The Hindutva juggernaut has stumbled quite a few times, and it can and will be stopped by the will of the Indian peoples exercised through the ballot. 2024 is D-Day. This is not a pious hope but an assertion of faith in the common Indian.
INDIAN National Congress parliamentarian and United Progressive Alliance Chairperson Sonia Gandhi, in a thoughtful piece in The Hindu published on April 11, 2023 has sketched out some of the issues that confront the nation as the Hindutva juggernaut moves on, seemingly invincible.
All messianic political movements think they can go on forever. Myth and myth building, rather than an appreciation of history, is their forte. Hindutva is no different. They have stumbled quite a few times, and they can and will be stopped by the will of the Indian peoples exercised through the ballot. 2024 is D-Day. This is not a pious hope but an assertion of faith in the common Indian. A rider, of course, if we get out of our comfort zones and hit the dusty lanes of rural India.
That Gandhi is a gracious lady is a no-brainer. In the face of obnoxious and crude internet posts against her, she has kept her composure. Yet in the face of the Hindutva barbarian hordes, one needs focused and resolute action. Unlike the Weimar Republic, which was wobbly from Day One, the present Hindutva standard bearers of Aryan supremacy have built on the authoritarian impulses of all political parties that have been in power at the state or the Centre since independence. All of them used preventive detention, and all condoned the use of torture, to name just two issues.
The average citizen rightly asks that it is a matter of shades that the present alternatives offer. She does not realise that however decrepit all non-Hindutva political parties have been, they have not had their ugly fangs out for the lives of minorities and dissidents on this scale. At the same time, there are green shoots in the non-Hindutva political firmament that are heartening.
The political spectrum
The Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam’s (DMK) emphasis on social justice is welcome and needs to be built upon. The institution of the State is unitary for all practical purposes. It needs major federal reengineering to move away from the phobias of the Hindi belt and build a federal structure that embodies the diversity that constitutes the present map of India: A truly United States of India.
The institution of the State is unitary for all practical purposes. It needs major federal reengineering to move away from the phobias of the Hindi belt and build a federal structure that embodies the diversity that constitutes the present map of India: A truly United States of India.
The DMK’s espousal of fiscal reforms to reflect federal polity is laudable. It is only with genuine federalism that one could even contemplate addressing seemingly intractable problems like Kashmir.
The Marxist Communists have a useful economic programme. Lest the alleged liberals run for cover, a careful examination of it reveals that it is principally social democratic in content and in keeping with the Directive Principles of the Constitution.
Captains of industry
The fat cats of Indian Industry have been as their German predecessors in the Weimar Republic. We have our own clones of German chemical and pharmaceutical conglomerate I.G. Farben and German steel and weapons manufacturing business Friedrich Krupp A.G. As Herr Hitler stated, “Private enterprise cannot be maintained in a democracy.”
The minimum that any new government must do is enact a strong machinery to break up all monopolies, and, for starters, annul all write-offs of loans from public or private sector financial institutions to the private sector. The to-do list is long and can easily be compiled from the existing work of knowledgeable political economists.
The leadership of the Muslim male minority, without exception, is one-half despondent, like the pre-war Jewish leadership. Withdrawn, waiting for what they fear is inevitable. Increasingly marginalised, the community is learning to live as second-class citizens, periodically being subjected to pogroms and lynching of its individual members.
The other half is akin to the Judenräte appeasing the Hindutva leadership in the bleak hope that they will weather the storm by clinging to the dhoti of the tormentor. The periodic bleating to the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh leadership that us ‘educated’ Muslims are different from the plebes, or those periodically going to the house of sleuths and assuring them of undying loyalty to the regime, not the Constitution, typify this half.
In their freedom lies the freedom of India
The only silver lining was the new, young, confident leadership among Muslim youth who were no longer willing to bear the heavy cross of partition: women and men who were willing to stand up as full citizens for equal rights. The Hindutva State had to make an example of them— the Umar Khalids, the Gulfisha Fatimas, the Khalid Saifees, to name only a few.
In the Catholic Church, the spectacle of the Kerala bishop willing to sell his allegiance for the price of rubber told the tale! The failure to raise a tornado of protest both nationally and internationally on the cruel, degrading treatment to Father Stan Swamy and his murder by wilful neglect by all wings of the State machinery, is also an indictment.
Hinduism needs saving from Hindutva. Hindutva is to Hinduism what political Islam is to Islam or right-wing Protestantism was to the Nazis. Hindutva is the antithesis of Hinduism.
Much time has been lost with the peddling of myths of soft Hindutva. Secularism, as defined presently in Indian observance, needs revisiting. While clearly lacite is not the answer, elements from it will have to be incorporated in India where the lines of demarcation between the fundamentalist Hindutva supporter and the machinery of the Indian State are presently blurred.
The machinery of the State— the bureaucracy both at the Central and state levels, the judiciary, the police and other coercive organs of the State— will need some re-education. Not of the variety of the Stalinist purges and the Show trials, but clearly something akin to the benign deNazification that the British in particular conducted.
This must be accompanied with a Nuremberg-style tribunal with due process, open to international scrutiny for the Adolf Eichmann clones of Hindutva, both governmental and non-governmental. No more Shah Commissions, headed by a good judge whose work was corroded by all his staff on loan from the earlier Emergency bureaucracy, scuttled finally by a Union home ministry which was never brought to account for what it did in those dark 19 months, and pulped by Indira Gandhi in her second coming.
Eternal vigilance is the price of liberty
There are more imponderables left for your research to flesh out. What will the role of the army and the paramilitary forces be if the Hindutva government refuses to concede an electoral defeat? Is Bonapartism an idle fear in India given the experience of our region?
What is the meaning of military intelligence reinstating in its ranks an officer presently being tried in a criminal trial for bomb blasts aimed at the Muslims in Malegaon? How come no personnel from the Assam rifles or the army are facing prosecution for extrajudicial executions or, in plain English, cold-blooded murder? How come the paramilitary forces are the equivalent to the army in numerical strength, with at least four of them as heavily armed as the regular army?
If we are to make sure that democracy is not to be snuffed out in the next year or two, tweet, but also hit the dusty lanes of rural India to educate, propagate and peacefully agitate for the continuation of democracy.