Seraj Uddin In Karachi
The word Hindutva is widely debated in South Asia since Narendra Modi and his Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) came to power in India in 2014. Hindutva, if understood by the definitions provided by its founding fathers, Savarkar, Golwalkar and Hedgewar, is an effort to unite the Indian masses by trying to remove various cultural barriers. It endeavoured to promote a cultural hegemony, where one particular way of life is preferred. It was initially considered the noble drive for breaking caste barriers.
During British era, Hinduism was a merely an umbrella term for hundreds of different castes to differentiate them from Muslims, Christians, Sikhs, Jains and Buddhists that existed in the Indian subcontinent. Quite lately the Hinduism is being referred to as a religion and a culture. Since Hindutva has a religious aspect, it attempts to protect the ‘oppressed Hindu religious community’ to the perceived animosity of the Abrahamic religions for generations. The aggressive assertion of Hinduism, otherwise termed as Hindutva, that we are witnessing today is a backlash of such false perception.
Many liberal Hindus, However, see a new wave of Hindutva as a class of upper caste, Hindu Indians whose DNA seems made up entirely of ancient hatreds, grievances and an inferiority complex.
Such breed of Indians have always existed but BJP Prime Minister with the spread of social media have emboldened them to emerge from the shadows into the light of the public square. The real values of Hindutva are: Islam is an evil religion, all Muslims are jihadists, secularism is sickularism, liberals are anti-national and Hindustan must be for Hindus. People of other faiths can stay in this ‘new India’ only if they accept subservience.
Cultures are what people do generation after generation, sometimes hereditary, sometimes via cross-cultural pollination. It is never static. Hence to attempt and define it in a fixed manner is wrong. The problem with Hindutva is that it is intrusive and meddling and it tries to promote a condescending sense of Hindu cultural “superiority” that can create tensions between communities.
The concept of Hindutva has close linkages to geography and religion. According to Vinayak Damodar Savarkar, an Indian philosopher, who coined the very term Hindutva, the great advantage of India is that majority of its inhabitants consider the land of India to be their fatherland as well as their holy land. For this reason, Indian Muslims and Christians are put aside from other Indians, because their holy lands are in other parts of the world.
Another important part of the idea of the geopolitics of Hindutva is Akhand Bharat or Undivided India. According to the founders of the ideology of Hindutva, the Indian “natural borders ran from the Indus to the Eastern Sea, and from the Himalayas (including Kashmir) to Tamil Nadu.” It involves the creation of a single state, which would have united the entire territory of former British India, including Bangladesh, Pakistan, Sri-Lanka, Bangladesh, Nepal, Bhutan and Pakistan.
The inclusion of Pakistan in this range is quite interesting. Previously the Bharatiya Janata Party strongly opposed the very existence of Pakistan, but from the year 2000 onward it behaved more realistically. If Pakistan cannot disappear it should become a part of an Indian-centric South Asia.! Pakistan has to give up claims over Kashmir else its Indus water share blocked, Baluchistan “liberated” internationally defamed and isolated.
Hindutva essentially says that India is a Hindu nation. Its definition of Hindu is anyone who has Hindu ancestors which would include almost all Indian Muslims and Christian. Thus, they claim that it is not about religion but valuing our native culture.
Firstly all people including religious minorities have the right to choose their identity whether Hindu or not. The vast majority in India do not identify as Hindus, so it is unfortunate to ask them to identify as such. Subramanian Swamy openly demands that all Muslims should sign an affidavit stating that their ancestors were Hindus failing which their right to vote should be forfeited.
There are also reports that U.S. and UK are financially supporting extremists Hindus (Hindutva) in India probably for strategic reasons. Islamophobia also unites the Western media to Hindutva against Muslims. Indian will have to pay the price of radicalization of their society very soon. Hindutva is also about making major issues of things that will not really improve anyone’s life but will stir up division and resentment-The Ram Mandir Movement, the beef ban, the identity of India, debate.
In a recent international conference Former ambassador to India, Abdul Basit said that there are three major issues or fixtures in which Indian elite is entangled, the caste system, the 700 years long Muslim rule; which Hindus are unable to digest and creation of Pakistan. These issues are constantly generating socio-eco tensions of immense magnitude and marginalizing religious and ethnic minorities, primarily Muslims and Dalits.
Another guest speaker, in the same conference, said that the Muslims majority enclaves in India are called Pakistan. He highlighted the efforts of RSS at grass root level to dehumanize the Muslims. He said BJP or no BJP, Hindus are united over the issues of Cow, Muslims and Pakistan. He called upon people of Pakistan to be united and strong, as this will help the Muslims of India and people of Kashmir to the great extent. An 8-year-old Muslim girl Asifa Bano was locked in a Hindu temple, drugged, gang-raped for several days and then bludgeoned to death in Indian occupied Kashmir. The horror of a Muslim child’s rape and murder was made even worse when the ruling BJP-affiliated right-wing Hindu lawyers marched in defence of her attackers. Prime Minister Narendra Modi reluctantly condemned the crime after waiting for several days. Actually, his belated acknowledgement came in response to the international outrage.
India has recently seen the horrible lynching of Muslims young men over suspicion of cow slaughter. Cow-vigilante groups have been carrying out a ruthless form of mob justice, summarily executing those suspected of killing, trading, or consuming beef. Non-Hindus are deemed a surplus population, and violence against them is sanctioned in an attempt to cleanse the true body politic.
Seeing the rising Hindutva, in coming days India is likely to be more fanatic, more aggressive. Pakistan has to deal with Hindutva, maybe hardliner of BJP or softer Hindutva of Congress.
Seraj Uddin In Karachi