By V.B.Rawat, 11 March, 2006 ,Countercurrents.org
Lal Krishna Advani is back to what he has been an ‘expert’ for the past 15 years. After the bomb blasts at the Sankat Mochan temple in Varanasi, he hurriedly organized a press meet and informed the hungry journalists that he along with Rajnath Singh would embark on ‘Bharat Jodo Yatra’ (India integration Yatra) against the policies of the United Progressive Alliance government which have resulted in the blast at Varanasi. Advani says that the blasts were the outcome of ‘minorityism’ being shamelessly played by the UPA government.
While people of Uttar-Pradesh in general and Varanasi in particular should be complimented for a strong response to the antinational forces who tried to dismantle the communal harmony in the temple town, the Hindutva party was unable to understand the need of the people. Its TV face Prakash Javadekar informed that in democracy every one has a right to express their feelings. Problem with Javadekar is that they would not like this right to be given to Muslims.
However, it would be unfair to Advani if the issue of communalization has not been addressed properly. After the demolition of Babari Masjid, things were coming back to normalcy when the issue of Cartoon dominated the debates in India. There are few questions related to this. These questions are bigger than the religion and need introspection from all of us.
Violent Reactions to Dissent
Our feelings are being ‘hurt’ every now and then. When the Cartoon Controversy was in full swing, another TV channel was showing how ‘Hindu’ Gods and goddesses were being denigrated in Europe. Last year Christians also protested against film ‘sin’ which shows illegitimate relationship between a pastor and young girl who visit the church too often. The Sikhs blasted one play right in London for her blasphemy of their religion. Hence it is not just Muslims who are sensitive to ‘criticism’ but we all who have closed our windows and want to believe what we believe and feel right. The biggest casualty in this is truth.
Recently several Dalit right activists have been put behind bar when some of them garlanded the idol of Lord Rama with shoes. They burnt the Manu Smriti and Vedas for their alleged contempt towards the Dalits. The Shiv Sena ‘s goons attacked Zee TVs’ office for allegedly offensive play against its Supreme high command Bala Saheb Thackerey. In Uttar-Pradesh the sensibilities of Bahujan Samaj Party were hurt when CNN-IBN report exposed the ‘financial’ deals of its Goddess Mayawati. Ambedkarites are unhappy with alleged publication of his letters with a British woman who helped him. The Gandhian’s do not feel comfortable with ‘ Mee Naturam Godse Boltai’.
This culture of deification of leaders in the name of identity is a dangerous phenomenon in our part of the world. Whatever we may claim as ‘secular’ values for our democracy, ‘secularism’ and ‘democracy’ are not part of our social system. We live in a sham political democracy, which begin with politicians and end up with them. They use identity as a tool to strengthen their political bargain and purchase unquestioning loyalty from their ‘caste’ and ‘religious’ fellows. In other words, it is ‘crony’ and ‘feudal’ democracy as there is no space for the marginalized and ‘minorities’ in such a democracy. The erstwhile Rajas and Mahrajas, religious gurus, big land mafias, criminals, accused, all, have found best shelter in democracy. Any effort to question them meet with threat of dire consequences.
We pretend that the elections are being contested in the name of development. The fact is a big no. It is the identity politics that dominate our elections. Identities thrive not on success but on the fear. The only success that identities can do is to mobilize people and collect fund from them. The fear of the opposite identity subjugating the other one is exploited very well. An atmosphere of fear is therefore necessary to flourish the identity politics. Once you instill fear by creating an artificial enemy for your community, none of the community poor are going to ask any further question. In fact, he or she would handsomely contribute for strengthening his community work. Ironically, there are no such initiatives for education, hospitals, social work where people can contribute at their own. They still wait for a messiah to come and provide support to them. But in the name of identity, people are ready to ‘strengthen’ their leaders by ‘contributing’ handsomely. The collection by the religious organization is matter of research for every one of us. What could be better than using caste and religion to spread their hateful ideology?
