Some Liberals Are Warming Up To The Idea Of ‘Hindu Rashtra’ Over Nehruvian Secularism, What’s The Catch?


Apr 22, 2020, 06:41 PM | Updated 06:08 PM IST

Sea of saffron flags (representative image)
Sea of saffron flags (representative image)
  • The insinuation is that the Christian-Islamic imperial structures are so powerful that they can easily survive “Hindu Rashtra”
  • An article in the Indian Express, written by the Vice-Chancellor of NALSAR University, Hyderabad, Faizan Mustafa states that the Indian “minorities are too fed up of the facade of secularism”.

    Mustafa argues that if Indians are done with the Nehruvian model of secularism (without pointing out its flaws), they should declare the country a Hindu rashtra, giving Hinduism the status of the dominant spiritual heritage.

    He is right in saying that “the Hindu rashtra will not be entirely different from the current secular state”, because it is not in Hinduism’s character to do what Pakistan or other Islamic countries do to religious minorities.

    We also agree with him that a Hindu rashtra must bring with it genuine liberalism.

    However, there is a catch, and those who are not well-prepared, will be left bewildered by Mustafa’s proposal.

    One, it’s an ultimatum to intellectuals to work hard to save the Left-Islamist marriage

    The proposal is a warning to the Left compatriots that unless they get a grip of the narrative and strike the enemy harder, the regressive Left-Islamist marriage is in trouble.

    It signals that the Muslims intellectuals are keeping the option open, instead, to negotiate with more benign right-wing elements.

    Two, it is a veiled threat— imperial forces are too powerful to be pushed out of the game

    The message is that we can change things on paper as much as we want, but the functioning of the Christian and Islamic imperial structures in India will remain intact.

    The reason simply is that they already function with minimal dependence on other communities or indigenous political, social and economic structures. In a globalised world, they hold an organisational, political and financial clout that the Hindus can hardly match.

    It is important to recognise that these imperial forces have a utilitarian approach towards the Left.

    Indian Left exists thanks to the the alliance with imperial forces, not the other way around.

    Left is quite expendable for the imperialists. Its only utility comes from the hegemony in the intellectual ecosystem.

    If that comes under threat, the imperial forces can also directly negotiate with the non-Left forces to come to a new arrangement where they are, as before, left alone to work, just, say, at a higher price.

    Even the political parties vilified as “saffron” have shown eagerness to maintain a ‘functioning’ partnership with the Christian and Islamic supremacist forces.

    The tallest Christian cross coming up in Mizoram, illegal church construction on Sattra land in Majuli, Assam, the Tablighi Jamaat-Covid-19 fiasco, and the (lack of) reaction to the recent mob lynching of two saffron-clad sadhus in the Christian missionary hotbed Palghar, Maharashtra are but a few examples.

    Given the ideological straitjacket, even in the case where the right wing becomes the new ally of the imperial forces, the Left can only push the narrative of "Hindu fascism” as it does now.

    In fact, a Hindu rashtra will offer an unprecedented convenience to imperial forces— a complacent right-wing and an ineffective Left.

    Three, it assumes right wing can’t achieve anything beyond winning a few elections

    Mustafa seems to be banking on the assumption that a lot of left-wing intellectuals have — that the Indian right wing simply doesn’t have a coherent constructive ideology or strategy beyond criticising Congress and the Left. It can change the name, but it has no alternative to Nehruvian secularism in practice.

    The Left has always assumed that the emergence of a political Hindu is impossible due to the “internal contradictions of the Hindu society”.

    Not that the Left can’t see that there is real anger among Hindus based on genuine grievances, but it is sure that given the lack of intellectual leadership, it will never be channelised into anything concrete.

    The Left-wing intellectuals themselves proudly proclaim that ‘there are almost no right wing intellectuals in India’. So the best the right-wing can do is win some elections, but in the intellectual domain, it will always remain on the fringe.

    That means, while some ad hoc innocuous measures like CAA can crop up here and there, the right-wing won’t ever have any real, long term productive power.

    It also means that the right-wing movement will be limited to one political party — all eggs in one basket; and right-wingers will never amount to anything more than “IT cell” and “bhakts”.

    Fourth, the surety that a Hindu rashtra will fail and its failure will sound death the knell of the Hindu movement

    The proposal also has an underlying sadism— if India becomes a Hindu rashtra, it will only end up the way Nazi Germany did — beaten, disgraced and untouchable.

    The Germans were rescued by their fellow white men but the guilt of a failed Hindu rashtra would be so immense that the Hindus won't dare become political again, and retire to a permanent passiveness.

    It would sound the death knell of the Hindu culture and philosophy that survived centuries of persecution.

    The same fear is visible in the older generation of the right-wing intellectuals who, as a result, restrained the movement tightly.

    The likes of Arun Shourie did a great job exposing the left cabal but always maintained a suspicion of the right-wing politics.

