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Mainstream, VOL L, No 19, April 28, 2012

The First Kannada Saraswati Samman Awardee on Jawaharlal Nehru

Monday 30 April 2012

by N.S. RAGHUNATH

Kannada, which was credited with the classical language status recently, seems to be walking away with every prestigious literary award the country has instituted. It has won eight Jnanpeeths, a Magasaysay (K.V. Subbanna), a Kalidas (B.V. Karanth), a Kabir (M.G. Adiga) and now the Saraswati Samman by S.L. Bhyrappa, which has given the people something to celebrate. It has made many a writer blissfully happy, but the benchmark for the Saraswati Samman, I’m afraid, has raised several eyebrows in serious literary circles. U.R. Ananthamurthy doesn’t even consider him a novelist. Girish Karnad, who made his novel ‘Vamshavruksha’ into a film, regrets it now calling him a reactionary. Rural Karnataka worships him, conservative city dwellers adore him, liberals and secular people scorn him. Well-known industrialists are bending over backwards to promote him. Narayana Murthy of Infosys calls his ‘Avarana’ “an epic”. Serious literary critics consciously avoid him; some refuse even to mention his name in any literary discussion. No Dalit writer has ever considered him a littérateur.

There is a complete book on him comparing him with Manu, ‘Bhyrappa and Manu’ by Heere Wadeyar. If he is a gift of Saraswati to orthodox Hindus, for liberal thinkers, he is a sort of anathema. A Gandhian character in ‘Avarana’, Narasimhegowda, says to his daughter Lakxmi, when she decides to marry a Muslim fellow student Amir and decides to proselytise,

“It’s not what you do as an individual. The child born to you or its child, or any child in the next generations will destroy our temples. Its sin will touch you. Understand it, my daughter.” (19)

A Gandhian should have said it! Prof Bhyrappa is known for his scholarship in Mysore. If it really is a statement of an anguished father, it can be a statement of a character. But if he is a Gandhian, then, there is a horrible mistake in understanding Gandhi.

OF LATE, Prof Bhyrappa’s writing on the Nehru era has been serialised in a daily called Kannadaprabha. The editorial staff of this paper, incidentally, is closely associated with the Sangh Parivar’s ideology. They were earlier with another Kannada daily, Vijaya Karnataka. Bhyrappa regularly wrote in it. But the entire staff moved over to Kannadaprabha. As a strange coincidence, Bhyrappa’s articles have moved over to this paper now. On his way back from Delhi after receiving the Samman, he was interviewed on the Suvarna 24x7 channel run by Kannadaprabha.

The award was presented to Dr Bhyrappa on November 16 at Delhi by Dr Karan Singh who, besides being Chairman of the Indian Council of Cultural Relations, is Chairman of the Executive Council of the Nehru Memorial Museum and Library and Vice-Chairman of the Jawaharlal Nehru Memorial Fund (Mrs Sonia Gandhi is the Chairperson). Dr Karan Singh showered praises on the awardee (‘He is truly a man who has risen from the ground’).

The awardee, who has ‘risen from the ground’, slices Nehru for his English education, political affinities and domestic policies. Nehru’s personality too is brought under close scrutiny. He sketches Motilal’s aristocratic life in Anand Bhavan, Nehru’s education at Harrow and Cambridge and how he developed the royal dignity of an English gentleman. If Motilal’s natural languages were Urdu and Persian, Nehru’s was English. He was looked upon as a prince with Divine qualities; his image was boosted and glorified by writers, journalists, poets and films.
His association with Russia is dealt with at length. His socialist ideas, the Five-Year Plans were borrowed from the USSR. Nehru always started his speech with the word “Comrades”. When Nehru saw Stalin’s body in the USSR, he exclaimed: “it’s difficult to believe this sleeping man is dead…. In India he would have been elevated to sainthood.” Bhyrappa comments: “If Nehru can say ‘In India he would have been elevated to sainthood’ of this Changez Khan, who had killed 70 lakh people, we can realise how he had understood the Indian attitude.”

