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Mainstream, VOL LIV No 10 New Delhi February 27, 2016

Beating of Kanhaiya Kumar in Court brings back Memories of Babri Masjid Demolition

Sunday 28 February 2016, by Sandeep Pandey

The manner in which Jawaharal Nehru University Students’ Union President Kanhaiya Kumar was roughed up in the Patiala House Court premises, while being brought to be produced in the court room, in the presence of observers from the Supreme Court who were there to ensure the security of Kanhaiya and everybody else targeted by the RSS-BJP, has brought back memories of the 1992 Babri Masjid demolition incident. The people associated with the Sangh Parivar, who are quick to accuse others not believing in their ideology of being anti-national at the slightest pretext or sometimes even without any concrete evidence, are themselves guilty of having scant regard for the Constitution of this country or any respect for law and order. At present the biggest threat to this nation is from the Sangh Parivar itself which hurtles it speedily towards anarchy. The people believing in the Hindutva ideology feel that under the present dispensation they are free to beat up anybody or even kill without attracting any punishment as the police is under one of their own, Rajnath Singh, the Home Minister, who was quick to point out that the JNU incidents were instigated by Hafeez Saeed without providing any proof for this claim.

Today there is a raging debate in this country. People believing in the Hindutva ideology claim themselves to be patriots and think everybody else who disagrees with them is anti-national. The dubious actions of the RSS-associated people make us question their categorisation. Is it enough to be called a patriot if you can hold a picture of mother India, raise the ‘vande-mataram’ slogan, wave the Indian tricolour, hurl abuses at Pakistan and beat up anybody disagreeing with any of these things. The Delhi BJP MLA, O.P. Sharma, said that if he had a gun he would have shot the anti-national people. If we think that the violence perpetrated by terrorists or Naxalites is wrong, how is the violence of the Right-wing justified? It is amazing that the police and judiciary continue to be mute spectators of all their acts of vandalism.

The policies made in this country make the rich more rich and increases their distance from the poor continuously. Half the children born in this country are malnourished. One-fourth of the children are victims of child labour. Of the 1000 children born, 47 die at child birth. 14 more die before they reach the age of five years. When one lakh children are born, 200 mothers die during childbirth. Since the country has adopted the economic policies of liberalisation, privatisation and globalisation, about three lakh farmers have committed suicide as they were not able to repay their loans. Should the people who make policies for this country, which are responsible for the above mentioned deaths and extreme levels of poverty, not be called anti-national?

Some private corporations are in debt to the extent of a total of Rs 1.14 lakh crores to the banks of this country which have conveniently decided to call these unpaid loans as Non-Performing Assets. In a country where the poor live in a shocking state as described above, will it not be considered anti-national to simply write off the loans of private corporations in this manner? Should people who indulge in corruption and pocket public money for private gains not be called anti-national? The BJP has always talked about bringing back the black money stashed in foreign banks but nobody likes to talk about the black money in our economy which helps the corrupt and criminal enter our legislatures. Are people using this black money not anti-national? Is seeking foreign capital to set up indutrial units which will be free to exploit our labour not anti-national? Is giving rights over natural resources to national-multinational corporations to make profits and deny our own citizens’ access to them not anti-national? For example, Pepsi and Coca Cola are exploiting our underground water resources and taking away the profits to the US. Should helping them set up units in India not be called anti-national? Is helping students cheat in examinations and thereby jeopardising their future not be anti-national?

On the other hand is it not patriotic to help the empowerment in any way of marginalised sections of this country? Is the act of enabling a child to attend school, who is otherwise unable to do so for some reason, not an act of patriotism? Is to help a needy person access medical help for treatment not a patriotic act? Will it not be patriotism to organise socio-economically weaker categories of people to fight for their basic rights so that they may improve their living conditions? Is it not patriotism to help any victim seek justice from the system? Will it not be considered a patriotic act to raise one’s voice against injustice so that some people are not harmed and demand the right policies so that the people benefit? Is it not patriotic to raise one’s voice against misuse of public money by the government so that the resources may be equitably distributed? For example, will it not be wise to demand reduction in the defence budget and simultaneously work on resolving bilateral problems with neighbours whom we consider enemy so that the saved resources could be spent on education, health- care, employment generation, etc. which will benefit citizens of our country as well as fellow deprived citizens of our enemy country, which too will reduce its defence budget in response? In this not patriotism? In fact, this kind of patriotism is in the interest of our nation as well as our neighbours, who presently see us as a threat.

If we examine carefully, the idea of ‘nation’ is as divisive as the ideas of religion and caste, all of which are artificial categories created by human beings. The concept of ‘nation’ should meet the fate as it has in Europe where there are no armies on the borders and one can cross from one country into another without requiring a passport or a visa. We hope that one day we will be able to cross from one country into another in South Asia just like we cross over from a district to another. In such a concept of ‘nation’ the Right-wing people will not have an opportunity to practice their ideology because there will be no takers for it. The RSS ideology exists only so long as there is an enemy, either real or imagined. This is the biggest contradiction of the Hindutva ideology. This implies that the existence of the RSS is dependent on the existence of their enemy. That is why targeting an enemy is the focus in all the RSS activities. This is the reason wise people do not fall in their trap.

Noted social activist and Magsaysay awardee Dr Sandeep Pandey was recently sacked this year from the IIT-BHU where he was a Visiting Professor on the charge of being a “Naxalite” engaging in “anti-national” activities. He was elected along with Prof Keshav Jadhav the Vice-President of the Socialist Party (India) at its founding conference at Hyderabad on May 28-29, 2011.