UNIFICATION OF HINDUS
Introductory Note :
The issue of Sadhana (a Marathi monthly) of
August 7, 1993, contained a detailed critical review of Mr.S.H.Deshpande's book
in Marathi: "From Savarkar to BJP: A critical introduction to Hindutva." But
the editor of "Sadhana" re-fused to publish the rejoinder by Mr.Deshpande, which
is being presented below. Mr.Kotwal's points are described mostly in his
own words and replied to in the same order in the form of comments. [This is
a translation of Shri Deshpande's article.]
UNIFICATION OF HINDUS
Mr.Kotwal has mentioned three types of points
I) Those which are acceptable
But since he has not delineated these three classes of points, it will be assumed that all the points are acceptable to him.
1. Mr.Kotwal accepts as facts that provocative and inflammatory articles keep appearing in Urdu periodicals, and that in the case of a conflict with a Muslim Country, the support of the Muslim population cannot be taken for granted. Yet he asserts that my argument: "Hindus should unite" is not convincing because, according to him, the maximum danger to India will occur during war-time, and that there are adequate laws as well as machinery like RAW, CBI, etc., to take care of such occasions.
Comment: This implies that we should take it easy until such time as there is maximum danger threatening us! Admittedly, the danger is at its peak during war-time, but at other times, the danger cannot be ignored or belittled, so as to make us sit back & relax in a false sense of security and complacency. In fact, I would have expected that everyone who values our country's freedom & welfare would have learnt to take cognizance of the perpetual danger lurking in our midst. The happenings in Kashmir and in Punjab, the lakhs of infiltrators sneaking into India, the frequent eruption of riots, the threats in the Urdu Press to secede from the Union and to start a blood-bath, the avowed policy of Muslim organisations to Islamise the country, the recurring bomb blasts all over the country - can these signs be dismissed as trivial and insignificant, and accepted as part of normal life?
And can a nation lured into a false sense of security be easily galvanised overnight once a war breaks out? Mr.Kotwal believes that RAW, CBI, etc., are perfectly capable of looking after the country's security. I wish that I could share his optimism. But even when they are at their best, they can act only on orders received from the government and cannot take decisions on policy matters, which are taken arbitrarily by politicians. Certainly this cannot be news to Mr.Kotwal. To date, in matters of self-defence and internal security, innumerable decisions have been taken which show scant respect for the nation's security and welfare. For example, there have been occasions when our army, acknowledged as being amongst the world's finest and most efficient one, has been baulked of its victory by being denied the chance to consolidate its gains under orders from the Centre; as a consequence, its fighting morale and spirit has had to withstand severe strain. The reason for this is that the people do not fully value their sense of belonging to the country. Instilling this value is the object of unification.
On going through Mr. Kotwal's arguments, it
appears that he has not fully considered what I have written on the basis of
the writings of Dr Ambedkar, Dr Shah, Prof Kurundkar and Mr Hamid Dalwai.
The Muslim problem is rooted partly in the tenets of the Islam, and partly in
the ethos pervading in the community; to wit "We were once the rulers of this
country." To a lesser extent, it is also due to their "minority-consciousness"
and to what Kotwal terms as "insecurity". This is how I understand the
Muslim problem. Whether Mr. Kotwal agrees or not is not clear; probably
he does not. For had he been of this view-point,' he would not have posed
the questions that he did. He should then have tried to disprove what
I had written, but he has not attempted this.
2. "How close the Muslims countries of this world are to one another is a most point and is debatable; even assuming a strong pan-Islamic trend in the world, Hindu unification is no solution."
Comment: Admittedly, all Muslim countries don't see eye-to-eye with one another; we have recently had the instances of the Gulf war, the Bosnian problem, the Palestine conflicts, etc. Pan-Islamism has not become a fait accompli, and it is a matter of guess whether there will ever be a pan-Islamic confederation of states. The reason is that the, various Islamic countries have a sense of pride in their distinctiveness, and their national objectives are different. Now, this is not exactly in accordance with the teachings of Islam, which insists on the subordination of love for one's country to loyalty to the entire Islamic brotherhood as a whole, which is why so many Muslims are drawn towards fundamentalism.
