‘In his first speech in Parliament, Modi spoke about the slavery of 1,400 years, and though he didn’t say in so many words, the meaning was that he had come to re-establish a Hindu Rashtra.’
Apoorvanand, a professor at Delhi University, is a vocal critic of the Hindutva ideology pursued by the Narendra Damodardas Modi government, and he airs his opinion fearlessly.
“They have also made it possible that you can spread hatred, you can give abusive speeches, you can kill, lynch Muslims and Christians, but you will enjoy impunity and nothing will happen to you,” he tells Rediff.com‘s Shobha Warrier.
The first of a multi-part interview:
Soon after Narendra Modi came to power, when there were many incidents of lynching of Muslims, attacks on churches and ghar wapsi meetings, many writers returned their Akademi awards.
One of the first to do so was Sara Joseph. When I interviewed her then, she said what was happening in the country was cultural Talibanisation, and not just fascism.
Looking at what is happening now, would you say cultural Talibanisation has strengthened now?
First, I don’t like to use Taliban as a reference point because what is happening in India is a culmination of a very long process which is older than the birth of the Taliban.
In fact, the Taliban can learn from the RSS.
What is happening is a kind of cultural genocide, definitely the unfolding of an Indian variety of fascism.
What exactly is the Indian variety of fascism?
How do we recognise Indian fascism?
Unless we hear the sounds of the boots of Hitler and Himmler in our streets, we refuse to believe that fascism is round the corner.
Also, we look for some formal things like the suspension of the Constitution, one party rule, etc.
It is much more complex in India because if Hitler’s organisation was born with him, here you have an organisation called the RSS which has been working while remaining out of power for a very long time.
This organisation made ‘othering of Muslims and Christians’, and persuading Hindus that they are the owners of this land and others are just tenants, as its ideology.
The metaphor that they use to decide what India is likening it to the Ganga.
As the Ganga flows, many tributaries merge in it. They say the Ganga does not lose its Ganga-ness while the tributaries become a part of the Ganga losing their identities.
If you recall what (then Jana Sangh president and ideologue) Deendayal Upadhyay said — the minorities had to lose their identities if they want to be Indian.
That is, they cannot claim any distinctiveness as the Hindu way of life is the Indian way of life, that too described by the RSS.
What is the Hindu way of life as described by the RSS? For example, in Kerala, Hindus celebrate the arrival of Mahabali, but the RSS tried to change this to Vaaman Jayanti! They tried to tell Malayali Hindus that that was how they should remember Onam.
They wanted the Malayali Hindus to be Hindus prescribed by the RSS.
You mean the Hindu way of life followed northern India?
The Hindu way of life is being fashioned and re-fashioned by the RSS for a very long time.
In the northern part of India also, there are very diverse kinds of traditions.
For example, I belong to a Brahmin community from Jharkhand and Bihar, and we are compulsive meat eaters.
Hindus in Kerala eat beef.
Yes, Hindus in Kerala eat beef, Hindus in Kashmir eat meat, and in many parts of India, the Brahmins eat meat.
But the RSS has been propagating this way of life in which Hindus are vegetarians.
Can you believe they started a campaign a few years back in Mithila and Bengal to tell the Hindus there that they should not eat fish! They told the people of Bengal that at least on Tuesday they should not eat fish.
When Modi came to power, it was said there was a hidden agenda to make India a Hindu Rashtra, but it is no longer a hidden agenda…
It was never a hidden agenda. In his first speech in Parliament, he spoke about the slavery of 1,400 years, and though he didn’t say in so many words, the meaning was that he had come to re-establish a Hindu Rashtra.
When you talk about a slavery of 1400 years, what does it mean? That the Mughal period was a period of slavery.
He was not challenged by anyone then. So, it was very clear what he was trying to do.
But we should be clear that the Hindu Rashtra would actually be a State and society under the thumb of the RSS.
Do you think they are more confident about a Hindu Rashtra because they are getting the support of the majority of Hindus?
Electorally, they have still not crossed 50%.
So, you cannot say a majority of Hindus are electorally with them.
But they have been trying to re-craft Hindu common sense.
The RSS common sense is that the Muslims and Christians have to abide by the wishes of the Hindus, and they have the right to dominate the minorities.
In the last seven years, across India, there is a mushrooming of many big and small autonomous groups consisting of people in the age group of 18-24 and above — both men and women.
They have also made it possible that you can spread hatred, you can give abusive speeches, you can kill, lynch Muslims and Christians, but you will enjoy impunity and nothing will happen to you.
Remember a police officer who tried to prevent this was killed by these people. And you didn’t hear any objection from the other police officials too.
So, this is what they have done; they have decentralised violence.
Feature Presentation: Aslam Hunani/Rediff.com
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