Defang ideologies of hate

Editorial: August

Hardnews Bureau 

It's like a flashback which comes back in slow motion. As if it's history repeating itself. Characters change, but what constitutes hatred in this land vivisected by a colonial power some 63 years ago in August 1947, continues to find new expression. Vicious atavism has been fed by ideologies of hatred in a partitioned subcontinent. Little wonder that every effort to bring peace to this tragedy scarred region has been met with failure. 

This is what happened in the recent bilateral talks between the foreign ministers of the two countries. Constituencies of hate have defined domestic politics and infiltrated institutions like the army and intelligence agencies in India and Pakistan. Chauvinist religious organisations that earned local goodwill during the Partition by killing and maiming the 'other' in the name of 'protecting' their own, have passed on their vitiated mindsets to the next generation. Communal riots, terror attacks and bomb explosions in recent times have shaped the worldview of the two countries. People of both the countries draw comfort from hate and its practitioners. Long beards and rabble rousers, providing dogmatic rhetoric, dominate the debate. 

Even during the freedom movement in India, the national mainstream had an inherent distrust for forces like the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS). Its leaders did not participate in the freedom movement, but they were actively fomenting communal polarisations. In Richard Attenborough's film Gandhi, the Mahatma is terribly irritated with the fanatics and their one-dimensional sectarian agenda, of 'one culture and one nationhood'. In text, letter, speech, both Jawaharlal Nehru and Sardar Patel, as did most stalwarts of the freedom movement, including communists, strongly disliked the diabolical character of the RSS and Hindu Mahasabha - both intrinsically, incestuously and ideologically linked - and their obsessive anti-Muslim hate politics. 

Despite being banned, including after the Babri Masjid demolition, the RSS has proved its own, repetitive thesis wrong - that it is a cultural organisation. Indeed, if it's a cultural organisation, then the Nazis were the prophets of humanism and compassion. The outfit, for all its hidden agendas, decides on BJP's electoral strategies, appoints and removes BJP presidents (Oh, your Jinnah, my Jinnah!) shifts political policy, pushes one hardliner as chief minister, and appoints another notorious pracharak as a state chief minister who goes on to unleash the first State-sponsored ethnic cleansing project in India.  

It's multiple fronts like the VHP/Bajrang Dal move in tandem, though they seem detached, and you can clearly see how the music tunes into a predictable wavelength, even when it is jarring, as during the Babri Masjid demolition, Gujarat genocide, or vicious communal violence episodes in independent India, as cited by various enquiry commissions. Their dogmatic ideology suspects the democratic process, secular pluralism, cultural diversity and ethnic identities, indeed, all that stands for a nation-state based on the principles of the Indian Constitution, modernity and freedom. Rest is pretence, posturing and rhetoric.

Indeed, the blood-thirsty fundamentalists in Pakistan, who are now attacking revered shrines of the Sufis and minorities and killing innocents, seem images of a similar cracked mirror. In this 'made-for-each-other' syndrome, they parasite on these hate fluids to spread the wings of their carnivorous tree. Indeed, to usher in peace in the region, these hate factories have to be demobilised. In India, the Hindutva terror links in the killer bomb blasts all over the country has unmasked the ritualistic condemnation of Muslims, especially the young. Now, it's time to defang the Hindutva terror network. That could be one step forward for lasting peace in the country, and in the region.

This story is from the print issue of Hardnews: AUGUST 2010