[Reader-list] FW: Aman Ekta Manch Digest No.5

Anjali Sagar starchild at anjalika.demon.co.uk
Sun Jun 16 22:18:41 IST 2002

This is a mailer from Aman Ekta Manch in Delhi....if you already have
received it or would not like to receive it, I am sorry.If you like to get
it regularly, please mail them on:

peopleforpeace at rediffmail.com

Aman Ekta Manch is an umbrella organisation of ngo's and individuals working
in Delhi for relief efforts in Gujarat.If you like I could send you the
earlier digests.


Dear Friends,
More violence erupted in Ahemedabad - fires are still burning. The attempts
by the government to close down relief camps continue - rehabilitation still
remains a big question.

In the meantime, war seems less of a possibility with the two prime
ministers toning down on their positions - the outcome is still far from

Voices of peace continue to flow in.

We invite you to write in and use this digest as a platform to voice your
thoughts and perceptions about the current situation. We need to hear more
and more voices of sanity. And peace.

A note to a letter we received saying we are picking up articles inverbatim
from other sources - the Digest is being mailed by us to nearly a 1000
readers and we have been getting very positive responses from the readers.
Just as we have been taking articles from various sources to add to the
digest, other sources have taken material from the digest to pass on the
articles to their network. This spells tremendous success for all those
involved in the peace initiatives, as these voices of peace find larger and
larger grounds to reach out.

In Solidarity,
Aman Ekta Manch

Digest No.5  [June 2002]
Contents :
1).Reflections on 'Gujarat Pradesh' of 'Hindu Rashtra' By K Balagopal (page
1  -6)
2).Carving a path to Hindu rashtra By Achin Vanaik
       (page 6-7)
3).Patriotism goes pop Pritish Nandy (page 8-9)
4).Manu Sharanam Gachchhami : Implications of BSP-BJP Alliance - By Ram
Puniyani (page 10-12)
5).Poet Of The Reich  By Anita Pratap (page 12 -13)
6).Meaning Of Secularism P.R. Dubhashi (page 14-16)

1.Reflections on 'Gujarat Pradesh' of 'Hindu Rashtra'
                                      By K Balagopal
EPW Commentary June 01, 2002

The economic relation between the adivasis and the Muslims in rural north
Gujarat is of the kind that most radical analysts have deemed to be
sufficient to justify a violent class struggle. And that is just how the VHP
is likely to project it as in the coming days - an explanation for adivasi
participation in the violence that could be quite embarrassing for radical
analysts. It is time for radical analysts to give up simplistic assumptions
and modes of analysis, not for the sake of the VHP, but for possible
progress in human affairs.

The predominant emotion as one leaves Gujarat is that of fear. Not the fear
that the Vishwa Hindu Parishad has been watching what you have been doing
there and will catch up with you and cut you up or burn you alive. It may,
but if you have been a human rights activist long enough, you have come to
terms with the idea that you could be killed some day.
Nor that the next time half an opportunity offers itself, the Vishwa Hindu
Parishad will kill more Muslims in Gujarat. It will, but they could be
killed by an earthquake, any way.

It is the fear of how much hatred human hearts can be filled with, and how
easily. Forget about burning human beings alive and prancing gleefully
around as the tortured flesh thrashes about. Forget also about cutting open
a pregnant woman's womb to burn the foetus. Such people are at least killing
something alive. Can you imagine the state of mind that digs up an old
grave, pours petrol on to the presumed remains of a long dead Muslim and
sets it aflame? The common Hindu's hatred for anything to do with Muslims,
an intense and inflamed hatred, is the only thing alive in Gujarat today.
Don't talk to the Sangh parivar cadre. They are barely human anyway. Talk to
the clerk in an office, to the housewife, to the taxi driver, to the
college-going student. Most of them spew venom. One feels sorry for saying
this of a whole people. One has, of course, met a handful of Gujarati Hindus
who are different. Not only English-speaking liberals of Ahmedabad and
Vadodara, but also farmers and labourers. But they are just that, a bare
fistful. Cutting across divisions of caste, class, gender, town and country,
Gujarat is one mass of hatred for Muslims. The history of the state,
dominated over the last few years by the Sangh parivar, has come to this.

Can one teach love as easily as that?

Radical-minded people feel insecure about such questions, for they could be
fatal to our utopian dreams. But while dreams are all right, and probably
also necessary, we should have the honesty to pare them down to realistic
dimensions. If hatred is so easy to build and love so difficult, and an
uneasy tolerance the most we achieve when we work for love, how utopian can
our dreams afford to be? This is, of course, a very big question. So big
that leftist analysis of Nazism in Europe, of which there have been tomes
upon tomes, never faced it honestly. Not even Erich Fromm, who came closest
to looking it in the face but backed out in the last moment.

But there are smaller and equally uncomfortable questions. The participation
of adivasis and dalits in the rioting, looting and killing is one such. Some
initial reports said that where adivasis participated in the violence, they
neither raped nor killed but only looted the property. To be fair to such
views, there was perhaps not much information available at that time. The
view appears to have based itself upon the events of the Chotaudepur area of
Vadodara district. But in Chotaudepur, even the non-adivasis did not rape or
kill. They too only looted the property of the Muslims.

In all the areas along the north-eastern border of the state (Sabarkantha,
Panchmahals, Dahod and Chotaudepur) there was sizeable participation of
adivasis along with non-adivasis in the violence. The two were part of the
same mob in most cases, with the non-adivasis leading. In some places, the
mobs only looted and burnt. In some places there was rape and murder too. A
break up of the violence into that which the adivasis did and that which the
others did may not be easy. The most gory incidents of mass rape in the
entire Gujarat carnage (at least so far as we know now) took place at
Fatehpura in Dahod district, where the mob consisted of a large number of
adivasis of neighbouring villages, along with the non-adivasis of Fatehpura.
It was said by some NGOs of Ahmedabad that only the non-adivasis raped women
and the adivasis only looted the property. That may be true, for the
non-adivasis being locals to the village may well have reserved that
'privilege' to themselves, but one would like to know if the opinion is
based on something more reliable than political faith. In Fatehpura itself,
the Muslims in the refugee camp do not make such a clear distinction, though
there is a general feeling among the Muslims that the adivasis are not bad
by themselves, but are misguided by the Hindus of the Sangh parivar.

At Sanjeli in the same district the Muslims fleeing from the mob (of
non-adivasis and adivasis) which attacked their houses in the town were
obstructed all along the way, and many were stoned, pulled out from their
vehicles, hacked with swords and burnt and killed by the rampaging mob many
of whom had their faces half-masked. The taluka of Kallol in the Panchmahals
saw a large amount of violence including about a hundred killings by mobs
that included both non-adivasis and adivasis. Again, in both the cases, a
break up of who did what may not be easy.

