Take a deep breath and reflect who you are not allowed to criticize in India. I could think of no other than Sonia Gandhi, former Congress and UPA chairperson. Run the entire gamut, pore over the worksheet of honchos of Indian media, Shekhar Gupta, Barkha Dutt, Vir Sanghvi, Rajdeep Sardesai, Sagarika Ghose etc; google as you might; dive into the archives of Lutyens Media like Hindustan Times, Times of India, Indian Express, The Hindu; Sonia Gandhi, much like Caesar’s wife, has been above reproach.
That’s astounding. I mean nobody has been the president of 134-year-old Congress longer than her (19 years); she got her party two consecutive Lok Sabha victories; a whole lot of scams were unearthed; yet not a word against her. I mean yes, BJP and her bete noire Dr. Subramaniam Swamy keep pelting her windows but that’s par for course for any opposition. But what accounts for no “black sheep” within Congress bleating ever? No media house opening its edit pages for trenchant views; no historian/academician offering critiques? No scholarly paper in JNU? No diagnosis on a person out on bail?
I do recall two embarrassing Sonia interviews, that is for any self-respecting journalist, by Rajdeep Sardesai (he kept saying “fought like a tigress,” both in 2005 and 2016), as it was for Aroon Purie on another occasion, coy and adolescent. Yes Shekhar Gupta (“she keeps a formidable dynasty on her slender shoulders,”), Barkha Dutt (“she has made a public commitment to Women’s Reservation Bill”) have also interviewed her; Vir Sanghvi has been profound in “Nobody-in-Nehru-Gandhi-Family-Has-Given-Kind-of-Authority-she-has-to Manmohan-Singh,” echoed by a gushing Sagarika Ghose ( “She never undermined Manmohan Singh, always backed him up”). Both Sanghvi and Ghose don’t touch upon how another Prime Minister, PV Narasimha Rao, was humiliated, even in death. And these clowns happily go toting about “bhakts” to everyone else. Phew.
Two books on Sonia immediately come to my mind. One is a pathetic account by a sychophant; another is “Red Sari” which was unofficially banned in India for six years due to machinations by Abhishek Sanghvi, as alleged by its author.
There was though one voice of dissent which was muzzled without much ado by this “deep state” in India. Margaret Alva, a former Union minister of state and Governor, was quite scathing in her autobiography: “Courage and Commitment:” Excerpts:
“While Pilot, Prasada and Scindia got all the honours due to them as Congress leaders—with shamianas erected at the AICC to receive their remains before the last rites—PV Narasimha Rao, the tallest of them all, was denied a state funeral in Delhi. His body was not even let into the AICC compound; instead, the gun carriage carrying the former Prime Minister and Congress President was parked on the pavement outside the gates, with chairs lined for party leaders. I was shocked…ever since, I have regretted not protesting and walking away.” – On PV Narasimha Rao’s death in 2004
Alva details that she played a peacebroker between Sonia and Rao: the latter falling out probably for deciding to appeal against the Delhi High Court’s decision to quash a complaint against the Bofors case. Sonia Gandhi once retorted to Alva: “What does the Prime Minister want to do? Send me to jail?”
Alva’s outburst about the unfair ticket distribution in Karnataka led to her ouster. She was asked to resign from the post of All-India Congress Committee (AICC) general secretary in 2009. In her resignation, Alva wrote thus:
“Times have changed and for the first time I have come to feel like a misfit in an organization that I considered as precious as my own home. A look at our recent candidates lists show a distinct patter of patronages to the wealthy and rich lobbies like mining, education and real-estate…”
Just reflect on the above in line of recent Karnataka assembly elections and ponder why no newspaper or media celebrity ever brought this book out of the shelves to examine Congress’ candidates in 2018? Why Congress’ demise in the state is not looked through the prism which Alva afforded us?
As per one reviewer of the book: “Alva’s book offers an amazing insight into the maneuverings of 10 Janpath—the home of Congress president Sonia Gandhi. Without being too harsh, Alva clearly indicts Gandhi for lacking transparency in her manner of functioning, her penchant for surrounding herself with a handful of loyalists…”.
Alva was made to leave Delhi, appointed as she was governor of Uttarakhand. In her words: “Once I had made the mistake of saying: `The Alvas are the only political family to have a member in Parliament without a break for almost half a century.’ This statement sealed our fate.”
