7th March 2009
(Sent to Times of India in early 2008. Not Published. Hence published on internet – now published on my blog for completeness)
A question is raised periodically in India about whether a presidential system will work better for us than our current Westminster model. This is a legitimate question given that we have some of the most corrupt politicians in the world.
I propose to make a few comments regarding this debate recently revived by Mr. Shashi Tharoor. My comments are based on the experience of working with ministers within two Westminster democracies, the Indian and the Australian. I propose to show that the performance of India’s current system can be significantly improved, and therefore a presidential system should be ruled out, at least for now.
Our quality of governance is determined by the kind of representatives we elect. The mere form of democratic representation, whether Westminster or presidential, whether proportional or first-past-the-post, doesn’t seem to matter so long as good people are able to get elected. By ‘good’ I mean people who are honest, ie. do not use corrupt money in their election campaigns or lodge false accounts of election expenses, are and competent, ie. knowledgeable on policy matters.
Two democratic frameworks which look alike on the surface can lead to dramatically different outcomes based on whether they can attract good people to politics or not. A comparison of the performance of the Indian and Australian systems is a case in point. While the Australian system elects brilliant and honest representatives, the Indian system largely elects incompetent and corrupt representatives. I say this from direct observation of ministers during my working relationships with them in these two countries.
Indeed, I would suggest that the Indian system actively prevents honest candidates from contesting elections. For example, a candidate in India loses the money spent on an election campaign since there is no reimbursement on the basis of votes polled. India also pays its representatives a salary that is too low to attract talented and knowledgeable people to politics. Therefore, the numbers don’t add up, and it is primarily the morally challenged, imprudent, and incompetent Indians who participate in politics.
Our real problem, therefore, is that our Westminster system produces extremely low quality representatives, even though its Australian counterpart is able to produce outstanding results. Why is this so? I attribute this to three design features in the Australian and American systems that are not found in India. First, these countries do not have election expense limits. This allows for complete transparency in fund raising and expenditure; there is no incentive to lodge false statements of electoral expenses. Second, their governments partially reimburse election campaign expenses. The Australian system pays for each valid vote cast. Third, successful representatives are paid salaries comparable to what senior managers in the private sector get.
These design features enable thousands of good people to join politics in Australia and the USA. Citizens of these countries are spoiled for choice. By adopting similar practices, India will also be able to attract thousands of currently disenfranchised good people to politics. That will mark the dawn of a completely new era for India, an era of honesty and competence in public life that we have never experienced in sixty years.
Discussions on the presidential system should therefore be put on hold and the focus shifted to reforms of the current system. The reforms needed include the three reforms suggested above, as well as others I have outlined in a forthcoming book. These reforms should be easy to implement, at least compared with moving to a completely new system of representation.
Of course, one reason why these reforms won’t be implemented is that many current politicians will lose their seats if they allow good people to enter politics. That does not mean the presidential system will do any better. The same resistance to let good people enter politics will mean that when a presidential system is introduced, our most corrupt politician will become President.
The author, a former IAS officer, now works in an Australian state government.
1st March 2009
I was able to got a copy of Nandan Nilekani's book on 24 February 2009 through my wife who had made a two week trip to India. Since then I've been able to haphazardly read through chunks of the book during the pauses between my work for the Freedom Team and my draft manuscript, The Discovery of Freedom – work which occupies almost all my spare moments.
I will need to read this book again, carefully, with detailed underlining. The problem is that I read books mostly in my bus ride to work, but this is a very chunky book, making it difficult to do that. Instead, I'll read it again on my sofa at home in the next few weeks. [Additions made after 1 March are in maroon]
Over the few snatches of reading of the book so far I think I've got enough of a sense of what it is talking about to write this initial review. In due course I'll revisit this and revise it where appropriate. You are most welcome to comment on the review if you like.
First of all, let me say that I STRONGLY RECOMMEND this book to every person who has even the remotest interest in Indian policy. Despite its (few) weaknesses, I believe everyone on the Freedom Team, for instance, must read this book. All future leaders of India must definitely peruse this book very carefully.
1) Deep knowledge: Mr Nilekani is extremely knowledgeable – rather surprisingly! – on a wide range of policy matters. For a person whose full-time job must have kept him quite busy, this shows extreme passion for India – something I deeply admire, and may I daresay, share with him.
2) Sound policy prescriptions: It was a pleasant surprise to find a close match between his ideas and mine – for the most part. He speaks almost in my tongue, and advocates many liberal policies. He also displays a deep understanding of the potential of IT in solving many of India's problems. The book is far more comprehensive in its policy coverage than Gurcharan Das's two outstanding books (India Unbound and Elephant Paradigm), which is no mean accomplishment.
His policy advisers/ acquaintances overlap in part with mine. For instance he cites Ramesh Ramanathan, Ajay Shah, N.Seshagiri, and many others I know and admire. I worked with Dr N. Seshagiri in my Assam days both as Project Director DRDA and as Director of Computer Applications. The last I met him was as Commissioner for Information Technology, Meghalaya, in 2000, and he was kind enough to provide Meghalaya with Rs. 50 lakhs worth of IT infrastructure at my request. In the 1980s/1990s, I helped to strongly support his efforts on the ground but also challenged him where NIC was, in my view, exceeding its brief in the federal model we must insist upon in India.
Separately from Seshagiri's efforts, though, I created a deep database at the village level, the design of which can act as model for the direct elimination of poverty (details of the information system I created are here, and details of how it can be used to eliminate poverty are here). I believe, along with Mr. Nilekani, that a citizen ID is necessary and compatible with freedom, so long as its purpose is limited to basic uses (p.373). Indeed, he is promoting exactly what I had written about in 1999 and 2000 – cited above. I had taken my detailed model for trialling in Meghalaya to the then Secretary Planning Commission who said it wouldn't get political support. I thereafter resigned from the IAS in disgust, after realising that good ideas were simply not going to be even trialled in India.
Overall, the themes covered in this book are in many ways similar to the themes I cover in Breaking Free of Nehru. The key difference is that my book is focused far more clearly and precisely on liberty and governance reforms than his is. But I won't go into details here, except to emphasise that I agree with most of his views.
I have a few worries about the book, as well:
1) Action Plan: There is no clear action plan arising from Mr. Nilekani's thoughts. In Breaking Free of Nehru, on the other hand, I have proposed a clear plan of action. I believe we are obliged not merely to offer solutions: we must offer to implement them as well. In my forthcoming March 2009 article in Freedom First (the article was sent off on 12 Febraury, before I got hold of this book) I wrote:
"Nandan M Nilekani of Infosys wrote in Imagining India that he is 'quite unelectable' – thus conveniently washing his hands off politics. Apart from the fact that it is highly presumptuous for anyone to assume the response of the voter, all that the voter really wants is a demonstration of good citizenship, not some mythical glorious leadership. I therefore ask Mr Nilekani and others like him to stop making excuses and join politics as good citizens. Give our voters a chance to elect good people."
Whether he joins politics or not is a matter for Mr. Nilekani to consider. It is, in the end, a personal choice. All I'd caution him against is to not join any existing party – all of which are badly tainted with black money and vile people who either directly indulge in corruption or connive with others who do. The only way to join politics (if Mr. Nilekani ever wishes to) would be to work with a group of leaders committed to integrity in every way. Infosys is distinguished by values leadership. Similarly, there is no way that politics should be divorced from values.
But I wouldn't say that this lack of action plan is a major worry. It was desirable to have one, but it absence is not an overriding problem.
b) Lack of awareness of major policy advocacy efforts in India: In such a comprehensive book, I expected a discussion of the many crucial contributions of Parth Shah, Barun Mitra, and Bibek Debroy, among many others. Promoting their work is, in my view, critical for the spread of the ideas of liberty and good governance in India. But I found little or no mention of their work. Perhaps there was no place in this already large book, but this does remain a shortfall to be addressed in future editions, perhaps.
c) Inconsistent philosophy. This is my strongest criticism of the book. Mr Nilekani does not display a clear, underlying, consistent worldview. I have tried to outline mine in The Discovery of Freedom, for it is vital to have one, else one soon lands up in a total mess.
