By Yoginder Sikand, NewAgIslam.com
Subramanian Swamy’s recent article, titled ‘How To Wipe Out Islamic Terror’, has provoked widespread comment in the media. Advocating a hard-hitting approach to the phenomenon of Muslim extremism and urging the Hindus to take to militant Hindutva-style politics, the former Union Cabinet Minister and President of the Janata Party can safely be said to represent the convictions of a sizeable section of middle-class, ‘modern’-educated ‘upper’ caste Hindus, who, despite the thin veneer of Western ‘liberalism’ that they sport, are deeply wedded to the pernicious doctrine of Brahminical supremacism in the guise of Hindutva.
Swamy’s article is full of gaping holes, gross exaggerations, unfounded claims and downright lies. Conforming to the usual pattern of Hindu chauvinist writings on Muslims and Islam, the article serves several goals simultaneously. It aims at demonizing Muslims and Islam as supposedly inherently violent and hate-driven, while, contrarily, presenting Hindus as the supposed epitomes of virtue. In this way, it conveniently denies the undeniable reality of terror engaged in by Hindu groups (including Hindu mobs) that, since 1947, has taken a much heavier toll of innocent lives (mainly of Muslims but also of Dalits) than has the terror resorted to by fringe Muslim groups in India in recent years. Equating being Indian with being ‘Hindu’, it denies non-Hindus the right to live as equal citizens and with dignity. It seeks to pit Hindus against Muslims, advocating a wide-range of anti-Muslim measures that can easily lead to large-scale violence against the latter and used to justify their slaughter if they dare protest against such brutalities.
But the article’s sinister intentions do not stop there. Like any other piece of shoddy anti-Muslim Hindutva propaganda, the article is also geared to shoring up Brahminical supremacy and the interests of the ruling castes/classes. Thus, in true Brahminist fashion, Swamy calls for a hard-hitting military approach to ‘eliminate’, as he puts it, the Naxalites, as if they were a mere law-and-order problem and not one rooted in the mounting oppression faced by vast numbers of Dalits and Adivasis, who, finding other means of securing justice closed to them by a system that is based on their exclusion and subjugation, feel compelled to take to the militant path. Further, rubbishing the entire legacy of the non-Brahmin Dravidian Self-Respect movement, Swamy mocks its challenge to the hegemony of the Tamil Brahmins, the community to which he belongs. It would thus seem that any dissenting voice that dares to critique Brahmanism (for which the term ‘Hinduism’ is a euphemism) and Brahminical notions of Indian culture and nationalism is to be readily branded as an affront to Indian (read Brahminical) identity, and, hence, anti-national. There is nothing at all here to distinguish Swamy from any other run-of-the-mill Hindutva ideologue. Nothing what he writes here is at all original or novel.
Swamy’s article is also geared to promoting Brahminical supremacy in another way—by maintaining a deafening silence on the enormous and rapidly mounting caste-class contradictions within the so-called ‘Hindu community’ and the daily violence to which Dalits and other oppressed caste-groups are subjected to by caste Hindus. By deliberately and constantly projecting Muslims as the menacing ‘other’ of the so-called ‘majority Hindu community’, and castigating Muslims as a violent threat to the very existence of the latter, Brahminist ideologues like Swamy deliberately cover-up the fundamental role of the ruling caste-class establishment (which they represent) in generating violence on a massive scale, of which the oppressed castes/classes are the principal victims. This strategy of ‘otherizing’ Muslims through consistently demonizing them is crucial to the project of constructing the notion of a singular ‘majority Hindu community’ which conceals internal caste-class differences within the ‘Hindu’ fold. This concealment is necessary so that the wrath of the oppressed castes/classes can be diverted from their real oppressors—the ruling caste-class establishment—onto the demonized Muslim ‘other’. The trope of a singular ‘Hindu’ community (whose internal caste-class contradictions are conveniently denied in the name of ‘Hindu unity’) is an indispensable tool for enabling the Brahminical caste/class minority to use the logic of majoritarianism to claim to speak for the ‘Hindu majority’ simply in order to promote the interests and worldviews of this hegemonic minority, which hardly counts for more than a tenth of the Indian population. In true Hindutva fashion, this is also precisely what Swamy’s article seeks to do.
Swamy begins his article with a reference to the recent bomb attacks in Mumbai. Although viscerally anti-Muslim Brahminist Hindu terror groups are known to have engaged in terror blasts in various parts of the country in recent years, besides, of course, in murderous anti-Muslim pogroms on a massive scale, many Hindus, even in the absence of any evidence, would readily blame Muslims, or a known or even imaginary Muslim group, for any blast that may occur. This has now become an instinctive reaction, so deeply-rooted has the notion of Muslims being linked with terrorism become. This is precisely what Swamy does in this case, too, appearing to suggest that the recent blasts were the handiwork of Muslims, even thought there is no confirmed evidence to support this contention.
Swamy does not stop there, though, and goes on to speak of India’s very existence being threatened by what he calls ‘Islamic terrorism’, which he terms as an ‘existential threat’ and India’s ‘number one problem of national security’. The reality of Hindu or Hindutva terrorism and state terrorism thus completely eludes him. Swamy’s visceral hatred for Muslims makes him completely blind to the enormity of anti-Muslim violence engaged in by Hindu mobs (often in league with the state) for decades, which is definitely a major cause for Muslim dissatisfaction, and which, in some cases, might even have led to retaliatory violence, especially in the face of an indifferent and hostile state apparatus. ‘Let us remember that every Hindu-Muslim riot in India since 1947, has been ignited by Muslim fanatics’, Swamy announces, completely oblivious to or, possibly, ignorant of, reality, which is quite to the contrary.
