Daya Varma


There are two parties contending to rule India, the Indian National Congress (Congress) and the Bhartiya Janata Party (BJP). Democratic forces have reservations about the present Congress-led government and the Congress Party in general; however, most of them would prefer Congress rather than BJP to form the central government in 2009. Perhaps it does matter which is the ruling party but unfortunately only minimally so.


Civic life in India is increasingly influenced by the attitudes that have been assiduously fostered by the Sangh Parivar no matter which party is in power in different provinces or at the center [read the following article by Jawed Naqvi).  The organization of the Rashtriya Swyamsevak Sangh (RSS), which with all its affiliates constitutes the Sangh Parivar, is widespread in every walk of life. The Sangh Parivar exercises significant direct and indirect influence in police, army and civil services. A large number of primary schools, at least in the North, are controlled by RSS. Sangh Parivar has already succeeded in creating a new culture where religious identity plays a role and determines or at the very least influences the thinking and actions of ordinary citizens.


Take for example the Mumbai terror episode. It is most likely true that the terrorists were Pakistanis but the group they belonged to, as charged by Indian authorities, is over two decades old and had its origins in the erstwhile Pakistani military regimes’ policies to wrest control of Kashmir from India. It is also widely acknowledged that the current democratically elected government in Pakistan has only a tenuous control over the country.  The present Pakistan government is unable to undo what was started by Zia-ul-Haq under American tutelage. But, while the UPA regime is conscious of this fact, and its actions to date show that this is so, the media in India, much of which is strongly influenced by Sangh Parivar attitudes, is attempting to stoke anger against Pakistan in general.  The RSS Chief wants to nuke Pakistan and create a new world. Fortunately his influence is yet not great enough and it is unlikely that the two governments will clash militarily. In fact the more damaging, although more distantly related, fact is the attitude of vast number of ordinary Hindus, in addition to of course fanatic Hindus, against the Muslims of India. Muslims feel this attitude in general and have responded to it by maintaining a low profile. Why else would they celebrate Eid in a subdued way? Hindu festivities go on as usual.


The social interaction between Hindus and Muslims is dismally low, the like of which it has never been in the past not even after 1947 when Pakistan was formed and communal carnage was well known.


Survival of a democratic India requires reversal of the present culture and curtailment of the powers of Sangh Parivar. The Congress government at the center acts as if it is powerless in the face of anti-Muslim and anti-Christian atrocities committed by the Sangh Parivar. The same government even with Dr. Manmohan Singh as the Prime Minister will take prompt and forceful action if there is a Naxalite incident, which is generally aimed at the police, not directed against ordinary people. The helplessness of the government becomes visible in the face of Raj Thakre, Bajrang Dal and Vishwa Hindu Parishad (VHP) goons.  Communist parties, which are the most dedicated secular forces in the country, do not have the machinery or manpower to intervene during violent attacks on Muslims and Christians now, or, probably, even on themselves a bit later. Naxalites are equipped to respond but their priorities seem to lie elsewhere.


There is yet another problem in combating Hindutva fascism. While whipping up anti-Muslim or anti-Christian phobia can be of advantage in elections, campaign against Hindutva and for communal amity is not very rewarding for electoral politics. Even parties like Samajwadi Party, which greatly depend upon Muslim votes, do not agitate against the core program of Sangh Parivar. Communist parties are content talking about secular forces but by this they mean any one but BJP and Congress.


So the burden of fighting Hindutva fascism has fallen on non-Party organizations and individuals. The efforts needed are mammoth but their small numbers, scanty resources, and relative lack of effectiveness cannot be expected to handle the problem.  This makes the Indian situation grim and dismal. 

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