Shri Ravi Shankar Etteth ,More strength to your pen

published on June 10, 2011

Indian spring and the colour saffron

http://expressbuzz.com/opinion/columnists/indian-spring-and-the-colour-saffron/281200.html


By Ravi Shankar Etteth

India’s colour of antiquity, saffron, takes on black, as a diminutive yogi in flaming orange and a Rasputinesque black beard, challenges a befuddled government with satyagraha. Forcing powerful ministers to run around like servitors in his ashram, Baba Ramdev humiliated the ambassadors of a corrupt political class—however personally honest some may be—who are fighting tooth and nail to protect looted national wealth hidden in banks overseas. The message was clear to the man on the street—the powerful politician is no more invincible. And the panjandrums of the Congress party screamed themselves hoarse, that the RSS is the driving force behind the Indian Spring.

They had the same cry during Anna Hazare’s fast at Jantar Mantar a month ago. Ramdev’s robe is cut from a different cloth. He has a mass following that will die for him, a huge ayurveda-yoga-education empire that allows him to be independent of political and mafia funding. His ideology may be muddled and medieval, standing against Colgate toothpaste and everything foreign—but his message is vehemently nationalistic. The RSS alarm raised by the Congress reveals poverty of thought and public disconnect.

The RSS got a bad name between 1950s and 1990s when socialism used its best weapon—propaganda—to give it a terror tag. When the Muslim vote bank of the Congress was threatened after Independence, it desperately needed an enemy. It counted on passivism of India’s majority to isolate Hindu nationalism as a convenient foe. The RSS lacked the political machinery to counter this offensive and functioned like lotus eaters in a mythical dream land, where Vivekananda preached Vedanta and all gods spoke only Hindi. They have not been able to communicate their agenda to India’s emerging middle class who see them either as a bunch of eccentrics in khaki shorts doing exercises with sticks in public parks, or as mass murderers of Muslims, while most communal riots occurred during Congress rule, and largely in Congress-ruled states. As India lurched towards liberalisation in the nineties and the noughties, the RSS became even more unfashionable; they didn’t wear Versace, nor smoke Cohibas or quote Deepak Chopra at cocktail parties. Indian history textbooks, dominated by its Leftist syllabus, do not mention RSS activism in Partition refugee camps—setting up tents, distributing medicines and food and providing shelter. They continue doing what an organisation, whose core ideology is ‘swaraj’, does—descending in thousands when earthquakes struck Latur and Bhuj, working day and night rescuing Hindu and Muslim alike. They sent their cadres to Surat when floods struck in 2006. In 2009, they were present when the cyclone Alia ravaged the Sunderbans. By the 1990s, the RSS had built schools in remote tribal areas and established charities. It operates over 100,000 voluntary programs on education, health, rural development and self-sufficiency as well as tribal rights.

Its opponents call the RSS an Indian Taliban that spreads saffron terror, while Al Qaeda writes bloody obituaries with machine guns and suicide squads, destroys schools and centuries old agricultural systems. The irony is, saffron terror—if it exists—is a reaction to terrorism against India. As millions of ordinary people celebrate an Indian spring in Baba Ramdev’s company, the ruling party doesn’t realise the irony of calling his movement RSS-inspired. The obvious inference would be that civil society is the Sangh. Somewhere, Keshav Baliram Hedgewar must be chuckling.

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Shri H Balakrishnan’s complimentary letter to Shri Ravishankar

Dear Shri Ravi Shankar Etteth,

Please accept my belated compliments for your “excellent” -” Indian spring and the colour saffron ” -  that was published in the TNSE of 05 Jun 2011.

[http://expressbuzz.com/opinion/columnists/indian-spring-and-the-colour-saffron/281200.html]
In an overpowering environment of ‘Nehruvian Secularism’ and ‘Political Correctness’ , that pervades across Bharat, it takes courage to swim against the tide !! Your stating – ” The RSS got a bad name between 1950s and 1990s when socialism used its best weapon—propaganda—to give it a terror tag. When the Muslim vote bank of the Congress was threatened after Independence, it desperately needed an enemy. It counted on passivism of India’s majority to isolate Hindu nationalism as a convenient foe” – was ‘spot on’ Sir !!

Also, your ” Indian history textbooks, dominated by its Leftist syllabus, do not mention RSS activism in Partition refugee camps—setting up tents, distributing medicines and food and
providing shelter”, reminded me of the poignant portrayal of courage and grit displayed by the RSS ‘sevaks’ in the then West Punjab, in (late) H.V. Seshadri’s  ” The Tragic Story of
Partition “,(2002). Seshadri quoted Shri A.N. Bali from his ” Now, it can be told ” (pp: 137-139) : ” The refugees from West Pakistan, all of them without exception, wherever they are  living in India, to a man are grateful to the RSS for coming to their help at a time when they felt deserted by all “.  Try telling this to the likes of Digvijay Singh, the Harsh Manders and the Teesta Setalvads !!

The journal ‘The Economist’, in its edition of 04 December 1976, in an Article entitled : ” THE OPPOSITION TO INDIRA WINS FRIENDS AND INFLUENCE “, wrote (about the period of Emergency) :

” India’s underground movement has changed its strategy. Until a few weeks ago it had tried to press Indira Gandhi – through mass demonstrations, clandestine propaganda and open
petitions – into lifting her emergency rule. But last month’s formal postponement of elections for yet another year – breaking explicit promises to members of the ruling Congress party – has
convinced the underground leaders that the present gov­ernment is irreversibly authoritarian. So their priority now is to get Mrs Gandhi out.

Not by violence. The underground campaign against Mrs Gandhi claims to be the only non-left-wing revolu­tionary force in the world, disavowing any bloodshed and class struggle. Indeed, it might even be called right-wing, since it is dominated by the Hindu communalist
party, Jana Sangh, and its banned “cultural” (some say para-military) affiliate, the RSS. But the platform at the moment has only one non-ideological plank: to bring democracy back to India.”

And for bringing back democracy, the RSS is dubbed ‘communal’, ‘fascist’ et al !! Some ‘seculars’ these !!

More strength to your pen, Sir

Warm Regards
H.Balakrishnan

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