Sabarkantha is a district where there were a number of incidents of adivasis
helping and sheltering Muslims attacked by Hindu mobs. There were also a
number of cases where dalits saved Muslims in this district. However
kshatriyas too played a role in protecting Muslims in some of these
villages. What was at work there was not the presumed democratic character
of dalits and adivasis, but in all probability, what has been called the
KHAM strategy of the Congress Party, which still has sizeable influence in

What is more striking than the observations of progressive-minded people
based on their assumptions about what ought to have been the response of
adivasis and dalits, is the hesitation voiced by many Muslims in the refugee
camps in condemning the adivasis who attacked them. Since the hesitation,
which is near-universal, could not be motivated by considerations of
'political correctness' (to use an obnoxious expression that has become
current in recent times) it must be attributed to some thing real. Most of
the victims insist that the adivasis were misled by the Sangh parivar
leaders. But 'misled' can have more than one meaning, and not all of them
carry the same political significance.

Both in Panchmahals and Sabarkantha it is said that in some of the villages
the Sangh parivar leaders told the adivasis that there was a government
order to loot. (But of course, there was!) This was buttressed by TV images
of people looting freely in Ahmedabad with the police looking on. The
adivasis took the permission to heart - the northern districts of Gujarat
have seen three successive drought years - and in some villages, after
looting Muslims shops, they fell upon Hindu shops as well. At Piplod in
Dahod district, the police had to step in and put an end to the unauthorised
looting of Hindu shops. Even where there was no mention of a government
order, the widespread news and TV images of Muslims' property being looted
without obstruction from the police was incentive enough to the poor to try
their luck. Though it did not always end up with the looters turning their
attention to Hindu property after finishing with the Muslims, the Hindus
appear to be scared that the adivasis who have tasted loot will not stop

But not all the participation of adivasis was as innocent as that. Which
takes us to the other meaning of the expression 'misled'. The Vanavasi
Kalyan Samiti of the Vishwa Hindu Parishad has made considerable inroads
into the adivasi areas. When asked what activity they offer to the adivasis,
an old Sangh parivar man at Chotaudepur says: "We tell them to campaign
against drink in their villages and undertake bhajans of Hindu deities".
'Murtis' of Ganesh are distributed free of cost to the adivasis. It is said
that every adivasi village has at least one VHP activist. The search for an
identity that has accompanied the growth of education among the adivasis has
been filled by the Sangh parivar, says an adivasi MLA, himself a
Congressman. The poisonous parivar has done an able job of it. The adivasis
are in the process made to feel that they are Hindus, in the specific
hate-filled sense in which that term is understood by the Sangh parivar. As
a (Muslim) principal of a predominantly adivasi college near Chotaudepur
puts it: "The new convert to Islam is always more ferocious in defending the
religion than the traditional Muslim, and the same could be happening to the
adivasis". If he is right, there could be a very serious problem here that
'political correctness' had better comprehend.

Of course, the newly educated adivasis' search for an identity could have
reached a different shore. We should, then, ask ourselves why no democratic
movement has ever achieved even a toe-hold in the vast adivasi area of
Gujarat and much of neighbouring Rajasthan. Standing there and looking at
Delhi, Somnath Chatterjee's otherwise impressive speech in parliament could
not but sound hollow. What is the point in thundering at Delhi, having left
the field free in the adivasi hamlets for the Vishwa Hindu Parishad? This is
not a comment on only Somnath Chatterjee's party, but on the entire
democratic movement of the country.

Dalit participation in the violence at Ahmedabad (in particular) is even
less ambiguous. A large number of dalit youth took direct part in the
gruesome violence of that city. And it is the dalits who have suffered most
in the little retaliation the Muslims have indulged in. The only non-Muslim
relief camps (there are about five of them in Ahmedabad) are populated
predominantly by dalits. As with the adivasis, the dalits too have been left
by all of us for the VHP to prey upon. There is almost no dalit movement in
Gujarat, nor has the left movement any base worth speaking of. The Bahujan
Samaj Party's role in coming to the aid of the BJP when even a character
like Chandrababu Naidu in the fullness of his crooked mind thought it
prudent to declare his dissatisfaction, is of a piece with the strategy of
the biggest Ambedkarite party in the country: to keep Mayawati in power at
Lucknow is the substance of their Ambedkarism as of now. Poor Babasaheb must
be turning over and over again in his grave.

But the Vishwa Hindu Parishad is slowly beginning to articulate an
explanation for adivasi participation in the violence that could be quite
embarrassing for radical analysts. The VHP's office secretary at Godhra in
the Panchmahals, who sits cross-legged on the floor with an ugly chopper
hanging on the wall behind him, says it was (in effect, for he has not yet
learnt to use the expression) class struggle. The economic relation between
adivasis and Muslims in rural north Gujarat is of the kind that most of us
have often deemed to be sufficient to justify a violent class struggle.
Where the Muslims are farmers, as in Dahod district, the adivasis are
labourers or sharecroppers working for them. Where the Muslims are rural
traders and transporters, as in Sabarkantha district, the adivasis buy, sell
and borrow money from them. It is beyond doubt that if the VHP had not been
the instigator, and/or the victims had not been a community perceived as an
injured minority at the national level, many of us would have interpreted
the adivasi violence against Muslims in rural Gujarat as class struggle, and
then the question would not have been why adivasis participated in the
violence (we would have then called it struggle and not rioting) but why it
died out without achieving much, etc. The Sangh parivar has some former
leftists with it who will no doubt make an issue of this in the coming days.
Have not instances of adivasi or Muslim tenants revolting against caste
Hindu landowners been interpreted by radical analysts as ('objectively
speaking') class struggles, even if they took a communal form? Will the
analysis change merely because the upper caste Hindus are now egging on the
adivasis, and the exploiter is a Muslim? Soon we will have some Swapan
Dasgupta asking this question, and it is doubtful that any amount of
dialectics will help us wriggle out. What is needed is not some novel
sophistry, but a resolve to give up simplistic assumptions and simplistic
modes of analysis, not for the sake of the VHP, but for the sake of a
possible progress in human affairs.

Let us come back to the hatred. The most sickening thing about the Sangh
parivar is its absolute unreasonableness. Gujarat as a whole is infected
with this characteristic now. It is the Muslims who suffered immeasurably in
the carnage, but it is the Muslims who are now held to be the obstacle to
the return of peace. And where there is Muslim, terrorist and Pakistan
cannot be far behind. The triad Muslim-terrorist-Pakistan, with all its six
permutations, quickly enters any discussion of when people of Gujarat expect
normalcy to return. "Pakistan is sending men and money, and therefore there
will be no peace" is the commonest view in the matter. The exact amount
Pakistan is believed to have sent is mentioned: Rs 2 crore. Advani puts the
official stamp of approval on this by talking in parliament almost from day
one about Pakistan-sponsored terrorists entering the relief camps. (The home
minister of India never had anything to say about what put the Muslims in
the relief camps in the first place.) The Delhi police, who obligingly make
arrests of Lashkar-e-Toiba militants at Lal Qila/Chandni Chowk whenever the
government needs it, forthwith make a few arrests, and of course the dreaded
'jehadi' militants confess in no time that they indeed had planned to go to
Gujarat to create mayhem. The novelty this time is that they are said to
have got printed for themselves cards showing them as human rights
activists! If this evident nonsense is an indication that the government
wants put an end to human rights activism vis-a-vis Gujarat, that is a
compliment it is paying to the only good thing that has happened after
February 28: not only human rights groups as such, but every one concerned
about human rights has been to Gujarat, and a considerable protest has been
generated across the country.

