Growing Hindutva intolerance in India: Music director AR Rahman echoes actor Aamir Khan’s criticism!
-Dr. Abdul Ruff
BJP is not serious about anything it just fought for power with Congress by raising Hindutva issues. And they won.
Indians, frightened by the latest overt Hindutva actions ever since the BJP government came to power, for the first time in its political history with full majority, targeting nation’s peace, are eagerly awaiting the ‘achche din’ they were promised last year by the Modi government, though no one is unsure as to from where and how it would descend on us. People do not know what exactly the “achche din” means. Some might think the government would give them free flight tickets along with plenty of cash, (preferably not black money) to tour the world. But Indians are increasingly feeling insecure and feel terrifies with the idea of India becoming a veto member to crush all minorities in essentially a secular country.
The idea of a democracy is based on equal rights for everyone, though that may be a Utopian impossibility. When the beef ban was enforced not in support of animal rights to create confusion and enmity in the society, not even Hindus felt happy, they in fact felt unsafe.
The BJP government and RSS cadres deliberately are creating disturbances in the country by raising and enacting themes lie Ghar wapsi, etc, harming national peace and tranquility and endangering country’s secular unity. There’s something terribly wrong in a country where no religion feels safe – not Muslims, not Christians, not Sikhs, not Jains, not atheists, not secular Hindus, not bigoted Hindus.
In using religion as the reason for bans on killing an animal, the government has made beef-eating a political act. If the courtesy given to cows would be extended to other animals for humanitarian reasons who don’t score like cow in the Vedas. There is no sign of that happening. BJP is not serious about anything it just fought for power with Congress by raising Hindutva issues. And they won.
Actor turned social activist, Aamir Khan protested against growing intolerance as was raised by Shahruk khan. Oscar-winning India’s foremost music composer AR Rahman said he identified with Indian acclaimed actor Aamir Khan’s statement on growing intolerance in India. Rahman said he too faced a situation similar to Aamir’s a couple of months ago when Aamir’s wife felt like leaving the country, reports Times of India. Rahman was referring to Mumbai-based Raza Academy’s fatwa against him after he composed the music for Iranian film ‘Muhammad: Messenger of God’, which alleged that the title was humiliating to the Prophet (SM). At that time, chief ministers of Delhi and UP had cancelled Rahman’s concerts at the last minute.
Ghar wapsi movement was being imposed on AR Rahman asking him to be Hindu and use his fame for Hinduism. The Vishwa Hindu Parishad was quick to invite the Oscar award singer to ‘re-convert to Hinduism’, saying it was time for his ‘ghar wapsi’. Speaking at NFDC’s Film Bazaar at the 46th International Film Festival of India at Panaji, Rahman said he too had faced intolerance and insisted that people should not be violent in a civilized society. ‘I had gone through something similar a couple of months ago,’ Rahman said. ‘Nothing should be violent. We’re all ultra-civilized people and we should show the world that we are the best civilization,’ the acclaimed composer said.
On artists returning their awards in protest against ‘rising intolerance’, Rahman said, ‘Everything should be done classily. I feel what people are doing is very poetic. We should set an example for the world because we come from the land of Mahatma Gandhi; he has shown how a revolution can have an impact without any violence.’
People who matter think they are being threatened as the target of BJP/RSS. Creative writers who choose to be honest to their work are threatened with murder; people who The last year and a half has seen careless, hurtful remarks being tossed around by ministers who then retract their statements, apologize, or claim they were quoted out of context. There can be no context for comparing the immolation of children to the stoning of dogs. There can be no excuse for a government absolving itself of responsibility. Now while lynch mobs are given a free run, to “stone dogs” and “run over puppies”, and High Courts judges recommend castration as a deterrent to rape, border conflict is on the rise. And even as it steadily encroaches on every freedom that its citizens once took for granted, even dinner menus, the government is beginning to resemble a dictatorship.
Obviously, those who don’t prescribe to the dietary recommendations of the government are threatened with repression or jail. Often, they are murdered without trial. Many officals fear harsh treatment while women who speak out against bigotry are threatened with rape and harassment.
One justification for such overt threats to people with different faiths is that unless the “others” are not contained, yoga and Sanskrit and vegetarianism will die. They might feel terrified that they will be thrown out of power unless they bully everyone they can into submission to their idiocy, they are terrified that the what they claim to be gods and holy animals are indeed myths and as such unless the Hindutva forces in media shout loud enough to drown the noise of all logic, India would become a secular, normal and real nation while RSS would lose its stream.
Hindutva backed by the Indian government- no matter which party rules- shows intolerance, in pace of respect, to people like the celebrated modern Indian artist painter of international acclaim, and a founding member of the Progressive Artists Group of Bombay (PAG) F M Hussain who was forced to quit India after making India proud on international arena, and take shelter in Qatar where he passed away with heavy heart. AR Rehman could also face similar predicament if Indian intelligentsia keeps mum and do not rise up and revolt against growing intolerance of Hindutva forces on the strength of new BJP government of Modi.
Hussain’s narrative paintings, executed in a modified Cubist style, can be caustic and funny as well as serious and sombre. His themes—sometimes treated in series—include topics as diverse as Mohandas K. Gandhi, Mother Teresa, the epics Ramayana and the Mahabharata, the British raj, and motifs of Indian urban and rural life. Early in his painting career, and until his death, he enjoyed depicting the lively and free spirit of horses in many of his works. Often referred to as the “Picasso of India,” M.F. Husain is the most celebrated and internationally recognized Indian artist of the 20th century. Husain is primarily known for his paintings, but is also known for his drawings and his work as a printmaker, photographer, and filmmaker. Some of his later works stirred controversy, as they depicted traditional Deities of India in nontraditional ways.
