By Krishna Jha
When in 2016, Jawaharlal Nehru University (JNU) was targeted by the new regime, the students and teachers refused to submit. Classes continued under the open skies since authorities had locked the class rooms. Teachers kept their promise. Students debated the concepts that were posed as challenges to them. The undeterred steps showed that those attending the classes had realised the enormity of the crisis. In fact entire country was in the grip of it. Someone had pointed out that in independent India, whenever we had faced the polarising attack on our fabric, it had been only from those who believed in the supremacy of the majority over the minority. In fact, it had been Hindutva, keen to establish its exclusivity, ideologically and politically, that wanted to reconstruct India as a whole with absolute state power.
Earlier it had happened at the time of partition. Lakhs of people lost their lives. Families lost their dear ones. Women were violated with unimaginable brutality. A dividing line was stabbed and the country was cut into two. It was the same in 1992, December 6, when Babri Mosque was demolished. One of the most sacred spaces for the minorities was violated. The ground where the mosque stood, there remained only a moist patch.
It has been said that what we are dragged through now is the same as it was in previous instances. But what we are engaged in is nation building, where there is no singularity. People are from multiple streams that reflect their literature, culture, way of living, all of which together construct their world view, which has to be respected. And yet there is the mainstream of national liberation struggle in the pre-independence days and now in post, when nationalism has kept evolving, unity in multiplicity.
It is that ‘revolutionary nationalism’ as it is called by Prof Mridula Mukherjee which has brought the blessings of Constitution, teaching us to respect those that are different, and yet they are us only. We live for the humanity, and if need be, we die for it. Our national liberation struggle, in its dirt and blood, starvation and epidemics, brings out the common masses, the people that we all are, and makes visible their multiplicity and the oneness. This is how we are all created, with our humane traditions of secularism, our democratic principles and the oneness, that brings fraternity, liberty and equality
It is the contribution of the days of post feudalism, when caste is no bar, opportunities and resources or gender cannot inhibit anyone for not taking part. When Tilak brought the Constitution of India Bill in 1895, and asked for voting rights, the adult suffrage was universal, for both men and women. The Constitution that was formally adopted in 1950, had its genesis fifty years back. For the ‘Father of modern India’, Raja Ram Mohan Roy, civil liberties were imperative, and the battle still goes on.
In contrast to it, for those who are trying to find the roots for the Hindu nationalism, the cadres are fed on the poison of communalism. There are efforts to engrave in them that any other community is inferior that is not Hindu. There is absolutely no tolerance for any other views and it was in this spirit that in those three weeks and several time there after that students and teachers were brutally attacked, mostly in the presence of police that mostly kept quiet.
The teachers and students were assaulted while keeping ‘nationalism’ as theme on which instead of debate or lectures, they preferred physical attack. But one fact glared out from the entire murky goings on. The Hindu nationalism believes in its singularity and hence the issue is not minorities submitting, instead it strives to take the command of entire consciousness of the people in the country. The RSS is different from fascism in Italy and Nazism in Germany. Its nationalism is based on reorganising whole of the society as a means to produce new kind of people, as Hindu. There would not be any other community at par with it, they all have to submit to Hindutva. Hindus would be made to believe that all the ‘others’ are racially inferior to them. They are aliens, invaders. Their identities are to be merged within Hindu culture and they must opt for conversion.
RSS believes in reinterpreting traditional cultural features, preserving them and also attributing new meaning to the symbols and practices, apparently in reaction to the disorienting influence of the western culture. It is to have a spread all over the society in which ideology plays only a subservient part. To substantiate his reasoning, VD Savarkar introduced traditions often alien to Hinduism. He tried to redefine Hindu identity to fight what was essentially the imaginary threat and introduced the concept of ‘Vedic Golden age’ to make his followers deflect from anti-British agitations and enter into anti-minority actions. The imaginary ‘Golden Age’ that had no real existence in history was turned as the corner stone of ethnic or communal Hindu nationalism. It was turned into a reference point, an imagined tradition, based on western examples and presented as revival of a lost tradition. It was plain and simple revivalism, a necessary component of fascism. (IPA Service)