The mood of the unrepentant rulers of Gujarat and India - and Gujarati
society in general - is that they are all set to fight Muslim terrorism
ready to burst out from the refugee camps. The refugees themselves are more
worried about when they will be able to get back and rebuild their lives.
They have lost their dwellings, they have lost their household property, the
traders among them have lost their tempos, trucks, and other articles of
trade, and the farmers among them are worried about their land that is ready
for being grabbed in the villages. In many places the assailants are openly
saying that the victims will not be allowed to come back unless they shave
their beards, discontinue the 'azaan', and promise that they will not insist
on observing religious customs that the Hindus find annoying. In some places
it was made clear that the refugees, if they wish to come back, will
hereafter have to forswear any trade that will hurt the interests of the
Hindu competitors. (This is what the RSS said at Bangalore some time ago, is
it not? That the best guarantee for Muslims is the good will of the Hindus,
purchased at whatever cost. Well, it is being implemented in Gujarat now.)
Obscene slogans have been scribbled on the walls of idgahs, dargahs and
masjids - where they have not been demolished, that is. At Khetbrahma, a
taluka headquarters town in Sabarkantha district, the assailants who cleared
the town of all Muslims, put up a notice with the ungrammatical threat:
'Muslim no allowed'. And in village after village one finds a welcome sign
painted in ochre colour and signed Vishwa Hindu Parishad, reading: 'You are
welcome to village such-and-such of district such-and-such of Gujarat
Pradesh in Hindu Rashtra'. The Muslims have to walk back from the camps into
such villages. But not only the rulers of the country and Gujarat but
Gujarati society as a whole is prepared to see only terrorists and Pakistan
agents in them. Blinded by hate, driven to self-validating propaganda by
their sense of guilt, building an alibi in advance for the further and
complete ghettoisation of the Muslims that is to come: it could be any and
all of these reasons.

But why talk only of Gujarat and Gujaratis? One startling revelation that
Narendra Modi achieved with his criminal brazenness is that a very larger
number of Hindus all over the country harbour an extraordinary hatred for
Muslims. Gujarat is different only in degree. Until Narendra Modi called
this hatred the revolt of the long-suffering Hindus, it was not thought fit
to express it. Now that a lawfully elected head of government has said so
and continues to head the government, it is no longer felt necessary to hide
the hatred, and they are all speaking out. It is said by the
post-structuralists that giving a thing a name is essential for making it an
object of knowledge. It is also true that giving a wretched feeling a
respectable name is essential for making it a subject of acceptable
discourse and practice. That is Narendra Modi's great contribution to the
demise of Indian civilisation.

It was said after September 11 last year that the world will never be the
same again. One of the many irreversible changes wrought by September 11 is
that it has become civilised thereafter to hate Muslims, and to talk of
Islam vs civilisation. February 28 this year borrows from that American
achievement. If, after all, current history is the saga of civilisation
pitted against Islam, slaughtering Muslims can only be a contribution to the
cause of civilisation. It was left to Narendra Modi to realise this, and to
signal to Hindus that they need no longer feel ashamed of their secret
hatred for Muslims. That is why the Sangh parivar gang admires him next only
to George Bush.

We are asked to believe that Hindus have so become bitter only because
secular-minded people have never understood the deep historical hurt Hindus
are suffering from. One must confess to some scepticism. Hatred of one's
neighbour does not require such deep historical causes. It is enough if the
neighbour insists on being different and thereby offers himself as the cause
of all one's frustrations and failures. The real sin of Muslims is just
that: they insist on being different. I am talking here of the ordinary
Muslim, and not the handful of maniacs who believe that all Muslims shall
live only in Islamic regimes, and that divine state of affairs will be
achieved with Kalashnikovs. And the real sin of the secular-minded people is
that we say they have the right to be different.

What other meaning can there be for the insistence that if the refugees wish
to come back to the village, they must remove the beard, shut off the
hateful azaan and not wear the skull cap? Sadly, it is these hate-filled
minds that speak incessantly of the great tolerance of the Hindus. What is
this great tolerance that cannot bear the only people who are really
different? This country is being overtaken by small-minded and hate-filled
men who are bluffing and blackmailing the country into accepting their
perverse logic. It is true that those who stand for secularism and democracy
have some soul-searching to do; not for their alleged indifference to the
great Hindu sense of historical injury, but for having allowed these goons
to occupy so much space in our society.

Contents :
1).Reflections on 'Gujarat Pradesh' of 'Hindu Rashtra' By K Balagopal (page
1  -6)
2).Carving a path to Hindu rashtra By Achin Vanaik       (page 6-7)
3).Patriotism goes pop Pritish Nandy (page 8-9)
4).Manu Sharanam Gachchhami : Implications of BSP-BJP Alliance - By Ram
Puniyani (page 10-12)
5).Poet Of The Reich  By Anita Pratap (page 12 -13)
6).Meaning Of Secularism P.R. Dubhashi (page 14-16)

2.Carving a path to Hindu rashtra By Achin Vanaik

The next Lok Sabha elections could well be the key turning point in the
struggle pertaining to the future of Indian democracy - whether it has one
or not.

SOME OF the wider strategic implications of the Gujarat pogrom and the
latest bout of war-mongering (including nuclear brinkmanship by both India
and Pakistan) over cross-border terrorism are now becoming clear. The
moderate mask has been dropped and the Sangh has decided that an unequivocal
Hindutva posture is its preferred route to achieving greater power and
influence in the future. But this still leaves key issues open. First, we
have to be clear not only about the immense danger that the Sangh represents
to Indian democracy's future but also about the path it is most likely to
take in order to fulfil its ambition of establishing a Hindu Rashtra. Then,
we can try and assess the obstacles and difficulties facing it, explore what
tactics the Sangh might adopt, so that forethought and challenge can stymie
its effort at advancement.

Though Hindutva ideologues often try and confuse matters by claiming that
India is already a Hindu Rashtra, which in English translation means a
"Hindu nation", they know that their model of Indian society, if it is to
come about, requires the prior establishment of a Hindu state comfortably
under Sangh control, which in coordination with the RSS, can then carry out
the dramatic re-shaping of Indian society/polity demanded by a proper Hindu
Rashtra. But there are only two routes to achieving or attempting to achieve
such sufficiently strong state power - the electoral one of securing an
absolute or near-absolute majority for the BJP in Parliament; or bypassing
altogether the constitutional-electoral route and carrying out an
authoritarian coup either of a military-police kind, or a civilian
unconstitutional coup of the Emergency-type.

