The rise of Hindu Nationalism, Gita Sahgal (Bradlaugh Lecture 2018 Part 2)

The rise of Hindu Nationalism, Gita Sahgal (Bradlaugh Lecture 2018 Part 2)


Salvatore was an atheist who had been in
sport either inspired or committed various acts of individual terrorism
that is assassinating British officials or inspiring others to do so and he’d
been put in jail as a result and while he was in jail he invented a new
philosophy calling it Hindutva and he wrote in a pamphlet Hindutva what is a
Hindu he wrote in Lu is a person who regards the land and pilots rush the
land of India from the Indus to the seas as his fatherland as well as his holy
land and that is a cradle land of his religion so fitara Bhoomi was fatherland
and Cunha Mooney was muck was holy land Muslims and Christians might be born of
Indian blood and they could therefore convert back to being Hindus but they
could never really belong as Muslims and Christians because their holy lands were
outside in Arabia and Palestine later the image of Mother India one that was
embedded in the national consciousness was also added and Hindus were pulled
off the quite complicated balancing act of creating a masculinized image of the
nation strong aggressive and recovered pride along with the feminized
image of being under assault as he wrote at last she was rudely awakened on the
day when Muhammad of Ghazni cursed the industry in the frontier line of Sindhu
Stan and invaded her that day the conflict of life and death began that
day and then he said nothing makes the self conscious of itself so much as a
conflict with the non-self nothing can weld people’s into a nation and nations
into a state as a pressure of a common foe hatred separates as well as unites
much much later in 2002 a feminist Human Rights investigation into the Gujarat
Massacre reported the students were asked to celebrate Independence Day as
the day was ripped asunder violent imagery of
what had been done to him those as well as a promotion of how they should treat
others frequently videoed first on videos and then circulated rape of women
and so on Oh cameras is is quite common but
internally Hindutva could afford to be quite Catholic six Jen’s atheist
reformers and traditionalists could all belong the pamphlet khaki shorts and
toughened Flags written by some of the page in Marxist historian says sufferers
sores of us above sectarian and ritual differences within what he is defined as
the fold of Hindutva it was intended to be a unifying movement and much later
they interviewed in the 1990s Sudarshan assistant general secretary of the RSS
who described this this Catholicism many flowers one garland many rivers one
ocean but he warned the country can only have one Hindu culture so all must
accepted and all must accept ROM if not as divine at least is a nation’s hero
and this of course was a break from the purifying tradition of the arias imagine
that suppose return to the Vedic text which actually stripped out a lot of
traditional Hindu practices of worship in temples and with idols and so on so
Hindutva manages to refer to the purifying movements that had stripped
away many Hindu practices and yet Mobil has brilliantly around movements such as
the building of the round temple where a lot of Hindus could understand this as
to practice who were putzy Brown that is devotees of wrong and therefore even
though it was framed as a in a very new way it was something that they could
relate to and run as an aggressive masculine figure as a perfect the
perfect ruler another ideologue called goal worker a man whom the Prime
Minister Revere’s was had written very favorably remember this is the 1920s and
30s and the RSS was formed in the twenties and they were very conscious of
movements across the world so he’d written about he was looking across to
Germany and he said to keep up the purity of the race in its culture
Germany shocked the world by purging her purging the country of the somatic races
the Jews race Friday at its highest has been manifested here a good lesson for
us in in the Sun to learn and profit by and then he also said our nation means
and independent of the question of majority always must mean the Hindu
nation and not else Modi is a devotee of Goldwater and defended him in a long
road a tree sa saying that he had been unfairly targeted as promised Alina
Mussolini and Hitler and others have also tried to dismiss it so this is just
a couple of paragraph you know statement here and there a writer put too much
emphasis on it but the an Italian historian has established that they
didn’t just did maha from afar correspondence of Hindu supporting
newspapers based based in London reported approvingly a Mussolini’s
revival of Italian fortunes and were particularly impressed by the youth
movements that he founded and one of the mentors of the RSS journeyed to Italy
which made a deep impression on him Mussolini had turned an easygoing
non-martial Italians into a martial race and the historian says
realize how skin-deep that was but at the time it was particularly the youth
bodyguards the youth militias and gods of the revolution that he was very keen
on and the Marathi paper Kayseri reported developments in Italy from
London and quite possibly had access to english-language materials on fascism
such as a 1927 pamphlet titled the recent laws for the defense of the state
which we laid out measures such as a balance verse of parties limitations to
the press expulsion of disaffected persons from public posts and finally
the death sentence and there was also a meeting with Mussolini where he pledged
to continue with Cellini’s methods when he returned to India this is a man
called moongeun he said I had thought out a scheme when
he came back to India he told a newspaper which provides for Hindu
Berlin Russia that is a Hindu religion a state of the Hindu religion standardized