    All the four points discussed above pose substantial challenge for the right-wing, and must be taken seriously.

    The movement definitely has a long way to go, be it organising and educating the masses in Indic politics, or having a voice loud-enough to penetrate the intellectual ivory towers.

    However, at the same time, the recent trends suggest that the days of Hindu movement being defined by the Left are over.

    One, a Hindu political being is already here

    The Left banking on the “internal contradictions of Hindu society” for divide and rule hasn’t noticed that pan-Hindu unity and a Hindu political being is already on the scene.

    Research shows that contrary to the claims that it is an upper-caste party, the BJP’s social base is now broad-based and mirrors the Hindu society.

    The shift of the poor, rural and lower caste voters to BJP is ideological, and those who identify with BJP aren’t swayed by short-term considerations.

    This shouldn’t come as a surprise to intellectuals. It is a logical outcome of the path our political and intellectual leaders took and the choices they made after independence.

    Also read: New Research, Old Findings: Rural, Poor And Lower Caste Voters Are Behind Phenomenal Rise Of BJP

    Two, “Intellectuals” can exist outside the ecosystem

    Imperialists-financed incentive structure means the Left dominates the knowledge ecosystem, and attracts more career-minded ambitious folks.

    But the humanities and social sciences aren’t such specialised disciplines that the people not trained in them for years cannot penetrate.

    .As much “expertise” the intellectuals like to credit to themselves, it’s not very hard to master the English language and explain things in it.

    The Hindu movement does not have to depend on the mercy of the ecosystem for intellectual leadership.

    Three, young right-wingers today are very different from the older generation

    The Left incentive structure is controlled by a few oldies at the top. While this means better organisation, it also means lesser intelligence and flexibility to respond to changes on ground.

    On the other hand, right-wing isn’t as organised, but is filled with and driven by young minds.

    These young people born post-liberalisation can imagine a life without a maai-baap state. They don’t toe the line that the Left has set for them by marking no go zones with the labels of “fascism”, “bhakt”, “troll”, “saffron” etc.

    The Left has so far managed Indians by fear and intimidation.

    But young Indians today think for themselves, fiercely protect their autonomy and don’t cow-down to moral shaming.

    Unlike the older generation of right-wing intellectuals, they are neither reluctant nor ashamed to assert own existence with full force.

    Sure, they are a little rough around the edges, but it’s a minor problem that can be solved by little guidance.

    Four, Hindus aren’t clueless fanatics. They know what they are fighting, and what is it that they want

    The Left threatens Indians into submitting to the imperial forces lest multiple identities regarding caste, language, region pull apart the nation.

    Too bad it cannot see that hundreds of right-wing groups with young people from a variety of backgrounds are a continuing experiment of respectful co-existence which is neither marred by Left’s victimology-driven over-sensitivity, nor “oppressive caste hierarchy” or “cowbelt dominance”.

    Mustafa says “Hindutva fanatics will be hugely disappointed to know that the Hindu rashtra will not be entirely different from the current secular state”.

    Professor Mustafa will be disappointed to know that that the Hindus are no more fooled by a superficial change, like that of the Nehru surname to Gandhi.

    What Hindus are demanding is a rigorous evaluation of the past crimes against them, the ideas that propelled it, and breaking the structures that continue to push the same ideas. Fight is not against certain groups, but certain ideas.

    For the sake of brevity, we won’t go in the details of what Indic thought is, and how the Indic movement is tackling the long-term challenges of caste discrimination, communalism, etc.

    Suffice to say that both the diagnoses and solutions are more accurate and effective than the Left’s oppressor-oppressed binary.

    Five, the current Hindu movement has same creative power as the Indian National Movement

    In the real-world outside Leftist fantasies, the right-wing is not composed of just some street-level clueless fanatics. It is not an aberration of history, a high tide that is destined to go down.

    The aberration in Indian history is the hegemony of Left in independent India that, in alliance with global capitalists and imperialists, made the legacy of the freedom movement stand on its head.

    Also read: Indian Left’s Fall From Grace: Those Who Criticised Global Capitalism Are Now Taking Orders From Foreign Masters

    It’s time to bring out Gandhi, Bose, Tagore and others mummified and neatly arranged in the museum of Indian Left; breathe a new life into their ideas, and build upon the foundation laid by them.

    The current Indic movement situates itself as a successor of the Indian national movement. It’s a river that slowly but steadily cuts its way.

    It is the continuation of the fight for the ideals of the freedom fighters, be it Tagore’s atmasakti; Ghosh’s reawakening of India’s ancient spirit ; Vivekananda’s idea of service, Ambedkar’s organise, Tilak’s swaraj, Bose’s India is calling or Gandhi’s Ram Rajya.

    A 25-year-old IIT alumna with deep interest in society, culture and politics, she describes herself as a humble seeker of Sanatana wisdom that has graced Bharatvarsha in different ways, forms and languages. Follow her @yaajnaseni

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