Wednesday, June 6, 2018

The cultural non-politics of the RSS

NB: These three articles by Ajaz Ashraf examine the past behaviour and utterances of the RSS. Readers may judge for themselves as to whether and how far the Sangh is capable of speaking truthfully. Here are some materials concerning the assassination of Mahatma Gandhi in 1948; and here are facts concerning the non-politics of the RSS. These are my comments on the Supreme Court's admission of a certain libel case. As for the blatant disregard for law and the impunity with which the 'Parivar' intimidates critics of the ruling dispensation, please listen to this famous Hindi news anchor describe what has happened to him. 

And here are my comments (which appear in the third part of the series below): 

It is good to engage in debate with all quarters in political life. Co-existence requires openness. However, dialogue requires truthful speech and the acknowledgement of wrong-doing. Have the RSS ‘family’ spoken the truth about their hatred for Mahatma Gandhi and their sympathy for his assassin? Has it reconsidered its relentless animosity towards India's Muslims, Christians and communists? The RSS is expert at masking itself. Sensing popular disaffection, it is now positioning itself for the future by smiling at Mr Pranab Mukherjee. 

The Sangh conflates truthfulness with cleverness; politics with cunning and genuine religion with nation-worship, which is a form of atheism. It denounces Naxalite violence whilst celebrating the violence of its associates. Our leaders refuse to confront the Sangh’s lawlessness; its effort to abolish the distinction between legal and illegal violence. What kind of patriotism is it to destroy India's constitution by ideological indoctrination? Genuine conversation is impossible in an atmosphere of deceit. By all means, let us have a serious debate about Indian politics - on communalism of all hues including Muslim communalism; and about violence from every quarter, including Maoist violence. But for such a debate we need honest speech. Is the Sangh ready for it?

As for their attitude towards historical truth, here are details of the first NDA government's (1998) 
brazen attempt to 'revise' Gandhi's Collected Works. Hundreds of deletions and changes were noticed by scholars and Gandhians in India and around the world, who viewed these changes as an insult to scholarship and demanded an end to such attempts to play with historical documents. Read the history of the controversy. Tridip Suhrud wrote a detailed analysis of this shameless behaviour in EPW in November 2004. It was only after the defeat of the NDA government that the fraudulently 'revised' edition of the CWMG was withdrawn, in 2005. DS

How M.S. Golwalkar misrepresented Nehru’s words
Madhav Sadashiv Golwalkar, popular among his followers as Guruji, was the second sarsanghchalak, or chief, of the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh. During his tenure from July 1940 until his death on June 5, 1973, he wrote and spoke extensively. His ideas were distilled into a book titled Bunch of Thoughts which is considered the RSS’ lodestar. Bunch of Thoughts contains the seeds of ideas that have today flowered into such theories and practices as “Muslim appeasement” and ghar wapsi, or the conversion of minorities to their supposed ancestral faith of Hinduism. In its attempt to rationalise Hindutva, it ascribes to Mahatma Gandhi and Jawaharlal Nehru statements they never made.

In the second section of Bunch of Thoughts titled The Nation and Its Problems, Golwalkar examines the “true concept of nationality”. He says there are three prerequisites for a people to be called a nation. They must live in a “contiguous territory delimited as far as possible by natural boundaries”. They should have “developed love and adoration for it as their motherland” and feel “they are the children of that soil”. But this feeling will elude them, Golwalkar believes, unless they have been moulded by the “community of life-ideals, of culture, of feelings, sentiments, faith and traditions”..