Hinduism but this scheme cannot be brought about unless we have our own
Swaraj our own freedom like Shivaji about Shivaji being a great hero
actually across the political spectrum of who had fought the Mughals and
established his own state or a dictator like Hitler Mussolini this does not mean
we should sit with folded hands until the dictator rises we should formulate a
science key his scientific scheme and carry on the propaganda for it and they
were in touch with the English in the Italian consuls and so on at the same
time Commerce leaders were also traveling to Italy and Germany and there
was one faction of the Congress that actually became much more closely
involved with the Axis powers than the Hindu group did and
form the indeed national army which fought against the British out of
soldiers that were prisoners of war but other factions of the Congress were very
conscious the leader Neru was very very conscious of fascism
he visited Barcelona during the Spanish Civil War to support the Republican side
there were British socialists writing for the Commerce papers they were very
very internationally aware and and I know that when my own grandparents
Neru sister idyllic fun death and her husband Ranjit but it would studied in
Germany and would have made an excellent ambassador to the British on the
principle of my enemy’s enemy is my friend
they avoided meeting Cellini because they didn’t want to be used for fascist
propaganda but before the war summer could continue to support the Sudeten
Germans desire for unity with Germany and after the war started the
organization one of his organizations the Hindu Mahasabha
continued to support German expansionism but muted its support and negotiated
instead with the British vice by strong linlithgow for Responsive cooperation so
at the war you have at the start of the Second World War
you have the Congress say we wanted independence and we will be with you we
are with you in the fight against fascism but we will not be made to go to
war as a subject country and they started the quit India movement and left
the provincial governments they were in and went to jail Salo her who was
actually supportive of Nazism and with with other members of the of his party
stayed when what they called responsive cooperation so it managed to maintain as
fascist and increasingly its Nazi sympathies while simultaneously
declaring loyalty to the Empire and trying to negotiate some gains such as
more Indians in the military Monisha and so on in contrast the
Congress had responded to crystal nacht with a resolution against the Nazis and
for protection and asylum for Jews so you have this extremely difficult time
and you have at that time shortly when the war ends you have Britain leaving making preparations to leave and
partition coming up which was in fact a very difficult time for for all Indians
I think at that time because partition was opposed and in fact most strongly
opposed by the unti more than other leaders of the Commerce who eventually
accepted it and there were mass killings that went on on both sides across the
border train loads of people were killed coming one way or the other but at that
time there was of course a lot of rage because this fatherland and Holy Land
had been divided and I’m not sure what the Hindu – activist wanted to do about
Muslims because they didn’t think that they should they could be part of the
Indian state as they visited it but on the other hand they didn’t want a
separate state and one of the people who was you know particularly angry was a
man called Nathuram Godse now in the eighties when I was when bundle file
this black current affairs program started we did when I mentioned before
program about this movement that was that was all
but which we didn’t know what it would become it was quite a Christian program
and it interviewed gopal about saying was nothing wrong that’s him on the left
his brother who nothing wrong God say was hand for the assassination of Gandhi
his brother was put on trial and served time in prison but was later released
and he was interviewed later and he was completely unrepentant and he said we
had to peel guarantee there were ten and we thought what do we lose we may lose
ten people but it had to be done because he was a traitor and also interviewed
was Ramallah cover who was a historian and talked about this movement for
around Germany one of the things about the Hindutva movement is that although
it draws heavily on the epics there isn’t a willingness to see the epics
simply a story because in a world where you have to be both scientific and
rational as well as have a transcendental vision there has to be a
substance to the ethic and therefore it has to be grounded in a particular place
at a particular time and particular location in fact to create a sort of
Mecca which is very unlike a traditional Hinduism where the central place was
supposed to be the birthplace of RAM so mosques that had been built on top of it
was to be brought down and this temple building exercise in which you lose all
of the world was sending bricks to it and had mobilized around it that that
would happen so that’s what the program was about but it was also about what was
happening here in Britain because the RSS and the bhp the RSS be Co the HS s
had been funded by local councils as thoughtful
there was actually a nation of Hindu law counselor who said these people are
fascist organizations we do not understand what the GLC and others were
funding them I’m just to jump ahead in my story Ken Livingstone was interviewed
and he said oh we didn’t know they were fascists who knew nothing about it
because what do we know we just do you know what what’s recommended we wouldn’t
do it but as we know from Ken Livingstone story that kind of funding
