The fertile mind of India's left liberal lobby boasts a rich repertoire of warped phantasmata that it has used with varying effectiveness to target nationalists. For a long time, it was the spectre of Nazism that was flaunted to demonize Hindu nationalism. When that failed to cut the ice, the bogey of a domineering majoritarianism made the rounds. Today, the new cuss word in its lexicon of abuse is "Hindu-Pakistan" with several leading personalities like Ramachandra Guha and Shashi Tharoor going to town with this derogation.
"Hindu-Pakistan" is an incendiary term that has an ominous ring to it; a hideous reproach that instantly evokes intense visceral disgust. It is calculated to assault the brain with an unenviable image of a replica of Pakistan on this side of the border – a hate-filled domain exploding with fundamentalist religiosity, albeit Hindu rather than Muslim.
A Hindu per se embraces religious understanding and accepts diversity; Pakistan is the anti-thesis of everything that is "Hindu".
But is this a believable contention with a valid ideological basis or is it a wild flight of fantasy conjured up by elitist intellectuals cooped up in their ivory towers?
For a concern to become a reality or be taken seriously, first, there must be an identifiable and credible ideological threat and second, the ground reality must suggest a negative transformation in process.
An objective analysis and a historical review fail to find any evidence for this overblown forewarning. Additionally, a survey of prevalent circumstances negates this impending doomsday scenario.
Semantically speaking, "Hindu-Pakistan" is an oxymoron; a term that is inherently contradictory. A Hindu per se embraces religious understanding and accepts diversity; Pakistan is the anti-thesis of everything that is "Hindu". To club these two words together is sensational but ultimately meaningless gibberish.
Conceptually, the left liberal contention is a thought that is frozen in time; an antiquated argument that deliberately and deceptively highlights an outdated nationalist position without truthfully acknowledging the historic circumstances that mandated such a position or factoring in the changes that have taken place in the nationalist ideology over the last 70 years since Independence.
Hindu assertiveness in the shape of a formal ideology first surfaced in the 1920s and was the direct result of a thousand years of alien subjugation that saw the massacre of millions of Hindus, destruction of thousands of Hindu temples and unimaginable economic devastation -- all of which left a people demoralised and fragmented and without a sense of individual identity.
It was not a de novo supremacist ideology floated by a majority community to lord over minorities or to suppress them as the left liberal lobby makes it out to be. The early 1900s was not an age of political correctness that demanded extreme caution in crafting one's words, yet V.D. Savarkar (who coined the term Hindutva) categorically emphasised that Hindutva, while empowering the savaged Hindu, must not spew hatred against others:
"Therefore even from the point of Indian nationality, must ye, O Hindus, consolidate and strengthen Hindu nationality; not to give wanton offence to any of our non-Hindu compatriots, in fact to anyone in the world but in just and urgent defense of our race and land; to render it impossible for others to betray her to or subject her to unprovoked attack ......." (Essentials of Hindutva, pp54)
Antagonists of Hindu nationalism are also prone to quote M.S. Golwalkar, the patriarch of the RSS, to make their point. In his book We or Our Nationhood Defined (Bharat Publications, Nagpur 1939) he wrote:
"In Hindustan exists, and must exist, the ancient Hindu nation, and nought else but the Hindu nation... The foreign races in Hindustan must either adopt the Hindu culture and language, must learn to respect and hold in reverence the Hindu religion, must entertain no idea except the glorification of the Hindu religion and culture, i.e. of the Hindu nation, and must lose their separate existence to merge in the Hindu race, or they may stay in the country wholly subordinated to the Hindu nation..."
To comprehend the true import of these words it is important to juxtapose this articulation with the existing socio-political environment of those times.
The year was 1939. The idea of a modern India as a country was a mere idea; a concept trapped within the boundaries of a colonial empire that stretched from Afghanistan in the West to Myanmar in the East and one that was still to be sculpted from this vast domain. Its demarcations were still nebulous; it's demographic composition uncertain and its political structure yet to be defined. In this setting, Golwalkar's words can at best be termed an experimental blueprint to ensure the security of this nascent nation bearing in mind the tortured history of the Hindu people at the hands of Islamic rulers; definitely not an apostasy against the established stipulations of a confirmed nation-state.
A couple of manufactured instances of so-called intolerance and a few isolated instances of vigilantism by misguided "gau rakshaks" cannot be used to paint an entire movement black.
