The World today (March 2020) is gripped with the pandemic of Corona Virus. While it began from China, currently it has gripped various countries; India is also facing the problem of mammoth proportions. Many steps are being taken, and many more are need of the hour. Apart from other things, what will make the battle against this threat to global-Indian health more difficult is the parallel promotion of faith based practices by the ruling dispensation and its myriad associates for whom, ancient Indian practices had all ingredients to deal with the human calamities. Two disturbing examples need to be deliberated to understand the intensity of the blind practices, which have become running undercurrent of our social life in recent times. It is not too long ago that the actions of faith based political ideology led to the murders of the likes of Dr. Narendra Dabholkar, Goving Pansare and M.M. Kalburgi. They were fighting against the practitioners and promoters of blind faith. These sections have got encouragement with the rise of sectarian nationalism.

On 22nd March Sunday 2020, the Prime minster had given a call for day long Janata curfew and to come to balconies to clap, to beat the thalis, utensils to appreciate the work being done by the health professionals. While the gesture to thank the work of health professional was well called for, it took another turn at places. Many processions were organized with people coming together, violating the physical distancing norms. They were blowing conch, beating utensils and doing  clapping etc. The reason for this was not far to seek. The Maharashtra BJP leader Shaina N.C. in her tweet, while appreciating the PM for this call of making noise said that this making sounds will kill the bacteria/viruses. As per her, this highly re-tweeted statement drew from Puranas, state that beating of shells, blowing of conch kills bacteria and viruses. Whatsapp messages were also flooding the social media with similar messages.

The second disturbing thing was the actions of Swami Chakrapani Maharaj, who had organized Gomutra (Cow Urine) Party, where cow urine was distributed and many consumed it with the understanding that this will help prevent/cure the Corona virus. Another BJP leader also organized similar program, in which one of the person drinking cow urine fell sick. Not to be left behind another BJP worthy, the MLA from Assam, Suman Haripriya elaborated the virtues of Cow dung.

It is not surprising that most of the Gomutra, Cow dung promotions came from those associated with the BJP ideology. Cow Urine has been in news more during last couple of decades since the BJP led NDA came to power in 1998. One of the close associates of Mr. Modi Shankar Bhai Vegad from Gujarat claims that that cow urine is the secret of his being healthy despite being 76 years old. The peak of such claims comes with Sadhvi Pragya Singh Thakur, current BJP MP from Bhopal and an accused in Malegaon terror blast, who claimed that her breast cancer got cured due to this cow urine. Mercifully her treating surgeon told us the truth that he had performed three surgeries on her for her ailment.

How do we believe or reject the claims of cow urine being the magic potion treating every conceivable disorder? While this question has been looming in the air, the ruling Government is allotting huge funds for so called research on Cow Urine, Panchgavya (a mixture of cow dung, Cow urine, milk, curd and ghee) etc. The central research agencies are calling for research on cow products, including the specificities’ of Indian cow!

In medical science the introduction of a medicine are backed up by biochemical studies, pre clinical trials, (Double blind trials with placebos) and post introduction evaluations. In case of these cow products what is guiding these actions is pure faith, manufactured through various processes As far as cow urine is concerned we know that like the urine of other animals, it’s a combination of discarded substances from the body. It has over 90% water; it has Urea, creatinine, sulphates, phosphates etc. There are no clinical studies to back up the claims. It is purely from ideological perspective that some elements are imposing-propagating the worth of cow urine.

It is part of the whole project of Hindu nationalism, which wants to impose the ancient values of birth based hierarchy of caste and gender on the society. On parallels track it wants to state that ancient India had already achieved the acme of achievements in all areas of science and technology, be it Pushpak Viman, plastic surgery, bio technology, television and internet. This is part of the overall political agenda where in the name of Golden past faith based understandings are being presented with reverence. It is the attempt to adorn the superiority of Hindu traditional values. In matters of cow, on one hand the cow-beef campaign led to the phenomenon of lynchings and on the other the cow products are being promoted. This promotion has also led to the commercial exploitation of cow urine in different products of Baba Ramdev’s Patanjali products and others.

The very concept of fighting the pandemic of the proportion of Corona does require massive efforts on the part of the Government and the society. In India the rising impact of Hindu Nationalism, being spearhead by RSS has spread the understandings which are totally against science and reason. RSS to pursue its agenda has set up Vigyan Bharati, which puts forwards the extracts from Puranas etc. as science. Further to this in Nagpur a Go Vigyan Anusandhan Kendra has also been established to propagate these understandings which are neither logical nor can stand the scrutiny of scientific methods.

The propagation of such things will retard the process of progress and is already posing obstacles to dealing with the pandemic as irrational things have been drilled into the understanding of the section of society. The ruling authorities have to come forward and undo these detrimental practices.


