Why I want to love RSS despite my disapproval of it
My feelings about RSS combine intense disapproval and an undercurrent of love. It was abou15 years back when my NGO, PEACE, organised a seminar entitled, “In Search of a Comprehensive Solution for AIDS” at New Delhi in collaboration with National AIDS Control Organisation (NACO), Government of India. One of the speakers was late Mr K R Malkani, the RSS ideologue, who was at the same time Chief Editor of Observer and Panchjanya and was also Vice President of BJP, while the party was in power. Inviting him to speak, I had said the following:
“Mr. Malkani! You are Vice President of BJP and an RSS ideologue, and I am a Muslim. You know very well what the feelings of Muslims are for RSS. I share most of them. But I have some positive views too about your organisation. What I like about it is its insistence on Indian cultural and moral values. Hindus and Muslims are similar in the sense that we both have faith in God. We both hate alcoholism, gambling, nudity, sex outside marriage and homosexuality. We both detest Western style of living. We both would not like our daughters roaming freely with boys in the nights. Why then do we keep fighting for Ayodhya Mandir-Babri Masjid and not against these vices?
“I am sorry to say that when your party came to power you forgot these moral and cultural values. You must know that the most dangerous thing for the current world is the commercialisation of sex, which is causing havoc at every level. It is killing human beings in huge numbers, devastating families, making children orphans. Why can’t your government ban prostitution, pornography and homosexuality? Why can’t you run a campaign for the strengthening of traditional marriage system, which is most health protective?”
Malkani supported me in strongest possible words. I remember him calling The Times of India, which had published a front-page feature in support of homosexuality, Times of Sodomy. But the words never turned into action. We passed a strong resolution in the seminar urging the government to take effective steps against commercialisation of sex, to effectively ban pornography and to ban prostitution with rehabilitation of prostitutes. The proceedings of the seminar were published with the support of NACO. We warned NACO that AIDS could be controlled by simply distributing condoms. But nothing changed. Since then more than 20 million people have been consumed by AIDS all over the world. Tens of millions will die in the next decade. The number in India may be close to 4 million. But the economic forces of the world will not allow any campaign against commercialisation of sex. They care more for dollars than for lives.
My campaign against the Western model of economy has since then been going on without any break. When I heard RSS directing the government to abandon the Western model of economy and work on an Indian model, it roused my dormant feelings of love for RSS. I am sure if RSS pundits go through my works like The Devil of Economic Fundamentalism and The Killer Sex, they will love my writings and will find it close to their heart. I would like to quote from The Killer Sex:
“Wealth has a central position in economics. But economic fundamentalism tends to regard it as the most, not just one of the most, essential requirements of life. The business community has, throughout the world and for ages, always cared little for anything but its own economic interests. But the businessmen of the past made only individual efforts in that direction and they had little influence over the happenings in their surroundings. They were the cranes that would use their cunning eyes to capture the prey when it came close to them and not leopards that would roar their way through the forest in search of their prey. They did not have any say in political and administrative affairs; the law of the land safeguarded the interests of common people, or the interests of rulers. During the last few centuries, especially in the wake of Industrial Revolution, businessmen have organised themselves into an aggressive, domineering, dextrous, ingenious and inexorable class. It has, wrongfully or rightfully but successfully, mastered all the new information, techniques and opportunities available to it for the protection and expansion of its interests. This is where economic fundamentalism begins to emerge. Now, businessmen, unlike in the past, are no more weak and submissive. They are not cranes any more but leopards that want to rule and roar. They have not only learned to assert themselves but have perfected the skill to push their plans defying all obstacles that may come in their way. Not any longer are they bootlickers of the rulers that they used to be; they have now mastered the art of manoeuvring them into submission. From the sycophants that they used to be they have now positioned themselves in a way that the rulers and administrators even often become their sycophants. Not any more are they silent followers of the rule of law; they have become articulate votaries of such modifications in the law as better suit their interests. They have ceased to be introverts seeking comfort in solitude; they now socialise in a way that gives them a plateau of eminence in society, and of course the economic monopoly. Still, they sacrifice moles for gaining mountains in return. It is this assertive, aggressive, cunning, provident and ruthlessly selfish approach towards economics that breeds what I have termed Economic Fundamentalism...
“It can be seen that economic fundamentalism is becoming increasingly aggressive with every passing day. What has facilitated its stupendous growth is the outstanding ability of its generals to deal with the hurdles coming in their way. The truth is that they have been marching towards their ultimate destination without facing any appreciable resistance. They studied and recognised all the possible sources of obstruction well in advance, and prepared a meticulous plan to thwart them. All possible weapons were and are being employed for this purpose: persuasion, advertising, misinformation, defamation, bribing, manoeuvring and use of power. The ballistic missiles of their money-power have proved to be too destructive for the resistant elements to withstand. Through persuasion or threats, they are either overpowered or purchased. The opposing forces have failed owing not only to the lack of resources but also to the glaring deficiency of will and spirit. What further paralysed them is innumerable divisions in their ranks, based on religion, region, race, ideology and language. The economic fundamentalists have used this lassitude to gain on them; they are now, virtually, the rulers of the world. Their trumpet blows everywhere – from the north to the south and from the west to the east. There is little evidence in sight to foretell that their dominion will shrink to any remarkable extent in the foreseeable future. Whatever few areas or fields have till now remained beyond their reach will soon be ransacked by their visible or invisible forces. How long they will be able to retain their hold, only time will tell.
