January 17, 2021

India: Rhetoric, Parivar Kinship and Performative Politics in Kerala, 1925–2015 | P K Yasser Arafath (in EPW)

P K Yasser Arafath

Southern Hindutva

Rhetoric, Parivar Kinship and Performative Politics in Kerala, 1925–2015

Even though Hindutva’s modus operandi in Kerala has not been significantly different from other places in India, the strategies it evolved in the state have certain interesting characteristics. In order to comprehend those, the intrinsic connections between the growth of Hindutva and the elements of violence, sexual politics, and the notion of purity need to be analysed. It is important to see how the parivar designed its scheme in Kerala where all three of its declared internal threats— Communist, Muslims and Christians—have powerful shares and decisive presence in every walk of life.

Considering itself as the surrogate family (parivar) of all Hindus, Hindutva has created a decisive presence—physical, emotional, and ideological—in Kerala over the past eight decades. However, mainstream academics have treated the presence of Hindutva either as the effect of an invisible melancholy or an inconsequential anomaly and, as a result, have failed to unearth the intricate web of relations that underlie its political growth. Therefore, this paper tries to open up some important questions about the rise and growth of Hindutva in Kerala by examining some core elements of its political and ideological characteristics. It argues that even though Hindutva’s modus operandi in Kerala has not been significantly different from other places in India, the strategies it evolved in the state have certain interesting characteristics. Therefore, this paper examines, albeit briefly, how the parivar designed its scheme in Kerala where all three of its declared internal threats—Communist, Muslims and Christians—have powerful shares and decisive presence in every walk of life. Thus, the first part of this paper has been conceived within a broad chronological frame, mainly for the reason that the scholarship on Hindutva in Kerala is relatively new and placing its growth in such way is necessary. The second part deals with the intrinsic connection between its growth and the elements of violence, sexual politics, and the notion of purity. It also argues the growth of Hindutva affected three characteristics of the region, namely maitri (harmony), lohyam (friendship) and kooru (loyalty), over a period of time.  [ . . . ]


