September 26, 2015

Death of secularism: This is Modi and Hindutva's dream of India (Rajeev Dhawan in Daily O)


Death of secularism: This is Modi and Hindutva's dream of India
We have become a country for banning books, films, art and ideas.


Rajeev Dhavan

Has the slide begun? That too so easily? Prime Minister Narendra Modi is not a man of ideas. He is a strange mixture of copy-cat economics and pulpit politics. If this is a positive side, at least he thinks so, there is a downside - allowing his social and electoral armies (the saffron brotherhood) to send India sliding into divisive disaster. In the Vajpayee government, there was what Professor Pralay Kanungo called a "confidence deficit" in the RSS. Today the Parivar is pervasive.

Never in our independent history, has our conscience been so stubbornly strained. In Gujarat, it is reported an FIR gave the residence address of an accused as "Vatva, Pakistan". In Nalasopara, a number of Muslim families got electricity bills addressed to Chota Pakistan. The ghetto Juhapura is called a "Mini Pakistan... with Wagah border".


The "ghar wapsi" campaign is not a request but intimidation. It is a sequel to the undeclared "desh chhodo". We have seen the campaigns in Mumbai against Biharis.

Violent campaigns against the people from the Northeast. If India does not want the Northeasterners, are they prepared to allow the Northeast to secede? Culture minister Mahesh Sharma says late APJ Abdul Kalam "was a nationalist despite being a Muslim". Was vice-president Hamid Ansari a "communalist" in seeking the uplift of Muslims through reservation? A meat ban is imposed during the Jain festivities. The Kashmir Valley's Majlis-e-Ulama urged the Kashmiris to defy the beef ban during Eid and change the beef ban law. A PIL has been filed. The Bombay High Court passed an interim order lifting the ban on the sale of meat imposed by a municipal corporation.

The Jains came to the Supreme Court where Justices Thakur and Kurian told them "meat ban cannot be forced down citizens' throats... Be tolerant to diversity."

Meat shops are banned on the Kanwariyas' route from Hardwar. The RSS inspired Parivar "think-tanks" are preparing India for enmity.

Now, India has become a country for banning books, films, art and ideas. The Censor Board has been taken over. Leela Samson was ousted. In 2009, Madhya Pradesh banned Habib Tanvir's Charandas Chor. In Gujarat, Jaswant Singh's book on Jinnah was banned for its reflections on Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel, as also Joseph Lelyveld on the Great Soul (Mahatma). That such bans take place in other states for other reasons (Vasanthi's Jayalalithaa in Tamil Nadu and Jaishree Mishra on Rani Jhansi in Madhya Pradesh) is not the point. A culture of banning pervades over life and living - by party cohorts and Sangh Parivar.

Khap panchayat

India can now be portrayed as a conglomerate of khap panchayats against love, Muslims, Christians, books, publications and nonconformist thinking. This is the alternative reality of India, as a khap dominated by state intolerance, moral police, religious fanatics and rabid communalists.

And the new-found swamis of the faith have established dens of slave sex and corruption. It does not stop here. Orient Blackswan virtually coerced Megha Kumar to withdraw her Oxford dissertation on "Communalism and Sex in Ahmedabad".

MM Basheer had hostile phone calls and gave up his column on the Ramayana. What do we say of Tamil writer Perumal who was hounded by casteists to declare himself dead as an author? Who killed Narendra Dabholkar, Govind Pansare and Kalburgi? The latter was murdered to showcase what happens to those who question Hinduism and social practices.

This is not the India one dreamed of, but the India of Modi and his "Hindutvas". He will not silence his ranks or condemn. Let them do what they like. A feeble remonstrance, if at all.

Also read: Kalburgi killing: Rational thinking and free speech are under attack in India

Hindutva history

Not that I approve of Muslim fatwas on music genius AR Rahman, but today Hindutva history has rushed to the fore. The controversy over changing the name of Aurangzeb to honour Kalam is petty.

Aurangzeb was a great emperor who gave grants to Hindu temples, imposed religious taxes on both communities when his treasury was empty and unified parts of India. Like many emperors, he did things we consider wrong. Examine his rule. Don't denigrate him ignorantly. Kalam was not the greatest of presidents. His elevation to fame is exalted by Hindutva.

The Parivar wants to remove contemporary secular legacies. The obvious target is Jawaharlal Nehru. That, too, over the Nehru Memorial Museum & Library. Not just a museum, it is a research archive, inspiring learning. Nehru's secularism seems anti-religion, but it was hugely tolerant of and celebrated the diversity of India. The Parivar wants to denigrate Nehru and the Congress but with him secular governance itself. Nehru was without doubt among the greatest statesman of the 20th century. To denigrate him serves perversity.

What is India if its diversity of religions, cultures and beliefs is blunted? Surely, we cannot commit murder for a man's views.