Thus, for instance, I got flabbergasted when Mr Nilekani seems to recommend a marks subsidy (extra marks in exams, see p. 302) for backward 'castes', something that JP of LokSatta also has been advocating and something that I simply can't support [a concept the state has no business to enter into – see more details in <
span style="font-style:italic;">Breaking Free of Nehru; and there are many other ways to ensure equality of opportunity]. Instead, he seems to castigate the experiment of the 1951 Census which eliminated caste as a factor in the surveys, suggesting that the government seemed thus to "ignore the realities of Indian society" (p.157). That begs the question: what is the theory behind the 'reality of a society'. Why is this reality a factor in policy? Surely it is importnt to stick to the theory of governance if we want to have a government in the first place.
I searched hard for a clear statement of the underlying philosophy behind Mr Nilekani's views. But the closest I got to was at pages 353-355 of the book where he talks of a balance and Golden mean, negotiated between the government, civil society, and markets. But from where comes this Golden Mean? And why? What is the theory behind it? I get the distinct impression that in his mind policy can be isolated from underlying philosophy. But why do we have a state in the first place? Why does a government have ANY role? These are questions which Mr. Nilekani has not asked, nor therefore addressed. But without knowing why a government should exist, and why it should do a particular thing, there can be no benchmarks for analysis and, therefore, utterly problematic ideas can easily seep through. This is not about partisanship, but about clarity.
As a result of this lack of philosophy, Mr Nilekani's understanding of the Global Financial Crisis of 2008 is also extremely limited. He hits out at markets when almost the entire blame must go to the socialist central banking model and to the finance regulators (this was a case of government failure, not market failure – see my article published in Freedom First in January 2009, here) .
This also means he doesn't display an understanding of economic incentives within government – in particular of the incentives of politicians and bureaucrats (public choice theory). But understanding all this is critical to the design of good policy (government failure must be top of mind while designing solutions for alleged 'market' failure). Without this all the regulation he recommends will fall flat on its face. Government failures are in general far more severe than market failures, and I think his model doesn't pay attention to this deep natural flaw of governments, which needs deep thinking to overcome the principal-agent problems in this space.
I would therefore suggest that Mr Nilekani reflect again on what he stands for: thus, from where do his policy prescriptions arise? If his policy stance shifts towards a better understanding of freedom in due course, and inconsistencies in his analysis are removed, we could make significant headway in India, given his obvious high calibre and leadership capability.
Mr. Nilekani's comment at page 313 (in relation to telling the voter why liberalisation is good for him) is spot on: "Once we do take the risk, the results may in all likelihood prompt us to wonder what we were so afraid of."
I think the Indian voter is ready for the truth about freedom, free markets, and individual justice. I think the time has come for our politicians to become thought leaders. Indeed, studies show that people are enthused (not disheartened) by inequality – provided the inequality signals an opportunity for them or their children to succeed in the future. Experiments on Rawls's difference principle also proved him wrong: people have no objection to the 'upside' so long as the 'downside' is minimised.
I've been clear since 1998 that that the only way to change India is through reform at the fundamental, policy level. We need to work towards actualising our dreams for India. Our goal must be the total modernisation of India.
It is time for action, not just for writing books. I look forward to Mr. Nilekani's actions to support activities that will deliver the policies he talks about. I look forward to people like him joining (or otherwise supporting) clear-headed policy reform efforts like the Freedom Team of India.
Once again – none of my reservations over-ride the VERY STRONG recommendation that you buy this book and read it, line by line. Underline it, review it, learn from it. You won't regret this investment of a few hundred rupees.
1 March 2009
21st February 2009
Addendum 1 November 2014
This blog post along with many others has now been consolidated into a BOOKLET. This post will no longer be updated. Please visit the link below (or better – check the right hand column of this blog, since URL of this link might change):
Addendum 27 October 2014
Addendum 25 October 2014
RSS once again showing its true colours as a HARDCORE VIOLENT organisation. Amazing gall. Instead of condemning Godse for killing the greatest man of peace India has ever produced, this BJP/RSS man wanted Godse to kill Nehru, instead. This is the level of thinking of this vicious group of anti-Indian people.
Addendum 7 October 2014
Addendum 26 May 2014
The Hinduists indulge in the various strategies of deception. They try to convince that Swami Vivekanand, Subhash Babu, Bhagat Singh, Chandrashekhar Azad and the other martyrs were also Hinduists. But not one of them was a Hinduist or a fundamentalist. But there has been a ceaseless and subtle propaganda to inhibit the people's mind that way. Another such lie is to depict Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel as a partisan Hinduist. Here are two excerpts from Sardar Patel's correspondence:
"As regards the RSS and the Hindu Mahasabha, the case relating to Gandhiji's murder is sub-judice and I should not like to say anything about the participation of the two organisations, but our reports do confirm that as result of the activities of these two bodies, particularly the former, an atmosphere was created in the country in which such a ghastly tragedy became possible. There is no doubt in my mind the extreme section of the Hindu Mahasbha was involved in this conspiracy. The activities of the RSS constituted a clear threat to the existence of the Government and the State."
(From the letter addressed to Dr. Shyama Prasad Mukherjee. Sardar Patel's correspondence; Vol. VI, p. 323, Navjivan-1973)
Sardar Patel in his letter dated 11th September 1948, addressed to Sarsangh Chalak of the R.S.S. wrote:
"The speeches of the Sangh leaders are poisonous. It is as a result of this venom that Mahatma Gandhi has been assassinated. The followers of the Sangh have celebrated Gandhiji's assassination by distributing sweets. "
Addendum 25 May 2014
Refer this article: http://archiv.ub.uni-heidelberg.de/volltextserver/9086/1/HPSACP_NANDY.pdf
Addendum 20 May 2014
Addendum 19 April 2014.
Patel speaking out vigorously against RSS's plans to make India a Hindu Raj. And now an RSS leader wants to be PM, and a lunatic senior leader of BJP wants to disenfranchise Muslims.
Addendum 8 June 2009. This blog post has been discussed at length on Shantanu's blog post of June 5 2009. Shanatanu doesn't agree that I have made the case against RSS. Therefore, please be sure to form your own opinion after reading and understanding all the facts – and that includes material linked through Shantanu’s blog!
Addendum: this is frightening: http://www.indianexpress.com/news/must-read-for-madhya-pradesh-students-an-rss-magazine/836218/ – shameless misuse of power.
Addendum: RSS not involved in killing Gandhi: http://www.indianexpress.com/news/rss-didnt-plot-gandhi-killing-hindu-mahasabha-did-patel-told-nehru/870537/
Addendum: This blog post by Kiran purports to demolish the "myths" around RSS: http://kiranasis.blogspot.com.au/2014/02/myths-about-rss.html
Addendum: The myth that Nathuram Godse was not an active RSS member demolished, here.
Over the years I've noticed an increasing tendency among intellectuals in India to gloss over the great many problems with the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangha (RSS), the successor of the Hindu Mahasabha [Addendum 8 June 2009 – this last bit is incorrect – see here]. I've therefore compiled a number of academic critiques (and some newspaper reports) that highlight the dangers that RSS poses to India as a modern, prosperous, and non-violent nation. This blog post will be edited over time as I compile more material. If you have more material to add, please send in through comments.
At this stage (21 February) this is very tentative, but a very substantial start to the project of contesting RSS and its narrow view of India.
A question can well be asked why I am not writing against Islam extremists or Christian fanatics. The answer is that enough has already been written about them, and in particular, I have covered examples of these (other) problematic religious fanaticisms in my draft manuscript, The Discovery of Freedom.
Addendum 1 September 2009. About M.S.Golwalkar and his writings
Golwalkar's writings are in red, below. Double quotes by Bipin Chandra. Single quotes by Golwalkar.
A) FROM WE, OR OUR NATIONHOOD DEFINED BY GOLWALKAR
These are a few extracts from Golwalkar cited in Bipin Chandra, India’s Struggle for Independence, New Delhi: Penguin, 1989, p.437-38. Note: The full text of Golwalkar's 1939 book, We: Or Our Nationhood Defined, was republished in 2006 as "Golwalkar's We Or Our Nationhood Defined: A Critique With The Full Text Of The Book" by by Shamsul Islam. See Khushwant Singh's review as well.
* "If the minority demands were accepted, 'Hindu National life runs the risk of being shattered.'"
* "RSS attacked Muslims and the Congress leaders. Golwalkar attacked the nationalists for 'hugging to our bosom our most inveterate enemies (Muslims) and thus endangering our very existence.'"
* "Condemning the nationalists for spreading the view by which Hindus 'began to class ourselves with our old invaders and foes under the outlandish name – Indian,' he wrote: 'We have allowed ourselves to be duped into believing our foes to be our friends… That is the real danger of the day, our self-forgetfulness, our believing our old and bitter enemies to be our friends.'"
