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Lefts hidden agenda exposed

Lefts hidden agenda exposed

Meenakshi Jain
The Weekend Observer
April 1, 2000
Title: Lefts hidden agenda exposed
Author: Meenakshi Jain
Publication: The Weekend Observer
Date: April 1, 2000

THE fraternity of leftist historians is understandably incensed at the public exposure of its duplicitous handling of the Towards Freedom project. Several decades of unchallenged academic dominance have rendered it unaccustomed to dissent, much less to a frontal assault on its invention of historical events. That the Hindu community, which it has been busy whittling down in its heavily slanted tomes, should actually have succeeded in putting a halt to its activities must make its discomfiture doubly difficult to endure.

While the focus has naturally been on deliberate Marxist attempts to fudge evidence in a bid to create a larger than life role for leftist political organizations, trade union movements and peasant revolts in the freedom struggle, to the detriment of other key players, it needs to be reiterated that this is not the entire story of leftist manipulation. A pernicious hidden agenda has been in operation, not just in leftist rendition of the independence struggle, but in its treatment of the entire gamut of Indian history.

Briefly put, leftist historiography has systematically worked for the dissolution of the Hindu community and the dislodgment of Hinduism from its pivotal position in the land of its origin. In the name of scientific study, an entire left controlled academic industry has fractured the Hindu phalanx at every conceivable joint possible, in the hope that a day would dawn when there would be no Hindu constituency left. Brahmins, for instance, have been portrayed as opposed to and distinct from Kshatriyas, the latter from Vaishyas, who in turn are said to share nothing in common with Shudras, not to mention the Scheduled Castes and Tribes. These formations, in turn, have been further split into numerous exclusive and fractious units. In the process, the essential cohesiveness and mutual inter-dependence of the Hindu community has been negated and denied. It has been a conscious and consistent endeavour to create a new people.

Given the strong anti-Hindu animus of Marxist historiography, it was both logical and inevitable that this scholarship would come under attack when the Hindu community was sufficiently advanced on the road to recovery. Hindus have come centre- stage and attained a degree of political consolidation unimaginable a few decades ago, while the economy is attracting favourable international response. Arth and rajniti reasonably under control, the community is in a position to take on its intellectual detractors.

Myths of Aryan/ Dravidian, Brahmin/ Non-Brahmin, Forward/ Backward, Caste Hindu/ Scheduled Caste, Hindu/ Tribal and sundry such divides which had dissipated Hindu energies for long, have exhausted their divisive potentialities and historical respectability, and are being swept aside by assertive integrationist forces. Simultaneously, a growing corpus of non-leftist works has rent gaping holes in the main body of Marxist treatises.

While these are undoubtedly major gains, they are yet a build-up to the main battle, whose outcome will have a profound bearing on Indian polity. Marxist scholarship, it can no longer be denied, has perverted every debate within the country to the detriment of the Hindus. What is proving particularly pernicious in the present context of Pakistan-sponsored terrorism and Vatican-backed proselytisation, is that it has set the terms, indeed even determined the discourse on nationality. Overruling the fact that this discourse is naturally conducted within the parameters of culture and religion, Marxists have made concerted efforts to de-link India from its ancient ethos and make the national identity culturally and spiritually neutral. The end result has been to disarm and emasculate Hindus and thwart their just aspirations.

The illegitimacy of the leftist endeavour can be gauged from the fact that the vital link between Hindu tradition and India was readily conceded even by that very group which sought to make a formal break with Hindu society. Though deeply disenchanted with Hinduism for permitting the horror of untouchability, the Dalit leader, Dr Ambedkar, was hard put to find an exit route for his community. His dilemma, as a recent study puts it, was not in leaving "the Hindu fold, but the fold of Indianness with which Hinduism was so obstinately identified".

It was an acknowledgement of this reality that led Ambedkar to reject Christianity, Islam and Marxism as viable alternative centres of identity for his breathren. He repeatedly referred to the former as 'foreign' religions which would further 'de-nationalise' an already alienated people. Transnational alliances, he insisted, could not be the route to Dalit empowerment.

Ambedkar was equally dismissive of class solutions to the problem of Harijan identity. The aim of Communist philosophy, he said, seemed to be "to fatten pigs as though men are no better than pigs. Man must grow materially as well as spiritually." Ambedkar's great fear, the above mentioned study says, was that a secular and materialist response would annihilate Dalit consciousness of their past, besides inducing 'cultural paralysis' that would prevent them from claiming an identify for themselves.

Far-fetched though it may seem to those unfamiliar with the nuances of leftist scholarship, it is precisely such a 'cultural paralysis' that it strove to induce on the larger Hindu community. By sweeping aside crucial issues of culture and civilization, it aimed to produce a soporific effect and blunt Hindu responses on matters of grave concern to them. The freedom movement, which was part of a larger effort to revive and re-connect Hindus with their ancient civilizational heritage, was divested of its cultural underpinnings and misrepresented as a mere politico-economic struggle. What is worse, it demeaned the stalwarts who conducted that grand struggle by depicting it as a collectivity of countless small subaltern tussles, without any grand plan or strategy. But, as Ambedkar's responses reveal, cultural and civilizational issues were the heart of the matter. That was why he was determined to retain the Indian cultural heritage for his followers, even while breaking ties with Hinduism, as evident in his stand on the temple entry movement. He fought bitterly for the right of Harijans to access Hindu sacred structures because he knew temples were a cultural symbol representing the essence of India.

With hindsight, it can be argued, that it was Ambedkar's resolve not to forsake Indian culture that played a major role in the eventual integration of Dalits into Hindu society, and finally made them impervious to evangelical blandishments. By de-linking Hinduism and India, leftist scholarship sought to retard this very process. But despite their stout resistance, the issue of the cultural content of Indian nationalism has finally came to the surface, as in evident in the current contests over the manner in which history should be documented, written and taught, the school curriculums, and post-graduate syllabus revisions. Indeed, this is precisely that makes their desperation so very palpable.

(The author is a reader, Delhi University)

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