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HVK Archives: Secular love for Macaulay

Secular love for Macaulay - The Hindustan Times

Rakesh Sinha ()
November 3, 1998

Title: Secular love for Macaulay
Author: Rakesh Sinha
Publication: The Hindustan Times
Date: November 3, 1998

The conference of education ministers, which turned into a
political battleground, served one great purpose by triggering a
debate on the nature and content of our education policy. The
agenda of the HRD Ministry to 'Indianise, nationalise, and
spiritualise' the education system, which was regarded by the
Congress-Left combine as an ssault on the pluralist ethos of
India", should have been debated soon after Independence.
Unfortunately, even after 1947, the colonial legacy dominated our
education, of course, with one addition to it, the Marxist
interpretation. The present educationsystem is a hybrid of
Macaulayism and Marxism. It is also an indication that their
views on education are directly connected with their perception
of Indian nationality and concept of secularism.

Pseudo-secularism reached its apogee when the chanting of
Saraswati Vandana was opposed. It is not so important that the
hymn was chanted during government functions under the United
Front regime; what matters is the logic of protest. They saw it
as an attempt at "Hinduising and homogenising" Indian culture. If
the indigenous culture, values and traditions are described as
non-secular, there will be nothing left of the nation as a
cultural entity.

Even the Vande Mataram of Bankim Chandra Chattopadhyay [1838-94]
falls in the same category. He idolised the nation as a deity,
the way V. D. Savarkar and M. S. Golwalkar later did in Hindutva
philosophy. Bharat is a sacred land, Punya bhoomi, the song says
"it is your image that we worship in all temples." Besides, she
is compared with Durga and Kali, two prominent Hindu goddesses.
Is it thus not against the Cross-Green secularism of the Congress-
communists, minorities' worshippers? You have to ban Anand Matha
too; whose cover page reflects the tirade against Maleccha
(Muslim aggressors). Going by their parameter not only Bankim but
many more who are counted as nationalists like Bhartendu
Harshchandra, a celebrated Hindi literary figure, would lose the
status of being called nationalists and would then be categorised
as sectarian or Hindu communal figures.

The government-controlled electronic media is also not exempt
from the charge of spreading communalism. The telecast of
Ramayana and Mahabharata by Doordarshan started during Congress
rule. The Left academicians and a majority of Western scholars,
who are charmed by the approach of the Indian Left, felt that the
Mahabharata, especially, dwelt upon the "escalating notions of a
militarist and virile Hinduism." would the Congress regret its
action? There is also a tradition of Bhoomi pooja before any
construction. Would the Congress ministers not allow it in
government institutions since it is a purely Hindu practice? The
Paramvir Chakra, the highest award for valour, has also a Hindu
emphasis since it contains the Vajra (thunderbolt) of Hindu Rishi
Dadhichi and Shivaji's sword Bhawani.

The question of plurality needs to be comprehended in a broader
national context rather than from the communal, colonial or
communist perspective. The history of India does not begin either
with the advent of the Muslim aggressors or the colonisation by
Britain. It has a long history. And in its course the nation
acquired its own culture, traditions and values which shape the
cultural frontiers of the country, known as Hindutva, as a way of
life. No state can be secular unless the majority community
believes in it and inherits it. The paradigm of the Indian
religious-intellectual tradition is "the absolute is one but the
learned describe it diversely." It essentially contains both
assimilative dynamism and the element of pluralism. Various
schools of thought, religious sects and philosophies competed
with each other not because of some constitutional guarantees but
because of the inherited secular temperament. However, the advent
of Semitic religions hindered the process of cultural
assimilation. Even so social synthesis could not be stopped with
both the Christians and Muslims.

The question is what is status of literature, art, science,
culture and social traditions of the country, which existed
before the advent of Islam or Christianity? It is this Hindu
intellectual tradition which was represented by Vivekananda.
Should his role in the World Parliament of Religions be seen in
the national context or in a narrow Hindu religious viewpoint?
These are some of the questions overlooked by the Cross-Green
secularists, who do not go beyond a polemical debate when they
bracket all Hindu contributions as a Brahminical tradition and
take resort to a divided Hindu social order.

Unfortunately, the Hindu intellectual tradition could not
maintain the same vigour in the post-medieval period with a few
exceptions like Vivekananda, Dayanand Saraswati, Aurobindo, R. G.
Bhandarkar. The ideology of the RSS is not a parallel teaching of
Hindutva but it derives its intellectual strength from Hindu
philosophy and traditions. Its founder rightly believed the need
for Hindu activism for providing a national outlook to the
people.


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