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Why does Hate-Mongering Continue to Surge?

Jacob Peenikaparambil Jacob Peenikaparambil
20 May 2024

After BJP's massive victory in the 2014 Lok Sabha elections and the installation of Narendra Modi as the Prime Minister, India witnessed a spurt in hate speech not only by the rabid Hindutva leaders but also by BJP ministers and elected members to the parliament and the state legislative assemblies. After the 2014 election, social media platforms have been flooded with hate messages against minorities, especially Muslims, with the massive involvement of the IT cell of the BJP-RSS. The consequence has been increasing violence against Muslims and Christians both by Hindutva organisations and government agencies, particularly the biased police force.

The current election season has seen an unprecedented surge in hate speech targeting the Muslim community and the Congress party after the first phase of the election. PM Modi has been leading from the front in spilling the poison of hate against the Muslim community, and the other BJP leaders were parroting what Modi is saying. The hate speeches of PM Modi and his party leaders are widely circulated in social and the godi media.

Many political analysts have pointed out that the BJP and the PM don't have an attractive narrative to present before the electorate. That is why they have fallen back on the old narrative that the Muslims are a threat to the Hindu majority and the Hindu nation, and the INDIA alliance is on the side of Muslims; they will give away all resources of the country to the Muslims through their policy of appeasement. The latest weapon added to the arsenal of hatred is population data fudging, saying that the Hindu population declined by nearly 8% between 1950 and 2015 while Muslims grew at a record 43% during the same period. The objective of this old narrative is to create fear in the minds of Hindus so that they would vote for the BJP. The ground reports from different states of India indicate that the time-tested old narrative also doesn't arouse the expected response from the people.

As highlighted in the media, there are various immediate compulsions for the BJP to fall back on aggressive hate-mongering by PM Modi and his party. But the fundamental cause of hate against minorities is rooted in the ideology of BJP-RSS. On 12th May 2024, The Telegraph published an article titled "From Insider to Outsider", in which Partha Banerjee told Anasuya Basu, the article's author, about his experiences as an active RSS worker. He was one of the former joint secretaries of West Bengal ABVP (Akhil Bharatiya Vidyarthi Parishad).

According to Partha Banerjee, the ideology of RSS is and has been: India is for Hindus and Hindus only, Muslims are invaders, Christians came here to destroy Hinduism, and women are second-class citizens. Partha Banerjee sincerely acknowledges the damaging changes that took place in him as a result of the indoctrination of the hate ideology in the following words. "I was a deeply entrenched RSS guy. I was a Muslim hater, a very chauvinistic man. My intellectual background was zero, but I was full of bombast."

After being an active RSS Worker for some years, his assessment of RSS members is as follows. "They were fascists, Hitler worshippers and they would compare Indian Muslims with Germany's Jews. Women were never part of the RSS because the RSS doesn't believe in gender equality. They don't believe in democracy. They think that Dalits are dirt. But on the personal level they were honest and dedicated workers."

Hate towards Muslims and Christians is part and parcel of RSS ideology. RSS's two ideologues are VD Savarkar and MS Golwalkar, whom they call Guruji. According to Savarkar, Christians and Muslims of India were not part of the nation because of their differences in cultural terms. By definition, his idea of Hindutva excluded those whose ancestors came from elsewhere. Thus, he eliminated Muslims and Christians of India from his definition of Hindutva, as their holy land lay elsewhere, in Arabia or Palestine. "Their holy land is far off in Arabia and Palestine. Their mythology and Godmen, ideas and heroes are not the children of this soil. Consequently, their names and their outlooks smack of foreign origin. Their love is divided" (Quoted in U Bandopadhyay, V D Savarkar and His Concept of Hindu Rashtravad, 2002, p. 9).

MS Golwalkar's ideas on Hindutva or Hindu Nationalism are elaborated in his books, "We or Our Nationhood Defined" and "Bunch of Thoughts". He asserted in his writings that India was the holy land of the Hindus. He writes, "Hindustan is the land of the Hindus and is the terra firma for the Hindu nation alone to flourish upon….."

He vehemently opposed the concept of Territorial Nationalism of the Congress, i.e., the nation comprises all those living within a country's territory. The Constitution of India has accepted the concept of territorial nationalism. Golwalkar believed that the Hindus did not come from anywhere else and they were the indigenous children of this land from time immemorial. In his eyes, this racial factor is by far the most important ingredient of a nation.