Besides, fundamentalist groups in Muslim countries are on the increase. Whether all Islamic countries will gang, together against India is hard to foretell; but it is safer to play prudent, as to be forewarned is to be forewarned, for Islam holds the Hindu to the lowest and most hateful of all in fields, for he is an idolater, in short a Kafir.
But even this argument is comparatively weak. The real question is about the attitude of Indian Muslims. And in that context it must be noted that several religious leaders and authorities right from Iqbal have declared that "Nationalism is not acceptable to us! We are staying here only as part of an agreement." There have, in fact, been concrete instances of their affinity for Pakistan. Mr Dalwai has said, "Mohammed came to Mecca to liberate the Muslims of that city; 75% of the Muslims in rural India believe that their lot is like that of the Muslims of Mecca." Their liberator will of course be Pakistan. To believe fondly that Muslims will be a source of danger only during a war is to live in a fool's paradise.
3. "Admittedly, our government is trying to appease and to ingratiate itself with the Muslim religious heads merely for the sake of Muslim votes. But the pernicious fallout of this policy will be felt only by common Muslim citizen like Shah Bano, not by Hindus."
Comment: The matter is not so simple as to involve only appeasement of Muslim religious heads. The demand that not only there should not be a uniform civil code but that even the criminal code should be changed (in favour of Muslims) is an open challenge to the principle of secularism. And since there is a fierce opposition and an open refusal to join the mainstream, it is also a challenge to nationalism. Both these tendencies are being encouraged by the government.
"Whatever be the fate of hopeless citizens like Shah Bano, Hindu should bother only about themselves" - this implication by Kotwal is must shocking to say the least. I can only think of this comment at this point.
[Translator's Note: If there is one person who is disenchanted, there is a problem. If there is a group, then the problem is many times more. For this reason, everybody should be concerned about injustice being done to the Muslim women.]
4. "Sometimes Muslim imperviousness-cum-obstinacy is a source of irritation for Hindus."
Comment: Is offering namaz on public road only a sign of imperviousness? Far from being so, it is nothing short of wanton belligerence. I have not mentioned other examples, as it would run into a long list.
By analysing Muslim mentality, I have endeavoured to present a perspective of the Hindus-Muslim problem, which I feel should suffice. It is regreted that Mr. Kotwal has not even considered this perspective.
5. "That the Muslim population is increasing at a slightly faster rate is a trivial argument."
Comment: Some people have misleading ideas regarding population growth and dynamics. I have personally tried to set right their mistaken notions by scientific arguments. It is not that the Muslim population increase does not worry me. Pakistan was formed when the Muslim population of the entire Indian subcontinent was 25% of the total. Today, even though the Muslim population. of truncated India is around 11 to 11.5%, their belligerence and animosity, far from subsiding, has actually increased. Urdu newspapers are estimating the Muslim percentage at 15, 16, 20, etc. (It is not known on what basis).
However, I believe on numerical grounds, that there are no grounds to fear that Muslims will become a majority in this country within next 25-50 years. But the question of the individual states or parts is a different matter, as compared to the entire country. If the Muslim population. becomes a majority oven in any state or part of India, even then it will pose a threat. At it will create a Kashmir-type problem in no time. Take the case of Assam, for instance. The census figures of 1991 are available, but their community-wise break-up has not yet been published. (In my personal capacity, I have made inquiries through an MLA in the legislative assembly of Assam. His colleagues had advised his to avoid this question, since it is a "delicate issue".) I believe personally that when the break-up is published we shall get the shock of our life.
6. "In the educational field as well as on the economic front, Hindus are ahead of Muslims... In every respect, Hindus' position is secure."