* "To Muslims and other religious minorities, Golwalkar gave the following advice: 'The non-Hindu peoples in Hindusthan must either adopt the Hindu culture and language, must learn to respect and hold in reverence Hindu religion, must entertain no ideas but those of glorification of the Hindu race and culture, i.e. they must not only give up their attitude of intolerance and ungratefulness towards this land and its age long traditions but must also cultivate the positive attitude of love and devotion instead – in one word, they must cease to be foreigners, or may stay stay in the country, wholly subordinated to the Hindu nation, claiming nothing, deserving no privileges, far less any preferential treatment – not even citizen’s rights.'"
* "Going further, he wrote, 'We Hindus are at war at once with the Muslims on the one hand and British on the other.'"
* "He said that Italy and Germany were two countries where 'the ancient Race spirit' had 're-risen'. 'Even so with us: our Race spirit has once again roused itself,' thus giving Hindus the right of excommunicating Muslims."
B) FROM 'A BUNCH OF THOUGHTS' (1947: 1966 edition) BY GOLWALKAR
* He accused "Congress leaders … of asking Hindus 'to submit meekly to the vandalism and atrocities of the Muslims' and of telling the Hindu 'that he was imbecile, that he had no spirit, no stamina to stand on his own legs and fight for the independence of his motherland and that all this had to be injected into him in the form of Muslim blood'."
* "[H]e said in 1947, pointing his finger at Gandhiji: 'Those who declared "No Swaraj without Hindu-Muslim unity" have thus perpetrated the greatest treason on our society. They have committed the most heinous sin of killing the life-spirit of a great and ancient people.'"
* "He accused Gandhiji of having declared: 'There is no Swaraj without Hindu-Muslim unity and the simplest way in which this unity can be achieved is for all the Hindus to become Muslims.'" [Note: This was clearly a most blatant and gratuitous lie.]
About Veer Savarkar and his writings
Savarkar's book, Hindu Rashtra Darshan is now available on the internet. Here is a copy. Extracts below:
19th Session – at Karnavati – 1937
'Let us bravely face unpleasant facts as they are. India cannot be assumed today to be a unitarian and homogeneous nation, but on the contrary there are two nations in the main; the Hindus and the Moslems, in India.'
Note: This was at the 1937 session of the Hindu Mahasabha, being the FIRST PUBLIC DECLARATION IN INDIA BY A MAJOR ORGANISATION OF THE DEMAND FOR TWO NATIONS IN INDIA
Later, in 21st Session Calcutta-1939
'in India we Hindus are marked out as an abiding Nation by ourselves. Not only we own a common Fatherland, a Territorial unity, but what is scarely found anywhere else in the world we have a common holyland which is identified with our common Fatherland.'
1. Liberal Party of India: Communalism of the Congress and BJP | BJP are not true Hindus – provides links to many articles which talk of the role of RSS in fanning communalism in India, and actively participating in communal riots, e.g. http://www.liberalpartyofindia.sabhlokcity.com/communal/riots.html
2. "The utopian future of militant Hindu ideology is more a revival of Hindu glory than a reformation, and character in this utopia is not molded to accommodate cultural diversity. In a manner as inherently ambiguous, inconsistent and tautological as Calvinist predestination, the RSS philosophy advoc- ates action without transformation."[Joseph S. Alter, ‘Somatic Nationalism: Indian Wrestling and Militant Hinduism, Modern Asian Studies, Vol. 28, No. 3 (Jul., 1994), pp. 557-588]
3. "groups such as the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (National Servants' Society, RSS) and the Vishva Hindu Parishad (World Hindu Council, VHP)- … that have targeted India's Muslim minority as a dangerous internal enemy threatening the unity of the nation." [Norbert Peabody,'Inchoate in Kota? Contesting Authority Through a North Indian Pageant-Play, American Ethnologist, Vol. 24, No. 3 (Aug., 1997), pp. 559-584]
4. "According to Golwalkar, who succeeded Hedgewar as executive director of the RSS in 1940, all Muslims were by definition traitors to India and not even deserving of citizenship rights (Gol- walkar, 1939:52). Golwalkar was an open admirer of Nazi Germany, and argued for the exclusion of Muslims on the grounds that 'Germany has also shown how well-nigh impossible it is for Races and cultures, having differences going to the root, to be assimilated into one united whole, a good lesson for us in Hindustan to learn and profit by' (Golwalkar, 1939:35)." [Sucheta Mazumdar, Women on the March: Right-Wing Mobilization in Contemporary India, Feminist Review, No. 49, Feminist Politics: Colonial/Postcolonial Worlds (Spring, 1995), pp. 1-28]
5. "the RSS branch in Delhi has sold 5 million postcards and envelopes showing India, Pakistan, Afghanistan, Nepal, Sri Lanka and Bangladesh all under a saffron flag" [Sucheta Mazumdar, Women on the March: Right-Wing Mobilization in Contemporary India, Feminist Review, No. 49, Feminist Politics: Colonial/Postcolonial Worlds (Spring, 1995), pp. 1-28]
6. "The main mechanism for political mobilization of the RSS-VHP- BJP in the 1980s has been marches from one end of India to another. With Toyota vans camouflaged as 'chariots of the gods' to evoke Hindu religious sentiment, massive parades with hundreds of thousands in tow have crisscrossed the country with their message of 'Hindutva'. As many as 1,200,000 volunteers have been mobilized for these events (Ghimire, 1992:31). There is a glorification of blood and violence throughout the parades; young men offer up bowls of their blood to the leadership as proof of their commitment to the cause; volunteers at Ayodhya have 'Jai Shri Ram' (Victory to Rama) written on their skins with their own blood (Basu, 1994: 33). Each segment of the march concludes with Hindu sacrificial rituals honouring Mother India (Bharat-mata) deified as a modest sari-clad goddess seated on a lion holding a saffron flag (see Figure 2). The RSS-VHP-BJP organizations have also developed sophisticated use of audio-visual media, much of it targeted towards youth. A vast array of popular magazines, books, music cassettes with catchy tunes, and video films on religious themes and 'Hindu history' have been produced to attract new recruits. These songs, along with the speeches of the leadership and exhortations to rise up and experience 'Hindu pride', are widely circulated on tapes sold at nominal prices throughout India.
