Thursday, September 10, 2015

Hindus are locally organising outside the Sangh

"If “debate” with the Hindu side is what you want, it is they who are the ones to talk to." -- K. Elst
A serious drawback of this book is that it narrows its focus to the Sangh Parivar, all while announcing a treatment of the “Hindu Right”. Perhaps this was still passable in 2005, but anyone moderately informed about the ideological scene should know that it is not in 2015. At the mass level, scholars ought to have noticed that the Hindu self-defence network in West Bengal, Hindu Samhati, has been set up by a dissatisfied ex-Swayamsevak because the RSS was just not living up to its promises. The Sangh’s enemies, such as the editors of this book, portray it as a formidable Hindu force, but insiders know better. It might have number, and today it might even hold office, but its commitment to Hindu victory is wobbly and lackadaisical. More and more, Hindus are locally organising outside the Sangh. They even continue to do so now that “their” side is in power in Delhi and proving to be no more than time-servers. Mostly they are happy that Modi is at the helm, but for an actual Hindu dimension to politics, more will be needed.
While this trend is still marginal, it is already very visible on the media front, where Internet papers have become the arteries of new communities shedding the Sangh baggage and trying to serve the Hindu cause through new analyses: VijayVaani, India Facts, Hindu Human Rights, Swaraj, Bharat-Bharati, the India Inspires Foundation. These people have no power yet, but they do have ideas. More up-to-date and more aware of international trends in political thinking than the gerontocratic Sangh, their thought is far more interesting. It also is more rooted, more Hindu than the Hindutva current, which is stuck in the 1920s’ borrowed nationalist paradigm. If “debate” with the Hindu side is what you want, it is they who are the ones to talk to.
(The writer is a Belgian Indologist well-known for his contributions to the debates on Ayodhya and on the Aryan Homeland)
The Hindu‎ - Is Hindu nationalism a viable project? This is not an idle question, for the Prime Minister calls himself a Hindu ... Mukul transforms his historical chronicle of a single religious press into a magisterial account of the socio-cultural, economic and human forces at play in the politics of Hindutva...
This raises an obvious question: what if secularism as an alternative political platform to Hindutva has run its course, as it indisputably has, for instance, in Gujarat?
In such a scenario, the way forward for anyone hoping to save India’s tattered secular fabric from being torn to shreds by Hindu majoritarianism would be to make the non-dvijas — the OBCs and Dalits, who together constitute 60 per cent of the population — impervious to a supremacist ideology that seeks to foster a synthetic Hindu pride by positing select religious minorities as inferior to the lowest of the Hindus in the social order of the varna system.
But this is only possible through social empowerment and visible economic advancement of a great number of Dalits and OBCs, so that there is no basis left for a sense of caste-based superiority. Of course, it is easier said than done.
What is politically rational could seem socially quixotic as a project, despite the fact that secularism has no dearth of upper caste flag-bearers. History is yet to provide a single instance of a dominant social group that voluntarily ceded its power or privileges. If kshatriya-brahmin hegemony characterised the subcontinent’s social order till the advent of British colonialism, then bania-brahmin hegemony is equally a marker of contemporary India. But thanks to democracy, however flawed, and a socially progressive Constitution, this hegemony, compared to those of the past, is more vulnerable to being challenged, and therefore weaker.
The pages of Gita Press make it abundantly clear that no accommodation is possible between Hindutva and democracy, or between Hindutva and equality. But the battle for secularism cannot be won without first addressing the reality of caste, for it is the virus behind the pathology of Hindutva. To what extent democracy can unhinge caste hegemonies is, of course, one of the more intriguing narratives of modern India.
Savitri Era of those who adore, Om Sri Aurobindo & The Mother.

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