August 01, 2014

Modi and Hindutva footprints - Editorial, Kashmir Times

Kashmir Times - Monday, July 28, 2014

Editorial: Modi and Hindutva footprints

Saffronising education, patronising Hindutva elements will only marginalise secular forces in the country

After demanding ban on bikinis along Goa beaches and end to the tourist destination’s pubs, BJP ally and Goa minister, Deepak Dhavalikar has stirred yet another controversy by expressing hope that prime minister Narendra Modi will develop India into a ‘Hindu nation’. Much as this assertion triggers fears of subversion of the secular fabric of this country, it may well be true. The turn of events in Uttar Pradesh-from Moradabad to Saharanpur, clearly show the path Modi government is taking. Communal violence has preceded the Moradabad and Saharanpur affairs with unprovoked violence in Pune and Meerut. The BJP led NDA government is marching ahead and working overtime in increasing the footprints of Hindutva by saffronising education. After the union human resource development minister Smriti Irani spoke of introduction of ancient religious texts in school education with an aim to instill Hindu pride and Hindu chauvinism in the garb of instilling patriotism, the BJP government has raked up controversies regarding making Hindi mandatory and Sanskrisitisng school curriculum. An RSS symathiser now heads the ICHR with an obvious aim to rewrite the Indian history. RSS ideologue Dinanath Batra’s writings have been included as supplementary reading for school children in Gujarat. A Shiv Sena MP forcefully fed rotis to a fasting Muslim employee to “teach him a lesson” and tennis star Sania Mirza’s appointment as brand ambassador of Telengana has been opposed on grounds that not only reflect a communal streak but also an evident gender bias. All these incidents in a span of two months are enough to reveal a pre-meditated and systemic ways of pursuing the Hindutva agenda.

After loose cannons like Subramaniam Swami churning his hate rhetoric have been ignored, there is absolute silence on the utterances of VHP leaders. Its supremo Ashok Singhal has also called Modi “an ideal swayamsevak” and emphatically declared that Muslims must respect the sentiments of the Hindu culture, threatening that “they cannot survive for long by opposing Hindus”. He has also given up their claims on Ayodhya, Mathura and Kashi, which is nothing short of the dream of the RSS to reduce Muslims to second class citizens with no privileges and rights. Another firebrand VHP leader Pravin Togadia, known for his hate speeches, has endorsed these views by issuing a warning to the Muslims, saying they may have forgotten the 2002 Gujarat riots but would remember the Muzaffarnagar riots of last year. The intimidation came close on the heels of the Baltal violence that ensued when a Kashmiri ponywalla was stabbed by two men from Punjab volunteering for a community kitchen on Amarnath yatra route triggering protests. The clash and the aftermath reveals the ugly offshoots of saffronisation of institutions with CRPF butting in to go on a rampage, injuring two dozen people and army coming out with a statement that it has been tasked to protect the yatris and would make all out efforts to do so, without even a whimper about the local Kashmiri who had been slayed without the cover of protection. Far from Modi government expressing concern over the killing, the BJP leaders and their saffron allies have chosen to speak from a victim’s mindset and talking of the perils the Amarnath pilgrims are exposed to and completely blaming the Muslims.

Such overt and covert ways of fanning divisive and communal fires, or abject silence over these, well demonstrate that the ugly fangs of prejudice, hatred and fascism may out sooner than anyone thought. Modi’s communal past, despite crores of money pumped in for his image makeover and projection as pro-development and pro-modernity, is difficult to forget, especially in light of the saffron slogans he subtly continued to raise even during his recent election campaign. It will be clearer in days to come whether the increasing incidents are isolated aberrations or part of a larger design. If that is not the case, the prime minister should speak up and allay the fears sparked by the rhetoric of his party men and allies. Why should the man, who roared before the elections subject himself to timid silence now?