(This is a reprint from NewsBred).
Millions of Indians mourn such tragedies. But those vocal, be it on print, web or TV, view it from religious prisms: The divide is between Muslims-unsafe vs. Hindus- wronged. Politicians and media profit, not the nation.
The question today is: Can India afford to be divided along the communal lines? If it comes to pass, who should be held responsible? Could India as a nation then survive?
We have a prototype answer to all these questions. India was divided along the communal lines in 1947; Those who created divisions, in this case British, were responsible; India lost its’ eastern and western limbs in its quest for survival.
Do we want a repeat of it in the near future? If not, how this slide need be stopped? Should another round of Partition, at the cost of millions killed, raped and displaced, must happen again?
It all begins from those who set the narrative. British did it in decades leading to the independence: Assembly elections were held along the communal lines: Muslim candidate for Muslim constituency. Then began the chorus: what would happen to minority Muslims once we leave the Indian shores. Muslim League and Mohammad Ali Jinnah were thus armed to severe India of its limbs. The resultant tragedy of Partition has few parallels in human history.
India has survived another Partition thus far. But the same narrative is reappearing: Muslims are insecure; their culture, language and religion is in danger; majority Hindus would be the oppressors.
If it were the British who fed this narrative in pre-independence era, its media and break-India forces which is fanning the fire in our times. As oppressor Hindus was the theme before the Partition, so is the theme in our times.
Occasionally, the likes of Sadhvi Pragya and Giriraj Singh play into the hands of such forces. At times, “saffron terror” is cooked up like it nearly did in the tragic 26/11 in Mumbai. Lynchings become part of leitmotif to stoke fears of oppressive Hindu majority.
Celebrities and cinestars jump in to serve their eternal desire of being in news. Writers and scientists sign petitions in orchestrated campaigns. Data, like Lokniti-CSDN, survey how many Muslims and Christians have voted for BJP; Castes are divided into sub-castes and further sub-castes as Mayawatis, Akhilesh Yadavs and Lallu Prasads feed themselves fat on its harvests. Important magnets, like Western media and prized economists, all are part of the ecosystem which want India to go up in flames.
Hindus and Muslims do have different language and culture. But both are Indians. And a majority do see themselves as Indians. The minority are Asaduddin Owaisi who incites with the call of Karbala or Niranjan Jyoti who divides with “ramzada” vs “haramzada” quip. Hang them out to dry. As you do with the despicable dozen English journalists and at least two English national dailies who are at the beck and call of divisive forces (read casteist, Left and dynastic parties); and foreign-funded NGOs
Let this be a checklist for Muslims:
- We have always been made to feel insecure even as more people greet us on Eid than those who abuse us; (b) That there is no word as “minority” in Indian constitution, all are Indians; (c) That if “secularism” means denying a Muslim destitute woman (Shah Bano) her rights and reversing the judgment of Supreme Court, then such secularism must be exposed; (d) That if Hindu consolidation has happened around emotive Ram Temple issue, it was stoked by Congress and not BJP/RSS; (e) That for every Akhlaq, Pehlu and Junaid, there are tens and dozens of Hindu victims at the hands of Muslims which go unreported; (f) That if BJP doesn’t opt for a Muslim candidate, it doesn’t matter as long as the elected representative is fair to everyone in his constituency: be it roads, electricity, toilets, gas, health, education, all is available to Muslims as it is to Hindus; (g) That if Muslims are economically backward, it’s not because of Hindus but perhaps the reason lies in lack of scientific temper in Madarsa education; and less than fair freedom to women.
Let this be a checklist for Hindus:
- Indian constitution doesn’t favour Muslims; it allows them to run their institutions THEMSELVES not by the government; (b) If Muslims are subsidized for Haj, so are Hindu pilgrims provided for in magical Kumbh melas; (c) True, Indian history is distorted and neither Congress nor Left intellectuals have been fair to Hindus but it’s no excuse to substitute that anger against a common Muslim; (d) True, a dozen English journalists and at least two English national dailies only report crimes against Muslims, often hoax, but they have been left thoroughly exposed in the last five years; their credibility in tatters thanks to a vigorous social media; (e) Congress and Left, two parties who stoked fears in Muslims and Dalits, are today the outcasts of Indian political system; (f) That Hindu consolidation must not happen at the cost of Muslim alienation: that we don’t want new nations in Bengal or Kerala or Tamil Nadu and its’ attendant costs; (g) That for every Zakir Naik and Burhan Wani, there is also a Muslim boatman who gives up his life but saves tourists from drowning in Jhelum in Srinagar.
We have a choice to make if want to be Hindus or Muslims or Indians. We ought to ask ourselves if we don’t mind another Partition and its horrific cost. We ought to boycott a Naseeruddin Shah or a Kamal Haasan; A Javed Akhtar or a Shabana Azmi; A Swara Bhaskar or a Prakash Raj who are selective in their outrage. The same ought to happen to a Niranjan Jyoti or Asaduddin Owaisi. We ought to outcast a Shekhar Gupta or a Rajdeep Sardesai; a Sagarika Ghose or a Barkha Dutt if the only crime they see is against Muslims; We need to stop an Indian Express or The Hindu from entering into our drawing rooms if all they can see is crime against a Dalit or a Muslim.
These are small forces. Pygmies in front of a nation of 1.30 billion. Should these handful be allowed to decide if we stay together or apart? Would you blame them if tens and thousands of us are butchered and raped in Partition 2.0?
