The Ghost Returns - The New Communal Violence Bill

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The Ghost

The  ghost of the controversial Communal Violence Bill has re-surfaced in  the political horizon of India as the ruling establishment appears to  be determined to place it in the winter session for Parliament.

The purpose behind this Bill is to control the centuries old communal  conflict between the two major religious communities in this country. But the question arises- Will this Bill be able to resolve this  problem? The answer is a big NO. One may ask why? Because ever since Independence the political leadership of this country had ignored to  trace the roots of this problem and understand the issue. May be, they understood, but did not want to "catch the bull by the  horns".

My view is that this problem is rooted to the civilisational conflict in  the region that began with the first Islamic invasion of the country in the early eighth century A.D.

Roots of the problem and History
Repeated invasions since then, were not only to loot the wealth but also to completely eliminate the cultural and civilisation past of this sub-continent. Repeated attempts were made to impose the religiously motivated Arab-Persian culture and religion on its conquered people  by the invaders while establishing the Islamic imperialist rule in  the region.

Despite  the attempts of successive Islamist invaders to destroy the cultural  past and completely Islamise the people of this conquered territory  as they did in Persia, Egypt and other Central Asian Countries,  Indian culture survived due to the cultural unity of its over eighty  percent of population. It is a fact that the people faced the trauma  and stigma of the hate crimes perpetrated on them but they did not  succumb to the brutal assault of the conquerors that was the norm in  those days.

The  natives of this land irrespective of their varied caste, sect,  region, local customs, food habits, costumes, professions and  languages believed in polytheistic Sanatana Dharma that originated  from the liberal Vedic texts and the spiritual voices of their  ascetic ancestors that permitted complete freedom to worship the  deities of one’s choice. With such spiritual strength and freedom  they maintained the cultural unity and gradually contributed to the  internationally acclaimed civilisation.

The  religio-imperialist invaders indulged in destroying the temples as  well as the idols of the deities and traditional educational  institutions like the ancient universities of Nalanda, Takshshila and  Vikramshila.

Another  objective was to convert as much as possible the local population by  superimposing their own religion and culture. They succeeded to some  extent in the then urban areas but could not penetrate too deep into  the rural heartland of country where a majority of the people lived.

Serious  attempt to destroy Cultural Heritage
They  also forced the hapless converts to completely forget their  indigenous cultural past and did their best to separate them from the  mainstream society. There were told to forget the indigenous identity  and look to the west for inspiration and survival. One result was  that these alien conquerors even changed the name of this land from  Bharat to Hindustan or Hind, called the non-converted natives and  their faith as Hindu a Persian term used for the people across the  river Sindhu (Indus) which was neither known to the locals nor had  any reference in the ancient scriptures and literature of this  country.

The  idea behind such an attempt was to eliminate the national identity of  the locals and Islamise them completely. Subsequently when the  Islamists lost their imperial rule to the British colonialists, the  latter too played a game for Christianising the sub-continent.

Both  the alien rulers sidelined Sanskrit the traditional official language  of the country. Known as the language of God, it was also the  language of Vedic rituals, scriptures and literatures which were the  cultural heritage then. While the Islamist rulers replaced Sanskrit  with Persian in administration, the British introduced English as  official language and medium of education.

Enter the British
Thomas  Babington Macaulay (1800-1859), a British historian, politician, and  an inaugural member of a governing Supreme Council of India imported  English form of education through his famous Minute on Indian  Education of February 1835. He believed in creating a class of  persons, Indian in blood and colour, but English in taste, in  opinions, in morals, and in intellect and thus successfully created a  sizeable group of Anglicised native elite. The British used them as  interpreters between the Empire and the subject. Popularly known as  Macaulayism, the objective behind this policy was to sideline the  indigenous culture and impose the Western cultural ethos on the  natives. He was so confident about his plan that he wrote the  following letter dated October 12, 1836 to his father: "Our  English schools are flourishing wonderfully.... The effect of this  education on Hindus is prodigious. No Hindu who has received an  English education ever remains sincerely attached to his religion. It  is my firm belief that if our plans of education are followed up,  there will not be a single idolater among the respected classes 30  years hence. And this will be effected without our efforts to  proselytize; I heartily rejoice in the prospect."

Another  strategy the British adopted was distortion of the cultural history  of this ancient land which is still preserved in Vedic texts and its  associated scriptures like Ramayana, Mahabharat, various Upnishadas,  Puranas, philosophy, astronomy, medical science, economics and  literatures all in Sanskrit language. They utilised the services of  paid European and Marxist historians who declared this rich cultural  history of India (Bharath) as myth, discovered a unique bogus theory  of Aryan invasion and even portrayed the historical heroes of Muslim  Era like Mewar ruler Maharana Pratap (1540-1597), Maratha king  Shivaji (1627-1680), Chatrashal (1649-1731) of Bundelkhand, and many  other Jat leaders as rebels. In fact these nationalist icons had  actually fought against the Moguls for defending their motherland.

Winning  over the Elite?
Gradually,  the British won over the loyalty of a significant section of English  educated Muslims under the leadership of Sir Syed Ahmad (1817-1898),  scion of a Mogul family who bemoaned the ending of Mogul dominance.  He however, believed that the British would continue to rule India  for generations and accordingly propagated among the Muslim elite  that the community should be loyal to the new Empire.

Similarly,  sensing a new awakening among the natives brought out by social  reformers like Raja Ram Mohan Roy (1772-1833), Swami Dayanad  (1824-1883), Vivekanand (1863-1902) and others as a danger to the  imperial throne, A.O.Humes (1829-1912), a retired British Civil  Servant in confidence of the Governor General formed Indian National  Congress (INC) in 1985 as a platform for a dialogue between the  educated Indians and the British Raj. The idea behind this move was  to win over the English educated intelligentsia from the religious  majority group to ensure that the dialogue between the INC and the  British Government would consolidate the hold of Empire on the colony  and also facilitate the transformation of the colony into the Western  cultural ethos.