Fascism in Germany and Italy combined the electoral and unconstitutional
processes. A dominant but minority party comes to power in a coalition
through elections but then overthrows all democratic-electoral restraints
and establishes its authoritarian state. For a number of reasons, the BJP
cannot do this (as evidenced by its period in power at the Centre since
1998), not least because of the profound regionalisation of Indian politics.
Nor does it seem likely or possible for the BJP and the Sangh Parivar to
repeat the Emergency-type coup as a minority party though dominant in a
ruling coalition. The Congress, it should be remembered, was in 1975 already
the majority party in the Lok Sabha when it took that measure. Moreover,
once bitten twice shy. There is no way that the other parties or the Indian
public would quietly accept a repeat of the imposition of Emergency-type

The only realistic route for the Sangh, therefore, is in trying to secure an
absolute majority in the Lok Sabha elections or as close to it as possible.
Here it is faced with an obvious dilemma. Given its static performances in
the last two elections and the enduring strength of regional parties, there
seems to be no escape from coalition rule whether it is led by the Congress
or by the BJP at the Centre. The earlier strategic perspective of the Sangh
(before Gujarat) seemed to be a more patient and longer term one. It was a
kind of two-stage approach. For sometime to come, coalition rule at the
Centre would be the norm and the Sangh should make sure the BJP remained at
the hub of successive coalition Governments. This would help make it the
"normal" party of national-level governance enhancing its credibility in
ever widening circles of the electorate as well as giving it time to pursue
a differentiated geographical strategy aimed at weakening all its rivals.
So, a somewhat more aggressive Hindutva could be pursued in places where it
was strong but a more cautious approach would be adopted, e.g., in the
South, where it had yet to achieve a strong enough implantation. But Gujarat
has shown that the dominant sections within the Sangh no longer have
patience for such a strategy, one that is also uncertain and provides no
guarantees for delivering the final desired outcome. The next Lok Sabha
elections could well be the key turning point in the struggle pertaining to
the future of Indian democracy - whether it has one or not.
Obviously, the Sangh would like to get a sense of where it stands, and of
its wider prospects, after the Gujarat Assembly elections which some believe
can be called this October. If it retains power or does not fare badly then
this will be read as a strong endorsement of the value of pursuing an
aggressive Hindutva stance. But even were the BJP to fare badly, aggressive
Hindutva is almost certainly still going to be seen as the only viable or
preferable option for it to pursue elsewhere in the country.

After all, so far nothing else has worked, with the BJP's inept record of
State-level governance leading to today's situation where it is ruling only
in Goa, Jharkhand and Gujarat. Thus, the key tactical tasks of the Sangh are
what steps or measures it must take to create the circumstances that can
polarise the next general elections into a referendum on the ideology of the
Sangh and help it obtain enough support!

Two approaches are likely to be combined. One could be to instigate communal
violence and riots in other States. Furthermore, in the ideology of the
Sangh, being anti-Muslim, anti-Islam and anti-Pakistan are all linked
together. In fact, the constituency that can be tapped through anti-Pakistan
sentiments is much wider than the constituencies available for the first
two. Relations today between India and Pakistan are at a nadir. And the BJP
has noted how its principal political opponent, the Congress, was
effectively outflanked by the Government's resort to 'coercive diplomacy'
over the issue of cross-border terrorism, and how it successfully brought
around an otherwise secular constituency which in a time-honoured manner
convinces itself that in regard to external 'security matters' the
Government's policies somehow stand above the narrower party-ideological
considerations of the BJP. Hence, the enduring political attraction of
pushing anti-Pakistan jingoism through the creation of wartime or
near-wartime tensions.

True, the U.S. presence in the region does act as a dampener against waging
a war or enacting the kind of 'limited' incursion as a response to a future
act of cross-border terrorism that could then escalate into a military
exchange between the two official armed forces. But it is not a guarantee
that such an outbreak cannot happen in the future despite the current
receding of war clouds.

While winding down tensions between India and Pakistan is clearly a current
priority, one must not allow the deeper meaning of what has happened in
Gujarat to recede from public discourse and attention. It is not Pakistan or
cross-border terrorism inspired by Islamist fundamentalist groups or the
dilemmas in Kashmir (despite their seriousness) that poses the greatest
danger. It is our home-grown version of religious-political fanaticism
striving for ever greater power that poses the greatest threat to our very
existence as a secular and democratic polity and society.

Contents :
1).Reflections on 'Gujarat Pradesh' of 'Hindu Rashtra' By K Balagopal (page
1  -6)
2).Carving a path to Hindu rashtra By Achin Vanaik (page 6-7)
3).Patriotism goes pop Pritish Nandy (page 8-9)
4).Manu Sharanam Gachchhami : Implications of BSP-BJP Alliance - By Ram
Puniyani (page 10-12)
5).Poet Of The Reich  By Anita Pratap (page 12 -13)
6).Meaning Of Secularism P.R. Dubhashi (page 14-16)

3.Patriotism goes pop Pritish Nandy

One of the first signs of a nation going dangerously downhill is when its
political rhetoric turns to pre-packaged pop patriotism. It usually means
that the nation is doing poorly on every other front.
For that is exactly when its leaders switch off all the other more crucial
debates and turn to issues of self-pride and nationhood.

That is the simplest way, they believe, critics can be silenced and vote
banks consolidated. Any vote bank. It does not really matter who they are,
rich or poor, Hindu or Muslim, upper or lower caste, educated or illiterate,
rural or urban people: we are all genetically programmed to stand upright
and raise a salute the moment jana gana mana is switched on.

Lest you misunderstand my concern, we are not the only nation that has
pressed the panic button. Pakistan, next door, has done the same thing. In
its own curious way. So has - for instance - Israel, for years now. Even the
mighty USA is going the same way, chuffed up by its own sense of self

For every new Bhagat Singh to hit the screen, to celebrate our self-induced
patriotic fervour as Indian troops stand in eyeball to eyeball confrontation
with Pakistani troops across the border, there is an equal number of war
movies coming out of Hollywood, celebrating the victory of good over evil.
Ergo, the victory of the US armed forces over their enemies in different
parts of the world. The truth is simple: Everyone, everywhere is looking for
an enemy to fight. Terrorists, Maoists, Muslim fundamentalists. Everyone has
his own pet ghoul.

To fight. That is the critical verb. To fight. Not to defeat. Because the
moment you defeat the enemy, you have a new problem on your hands - to find
another enemy to replace the old one. After all, there are not too many
popular ghouls around, on whom you can blame all the evils of your current
state. It is also not an easy task to build up the rhetoric to such a
flashpoint that it can take over the entire life of the nation and reduce
all other important issues to rubble.