Hussain was on top of list of those who would honored with highest civilian award Bharatratna. Hindutva elements began repressive tactics to deny him that honour because he painted some “objectionable” stuff. Indian government then run by the Congress party refused Hussain protection against Hindutva criminal elements as he could not attend functions and felicitations in his honour. Hussain knew that the Nehru government could not protect Mahatma Gandhi, who fought and got freedom for all Indians from the criminal Hindutva forces that eventually gunned down that great son of India.
Meanwhile, noted poet Ashok Vajpeyi says RSS is trying to distort Hinduism, turn it into monolithic faith. Vajpeyi, who was among the writers who returned their awards, accused RSS of “distorting” the definition of Hindu religion and insisted that the government should do its job of protecting interests of people. Authors like him had no option but to “dramatize” their protest against growing intolerance by returning awards for a “visible” impact. He also claimed that President Pranab Mukherjee has expressed the view that “puraskar wapsi” was a way of expressing dissent.
Speaking on the sidelines of an event organised to mark Constitution Day in Delhi, Vajpeyi asserted that writers had raised voices against “intolerance” for one-and-half years, but no one took notice of it, compelling them to take such a step. “We had no option but to dramatise (protest) because no one paid attention to the issues we raised earlier. Had we not done so (returned awards), you would not be asking us questions (now). “For a year-and-a-half, I had been writing on these issues in my column, but it had no impact. Thirty of us issued a statement, but majority of newspapers did not even carry it. So, we thought of this (returning award) as the socially visible action,” Vajpeyi said.
President Mukherjee admitted that the return of awards by writers and intellectuals was “evidently spontaneous” and a way of protest that has triggered a nation-wide debate on the issue of intolerance. Vajpeyi also dismissed allegations that awards returning was a “motivated” protest and ridiculed Minister of State for External Affairs VK Singh for his reported charges that the demonstrators were “paid” for the same by Congress. “The minister says from holy soil of US that Congress paid us for returning awards. Yesterday someone asked me that we were paid Rs 15 lakh for the protest. Forget my case, but will anyone be able to buy authors like Romila Thapar? She had refused to accept Padma award from Congress government. How can anyone question her integrity,” he asked.
Vajpeyi termed the allegations as ones aimed at “character assassination” of demonstrators as the ruling class lacked logic. The poet though maintained he will not take back the award once returned even if situation “improves” and added “puraskar wapsi” was never an issue for the scholars, but the “growing intolerance” in the country. ” We are only using it to attract attention towards a certain issue, to express our dissent against what is happening via a spontaneous protest,” Vajpeyi added. The poet further accused RSS of trying to “cementise” Hindu religion which, he said, is “diverse” in nature, into one/singular concept.
Hindu religion is diverse in nature. RSS is trying to cementize it, bringing in one God, one book concept. This can’t happen as Hindu religion by nature is diverse. RSS is distorting definition of Hindu religion. ” has been trying to turn India into Hindu Rashtra. But it has failed,” he noted. Vajpeyi also advised those attending the event to ask questions “fearlessly” in the present democratic setup as it had been the tradition of the country for ages and needs to be kept intact. “Our tradition has been of raising questions fearlessly. We have questioned Gods too. Nachiketa had questioned Yama. Yaksha had questioned Yudhisthir and other Pandavas. So, questioning is an age-old tradition. We cannot relinquish it”.
Democracy has only strengthened the human tradition and I needs to be kept intact. The gathering of civil society members was also addressed by former Chief Justice of Delhi High Court Rajinder Sachar, who also administered a pledge by reading out text of preamble to the attendees. Vajpeyi, who was among the writers who returned their awards, repeatedly accused RSS of ‘distorting’ Hindu religion and insisted that the government should do its job of protecting interests of people.
A highly discredited corrupt Congress led UPA government, immersed in its dynastic politics and the involvement of so many of its ministers in so many scams, has given legitimacy for RSS, Modi and BJP to win polls and dictate its Hindutva terms to the people of India.
Many Indians say the BJP/RSS hate speech, even hate mongering, was preferable to the Congress led rampant corruption that seemed so firmly entrenched in the country.
If a government refuses to step in set right an anomaly, it indeed supports and defends it while people are supposed to suffer. The BJP government would never condemn or reject the Hindutva ideology or its communal actions that negatively affect the nation and its values. That the Modi government does not openly ask the RSS or BJP cadres to attack minorities or impose Hindutva ideology on everyone in the country, does not mean it is secular by outlook or does not want Hindutva to take firm I roots in every religion in the country.
From Ghar wapsi, India has witnessed what could be termed as award wapsi by the national award winning who returned the awards, including military personnel, in protest against increasing communal menace from BJP and Hindutva allies – obviously backed by PM Modi.
The defeats in elections for BJP clearly indicates rise of anti-incumbency in the country. If the BJP does not re-evaluate its stances now, the next four years could see a wave of anti-incumbency sweep someone else to power, whatever the strings are – dynastic politics, corruption, inefficiency, or indifference.
PM Modi’s foreign tours are not going to help BJP to win elections. That is not the prime concern of the people of India.