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Endangered freedom

by Vidya Bhushan Rawat, 17 August 2014

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The first casualty that was hardly noticed after the new government took over in Delhi was the deletion of important documents of the home ministry. It was taken rather casually and the voices who expressed their concern and anguish over it were targeted. Initially, the incident might have looked a slight mistake on part of the government as home minister informed parliament that files related to assassination of Mahatma Gandhi were actually safe with government department.

Initially many thought that this is a government friendly for the business as the people have given it mandate for ‘good governance’ but we all know such image creation as part of media which has shamelessly taken the role of a propagandist for the Bharatiya Janata Party. Media not just played a dutiful Public Relation Organization of the Sangh Parivar and left no stone unturned in discrediting the opponents particularly the ruling Congress which definitely had not done anything worth sympathetic yet in the greater interest of impartiality, media forgot its own role as a watch dog of the society.

Government began with greater symbolism like Ganga cleaning operation or Prime Minister deliberately choosing the Ganga Maha-arati to start the tenure. None ever thought that the government and the party heading it would ultimately return to their original agenda of Hindutva and polarization. The scars of Mujaffarnagar have not yet healed and we have witnessed now series of reports of communal polarization in Uttar Pradesh. A peaceful district like Saharanpur has been assaulted by the communal violence that engulfed the Qutubsher police station of the city resulting in loss of properties and human lives. Meerut and Mujaffarnagar are again on the rock with rumors and stories of a forcible conversion and rape of a Hindu girl who was working with a Madarasa. There should be no sympathies with the perpetrators of any crime whether the rape or conversion or spreading rumors for political gains but it speaks volume of the irresponsibility of the Hindutva organizations who are rushing everywhere, becoming moral police and now decided to escalate their ‘fight’ against ‘Love Jehad’ which according to them is responsible for all this. If you know well, Hindu organisations have long blamed the Muslim youths for enticing ‘their girls’ in love and then converting them to Islam. Unfortunately, all this is a war against Indian constitution, which guarantees individual to have a choice in their marriages, which treat ‘individual’ as a ‘supreme’. Marriages are not a choice for communities but individuals who must be respected at all cost. There is nothing like Love Jehad but an attempt to communalize and then polarize the entire social fabric for political games.

The Prime Minister’s speeches at both Bhutan and Nepal Assemblies used Hindu symbolism to its best. His travel to Pashupatinath and then a heavy donation of 2500 kilograms of sandalwood to the temple while deliberately not sending customary greetings of Eid to Muslims in India reflected how the government was functioning and what is in store ahead in the coming days. How can the Prime Minister of a secular nation be so blatant in disrespect for secular values and ideals? Has secularism become so dirty a word that Hindutva’s fanatics are looking better choice for people? The problem with the Hindutva’s political philosophers is that it put ‘secularism’ equal to Muslim fanaticism and therefore cleverly diverts the entire debate towards communal polarization. For a person devoted to human rights of all, I would add here that if speaking for the rights of minorities and marginalized makes is fanaticism then we must be prepared to accept the tag.

The problem is much bigger and need to be understood seriously. The Hinduisation of Indian polity started long back with Congress Party unable to respond to modern India’s challenges of fair representation for all the marginalized and minorities. It did not develop leadership from these segments.

The result was deep erosion of secular values in our institutions, which are resulting in deep unrest and anguish among the marginalized sections of our society and creating a fear psychosis among minorities particularly the Muslims and Christians. The agenda holders of Sangh Parivar have done every effort to even break the unity of the minorities so Christians and Muslims are separated from Buddhists, Jains and Sikhs, which are cleverly being presented as part of ‘broader Hindu family’. These are the ‘panths’ who originated from India and Sangh parivar clearly make it distinct between them and the religions, which originated from outside India. So, Muslims and Christians clearly do not fall in the category of the ‘Indian religion’ according to this agenda long unleashed by the saffron ideologues.