Living for Religion
After all, we are told, life is for religion, for our holy books, holy gods and goddess and not vice versa. All of them are unquestionable. The only question we ask is about other faith. Hindus have pernicious caste system say both Muslims and Christians. How can they tackle so many gods and goddesses? The upper caste middle class Hindus would often pretend to be more ‘modern’ by suggesting Muslim women are worst hit. ‘Muslims are fanatic’, they would often say. Muslim says George Bush and Christian world are killing the Muslims. They must apologize for attack on Iraq. True, Japan must apologize from Korea, Britain from India, Muslims from Hindus for they ruled over 400 years in India. The Upper caste Hindus should apologize from the Dalits. Men should ask mercy from women and so on. Communist should apologize from freethinkers in China, Soviet Union, Cuba and Venezuela. List is long and the only thing is to change ourself. Bring ourself out of these identities, which makes us doubtful about any one who is not conformity with us.
It is also important to understand that minority identity is easily targeted as ‘communal’ while majority identity become ‘national’. Therefore, we can catch an Abu Salem and put an Interpol warrant against Dawood Ibrahim while our police can do nothing against Bal Thackrey and Lal Krishna Advani. Is not it shameful that the man headed the Ministry who had charge sheeted him on the Ayodhya demolition case. Remember, this man preaches us morality in public life. His ‘devotees’, mainly the journalists and Internet breed of Non Reliable Indians (NRIs) are ready to catch his words.
Tragically, it is not just Muslims who thrive on the international identity first and national identity later as Vir Sanghvi might make us feel. The Christians do the same. Their mission work irrespective of countries is basically to serve their religion first and national identity later, otherwise, why would mother Teresa come to India and serve the ‘poor’.
But are Hindus so naïve not to do this identity business. Why should India open its border with Nepal and not with other countries? Why do we not bother that a porous border with Nepal could be equally dangerous such as with Bangladesh? But Nepal is not on the radar of Hindutva because its feudal Maharaja is serving the cause of Hindutva better than others hence none of Hindutva gangs would talk about feudlocracy rampant in Nepal.
It is not for nothing that Mr Advani during his tenure as home minister asked for dual citizenship. One need not to wonder why the Sangh Parivar and its hate mongering offshoots have the largest supporter groups in United States and United Kingdom. One wonders why they could not learn a lesson or two about diversity and democracy living in free societies.
Identity of ‘enemy’
Hence when the Muslim protests in India against George Bush and the so-called Marxists joins it, it makes a lot of soul searching for us. It is easier for our leftist friend to condemn United States and United Kingdom who are much better and independent societies than us. But like Advani, they also need an enemy. Nobody, justify Bush and Blair for their deeds. Their people are against them and they will bite dust next time but how can we ge
t rid of those ‘nationalists’ who are sitting overhead. The Muslim do not protest against the killing by their co-brotherns in Kashmir or when Saddam gassed the Kurds. The Hindus do not protest when the Dalits are hacked to death in the villages. The Christian right wing is happy with George Bush for his ‘family’ philosophy.
We all need an enemy in the identity business. Mulayam need a Yaqub Quraishi to incite Muslims for alleged blasphemous act of a cartoonist who ‘painted’ a picture of prophet. Interestingly nobody know how he looked like hence any drawing in the name of prophet are nothing but idiotic. In fact any drawing in the name of any Gods and Goddess are just by the artificial imagination of our mind. But we easily get hurt. Yaqub Quraishi was ready to give Rs 51 crore to kill the cartoonist. I would suggest him to start a ‘Sarva Siksha Abhiyan’ for Muslim girls with this money. That would serve him votes and name also. Once Yaqub suggested the killing, the Hindu leaders were ready to offer Rs 101 crore on the head of painter M F Hussein for allegedly insulting Hindu Goddesses.
It is ironical that our democratic values are guided by religious values and not by the human rights values, international code of justices and various reform movements, which challenged the religious hegemony. Any challenge to religion and its demagogues are met with strong protests.