Why Pranab Mukherjee should urge the RSS to rewrite M.S. Golwalkar's ‘Bunch of Thoughts’
When former President Pranab Mukherjee visits the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh’s headquarters in Nagpur on June 7, he should advise its leaders to extend their skills in rewriting history to Bunch of Thoughts, a foundational text of Hindutva written by MS Golwalkar. In his book, the RSS’ second chief deliberately distorts Mahatma Gandhi’s statements to accuse him, without using his name, and his followers of perpetrating the “greatest treason on our society”. In a chapter titled Territorial Nationalism: Its Fruits in his book, Golwalkar viciously attacks Gandhi. After Indian revolutionaries failed to dislodge the British Empire through violent action, the RSS chief writes, the Congress leadership decided to build a united front of Hindus with India’s four religious minorities – Jews, Parsis, Muslims and Christians. India’s Jewish community was too small to matter and the Parsis had developed “intense love for our motherland”, Golwalkar argues, so their presence in the anti-British struggle was not a problem. 

But it was a mistake to rope in Christians who disregarded the motherland through their attempts to proselytise Hindus, he said. It was egregiously so in the case of Muslims because antagonism to Hindus was “so deep-rooted that whatever we believed in, the Muslim was hostile to it. If we worship in the temple, he would desecrate it. If we carry on bhajans and car festivals, that would irritate him. If we worship cow, he would like to eat it. If we glorify woman as a symbol of sacred motherhood, he would like to molest her. He was tooth and nail opposed to our way of life in all aspects.”..

RSS deceived Mahatma Gandhi in 1947. Will it do any better by Pranab Mukherjee?
NB: In my view Ajaz, Mr Mukherjee is beyond deception. He knows exactly what he is doing; what his hosts want; and what their goodwill can do for him. Those who want to think a bit more about truth and politics could benefit from a reading of Hannah Arendt's essay by the same name; and also Alexandre Koyre's essay on the political function of the modern lie. What his visit makes clear is that our ruling class has no problem with violence; as long as it is for communal purposes. DS

In September 1947, Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh chief MS Golwalkar assured Mahatma Gandhi that his organisation was not involved in the communal violence that was accompanying Partition. He claimed the RSS only aimed to protect Hinduism, not to kill Muslims. After Golwalkar’s assurance on this score, Gandhi agreed to attend an RSS rally in Delhi soon after. Yet, less than three months later, Golwalkar was singing a different tune. Addressing an RSS camp in Delhi on December 8, he said that the RSS would not allow a single Muslim to live in India. He also said Gandhi could not mislead the RSS any longer and warned that the organisation had the “means whereby such men can be immediately silenced”... It is an episode former President Pranab Mukherjee may want to remember when he addresses a convocation of RSS workers in Nagpur on June 7. Historian Dilip Simeon, who has written about the RSS and communalism, noted that it is good to engage in debate with all quarters in political life. “Coexistence requires openness,” he said. “However, dialogue requires truthful speech and the acknowledgement of wrongdoing.”..

Apoorvanand - No Hope Of A Dialogue
... when you hear people from the RSS telling you that Mahatma Gandhi or Jayaprakash Narayan had returned impressed after their visits to RSS camps, you know tthey are using these visits “as (part of) a more effective method of getting their way”. There is no evidence that the RSS even cared to listen to them, forget the possibility of responding to their appeal to mend its ways. Did the RSS even listen to Sardar Patel,who was otherwise sympathetic to them? In a letter to M S Golwalkar, Patel expresses his dismay at the obstinacy of the RSS: “You are very well aware of my views on the RSS… I had hoped that your people also would accept them. But they appear to have no effect on the RSS persons, nor was there any change in their programmes.” Accepting their right to serve Hindus, he objected to the RSS’s anti-Muslim violence: “Organising Hindus and helping them is one thing but going in for revenge for their sufferings on innocent and helpless men, women and children is quite another…” Contrary to the claims of the RSS, Gandhi was not impressed by them. Narrating an incident following Partition, Pyarelal Nayyar said that when many people came to Gandhi praising the “efficiency, discipline, courage and capacity for hard work shown by RSS cadres at Wagah border”, Mahatma Gandhi silenced them saying, “don’t forget… so had Hitler’s Nazis and Fascists under Mussolini.”...

see also
The emperor's masks
Naxalites should lay down their arms and challenge the ruling class to abide by the Constitution