“Thus, the rise and growth of economic fundamentalism has been, from historical standards, rather rapid taking hardly a few centuries. The think-tank of the world of economic fundamentalism has taken innumerable steps to strengthen their hold. They have sacrificed the goddess of justice before the eyes of the Statue of Liberty. They have transformed through political manoeuvres the state into their estate. They have incessantly and relentlessly been trying to organise a grand farewell for religion. They have captivated the people’s imagination through the media. They have got the attire of society redesigned so that it looks gorgeous and inviting to their eyes. They have industrialised sex, in which they have discovered the hen that always lays golden eggs. They have relocated the entire educational set-up on the Wall Street. They have monopolised the tree of economy whose fruits and shadows are only theirs; others can only admire its beauty from a safe distance. They have taken science and technology as their mistresses who are always keen to offer their glorious best to them. They have nipped all the challenges in the buds by masterminding popular movements. They have lynched the ‘civilisation’, which has been given a new incarnation; and now Bohemians are called civilised. Last but not the least, they have been busy colonising the good earth in the name of globalisation.”
If they will not love my writings, the only reason for them would be my religion, and this is why I hate them. Unfortunately, the followers of RSS ideology have forgotten the difference between religion and communalism. Religion is about the relationship of love between man and God and about love between man and man. Communalism is about hating others on the ground of their religious identity. Religious morality, preached by Islam and Hinduism, in fact almost all religions, is almost the same. But when instead of trying to unite on the basis of this commonness of religious morality, we start hating one another on the ground of our religious identities and on account of the desire to gain power for a certain community, it gives rise to communalism. Communalism is not the product of religion but of political fundamentalism, which seeks to misuse all emotional attachments of human beings including religion, region, language, caste and race.
The problem with RSS is that it works day and night on its communal ideology and not on the religious morality and the socioeconomic model which the religious morality spawns. If BJP had been true representative of the socioeconomic ideology of RSS, it would have brought a socioeconomic revolution in the country. But it has instead become the biggest votary of the Western Model of Economy with its total sell out to the Corporate world. Every single action of the Modi government has been in tune with its unfaltering love for the corporate and other economic forces like Banks. The Jana Dhan Yojna is more about helping the Bank Sector than the poor, and the current day Banks are nothing but the vehicles of the transfer of wealth from the less-moneyed to the more-moneyed. Its vision of Smart Cities is a clear violation of RSS position on villages. What the BJP Government is going to achieve is to further widen the Economic Disparity, which no Government in last three decades has cared about.
Religion is an important part of human life; it must in fact be the most important. Secularism in Indian context is not the negation of religion but synthesis of religious values enshrined in different religions. Every community in India has the right to practise and profess its religion. I do not agree with those who want separation of religion and politics. Negation of religion as such means total negation of the goodness of religion and the moral values that are associated with it. What is bad is not the religionaisation of politics but politicization of religion, which often breeds communalism. If RSS and BJP had been preaching religious values enshrined in Hindu Dharma, there was nothing bad about it. If it had been fighting for the rights of Hindus, even then it would not have created much of havoc. The problem with RSS is that its definition of Hindutva, in practice if not in theory, is based on its aversion of Muslims and everything that is or can be made to look linked to them. They are not interested in introducing Hindu vision to the constitution but in demolishing Muslim personal laws. They are not too much fond of building temples; they are more concerned about demolishing mosques. They love singing Vande Mataram not because of its inherent beauty but because it irks Muslims who find hard to eulogise the land instead of the Creator of the land. Even if they do not read their scriptures with any regularity, they would want to impose it on Muslim students. They are not concerned about saving Hindu lives from fellow Hindus, they derive some sort of pleasure if Muslims are killed. They are not campaigning for bringing comforts to their fellow religionists; they are more interested in teasing and harassing Muslim populace. Even their hatred towards Pakistan is based not on nationalism but on hatred because Pakistan is a Muslim country.
The truth is that in terms of economic policies, there is little to choose between the two parties. Both have been close to corporate groups, and BJP has shown little interest in reducing the economic disparity or making the life of the deprived sections of society any better. Both ignore the fact that if the value of the rupee has to increase, it cannot be done without reduction in prices of the goods and economic disparity and these cannot be achieved unless the 90 pc collection of the national revenue comes from the holders of the 90 pc of wealth. This can be possible only with gradual decrease in sales taxes and gradual increase in wealth tax. But both being the parties of the wealthy will never think in that direction.
During the previous BJP rule, all the vices in the country continued to engulf the countrymen in increasingly large numbers. The champion of Hindutva forgot that all religions including Hinduism advocated a curb on all these life endangering vices, which the modernism is normalizing, legalizing, institutionalizing and commercializing in the name of “Freedom of Choice”. Even after that, I have never seen BJP taking any position on these issues, which are not only destroying the moral fabric of society and the family system that India feels so proud of but also endangering the lives and health of the people in increasingly large numbers. The agenda of the present government does not appear to change for the better.
The day RSS realises that the religious morality preached by Hinduism and Islam is almost, if not wholly, same and that this morality cannot combat the commercial morality preached by Westernism unless Hindus and Muslims unite, I will have no option to bury my hatred for them forever, and allow my love for them to take over. Modiji talked of the need to understand Sufism in his last Man Ki Baat. If RSS and BJP give up their aversion for Islam, they will know that Sufism is no different from Islam, and all Muslims in their hearts are sufis.
Dr Javed Jamil is Delhi-based thinker and writer with over a dozen books including his latest, “Qur’anic Paradigms of Sciences & Society” (First Vol: Health). He may be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org