Will radicals succeed in making India ‘for Hindus only’?

Published: August 12, 2013
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Indian Muslim students offer 'Dua' prayers in their class room during the holy month of Ramadan at Madrasatur-Rashaad religious school in Hyderabad on July 17, 2013. PHOTO: AFP.

The Hindu right wing government in the central Indian state of Madhya Pradesh finally withdrew the order introducing lessons from the religious text Bhagavad Gita in school curriculum. They also wanted to include Hindu religious teachings in the curriculum of Urdu schools from the academic year 2013-14.

The Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) ruled state came under heavy criticism from Muslim organisations and secular political parties for its attempt to alter the secular character of the constitution.

Members of the All India Muslim Personal Law Board (AIMPLB) Muslim Personal Law Board blamed the government for the communalisation of the school textbooks and attempting to indoctrinate young minds and sowing the seeds of prejudice among communities. The Congress party also attacked the Hindu right wing party for tampering with the secular spirit of the country.

What the BJP is attempting to do in Madhya Pradesh is not something new.

During its rule in Delhi, between 1998 and 2004, the BJP-led government made serious attempts to change the school text books and rewrite history by appointing communal academicians and historians in some of the important institutions that formulate educational policies. The whole idea was to capture the mind of young people and teach them a history which does not reflect the diversity of India and portray India as a Hindu nation.

In this context they started teaching mythology in history curriculum thereby trying to prove that myths in Ramayana and Mahabharata are history and India has always been a Hindu nation. This way they attempted to show the Muslims and other minorities as others who have never been part of Indian history.

This revivalist worldview is being taught in more than 70,000 private schools run by different Hindu organisations across India. They are reaching out to tribal groups and indoctrinating them with Hindu religious teachings and sowing the seeds of religious animosity in the society.

Let us not forget that in the Gujarat riots of 2002 – where thousands of innocent Muslims were killed by Hindu fanatics – the indoctrinated tribal people played a prominent role. They were part of the fanatic mob that conducted violence against Muslims.

Moreover, the over-15-year rule of the BJP in Gujarat has communalised the state to such an extent that any debate about the country’s plurality receives derision from middle and upper class of society. The western Indian state has become a laboratory of radical Hindus.

Hindu extremists created havoc in the eastern Indian state of Orissa in 2008 where they massacred more than hundred Christians and destroyed many of their houses for not following the Hindu ways of life.

Infiltration into education is part of the larger game plan of converting the nation into a Hindu state and undermining the religious diversity of the nation, and the fountainhead of this project is Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS), the ideological godfather of the BJP.

Narendra Modi, a radical Hindu leader and the Chief Minister of Gujarat, who was the architect of the Muslim massacre in 2002, is the product of this school of thought. He is the presumptive prime ministerial candidate of the BJP and poses a very serious danger to plural tradition of the nation. His rise to the national politics forces us to make a choice whether we want to see India as a modern, plural country or a nation intolerant of other cultures and faiths.

Though the chief minister of Madhya Pradesh withdrew his dictat keeping in mind impending assembly elections, it, however, reveals in no uncertain term the wider game plan of the Hindu fanatics to advance the majoritarian agenda and accentuates the deep fault line between different faiths.

This is not a new game plan. They have been at work since 1925, when the whole nation was participating in freedom struggle RSS and its cohorts were busy propagating communal agenda. They cannot escape the blame of building up a situation which finally led to the partition of the country in the name of religion.

Even after Independence in 1947, the organisation continued with its divisive agenda and it led to the assassination of Mahatma Gandhi at the hands of a Hindu zealot – a by-product of the RSS school of thought. Much before Islamic terror became a buzzword, RSS laid the foundation of Hindu terror in modern India. The violence in Gujarat in 2002 against a minority was the extension of that terror.

A few years ago a Hindu fanatic, Aseemanand, confessed the involvement of the Hindu organisations in terror attacks in some of the Muslim dominated areas, like Malegaon in 2006 and 2008, the Samjhauta Express bombings (2007), a bomb blast at a Sufi shrine in Ajmer Sharif (2007), the Mecca Masjid bombing  in Hyderabad (2007), and an attack in a minority area Modasa, Gujarat (2008).

The overwhelming secular and liberal forces in the country need deep introspection. Can they allow the nation to be a playground for rabid communal forces that are out to radicalise society and alter the pluralistic character of the nation?

66 years ago, India made a tryst with destiny and made a pledge to establish a modern, plural and secular democracy; the time has come to redeem that pledge again and reassert its faith in the basic principles governing the nation.

The radicalisation of the main opposition party, the BJP, is a matter of concern. They are making a serious bid to capture power in Delhi next year. If that happens then what the Madhya Pradesh government is attempting to do today the BJP will try to replicate it in other parts of the country.

Should we allow the forces inimical to idea of India to succeed?

sanjay.kumar

Sanjay Kumar

The author is a New Delhi based journalist covering South Asian and international politics.