January 14, 2021

Love Jihad, Conversions and Legislation

Love Jihad, Conversions and Laws curbing Freedoms Ram Puniyani Uttar Pradesh Prohibition of Unlawful Conversion of Religion Ordinance 2020, passed by UP on 27th November 2020, has set the ball rolling. On one hand many other BJP ruled states like MP and Haryana are activating their machinery to bring in similar law in their states and on the other at social level many interfaith couples are being subjected to harassment, some of the Muslim men in particular are being put behind the bars. This law has intentions which are out and out communal as already from 1960s there have been anti-conversion laws. The new laws have goals which are sinister and have the potential of being misused to create social disharmony. While the ordinance does not use the word love jihad, the foot soldiers of the Hindu nationalist politics are out in the open with apprehending Muslim Man-Hindu girl couple and subjecting them to increasing degrees of torture. In Northern states the phenomenon of intimidation and violence against such couples, the Muslim men in particular is surging. Gradually more couples are being brought into the spiral of moral policing and intimidations. The worst part of the process is that those taking the laws into their hands enjoy impunity and are becoming bolder in creating a divisive atmosphere in the society and pushing back the minority Muslim community into submission and marginalization. At the same time these are putting pressure on Hindu girls and restricting their mobility and freedom. This time two issues are being rolled into one. The fear of conversions away from Hinduism is being linked to Hindu girls having relationship with Muslim boys. At one level interfaith and inter caste relationships are natural in an open society, where people from different castes/religion interact at various levels. Dislike for interfaith marriages was put bluntly by the UP Chief minister Adityanath Yogi, who citing a recent ruling of the Allahabad High Court which said religious conversion for the sake of marriage is unacceptable, warned that those waging “love jihad” should mend their ways or be prepared for their last journey — “Ram naam satya hai ki yatra nikalne waali hai”. (The slogan recited in the funeral processions) The instructions have also been passed down that parents should keep a watch on their daughters. The new law brought in by the UP Government needs to be questioned in the courts as it is an outright attack on different clauses of the Constitution, which gives us the freedom to choose, practice and propagate our faith and other provisions giving us liberty to choose our life partner. This present law (UP and possibly in other states) aims to popularize that Hindu culture is under threat, Hindu girls are vulnerable and Hindu males have to act as their protectors. While the ordinance does not mention the word love jihad, the background and the statements of the top leaders of Hindu nationalism and the actions of vigilantes makes it clear that it is an outright attempt to target the inter faith marriages , especially when the groom is a Muslim. The accusation is that after such marriages the Hindu girl is unable to practice her religion in her marital home and is forced to convert. Such cases of interfaith marriages are few and far between in this large country of ours’. In more democratized countries interfaith marriages are on the rise, close to becoming social norm. Also Muslim girl and Hindu boy cases are fewer in number, and in the present scenario even the Hindu boy (Ankit Saxena) has to face the wrath of the parents of the girl. The Trinmul Congress MP Nusrat Jahan was also trolled for her choice to marry a Hindu. But overall the hue and cry, the target is the Muslim boy. In Maharashtra, a group “Hindu Rakshak Samiti” has been claiming to save Hindu religion by breaking up the Hindu Muslim couples, if the girl happens to be a Hindu. A booklet in Marathi on Love Jihad shows a Muslim boy riding the Motor bike, with Hindu girl riding pillion. In case of a Muslim girl marrying a Hindu and converting is presented as Ghar Wapasi (return home) so is not attacked by Hindu vigilante groups. The police investigation mostly showed that there is no such phenomenon as Love Jihad. The organizational promotion of such marriages is a hoax but has become part of social understanding. Why are there such and opposition to inter faith marriage? Is it a plan by Muslims to lure Hindu girls, marry and convert them? This is a make believe propaganda. As such it is an attempt to paint the Muslim men doing it deliberately under a plan! What is missed out in the whole scheme of things is that here, in this assertive aggressive propaganda and violence the agency of Hindu girls/women is reduced to zero. Hindu girls are presented as being gullible and without any will or decision making power of their own. While Muslim men are presented as a threat to Hinduism and the Hindu girls are presented as being without any mind of their own. The advice being given to parents to keep a watch on the movements of their daughters and their contacts is a mechanism to control the lives of girls. All sectarian nationalist ideologies are strongly patriarchal and so the woman has to be under the control of men as ‘their property’. Patriarchal values and nationalism under the wraps of religion go hand in hand. With Independence and implementation of Indian Constitution this journey takes a good leap and we can see the women as their own selves coming to all the spheres of Indian social, educational and political life of the country. This is a matter of discomfiture to those who pay lip service to values of equality and eulogize the ancient holy texts, which give subordinate place to women. Hope the judiciary is able to restrain the state governments in withdrawing these laws which are oppressive. The interfaith amity needs to be promoted at all the levels.