"The BJP-VHP-RSS version of history is propagated through the use of popular comic and cartoon magazines as well as collections of essays, stories and poetry (see Figure 3). Combining the call for a modern vision with a cry for the preservation of 'traditional values', the message is always the same: India is in crisis, sons of the soil are being short-changed, Muslims are treacherous imperialists and are multiplying, Hindus need to organize and come to the defence of Hindu religion and the Motherland. Saturating the media with their message is an important strategy; in one state recently after the BJP came to power, ten new RSS-BJP publications have been started up with state government largess (India Today, 1992b: 34).13 In all the states in which the BJP has come to power in the legislative assemblies, one of the priority projects has been the rewriting of Indian history textbooks. The narratives focus on violent antagonism between Hindus and Muslims; RSS historians equate Islam with destruction and vandalism (e.g., Goel, 1989)." [Sucheta Mazumdar, Women on the March: Right-Wing Mobilization in Contemporary India, Feminist Review, No. 49, Feminist Politics: Colonial/Postcolonial Worlds (Spring, 1995), pp. 1-28]
7. 'Renascent Hindu communalism has taken its most extreme form in the development of a paramilitary organization called the Rashtriya Svayam- sevek Sangh (RSS), complete with cadres of highly trained troops and an ideology of the Hindu state involving the complete elimination of all non- Hindu minorities. During World War II, two RSS leaders held talks with Hitler with the aim of establishing an Aryan alliance that would enable Hindu Aryans to overthrow the British, and prompted Nehru to call the RSS "the Indian version of fascism."' [Cynthia Keppley Mahmood, 'Sikh Rebellion and the Hindu Concept of Order', Asian Survey, Vol. 29, No. 3 (Mar., 1989), pp. 326-340]
8. "The RSS as a cultural organization is exclusionary in its membership and approach, intent on advancing the interests of the Hindus as a nation." [Baldev Raj Nayar. 'The Limits of Economic Nationalism in India: Economic Reforms under the BJP-Led Government, 1998-1999', Asian Survey, Vol. 40, No. 5, Modernizing Tradition in India (Sep. – Oct., 2000), pp. 792]
9. "attempts on the part of fundamentalist Hindu groups, such as the Rastriya Svayamsevak Sangh (RSS), to make India a national Hindu state (Hindu Rdstra), just as Pakistan is an Islamic state and Khalistan a wished-for Sikh state [Hans Bakker, 'Ayodhy?: A Hindu Jerusalem: An Investigation of 'Holy War' as a Religious Idea in the Light of Communal Unrest in India, Numen, Vol. 38, Fasc. 1 (Jun., 1991), pp. 80-109]
10. "In their restorationist vision, communalist forces seek to control history. Addressing the situation particular to India, in his keynote address K.N. Panikkar, professor of history at Jawaharlal Nehru University in New Delhi, described the tactics used by Hindutva forces, most notably the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) and its support organizations the Rashtriya Swayam Sevak Sangh (RSS), the Vishwa Hindu Parishad (VHP), and the Bajrang Dal, to recapture the imagined past. The past that they postulate is indisputably an invented history designed to disseminate the ideology of Hindutva and further its political influence. Yet the power of this invented history comes about in large part because the Parivar has an institutional network with which to disseminate their version of history. Professor Panikkar explained that while the marginalization and oppression of Hindus by alien rulers, both Muslim and Christian, has been to an extent internalized, "particularly by the middle class whose role in the making of public opinion is quite decisive," still the "dissemination of these ideas to a large section of the Hindu population is ensured by the Sangh Parivar through the network of institutions and channels of communication painstakingly set up during
the last many years." The hand of these institutions extends into education, history, archeology, music, and the media. It follows that secular forces need to not only mobilize to posit a different view of history from the selective inaccurate view of the past told by communalists, but secular groups must also participate in determining the practices of the institutions that disseminate such knowledge." [Mira Rosenthal, 'DASTAK: Starting Point for Further Action, Social Scientist, Vol. 26, No. 9/10 (Sep. – Oct., 1998), pp. 63-73]
11. "Committed to the cause of building a resurgent Hindu nation and a revived Hindi-Hindu culture, the ideology of the RSS and the Jana Sangh was fuelled by the stereotype of an aggressive Islam on the rampage. They repudiated secularism, denounced the Congress for its policy of appeasement under the 'camouflage of secularism',28 and proposed the 'Indianisation' of Muslims to purge them of disloyal tendencies. 'Indianisation of the Muslim outlook is the only solution of the socio-religious as well as the political aspect of the communal problem', declared a foremost RSS and Jana Sangh activist." [Mushirul Hasan, 'Indian Muslims since Independence: In Search of Integration and Identity,' Third World Quarterly, Vol. 10, No. 2, Islam & Politics (Apr., 1988), pp. 818-842]
12. "Hindutva, or what the BJP has called 'cultural nationalism', and what the anti- communalists see as a clarion call for establishing a Hindu India, rose to prominence in the writings of Veer Savarkar. Identified as one of the architects of the Rashtriya Swayam Sevak (RSS), Savarkar defined the boundaries of Hindutva in a communal manner and further circumscribed its usage in defining the parameters of a modern India. Pitrabhoomi (Fatherland), jati (bloodline) and sanskriti (culture) were identified as the three principles of Hindutva, of which jati became the most critical in establishing the basis of communalism in modern India. This is because the concept implied that only those whose sacred land, sacred to their religion, lay within their pitrabhoomi (India) had the moral basis for claiming citizenship of India. The concept of jati, therefore, privileged a cultural/religious rather than a territorial concept of Indian citizenship-thereby implicating a basis of 'cultural' nationalism in India. Under it, 'Muslims, Christians, Jews, and others whose holy lands lay outside the territorial boundaries of punyabhoomi (India), were by implication excluded from both Hindutva and from their rightful claims to the citizenship of India'." The 'insiders' or those who are able to equate their land of birth with the sacred land of their religion are 'appropriate citizens', whereas the 'outsiders' or those whose Fatherland is not the same as their sacred lands are suspect in terms of their civic status and patriotism." [Runa Das, 'Postcolonial (In)Securities, the BJP and the Politics of Hindutva: Broadening the Security
Paradigm between the Realist and Anti-Nuclear/Peace Groups in India,' Third World Quarterly, Vol. 24, No. 1 (Feb., 2003), pp. 77-96]
13. "An important role is played by the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS), a militant organization that emerged in the 1920s and has been continuously involved in communal violence against Muslims (Hansen 1999)." [Peter van der Veer, 'Religion in South Asia', Annual Review of Anthropology, Vol. 31 (2002), pp. 173-187]
14. "Narayan Kataria, RSS worker and senior figure in the militant Hindu Unity group (see Murphy 2001) which advertises on its website that it is "determined to get Muslims and Christians out of Bharat (India) by whatever means possible" and has a "Black List" of people critical of Hin- dutva which includes prominent figures such as the Pope…" [Prema Kurien, 'Multiculturalism, Immigrant Religion, and Diasporic Nationalism: The Development of an
American Hinduism', Social Problems, Vol. 51, No. 3 (Aug., 2004), pp. 362-385]
15. "Guruji Golwalkar and the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS) represented the extreme version of Hindu nationalism: The non-Hindu peoples in Hindustan must either adopt the Hindu culture and language, must learn to respect and hold in reverence Hindu religion, must en- tertain no idea but those of glorification of the Hindu race and culture, i.e., they must not only give up their attitude of intolerance and ungratefulness towards this land and its age-old traditions but must also cultivate the positive attitude of love and devotion instead-in a word they must cease to be foreigners, or may stay in this country, wholly subordinated to the Hindu nation, claiming nothing, deserving no privilege, far less any preferential treatment-not even citizens' rights." [Yogendra K. Malik and Dhirendra K. Vajpeyi, 'The Rise of Hindu Militancy: India's Secular Democracy at Risk', Asian Survey, Vol. 29, No. 3 (Mar., 1989), pp. 308-325]
16. "Militant communal organizations such as the Shiva Sena, the RSS (Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh) and the Vishva Hindu Parishad (VHS) have become highly popular among the Hindu masses. According to one leading Indian journal, "the Hindu militancy is menacing and growing in in- tensity. The message being hammered home is the same: for too long, the minorities have been appeased and pampered while the majority has been restrained from asserting what it holds to be the only basis for unifying the country-Hindu nationalism."24 The intensifying conflict between Hindus and non-Hindus has grave implications for relations between Hindus and Muslims in India and for India's relations with Pakistan." [Maya Chadda. 'India and the United States: Why Detente Won't Happen', Asian Survey, Vol. 26, No. 10 (Oct., 1986), pp. 1118-1136]