The views expressed by the writer and the reader comments do not necessarily reflect the views and policies of The Express Tribune.

  • Lahori

    @Ravi: “the most fanatic Hindu is more liberal than the most liberal Muslim”….Err..no.Recommend

  • Insaan

    @Rational Liberal: Pakistan might not be a secular state, and isn’t as harmonious as India(relatively speaking), but most Pakistanis vote for non-religious parties either on the center-left or center-right, in the recent elections Islamist parties only won 3% of the popular vote, and in Karachi only 1%.

    Who created Taliban? Who used non-state actors to gain strategic depth in Afghanistan there by killing millions of Afghans? Who tried to make Afghanistan an Islamic emirate?
    Who has been secretly creating trouble in Kashmir for over 40 years?

    Who played Kargil that resulted in deaths of 1000s of Pakistani army soldiers?

    Your country even did not accept soldiers sacrifices publically, making them look like insurgents/talibans.

    The person who played Kargil became a ruler of Pakistan.

    Every few weeks a Gujraat happens in your own country.

    ISI played a significant role in Gujraat. Pakistanis always wish Indian Muslims and non-Muslims fight. Most Pakistani terrorists attacks are planned to create riots in India.

    Pakis choose places where they can kill sizable number of Indian Muslims and non-Muslims.Recommend

  • Insaan

    @kaalchakra: “The Internet is being flooded with gruesome pictures of innocent Muslims in Saharanpur being butchered in cold blood by their Hindu neighbors and there is COMPLETE silence from Hindus and Hindu news outlets in India!! What is going on?! Please someone, do something! Has our blood run so cold?! Has mankind lost all decency? Isn’t anyone afraid of facing Allah any more?”

    What is going on?! Please someone, do something! Has our blood run so cold?! Has mankind lost all decency? Recommend

  • Sane

    @Sane:

    Stop using Id of others. I fully agree to the writer.Recommend

  • Razi

    @Blackjack

    In almost all your comments on these pages, any criticism of India or Hindus is either a “white lie” or “misrepresentation of facts but any criticism of Pakistan and Muslims is as accurate as it gets. Faraz Talat is right about the Indian commentators.Recommend

  • vaibhav

    @Babloo:
    Injustice is injustice. Statitics dont matter. Recommend

  • Dr.A.K.Tewari

    After 1947 Hidustan has came in to existence .
    There is no Muslimtan, or Christentan in the entire world . Pak Muslims gave this name to my country.

    Still we prefer to remain Bharat. But for that name we have to include Kalash and Hindukush, so better be Indian and think for India is now a vible option for us .Recommend

  • Avi

    A very irresponsble article– amazed by such erudite rubbish!Recommend

  • Rajeev Kumar

    @Ifran:

    If Muslims in India live such a dog’s life, then why not go to Pakistan. The truth is that not only are Muslims in India given FAR more rights than Hindus and Christians in Pakistan, but also that Muslims in India actually live better lives there than Muslims in Pakistan. That’s why their population continues to grow and thrive while the Hindu population of Pakistan continues to be driven towards extinction.Recommend

  • Siddharta

    The Muslims in India are for the most part treated very fairly. Many of India’s most famous celebrities are Muslim, and we have even had at least one Muslim Prime Minister. They are allowed to practice Sharia law when dealing with their co-religionists and the state fully acknowledges the validity of this practice. It is true that a slightly greater percentage of Muslims are below the poverty line than the percentage of Hindus living below the poverty line, but disparities such as this are always going to occur between different ethnic groups living in the same area. To say that Muslims have their rights taken from them by the government is an outright lie. They are given access to tax exemptions and other government gifts that the Hindu majority does not have. While things could be better for Indian Muslims, the same is true for the vast majority of the Hindus too. Indeed, their lot in life is worlds better than that of dhimmi and especially kafir people in Muslim states or even Shias in most Sunni states. The BJP is just a very vocal fringe group that in no way reflects the views of the Indian Hindus as a whole.Recommend

  • np

    @Naveen: “As for Owaisi, I see his speech as no better or worse than the ones delivered by Praveen Togadia.”

    I thoroughly dislike Togadia but your attempt to establish equivalence between Togadia and Owaisi shocks me.

    Owaisi said that if the police stepped aside for 15 minutes 25 crore Muslims could kill 100 crore Hindus. Please show me a single statement by Togadia that is anywhere close to this in hatefulness.

    Secondly, Togadia belongs to VHP which is not a political party nor has Togadia been elected by people. Akbaruddin Owaisi belongs to MIM which is a political party and he has been elected as an MLA

    As demonstrated by the crackdown and arrest of VHP vandals in BJP ruled Gujarat in the art vandalism case and many other open disagreements between VHP and BJP, there is no evidence that there is political support for Togadia or his organization. MIM on the other hand was a Congress ally and part of UPA until such time as MIM itself decided to break the alliance.Recommend

  • anmol

    @Humaira:
    I agree!Recommend