January 08, 2021

Hindi Article- Patriotism, Religion and Mohan Bhagwat

देशभक्ति, धर्म और संघी सोच -राम पुनियानी पिछले कुछ वर्षों से 'देशद्रोही' शब्द का काफी इस्तेमाल हो रहा है. देशद्रोही की परिभाषा बहुत स्पष्ट और सीधी-साधी है. जो भी आरएसएस या उसके कुनबे का आलोचक है, वह देशद्रोही है. आरएसएस हिन्दू राष्ट्रवाद की विचारधारा का स्त्रोत है और जैसे-जैसे वह ताकतवर होता जा रहा है, वैसे-वैसे धर्म को देशभक्ति से जोड़ने के उसके प्रयास तेज होते जा रहे हैं. वह हिन्दुओं को देश के प्रति वफ़ादार मानता और बताता है और कभी प्रत्यक्ष तो कभी परोक्ष तरीके से यह साबित करना चाहता है कि मुसलमान, पाकिस्तान के प्रति वफ़ादार हैं. अभी हाल में संघ के मुखिया मोहन भागवत ने फ़रमाया कि अपने धर्म के कारण हिन्दू स्वभावतः देशभक्त होते हैं. गांधीजी द्वारा कहे गए एक वाक्य को तोड़-मरोड़ कर, भागवत ने यह साबित करने का प्रयास भी किया कि गांधीजी की देशभक्ति के मूल में उनका हिन्दू होना था. "सभी भारतीय अपनी मातृभूमि की पूजा करते हैं. परन्तु गांधीजी ने कहा था कि उनकी देशभक्ति उनके धर्म से आती है. अतः, अगर आप हिन्दू हैं तो आप देशभक्त होंगें ही. एक हिन्दू अचेत हो सकता है जिसे जागृत करना होगा, लेकिन कोई हिन्दू भारत विरोधी नहीं हो सकता," उन्होंने कहा. इस वक्तव्य के निहितार्थों को समझने से पहले हम यह जान लें कि आरएसएस के शुरूआती चिंतकों में से एक, एमएस गोलवलकर ने खुलकर नाजियों की तारीफ़ की थी और यह भी कहा था कि मुसलमानों और ईसाईयों (जो संघ के अनुसार विदेशी धर्मों को मानने वाले हैं) के साथ वही किया जाना चाहिए जो नाजियों ने यहूदियों के साथ किया था. पिछले कुछ दशकों में आरएसएस की ताकत में जबरदस्त वृद्धि हुई है. उसके विशाल कुनबे में शामिल कई संगठनों जैसे भाजपा, विश्व हिन्दू परिषद, अखिल भारतीय विद्यार्थी परिषद और वनवासी कल्याण आश्रम के प्रभाव क्षेत्र का विस्तार हुआ है और उसने राज्य के विभिन्न अंगों, मीडिया और शैक्षणिक संस्थाओं में गहरी पैठ बना ली है. उसकी विचारधारा और सोच अब भी वही है परन्तु अब वह थोड़े दबे-छुपे ढंग से अपनी बातें कहता है. एमएस गोलवलकर की पुस्तक "वी ऑर अवर नेशनहुड डिफाइंड' अब भी उसकी पथप्रदर्शक है. परन्तु अब वह उन्हीं बातों को गोल घुमा कर कहता है जिससे कई लोग भ्रमित हो जाते हैं. जहाँ तक गांधीजी का सवाल है, उनके लिए धर्म एक निहायत व्यक्तिगत मसला था. वे स्वयं को सनातनी हिन्दू कहते थे परन्तु उनका हिन्दू धर्म उदार और समावेशी था. उनके धर्म का सम्बन्ध कर्मकांडों से कम और नैतिक मूल्यों से ज्यादा था. सभी धर्म उनकी आध्यात्मिक शक्ति के स्त्रोत थे. "मैं अपने आप को उतना ही अच्छा हिन्दू मानता हूँ जितना कि मुसलमान. और मैं अपने आप को उतना ही अच्छा ईसाई और पारसी भी मानता हूँ." (हरिजन, मई 25, 1947). उनका हिन्दू धर्म आस्था और आचरण दोनों स्तरों पर दूसरे धर्मों का सम्मान करता था और उन्हें अपना मानता था. उनका हिन्दू धर्म, आरएसएस के संकीर्ण हिन्दू धर्म के एकदम विपरीत था. संघ केवल विभिन्न मुद्दे उठाकर अन्य धर्मों के लोगों को डराने और नीचा दिखने में विश्वास रखता है. चूँकि गांधीजी का हिन्दू धर्म उदार और समावेशी था इसलिए ही वे ब्रिटिश सरकार के खिलाफ आन्दोलन में सभी धर्मों के लोगों के सर्वमान्य नेता बन सके. वे धर्म को न तो राष्ट्रीयता से जोड़ते थे और ना ही देशभक्ति से. दरअसल, अपने देश और उसके लोगों के प्रति प्रेम और देशभक्ति की भावना का धर्म से कोई सम्बन्ध नहीं है. देशभक्ति का सम्बन्ध राष्ट्रीयता से है और राष्ट्रीयता का धर्म से कोई लेनादेना नहीं है. गांधीजी धर्म शब्द का इस्तेमाल दो