The political agenda is implementation of the Hindu Rashtra concept and the social agenda is to purge Muslims and suppress them to the extent that they convert themselves into Hinduism.
Syed Ali Mujtaba | Clarion India
CAMBRIDGE HISTORIAN Anil Seal, in his monumental work The Emergence of Indian Nationalism: Competition and Collaboration in the Later Nineteenth Century (1971), writes: ‘In 1857, India was not one nation. In fact, there was no nation. India was a jumble-mumble of societies, a graveyard of nationalities, and India nationalism was yet to be born.” Anil Seal attributes the birth of Indian nationalism to the British Raj that incubated this thought of nationalism for the next 100 years and, through Independence, gave this as a parting gift to the people.
There may be those who disagree with Anil Seal’s thesis. But, it seems that, in contemporary India, this is hot currency. The present rulers are reaping rich dividends from this gifted nationalism and are peddling it with a new flavour in the form of ultra-nationalism.
Ultra-nationalism is being preached and practised at its splendid best. Those at the helm of power are projecting ultra-nationalism by bringing a kind of Hindu aggressiveness into the concept of Sanatana Dharma. In the quest to glorify Hinduism, they are targeting the Muslim minorities, crushing democratic norms and doing a host of other things that meant India’s slide towards a failing state.
India’s churning process is progressing in the wrong direction. Two distinctive trends are evident in the new political and social agenda of the BJP. The political agenda is implementation of the Hindu Rashtra concept and the social agenda is to purge Muslims and suppress them to the extent that they convert themselves into Hinduism.
The other notable features of the churning are as follows: The leaders of the ruling party are consciously making a lot of noise about the glorious past of the Hindus. They want to reinvent the ‘glorious past’ so that the supremacy of Hindus could be reestablished. In this world view, Muslims are the painted as the villains. Hence, the obsession to drive them out. The fallouts from this thought process are the CAA, the NPR, the NCR etc — all anti-Muslim in their tone and tenor.
GLORIFICATION OF HINDUISM
Cinematic art is being used to glorify the lost ‘golden age’ of Hindus. There is distortion of history in Indian cinema with a view to manufacturing Hindu glory. Common themes in current Indian movies are, principally, hate against Muslim rulers and glorification of Hindu rulers. This ultra-nationalism is emanating from the ruling party’s head — that is, Prime Minister Modi. A personality cult is being built around Modi: ‘India is Modi and Modi is India’. Any criticism of Modi is seen as an attack on the image of the nation.
The ultra-nationalist is using Islamophobia and bigotry against Muslims as his twin-edged weapon to hold all the Sanatan dharmists under its umbrella. This recipe is working well. Demonizing Muslims is seen as the best bet to flag the cause of ultra-nationalism.
Suppression of the ‘freedom of expression’ concept is another facet of the churning process. Criticism of the government is taken as an attack on the nation. If anyone dares to criticise the ruling party, he/she is branded as anti-national. As such, the word anti-national has become a fancy in today’s lexicon. Any dissent has to be suppressed as it is projected as anti-national; and its punishment is under the sedition and treason laws.
Much of the news media are directly or indirectly controlled by the ruling party. Media here is expected to glorify the ill-conceived policies of the government; else, they face the establishment’s wrath. It is a pity that the Fourth Estate is controlled by the government in the world’s largest democracy.
Corporate houses are being protected. They supply money to political parties, and help them win elections and gain power. Therefore, the political parties have a vested interest in protecting the corporates. The corporates reap rich dividends from the party that wins power. Both protect each other’s interests.
After Muslims, the labour force is the most suppressed entity here. Under the neo-capitalism paradigm, the labour force is looked at with disdain. The government is making all attempts to suppress the labour force. Fact is, it does not know the power of the organised labour movement that has toppled many regimes in the world.
In sum, the executive, the judiciary, the bureaucracy, the police, the army, the media, the education system, and some professionals are all the central parts of the churning process that the nation is undergoing today. They are not just individuals responsible for the cancerous growth in India’s body politic. The imprints of churning have permeated deep into the entire state apparatus.
Well, these are some of the formative images at work to change the nature and character of the nation. In changing India, many Indians are in a state of despair, dejection and suffocation. They do not know how to deal with the fascist forces that have taken over the country. There are widespread protests all over as these forces are hell bent on changing the nature and character of the country.
The only ray of hope in such moments of despair is the ordinary people. The common masses have raised the banner of revolt against those who are propagating the fascist ideology and aiming to make India a Hindu state. The common man is undeterred by the state repression and is fighting hard to protect the fundamental character of India. They are vociferously opposing this fascist regime and have come on to the streets in large numbers, opposing this repressive government.
As the ‘Hindu India’ concept is galloping on the bosom of modern India, the burden of hope rests on the shoulders of the common Indians. They are kindling hope the hard-earned Indian nationalism that helped Indian gain freedom from the foreign rule will not be surrendered to a few thugs who are invoking the idea of ultra-nationalism to remain in power.
In these moments of introspection, we as Indians need first to understand the perils of these disturbing trends. We need to organise and oppose the fascist policies of the government and stop such ill-conceived churning process. As Indians, if we are not going to arrest this slide, this nation will soon be bracketed among the failing welfare states.
(Syed Ali Mujtaba is a journalist based in Chennai. Views expressed here are his personal and Clarion India does not necessarily subscribe to them.)