Hindu liberals’ failure – Or why the liberal has not failed

The author’s line of argument sounds familiar. His is the archetype Liberal-Conservative voice. Also known as the “Center-Right”.
Let me attempt a definition of who a Center-Rightist is.
“A Center-Rightist is one who whilst recognizing the truth of the “Right”, nevertheless leans only on the “Center” for solutions”; thereby invariably offering those solutions that have actually created the problems the “Right” is grappling with.
In the following column the author tries to tell us Hindu terror has become a reality because of the failure of nominally Hindu liberals to own their own culture and traditions. In short, Hindu liberals have ceded space to the “bad guys”.
He’s right in his Rightist diagnosis but wrong in his administration of Liberal drugs. That’s typical of how a Center-Rightist would think.
Let’s move on now. My observations appear periodically below the author’s paragraphs.
Hindu liberals’ failure
R Jagannathan / DNA
Thursday, May 27, 2010 4:07
The charge-sheeting of 11 men associated with the Sanatan Sanstha in connection with the Goa blast of October, 2009, has brought the problem of right-wing Hindu militancy to the fore.
Evidence is growing that the Malegaon and Ajmer blasts were also the handiwork of disaffected Hindu groups. It is now a virtual certainty that “secular” politicians will try to make capital out of it.
(Pala – Please note the descriptive “disaffected”. Right diagnosis)
While it is nobody’s case that Hindu terror groups should be treated any differently from the jehadi groups wreaking havoc in the country, there are some essential points of difference, and they need to be noted. One, while the Pakistan-bred terror groups cannot be controlled, the India-based ones, and especially Hindu-linked ones, are easier to rein in for the simple reason that the police will find them easy to infiltrate.

(Pala – The author’s Liberal solution mode does not allow him to differentiate on merit. The fact is Hindu groups must be treated separately from the Islamic ones because their aims are different. No one disputes the assertion that harm should not be done. However one does not normally place the fifth column and the impatient patriot on par just because both their actions lead to harm. How can Hiroshima & Nagasaki be equal to Pearl Harbor?)
The author goes on – “They can be neutralised in no time, given the political will.”
(Pala – The notion of political Will is not merely administrative. It is in fact, organic. Therefore, the Liberal establishment will show political Will in going after Hindu groups and none insofar as Islamic ones are concerned. That is the reason they seem uncontrollable. Reasons are manifold including viewing the minority as auto-underdog)
The same cannot be said for the home-grown Muslim terror groups which sometimes offer tacit support to the likes of the Lashkar-e-Toiba (LeT). Elements in radical Islamic organisations like Simi have been known to work closely with non-Indian terror groups, and the police have so far been unable to infiltrate them, thanks to deep suspicions about police impartiality within the community. Quite obviously, remedying this lacuna should be the first priority of the intelligence and law-enforcement agencies.
(Pala – It is curious to learn Jagannathan’s understanding about police surveillance wherein he seems to think police personnel gather intelligence as *police personnel* and not as *another man in the crowd*. An analogy would resemble the Israelis gaining confidence amongst Arabs and the success of their intelligence network depending on such confidence generated amongst their enemies. So, how does one remedy this lacuna? The author’s Liberal solution mode does not recognize an internal Muslim enemy and therefore always thinks as possible – civilian Muslim allies of our police personnel. It does not occur to him that any action initiated by the police against any Muslim, will be seen as hostile or partial. This tactic is something liberalism is ill-equipped to deal with)
The second point of difference is the larger root-cause issue. While Pakistan-based terror groups have the annexation of Kashmir and the Islamisation of the world as their ultimate goals, the Hindu militant groups have more limited aims: to consolidate their power base among Hindus in India, preferably through communal polarisation. That they have not succeeded so far is largely the result of the innate good sense of Hindus than any great secular effort. As a group, Hindus tend to be inwardly-focused and less inclined towards millenarian causes.

(Pala – Let me not deny the Will to power amongst Hindu groups. However, I don’t know how such a goal is “millenarian”. Whilst the Will to power is not denied, the question unanswered by the author is “Why? Why do these Hindu groups want power?” I say they seek power to be in better control of our Hindu destinies. To be able to keep Hindus safe from harm and to be able to do a much better job of it than is being done by the Liberals)
The third point of difference is the uneven nature of Indian secularism. India’s phony secularists believe that majority communalism should be fought with abuse and bluster, but minority communalism should be brushed under the carpet. Harbans Mukhia, a history professor at Delhi’s Jawaharlal Nehru University, has repeatedly made the same point.
Writing on the issue some time back, he said: “Secular mobilisation has lent strength to the notion that while all communalism is bad, majority communalism poses a much greater threat to the nation than minority communalism… The ‘secular’ parties’ unwillingness to question, challenge and confront minority communalism has thus created a space for it to grow, as its leaders realise the power vested in it as a political force or vote bank.”
(Pala – Any sensible person should reject the idea or postulation of communalism. The formulation of varieties of communalisms has effectively downgraded civilizational aspirations of our people. It has reduced the Nation to its rump. The fact is Hindusthan’s “majority communalism” is nothing but Hindu Nationalism. “Minority communalism” is the revolt of minorities against the Hindu Nation and for power over its destiny. What the quoted Harbans Mukhia does not tell us is why any Secular mobilization cannot behave any better. That’s because it can’t. The nervously righteous outpourings of such secularists have occurred only because Hindu Nationalists have shown they can assert, sometimes with violence)

