By Dr. N. S. Rajaram

Beginning of the end for Secularists?

India’s ‘secularism' is institutionalized dhimmitude continued by the governments under the Indian Constitution. Fear, rather than ideology is behind the behavior of Indian secularists. Recent developments may herald their collapse.

Moral collapse

            Indian brand of secularists are a strange breed. While claiming to represent liberal values, they invariably end up on the side of the most reactionary groups— like the Babri Masjid Action Committee and the Muslim Personal Law Board. They also wear blinders that make it impossible for them to acknowledge elementary truths: a spirit of compromise on the part of the Muslim leadership would go a long a way towards resolving the Ayodhya imbroglio and improving the climate for communal harmony. In their view, the burden for maintaining communal harmony in the country through their ‘secularism’ rests entirely on the Hindus. Their recent behavior following the Godhra massacre and its aftermath has served to expose the secularists. They have lost all credibility. More significantly, one can see that what is behind their behavior is not any ideology but fear— fear that the present institutional setup, which is loaded against the majority community, but has served them well may be unraveling.

The public saw through them soon after the news broke of a Muslim mob attacking and killing Hindu pilgrims on Sabarmati Express in Godhra. The secularist media joined by politicians of their stripe went into hiding without a word of condemnation. But soon the search was on to justify the killings. A phrase was coined—that somehow this massacre, which was obviously premeditated was the result of “Hindu provocation.” The media went overtime providing details of this ‘provocation,’ using Islamic websites as their source. But Mr. Anil Soni of ANI-PTI who was named in the reports as the main source to give it some respectability, soon rubbished it saying that it was the work of his enemies. The whole ‘provocation’ story was exposed as a fabrication.

This attempt to put the blame on the Hindus has to be contrasted with media behavior when they are themselves at the receiving end of Muslim violence. All four English newspapers in Bangalore have had their offices vandalized by Muslim mobs on the flimsiest of pretexts. Each time the managements of these papers have come out with apologies for “hurting the religious sentiments of a particular community.” Imagine, the victim apologizing to the attacker! This may be called “Licking the boot that kicks you.”

All this suggests that fear rather than any high moral principle is behind the conduct of the intelligentsia, including part of the news media. However, no one wants to admit he is a coward. He has to stake out some high moral position to pose as a hero. Recognizing that Hindus do not indulge in violence against their critics, our secularist heroes wax eloquent against ‘Hindu communalism,’ to use as a fig leaf to cover their fear of Muslim violence. So hypocrisy and self-righteous posturing take the place of morality. For example, Rajdeep Sardesai, one of the most hypocritical members of the secularist media, pontificated about the rioting in Ahmedabad-- that it was a blot on Gandhiji’s memory who had an ashram near Ahmedabad. The same Sardesai found nothing wrong in the fact that the ashram was called Sabarmati, which was also the name of the train that was attacked by the Muslim mob at Godhra.

Secular Dhimmis

            The root cause of this perversion, of using Hindu baiting to protect themselves against possible Muslim retaliation, is a state of mind which the great Egyptian-born Islamic scholar Bat Ye’or calls ‘Dhimmitude’. It is the outgrowth of centuries of Islamic imperialism, which provided a measure of protection to non-Muslim subjects as long as they were willing to accept their status as second-class citizens and live by the rules of the Shariat (Islamic Law). This was enforced through terror. As the Pakistani writer Brigadier S.K Malik wrote in his The Quranic Concept of War, “Once a condition of terror into the opponent’s heart is obtained, hardly anything is left to be achieved… Terror is not a means of imposing decision upon the enemy; it is the decision we wish to impose upon him.”

This is essentially the state of mind governing secularist attitudes. They feel safe condemning Hindus because they are not given to violence, but bend over backwards to protect their dhimmi status with Muslims. Historically, Dhimmitude meant not only acceptance of second-class status as decreed by the Shariat, but also accepting the Islamic version of history, including its claim that Jihad was peaceful. It means accepting “The mythical historical version of ‘centuries’ of ‘peaceful coexistence,’ masking the process which transformed majorities into minorities, constantly at risk of extinction,” as Bat Ye’or puts it.

Under Islamic imperial rule, getting protection as dhimmi meant negationsist accommodation driven by fear of violence induced by imperial powers like the Moghuls. The British rule essentially left this intact, as they were not interested in fundamental reformation but only peaceful rule. They let Muslims wallow in their anachronistic imperialist mindset, as well as their feudal institutions, while doing their best to keep communal disturbances in check. They created also an elite that was more loyal to them than to their own people. This is the famous—or infamous—Macaulayite elite that has dominated India in the past decades. Unfortunately, it was this elite that came to draft the Constitution, which, as a result, incorporates many Dhimmi cum British colonial features.

