Reflections- On how Indians are always taken for a ride

Image used for representational purposes only ( Image from Youth incorporated magazine)

By Jaspal Singh

After the recent elections, many people, specially left and liberals have raised the questions that how and why a large number of people in India accepted the narrative of Hindutva, RSS and BJP in spite of their interests being ignored and attacked in last five year?

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To see the genesis and antecedents of this phenomenon, we have to go into a little bit of history. First thing is, if one looks objectively, the left,liberals, progressives bought into the Brahmanical, colonial India that came into being after transfer of power in 1947 in a new Avatara, under the slogan of secular and socialist India, because that was the need of the ruling elite to stay at the helm due to domestic and international situation.

Indian people had risen up, fascism had been defeated, old colonialism was destroyed, uprisings in Asia, Africa, Latin America were taking place. Chinese revolution had triumphed. Although for a very brief period CPI talked about Yeh Azadi Jhoothi Hai, Desh Ki Janata Bhookhi Hai ( this is false independence, people are hungry).

Some concessions were won, education was expanded, reservations for Dalits were instituted , certain labor reforms were won but a vast majority of people were marginalized, attacked, plundered, murdered and their resources looted. Because the paradigm of development that was unleashed by the British and continued by Congress is anti nature and anti human. These “modern temples” as described by Nehru , “ Green Revolution “ “ Liberalization “ brought death, destruction and devastation to nature and humanity. Sum total of this India was that 9 people had more wealth than 50% of the population. Air is polluted, water is running out, food is poisoned, farmers are committing suicides, insecurity and anxiety is the norm.

Left, liberals, progressives, defended this India, in spite of attacks on the people, under the garb of defending Secularism,socialism, unity and territorial integrity of India, epitomized by CPI defending Emergency and invasion of Golden Temple. They helped the ruling elite in spreading their narrative of deception and disinformation. Not cognizing that this India was a prison of peoples, nations, nationalities and tribes. That India stank in the nostrils of people of India, bringing death,destruction and devastation to nature and humans. It destroyed the most stable institutions, agriculture, village and joint family, generating great deal of anger, insecurity and completely discrediting left, liberals and progressives. They had become champions of this “ modernity”.

Brahminism was turned into Hinduism by Bengali Brahmins and the British in the 19th century, reinforced by the Census, reservations and franchise based on religion and other policies . Before that there is no category called Hinduism . Since Congress leadership was mostly upper-caste, it normalized this category and transition from Brahminism to Hinduism to Hindutva. Many main leaders of Congress were also leaders of Hindu Mahasabha. So instead of diverse Panths and Matas, a Hindu India was constructed by the British, leaders of Congress, Hindu Mahasabha and the government. Gandhi, Nehru, Savarkar, Tilak , Malviya, Tandon, Patel had this one thing common among them, for them India was Hindu and they defended Caste system.

Following the logic of European nation state of one nation, one religion and one language. Left, liberals and progressives also ran with it. They did not critically examine it. Ram Rajya, a Brahmanical society, as pointed out by Ambedkar, also became the ideal of Indian ruling elite to hoodwink people and darling of the left, liberal and progressives. They became outlets for ruling elite’s disinformation, deception and fraud. They created illusions amongst people about social reality. But the experiences of people was opposite. So they lost all credibility. Also they did not build local organizations of people. Left, liberals also have to do some soul searching that why did they buy the narrative of the ruling elite of socialism and Secularism and promoted it amongst people while the ruling elite was committing crimes against nature and people?

One of the problems was that none of the Indian political parties were based on indigenous thought material or philosophies. Congress and Muslim League had a European vision. CPI had a Russian vision, CPI (M-L) had a Chinese vision. I remember, young student supporters of CPI ( M-L) running around shouting “ China’s path is our path”, “ China’s chairman is our chairman”.Even Mao Tse Tung was embarrassed by this absurdity.

