This post has been self-published on Youth Ki Awaaz by Kshitij Dhyani. Just like them, anyone can publish on Youth Ki Awaaz.

The Sangh Doesn’t Work Like ISIL Or Taliban, But Here’s What It Has In Common With Both

More from Kshitij Dhyani

By Kshitij Dhyani

Babri-MosqueSixth of December was observed as a day in remembrance of the demolition of a 16th-century structure, namely Babri Masjid, in 1992 by radical Hindu Kar-Sevaks allegedly led by L.K. Advani. While the political reactions ranged from mourning by certain Muslim groups to concern over the destruction of national heritage by historians, and cognizance of the event as a national tragedy by certain liberal think tanks on one hand, members, and affiliates of the Sangh Parivar are said to have celebrated it as annual “Shaurya Divas”. There is no denying the fact that the event and resulting riots set in motion a chain of communal hatred based acts, the effects of which can still be felt in contemporary Indian politics. This extremely polarised public opinion can’t simply be understood in black and white terms as a Hindu-Muslim conflict, but a manifestation of the Sangh’s strategy of identity politics in its full glory. This complex politically motivated communal/cultural supremacist attitude quite alarmingly resonates with what certain Raj-era Muslim leaders like Jinnah expected from the Hindus of an independent India towards Muslims while propagating the two-nation theory. Hence, it is safe to say that quite ironically, despite whatever may be said in an explicit manner through the mouthpieces of the Sangh, they have done the most to prove such leaders right.

Need For Embracing Complex Thought System

To understand the need for an attitude of nuanced thinking towards political issues, let’s take the example of the ISIL or Daesh. Currently, over 60 countries are at war in various capacities with it, and still it continues to survive, planning to expand its mission in other Asian countries as far as India and Myanmar. Every few days since its first attack, we hear of a new country joining in the war against Daesh, and we sit back hoping it to be the end of this monstrosity. But then we hear of events such as Paris attacks and are forced to question whether it is ever possible to kill this savage machine. This perhaps is the time when we should ask ourselves if there is something wrong with our approach towards fighting a war which is essentially ideological.

In my opinion, if the phenomenon of birth, spread, and functioning of Daesh is not recognized as the final failure of a simplistic and reductionist modernist thought, where machines and technology can triumph and lead human nature, then we will never be able to establish peace in the perennially war-struck Middle East. Daesh is not just a geographical-political boundary, but an ideological (with physical implications) response to ages of discourse on various issues (mostly catastrophic human rights blunders). We need to deconstruct the birth and rise of Daesh and arrive at a dense but nuanced, workable grey area, as against black and white, us vs them rhetoric of the western world towards the Middle East. Failing this, even if we eradicate its top leaders, we can expect the rise of another extremist group from, just as ISIL rose after Al Qaeda was considered to have been dealt a blow following the death of Osama Bin Laden.

To understand the need for the rejection of simplistic modernist approach for a nuanced and complex thinking, there can perhaps be no other testing ground, more complicated than the socio-political environment of India. Numerous cultural, regional, linguistic, communal, and gender-related identities crushed into the geopolitical notion of a nation and forced to share space with varying degrees of conflicts and resolutions. Where issues can never be solved but only bargained for more manageable ones, the trade off being negotiated through multiple layers of socio-economic power-relationships between various demographic groups. Thus, India’s politics is a nightmare for a unilaterally thinking modernist.

The Sangh Strategy And Absence Of Hindu Rashtra

Let’s talk about the politics around the identities of things that do not exist in their physical form anymore, or are identified by their absence. Though Sangh has been repeatedly compared to the likes of ISIL and Taliban, I think these comparisons are gross exaggerations due to the incomparability of influence they command and put into operation. However, a comparison can be drawn in the cognizance taken by both groups of the contemporary world as incomplete due to the lack of dominance of their favourite ideology over its workings. Another is active participation in the construction of respective identities of a true religious warrior by both, an exploited underdog on a mission to restore the ‘lost’ glory of the historical rule they preach to be ideal.

An activist from the hardline Hindu group Bajrang Dal, attends a protest rally in the northern Indian city of Lucknow September 12, 2007. Thousands of activists gathered on Wednesday to take part in a nation wide protest rally against the controversial project to carve a shipping channel in seas off the Indian south coast despite protests by religious groups who say it will destroy a mythical bridge of sand made by a Hindu god. REUTERS/Pawan Kumar (INDIA) - RTR1TR6H
Image source: REUTERS/Pawan Kumar

For example, the construction of identity for a Hindu Nationalist as curated by Sangh for over a century has not only the presence of current geopolitical boundary of India at its core but also the absence of what they project as not only the ‘lost’ but also ‘snatched’. The lost civilization (Sanatan Dharma), the lost land (Akhand Bharat), the lost glory (a la- Sone ki Chidia), the lost dominance (Hindu Rashtra), the lost knowledge (Vedanta) etc. which are not lost forever, but temporarily dislocated from the accessibility zone in the mind-space of a ‘victim Hindu’, into the possession of an ‘invader Muslim’ (or often even a westerner), waiting to be restored to their original ‘rightful’ position by the dishonored Hindu underdog through reestablishment of cultural supremacy.

