Indian Liberals take a confused position in politics

Radhakanta Barik

Pratap Bhanu Mehta in his article A wrong diagnosis: in the post mortem of secularism, we are hand wringing over religion, missing the real crisis” in Indian Express (August 11) questioned the left's understanding of the religion and tradition. They do not hold any brief for anybody. Their view of religion specifically in a multi religious society like ours is what liberal view of religion that it is a private affair and state does not need to intervene in it unless it creates a law and order problem. The laws of Indian state mostly prepared by the colonial administration deals any religious procession under the CRP for maintaining law and order without affecting anybody or any community. Yes, in the political parties left run they take this view but exception that an individual in the left is free to practice his or her religion without harming any other community. Then Mehta questions that Indian secularists do not understand the role of tradition which needs probing by us. Tradition in a family or community can vary but secularists do not avoid it but allow the tradition to sustain or go for reform. That tradition of women not going for schools has changed over time. Today nobody opposes it or tradition obstructs it. Tradition of learning is there among women whereas in many small communities such as Marwaris do not allow their women to enter into job market. But tradition needs to be reinterpreted as there is no tradition of worshiping of Ram in Odisha and Bengal and but the Hindutva forces are trying to introduce this into local tradition by building the ram and hanuman temple in various parts of Odisha. Giving a new interpretation to Jagannatha as the Ram but it does not explain the originality of tradition. There are many traditions and a tradition can be added to the tradition of puja in Odisha and Bengal. Politics of Jai Shri Ram is different from the puja of Ram and that they are moving in the streets and extorting money from the rich and traders in the name of Jai Shri Ram and they can attack the minorities by raising the slogan but in reality they practice the element of intolerance against different religious groups with the help of police. Politics of Hindutva needs to be placed in the context of attacking the minorities and secular people by terrorizing them.

Mehta speaks in an illiberal voice after writing last week a beautiful piece on Ram. As he agrees to Yogendra that it is the approach of secularism by Indian people have resulted the Ram Mandir. Indian secular have evolved over so many centuries from Ashoka to Akbar to today's leaders all agree that religion does not have a place in works related to state. At the same time each maintains his religious belief as Ashok a Buddhist, Akabar a Muslim all allowed diverse points of view given by different religions. Nehru an atheist maintains that without interfering anybody's religious belief. Atheism is as old as Hinduism in Indian society. Centuries old which is being practiced by many.  Indira Gandhi pursues her religious belief like spiritualism of Krishnamurti on whose advice she withdrew the emergency and lost the election in 1977. Rajiv Gandhi has no such religious predilections but under the pressures from his close friends such as Arun Nehru he advised the opening of Babri Masjid. But real issue is not that the BJP as a party took the issue of the Ram Mandir in 1989 went on campaigning in a rath which experienced a large scale communal riot. This is politics of Hindutva which has resulted in a judgment of Ram Mandir in the court as interpreted as the  favour of Modi. Modi a loser on economic and political front suddenly went there and spoke of the liberation of India just before August 15, Independence Day. This dialogue has a prompting from the Gujarati industrialists. When the corporate houses sponsor the Ram Mandir one can imagine what is going to happen to an ordinary citizen who spends hardly any time for religious activity. Secularism has only one definition that religion is a private affair whereas the state has no role in any religious world. Mehta some years back after Modi came to power in his lecture in Jaipur says that secularism does not have any place in Indian public life. He is reaffirming today in his article in Indian Express whereas Indian people suffer because they have no time for religious work. They are facing the attacks from the Hindutva forces as cow vigilantes or Jai Shri Ram or VIshwa Hindu Parisad which claims as the custodians of Hindu religion. They want to give a Semitic view of Hinduism which resulted in campaigning the Ram Mandir and his birth place in Ayodhya. They have a poor sense of history that there are three hundred Ramayanas which get interpreted by each community and group in a different manner which cannot disappear just because of the construction of the Ram Mandir at Ayodhya.

 Ram Guha's article in Indian Express tells the institutional decay under Modi regime, specifically the decaying of the highest judiciary. He finds the roots of decay during the previous regimes which is not true. Mrs Indira Gandhi lost in Allahabad high court which explains her non manipulation of the judiciary. Modi is destroying the public Institutions for establishing fascism in India. This is a critical point he has ignored in his article. When Hitler came to power in a province he wanted the support of army, police, bureaucracy but police commissioner refused to obey him. Here in the case of Delhi listen to the music of police commissioner to the tune of Modi.

 Dissent is the essence of democracy said by the senior most Judge Chandrachud. Today is the sad day for twit a senior most lawyer Prasant Bhusan has been punished on contempt of court. This action by the Supreme Court reduced the constitutional position of the court for defense of human rights.

whenever the BJP enters into a new area they claim that they will bring growth and development into this area. They will speak of double engine growth in that area. But in terms of Human development Index the Kashmir is much ahead of Gujarat the model state of Hindutva rule. In terms of education Kashmir is ahead of Gujarat. In terms access to health services Kashmir is much more ahead to Gujarat. In terms of number of BPL families Kashmir has the lowest in comparison to Gujarat and other BJP ruled states. While I was conducting a study on Kashmir regarding Public Distribution System I found that all citizens are under the food security system as destitute on the street get their quota under the Arnpurna project. Food is reaching every village in Kashmir. Furthermore, an additional information regarding the PDS of Kashmir I found that in pre-British rule when Ranjit Singh was ruling Kashmir he introduced the Public Distribution System for providing food security to people of Kashmir. The present system of food security coverage is an extension of the old system of Ranjit Singh.