Muslims need be confident this is their India too. Before you blame others, you must ask if your education and matter of equality to women etc need a relook. As Maulana Azad once addressed them: You can’t be drowned and defeated by anyone else but yourself. Don’t hide behind the cloak of “minority” and “secularism”. Don’t seek privileges; you are no different than any other Indian. Rely on self. Those who speak for your safety and stoke your fears, couldn’t care less for you.
It’s Digvijay Singh’s moment of truth on “saffron terror.” Sadhvi Pragya probably would make him pay for it in Bhopal. There are many though who wouldn’t be called to account. Let’s name them too and hold them up in public eye.
“Modern India” by Bipan Chandra was once the history textbook for Class XII, published by NCERT (1996). The book’s editorial board included S. Gopal, S. Nurul Hasan, Satish Chandra and Romila Thapar. It has a passage on Muslim League in these words:
“The Muslim League propaganda gained by the existence of such communal bodies among the Hindus as the Hindu Mahasabha. The Hindu communalists echoed the Muslim communalists by declaring that the Hindus were a distinct nation and that India was the land of the Hindus. Thus they (Muslim League) too accepted the two-nation theory.” (Page 223)
The passage continues:
“In one respect, Hindu communalism had even less justification…The Hindu communal view of history also relied on the myth that Indian society and culture had reached great, ideal heights in the ancient period from which they fell into permanent and continuous decay during the medieval period because of “Muslim” rule and domination. (Page 223)
“They identified Indian culture and the Indian nation with the Hindu religion and Hindus…For example, Tilak’s propagation of the Shivaji and Ganapati festivals, Aurobindo Ghose’s semi-mystical concept of India as mother and nationalism as religion, the terrorists’ oath before goddess Kali, and the initiation of the anti-Partition agitation which dips in the Ganga could hardly appeal to the Muslims…Nor could Muslims be expected to respond with full enthusiasm when they saw Shivaji or Pratap being hailed… (Page 231)
“The Hiindu tinge also create ideological openings for Hindu communalism and made it difficult for the nationalist movement to eliminate the Hindu communal, political and ideological elements within its own ranks. It also helped the spread of a Muslim tinge among Muslim nationalists. (Page 232)
“Many in the Muslim middle class went to the extent of turning to the history of West Asia for their traditions and moments of pride.” (Page 232)
Got it? The implication is that Muslim League was communal because Hindu communalists kind of forced their hands! Muslim League which toed the British line and used religion to tear up the nation, did all that because Hindu communalists forced their hands. Bravo.
So Indian Muslims turned towards the history of West Asia because Hindu communalists left them with no option. That the tradition demands they turn towards Kaaba for prayers five times a day, treat Mecca and Madina as holy places. But somehow, in case of Indian Muslims, they all did so because Hindu communalists left them with no option but to turn to their West Asia traditions. . It doesn’t matter that hadiths after hadiths, fatwas after fatwas direct believers to subjugate and suppress non-believers. Why bring to attention the uncomfortable fact that the Prophet asks the believers to “love the Arabs for three reasons: because I am an Arab, the Quran is Arabic and the inhabitants of Paradise will speak Arabic.” (Eminent Historians: Arun Shourie, Page 122)
The truth is Islam asks its adherents to be truthful to its West Asia tradition of Arabs and Arabic language alone. Hindu communalists have nothing to do with it. VS Naipaul gives a poignant account of it in his book “Beyond Belief.”
“Islam is in its origins an Arab religion. Everyone not an Arab who is a Muslim is a convert. Islam is not simply a matter of conscience or private belief. It makes imperial demands. A convert’s world view alters. His holy places are in Arab lands; his sacred language is Arabic. His idea of history alters. He rejects his own; he becomes, whether he likes it or not, a part of the Arab story. The convert has to turn away from everything that is his…”
From its very advent in India, Islam looked for converts and domination of its religion. The conversion ceremony was a violent rupture for a convert from his Hindu past. That’s why a convert had to eat beef openly in public view, a violent rupture from his Hindu belief that cow is sacred. (Eminent Historians: Arun Shourie, Page 123)
Muslims didn’t distance themselves from the nationalist narrative because of Hindu communalists. Quran terms idolaters as the “worst of creatures” and “that they shall be in hellfire to dwell forever therein.” That the idolaters block the believers’ path to Allah. (Eminent Historians: Arun Shourie, Page 129)
So Muslim League didn’t need a Tilak and his propagation of Ganapati Mahotsava to stay away from the nationalist movement. It wasn’t Aurobindo or Gandhi which made it shrink from the nationalist cause. Dayanand or Aurobindo didn’t push Muslims into believing that idolaters were conspiring against them.
The chicanery of Bipan Chandra doesn’t stop here. He says: “Communalism has been rightly described as political trade in religion. Religion was used, after 1937, as a mobilizing factor by the communalists.” (Modern India, Page 232-33)
It was Jinnah and Muslim League which used religion after 1937 as a mobilizing force. But Bipan Chandra makes a generic and not specific mention, implying that both Hindus and Muslims used religion to mobilize people after 1937.
So parents you are urged to look at the history books of your kids. Point out such passages which are a distortion of Hindu identity, religion and politics. You are mistaken if you believe it has all begun with Digvijay Singh.