अर्थों में करते थे. एक तो उस अर्थ में जिसमें आम लोग उसे समझते हैं अर्थात आस्था, प्रथाएं, पहचान इत्यादि. और दूसरा, धार्मिक शिक्षाओं में निहित नैतिक मूल्य. वे यह मानते थे कि नैतिकता सभी धर्मों की आत्मा है. इसके विपरीत, आरएसएस जैसे संगठन और मुस्लिम सम्प्रदायवादी (मुस्लिम लीग इत्यादि), धर्म शब्द का प्रयोग केवल बाहरी चीज़ों जैसे अनुष्ठानों, कर्मकांडों, तीर्थस्थलों आदि के सन्दर्भ में करते हैं. जो चिन्तक और लेखक हिन्दू राष्ट्रवाद में यकीन रखते हैं और आरएसएस की सोच से सहमत है, वे दिन-रात इस जुगत में लगे रहते हैं कि किसी प्रकार गाँधीजी और अन्य राष्ट्रीय नायकों के भाषणों, वक्तव्यों और लेखन से ऐसे शब्द, ऐसे वाक्य खोज निकाले जाएं जिनसे यह साबित किया जा सके कि भारतीय राष्ट्र के इन निर्माताओं की सोच वही थी जो आरएसएस की है. वे अपनी विचारधारा से चिपके रहना चाहते हैं परन्तु इसके साथ ही समाज में अधिक स्वीकार्यता प्राप्त करने के लिए यह दिखाना चाहते हैं कि भारत के स्वाधीनता संग्राम के महानायकों के विचार उनके जैसे थे. इसी कवायद के अंतर्गत यह कहा जा रहा है कि हिन्दू 'प्राकृतिक देशभक्त' हैं और देशद्रोही हो ही नहीं सकते. वे यह सन्देश भी देना चाहते हैं कि अन्य धर्मों के लोगों का राष्ट्रवाद और देशभक्ति संदेह के घेरे है और अन्य धर्मावलम्बियों को उन लोगों से देशभक्ति का प्रमाणपत्र प्राप्त करने होगा जिनका देशभक्ति और राष्ट्रवाद पर एकाधिकार है और जो हिन्दुओं का प्रतिनिधि होने का दावा करते हैं. जाहिर है कि यह सोच आधुनिक भारत के निर्माण में मुसलमानों और ईसाईयों की भूमिका को कोई महत्व ही नहीं देती. हम उन करोड़ों मुसलमानों को किस खांचे में रखें जिन्होंने खान अब्दुल गफ्फार खान और मौलाना आजाद के नेतृत्व में न केवल ब्रिटिश सरकार से लोहा लिया वरन भारत के विभाजन का भी डटकर विरोध किया? हम शिबली नोमानी, हसरत नोमानी और अशफाक़उल्ला खान का क्या करें? हम अल्लाह बख़्श के बारे में क्या कहें जिन्होंने मुसलमानों का एक बड़ा जलसा आयोजित कर, मुहम्मद अली जिन्ना की पाकिस्तान का मांग का विरोध किया था? मुसलमानों के सैकड़ों संगठनों ने स्वाधीनता संग्राम में हिन्दुओं के साथ कंधे से कन्धा मिलकर अंग्रेजों के खिलाफ संघर्ष किया था. स्वाधीन भारत को आधुनिक और प्रगतिशील बनाने में सभी धर्मों के लोगों का योगदान रहा है. उन्होंने उद्योग, शिक्षा, खेल, संस्कृति और अन्य सभी क्षेत्रों में बड़ी सफलताएं हासिल कीं हैं और देश का नाम रौशन किया है. क्या वे सब राष्ट्रवादी और देशभक्त नहीं हैं? दूसरी ओर, भागवत यह कहकर संघ की शाखाओं में प्रशिक्षित नाथूराम गोडसे का बचाव कर रहे हैं जिसने गांधीजी की हत्या की थी. हम उन लोगों को क्या कहें जिन्होंने बाबरी मस्जिद को ज़मींदोज किया, जिसे सुप्रीम कोर्ट ने अपराध करार दिया है? क्या भागवत यह मानते हैं कि गांधीजी, कलबुर्गी, दाभोलकर, गौरी लंकेश और गोविन्द पंसारे के हत्यारे देशभक्त थे? क्या वे हिन्दू भी देशभक्त हैं जो अन्य मुल्कों के लिए जासूसी करते पकड़े गए हैं, जो तस्करी करते हैं, ब्लैकमार्केटिंग करते हैं? जहाँ एक ओर आरएसएस, गांधीजी के प्रति सम्मान का भाव रखने का नाटक करता है वहीं उसके प्रचारक और चिन्तक और उससे जुड़े कई संगठन खुलेआम नाथूराम गोडसे का महिमामंडन कर रहे हैं. पिछली गाँधी जयंती पर बड़ी संख्या में हिन्दुओं ने गोडसे की प्रशंसा करते हुए ट्वीट किये. साफ़ है कि आरएसएस के कई चेहरे और मुखौटे हैं. वो एक ही समय में गांधीजी के प्रति श्रद्धा भी व्यक्त कर सकता है और उस सोच को बढ़ावा भी दे सकता है जिसके कारण बापू की जान गयी. (अंग्रेजी से हिन्दी रूपांतरण अमरीश हरदेनिया)