It is not that the ‘devotees’ are against what is happening or what is being written against our Gods. People and institutions are targeted even if we keep quiet or we do not write or celebrate the birthday of certain particular leader or we do not moan the death anniversary of some. Sambhaji Brigade in Maharastra attacked the office of Marathi Daily, Lok Satta as the daily has not brought any special supplement on the day of Shivaji Jayanti.
When movement for Uttarakhand was gaining ground in the hills in 1994, Mulayam Singh Yadav, the then chief minister asked his supporters to burn the copies of two Hindi dailies named Amar Ujala and Dainik Jagaran. He alleged that these newspapers were inciting the people. The ‘devotees’ of Mulayam then followed the instructions and hit the vehicle carrying these newspapers.
Advani’s Yatra therefore would not bring any change in the otherwise disgruntled Hindutva. The people of this country know it well that one ‘enemy’ created by either Muslims or Hindutva would not work in longer run. The democracy has taught the Muslim masses to ask more questions from their leaders. One must not forget that the benefit of Muslim identity politics in India has been usurped by the upper caste Hindus both the way. On the one hand it has helped consolidate the RSS, Hindutva and other such organization, the great beneficiaries the other side were Mulayam Singh Yadav or Mayawati. It is not surprising that Gandhi used the same Muslim identity card to debunk Jinnah’s claim to lead Muslim masses in India. Gandhi needed Mullahs to lead Muslims while Jinnah wanted a secular nationalist approach. Today, the same practice is being followed by Advani for Hindus and Mulayam for Muslims in the name of secularism.
Hunger-Poverty biggest Enemy
But then much water has flown in Sarayu and Ganga after the Babari Masjid and Shahbano case. Uttar-Pradesh is in the grip of micro identities and Advani is trying to kill those micro identities by projecting one big Hindu identity. One need to understand is that Advani in his Hindu identity is a Sindhi who do not have any vote bank. His other friends are upper caste Banias and a few Thakurs. BJP’s Hindutva thesis revolve around these ‘minority’ castes added with a few of those ‘minorities’ who migrated from Pakistan . BJP in the grand Hindu scheme of things represent a tiny of minority upper castes and even those upper castes have now started drifting away from it.
In final analysis communalism is an offshoot of identity politics. Those who gain from caste politics opt for caste identities and those who have everything to lose from caste identities opt for a bigger ‘nationalist’ identity. There is no individual identity in this country. Religious and caste identities are the biggest challenge to democracy and human rights. India today needs a secular space for its politics and national life. This secular space mean that the state has to keep away from the religiosity and that any dissent on religion should be taken in a democratic spirit. It is too much to die for 400 years old mosque or so-called birthplace of a Lord which has no historic value. Thousands of people have already died in the name of pigs and cows. We need an India that takes care of its have nots, the Dalits and tribals. We need Indian who can feel the pain and agony of its women who suffers in the hate campaign and communal violence. We need Indians who feel ashamed of continuous hunger deaths. Yes, India need community of youngsters who are ready to come ‘Swadesh’ to fight against hunger, poverty and illiteracy.
Fight against violence, terror and hate go hand in hand. You cannot fight terrorism with a sectarian mindset. Off late, these ‘protests’ and ‘Yatras’ have become political tool for revival of ‘dead’ horses. We have seen such protests and marches against ‘enemy’. Unlike the left, the ‘enemy’ for Advani lives around us. He hates them because their single-minded obsession failed his mission PM. It is time for all of us to heed the prophetic words of Dr Ambedkar when he said ‘ Hindu Rastra would be the biggest calamity for India.’ I can say with conviction that not just Hindu Rastra but any kind of theocratic state would be dangerous for the health of our national life. Let free spirit prevail in India. Narrow parochial Hindtuvavadis cannot fight against the feudal Islamic Jehadis. We need proud secular Indian who can stand against the fanatics who want to keep people subjugated in the name of communal and caste identities. Let us throw these hate mongering identities into the dustbins of history.