Death of the Secular India

Greater Kashmir

Hate speeches and abusive talk are bound to unravel the plural India

The daily  Hindu reported in its September 19, 2014 edition that in Rajasthan a two and half year old girl, Khushboo, was buried alive at Nat Mohallah village Kumher, Bharatpur by her parents, after being pronounced an incarnation of goddess. The site of grave turned into a shrine.
Despite global campaign and efforts of international institution for women’s empowerment in all sectors, Indian society is still backward and rife with ancient beliefs that haunt women and girls. Indian has to go a long way to educate majority of its rural population to avoid such barbaric primitive practices in the name of sacred Hindu religious rites.
Under the Modi government, Hindu fanaticism is witnessing a sharp rise. While inaugurating a hospital funded by the Ambani family of Reliance, one of India’s biggest industrial groups in Mumbai, Narendra Modi claimed that plastic surgery and genetic science were existing and in common use thousands of years ago in ancient India.
Quoting the ancient Mahabharata epic, he said “Our ancestors made big contributions” in such areas and that those capabilities needed to be regained. We can feel proud of what our country achieved in medical science at one point of time. We all read about Karna in Mahabharat. If we think a little more, we realize that Mahabharata says Karna was not born from his mother’s womb. This means that genetic science was present at that time. That is why Karna could be born outside his mother’s womb. Hindu‘s worship Lord Ganesh. There must have been some plastic surgeon at that time that got an elephant’s head on the body of a human being and began practice of plastic surgery.” It illustrates how Hindu nationalist views are moving to center stage in  the present BJP regime.
Modi’s support for theories such as Ganesh’s head, is well known. He has spoken about them before, and propagated them in schools when he was the Chief Minister of Gujarat. During NDA rule in Delhi, between 1998 and 2004, the BJP-led government made unrelenting attempts to change the school curriculum and rewrite history by appointing communal academics and historians in some of the important institutions that formulate educational policies. BJP started teaching the  Hindu mythology in history curriculum in the aforesaid institutions, thereby trying to prove that myths in Ramayana and Mahabharata are validated by history, and India has always been a Hindu nation. By this way hardcore and fanatic upper caste Hindu policymakers have attempted to show that the Muslims and other minorities have never been part of Indian history. The whole idea was to capture the mind of young Hindus and teach them a history, which does not reflect the diversity of Indian society. Infiltration into education by re-writing curriculum is part of the larger game plan of converting the secular India into a radical Hindu State. This is the brainchild of Rashtriya Swayemsevak Sangh (RSS), the ideological godfather of the BJP. They are also reaching out to tribal groups for indoctrinating them with specific Hindu religious teachings and sowing the seeds of religious animosity in the secular society.
Modi’s Ministers are not lagging behind in preaching hard-line Hindu beliefs. Modi’s water resources Minister, Unma Bharti, has revived a geological search for the mystical River Saraswasti, which is mentioned in Vedic texts and is alleged to flow roughly parallel to the Indus from Himalayas to the Arabian Sea. Ramayana, the Hinduism’s most popular epic dating from 3,000 years ago has for seven or more years been the basis of opposition of a project to dig a shipping channel in the Palk Straits between the southern tip of India, and Sri Lanka. The Hindu activists argue that the channel would breach a crop of rocks known as Adam’s Bridge (Ram Setu) that Lord Ram built across the straits so that his army could rescue his wife Sita from the clutches of Ravan, the Lankan king.
Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) is infamous for its strong anti-minorities policies. During 2014 election campaigns, various BJP members had made anti-Muslim speeches. Indian Food Processing Minister, Niranjan Jyoti, during an election rally address at Delhi on 01 Dec 2014, used an abusive term to refer to non-Hindus. The news was widely propagated on international media like BBC. It is pertinent to mention here that despite opposition parties’ strong protests over the BJP Minister’s hate remarks, and a demand to sack her, Prime Minister Modi has supported her and refused to remove her from the Ministership. On the other hand the hard-line Hindu groups like Vishwa Hindu Parishad (VHP) have aggressively started conversion of minorities,  Christians as well as Muslims to Hinduism. Shiv Sena leader Ramdas Kadam told the crowd at a Shiv Sena-BJP rally in Maharashtra that Narendra Modi would “teach Muslims a lesson.” BJP Lawmaker Sakshi Maharaj calls Gandhi’s assassin Nathuram Godse a ‘Patriot’. On April 19, 2014 , Giriraj Singh, a BJP leader from Bihar told an election rally in Jharkhand: “Those who want to stop Narendra Modi from becoming prime minister will have no place in India. They will only have place in Pakistan.” Making India a Hindu Rashtra, making Ram Mandir before 2019, Gita being given national book status, all these statements amply prove that death of secular India is imminent at the hands of Sangh Parivar. Speaking in Agra on December 18,2014 , a Dharm Jagran Samiti (DJS) functionary said Muslims and Christians will have to convert to Hinduism if they want to stay in this country. He further said  we will free India of Muslims and Christians by 2021′.These hate speeches have destroyed the secular fabric of their country, India. Religious minorities feel unsafe due to these utterances.
Gujarat riots of 2002—where thousands of innocent Muslims were killed by Hindu fanatics – the indoctrinated tribal people played a prominent role. They were part of fanatic mob that conducted violence against Muslims. Moreover, the over 15-year rule of the BJP in Gujarat has communalized the state to such an extent that any debate about the country’s plurality and much publicized secular face if India has been mocked and scorned from middle and upper class of society.
Hindus extremists created havoc in the eastern Indian state of Orissa in 2008 where they massacred more than hundred Christians and destroyed many of their houses for not following the Hindu ways of life. A few years ago a Hindu fanatic, Aseeman confessed the involvement of fanatic Hindu organizations in terror attacks in some of the Muslim dominated areas, like Malegaon in 2006 and 2008, the Samjhauta Express bombings (2007), a bomb blast at a Sufi shrine in Ajmer Sharif (2007), the Mecca Masjid bombing in Hyderabad (2007), and an attack in a minority area Modasa, Gujarat (2008). Involvement of Sadhvi Pragya Thakur and her associates in connection with the September 29 Malegaon blasts has once again focused on the ugly face of  right wing fundamentalist terror .
BJP activists have long cherished a vision of building a strong India seen worldwide as a modern version of an ancient Hindu civilization, which is the pivotal point of their view of history. It is this vision that drives Modi and many of his ministers to turn India into a true Hindu state where minorities as well as low caste segments of society will be left at the mercy of Hindu fanatics.

(The Writer is Chairman, PPP)