OPED

Like people of all regions and religions, a large number of Hindus have been migrating to all the parts of World. The reason behind this is better pastures and better living standards in those places. In most of the parts of the World one can see a substantial number of Hindus/people of Indian origin. The concentration of these émigrés is particularly more in richer countries. Earlier large number of Indians migrated to UK, Canada and currently United States is the hot favorite. The émigrés from here do tend to adapt to the countries they adopt, still retaining their umbilical cords. Some of them locally meet to celebrate their Indian-ness; some also meet bearing their religious identity as Hindus or Muslims in particular. There is a large Diaspora, from India scattered all over the US. Some Hindus among them recently held World Hindu Congress in Chicago and invited RSS chief Mohan Bhagwat to address the same.

Some of these NRI’s, as they are known popularly, identify RSS combine as representative of Hindus. At one level it should be surprising as to how RSS combine can be representing all the Hindus. RSS upholds a version of Hinduism, which is wedded to Brahmanical norms; majority of Hindus all through freedom struggle chose Gandhi as their icon and identified with freedom struggle. In contrast RSS, which has the agenda of Hindu nation, kept totally aloof from the freedom movement These Hindus, behind the WHC, may well know that greatest Hindu of twentieth Century, Mohandas Karamchand Gandhi was killed by a person who was the follower of RSS ideology of Hindu nation.

Be it so! Addressing the Congress Mr. Bhagwat made many comments which are indirectly insulting to the people of other religions and ideologies in India. While emphasizing the need for Hindu unity he said “wild dogs can invade and destroy even a lion if he is alone”, a remark that was interpreted by some as a veiled reference to the Sangh parivar narrative of Muslim invaders dominating and leaving their imprint on India, and Christian missionaries work in poor areas leading to conversions. He also made a reference to pests and the use of pesticides in agriculture, analogy being to religious minorities in India.

Summarizing his ideology and understanding of history Mr. Bhagwat, said, “Why are we suffering for thousand years? We had everything and we knew everything. We forgot to practice what we knew. We also forgot to work together,”

Reacting to this many a spokesmen of Indian political parties poured their anguish. Mr. Nawab Malik of NCP stated “The ideology of RSS and BJP is anti-Hindu and they only know how to do caste politics…The day they stop dividing Hindus on the basis of caste, every Hindu and people from other religions as well will be lions. Similarly Sachin Sawant from Congress said, that "RSS ideology is anti-Hindu. It is known for hatred towards other castes and religions. It is shameful of the RSS chief to describe any religion in this way."

At a more forthright level Prakash Ambedkar of Bharipa Bahujan Mahasangh leader Prakash Ambedkar felt that that the "dog" reference was for the "opposition parties" in the country. And "I condemn this 'mansikta' (mentality) of Mohan Bhagwat that he has referred to Opposition parties in the country as dogs."

Interestingly at the site of the WHC there were posters which showed RSS agenda in a blunt way. One such poster related to Love Jihad, depicted the marriage of Shramila Tagore to Mansoor Ali Pautadi as love jihad. Posters question whether Saif Ali Khan will force his wife to Kareena Kapoor to convert to Islam and also as to why they gave an Arabic name to their son (Taimur). In loud and clear manner the posters say that interfaith marriages are a silent Holocaust of Hindus, showing a clear patriarchal mindset of the organizers. These assertions of WHC council did not go unchallenged from the progressive Indians community. Many from Indian origin community stood to challenge with a statement and labeled RSS politics as “Hindu supremacist ideology that is spearheading the violation of human rights and religious freedom of minorities in India.” Many young activists from Chicago’s ‘South Asians for Justice’ shouted slogans "RSS Turn Around, We don't want you in Our Town," and "Stop Hindu Fascism." These protestors had some fracas with those attending the conference.

Overall the organizations like WHC have come up cashing on ‘identity crisis of Hindus’ in US. Many a first generation Hindus who migrate for jobs or better business opportunities to US get a cultural shock there. The shock is that related to equality; related to social norms as such and to gender equations in particular. The whole first generation of Hindus landing up in US see women in very different role there, women as autonomous beings, which come as a threat to their own mindset. It is at this juncture that RSS ideology of glorification of the past, a decoy to hide caste and gender inequality, comes in as a succor to these troubled souls, longing for their mother land but pinned down to United States by lure of lucre. RSS type Hinduism gives them the identity they needed to sustain their original values. So for this section; RSS is synonymous with Hinduism, which surely it is not.

