Pseudo-Secularism

Hindu dharma is implicitly at odds with monotheistic intolerance. What is happening in India is a new historical awakening... Indian intellectuals, who want to be secure in their liberal beliefs, may not understand what is going on. But every other Indian knows precisely what is happening: deep down he knows that a larger response is emerging even if at times this response appears in his eyes to be threatening.

Monday, August 18, 2008

Silent Hindu, angry Hindu

Ashok Chowgule

Tolerance should not be seen as weakness

A Hindu finds it very uncomfortable to talk bad about others. And this characteristic is often treated as a sign of weakness by his opponents, and serious attempts are made to bully him into submission. A Hindu tolerates it all -- but only up to a certain point. When he reacts, he reacts ferociously.

Forces which have been working to destroy Hindu civilisation have had success almost in all their other encounters. Even though Hindu civilisation has retreated from some areas, the Hindu has still kept alive the ethos in a large area. It is today the oldest surviving civilisation.

Despite its proven record of resilience, the attacks on Hindu civilisation have not ceased. The expectation of the enemy is that the resistance may snap, and then victory will be theirs. It is the duty of every Hindu to be eternally vigilant and not let down their ancestors who so valiantly fought to keep the ethos alive.

The issues surrounding the provision of facilities for pilgrims to the Amarnath shrine have to be viewed in this context to make sense of those opposing the leasing of 97 acres of land to the Sri Amarnath Shrine Board. The Hindu is reacting not just to the injustice that is being done in this case, but the injustices that he has been suffering for a long time.

In an article in Arab News, MJ Akbar has succinctly stated the Hindu case. He writes: "The Hindu who has quietly watched mosque and dargah expand around him, explodes when a few acres are denied to pilgrims on the arduous trek to Amarnath. He has seen Haj houses sprout around him for Muslims on their way to Mecca. These Haj houses are not loaned to the community for the two months involved in the two-way journey for Haj; they have become community centres all year round. He asks a question: Why should he be denied a place for tired feet on the way to Amarnath?"

This denial is supported by those who are considered to be moderate Muslims, as well as those who carry the label of secularism proudly on their sleeves. Mr Omar Abdullah announced in the Lok Sabha that Kashmiri Muslims "will give their lives but won't part with the land". If that be the case, does he have any moral right to own land outside the Kashmir Valley? The 'secularists' are blaming the previous Governor for implementing the orders of the various courts to provide proper facilities for pilgrims.

The 'secularists' have also made serious attempts to obfuscate the real issue. They have implicitly given credence to the ridiculous argument by the separatists that the granting of the land would alter the demographic composition of the Kashmir Valley. They want people to forget that the damage was done in the 1990s when Kashmiri Hindus were ethnically cleansed from the Valley by the very forces which are today opposing the leasing of land.

This is not the first time Hindu angst has expressed itself. Famously the Ram Janmabhoomi movement is the beginning of it in modern times -- a movement which VS Naipaul described as one which started from the bottom. The attempt by the UPA Government to belittle, through an affidavit in the Supreme Court, the memory of Sri Ram, the maryada purushottam (the ideal person), was met with widespread resistance on the streets.

On the one hand, Hindus are faced with the threat of Islamist terrorism, and on the other, the are confronted by an indifferent system. Decisions relating to the interest of the nation are taken on the basis of vote-bank politics, and this programme is authenticated by pseudo-secular intellectuals. Thus, it is alleged by the latter that the Jammu intifada has made Islamist terrorists and separatists in the Kashmir Valley stronger. The support to them by parties like the PDP is completely ignored. And there is no mention that it is to appease them that the lease of land to the SASB was cancelled.

'Secular' political parties take Hindus for granted. As in the past, this time too Hindu anger was underestimated by the Government which did not anticipate a reaction. Pseudo-secular intellectuals, rather than place the facts in the proper perspective, have only ended up communalising the entire issue.

-- The writer is vice-president of the VHP.

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