The formative years of the ‘idea of India’ are understood to be the era of the anti-colonial struggle. The ideologies that guided the fight for independence were adopted by the Indian constitution. But this ‘idea of India’ is in its sickbed for some years now. The sovereign, socialist, secular, democratic republic credentials of India are now in tatters. In 2014, the NDA with BJP rose as the single largest party, followed by a second term. The believers of the Fuehrer principle stood in awe as its former pracharak more or less single-handedly took them to previously unattained heights.
The RSS’s earliest patrons, B.S Moonje, P.S. Sahasrabudhe, and V.D. Savarkar, by their admission, had been impressed by the works of Mussolini and Hitler and wanted to emulate their examples. The groundwork for this ambitious project had already been laid at the time. Mahasabha spokesmen have openly lauded the Nazi project of ‘holding crusades against the enemies of Aryan culture’ and have made known their aspiration to establish a similar regime in India. A similar concept of tiered citizenship as exemplified by the Chaturvarnya system in Manusmriti, which legitimizes Brahmin-Savarna hegemony forms one of the core principles of Hindutva, the concept that guides the RSS.
The RSS had begun as a cult of Maharashtrian Brahmins in pre-independence Nagpur (which was first Mitra Mela and later became Abhinav Bharat). Hence, despite the socio-political situations that necessitated the inclusion of ‘Avarnas’ in its folds, the Sangh has held fast to its Brahminical credentials. This, along with the destruction of innocent human lives for the achievement of an objective (of establishing a Hindu Rashtra), justifies the parallels drawn between European Fascists and the Sangh Parivar.
Activists have attributed the global rise of right-wing extremism to the fast depleting levels of natural resources. In the event of such a calamity, Arundathi Roy, in a recent article published by the Caravan Magazine explains, equitable distribution of resources would no longer remain a viable option. This is where the social hierarchy the Sangh Parivar hopes to achieve becomes relevant.
1. Reconstitution and Infiltration
Infiltration and reconstitution of institutions of secular and scientific thought formed one of the foremost steps in furthering their Hindutva agenda. One of the first victims of saffronisation was the Indian Council for Historical Research (ICHR), where a proponent of their ideology, Yellapragada Sudarshan Rao was installed as the head, despite his limited qualifications for the post. The trend caught on until every other institute bore the Sangh insignia.
The intelligentsia whom they branded ‘Urban Naxals’, ‘Tukde Tukde Gang’ and ‘anti-nationals’ have borne the brunt of the Hindutva hate politics. Apart from following a colonial-era sedition law, the government has enacted newer legislations such as UAPA to deal with dissent. Along with this, there has also been a visible drive to popularise rightist intellectuals and encourage research in those disciplines to ideologically destroy rational thought.
2. Changes in bureaucracy to suit Government wants
Most organs of the government have been reshuffled to suit the government’s preference and to keep dissent at bay. Appointments, promotions, demotions, transfers, forced resignations and sometimes even assassinations have had to be committed to help proliferate the social order they envisage. Cases of officers Sanjeev Bhatt and Hemant Karkare can only be understood from this perspective.
3. Infiltration of Judicial system
The judicial system in the country has also been encroached upon reducing it to a mere titular body doing the government’s biddings. The Nanavati Commission exonerated the PM and the Home Minister in the 2002 Gujarat riots, the Ayodhya Bench ruled in favor of the Hindu parties, Triple Talaq was given the go-ahead signal, the Internet ban in Jammu and Kashmir was only condemned orally and no urgent steps were taken to revoke it, and the list goes on. The judiciary has time and again proven its loyalty to the ruling regime.
4. The othering of Muslims and Bahujans
Another visible trend that characterized the social landscape was the evident othering of Muslims and the Bahujans at large. Legislations that reeked of a strong sense of Islamophobia were passed off as benevolent gestures. Mob lynchings and floggings that were followed by denial to accept it as a hate crime has to be seen as an extension of the pogroms initiated by this outfit in Godhra, Una, Ayodhya, Kashmir, etc.
The Hindutva overlords have not only denied to condemn these crimes but have added to the misery by glorifying its perpetrators by garlanding, holding processions by using national symbols such as the national flag. The idea is that any act one commits bearing the tricolor is patriotic! The farcicality of this comes to light when protesters demanding for the upholding of constitutional values gets termed ‘anti-national‘.
Instigation of violence through incendiary remarks and sloganeering with little historical basis during election speeches have gone a long way in demonizing Muslims. Recorded history is being attempted to be modified to create false narratives depicting Muslims as alien enemies and bloodlust conquerers.
Creating mob frenzy has always been the BJP’s modus operandi, the Rath Yatra debacle that concluded with the demolition of Babri Masjid is a case in point. Speaking of Babri, the infamous slogan goes “Ayodhya toh Jhanki hai, Kashi, Mathura Baki Hai”, it’s difficult to imagine a more incendiary slogan. This is a frequently followed script where the attention is deviated from real issues by instigating the lowered castes and classes to an endless fight against imagined demons.
5. Undermining federalism and idiotization of its people
The most evident breach of Indian federalism by the Union government came with the abrogation of Article 370, followed by the J&K’s bifurcation. Other than this highly debated breach, all through its time in office, the BJP government at the centre has shown the littlest regard for state government autonomy. The PM deciding to hold a pro-CAA march in Bengal despite the state government’s opposition, refusal to provide flood relief for Kerala because of its obvious dissatisfaction with the Kerala government, for being torchbearers of the fight against fascism are some of the most recent examples.
The centre’s brazen neglect of federalism was well evident in all state elections since they assumed office, be it the Karnataka elections, the recently-concluded Maharashtra elections, the centre shamelessly supported horse-trading. Recruitment of party veterans as governors to support the centre’s cause in all controversial issues can be seen as another instance of the centre’s unwarranted intervention in affairs of the states. Unnecessary interventions in private affairs of the state in an obvious attempt to undermine federalism fall well with the agenda of One Nation, One Rule.
All through the anti-CAA and NRC protests, the government maintained that the CAA would be implemented despite the uproars. A democratically elected government cannot show such nonchalance unless it is bound by ideology to idiotize its people.
These are some of the most evident steps taken by the government to achieve its objectives. A lot more discreet businesses have happened in the dark that seriously threatened to imperil the idea of India in the popular imagination. Dividing the country into communal lines have always been on the agenda of the current regime. It is high time we recognize the signs and organize ourselves to fight the battle of ideas for ideology as vicious as Hindutva needs an equally potent ideological nemesis.