A couple of weeks ago, filmmaker Anand Patwardhan was invited by the Editors’ Guild to deliver its annual lecture. Patwardhan’s speech, titled We or our Nationhood Redefined, was marked by his characteristically cool tone, systematically reassembling facts that have a tricky habit of leaking from national memory. Facts like the twentieth century’s worst genocidal dictator Adolf Hitler and his programme of racial cleansing has a respectable and massive following in India in the form of the Rashtriya Swayamsewak Sangh. That the RSS has at least 50,000 branches across the country with over 40 million members, and runs a network of 18,000 schools across India. That one such child, recruited from the age of 8 from a relatively poor family, is Prime Minister Modi; and another is Party Chief Amit Shah. That just before the recent reshuffle, 5 Chief Ministers and 17 of the 23 Cabinet-level senior ministers were current or former RSS members. That the assassins of Gandhi are really the RSS, not the lone lunatic Godse who merely carried out what others dreamed about. That RSS’s poisonous communal agenda was roundly condemned by Sardar Patel, of whom PM Modi has promised to build the world’s tallest statue. Or more obscure but equally revealing facts, like the letter written by RSS chief Balasaheb Deoras from jail during Emergency, praising Indira Gandhi and especially her programme of sterilisation of Muslims. And those truly mind-boggling-in-their-irony facts, like the widespread involvement of the RSS in the 1984 anti-Sikh pogrom, when the BJP cynically says “1984” every time somebody says “2002”.
On a day when the Nanavati Commission has termed the 2002 anti-Muslim pogrom in Gujarat as a purely communal reaction to Godhra, and cleared then Chief Minister Modi’s government of any wrongdoing, or even inaction, it is critical we re-read Patwardhan’s speech, to remind ourselves exactly what we are up against if we believe in a non-communal, non-divided, heterogenous India. As Patwardhan put it, given the history of the RSS in this subcontinent, if a Modi didn’t exist, he would have to be invented. Read more.
क्या निराश हुआ जाए? कल सुबह से हजारी प्रसाद द्विवेदी का एक अन्य प्रसंग में किया गया यह प्रश्न मन में घूम रहा है. चुनाव नतीजों के पहले ही चरण में पिता ने फोन पर कहा: “यह तुम्हारा पहला कड़ा इम्तहान है.”पिता ने, जो अब जीवन की सांध्य वेला में हैं, कहा, “हम तो किनारे पर खड़े लोग हैं, तुम सब अभी इस जिंदगी के रेले के ठीक बीचो-बीच हो, भागने का न तो कोई उपाय है और ऐसी कोई भी इच्छा कायरता होगी. इसका सामना करो और इसे समझो.” हजारीप्रसाद जी और अपने पिता को कहना चाहता हूँ, वह जो रवींद्रीय ब्रह्मांडीय उदारहृदयता का स्वप्न आप सबने दिखाया था, कामकाजी रोजमर्रापन की तेज रौशनी में खो गया जान पड़ता है. शायद हम सब अब तक सो रहे थे,अचानक जगा दिए गए हैं. निराश या हताश होने की सुविधा नहीं है. समझने की कोशिश ही शायद इस यथार्थ का सामना करने के साधन देगी! Continue reading क्या निराश हुआ जाए?
This is a guest post by BIJU MATHEW: The story is always the same, isn’t it? A perfectly ordinary day becomes extraordinary. A day when the daily tribulations of thousands of workers and small merchants is instantly transformed into tragedy. 15 dead, 5 still critical and over 100 others injured– some of them maimed for life – thinking of what recovery might mean. Ravinder, a farm hand from a Nalgonda village has lost a leg. His wife, Lakshmi might still yet lose her foot. Their 1 year old is missing. And they were in Dilsukhnagar for a hospital visit because the 1 year old has a congenital heart condition. There is no justice to be had here. Continue reading Elements of Bomb (Blast) Making – Understanding Dilsukhnagar: Biju Mathew
This is a film by RAJEEV YADAV and SHAHNAWAZ ALAM of the Uttar Pradesh unit of the PEOPLE’S UNION FOR CIVIL LIBERTIES
This is to introduce our documentary film ‘PARTITION REVISITED’ on the Rudrapur riot of 2nd October 2011, where four persons were killed. Policemen and mobs led by leaders of the Bhartiya Janta Party, the Congress and the Bahujan Samaj Party had ransacked shops and settlements of Muslims in their third successful attempt within two years to stoke communal violence. The riot, which took place on Gandhi Jayanti, led to a massive outmigration of the victimised community, reminding one of the days of the 1947 Partition. This film focuses on precisely this yet unnoticed phenomenon that we could trace out in this first-ever state-sponsored communal riot since the formation of the hill state of Uttarakhand, engineered by the Rashtriya Swayamsewak Sangh, which has been working for a long time in this area to arouse anti-Muslim sentiments in the Bengalis, Sikhs & Panjabi Hindus who settled in Rudrapur after the Partition to India. At a time when the state is going to polls this riot assumes an electoral importance.
Guest post by MAHTAB ALAM
“The communists’ ideologues conveniently ignore the truth that the roots of Bhagat Singh’s ideology lie in the very concept of Hindu Rashtra,” claims an article by Dipin Damodharan, published on this day last year. Damodharan, as introduced at the end of the article, is a student pursuing Masters in Communication and Journalism (MCJ) at the Calicut University of Kerala. He argues: “To my knowledge, he sacrificed his precious life for a noble cause, for the liberation of Bharat from the invaders, for nationalism. Undoubtedly Bhagat’s legacy belongs to every Bharati. But for the communists (experts in transforming sheep to dog), he died for communism and not for nationalism. They are incessantly advocating Bhagat as their poster boy, for several years they have been using Goebalsian tricks to claim Bhagat’s legacy.” The author further argues, “They are injecting fake stories about Bhagat into the blood of youth who are ignorant about Bharat’s history. Discarding the historical facts, the communists become angry with the Sangh inspired organizations for propagating Bhagat’s ideals”. Continue reading Bhagat Singh and the Hindu Rashtra: Mahtab Alam
Right since the controversy over L K Advani’s remarks on Jinnah, there is a section of the ‘liberal’ Indian media which has argued that all the BJP needs to do is divorce/separate/delink itself from the RSS. It would then turn into a ‘normal’ right wing party. I remember this was a line taken up strongly by the Indian Express. The subtext of their editorial position was that there is a strong left tilt in Indian polity; Nehruvian socialist rhetoric remains ingrained; and a ‘non-communal’ BJP can provide the right balance. (Where they see the left tilt when few of us can or how much further right they still want to push India is an altogether different debate). In a chat with CNN IBN website readers, Ramchandra Guha takes up a similar position arguing what India needs is BJP without RSS. (and ‘a Congress without the dynasty and a modern and unified left’).
I do not understand Indian politics too well, nor have covered the BJP. There are others who have written about the relationship between the two in great depth. But from the little I have seen of them while reporting in a few Indian states, here is a simple thought – the BJP will not be BJP if it is detached from the RSS. To assume that BJP can remain a party without the RSS structure to back it or BJP can separate itself from the larger ‘parivaar’ seems to be based on a limited understanding of both the BJP and RSS. Continue reading BJP without RSS?