Swamy appears to paint all Muslims with the same baneful brush. ‘Muslims cannot be divided into “moderates” and “extremists” because the former just capitulate when confronted’, he claims. Thus, in his view, it is by definition almost impossible for a Muslim not to collude in extremism, whether actively or otherwise. Accordingly, for Swamy there can simply be no hope for better Hindu-Muslim relations in India, unless, as he ardently advocates, Muslims agree to effectively Hinduise themselves. If Swamy is to be believed, till the Indian Muslims consent to reclaim their supposed ‘Hindu past’, all efforts to promote harmony between Hindus and Muslims are useless and it would serves no purpose to work for it.
But Swamy does not rest content simply with this depressing prognosis. Instead, he goes further and passionately advocates a vast range of policies that seem calculated to suppress, humiliate, demean and, inevitably, provoke Muslims, all in such a manner as to completely sabotage any prospects for Hindu-Muslim camaraderie and to set off a Hindu-Muslim war of cosmic proportions across South Asia. Al-Qaeda, one supposes, would certainly be delighted at having discovered a comrade who shares its Manichaean world-view! After all, destroying India by igniting Hindu-Muslim conflict on a massive scale is, so it is said, and as Swamy himself notes, precisely what Al-Qaeda wants.
Swamy conjures up the spectre of hordes of hate-driven Muslims all set to invade India and subject it to ‘Islamic’ rule, and, accordingly, exhorts Hindus to get their act together to militarily resist this prospect. India, he argues, is today besieged from the forces of ‘Islamic’ radicalism. It is true that some Muslim fringe groups in India, who enjoy but little support among ‘ordinary’ Indian Muslims, might possibly harbour such dreams. It is also true that Al-Qaeda and some powerful Pakistan-based terror groups that claim to speak for Islam also share this vision. Some such groups, including those rumoured to be backed by Pakistan’s dreaded ISI, are said to actually hanker after a grand war against India, claiming that the Prophet Muhammad had prophesied a Muslim invasion of India, the ghazwat ul-hind, and had promised that the Muslims who participated in it would be free from the fires of hell. (Interestingly, many Muslim scholars argue that this report is a weak narration, while others claim that the prophecy of the ghazwat ul-hind has, with the invasion of India by Muslim armies centuries ago, already been fulfilled).
Thus, Swamy is not wrong when he points to the undeniable fact of extremist Muslim groups, including Al-Qaeda and some outfits based in Pakistan, who continue to dream of a Muslim conquest of India. However, to present this phenomenon in such a way, as Swamy does, as to suggest that it represents the collective fantasy of a vast number of Muslims is a gross and probably deliberate exaggeration. To use this as a means to call on Hindus to retaliate in a manner that would lead to a war of cosmic proportions between Hindus and Muslims, as Swamy does, is to seek to set off a self-fulfilling prophecy, caring nothing at all for what the enormous destruction this would inevitably entail, not least for the Hindus themselves, whose ardent champions and defenders Swamy and his ilk pose themselves as.
Almost all the many measures that Swamy urges the Hindus and the Indian state (he uses the terms synonymously) to take against Muslims are calculated to stamp out all hope for Hindu-Muslim harmony, provoke Muslim anger and ignite what would be a never-ending war between Muslims and Hindus, which Swamy himself accuses Al-Qaeda of hankering after. These include building a Ram temple at the site of the Babri mosque in Ayodhya; demolishing a centuries’-old mosque in Benaras and three hundred other mosques in the country; scrapping Article 370 of the Indian Constitution, which guarantees a notional special status to Muslim-majority Jammu and Kashmir; resettling Indian (that is to say Hindu) ex-servicemen in the Kashmir Valley (presumably in order to tilt the demographic balance in favour of Hindus and to clamp down more effectively on the Kashmiri Muslims demanding freedom from Indian rule); carving out a separate Panun Kashmir for the Hindu Pandits; conquering and annexing Pakistani-administered Kashmir and grabbing at least a third of Bangladeshi territory; imposing a Uniform Civil Code on all Indians; making learning Sanskrit (the repository of Brahminical culture) compulsory; banning conversion from Hinduism to other religions (thus criminalizing a principal means for escape from the tyranny of Brahminism that the oppressed castes, from the Buddha’s time onwards, have historically resorted to) while permitting conversion of non-Hindus to Hinduism; and, finally, declaring India to be a ‘Hindu Rashtra’, where non-Hindus who do not, as Swamy puts it, ‘proudly acknowledge’ their Hindu roots will be stripped of voting rights. (Given that the vast majority of Indian Muslims are descendants of ‘low’ caste converts, who embraced Islam in order to escape the tyranny of the caste-based Hindu religion, few such Muslims, one may expect, would take pride in the supposed Hindu-ness of their ancestors, which they might well regard as a burden that ought to remain forgotten).
Far from ‘wiping out Islamic terror’, as the title of Swamy’s article reads, the hard-hitting measures that he calls for are a certain means to exacerbate Muslim radicalism. Swamy’s appeal to the Hindus and the Indian state is a sure recipe for propelling India into the throes of interminable civil war, a prospect that the radical Islamists he poses to oppose would excitedly welcome. As his shoddily-penned article, which betrays the complete intellectual bankruptcy of the Hindutva Brahminist supremacists, so tragically illustrates, hate-spewing Hindu and Muslim (and other such) radicals share much more than what they would care to admit.
URL for Subramaniam Swamy’s Article: