Mainstream, VOL LV No 1 New Delhi December 24, 2016 - ANNUAL 2016
Rome was Not Built in a Day. Nor the Hindu Rashtra . . .
Monday 26 December 2016
by Ajayakumar Kodoth
Even while judging the BJP government as a pro-Fascist one, the CPI believes that it cannot be called Fascist yet. We resort to this label not merely because of hostility towards BJP but because we believe it is true. Even while judging the BJP as completely right-wing, we cannot brand it as completely Fascist. That is why we say it is pro-Fascist. Whether it is completely so or on the way to becoming Fascist is an issue that should be left to further discussion. As I write this, I welcome healthy discussions on the issue.
S. Sudhakar Reddy, Janayugam (Malayalam) daily, Sept. 18, 2016
The Communist Party General Secretary Comrade Sudhakar Reddy’s stand that healthy discussions are imperative during times of ideological confusion is indeed praiseworthy. Within two years of the BJP Government assuming power, blatant incursions into the individual liberty of our citizens have reached a level where the ruling party decides when and how the common man may use even his earnings. Contemporary political conditions in our nation demand more severe assessments and (principled) stands regarding the authorita-rianism and pro-Fascist tendencies that are only too evident in the hauteur of the Prime Minister, and the ideology he represents. Precisely for this reason, a discussion as to whether the Sangh Parivar organisations like the RSS and the BJP are pro-Fascist or not requires a deep historical analysis. The reason for this is simple. Just as Rome was not built in a day, the systematic growth of the Sangh Parivar, since the birth of the Hindu Mahasabha in 1913 and the RSS in 1925 in the Indian soil, has been part of a long-term project geared towards the fulfilment of its dream/aim of building a Hindu Rashtra. The aims of the Sangh Parivar that constitute the chief threat to the continued existence and future of India as a nation-state cannot be confronted or assessed in a casual manner.
As an analysis of the Sangh Parivar is possible only by including it among the reactionary movements that pull history into the past, it may perhaps be more appropriate to make a quick reference to the European Renaissance and the developments that came in its wake. After all, it was with the Renaissance that the demeanour of the modern world changed in a radical fashion. Leaving a mark in history as a movement that led the world from darkness to light, Renaissance touched all aspects of human activity including arts, philosophy, science and so on, before triggering a massive social upheaval that completely altered the world. As the next step, it led to geographical discoveries, inventions in the fields of science and technology, as part of the Industrial Revolution in the 18th century, modern day capitalism and its by-product, colonialism, before culminating in the inception of the New Age.
Even while analysing the reactionary qualities of the new social and economic world order initiated and fuelled by capitalism, Karl Marx focused on its progressive features. He also made a detailed and scientific study of the political, social and economic fall-outs of British colonisation of India, and his conclusion—that it was at once constructive and destructive—is well known to the world. However, the most insidious aspect of colonisation was that it led to the pauperisation of the country and the dwarfing of its people, with Britain sucking out the infinite wealth and varied riches of India. Just as Rome was not built in a day, the strangulation of India within the British coils was a structured phenomenon. With the attain-ment of independence, the period of degeneracy should have become a thing of the past. But it seems to have reared its head once again in contemporary times with the Sangh Parivar taking on the reins of governance in our country.
Renaissance was one of the few boons that the British occupation of India resulted in. The place of Indian Renaissance in the history of modern India is analogous to that of the European Renaissance in the history of Europe. But the source of energy in India was Europe, particularly England, and more specifically, the English tongue. The concepts we have of nation and nationalism are borrowed from England. When hundreds of native states fused to become a single nation, we were able to successfully overcome the historical challenge not on the strength of any religion (including Hinduism) but because of the fundamental contradiction between the interests of the British adminis-tration and those of the Indian people. It was this very clash of interests that proved to be the wellspring of the long-term vitality shown by the Indian national movement. Religious spurs were not relevant then. Whenever religious symbols were used—though only occasionally—they indicated mistakes committed by the national movement.
Those who led the Indian Renaissance and later the Indian national movement were intellectuals residing in the cities of colonial India, like Calcutta, Bombay and Madras, who had risen to high levels with the help of modern English education. But none of them were subservient to Hinduism that was ruled by orthodoxy. Rather, even while remaining within the ambit of Hinduism, they rose to the top by sparking off major explosions intended to destroy the prevalent orthodoxy. Sri Narayana Guru in Kerala is an eloquent example. Where then does the importance of Hindu nationalism lie in the history of Indian Renaissance or the Indian national movement, as the Sangh Parivar is so fond of arguing? The cornerstone of Indian nationalism is to be seen not in orthodox Hinduism but in the modernisation of a pan-Indian culture that embraced all religions. In fact, what it chiefly gave the Indian people—through the medium of the Indian National Congress—were insights like a global perspective against colonialism, and fundamental values like secularism and parliamentary democracy. Where exactly do the ideas represented by the Sangh Parivar feature in the growth of modern Indian politics?