17. "The author's critique of the RSS is built around the organisation's core trait, which according to him, is 'fascism'. Exclusionary nationalism based on cultural chauvinism that is intolerant towards those considered beyond the pale of the 'Hindu' nation is an integral part of the world-view of RSS. Moreover, propaganda built around specific myths and symbolisms, as also an overemphasis on particular notions of heroism (for instance, the myth of rashtrapurusha Rama), has a centrality in the RSS' sensibility. Fascist politics abhors democratic politics based on individual freedoms and as such the values of pluralism, tolerance and individualism, though it can take on the pretence of a democratic player in a democracy till the time it has established firm control over state institutions. It prioritises public over private as also the collective over individual in a homogenising project where a well orchestrated community is geared to a 'national' cause in highly centralised-hierarchised structures where decisions are taken top-down. Propaganda and indoctrination of the majority community go along with repression and terror of the minorities. The shishu mandirs and vidya bharatis and other cultural and educational fronts help in disseminating a fascist mindset among a wider public. This mindset is then reinforced by calculated acts of violence against Muslims and Christians. Moreover, the parivar's majoritarian politics uses the democratic state institutions as a vehicle for constituting a permanent-fixed majority, another clear indication of fascist tendencies." [Manjari Katju, 'Convincing Message: A review of The RSS and the BJP: A Division of Labour by A. G. Noorani', Social Scientist, Vol. 29, No. 1/2 (Jan. – Feb., 2001), pp. 84-87]
18. "The author quotes Nehru (a statement which I repeat here for its contemporary relevance) who said, 'When the minority communities are communal, you can see that and understand it. But the communalism of a majority community is apt to be taken for natio
nalism'. Accordingly, the RSS and the BJP, as Noorani aptly describes, are 'innately communal' but claim to be 'nationalists'(p. xi). The author directly engages, in a head-on and scathing manner, with the Sangh parivar's ideology and style of politics to which he claims 'deceit and deception' are integral (p. 10)." [Manjari Katju, 'Convincing Message: A review of The RSS and the BJP: A Division of Labour by A. G. Noorani', Social Scientist, Vol. 29, No. 1/2 (Jan. – Feb., 2001), pp. 84-87]
19. "The RSS uses popular sentiments, such as favoring the protection of cows, to create a mass politi- cal movement whose program centers on gaining acceptance for the idea that being an Indian citizen means being a Hindu. The latter, in turn, means having the blood of people originating in the land that is now called India. Hinduism is not identified with any set of religious beliefs by the group. RSS's enemies are foreign invaders (especially Muslims), the Westernized elite, and those who resist the unification of all Hindus into a single movement. Among the numerous organizations that RSS cadre helped to organize is a woman's group that affirms women's traditional roles." [Joseph B. Tamney, Review: Part IV: "Accounting for South Asian Fundamentalisms" – Accounting for Fundamentalisms: The Dynamic Character of Movements by Martin E. Marty ; R. Scott Appleby, Review of Religious Research, Vol. 37, No. 4 (Jun., 1996), pp. 368-369]
20. "Hindu fundamentalism appeals to those who fear the masses and who want to legitimize social inequality (p. 603). RSS attracts especially middle class young men who feel left out of India's progress. Similarly Veer identifies the VHP with the middle class." [Joseph B. Tamney, Review: Part IV: "Accounting for South Asian Fundamentalisms" – Accounting for Fundamentalisms: The Dynamic Character of Movements by Martin E. Marty ; R. Scott Appleby, Review of Religious Research, Vol. 37, No. 4 (Jun., 1996), pp. 368-369]
21. "Hansen observes that RSS and BJP leaders are eager to have their version of Hindu nationalism accepted within the world political forum and thus be recognized as "respected members" of the family of nations that persists as a "sublime object of desire among even the most parochial nationalists" (p. 234)." [Mark Juergensmeyer, 'Review of The Saffron Wave: Democracy and Hindu Nationalism in Modern India by Thomas Blom Hansen', History of Religions, Vol. 41, No. 1 (Aug., 2001), pp. 84-86]
22. "M. S. Golwakar, one of the founding fathers of the right-wing RSS (Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh), makes the case for Hindutva being cultural nationalism, which basically means that the nation-state of India is meant only for Hindus. This is at great vari- ance with the more inclusive philosophy of the Congress Party, which has ruled India for most of the period since independence. Thus the pe- culiar brand of RSS nationalism was never really anti-colonial as much as it was anti-minority (anti-Muslim, in particular). According to Aijaz Ahmed, "what Golwalkar means is that the real Indian nation is com- posed of Hindus exclusively; that Hindu cultural nationalism, which seeks to create in India not a secular polity but a Hindu Rashtra (nation), is the authentic form of Indian nationalism; that the secular, multi-de- nominational nationalism which seeks to be wider and more inclusive is in fact anti-Hindu treachery, since it denies the superiority of Hindu ex- clusivist claim to the whole of this territory, where others may live only in so far as they accept the superiority of the Hindu race." A. Ahmed, Lineages of the Present (New Delhi: Tulika, 1996), p. 274." [Arvind Narrain, 'The Articulation of Rights around Sexuality and Health: Subaltern Queer Cultures in India in the Era of Hindutva', Health and Human Rights, Vol. 7, No. 2, Sexuality, Human Rights, and Health (2004), pp. 142-164]
23. "Ahamad (1969) has recently argued that Gandhi's identification with Hindu- ism and Hindu motifs, taken over later by many of Gandhi's disciples and fol- lowers, was one reason why the Indian Muslims could never take Indian secular- ism too seriously. The Muslims, however, were not the only structural base that developed counter-charisma toward Gandhi. Another such base was created in the extremist and orthodox Hindu circles of northern India represented politically by the Hindu Mahasabha and the RSS (the Rashtriya Sevak Sangha). Their com- plaint against Gandhi was the mirror opposite of that of the Muslims: he was considered too partial and sympathetic to Muslim sentiments and political de- mands. This organized wing of Hindu chauvinism saw in Gandhi a threat and a challenge to their political convictions and designs. In fact, one member of the RSS (an extremist Hindu paramilitary unit), Nathuram Godse, assassinated him soon after one of his fasts for Hindu-Muslim unity had ended; he, it is claimed, thought that with Gandhi eliminated, the path would be open "for the establish- ment of a secular state in the true sense of the word" (Godse, n.d.). Another of the conspirators, Naryan Apte, according to Payne, was boasting to another con- spirator on his way to the assassination "of the great changes his small organiza- tion would soon bring about" (1969:623)." [R. S. Perinbanayagam, 'The Dialectics of Charisma', The Sociological Quarterly, Vol. 12, No. 3 (Summer, 1971), pp. 387-402]
24. "'The RSS line is very clear. It is a supra-party, paramilitary organisation which wants take over the state and nation and establish an authoritarian regime in the manner of Nazi leaders,' wrote the idologue and leader of the Janata Party, Madhua Limayae, in an article in Sunday on 10 June 1979 – just before the Janata government in Delhi fell because it would not formally sever connections with the RSS. Limaya was only echoing something which Gandhi has said long ago. According to his secretary Pyarelal, Gandhi had described the RSS as a 'communal body with a totalitarian outlook' and compared them to the Nazis and Fascists." [M.J. Akbar, India: The Seige Within, Delhi: Roli Books, 2003, p.305]
Awareness and complicity of RSS in the murder of Gandhi
1. All India Christian Council article
2. "the anti-Mahasabha/RSS backlash in New Delhi following Gandhi's murder by an RSS maverick, Nathuram Godse, in January 1948. As details of the ethnic cleansing programme in Mewat began to filter through to Delhi, the Nehru government grew by stages alarmed, angry and ashamed. These recriminations were further fuelled by rumours and circumstantial evidence that Khare and possibly the two maharajas had given shelter to Godse and his fellow conspirators as they travelled north on their mission to murder the Mahatma" … "The inquiry did, however, make clear that Godse had plenty of supporters in both Alwar and Bharatpur. After Gandhi's death the RSS was declared an unlawful organization."[Ian Copland, 'The Further Shores of Partition: Ethnic Cleansing in Rajasthan 1947', Past and Present, No. 160 (Aug., 1998), pp. 203-239]
"The assassination ofM. K. Gandhi in 1948 for being soft on Muslims by a former RSS member and an active proponent of Hindu nationalism" [Sucheta Mazumdar, Women on the March: Right-Wing Mobilization in Contemporary India, Feminist Review, No. 49, Feminist Politics: Colonial/Postcolonial Worlds (Spring, 1995), pp. 1-28]
