Someone suggested me to read a Hindu editorial titled Nationalism as antonym of communalism which was published in Hindu recently, giving a perspective of the conversion dilemma India is facing. It is an interesting and more better, refreshing read, where the author built his argument over a single point – India was never a country and always a nation. This means Hindu resurgence, not having any concept of India as a political entity, is not going to harm the fabric, but is going to act as some sort of corrective element, succinctly spelled out in the below statement –
And this is its triumph as much as tragedy, since the absence of a distinctive theory of state repeatedly casts Hindu nationalism back into a social movement, one that can only make claims on cultural and demographic rather than constitutional grounds.
Just yesterday, I was reading a quote from Nehru – “A question arises, however, how far we should encourage foreigners to come here for purely evangelical work. Often these foreign countries raise funds on the plea of converting the savage heathens. I do no want anyone to come here who looks upon me as a savage heathen, not that I mind being called a heathen or a pagan by anybody. But I do not want any foreigner to come who looks down upon us or who speaks about us in their own countries in terms of contempt. But if any foreigner wants to come here for social service, I would welcome him.”
The main reason for this conversion debate is the same thing – how much influence does a foreign national have on conversion in India? If it is an Indian vs Indian slugfest, RSS will not bother much and the secularism as specified in the Constitution will stay unmolested. But, the fact is Western funding for Christianity, Pakistani interference in Kashmir and Bangladeshi influx in Assam, Tripura and Bengal, without any corrective action from the governments is bound to create a knee jerk reaction in the most revolutionary elements of Hinduism, oft identified with BJP as their public face. Sadly, the word secularism is degenerated to mean appeasement of anything which is anti-majority. It not only means minority appeasement, but also division of the majority based on the caste, racial or language lines.
This is one case. And the other case is regarding how India was formed. A separate country was created with uncomparable bloodshed for the Muslims. Christian evangelics were seen as an arm of the British government. The mood of the country is bound to be influenced by these. Though Nehru may be deemed secular, the real anger was seen not in the partition, but in the massacre of Muslims in the aftermath of the annexation of Hyderabad(the notorious Sundarlal Report). The anger is but natural and with Pakistan’s belligerence from day one, identifying it with Islam ensured that the pestering wounds are always open. A side-effect of this anger is that anything not of Indian origin is not acceptable. That’s the reason why Buddhism, Jainism and Sikhism were not touched. And the fault for this doesn’t lie with Nehru, but something which is attributed as Nehruvian by the descendants of Nehru. The term has become such a mockery on the name of Nehru that the country is divided on the lines Nehruvian and non-Nehruvian, with anything Congress or any bad decisions during Nehru’s term are only considered as Nehruvian, one of the most major ones being the Hindu Rate of Growth, border troubles and Minority Appeasement. People have long forgotten that an unwieldy behemoth called India is a creation of Nehru. It was under his guidance that, unlike most of the newly independent countries, India emerged as a democracy, self sustaining and a stable with no anger in expected levels against the minorities who harmed India. India without Islam or Christanity is a better India is an argument which cannot be proven with surety. Will a Hindu India be potent enough to take on the world? Or will it become a hermit kingdom? Or will a Hindu India ferment in old ideas with no chance of reform emanating out of interaction with the world? We may never know. The seeds of this mess were actually laid when a staunch secular by name Mohammed Ali Jinnah was forced to shed his secular identity and become the champion of the Islamic bandwagon in the span of a decade. This problem was exacerbated during the partition when rulers tried to act against the wishes of the majority who were not of the same religion as that of the populace as in the case of Junagadh and two other Kathiawar states, Bhopal, Kashmir and Hyderabad.
India is unique from other entities in the world becuase it’s the only area in the world the words country and nation cannot be interchangeably used. While a country denotes a political entity which India never was, it was always a nation, defined geographically and with a common ideal. Going into the history of India, at no time in Indian history, with the exception of Balochistan, Baltistan, Pakhtoonistan and may be Sind and Kashmir, a kingdom ruled by a Muslim had an overwhelming Muslim majority as seen in the Muslim world. This meant that the ruler was always supposed to give concessions of some form or the other to the Hindus present. When the concessions were denied, there was always a place to look for succour. It can be Vijayanagar either in the form of an invasion of revenge or mass migration or Ladakh invading the Baltis in revenge. Because of this, though there was state patronage for a religion and there were impediments set up, there was no molestation of the religion to the level to invite a backlash. The basic reason for this occurence is that India was never a single political entity. Now with the existence of a single entity, if state takes up the cause of the majority, the minorities will have no place to run away. But, the fact is that with a culture modelled upon millenia of wary benevolence towards minority, it is not an easy happening that the minority voice will be crushed in India for good. And this is the primary reason why even though we see a Hindu resurgence, we are not going to see and Hindu dictatorship but a level of corrective action – a feedback loop which always exists to ensure that a culture doesn’t lose it’s direction. And the author rightly points the same stating that Hindu nationalism possesses no concept of ‘country’ unlike Islam which is it’s major competitor and it will attempt to change things to some extent. And this change, for sure, is not going to be the type of that of Adi Sankara or Chaitanya, but may be on the lines of Vidyaranya or Samartha Ramadas without it’s military strain.
India as an entity was that of a microcosm of republics whose internal workings is not answerable to none but are always a vassal to a superior entity who is happy to see the structure prevail as long as they receive the dues from them. Kingdoms changed but the basic structure was not touched. This means we have got self sufficient village economies, with less dependence on the outer world. This was seriously impacted by the advent of the British, but is still essentially the same to some extent. The greatest proof of this is that communal riots don’t cascade. They flare up in a place, and then they fizzle out. We have actually seen no more than five incidents where the rioting cascading after the fall of Hyderabad. With an isolated world, comes it’s own culture and superstitions which doesn’t support the modern chauvinistic trends as are defined in the west. But, it is going to give us a closely knit society which doesn’t bother about the religion of the follower. The side effect of this is that it will not bother about anything outside it’s sphere, there by eroding the ultra chauvinism and a common standard in adversity. Will it suit the current world, a global village? We don’t know as on the current day. This will be the consequence of Hindu resurgence – an India replete with closely knit micro-societies along with a few open cities catering for percolation of ideas and better opportunities unavailable in these micro-societies.