Such reactionary forces have raised their heads in nearly all colonised nations during times when national struggles to throw off the colonial yoke gained strength and momentum. The births of organisations like the Muslim League, the Hindu Mahasabha and the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh in 1907, 1913 and 1925 respectively were serious setbacks to the forward march of the liberation struggle in India. After the attainment of independence, the growth of the RSS as a counter-revolutionary power has been the biggest curse India has faced. Its Fascist tendencies grew to such an extent as to make it eliminate the Father of our Nation solely because he stood for Hindu-Muslim unity. Despite all this, have the democratic forces in general and the Left movement in particular been able to understand the degree to which the ideas propagated by the RSS are retrograde? If it had, would E.M.S. Namboodiripad have
sought to make friends with “any devil” solely to destroy the Congress party, and the CPI-M be formed in 1964, splitting the Communist Party asunder? Today, what stands in the way of a merger of the two Left parties? Especially against the fearful backdrop of contemporary Indian politics? The genie has been let out of the bottle, and the degeneracy that had been driven out of the country along with the British colonial power has staged a comeback!
The RSS, since its inception, has been the arch enemy of the national-Left movements. What it hated more intensely than the British colonial power were the Communists and the people belonging to other religions. Fascist tendency is an innate quality of such an organisation, born out of a spirit of Hindu nationalism and a deep-seated and intensely-felt nostalgia about the past. The nationalism it espoused as well as the patriotism it fostered was one that did not oppose either the British colonial administration or its exploitation. Its supporters, who have embraced the concept of a Hindu nation with greater fundamentalist fervour after Indepen-dence, will settle for nothing less than the formation of a Hindu Rashtra. It is against such a background that their championing of Hindu cultural nationalism should be assessed. A realisation that a political organ was essential for the fulfilment of their dream was what led to the founding of the Jana Sangh in 1952. Today, it goes by the name of the BJP. Precisely for this reason, it is foolish to see the RSS as entirely different from the BJP. Then and now, the RSS has always been antagonistic to all modern, secular, democratic systems and ways of life, built on values like equality, plurality and cultural diversity. Its chief slogans have lauded Hindu chauvinism and forward caste hegemony. Minorities are permitted to live within such a social system but only as long as they remain submissive to Hindu nationalism.
The Left cannot expect even this degree of charity towards it. Let us remember that, in this respect, the supporters of RSS have never been prepared for any compromise any time. Although they are not clones of the classical Fascist, they have been cast in the same smithy. Wasn’t that the reason why initially Mussolini and later Hitler became their admired heroes? How else can they be labelled if not as retrograde or counter-revolu-tionary powers? Just as Rome was not built in a day, the Hindu Rashtra of their dreams is not going to be the result of a day’s labour. Resistance towards it demands a long-term vigil because the idea of Hindu funda-mentalism has already struck deep roots in our society.
Let it not be forgotten that the Sangh Parivar draws its energy from a foolish belief in a spectacular and prestigious past of Hindu religion. The traction gained by such an ideology was what motived Prime Minister Narendra Modi to claim at the Indian Science Congress held recently, without any trace of embarrassment, that ancient India had mastered the technical know-how of plastic surgery and aviation. It is the self-same group that has proceeded to unleash Fascist programmes like attacks on minorities as well as Dalits, and demonetisation. We have not forgotten how Fascism had converted the whole world into a slaughter house. The Gujarat genocide and all that followed it are enough to alert us to the fact that modern Indian Fascism is taking the same route.
Look at the successful experiments that the Sangh Parivar conducted in its Hindutva laboratory during the first decade of the 21st century, using its political clout and organisational strength—the Gujarat genocide in 2002, and the attacks against Christian missionaries in Odisha that followed. Both were aimed at conveying a clear message to the minorities—if you wish to live in India, be submissive. The experiment conducted successfully in the subsequent years of the 21st century was the confluence of the corporate expansionist agenda and the Sangh’s Hindutva agenda. With Narendra Modi becoming the acknowledged symbol of this secret plan, the Sangh Parivar won a landslide victory in the general elections of 2014. This is not to say that the Congress Party, that had wielded Central power until then, had no hand in the phenomenon. The question that remains is: Can the democratic, secular parties of India, including the Left, use it as an excuse, and continue to permit the victorious march of the Sangh Parivar? This is the reason for reiterating the adage: Rome was not built in a day.
Today the concept of patriotism is being bandied about consciously to cover up all the administrative failures of the Modi Government. In this land, which has witnessed the birth of the world’s greatest nationalist, democratic leaders like Mahatma Gandhi and Pandit Jawaharlal Nehru, and courageous revolutio-naries like Bhagat Singh, is there anything more shameful than having its citizens taught what patriotism is by the likes of Narendra Modi and Amit Shah? The trump card of “patriotism” was played by the Sangh Parivar during the JNU incident, and thereafter from the “surgical strike” across the border to the recent demonetisation procedure. Things have come to such a pass that those who oppose the Modi Government’s incursions and lack of control are branded traitors.
In short, only a grand alliance of the Left and democratic movements, including the minorities and Dalits, can resist the racist, Fascist agenda of the Sangh Parivar today. Do we need to be told that resistance after the establishment of a thorough Fascist Government is utterly pointless? The Left parties should take the lead in continuing serious deliberations about such a political move, which is the need of the hour. This seems to be the import of Comrade Sudhakar Reddy’s argument.
The author is a former member, Kerala Public Service Commission and son of the late veteran Communist leader and freedom fighter, K. Madhavan, of Malabar.