(As an aside, Alva was Governor of Rajasthan when Narendra Modi came to power in 2014. Alva describes her meeting with Modi thus: `I told him I had come to pay my respects, not plead for an extension, adding `I am not prepared to quit anytime.’ “There is no question,” He (Modi) replied. “You are doing a good job please continue where you are.” She was subsequently given additional charge of Goa and Gujarat!).
Veer Savarkar is not in public discourse. His portrait in Central Hall of the Parliament, unveiled in 2003 by Atal Behari Vajpayee, was the first stirring for his recognition.
(No surprises, Congress boycotted that moment. Sonia Gandhi stood with opposition in snubbing the event. The Left had written to President A.P.J. Abdul Kalam to stay away from the function—he didn’t).
Be witness to the “Hate-Veer-Savarkar” moment in blogs and social media posts on his 135th birth anniversary on May 28. As the creator of “Hindutva” philosophy, the annual reviling of the man would be done in unison by TheLiars, Squint, Srolls and Duff-Posts; besides editorial pieces in “Journalism of Courage.” In essence, these hacks and compromised academicians would take recourse to five issues to revile the man:
1-SAVARKAR SOUGHT MERCY FROM BRITISH
Savarkar spent 27 years in jail and under prison-restrictions: between 1910-1937. He was sentenced to 50-year imprisonment and transported to the infamous Cellular Jail in the Andaman and Nicobar Islands (“Kaalapaani”) on July 4, 1911. In next decade, he wrote at least four mercy petition for his release. The Left-Liberal echo-chamber hold it as an evidence of his opportunism.
Let’s look at what Savarkar underwent while serving “Kaalapaani,” in the most inhuman jail of all. Prisoners were manacled; gruel to eat was riddled with worms; inmates, formed in groups, were chained like bullocks and hauled to oil mills, grinding mustard seed, for endless hours. Prisoners were flogged. Light was scarce. No talking between prisoners at mealtime. No contact with outside world. Those resisting food had a rubber catheter inserted through the nostril and into the gullet and so to the stomach. Medical aid was none. It was a precursor to Gulag Archipelago and Guantanamo bay prisons of our times.
Savarkar endured all this and much more. His badge was marked “D”—for Dangerous. He was subjected to unspeakable cruelties. Every time there was trouble in the compound, Savarkar was punished. The British were determined he must not be allowed to leave the prison alive.
(Before we proceed, let’s see how it contrasted with jails of pliable Congress leaders: it was almost a holiday vacation. We have the good word of none other than Asaf Ali: that Nehru almost had a bungalow to himself in his so-called jail with curtains of his choicest colour: blue. He could do gardening at leisure; write his books. When his wife was sick, his sentence was suspended even without he asking for it! Nehru “graciously” accepted the offer).
As subsequent events were to show, there was a method in Savarkar’s mercy pleas. He didn’t want his life’s mission to rot away in prison and come to a grief as it happened to Rajput warriors in the past. Jaywant Joglekar, who authored a book on him, dubbed his clemency pleas a tactical ploy like Shivaji’s letter to Aurangzeb during his arrest in Agra.
After his release in 1937, Savarkar led a political movement to prevent the Partition of India as president of Hindu Mahasabha.
2-DIDN’T SUPPORT QUIT INDIA; PLEDGED SOLDIERS TO BRITISH IN WW2
Savarkar’s stance to British was: ”Quit India but not Army.” Unlike Gandhi, he firmly believed “military strength” as key to India’s survival. He pledged Indian men as soldiers to British and helped Hindu-Sikh youths to join Indian army and thus reduce latter’s essentially Muslim-dominated numbers. It came handy during the partition or even when Pakistani raiders came up to Srinagar in 1947. But for these “secular” numbers, not just Jammu and Kashmir, event West Bengal, East Punjab or Delhi could’ve been overwhelmed.
It’s laughable to even suggest Savarkar worked for the British. After Second World War broke out, he wrote once and cabled on another occasion to US President Franklin Roosevelt, urging him to ask “Britain too to withdraw armed domination over Hindustani.”
Savarkar, and Dr. Bhimrao Ramji Ambedkar, were keen on Indianising the British-India army. This effort of his was endorsed by both Rash Behari Bose and Subhas Chandra Bose—the revolutionaries behind the Indian National Army (INA). Subhas Bose praised Savarkar in his broadcast from Singapore on June 25, 1944 “for fearlessly exhorting the youth to enlist in the armed forces.” Rash Behari Bose spoke thus in his radio broadcast: “In saluting you, I have the joy of doing my duty towards one of my elderly comrades in arms. In saluting you, I am saluting the symbol of sacrifice itself.”
