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Posts Tagged ‘Sangh Parivar’

RSS and BJP using Hazare movement as a new vehicle for undermining democratic institutions

In Commentary on December 23, 2011 at 5:05 pm

From: tehelka.com, 21 December 2011

Ramped up, yet no harbinger

Ram Puniyani examines RSS and its tenets of Hindutva that have found a new shoulder

THIS DECEMBER, the Babri demolition anniversary completed 19 years. On the occasion, many Muslim groups demanded the reconstruction of the masjid, a demand which is just, but mired in complex legalities as it involves diverse players. Once again it calls for the redefinition of Hindutva, which is not a religion of Hindus – Hinduism is. Hindutva is the politics of RSS; it is politics with sectarian vision. This is the vision of the affluent upper caste-elite aiming to abolish democracy. Their aim is to bring in a nation on the basis of a Hindu religion where the upper crust of society can rule as per the norms prevalent in the feudal society. The birth based hierarchy is presented as a glorious tradition in modern form and language. Babri Masjid was not just the demolition of a national monument; it was also the beginning of a phase of politics where the communal undercurrents of Indian politics surfaced amid the political scenario in the country. It was a signal for minority violence. It was a blatant insult for what the Indian Constitution stands for. It was also the first major step for communal parties that allowed them to occupy the seats of power at the Centre.

After the initial sacking of the BJP-ruled states, the polarisation caused by demolition and post-demolition violence rose to frightening levels. The communalised BJP that until then was at the margins of the political structure came to the fore as a major Opposition party. Its parent organisation, the real controller of Hindutva politics, RSS, started becoming more respectable and social thinking was further vitiated with the bias against minorities.

In due course of time, the other minority, the Christians were also brought under the firing range of the communalists. It led to the ghastly burning of Pastor Graham Staines, which was followed up by more attacks on Christian missionaries working in adivasi areas. All this culminated in the horrific Kandhamal carnage.

For the first time the BJP, inherently committed to the anti-democratic notion of Hindu Rashtra, came to power at the Centre in 1996, even as other parties initially refused to ally with it to share the spoils of power. But that changed soon enough, and other political parties, obsessed with power opportunism shared power with those accused of the Babri demolition. The coming to power of BJP at the Centre opened the floodgates of the political space. Soon enough, parties under the aegis of RSS, like the VHP, Vanvasi Kalyan Ashram received encouragement. The state apparatus and police bureaucracy were further communalised. Education was communalised with a hint faith-based promotion, and at the cost of scientific temper and rational thought.

The success of RSS propaganda is not that it targets the minorities. Its bigger success lies in instilling fear in the mind of the majority, of the threat that minority creates. There is a ripple effect of this process and then a section of ‘middle of the road elements’ also start turning over to support the Hindutva parties. Karnataka opened the floodgates of BJP for its entry into South.

The Babri demolition led to multiple processes; denial of justice to victims of violence became structural, and the minorities started being relegated to second class citizenship. The demonisation of minorities has gone to extremely bad levels. This process of demonisation of Muslim minorities later started being created around the issue related to terrorism. US media coined the word Islamic terrorism, and the politics for control over oil resources was taken to absurd ideological manipulation and a religion and a religious community were subjected to immense profiling. In India too, the propaganda against Muslims was taken to worse levels with the global phenomenon of terror, falsely and cleverly attributed to teachings of Islam.

NOW, RSS-BJP politics is entering the new phase. Having reached the acme of anti-minority polarisation, it has found the Hazare movement as the new vehicle for its politics of undermining democratic institutions to bring in a parallel authoritarian structure where the Lokpal plays the big brother. Though this sounds innocuous and is presented as a step to solve the problems, this is likely to create a new institution beyond the control of democratic norms. A few people and groups who are calling the shots and asserting that they are ‘The People’, ‘Anna is above parliament’, will rule through various proxies. This Hazare movement has polarised the social layers according to those who look at either identity issues (Ram Temple) or symptomatic issues (corruption) as the major issues while undermining the problems of Dalits, minorities and other deprived sections of society. Identity issues or matters focussed around symptoms, which are meant to preserve the status quo of political dynamics, is what politics in the name of religion desires.

Since the Ram Temple appeal is fading, those for sociopolitical status quo have jumped on the anti-corruption bandwagon. This is a shrewd move. Marginalised sections feel left out from ‘I am Anna’, ‘We are the People’ type of assertions, the message is that only ‘shining India’ will have say in the shaping of a nation, while the deprived India, will be permanently on the margins.

In a sense, the RSS-Hindutva politics is constantly changing its strategies to communalise, polarise the society and to distract social attention from core issues. While initially, the rath yatras and communal violence played their role in polarising the nation along religious lines, now the issue of corruption is being used to further strengthen the hold of politics aimed at retaining social inequalities.

Ram Puniyani is a communal harmony activist based in Mumbai

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Anna is the icon of banal Hindutva (Jyotirmaya Sharma)

In Commentary on October 18, 2011 at 5:57 am

From: Mail Today,17 October 2011

Anna is the icon of banal Hindutva

by Jyotirmaya Sharma

The ethical compass of his followers is skewed

DOES ANNA Hazare have an ideology? Despite the surfeit of emotion that Hazare generates, this is a legitimate question that ought to be asked, understood and answered. That he is no democrat in the sense the word ‘ democracy’ is normally understood is a foregone conclusion, something that even his most vocal admirers would admit. He brings to debate and discussion the rigour and predictability of a military drill. His model of rule, governance and statecraft is that of undiluted paternalism, something even his secret admirers would admit.