The fact that we are only talking war, war and war today, even as our
economic growth has ground to a halt, foreign investments have stopped
coming in and the top investing nations of the world have already warned
their nationals not to travel to India and Pakistan, means that the
governments of both the nations have been amazingly successful in
distracting the attention of their people away from the real issues that
ought to worry them.

Corruption, bankruptcy, communal violence, caste riots, the declining rupee,
human rights violations, environmental degradation, the beggaring of
tribals, suicides by farmers, vanishing jobs, the ruination of the dreams of
our founding fathers are all on the backburner today. Poor governance,
crumbling infrastructure, disappearing national wealth: no one has time to
debate these issues anymore. All we are now chasing is the chimera of
self-esteem by boasting that no one has the right to question us when we
murder each other in broad daylight, no one has the right to seek answers
from us for questions that we ask others at the drop of a hat.

At the centre of every debate is the most stupid question of all: How
patriotic are you? Every Indian is patriotic. Irrespective of his or her
faith, community, caste, gender, upbringing, education. To question that
patriotism is the most stupid and shameful thing any nation can do. It is
also the most dangerous thing to do because you open up for discussion and
debate, for the first time, an issue that has always been taken for granted.
You sow seeds of doubt not only in the minds of those who begin to question
the patriotism of others but also in the minds of those whose patriotism is
being questioned. You begin the vicious circle of doubt and dilemma, cause
and action. You open up windows of the mind that were - thank God - always
shut till now.
Who benefits from these silly Patriot Games? No one. Not even those who have
launched the sport. For such games are always short-lived and unless you
take swift advantage of the hype and hysteria they generate through a quick
poll or a well-strategised political manoeuvre, the passion dies out as
swiftly as it builds up and brings us back to the same sorry issues all over
A few hundred young men die at the borders. A few hundred more get blown up
by terrorists or in indiscriminate police action. But everything else
returns to its normal mess. People once again start noticing the simple
facts of life - that academic standards are falling, jobs have vanished, the
hospitals are crammed, the savings of pensioners are yielding less and less
returns, the banks have been robbed, the cities are crumbling, the
protectors of our hearth and homes have turned into criminals.

Hitler could not sustain his rhetoric for too long. Nor could Mussolini. How
do you expect today's leaders, who are forever under the watchful eye of the
global media, to keep up this charade for long? They have no option but to
eventually revert back to doing those simple things that build a nation
brick by brick. You cannot play these Patriot Games for too long. They are
dangerous and entirely self-defeating in the long-run.
Nations grow and become powerful not because they whip up a patriotic frenzy
among their people. They grow and become powerful when they emerge
economically strong, when they brave new political initiatives, defeat the
conspiracy of those in power and find new and capable leaders to take them

That is the problem with India. We are turning a blind eye to every
opportunity before us. We are ignoring the compulsions of change. We are
refusing to break through the obduracy of our past and seek the future that
awaits us. We remain shackled to old ideas, obsolete dreams, the politics of
the status quo. That is where we are losing out. That is why we are so
desperate to go back into history and rediscover our sense of patriotism as
it existed more than half a century back. Because we have no leaders we can
respect today, we have to go back and find Bhagat Singh to fire our

What we forget is that, in this age of Mammon, there are no real Bhagat
Singhs. What you are looking at is Ajay Devgan or Bobby Deol or Sonu Sood or
what have you - just another nautanki dressed up as your favourite hero of
the day, playing to the same gallery, singing the same song, mera rang de
basanti chola, and they will all vanish as soon as the lights are switched
on in the dark cinema hall.

These Bhagat Singhs are as phoney, as unreal as these silly Patriot Games
that we are playing and all they are there for is to make some quick money
for some clever entrepreneurs who recognise an opportunity when they see it.
The truth is: as the thin dividing line between history and fiction, news
and entertainment slowly disappears, we are all becoming victims of our own
fantasies. Patriotism is just one of them.

Atal Bihari Vajpayee is so dependent on the US that he wants President Bush
to wave the green signal before India can hit at Pakistan. Did Israel wait
for Bush's order to blast the Palestinians or to keep Arafat under house
arrest for weeks? There is a steady erosion of people's trust in the
government. Vajpayee created a piquant situation for the army - the soldiers
had to be a silent spectator to the massacre of their children.

Contents :
1).Reflections on 'Gujarat Pradesh' of 'Hindu Rashtra'  By K Balagopal (page
1  -6)
2).Carving a path to Hindu rashtra By Achin Vanaik
        (page 6-7)
3).Patriotism goes pop Pritish Nandy (page 7-9)
4).Manu Sharanam Gachchhami : Implications of BSP-BJP Alliance - By Ram
Puniyani (page 10-12)
5).Poet Of The Reich  By Anita Pratap (page 12 -13)
6).Meaning Of Secularism P.R. Dubhashi (page 14-16)

4.Manu Sharanam Gachchhami : Implications of BSP-BJP Alliance - By Ram

The latest alliance between BSP and BJP for sharing of power comes as one
more nail in the coffin of the efforts towards social justice. It is not
that this alliance is taking place for the first time; it is not that these
parties do not know the agenda of each other, but despite that we find two
polar opposites sharing power. BJP cornered due to Gujarat carnage is out to
make use of new alliances and anyway it has been a major beneficiary of the
alliances it has struck to hold power at the center. But what about the
upholders of the values of Babasaheb Ambedkar, Rammanohar Lohia etc. what
are they doing sitting in the lap of the Neo Brahminical party, which is the
progeny of RSS; the vehicle for Hindu Rashtra? Can any party wedded to the
interests of backward castes, Dalit-bahujans ally with a party whose hidden
(now open) agenda is Hindu Rashtra? Whose avowed goal is to abolish
democracy and the constitution in India?

Today Dalit-bahujan are facing the major brunt of the adverse impact of
globalization. The land reforms have long been forgotten. The anti-Dalit
atrocities are aplenty. The carnages of the type of Laxamnpur Bathe are not
much far behind. The plight of Dalit women is too painful to be recalled.
Pain and misery all around in the outskirts of villages and the slums of
cities where most of the dalits are huddled. After Independence the
industrialization, especially of public sector gave a large space for the
aspirations of dalits for social justice. The limited land reforms also
changed the situation a bit. The reservation in jobs and educational
institutions ensured that a positive attitude towards education is imbibed
by the Dalit masses as a whole.

By 1980s the situation started changing. The first indication of this came
in the form of Anti-Dalit riots in Gujarat on the issue of reservation. The
clever change in the target from Dalits to Muslims paid rich dividends to
the upper caste class party; BJP and it cleverly manipulated the anti-Dalit
aggression of upper caste/class into anti-Minorities tirade. This
anti-Minority tirade served the purpose of distracting the attention from
social affairs to the so called religious issues and to bring to a close, to
a total halt, to the slow growing process of social transformation towards
social and gender justice. The game was cleverly played by the upper caste
formations. BJP started building social bridges to different sections of
Hindu Samaj and kept co-opting sections of Dalits and OBCs. Section of
Dalit-bahujan, which benefited from the reservations etc. was aping to the
upper caste and adopting the upper caste mores. The Sanskritization process,
adoption of upper caste culture by lower castes, was in full swing.