Yogendra Yadav has the cultivated voice of an actor who is dressed up in a kurta-pyjama, made distinctive by his non-use of politicians’ whites. He was part of the troika with Prashant Bhushan and Arvind Kejriwal before the once-mufflerman got rid of them. He has since formed Swaraj India, so anonymous it could challenge an IAS-aspirant in its quiz test. News networks such as NDTV and India Today are the ones who keep him going. But for some elections, somewhere in India, at any time of the year, Yadav would go unnoticed on a busy street.
I do find him sometimes on The Wire and the Firstpost, slightly amused when he sings paeans in praise of Jignesh Mewani; and definitely irked when he distorts history to run down Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS) as he did in his edit-piece in the Hindu on Wednesday.
Yadav must be reading from the dubious books of Romila Thapar and Irfan Habib to suggest that since its inception in 1925, RSS has never been part of a national movement. Which national movement sir, the one where we didn’t seek complete independence from British but only sought dominion status? (truth to tell, India was still a dominion to British empire on August 15, 1947).
If Yadav remembers the year of RSS formation, he also ought to have told his readers that it came in the backdrop of Khilafat movement (1921-24) where Muslim leadership was appeased to the extent that Moplah rebellion occurred which butchered thousands of Hindus.
The slaughters were so macabre that this is what Madras High Court noted after the event: “…(these) murderous attack indicate something more than mere fanaticism…the only survivors were those who either got away or were left as dead.”
Yadav then does the cheap act of lampooning Veer Savarkar for seeking mercy from the British in the Cellular Jail of Andaman and Nicobar Islands and thereafter meekly follow the conditions imposed on him. Doesn’t Yadav know that only the most dangerous prisoners were kept in that “kaala paani” jail? That Savarkar, unlike Nehru who was given a bungalow with his choicest curtains and a garden in his jail-term, was a prisoner marked D (dangerous) and went through most unspeakable cruelties: flogged, manacled, made to eat gruel which was riddled with worms?
As for his mercy petitions, it is known to everyone but the fake history peddlers that Savarkar’s clemency pleas were a tactical ploy like Shivaji’s letter to Aurangzeb during his arrest in Agra as he didn’t want his life’s mission to end behind bars.
Yadav would like us to believe that Savarkar went quiet and obeyed British after he was released. In fact Savarkar spent 27 years in jail and under prison-restricts terms between 1910-1937. He helped found the Ratnagiri Hindu Sabha and worked ceaselessly against caste discrimination and untouchability in the years which Yadav terms as “quiet.”
Yadav has a problem with Savarkar and his Hidutva philosophy but wouldn’t tell readers that one of India’s tallest freedom fighter was a self-avowed atheist! He would not mention how Savarkar was wrongly implicated in Mahatma Gandhi’s murder.
Yadav then tars Shyama Prasad Mookerjee for “collaborating” with Britsh during 1942 Quit India stir which he terms as the “biggest anti-colonial uprising.” A view has lately gained ground that “Quit India” was as phoney as “non-cooperation” and “civil disobedience” movement, meant only to vent out the frustration of Indians. Quit India stir was a desperate attempt of Congress which had committed the grave error of resigning from its’ provincial governments in 1939. Without a say in national politics, and with Muhammad Ali Jinnah and British in alliance, Congress whipped up Quit India just to stay relevant. As soon as it was launched, all of its leaders were put behind bars. Jinnah got a free field to pursue—and finally accomplish—his dream of a Pakistan.
As for RSS playing no role in 1942 Quit India movement, let Aruna Asaf Ali’s words debunk Yadav’s claim. Aruna Asaf Ali had revealed that RSS Delhi sangachalak Lala Hansraj Gupta had given her shelter in his own house during the 1942 Quit India. Prominent Congressmen like Achutrao Patwardhan, despite being a strong critic of RSS, and others were kept safe in swayamsewaks’ homes. Be it food, safety or in illness, RSS stood like a wall in safeguarding Congress leaders.
Yadav has no qualms in besmirching the reputation of Mookerjee who saved Hindus by championing the cause of Bengal partition after the Muslim League government of Bengal butchered and raped thousands of Hindus in the Great Calcutta Killings of 1946. Mookerjee was the man who set up 5000 relief kitchens during the 1943 Great Bengal Famine of 1943.
Yadav then trains his guns on Nathuram Godse-RSS connection. He would never tell the readers that Godse left RSS because it considered the latter to be a “coward.” As per the Justice Jeevanlal Kapur-headed 1969 Government-appointed Commission report, not only RSS was not involved in Gandhi’s murder but “in Delhi also there is no evidence that RSS as such was indulging in violent activities as against Mahatma Gandhi or top Congress leaders.”
And this man has the gall to call RSS an anti-national. What do you think we should call you Mr Yadav?
(This is a reprint from NewsBred).
Every Independence Day fills me with sadness and anger. For the day next is August 16, albeit of 1946, when the Muslim League government of the day in undivided Bengal provoked violence against Hindus, described by the then TIME magazine as the “worst communal riots of the century.”
History remembers the day as the ‘Direct Action Day” or the “The Week of Long Knives.” On July 29, 1946, Muslim League leader Muhammad Ali Jinnah had made a call for “Direct Action”—a call to all Muslims in the country—to mark its rejection of the constituent assembly and to demonstrate to British and Congress that a separate nation called Pakistan alone could offer them security.
