Shambhu Lal And The Way Ahead: Dealing With Hindutva Created Cultural Panic

Posted by Vipul Gupta in Politics, Staff Picks
December 10, 2017

According to Wikipedia, love has a simple meaning – a variety of different emotional and mental states, typically strongly and positively experienced, that ranges from deepest interpersonal affection to simple pleasure. On the contrary, ‘Jihad’, a completely unrelatable term has a series of contextual meanings, ranging from ‘struggling with a praiseworthy aim’ to ‘one’s struggle against their evil inclinations’ and even ‘war’.

But unlike ‘love’ and ‘Jihad’, “Love Jihad”- a phrase probably coined by Indians, or to be politically correct – by supporters of Hindutva, implies Muslim men seducing Hindu girls into Islam through marriages. While many discard it as a political conspiracy forged to create a moral and cultural panic, some still believe it to be as real as ISIS. Rajasthan’s Shambhu being one of them.

What’s more important here is not its meaning or acceptance but the sentiment associated with it. The sentiment of containing the Muslim population which rose marginally from 13.43% to 14.23% in a decade following 2001, the sentiment of undoing Gandhi’s “so-called” mistakes of not surrendering to the demands of the RSS, i.e, declaring India a Hindu state the same way Jinnah declared Pakistan an Islamic state and the most radical of these sentiments results in the use of hate and panic creating tools like Love Jihad, cow vigilantism and certification of nationalism.

RSS today has many such tools available with them to make both political and demographic advances in favour of a Hindu state. These tools partially worked in British India with Jinnah asking for a partition on the basis of religion but didn’t work fully due to Gandhi’s non-acceptance of India as a Hindu state. In today’s time when RSS’s BJP has commendable political power, they are back on track.

But what even they didn’t expect is India’s soft response to their agenda. India is taking their agenda so well that it has even accepted a saffron laden chief minister, a leader who indeed openly says India can’t be secular and has to be a Hindu state. And what perhaps comes as a moral and ideological victory to them are incidents of blind hate; people literally using axes to murder on the basis of a mere conspiracy theory, people labelling world recognised universities ‘anti-national’ based on fake videos, people caging girls like Hadiya and opening conversion centers to respond to the cultural panic of rising Muslim population.

The problem of hate crimes further deepens when news channels knowingly and unknowingly propagate the messages of conspirators by repeatedly making flashy headlines like “It seems to be a case of Love Jihad”, Another cow slaughter house in Muslim dominated area vandalised”. They have become so competitive that in their lust for TRPs they have forgotten that they are altering the conscience of people, they are helping Hindutva leaders to plant seeds of hatred in the minds of their viewers.

People like Shambhu Lal are also inspired by them. He perhaps got an aim in his life. An aim which helped him put the blame of his inaccessibility to education and healthcare on someone else, an aim which gave him a cause to live for.

The advantage these hate mongers have here is that their agenda is not a legally punishable one. They know that, like, it was never legally proved Godse killed Gandhi by taking inspirations from Hindutva leaders, it can never be legally proved that this Rajasthani Shambhulal murdered based on inspirations from Hindutva hardliners. Neither do we have a strong Congress which not just openly opposes such hate crimes but also strongly link them back to RSS, a Congress like that of the late 1940s which dared to even ban RSS, a Congress which in itself had an ‘ideology’ of its own.

And when I show this concern about the issue of hate being used as a tool to propagate political agenda of cultural nationalism, I speak on behalf of the whole world. Be it Trump’s America or Modi’s India, UK’s Brexit or Germany’s AfD, France’s Marine Le Pen or Netherlands’ Geert Wilders, the world has seen a surge in politics of cultural nationalism and moral panics and is facing a difficult situation. A situation where feelings and sentiments of a few decide policy and law and order. A situation where leaders are pushing their own countries on the edge of civil wars. This hate politics has only given the world pain and agony, be it through the Holocaust, 2002’s bloodbath, Charlottesville’s confederacy or the Rohingya crisis.

To counter this hate, we must show our support to the cause of unity and development for all. We must object to leaders prioritising cow memorials and Ram statues over dying children. We must not let our debates get dominated by “Was it beef or not?” or “Are you nationalist enough to live in this nation or not?” We must ask our leaders to comment on education, healthcare and corruption. We must tell them point blank that “Mandir or Masjid” will not give us a future we want but education and employment will.

Last but not the least we must write for what we stand for, otherwise it won’t be long enough before filmmakers all across the world have to sensitise us with another “My Name is Khan”, but this time it won’t be based on USA’s post-9/11 hate crimes but on stories of Akhlaq or the most recent one of Mohammad Afrazul.
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Image source: YouTube/ Mujeeb Faruqui/ Hindustan Times via Getty Images