CAB Debate: Falsehoods to the Fore

Ram Puniyani

Who was responsible for Partition of India?

Citizenship Amendment Bill, while passed in both houses of Parliament has elicited diverse and negative responses all over India. On one hand we see massive protests in North East leading to death of four people. On the other there is a sever discomfort among those upholding Indian Constitution and among the Muslim community all over the country. This Bill in its present form gives the rights of citizenship to Hindus, Sikhs, Buddhists, Jains and Christians persecuted in Afghanistan, Pakistan and Bangle Desh. What is glaring is that Muslims are missing from the list. What is glaring and dangerous is that while those persecuted in these countries have been offered citizenship, the Countries like Myanmar, where worst persecution against Muslims has been seen in recent years, don’t fins any place in the list. Also even in the countries which are mentioned in the bill, there are sects of Muslims which are persecuted, but have been left out.

A lots has been written against the bill and its intention of converting our plural India into Hindu rashtra, what is also disturbing is that the defense of this Bill has been done by blaming Congress and by stating that partition was done on the basis of faith! Both these formulation are a total lie. Mr. Amit Shah while speaking in Rajya Sabha in an aggressive manner retorted that “Is desh ka vibhajan agar dharma ke aadhar par Congress na kari hoti to is Bill ka kaam nahin hota (Had the Congress not partitioned this country on the basis of religion, there would have been no need for this Bill).” In response Shahshi Tharoor of Congress said that Amit Shah was not paying attention to History class. The facts lie somewhere else.

Mr. Shah was a RSS worker who later joined RSS student wing ABVP. Contrary to what Shashi Tharoor is saying Shah has imbibed the history taught by RSS combine and seriously internalized it. We recall that even Nathuram Godse the murderer of Father of Nation, also held Gandhi, the patriarch of Congress, as being responsible for partition.  This is believed by most of the Hindu nationalists. Religion as the basis of Nationhood is by and large attributed to begin with Savarkar and then Jinnah. As such the story is much older. Before coming to roots of genesis of the idea of religion as the root of Nationhood, we also need to remember that, the British, the colonial masters, were the prime force in encouraging Muslim League on one side and Hindu Mahasabha-RSS on the other.

The British, to begin with, saw these organizations as helpful in the pursuing their ‘divide and rule’ policy. Later close to the peaking of National movement in 1942, they started keeping yet another angle in their mind. This was the geo-political realities of those times. Russia had emerged as the major other pole in the power politics of the World. It was posing the challenge to British-American hegemony of the World. Russia was also inspiring the anti colonial movements. Many of the leaders of freedom movement were influenced by socialist ideology. Keeping this in mind, division of India was one of the steps in the mind of British. The idea behind this was that they can retain their hold in the region through yet to be formed Pakistan.

Coming to the genesis of nationalism in the name of religion, it was the reaction of declining classes’, landlords and Kings, to the changing scenario, where through Industrialization, communication and modern education, India was emerging as a secular democratic nation Different groups, Madras Mahajan Sabha, Pune Sarvjakik Sabha, Bombay Association, representing the emerging classes and newer social changes started coming up and as they formed the political organization Indian National Congress in 1885. In response to this declining classes became very uncomfortable with the changes which were the root of equality. The feudal classes, Landlords-Kings of both religions were deeply shaken as the system of birth based hierarchy, on which they were presiding, started crumbling.

At this point of time the Muslim section started saying that Islam is in danger and Hindu sections presented as if Hindu religion is in danger. As Indian National organizations and parallel activities of education for dalits and women started picking up, the feudal classes saw it as an assault on the religiously ordained inequality. While these organizations initially had the participation of landlord-kings, later they succeeded in winning over other elite and still later sections of average people. This is the foundation of religious nationalism-Muslim and Hindu. So on one hand we had Indian nationalism, which can broadly be identified with Gandhi, Ambedkar and Bhagat Singh, on the other Muslim League formed in 1906, Hindu Mahasabha in 1915 and RSS in 1925. The latter group harped on ancient glorious past while the India nationalist stream saw the need for struggle against the prevalent inequality.

The articulation of religious nationalism comes with Savarkar, who saw Hindus and Muslims as two opponents, and Muslim League which saw that Hindu majority will not let them have equal rights. Hindu nationalists spread hatred against Muslims and Muslim nationalists, forming the base of intense communal violence in times to come.

It was the gravity of communal violence which forced Congress to gradually accept the Mountbatten’s (March 1947) proposal of partitioning the country. Congress in its resolution accepting the partition stated that though it opposes the ‘Two Nation theory’ (of Savrakar, Jinnah, Golwalkar-Muslim League, Hindu Mahasabha and RSS), in the given circumstances it seems to be lesser evil than the communal venom which is engulfing the nation. Here again VP Menon, the architect of the Partition Plan, points out that Patel 'accepted the division of India in December 1946, while Nehru would only acquiesce six months later'."