Were Muslims unsafe in Congress-dominated India? Mahatma Gandhi would’ve called it the “greatest irony.” All his life he was accused of Muslim appeasement, from Khilafat movement to Malabar riots and later to funding Pakistan with Rs 55 crores which was the last straw for a Hindu protagonist, Nathuram Godse. All these killings after Direct Action Day, Noakhali, and Punjab partition still had Gandhi reaching out to Pakistan even as their infiltrators were carving out Kashmir illegally–looting, killing and raping with impunity.
Had Muslims been unsafe in India, the call for Pakistan would’ve come much before than it finally did in 1940. Had Muslims been unsafe, overwhelming majority of Indian Muslims would’ve thought little of Muslim League till 1945. If Muslim security alone was uppermost in Jinnah’s mind, he ought to have worried about millions of Muslims he was leaving behind in vivisected India.
So, that’s Exhibit A: Jinnah’s call for Direct Action Day had little basis but for his own personal agenda. He found a ready ally in Britain who were stung by Congress’ non-cooperation during World War II and wanted to teach them a lesson. Britain also wanted to retain a foothold in the Indian sub-continent, access to critical Arabian Sea and to stem the advance of Russia and its’ Communism to Middle East where oil was beginning to be the new big lolly.
The next set of facts are undisputed too: That (a) the then Bengal Chief Ministe Huseyn Shaheed Suhrawardy, “king of goondas” made an inflammatory speech in Calcutta while calling for a bandh on the day; (b) police and other security services were given off for the day; (c) Muslim League mouthpiece The Star of India called upon Muslims to remember the jihad, the Battle of Badr, when a handful of Muslims overpowered the heathens, (d) Pirs and Mullahs were urged to mobilize Muslims on the prayers of Friday the 16th.
From this stage on, the Left-Liberal academia takes over the history that reaches us. Ramachandra Guha admits that although “the violence was started by the (Muslim) League, the main sufferers were Muslims.” The Quint quotes a writer and a BBC programme to show how Hindus were enacting violence; Scroll mentions that 75% victims were Muslims; The Wire asserts that Suhrawardy is “mis-remembered as a Hindu-hating communal leader for he wanted a united Bengal (who are we to tell them that’s because Suhrawardy didn’t want to lose Calcutta, the nub of Bengal’s economy).
What’s their source of claiming that more Muslims lost their lives? Some bloggers and historians. What’s the source of these bloggers and historians? Again some other bloggers and historians. That’s how the Left-Liberal grow the tree of agenda.
Now what’s the official position?
(a) No official position only a widely varying figures of between 4,000-10,000 killed, mostly a guesswork; (b) In August 1946, the Government of Bengal appointed an enquiry commission presided by the Supreme Justice of India, Sir Patrick Spens. Although the commission interrogated many witnesses, its conclusions were never published!
EXHIBIT B: Why the report wasn’t published? You would never see a select academia/historians mentioning or questioning it. You would never find this Left-Liberal bloc telling you about “evil” Governor Frederick Burrows and his complicity in Direct Action Day; you would never find this Left-Liberal cabal tell you that during the days of the partition, the sentiments of British officers, be it police or army or bureaucracy, were overwhelmingly pro-Pakistan because of the non-cooperation of Congress during World War II. Or the role of such British officers in helping infiltrators in Kashmir in 1947-48.
You pay enough attention and you would get the pattern in modern day: it’s never Hindu right-wingers who are killed in Kerala but violence is from both sides; it’s never BJP leaders who are massacred and thrown into gutters in West Bengal but losses are on both sides. You would get the pattern when the proposed Citizenship Bill for Hindus who are emptied from Pakistan, Afghanistan and Bangladesh is opposed tooth and nail by these official raconteurs. Why the brilliant account of Hindus’ suffering in Bengal by Tathagata Roy “My People, Uprooted” is kept hidden from your attention. For anyone but Hindus is the creed.
Even though they all concur that Muslims initiated the riots at the call of Suhrawardy; that police was pulled in; yet somehow more Muslims died on a data which is non-existent!!! (and dare you disbelieve them).
So I will follow August 16 this year with both trepidation and sadness. Trepidation is to watch out for fresh “painted” accounts by the unscrupulous. Sadness, for if a debate, seminar or remembrance of the day is observed, it would somehow be BJP who would be plastered as communal! Meanwhile, you and I would keep sitting on our haunches—and watch our next generation brain-washed and swamped with guilt. The continuing horrors on millions of Hindus in east of our land is neither heard nor told.
So first you lose lives; then you lose the memory of these lives and instead of outrage are left with guilt. That’s how brilliantly a narrative is controlled.
(This is a reprint from NewsBred).
It’s such a humbug from the 14th Dalai Lama to suggest that the 1947 Partition could’ve been avoided had Pt Jawaharlal Nehru accepted Mahatama Gandhi’s offer to Make Mohammad Ali Jinnah as Prime Minister, the offer which was made to Viceroy Lord Mountbatten on April 1, 1947.
Gandhi’s offer to Jinnah was a non-starter from the word go. Gandhi had made such proposals previously too—and it had been rejected by the Muslim League and Jinnah himself. There is no reason to believe Jinnah would’ve accepted so on this occasion. Nehru only saved him the trouble.
Why Jinnah would’ve brushed aside the offer? Because the Central Legislative Assembly would’ve still been dominated by Congress members who would’ve rendered his Prime Ministership impossible. Besides, how would’ve Jinnah looked to his supporters and Muslim League after harping “Pakistan-and-nothing-else,” all these years?
