The battle for values

The elevation of Yogi Adityanath as the Chief Minister of Uttar Pradesh is an instance of this challenge.

Written by Arjun Dangle | Published:June 11, 2017 3:09 am
dalit, dalit discrimination, yogi adityanath, Uttar Pradesh CM, religious politics, BJP politics, hindu nation, hindutva, hindu rashtrra, Jawaharlal Nehru, Indira Gandhi, Atal Bihari Vajpayee, indian express opinion, india news The concept of Hindu Rashtra is not only outdated but also impossible. Illustration by CR Sasikumar

Twenty-five years ago, I had edited an anthology of Dalit literature, Poisoned Bread: Translations from Modern Marathi Dalit Literature. In the introduction, I had stated: “In the coming age, India will see religion and politics go hand-in-hand. When that happens, the literati, intellectuals, and thinkers who believe in secular and democratic values will have to be ready to face the challenges that will arise.”

The elevation of Yogi Adityanath as the Chief Minister of Uttar Pradesh is an instance of this challenge. This mixing of religion and politics results in feudalism. In India, it may not lead to race-based fascism but it can result in authoritarianism centred on religion. The first laboratory for the creation of such a Hindu Nation (Hindu Rashtra) was instituted in Gujarat under the leadership of Narendra Modi; the Sangh Parivar has now initiated the second such laboratory in Uttar Pradesh.

The concept of Hindu Rashtra is not only outdated but also impossible. The last Hindu kingdom, Nepal, has itself done away with the anxieties of the Hindu Rashtra and is now standing strong on the pillars of secularism and democracy.

Supporters of the idea fail to define what a Hindu Rashtra is. Will it have a different Constitution? Will it have a different national flag? Will the national anthem be different?

Well, if the Hindu religion and its followers are not honoured in a country, are unable to celebrate their festivals, or have had their temples demolished, then the idea of a Hindu Rashtra makes logical sense. However, the fact is in post-Independence India, all the elected governments, at the Centre and in the states, have been dominated by Hindus, irrespective of the party in office.

As the notion of a Hindu Rashtra cannot take a tangible form, the Sangh Parivar has been consistently running a hidden agenda, which has produced a strait-laced and dogmatic ideology. As a result, a Hindu Rashtra is being sought to be established by targeting Muslims, Dalits, Christians and other minorities and by demolishing the principle of one man, one vote, one value bestowed by the Constitution. The violent religious frenzy of the “gau rakshaks” is a realisation of the Hindu Rashtra agenda.

Hindu Rashtra and Hindutva, however, are not the same. Hindutva is related to Indian culture, whereas Hindu Rashtra is rooted in caste hegemony. There is no reason to oppose Hindutva because the Constitution provides each one the freedom to practice the religion of his/her choice and follow the lifestyle it entails. The majority of Hindus are not casteist or fanatical. But, knowingly or unknowingly, leftists, progressives, seculars, and Ambedkarites have committed the mistake of targeting the entire Hindu community, while intensely opposing Hindutva. The Sangh Parivar has found an opportunity here to polarise the Hindu community.

My observation may seem similar to the “soft Hindutva” of the Congress. There is a basic difference, however, in the organisational structure of the Congress and the Sangh Parivar. Every party worker in the Sangh Parivar, from the top to bottom, is orthodox and dogmatic. In the Congress and other secular organisations, top officials may be secular and the workers are either followers of Hinduism or Islam.

My concerns are about values. It is the responsibility of the government to protect and preserve values — one man, one value, tolerance, liberty, equality, fraternity, and national integration — upheld by the Constitution. But when one listens to historians, scientists, politicians, judges and saints close to the Sangh Parivar, one is transported to the 18th century. The country is going through a psychological and ideological dialectical phase.

Jawaharlal Nehru, Indira Gandhi, Atal Bihari Vajpayee were not just elected prime ministers of India, they were accepted as leaders by Indian society. Why is Narendra Modi, who won a convincing mandate, not regarded as a leader by all Indians? The Sangh Parivar needs to introspect. Why does the Sangh leadership remain silent and provide moral support to the party workers, who make incongruous comments that provoke separatism? It scares me when tolerance, civility, and culture in the socio-political system seem to disappear.

It scares me that the BJP and Sangh Parivar never use the names of their idols, Hedgewar and Guru Golwalkar, in election campaigns.

Instead, they have appropriated those who have worked hard to preserve the values of liberty, unity, fraternity and national integration — like Shivaji Maharaj, Mahatma Gandhi, Babasaheb Ambedkar, and Sardar Patel.

The battle for values is inevitable regardless of the party in power. It is necessary to fight the tendency that endangers liberty, equality, fraternity, tolerance and national integration. It is the duty of writers, artists, intellectuals, and journalists to uproot such a tendency. As a writer-activist, who believes in democracy and who wishes to see the socialisation of democracy, I reiterate what Babasaheb Ambedkar said on November 25, 1949, while presenting the Constitution: “We are going to enter a life of contradictions. In politics, we will have equality and in social and economic life, we will have inequality. We must remove this contradiction at the earliest possible moment. Else, those who suffer from inequality will blow up the structure of political democracy.”