Category :- English Bazaar Patrika / OPED

The carnage or to put it more precisely the anti Muslim violence in Delhi (February-March 2020) has shaken us all. Analysts are burning midnight oil yet again to understand the deeper causative factors of the same. One of the neglected aspects of analysis of communal violence has been the one related to prevalent factor of Caste in Indian society. Caste is inherent in the scriptures called as Hindu scriptures; caste has been the rigid frame work of Hindu society, which has also penetrated into other religious communities in India. The deeper connection between Hindu nationalism or Hindutva and caste has been explored somewhat but not too many studies have taken up the relationship between the communal violence and caste in India. Suraj Yengde (IE, Delhi Pogrom is an attempt to Divert attention from Government’s Failures, March 8, 2020) makes some points on this issue. Yengde points out, “Many are still downplaying the Delhi riot as an affliction of Hindutva or Hindu-Muslim binaries. It is neither. It is not religious but caste tensions that encourage such treacherous acts.”   

He quotes from the Gujarat activist Raju Solanki, “in the 2002 Godhra riots there were 2,945 arrests in Ahmadabad. Of these, 1,577 were Hindus and 1,368 Muslims. Among the Hindus arrested, 797 were OBCs, 747 Dalits, 19 Patels, two Baniyas, and two Brahmins. The upper castes became MLAs, the rest were jailed. Also, it is not an accident that Dalits constitute nearly 22% of the total arrests in India; Adivasis 11%, Muslims 20% and OBCs 31%. More than 55% of under trials also come from the same communities (NCRB 2015).”

While this data is on the dot it must be stated that while caste has lot of role in the emergence of politics of Hindutva, in the resultant violence the primary focus has been religion, here caste plays a role which is secondary in some ways. To trace the outline of the Hindu nationalism’s prime mover RSS; one can definitely say that its formation and rise is primarily due to the rising caste consciousness and the beginnings of struggles aimed at injustices due to the caste Varna System. While Hindu Mahasabha was already on the scene as parallel and opposite to the Muslim League, these formations initially had only Kings and landlords. Later these formations were joined in by some elite, affluent sections of society.

RSS in particular was a response to the ground level changes resulting in coming up of low caste/average people in social and political space. It was the non-cooperation movement led by Gandhi and then the non Brahman movement in Nagpur-Vidarbha area which disturbed the Brahmanical sections, supported by landlord-kings, to take up the agenda of Hindu nation. The core articulation of Hindutva politics was to present the glorious ancient times, when Manu Smriti’s laws ruled the roost. These were getting a jolt now as the efforts of Joti Rao Phule and later the campaigns of Ambedkar started empowering the downtrodden dalits. This was a serious threat to Brahmanical system.

While this was the core an external threat was to be created to ‘unify’ Hindu society. And here the Muslims, Muslim Kings rule came in as handy. It is this anti Muslim tirade and actions which was the frontage for Hindutva, while the anti dalit-agenda was the real underlying motive. The whole of Shakha (RSS branches) baudhiks (intellectual sessions) were structured around this. The promotion of communal historiography, the hatred for Muslims was the visible part of RSS training, while glorification of past is the fulcrum which in a way is the code language for retaining the hierarchy of caste and also of gender.

Practically also if we see the strengthening of Hindutva began on the issue of a Muslim king destroying the temple of the birth place of Lord Ram, this campaign got its vitriol after the implementation of Mandal Commission in 1990. The anti Muslim Hate and promotion of values of caste and gender hierarchy are synthesized by Hindutva politics. That’s as far as the political agenda of Hindu nationalism goes. As far as communal violence is concerned, it has been an anti Muslim work through and through. All the statistics shows that victims of communal violence are primarily Muslims, around 80% of victims being Muslims. These Muslims do come from all sections of Muslims, more from the poor.

The caste comes into operation in the mechanism of riot production. Hindutva politics, through its extensive network has been working relentlessly among dalits. The recent book by Bhanwar Meghwanshi, “I was a Kar Sevak”, brilliantly describes the mechanism of co-opting dalits into the agenda of sectarian politics. RSS has floated innumerable organizations, like Samajik Samrasta Manch, which work among dalits to promote Brahmanical values and to integrate dalits into the scheme of Hindutva politics. They are made to act as foot soldiers of Hindu nationalist politics. Those who spread hate through indoctrination and propaganda are safe in their cozy houses or offices while the poor dalits are made to soil their hands with the blood of religious minorities.

The face of Gujarat violence, Ashok Mochi, now talks of dalit-Muslim unity. The data compiled by Raju Solanki and quoted by Yengde is the norm in the cases of violence in India. Those who are incited, those who are later charged with violence are not the ones who give donations to RSS or support its various activities. Most of these do come from the sections of indoctrinated youth from downtrodden communities.

Yengde has done a valuable job in drawing our attention to the role of caste in communal violence; the problem with his thesis is the undermining the role of ‘Hate against religious minorities’, which is the base on which the violence is orchestrated. The extent and degree of indoctrination done through shakhas is very powerful and effective. This can gauzed from the experiences of the likes of Bhanwar Meghwanshi, who tells us the difficulties he had to face to come to grips of reality of caste while overcoming the RSS propaganda.


Category :- English Bazaar Patrika / OPED