Look at the issue from the Congress’ perspective. It still, by far, was the largest nationalist party, representing majority of Indians, including Muslims. Forget Hindus, how Congress would’ve appeared to millions of nationalist Muslisms still on their side? What was the guarantee that Jinnah would’ve stopped at his original demand of six states only? (Punjab, Bengal, Sylhet, Sind, Balochistan and NWFP). And what about one-third of India which was still run “independently” by hundreds of princes and their fiefdoms?
Above everything else, nobody believed Gandhi was serious on his offer. This is what Lord Mountbatten has written in his memoirs on the offer:
“I (Mountbatten) need not say that this solution coming at this time staggered me. I asked: “What would Mr Jinnah say to such a proposal”? The reply was, “if you tell him I am the author, he will reply “Wily Gandhi.”
Still, Lord Mountbatten did put Gandhi’s proposal to Pt. Nehru. The latter pointed out that Gandhi had made a similar proposal during the Cabinet Mission of 1946. The proposal was all the less realistic a year hence now because of the policy of Direct Action by the Muslim League which has caused bloodshed and bitterness. Nehru also wondered if Sikhs and Hindus in districts of Punjab where they dominated, would accept the proposal.
As per VP Menon, the Constitutional Advisor to the Viceroy (know more about him, he is the one who actually solved the knotty Partition issue), “the assurance of cooperation by the Congress (to Gandhi’s proposal on Jinnah) is more a wishful thinking…this is perhaps not un-intended by Gandhi.
“According to Gandhi’s proposal, Jinnah is at liberty to plan for Pakistan and even to put his plans into effect provided he is successful in appealing to reason and does not use force. This is asking for the impossible.
“If Jinnah could persuade the Sikhs and Hindus of the Punjab and Hindus of Bengal to join Pakistan, he would automatically get his Pakistan without joining the Interim Government on dubious terms. On the other hand, if Jinnah still persists in his scheme of separation, he will be giving his case away by entering the Central Government.
“It is Gandhi’s habit to make propositions, leaving many of their implications unsaid…for example, there is no reference here to the Muslim League participation in the Constituent Assembly. If Jinnah were to accept his proposal, Gandhi probably takes it for granted that the Muslim League would enter the Constituent Assembly.”
So, His Holiness, please spare us the false history. As it is we have many historians of dubious claims and agendas who manipulate the truth. Yours’ might be an innocent one but no less grievous.
Pavan K. Varma, member of JD (U), usually hedges his bets quite nicely but his edit piece in Times of India on Saturday (December 9, 2017) deserves a considered rebuttal.
Basically, Varma praises Jawaharlal Nehru (“Scientific Humanist”) and Mahatma Gandhi (“Catholic spirit”) for the India that should be; and slams the “deliberate communalization by the “Hindutva” brigade.
Varma pompously terms it a “malevolent design.” He writes that such forces “know very little about what Hinduism is.” Therefore, “Hinduism needs to be reclaimed…from rampant bigotry.”
Since Varma knows so much about “Being Indian”, having written a book by this title, he needs be told what Nehru thought of Indians while seeking permission from his father to shift from Cambridge to Oxford in England: “Cambridge is becoming too full of Indians.” [i]
As for his praise of Gandhi for the “Catholic spirit”, Varma needs be asked if it’s the same “Catholic spirit” which makes a Pope condemn the attempts of US-based protestant missions in Latin America but show his double standards by keeping silent on Catholic missions in India?
Is it the same “Catholic Spirit” he has in his mind when he surveys Church buildings standing on the debris of Hindu Temples in South India? [ii] Hasn’t Varma read the Niyogi Committee Report on Christian conversions? Isn’t he aware that Catholic church by itself could be the biggest owner or real estate in India? On a historical scale, does Varma has any recollection of Church condemning colonialism? Would he deliberate the Holocaust could be the result of centuries of Christian anti-Jewish stance? Does he remember Christianity’s oppression of Pagans?
Indeed, European landscape is studded with churches containing false relics of false saints to whom false martyrdom is attributed. [iii]
Now, let’s return to Mahatma Gandhi which Varma praises for his “respect for all religions.” Does Varma remember that Gandhi had made the last-ditch proposal to Jinnah to accept Muslim/non-Muslim parity in Parliament, making one Muslim equal to three non-Muslims? (As an aside, how could Gandhi who has “respect for all religions” be praised for his “Catholic spirit”? Too bad, Mr Varma for using a communal brush on your hero.)
Varma calls out Hindutva forces for communalization in this country. Doesn’t he know that it was Hindutva forces who opposed communal electorates and recruitment quota which Congress had endorsed in pre-Independent India? Doesn’t he know that Hindus can never be fundamentalist because this concept belongs to Biblical-Quaranic traditions? And that Hindu scriptures are universally acknowledged repository of plurality?
We all know, as I am sure Varma does, that words such as “secularism” and “Hindu communalism” were made popular by Nehru. But did Nehru, his other hero, ever say a word about Muslim League which was a reincarnation of “communalism?”
Let’s now take up Varma’s diatribe against the Hindutva forces, which as I infer, is Rashstriya Swamsewak Sangh (RSS) and Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP).
In RSS’ official statements, the notion of a “Hindu state” is totally absent. Every BJP member, on joining the party has to take the solemn pledge of “Sarva Dharma Sambhav.” That, “I subscribe to the concept of a secular state and nation not based on religion.”