Dangle, one of the founder members of the Dalit Panthers, is an acclaimed writer. The article was translated from Marathi to English by Rushikesh Aravkar

For all the latest Opinion News, download Indian Express App

  1. R
    R K
    Jun 15, 2017 at 2:15 pm
    such a bl00dy pathetic loser ur r....if the people u oppose are chosen by the people of this country to rule....then u feel that something very sinister is happening...if some states have by law banned the cow meat then it is the end of the world...if you are so confident that some right has been taken away, go to the courts..u will come to know what is right and what is wrong...
    Reply
    1. R
      R K
      Jun 15, 2017 at 2:08 pm
      abey dangle tujhe kisne kaha ki india is going to become a hindu rashtra...is it in the BJP manifesto...has modiji said that he wants to create a hindu rashtra.....just raking up a fake issue and filling up some unused space in IE...time pass kar raha hai....s 1aa
      Reply
      1. R
        raghu
        Jun 12, 2017 at 8:52 pm
        In the name minorities, giving reservations how fair it is. It creates problem for Hindus. As you said, Hindu domination is there, in fact who is benefiting it is minorities, not Hindus.
        Reply
        1. B
          blackpower
          Jun 12, 2017 at 9:59 am
          more examples of hindutva manners on how they treat our martyrs -Sagar, 45, was one of the two soldiers killed, and their bodies mutilated, in an attack by stan’s Border Action Team on May 1. Sofa, AC installed for Yogi Adityanath’s visit to martyr’s family, removed after he left. For half-an-hour on Friday, the family of slain BSF head constable, Prem Sagar, had an air conditioner, a sofa, a carpet and saffron towels to cover the table – all in honour of Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath who visited them at their home in Tikampar village of UP’s Deoria district. But in less than an hour of Adityanath’s departure, the district administration removed all the items they had placed, alleged Sagar’s family members
          Reply
          1. B
            blackpower
            Jun 12, 2017 at 9:54 am
            here's the Saffron treatment of dalits: Dalit Villagers Were Given Lifebuoy Soaps And Shampoos To Clean Up With Before Meeting Yogi Adityanath: Reports---------------On May 25, Deccan Herald had reported that government representatives had asked members of a Dalit community to clean and wash themselves with soaps and shampoos and apply perfume before Uttar Pradesh chief minister Yogi Adityanath's scheduled visit to their village. On May 24, the UP CM had visited the 'Musahar Basti' in Kushinagar district, where a majority of the residents belong to the Musahar community -- known to be 'rat catchers' and discriminated against for being 'untouchables'. A video had also surfaced on where a man is seen claiming he and others like him were asked to clean up using soaps and shampoos before the CM's visit.
            Reply
            1. B
              blackpower
              Jun 12, 2017 at 9:54 am
              The villagers told Herald that they were rather surprised to see government officials thronging their village suddenly. "New toilets were constructed...dusty roads were made pitched and lights were installed within no time We were also given scented soaps, shampoos and perfumes and asked to use them before going to meet the chief minister," residents told the newspaper.
              Reply
            2. G
              George Cruz
              Jun 12, 2017 at 8:39 am
              This article is total non sense. The truth is that India is and has been a majority Hindu country and it is irrelevant to give a religion based label like "Hindu Rashtra". India is and has been a cradle of Hinduism which peaceful, inclusive, democratic, secular and has been a confluence various religions like the Buddhism, Sikhism, Jainism, etc which are subsets of Hinduism co-existing peacefully until the arrival of FOREIGN religions like Islam and Christianity which resort to heinous/forcible conversion claiming democracy/freedom. The truth is that the larger Hindu population are not interested in giving a label like 'Hindu Rashtra' unlike the Muslims who are theocratic, hate other religions, and their goal is to establish an Islamic Caliphate and drive others using Jihad aka terror/kil .
              Reply
              1. B
                blackpower
                Jun 12, 2017 at 7:57 am
                RSS fascists saluting - identical to that of hitler's : www.loonwatch /2014/04/ sm-and-narendra-modi-the-ideological-influence-on-indias-next-prime-minister/
                Reply
                1. B
                  blackpower
                  Jun 12, 2017 at 7:57 am
                  The nature of that salute and the uniforms worn by the RSS members in the photo is not a coincidence. As discussed in the main part of this article further below, the RSS’s core ideology is explicitly and directly influenced by Hitler and Third Reich-era sm.
                  Reply
                2. V
                  Vijay Naik
                  Jun 12, 2017 at 7:55 am
                  The article is very perceptive. For example the author correctly points out the unscrupulous and cunning tactics of hard Hindutva in the following paragraph : "It scares me that the BJP and Sangh Parivar never use the names of their idols, Hedgewar and Guru Golwalkar, in election campaigns. Instead, they have appropriated those who have worked hard to preserve the values of liberty, unity, fraternity and national integration — like Shivaji Maharaj, Mahatma hi, Babasaheb Ambedkar, and Sardar Patel." However, the author should have carefully deplo two different words in the narration, as per context, viz. (i)Hindu Dharma (the faith and iden y) of common man, and (ii) Hindutva, the word coined in 1920s by Brahminical elite to propagate a divisive and feudal agenda.
                  Reply
                  1. Load More Comments