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Even the Blind See

Archbp Thomas Menamparampil Archbp Thomas Menamparampil
13 Mar 2023
The legitimate rights of citizens are handed out to them as gifts from the Prime Minister. Thus, it turns out that ‘India first’ formula stands for the ‘me first’ claim of the leader.

The growing popularity of Hindutva pop songs in the social media that glorify Hindu Rashtra is reported from the Hindi belt. They project a glorious future for Rama Rajya with millions of worshippers in Ram Mandir. But the songs warp as they move on to “hate-themes”, especially damning ‘Babar and his children’, and humiliating Muslims. Bigoted melodies grow vibrant. It is thus that hate is ‘propagated’ in Saffron Bharat. ‘Conversions’ take place too. Gradually echoes reach far beyond the Hindi belt. A leader in Karbi Anglong, Assam, is quoted as having said:  topi-walas and cross-walas must go. Prejudices poison the daily drink of the Indian household.

An average Indian is not easily prompted to hate. He is willing to compromise even before a quarrel begins! But today, he is pushed and prodded, coaxed and coddled into doing what he does not wish to do: to hate his fellow countrymen. It does not come spontaneously to him, as it is not a part of his ideas or ideology. But steadily, people have been made blind followers. We are reminded of Oscar Wilde’s words: “Most people are other people. Their thoughts are someone else’s opinions, their lives mimicry, their passions a quotation”. Thus, many Indians have been pressurized to live by someone else’s ideas and ideology. 

Missionaries of ‘Hatred’ Multiply

One may blame people like Bajrang Munshi Das in UP, who has just emerged from prison for declaring a Jihad on Jihadi Muslims. But did not a bunch of Hindutva religious leaders pronounce something even more deadly at their solemn gatherings at Haridwar or Delhi? Have not some “urban Naxalites” of the fundamentalist ideology been promoting the silencing, marginalizing, and gradually eliminating of those who stood on the way to their ultimate goals? Anonymously!  Was not Gauri Lankesh only a recent victim?

Some blame the key men who hold the reins of the Government, under whose benevolent patronage many criminal deeds come to be accepted as national service? Or, would you blame the BJP? But Prashant Kishor says, BJP is mere froth, RSS is the real coffee. Would you, then, hold the RSS responsible, which has infiltrated into every structure of society? May be, all these are responsible in varying measure.

But let us not blame any of them. Let us merely look for the reasons. Most of them are living in the past. That is not a crime. But in Indian understanding, “Avidya” cripples. A wrong attitude to the past blurs your vision. Living on resentment saps your energy. Feeding your anger kills your future. Piled up grievances of the past are not assets for the morrow. Babar is not alive, why waste your energies on his “alleged” crimes? 

Think of the needs of the day like food price and employment. Attend to the realities of the situation: neighbours of various religious beliefs, goods that you need from remote markets of friends and foes, longings for peace in all communities. Panipat and Plassey belong to the past. There is no meaning in fighting a 1000-year-old battle.  Tony Evans says, “Insisting on living in your past will kill your future. Let it go”.   

Aryan Aggression

If you insist on remembering Babars and Mughals, Timurs and Nadir Shahs, the indigenous people of India are going to remember the 3000 years of Aryan aggressiveness on their people: initial destruction and gradual subjugation. Mahabharata and Ramayana will tell the story to the intelligent reader. Aggressively oriented Aryans who captured the subcontinent broke the strength of native rulers by splintering them up into countless castes along ethnic, occupational, colour-based, or pollution-related lines. Rulers were made into Shudras (Dalits).  

The elite classes have held on to this enslaving domination to our own days. Ambedkar suffered from its ill effects till the end of his life. He moved on to Buddhism to escape Brahminic exploitation. Of course, Upper Caste scholars deny the “Aryan invasion theory” and violence against indigenous communities. They insist that there is “no archaeological evidence” of large-scale destruction and loss of life during the Aryan dispersion. This would be true of any encounter of a fiercely warlike community (Aryans) with un-warlike peoples (early Indians). In unequal battles ruins are few.

