RSS is antithetical to a democratic-secular India

JS Bandukwala, a renowned academic, thinker and fighter for communal harmony in India has rightly expressed his anguish at the deteriorating relationship between RSS and Indian Muslims, which must be a cause for serious concern for all those who wish a happy and prosperous India (“I forgive, I hope”, IE May 27, 2016). This aspect becomes enormously critical in a situation where RSS cadres are ruling India. I am afraid his take that RSS has problems with Muslims or vice-versa is over-simplification of a far more serious issue. The future of Muslims or common Indians, 80.5 per cent of whom are Hindus, depends on the survival of the democratic-secular polity. It is more a critical issue for 135 million Muslims who, according to the professor “belong to the Dalit and backward classes”. A country where 5-6 population controls 65 per cent of the national wealth, an egalitarian Constitution only can provide hope to the poor, whether Muslims or Hindus. Unfortunately, RSS is committed ideologically to undo it.

The Constituent Assembly approved the Constitution on November 26, 1949. Four days later, RSS rejected it through an editorial in its English organ Organiser on November 30, 1949, which read: “But in our constitution there is no mention of the unique constitutional development in ancient Bharat. Manu’s Laws were written long before Lycurgus of Sparta or Solon of Persia. To this day his laws as enunciated in the Manusmriti excite the admiration of the world and elicit spontaneous obedience and conformity. But to our constitutional pundits that means nothing”. Mind it that Manusmriti decrees sub-human status for Hindu women and lower castes.

RSS hated every symbol of the democratic-secular Indian polity. On the eve of Independence, when Indians were celebrating the newly won freedom, the Organiser (August 14, 1947) denigrated the choice of our national flag in the following words: “The people who have come to power by the kick of fate may give in our hands the Tricolour but it will never be respected and owned by Hindus. The word three is in itself an evil, and a flag having three colours will certainly produce a very bad psychological effect and is injurious to a country.”

In the same issue, in an editorial (“Whither”) RSS rejected the concept of a secular state by arguing: “Let us no longer allow ourselves to be influenced by false notions of nationhood… in Hindusthan only the Hindus form the nation and the national structure must be built on that safe and sound foundation…the nation itself must be built up of Hindus, on Hindu traditions, culture, ideas and aspirations.”

The most prominent ideologue of the RSS, Guru Golwalkar was always allergic to democracy. As early as 1940, Golwalkar, while delivering a speech before the 1,350 top-level cadre of the RSS at its headquarters, declared: “RSS inspired by one flag, one leader and one ideology is lighting the flame of Hindutva in each and every corner of this great land”.

It also must be noted that Indian Muslims, like Muslims of any other country, are not a monolithic whole. They are divided on class, caste and political lines. There are Muslims against RSS as there is a large number of Hindus against RSS and there are pro-RSS/BJP Muslims like many Hindus. The animosity of RSS towards Muslims (of all classes and castes) precedes by years the Godhra/Gujarat 2002 carnage. Both Savarkar (Hindutva 1923) and Golwalkar (We, or Our Nationhood Defined 1935) had declared Muslims and Christians foreigners to be thrown out of the Hindu Nation and denied Sikhism, Jainism and Buddhism the status of independent religions.

Even after Independence Muslims remained suspects. The Bible of RSS cadre A Bunch of Thoughts (first edition 1966, chapter 16 titled “Internal Threats”) declared Muslims as threat number one and Christians as threat number two. Bandukwala’s wish is that “Muslims and the RSS move away from any negative feelings for the other”, but the onus is on RSS to abandon its anti-democratic, anti-secular Hindutva ideology in which citizens are to be differentiated on the basis of religions they profess.

Well-meaning intellectuals like Bandukwala should not lose sight of the fact that Indian Muslims can survive in India when a democratic-secular polity survives. If democratic India does not survive, Muslims, with other marginalised sections, most of them Hindus, will be the main sufferers. The face-off is not between Muslims and RSS, but Hindutva and the Indian polity theoretically committed to egalitarianism.   

This article appeared in The Milli Gazette print issue of 1-15 August 2016 on page no. 11

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