has to be much more emphasis on Muslim groups extremist Muslim groups being
funded which indeed there are continued to be but there is this tradition of
putting money into some of these groups as well so at that to mine in the 80s we
in Britain were trying to grapple both with the movement that was happening in
India and this revival of the idea of God’s sake but when the vjp came to
power this time around Godse was announced as a major hero and
people want to do you could see is very respectfully treated there with violence
and so on and he was supposed to be put people wanted to build a statue to him
and so on and they they saw him as having dealt with the traitor bounty and
on the right you can see a portrait of salad with
BJP leaders a very respectful environment for it
and that a portrait was put up of some occurred in the previous administration
which sort of hangs in the Hall of Heroes opposite the ante now sagar who
had founded the iris editor the the idea who the fur and was involved with the
Hindu Mahasabha the RSS he had also been charged with this as in the plot to
assassinate them he stood trial for that but was eventually acquitted and it’s
extremely based really accounts of that because there’s one Informer who turned
state’s evidence but there was felt to be no corroborating evidence with years
data there was commission of inquiry if I mean it has happened years later and
that lead suppressed and then it was made public and it’s painful really
because there was further evidence from other people who had never called his
witnesses and attracted still somewhat a mystery to me as to why there wasn’t an
attempt to go all out and implicate suffered as well because he certainly
expected because he said that he would people way and he done this before on to
the British that he wouldn’t be involved with politics that he would live quietly
and so on he made these deals many times before when he’d been arrested on other
occasions and it’s quite likely that he expected to be convicted this time
around but he wasn’t and he lived too many years later and today in many shakhas as a groups the the RSS groups
them that are acted here there are there are students who taught young
young men who come to these things teach the teach the children about this
killing and so that the we have transcripts of a teacher talking to the
children about the killing of panthéon playing mark Tully if there was BBC
reporter saying a Hindu fanatic Gandhi and the children are taught that they
mustn’t say he’ll move fanatic this is wrong because it implicates all Hindus
you know there’s a sense that there’s a sense of persecution that Hindus are
being implicated in the in the killing of Gandhi and he lists the teacher this
numerous assassin Robert Kennedy Martin Luther King etcetera and says they were
not deemed to be by Christian fanatics and he says if someone comes to the RSS
doesn’t mean the RSS preachers to kill somebody I tell this to lots of
journalist he says three commissioners have had all been put out by the
Government of India to find out if the RSS have been was involved all have
exonerated the RSS and do we preach in RSS and HSS to kill for somebody’s views
the Tufts in unison says no we don’t and so he says that must be our argument
when anybody says RSS killed and you find anyone blaming for Gandhi’s
assassination you must put your protest but at the same time and boys as well
then who did kill Gandhi and why he says well don t you know betrayed India and
that’s why of course he’s our leader you shouldn’t we don’t say so there’s a very
there’s a strong double think going on you know there’s a sense that we’re
being persecuted if it’s named that the RSS wasn’t involved
that’s not true cuz the RSS was banned Korea they were found to be involved
they were banned and and so on and he also at the course of these discussions
was asked whether the RSS in HSS had helped in both these elections and the
teach answers they did they did every surface firm 7th as every volunteer had
to go into town make sure they speak to people to make sure that they do have
more than the election this was done secretly but when this evidence and that
means several attempts over the years to put evidence before the charity
Commission there were there were attempts after 2002 the Gujarat Massacre
which showed that apparently independent charities were actually a wonderful
Salem was actually sharing charity numbers within both organizations and
that was involved with charitable work in a way that was actually promoting in
those 4 messages and excluding of people that they didn’t like and so on so there
was a complaint made at that time and that time the tired of Commission said
abate you know they couldn’t we couldn’t demonstrate that you know the shopkeeper
putting collected money in this collecting box that money actually went
for buying you know the swords and you know the daggers that actually killed
people we couldn’t prove that in the visible link from the collecting boxes
written to the Kings in India and therefore nothing could be done now that
if you couldn’t prove things to the level of criminal responsibility the
Charity Commission wouldn’t act and then in this case when years later you have
this discussion filled about how you know what what with the RSS and HSS or
one thing which is really not very controversial I mean you know Wikipedia
says so and they will say themselves as they told the children in on that
instance he was actually telling the truth and a lot of
half-truths and direct lies but the Charity Commission said there was
insufficient evidence to devastators in 2015 so not that long ago to demonstrate
that the views expressed by the speaker when Demick or systemic in the charity
and its activities the charity found no other evidence of formal links between