This sense of loss or absence and an urgent need for their revivalist restoration lies in the foundation of this identity. It is preached that there was something that we owned and that which belonged to us, in the form of heritage and property fundamental to our identity as Indians, which has been unjustly taken away from us. Thus arises, the need to enforce a blanket Hindu narrative on our history, starting from the Indus Valley Civilization, even though most of it doesn’t even lie within the current political boundary of India. For the lack of an actual Hindu dominant history, rulers like Shivaji and Ashoka from past are revised-revamped and re-appropriated through manufactured history to be presented as “Hindu Hridaya Samrats“, a title they then proceed to embellish their contemporary leaders with, evoking the promise of reestablishment of “Ram Rajya” (or a Hindu dominant society). The purpose is to manufacture the identity of a victimized Hindu, through the Indigenous Hindu vs Muslim Mughal Invader narrative, a systematic us vs them approach to “other” non-aligned.

So strong is the need to feel the aggression for re-establishment, that in the absence of pre-independence RSS leaders who dared or cared to fight against the British Raj, Sangh has now started reclaiming the freedom fighters and other leaders who were ideologically their polar opposites. The nuances of actual historical events and phenomenon are thus suppressed, lied about, or ignored, through an army of Hindutva-wadi right-wing ideologues, the likes of Dinanath Batra and P.N. Oak. Even though their research and academic accomplishments are questionable, anyone disagreeing with them is branded and subsequently rejected as a seditionist and threatened to be silenced through violence or exile to Pakistan, a lost land of the treacherous.

Of Development And Destruction

It is from observation in recent political events that we can say with reasonable certainty, that the feeling of loss is not easily curable, even if it is borne out of merely renaming exercises, e.g. conflict over renaming of a road in Delhi and nostalgia driven feeling of disassociation of some Mumbaikars from the current name of their beloved city of ‘Bombay‘. Sangh Parivar has quite opportunistically used this feeling of collateral loss to fuel hatred towards Islam, since during British Raj certain leaders of the community spoke for the partition while comfortably ignoring the ones who spoke against it.

This irrepressible pain of the lost land from our emotional-physical mind space is used as a perennial source of emotional political agendas. This pain is however not completely incurable, and thus, the muscle flexing Sangh oriented Indian harbors wet-dreams of a strong leader who takes an aggressively defensive and combative attitude towards border policies, perhaps often even expansive ones, especially towards Pakistan. It is thus that the position of this ‘Lauh Purush‘ or ‘Iron-Man’ is unquestionable, display of any dissent towards whom is equated with sedition.

Anger of such a historically ignorant and emotionally vulnerable average Indian Hindu is directed towards a generation of an otherness towards our own Muslim population, continuously demanding the proof of their patriotism, from standing up for National Anthem to showing support for the national cricket team.

Post 9/11, the world’s political climate started gaining an anti-Islamic orientation, and internet was saturated with this sentiment, and the youth discovering this new exciting tool for communication was suddenly exposed to it. The Sangh quite opportunistically used the phenomenon to draw its parallel with numerous external and internal conflicts, attacks, wars, and communal riots we faced in India, invoking the need in Indian Hindus to teach Muslims a lesson by copying what the USA did in Afghanistan and other Middle-Eastern Muslim majority countries. This tide of hateful attitude, otherness, and us vs them narrative towards our Muslim population, resting on a feeling of self-victimization borne out of an urgency towards the restoration of the ‘lost’, was rebranded as the ‘Modi-wave‘, mixed with a rehashed version of ‘India Shining’ as ‘Vikas-model’, and was quite predictably ridden to a landslide victory for BJP in 2014 elections.

Also read: Amidst The Intolerance Debate, How The Sangh Is Trying To Create An Ideal Minority Citizen

You must be to comment.
  1. Srinivas

    JNU? Is it true you guys actually have samples of Nehru's fart for doses of inspiration?

  2. lalat

    the ISIS is not against the human rights violations. it is to establish a Islamic caliphate. don't be a adarsh-liberal by justifying the ISIS. you Marxists are out of date with reasons. go n get some baby food for urself .

