A Faizur Rahman’s Response to Subramaniam Swamy’s Article in DNA, Mumbai
Jul 20, 2011,
Today the creeping fascism of the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS) is coming upon us not as gradually as imperialism did, nor as suddenly as did the Emergency. Its spread is being calibrated adroitly by seven faceless men, who make the RSS ‘high command’.
We barely feel it. Some yesteryear civil libertyites like Arun Shourie have been co-opted. Others are being wooed or chased… As the period of the Emergency clearly demonstrated, the RSS is astute enough to know when to hunt with the hounds and when to run with the hares. They are smarter than the German fascists in this respect.”
Anyone who thinks that these are the fulminations of some diehard ‘fanatic Muslim’ or a ‘pseudo-secular’ communist is in for a shock. The person venting his spleen against the RSS is none other than Subramanian Swamy. The aforementioned statement is taken from his article ‘The RSS game plan’ that was published in the January-February 2000 issue of Frontline magazine (http://www.hindu.com/fline/fl1702/17020950.htm)
That was ages ago. Now, having passed through this curvature, he is busy warning people that it is not “the creeping fascism” of the RSS but “Islamic terrorism [that is]India’s number one problem” (How to wipe out Islamic terror, DNA July 16, 2011).
DNA’s readers are entitled to express their righteous indignation at the transmutation of Swamy from being a Hindutva basher to an Islamphobe within the span of a decade. They have the right to demand an explanation from Swamy as to why he now wants India to declare itself “a Hindu Rashtra in which non-Hindus can vote only if they proudly acknowledge that their ancestors were Hindus” when in 2000 he had warned against the game plan of the RSS to Hinduise India and convert it into “a cross between the Taliban and the Vatican”? But then consistency has not been Swamy’s forte.
To elaborate further, in his Frontline essay he had exposed the “scheme” of the RSS to replace the present bicameral Parliament with a three-tier structure that will have at the apex “a Guru Sabha of Sadhus and Sanyasis (read VHP activists) nominated by the President who is elected by a Lok Sabha constituted on a limited electoral college of primary and secondary school teachers, the rolls of which will be prepared by the HRD ministry and not the Election Commission” and, “in between the Guru Sabha and the Lok Sabha, there will be a Raksha Sabha of serving armed forces chiefs and retired soldiers who can decide when to declare an Emergency.” A terrifying scheme indeed!
Could it be that his Frontline piece was influenced by Marzia Casolari’s damning essay ‘Hindutva’s Foreign Tie-up in the 1930s’ (http://www.pragoti.in/sites/default/files/casolari.pdf) published in the Economic and Political Weekly in January 2000? In this paper, using archival evidence, Casolari had claimed that “beginning with the early 1920s, and up to World War II, Hindu nationalists looked at the political reality of fascist Italy, and subsequently of Nazi Germany, as a source of inspiration.”
And, “one of the results of the contacts between fascism and Hindu nationalism” wrote Casolari, “was the attempt to militarise Hindu society and to create a militant mentality among the Hindus.” It would appear from Casolori’s well-researched study that Swamy was after all barking up the right tree.
Given this backdrop, Swamy’s current allegations against Islam and Muslims are completely baseless and seem to be driven by an agenda to malign the religion and its followers out of some short-sighted compulsion. His claim that except India “all other countries conquered by Islam 100% converted to Islam within two decades of the Islamic invasion” is as delusive as it sounds. Philip K Hitti in his History of the Arabs describes as a “discredited hypothesis” the myth of Muslims “offering the Koran with the one hand and the sword with the other.”
He writes; “Not until the second and third centuries of the Moslem era did the bulk of the people of Syria, Mesapotamia and Persia profess the religion of Muhammad. Between the military conquest of these regions and their religious conversion a long period intervened. And when they were converted the people turned primarily because of self interest — to escape tribute and seek identification with the ruling class.” Similar conclusions were arrived at by Ira M Lapidus in A History of Islamic Societies.
As for Swamy’s outrageous assertion that Muslims must be disenfranchised if they refused to recognise that “Hindustan is a nation of the Hindus” it is nothing but an echo of the sectarian sentiments of Golwalkar who said the minorities must adopt the Hindu culture and language and “they must cease to be foreigners or may stay in the country wholly subordinated to the Hindu nation claiming nothing, deserving no privileges, far less any preferential treatment, not even citizens’ rights” (We or Our Nationhood Defined, Nagpur, 1938, p52).
Let it be known that India cannot be made into a Hindu theocracy. It belongs equally to all its citizens irrespective of religious affiliation. Moreover, real Hinduism, that is, Sanatana Dharma, has nothing in common with the Hindutva of the Sangh Parivar.
Vedantic philosophy visualises the human race as Vasudeiva Kutumbakam, or belonging to a single family of God, a message that finds echo in the Quranic concept of ummatan waahida (unity of mankind).
It is therefore not surprising that the greatest proponent of Advaita Vedanta (non-dualism) after Adi Sankara, Swami Vevekananda, desired collaboration between Islam and Hinduism for India to prosper. He wrote; “For our own motherland a junction of the two great systems, Hinduism and Islam - Vedanta brain and Islam body — is the only hope. I see in my mind’s eye the future perfect India rising out of this chaos and strife, glorious and invincible, with Vedanta brain and Islam body.” (Letters of Swami Vivekananda, Advaita Ashrama, pp379-380).
Unfortunately, Swamy’s Hindustan-for-Hindus theory completely undermines Vivekananda accommodative spirit. His “strategies” to negate the political goals of “Islamic terrorism” in India — particularly his call to abolish Article 370 and his diabolical demands to occupy PoK and annex parts of Bangladesh - are fraught with serious ramifications for the very idea of India.
He would do well to overcome his ignorance on Article 370 by reading the book The Constitution of Jammu and Kashmir by Justice AS Anand, the former chief justice of India.
Nevertheless, one wonders what makes Swamy talk only in terms of “Islamic terror.” Certainly the terrorists charged with masterminding the Mecca Masjid, Malegoan, Ajmer Dargah and the Samjhauta Express blasts are not Muslims. Neither were the perpetrators of the Gujarat genocide. It is time men like Swamy realised that terrorists are not born but made, and the basic cause is injustice.
People who have lost entire families in genocidal and communal violence, or rendered stateless because their homeland is occupied by other countries, often turn nihilists. They consider all those responsible for their tragedy legitimate targets to be attacked anywhere. Brute force or draconian laws will not work. The root causes have to be addressed.
To paraphrase Swamy’s concluding remarks of his Frontline article, the good news is that the people of this great country are discerning enough to see through any disinformation campaign that seeks to divide them on communal lines. Attempts by epistemically arrogant individuals or culturally haughty organisations to straitjacket Indian society will without doubt end in failure. The “vibrations of Mother India” will be their undoing.
The author is secretary-general, Forum for the Promotion of Moderate Thought among Muslims, Chennai
Source: Daily News & Analysis