Hindu Vivek Kendra
«« Back
HVK Archives: Observer, and their unalloyed drivel

Observer, and their unalloyed drivel - The Observer

Arun Shourie's ()
March 27,1998

Title: Observer, and their unalloyed drivel
Author: Arun Shourie's
Publication: The Observer
Date: March 27,1998

"And what about the pogroms that go on from time to time ?," the
caller asked. Late at night, an editorial writer with one of the
world's best-known papers was calling from the USA. It was
becoming evident that the BJP would form the Government, he was
gathering background information.

"What did you say?," I asked. Even though I had heard the word
clearly enough, I wanted to see. if he would repeat it.

"Pogroms," he repeated.

"What do you mean, 'pogroms'?"

"it is an East-European term he began.

Now, even a brown Asiatic like me knows the meaning of the word.
The person had lived in India for some time, as the India
correspondent of this important paper enough years to know that
even we know that it is a term which is used to describe the
massacre of millions of white Europeans by white Europeans.

"Which specific incidents did you have in mind ?," I asked.

"Oh, like the riots in Bombay after the demolition of the

"Have you looked into the origin of the riots, or the course they
took ? Have you investigated any other riot?

No, he hadn. Can you recall any account of any hot or killings
which was based on an actual investigation? No, he couldn't.
But "pogroms" it was.

On the day Mr. Vajpayee is sworn in as Prime Minister, a
journalist friend in London sends me a message over email. He
refers to an article in The Guardian by the papers Delhi
correspondent. "The Bharatiya Janata Party, whose coalition is
to be sworn in as New Delhi's next Government tomorrow," the
article opens, "has temporarily forsaken its crusade against
India's minorities and turned its sights on a new enemy : foreign

Its "crusades" ? You mean, the things European Christians
launched against Muslims in the course of which they butchered
hundreds upon hundreds of thousands of Muslims ? "Against
minorities" ? Till yesterday the BJP's "crusades" were supposed
to be against the Muslims only. Now that the party is forming the
Government, are the paper and its correspondent proffering a
promotion -- from being a party that was engaged in "crusades"
against Muslims alone to being one in the business of "crusades"
against all minorities ? And that forecast -- "The Bharatiya
Janata Party.... has temporarily forsaken its crusade

And that characterisation about the party's attitude to foreign
direct investment: "its new enemy". Europeans nations protect
their own producers with piles of subsidies, with tariff
barriers, with quantitative restrictions. The Americans most
certainly, and most blatantly do. And anyone who has read
statements of the American government, and analyses in American
papers would know that the Japanese do so as well. Do foreign
correspondents reporting from those countries characterise what
those countries do as their putting down an "enemy" ? And,
especially after what has been happening to the "miracle
economies" of East Asia, which fool would assert that a country
should not take steps to protect its interests ?

"Vajpayee leads the Bharatiya Janata Party," says Newsweek in its
news report, "with its Muslimbashing thugs...." "The BJP is a
Hindu-nationalist party, unashamedly hostile to the country's 120
million Muslims and other minorities.... The BJP is undeniably
ugly, yet less so than it was pontificates The Economist.

I am not, however, on the point about such reportage, such
"analysis" being authentic drivel -that it manifestly is. I am on
the fact that such drivel flows so naturally in regard to a group
which these persons and their counterparts here have decided is
"Hindu fundamentalist", that drivel has become a habit with them.
As a consequence they see everything the group does as confirming
this perception of the group : if the BJP advocates a Common
Civil Code, it is seen as conspiring to whip the minorities out
of their identities -- of course, when members of the sae
minorities go to the USA, and have to live by the White Anglo-
Saxon Protestant ethic underlying the laws there, none of these
commentators sees that as a conspiracy to erase the identities of
minorities; if the BJP agrees not to press its view on the Code,
they shout, "But it is giving up its character' but why, pray,
are you so distraught at its "giving up its character'? After
all, by your own reckoning that character has been "Fascist",

Moreover, so accustomed have these commentators become to their
drivel being swallowed unchallenged, that, should someone
question them, they shout "Fundamentalist", "Fascist", and the
rest. Not one of them, when working in an Islamic country, dares
to refer to those societies in the pejoratives he slips into his
"news reporting" of India. None of their scholars working on the
old Soviet Union or China dared use such pejoratives about those
societies. If one of them slips and does so inadvertently, not
only do those societies deal with him, a score of his own
countrymen pounce and pronounce him guilty of "Orientalism", and
thereby quarantine the damage. But here in India, it is open
season for all of them.

The friend in London sends another sentence from The Guardian
report's little "crusade". "Although the next Government appears
an odd assortment of old style socialists, Sikh separatists,
Hindu supremacists, and regional barons, the blueprint reveals
their shared suspicion of market reforms introduced seven years

More drivel, of course. But assume for a moment that what she
says is true that "Sikh separatists" and "Hindu supremacists" are
today together in Government. It seems "odd" to her. It is joy
to me. And completely in character.

Throughout the years in which terrorists were killing in Punjab
and Kashmir, no one was as energetic in reading a "freedom
struggle" into their cruelties than some of these foreign news
agencies : the BBC's broadcasts of the period really ought to
form compulsory viewing in media courses. And no one seems to
have been as disappointed as them at the fact that those "freedom
struggles" against "Hindu hegemony" evaporated.