Suppression of Indigenous

However, there is overwhelming amount of “literary evidence” in the Vedas of Aryans storming the walled fortresses of Dasas and Dasyus. Ram Sharan Sharma seeks to be objective. His book “Sudras in Ancient India” says:   Rig Vedas have at least 12 references to their general slaughter of prosperous indigenous communities (Sharma 2, 11).  We read, for example, “Indra destroyed the seed of Varasikha. At HARIYUPIA he smote the vanguard of the Vrcivans, the rear fled frightened” (Rig Veda 6.27) (Sattin 55). Could the reference be to historic Harappa?

Tony Joseph in his book “Early Indians” contends that the aggressive dimension of the Aryan migration did contribute to the Harappan decline (Joseph 186). Academic interest can prompt a Dalit or tribal student to study further the12 instances of devastating slaughter that Ram Sharan Sharma speaks of, or the gradual elimination of Buddhists from India. However, it would do no good composing hate-songs based on those unhappy events of the past. While the indigenous communities were kind enough to let the past be, their masters have refused to follow their example. 

After four years of brutal Civil War, the North and the South decided to form the United States of America. After two deadly World Wars, the Europeans decided to forget the past, and made a single economic and political unit, the European Union. 

Dividing India

The weakness of Indians is that they bow to Power, of the Mughals, the British, today BJP.  Many with hurt sentiments are not in a hurry to express their anger before a sturdier foe. Time will tell. Every drive towards ‘forced homogenisation’ has planted a seed of discontentment and division at the margins of the country.

Amit Shah may be a good election strategist. Is he a perceptive interpreter of community-emotions? His threat to impose Hindi stirred reactions in the South. Migrant workers from the Hindi-belt have suffered the consequence. Poor people paid the price.  It was big news when Shah opted to go to Mon in Nagaland. He was on an election campaign. Elections will come and go. But India has to remain united. Dividing the Eastern Nagas from the Western may be a shortcut to election goals for the Home Minister, or alienating the Gorkhas, Rajabonshis and Adivasis from Mamata’s Bengalis, but India has to hold together. 

It was Vallabhbhai Patel who exclaimed, “It is not the British who divide and rule. It is we who divide and they rule”. The present regime has changed this policy: they divide, and they rule. But, then, they have created a divided India: a fractured economy, a shrinking domestic market, a sense of insecurity in individual communities, an emotionally divided nation. 

One needs skill to interpret Northeast election results intelligently. The high turnout out stands for the sense of insecurity in threatened communities: Tripura 88.9%, Nagaland 85%, Meghalaya 77%. The stubborn loyalty to the regional parties is a stubborn assertion of distinct individualities. Respect our identities, they say. We are different, we want to be different.

The Ruling Class may rejoice when they succeed to suppress public dissent and protests for a while, but they cannot command inner loyalties. Viktor Frankl discovered while slaving in Nazi camps, that he could remain the absolute ‘Master of his Mind’. Inner Loyalty alone can guarantee India’s security. Hindutva Think Tank must understand that the nation’s future can be built only on its cohesion.

Jokes come up against “Hindi-Hindu-Hindustan” imposition and about the BIMARU condition of states in the “cow-belt”, and against Haryana where Gau-Rakshaks are kings. Brinda Karat of the CPI (M) urges the Haryana Government to stop patronizing Gau-Rakshasas who rob and kill. Meanwhile, the most backward African countries overtake the ‘Bimaru’ states, leaving India far behind.

Harmless sounding anti-Communist humour made ordinary citizens think under the extremist Soviet regime. But it was perceptive humour that brought down the Soviet Empire, that too peacefully! Will Hindu Rashtra face the same fate? 

Resistance has begun. Unfortunately, some understand only the language of violence. Even so, they have not drawn a lesson from the fact that 29 civilians have lost their lives in Kashmir recently. The blind see, but the full-sighted are too proud to see. If they see, they fail to understand. Is it Hindu Rashtra fanaticism that has thrown up reactions like that of Amritpal Singh, 29, who has renewed a call for Khalistan? Its echoes have reached Australia and Canada? Will responsible people reflect how Khalistan movement itself originated? Insensitivity invited a response. Amritpal Singh has not spared either Modi or Shah. 