Comment: No. History shows that Hindus have suffered throughout the ages. Even today in independent India, Hindus are still insecure; they have been thrown out Kashmir valley, religious conversions are in full swing (financed by crores of petro-dollars pouring in from the Middle-East) and they are being tormented in various ways in their own country.
7. Mr. Kotwal states that "Hindu unification will lead to a feeling of insecurity among Muslims."
Comment: A look at recent history is enough to show that Pakistan did not owe its inception to a feeling of insecurity among Muslims. If inability to establish exclusive Muslim rule all over the country and the impose Islam (with the Quran in one hand and the sword in the other) on all Indians can be taken to mean insecurity, then the Muslims may be said feel insecure. Were Muslims loyal to this country, they would not bother about insecurity like Parsis, and, to a certain extent, Christians. Even though Muslims regard themselves as separate from the country, they enjoy a freedom here which Muslims do not enjoy in any other country in the world.
I do admit that the present state of Muslims leaves something to be desired, but it is certainly not as bad as that of nomads like tribal hunters, gypsies, etc. (A perusal of Anil Avchat's Mansen (a book in Marathi meaning People) will show who are the most unfortunate and miserable communities in India.) Even then I do not opine that their lot should be ignored. And in this matter, I have suggested what Hindutva-wadis should do. But merely because of their sorry plight, to say that Hindus' suspicious about their disloyalty are misplaced is fallacious.
8. "Any effort to unify Hindus will divert attention from an important task (programme) like eradication of poverty".
Comment: (1) Only when there is a national feeling
through-out the country will the country be indivisible, secure both internally
and externally, and peaceful. Kotwal seems to ignore that this is a prerequisite
for economic progress.
It is not external powers that are trying to subjugate this country by a direct conquest through military means. That was. the older method of colonialism. The modern strategy is to create internal insecurity through secret internal agents and to impoverish the country economically and weaken it in other ways. This has become clear from the recent bomb explosions. The object of unification is to counter and destroy these stratagems of external powers and their internal agents.
9. "The process of Hindu unification is such that even mature persons and intellectuals will have no control over it".
Comments: (1) This can be said about any movement.
Even the non-violent movement and satyagraha of Mahatma Gandhi could lead to
undesirable repercussions and turn violent.
[Translator's Note: See also comments to point 10.]
10. "Unification of Hindus cannot rejuvenate an impoverished nation. The reasons for the impoverishment are in the nation's past. The caste-system and social rivalries are two of the country's ills which can be cited. But it is mainly our philosophy which preaches that "the world is an illusion" which is responsible, and liberal-minded persons like Mr. Deshpande will not be able to give a lead in unifying the Hindus. Only the Sangh can provide the leadership. As Deshpande has said, the Sangh is living in the past. The very philosophy which has been the cause of our country's debilitation is being boasted and exaggerated by the Sangh. The hope that Hindu unification will rejuvenate the nation will turn out to be a dupe."
Comment: If the country is to be revitalised and if the Sangh is incapable of accomplishing this task, then an alternative organisation which looks to the future could (& should) undertake this responsibility; it matters little even if it chooses to label the means as India's organisation or national organisation. But more about this later on.
On my part, I am trying my best to make the Sangh look to the future. For that purpose, I seriously believe that the above process will be a conducive one. In my work, I have called upon the Sangh to take up this task of national reconstruction, but that does not preclude any other body from engaging itself in this task. The reasons why I invoked the Sangh's name are two-fold.
Firstly, I feel that under today's circumstances, there is a great need for a body with a nationalistic outlook; today, I do not see any other organisation which fulfills this condition.
