Of Saffron Brigade’s ‘Nationalism’ and Branding ‘Others’ as ‘Anti-Nationals’
Even as people across the country continue to protest against Rohith Vemula’s institutional murder, the RSS-BJP-ABVP’s predictable arrogance continues. In Mumbai yesterday, RSS workers beat up protestors in Dharavi with lathis and rods. In HCU, the Vice Chancellor Appa Rao is yet to resign. He has gone on “long leave”, and in his place the MHRD has arrogantly appointed Prof. Vipin Srivastava, the same man who headed the EC sub-committee which punished Rohith and his friends! In solidarity with the #ChaloHCU call on 25 Jan, an AISA team of comrades from JNU, Anant and Piyush have joined the HCU protestors today at Hyderabad.
We live in times when the RSS-BJP- ABVP go around distributing ‘pass/fail’ certificates of ‘nationalism’ to all and sundry. ABVP tells us that the screening of Muzaffarnagar Baaki Hai is “antinational”, and elected BJP MP Bandaru Dattatreya decides to brand Rohith Vemula and the Ambedkar Students’ Association in HCU as “antinational”, casteist and “extremist” for their dissenting views. An article in the RSS mouthpiece Organizer similarly called JNU a “den of anti-nationals”. RSS and ABVP, of course, have declared that FTII is anti-India for protesting Gajendra Chauhan’s appointment. IITs are anti-Indian because of groups like Ambedkar Periyar Study Circle and protests like Kiss of Love, and because they refuse to accept separate dining halls and bans on non-vegetarian mess food. IITs and IIMs are anti-national because their top academics and scientists have protested against assaults on autonomy. People’s doctor Binayak Sen, well-known activist Sandeep Pandey, Greenpeace activist Priya Pillai, civil rights activist Teesta Setalvad, editor Siddharth Varadarajan – all are anti-national in the RSS-BJP-ABVP dictionary. Their list of “anti-nationals” is seemingly endless. Each one of us could end up on it, perhaps, if we are not already on it. This game of vilifying and criminalising all political difference/dissent would be funny if it weren’t so dangerous. The RSS-BJP-ABVP now use the state machinery and institutional power to punish all differing opinion.
But are the ABVP-RSS-BJP, ‘nationalist’?! Do they work in the interests of citizens of this country?
Let us take just a few examples, to arrive at an answer.
- Three girls recently committed suicide in Tamil Nadu, driven to desperation because they could not pay the exorbitant fees demanded by private colleges. Instead of opposing private education corporations to open ‘teaching shops’ for profits in India, the Modi government has been cutting funds for public educational institutions. ABVP and the BJP want education to officiallybecome a tradable commodity under GATS, after which WTO diktats will prevent the Government from subsidising public-sector education! Why does Sanghi ‘nationalism’ mean love and loyalty for WTO and imperialist policies?
- At the recently conducted WTO negotiations in Nairobi, the Modi government failed to protect and defend Indian farmers. The Indian delegation simply capitulated – not even resorting to basic minimum of demanding amendments or blocking the agreement, tactics which have been employed in the past! Even commerce Minister has had to admit that the negotiations were a ‘disappointment’. Is it a sign of nationalism to capitulate to the WTO-US-EU’s bullying tactics?
- Narendra Modi chose Arvind Subramanian as his Chief Economic Advisor (CEA) – the same Arvind Subramanian who in March 2014, had submitted written recommendations to the US Senate advising the US to initiate WTO disputes against India unless India changed its patent laws that ensure affordable medicines for poor Indians and poor people of the world, protecting them from greedy global drug corporations. (India or US? Whose interests will the Chief Economic Advisor Subramanian serve? by G Pramod Kumar, Firstpost.com Oct 21, 2014 http://www.firstpost.com/business/economy/india-or-us-whose-interests-will-the-chief-economic-advisor-subramanian-serve-1994485.html). Why does a ‘nationalist’ Prime Minister need an economic advisor who works like an US agent who wanted the US to use WTO diktats against Indian interests? The Modi government has subsequently followed Subramaniam’s advice. Patent laws are being rewritten to prevent Indian companies from cheaply manufacturing generic drugs. (See US pushes for new IP laws to help Big Pharma at cost of poor; NDA says Yes Boss, http://currentnews.in/usa-pushes-new-intellectual-property-laws-help-big-pharma-cost-poor-nda-says-yes-boss/)
- Is it ‘nationalist’ or anti-national to appease greedy MNC drug companies at the cost of the lives of India’s poor patients and people in other developing countries?
- While in Opposition, BJP ‘supported’ the protests against FDI in retail, which threatens the livelihood and survival of small shop owners and their employees. But after coming to power, the Modi Government has done a U-Turn and has assured Obama that India will continue to support FDI in retail! What is the meaning of this ‘U-Turn Patriotism’?
