Secular Guardians of the Indian Republic

via Dr. Vijaya Rajiva published on May 18, 2010

Indians in the Diaspora and the people of Bharat watched with some amazement a debate on Times Now(RSS and Digvijay Singh) hosted by the intrepid Arnaub Goswami, and saw  whatever fresh evidence  was needed, to show that the Congress government is in a state of disintegration.

 Its ministers are competing with each other desperately to stay relevant. The important
problems of terrorism, the domestic threats from Naxalism, and the debacle of price rise and increasing poverty among the masses have been allowed to fade into the background. This has been well illustrated by the antics of Digvijay Singh, former Chief Minister of Madhya Pradesh, who has taken upon himself the task of raising the question of Hindu militancy in India without any evidence.

Never mind that the Human Rights Commission in the Batla House enquiry declared that it was not a fake encounter, never mind that the CBI declared the Samhjauta Express blast to be the work of foreign terrorists (with the former National Security Advisor                 Mr.Narayanan saying the same thing)never mind that the Malgaon case is not going anywhere because the investigative agencies have not sufficient evidence to indict the supposed culprit Sadhvi Pragya. Mr. Digvijay Singh has taken it upon himself to fabricate a connecting link between unrelated events and produce something called Hindu Terrorism(Meanwhile a young woman languishes in jail under dire conditions such as narco tests and what not. Where are the human rights activists and the women’s rights activists when it comes to a Hindu nun ?).

His purpose is clear : to ingratiate himself with the Congress High Command. And the Congress Party’s purpose is also clear, to distract from real issues and in the same process also manage to score some brownie points against the Hindu nationalists represented both
by the Rashtriya Swayam Sevak Sangh and the Bharatiya Janata Party. This is politics as usual, or so it seems, although some deeper agenda cannot be ruled out. This latter dimension is particularly relevant in India, where it is not simply a Liberals versus Conservatives struggle for political power.

But what of the mainstream media ?  They are supposedly the impartial custodians of the secular democratic fabric of the republic of India. Neverthless, their partisanship reveals
itself each time and all the time.

Quite disappointingly, Vinod Mehta, editor of one of the leading liberal journals in India, quite unexpectedly espoused the tainted cause of Digvijay Singh. His claim that Singh should not be factored into any discussion since there is  an independent case to be made for the existence of Hindu terrorism, was said in bad faith, because his own publication published an interview with Digvijay Singh. Mr. Mehta could of course always argue that he is not running a charitable enterprise and Digvijay Singh was the flavour of the day and made good copy. Fair enough.

However, he attempted to justify Digvijay Singh’s position by stating in that debate, and the entire audience heard it : what Digvijay Singh is trying to do is to underline the presence of Hindu terrorism. Had Mr. Mehta merely stated his own views, he would
have been in a more credible position. As it is, it seemed to be more evidence of the partisanship and bias of the mainstream media whenever an opportunity presents itself
to tar Hinduy nationalist organizations with a guilt by association argument.

Fortunately, the record of the RSS vis a vis the alleged Hindu accused is clear. As Mr.Ram Madhav ,spokesperson of the RSS pointed out, the accused in every case are asked to report to the police and declare themselves. The RSS and the BJP have repeatedly emphasized that due processes of law must take place; their respect and regard for the Indian Constitution cannot be doubted .

The present writer would like to believe that the Indian liberal media is not complicit
with the ruling party unlike their counterparts the world over  . Nor can decent people like Vinod Mehta be accused of paid news, bribery, corruption etc. or that most of the editors are fawning courtiers at the Congress high table, or that they are so craven that a Congress Party that has lost its independence heritage, could exercise a baleful influence over their minds.

The explanation must be sought elsewhere for the malaise. A twofold explanation comes to mind:

 1. there is an innate suspicion in their minds that the Nationalists are too good to be true, that their protestations of loyalty to a secular republic are a mere façade which will be thrown off once they are in power.

2. Their arrogant assumption that their brand of secularism is the only one that  should          
prevail and that any use of the word ‘Hindu’ is seen as ‘communalism’ (The present writer has written on other occasions of the relevance of using the phrase Hindu secularism).
 

Both assumptions can only change if the secular guardians of the Indian republic can
look more closely at the Hindu nationalists and the sterling work that they are doing
in their various enterprises for uplifting the masses. Rather than carping criticism and
political partisanship as per usual, it would help if the liberal media, as in the glorious days of the freedom struggle, would pull together with the nationalists and throw off
the mantle of a neo colonial domination, exemplified both policy wise and in other respects by a maudlin Congress party.

An example of carping criticism is provided by Praveen Swami jumping on the bandwagon of Hindu bashing. Swami (Assoicate Editor of The Hindu) who usually
writes with a certain élan and professionalism has an article in Outlookindia on the so called Hindu Terrorism(‘The Rise of Hindutva Terrorism’, Outlookindia,May 11,2010).
In this article, in passing he makes a negative comment on the Vanavasi Kalyan Ashrams(run by the RSS)

Not only are the Vanavasi Kalyan Ashrams doing sterling work but they are done with
minimum funds and the dedication of nationalist workers. Neverthless, all that Praveen
Swami could do was to throw in for good measure his negative observation that this project engages in Hindu proselytisation of tribals! It would be pertinent to ask Mr.Swami why he does not ever mention  proselytisation work undertaken by Christian missionaries among the tribals, and work which has sowed dissension and discord amongst these peoples !

To return to the Times Now program. It is heartening for viewers that apart from
Mr.Mehta, there were three other participants, the brilliant lawyer Mahesh Jethalmani, who is a defence in the Malgaon case, the balanced and sane journalist Swapan Das Gupta and the eloquent Mr. Ram Madhav, the RSS representative.

It is time for the people of Bharat to engage in a second freedom struggle which will throw off the mantle of neo colonial legacies and individuals. And that project will happen only when the nationalist forces come to power at the centre.

( Dr. Rajiva is a Political Scientist who taught at a Canadian university)

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