Hindutva: theory and practice

…was it the precursor of two nation theory?

Dr. Javid Iqbal
Srinagar, Publish Date: Oct 16 2018 11:03PM | Updated Date: Oct 16 2018 11:03PM
Hindutva: theory and practiceRepresentational Pic

Two nation theory in subcontinental context is attributed to Mohammad Ali Jinnah. Pakistan is quoted to symbolize, what Jinnah preached and established in 1947. However, contrary to widely held belief, a deeper probe in the subject suggests that protagonists of Hindutva sowed the seeds of two nation theory much earlier. Jinnah harvested it, to create a Muslim nation in the subcontinent. Named, the ambassador of Hindu-Muslim unity in his earlier political avatar by Sarojni Naidu, political compulsions made Jinnah revisited his belief. He was groomed in secular concepts by Gopal Kishan Gokhle, his political mentor. Jinnah’s defenders say that he had to change track, as there were no takers for his view of proportionate share of political power between major communities in India. Gokhle originated the concept of shared political power, it was spelt out clearly, before he died in 1915. Jinnah pursued it until he was forced to change track in early thirties of preceding century. It was an epoch of growing concepts in India reeling under British subjugation. 

The concepts of nationhood, which evolved originally in Europe, had taken a different hue in India. In 1923, VD Savarkar coined the word ‘Hindutva’ having shaped a treatise with similar title. Muslims and Christians were beyond the pale of Hindu nationhood. Savarkar spelt his take in 19th session of Hindu Mahasabha held in 1937. Instead of one Indian nation, Savarkar said, there were two nations in India—Hindus and Muslims. Savarkar’s take might have been inspired by what Bhai Parmanand noted in his autobiography in 1908. He called Hindus and Muslims two irreconcilable separate nations, pleading for population exchange in separate geographical regions.  The concept of separate nationhood was fed in late 19th century by Nabagopal Mitra. He cast Hindus as a nation, better than the Muslims and the Christians. Asking Hindus to strive for an ‘Aryan Nation’ Nabagopal Mitra’s take remained oblivious of the fact that Aryan racial features were not confined to Hindus of India. German Christians and Iranian Muslims were as much Aryans, as the Hindus of India. And, the Hindus of southern India did not share the Aryan features of northerners.   Moreover, Muslims of north India were as much Aryan as the Hindus. The concept of Aryan nationhood had other takers like Germany of Hitler. Shah of Iran had ‘Arya-Mehr (the jewel of Aryans)’ among his other titles. German and Iranian Aryans are much more homogenous in religious and cultural traits than Indian Aryans. 

While as the earlier protagonists of Hindutva like Parmanand and Savarkar called for religion based division of India, later-day  MS Golwalker had much more strident take of Hindutva. In his treatise, ‘‘We, Or Our Nationhood Defined’ the definition amounted to asking the minority communities of India to merge with the Hindu nation or perish. Golwalker’s take held religion, culture and nationalism on the same pedestal. It virtually meant that you had to be a Hindu to hold your nationalistic trait. Otherwise, your nationalistic identity would have a question mark over it. Golwalker headed ‘Rashtarya Sevak Sangh (RSS)’ outwardly a cultural organization, however having multiple fronts catering to different societal concerns, and having a definite political connotation. It did have a political front, named differently in different periods of time, in different regions of India. On the national level, Jan Sangh was its offshoot, presently it is BJP. In fifties, Praja Parishad in Jammu subscribed to RSS ideology. It had adverse consequences for the state. Praja Parishad agitation led to the chasm between Srinagar and Delhi, it was one of the early precursors of alienation, so pronounced in modern era. Muslim majority state did not fit in the concept of Hindutva, hence the gory event of 1953. Nehru succumbed to the pressure leading to arrest of Sheikh Mohammad Abdullah. It indicated that the concept of ‘Hindutva’ has enough to affect the Congress, professing secularism.                 

The concept of exclusive nationhood for Hindus was not confined to organizations with Hindu base. It had takers in congress, presumed to be secular. On December, the 14, 1924, Congress leader--Lala Lajpat Rai gave the call of partition of the country into Hindu and Non-Hindu India. Lal Lajpat Rai was followed by many a congress leaders, professing to be secular, but with a clear majoritarian concept, which hardly left a room for sharing political power with minorities. Sardar Patel had a distinct majoritarian leaning. Secularism might have been an article of faith with Nehru, however he was also averse to any pre-set power-sharing formula, the way Jinnah wanted it to be. Nehru’s take of secularism had enough room to accommodate the minorities in majoritarian democracy. With clusters of Muslim population spread widely in the Indian heartland, Nehruvian spirit of accommodation did not hold the promise of power-sharing. Hindutva forces though outwardly opposed to Nehruvian secularism were inwardly disinclined to take an exception. Secular Congress with Nehru and Patel in lead agreed to partition, meant to segregate Hindus and non-Hindus into two distinct national identities, as advocated by likes of Parmanand. It did serve the purpose of Muslim majority areas in India’s northwest and northeast, but added to the vulnerability of clusters of Muslim population in Indian heartland. The vulnerability has had an added impetus, since BJP—the political front of RSS gained political power in 2014. March of ‘Hindutva’ could thus have unforeseen consequences, unless the concept is revisited to provide enough room for minorities to remain laced with rights provided by the constitution.

 

Yaar Zinda, Sohbat Baqi 

[Reunion is subordinate to survival]

 

iqbal.javid46@gmail.com  

 

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