Secondly, I am not as disillusioned with the Sangh as Kotwal is, for which I have given the reasons in my book. I feel that the Hindutva movement, leaving aside certain aspects, has gained quite a considerable momentum. Several of its workers are working in various spheres of our social and national activity; they are in intimate touch with the realities. The Sangh workers have begun to speak the same language as Dr Ambedkar regarding the social infrastructure of Hindu Society, because they understand that without social equality within Hindu Society there can be no unification of Hindus. In BJP's social charter, Manusmriti finds no place, and the constitution has been accepted as binding. In my book I have emphasised that BJP is the most dynamic constituent of the Sangh Parivar.
The philosophy "This world is an illusion" needs to be explained at some length. Adi Shankaracharya, who propounded this philosophy, had also recommended that the moment detachment overtakes a person he/she should retire from temporal life and not wait for old age. The Swayamsevaks of the Sangh neither recommend nor follow this philosophy. In fact their work of national reconstruction is very much based on the reality of the world trying to unite the country and make it prosperous and powerful. This means Sanyas (asceticism), adhyat ma (spiritualism) etc. have taken on different meanings in their eyes. They are interpreted by them as selflessness, moral purity, fraternal feeling service, etc. This is not to say that detachment has been abandoned altogether, rather that it has assumed a new meaning. Sociologists should study this aspect of Rashtriya Swayamsevak. Sangh's (RSS) philosophy. In this connection, it most be noted that the RSS ideal is Swami Vivekanand rather than Adi Shankaracharya. The first sanyasi who associated sanyas with "service" was Dr.V.R. Karandikar, whose interpretation is relevant here.
The association of material goals with spiritual terminology can be found in the psychology of social movements. The use of such terminology is to link reforms with tradition, and is not peculiar only to Sangh workers. Mr G.K. Gokhale (Spiritualism of Politics), B.G. Tilak, (The Temporal Meaning of the desire for Liberation), Mahatma Gandhi (Soul Force), Radhakrishnan, Munshi, Nehru & Vinoba have used such terminology on relevant occasions, and some of them even continually. It can be said that Hindutvawadis incline towards traditionalism, but I do not believe they will make tradition come in the way of economic development. Besides, it appears that this terminology has lately been going out of fashion.
Be that as it may, if Kotwal thinks that my faith in the Sangh Parivar is misplaced, I have absolutely no objection. If he can discern any other national force, he is fully at liberty to support it. I would be happy and would compliment him, if he ever succeeds. I am not bothered about who stirs up the national spirit. In fact, that is not the question at all.
This would mean (according to Kotwal) that an anti-Hindutva force should develop an alternative form of nationalism and should declare what are its plans for giving a practical shape to such a nationalism. But there lies the hitch. It is reflected in Kotwal's article based purely on his views, and such views are normally representative of the "progressive" and "liberal-minded" attitudes.
11. It would appear that Kotwal has a violent bias against nationalism, but he seems to have no objection to patriotism. I have termed USA, UK, Sweden, Switzerland etc. as examples of nationalist-minded countries.. Kotwal, on the corn", in his article, has implied that USA is not a nationalist-minded country. I believe he has not understood what I mean by nationalism, hence his confusion.
Comment: For want of a more appropriate word, the English word "nationalism" is translated in Marathi as "Rashtrawad". Now, Western writers on nationalism describe it as a universal phenomenon, and say that nationalism exists in USA and the other countries mentioned by me. I have not come across their use of the term "patriotism" to mean something else. Hence, I do not believe that I have erred in describing USA as nationalist-minded.
At the same time, these writers also state that nationalism varies in form and degree from country to country, mild in some countries and more or less aggressive in others. Hence, there is no reason at all to assume that nationalism is necessarily aggressive.
Nationalism is the feeling "we are different from others, and amongst ourselves we are all one" (one-mindedness). Where this feeling, is present, national welfare becomes the main plank of politics; this is the basic form of nationalism. Then circumstances, tradition, history etc., give a final shape to make it more or less mild or aggressive. Thus the feeling "even if we are not different from others, we are still superior to them" is the next type after the mild one ("chosen people", Herrenvolk or the master-race).