A  section of the native leaders of the INC understood the game of the  British and the party got divided into moderates (soft towards the  British) and the radicals (forceful in their nationalist approach)  popularly known as "Naram Dal and Garam Dal".

Although,  the British patronised the moderates to sideline the nationalist  voices raised by the radicals the slogan - "Freedom is our birth  right" raised by Tilak gradually became the key word of the  freedom movement for full independence of the country.

Cultural  Heritage given the go by:
Death  of Tilak was a big jolt to the nationalist forces. The cultural  heritage and the treasure of ancient India was given the go by and  there arose a group of anglicised left-liberal intellectuals and the  political class that had no emotional attachment to the cultural  wealth of this country. There is a view that this cultural slavery  has continued to this day thus offsetting any chance of restoring a  unique national identity for the country.

Despite  the violent cultural assault of the foreign rulers, the people fought  all through the ages and preserved their ancient cultural past. It is  my considered view that the heroic fight of the locals even at the  cost of lives and humiliation gradually led to a perpetual communal  conflict and religious hostility in this inherently secular society.

The  nationalist forces within the Congress argued for restoration of the  ancient name of Bharat on the ground of its antiquity. Traditionally,  the spiritually rooted Vedic name Bharat was the foundation stone of  the socio-cultural history of this ancient land. The hymn "Bramhmidam  rakshati Bhartam janam" from Rig-Veda suggests that the name  Bharat dates back to the Vedic period.

Naming  of Independent Country as Bharath or India?
There  was a long debate in Constituent Assembly on 18 September 1949 over  naming of the newly born republic of Bharat. Prominent suggestions  like Bharat, Hindustan, Hind, Bharatbhumi or Bharatvarsh came up for  discussion. Leaders like K.M.Munshi, H. V. Kamath, Sampurnanand and  many others strongly argued in favour of the ancient name Bharat,  Bharatbhumi or Bharatvarsh which dates back to the Vedic era. They  however, failed to convince the influential members who were  committed to the flawed vision of European and Marxist historians  about Bharat.

Arguing  in favour of restoring the sole name of Bharat in the constitution,  Kamalapati Tripathi said, "There is no country in the world  which has been able to preserve its name and its genius even after  undergoing the amount of repression, the insults and prolonged  slavery which our country had to pass through. Even after thousands  of years our country is still known as 'Bharat'. (Constituent  Assembly Debate on 18 September, 1949 Volume IX OF Constituent  Assembly. (http://www.indiankanoon.org/doc/1314788/).

Finally,  the amendment "Bharat, or, in the English language, India, shall  be a Union of States" was put to vote. The Assembly decided by  show of hands. With Ayes: 38 Noes: 51, the amendment was negatived  and India, that is, Bharat shall be a Union of States was declared as  the official name of the country.

Destroy  history and thus destroy People:
The  writings of internationally acclaimed poets like Mahakavi Bharati of  Tamil Nadu and Ravindranath Tagore of West Bengal who had revered  Bharat in their poetry were thus ignored. Even the name of Bharat  echoes in the national anthem. The mischief created in the  constitution by the then anglicised political leadership allowed the  civilisational hostility of the past Moghul era to continue which is  the major reason behind the repeated communal conflicts in the  country.

According  to George Orwell (1903-1950) a noted British political writer and  journalist, "the most effective way to destroy the people is to  deny and obliterate their own understanding of their history."  This is what happened in India post independence when the legacy of a  divided country on communal lines that began in the Moghul era,  continued by the British and allowed to continue in the name of vote  bank politics until this day!

Actually,  the minority leaders with a few exceptions remained quiet on the  inclusion of Minority rights in the constitution as they were aware  that their ascendency to political power in democratic India was only  possible by cultivating instinctive fear psychosis among the  community members. They exploited the complex dynamics of vote bank  politics with resources and trained Islamists from within the country  as well as from the oil rich Muslim countries. This in my view was  the beginning of a successful project that was created and continued  unabated and unchecked communal discord in the country.

Instead  of following the footsteps of our ancestors who carried forward the  legacy of the struggle all through the ages to defend the cultural  and civilisational history of the country successive governments  ignored the civilisational legacy of this country. Arnold Joseph  Toynbee (1889-1975), the British historian of civilisations` rightly  observed that "Civilisations die from suicide, not murder"  (The way to save Hindu civilisation by J G Arora.)

Vote  and vote bank greedy politicos and the politics of negativism:
Encouraged  with the politics of negativism played by the joint team of vote  greedy, vote bank politicos, secularists, and caste-ists, the  Islamists revived their pre-partition communal politics in the name  of religious identity. Similarly, taking advantage of the Anglicised  mindset of the political leadership, Pope John Paul II during his  visit to New Delhi in November, 1999 gave a call of civilisational  conquest of Asia in guarded language. He said: - "Just as the  first millennium saw the Cross firmly planted in the soil of Europe,  and the second in that of America and Africa, so may the Third  Christian Millennium witness a great harvest of faith on this vast  and vital continent."

In  this slide from our glorious cultural history, it is not only the  successive governments that are to be blamed but also many others in  the civil society including the media. It was refreshing to see in  Delhi that one of the parties that contested did not take into  account the communal background of the electorate in a particular  constituency, but to the competence of the candidate selected!

What  is needed now is an honest national debate on the flawed history of  the country that will continue to haunt us no matter what kind of  communal bill the government intends to place before the parliament  in the coming days.

First published http://www.southasiaanalysis.org/node/1423

Also read
1. NAC’s idea of Minorities is irrelevant and - dangerous
2. Who is a Minority