Proponents of Hindutva had been looking for a leader like Narendra Modi to put teeth into their rabid and pernicious campaign to enforce their edict over all of India and all of the Indians. They grabbed the opportunity with both hands and have never looked back
KARAMATULLAH K GHORI | Special to Caravan Daily
[dropcap]M[/dropcap]icrosoft should be revisiting its commitment to knit rural India into cheap internet connection—an undertaking splurged over US and Indian media as the global software giant’s gift to Modi in his much-hyped Silicon Valley Yatra of last month.
Modi was billed by his Indian acolytes and US ‘admirers’, those largely from the Indian diaspora that hogs the Silicon Valley, as being on a ‘charm offensive’ to wow the cyber-world wizards and technocrats with his ‘vision’ of a ‘Digital India.’ The man whose own academic achievements are pretty prosaic, to say the least, was hailed in well-choreographed welcome addresses as Columbus of India’s digital discovery.
But within days of Modi’s return to India, howling, murderous, mobs of Hindutva fanatics set upon the minority Muslim residents of Dadri—a village 50 kilometers from Modi’s seat of power, Delhi—to punish them for allegedly consuming beef of their holy Gao-mata (cow). A Muslim blacksmith—the 54 year-old Mohammad Akhlaq—was lynched to death on the spot in front of his house by the mob; his 22-year-old son is still fighting for his life in a hospital in Delhi, having already undergone two brain surgeries.
Ever since Modi’s ascent to power in Delhi, Hindutva zealots, anointed by the exclusivist philosophy of ‘Hindutva’ (Hindu-ness) have gone on a crusade to ban cow-slaughter throughout India. Their message to minorities in India is loud and clear: India is for Hindus; there’s no room in this Hindu-India for equality of existence for all, and if minorities wish to linger on as second-class citizens, they will have to live by the rules and edicts of the majority Hindus.
The chest-thumping zealotry of Hindutva mobs flies in the face of those high-sounding principles of secularism on which India’s constitution had been framed and drafted by its architects. Pundit Nehru—the apostle of India’s proclaimed secularism—must be very unhappy in the other world seeing the brute defacing of his India on the watch of Modi and his BJP revanchists.
In the historical context, neither the exclusivist ideology of India being strictly for Hindus is new nor the movement to make India a beef-free country.
It was in the early 1880s, some years before the birth of Indian National Congress, that Swami Dayananda unfurled the banner of ‘Shuddhi,’ or ‘return to the original.’ His provocative movement was anchored in the retrograde belief that all existing minorities of India had originally been Hindu and were victims of ‘forced’ conversions by waves of successive conquerors of India.
Even if that early rabble-rouser, Dayananda, wasn’t an English proxy—an agent of India’s colonial masters—his mischief was in sync with the rulers’ diabolical scheme of dividing their Indian subjects, in more ways than one, in order to facilitate their grip over a disparate, polyglot and multi-ethnic India.
So was the case with the maverick move by Hindu fanatics of British India to force everyone living within its confines to give up slaughtering the cow for beef. According to historical evidence, the first ‘meat riots’ occurred in the Muslim-majority Punjab—again in the early 1880s—where Hindu zealots challenged the Muslim practice of slaughtering cows for their meat. The colonial rulers did put down the riots but didn’t ban the fanatical Hindu movement for the protection of their sacred Gau (cow) Mata (mother).
Mob-lynching fanatics and BJP vandals crying themselves hoarse to torch Muslims alive for their temerity of eating beef is something Obama and company don’t mind shutting their eyes to. They want India in their corner as an asset against both China and Pakistan
Even under a supposedly mild-mannered and poetry-loving Atal Bihari Vajpayee as PM, rowdy bands of RSS (Rashtrya Swayamsevak Sangh) roamed Muslim areas and threatened their denizens with dire consequences if the honor of their sacred mother-cow was violated. Vajpayee, for the record, made no attempt to hide his own preference to enforce a ban on cow slaughter.
So Modi, in all fairness to him, is not the progenitor of the movement to make India cow-slaughter free; he only shares this dubious distinction with Vajpayee.
However, the qualitative difference between India of Vajpayee’s watch, and India under Modi’s thrall, is that Vajpayee led a coalition government in both his stints as PM. In contrast, Modi rules India with a majority mandate and has the kind of control over it that Vajpayee may have pined for but never had.