Independence in 1947 did not end dhimmitude. Nehru did much to revive the old Muslim imperialist mindset by pandering to its every wish. Special concessions were given to minority institutions under Articles 29 and 30, while restricting the religious freedom of the Hindus. Gandhiji with his Khilafat Movement had already pulled the Mullahs out of their ghettos and brought them to the national center stage, but Nehru increased their importance with steps like Haj subsidies that he introduced in the Haj Bill of 1959. In the name of ‘secularism’, every Muslim demand was met including such outrageously anti-humanist ones like denying support to Muslim women as the Shah Bano episode demonstrated. As a result, organizations like the Muslim Personal Law Board, which have no constitutional provision, came to acquire power out of proportion to their merit. Such ‘leaders’ are encouraged to think that India should continue to be administered according to the Shariat, as under Islamic rule, with the Hindus as dhimmis. The resulting dhimmi state of mind is what the secularists have internalized out of their fear of Muslim violence. This is fear, though it is given ideological cover by painting the Hindus as aggressors against ‘secularism’.

In all this the assumption is that it is safe to offend the Hindus who are usually not violent but one has to be careful with the Muslims because of their violent tendencies. The message is that threat of violence works. So it should not come as surprise if Hindu organizations also increasingly resort to violence to press their demands. A consequence will be a gradual erosion of trust in public institutions like the Government and the courts. The ‘secular forces’ will have only themselves to blame if they become targets of violence.

India as Dhimmi State

The elite today is therefore the product of this Dhimmi-Macaulayite cocktail that Nehru and the Congress (and the Communists who supported Pakistan) produced.  This explains the bizarre behavior of the secularists, especially the intelligentsia, which is indulging in negationist exercises that no one believes. The problem is that under the present constitution, India is a Dhimmi state, which accords special privileges to the followers of former imperial masters—the Mughals and the Christian-Secular (Europeans). The Hindus have come to believe that they will never have equality under the present constitution-- the party in power doesn't matter. As a result, many Indians, Hindus in particular, are beginning to reject the Constitution and the courts. India’s ‘secularism' is institutionalized dhimmitude continued by the governments under the Indian Constitution. It also encourages Muslims to hold on to their imperial fantasies.

India’s two imperialisms produced these dhimmis-- a privileged elite that were prepared to subordinate their identity (and dignity) in return for security and comfort. These are the 'secularists'. Their ancestors were the Munshis and the Macaulayites that had prospered by serving the Mughals and the British. These dhimmi-secularists are hostile to Hindu nationalism because their privileges as dhimmis will be in jeopardy when a true national ethos comes into being. These lost souls dread the day when they can no longer enjoy the securities accorded to them as dhimmis. The Ayodhya movement is essentially against the remnants of Islamic imperialism, of which dhimmitude is an offshoot. So their fear is well founded.

Heed Munshi’s warning

The secularists should recognize that their days as dhimmis are numbered. They will not be able to keep holding on to their dhimmi status—its security and privilege—against the wish of the people, while using the cry of “Secularism in danger” as a diversionary tactic. Nobody believes them. Their secularism is also seen for what it is—a cover for protecting their privileged status. They cannot fool all the people all the time. Actually, the late K.M. Munshi had warned against it half a century ago. In a famous letter he wrote the then Prime Minister Jawaharlal Nehru:

“In its (i.e., secularism’s) name, politicians again adopt a strange attitude which, while it condones the susceptibilities, religious and social of the minorities, it is too ready to brand similar susceptibilities in the majority community as communalistic and reactionary. How secularism sometimes becomes allergic to Hinduism will be apparent from certain episodes relating to the reconstruction of the Somnath Temple. …These unfortunate postures have been creating a sense of frustration in the majority community. If, however, the misuse of the term ‘secularism’ continues, …if every time there is an inter-community conflict, the majority is blamed regardless of the merits of the question, the springs of traditional tolerance will dry up. …While the majority exercises patience and tolerance, the minorities should adjust themselves to the majority. Otherwise the future is uncertain and an explosion cannot be avoided.”

This may now have come to pass, though it is still not too late to restore trust and goodwill between communities. But this will happen as long as Hindu baiting in the name of ‘secularism’ continues to dominate the national scene and Muslims continue harbor imperialist fantasies. In the face of this, it is a very great error to see the Ayodhya movement as a law and order issue. It is a true national movement that seeks to overthrow the continuing dhimmitude resulting from British and Islamic imperialisms, especially the latter. This is possible only when the present constitution is divested of its colonial trappings in favor of something truly Indian, like what Sri Aurobindo and Swami Vivekananda envisaged. The first step is to remove Dhimmitude from the constitution.




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