January 07, 2021

Patriotism, Religion and RSS ideology

Patriotism, Religion and RSS Ideology Ram Puniyani Word ‘anti-National’ has been more in vogue form last few years. Simply put all those who are criticizing the RSS and its progeny are labeled as anti-National. As fountainhead of Hindu Nationalism RSS is becoming stronger, it has been trying to link patriotism and religion. While hailing Hindus for their loyalty to this nation, the subtle hints are being circulated about Muslims in particular that they are more loyal to Pakistan. In cleverly worded articulation, (HT Jan 02, 2020) the chief of RSS, Mohan Bhagwat said that Hindus are patriotic by nature due to their religion. He also twists a sentence of Gandhi to state that Gandhi’s patriotism had its origin in Hindu religion, “All Indians worship motherland. But Gandhi said my patriotism comes from my religion. So if you are a Hindu then you will be an automatic patriot. You may be an unconscious Hindu, you may need awakening, but a Hindu will never be anti-India.” Before analyzing the subtle hints hidden in this formulation let’s understand that when RSS began, its major ideologue M.S. Golwalkar was forthright in praising the Nazis and recommended the treatment for Muslims and Christians (Foreign religions, according to RSS) on the lines which were used by Nazis for Jews. Now from last few decades as RSS is becoming more powerful through it multiple organizations like BJP, VHP, ABVP, Vanvasis Kalyan Ashram, and through its infiltration into different wings of state, media and education, it is using more subtle language, while communicating the same Hindu nationalist ideology. The meaning and content remains the same, which Golwalkar had outlined in ‘We or Our Nationhood Defined’, but the presentation is well decorated, subtle to the extent of confusing many in the society. As far as Gandhi is concerned, for him religion was a personal matter. He did call himself as sanatani Hindu, but his Hinduism was liberal and inclusive. His religion had more to do with moral values. He derived his spiritual strength from all the religions, "I consider myself as good a Muslim as I am a Hindu and for that matter, I regard myself as equally good a Christian or a Parsi". (Harijan, May 25 197, page 164). There is respect and inclusivity for people of other religions in his practice of Hinduism. This is in total contrast to exclusivist, narrow understanding and practice of Hinduism of RSS, which is continuously raking up issues to frighten and intimidate people of other religions. As Gandhi’s practice of his religion was liberal and inclusive he could lead the people of different religions in the struggle against British rule. He also did not connect up religion and nationality or for that matter to patriotism. In that sense patriotism, love for one’s country and countrymen, is not rooted in the religion but in the ‘Nationhood’ which is not an outcome of religion for that matter. His use of word religion has two levels. One is the popular notion of customs, identity, faith etc. and second the morality inherent in the teachings of religion. Though he is very clear that morality is the core of religions, the likes of RSS or for that matter even the Muslim communalists (Muslim League etc.) take his use of the word purely at the level of rituals, holy places etc. only. The ideologues, who are a part of Hindu nationalist outlook, close to RSS mindset, are burning the midnight oil to dig fragments of sentences, not only from Gandhi and other national icons to present as if the values of these makers of ‘India as a nation’ had ideas similar to that of RSS. In the process they retain the RSS ideology while trying to get more legitimacy by showing their similarity to the great icons of India’s freedom movement and the process of ‘India as a nation in the making’. So now the formulation is that Hindus are naturally patriots, they can’t be anti national. The other side of this is that the nationalism and patriotism of those belonging to other religions is suspect, subject to certification by those who have a monopoly of being patriots and nationalists, those claiming to represent Hindus. This totally bypasses the great contributions of Muslims and Christians in making of modern India. Where do you place the millions of Muslims who followed Khan Abdul Gaffar Khan and Maulana Abul Kalam Azad who stood not only against British rule but also against the concept of partition of India? Where do you place the likes of Shibli Nomani, Hasrat Mohani, and Ashfaqullah Khan? How do you value the contribution of Allahbaksh who was instrumental in organizing the conference of Muslims to oppose the resolution for separate Pakistan by Mohammad Ali Jinnah? There were innumerable organizations formed by Muslims who rubbed shoulders with participants in the struggle for freedom movement. In Independent India people of all religions have contributed with equal zeal in making of modern India, in all the fields of industry, education, sports, culture and what have you. Are they not patriots or nationalists? On the other side this formulation of Mr. Bhagwat is a clever defense of the one trained in its shakhas who murdered Gandhi, Nathuram Godse. How do we label those who participated and led in demolition of Babri Mosque, which was called as a crime by the Supreme Court? As per Bhagwat do acts of killing of Gandhi, Kalburgi, Dabholkar, Gauri Lankesh and Govind Pansare fall in the category of patriotic acts? Where do so many Hindus involved in spying, smuggling, black marketing etc. are to be placed? Interestingly as RSS is making a show of paying respect to Gandhi, at the same time its trained pracharaks and fellow ideologues and many of its affiliated organizations are openly paying respect to Nathuram Godse. This Gandhi anniversary tweets praising Godse were aplenty, mostly from Hindus. That just shows the ideological manipulation capability of the multithreaded hydra, RSS. Only such an organization can simultaneously make the show of paying obeisance to Gandhi while quietly enhancing the ideology which led to his murder.