  3. Srinivas

    If P.NOak's research is questionable, I am guessing your inspirational “historian” must be Romila Thapar, the leftist bitch. And I like how you take a subtle potshot at “Lahu Purush”, you won't want to be seen making fun of Sardar Patel, without whom there wouldn't have been an India, at least in the current shape. There is this video on YouTube from Subrahmanian Swamy that explains why Nehru clan is wary and jealous of any leader that originates from Gujarat. From Sardar Patel to Morarji Desai, all the way to NaMo. They all get your goat, don't they?
    You guys need to come clear on who is funding you.. Is it Pappu? Once that asshole goes to jail, you guys will be in deep shit. I am guessing there will be some hemming, hawing and ass licking of major proportions

More from Kshitij Dhyani

Similar Posts

By Apurv Raj

By Sadan Khan

By Amal Chandra

Wondering what to write about?

Here are some topics to get you started

Share your details to download the report.









We promise not to spam or send irrelevant information.

Share your details to download the report.









We promise not to spam or send irrelevant information.

An ambassador and trained facilitator under Eco Femme (a social enterprise working towards menstrual health in south India), Sanjina is also an active member of the MHM Collective- India and Menstrual Health Alliance- India. She has conducted Menstrual Health sessions in multiple government schools adopted by Rotary District 3240 as part of their WinS project in rural Bengal. She has also delivered training of trainers on SRHR, gender, sexuality and Menstruation for Tomorrow’s Foundation, Vikramshila Education Resource Society, Nirdhan trust and Micro Finance, Tollygunj Women In Need, Paint It Red in Kolkata.

Now as an MH Fellow with YKA, she’s expanding her impressive scope of work further by launching a campaign to facilitate the process of ensuring better menstrual health and SRH services for women residing in correctional homes in West Bengal. The campaign will entail an independent study to take stalk of the present conditions of MHM in correctional homes across the state and use its findings to build public support and political will to take the necessary action.

Saurabh has been associated with YKA as a user and has consistently been writing on the issue MHM and its intersectionality with other issues in the society. Now as an MHM Fellow with YKA, he’s launched the Right to Period campaign, which aims to ensure proper execution of MHM guidelines in Delhi’s schools.

The long-term aim of the campaign is to develop an open culture where menstruation is not treated as a taboo. The campaign also seeks to hold the schools accountable for their responsibilities as an important component in the implementation of MHM policies by making adequate sanitation infrastructure and knowledge of MHM available in school premises.

Read more about his campaign.

Harshita is a psychologist and works to support people with mental health issues, particularly adolescents who are survivors of violence. Associated with the Azadi Foundation in UP, Harshita became an MHM Fellow with YKA, with the aim of promoting better menstrual health.

Her campaign #MeriMarzi aims to promote menstrual health and wellness, hygiene and facilities for female sex workers in UP. She says, “Knowledge about natural body processes is a very basic human right. And for individuals whose occupation is providing sexual services, it becomes even more important.”

Meri Marzi aims to ensure sensitised, non-discriminatory health workers for the needs of female sex workers in the Suraksha Clinics under the UPSACS (Uttar Pradesh State AIDS Control Society) program by creating more dialogues and garnering public support for the cause of sex workers’ menstrual rights. The campaign will also ensure interventions with sex workers to clear misconceptions around overall hygiene management to ensure that results flow both ways.

Read more about her campaign.

MH Fellow Sabna comes with significant experience working with a range of development issues. A co-founder of Project Sakhi Saheli, which aims to combat period poverty and break menstrual taboos, Sabna has, in the past, worked on the issue of menstruation in urban slums of Delhi with women and adolescent girls. She and her team also released MenstraBook, with menstrastories and organised Menstra Tlk in the Delhi School of Social Work to create more conversations on menstruation.

With YKA MHM Fellow Vineet, Sabna launched Menstratalk, a campaign that aims to put an end to period poverty and smash menstrual taboos in society. As a start, the campaign aims to begin conversations on menstrual health with five hundred adolescents and youth in Delhi through offline platforms, and through this community mobilise support to create Period Friendly Institutions out of educational institutes in the city.

Read more about her campaign. 

A student from Delhi School of Social work, Vineet is a part of Project Sakhi Saheli, an initiative by the students of Delhi school of Social Work to create awareness on Menstrual Health and combat Period Poverty. Along with MHM Action Fellow Sabna, Vineet launched Menstratalk, a campaign that aims to put an end to period poverty and smash menstrual taboos in society.