But that very fact -- of the kinds of persons who were joining
hands in the new Government, as their counterparts had done in
the last one is the one that delighted me at the swearing-in
ceremony. The DMK and the AIADMK, for instance, are offshoots of
a movement that not long ago used to advocate breaking away from
India. That same DMK was in power at the Centre in the last
Government its members held very important portfolios, they
acquitted themselves as well as anyone in these assignments. No
one but no one, can point to a single decision they took as
having been inspired by any anti-national design. Today, the
AIADMK delegates are members of the new Government. The two
parties oppose each other but neither tries to outdo the other by
raising anti-India or even anti-North sentiments.

Similarly, both parties are the offspring of the movement whose
original inspiration and commander used to break idols of Hindu
deities in public squares. To this day, just yards from the
Kanchi mutt stands his statue. It bears his famous dictum

There is no God.
There is no God.
There is no God at all.
The inventor of God is a fool.
The propagator of God is a scoundrel.
The worshipper of God is a barbarian.

His followers today troop to the Sabrimalai shrine in the same
black shirts that the movement had made so dreaded an attire.
They take oaths of office in the name of God ! A man of passion
and fervour, he roused millions on the heady decoction of
secession. Today his progeny swear to protect the sovereignty and
integrity of India, they swear to live by the Constitution !

For these observers all this is something "odd", a let-down, if I
may say so. For us it is an outcome fore-seen, it is a thing to

The caste system is justifiably condemned -- for the rigidities
which came to characterise it, for the exclusions, and much else.
But it has also been well said that it was the Indian,
specifically Hindu alternative to the Westerner's genocide. What
did the white man do Bible in hand -when he came across a people
who were different ? The Native Americans in North America ? The
native peoples of South America ? He did not decimate them -- for
the word means killing off every tenth man. He killed them off

By contrast when our society encountered a people who were in
some sense not on the same scale as yet, it put them on the
escalator of social, intellectual and occupational progress. I
have had occasion earlier to recall examples from the work of
even a scholar whose views in so many respects provide grist to
the Marxist mill, Professor Suniti Kumar Chatterji. Even a
single paper by him -- his Presidential Address to the All India
Oriental Congress, 1953, for instance contains scores of examples
of this progressive harmonization, of embracing and advancing.

The assimilation of ruling houses of different races and tribes
through the deliberate extension of
Kshatriyahood upon them by the'Brahmins : hence the formation of
the Surya- and Chandra
Vansh lineages, the formation later of the Agni-Kula by the
conferment of Kshatriyahood on to
ome powerful Hinduised aristocracies of Turki and Iranian
origin", and of the lndra-Vansh by the adoption within the
Brahminical fold of the Ahoms in the North-East "a Thai or Sino
Siamese people," says Professor Chatterji. He recounts,
similarly, the recognition of the Bodo royal household of Dimapur
and Kachar as being the descendants of Bhima, of the Meithi kings
and upper classes of Manipur and Tripura as Chandra-Vansha
The inter-penetration of languages....

The mingling of rituals : of the fire-centered rituals of the
Vedas in which fire is the messenger to carry prayers to the
deities with the flower offerings of rituals in the south where
the powers of the deities are brought down to inhere in the idol
or symbol which is then venerated; the substitution of sandal and
paste for the blood of animals which had figured in the Austric

And the deities themselves. Here is the decree the white-Western
races followed: You shall surely destroy all the places where the
nations you shall dispossess served their gods, upon the high
mountains and upon the hills and under every green tree; you
shall tear down their altars, and dash in pieces their pillars,
and burn their [deity] with fire; you shall hew down the graven
images of their gods, and destroy their name of that place....

Not from some Islamic book though those books enjoined such dicta
by the score but from the ever-so tolerant Bible ! By contrast,
in Hinduism the gods and idols of the peoples of different parts
are woven together in legends, they are given different colours.
Animals worshipped by tribes are not suppressed or slandered away
as "animism" and "paganism" they are given places of honour.
Often they become objects of intense devotion themselves :
Hanuman. Often they are joined together with anthropomorphic
deities the elephant's head in Ganesha. Often they become the
vahanas of other gods and goddesses Nandi of Shiva, the lion of
Durga, the swan of Saraswati, the tiny mouse of Ganesha, the
peacock of Kartikeya.... Trees, plants, mountains, the sea each
of them revered by someone are all blended into a deep reverence
for nature as a living, pulsating, vibrant whole.

But this too was condemned by the forbears of our analysts and
"reporters". Recall what these fellows say : if the "Hindu
fundamentalist" BJP advocates a Common Civil Code, they shout,
"Fascists trying to wipe out the minorities"; if it does not
press the point, they shout, "Giving up its character."
Similarly, the missionaries : if Hindus excluded some from their
pale, they shouted, "Inhuman, intolerant, Exclusivist"; if they
embraced them as in the examples above, they shouted, "The Hindu

A continuity in their prejudices, therefore. But a continuity in
our practice too. And the result while they keep spewing the same
bile, here "Sikh separatists" and "Hindu supremacists" together
take oaths to safeguard and serve our country, to abide by our

"Odd" for the observers, exasperating if truth be told. All in a
day's work for us.

Back                          Top

«« Back
  Search Articles
  Special Annoucements