Decolonization of Mind - Hindutva style

Decolonization of Mind - Hindutva style

RSS rues the sapping of military strength of Hinduism, so India has to go through a process of redemption

While flitting through the literature on colonialism and post-colonialism I stumbled upon a speech by Rakesh Sinha, an academician and spokesperson of RSS. The grandiloquent styling of the speech hooked me. ‘Decolonization of mind’ was heavily sanskritized, daunting yet decipherable. Sinha did not forgo rage and righteous anger, the actual and intellectual salience of the organisation he speeks for. The senior leadership, Mohan Bagwat included, were in advance rows. The tone was provincial but politics of grand style. Sinha exhorted shunning the politics of ‘victimhood’, perhaps making an effort at shift of emphasis. The BJP political front of RSS has mastered the politics of victimhood, victimising minorities and playing victim. Swati Chaturvedi, the senior journalist has debunked this deceit in her book ‘I Am a Troll’.

“There is a need to create a meta-narrative”, Sinha stressed, the narative he was unleashing was facile and self-satisfied. RSS is more about activism, he has confessed, with its obvious economy of ideology and intellect. The references in the speech were highbrow and eclectic: Mahatma Gandhi, Ngugi wa Thiong’o, Edward Said, Derrida and Foucault and more. The times, when politics is being sucked deeper into mythological, religious and tribal narrative, the creation of meta-narrative seems Janus-faced. Sinha rued the sapping of military strength of historical Hinduism, so India is going through great act of redemption. Neo-Hindu knights-in-the armour (cyber-yuddhas) are militarising Hindusim on Facebook and Twitter, rendering the air mephitic. The fantacies of ‘World Guru’ and ‘Golden Bird’ could not be kept at bay. They can stave off anxieties and glaring deficiencies: the 43 percent of undernourished children, 48 percent of stunted children, 50 percent of anaemic women, more than half of the population still defecating in public. The crisis and the confusions are generating a bogus mysticism of state and nation and the dreams of utopia. This is Nietzche’s logic.

Gujaratis came in for chastisement from Sinha, Gandhi perhaps for making concessions to Jinnah and appeasing Muslims. Gandhi’s purity of mind and individual conscience in the realm of politics is irrational, when only national self-interest and military strength counts. Sardar Patel, another Gujarati removed the Nizam of Hyderabad, he did not dispatch Delhi’s Nizam, Nehru-Nabob of nattering negativity. Sinha made pretensions of frustrartion, for India could not produce Foucault and Derrida. Foucault and Derrida, little Sinha realises, are spawned and secured in cultures and civilization when individualities, particularities, diversities, heterodoxies, dessidences, freakishnesses, and eccentricities are allowed to function and flourish. India is  going through worst phase of nationalist conformism, such modes stifle and freeze intellect. A sneaking and spiritual convergence seems between Sinha and Paul de Lagarde. Lagarde, and exponent of German volk ideology, made pretensions of disappointment at the spiritual failures of Bismarckian Germany. Nietzche called him a ‘Pompous and sentimental crank’.

Sinha was making a case of linguistic chauvinism and its attendant insularity. He quoted Mahatma Gandhi ‘Rammohan Rai would have been greater refomer and Lokmaniya Tilak would have been a greater scholar if they had not to start with the handicap of having to think in English and transmit their thoughts chiefly in English’. Sinha failed to refer to rejoinder Tagore sent to Gandhi. It is a strong antidote to chauvinisms of varied strains. Protesting strongly, Tagore, against ‘trying to cut down great personalities of modern India as Rammohan Roy in his (Gandhi’s) blind zeal for crying down over modern education’.

‘Aurangzeb could not break India. Who else can?’. Sinha asserted. Nothing can be further from blanket ignorance of history. The legacy of history is a mixture of fact and perceptions. No rule is ever so glorious as to be free from fault, no subjection never so absolute to deny a space for dream, there is no theory that is immune from exceptions, yet the challenge is to discover a meaning in the accumulation of facts of the history. The Hindutva brigade has a historical and hysterical possessiveness to see the obsessions of the present. Aurangzeb, the historical space and the span he occupies, deserves a profound assessment. ‘More Hindu nobles supported Aurangzeb than Dara Shikoh… Aurangzeb imposed jaziya in the later part of the rule… he was astute enough not to alienate Hindu nobility… there were more Hindu nobles and officers in Aurangzeb’s court than any other Mughal’.(Tinderbox- The Past and Future of Pakistan- M J Akbar). The Hindutva brand of nationalism suffers from a pathology. It depends up on an ‘enemy’. The enemy is not gadfly but raison d’etre. ‘Nothing makes the self conscious of itself’ wrote Vinayak D. Savarkar, ‘so much as conflict with the non self. Nothing can weld people into nation and nations into a state as the pressure of a common foe. Hatred separates as well as unites’. The enemies are picked from history and present.

The audience appeared urbane, it took question and answer session to reveal its coarseness. ‘How can Islam be rolled back?’ one of the attendees stood and shot the question. ‘ Spain is a good precedence’. The Muslim Spain was a cultural florescence, flowering of civilization and scientific spectacle. The ‘reclamation of Spain’ is Reconquista, persecution, inquisition, expulsion of Jews and Muslims from Spain and resultant Asian-like backwardness in Spain among the European nations. The question however scared me , I, turned to ‘Moors Last Sigh’. The Muslim, meleche, can have his last sigh over erosion of Nehru’s vision: ‘above religion because secular, above caste because enlightened, above hatred because loving, above vengeance because forgiving, above tribe because unifying, above language because many tongued, above color because multi-colored, above poverty because victorious over it, above ignorance because literate, above stupidity because brilliant’

‘Muslims have to integraten ford Islam has to Indianise’ ordered Sinha, otherwise ‘they would be thrown into melting pot’. Sinha fumbled for prescription. The attempts of Hinduism at accommodating, absorbing and subsume irritant denominations suffers from difficulties ‘….indeed one characteristic that all Hindus claim for Hinduism is its all embracing tolerance, its ability to encompass every path, finding a niche each in the vast scheme of things. From the point of view of certain minority religions, this is precisely the difficulty. Any religion that does not want to be encompassed, embraced and indeed absorbed and perhaps ultimately transformed by Hinduism finds Hindu tolerance somewhat demanding, since it is conditioned upon a basic acceptance of Hindu view of life and Hinduism’s particular genius of absorption’. (India- A World in Transition- Beatrice Lamb). The globalised nation state prefers to call itself ‘salad bowl’. ‘Melting-pot tag has been jettisoned.

The German Jews were well integrated and had the major contribution to German culture, science and intellectual life, but Hitler still made a short shrift of it. The Indian Muslim is facing an existential dilemma. In a political culture, rendered rowdy and quarrelsome, he is pushed to self-effacement and subjection, to cling to primordial identity, segregated and ghettoised, killed and lynched.

‘India inherited colonial institutions from British. The pathways to the independence were not radical and revolutionary. Bal Pal and Lal were missing at tryst with destiny’. Sinha thundered. Bloody independences make brutal precedences, worst legacy, a nation could have. Algeria is a stark reality. The power struggles after independence can be equally brutal and ruthless. 

Decolonization of mind in Ngugi Wa Thion’go’s mould mean more than ‘Farewell to English’, it is locking horns with powers that be, its decency, its geniality, its suffering banishment for decades, it is extending conviviality to trenchant criticism. We have seen Rakesh Sinha losing composure and self-possession at the slightest pin-prick.