"India's GDP is expected to shrink by at least five per cent. There is a fear that we may even reach the lowest GDP (growth) since independence, since 1947," Murthy said. He is the leading industrialist whose opinion needs to be taken seriously. He is a son of a school teacher and with a team of IIT engineers who created a leading company which in Modi's words "atmanirvar". This brings out the truth that after Modi came back to power because of his poor handling of the economy which has resulted in decline in growth rate. The poor management of Covid 19 has made the unemployment the highest in the post Independent India. All these facts should have been placed while survey conducted by the India Today which created a myth that Modi is the top leader in India.

From 1992 UP is being troubled by the fundamentalist forces. They have mobilized people in the name of the Ram Mandir and Masjid. This politics has brought a new group into our political world they are the Babas and Mahantas. UP had only one industrial town Kanpur reduced to dustbin where they organised communal politics. These groups are against modernist and scientific thinking. According to Professor Alagh, a leading economist that UP has no industrial growth nor agricultural growth only population growth which is sitting on a volcano which can explode at any moment. Today Babas led by Yogi as the chief minister is ready to serve the cows not human beings. Let human beings die in the hospital in his home town. They have given the projects to IITs to do research on cow dung and cow urine not on health or medicine. They have combined technology with Hindutva a beautiful blending. This has brought to a dismal situation that in Yogi's home town 30 children died without oxygen. Congratulations to Yogi and Modi both represent UP.

Today the majoritarianism is not the same thing as majority in politics. Modi after getting elected to the Lok Sabha for the second time with the majority of seats  is trying hard in creating a majoritarian state. This is the content of his speech in laying the foundation of Ram Mandir that August 5 needs to be celebration as a liberation day rather than August 15 as Independence day which brought all social groups and communities and ethnic groups together in fighting against imperialism. Here the articulation of Majoritarianism is the expression of fascism in Indian politics.  It is right on the part of Rahat Indori questioned their majoritiarianism in Indian politics.

Rahat Indori Saab is gone but he gave us a line that will forever remain etched in our minds
KISI KE BAAP KA HINDUSTAN THODI HAI. This statement threatens the patriarchal and masochistic ideology of Hindutva and the RSS that India remains for such people not others. At the partition time this question raised by Rahi Masoom Raza a popular Urdu writer that his home district "Gazipur is his place" no Pakistan. This is a tradition which has built around people of India that India belongs to all whatever religion or ethnicity or caste one belongs. Raza who wrote the script of Mahabharata gave a democratic content to it unlike the Ramayana. When the issue of Ram Mandir vs Babri Masjid came up in politics he raised a voice that 'bombard it". Remembering Rahat Indori I have written a poem given below:

(Rahat Indori)
On a Sunday he disappeared
Facebook is full of his poems and memories
He writes a poem on Corona
“Again in the morning there is mourning in every nook and corner
How many corpses will come to my house along with the news paper?”
Roads of Indore got desolate
In solitude he disappeared
When people think of the deaths in their city
This is the greatest death
It shocked every body
The whole world mourns for his death
He is a poet of Malwa
He breathes the air of the region
He lives there
He teaches and runs his scholarly works
He sings in Musshaira
He turns into people’s poet
This is the place of M F Hussain and Lata Mangeshkar
To the list of these famous people another poet gets added
From Rahat Quereshi to Rahat Indori
Whatever the best of the city gets merged with his poetry
Malwa is the region of forts and temples and Mosques and Buddhist stups
It is the most fertile land
The fertility of land goes with the fertility of minds
Poets like Kalidas to Indori all speak the language of people
There is a place near Mandsour fort
Where young and old come to create a voice
This echoes in the hills and ravines
People enjoy their voice
Here Indori ‘s voice creates an echo in minds of hearts of millions
This voice is audible to a far off place
From Mumbai to Delhi
From Chennai to Calcutta
These cities have love for poetry
They enjoy the poetry and Mushaira
Poets write for their pleasure
They express their emotions
Their feelings
They enjoy those poems which people share
He writes poem that is his creation
His creations stand like fort and Museums
People look for his poetry
He writes a poem
Regarding the attacks by some on Muslims
“Sabhi Ka Khoonhai shaamil yahan ki mitti mein,
Kisi ka baap ka Hindutstan thodi hai.”
He expresses his universal feelings about human being
Without bothering of any religious group
Without hurting any sentiment of any group
This is the place their homes stand
Their parents were born
Their people die and each death adds to the fertility of land
This land is their favourite land
They are like birds from Caspian lake
From far off places
Come every year in winter to settle on the same tree and same branches
This is the universal feelings of any living thing
He expresses in his poetry
No poets write for the politics and for revolution
But revolutionaries can recite these poems
This poem becomes a hit song for the young and old
Women and men
In their fight against the CAA
“Kisi ka baap ka Hindustan thodi Hai “
This sentence will create an echo in million hearts
Till human being lives here
The soil has a smell
It has its beauty
It mesmerizes the poets and writers
They produce poems and stories
They draw paintings
They sing songs
Who can stop them to do so?
This is his or her freedom
Indori goes at 70
A young man at 70
Dances and acts while singing Mushaira
He disappears on Sunday
When whole India is mourning for the deaths of Corona.
That morning news paper brings many deaths including his own death
in a difficult time but hope of united India under a progressive secular constitution still is there.

Remembering Indori Saab and his contribution to create those powerful words to be remembered by all us forever.

Prof Radhakanta Barik (retd), Indian Institute of Public Administration, New Delhi

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Aug 16, 2020

Prof. Radhakanta Barik

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