In the RSS literature of the last 60-odd years, “not a single derogatory word or expression towards Christ, Biblical teachings, Prophets of the Bible, Mohammad Paigambar or Koran, or pilgrimage to the Holy Land Jerusalem or Mecca, or about anything which is purely religion,” has been mentioned. [iv]
The BJP election manifesto clearly states that “diversity is an inseparable part of India’s past and present national tradition.”
Varma would never condemn the curious fact that media never mentions the service aspect of RSS. He wouldn’t mention that Hindu India has no history of book-burning, of executing heretics or throwing dissidents to lunatic asylums. Does he remember that it was Hindus’ India which gave shelter to Christian refugees in 345AD and never took that protection away?
Varma in his editorial piece slams Hindutva forces for the “vitriolic politics” on Ram Mandir-Babri Masjid dispute even when the “dispute” is before the Supreme Court. Varma would do well to tell his readers that dispute is not about Mandir or Masjid. The High Court had already awarded Mandir to Hindu litigants. What the Hindu litigants are demanding is the entire land and not one-third of it. Besides, who began the Ayodhya issue? Wasn’t it “janeu-dhari” and “Shiv-bhakt” Rahul Gandhi and the blundering Kapil Sibal?
Wasn’t it Lal Krishna Advani who noted in a BJP Today editorial (16.11.97) that “non-Hindu” luminaries such as VS Naipual and Nirad C. Chaudhuri had justified the Babri demolition and that it was Advani himself who “still regretted the manner in which this happened” ?
Would the intellectual Varma offer us a clue why even after 25 years of Babri demolition, neither he nor his friends in Lutyens’ Media have attempted to find out the real culprits? Surely such forces which can dig up every cent being credited to the Jan Dhan accounts can do the job.
I do not know if Varma is a socialist or Marxist. But I do remember this popular saying about the misfortune of Hindus and their cultural heritage. “Hindus have been facing a sustained attack from Islam since the seventh, Christianity since the 15th and the Marxists since the 20th century.”
[i] – Joseph Shattan: Review of Stanley Wolpert’s book, “Nehru: A Tryst with Destiny, in American Spectator, February 1997
[ii] Decolonizing the Hindu Mind by Dr. Koenraad Elst, Page 273
[iii] Decolonizing the Hindu Mind by Dr. Koenraad Elst, Page 277
[iv] Christianity in India, by Sreepaty Sastry, Page 18
(This is a reprint from NewsBred)
While India celebrates its Navy Day (December 4), let’s do a remembrance to The Royal Indian Navy (RIN) Mutiny of 1946 which left colonial masters Britain with no choice but to leave India.
That there is little mention of this momentous event in Indian historiography is a striking indictment of establishment run by Congress who had betrayed this spectacular mass uprising in that heady week of February (18-23).
British Prime Minister Clement Attlee accepted three weeks later that “the tide of nationalism is running very fast in India.” Britain had always feared united mass movements in India and RIN Mutiny was one such where Hindus, Muslims, Sikhs and Parsees had come under one banner. Indian masses came out on streets in support and hundreds spilled their blood on the street.
Salman Rushdie’s 1995 novel The Moor’s Last Sigh describes these momentous events on the streets of Bombay, through one of its character, thus:
“In February 1946, when Bombay, that super epic motion picture of a city, was transformed overnight into a motionless tableau by the great naval and landlubber strikes, when ships did not sail, steel was not milled, textile mills neither warped nor woofed, and in the movie studios there was neither turnover nor cut—the 21-year-old Aurora began to zoom around the paralyzed towns in his curtained Buick, directing her driver Hanuman to the heart of the act, or rather of all that great inaction, being set down outside factory gates and dockyards, venturing alone into the slum city of Dharavi, the rum-dens of Dhobi Talao, and the neon flesh pots of Falkland Road, armed only with a folding wooden stool and a sketchbook.
“Opening them both up, she set about capturing history in charcoal.”
Remember your history books and historians, your glorified political leaders and their progenies, all your Independence and Republic Day celebrations and after you’ve read of this great betrayal, don’t muffle but air-rend your full-throated cry which sends shockwave through this land of ours and warn these enemies “Not now and never again.”
And tell your children: “you would read history as it happened and not as it was doctored to us.”
The World War II had caused RIN to expand massively. It was 10 times larger than in 1939. Young men were enlisted in tens of thousands. Moving around the world, they could see the fire of nationalism against colonialism sweeping around the world. As these young men were hailed as liberators in Greece, Burma, Indo-China, Indonesia, Italy. It was logical they asked themselves: Why not India be free now?
The myth of British supremacy was receding. These young men could see how European forces were wilting across Asia under the Japanese aggression. The Indian National Army (INA) of Subhas Chandra Bose had captured their imagination. The trials of those arrested brethrens and their humiliation had filled the natives in armed forces and on streets with revulsion and anger.
In January 1946, the airmen of Royal Air Force mutinied as a harbinger to the eventually bigger revolt. They seized the signaling equipment and spread their message to other servicemen. From Karachi, the agitation spread to places as far as Kanpur to Singapore. The navymen were demanding delisting from the services. They were unwilling for fresh battles in Indonesia on behalf of the Dutch government as well as war in Vietnam, then under the rule of the French colonial government. The hands of British government were forced.
