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Nationalism redefined - The Indian Express

Rakesh Sinha ()
December 30, 1998

Title: Nationalism redefined
Author: Rakesh Sinha
Publication: The Indian Express
Date: December 30, 1998

Introduction: Perverted intellectualism and offensive

Is the RSS a religious-revivalist organisation? The question
has never been debated in the right perspective. Since its
formation in 1925, the Sangh has been facing slanderous attacks
on its organisational methodology and socio-economic philosophy
by its adversaries. The British blamed it as a 'Hindu fascist
organisation' as early as in the 30's when they were convinced
that the RSS shakha was not a physical club but a breeding
ground for Hindu patriots. Things have not changed even after

The Sangh has been blamed for more than one sin. Assassination
of Gandhi was deliberately and unjustly linked with it, and the
Sampradayikata Virodhi Manch of Subhadra Joshi and her ilk
carried on unstopped propaganda about its alleged link with the
US and even the CIA

The RSS has been presented as an illegitimate creation of the
Indian secular tradition. Its very name has yielded a tool for
the secularists - the Nehruvian and the Left. It was used by
Nehru to gain the upper hand over rivals inside the Congress
like Sardar Patel and P.D. Tandon.

However, the power of ideology could not be restricted by the
force of state-sponsored intellectual propaganda. By the 60's,
the Indian socialists and even the Communist Party of India
(CPI) felt the need to solicit the support of the Bharatiya Jan
Sangh. In the next decade, veteran socialist leader Jayaprakash
Narayan unhesitatingly showed his comradeship with the Akhil
Bharatiya Vidyarthi Parishad (ABVP) and the RSS cadres.

The Sangh is a primarily activism-based movement, and derives
its intellectual strength from the Hindu world-view. Dr
Hedgewar, founder of the movement, believed that nationalism was
not merely a war-time spirit but an essential ingredient for the
survival and progress of the nation. The RSS shakha was made
the nucleus for indoctrinating the cadres for the task of the
national regeneration. The continuous process of the individual
purification is considered a concomitant of socio-cultural

The Sangh is not a Hindu reform movement like the Arya Samaj,
nor does it believe in the political ideology of Hindu
majoritarianism as propagated by the Hindu Mahasabha. It
represents the views and ideas of Hindu cultural tradition since
the Vedic age to Tilak, Vivekananda, Aurobindo, Bankim Chandra
and others.

When the disputed structure at Ayodhya was demolished on
December 6, 1992, by the kar sevaks, it was not motivated
against Islam or the

Indian minorities. It was an outburst of the anger against the
anti-Hindu intellectual atmosphere and the desire to restore the
centre of faith of the Hindus which was seized by Aurangzeb, the
Islamic ruler who in the Hindu mindset represents not Islam but
the tradition of the aggressor.

Minorities must be defined by the parameter of the nation's
cultural values rather than the 'numbers theory'. Unlike in the
British or European history, there has not been any instance in
India of victimisation of the people of smaller sects due to
their lesser number by the majority. The Hindu majority does
not form a monolithic sect. Hinduism is a federation of sects.
Pluralism and a democratic debate at the religio-cultural plane
have a central place in the Hindu tradition.

Indian history has to be seen in national terms whether it is
pre-Muslim or pre-Christian history. Acceptance of this does
not mean reverence or forced adaptability. It is a sense of
owning the long cultural history. How would you evaluate
people, like Raja Ram Mohan Roy, who did not utter a single word
for reforms among the Indian Muslims or Christians? His whole
effort was aimed at regeneration of the Hindu socio-cultural
tradition. Still he is designated as 'the father of Indian

A century ago, the Hindu believed that the Muslims and the
Christians were mlecchas, but this notion was gradually
dispelled by the efforts of the successive thinkers. But the
same is not true with the minority communities which see the
contradictions in the social and cultural value system of the
majority community as an opportunity to increase their number
and political bargaining capacity. The reaction of the Vishwa
Hindu Parishad in Gujarat is, perhaps, a reply to such anti-
Hindu behaviour.

However, the VHP and the Bajrang Dal should be cautious in their
reaction. Violence and burning of the Bible only damage its
image. The minority communalism in India gets a large number of
self-styled defenders of their cause. The chief source of
support for it lies in the Nehruvian and the left schools. The
organisers should not allow the unindoctrinated cadres to
demonstrate overenthusiasm.

The meaning of the Hindu nation has a positive content and it is
not based on a reactionary role. As M. S. Golwalkar, successor
of Hedgewar, said, "There are some who imagine that the concept
of Hindu Nation is a challenge to the very existence of the
Muslim and the Christian co-citizens and they will be thrown out
and exterminated. Nothing could be more absurd and detrimental
to our national sentiment. It is an insult to our great and all-
embracing cultural heritage."

Hedgewar silently refused to play a role of propagating the
concept of political majoritarianism, espoused by the Hindu Maha
Sabha which was dubbed by Golwalkar in his well-known Bunch of
Thoughts as reactionary. The VHP has the enormous task of
setting the Hindu house in order. If untouchability and the
vicious caste disorder goes, the Christian missionaries would
lose half their appeal. Why does India attract missionaries and
Mother Teresas? This is a question first intellectually
deliberated by Vivekananda, and the tremendous RSS work among
the Adivasis of Bihar and Madhya Pradesh and the oppressed
sections of the Indian society was a practical answer to the
missionaries' hidden motive. The latest expansion of the Sangh
activities in the north-eastern states has also perturbed the

The pseudo-secularist propaganda against the Sangh Parivar about
its supposed 'Hindu fascism' is not related to the ground
reality. men the communal incidents of Gujarat have been blown
out of proportion to put the BJP government in the dock. The
language Press which reported incidents in detail has been
dismissed as 'RSS-influenced'. Such perverted intellectualism
can only prepare the ground for offensive minorityism.

(The writer teaches political science at Delhi University)

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