As an alternative to territorial nationalism, Golwalkar proposed nationalism based on race. He considered Muslims and Christians as invaders, and they had two options: either to merge with the Hindus by adopting their culture and religion or to live at the mercy of Hindus without any rights or privileges. He wrote in "We, Or Our Nationhood Defined", "The foreign races in Hindustan must either adopt the Hindu culture and language, must learn to respect and hold in reverence Hindu religion, must entertain no idea but those of the glorification of the Hindu race and culture, i.e., of the Hindu nation and must lose their separate existence to merge in the Hindu race, or may stay in the country, wholly subordinated to the Hindu Nation, claiming nothing, deserving no privileges, far less any preferential treatment — not even citizen's rights".

It is very pertinent to note what he writes about the Christians in his "Bunch of Thoughts". "Though the Christians seemed quite harmless at a glance, with their missions, schools and colleges, they were part of something sinister. So long as the Christians here indulge in such activities and consider themselves as agents of the international movement for the spread of Christianity and refuse to offer their first loyalty to the land of their birth and behave as true children of the heritage and culture of their ancestors, they will remain here as hostiles and will have to be treated as such". In order to solve the problem of the minorities, he recommended reconversion (Ghar Vapasi). In the anti-conversion laws passed by the BJP state governments, the conversion of Christians and Muslims to Hinduism is treated as Ghar Vapasi and, hence, not punishable.

In his book, "Why I am a Hindu", Shashi Tharoor clearly distinguishes between Hinduism and Hindutva. He proves that Hindutva is diametrically opposed to Hinduism, which is the most plural, inclusive, eclectic, and expansive of all faiths. According to Tharoor, the Political Hinduism vigorously promoted by the Sangh Parivar is nothing but recasting Hinduism as an 'Abrahamic religion'. Tharoor points out that 'cultural nationalism' is directly opposed to civic nationalism, enshrined in the Constitution of India. For Tharoor, Golwalkar's conception of Hindu India is not very different from the prevailing ideology of a Muslim Pakistan.

The BJP is the political wing of RSS, which is considered the biggest NGO in the world. The BJP is deemed to be the biggest political party in the world, with a membership of 180 million in 2019. According to Wikipedia, RSS floats around 70 organisations under twelve categories. Vidya Bharati is one of these 70 organisations. As per the Vidya Bharati's official website, it currently runs 12,828 formal schools across India, with more than 3.4 million students enrolled in these schools. It also runs over 6,400 informal education centres called 'Sanskar Kendras'.

The ideology of RSS that is exclusive, hateful and revengeful is imparted to the members of all these organisations, especially to children and young people through schools and colleges under its patronage. There is no segment of Indian society into which the RSS has not infiltrated. The infiltration of the RSS cadres into different wings of the State apparatus, the army, police, bureaucracy, the judiciary, education and the media was initiated by Golwalkar, the effects of which have been prominently visible for the last two decades. One can easily imagine how deeply the hate has been injected into the veins of Indian society.

The deep cracks in our social fabric will also gravely affect our economy. Kaushik Basu, former World Bank Chief Economist and former Chief Economic Advisor to the Government of India, in an article in Dainik Bhaskar on 14th May under the title, "An Effective Economy Needs a Healthy Atmosphere," has highlighted the need for social and religious harmony for the economic development of a country. "Today the Indian society is highly polarised and religious minorities are being ridiculed. It is very unfortunate because it will definitely affect indicators like investment rate, which is very crucial for development", he writes. According to him, India was an excellent example of an inclusive outlook for the whole world and values like compassion, secularism, and inclusivity are essential for human existence and progress.

What should be the response of the disciples of Jesus to the divisive and hateful ideology of BJP-RSS? As the disciples of Jesus are expected to practice inclusive love, they cannot exclude anyone from the horizon of their compassion, including those who are members of the RSS and the BJP. They should try to have a dialogue with RSS-BJP without compromising the core values and principles of Jesus. Christian Churches cannot accept or promote the ideology of the Sangh Parivar, as it is diametrically opposed to the vision and teachings of Jesus. Certain Christian groups, including some bishops and priests from Kerala-based Believers' Church, openly declared their support to the BJP before the elections to the Lok Sabha. All those Christians who promote any hate ideology are betraying Jesus.

The mission of Jesus's disciples today is to build a civilisation of love by "opening shops of love in the market of hatred."

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