Meanwhile, trials of INA officers were on at the Red Fort. A young naval Rating (enlisted officer), Balai Chandra Dutt, posted on HMIS Talwar in Bombay, began painting the ships and dockyard walls with messages in its support. HMIS Talwar had 1500 officers and ratings and was the second largest training center in the whole British Empire. In the recollections, titled “Mutiny of the Innocent”, the mutineers detailed the squalor on board, the poor quality of food and the racism of British officers.
The mutineers first took out peaceful processions in Bombay, holding an image of Subhas Bose aloft. Chief Commanding Officer (CO) King called the rebellious “you son of bitches” and “sons of bloody junglees.” Rebels responded by deflating his car. The events of dockyards in Mumbai spread like a wildfire across the country. Ratings set up a INA Relief Fund and posted letters against CO King. On February 17, when the ratings again pressed their demand for good food, British officers called them “beggars.” This was the last straw.
On February 18th morning, 1500 ratings staged a protest in the mess. They also declared: “This is not a mere food riot. We are about the create history…a heritage of pride for free India.” A Naval Central Strike Committee (NCSC) was formed which decided to take over the RIN and place it in the command of national leaders. (That’s right!, they wanted India’s political class to be their guide and guardians).
The formal list of demands called for release of INA’s POWs and naval detainees, withdrawal of troops from Indonesia and Egypt, equal status of pay and allowances and quality Indian food. It also formally asked the British to quit India.
The strike soon spread to other naval establishments around the country. At its peak, 78 ships, 20 shore establishments an 20,000 ratings were involved in the uprising. HMS Talwar was coordinating the mutiny through signal communication equipment on its board.
Indian Naval personnel now began offering left-handed salutes to British officers. The orders of British superiors were ignored or defied. In Madras and Poona, the British garrisons faced unrest by the Indian Army. Widespread rioting began from Karachi to Calcutta. The joint banners of INA, Indian National Congress, Muslim League and Communist Party of India were hoisted on board HMIS Talwar.
Sadly, instead of support, the Indian National Congress condemned their actions. Mahatma Gandhi criticized the mutineers for revolting without any guidance from a political party. The Muslim League too denounced the mutineers, arguing that protests should be through constitutional methods alone.
Sensing that the political leaders were not supporting the uprising, the British government moved in for the kill. Admiral Godfrey tricked NCSC into returning to their respective ships and barracks. Within an hour, Godfrey had the army surround these barracks. Realizing they had been betrayed, NCSC got ready for open battle The NCSC appealed: “You, our people and our respected political leaders come to our aid…you must support us.”
But the political leaders could sense the dilution of their political authority in this mutiny. Never one consisting of mass leaders and made up mostly of elites, these political leaders had always been uncomfortable in face of a mass uprising. The Congress asked the people “to go about their work as usual.”
But the masses were now ready to defy their political leaders. Thousands of civilians brought milk, fruits, bread, vegetables and cooked food for the starving ratings to the Gateway of India. The ratings came by motorboats to collect the offerings. Hindu, Muslim and Iranian shops opened their eateries and asked the masses to take whatever they could for the suffering ratings. The Indian soldiers on duty didn’t stop them.
The city of Bombay went on strike on February 22. The public transport system was shut down; trains were burnt; roads were blocked; shops were closed. Eleven military trucks were torced. The city came to a grinding halt.
With no assistance from either the Congress or the Muslim League, the mutineers were doomed. British army and air bombers began closing in. At this stage, Congress assured the mutineers their grievances would be looked into. That they won’t be victimized. Jinnah asked the Muslim ratings to surrender. That sealed the fate of the mutiny.
Meanwhile, Bombay continued to burn the next day, February 23. The army responded with indiscriminate firing. In just two days, 229 civilians and 3 policemen had died. Over 1000 people and 91 policemen/soldiers had been injured.
The ratings were court-martialled. More than 500 ratings were kept in Mulund (Bombay) and in Maliar (Karachi) in abominable conditions. They were dismissed and later sent home. Only in 1973 did the Indian government recognized a few as freedom fighters. Most claims for pensions were not responded to. Only in the 1990s, two of the navy’s tugboats were named after BC Dutt and Madan Singh.
In 2001, the uprising was commemorated with a statue in Colaba—a recognition which came more than half a century late!!!
Such is the story of great betrayal of Royal Naval Mutiny of 1946 by India’s political leaders. When 100s of ratings suffered in Mulund camp, nobody spoke up for them.
It’s time we pay our respect and homage to those braves who concluded their mutiny with the words: “Our strike has been a historic event in the life of our nation. For the first time the blood of men in the Services and in the streets flowed together in a common cause. We in the Services will never forget this. We know also that you, our brothers and sisters, will not forget. Long live our great people. Jai Hind.”
We would never forget it: And repeat this great event of bravery to our children.
Time to take a vow.
Just two words—Vande Mataram—by Bankim Chandra Chatterjee, who has his 179th birth anniversary (June 26, 1838) this Monday, tells a lot about we the Indians.
Vande Mataram epitomized India’s freedom struggle against the monstrous British Rule and ”every patriot,” as Acharya Kriplani was to write later: “from Khudiram Bose to Bhagat Singh to Rajguru died with Vande Mataram on their lips.”