Pawan Khera is arrested for mispronouncing a Modi name, but Amritpal is allowed leverage. Even the blind see. Sisodia is arrested under charges of corruption. Himanta Biswa Sarma has been spared after he joined the BJP; Shashi Tharoor asks why. Kejriwal wonders whether Sisodia would be found not-guilty if he joins the Prime Minister’s party. 

During the elections, Amit Shah thundered against the corruption levels of the NPP in Meghalaya. After the elections, he embraced the NPP winners as though they were his best political partners in the country. Every time Lalu Prasad spoke up and challenged the BJP, a new case came up against him and sent him to hospital again! Advani, Sasikala, Arun Shourie, and others have learned to be wise and silent before this evident duplicity.

Cronies Spared

But cronies like Adani are spared. Beware! They may be people who finance the elections, but exploit the people. More than 2400 years ago, the Chinese saw the damage that crony capitalism can inflict on society. Tao Te Ching reads thus: “When rulers live in splendour and speculators prosper, while farmers lose their land and the granaries are emptied; when governments spend money on ostentation and on weapons; when the upper class is extravagant and irresponsible, indulging themselves and possessing more than they can use, while the poor have nowhere to turn. All this is robbery and chaos. It is not in keeping with the cosmic order (Tao)” (Tao Te Ching 53). It looks as though this piece was written precisely for BJP India.

Private initiative can be stimulating. Deng Xiaoping knew that, and encouraged private entrepreneurs after the Mao era; but they were kept in check. All are to be accountable, whether they be Jack Ma, Bao Fan, Guo Guangchang, or Sun Dawu. Rahul questions the blind support that LIC and SBI have given to Adani.  Only time will tell.

Rulers Who Instil ‘Fear’

Meantime, Hindutva leaders like Yogi are at another wavelength. Their enemies are cow-dealers, not Adanis or other speculators. He vows to destroy “criminals”. Now, who are his criminals? Are they BJP-critics, political dissenters, Muslim minorities, dissident Dalit or tribal groups, or plain cow dealers?  Modiji who belongs to the same school of thought was addressing a gathering of 9000 police personnel in UP, when he said that their sovereign duty was to create a system which drives “fear” into criminals.  

Wise men of our civilization taught us something saner. They asked us to create a climate that fosters happy relationships and social wellbeing. Our Founding Fathers proposed strengthening national institutions that function efficiently to promote the same goal. Today a monk-turned-politician, Yogiji, is threatening to “destroy” fellow citizens, if they dissent…if a tribal shifts a cow from a licensed slaughterhouse that exports beef, owned by a Hindu or Jain business baron, and takes it to a poor Muslim. No wonder UP drags behind in education, health, and all human development indices, with Assam closely following with encounter killings. We dread the day of reactions!

Will This Dark Night End?

Our self-imposed blindness had led us to a democracy of sycophancy, mutual flattery, dependence. Pranab Bardhan alleges that the legitimate rights of citizens are handed out to them as gifts from the Prime Minister. Thus, it turns out that ‘India first’ formula stands for the ‘me first’ claim of the leader. In the same way, making India ‘great’ turns out to be ‘making India hate.’ Press is silenced, states have become dependent on the Centre. What is offered to people is a form of nationalism that chokes. When will this nightmare end?

Najeeb Jung, former Lieutenant Governor of Delhi, calls for a dose of optimism. “The night does not last forever,” he says. When day comes, darkness lifts. As the Nazis were exposed at Nuremberg, the misuse of power by the RSS will be exposed one day. Yes, even the blind see: voters bought, MPs and MLAs sold, critics raided, robber barons aided; cows alone thriving in air-conditioned shelters! Marcus Aurelius says, be serene: “The best revenge is to be unlike him who performed the injury.” For, we choose to be different!

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