Still large sections of the deprived were denied the fruits of democracy.
Mandal commission, which aimed at alleviating the lot of Dalit-bahujan, was
in the deep freeze till V.P.Singh brought it out as a political ploy to
placate the clout of Devilal. The whole hell broke loose. The ascendant
polarization of upper caste/class occurring around Ram Janmbhumi assumed a
new aggressive tone after the Mandal. In the after math of Mandal the
polarization got razor sharp with the response to Advanis clever Rath Yatra
becoming more and more menacing. At one level BJP was caught in a pincer. If
it supports Mandal in the real sense its vote bank of upper caste will not
be able to be consolidate. If it rejects Mandal its cooption of Dalits will
suffer a jolt. The clever ploy of Ram Temple lies here. It gave a message to
the elite to come around BJP at the same time BJP paid lip sympathy to
Mandal, and so it did leave its options of incorporating Dalit-Adivasis in
its ambit open. By and by it went from strength to strength, riding on the
chariot of Ram lalla.

By this time the Dalit leadership was totally rudderless. Gone were the days
of Ambedkars Independent Labor Party, gone were the days of Dada Saheb
Giakwad launching a massive agitation for land rights. In hindsight one can
recognize the wisdom of Babasaheb many times over. He not only took up the
issues related to Dalit self respect (Chavdar Talao, Kalaram Temple,
Manusmriti Dahan) but also focused on the material uplift of the dalits,
Labor party, education and other facilities for them. In true mould of
Babasahed, Dadasaheb went up to take up the land issues in a
serious way. Further down one sees the serious attempt by Dalit Panther to
give verbal expression to the thoughts and struggles of Dr. Ambedkar in the
form of definition of Dalits as all the exploited and oppressed, taking it
beyond the birth based definition. Unfortunately the challenge of Panthers
could be co-opted by the system in no time. With the prominent leaders
getting nominated on Govt. bodies and getting awards for their heart rending
writings, many of them chose their mentors from different sections of ruling
political parties and parted company to get lost in anonymity over a period
of time. Deeply entrenched in the cushy positions and parroting the
reservation mantra, the dalit movement broke in to as many pieces as was the
number of leaders. These mentors were from Congress and BJP. The most
striking example is that of the radical Namdeo Dhasal singing peens to Hindu
Hriday Samrat (Balasaheb Thackeray).

In this backdrop emergence of Kanshi Ram as a leader of Bahujans was a
landmark. But marred by his underestimation of the threats of BJP-RSS, he
thought this is just another Manuwadi party. His party could not and does
not see that this is a Manuwadi party with a difference. It is qualitatively
a different formation; it is the one, capable of abolishing the democratic
space in the deepest possible sense. It is the one whos father RSS is
totally opposed to the Indian conetitution. It is the one committed for
Hindu Rashtra, the nationhood totally opposed to the interests of
dalitbahujans. So while democracy means affirmative action and so the
reservations for Dalits, the pioneers of Hindu Rashtra assert it is and
injustice to the deserving Hindu children and their merit. While secularism
means that minorities be protected and given protection to keep their
identity for a period of time, the Gurus of Hindu Rashtra cry foul at this
and raise the hue and cry of minority appeasement, projecting it as an
injustice to Hindus. The aims and agenda of RSS-BJP are crystal clear
without any ambiguity, Hindu Rashtra, a la the German Nation of Hitler. It
is here that one has to see the decision of Kanshiram-Mayawati to ally with
BJP and give support to its agenda, which is unfolding bit by bit. Now there
are contrasting goals, on one hand to do away with democratic constitution,
affirmative action for weaker sections of society, protective clauses for
minorities and the like (BJP), and on other hand, a longing for social
economic and gender justice, an absolute and non-negotiable need to preserve
the Indian constitution, and to promote the Dalits and minorities. How can
these go together? During last three years more than ever before Sangh
Parivars different wings have been co-opting different social groups in its
ambit. It is Dalits and adivasis who have become the storm troopers of the
parivar. While those sitting in Keshav Baliram Hedgewar Bhavan (RSS head
office) make the strategy, the section of dalitbahujan spill their and
others blood to achieve RSS goals. While the parivar elite plan the roads to
Hindu Rashtra, dalitbahujans dirty their hands to make these roads which
have to be sprinkled with the blood of minorities and other weaker sections
of society for curing of these constructions. BJP has been successfully
using the ex-socialists and the opportunists of various hues (George
Fernanades, Sharad Yadav), DMK, Mamatas, and Ajit Singhs etc for furtherance
of the agenda of Hindu Rashtra. Kanshiram-Mayawati cannot be exception to
the guiles of Parivar. They will be helping the Hindutva agenda in more ways
than one.

While castism was used by upper caste to keep the lower caste out of the
gambit of social benefits of development, the low caste had to use this
casteism to improve their own lot. The two are not the same. Todays elite
politics looks down upon caste politics because it demands and tries to get
concessions for the Children of Lesser Gods (we are all aware about the
caste specific Gods which we have). The things are all messed up between the
real politic and the long-term directions. We have no Ambedkar today, when
he is so much needed, to steer clear of falling in the trap and lap of Hindu
Rashtra politics. When disgusted and frustrated by the grip of Brahmanism,
as an escape he chanted, Buddham Sharanma Gacchhami, today those who claim
to be his followers are chanting Manu Sharanma Gacchhmai, same Manu to burn
whose edicts Babasaheb burnt Manusmriti.

(Writer works with EKTA, Committee for Communal Amity, Mumbai)
Contents :
1).Reflections on 'Gujarat Pradesh' of 'Hindu Rashtra' By K Balagopal (page
1  -6)
2).Carving a path to Hindu rashtra By Achin Vanaik
       (page 6-7)
3).Patriotism goes pop Pritish Nandy (page 7-9)
4).Manu Sharanam Gachchhami : Implications of BSP-BJP    Alliance - By Ram
Puniyani (page 10-12)
5).Poet Of The Reich  By Anita Pratap (page 12 -13)
6).Meaning Of Secularism P.R. Dubhashi (page 14-16)

5.  Poet Of The Reich   Anita Pratap.


If the state is strong, Indian fascists can't go far. If not, the need is
greater that we all come out against the hate agenda.

It's terrific when a prime minister is a poet. It's terrible when a poet is
the PM. And it's terrifying when a poet-prime minister indulges in
doublespeak. He isn't confusing, he is scary. The contrary voices, words,
emotions emanating from Vajpayee in Gujarat when he spoke to Muslim refugees
and in Goa when he addressed BJP members is positively dangerous.

