obligatory consideration to the application or expansion of literacy, economic growth and the rightful eye of equal treatment under the law to all its citizens uniformly, which has forced individuals to be persuaded to the course of anti-secularist communal violence and antics.  Therefore, now the Indian National Congress and its allies have been given the uphill task of untangling communal politics from mainstream politics and incorporating economics.

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