Ashutosh Varshney

How the propaganda against RSS falls flat on its face

(This is a reprint from NewsBred).

Indian Express has two voices which do not like RSS or BJP or Hindu resurgence in India. You scroll down articles of either Christophe Jaffrelot or Ashutosh Varshney and get the drift. Jaffrelot is more scholarly and dense; Varshney more sound and less substance. Both are present in Indian Express of today, dominating two separate pages.

Jaffrelot is the crudest today than he has perhaps ever been in his long association with the Indian Express. All the veneers of scholarly nuances are out of the window. What remains is a pen-pusher who is unsure of his dwindling influence over the readers or his promoters. The crux of his agenda is that lynchings is orchestrated by the present dispensation who appear in different garbs at different times: RSS, its affiliates, BJP etc. He terms it the “deep state.” Everything that’s wrong with Modi’s India—the “cruelty” against Muslims and Dalits—is part of a larger design. In his view, India is a theocratic state in the making.

To Jaffrelot’s misfortune, Varshney has a detailed interview on Page 25 with Waltern Andersen who has a new book, “The RSS: A view to the inside” in the market. It completely debunks Jaffrelot’s argument that RSS and its affiliates are the “deep state” in India. Indeed, Varshney couldn’t have done a better service to RSS or BJP with this interview (a must read, I say).

Now Varshney must not have bargained for it but the Andersen interview is a validation of RSS. All Indian Express could do was to pick a comment as headline: “A battle between Hindutva and Hinduism is coming.” I will reserve dwelling on this headline in the end: I promise the irony in it would have you doubling up in uncontrollable laughter.

The interview first establishes the credentials of Andersen: the only scholar to have observed the RSS for five decades. Then Varshney rolls out the questions which reflect his own venom:

  • What about RSS chief MS Golwalkar and his book, “We, our nationhood defined.”
  • For Savarkar, Muslims and Christians born in India were not Indians/Hindus
  • What pledge pracharaks take? Can they marry? (An answer hopefully which would nail Modi, himself was a pracharak)
  • RSS influences state and its’ policies
  • What is RSS views on Modi’s economics
  • RSS is committed to promotion of Hindi as language
  • What is RSS view on ideal Hindu women, and divorce
  • The RSS relationship with Muslims
  • How does RSS integrate lower caste? What is RSS views on Ambedkar who was anti-Hindu?

You would agree these are the questions which reflect the entire gamut on RSS; the basis of the misinformation campaign which writers of the ilk of Jaffrelot and Varshney spread with impunity. And now look at how Andersen replies to this mal-propaganda.

  • “We, our nationhood defined” I later learnt was not his (Golwalkar’s) book;
  • Savarkar, as you know, was an atheist (while you were told he was a hardcore Hindu zealot!). For MD Deoras everybody born in India was Hindu. He was against caste system and untouchability; non-Brahmans could be pracharaks;
  • They (pracharaks) take ascetic pledge; some do marry. It’s a casteless Hindu monastic order;
  • That’s inevitable since you have to deal with government in all spheres, all activities. Government is all pervasive in India. But Bharatiya Mazdoor Sangh (BMS) is opposed to FDI; while Modi is all for it;
  • Demonetisation and GST directly hurts their (RSS) base. But RSS has not passed a resolution against it;
  • It can not and it does not (promote Hindi). RSS schools teach their pupils in their mother tongue; RSS could not have simultaneously sought a rise in India’s national strength and continued its strident attacks on English;
  • Wife and mother have ideal role in society; but they also idolize Rani ki Jhansi. Both images have existed;
  • When Deoras invited Muslims to join the RSS, he did argue that Muslims were mostly India-born, and therefore Indian;

And now to the final question (RSS on lower caste and Ambedkar); its’ answer on which Indian Express has based its headline: “A battle between Hindutva and Hinduism is coming.”

Andersen explains: “There have been Dalits and OBC pracharaks, including the OBC Narendra Modi…Ambedkar is now a hero…Hindutva emphasizes one-ness of Hindus; (Hinduism is more rigid, by inference). Hence there will be a battle between Hindutva and Hinduism.”

Did you get the joke? This definition of Hindutva and Hinduism completely turns on the head what the likes of Shashi Tharoor and Digvijay Singh have been drumming in our ears. That “I-am-a-Hindu-but-have-a-distaste-for-Hindutva.” In their view Hindutva is reactionary and violent. But as Andersen tells us, Hindutva implies inclusiveness of all!!!

That’s why I say identify these jokers. Identify the agenda they have. Identify the mistruths they spread. The “farragos” and “whatabouteries.” And save this piece as evidence when the next misinformation campaign against RSS and BJP is served inside the pages of your newspapers.

(P.S: let me imagine a scenario: “What did you do mate,” Jaffrelot to Varshney on phone, “and to my `deep state’ theory.”)

The art of sneering at Modi: Express

Indian Express is breathless in rubbishing the recent speech of Prime Minister Narendra Modi in the Parliament that “democracy in India wasn’t the work of Pt. Nehru….but that it was in ragon (veins) of Indians.” In last one week, Ashutosh Varshney and D.N. Jha have hogged Express’ edit pages to sneer at the Prime Minister and swoon at Pt. Nehru as the reason India has democracy.

We know too well the design of such anti-India forces to blacken our glorious heritage. You call them stooges of Western powers (for whom democracy originated from Greece) or the lackeys of Left (sworn enemies of Hinduism) but never forget the vileness of these forces. They don’t mean good of you or me or our future generations.

Varshney defines democracy as one of elected governments and universal adult suffrage, a typical Western notion. Who are we to tell him that Pt. Nehru’s own mentor, Mahatma Gandhi took a dim view of such a democracy! Gandhi saw better merit in “Republics of Village” – a direct democracy rather than a representative democracy—in which India abounded.

Varshney’s second line of propaganda is that ancient India may have had Councils (Gana or Sangha) through which a King governed but a common citizen had no role to play. Here’s what the eyewitness account of Alexander’s campaign to India in the 4th Century BCE by a Greek historian Arrian states: “ (there were) free and independent Indian communities at every turn”.

Greek writer Diodorus Siculus mentions that he mostly came across cities in India which practiced a democratic form of government.” The reference was from an account of no less than Greek traveler Megasthenes who had covered the entire Northern India and went as far as Patliputra.

Varshney probably hasn’t heard of Kautilya or his Arthashastra in the 4th Century BCE which mentions “janapadas” (Republic) where craftsmen, traders and agriculturalists had their guilds and wealth earned from trade ran the political process.

Panini, in his Sanskrit Classic “Ashtadhyayi” mentions the process of decision-making in politics. He provides various terms for voting and decision making through voting. He also mentions that in these Republics “there was no consideration of high and low.” The Buddhist literature in Pali and Brahmnical literature in Sanskrit portray a complex scenario of different groups managing their own affairs.

Indeed, the non-Monarchical governments in India go back to Vedic times. Rig Veda (10/191/2) mentions that “all resources to all stake-holders must be distributed equally.”

As for Pt. Nehru and his democratic credentials, his very appointment as Prime Minister was as undemocratic method as you could come across in any world annals. Nobody voted for him, yet he was made Prime Minister after majority’s favourite Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel bowed to the tyranny of Mahatma Gandhi.

And before touting for “democratic” Pt. Nehru, Varshney also ought to have informed the readers that the first Prime Minister of India had indeed jailed Majrooh Sultanpuri for his poem which didn’t paint him in golden colours. No wonder, his daughter Indira Gandhi went a step further and imposed Emergency.

So much for “freedom of speech” and “freedom of expression” which Varshney calls essentials in democracy.