A new wind has been blowing in the country during the whole of 2015. It wants to overpower the existing air circulation system. It sees an opportunity and therefore seeks to establish a new narrative and thereby recreate history. That this wind see the present moment as its golden chance cannot be faulted to it. Indeed this could be its last chance, its only chance. And if it play its cards correctly and is able to carry a sizable population along with it, then it could succeed to a considerable extent.
I am referring to the awakening of the pro Hindutva forces in India; maybe Bharat would be more appropriate, and their political efforts to script a nationalistic renaissance of sorts. Some of these efforts have transformed into violence and killing. It would be an understatement to simply say that civil society across the country has been rudely shaken by all these alterations to the status-quo. All this has snowballed into a huge intolerance debate and agitations have erupted at various sections with a number of groups taking or being forced to take sides. A few of these significant and yet very unpopular and embarrassing actions were; branding the current education contents and systems as anti-national, branding the heads of governmental institutions as leftist, western educated and therefore again anti-national, lauding Vedic science and its achievements at an International Science Conference, the murder of rationalists and the steam rolling or destruction of opposition, the revival of the Cow Mother belief theory and the frequently expressed desire to dispatch Muslims from India to Pakistan. Let us brace up because I am certain that many more will follow.
As a neutral observer I find it very difficult to equate the forward looking and progressive desire of vast majority of Indian population with the backward looking and regressive thought process of these pro Hindutva groups. That such people do continue to exist in society is not unbelievable but that they are able to exercise some degree of influence is tough to understand. I see this as an affirmation of the presence of fear in society. The pro Hindutva groups like to paint themselves as nationalists and seem to suggest that all remedy of problems of present day living is in bringing back the past traditions. They seem to suggest that the present education system is bad, the present governance system is bad, the present religious system is bad, the present culture of the people is bad, the present caste and religion based appeasement system is bad, and so also the way in which the present population is growing. I really can’t argue on all the above since I don’t have the knowledge but have only some simple questions; one when in the past was it ever good and two is not the present a direct outcome of all past systems.
I don’t have any issues with publicizing the Vedic texts as information. However instead of waving its contents as facts some of these groups should try and if possible establish all its claims as not mere fiction. That may take some doing, some real research. Possible most of it would still remain as information but some portions could get established as real science in the school curriculum. That would still be considerable achievement as it would surely lend a tremendous support to the authenticity of Vedic science which is the real goal of the pro Hindutva groups.
But I do have a major problem with the killing the voice of dissent. This country was never united until the past six decades. Plurality of thoughts and beliefs was the main reason why we were fragmented. But to remain united if we have to shed this privilege of being different, then I really don’t care to remain united. I am myself one unique being and I cannot think or perform like anybody else. I hold this distinctiveness very dear. If we all can remain united but at the same time preserve the right to be different then I am with all. There are huge economic benefits of being one nation and also there are certain rules, responsibilities and accountabilities expected from every citizens of a nation. There are times when individual preferences have to be given up for a common good. Certainly that does make sense. But as a human being I find it degrading that someone needs to be killed or sacrificed in order to bring about homogeneity. Moreover there would hardly anything interesting or even any development if everybody did the same thing.
The Cow Mother is another concept I am unable to digest. Why is cow the only animal to be given such recognition? What crime has the buffalo committed? In India we consume more of buffalo milk and it’s by products. Neither do we distinguish cow and buffalo dung. And yet the Vedas eulogizes only the cow. What sense does it make to selectively legalize in the present days some portions stated in the ancient Vedas? The Vedas also describe horse sacrifice which we don’t practice today. Logically since the Vedas were from the Indus and Saraswati River civilization its influence should not be enforced on the natives of central, south and east Indians. Why not ban the killing of all animals? As a vegetarian even though I would welcome it but as a citizen of a democratic country I would condemn that too.
Coincidentally all these eruptions have manifested after the BJP has come to power at the center. No doubt the BJP has won with the help of the RSS and its pro Hindutva umbrella of organizations. But the basic pitch which has brought it to power was development. To my mind it should stick to that basic and all work should be centered on that. Any deviation would and should be punished like the Bihar election results. However all these pro Hindutva umbrella organizations are proving to be the Achilles heel for the central government because each one of them wants to bring out its own organizations agenda on top of the BJP agenda. All these organizations have to realize that now they are dealing with real politics. When politics confronts economics, politics always loses. That is because the population only wants a better living and they can do with any kind of religion, culture, or belief. The economic argument is so powerful that it can overcome all other arguments. People only want development and that too, only equitable development. That is where the Congress government messed up with their corruption. That is where Vajpayee government lost because they claimed India to be shining while infact there was no such shine in the lives of the poor. People want their next generation to lead a better life. People want the next generation to become internationally competitive and have a broad outlook so as to fit in anywhere in the world. Today the Dalit parents want their ward to study and work in the UK and the USA which until yesterday was the privilege of the richer section. Information technology and information explosion has reduced the whole globe into one geographic mass. This stark difference is so much evident that while the ordinary people are looking to the future, the pro Hindutva groups are look to the past. Perhaps it is high time to ask the question, whether these pro Hindutva organisations are anymore relevant, whether they have outlived their utility?
One also senses the feeling that just because all these decades these pro Hindutva groups have never had the opportunity on a mass scale to try out, explore, implement their ideologies, they are now desperate. They were consistently restrained on the grounds of secularism, and that is one word that they have come to hate. Today they want to pay back intolerance meted out to them by the same coin of intolerance. Today one can see an air of arrogance in their behavior. But in an electorate democracy such arrogance is also short lived and they too will bite the dust. People of this land have always been free to choose their belief systems and sometimes are even forced to. In the past too there have been forceful conversions, but inspite of that, plurality has survived. The Vedic culture had morphed and adapted itself to suits the needs of the time. However inspite of the efforts of the Islamists the Christians and the Buddhists, the Hindus have survived. I find that amazing and I see no reason to fear that it could ever be wiped off from the face of the earth.