- Modi, on his France visit, has brokered an MoU between Reliance and a French company Dassault Aviation, for 36 poor quality Rafale Jets at exorbitant costs, that will bail out a crisis-ridden French company Dassault Aviation and allow super-profits for the Ambani! (http://indianexpress.com/article/india/india-news-india/rafale-deal-to-be-signed-on-eve-of-hollandes-india-visit/) Why is the Modi Government sacrificing the country’s interests, and forcing substandard fighter jets on the country, in order to benefit a French MNC and its crony corporate?
- During US President Obama’s visit to India, the Modi Government agreed to protect MNC suppliers of nuclear equipment from being sued by Indian disaster victims! By diluting an already weak liability law Modi has, without telling or asking us, used our taxpayers’ money, our Jan Dhan, to subsidise these MNC suppliers in case of such accidents. Is it not anti-national for Modi to accept US dictation and protect US Nuclear MNCs instead of compromising the safety of Indian citizens?
- In the name of wooing MNCs to ‘Make in India’, in the name of the ‘Start-up’ India campaign, Modi is diluting labour laws and environment laws. Left and environmental activists who defend those laws are branded as ‘anti-national’! Are workers not part of the ‘nation’? Is it ‘nationalist’ for the Government to violating rights and laws of Indian citizens to appease corporates and MNCs?
Why is the RSS-ABVP-BJP so desperate to brand all dissent as “anti-national”?
There is a method behind the madness of RSS-BJP-ABVP terming all differing voices as “anti-national”. They seek to hide their huge surrenders and sell-outs of economic and political rights of India’s people by a systematic campaign of social divisiveness. Neither is this a new agenda.
During the long struggle in India against British colonial rule, the RSS was conspicuous by its absence. In RSS-speak, the movement against the British was “reactionary”:
“Anti-Britishism was equated with patriotism and nationalism. This reactionary view has had disastrous effects upon the entire course of the freedom movement, its leaders and the common people” (M. S. Golwalkar, Bunch of Thoughts, Bangalore, 1996, p. 138).
During the drafting and adoption of India’s Constitution, the RSS wanted Manusmriti as the constitution of the “Hindu nation” of their dreams. Saffron brigade’s hero Savarkar wrote:
“The worst about the new constitution of Bharat is that there is nothing Bharatiya about it…Manusmriti is that scripture which is most worship-able after Vedas for our Hindu Nation and which from ancient times has become the basis of our culture-customs, thought and practice. This book for centuries has codified the spiritual and divine march of our nation. Even today the rules which are followed by crores of Hindus in their lives and practice are based on Manusmriti. Today Manusmriti is Hindu Law”. [VD Savarkar, ‘Women in Manusmriti’ in Savarkar Samagar (collection of Savarkar’s writings in Hindi), vol. 4, Prabhat, Delhi, p. 416.]
Just on the eve of Republic day in 1950, the RSS mouthpiece Organiser published a special feature by Sankar Subba Aiyar, a retired High Court Judge, in which loyalty towards Manu’s Codes was reaffirmed:
‘Even though Dr. Ambedkar is reported to have recently stated in Bombay that the days of Manu have ended it is nevertheless a fact that the daily lives of Hindus are even at the present day affected by the principles and injunctions contained in the Manusmrithi and other Smrithis. Even an unorthodox Hindu feels himself bound at least in some matters by the rules contained in the Smrithis and he feels powerless to give up altogether his adherence to them.’ [‘Manu Rules Our Hearts’ Organizer, February 6, 1950, p. 7.]
Even after Independence when a democratic-secular Constitution was in force, RSS continued denigrating India Constitution. In Bunch of Thoughts, MS Golwalkar, the most prominent ideologue of the RSS wrote:
“Our Constitution too is just a cumbersome and heterogeneous piecing together of various articles from various Constitutions of the Western countries. It has absolutely nothing which can be called our own. Is there a single word of reference in its guiding principles as to what our national mission is and what our keynote in life is? No!” [MS Golwalkar, Bunch of Thoughts, Sahitya Sindhu, Bangalore, 1996, p. 238.]
If the RSS collaborated with British colonialism THEN, the RSS-BJP-ABVP is NOW collaborating with large corporate interests and following the dictation of imperialist powers such as the US and EU. In order to divert attention from this shameful collaboration with colonial British then and present day imperialist powers now, they routinely resort to their staple diet of hate, violence and communal division. They try to manufacture a majoritarian brahminical ‘commonsense’ and criminalise minorities, dalits, women, working class and every democratic voice speaking for rights and dignity and people’s sovereignty as ‘enemies within’, so as to divert and deflect people’s attention from the real enemies the Sangh brigade is serving.
As we approach yet another Republic Day, let us collectively reject the RSS-ABVP-BJP’s right to brand any and every differing opinion as “anti-national”. The right to oppose the death penalty, the right to eat what we want, the right to dissent, the right to expose the communal-fascist agenda of spreading hatred and division, the right to defend workers’ rights, the right to oppose discrimination based on caste, religion, gender – all these are deeply and integrally part of being a genuine, sovereign and plural democracy!