Saturday, March 26, 2016

PREM SHANKAR JHA - The RSS is sparing no effort to create a sense of siege among Muslims - Instead of a Hindu rashtra India will become the world’s largest failed state // SATYABRATA PAL: The BJP’s call is not to uphold the constitution but to undo it

Even as Prime minister Modi lauds the plurality of India and the profound peacefulness of Sufi Islam, the RSS and its cohorts have been sparing no effort to drive a deep wedge between the Hindus and Muslims in our country.

A single day’s newspaper tells us that the student Umar Khalid found, while being questioned in jail, that his interrogators had already decided his guilt before they talked to him, because he was a Muslim whose father had been an activist of the now banned SIMI. Anirban Bhattacharya was repeatedly cajoled by his interrogators to get all charges against him dropped by pinning all the blame for the February 9 sloganeering on Khalid.

Waris Pathan, a Muslim MLA, In Maharashtra is suspended from the state assembly for refusing to chant Bharat Mata ki Jai. On the same day four Kashmiri students are arrested in Rajasthan because someone reported to the police that they were eating beef in their hostel. In Jharkhand, two Muslim cattle traders are murdered by a gang of criminals, and the public and the media immediately conclude that the killers belong to a cow protection group.
In Delhi the BJP MP from Agra, Ramshanker Katheria, (who is a member of Mr Modi’s council of ministers, no less) publicly warns the UP state government that Agra will see a ‘different kind of Holi’ if cases lodged against one BJP and two local VHP ‘leaders’ for making hate speeches against Muslims, comparing them to ‘rakshasas’ who need to be cornered and destroyed’, are not withdrawn before the festival. All this news appearing on a single day evinces no shock because, from Ghar Wapsi, to ‘Love Jihad‘, to throwing beef into a temple, to killing Mohammad Akhlaq, to changing the name of Aurangzeb Road in Delhi, such inflammatory statements and actions have become routine in the past 21 months.

Intimidating dissenters: What is relatively new is the brazen attempt to intimidate anyone – like Kanhaiya Kumar or Teesta Setalvad – who has the courage to take up cudgels in defence of the freedom of speech, thought, justice and legal process; the administration of punishment to them through harassment, torture and beatings while in judicial custody, the cancellation of licenses and denial of access to funds.

Beneath all of this runs one leitmotif : The Muslims are not ‘us’. In anthropological terms, they are the alien ‘other’ and don’t belong in a resurgent Hindu India. The Muslim conquest of India was an aberration, and its impact on Hindu culture must be erased.

The damage was real, but was done aeons ago by rulers and generals now long dead. What does the Sangh parivar hope to gain from making people who are not even their lineal descendants pay a price today? Does it think that the community will take this lying down forever? And if it does not, can India be purged of 190 million Muslims?

No matter what its motives are, if it persists it will push the country into civil war and force it to disintegrate, as the states in the south and east scramble to insulate themselves from the virus being exported ­­­from the north. Instead of a Hindu rashtra India will become the world’s largest failed state.

This may sound alarmist but beneath the surface calm, changes have been taking place in the structure of the Indian economy and society that have been weakening our collective faith in the possibility of a prosperous future. These are being felt most acutely by the youth, who have their entire lives ahead and do not see how they will traverse it. The need of the hour is to reverse these changes so that they can begin to hope again. The BJP/RSS is doing the exact opposite.

Muslims’ worsening plight: Partition made the first serious dent in India’s syncretic culture by planting resentment and suspicion in Hindus, and a wary defensiveness in Indian Muslims. With the pre-partition Muslim elite having largely opted for Pakistan, the community desperately needed educational and economic assistance to recover their place in Indian society. But a bitter legacy of Partition was the Congress’s adamant refusal to even consider the reservation of jobs and seats in schools and colleges for Muslims, as this was the tool the British had used to split the Indian social fabric.

V.P Singh was among the first to recognise the long-term damage this had done. He understood that a rural peasantry newly empowered by the Green Revolution was demanding reservation in government jobs and colleges not for the sake of a handful of poorly paid sinecures, but to create an urban base from which their children and grandchildren could acquire the education that was the only avenue to the modern world… read more:

SATYABRATA PAL: BJP’s call is not to uphold the constitution but to undo it
As India turns 69 this year, the political resolution which the BJP’s National 
Executive adopted on March 20, 2016 declared that: “Nationalism, national unity and integrity are an article of faith with the BJP. Refusal to hail Bharat – say Bharat Mata ki jai – in the name of freedom is unacceptable. Our constitution describes India as Bharat also: refusal to chant victory to Bharat tanatamounts to (sic) disrespect to the constitution itself…. Bharat Mata ki jai is not merely a slogan…. It is the heartbeat of a billion people today. It is the reiteration of our constitutional obligation as citizens to uphold its primacy. The BJP wishes to make it clear that it will firmly oppose any attempt to disrespect Bharat and weaken its unity and integrity.”

Even for a party intoxicated by the taste of nationalism on its tongue, this is an astonishing series of non sequiturs. Firstly, refusing to say Bharat Mata is not a “refusal to hail Bharat”. Since the constitution nowhere describes India as Bharat Mata, or requires her to be celebrated, neither does it follow that not saying Bharat Mata ki jai is to show “disrespect to the constitution”. Our “constitutional obligation as citizens” has been spelt out in the eleven fundamental duties of Article 51A, none of which asks Indians to either chant a slogan or “uphold its primacy”. The final illogical absurdity is the claim that not to mouth the slogan will “disrespect Bharat”, and that this imagined slight will “weaken its unity and integrity”. Surely even the BJP can’t think the nation is so fragile. If this was not the rambling of what, in more ways than one, might be called a Congress-induced haze, it will be our constitutional obligation as citizens to believe that the BJP can’t think....

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