the charity and RSS the Commission considered the implications of the
charity if it was associated with RSS included whether the trustees were in
fact furthering the charitable purposes and could be acting in the charities
interest etc etc and it said mean the trustees assured the Charity Commission
that there were no formal links between the two organizations there was only an
ideological commonality and this then is not considered further during the
inquiry so even when you have a direct admission of makes it they just have to
say no if we’re not late put aside and this finally happens with the Muslim
groups as well so I don’t want anybody to get away with the idea that because
because a lot of the discourse around this is one set of people pointing
fingers is the other set of people but what we find is I mean only very
recently have made a mover a very violent organization promoting the Sui
laws in in in Pakistan and another attacking and ideas and other people
they consider after states has been welcomed by the mayor by the police you
know and stood on platforms with senior people here in Manchester so it’s it’s
it’s something that is happening with Muslim groups as well as in groups where
whether it’s labour or whether it’s conservatives the management of
minorities is seen as being done through communal and fundamentalist
organizations and this is so insane but it continues and although most of the
public discourse is around labor and its links with extremism we’ve been hearing
during the anti-semitism debate of those links are certainly there but they’re
not the only ones because although we won’t find Tory ministers necessarily
hanging out with senior Muslim Brotherhood people they have issued
statements which quietly welcomed Muslim Brotherhood leaders to Britain as
refugees after they were overthrown in Egypt this is a gentleman actually
stopping people fleeing regimes like that from coming to this country
stopping Christian Archbishop’s from coming to this country nests they came
Asylum from Syria and Iraq and the home offices quietly um supported the Muslim
Brotherhood also supported a charitable fund a it gave money to an umbrella
charity which was actually Muslim Brotherhood and jamaat-e-islami jism
Indian organization in fact an Indian organization of political Islam that was
founded in India about 20 years after the Himba throw movement was founded so
this is a problem that we face if we’re challenging fundamental is
is that the local states as well as the national government is absolutely
embedded with these groups and be one of the examples of that for the Tories is
Preeti Patel who was right-wing rape cetera who seen as an up-and-coming
young minister until she went off message and made trips to Israel in her
own time that made sort of government-to-government contacts and
had strong right-wing links with the Israeli right-wing groups and as well as
having very strong links with the groups and she of course was in the cabinet one
of the confusing things or that some people might find confusing is that the
although the BJP and the RSS and the VHP had a profoundly conservative view of
women’s role in society they also had a lot of women leaders and very impressive
women leaders and now the cabinet many there are many women but although the
government didn’t oppose the young the the recent term Supreme Court judgment
that decriminalized homosexuality they stayed away but you find now in the days
after us the waves and waves of condemnation coming from Hindu right I
don’t know if the Christians have spoken but they were some of the main groups
that actually took became support earlier to get when it was earlier
decriminalized to have it reversed and the Muslim groups have come out and
condemned so they’re all the religious leaders all at one even though the
government has for the moment backed off as the government and one of the
became a central plank of the v-j piece a political strategy was to demand a
uniform Civil Code that is a uniform common law which is something that you
think that all secularists should support and in fact many do but whether
when the BJP demanded it it became something that was very difficult to
negotiate with women’s groups about why because they their version of law may
have been a Hindu majoritarian because they tended to have a discourse about
Muslims having said special orders and special rights but of course is not just
Muslims when I was living office you know everybody’s gotten by religious law
in India so Hindus are governed by various means if you know Muslims by
Muslims or Christians and so on about the laws and so they emerged a huge
debate in there about what to do and how to how to position oneself in this is
where as some a very few feminists still argued for some form of uniform good in
conditions where it was impossible to negotiate what they couldn’t generally
prefer to call it agenda just go rather than uniformity not to distress
uniformity but to stress justice and it was found very difficult to negotiate
and so most of the strategies have been about reforming the person was
individually so that property rights have been granted to Hindu women through
various law reforms divorce came in the early period after independence grapes
the left leader a baker who had formed who was a
complicated constitutional law and sat in the Constituent Assembly had army
very strongly for a uniform food and said why me why do we have our
dependencies we can’t channel religion and challenge glass and science
class distinction and those arguments had been had in the end what happened
was it was wooden a sort of as a general principle in the directive principles of
the Constitution but it wasn’t instituted at the time so there is a
sort of a little bit of a double think about it

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