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Mainstream, VOL LIV No 14 New Delhi March 26, 2016

Most Indians Would be Considered Anti-National

Monday 28 March 2016, by Sandeep Pandey

Lately, a number of people have been described as anti-national by the Hindutva lobby. Most shocking is their definition of anybody who worships ‘demons’ from Hindu mythology as also anti-national. The mythological figures belong to a distant past when the concept of nation-state was not there. Nation is a modern concept and it is defined by our Constitution which, in the wildest of imaginations, has no place for mythology. Only an insane person would confuse the two things. It is a pity that even government institutions, like the police, are falling in this trap of the Hindutva campaign.

It appears that the Hindtuva lobby is assuming that India has become a Hindu Rashtra merely because the BJP has come to power at the Centre. Now deceased Vishwa Hindu Parishad President Ashok Singhal had described the Narendra Modi Government as the first Hindu Government after the Mughal and British rules. But this is the illusory world of the Hindutva brigade. It is only by considering India as a Hindu Rashtra that one can go to the ludicrous extent of calling people worshipping demons as anti-national. This is similar to the application of the blasphemy law on people who denigrate Prophet Mohammed or the Quran in a Islamic state. Does this mean that we’re headed towards being a theocratic state? This should be a cause for concern by people who value democracy, secularism and freedom of speech.

The Hindutva lobby represents a very narrow worldview which is not shared by a large segment of the Indian population including Dalits, tribals, minorities, sections of Other Backward Castes, atheists and secularists. Together these groups would easily constitute more than half of the population. The BJP has come to power with less than half the number of votes. Hence they may have a majority in the Lok Sabha but they certainly do not enjoy the majority support.

If there are people who worship Durga in this country, there are people who worship Mahishasur. If there are people in this country who worship Ram, there are people who worship Ravan. If there are places associated with gods, there are places associated with demons. When Smriti Irani says that she is hurt by the pamphlet brought out by the Dalit, tribal, OBC students of the Jawaharlal Nehru University on the occasion of the ‘Mahishasur Martyrdom Day’ which is offending towards Goddess Durga, does she even conceive that there might be people in this country who’re offended by the acts of Goddess Durga? In any case, how does she think that by virtue of being a Durga devotee she is a more righteous citizen than her less privileged fellow citizens whose only fault is that they chose to worship somebody who is opposed to her deity?

This country is known for its diversity. The Sangh Parivar is bent upon destroying this diversity and wants the upper-caste point of view to prevail. Ordinarily, people believing in different thoughts have learned to co-exist in this country. When two religious communities have events on the same days, the local District Magistrate makes influential people from the two communities to sit down and works out a mutually agreeable plan so that both communities may observe their events peacefully. The BJP Government is conveying that only what is agreeable to the upper-caste point of view will be allowed in this country. The rest would be categorised as anti-national and their only place will be in jails. Hence the Hindutva mindset poses a threat to the diverse thoughts of this country as well as its democracy.

But there is an interesting twist to the whole debate. The upper-caste notion of a demon is someone possessing muscle power and also who indulges in worldly pleasures. Demon represents evil. In our democracy when people have a choice between a simple, honest, straightforward candidate who is a paragon of virtue and a criminal, mafia, domineering candidate who uses ill-gotten wealth to win the election, people have shown their preference for the latter because the common people believe that their representative should be materially and muscularly strong. These candidates are akin to demons as they have various criminal cases pending against them and have acquired wealth illegally. Does this not mean that we are a demon-worshipping people? If this is true, then by the definition of the Hindutva brigade most people of this country should fall in the category of being anti-national. Except for some bright spots like the Anna Hazare-led anti-corruption movement, most of the educated people in this country most of the time end up supporting corruption. People also don’t have problems with criminals, especially if they belong to their own caste or religion. Shouldn’t all these people be considered anti-national? If the Hindutva lobby had its way there would be more people inside the jails than outside.

When Narendra Modi ran for the post of the PM, he did not inform the people that the Hindutva brigade will have a free run in the BJP rule. He won the election on a secular agenda, promise of achche din, which everybody thought would be good governance. The people did not bargain for imposition of the Hindtuva agenda on the country. Hence Narendra Modi must seek a fresh mandate if he wants to unleash the Hindutva forces in society. The BJP Government has allowed its supporters to build an atmosphere of fear in society for anybody who doesn’t agree with the Hindutva ideology. The people of India have been cheated in a democracy by a group which simply doesn’t believe in democracy.

Noted social activist and Magsaysay awardee Dr Sandeep Pandey was recently sacked this year from the IIT-BHU where he was a Visiting Professor on the charge of being a “Naxalite” engaging in “anti-national” activities. He was elected along with Prof Keshav Jadhav the Vice-President of the Socialist Party (India) at its founding conference at Hyderabad on May 28-29, 2011.

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