In Houston, America, a grand spectacle was created with Narendra Modi in presence of Donald Trump. The massive rally of nearly 50000 people cheered both the leaders. Both these leaders praised each other and criticized ‘Islamic Terrorism’ and Pakistan. It is true that the South Asia, West Asia have been suffering the cancer of terror, what is forgotten in the hysteria created in the name of ‘Islamic terrorism’ is the fact that the seeds of this terrorism were sown by the American policy, which not only had designed the syllabus for brain washing of Muslim youth, using the retrograde version of Islam, the whole exercise was funded by America to the tune of 8000 million dollars and seven thousand tons of armaments. The dreaded activity was programmed to fight the Russian army which was occupying Afghanistan. America in a shrewd manner deployed the products of terror training to its benefit and now is trying to wash its hands off the whole thing. As Hillary Clinton had pointed out “let them come from Saudi Arabia and other countries, importing their Wahabi brand of Islam so that we can go beat the Soviet Union.”

courtesy : "The Hindu", 24 September 2019

There are many sidelights of the gala event. The media is full of the massive response to the Modi event, while what was equally important and has been hidden. The protests by different groups, protests against policies of Modi in India have been ignored by media. In America while a substantial number of those from Indian origin are supporters of Hindu nationalism and many are Modi Bhakts too, there is a good number of those who are concerned about the state of human rights and health of democracy back home. Right from America, Bernie Sanders, the Democrat leader tweeted about Trump endorsing Modi overlooking the violation of the norms of freedom of religion and violation of human rights here in India. Sanders in a tweet said, “When Donald Trump stays silent in the face of religious persecution, repression and brutality, the dangerous message this sends to autocratic leaders around the world is: “Go ahead, you can get away with it.” In his long speech the central point of what Modi said was that ‘all is well’ in India.

Modi can say so despite the gross violation of basic citizen’s rights of large number of Indians, including those in Kashmir. His primary constituency is away from the ‘last man’, to focus on whom ‘father of our nation’ Gandhi had suggested for us. While the large section in the audience lapped everything which Modi said, large number of protesters outside the stadium did drew attention to the reality of Indian situation under Modi rule.

From among the protestors the most apt comment came from the Coalition of groups ‘Alliance for Justice and Accountability’. Sunita Vishwanathan, part of the alliance and member of ‘Hindus for Human Rights’, hit the nail on the head, when she stated “We are horrified that our religion, which teaches Vasudaiva Kutumbakam, (whole World is my family) is being hijacked by extremists and nationalists who are lynching Muslims, trampling democracy and law and order and arresting, if not murdering, those who are speaking out,…We are especially appalled by the most recent nightmare of the Kashmiri people and the situation of 1.9 million people in India who are rendered stateless due to the imposition of the travesty called the National Register of Citizens.”

One is at loss to understand the direction which India as a nation is taking at present, more so from last few years. While our Prime Minster is celebrating and addressing the rallies in America the Indian economy is taking a nose dive. Lakhs of workers are being retrenched; the average people are feeling the pinch of the policies being pursued by the Government in power. These policies do not want to solve the problems average people of the country. As such last few years have seen a total change in the pattern of issues being brought to fore by BJP led Government. It has gone on to give importance to issues like abolition of triple talaq, abrogation of Article 370, focusing on NRC in Assam while there is a talk the air that NRC will be extended to the whole of the country and Uniform Civil Code will be, implemented.

The central focus of the policy making and concerns of the ruling Government has seen a drastic change. In the initial years of republic, solid foundations of industries, Universities and irrigation system were laid. The idea was this is what the nation needs; focus on issues related to livelihood. There were many weaknesses in the planning and implementation of these policies, but the direction was right. This did lead to improvement in levels of literacy, health related indices, economic growth, agricultural production, milk production to list the few.

The identity issues like Ram Temple or Holy Cow-beef, Conversions, love jihad were on the margins. Not influencing the direction of the policy making. With such a focus on infrastructure, India became global economic power. Now the nation’s track has been shifted away from the role of India as a guardian state focusing on basic issues of people, to the one which just makes claims to have welfare schemes, but in reality is withdrawing from responsibility in the areas which are the dire need of the vast sections of society.

After the launch of Ram Temple campaign BJP started emerging and claimed that it is ‘Party with a difference’. It is true. This is the party guided by the agenda of Hindu nationalism. Such Religious nationalism thrives on issues related to identity, hatred for religious minorities. It creates violence and polarization. It is this polarization which gives electoral strength to religious nationalist parties all over, BJP, in case of India. In the din of hysteria created by Howdy Modi type events how to bring the national focus back to the problems faced by average people of the society is the question staring us in our face.