It was INA which forced Britain’s hands to quit India.
Further, Bhagat Singh and Sukhdev had made “Life of Barrister Savarkar” a necessary reading for revolutionaries, as their associate Durga Das Khanna was to reveal in 1976. The book was clearly anti-British.
3- SAVARKAR HAD A HAND IN GANDHI’S MURDER
Savarkar was 14 years younger to Gandhi. But his vision was far clearer. He asked for complete independence in 1900; Gandhi’s demand only came in 1929. It was Savarkar who first made a bonfire of foreign clothes in 1905; his movement against “untouchability” was stunning as even his critics admit.
Savarkar was a fierce critic of Gandhi. He termed Gandhi a hypocrite for the latter had supported use of violence by British against Germany during World War 1. He was also critical of Gandhi’s Muslim appeasement during Khilafat movement.
In his articles between 1920-1940, Savarkar considered Gandhi a naïve leader who “happens to babble…(about) compassion, forgiveness”, yet “notwithstanding his sublime and broad heart, the Mahatama has a very narrow and immature head.”
As for his hand in Gandhi’s murder, he was honourably acquitted by the court.
4- SAVARKAR BEGAN HINDUTVA AND WAS ANTI-MUSLIM
It was Savarkar who expounded the philosophy of Hindutva in the book by the same name in 1923. But his Hindutva espoused Hindu-Muslim unity. He was against the Partition; believing Muslim should stay in India as Hindustani Muslims, just as they are alright with being in minority in Greece (Greek Muslims), Poland (Polish Muslims) and elsewhere.
He believed in a Hindu Rashtra which didn’t curb the religion of a minority in any way. But he was against “creation of a nation within a nation in the name of religious minoritism.” How true the words sound in today’s context. He once described his difference with Jinnah thus: “I stand for equality and no concessions while Jinnah is for more concessions and doesn’t stand for equality.” His view was not Hindus supremacy but that of Hindus’ protection.
5—SAVARKAR WAS A NAZI IN WORD AND SPIRIT
The critics must make up their mind whether Savarkar was pro-British or pro-Nazi. He couldn’t be both at the same time. After all, he actively campaigned for recruitment in British-Indian army during WW 2. He supported the allied war effort against the Axis. He said: “After all, there is throughout this world…but a single race, the human race, kept alive by one common blood, the human blood.” Adolf Hitler, on the other hand, believed in the superiority of his race, the “pure race.” The truth is Savarkar believed in military strength which his shameless critics equate with support for Nazism.
What critics won’t tell you is that Vinayak Damodar Savarkar (May 28, 1883- February 26, 1966) was an atheist. He had asked his relatives to perform only his funeral and no rituals of 10th or 13th day as is done in Hindu faith. He was called Veer for when only 12, he led fellow students against a rampaging horde of Muslims that attacked his village in Nasik. He wrote several books, most of them while in jail.
Since his death, the airport at Port Blair has been named in his name. India House in England has a plaque in his name. In recent past, there have been calls to award him the “Bharat Ratna” posthumously.
Osaduddin Owaisi, a Muslim hardliner known for his legal wordplay, was brought to his knees by the combine of Times Now’s Rahul Shivshankar and BJP spokesperson Dr. Sudhanshu Trivedi on Ayodhya issue on Tuesday night debate.
Owaisi’s spacious argument was that Kapil Sibal was representing Sunni Waqf Board in the Supreme Court in the capacity of a lawyer and not from Congress; similarly as Ravi Shankar Prasad and Arun Jaitley have represented their respective clients in the past even though they are the members of the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP).
(The same argument was stressed by Congress spokesperson Randeep Surjewala, chewing his words more than in his usual irritating style and flashing documents as Moses might have recounted the 10 Commandments in Exodus 20).
“But then why make a political argument that the Ayodhya hearing be postponed till after the ’19 General Elections? Doesn’t it show him (Sibal) as a political front of Congress? Why not stick to legal recourse? Doesn’t it show a lack of faith in India’s top judiciary?” Owaisi was questioned. Losing his cool by the minute, Owaisi said he didn’t fear as much Hindutva revivalism as Hindutva and the effect a majoritarian rule could have as it happened in (Nazi) Germany.