In 1946, elections were fought on the issue of the division of India. The Congress was on the side of united India. Hindus in Pakistan area voted en mass for the Congress, but the Muslims overwhelmingly voted for the creation of Pakistan. Pakistan came into being. If Turkey’s Kemal Pasha’s principle was adopted (after Greece was defeated, Kemal Pasha proposed that the people of the two countries be exchanged on one-to-one basis; it was done and the matter was settled) all Muslims should have been sent to Pakistan, and all Hindus brought to India. But the Congress of Nehru and Gandhi declared that the country can be ruled on the votes of the Muslim League. They firmly declared that we have been secular; therefore, Indian Muslims should remain here. On the other hand, Hindus in Pakistan were killed, butchered, looted and subjected to sexual atrocities. From the West and East Pakistan, tens of thousands of Hindus came as refugees. Nehru did nothing to protect them. Nehru deployed the police and military forces to protect the Muslims in India.

In the border areas of India, Hindus beat up the Muslims and started pushing them out into Pakistan. Then Gandhi of non-violence went on fast, played on the Hindu sentiments and controlled the situation. Nehru used the newly acquired power and threatened to send police and military to restrain the Hindus. He roared that Hindus are barbaric. The press gave promi-nence to his roaring. Then Sardar Patel and the West Bengal Chief Minister, B.C. Roy, said to Nehru that he suggest to Pakistan that we would send as many Muslims as Hindus came in. Nehru bitterly opposed it. He dug in his heels and roared again: “The problems of Hindus in Pakis-tan is not ours. But the Muslims in India are our citizens, their safety is our responsibility.”

There was a global imbalance in the world because of the WW II. In such a situation, the British had no choice but to get out of India. Got out they did and we got independence. Prime Minister Nehru followed the “divide-and-rule” policy of the British. The British had projected themselves as the saviours of the oppressed classes. Nehru continued the strategies of the British to keep power in his hands. In independent India, the majority Hindus would suppress the minority Muslims, said the British; therefore, in order to project himself as the sole saviour of the Muslim community, Nehru gave reservation to them, encouraged Urdu, created separate educational institutions for them and, in elections, they were specially put up as candidates. In every decision of his, there was a strategy to play the Muslim community off against the Hindus. He had sent a circular to every State to report every three months on how many jobs were given to this minority (Muslims). Since every State was ruled by the Congress, they bent over backwards to please their master. They started filling posts with Muslims irrespective of the latter’s eligibility. He ordered that Urdu be encouraged by giving it all the status of a minority language. In fact, there is no such thing as ‘special status for the minority’ in the Constitution. His unrestrained power violated the Constitution. There was nobody to rein in Nehru; no attempt to take him to court either in those days.

WHEN the retired High Court Judge, M.C. Chagla, expressed his desire to enter politics, Nehru asked him to contest from Aurangabad. Mr Chagla wrote that Bombay was the place where he was born, brought up and practised law and became a judge. “They know me better. Aurangabad doesn’t know anything about me. How can I contest there?” Nehru’s Congress told him: “Aurangabad has Muslim majority. You are a Muslim. It’s appropriate that you contest from there.” “This is Nehru’s secularism!” The British sowed the seed of caste divide in this country. Watered and manured by Nehru, it grew sumptuously. During Indira, it grew into a massive tree.

The Indian Muslims voted for the creation of Pakistan but remained here. The Pakistani Muslims didn’t want Indian Muslims because they would be a burden on them. In fact, it was logical and justifiable to send them to Pakistan. Even after keeping them here, he should have made them to identify themselves with India. “But Nehru created a new class called minorities.” He supported their language, their customs, their own family laws, set them off against Hindus and helped them to retain a separate identity. Because they are in majority, he kept Kashmir, which General Thimmayya had fought to retain in India by spilling the blood of many soldiers, as a separate State by creating Article 370. He saw to it that Kashmir would never become part of India. Nehru is completely responsible for making Kashmir a Muslim State.

These are the views of the latest Saraswati Samman awardee – without any comment. His ‘epic’ and other literary writings reflect a view of Indian history, society and polity which has endeared him to the Hindutvavadis and their followers in Karnataka, a sort of literary icon for obscurantists and revivalists.

The author is a Visiting Professor, Department of English, Karnatak University, Dharwar (Karnataka). He can be contacted at e-mail: raghunath351@ yahoo.co.in

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