4. "Nanaji Deshmukh, a leading Hindutva ideologist, in a document entitled 'Moments of soul searching', dated 8 November 1984 and circulated by the Hindu supremacist organisation Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (National Volunteer Force-RSS) soon after Indira Gandhi's assassination, gives an indication of the line of revisionist rethinking ('soul searching') on the part of the Hindutva forces. He writes, 'on January 30,1948 a Hindu fanatic who was a Marathi and had no relation with the RSS, rather was a bitter critic of the Sangh, committed unfortunate killing of Mahatma Gandhi… .We ourselves saw how selfish elements, who were well acquainted with this incident, deliberately declared a murderer to be a member of the RSS and also spread the rumour that the RSS people were celebrating throughout the country death of Mahatma Gandhi, and thus they succeeded in diverting the love and the feelings of loss and hurt in the hearts of people for Gandhi.' This document has been reproduced in full in S Islam, Undoing India. The RSS Way, Delhi: Media House, 2002, pp 53 – 60. It is worth noting here, in passing, that in this document, Deshmukh endorses Rajiv Gandhi, Mrs Gandhi's son, unhesitatingly: 'he [Rajiv] is entitled to get full cooperation and sympathy from the countrymen, though they may belong to any language, religion, caste or political belief.. .so that he can take the country to real prosperous unity and glory’ (ibid, p 60). A similar revisionist view is discernible in an interview given by Prof Rajendra Singh, a former RSS chief, to Outlook magazine (19 January 1998) published from Delhi. In this interview he makes a mild criticism of Godse by characterising him as a well intentioned nationalist whose killing of Mahatma Gandhi was the wrong method to achieve his goals. To the question ‘What is your opinion about Nathuram Godse who killed Gandhi?’ Prof Singh replied, ‘Godse was motivated by [the philosophy of] Akhand Bharat. Uske mantavya achhe thhe par usne achhe uddeshya ke liye galat method istemal kiye [His intention was good but he used the wrong methods]'. This interview has been reproduced in Communalism Combat, 11(100), August 2004, p 19" [Pritam Singh, 'Hindu Bias in India's 'Secular' Constitution: Probing Flaws in the Instruments of Governance,' Third World Quarterly, Vol. 26, No. 6 (2005), pp. 909-926]
5. "Gopal Godse lives in a tiny, two-room apartment in Pune… Gopal Godse served 18 years in prison for his role in Gandhi's murder. Today at 83, he is the last surviving member of the group that planned it. …
Mr. GOPAL GODSE (Gandhi Assassin): We assassinated him because in our view he was harmful to the nation. In India, we at least desired it should be a Hindu state where openly the government will have one faith and that is Hindu faith. And that was not done. In that case, we say, Gandhi was a traitor. …
SULLIVAN: …Nathuram Godse and another plotter, Norayan Apte, were hanged for the crime in 1949. Both Godse and his brother were members of the RSS, a militaristic Hindu organization influenced by German Fascism in the 1930s. Hindu nationalist groups like the RSS were briefly banned following Gandhi's assassination. .. Many of its members would agree with Gopal Godse that India makes far too many concessions to its Muslim minority at the price of the majority Hindu population." [Profile: Last surviving conspirator in the plot to assassinate Mahatma Gandhi.(1:00-2:00 PM)(Broadcast transcript). Weekend Edition Saturday (July 12, 2003)(736 words) ]
GODSE'S BROTHER ADMITS RSS ROLE:
Role in demolishing the Babri Masjid
1. "One of the central motifs of the Ayodhya conflict is a focus on India's Mughal legacy. The soldier and diarist Babur, founder of the Mughal imperium, is thought to have built the mosque at Ayodhya. Until the 1940s Mus- lims and Hindus usually tolerated and accom- modated one another's prayers and rituals at the site, just as they did in comparable locali- ties elsewhere. But in 1949, when the country was still convulsed by the aftermath of the Hindu-Muslim massacres that accompanied Independence and Partition, the Hindu- supremacist RSS organization began to publi- cize the claim that the god Ram had come to one of their adherents in a dream and de- manded exclusive control of his birthplace. Devotees then proclaimed the miraculous dis- covery of a sacred image of the god inside the Babri mosque. To ward off trouble, the au- thorities closed the site to all worshipers." [Susan Bayly, 'History and the Fundamentalists: India after the Ayodhya Crisis, Bulletin of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, Vol. 46, No. 7 (Apr., 1993), pp. 7-26]
2. "On the night of December 22/23 1949, a statue of Rama miraculously appeared in the mosque, which since the violence of parti- tion had been guarded by armed watchmen. Just before the "apparition," Muslim graves had been desecrated and Hindu nationalists had staged a continuous nine-day reading of Tulsidas's Ramcharitmanas.86 The Hin- dus interpreted the event as testimony that Rama was directing them after independence to reclaim the center of the nation. The Muslims in- terpreted the event as an attempt to defile their mosque. It was only with great difficulty that the army and police were able to quell the ensuing riots. In the wake of these riots, leaders from both communities initiated litigation to reassert their claims to the site and the right of entrance which had been closed to both Hindus and Muslims immediately after the violence. The commissioner of Faizabad, the capital of Uttar Pradesh, ordered the district magistrate to remove the image from the mosque. However, the magistrate who was a supporter of the RSS chose to retire rather than follow the order of his superior. Since 1949, the image of Rama has remained in the mosque. In 1950, a branch of the RSS in Ayodhya was able to secure legal permission to perform puja for the image within the Babri Masjid once a year. Subsequently, they also or- ganized uninterrupted devotional singing at the mosque's gate."[Roger Friedland and Richard Hecht, 'The Bodies of Nations: A Comparative Study of Religious Violence in Jerusalem and Ayodhya, History of Religions, Vol. 38, No. 2 (Nov., 1998), pp. 101-149]
2a. "Thousands of volunteers, organized by the RSS and VHP, descended on the mosque and were met by Muslim opponents; several days of violence ensued, with death tol s reaching into the thousands (Basu et al. 1 993). In the weeks that followed, riots occurred in other major Indian cities. Moreover, for several months prior to the destruction of the mosque, the RSS and its affiliates had fueled communal antagonisms, systematically inciting smaller-scale confronta- tions throughout India and promoting, through the mass media, the idea that Hindus were a majority at risk. The gains of Hindu nationalism have also been evident in the growth of the BJP's electoral base in the northern states comprising the Hindi belt." [Mary Hancock, 'Hindu Culture for an Indian Nation: Gender, Politics, and Elite Identity in Urban South India' American Ethnologist, Vol. 22, No. 4 (Nov., 1995), pp. 907-926]
3. "I990-I99I saw an unprecedented assault on the city of Ayodhya by thousands of Hindus led by L. K. Advani and spurred to action by the militant rhetoric of organizations such as the RSS (India Today, November 15, I990: I0-14, 19-2I; India Today, December 31, 1990: 34-6)." [FROM Joseph S. Alter, 'Somatic Nationalism: Indian Wrestling and Militant Hinduism,' Modern Asian Studies, Vol. 28, No. 3 (Jul., 1994), pp. 557-588
3. "Shortly before noon on Sunday, December 6, some 40,000 kar sevaks of the RSS youth movement Bajrang Dal began to filter through the cordons of military police who offered little or no resistance. They were led by a throng of sadhus wearing saffron bandanas, many carrying the trishuls, others carrying sledgehammers, and shouting "Jai Sri Ram" (Victory to Lord Ram). Wave upon wave of Hindu holy men and kar se- vaks brandishing clubs, iron pipes, and swords pushed through the police and army lines, trampling the steel fences and barbed wire. Some groups among the throng of people surrounding the mosque chanted "Atom bomb, atom bomb!" and others "Powerhouse, powerhouse!" Once inside the enclave, a specially trained force of some 1,200 kar sevaks climbed to the mosque's domes and began smashing through its ceilings with ham- mers. In less than six hours the mob tore down the mosque brick by brick using shovels, pickaxes, and their bare hands until nothing remained. Four Hindus fell to their deaths and 600 were seriously injured as segments of the ceilings and walls collapsed on them. That night, kar sevaks entered the Muslim quarter of the city, killed ten Muslims, and razed nearly one hundred houses. Others built a temporary temple on the site of the destroyed mosque. Their building continued into the next day. In the evening of December 7, the kar sevaks began to leave on specially arranged trains and buses, and the army moved in to take control of the temple site in the early hours of December 8." [Roger Friedland and Richard Hecht, 'The Bodies of Nations: A Comparative Study of Religious Violence in Jerusalem and Ayodhya, History of Religions, Vol. 38, No. 2 (Nov., 1998), pp. 101-149]
4. "A climactic point in this culture of coercion was reached on 6 December, 1992, with the demolition of the Babri Mosque. Not only was the identification of the exact birth place of Rama advertised to be a matter of 'anubhav', but the call for its destruction in the preceding months was projected as being 'janadesh', a people's mandate coming from the grassroots. Then at the moment when the mosque was demolished, according to a number of first-hand reports, the RSS boudhik pramukh, said with satisfaction: 'Today's events prove once again that history cannot be directed. History happens'. An unrepentant Kalyan Singh, according to the video-tape of his speech during his Calcutta visit, announced that a structure of such proportions could only be brought down because the bhaktas were possessed by divine power." [Malini Bhattacharya, 'Women in Dark Times: Gender, Culture and Politics,' Social Scientist, Vol. 22, No. 3/4 (Mar. – Apr., 1994), pp. 3-15]
RSS involvement in communal riots
1. "There is overwhelming evidence to suggest that the RSS has consistently played a role in organizing and inciting communal violence. In Aligarh, for instance, there was unconcealed cooperation between the RSS, the police and the local and district admini- stration. Navman, who had close links with the RSS and was reported to have engineered the riots, secured passes and transport to facilitate the movement of prospective rioters. Navman was arrested and released later at the behest of the Chief Minister. The role of communal organizations in fomenting communal trouble has been established by various commissions of enquiry. For instance, the report of enquiry into Tellicherry disturbances (1971) found that communal cordiality was broken only when RSS entered district politics by setting up their units. The strident anti-Muslim propaganda threw the Muslims into the lap of communal organizations which prepared the ground for the communal conflicts" [Zoya Khaliq Hasan, 'Communalism and Communal Violence in India', Social Scientist, Vol. 10, No. 2 (Feb., 1982), pp. 25-39]