Moreover, his writings were not a spontaneous expression of hate vocalised in an ideological vacuum bereft of any rationale. It must be viewed against the background of Muslim separatism that threatened the integrity of a future united India. Nine years earlier, in 1930, the poet Mohammed Iqbal had already conceptualised a state exclusively for Muslims in the North West at the expense of its Hindu population; a thought that was steadily gaining ground among the Muslims of India. Golwalkar merely joined in on this debate with a defence of Hindu interests.
In 1947, when the Indian nation became a tangible entity with a definite Constitution that defined citizenship, Golwalkar too changed, in keeping with the times -- an event deviously kept from public purview by his detractors.
Balram Mishra in an article, "Notional Crisis" provides evidence of Golwalkar's mental evolution. In an interview Golwalkar states:
"[That] concept of nationhood... belonged to the 19th century. Now it is obsolete... Forget about that book. It is outdated."
Every human being has the right to change their opinion and to modulate their views in keeping with the changing times or as a result of introspection. A change for the better should be perceived positively. Past deeds or utterances are not indelible stains that cannot be wiped away or whose negative impact cannot be erased. Our own scriptures tell the story of Valmiki who transformed himself from a lowly bandit to a revered sage. Pope Benedict XVI was a member of the Hitler Youth during his younger days. To remain fixated on the past without appreciating the change that has occurred is a sign of bigotry and smacks of a vested agenda.
Hindu nationalism is a dynamic ideology that has changed and keeps changing with the times bearing in mind national interest above all and accepting ground reality as it exists. The 1930's concept of nationhood is no longer valid in the 21st century. The call for a uniform civil code rather than a dominant Hindu code of law is ample testimony to the egalitarian and just nature of an evolving dynamic nationalism -- nothing even remotely suggestive of a "Hindu Pakistan". The bogey of a "Hindu-Pakistan" is a defunct contention that is irrelevant to present-day India.
Next a realistic assay of the ground reality also fails to provide any evidence of a descent into radical Hindu fundamentalism to stoke concerns of a "Hindu-Pakistan". A couple of manufactured instances of so-called intolerance and a few isolated instances of vigilantism by misguided "gau rakshaks" cannot be used to paint an entire movement black.
The number of lives lost so far in these unacceptable incidents of violence pale before what happens in even the most advanced countries in the world; a single incident in the US when a White man walked into a Black church and killed nine African-Americans surmounts all the loss of life that has occurred in these recent instances of sectarian violence in India. Therefore, to gauge the true significance of these aberrations, they must be held up against the vast and rich tapestry of a diverse India, a country of 1.3 billion people with conflicting religious affiliations, scores of languages and innumerable ethnic variations.
To all these worthies concerned about a "Hindu-Pakistan" let me pose this counter- query: Is there a danger of parts of India becoming "Muslim-Pakistan?"
For some intellectuals to make a mountain of a molehill indicates a lack of clinical acumen; an inability to appraise things in a broad perspective or take into account the larger picture. This shortcoming points to an intellectual mediocrity or worse it appears to be a part of a classic devious strategy in which lunatic fringe elements are falsely and deliberately projected as the prototype to demonize and suppress a competing thought process.
To all these worthies concerned about a "Hindu-Pakistan" let me pose this counter-query: Is there a danger of parts of India becoming "Muslim-Pakistan"? The answer is in the affirmative. Kashmir is a standing example of this Damocles sword that hangs over our heads. Since 1990, more than 250,000 Hindus have been driven out of Kashmir, reminiscent of what happened at the time of Partition when the Hindu population of Pakistan (about 30%) was all but decimated. In contrast to Kashmir, such large-scale eviction of minorities did not occur even during the height of the Gujarat riots which our left liberal friends hold up as a communal apocalypse. The ethnic cleansing of Hindus from Kashmir is the direct result of left liberal intellectualism that has encouraged separatism, turned apologist for militants and tacitly condoned atrocities against Hindus by maintaining a studied silence.
A "Hindu Pakistan" is a figment of resourceful imagination, an ideological strategy put in play by a set of individuals whose wild and unsubstantiated fantasies have bitten the dust with regular frequency. It is a pathetic attempt by these has-beens to remain relevant in a fast-changing, modern and forward-looking India that has little time or patience for these devious and baseless shenanigans.
In conclusion, even the most hardcore votaries of Hindu nationalism never want India to become a "Hindu-Pakistan".