Thursday, August 15, 2019

HARTOSH SINGH BAL - For Modi and RSS, Kashmir is a tool to consolidate their hold over the twice-born castes

Adivasis who enjoy paying no taxes, Kashmiris who enjoy special status, Muslims who enjoy four wives, the Khan Market Gang who enjoy everything - it’s an endless list. It is a list that is not really about the group being singled out, but about the group for whom the pantomime is being played out. 

On 31 July, I spoke at an event titled, “An Enigma called Nation & the Question of Identity,” organised in Delhi by the Hindi literary publication Hans to mark the birth anniversary of the writer Premchand. Among my fellow speakers was Makarand Paranjape, the director of the Indian Institute of Advanced Studies, in Shimla. In the course of his lecture, Paranjape referred to various inequities created by provisions of the Indian constitution and invoked Adivasis who do not have to pay taxes.

When the time for questions came, an irate member of the audience asked what taxes he expected from those who did not have an income. Paranjape clarified that he was only referring to tribal government servants in the Northeast. When the audience member confronted him with the enabling provisions of the Sixth Schedule of the Constitution, which give a special status to the northeastern states, Paranjape said that it was precisely such legal distinctions among citizens, as enabled by the schedule, which were the problem.
I was staggered by the absurdity of such a formulation. But as it would turn out, the stupidity was mine—and that of the many in the audience who did not take Paranjape seriously. Less than a week later, Article 370, the basis of Kashmir’s special status in India, was rendered ineffective with the same casual disregard for constitutional provisions that Paranjape had displayed on stage.

Adivasis who enjoy paying no taxes, Kashmiris who enjoy special status, Muslims who enjoy four wives, the Khan Market Gang who enjoy everything - it’s an endless list. It is a list that is not really about the group being singled out, but about the group for whom the pantomime is being played out. Narendra Modi won four assembly elections in a row appealing to Gujarati asmita, or pride, and he has now won two Lok Sabha elections appealing - in covert but rather evident ways—to Hindu pride.
Why does this appeal work? What is it about this Hindu pride that is so fragile?

When you look around the country, there is little reason for this fragility. The “twice-born” Hindu castes—a term used to denote caste groups that are permitted to undergo the sacred thread ceremony, which they consider a second birth—such as the Brahmin and the Bania communities, dominate any list that one could examine. For instance, Banias constitute 24 of the 50 richest billionaires in India, and the heads of most of our top companies as well as the faculty of Indian universities comprise almost entirely of Brahmins and Banias. In liberal and right-wing news organisations, too, the top leadership is entirely made up of the twice-born.

Even the debate about the idea of India is largely a debate between twice-born elites. Its participants have been the older, “secular” elite, who did nothing to change this twice-born domination—some hiding behind the Constitution, others behind the mythic tolerance of Hinduism—and those who subscribe to the new, more honestly bigoted Hindutva, who do not disguise their exaltation of the twice-born. This continuing and disproportionate influence—both in terms of wealth and intellectual capital—of a demographic that comprises less than 20 percent of the population has no equivalent in a free society anywhere in the world. In fact, it is more in keeping with the situation in South Africa during the apartheid era... read more:
https://caravanmagazine.in/politics/for-modi-rss-kashmir-is-tool-consolidate-hold-over-twice-born-castes

see also
RSS organisations in Dehradun force two colleges to say they won’t admit Kashmiris