"We should therefore establish our hegemony over others" is the type which follows (empire-building or expansionism). If the desire to strengthen the feeling of unity and power fosters a feeling that centralisation is necessary, then it will generate the possibility of dictatorship, (Fascism, Nazism, totalitarianism etc.). The desire to cut other people (countries) to size gives rise to genocidal tendencies (Final Solution).
The spectrum of nationalism is thus quite broad. The various countries of this world today give different colours to their nationalism. Even the same country can give different colours to its nationalism at different times. What brand of nationalism a country should adopt can be chosen by the country.
What I have defined earlier as the basic form of nationalism will suffice for me personally. Internal unity and social justice, which Kotwal claims are the aims of the RSD (Rashtriya Seva Dal) are acceptable to me; these form Kotwal's definition of "patriotism", to which I have no objection. My only contention is that this type of hair-splitting between current modes of social interactions and groups is entirely needless and leads one nowhere.
From this point, I do not believe that Americans themselves would object to being called nationalists. In fact, their history shows that their aggressive nationalism has manifested itself several times. Fundamentally, their War of Independence, Hamilton's National Economics, the Munroe Doctrine, the unity won after paying the price of civil war, the view openly expressed by some of their intellectuals that it is our birthright to lord it over the world (Manifest Destiny), their war with England, the mutilation of Mexico, the subjugation of Philippines, the extermination or decimation of American Indians, the restrictions on foreigners (notably Asians and coloureds) wishing to enter US, the stranglehold on international financial bodies, the stockpiling of arms during the cold war, etc., all these are evidence of American aggressive nationalism in practice. And this too' not during war-time either, but when peace was prevalent. In point of fact no nation has ever attacked the US, nor did US ever have the occasion or the need to defend itself. Still its nationalism is very much assertive and aggressive, and needlessly so.
It impossible that these facts may be overlooked. In a country where nationalism has come to stay, the daily life would have been established and organised. In such a country, there is no need to stress the necessity for nationalism. But thereby it does not follow that nationalism is absent; on the contrary, it will have developed strong roots in the soil, whereas here we have to shout from the housetops on the need for nationalism. Even in Canada, where Kotwal stays, there is a problem between French and Anglo-Saxon Canadians due to the difference between their cultures, which sometimes leads to acrimonious exchange of opinions and discussions on national problems.
Before proceeding further, I must point out a misconception of Kotwal's: "Had I taken birth in the womb of a Muslim mother in the slum area of Behrampada near Khernagar (Kherwadi), my love and loyalty would have been. towards India. The venue of my childhood play, which would be the source of my solace, would be in India".
It is natural to have an emotional attachment for the place of one's childhood of which one has fond memories. But that would not be the same thing as patriotism. Pakistani Muslims have a yearning to visit the places and homes of their childhood period, and we occasionally come across some heart-warming and moving descriptions, but these do not necessarily stem out of love for India.
Besides, Kotwal's statement that "the mother-country is like one's mother" should be juxtaposed and compared with the fact of the objection and opposition of Indian Muslims to the singing of 'Vande-Mataram'.
12. "The USA owes its phenomenal prosperity not to any type of nationalism but to the importance given to freedom of individual action and thought......"
Comment: This conclusion of Kotwal's is contrary to the established principles of sociology; a study of US history also belies it. Any social phenomenon is the product of several factors. Nationalism has been known to play a vital role in the economic development and progress of several countries; a survey of the economic history of any country will confirm this, and US is no exception to this rule.
