Gautam Chaudhuri


Upsurge of religious communalism/fundamentalism is nothing new in this sub-continent, each time taking its toll. Secularism in true sense has never got its root deep and been sincerely practiced by the authority in our country too. Inheritance of the communal contamination of our freedom movement and the partition of the country has paved the hardcore communal forces the privilege to get their ideological influence spread over the society, even within our civil administration, the police, the army, the judiciary and everything—with also deliberate infiltration of trained cadres—and causing mayhem time and again as witnessed in demolition of Babri Masjid, post-Godhra genocide in Gujarat, blasts in Samjhauta express, in Malegaon, at Mecca Masjid in Hyderabad—to mention a few. Murder of ATS chief Hemant Karkare on 26/11/2008 during the militant attack in Mumbai also point to a deep seated conspiracy against the nation in connivance with Israeli militant groups like Mossad. All these make it a compulsion for the true secular individuals and groups of the country to build a strong secular popular front to combat the menace of communalism in this country, nay, the sub-continent.


Sometime before the last (16th) parliamentary election, the Sangh Parivar in ‘coma’ suddenly jumped up on its feet and started repairing its broken house at an incredible pace—‘God’s hand’ was certainly behind—and then dived into action with utmost vigour. As the ‘God’ had wanted be so, their political wing BJP won the crown. And all at once, the floodgates of foreign investment, even up to 100%, are opened; people having electoral pledge of forthcoming ‘Achchha Din’ (good days) are warned of austerity measures with expenditure in social sector squeezing and no respite in price rise; the state owned industries, banking and insurance all are being divested summarily without any discrimination to thus break the backbone of the national economy. The MNC’s are dished out whatever wealth this nation still has. These all ‘development’ measures are embellished as patriotic acts—being done for the uplift of the nation. On the political field, the erstwhile Governors have been replaced by their own men, encroaching upon states’ power through NIA-like agencies has begun, and so on. On the academic and cultural sphere, members including the Chairman of the Indian Council of Historical Research (ICHR) have been removed and the vacancies filled by their own ‘wise’ men, re-writing of history has again been resumed with fresh energy, and so on and so forth. The whole of the education sector is under virulent attack from fundamentalist bullies, school syllabi are undergoing revision with democratic, scientific and humane values being substituted by obscurantist and chauvinistic ones. Orthodoxy has got bolstered to eradicate all the achievements of human civilization. Communal threats are rising. Conflicts at the LOC in Jammu have paved full authority to the Army to ‘combat’. Witch hunting of ‘Islamic terrorists’ and terrorising our fellow Muslim people has been launched in full swing, and the left extremists are now on to be hunted  down by the Army itself replacing the para-military. People at large are fed to ponder only over ‘national security’ forgetting their own all-round deprivation and hardships.


A well orchestrated invasion on the secular ethos and fabric of the nation has been launched anew to jeopardize the social tranquility. That this will overwhelm the polity and harbor an absolute authoritarian jingoistic hegemony of fundamentalists in the name of Hindutwa is no farfetched imagination today. Perhaps a fascistic rule is on the cards.


In this situation of test of Indian secularism, idle gossips or random outbursts will not help. Some actions are called for.


Now, at present the secularists of all hues belonging to different organizations or no organisation are doing their round. So, the efforts are diverse, not uniform—may be sometimes mutually contradictory.


Streamlining the efforts under a common banner is an imperative. Without interfering in the participants’ other entities, without raising any question on any activity of a fellow member unless it is opposed to the basic premise of the organization (may be named as ‘Organisation of Hardcore Secularists’, OHS), it will coordinate the different endeavours and strive to formulate guidelines of the initiative.


In my opinion, all Indian citizens should be eligible for its membership irrespective of any other consideration—only if he/she is a hardcore secularist and commit to the organisation’s own program.


Confusion is created by vested interests regarding true or pseudo secularism. Only adhering to the principle of “DIVORCE OF RELIGION FROM PUBLIC LIFE”—the bedrock of the initiative—we can perhaps rubbish their heinous devise. No argument should be allowed regarding the above principle.


But the venture would have to encounter some serious problems, such as:

1. First of all, regarding its credential,

2. Attacks from various interested camps, also attempts of sabotage if and when it makes a tangible existence.

3. Tendency of participants to search for sectarian interests and denounce the others in the organization.

4. Attacks from the administration, campaign against OHS.


Thus, it is a tough challenge for those who will come forward to build its foundation.

I would like to have the privilege of putting some suggestions, like—


1. For the credential, eminent democratic personalities with uncompromising secular credential and having no political affiliation must be the vanguards.

2. Battle against vested interests is a continuous process to be fought relentlessly. Religious but candidly secular persons may also be inducted in the process..

3. Sectarian attitude is a systemic problem not to be done away with easily or within a short period. A continuous skillful effort of the competent leadership rising above the pit holes of small interests can overcome the problem.

4. Appropriate program would be able to weed out saboteurs and gain strength from attacks of the enemies of secularism. Mobilizing friends within administration is to be taken up as an important task.


Thus, what is needed first is a few dedicated volunteers for the cause who are not stamped with any political identity. They can form a group—may be with the help of social sites—and then approach some stalwarts in this field and present them the idea, have their advice and guidance, and proceed.


There is another point, I think, worth mention. The power capture by the ultra right racist forces is only an effect—the cause lying behind is chiefly economic. The neo-liberal economy needs tough governance that can go ahead with the policies of total divestment, provide cheap labour, withdraw subsidies for the common people, provide tax relief, subsidies, infrastructure and all for the monopoly houses and afford the public exchequer open for plunder. And manage politically the public wrath by ably channelizing it in fratricidal direction. The previous UPA Govt. finally failed to manage the ever increasing demands of the crisis ridden global economy. So, without taking into account that very cause of surge of the danger, the deemed organisation cannot perhaps serve the purpose. Therefore, I think, some check valves should be devised to arrest infiltration of the fellows who would otherwise shatter the effort for the service of monopoly capital.


This is just a preliminary idea humbly presented before the respectable leading citizens committed to secular democratic values for their perusal and developing it for encompassing the secular democratic populace of the country to save it from fascist reign.


Now, will some activists volunteer to initiate the move? History of the country today awaits their shouldering of the Herculean undertaking.


Oct 25 2014


(Frontier Weekly, V. 47 October 19-25, 2014)

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