Calling the bluff on RSS chief's lament on Akhand Bharat
How does one respond to RSS chief Mohan Bhagwat's lament on Akhand Bharat? One is not sure he knows what he is talking about
When Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh chief Mohan Bhagwat fondly talks about an Akhand Bharattoday, one is not sure if he is aware of what he is talking about. To restore Akhand Bharat of his imagination would of course lead to the number of Muslims swelling to one-third of the population. It will not then be as easy to browbeat them and treat them as anti-nationals.
Demographics of an Akhand Bharatwould ensurethat at least five chief ministers of a United India will be Muslims, namely in Punjab, Sindh, North West Frontier Province, Bengal and of course Jammu and Kashmir. The Muslim population of Rajasthan and Gujarat, where people of Junagadh had once resisted integration with India, will also increase. Losing their collective bargaining power was the reason why the Muslim chief ministers of Punjab and Bengal had fiercely resisted Partition at Independence. They could see what Mohammad Ali Jinnah could not.
Jinnah was always culturally more British than a Muslim, eating pork, speaking no Urdu (he was a Gujarati) and choosing to marry a Parsi.He chose to be fooled by VD Savarkar's two-nation theory, which was first voiced by Shyama Prasad Mookerjee, who never got a look-in with the Muslim leaders of his own home state.
So, the RSS is talking through its hat, or rather its kaali topi, if they say they want an Akhand Bharat now after first facilitating the division of India.
In fact, when refugees in Pakistan complained to Jinnah how badly they were being treated in the camps, compared to Indian refugees who were being compassionately rehabilitated, Jinnah had a shocking answer for them.When they proclaimed that they should be treated better because they were responsible for Pakistan, Jinnah snapped back, “Only three things are responsible for Pakistan - I, my typist and my typewriter!”
On the other hand, finding he still did not get a foothold in a divided Hindu majority Bengal, Mookerjee regretted pushing for the Partition but by then it was too late. Now the RSS has been busy trying to justify Mohan Bhagwat's Akhand Bharat call by regurgitating old and jaded theories.
For example, the RSS propaganda holds that 99 percent of Indian Muslims are “desi’ and only the one percent Muslim leadership of political parties is videshi,their ancestors hailingoriginally from Arab states, Iran and Iraq etc. But then why do they then encourage lynchingof desi Muslims and exult– because one does not hear of any videshiMuslim leaders being similarly persecuted? The RSS interlocutors have no answer.
So, what will they do when more than 22 crore Muslims from Pakistan merge into India?Well, they are desi Muslims too.
Then why were they thrown out in the first place? A RSS old hand chose to answer that question by saying, Nehru was Muslim!When told not to insult his own learning and intelligence with such silly propaganda, he floated a new story - Nehru's ancestors were darogas of the Moghuls in 1857.
You know what a daroga is? It means a Chowkidar!
Oh, really! I thought Narendra Modi was our chowkidar this century, I testily replied. He gave up with a parting shot – you are a communist and you have a soft corner for Nehru.Of course, I do. But for Nehru, India would not have stood on its feet at Independence and 70 years later, Narendra Modi would have no assets to sell to his capitalist cronies.
Losing the argument, he bellows down the phone at me, “Yogi is coming back in 2022, Modi is coming back in 2024!"
Well, we shall see.
Observers from Nagpur, veteran RSS watchers, confess they do not still understand the RSS obsession with Muslims. ‘India was ruled by the British for two centuries following the Moghuls for two more; indeed, for 600 years preceding the Moghuls, there were other Islamic dynasties from Lodhis to Khiljis to Adilshahis and Qutubshahis etc.
Some assimilated and settled down here while others plundered and went back. But not a single Islamic ruler could convert the whole of India to Islam or the British convert Indians to Christianity, even if they wanted to. Muslims are still just 15 percent of the population, so who feels threatened by them and why?
They snort contemptuously when told of the desi-videshiconversation. “How many Joshis and Deshpandes or Mukherjees or Banerjees converted to Islam, pray?” they asked. “They were all only Mandals,Biswases, Majhis or Keshavs." Indeed, Brahmins and upper castes, who were better off, seem to have escaped conversion for a thousand years.
RSS also argues that Indians were all converted on the point of the sword.‘Then what about Meenakshipuram, when the sword was no longer in fashion? Would the Dalits have opted for conversion, had they not been treated badly by the upper castes?’
Hinduism, they are convinced, is under threat by its own closed-door policy. The upper castes did not allow equal education to the lower castes, including the study of Sanskrit, which is why Persian and Urdu spoken by commoners became official languages, why Hindi gained over Sanskrit and English caught on like wildfire as a means to secure better opportunities. Barring the post-British Indian diaspora, which carried some practice of Hinduism abroad but still largely among themselves, the religion refused to cross the Kaala paani and still finds itself confined to Indian shores.
‘That is the real threat to Hinduism. All other religions have moved from countries of their origin and spread across the world. Even Buddhism moved out and so many non-Indian kingdoms became Buddhist,” they point out.
The RSS, they say, has noticed that and are beginning to call Emperor Ashoka names. It is galling to them that there have been arguably only two great emperors in India, one a Buddhist and the other a Muslim (Akbar). Much as they pay lip service to Dr B R Ambedkar, they hate him for removing large sections of people from the realms of upper caste slavery almost overnight to a more dignified existence wherein they are equal to all and inferior to none.
So, can we win the argument and convince RSS supporters? Can we make them think and read? Can we force them to concede the stellar roles played by Mahatma Gandhi and Jawaharlal Nehru? Not really. They are beyond history, logic and common sense. But perhaps the younger generation of Indian can still be educated and informed better?
(The writer is Consulting Editor, National Herald, Mumbai. Views are personal)