While Dr. Trivedi made a pertinent point on Hindu philosophy (“We have instances of one brother following another in the Forest; a heir-apparent abandoning his right on kingdom bowing to wishes of his father—unlike other faiths where son kills father and brother kills brother”), Owaisi’s sly reference to Germany needs a rebuttal. This is the last recourse Hindu-baiters employ to paint them as “Hindu fascist/Nazi forces.”
Since very few of us have the time or energy to verify these allegations, they acquire kind of a life of its own. Such a narrative would become more and more dominant till the next General Elections in 2019. It must be confronted with hard facts time and again.
Owaisi, who was dubbed by author Taslima Nasreen as a Muslim Extremist, is not alone in this fake tirade.
Communist leader Sitaram Yechury renamed RSS as Saffron Shirts (even though the RSS uniform has no saffron) or SS in a sly reference to Hitler’s dreaded paramilitary group. [i] Sonia Gandhi and other Congress leaders have done so in the past. [ii]
In Adolf Hitler’s Mein Kampf, the word Hindu or any term for any specifically Hindu concept, does not figure anywhere. “India” figures only twice.
As for the adoption of Swastika (or hooked cross) as party symbol, it was Hitler’s attempt to counter Communist “hammer and sickle” as a logo of his own party. It bore no resemblance to Hindu’s quest for inner control from one of his of outward physical dominance. [iii]
Further, there is no Hindutva theory on race purification, no biological divergence of the Hindu-Muslim conflict and no Hindu programme on eugenics.
Still, the Hindu-haters attempts have persisted all along. At the time of Ayodhya history debate in 1990-91, VHP-mandated scholars had mentioned a 19th century Germany archaelogist Dr. A. Fuhrer to further their claims. Quickly enough, the vicious propaganda turned it into an evidence of VHP’s admiration for the Fuhrer!
Owaisi need be told that if anything, the Muslim League before Independence was viewed to have a similar outlook on Hitler and Nazi Germany by none other than Jawaharlal Nehru, as mentioned by BR Nanda in his book, Gandhi and his Critics :
“When Nehru returned after a brief visit to Europe in 1938, he was struck by the similarity between the propaganda methods of the Muslim League in India and the Nazis in Germany.”
Nanda wrote further that “the league leaders had begun to echo the Fascist tirade against democracy…Nazis were wedded to a negative policy. So also was the League. The League was anti-Hindu, anti-Congress, anti-national…the Nazis raised the cry of hatred against the Jews; the League had raised its cry against the Hindus.” [iv]
Though this piece is not about Hindu-Muslim viewpoints, it must be said in passing that the RSS and Hindutva forces, against whom Owaisi mouths his venom, have never commented on the intrinsic value of Islam as a religion even though by popular admission, Islam is narrower, more regimented and less freer than Hinduism.
For example, Muslim countries are less repentant about having treated non-Muslims under their rule as a lower class of human beings. Such has been the case against the Hindus in Pakistan and Bangladesh.
Thousands of Christians were killed in Indonesia, in East Timor and in Sudan; substantial Copts were killed by Muslims in Egypt; Algerian Islamicists targeted Catholic priests in 1990s. Christian natives too have committed since against Hindus in Fiji but neither any Muslim or Christian country is ever termed as Fascist/Nazis. (Thanks to Dr. Koenraad Elst for these facts).
Communists have killed far more people in numbers than Hitler ever did. Did British colonial powers kill less number of Indians than Hitler ever did in his Holocaust?
Yet, the tag of being Fascist/Nazis has never been applied against an Islamic or Christian country after World War II. Hinduism, in contrast, is tolerant and accommodating, never looking for outward expansion, and thus an easy target for this tirade.
Those who call Hindutva as Fascists or Nazis, ironically are clearly in alliance with ideologies whose record against Humanity leaves much to be desired: Communism and Islamism.
I conclude this piece with a delicious chuckle: all these secularist champions—who fear-monger about supposed Hindu fascism—need be told that Hitler himself was a secularist!
The European history of the last half-millennium has shown that modernity (Renaissance, Enlightenment, French and American Revolution, French Third Republic etc) has gone hand-in-hand with secularization. Hitler too had continued with the secular policies of Bismarck’s Kulturkampf. All along, Hitler had kept religions in its place.
i] Pseudo-Hinduism Exposed, CPI (M), Delhi, 1993, Page 1
[ii] The Saffron Swastika, Dr. Koenraad Elst, Page 28
[iii] The Swastika, Malcolm Quinn, Page 129
[iv] Gandhi and his Critics by BR Nanda, Page 88
So we read this comic-tragic news the other day that Rahul Gandhi is reading Bhagwad Gita and Upanashids to counter Rashtriya Swayam Sangh (RSS) and Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) in his political battle. (So, at least he has moved from the “RSS killed Gandhi” platform).