Category :- English Bazaar Patrika / OPED

MODI.2 has emerged as a very powerful Government. It has not only the numerical majority, it is also facing a weak and divided opposition. That is one of the reasons for it stream rolling over people’s opinions and imposing the agenda of RSS-BJP of Hindu nationalism in a blatant way. On one side it has brought in a law banning triple talaq, on the other it has revoked Article 370. Encouraged by these easy successes, now it seems to be unfolding it’s other agendas one by one.

Speaking on occasion of Hindi day, the BJP President and Union Home minister Amit Shah went on to speak his party mind on the subject Hindi as the national language. Mr. Shah said, it was necessary to have one language which could represent India in the world…and that Hindi was widely spoken and could be the language to keep India ‘united’… “To preserve our ancient philosophy, our culture and the memory of our freedom struggle,…there is at least one language, Hindi, that the nation knows. If Hindi is taken out of our freedom struggle, the entire soul of the struggle is lost.” He tweeted this to emphasize his point: “I want to appeal to people to promote their native languages but also use Hindi to make the dream of Bapu and Sardar Patel of one language come true.”

The intentions behind this statement were not so hidden though the language is very clever. The idea is to relegate English and regional languages to the margins and to give more prominence to Hindi all through. Sensing the intentions of Mr. Shah, many a leaders from South India, M K Stalin, Shashi Tharoor, Pinarayi Vijayan and Kamal Haasan have openly come against his statement. All of them see this as an attempt to impose Hindi on these states.

Vijayan put it bluntly through his tweet, “That language (Hindi) is not the mother tongue of majority of Indians. The move to inflict Hindi upon them amounts to enslaving them.” While Kamal Haasan, in a video uploaded with him standing next to the Ashoka pillar and the Preamble, says India became a republic in 1950 with a promise to the people that their language and culture will be protected. “No Shah, Sultan or Samrat can suddenly break that promise. We respect all languages but our mother language will always be Tamil… The battle for our language will be exponentially bigger…”

As such our country has been very diverse in all the matters related to language, culture, religion and ethnicity. The freedom movement was the real reflector of this diversity. People cutting across all these considerations stood as a single fraternity, respecting the diversity and the rich heritage coming from different religions and languages in particular. In all the languages, India’s aspirations of becoming a single nation got expressed. Hindi along with other regional languages have inherited rich lineage of becoming the mirror of Indian society. Though English was introduced primarily as administrative language, it soon became part of Indian culture, and all these also became a mirror of Indian society and aspirations.

In contrast to national movement for freedom from British slavery, which stood to reflect all the languages, the communal forces had different ideas. Muslim communalism came up with the slogan, ‘Urdu, Muslim, Pakistan’, and on parallel lines Hindu nationalism threw up the slogan, ‘Hindi, Hindu, Hindustan’. When Pakistan was formed in the Muslim majority areas (East Pakistan and West Pakistan) their languages were very diverse. Muslim League’s insistence that Urdu should become the national language of Pakistan did precipitate the feeling of separation of East Pakistan from West Pakistan leading to formation of Bangladesh with Bengali as the major language.

Interestingly the Constitution makers concluded that “Hindustani, written either in Devanagari or the Persian script at the option of the citizen, shall, as the national language, be the first official language of the Union. English shall be the second official language for such period as the Union may, by law, determine.”  The three language formula envisaged English, Hindi and regional language as the fulcrum of education. During sixties there was an attempt to introduce Hindi in Southern states, and this led to massive protests all over, with the result the policy was put on hold. Again with new Education Policy under consideration wanted to make Hindi as mandatory.

The argument continues that Hindi is language of the majority of Indians. The latest data shows that it is mother tongue of 25% of Indians and 44% people say they know Hindi. The massive opposition to this language part of New Education Policy yet again led to holding back of Hindi as mandatory. One recalls that even during 1940s when Congress Government came to power in Tamilnadu (Madras at that time.), attempt was made to introduce Hindi there. The resistance to this was articulated by Periyar Ramasamy Naicker, who raised the slogan ‘Tamil Nadu for Tamilians’ and accused Hindi of being a tool of the Aryans for infiltrating Dravidian culture.

How does one deal with the complex language issue. Country has been running well with English, Hindi and regional languages being used in different proportions at different levels. While there have been conscious efforts to spread Hindi to Southern states, there are no parallel steps to popularize regional languages in Hindi speaking states. One must say Hindi has definitely made long strides in spreading into southern and other states all over the country but this task has been achieved not by impositions from top but by the spread of Hindi films, and popular Hindi serials apart from the efforts of organizations promoting Hindi.

Issue of Urdu as national language contributed to split of Pakistan. In contrast India has done a remarkable balancing act in matters of languages so far. The reorganization of states on linguistic lines has given a unique strength to us. With Amit Shah unfolding their agenda of imposing homogeneity all over, including in matters of language, one hopes this present sanity will prevail and sentiments and aspirations of all non Hindi speaking states will be given due weightage in deciding the national language policy.

Category :- English Bazaar Patrika / OPED