The genealogy of traitors in India is not new. Nor is it that old either. It goes back to decades ago or even a century if you include old beards of 19th century wrestling with this question. After independence of India, the ultra-patriots went somewhat underground for some time under the prevailing charm of Nehruvian legacy. Which spilled over to his daughter's era. Gradually, chinks began to appear, and through those widening chinks appeared the crabs and cockroaches of the ultras. As they came out, they whispered, canvassed and later gained momentum and force to say what they had not dared speak before. The Head of the Hindi Department in Anita Desai's novel In Custody written in 1984 (long before Shah Bano, Babri and yes September 11), threatens the protagonist Deven Sharma, of reporting the latter to RSS for being a traitor close to the 'Muslim toadies.' The reason for that was his close connection with the Urdu language, inspiring the love for its poetry; believed to be a language of the Muslims. Mr. Trivedi, the HoD, represents that minor voice which later grew strong enough to drown that of people who had dreamed of a different India. The worm of hatred was then creeping largely unseen. Today Trivedi's of India do not have to refer anyone for the honor of being a traitor but they are the reference, the point towards which references are sent. From HoDs Trivedis of the world are now HoCs.
Boundary Stretched Inwards
Previously, if the need arose, the border of the definition of nationalism began at the point a person of a different religious denomination appeared on the scene. So a Muslim or a Christian had to prove his nationalism. It was their birth-duty. That was a given and widely understood. Now the border has come inwards because those who were licensed to be nationalists are under the scanner. There are now hard nationalists and soft nationalists within the majority religion. The soft nationalists who talk of nuances, layers or think they have some grey notion of loyalty to the country are pretty much in the dock. The 'lib-tards" are facing the struggle to rescue India from their worst days of life. The alleged murder of Gauri Lankesh, a senior journalist from Bengaluru, at the hands of the Right Wing defines, once more, the pull of the boundary inwards. The definitions are getting narrower and tighter. There is no conclusive proof yet but the circumstances have led many to turn the needle of suspicion toward the right wing. Even if the murder is committed by the Maoists but the widespread suspicion in the media and outside speaks of that fear of the hard nationalists. The latter won't mind creating a scare among the Macaulay-putras, those nurtured, but not limited to, in the modern system of education in India, whose father is the British Macaulay.
The new traitors look familiar but they are not the same as the hard nationalists. With their arguments and rationalizations, and the status of being "insiders," they are way too irksome for the current Trivedi's to digest. They are spoiling the scene and causing unnecessary obstacles in the path towards a golden age for India. They are to be mocked, derided, and if they don't mend their way, it is better to knock them off the scene. And when the frontal organization of the Right is accused of turning the whole discourse violent, in which dissent is curbed under threats of physical harm, the fringe of the rearguard is cleverly held responsible. The strategy is carefully crafted. A contrived dichotomy or even trichotomy is conceived to brush the allegation off toward minuscule fringe elements before being cast away from the public memory. Gone are the days when the hard nationalists were tentative, hesitant and a little more discreet in framing their words and sentences. An unprecedented confidence and outspokenness has replaced the hesitation and tentativeness of the past. This sense of confidence has diffused both vertically and horizontally across India. There is hardly any broadcast which is complete without incorporating the voices from the RSS, an organization that jumps to the imagination along with the body of Gandhi garlanded with three bullets.
When the threat was posed at the "outsider," non-Hindu it was still manageable within the 'decent' boundaries of democracy. That outsider was at once a target as well as one which provided the unifying gel for the majority. He was same as the "nigger' was to the white in the USA. Now when the fear of threat is extended inwards, there are signs of alarm. There are signs that India is on the verge of a civil war without the actual sabre-rattling. Today it is found in the TV studios, tomorrow it might appear on the ground. The question is where the reverse pressure will come against this shrinking of the boundary of definitions. Or will be there actually anyone who can rise to the occasion to stop this unending tide, which looks set to sweep the whole landscape?
Any Real Believers?
That begs the question whether there is anyone who really believes in the constitutional principles. A calm and steadfast belief that all citizens of India are equal before law. That dissent is sacred and opinions are welcome. That your freedom ends where my nose begins. Are their conscientious believers in these ideas? From what has transpired so far, in a short span of time, one can but affirm that belief in these ideas is merely a veneer of the kind Veneerings had in Charles Dickens' Our Mutual Friend. A little exposure to the challenge of coming to their defense, and all the veneer begins to come off, and the essence is revealed, with its fangs and claws, not different from that of those, who are open in creating a sharp line between traitor and loyal.