It's dangerous because the nation can no longer trust him. He has given
oxygen to fascist Hindutva, the same Hindutva that he recently said we
should distance ourselves from. The most dangerous consequence of Vajpayee's
Goa theatrics stems from his failure to do what even US president George
Bush did so clearly and emphatically-draw a distinction between jehadis and
ordinary Muslims. Moreover, Vajpayee tacitly condoned the use of state
machinery to attack Muslims. India will pay a huge price for Vajpayee's
sins-because Hindu fascists are already targeting ordinary Muslims exactly
the way the Nazis went after the Jews.

History repeats itself. The history of Germany in the 1920s and '30s is now
repeating in India. What is alarming is from the '20s the votaries of
Hindutva have been inspired by fascist Italy and Nazi Germany. Just to give
a few examples: militarising society by emulating Italian fascist youth
organisations like the Balilla and Avanguardisti, indoctrinating youths
through propaganda and parades rather than educating them, propagating a
doctrine of hatred and cultural superiority, using symbols of past
greatness, fostering ultra-nationalism infused with religiosity, excluding
religious or ethnic minorities from the nation concept, relegating women to
an inferior position, supporting authoritarianism and a contempt for

Hitler believed in organised violence to achieve his ends. He had
sturmabteilungen (storm-troops) to defend his meetings, to disrupt the
meetings of liberal democrats, socialists, communists and to terrorise
domestic foes. The Hindutva brigade have their Bajrang Dal and Shiv Sainiks
to storm assembly buildings, demolish mosques, disrupt Medha Patkar's or
Lone's meetings, ransack shops selling Valentine cards, burn Pepsi trucks,
vandalise M.F. Husain's paintings, attack journalists. Hitler also used the
storm-troopers to persecute Jews, especially Jewish merchants. He Nazified
the state apparatus, using it to exterminate six million Jews. Nothing
justifies Godhra. Nothing justifies the riots either. The right reaction to
Godhra would have been to quickly arrest and bring the perpetrators to
justice. But the BJP has shown it will shamelessly use state power to pursue
its communal-fascist goals.
History also repeats within when it comes to Muslim-bashing. In attacking
the minorities, the VHP, Shiv Sena and Bajrang Dal are pursuing a goal set
by M.S. Golwalkar who supported Hitler's policies over the Jews. In '93, at
the height of the Bombay riots, Bal Thackeray said if Muslims behave like
the Jews in Germany, they deserve the same fate. In 1929, Veer Savarkar said
the rights enjoyed by Muslims should depend on the magnanimity of the
majority. Encore in Bangalore 73 years later. Indulging in a Goebbelsian
disinformation campaign, the Hindutva clan consistently typecasts all
Muslims as jehadis, violent bigots disloyal to India.
To be fair to them, the Hindutva brigade is open about its motives and
goals. The trouble is the secular liberals are in a state of denial. The
Hindutva lobby said it would exercise the N-option.

Nobody believed them till they went ahead and secretly exploded the bomb.
They have declared their animus against Muslims-Bombay and now Gujarat prove
they mean business. Gujarat was Hindutva's laboratory and now that they are
confident of winning elections there, they will try to replicate the
experiment in the rest of the country.To consolidate the Hindu vote, they
will create a national psychosis. Chafing against the nda allies'
restraining leash, the BJP is intent upon winning a majority on its own so
that it can fulfil its Hindu Reich agenda. Their own hero Sardar Patel had
accused the rss of spreading "communal poison" and in a letter to Golwalkar
dated September 11, 1948, had grieved: "As a result of the poison, the
country had to suffer the sacrifice of the incalculable life of Gandhiji."
More tragedies will befall India if the bjp now aggressively pursues a
communal agenda.

Around the world, there will always be issues that neo-fascists can whip up
to grab power. In Europe, immigrants are their current pet-hate. But in all
western democracies, and especially in Germany, neo-Nazi groups are banned.
The state cracks down on them promptly, nipping them in the bud. If the
state is strong, Indian fascists can't go very far. If not, the need is
greater for all secular liberals to stop being browbeaten and defensive and
come out vigorously against their hate agenda. The ranks of the silent
majority should also join in. Post-Gujarat saw some excellent writing,
soul-searching, civic action and litigation by secular liberals. But they
need to be visible and vocal on a sustained basis to put the
"pseudo-patriots", as Julio Ribeiro scornfully labels them, on the
defensive. Likewise, NGOS must propagate communal harmony as part of their
mainstream work. Instead of launching into an anti-communal tirade, which is
a negative message, they could emphasise the positive effects of peace,
togetherness, good governance and rule of law. Secular liberals must be
proactive to prevent India from skidding into an era of violence,
intolerance, authoritarianism and economic slowdown that experts now
derisively call the Hindutva rate of growth. The unalterable truth is that
nowhere has fascism and ultra-nationalism worked-not in Germany, not in
Italy, not in Sri Lanka. Such misguided policies have wreaked havoc for
decades, bankrupting the nation and robbing the future of entire generations
of both the minority and majority communities. That's the kind of history we
don't want repeated in India. Along the way, some of us may have lost our
dreams. But this is a nightmare worth fighting against.
(The author can be contacted at post at anitapratap.com)

Contents :
1).Reflections on 'Gujarat Pradesh' of 'Hindu Rashtra' By K Balagopal (page
1  -6)
2).Carving a path to Hindu rashtra By Achin Vanaik
       (page 6-7)
3).Patriotism goes pop Pritish Nandy (page 7-9)
4).Manu Sharanam Gachchhami : Implications of BSP-BJP Alliance - By Ram
Puniyani (page 10-12)
5).Poet Of The Reich  By Anita Pratap (page 12 -13)
6).Meaning Of Secularism  P.R. Dubhashi (page 14-16)
6.Meaning Of Secularism P.R. Dubhashi

THE RECENT communal riots accompanied by events of arson, loot and murder in
urban as well as rural Gujarat and rural areas of Haryana and Maharashtra
have tarnished the image of Indian secularism and the reputation of Hinduism
as a tolerant faith. The social climate is thoroughly vitiated and the
atmosphere is surcharged with suspicion and hatred reminding of the
pre-Partition days. The nation is at the edge of a precipice. To prevent the
collage, the nation must withdraw its steps from the path it has been led to
under the influence of misguided elements. What are needed are a deep
national introspection and a sense of balance and direction. It is the
responsibility of those who are at the helm of affairs in government and in
political and social life to provide these. But listening to them on TV and
elsewhere it seems they are indulging in divisive politics and mutual
recrimination, oblivious of the national interest and the consequences of
what they are saying and doing.