Madan Lal Dhingra, inspired by Vande Mataram, shot dead Curzon Wyllie and embraced gallows. Veer Savarkar’s Vande Mataram vow led to him being arrested in England, brought to India, and sentenced to two life-imprisonments before being packed to Andamans.
Sister Nivedita and Bhikaji Cama differed in their own flags about India but didkeep Vande Mataram firmly in its centre.
All across the globe, from Lala Har Dayal’s Gadar Party whose many members greeted each other with the words; to mass of Indians in South Africa who welcomed G.K.Gokhale with this fervent cry, Vande Mataram galvanized millions of Indians at home and abroad for the liberation of the motherland.
It moved Netaji Subhas Chandra Bose to say: “Bande Mataram literally means `I salute the motherland’. It is the nearest approach to India’s national anthem.”
Yet, Vande Matram was not destined to be India’s national anthem. All it got was to be the national song of the country, and that too just the first two paragraphs, as the honour went to Janaganamana of Rabindranath Tagore.
It might make no sense to the uninitiated readers as to why Pt. Jawaharlal Nehru thought Vande Mataram couldn’t lend itself to orchestral music or why even before an official decision was taken by the Constituent Assembly of India, Janaganamana was played as a national anthem in the UN General Assembly. Or why India’s first President Dr. Rajendra Prasad announced Janaganamana as national anthem on January 24, 1950 even before the Constituent Assembly could pass a resolution to this effect.
It might make more sense to readers if they relate the opposition to Vande Mataram by a section of Muslim leaders in today’s India,–on the grounds that it’s an idolatrous prayer–with the one of Muslim League in blood-soaked years of pre-independent India.
Vande Mataram, a part of Bankim Chandra’s celebrated novel Ananda Math, about the Sanyasi Revolt of the 18th century (1763-1800)–against the British East India Company who had just taken a foothold in India with the conquest of Bengal after the Battle of Plassey (1757)–was the battle-cry Congress had championed from the very early days of its inception in 1885..
The Vande Mataram song, which was written at least seven years before Ananda Math was penned in 1882, came into national consciousness due to events in the Barisal province of Bengal. On April 14, 1906, Indian National Congress was to meet at the venue and pledge against the partition of Bengal. A mammoth gathering burnt an effigy of Lord Curzon and rendered the air with the shrieks of Vande Mataram. The District Magistrate promptly put a ban on its singing but unmindful, a procession which had the likes of Surendranath Bannerjee, Sir Bipin Chandra Pal and Sri Aurobindo in the front, took to the streets. Police rained lathis and kicks on the peaceful and unarmed demonstrators.
The poem spread like a wildfire. Secret societies, like the one of Ananda Math, began springing all over the country. Lala Lajpat Rai started a journal called Vande Mataram. Subramaniam Bharati brought out the Tamil verse translation of the song. Vande Mataram even soaked the army in its spirit. Twenty-four young men of the Fourth Madras Coastal Defence Battery were sent to gallows and died singing Vande Mataram.
However, Muslim League opposed Vande Mataram from the very beginning. In its 1908 session, it was deemed sectarian. In 1923, Maulana Mohammed Ali, as the president of Congress, opposed it.
Congress, in conformity with its Muslim-appeasement stance, introduced Mohammad Iqbal’s Hindustan Hamaara. The Muslim leaders wanted Iqbal’s song to replace Vande Mataram. The All-India Muslim League passed resolutions condemning Vande Mataram. The Congress Working Committee in 1937 maimed the song Vande Mataram to just two paras. The Muslim League wasn’t satisfied still. Jinnah asked Nehru in 1938 to completely abandon Vande Mataram. To placate the Muslim League, the Congress decided to allow the singing of a song by Basheer Ahmad, Quran recital as well as a prayer in English in the assembly.
As for Janaaganamana, famous Indologist Dr. Koenraad Elst has this to say:
“Janaganamana itself is controversial because Tagore had allegedly written it in honour of the King of England, George V, the janaganamana adhinayak, master of the people’s minds, and the bharata bhagya vidhata, shaper of India’s destiny, mentioned in the opening line. There is a lot of circumstantial evidence for this, and there is no convincing alternative explanation for the said opening line. In his 1911, Delhi Durbar, George V had annulled the partition of Bengal, conceding a nationalist demand, and that could give this glorification of the king a nationalist twist.”
When a nation is founded on secular lines, implying that religion wouldn’t play a role in its governance, it’s a debatable if national interests or sentiments are decided on the whims of a community. France has put a ban on burqa (veil) in public places. Same is now the stance in Australia. Germany’s Chancellor Angelo Merkel has a similar view and parties in Britain have long called for ban on veils.
However in India, appeasement only ended up vivescating one-third of the undivided India.
Meanwhile, it has kept Bankim Chandra, arguably Bengal’s greatest literary figure, alive to this day. One of the first graduates of Calcutta University, Bankim Chandra became a deputy collector in due course, like his father, Yadav Chandra Chattopadhyaya. He eventually became a deputy magistrate before his retirement in 1891. Three years later, he was dead.
Bankim Chandra was best summed up by Sri Aurobindo in these words: “And when posterity comes to crown with her praises the Makers of India, she will place her most splendid laurel not on the sweating temples of a place-hunting politician, nor on the narrow forehead of a noisy social reformer but on the serene brow of that gracious Bengali who never clamoured for place or power, but did his work in silence for love of his work, even as nature does, and, just because he had no aim but to give out the best that was in him, was able to create a language, a literature and a nation.”