It’s comical for Bhagwad Gita and Upanishids are meant for self-advancement in the realm of spirituality. It’s not for debating points. It’s tragic because this bachelor wants to lead India’s destiny without the slightest idea of its heritage.
Rahul is free to follow the religion or philosophy of his liking. But it isn’t too smart for him to show his ignorance. It betrays how little initiation in country’s heritage he has had, both at his home or in the schools he went.
It’s an educated guess that Sonia Gandhi, and by inference her husband late Raajiv Gandhi, has had little appreciation of India’s sacred texts. Indira Gandhi probably carried the indifference of her father Pt. Jawaharlal Nehru who was scornful of India’s cultural traditions.
It’s fair to argue that a political leader shouldn’t align himself with any religion in a country of many faiths so as to appear unbiased. But Bhagwad Gita is about Dharma—and not religion. Dharma advocates the righteous way for an individual which the Western colonists cleverly implied it with religion. You were thus forced to be ambivalent about your own glorious past lest you appeared communal and non-secular.
This heinous ploy by the West did two things: One, it helped create a republic where in the name of “secularism” India was made to appear shameful if it owned up its magnificent past. Two, it helped to put one community against the other. A weak India is what the West has always wanted.
Rahul Gandhi displays a typically “colonized mind.” Swami Vivekananda mirrored such individuals of confused identity succinctly:
“The child is taken to school, and the first thing he learns is that his father is a fool, the second thing that his grandfather is a lunatic, the third thing that all his teachers are hypocrites, the fourth, that all the sacred books are lies! By the time he is sixteen, he is a mass of negation, lifeless and boneless.”
India suffered terribly at the hands of Muslims invaders and British colonizers. But there was a difference. Muslim rulers did coerce locals to take up Islam. However, they never tried to control Indians’ mind. British were more sinister. From the start, they set about systematically denigrating India’s past, its achievements, its’ scriptures and customs. They introduced the fake Aryan Invasion Theory. And courtesy the Macaulay Doctrine, they set about wiping out the land’s own heritage with its monstrous education policy. Today, before knowing anything about India, the children recite “Humpty-Dumpty” in front of doting parents. Higher education is no different. As celebrated Indologist Michel Danino writes :
“There is no mention of India’s seminal achievements: the decimal place-value system; that the so-called Gregory series, Pell’s equation or the fundamentals of combinatorics were anticipated by several centuries by Indian mathematicians of the Siddhantic period; or that Indian astronomers of the same era had developed powerful algorithms that enabled them to calculate planetary positions and the occurrences of eclipses with an excellent degree of precision.
“It is equally hard to accept that medical students should know nothing of Indian systems of medicine such as Aryuveda or Siddha, of proven efficacy for a wide range of disorders and even serious diseases.
“If the topic is psychology, the Western variety alone will be taken up, completely eclipsing the far deeper psychological system offered by yoga.
“Water harvesting is taught as if it were a new contribution from the West, even if it was widely practiced from Harappan times onward.
“One could go on (in the same manner) with metallurgy, chemistry, textiles, transport and a host of other technologies.”
It is no wonder that any attempt to revise school books is met with serious opposition today. Indian languages are called “vernacular” whose root meaning is `belonging to native slave.’
A few years ago, State education ministers would have nothing to do with the merest suggestion of Indian culture into the curriculum. As Ananda Coomaraswamy, who opposed the prevalent education system vehemently in the 20th century, wrote:
“It’s hard to realize how completely the continuity of Indian life has been severed. A single generation of English education suffices to break the threads of tradition and to create a nondescript and superficial being deprive of all roots—a sort of intellectual pariah who does not belong to the East or the West, the past or the future…of all Indian problems the educational is the most difficult and most tragic.”
So it has come to pass that Rahul Gandhi could nonchalantly betray his lack of connection with Indian roots and isn’t shamed for his ignorance. Those who could shame him—the intelligentsia, media, academics—won’t do because they are themselves a mirror image. He is studying Bhagwad Gita and Upanishad to fight a political battle!!! This is what you say, a Paradise Lost.