Thursday, July 23, 2020
-- Nasir Khan
In the following article, Indian author A.G. Noorani gives a brief account of the politics of Hindutva in India. Many people are not aware that Hindutva is not the same as Hinduism. Hinduism is an ancient religion that evolved in India, but Hindutva is an extremist religious-nationalist ideology that is opposed to the idea of a democratic India, based upon the principle of secularism, equality of all its citizens, irrespective of their religion, creed and caste.
Hindutva rejects the ideas of such equality of all its citizens but, instead, aims at transforming India into a Hindu polity - Hindu Rashtra - where only Hindus will be supreme. In such a state, 200 million Muslims and 30 million Christians will be made second-class citizens.
Hindutva as an extremist nationalist ideology uses the cover of Hinduism to justify atrocities against Muslims, Christians and Dalits. It founders and mentors have copied and developed further the authoritarian and military model of fascism that was practised by Benito Mussolini and Adolf Hitler.
Since 2014, the BJP government had power in India under the premiership of Narendra Modi, who has the notorious record of being an ardent anti-Muslim and anti-Pakistan leader for decades. After BJP's sweeping electoral success in May last year, the Modi regime started implementing the political programme of Hindutva fascists. After imposing direct Indian rule over Jammu and Kashmir, his party led the terrorist campaign against Muslims in Delhi, where Hindu militants and gangsters plundered the shops owned by Muslims and then torched their homes and properties. They killed over 50 Muslims in Delhi alone. All this took place under PM Modi's nose. That was Hindutva in action.'
Hindutva is the ideology of the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh. The election manifesto of the Bharatiya Janata Party — the party in power and political front of the RSS — has sworn by it since 1996. What is more, Hindutva provides ample warning for what is in store for the future of India’s democracy and secularism. It splits the nation into ‘us’ and ‘them’, and discards Indian nationalism in favor of Hindu nationalism
A G NOORANI
[dropcap]H[/dropcap]INDUTVA sums up the ideology that moved champions of Hindu nationalism for decades before Partition. In 1923, V.D. Savarkar coined the term in his essay, Hindutva: Who is a Hindu? As an atheist, he took pains to emphasize that Hindutva was not synonymous with Hinduism. It is important to understand the term, in all its nuances, because of its past and present significance.
Hindutva is the ideology of the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh. The election manifesto of the Bharatiya Janata Party — the party in power and political front of the RSS — has sworn by it since 1996. What is more, Hindutva provides ample warning for what is in store for the future of India’s democracy and secularism. It splits the nation into ‘us’ and ‘them’, and discards Indian nationalism in favor of Hindu nationalism.
Savarkar wrote, “… Hindutva is not identical with what is vaguely indicated by the term Hinduism. By an ‘ism’ it is generally meant a theory or a code more or less based on spiritual or religious dogma or system. But when we attempt to investigate the essential significance of Hindutva we do not primarily — and certainly not mainly — concern ourselves with any particular theocratic or religious dogma or creed”. His concern was politics; the political mobilization of Hindus into one nation.
If not religion, what, then, is the basis for the divide? With crystal clarity, he wrote, “To every Hindu … this Sindhusthan is at once a pitribhu and a punyabhu — fatherland and a holy land. That is why in the case of some of our … countrymen, who had originally been forcibly converted to a non-Hindu religion and who consequently have inherited along with Hindus, a common fatherland and a greater part of the wealth of a common culture — language, law, customs, folklore and history — are not and cannot be recognized as Hindus.
For though Hindusthan to them is fatherland as to any other Hindu yet it is not to them a holy land too. Their holy land is far off in Arabia or Palestine. Their mythology and god-men, ideas and heroes are not the children of this soil. Consequently their name and their outlook smack of a foreign origin”.
The divide cannot be bridged except by obeying Hindutva’s demand for conversion to Hinduism. Savarkar exhorted, “Ye, who by race, by blood, by culture, by nationality possess almost all the essentials of Hindutva and had been forcibly snatched out of our ancestral home by the hand of violence — ye, have only to render wholehearted love to our common mother and recognise her not only as fatherland (Pitribhu) but even as a holy land (Punyabhu), and ye would be most welcome to the Hindu fold”.
Gandhi’s assassination put paid to Savarkar’s ambitions, but the RSS picked up the baton. Its supremo, M S Golwalkar, drew inspiration from Hindutva and coined its synonym, ‘cultural nationalism’, in contrast to ‘territorial nationalism’ in his book, A Bunch of Thoughts (1968). Everyone born within the territory of India is not a nationalist; the nation is defined by a common ‘culture’ (read: religion).
Golwalkar wrote, “… here was already a full-fledged ancient nation of the Hindus and the various communities which were living in the country were here either as guests, the Jews and Parsis, or as invaders, the Muslims and Christians. They never faced the question how all such heterogeneous groups could be called as children of the soil merely because, by an accident, they happened to reside in common territory under the rule of a common enemy … The theories of territorial nationalism and of common danger, which formed the basis for our concept of nation, had deprived us of the positive and inspiring content of our real Hindu nationhood …”
This explains the RSS’ ghar wapsi (‘return to your home’) campaign, simply a repeat of the past shuddhi (‘purification’) movement. Nothing has changed; an unbroken ideological thread binds Savarkar’s Hindutva, Golwalkar’s ‘cultural nationalism’ and the RSS-BJP policies today. On Sept 24, 1990, BJP president L K Advani launched “a crusade in defense of Hindutva”, which culminated in the demolition of Babri Masjid, in his presence, on Dec 6, 1992.
Since 1996, the BJP’s election manifestos for Lok Sabha elections pledge to espouse Hindutva in these terms: “The cultural nationalism of India … is the core of Hindutva.” This explains the Modi government’s systematic purge of educational and cultural institutions. It is a quarrel with history. As scholars Susanne and Lloyd Rudolph remarked, modern hatreds are supported by ancient, remembered wrongs, whether real or imagined. The RSS-BJP combine rejects the concept of composite culture that Jawaharlal Nehru and others propounded.–Courtesy Dawn