Threats to India's Secular Fabric

By Prabhakar Timble
29 July 2014 20:41 IST

“I, A.B., do swear in the name of God/solemnly affirm that I will bear true faith and allegiance to the Constitution of India as by law established, that I will uphold the sovereignty and integrity of India, that I will faithfully and conscientiously discharge my duties as a Minister for the State of ……….and that I will do right to all manner of people in accordance with the Constitution and the law without fear or favour, affection or ill-will”. This is the oath of office taken by a Minister. Many take it in regional language to show their belonging to the region. Some prefer in Hindi to signal national pride. A few take the pledge in English as routine course. Very few deliberately choose Sanskrit to assert their allegiance to Vedic mind-set. Some political ‘artists’ of Goa opt for Marathi to communicate that their cultural roots differ from the mainstream. In one way, this heterogeneity is India’s pride and respect to diversity.

Despite the solemn oath of office, Pandurang (Deepak) Dhavlikar, the Minister in Goa cabinet has the full liberty to make assertions on Hindu Rashtra within his family and at the most in a village pub or whilst partying in a beach resort overlooking the “bikini” clad white sands. The Minister has brought disrepute to Prime Minister Narendra Modi as he was speaking on the congratulatory motion in the state legislature. This should have resulted in a walkout by all the MLAs or at least a protest by all cutting across party lines. This would have raised the level of the congratulatory motion. Deepak Dhavlikar should have been left to wander alone. lonely and pale, loitering in his fairy tale of ‘hindu rashtra’.

The Deputy Chief Minister’s language is more dangerous. The cunning message of ‘Christian Hindu’ was to hide the social crime and the constitutional delinquency of the ministerial colleague. I would prefer the minister to the deputy chief minister as there is no danger to sleep with a known enemy rather than an unknown friend.

Nation called India

There are layers after layers of races, religions, invasions, settlements, classes, castes and varying degrees of culture that has formed India. The word Hindusthan originated from the great civilization in the central block of India in the command area of Sindhu. The Sanskrit name ‘Bharata’ has roots in the old mythical founder of the race. Hindu is not the only religion of Indian origin as we have Buddhist, Jain and Sikh. Those who professed a religion of non-Indian origin---Christians, Jews, Parsees, Muslims, etc never ceased to be Indians.

Mahatma Gandhi might have understood Hinduism as a relentless pursuit after truth. This approach is not apt today as it misleads being narrow to a specific religion. It is also incorrect to use Hindu or Hinduism for Indian culture. Hind is also commonly used for India. Similarly we largely used the phrase “Bharat Mata ki Jai” meaning victory to Mother India. To quote Jawaharlal Nehru “Mother India, was essentially these millions of people, and victory to her meant victory to these people. You are parts of this Bharat Mata, I told them, you are in a manner yourselves Bharat Mata, and as this idea slowly soaked in their brains, their eyes would light up as if they have made a great discovery”. (The Discovery of India, page 60).  These words do not connote Hindutva cultural nationalism.

Hindutva & Hinduism

The RSS began as a vehicle of the ideology of Hindutva, not Hinduism, with the goal to establish a Hindu Rashtra in India. Muslims, Christians and Communists came to be regarded as internal threats to India under the Hindutva thought. But, the tenets of Hinduism as a religion and the forms of worship are different from Hindutva. It was natural that after the murder of Mahatma Gandhi by Nathuram Godse, the followers of RSS distributed sweets and openly celebrated the murder. Today, they can claim it as their fundamental right of expression under the Indian Constitution. The murder of a Hindu was a source of joy for the Hindutva brigade. Hinduism does not sanction such festivities. This should give a sample of the mega dish that is awaiting the Hindu majority under a Hindu Rashtra. The Sanatan Sanstha and the Hindu Janjagruti Samiti is nurturing Brahmanism as Hinduism.

 The RSS has changed some gears over the passage of years. The organization is active in blood donation, relief and rehabilitation and equally vigorous in elections i.e. choice of candidates, distribution of tickets and election campaign. For the Hindutva agenda, RSS combines its activities through different children such as Bajrang Dal, Adivasi Kalyan Ashram, Vahinis and ‘bharatiya parishads’. The Vishwa Hindu Parishad is an adult offspring. For democratic politics, the BJP is projected as the secular progeny of the RSS. Undoubtedly, the work and tenacity of the RSS as a holding company of all such ‘parivar enterprises’ is admirable. That it poses a threat to secularism, harmony, plurality and creative expression is a different issue.

Kya hai Hindu Rashtra

The game plan to make use of religion, aspirations of elite classes and the electoral process to reach the ultimate goal is of the holding company.  It is dressing the society with their brand of Hinduism as the unwritten religion of the State. Hindu Rashtra is understood as Hindu nationalism to take the place of Indian secularism. Such a product will destroy both Hinduism as a religion and spirit of nationalism of Indians whether Hindu or others.

The nomenclature Hindu Rashtra evokes that it would be a heaven for Hindus. For the proponents of the Hindu Rashtra, Hindus are more equal than others and further Brahmins are miles more equal than other Hindus. I am guided on this issue by the writings and speeches of Dr. B. R. Ambedkar (Vol. 4) “Riddles in Hinduism”. The ‘Dharm Granths’ followed by such Hindus considers Dalits as outcast and social criminals. 

 That the Congress and other parties use the communal card to get into power and as a passport for electoral gains cannot be denied. But, we are told by the Ministers in the Goa cabinet that the BJP communalism is for building the Hindu Rashtra. This revelation is made on the floor of the state legislature which is the apex democratic institution. In addition to the oath of office, the ministers are also bound by an oath of secrecy. The concerned Minister clearly breached the oath of office. Was the Minister fore-warning us about the hidden official secret known to the inner circle of the BJP? Did the Minister also commit a breach of oath of secrecy for a larger public cause? If so, we need to be indebted to the Minister for sounding the bell to caution the 32% Modi-maniacs and the rest 48% who did not vote for the Narendra Modi led BJP.

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Prabhakar Timble

Mr Prabhakar Timble is an educationist and a legal expert. He has served several educational institutions, especially as the Principal of Government College at Quepem, Kare College of Law in Madgao as well as couple of Management Institutes. He was also the State Election Commissioner of Goa.

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Previous Comments

Only a Hindu majority India could be secular and offer freedom to all people. The moment Christianity and Islam crosses a threshhold as in Kerala or WB, all these glorious talks by the likes of Timblo will disappear.

People like Timblo will have to either convert or take off somewhere else.

- Aryan, Panaji | 15 th January 2016 05:32

 

The fact that India is a hindu majority India will remain a secular nation. Secularism existed in India thousands of years before the word secularism was borne. The pseudo secularists are distorting the meaning of Hindu Rashtra as Hindu's Rashtra. Its meaning is Rashtra or nation where Hindus lived and survived. People like Timblo wants to frighten the minorities despite knowing this fact. Like his political mentors viz Congress this is mischief which they spread. Beware.

- Madhav Bastodker, Ponda | 02 nd August 2014 15:46

 

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