2. "in celebration of Anant Chaturdashi (a festival dedicated to the reawakening of Lord Vishnu after his annual sleep during the monsoon months), was taken out by Hindus and routed through several predominantly Muslim neighborhoods in the city. This procession, which involved some 10,000 participants and witnesses, was organized (as it traditionally has been) by many of the city's akhadas (gymnasia for wrestling and other martial arts involving weapons) (Rajasthan Patrika 1989a). Because of their emphasis on physical training and self-discipline many members of these akhadas in recent years had affiliated themselves with the RSS. Eyewitnesses record that anti-Muslim slogans, such as "Hindustan mein rahna hai to Hindu bankar rahna hoga" [If you want to live in India you have to live like Hindus] and “Babar ki santanun ko Hindustan mem nahim rehne denge” [We will not let the progeny of Babar live in India], were raised as the procession passed through Muslim areas (Engineer 1989:2704)." [Norbert Peabody,'Inchoate in Kota? Contesting Authority Through a North Indian Pageant-Play, American Ethnologist, Vol. 24, No. 3 (Aug., 1997), pp. 559-584]
3. "RSS and VHP men roamed through the town spreading rumors that Muslims in Bartaan were raping, kidnapping, and murdering Hindu women." [Amrita Basu, Why Local Riots Are Not Simply Local: Collective Violence and the State in Bijnor, India 1988-1993, Theory and Society, Vol. 24, No. 1 (Feb., 1995), pp. 35-78]
4. "The biggest danger to the BJP-led government continues to be from members of the Rashtriya Swayam Sevak Sangh (RSS) family (the Sangh Parivar), who are likely to continue to test the limits of governance. Attacks on Christians in Gujarat and the mur- der of an Australian missionary in Orissa, as well as attempts to shape spe- cific aspects of the education curricula, exemplify the dangers posed by BJP family members." [Devesh Kapur. 'India in 1999', Asian Survey, Vol. 40, No. 1, A Survey of Asia in 1999 (Jan. – Feb., 2000), pp. 195-207 ]
5. "The Raghubir Dayal Commission of enquiry and the Madan Commission criticized political parties for exploiting communal feeling and ministers for interfering with local administration or making statements which undermined the efforts of the government.3 6 The Aligarh riots are replete with instances of RSS and police collaboration aided by certain ministers in the UP government. The UP government could not prevent the recurrence of riots in Aligarh because it lacked the requisite political will to take action against erring officials and politicians who were respon- sible for the communal violence." [Zoya Khaliq Hasan, 'Communalism and Communal Violence in India', Social Scientist, Vol. 10, No. 2 (Feb., 1982), pp. 25-39]
6. "Oct. 2, 2008–BHUBANESWAR — Kandhamal police have finally arrested 35 people for instigating communal clashes in the district. Of them, there are activists of the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh and the Vishwa Hindu Parishad.
The attack in Rudangia area on Tuesday, where a woman was hacked to death and 12 injured, triggered the police action. Kandhamal district police chief Praveen Kumar told HT: "We have made 35 arrests in the last 24 hours. Indefinite curfew was imposed in nine places."
Though Kumar did not comment on the affiliations of those arrested, sources said there was sufficient evidence to prove that some of them are from the RSS and VHP."[RSS, VHP men among 35 held in Kandhamal, Hindustan Times (New Delhi, India) (Oct 2, 2008)]
7. "Jan 24, 2007 Malappuram: For the fourth day yesterday tension gripped this town and its environs in Malappuram district following a fresh attack carried out by suspected activists of the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh, seriously injuring a man named Kunjhali, police sources said.
An uneasy calm had been prevailing in the district since the killing of an RSS volunteer, Ravi, here on January 20. The same night, another RSS man received injuries in an attack allegedly carried out by a six-member gang, suspected to be workers of a Muslim outfit, National Development Front (NDF).
Following the incidents, the RSS, the militant wing of the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), had called for a shutdown in the district on Sunday and some of its activists allegedly waylaid a passer-by belonging to the minority community and attacked him. " [Malappuram district tense after fresh attack by RSS, Gulf News (Jan 24, 2007)]
GOOD news on communal front:
1. "July 10, 2005. New Delhi, July 10 (PTI) Believe it or not! Activists of the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS), an organisation known for its strong views on majority rights in India recently rescued 80 Christian priests trapped in an accident in the dense forests of Sambalpur district in East India's Orissa state and even donated blood to save their lives.
A marriage party comprising 90 Christian priests was on its way in a truck from Jamankeri village to Goudpil in the state when it met with an accident in which 10 of them died on the spot and 80 others were seriously injured, said a report in the latest issue of RSS mouthpiece 'Organiser'.
As the Priests looked for help in the dense forests, an RSS activist heard their shouts and managed to mobilise 50 Sangh volunteers to help them.
"The Pastors were rescued and admitted to a nearby hospital, 45 kms from the site, in that dark night," the report said disclosing that the Swayamsewaks not only provided the injured medicines and food but "donated their own blood"to the pastors.
The weekly quoted Bishop Samal as saying, "these boys of RSS have given us a new life. We are grateful to them. May God bless them".
"We have not done anything much. What we have done has been done from the humanitarian point of view. All of us are human beings. All are children of God," it quoted B B Nanda, RSS state Secretary as saying.
The RSS has often been criticised by Christian organisations for targeting Christian missionaries in the tribal areas, who the RSS says are bringing about religious conversions among the tribals. " [RSS to rescue of Christian priests. PTI – The Press Trust of India Ltd. (July 10, 2005)]
RSS role in post-partition massacres of Muslims
1. As a former Alwar Army captain told Shail Mayaram in 1993: I was the ADC to HH Tej Singh. We were with the RSS. It had been decided to clear the state of Muslims. The orders came from [the Congress Home Minister] Sardar [Vallabhbhai] Patel. He spoke to HH on the hot line. The killings of Hindus at Noakhali [in Bengal] and Punjab had to be avenged. We called it the ‘Clearing Up campaign'(safaya) All the Meos from Firozepur Jhirka down were to be cleared and sent to Pakistan [and] their lands taken over …." [Ian Copland, 'The Further Shores of Partition: Ethnic Cleansing in Rajasthan 1947', Past and Present, No. 160 (Aug., 1998), pp. 203-239]
RSS opposition to those who condemned the Ayodhya demolition
1. "Shekhawat absorbed a splinter group of fourteen MLAs from the Janata Dal under the leadership of Digvijay Singh and all fourteen were given BJP tickets from their constituencies in the elections the following year (Jaffrelot 1996:518). As Jenkins reports (1994), such moves infuriated the more orthodox "RSS faction" of the party under the leadership of Lalit Kishor Chaturvedi" [Norbert Peabody,'Inchoate in Kota? Contesting Authority Through a North Indian Pageant-Play, American Ethnologist, Vol. 24, No. 3 (Aug., 1997), pp. 559-584]
2. “And here is a factual report jointly submitted by ‘two foreigners who visited the subcontinent and were commissioned for this purpose by the Governments of India and Pakistan:-
‘On the morning of November 5, it was announced by beat of drum in Jammu city, in the name of His Highness the Maharaja, and that all Muslims must immediately leave the state and that, in fact, Pakistan had asked for them. They were instructed to assemble at the parade ground in Jammu. Conducted from there to police lines, they were searched, deprived of most of their belongings and loaded on motor lorry convoys. They were told they would be sent to Suchetgarh but instead the convoys took the Kathua Road and halted at Mawa, where the passengers were told to get down.
‘At Mawa, the lorry drivers, who was Sikhs and armed to the teeth, removed all the young women and from the convoys and began to attack the remainder. The Kashmir State troops looked on indifferently while the mobs of Sikhs and Hindus were killing the Muslims.
‘Out of the four thousand Muslims, who had left Jammu, only nine hundred managed to reach Sialkot, in Pakistan.
‘A convoy of seventy trucks, containing most of the respectable Muslim families of Jammu city left for Suchetgarh on November 6. A few miles out of the city, the trucks were halted and were attacked armed jathas of Sikhs and State troops and volunteers of the Rashtrya Swayam Sewak Sangh.’ [this report continues in Aziz Beg, Captive Kashmir, Lahore: Allied Business Corporation, 1957, p.32-33]
Note: I have no idea whether these are entirely true, but it is something that must be investigated. More importantly, it is important to know that this is the information people in Pakistan read about (this particular book is not banned in Pakistan or elsewhere in the world, only in India), and form their opinion of the Hindus who claim to be tolerant. Perceptions matter a lot. The reality is that most Muslims do not see at least some Hindus in a charitable and noble light that they like to paint themselves in. I suspect that this particular genocide of Jammu muslims did happen in some form or manner, but I’d like to trace out the facts through further reading.
