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Mainstream, VOL LX No 5, New Delhi, January 22, 2022

Rising Hate: Polarization and Defense of Indian Constitution | Ram Puniyani

Friday 21 January 2022


by Ram Puniyani

As we have entered; 2022 we are witnessing hate speech taking dangerous forms and many in saffron robes calling for genocide. There are apps like Tech Fog being used to vitiate social atmosphere. There are Trad groups; who are openly promoting caste system and ancient scriptures apart from calling from demonization of minorities in the worst possible way. We have seen the issues like Ram Temple creating massive violence followed by strengthening of communal forces in the country. The issues like Kashi Vishwanath Corridor, Krishna Temple in Mathura are dominating the political scenario apart from the issues related to beef, holy cow, non vegetarian food and love jihad. Muslims are being demonized in ever increasing intensity.

The Christian community, which is miniscule (2.3%), is faced with sub-radar violence in the form of attacks on Convent schools, attacks on prayer meetings and propaganda against their activities of alleged conversion by force, fraud and allurement.

At the same time the poor of the society are facing the uphill task of survival. We witnessed big miseries suffered by lakhs of them when sudden lockdown was imposed. The poor management of Corona crisis led to the dead bodies being burnt enmass or being thrown in Holy Ganga. The section of Corporate has run away to distant lands amassing huge social wealth of the nation, while other section of Corporate is flourishing at rapid speed at home and controlling the social wealth. The country is falling down in the global indices related to health, nutrition, freedom of expression, freedom of religion and democratic norms.

At political level the Hindutva politics is not only ruling at center and many states, its parent RSS if flouring rapidly and has already infiltrated in different wings of state apparatus and floated hundreds of organizations to spread the communal thinking in the society. There are also organizations associated with this which are trying to co-opt the deprived sections, particularly dalits and Adivasis through social engineering.

Communalism in India

Communalism in India began during colonial period when the changes related to Education, New Administration, Modern Industries, and modern transport changed the social dynamics at big level. This led to the rise of newer classes in society: Industrialists, workers, modern educated classes among others. Their associations started being formed and these associations were having nascent Indian nationalism at their core. The main representatives of these organizations were Bhagat Singh’s (Navjavan Bharat Sabha,), Ambedkar’s (Republican party of India) and Gandhi, along with Maulana Abul Kalam Azad, Annie Besant, Sardar Baldev Singh’s Indian National Congress

The two major processes which accompanied the political changes were the process of social reforms; the high point of which was education and organization of dalits (Jotirao Phule and Ambedkar) and education for women (Savitribai Phule along with Fatima Sheikh). The struggle of dalits led by Phule and Ambedkar; also found its echoes in Gandhi’s massive movement against untouchability. The national movement led by Gandhi also brought the women forward into social space, Sarojini Naidu and Aruna Asaf Ali are among the few who were part of the massive change which women were undergoing.

At this time the older classes of landlords-Kings felt that their social-political power is declining and they exclaimed ‘Islam Khatre mein hai’ (Islam in danger) or Hinduism Khatre mein hai (Hinduism in Danger). The newer classes dreamt of secular, democratic India while from the old classes (Muslims, and Hindu landlords-kings) came up Muslim League and Hindu Mahasabha. Savarkar of Hindu Mahasabha brought to forefront the word Hindutva, which called for Hindu nation. In parallel Muslim League talked of Muslim Nation. Initially only Kings and landlords were part of these organizations, later affluent upper class/caste Hindu and Muslim elements also joined these streams, much later sections of middle class also came under the sway of these organization.

British Policy of ‘Divide and Rule’

It was British policy of ‘Divide and Rule’ which led to partition of the country. As such British had introduced this policy right from beginning but it was implemented with great intensity after the 1857 ‘First War of Independence’. The communal elements picked up the communal historiography introduced by British. In this version; history is presented through the religion of the Kings. It is King centric history, with religion of the king being the determinant of their policies alliances and war.

Both Hindu communalists and Muslim communalists picked up this version. Muslim communalists presented as if Muslims were the rulers and British should hand over power to them when they leave. Hindu communalists regarded Muslims as foreigners, who had attacked Hinduism, destroyed its temples and converted the people through violence. Both these versions are parallel and opposite to each other. The National and Rational history was out lined by Gandhi and Nehru among others. Gandhi in his book Hind Swaraj points out that both Hindu and Muslim kings ruled for power and had subjects from both the religions.

Nehru on similar lines pointed out the great synthesis of Hinduism and Islam in his book ‘Discovery of India’. He underlined the word Ganga jamuni Tehzeeb and described the Indian traditions of acceptance prevailing here from centuries. He also presented the richness of ancient India in all its glory.

Communal Organizations

Communal organizations started spreading hate against the ‘other community’ (Muslim League against Hindus and Hindu Mahasabha-RSS against Muslims) and this formed the basis of communal violence and polarization of society. In the beginning the communal violence was provoked around issues of pig in the mosque, beef in the temple, music band in front of mosques and random rumors related to violation of women’s modesty of ‘our community’.

While Muslim League continued to demand for the rights of Muslim community in Hindu majority country, the Hindu communalists kept harping that this country belongs to Hindus alone and Muslims have a secondary place in the nation.

