Thursday, April 2, 2009

Hindutwa Challenged

Published in People's Review, Thu 2 April 2009
Posted in, 4 April 2009

Hindutwa Challenged

By Birat Simha

As the campaigning for the Indian parliamentary elections heats up, Varun Gandhi, a 28-years old candidate of the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), has been taken into custody under the National Security Act. His misdeed: making fiery speeches supposedly inciting communal disharmony. That this has happened in the alleged largest functioning democracy in the world is remarkable; that the protagonist is a scion of the Gandhi clan, son of Menaka and the late Sanjay Gandhi and nephew of the Indian Congress Party leader Sonia Gandhi, adds another angle to the story.

Freedom of speech is a basic pillar of democracy. What the young Gandhi exercised was this freedom. In the recently concluded American presidential elections, strong words were exchanged among of the candidates. Radio show hosts were criticized for inflammatory and racist remarks. But no one was hustled into prison. The reason, of course, is that none of these remarks threatened the national security of the United States. That Varun Gandhi's remarks may have threatened the national security of India indicates the fragility of the Indian strain of democracy.

India has made spectacular gains recently in the economic sector. It is also a country where at least a quarter of its billion plus population is mired in abject poverty. Social indicators, especially those on health, do not reflect the political lead that India tries to take in the sub-continent. As a more telling illustration, the Gandhi family - that of Jawaharlal Nehru's daughter Indira Gandhi (not Mahatma Gandhi) - has become almost the "royal family" of India. That the oldest political party of India, the Congress, is currently headed by a woman of Italian birth says much for the awesome clout of the Gandhi name. Sonia just happened to be the wife of the pilot-turned-politician, the late Prime Minister Rajiv Gandhi, who in turn may never have had to give up flying if his younger brother, Sanjay Gandhi, had not died in an aircraft mishap. Varun Gandhi is the son of this very same Sanjay.

Varun Gandhi's arrest has its political overtones. The BJP is challenging the Congress to lead the next government of India, which will almost surely be a coalition government. BJP has gained its fame, and has actually ruled India once, as a pro-Hindu party. It is today trying to downplay its Hindu origins to court non-Hindu votes. Varun Gandhi's speeches should not have come as a surprise to anyone. "Theocracy", something that most people believe ended when the Pope lost political power, is alive and well. The numerous Islamic states testify to this, as does the state of Israel. In this state of affairs, Hinduism is unique in that it does not accept converts. So with other religions on a conversion spree, Hindus will gradually have the least adherents. That the BJP should try to downplay its pro-Hindu roots and is almost disowning Varun Gandhi today illustrates this inherent hesitation among Hindus to stand up for Hinduism, that most tolerant of religion which is now facing extinction because of that very tolerance.

Another case in point: about three years ago, Nepal - then the only Hindu kingdom on earth - was declared secular by a motley crew of polticians, without so much as a peep from the people. While the Maoists have been logically blamed for this, the real culprits were the proselytizing grpups from Western donor countries who have made Nepal their conversion laboratory. While its Hindu population, comprising about 65% of the total, remained silent - or perhaps, tolerant! - Nepal lost its Hindu identity with a simple government ordnance.

Therefore, for Varun Gandhi to exercise his right to freedom of speech in the cause of Hindutwa is novel and laudatory. That his country is so insecure that it cannot allow him this freedom is a separate matter. All Hindus, especially those who have remained silent and docile so far, must view this imcident as a young Hindu stalwart's fight for his freedom, his beliefs and his religion!

The time has come for Hindus to stand for their rights and beliefs. This is not an exhortation to violence. Peaceful action is best. The symbol of universal peace, Gautam Buddha, was born a Hindu. Let us not be afraid, however, to fight if that is the only resort left us by our opponents. Let us not forget the Mahabharata and the Bhagvad Geeta when Lord Krishna himself, incarnation of Vishnu, went to battle to defend justice and righteousness.#


Anonymous said...

Hindus are definitely challenged but more than this Hindus made others to challenge themselves. Tolerance in Hinduism has been distorted. Tolerance does not mean to bear everything that takes you towards death. Tolerance has a limit. In a democracy unless someone touches your nose, it is not the violation of democracy and any rights of others. Varun Gandhi did not touch the nose of others. He is trying to encourage Hindus that if they are touched and their rights are snatched, Hindus must retaliate. He is right. It is not his words but the lessons taught by Lord Krishna. Had Nepalese took the lessons of Lord Krishna, Nepal has remained Hindu Rastra.
We Hindus have equal rights as other faiths enjoy. If we are disturbed, we can push back those culprits. This is what Varun Gandhi said. As long as RSS, VHP and WHF work in a snail pace and as cowards, a person like Varun Gandhi with courage needs to encourage Hindus. Please note that because of Varun Gandhi’s imprisonment, BJP will garner even more seats. It will become the largest party.
Hindus of Nepal must learn from Varun Gandi to protect Hindus and the one time only Hindu Kingdom in the world. Tolerance has crossed its limit in Nepal.
I personally request all Hindus to form Hindu Surakchhya Dal to protect the Hindutwa- Hindu philosophies, Hindu culture, Hindu traditions, etc.

Bishal Shah, NY

HORATIO said...

Thank you for your comments, Bishal.

You have targeted three organizations as working at a snail's pace. WHF is based in Nepal and perhaps we have more say there than in the other two essentially Indian organizations. You are right. It's time to get moving!

Subodh said...

Hindus in India have survived invasions from and rule by Greeks, Persians, Arabs, central asians, Afghans, Mongols, British for at least 1,000 years. And Hinduism thrives. It will withstand Maoism, secularism and other isms thrown at it. The religion that does not conquer by the sword but by the power within will always be with us. Perhaps there is not reason for a call to arms?

HORATIO said...

Agreed, but 600 million Hindus in India can fend off these invasions. I doubt the 18 million Hindus in Nepal can be as complacent.

Anonymous said...

India is a secular country with a large Muslim minority.If politicians start rabble rousing speeches, in the guise of 'freedom of speech' it can not go unpunished.Varun Ganndhi is the worst kind of politician who will prostitute himself for personal gain.He is an embarrasment to even the BJP.

Nohar said...

In India, State and Relegion are two seperate issues. Our elections are about electing a Govt and relegion should play no part in it. Varun Gandhi is not excercising his right to freedom of speech, he is playing a segment of Indian citizens against another. And that to my mind is criminal. I don't think he is the right role model, somehow. At a time when Muslims in India are openly condemning terrorism and violence - for Hindus to go rabid would be the ultimate stab in the back of Hinduism.

HORATIO said...

Anon 8:08 and Nohar, I can appreciate your appreciation of "secularism" in India.
Please note that my post (Birat's) is aimed at a Nepali audience. In the name of secularism, Nepal has been robbed of its culture and tradition by a bunch of neo-colonial proselytizers. Ironically, even though we are supposed to be a secular state, the new political leaders have taken over all the religious roles (e.g. taking "tika" from the Living Goddess) which the King formerly had. Imagine the sight of a communist leader with a tika on his forehead being blessed by a Hindu priest - what utter hypocrisy!

I do not know enough about Varun Gandhi's personality to defend him. I do defend my using him to make a few points to our complacent Hindus in Nepal.

Anonymous said...

Varun Gandhi is definitely a wrong choice for an example any which way.He is as negative as negative can be.Narendra Modi would be a better example as a 'defender of the faith'!

Subodh said...

Let's get down the basics: Who or what is a true Hindu, can anyone enlighten me?

HORATIO said...

The question above is, I believe, too broad to be answered adequately in this forum.

May I suggest a visit to for a bit more elaboration.