Bigotry being propagaged in villages across India
1. "The RSS has started village-level educational units that enable teachers well-versed in the ideology of Hindutva to live with and instruct minority communities about their nation, heritage, and civilization. It is estimated that there are at least 2.4 million pupils and 80,000 teachers in these Vidya Bharati schools run by the RSS-VHP coalition. And "much of the text being taught" in such schools "is designed to promote bigotry and religious fanaticism in the name of inculcating knowledge of [Indian/Hindu] culture in the younger generation." (The Asian Age (28 August 2000) 3) – from Sathianathan Clarke, Hindutva, Religious and Ethnocultural Minorities, and Indian-Christian Theology, The Harvard Theological Review, Vol. 95, No. 2 (Apr., 2002), pp. 197-226.
Strong discouragement to free thougth and questions
1. "In an aggressively Hindu manual entitled Lathi shiksha (n.d.) Mohan Lal emphasizes the discipline required of the trainee… “There is no strength in individuality. Strength is only achieved once that individual falls into line and obeys orders.” [Joseph S. Alter, ‘Somatic Nationalism: Indian Wrestling and Militant Hinduism, Modern Asian Studies, Vol. 28, No. 3 (Jul., 1994), pp. 557-588]
Connivance and promotion of caste system
1. "Although 'hierarchy' and 'discrimination' are criticized by Golwalkar, for example, the idea that people are born into a particular
occupation seems to be tacitly accepted: . .. [T]he distinctions in the social order did not imply any discrimination of big or small, high or low, among its constituents. On the other hand, the Gita tells us that the individual who does his assigned duties in life in a spirit of selfless service only worships Gods through such performance (Golwalkar 1966: I07, in Andersen and Damle 1987: 8i, emphasis added). … [T]he leadership of the organization remains distinctly Brahmin (Andersen and Damle 1987: 45).” [Joseph S. Alter, ‘Somatic Nationalism: Indian Wrestling and Militant Hinduism, Modern Asian Studies, Vol. 28, No. 3 (Jul., 1994), pp. 557-588]
2. "Following the elite, upper-caste base of anushilan, the initial RSS volunteers were Nagpur Brahmins." [Milind Wakankar, 'Body, Crowd, Identity: Genealogy of a Hindu Nationalist Ascetics, Social Text, No. 45 (Winter, 1995), pp. 45-73]
One good news on the subject of casteism:
4. "NEW DELHI: Ideological chalk and cheese shared dais when firebrand Dalit poet Namdeo Dhasal and Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh chief K Sudarshan came together at a book release function in the Capital on Wednesday.
The internationally renowned poet and Dalit leader is the founder president of Maharashtra's Dalit Panther that has traditionally been at odds with the RSS. The Dalit Panther has for long looked upon the RSS as representing the Brahmanical order. Ironically, Dhasal released a RSS book on Dalit pain at the function." [Dalit leader buries the hatchet with RSS. The Times of India (Sept 1, 2006)]
3. "NEW DELHI: Following up on its radical call last year to train and appoint Dalits as priests in Hindu temples, the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS) has severely condemned the barring of Dalits from a temple in Orissa recently.
An year-end editorial in the Sangh mouthpiece Panchjanya termed as unfortunate the discriminatory attitude of temple authorities at the Jagannath temple in Kerdagarh saying it was "shameful that even in 2006 there are temples where Dalits are disallowed Even God will desert the temple that Dalits cannot enter." [RSS rips into ban on Dalits entering temples. The Times of India (Jan 4, 2007)]
Provocative depiction of Muslims that forms the basis of violence
1. "The RSS maintains that Muslim men engage in "riots, rapes, looting, raping and all sorts of orgies" as they seek to undermine the Hindu nation (BT 1980, 234-35)." [Paola Bacchetta, ‘When the (Hindu) Nation Exiles Its Queers’, Social Text, No. 61, Out Front: Lesbians, Gays, and the Struggle for Workplace Rights (Winter, 1999), pp. 141-166]. BT = M. S. Golwalkar, Bunch of Thoughts (Bangalore, India: Vikrama Prakashan, 1966; Bangalore, India: Sahitya Sindhu Prakashana, 1980 and 1996).
Attempt to impose Hindi on everyone in India
1. "Feb. 17–PUNE — At a time when regional political parties are raking up the chauvinistic sentiments through language, the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS) has come out openly against English.
RSS chief KS Sudarshan on Sunday said that the time has come to launch a movement against English, which actually is redundant.
Addressing RSS workers in Pune, Sudarshan said that countrymen should have one common language besides a local one.
"Since Hindi is most spoken language in India, it should be treated as common medium of instruction while people should also speak in their local language. However, English has no relevance in the country and, therefore, we must all stop sending our children to convent schools." [English has no relevance in our country: RSS chief, Hindustan Times (New Delhi, India) (Feb 17, 2009)]
Internecine killings between CPM and RSS
1. "The eye-for-an-eye battle between the two cadre-based organisations, the CPM and RSS, has claimed more than 100 lives over the past decade. Both camps nurture villages and killer squads. Even the police fear to enter party-controlled villages. And in some areas, bomb-making is like a cottage industry. The CPM says it's targeted for protecting the minorities while the RSS-BJP combine says it is not allowed to function freely." [Kanpur erupts again, 2 dead, Hindustan Times (New Delhi, India) (Jan 19, 2009)]
2."3 April 2008 PUNE: The Communist Party of India-Marxist (CPM) and Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS) members clashed in Pune on Wednesday.
The incident place took place near the CPM office. CPM leaders have strongly condemned the incident. [CPM, RSS clash in Pune, The Times of India (April 3, 2008)]
Joseph A. Curran, Militant Hinduism in Indian Politics: A Study of the RSS, New York, 1951.
Walter K. Anderson and Shridhar D. Damle, The Brotherhood in Saffron: The Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh and Hindu Revivalism (Boulder, Colo.: Westview, 1987) / (Boulder, Colo: Westview Press, 1986).
THOMAS BLOM HANSEN, The Saffron Wave: Democracy and Hindu Nationalism in Modern India. Princeton, N.J.: Princeton University Press, 1999. Pp. 293.
A.G. Noorani, The RSS and the BJP: A Division of Labour, New Delhi, Left World Books, 2000.
Profile: Last surviving conspirator in the plot to assassinate Mahatma Gandhi.(1:00-2:00 PM)(Broadcast transcript). Weekend Edition Saturday (July 12, 2003)(736 words)
12th February 2009
My articles published in FF so far
- August: Come on, liberals: Let’s change India!
- September: Wake-up call for citizen-leaders
- October: Unbridled capitalism?
- November: India’s centralised approach to urbanization
- December: Property rights and land acquisition
- January: Building a monetary and financial system for a free society
- March: Mythical barriers to joining politics
- April: Time to bury Indian’s antiquated bureaucracy
- May: Equal opportunity in the free society.
- June: Our politicians have no option but to be corrupt.
- July: Educating our children: A free market in schools.
- August: Eliminating poverty – a liberal solution.
- September: A liberal policy position on higher education
- October: Banishing the concept of foreign aid
- November: A liberal perspective on taxes – Part I
- December: A liberal perspective on taxes – Part II
- January: The proper role of government in health
- (Feb-March: Traveling to India, hence no article)
- April: Wanted a Constitution that delivers life and liberty
- May: Environmental policy in a free society
- June: Reforming our electoral system is better than changing it
- July: An invitation to become a Freedom Partner
- August: Freedom of expression: a great challenge for India
- September: Religious freedom in the free society
- October: Reservations are incompatible with freedom and justice
- November: India needs a non-interfering agriculture policy
Proposed further articles
At this stage I decided to pause writing for FF and move into the blog on a more active basis. Should I find time to do so, I'll write on the following subjects:
- Leadership in politics
- Industry policy (that there should not be a policy)
- Arts and archeology policy [the value of social cohesion, including +ve externalities of bollywood and cricket]
- Alcohol and drugs policy
- Sports policy
- Physical infrastructure policy
- Transportation policy (roads, rail, etc.
- Energy policy
- Water policy
- Space and nuclear policy
- Trade and commerce policy
- Urban planning – a detailed article
- Defence policy
- Justice system reforms