“Indian nationalism never elevated one language over the others, one religion over the others or even a single enemy,” historian and writer Ramachandra Guha said, speaking at an event conducted at the East Cultural Association in Bengaluru on Thursday, 18 November.
“It has again become India and Pakistan, and like Pakistan, we are being seen more and more as a major, inward looking state. If the hegemony of Hindutva continues, it will damage and destroy us,” he said.
He added that Indians must resist this (rise of Hindutva hegemony) non-violently, patiently and steadily to restore the egalitarian, plural, ethical values on which we were founded. “We don’t need a political party to do it for us. Citizenship is an everyday affair,” he said.
Founding Values of India
Stating that linguistic pluralism was an extension of the Gandhian idea of Hindu-Muslim unity, Guha said that the founding values of India took from Gandhi’s ideas of Swaraj or self-governance.
According to Guha, the founding principles of India were based on the following:
- Acknowledgment of shared diversity. No Indian is superior by language, faith, gender or faith. Your allegiance to the Constitution makes you a citizen.
- Patriotism operates at every level – from civic, to district, state, and nation.
- No nation, no state, no religion and leader are flawless. They are work in progress.
- A true patriot is someone who feels shame at the failure and crime of his nation.
- You must be willing to learn from different cultures.
The Rise of Hindutva
According to Guha, the three features of Hindutva today could be seen in the positioning of the Hindu identity as being paramount.
“Today, the Hindutva agenda wants to put forth the notion that Hindus are the best, the Hindi language is the best, and the hatred of Pakistan is a must to be a true Indian citizen and a patriot,” he said, addressing the gathering. He also said that the Hindutva prized one single leader above all others as the only option for a better future and country.
But how has jingoism managed to have such a hold on the Indian consciousness?
Four Reasons for the Rise of Jingosim
Guha laid the blame for the shift in India’s sense of nationalism on four main grounds.
Corruption of The Congress Party
How one of the greatest parties that inspired the independence was reduced to one family.
“My one issue with Kerala is that they elected Rahul Gandhi to Parliament. Had he lost, the Congress would be out. Nehru will be appalled to see where Rahul Gandhi is now,” he said.
Hypocrisy of The Left
“The tragedy of the Indian communist parties is that they loved another country more than India: Stalin’s Russian, Mao’s China, Castro’s Cuba and so on. They still haven’t corrected it. If CPM had put a Bhagat Singh everywhere, could RSS have falsely claimed Bhagat Singh?" he asked.
Islamic Fundamentalism in Our Neighbourhood
“Fundamentalism is competitive; we can see this in Pakistan and Bangladesh,” he said.
Global Rise of Jingoist Nationalism
“This can be seen in the election of various leaders as heads of state across the world,” said Guha.
‘Citizenship is an Everyday Affair’
Claiming that he had never voted for BJP and he never shall, Guha encouraged the citizens to go out and vote, even if the options were not all that good.
“I have also held my nose and cast my vote. We must not fall into the trap of letting our democracy be reduced into a once-in-5-years affair – that’s what the prime minister wants, that’s what the home minister wants and that’s what many chief ministers want. Win an election and be unaccountable for five years. Citizenship is an everyday affair, and we must carry on this long, arduous and hopefully not so lonely fight,” he said.