January 06, 2021

India: The Sangh-BJP equation in Modi 2.0 govt | Radhika Ramaseshan (Jan 6, 2021)

 BJP’s new power order

Tweaked hierarchy gives it full control, reducing RSS’s interventions

by Radhika Ramaseshan

Senior Journalist

An organisational restructuring in the BJP is rarely newsworthy unless the change is effected at the top or a big-time functionary such as Ram Madhav is dropped from the central team of office-bearers and Vasundhara Raje is shafted to pave the way for a leadership makeover in Rajasthan. Recently, JP Nadda, the BJP president, quietly tweaked the organisational hierarchy to reinforce a significant political message: the BJP will exercise complete control over the party and its apparatuses and the patriarch RSS’s interventions could become minimal, if not nominal. The Sangh-BJP equation that was in a permanent flux has settled into a constant in the Modi regime. PM Modi rules over a BJP-majority government that is not rocked by the coalition partners or an Opposition. Until he confronted his first challenge in the farmers’ movement, his authority appeared incontestable. The RSS is hands-off towards the protests. Its farmers’ front, the Bharatiya Kisan Sangh (BKS) issued innocuous statements. The paterfamilias is in no mood to rock the boat.

The BJP took advantage of its commanding position to minimise the presence of the RSS pracharaks in Nadda’s team and overturned an arrangement ostensibly cast in stone. BL Santhosh remains the general secretary (organisation), and there is no dilution in the power he wields as the second-most important person in the party. In the past, a general secretary, however influential, had two or more deputies ‘assisting’ him. This line-up of the general secretary and the joint general secretaries (organisation) under him was generally made up of obscure figures who avoided the media, although Sunder Singh Bhandari and KN Govindacharya were exceptions and liberally shared information and political insights. Santhosh and Ramlal, his predecessor, had a trio under them, comprising V Satish, Saudan Singh and Shiv Prakash all of who were ‘loaned’ to the BJP for long-term work.

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