This was the ground on which VHP of America, HSS and other parallel organizations started flourishing in US. In elections in Gujarat many NRI Indians come regularly to campaign for BJP, similarly a good amount of donations pour in for RSS combine and BJP electoral campaign in India. Today RSS, parallel Hindu Swayamsevak Sangh has thousands of active shakhas (branches) in US. The statement of RSS chief are a clear denigration of the religious minorities in India, one hopes that the progressive organizations like South Asians for Justice continue to promote secular values, values of amity and counter the divisive agenda, which RSS is spreading there.

Category :- English Bazaar Patrika / OPED

In his recent tour abroad (August 2018) while addressing the International Institute for Strategic Studies Rahul Gandhi stated that "The RSS is trying to change the nature of India. There is no other organization in India that wants to capture India's institutions.. It is similar to the idea that exists in the Arab world of the Muslim Brotherhood. The idea is that one ideology should run through every institution and one idea should crush all other ideas,” and that "Muslim Brotherhood was banned after Anwar Sadat's assassination; RSS was banned after Mahatma Gandhi's assassination… And the most interesting one -- women are not allowed in either of these organizations," In response to this BJP spokesperson Sambit Patra retaliated and  “the likes of President Ram Nath Kovind, Prime Minister Narendra Modi and former prime minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee…have a RSS background and Gandhi’s comparison of the organization with an Islamist outfit is “unforgivable”. .

Some from RSS stable went on to say that one who has not understood India cannot understand RSS. As such there has been various analysis of the nature of RSS politics. Academics and political scientists have tried to unravel the real politics behind its activities. RSS is not just a political organization, it is a supra political organization, where its political wing BJP is a small component of its total activities manifested through myriads of its organizations. Sudhanshu Mittal from BJP in an article states that RSS affiliated organization all have greatly contributed to the nation.

Hundreds of such organizations are active in different sections of society. While not talking of the manipulative role of these organizations, let’s see what some of these have not been doing which is needed and is relevant for social groups. One such point comes to one’s mind about RSS affiliate Bharatiya Kisan Sangh for example. One is witnessing the torment of farmers in the form of suicides, which reflects the deeper agrarian crisis. Have we ever heard the voice of this organization as to how to protect the agrarian sector, how government policies are flawed leading to the critical situation in village? Same question can be raised about agenda of these organizations among Adivasis’s. While one hears a lot about rising anti Christian violence in these areas, one knows that RSS affiliates don’t raise their voice against the displacement and marginalization of Adivasis.

RSS also claims to be having involved in lots of charity work, its claims generally dominate the media, saying that RSS volunteers are the first to reach the site of calamity. Interestingly Muslim Brotherhood is also prompt and active in the area of charity work. But in both the cases RSS and Muslim Brotherhood, Charity is the superficial point the core agenda is to impose particular type of social relations, those of inequality on the society. At core; the project of both RSS and Muslim Brotherhood is to bring in a social system which is opposed to democratic ethos of equality of all. Surely RSS and Muslim Brotherhood are no clones; still there are some features which are common as their political agenda is similar. Despite all this big paraphernalia of RSS; its core agenda remains Hindu nationalism, it regards the values of Indian Constitution as being Western and is aiming to push the society back to the values given Holy Scriptures. Let’s see what Islamic brotherhood wants? On parallel lines it has stood in opposing the democratic values of equality, calling the very democratic institutions as Western and so the need to promote Islamic values, which as interpreted by them stand for inequality of gender and social groups.

Both are the exclusively male organizations, harping on the past golden era, harping on opposition to modern (called Western by them) values. This should be the defining point in comparing any organization. It is also true that while RSS has trained Pracharaks who in turn float different organizations, rooted in RSS agenda, which have different formal structures. Muslim Brotherhood probably encompasses most of the activities under its own umbrella. Here one can add that the Christian Fundamentalism which came up in US in the decades of 1920s had many similar features. In post colonial societies in particular; organizations deriving their legitimacy in the name of religion; to begin with; have come up in opposition to the rising values of Equality. In India when the Indian National Congress began in 1885, it aimed at an inclusive nation hood cutting across all the religious communities. It also aimed at equality of all.

Category :- English Bazaar Patrika / OPED