Another theoretical issue with the left and the liberals has been that they have not upgraded their theoretical framework in the light of great and astonishing changes that have taken place in last hundred years or more. They keep on repeating outdated phrases . So they neither built fighting organizations of people nor did they develop theory. Some of them were given positions and privileges, so they were happy with that and did not want to rock the boat. Increasingly they became irrelevant among the people.

Under the new conditions of retrogression and needs of neo liberal offensive on steroids of the ruling elite, BJP and it’s affiliates were able to present themselves as coming out of Indian tradition, as its inheritors and claiming that others were based on foreign or British ideas while implementing neoliberal agenda with a vengeance. It is like Republicans in the US talking about “ family values” but doing everything to undermine it. So BJP is talking about Indian traditions while wiping out peoples of India and inciting chauvinism and hatred.

BJP was able to tap into accumulated anger of the people, that developed over the years, wrapped itself in “ Indian tradition “ claiming that left, liberals, progressives had nothing to do with traditions of India and they were anti Hindu thus anti national. The fact of matter was that left, liberals were and are alienated from their own thought material. They know more about Europe and US than their own traditions and thought material. BJP called them Maccaulites, pseudo secular etc.

Once India and Hindu was made synonymous due to the tricks of Congress and others, rest was just a logical conclusion. BJP and it’s affiliates developed the narrative that Hinduism was in danger. The ruling elite made it the standard bearer for them to intensify Neo liberal offensive initiated by Congress. They claimed that people were suffering because they were Hindus as Congress, left, liberals and progressives were appeasing minorities and vote banks for last 60 years.

This “new India” of BJP and Hindutva is also a fraud and deception of the ruling elite just like secular and socialist India of Congress was a fraud. Old phrases have become obsolete so the ruling elite and BJP are coining new phrases and slogans to hoodwink the people once again because they are implementing agenda of ruling elite. One has to see the destruction and devastation in those states where BJP has been in power for 15-20 years and also rule at the center for last five years. How long will this deception and fraud last?

Depends on the consciousness and organizations of people. If they remain disoriented, fragmented and disinformed, then it can continue for a while. But if an opening for people takes place anywhere in the world it can have big impact in India. Turning back is not possible. Some left, liberals, progressives,nostalgic about their paradise lost, want to go back to “ Nehruvian Model”, but those days are gone and done with. Others are repeating hackneyed phrases about constitution and rule of law. But that world has passed away. A crisis of imagination has engulfed the Indian mind, creating a crisis of theory.

What path forward? Ruling elite of India and their political parties have become a danger and threat to the very existence of people. They have committed countless crimes against nature and humanity. They pose a great danger to both. For more than 60 years they were doing it under the narrative of of socialism, Secularism, liberalism etc. under the changed conditions they have a new narrative of Hindutva, chauvinism and xenophobia. Earlier narrative was to fool the people and the new narrative is also to fool the people. Just look at what they have done to Ganga as just one example of their crimes and deception.

The ruling elite need to be disarmed of their power, economic, political and ideological by mass movements of people. Genuine autonomy for different peoples and federal structure needs to be built with community control of natural resources and democracy at work, affirming rights of nature and all humans, irrespective of caste, religion, gender, life style, sexual orientation, place of birth etc.

A new political process needs to be created, in place of system of party rule that affirms and expresses sovereignty of people in deeds not in words. Liberal democracy is not in sync with the needs of time and has become obsolete. It can be seen all over the world. Alternative mechanisms need to be created. It is time for innovation and renovation. New relations between humans and nature and between humans need to be created affirming Right To Be of all. A big storm is brewing over India. A churning is taking place.

Will people be able to turn it into their favor or ruling elite will divert into bloodbaths and massacres? That once again depends on consciousness and organizations of people. Anarchy and violence only helps the ruling elite and enemies of people, so they organize it and unleash it with impunity . People have to be careful and not fall into their traps under different labels.

Jaspal Singh is a philosopher based in Cambridge, Massachusetts.