Monday May 27, 2024

Weak edifice of Indian secularism and democracy

By Qammer Abbass Anka
April 15, 2016

“When faith in our freedom gives way to fear of our freedom, silencing the minority view becomes the operative protocol.”  (Joel Salatin)

India claims to be the world’s largest democracy where diverse communities enjoy complete freedom and protection of rights. Claims and practices must go hand in hand, else hypocrisy takes over. Incidentally, such hypocrisy exists in India as well, yet India continuously portrays herself as a great gatekeeper of minorities and guardian of human rights to dupe the international community. Indian quest for showcasing it as a vibrant secular State and champion of democracy has definite underlying reasons. The foremost of these intentions is masking ugly face of its extremism, non-tolerant and radical society nurtured by fanatic government.

Off late, incident of Jawahar Lal Nehru University (JNU), which attracted international coverage and condemnation amply exposed real face of sham democracy and secularism of India. JNU incident at one hand exposed India's false claims and on the other brought some conscious and sane voices in lime light. The incident also revealed a clear demarcation between extremist and moderate segments of Indian society. Refreshing the memories of elite readers, Afzal Guru, a Kashmiri youth who became the victim of biased Indian judiciary, stirred a debate of controversy within Indian society. Today, he has become an icon which is proliferating like a virus in India with ripples spilling over other regions of the globe. His death has given birth to a self-steering and snow balling movement shattering Indian concave claims of secularism and democracy.

The movement is surviving despite massive pressure by Indian hardliners and RSS driven BJP's government. The brawl between commemorators of Gurus' hanging anniversary and opposing radical Hindus within campus of JNU reflects division of Indian society on religious lines. Similarly, mantra of loud anti-India slogans is reflective of the guilt carried by the radical India.

Kanhaiya Kumar and his associates were arrested in February on fabricated charges of sedition. During their appearance before the court, the educated youth was tortured by the Akhil Bharatiya Vidyarthi Parishad (ABVP) activists despite being under police custody. Kanhaiya Kumar was released on bail on 3rd March 2016. 

Indian media reported his speech given at a jam packed auditorium of JNU. He said in his speech that he was seeking, not freedom from India, but freedom within India. He also appealed to his fellow students to salvage the nation from the spell of the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS). His peace loving mindset can be judged from his remarks to right wing student party, ABVP. The said party despite being instrumental in bringing about his arrest, he termed them "opposition", and not his “enemy”. He also urged his supporters to stand by the truth and continue raising the slogans of ’azadi’(freedom).

Rising incidents of extremism and official silence are clear manifestation of exploding Hindu extremism in the country. The fertile land prepared by RSS driven BJP has encouraged the government officials to an extent that State assemblies are openly legislating for promotion of “Hindutva Doctrine”. Insensitive to media trials on shameful and World condemned issue of “Forced Conversions”, the fanatic Hindus are now adopting political approach to Hinduize the Indian society. Just last year, Maharashtra State, ruled by Hindu extremist coalition of BJP-Shiv Sena, imposed ban on Beef tempting while other likeminded states followed the suit. On similar lines, Haryana State Assembly passed “Gauvansh Sanrakshan and Gausamvardhan Bill 2015” to ban cow slaughter in the State.

In a bid to expand RSS agenda, Hrayana CM Manohar Lal Khattar set forth to introduce Hindu religious teachings in schools across the State to spread Hindutva agenda among the youth. These all state sponsored non-democratic and anti-secular initiatives are aimed at targeting non-Hindu populace, especially, the Muslims and the Christians. The anti-Muslim loathing by India dates back to division of India in 1947, whose wounds are being continuously kept alive by tyrant Hindus.

Interestingly, whenever India is caught in an internal turmoil which threatens its international soft image, she resorts to implicating Pakistan to absolve her own follies and radical initiatives. The result comes in the shape of derailed diplomatic engagement process with Pakistan. Cancellation of Pakistan-India Cricket match from Dharamshala, media publicity on Pathankot incident and blatant denial in case of Kulbhushan Yadav are few examples of quarrelsome Indian mind set. Not contended on this, India has now resorted to unprovoked firing on LoC/international border.

The alarming escalation in incidents of extremism against the minorities and oppression and gross violation of human rights has many a times been criticised and condemned by international leaders and world community. The situation in India has worsened so much that even US President Barack Obama during his visit to India on Republic Day could not help saying, “India will succeed so long as it is not splintered on religious lines.”

Today, extremist Hindu leadership which has 100% presence in BJP is insanely committed to push the non-Hindu populace against the wall. Their loathing against the Muslims and other minorities is fast exposing hollow Indian secularism with every passing day. It seems that RSS led BJP leadership is not feeling the embarrassment sustained by their country, regionally and internationally over uncountable events of mistreating the minorities merely to appease RSS.

Hindu spite against the minorities can be well gauged from a book titled "Hindus are Heroes, All others are Villains" written by India's Federal Secretary for Tourism, Parvez Dewan. He researched 786 Hindi feature films and about 300 advertisements to write this book.

The book portrayed Muslims and all other minorities as "criminals, fools and lacking in moral values". In December 2009, Rahul Gandhi told the then US Ambassador Timothy Roemer that in the days to come Saffron Hindu extremists would become a greater threat to global peace than al-Qaeda.

Today, secular India is fast fading into ‘Saffron India’ forcing Hindu domination in all walks of life. The never ending journey of bloodbath unleashed by Hindu fundamentalism has already galloped thousands of minorities, ran over their legal constitutional rights, and committed state sponsored gross human rights violations. The ghosts of such grave atrocities against non-Hindu masses will continue challenging India’s false claim of being a secular and democratic state worldwide. With BJP ruling the country, no matter how cunningly and impressively, India is showcased as a democratic and secular state, behind the scenes the suppression of minorities and their anguish will continue to scorn concave secularism of India.

Frank Lloyd Wright has rightly said, “Toleration and liberty are the foundations of a great republic.” Indian weak secular structure and lifeless democratic carcass are no longer able to withstand the lumber of its inner weaknesses. It is not the question of Kashmir, Pakistan or Afzal Guru which has become a dreadful dream for the intolerant Indian leadership but it is the fear of inner implosion that is behind this phenomenon. According to John Action, "The most certain test by which we judge whether a country is really free is the amount of security enjoyed by minorities.”