The saffronisation of education was a well-planned initiative and the government is actively promoting it. There are top priorities for the government. One, privatize the education and second saffronise it completely particularly to influence the minds of young kids who can be shaped according to the whims and fancies of those who wish to see India a theocratic Hindu state where caste system would be ‘defined’ as ‘scientific’ as the new chairman of Indian Council of Historical Research suggest. And he is not alone. Now we have saffron historians and social scientists who are threatening to undo everything that has happened in the name of education and secularization. So, who are these new ‘historians’ of Sangh parivar. The biggest name is Arun Shourie who shamelessly tried to be in the Ministry supported by the corporate but failed to make it. Now, he is back with his favorite issue of bashing the ‘secular’ historians and questioning their motives, vilifying the Muslims, putting all the invaders under the Muslim category though they came from different regions.

The state government of Gujarat has already introduced for its children the books written by saffron historian Deenanath Batra who is on a fast mode to change the entire curriculum. The children of Gujarat government’s school will have a different idea of Indian nation and its achievements. So, don’t feel amusing about the general knowledge of your children when they respond to your questions such as ‘ who invented Aero plane ‘ and the answer would be not ‘Wright Brothers’ but a mythological one that they always existed in Mahabharat. Don’t scold him or her for answering that plastic surgery and other important inventions had already been there in our Vedas and Puranas. Don’t feel absurd when you find them searching for answers of modern system in our ‘mythologies’ prescribed by Batra. History for Sangh Parivar has to be of ‘achievements’ of our society and our past must look golden. If the past was horrific and full of dirt then we must justify that and blame it on the ‘foreign’ rulers namely the Mughals and British, also add the ‘secular’ and ‘western’ historians for their ‘misrepresentations’ of fact. Batra’s history talks of ‘Akhand Bharat’, which include Nepal, Pakistan, Bangladesh, Sri Lanka, Myanmar and even Afghanistan. One can now see how such countries are going to have a healthy relations with India if Indian history text consider them part of ‘Hindustan’, with the feeling that the ultimately aim of Batra’s history lesson is to work for that Akhand Hindustan which basically is a threat to the integrity of their nationhood.

Things are moving perfectly as envisaged by the chitpavan priests of Sangh Parivar. A Christian minister from Goa said that he believe Modi will convert India into a Hindu nation. The Ram Sene chief was already in Goa dictating how the girls should wear and what time they should venture in and out. In Maharastra Shiv Sena continue to rant against the migrants from UP and Bihar and now we see the same being actively pursued by Delhi BJP leader Vijay Goyal though he later on tried to explain that he did not mean that.

The promotion of Hindi is being done deliberately at the behest of the government. A dead language like Sanskrit is being imposed on people. The anti English language protest against C-Sat of Civil Services is clearly an attempt to make language issue a national one and impose Hindi on non-willing partners. It has already created heartburns in state like Tamilnadu.

The situation is alarming but at best being ignored either due to political pressure or patronage by industrialists to certain media organisations. The result is the rein of terror and intimidation inside the newsrooms. The situation is worst than what was perceived during the emergency imposed by Indira Gandhi in 1975. That was the time when state terrorism in the form of intimidation was order of the day and media resisted it with full cooperation of the civil society as well as political parties. Today, the situation has drastically changed as India of 2014 is diametrically different than that existed before 1975 when State was the sole arbitrator on the national issues. Today, with active participation and encouragements from the corporate giants, media has become a big challenge to the state itself. Today, corporate’s fascist tendencies are growing in a much faster way and there is an atmosphere of distrust and uncertainty in the media. Those who are considered to be dissenter to current establishment, both in the Industry as well as in the governments are being shunted out unceremoniously. The image of media as watch dog is now a matter of past as today the corporate want them to act as their muscle flexing Public Relations Organisations.

When the fourth estate is in an absolute overhaul with likes of Deenanath Batra and Arun Shourie taking Centre stage, the condition of judiciary cannot be considered as very bright. The way government scuttled the appointment of former solicitor General Gopal Subrahmanyam reflect the mindset of the state at the moment that those who have stood against its leadership in the past would be eased out and are unwanted for them. It is not surprising therefore that Justice Anil Dave of the Supreme Court, on the other day, actually, endorsed the demand of the likes of Batra, when he said that if he were a ‘dictator’, he would have enforced strictly studies of Gita and Puranas to our students at the very beginning as they can manage all the conflicts.