In its recent conference at Bangalore, the RSS passed a resolution that the
security of the minority community depends on the goodwill of the majority.
The resolution was seen as an open threat to the minority though the
spokesman of the RSS tried to explain that it was not meant to be so. The
RSS should have realised that it was improper on their part to pass such a
resolution. Security is the fundamental right of every citizen guaranteed by
the Constitution. It is the responsibility of the state to preserve and
protect this right, which does not depend on anybody's goodwill. Of course
the minority community should have the goodwill of the majority but the
reverse is also equally true. There should be a sense of mutual trust and
cooperation among all the sections of society.

Secularism has been one of the essential elements in the basic structure of
our Constitution which lays down that 1) the state has no religion; 2) all
citizens however have the fundamental right to follow and propagate their
own religion; and 3) it is the duty of the state to protect life, liberty
and property of all citizens, provide security to them and enable them to
exercise their fundamental rights. The state will not discriminate between
the citizens on the grounds of religion and language.

A clear contradiction

While our Constitution has been based on secularism or dharma nirapekshita,
our society is steeped in religion. Observance of religious festivals and
rituals is part of our day-to-day life. Religious feelings govern our mode
of thinking. Thus there is a clear contradiction between the basic tenets of
the Constitution and the character of our society. These get reflected in
our politics and public administration, which often work in a manner
contrary to what is envisaged in the Constitution. The latest example of
this is the participation of an IAS officer of the PMO in the shila dan
ceremony at Ayodhya. This might have calmed down a potentially explosive
situation in Ayodhya but it was clearly inconsistent with what the
Constitution envisages.

This however is not the first or the only breach in the Constitutional
provisions regarding secularism. The Representation of the People Act
provides that appeals made on the grounds of religion to gather votes would
be deemed to be a corrupt practice and would disqualify a candidate but this
happens as a rule in all our elections. All political parties use religion
to gather votes. This starts from the selection of the candidates taking
into account the communal character of the constituency. Vote banks are
systematically built on the basis of caste and religion and the very leaders
who take advantage of these vote banks do so in the name of secularism. This
has been the hypocrisy of our secular democracy.

Iftar parties

The caste and communal character of our politics inevitably enters in the
conduct of public administration. While the Constitution envisages
secularism in the sense of dharma nirapekshita, our politicians have
conveniently interpreted it as sarv dharm samabhav. This has given free
licence to our politicians holding high positions to freely participate in
all religious functions with the official paraphernalia in attendance.
Indira Gandhi started the practice of giving iftar parties for our Muslim
brethren during Ramzan. Now political leaders vie with each other to throw
such lavish parties at national and State capitals and the practice
continues even in the regime of a BJP Prime Minister. Wide publicity is
given in the media as to who attended these parties and what was served. It
is forgotten that such politicisation of iftar is a sacrilege to a sacred
religious practice much to the disgust of truly religious people. Moreover
it creates a sense of discrimination. If iftar parties are given why not
Diwali parties and Christmas parties?
There are two consequences of this mixing up of religion, politics and
public administration. First it has given prominence in public life to
religious leaders like sants and mahants, imams and priests. They have
started playing an active role in government's decision making. The
interference of religious leaders in administrative matters can prove
dangerous to our secular democracy. Secondly, religious practices and
festivals have started making serious inroads into the safety and
convenience of our public life. In Maharashtra only Ganapati festival was
public. Now even a Navaratri festival has become a public observance.
Pandals are erected on roads obstructing traffic. Loud music is played on
public systems disturbing peace. Namaz gatherings spill over the roads and
in retaliation maha araties are also similarly performed.
The RSS and organisations of the Parivar have been constantly criticising
the Congress rulers for their appeasement of the minority, specially the
Muslims. They are saying that though Hindus are in majority they are being
discriminated. They want the creation of Hindu Rashtra. They argue that
their definition of Hindu is very wide. Whoever, irrespective of the
religion to which he belongs, considers India as his janmbhumi, karmbhumi
and pitrubhoomi is a Hindu. But if the minorities are not prepared to accept
this argument how can Hindutva be imposed upon them? Such an attempt would
only lead to alienation and disaffection.

A sense of insecurity

On deeper thinking it would appear that the demand for Hindu Rashtra arises
out of a sense of insecurity, which some sections of Hindu society feel even
though Hindus are in majority in this country. There are reasons for this.
First, the Hindus were under the Muslim rulers for more than a thousand
years. The Muslim invaders came through the Khyber Pass in the Northwest,
ransacked the Hindu temples and built mosques on them and forcibly converted
the Hindus. Even the Christians resorted to force for conversion of the
Hindus as in Goa where the early Portuguese rulers ruthlessly resorted to
'inquisition' under the leadership of Saint Xavier. Some historians tried to
reinterpret this history and now there is a movement in the reverse
direction. Whatever be the past history, the Hindu zealots must realise that
it is not the sign of wisdom to open the wounds of the past and take revenge
for what are perceived as historical injustices. We have to live in the
present and what is needed today is for all Indians to work together with
mutual trust and cooperation as citizens of the Indian Republic.

When there were attacks on the churches in Gujarat, the Prime Minister, Atal
Behari Vajpayee, expressed the need for a national debate on conversion
since it was alleged that that was the reason for the attack. The Leftists
and secularists attacked the Prime Minister for daring to make such a
suggestion. But the Prime Minister's idea deserves consideration. It is true
that the Constitution gives the right to pursue and propagate religion. But
propagation is not synonymous with conversion especially under threat or
through pecuniary attractions to the poor and the ignorant in the lower
strata of society. It is therefore necessary to introduce a clarification in
the Constitution that propagation cannot mean conversion.

Though the Hindus are in majority in India, they are in minority in the
world. Though India and Nepal are the only two countries with Hindu
majority, there are a large number of Muslim and Christian countries in the
world. More specifically there is a string of Muslim countries both on the
west and the east of India - Pakistan, Afghanistan, Iran and the Arabian
countries on the west and Bangladesh, Malaysia and Indonesia on the east.
India has rightly tried to establish good relations with the Muslim
countries of the world. But when Bangladeshi Hindus keep on being pushed out
while Muslims infiltrate into India in large numbers in search of livelihood
and Pakistan indulges in cross-border terrorism for grabbing Kashmir on the
ground that Muslims are in majority in the Valley, there is disquiet and a
sense of insecurity amongst the Hindus in India. This gives rise to the
tendency to support Hindu fundamentalism. But religious fundamentalism is
not the solution. Indians must realise that Muslim fundamentalism in
Pakistan has only led to violence and strife which pose a major threat to
its peaceful existence. It has disturbed the political stability of that
country and set back the clock of economic progress.

We have to realise that religious tolerance has been the basic tenet of
India's ancient civilisation and it is also the hallmark of the modern age
of globalisation. We should not waste our time in religious discords but
rather move ahead with the use of science and technology to make our lives
better, richer and fuller. We should follow the footsteps of European
nations, which have forgotten their enmities and wars over centuries and
have come together as a single economic and political entity.

Click below  to experience Aishwarya Rai's beauty secrets. New International
Lux Skincare - It's not just soap, It's skincare.

More information about the reader-list mailing list