PROF SHAMSUL ISLAM | Caravan Daily
IT is heartening to note that the Prime Minister of our democratic-secular state has underlined the great diversities in the Indian nation, which needed to be celebrated. While addressing a conference on ‘Islamic Heritage: Promoting Understanding and Moderation’ in the presence of the King of Jordan, Abdullah II in Delhi on March 1, 2018 Prime Minister Narendra Modi was kind enough to declare that India’s democracy was “a celebration of our age-old plurality” recalling that “religions and beliefs from all over the world” flourished in the country. It was great to hear the prime minister saying that “We Indians are proud of our diversity.”
While specially addressing the Muslim youth of India our prime minister was kind enough to advise them to hold Quran in one hand and computer in the other for an all-inclusive progress and welfare. However, I would like to say that this call for Quran or any other scripture in one hand is a risky proposition. The US taught Afghan youth Quran in one hand and AK47 in other hand and what price Afghan Muslims paid for it, is well known.
Narendra Modi also expressed deep concern about radicalization of Muslim youth and appreciated the king’s work toward de-radicalisation. His tweet addressing youth (Muslim though not referred as such) in Hindi reads:
मज़हब का मर्म अमानवीय हो ही नहीं सकता। हर पन्थ, हर संप्रदाय, हर परंपरा मानवीय मूल्यों को बढ़ावा देने के लिए ही है। इसलिए, आज सबसे ज्यादा ज़रूरत ये है कि हमारे युवा एक तरफ मानवीय इस्लाम से जुड़े हों और दूसरी तरफ आधुनिक विज्ञान और तरक्की के साधनों का इस्तेमाल भी कर सकें: PM 9:54 PM – 28 Feb 2018
These words of the prime minister were, in fact, reaffirmation of his commitment towards an all-inclusive India thus assuring the minorities that they were equal partners in the polity. It was not first time that he called upon to celebrate the diversity of a nation. While visiting Sri Lanka in May 2017 too he had declared that in Sri Lanka “diversity calls for celebration, not confrontation” and offered to assist the Sri Lankan government in improving living conditions of minority Tamils there.
I am grateful to him you for publicly expressing love for diversity in the presence of foreign heads of the states not once but twice. However, I would like to draw PM’s attention to the shocking ideas against our all-inclusive India which were expressed by the RSS sarsanghchalak, Mohan Bhagwat ji on February 25, exactly four days before prime minister’s heartening expression of belief in diversity.
The RSS sarsanghchalak was speaking on the occasion of 25th Swayamsevak Samagam, called Rashtryoday touted as the biggest gathering of RSS workers in recent years at Meerut. According to the Times of India Bhagwat ji told the gathering, “Say with pride that you are a Hindu. As Hindus, we have to unite because the responsibility of this country is upon us. From ancient time it is our home. We have nowhere else to go in this world. If anything, wrong happens with this country, we will be responsible”.
While underlining an exclusive Hindu identity of India he called upon Hindus to adopt hard-line, staunch or orthodox Hindutva. Surprisingly, according to him, “when we become [Hindutva] hardliners we will celebrate diversity more” and as a worshipper of power he said the world, “has a rule that it listens to good things only when there is a power standing behind them.” It was news to Indians that so far known as Hindutva was now hard-line Hindutva; more aggressive Hindutva.
He denigrated other world civilizations and religions when he declared that “we are Hindus and our ancestors attained the Truth which no one else did”. He also expressed the old Hindutva vision to lead the world. Intelligence agencies must have shared with prime minster the fact that around one lakh RSS cadres, most of them young men had gathered for this meeting and one of the slogans raised constantly was “khoon se tilak ker, golion se aartee/pukarta hae Kashmir, pukartee maa Bharti” thus giving open call for violence.
It does not need any special skills to understand the fact that since RSS will be organizing Hindus, naturally, there will be Muslim/Sikh/Christian/Buddhist/Jain organizations organizing their respective followers of religions. The first casualty will be Indian nationalism. If RSS declares that responsibility of saving India of Hindus then they are surely pushing out all those who are not Hindus from being Indians.
The call for India for Hindus is tantamount to de-nationalize followers of other religions residing in India as citizens so far. According to RSS India, a land of Hindus can survive only under the hegemony of hard-line Hindutva and not under a democratic-secular polity established by the Constituent Assembly of India. This call of RSS will surely lead to Balkanization of India; an evil project in which Muslim League succeeded once. Moreover, while taking steps against radicalization of Muslim youth our prime minister should not overlook constant and open radicalization of the Hindu youth by RSS.
Having long association with the RSS, being one of its ideologues Narendra Modi identifies himself as Hindu nationalist and credits RSS for grooming him into a political leader (interview to the Reuters journalists, Ross Colvin and Sruthi Gottipati, on July 12, 2013 at Gandhinagar), I will beg prime minister to ask RSS to desist from its agenda aiming at destruction of our dear democratic-secular India. It is really unfortunate that even 71 years of India’s Independence RSS has not got rid of its hatred for an all-inclusive India. PM must be familiar with the fact that the RSS English organ, Organizer in its issue on the very eve of Independence, dated 14 August, 1947, rejected the whole concept of a composite nation (under the editorial title ‘Whither’):
“Let us no longer allow ourselves to be influenced by false notions of nationhood. Much of the mental confusion and the present and future troubles can be removed by the ready recognition of the simple fact that in Hindusthan only the Hindus form the nation and the national structure must be built on that safe and sound foundation…the nation itself must be built up of Hindus, on Hindu traditions, culture, ideas and aspirations”.
Thus, all non-Hindus were not to be treated as part of the Indian nation. One had hoped that RSS would change itself and stop denigrating Indian democratic-secular polity like an enemy. On the contrary, attacks on Indian polity have immensely increased and even date set (2022) when India would be cleansed of Muslims and Christians. The holy book for RSS cadres Bunch of Thoughts, collection of Guruji Golwalkar’s views openly denigrates Indian Constitution, Tricolour, even has a chapter (16) in which Indian Muslims and Christians without any exception are declared to be internal threats number one and two respectively. This book also declares Casteism, Hinduism and Hindu nationalism synonymous.
While being rightly concerned about Muslim extremism, the prime minister may kindly take note of Hindutva extremism also which has more potential to undo our constitutional polity as it is being allowed a free run. I urge upon prime minister to give a call to the RSS leaders and cadres to discard anti-national ideas. For the sake of our country he should ask them to carry a copy of the Indian Constitution in one hand which may check their other hand doing any nasty thing against all-inclusive India.
While showing his firm belief in the diversity of the Indian nation, the Prime Minister Narendra Modi apart from gifting Bhagvad Gita (which he gifted to the British PM David Cameron, US President Obama, Chinese President Xi Jinping and Japanese PM Shinzo Abe) he should also present Pali Canon of Buddhism, Guru Granth Saheb of Sikhism and Agams of Jainism to the leaders of the host countries, beginning from his next foreign trip, as these three great religions also originated in India.
(Shamsul Islam is a retired Professor of University of Delhi. The views are personal and Caravan does not necessarily share or subscribe to them.)