The words used by so-called secularists to differentiate between the two kinds of communalism are also revealing. Yoginder Sikand, writing on Simi after the 2006 Mumbai train blasts, had this to say: “…the radicalism of Islamist groups like Simi, on the one hand, and Hindu fascist groups, on the other, feed on each other, both speaking the language of hatred.” Mark the use of loaded words. While a neutral word like “radical” is used for Simi, Hindu groups are “fascist,” a value-judgmental term. Where’s the evenhandedness?
(Pala – Would it have been better if both had been called “radical” or “fascist”. I suspect the reason why assertive Hindu groups are labelled fascists is because on success, they are capable of winning state power. The fascist scareword is designed to do just that. Scare away supporters and more importantly, delegitimize the Hindu movement in the world’s eyes)
We need to understand the main reason for this unevenness in the language used by Indian secularists. Many upper class Hindus are ashamed to be Hindus, a factor I spoke about in my last column, too. Thanks to centuries of living under British colonial domination, Hindus lost their self-esteem. The political purpose of the British colonial project was to show Indian culture and achievements as inferior, and to ensure that the upper classes bought this logic and internalised destructive self-criticism.
The upper classes thus learnt to ape their rulers and look down on themselves and their people. The British, for example, used negative Hindu practices like casteism, sati, and thuggee to make all of Hindusim sound backward and retrograde.
(Pala – The way I see it, the political purpose of ANY colonial project must be to show its colonized subject as inferior. Else the colonial project loses its moral basis for its existence. It is foolish to pretend otherwise and get all upset about it. However a small but powerful and influential elite amongst nominal Hindus have remained colonized. The rest who tag along are in for a joy ride of guaranteed power and money.

I also find the argument of “casteism, sati and thuggee” as negative Hindu practices; is self-defeating and devoid of depth. If we are serious, we should be able to point to the reason why these degenerated instead of blindly accepting them as negative. And in case we do blindly accept them as negative practices, then we should have no problem with the colonial formulation of Hindu Dharma as dark)

The Hindu classes thus chose two different directions: one group, led by the Communists, saw Hinduism as more evil than good. They also painted other religions as more progressive and civilising influences. Nehru and other westernised Indians belonged to this group. Other Hindus, in a natural defence against calumny, went the other way, and refused to accept any criticism against Hinduism. Few followed Gandhi’s third way — of proclaiming themselves Hindu and yet being constructively critical of the negative aspects of Hinduism.
(Pala – Jagannathan is wrong. The Left and Liberals uniformly shared the popular notion of liberative Islam and Christianity, apart from bowing to the new entrant, Communism. They saw Hindu beliefs and practices as a stranglehold on Hindus. Something that was beyond reform and must be destroyed. Hindu leaders who knew otherwise, did not refuse to accept legitimate criticism but really, refused to self-flagellate. They knew Hindus have been and can still be reformers of their traditions. They simply saw no need to destroy their “homes” first. The positing of Gandhi somewhere in-between is also wrong. Gandhi was his own man. He was popular and innovative. To a large extent, this Hindu also seemed distinctly un-Hindu but one who managed to garner mass Hindu support. We are all familiar with such phenomena)
Today’s card-carrying secularists belong to the first category of Hindu-baiting liberals, and the Congress, some OBC parties, and the Left are often torchbearers of the post-colonial legacy of self-hate. In a broad sense, thus, the failure of Hindu liberals to assert their Hindu identities left a leadership vacuum that could only be filled by the radical Hindutva outfits, which spew venom against Islam and Christianity.
(Pala – The way I see it, all parties have such card-carrying secularists amidst them. I see no reason why the BJP should be left out of the list. Fact is the day Liberals start to assert their Hindu identities, they will cease to be Liberals. On the other hand, perhaps we will never know what kind of “venom” is being spewed upon Islam and Christianity by “radical Hindutva outfits”. 
Gandhi’s approach to Hinduism was the only rational middle-ground left for liberals, but he didn’t last long enough after Independence to impact secular politics. Liberal Hindus have to reassert their Hindu identities if more radical outfits are not to hijack the religion.
(Pala – The author should know that Gandhi was ridiculed by Liberals of his time. His only true supporters were traditional Hindus. It were these Hindus that also supported Hindu Nationalists of their time. It’s not a riddle without a solution though)

To sum up, Jagannathan is correct in saying that the nominal Hindu elite should regain it’s roots. If they do that there will be no need for Hindu groups to become impatient and resort to extreme measures.However, he is wrong in thinking that there is space in the Liberal world for such a renaissance. There is none.

– Namaste

2 Responses

  1. This is a truly intellectual analysis of what the media is doing under name of secular brigade. A majority is held for ransom under such heavy sounding articles against dharma-followers. Please continue your good work and we will echo your voice to as many readers as possible. Let the process of enlightenment begin.
    Vande Mataram

  2. Thank you for your support! I will do my best.

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