( Photo courtesy : The hoot)
(To be published in the special issue of ‘Janata’)
The spectacle of what is called religion, or at any rate organised religion, in India and elsewhere, has filled me with horror and I have frequently condemned it and wished to make a clean sweep of it. Almost always it seemed to stand for blind belief and reaction, dogma and bigotry, superstition, exploitation and the preservation of vested interests.
– Toward Freedom: The Autobiography of Jawaharlal Nehru (1936), pp. 240–241.
If Hindu Raj does become a fact, it will no doubt, be the greatest calamity for this country. No matter what the Hindus say, Hinduism is a menace to liberty, equality and fraternity. On that account it is incompatible with democracy. Hindu Raj must be prevented at any cost.
– Ambedkar, ‘Pakistan or Partition of India’, p. 358.
India’s slow ushering into a majoritarian democracy is a matter of concern for every such individual who still believes in pluralism, democracy, equality and a clear separation of religion and politics. The way people are being hounded for raising dissenting opinions, for eating food of their choice or entering into relationships of their own liking or celebrating festivals according to their own faith is unprecedented. The situation has reached such extremes that one can even be publicly lynched for belonging to one of the minority religions or for engaging in an activity which is considered to be ‘suspicious’ by the majority community.
No doubt there is no direct harm to the basic structure of the Constitution, its formal structure remains intact, de jure India does remain a democracy as well as a republic, but de facto democracy has slowly metamorphosed into majoritarianism and the sine qua non of a republic—that its citizens are supreme—is being watered down fast. It does not need underlining that this process has received tremendous boost with the ascent of Hindutva supremacist forces at the centrestage of Indian politics. Continue reading Nehru, Ambedkar and Challenge of Majoritarianism
This is a guest post by REENA PATEL
I looked around the room and my gaze was met with the kohl lined eyes and stares of bewilderment and distrust. My heart pounded as I listened to three Muslim women describe their latest attempt to find their father and brother after they disappeared in the riots. They were speaking to Rahidbhai* from a local NGO who was accompanying me into the Ahmedabad relief colonies for the first time. Why was I so scared? Why was my heart pounding? The eldest woman of the home disrupted my thoughts, she asked me for my name. I looked around and looked at Rahidbhai, who looked back uneasily. “Mera naam Reena hai.” I said, almost choking on the words, knowing what the next question would be. “Aap ka surname kya hai?” The room grew thick with silence. “Patel.”
As far back as I could remember, I was taught to regard Muslims differently from the rest of the general population. My parents, both from Surat, Gujarat moved and met in the United States in their twenties. They both lived in England and spent time in Gujarat, and had families that were deeply involved in the Gujarati community. My brother and I were born in Long Beach California. I went to Gujarati school on Sundays, went to every function, picnic, and cultural show put on by the Leuva Patidar Samaj in Southern California. Many of my family members were apart of the organization. In fact, my great grandfather Vallabhai Patel was one of the first Patels to land upon the shores of the United States, now estimated at a population of over 140,000. We went to religious camps that were meant to teach us about Hindu ideology, handed out saffron prayer books and modeled how to become ideal Hindu men and women for our communities.
Continue reading Bittersweet Gujarat: Reena Patel
…Government have, however, noticed with regret that in practice members of Rashtriya Swayamsewak Sangh have not adhered to their professed ideals.
“Undesirable and even dangerous activities have been carried on by the members of the Sangh. It has been found that in several parts of the country individual members of the Rashtriya Swayamsewak Sangh have indulged in acts of violence involving arson, robbery, dacoity and murder and have collected illicit arms and ammunitions. They have been found circulating leaflets, exhorting people to resort to terrorist methods, to collect firearms, to create disaffection against the government and suborn the police and military.”
(The government communique of February 4, 1948, announcing the ban on RSS after Gandhi’s assassination)
On Nathuram Godse, (19 th May 1910 – 15 th Nov 1949) Advani asserts that Godse had “severed links with RSS in 1933… had begun to bitterly criticise the RSS”. This was flatly contradicted by none other than Godse’s brother Gopal, who was also an accused at the trial for conspiracy to murder. He published his book Why I Assassinated Mahatma Gandhi in December 1993. Speaking in New Delhi on the occasion of the release of his book, Gopal Godse revealed what many had suspected—they had both been active members of the RSS (The Statesman; December 24, 1993).
(Ref : Whitewashing Godse is part of the Sangh Parivar’s sordid game, From: Frontline, January 26, 2013)
What could be said to be the first act of terrorism in independent India?
Everybody would agree that killing of Mahatma Gandhi by a Hindu fanatic Nathuram Godse constitutes the first terrorist act in independent India. Godse, a Maharashtrian Brahmin, hailing from Pune was associated with Hindu Mahasabha at the time of Mahatma’s assassination and had his initial forays in the world of politics with the RSS. During his tour of the area Hedgewar, the first supremo of RSS, use to be accompanied by Nathuram , the future assassin of Gandhi. Godse had in fact joined the RSS in 1930, winning prominence as a speaker and organiser.
Continue reading First Terrorist of Independent India