You can imagine the state of the judiciary of a country where one of the Judges is ‘fond’ of dictatorship and openly accept the fact that he were that, he would have enforced the ‘spiritual’ and ‘religious’ education on us. There are two points here. One dictatorship and other enforcement of Hindu values as defined in Gita and Vedas. Surely, the honorable Judge knows it well that Indian constitution is a secular constitution and is committed to democracy and socialist ideals.

India is home to nearly 200 million Muslims. They are not invaders. They are indigenous population of this country, those who embraced Islam to save themselves from the clutches of brahmanical tyranny. There are nearly 10 million Christians in this country and they have not migrated from Europe or West Asia but children of soil. They too liberated millions of people from the vicious cycle of caste-based discrimination. Of course, caste dominance prevailed in these society too as attempt to find answers in organized religions have failed but that is another matter as religion or being atheist is a matter of choice of an individual and state and the parties swearing to constitution of India must respect that. Baba Saheb Ambedkar embraced Buddhism with nearly 400,000 of his followers in 1956, which redefined Buddhism in India and revived it too.

Caste system, untouchability is still prevalent in our country and violence against Dalits and marginalized continue to happen. The social norms and rituals actually dominate our political lives also and hence India remained a secular state in papers and not in practice. Secularism or Hindu secularism became victim of the competitive communalism in India with parties, leaders blaming others for their problems. It is not surprising therefore when newspapers welcome the ban on ‘loudspeakers’ at the Masjids but do not speak whether it is on the temples too or whether it is just Muslim alone who created nuisance and not others including Hindus. What about the regular torturing of common men during the month of Sawan when thousands of Kanwars bring Ganga water to their homes? In such a scenario, how can our courts and judges take recourse to constitutional values when they have in mind that everything in the past has ‘meritorious’ structure and we can resolve our modern day problems.

Suppose we want to resolve the current crisis of caste discrimination and violence against marginalized, can we take resource in the teachings of Gita and Puranas.

Long back Baba Saheb Ambedkar disclosed to us how Gita preached violence and justified caste order. Ambedkar’s riddles of Hinduism are a clear call to Dalits and marginalized to be vary of such brahmanical crookedness. Joti Ba Phule and Savitri Bai Phule campaigned relentlessly against the tyranny of scriptures on the Dalits, marginalized and women. Periyar propagated self-respect marriages and movement for self-respect among various Dravidian communities. They remained the biggest champions of Dalit Bahujan movements of the country. All of them asked people to chose the path of enlightenment through modern scientific and humanist education. All of them propagated the path of ‘spirit of inquiry’ and reasoning and humanism.

India can not move ahead ignoring the clarion call of Baba Saheb Ambedar to develop scientific temper and be an iconoclast, question everything that comes before you, the path shown by Buddha. It is sad that today’s ruling establishment feel the biggest ‘enlightenment’ as the biggest threat. It reflect the idea of the current dispensation which is afraid of modernity and free thinking and therefore trying to bomb every institutions which has kept us informed and protected whether it is media, judiciary or education. Today, all these sectors of our democratic life are under the severe threat as the admirers of Hitler and Mussolini have really started their work. Deenanath Batra is a symptom of a bigger crisis that is threatening to challenge India, its age-old secular humanist values propagated by Buddha, Ambedkar, Phule, Periyar. In 1991, Kalyan Singh’s government withdrew Kabir from the textbooks of UP government’s high school and intermediate courses as their writings and thoughts were considered a challenge to those who wanted to play the politics of religion for their own power games.

Muslims in India are direct victims of this brahmanical assault but the real targets are the Dalits, tribal and backward communities who are asserting their rights and identities as well as seeking their participation in power structure. The corporate brahmanical elite is essentially trying to stop this march of assertion of dignity of this segments hence these various plans, games and conspiracies. It is a wake up call for all enlightened people of the country and it is only those who understand the age old conspiracies of India’s caste elite, can really defuse the brahmanical bomb which has been planted over us.