One of the things that distress me greatly is the vast ignorance that some of my fellow professionals display when they write about Hinduism or Hindutva. My pain is greater when involved are members of the younger generation. I have given up on seniors, some of whom have, to quote a sociologist “cut their moorings, lost their footing in the national past and become de-culturised and de-nationalised”. They have probably never heard of older Indian historians like KP Jaiswal, HC Ray Chaudhury and Neelkanth Shastri, let alone thinkers like MS Golwalkar and VD Savarkar, the mention of whose names send our secularists in a tizzy.
Such thoughts occurred to me as I went through the pages of a brand new journal called India Foundation Journal, the very first issue of which I have just received and which I have been reading with increasing pleasure. The focus of the issue is Cultural Nationalism: The Indian Perspective. Many who have condemned Narendra Modi who recently declared himself as a Hindu nationalist, would, I am sure, vastly benefit from reading this highly educative journal. May it last for ever.
The word ‘Hindu’, I learnt from another source, was first used by Raja Rammohan Roy, but I am willing to be corrected. What is special about this issue is that it has reproduced some key note addresses delivered at a seminar held in Delhi in mid-November 2012. I wish to draw attention to two addresses, one by Prof Pralay Kanungo, chairperson, Centre for Political Studies, School of Social Sciences, JNU, and another by Shri. Krishna Gopal, an eminent scholar and social activist from Assam. A third contributor is Ram Madhav Varanasi who is Director of India Foundation, who speaks about Raashtram: Spiritual Ethical Concept of Nationhood.
One might ask: what purpose is served by reading such scholarly pieces? The answer is obvious. In whatever one writes – and my thoughts go to those who write political columns and especially editorials – one must be taken seriously. Judging from the comments some of them make, I feel sad. Take, for instance, references to Ayodhya, the birthplace of Lord Rama and the manner in which it is handled. A book on the subject under the title Rama and Ayodhya, written by Meenakshi Jain, a historian, was published recently but it drew hardly any attention. It should have been taken notice of by some of our leading newspapers and journals, if only because the subject deals with a controversy of immense relevance.
One would have thought that no matter how “secular” a journal or newspaper is or claims to be, a reader would expect to be educated on both the pros and cons. I am afraid, many newspapers preferred to stay away from the book. It is said that the main purpose of journalism is three-fold: to inform, educate and entertain. How does one ‘educate’ a reader? Here I would like to mention a reference made to MS Golwalkar by Prof. Kanungo. Why? I read an article in The Economic Times (August 6) by one TK Arun who also makes a reference to Golwalkar but in a different context. Arun reminds us of what the old RSS leader has written in his book We Or Our Nationhood Defined.
In the book, Arun says Golwalkar had written as follows: “The non-Hindu people of Hindustan must either adopt Hindu culture and language, must learn and respect and hold in reverence the Hindu religion, must entertain no idea but of those of glorification of the Hindu race and culture or may stay in the country wholly subordinated to the Hindu nation, deserving no privileges, far less any preferential treatment – not even citizens’ rights.”
On the face of it, Golwalkar has demonised Muslims, if Arun is to be believed, viciously and wrongly. But has he ever asked what made Golwalkar express his angry feelings? What we now call Telangana but what, in effect, was ruled by a Nizam is largely Hindu but will Arun tell us how the Hindus were treated?
Arun may not be aware but the insults that Hindus have suffered for centuries of Islamic rule run deep in their blood. Golwalkar was right in opening up his heart. If Arun had given some deep thought to Hindu – and Golwalkar – angst, he would have rendered some service to India. But no, he must damn the Sangh Parivar. But to my mind, this is where The Economic Times has miserably failed. It is easy to damn the Sangh Parivar and win the acclamation of our Macaulay’s children. But publishing Arun’s one-sided article of no merit, The Economic Times has done a deep disservice to the country – both to Hindus and Muslims.