The World Is Watching

Of Politics and Activism

Dilip Simeon

The young protestors of today, as well as those who might be confused by the propaganda of the Modi regime should know there are thousands of Goebells in the administration and the Media. It is necessary to see how ill-informed, illogical and deceitful this propaganda is, because it is being propagated by responsible persons bent upon creating more tension in Indian society. High officials of state do not normally create hatred among those who have given them a mandate to rule. But that is what people have come to expect from this government. This is the most cruel, deceitful and brutal government of India. And they mistake their cleverness for wisdom.

In the year 1968, there was another worldwide uprising. One slogan from the Berkeley campus remains relevant even today: If you don't like the news go out and make some of your own. The current upsurge in India is the biggest since 1974; and it also resonates with a mass movement for action on global warming, for democracy and human rights everywhere. All political action is not submerged in issues of identity—there are other movements too. Hong Kong and the Climate Strike, for example. For one thing the HK popular protest has faced off a totalitarian regime.

The politics that seek to play upon the worst human instincts, toward blind hatred and prejudice—are leading people toward extinction. Not toward military glory, nor national greatness, but massive pollution of water, soil and air, death and destruction. Give it up, it will not lead to a future, but only darkness.

The Gujarat CM's observations illuminates the Sangh Parivar's view of the world: nations are identified by religion, and anyone of xyz religion can or will be at home in a country whose religion is the same as theirs. This is nonsense, and flies against political reality. Would a Christian from Nigeria be at home in say, Mexico (presuming he/she were allowed to come and camp there)? Why has the Trump administration debarred immigrants from Latin American countries (most of whom must have been Christians) from seeking refugee in the USA? Is the UK's choice of Brexit an example of Christian solidarity? Doesn't it indicate that languages and cultures are more important determinants of nationality than religion?

If there was any Islamic religious solidarity, why would the Turkish government ruthlessly oppress Kurds? Why would the Kurdish resistance fight against ISIS? Why has the Saudi government launched a bloody war against Yemen? Are all these countries' borders open to any Muslim from anywhere? Why are there 2.3 million Hindus in the USA? Why has the Hindu share of the US population doubled in 10 years?

The utterances of saffron leaders have reached the depths of vulgarity and shamelessness. They regularly refer to members of religious minorities (especially Muslims) and all those who criticise or oppose them as sub-humans. The Home Minister of India referred to illegal migrants as termites during this year's election campaign (he was then president of the BJP). The BJP Gujarat Secretary refers to opponents of the CAB as insects. This kind of language is typical Nazis and racists.

Prime Minister can recognise protestors by their dress (when there are lakhs of demonstrators who cannot be identified by appearance, and many of them are non-Muslims). Why have they lost all shame? Why have they discarded even the pretence of decency? Is this the Sangh Parivar's, preferred culture? Is this the civilisational revival that appeals to their followers?

It is blatantly false to say the people cannot be victims of persecution if they share a religion with the oppressors. Pakistan's history of full of examples of its government persecuting Pakistani Muslims—the prime example being the run-up to the emergence of Bangladesh. Were not East Pakistanis (both Muslim and Hindu) murdered in thousands by the Pak military? Did not the Khalistanis murder Sikhs who opposed their politics? Was not Mahatma Gandhi murdered by a Hindutva fanatic whom some of the Sangh Parivar still revere as a great patriot?

Nations cannot be identified by the religious affiliation of their citizens. The UK is headed toward break-up because sooner or later, Scotland will attain independence; and Northern Ireland will merge with the Irish Republic. Christianity will not keep the UK united, just as Islam could not keep Pakistan united. The Tsarist Empire of the 19th century was held together not by religion but by loyalty to the Tsar. After its mid-century decline evident in the Crimean War, the government adopted the policy of Russification; meant to impose Russian language and Orthodox Christianity upon the peoples of the multi-ethnic empire. This attempt signified an internal weakness, and led to greater tensions, which ended in the collapse of the Empire in 1917.

Any attempt to impose religious homogeneity as a determinant of Indian citizenship, and political uniformity upon Hindus to satisfy the moronic Utopia of the RSS is bound to lead to social and political disintegration (the real tukde-tukde gang are the people in power). The Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS) says it considers the entire Indian population to be Hindu: suppose all are not agreeable to this definition, then what follows? Violence and intimidation (note the tone of ownership)? Why should one love only India's forests and rivers and not the Amazon, the Pacific and the Arctic, all of which are in terrible danger from global warming? Is there Hindu air, Hindu water, Hindu earth? Why do you persist with this nonsense when the earth is on fire? One cannot nationalise God. Neither can one nationalise the air, the oceans, and time itself-and people are running out of all three. India does not need to follow the (failed) European concept of homogeneous nation-states.

Aside from arguments about identity, one should consider this: in a country where corruption is so widespread, at all levels, imagine what will happen when millions of poor people are asked to produce documentation of presidency etc. The whole scheme will become a sinkhole or corruption, nay, extortion. In addition, it will become the Indian version of Pakistan's infamous blasphemy law: once someone is accused of being an infiltrator, their life will be in ruins. All this leads one to think about the motives of the government. Why have they done this?

And their hatred of criticism is glaring. In September last year, Mr Modi went to the USA and shouted "Abkibaar Trump Sarkar" at a rally; but at home, a German student is asked to leave the country for holding up a poster.

A cautionary word: do not let 'isms', icons and partisan loyalty hinder united action. There are bound to be differences about capitalism and caste, community and gender. Bhagat Singh, Ambedkar, Gandhi, Nehru, Subhas Bose etc., were great personages, but no one is or was infallible. Democracy and socio-economic reforms are for living people, not those who have gone.

[Dilip Simeon, formerly taught history at Ramjas College in Delhi, and is presently visiting faculty at Ashoka University, Sonepat]

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Vol. 52, No. 34, Feb 23 - 29, 2020