Savarkar’s formulation of Hindutva, Hindu nation formed the ideological base of formation of RSS. RSS came up in the backdrop of threat perceived by upper caste due to rinsing participation of average people in freedom movement led by Gandhi and by the struggles of dalits for their rights. Dalits were inspired by Jotirao Phule and Ambedkar in their struggles. RSS founders were inspired by European concept of Nationalism, particularly that of Hitler and Mussolini. Savarkar was more inspired by Mazzini who was also the ideologue of fascism.

On one track Indian National movement was integrating people of all regions, religions and languages in to single thread of Indian-ness and the formulation “India is a nation in the making” was coined by Surendraanth Bannerjee. Gandhi came to be called Mahatma and Father of nation for his yeomen contribution of uniting the people as Indians and for leading the anti-colonial struggle.

Communal organizations kept aloof from freedom movement. They were supported by handful of elite in the beginning; later many middle class sections also joined them. With partition tragedy most of the communal elements left for Pakistan and Muslim League became a marginal organization. Hindu Mahasabha members involvement in Gandhi murder them discredited them. RSS was also discredited and remained in the shadows for some time.

Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh

RSS after its formation decided to remain aloof from the anti British struggle and even from the active politics. It focused on training the young boys-men into ideology of Hindu rashtra. Its core unit is shakha, where the version of history which is taught is full of venom for Muslim kings, along with glorification of the past where the values of Manusmriti prevailed. In due course the number of its shakhas increased and today they cover all the Indian states. It trained the volunteers into Swayamsevaks (volunteers). Some of them were taken for more in-depth training camps and designated as pracharaks (Propagators).

These pracharaks enter into the field of education, media, and administration and also form organizations like BJP, ABVP, VHP and Bajrang Dal amongst others. Today there are over 200 such organizations affiliated to RSS which are pursuing the agenda of Hindu nation, against the values of Indian constitution.

The hate taught and spread through RSS shakhas was also picked up by the network of schools run by it-Ekal Vidyalaya, Sarswati Shishu Mandir. Lately the social media has intensified the spread of Hate through fake news and IT cell. Today the Hate has taken horrible proportion and open auction of Muslim women, and call for genocide against Muslims is being given openly (Haridwar Dharam Sansad).

It has taken up issues related to emotions around religious identity. The moral values of religion are nowhere to be seen in their political programs and actions. After the Ram Temple issue, the degree of Hate and violence went up at big speed. At the same time policies against rights of dalits, Adivasis, workers, farmers and women are in full display. The other major issue it has taken up is the Kashi and Mathura. Similarly lots of violence has been unleashed on the issues related to beef eating, cow slaughter, love jihad, Ghar Wapasi. Lately it is very active in undermining the role of Gandhi and Nehru in freedom struggle. It also operates through word of mouth propaganda. It never takes up the issues related to people’s welfare, bread, butter shelter and employment. It has nothing to do with betterment of health services and educational facilities.

Its supporters have unleashed and ideological battle against the contributions of professional historian, who have seen Indian history as synthesis Hindus and Muslim. These new ideologues of Right wing are attacking the presentation of Muslims Kings in proper light.

Threats to the Plural: Democratic India

Today we are in a situation where the values of Indian constitution are being openly violated. Calls are being given to undermine Indian Constitution. Freedom movement is being looked down; Godse is being upheld along with worsening situation of the poor and deprived sections of society.

Those who value, cherish and want to uphold the democratic norms and participate in the process of social change towards equality have a big challenge to face in the present situation. The power of communal forces has increased much more during last over seven years. The communal polarization and intimidation of minorities has gone up manifold. The economic downslide of the average people is frightening. What can we do to ensure that democratic values and norms are promoted?

Promoting Fraternity: Amity

We need to revive the spirit of freedom movement. The fraternity which came up during movement needs to be brought to the fore. Our groups working for social change and preservation of rights of weaker sections of society are scattered while working seriously for the causes they uphold.

A. We need to form a loose federation of diverse social groups to coordinate our work. Whatever be the area, type of our work, we have to take up the cause of defense of democratic values as a priority. For this the organizations have to coordinate their efforts.

B. All our social workers need to spend some energy to disseminate the values of amity and harmony. While citing kings and their religion a hate is constructed, we need to revive the spirit of saint traditions-Kabir, Tukaram, Namdeo, Nizammuddin Auliya, Khwaja Garib Nawaj, and Saint Guru Nanak. We need to revive the spirit of amity promoted during freedom movement.

C. We also put proposals for forming workgroups for:

Social media with tasks of making small videos: afresh or from the available sources like Anhad’s ‘Reimagining India’, Apporvanand’s videos, Karavan-E-Mohabbat’s videos or mine from my channel or Satya Hindi series.

D. A team to liaison with different local groups of activists to disseminate it through their channels (Whatsapp, Instagram, face book etc.)

E. A team to work on exploring to initiative weekly fortnightly meetings in localities: These centers can have cultural programs, book poster readings. video screenings of available sources- Anand Patwardhan’s Vivek Reason and other documentaries, Ashok Kumar Pandey and Jaga Bharat’s full length videos, or mine from my channel and other scattered one’s. For this we need to liaison with different National groups like NAPM, Aruna Roy’s School for Democracy, Prashant Bhushan’s Sambhabna Institute, Rashtra Seva Dal, Jaga Bharat, Irfan Engineer’s Peace Centers, and National Solidarity Forum.

F. We need to form delegations to meet political leaders to emphasize to have opposition unity in forthcoming delegations.

These are some out of the proposed measures; many more useful suggestions need to be brought to fore and implemented.

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