As a start, the campaign aims to begin conversations on menstrual health with five hundred adolescents and youth in Delhi through offline platforms, and through this community mobilise support to create Period Friendly Institutions out of educational institutes in the city.

Find out more about the campaign here.

A native of Bhagalpur district – Bihar, Shalini Jha believes in equal rights for all genders and wants to work for a gender-equal and just society. In the past she’s had a year-long association as a community leader with Haiyya: Organise for Action’s Health Over Stigma campaign. She’s pursuing a Master’s in Literature with Ambedkar University, Delhi and as an MHM Fellow with YKA, recently launched ‘Project अल्हड़ (Alharh)’.

She says, “Bihar is ranked the lowest in India’s SDG Index 2019 for India. Hygienic and comfortable menstruation is a basic human right and sustainable development cannot be ensured if menstruators are deprived of their basic rights.” Project अल्हड़ (Alharh) aims to create a robust sensitised community in Bhagalpur to collectively spread awareness, break the taboo, debunk myths and initiate fearless conversations around menstruation. The campaign aims to reach at least 6000 adolescent girls from government and private schools in Baghalpur district in 2020.

Read more about the campaign here.

A psychologist and co-founder of a mental health NGO called Customize Cognition, Ritika forayed into the space of menstrual health and hygiene, sexual and reproductive healthcare and rights and gender equality as an MHM Fellow with YKA. She says, “The experience of working on MHM/SRHR and gender equality has been an enriching and eye-opening experience. I have learned what’s beneath the surface of the issue, be it awareness, lack of resources or disregard for trans men, who also menstruate.”

The Transmen-ses campaign aims to tackle the issue of silence and disregard for trans men’s menstruation needs, by mobilising gender sensitive health professionals and gender neutral restrooms in Lucknow.

Read more about the campaign here.

A Computer Science engineer by education, Nitisha started her career in the corporate sector, before realising she wanted to work in the development and social justice space. Since then, she has worked with Teach For India and Care India and is from the founding batch of Indian School of Development Management (ISDM), a one of its kind organisation creating leaders for the development sector through its experiential learning post graduate program.

As a Youth Ki Awaaz Menstrual Health Fellow, Nitisha has started Let’s Talk Period, a campaign to mobilise young people to switch to sustainable period products. She says, “80 lakh women in Delhi use non-biodegradable sanitary products, generate 3000 tonnes of menstrual waste, that takes 500-800 years to decompose; which in turn contributes to the health issues of all menstruators, increased burden of waste management on the city and harmful living environment for all citizens.

Let’s Talk Period aims to change this by

Find out more about her campaign here.

Share your details to download the report.









We promise not to spam or send irrelevant information.

A former Assistant Secretary with the Ministry of Women and Child Development in West Bengal for three months, Lakshmi Bhavya has been championing the cause of menstrual hygiene in her district. By associating herself with the Lalana Campaign, a holistic menstrual hygiene awareness campaign which is conducted by the Anahat NGO, Lakshmi has been slowly breaking taboos when it comes to periods and menstrual hygiene.

A Gender Rights Activist working with the tribal and marginalized communities in india, Srilekha is a PhD scholar working on understanding body and sexuality among tribal girls, to fill the gaps in research around indigenous women and their stories. Srilekha has worked extensively at the grassroots level with community based organisations, through several advocacy initiatives around Gender, Mental Health, Menstrual Hygiene and Sexual and Reproductive Health Rights (SRHR) for the indigenous in Jharkhand, over the last 6 years.

Srilekha has also contributed to sustainable livelihood projects and legal aid programs for survivors of sex trafficking. She has been conducting research based programs on maternal health, mental health, gender based violence, sex and sexuality. Her interest lies in conducting workshops for young people on life skills, feminism, gender and sexuality, trauma, resilience and interpersonal relationships.

A Guwahati-based college student pursuing her Masters in Tata Institute of Social Sciences, Bidisha started the #BleedwithDignity campaign on the technology platform Change.org, demanding that the Government of Assam install
biodegradable sanitary pad vending machines in all government schools across the state. Her petition on Change.org has already gathered support from over 90000 people and continues to grow.

Bidisha was selected in Change.org’s flagship program ‘She Creates Change’ having run successful online advocacy
campaigns, which were widely recognised. Through the #BleedwithDignity campaign; she organised and celebrated World Menstrual Hygiene Day, 2019 in Guwahati, Assam by hosting a wall mural by collaborating with local organisations. The initiative was widely covered by national and local media, and the mural was later inaugurated by the event’s chief guest Commissioner of Guwahati Municipal Corporation (GMC) Debeswar Malakar, IAS.

Sign up for the Youth Ki Awaaz Prime Ministerial Brief below