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The myth of a secular India

Opinion

May 2, 2019

“No one knows at whose call so many streams of men flowed in restless tides from places unknown and were lost in one sea: here Aryan and non-Aryan, Dravidian, Chinese, bands of Saka and the Hunas, Pathan and Mogul have become combined in one body”. This is how famed Indian poet Rabindranath Tagore described India.

The "one body" India of today includes extremists and the Birla, Tata, Adani, Ambani, Mittal and Jindal families. In an India where 75 percent live on less than $2 a day, a recent (Jan 2019) Oxfam report states that:the "wealth of the 1 percent (Indian) elite increased by $327 billion, equivalent to the total Indian budget of the last financial year”. The same report cites that in 2018 alone, Chowkidar Modi’s Indian billionaires saw their “fortunes swell by (an unbelievable) INR2,200 crore ($ 316.8 million) per day”.

Social activist Nikhil Dey termed it “nothing short of loot; that is why you are seeing starvation deaths in India”. Oxfam India CEO, Nisha Agrawal, said: “It (India) needs to stop the super-rich from continuing to rob India’s wealth”. With their vast fortune and media ownership/ingress, these families have formed a symbiotic relationship with the BJP/RSS.

This unholy nexus has played havoc with 70 percent of India's population – its farmers. In November 2018, tens of thousands of farmers tried to march to parliament in Delhi to voice their ever-worsening plight. Brutally beaten back, the Modi government imposed a curfew to stop them from entering the city. The headline of a May 3, 2017 Times of India article reads: "Over 12,000 farmer suicides per year, Center tells Supreme Court". The National Crime Records Bureau of India put farmer suicides in the last 16 years at 256,913 (45 per day) – the highest-ever magnitude of recorded suicides in human history.

This is apart from military personnel suicides (most of them in Occupied Kashmir) each year. According to India's Department of Defense Quarterly Suicide Report 2018: "In 2012, 325 suicides were reported in the army; 300 in 2013; 245 in 2014; 279 each in 2015 and 2016 and 303 in 2017". Apart from suicides, cases of fragging (killing of fellow soldiers or officers) occur regularly.

Indian Army Chief General Bipin Rawat, as prone to verbal duds as the Cold Start Doctrine and his "surg(farc)ical strikes" had these pearls of wisdom while addressing a seminar on the 'Security situation in India's North East region': “AIUDF (All India United Democratic Front – registered with and recognized by India’s Election Commission) has grown faster than the BJP because of continuous migration from Bangladesh’s need for lebensraum” (territory deemed necessary by a nation for its natural development – a word first used by Hitler in 'Mein Kampf') and “because of proxy warfare against India by our western neighbor (Pakistan) with the support of our northern (China) one". In July, 2018 India stripped four million people of citizenship in Assam from the National Register of Citizens.

Senior journalist Kishalay Bhattacharya said: “This is completely out of line for a CoAS. He has done this before in Jammu and Kashmir and this time in the North East” (Assam). Hiren Gohain, a Sahitya Akademi award winner, said: “I am astounded that a serving army chief is allowed to shoot his mouth off on sensitive political issues. It shows the extent codes of conduct have been undermined for a sinister (BJP/RSS) political agenda. It spells danger to our constitution”.

Gen Rawat also shot his mouth by demanding Pakistan to "become a secular state 'like India' to have better ties with India". A classical case of dichotomy; an iota of introspection about Occupied Kashmir and India would not have elicited this demand. Gen Rawat would do service to his office by eliminating the causes of non-combat deaths under his direct watch rather than dropping payloads on Pakistani trees and pandering to the BJP/RSS about its growth rate in Assam.

Bomb blasts between 2004 and 2008 were blamed on Pakistan; subsequent investigations led them to be dubbed within India and internationally as "saffron terror". The accused walked away scot-free despite evidence and judicial confessions.

This is an India where the Sangh Parivar/RSS ideology of hate and terror has seeped into all institutions. The word ‘Hindutva’ was coined in 1923 by Vinayak Savarkar, an ardent admirer of Hitler and Mussolini. In today’s India, his 1942 directive of "RSS to infiltrate state institutions" stands absolutely realized. To name a few, 28 of 75 BJP ministers, 15 of 29 governors, 10 of 16 chief ministers, 5 of 8 deputy chief ministers, Surya Prakash, chairman Prasar Bharati (India's largest broadcasting agency) and KG Suresh, DG Indian Institute of Mass Communication along with Amit Shah the BJP president have been RSS members. National Security Advisor Ajit Doval; principle secretary to the PM, Nripendra Mishra; and Additional Principal Secretary PK Mishra were also affiliated with the RSS. President Ram Nath Kovind, PM Modi and Speaker Lok Sabha Sumitra Mahajan also hold the dubious distinction of having been RSS members.

Given the total ingress of the RSS, the BJP is toying with the idea of changing the Indian constitution. They want to sanctify Manusmitri, a 200 BC text, as a code of life for Indians. The text prescribes rules and regulations for the 'varnas' (four castes). Some are: "molten lead to be poured into the ears of any 'shudra' who hears vedas...he is bound to go to hell after death…it is the nature of women to seduce men in this world; she is not fit for independence". A recent poll by the Thomson Reuters Foundation found "India to be the most dangerous country in the world for a woman".

This, in essence, is the myth of a ‘secular’ India where Ashis Nandy, like hundreds of Indians who have returned their national awards (award wapsi) as a protest, says "Hindutva is the end of Hinduism" and Yogi Adityanath, the (extremist) BJP UP chief minister retorts: "I believe the word secular is the biggest lie since Independence". This is an India where, unfortunately, hate and persecution has resonated with the people.

Our founding fathers, Allama Iqbal and Qaid e Azam, were initially the greatest proponents of an undivided India. Eventually, both foresaw the fate of Muslims in an un-divided India; it changed the course of history – it created Pakistan.

Concluded

The writer is a freelance contributor.

Email: [email protected]

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