Maulana Azad and Gandhi, did not accept the idea at all, but in the face of the rising communal tide, they had to keep quiet about it. In Amit Shah-RSS narrative Congress is blamed as Congress, leading the freedom movement, never accepted the idea of religion as the basis of nation.

Category :- English Bazaar Patrika / OPED

Religion is probably the most complex human phenomenon. From Centuries philosophers have tried to understand and define it. Different commentators have emphasized on its many facets. Probably one of its most comprehensive understanding of this phenomenon has been put forward by Karl Marx, when he writes “Man makes Religion…This state, this society produce religion, a reversed World consciousness, because they are a reversed World…Religion is the reversed theory of the World, its encyclopedic compendium, its logic in a popular form…religion is the sigh of oppressed creature, the heart of heartless World, just as it is the spirit of spiritless situation. It is opium of the people.”

From its last sentence phrase, ‘opium of the people’ has become very popular, but it does not give the total picture. The richness of this formulation has remained untapped particularly its ‘sigh of oppressed creature’ has not been explored much. All this comes to one’s mind when one is witnessing the intervention of religion in an aggressive form in most spheres of life. On one hand we see that the politics to control oil resources comes up in the name of ‘Islamic terrorism’, nationalism has been mixed up with religion, there is intensification of blind faith and at yet another level we have proliferation of Godmen, a phenomenon just a few decades old, becoming stronger in last three decades in particular.

While religion did have multiple roles all through, the major one had been that of the clergy on one hand and Saints on the other. Clergy was with those in power (King-Pope, Raja-Rajguru and Nawab-Shahi Imam) and saints like the Bhakti and Sufi in India stood with the average people talking-practicing humanism and opposing the social inequality. The present phenomenon of Godmen is unique in more ways than one. In the changed political scenario their role is not exactly of the clergy of previous centuries. They have support base in rich and not so rich both. While they talk of moral and spiritual language most of them do have an underbelly where lot of suspicious activities can be discerned very clearly.

Taking the process of trying to dodge law for their illegal activities has been the norm with many of them. We see a new process in Swami Nityanand. He was born A. Raja Sekharan and adorned the saffron robes to become Nityanad. Has large following within and outside India. He was involved in rape and murder cases like many other of his ilk. Unlike others who first tried to avoid the arms of law, he chose another path, founding a new country. Nityanand bought an Island, near Trinidad and Tobago, from Equador, on the West Coast of South America and declared it to be ‘Hindu Nation’ and named it Kailassa, a place where persecuted Hindus can buy citizenship with heavy fees and will be able to practice the Hindu religion.

It already has made its national flag, national languages and other symbols with web site in toe. It has named its Prime Minster and a Cabinet which will take the decisions about the affairs of this Hindu nation. One is not much aware of Godmen like tendencies in Islam or Christianity barring the likes of Benny Hinn while politics in the name of Islam, Islamic Fundamentalism, and Christian Fundamentalism and Buddhist fundamentalism are flourishing particularly in the World, more so in West and South Asia.

Prior to Nityanand we had seen how first Asaram Bapu and then Gurmeet Ram Rahim Insaan were arrested with great difficulty. Hundreds died when Ram Rahim was arrested. One journalist of courage, Chatrapti Ramchandra was murdered as he was bringing out the happenings of Dera Sacha Sauda, the empire of Ram Rahim Singh Insaan. Gurmeet was given lakhs in donation by Haryana BJP Government, and the whole Cabinet of the previous ministry visited Dera to seek his blessings. In Asaram’s Ashram also there was a beeline of political heavy weights including our present Prime Minster.

Swami Nityanand has the backing of powerful money bags, many from Gujarat. Apart from the affluent followers the average people also follow these paddlers of faith. Those who died while protesting against the arrest of their Guru were average people. Recently while on way to Panipat, from the road my escort told me that just a small distance from the road, is the jail where Gurmeet is lodged. His devotees while travelling; stop on the spot near the jail; pay their respect before proceeding to their further journey. More than other things what shook me was the brutal murder of brave journalist Ramchandra, who despite threats to his life carried on with what a journalist should do, reveal the truth about Gurmeet.

Sexual escapades of these Godmen can fill volumes and their victims, have painful tales to tell. There are others in this groups who specialize in different tricks. We had Satya sai baba, sitting over and empire of hundreds of crores, we have seen the Yoga Guru Ramdev making a transition from Yoga to Patanjali enterprise and being counted among the rich entrepreneurs of the country. The Godwomen are few but they are very much there, Maa Amritanand Mayee, Radhe Maa being two such, who have made headlines on occasions.

Surely social scientists do need to burn the midnight oil to tell us what this new phenomenon means for the society. While those named here are the leading biggies, surely there are hundreds of them flourishing in their business right under the patronage of the state and the affluent of the society, which is mostly looking away. The political parties ignore their violations with an eye on the vote bank. All this is happening in the name of faith, religion. Critiquing them does not gel well with the powers that be or the large sections of society, which are in the awe of the powers apparently spiritual, but more then that the social powers, which insulate them despite their illegal and immoral deeds.        

Category :- English Bazaar Patrika / OPED