That he is medieval in his outlook, one who would like people who he doesn’t like to be flogged in public, hanged in public and humiliated in public, is no great secret waiting to reveal itself. His world is a simple world that divides people into friends and foes and proceeds to pass moral strictures against his foes.

Character

Neither is he too bright: calling actions evil can be polarising, but he calls people evil which is polemical and arrogant.

He does not have the mental facility to focus on actions rather than the agents of such action. He feels he has neither the capacity for error nor the capacity for self- deception. For him, rhetoric is a substitute for explanation and not a demand for explanation.

Hazare doesn’t think twice before abusing words like ‘ evil’ and ‘ corruption’. The excessive use of the words stifles thinking rather than promoting it.

By demonising the idea of corruption, he has managed to externalise the idea altogether as something other people do. And by other people, he simply means those who do not agree with him or do not attend his rallies. The poison of his rhetoric poisons our lives; it undermines our trust in people and institutions and robs us of our freedom to debate and dissent. He is a non- violent terrorist: he does not bother about collateral damage in carrying out his mission.

Having said all this, the question still remains whether Hazare belongs to the Hindutva camp. Notwithstanding Digvijaya Singh’s relentless rhetoric on this question, or Mohan Bhagwat’s open avowal of support, or Hazare’s own disagreement with Prashant Bhushan on the Kashmir issue, the question of Hazare’s seeming affinity with the Sangh Parivar needs careful analysis. One doesn’t have to belong to the RSS or the VHP or the Bajarang Dal or the BJP to be formally part of the Sangh Parivar.

Analysts have often categorised Hindutva into ‘ hard’ and ‘ soft’ varieties. It is, therefore, important to understand that there are people who have formal allegiance to Hindutva as represented by institutions and organisations mentioned above, but there are those who might vote for the BJP not because of an ideological position that they take but because of resentment towards a particular party or dispensation.

Going beyond the categories of ‘ hard’ and ‘ soft’ Hindutva, there is a third, and as yet not discussed, category of Hindutva.

This is ‘ banal Hindutva’. Its features are a love for abstractions rather than action, self- righteousness over self- improvement, inflamed nationalism, easy judgement, moral sanctimoniousness over moral understanding and a gnawing sense of inferiority and victimhood.

Type

It manifests in the form of the person who regularly violates traffic lights, spits in public places, raves and rants about the state of education in India and then sends his children abroad, speeds in his car as if there was no tomorrow and yet complains of the fast life in the West, bribes his way through in life but gets tearful when Vande Mataram is sung.

This sort of person does not have the application or the courage to question seriously the status quo, nor does he have the tenaciousness required to join a political party and work for a cause or an ideology.

He wants a comfortable existence, dislikes disorder of any kind, finds dissent and debate in his own circles to be a waste of time, and is happy to fit several air conditioners in his own home while signing petitions to save the ozone layer.

He is a misogynist at home but a serious champion of 33 per cent seats for women in Parliament.

He relentlessly speaks of India’s great Hindu traditions but knows no more than what he gleaned from Amar Chitra Katha comics. He swears by Hindu tolerance yet makes no effort to have a Muslim or a Christian friend; more so, he secretly detests them.

Being afflicted by this moral and ethical schizophrenia, he hides behind the rhetoric of the eternal Hindu civilisation, the dream of making India, which for him means Hindu India, an economic and military superpower, being the number one side in cricket and tracing the origins of all things good and noble to India. If confronted with questions of violence, cruelty and hypocrisy in India, he blames it on Western education, Christian missionaries, the Taliban, Pakistan, America, the rise in population, democracy, the Left and the intellectuals.

Hazare is the leader of ‘ banal Hindutva’.

He has no moral centre and his scruples are his misunderstandings. He typically is the kind of person described so eloquently by Hannah Arendt in her account of Eichmann’s trial: the pathetic, selfserving individual, who attains to a position of power and influence by accident.

Fallout

He is not demonic but just spectacularly mediocre. And he attracts a sizable number of those who are either his kind, or, if they are not necessarily mediocre, are just plainly opportunists, who find a state of political and moral anarchy convenient for their own ends. He is attractive because he does not challenge anyone intellectually or morally. All he asks anyone is to bask in his moral superiority.

Like Krishna asking Arjuna to suspend everything and come unto him, Hazare too wants us to suspend judgement and follow him.

Will ‘ banal Hindutva’ replace the more formal versions of the Hindu nationalist ideology? The answer is that it is unlikely.

What Hazare is knowingly or unknowingly doing is to become the informal recruitment centre for the harder versions of Hindutva. By making ‘ banal Hindutva’ honourable, Hazare has begun the process of making the harder versions of Hindutva more acceptable and legitimate.

The collateral damage, as stated earlier, will be Indian democracy. But does he care?

The writer is professor of politics at University of Hyderabad

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