Friday, September 1, 2017

The Big Lies. RSS, Gandhi and American conservatives. By Javed Anand

What you run away from, runs after you - Roumanian proverb

NB: The RSS' practice of deceit is never-ending. Of late they have begun cosy-ing up to Gandhi's icon. However, soon after their pracharak Modi became Prime Minister, the air was thick with celebrations of Gandhi's assassin. Some elements of the 'parivar' were then talking of building temples to Nathuram Godse. Here are some examples of this vile campaign:

The RSS's proximity to the murder is a long-standing controversy whose poisonous fumes they have never managed to shake off. They have even taken the matter to the Supreme Court - something I have written about here. Also see Bharat Bhushan - RSS chief Golwalkar threatened to kill Gandhi : 1947 CID report. But their chief ally is the shortness of public memory. Thus, few recall that under the Vajpayee ministry of 1999-2004, they attempted to falsify the contents of Mahatma Gandhi's Collected Works. This was stalled when confronted with an outcry by Gandhi scholars the world over. Read about the controversy here. Such is the Sangh Parivar's respect for truth. 

These days they have realised (yet again) that they are spitting at the moon. Mahatma Gandhi is too deeply respected the world over for their propaganda to make any difference. However, since they have mastered the art of speaking in many tongues depending on their chosen audience, they have now resorted to an attempt to 'claim' Gandhi as their own property. Proprietor-ship over Hindus and standardisation of Hindu belief is their central political goal. The RSS dreams of becoming a Hindu Church (Abrahamic Hindutva, as one commentator has named it); and wants to neutralise the effects of its well-known hatred for Gandhi by announcing its belated discovery of his roots in traditional Indian religiosity. Yes, Gandhi was a Sanatan Dharmi, that was why they hated him more than any of their numerous enemies. Gandhi did not separate religion and politics; he separated religion from nationalism. That was and remains the big difference. That was because for him religion was a source of philosophical wisdom - for communalists religion is merely to be used, as a badge of political identity. Nation-worship is not religion. It is atheism. Those interested in this question could read my meditation on Gandhi and Socrates: Satyagraha - An answer to modern nihilism

Orwellian double-speak is a methodology wherein truth is a plastic substance to be twisted any way you like depending on the requirements of Big Brother. The RSS' biggest problem is their confusion of wisdom with cunning. (The two are not the same, gentlemen, chhal-kapat is not the same thing as pragya). Fortunately all of us are not zombies, and despite their attempts to impose an undeclared ideological Emergency in India, we have not lost the capacity to speak and exercise our minds - DS

Given the audacity with which our history is being rewritten and re-imagined, we should not be surprised to learn in the not-too-distant future that the “chatur baniya”, Mohandas Karamchand Gandhi, was actually a devout pracharak of the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh who was killed by a fanatic Muslim. Soon after Narendra Modi became prime minister, Gandhi was given charge of the Swachh Bharat Abhiyan. Virtually reduced to the status of a Super Sanitary Inspector, the Mahatma’s job was to ensure clean streets; never mind the muck in the minds. 

We must thank the BJP general secretary, Ram Madhav, for putting Gandhi back on a pedestal. From Madhav’s learned treatise (‘Coming full circle at 70’, IE, August 15) we learn that unlike Jawaharlal Nehru whose mind was infected with the “coloniser’s view”, Gandhi was infused with “the genius of our country which is rooted in its religio-social structures like state, family, caste, guru, festival”.

According to this version of modern Indian history, Nehru and his Congress took India down the wrong road for decades but fortunately, happy days are here again. India has a president, vice president and PM all of whom are from “the same ideological fraternity”, all in tune with India’s “native wisdom”, all from the “Conservative Right”. Gandhi, we are told, belongs to the same fraternity. How? Because: “Gandhi always spoke in his discourses and dissertations about Ram Rajya”.

Hitler’s master propagandist Joseph Goebbels said: “If you tell a lie big enough and keep repeating it, people will eventually come to believe it”. Perhaps we will all one day buy the Big Lie that Gandhi was an RSS man. But for now, could Madhav and the Sangh Parivar kindly take a few questions: Gandhi repeatedly said: “Let no one commit the mistake of thinking that Ram Rajya means a rule of Hindus. My Ram is another name for Khuda or God. I want Khuda Raj which is the same thing as the Kingdom of God on Earth.” Is Gandhi’s “Ram Rajya” the same as the “Hindu Rashtra” ideal of the Sangh Parivar?

If yes, why did Nathuram Godse, an RSS-Hindu Mahasabha creation, assassinate Gandhi? And why did the RSS, according to the then Home Minister Vallabhbhai Patel, distribute sweets to celebrate the murder? Had he been around today, how would Gandhi have responded to Hindutva’s lynch mobs repeatedly targeting Muslims and Dalits in the name of the holy cow? And what might the Mahatma have said about the lip service, at best, of the PM in response to this continuing majoritarian onslaught? Even as the Sangh Parivar is doing all it can to claim Gandhi, its hostility to Nehru remains undiminished. This is so, Madhav tells us, because Nehru was a “liberal” while the “genius of India”, like America, tilts towards the “Conservative Right”. The RSS ideologue approvingly quotes a book which describes America as “essentially a nation with a conservative ethos”, a nation where even the Democrats are “liberals in name only”. India and America: Same, same?

The US is not my idea of heaven on earth and Donald Trump is certainly not my hero. But there’s a strong message that conservative America recently sent out to the world, a message India’s “Conservative Right” can learn from. When neo-Nazis and white supremacists turned violent against peaceful counter-protesters in Charlottesville, Virginia, last month, Trump initially blamed “many sides”. But “conservative” Americans were so outraged by the misdeeds of the extremists that speaking in one voice, politicians — including top Republicans — corporate big guns, the media and ordinary citizens slammed their president, shamed him into changing his tune within 48 hours.

This is what US conservatives pushed the right-wing, Republican Trump into saying: “Racism is evil and those who cause violence in its name are criminals and thugs, including the KKK, neo-Nazis and white supremacists and other hate groups… We will spare no resource in fighting so that every American child can grow up free from violence and fear”. Sounds good: Freedom from violence and fear. In an India plagued by lynch mobs and acute Islamophobia, when did we hear the Sangh Parivar, its incumbent president, vice-president, prime minister, speak such language? 

Should India’s “Conservative Right” not be ashamed at its own silence, if not complicity, over the recurring ugly spectacles and yet claim fraternity with Gandhi and affinity with America’s “conservative ethos”?

The writer is convener, Indian Muslims for Secular Democracy and co-editor, Sabrang India

Also see