Modi may have honed the mantra of charming his overseas interlocutors with his supposedly 21 st century ‘vision’ of an India tethered to standing shoulder-to-shoulder with the most advanced societies of the West. His rags-to-riches saga may have been cleverly choreographed and articulated to win accolades in the West and convince its gullible leaders that in him India had a leader the world could do business with. That was the kind of gullibility that exacted the commitment from Microsoft, last month, to stitch 500,000 villages of India into digital connectivity at a price affordable to India’s villagers.
But Modi is as committed a votary of Hindutva—and all that this inward-looking doctrine stands for—as Vajpayee or any other BJP notable, including, no doubt, L.K. Advani who initially mentored Modi but was brashly upstaged by his upstart acolyte for the top slot of BJP that, eventually catapulted him to supreme power in Delhi.
No doubt that Modi, basically a rabble-rouser, came to Delhi with a heavy baggage of sectarian politics that was anything but inclusive. The 2002 pogrom in Gujrat against hapless Muslims of that Modi-led state is just one of the black marks on Modi’s leadership. Kangaroo courts may have absolved him of any responsibility for that massive spilling of Muslim blood but he stands condemned at the bar of people’s court of justice.
Proponents of the exclusionist Hindutva philosophy had been looking for just such a leader to put teeth into their rabid and pernicious campaign to enforce their edict over all of India and all of the Indians. They grabbed the opportunity with both hands and have never looked back. An across the board ban on the slaughter of cow is a lynch-pin of their tirade against India’s beef-eating minorities; Muslims top of the list among those who must be disciplined to fashion their lives—including their eating habits—strictly according to the Hindutva code.
Modi’s minions may argue, in defense of their ‘supremo’ that he isn’t responsible for the murderous conduct of the Hindutva zealots—trained arsonists, rapists and murderers of Sangh Pariwar, the militant arm of BJP. But their canard is easily exposed when, on a nod from those responsible for law and order, the police and other law-enforcing agencies turn a blind eye to the Sangh goons rampaging through Muslim areas terrorizing their denizens, torching their dwellings, raping their women and murdering their men.
All this has been happening on Modi’s watch and he bears full responsibility for the Hindutva bands’ egregious agenda to subdue the minorities, Muslims in particular, under the crushing weight of their archaic vision of India.
That this beef-ban hysteria is Muslim-specific was quite evident when, under Modi, the first target picked was the Indian-occupied Kashmir whose Assembly was bamboozled into approving legislation that translated the BJP agenda. The backlash from the Kashmiri Muslims, swift and strident, should’ve put the rabid Hindutva cadres on notice but the heady wine of hubris swaying them is, apparently, too intoxicating.
Modi himself may not be leading the charge. He doesn’t have to. There are venomous factotums doing his bidding as pugnaciously. They are quite shameless to have no remorse or regret for their perfidious and sinister campaign. The one-item agenda of Safronizing India, at all cost, is on with a pugnacity that should astound those western friends of India who have been duped into believing that it’s a force of moderation against global terrorism. Here’s a state presiding over terrorism against segments of its own citizenry.
Pontificating, without remorse, on the lynching of Mohammad Akhlaq, at Dadri, Modi’s Culture Minister, Mahesh Sharma, dismissed it as just an “accident.” Rubbing salt into Muslim wounds, the Minister-without-any-trace-of- culture, intoned his audience that Akhlaq’s bereaved family should be grateful to the mob that his daughter was left alone and wasn’t molested.
With this ‘caliber’ of leadership that Modi has brought to India, it’s to his credit that he is being feted in the US, in particular, as a leader of great acumen and foresight. Modi has been singularly successful in not only wowing the Silicon Valley but also casting his charm spell on the power brokers and dispensers in Washington.
So overly dazzled and impressed is the Obama administration with the prowess of Modi’s India that it seems prepared to throw its full weight behind the Indian quest to gain a permanent place on the UN Security Council.
Mob-lynching Hindu fanatics and BJP vandals crying themselves hoarse to torch Muslims alive for their temerity of eating beef is something Obama and company don’t mind shutting their eyes to. They want India in their corner as an asset against both China and Pakistan.
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