I do not deny the role of individual freedom in US progress, but I must point out here that this expression has another connotation. Just as individual freedom or democracy is an important constituent of the structure of American society, it is also a symbol of the growth of American nationalism. American nationalism differs from that of other countries in that America has no "past" as such. The nation had its birth in the age of democracy, science and reason, hence these new values become the, symbols of US nationalism and national pride. Because of the absence of a past, hopes for the future played an important role in the rise of national consciousness, and one of these hopes was giving the world the message of democracy and making the world safe for democracy. Other countries have looked to their medieval and past history for inspiration, but their past record being one of subjugating others and of suppressing, and frustrating their bid for freedom, the Americans were thankful not to have such a dark age in their past history as a heritage, hence they chose democracy/individual freedom as a symbol of their national pride (viz. the Statue of Liberty). Thus US democracy has a social connotation as well as a national significance, and American democracy is synonymous with its nationalism.
13. In this context, it becomes necessary to have a hard look at Indian nationalism. I have suggested that on the basis of an affidavit we should distinguish between nationalists and anti-nationals, and that anti-nationals should be deprived of their voting rights. On this point Kotwal has raised Cain and made a great fuss.
Comment:(1) I made the above suggestion as I
sensed an urgent need to solve this issue in time to save our shaking edifice.
I would like the voters' list to be drawn up irrespective of caste or creed, and representative of India's mixed culture.
If Kotwal were to take the trouble to understand the purpose behind my efforts, he would find that I am proposing a form of nationalism which is independent of caste or creed, and which is compatible with modem accepted values but, as far as possible, based on our traditions and conventions.
On one hand, he is proposing a sentimental sort of national consciousness based on ideal principles, which would appeal to all sections of our society, and on the other, he recommends punishment for all t ' hose who do not wish to conform to the rules of decent and lawful social behaviour and mode of living e.g. those who entertain and promote divisive and secessionist tendencies. The penalty which he has in mind excludes death sentence, religious conversion and squeezing out the culprits out of the country (as done by Muslim countries like Pakistan, Bangladesh, etc.). I had strongly recommended that those who oppose a common civil code should be debarred from participating in law-making in this country; this is a pure and simple requirement, which Mr Hamid Dalwai had also suggested.
From one point of view, it can be said that
I am proposing the principles of a social contract; it is possible that they
may not be ideal, even if they appear so to me, but a constructive criticism
would be one which suggests improvements instead of opposing them blindly tooth
Comment: This should be decided, in my opinion,
by all those who are concerned about this country's. welfare and security.
Those who believe that nationalism is a must and that it should be related to
traditional values should come together and begin a discussion or debate.
Hindu and Muslim intellectuals from the Sangh Parivar (eg., Dr Shripati Shastri,
Mr Muzzafar Hussein), workers of the Muslim Satya-shodhak Mandal (eg., Mr Hussein
Jamadar), Fr Francis de Britto, Mr Madhu Mehta of the Hindustani Andolan movement,
are some of the names which naturally occur to me, and have been quoted (here)
as examples. This list can be augmented by adding others. Mr Madhu
Mehta is now intending to initiate a national debate on "What is the form of
Comment: I do not share his fears, but there is nothing to prevent anyone from devising additional filtering safeguards.
14. Kotwal seems to be having a serious objection to using the word "Hindu" to mean "national".
Comment: In my work, I have stated the reasons for my using the word "Hindu"; however, I would not like the use of just one word to come in the way of national unity. Mr Kotwal's argument is: "Though it may be true that, the word 'Hindu' does not stand for a particular religion but denotes a certain type of culture, the common man associates it with that religion. Making the common people give up this conventional and perhaps wrong sense of the word and accept the broader meaning which it has for Deshpande will entail such a massive efforts that I feel like asking - Why this relentless insistence on the use of the word Hindu?"
I do not deny that there is some truth in this
argument, and for this reason I am agreeable to the, alternative use of the
word "Bharatiya" (Indian) to "Hindustani". It is the meaning which matters,
and it stands for the nationalism related to the four to five thousand year
old traditions of our country. If the "liberal-minded" and "progressive",
particularly the intellectuals, are prepared to accept this proposal, the country
is sure to advance. So far their anti-Hindutva stance is merely a negative
reaction; it contains nothing constructive; if it is to be so, then they will
have to admit the following facts: