(This is a reprint from NewsBred).
It’s difficult. You see right-wingers are as high-nosed as anyone who is first among equals. A little like the elites they criticize. They ought to put cause ahead of self; blow wind to voices in the society. Those who could step in when they leave. For this is a long overhaul. One life-time is not enough. They are battling an entrenched monster. There is need to harness. Less preening, more scouting.
You cast your eyes around and it gets stuck in three dimensions: Social Media, Academic, Debaters. I don’t know who are the right-wingers in languages other than Hindi and English. Isn’t that sad? I am also leaving out backroom worthies: websites, historians, field-workers, organizers etc. True, they are a mighty force. But this is about individuals.
Here I name my Playing Eleven, captain and all. There are also support staff and motivators. Inevitably, those out would be miffed. But I promise this is an annual list. So there would be another in 2021. (In bracket, you have their twitter accounts).
Openers: Swapan Dasgupta. Swati Goel Sharma
It’s a kind of Gavaskar-Sehwag choice. One, orthodox, steeped in academics, never caught on wrong foot. Other, flamboyant, swings hard, stares down the bowlers. While Swapan (@swapan55) could be run-less for long hours, Swati (@swati_gs) is a busy-bee, swatting propaganda on lynching and riots. The two are not of the same kind.
Swapan could be irked to see Swati as his partner. My criteria is who contributes more to the “team” – in terms of rattling the Lutyens’ agenda. Swapan could be too politically correct at times, tries too hard to be neutral, and in my view that’s a bit underwhelming to the cause. (Truth to tell, I like Swapan the debater better than the writer). Swati doesn’t carry any such baggage. She puts her skin in the game.
Middle Order: Amit Malviya, R.Jagannathan (Capt), Aravindan Neelakandan
All three are my favourite and I put them in that order: At number 3, 4 and 5.
Amit Malviya (@amitmalviya), of course, is the IT cell head of Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP). But his value to masses lies in TV debates in which he chooses his facts and words like Rahul Dravid did with his flicks and drives. Pretty well-organized. He could be nasty without a snarl on his face. His directness is unnerving to the likes of Rajdeep Sardesai.
R. Jagannathan (@TheJaggi) is heads and shoulders above the rest. A Sachin Tendulkar of this team. He brings so many dimensions on so varied subjects that it’s almost unreal. A most original thinker. An erudite man who in my opinion is the best journo in the country. Swarajyamag is lucky to have him on board.
Aravindan Neelakandan (@arvindneela ) who? Well, look for him in swarajyamag.com. He takes up the most contentious issues which Liberal-Leftist forces are fond of passing as truth. There’s a certain rootedness in his pieces which convey the essence of India, be it on architecture, archeology or even in culinary domain. A most credible voice who prefers his work to do the talking.
ALL-ROUNDER: Dr Anand Ranganathan
Dr Anand Ranganathan (@ARanganathan72 ) is the Jacques Kallis of this “team”. Could defend and attack as it suits him. Immaculate with his facts. Sarcasm and poison comes easy to him, as does humour. But sometimes “labours” with his idioms and metaphors. Prefers a monologue than to a real debate. But he’s a work in progress—I sincerely hope the “professor” takes this comment in the spirit it’s said. Life is rewarding to those who are its’ students.
WICKET-KEEPER: Rahul Shivshankar
Rahul Shivsankar (@RShivshankar) hands down is the best anchor in the business today. A MS Dhoni, if you may. He brings on nasty Left-Liberal forces on his show and then schools them with facts. Ups a mirror which reflects their ugly visage. Puts everyone at ease, irrespective of their bent. Extremely good with words and expressions. Earnest to a fault. Doesn’t let a debate flag.
BOWLERS: Arnab Goswami, Dr. Subramanian Swamy, Tarek Fateh, Pushpendra Kulshreshtra
Arnab Goswami is often rash, a sledger, who arguably isn’t as good as he once was. But he was a trend-setter. His put-downs make no distinction between a Rahul Gandhi or a Shashi Tharoor or with people he once shared the studios with. These days he gets his runs like Steve Waugh, often ugly, but, as said, the opposition hates him, and that’s good enough.
Dr Swamy (@Swamy39) has too many distinctions to his name. He does some “real” damage to biggies of India’s political landscape. Gandhis and Owaisis amongst present times. Karunanidhis of the past. He could make legal hawks like Ram Jethmalani twitch on TV debates. Some of India’s biggest headlines–UPA Scams, Ram Janmabhoomi etc—bear his imprint. Indefatigable. Brutal with his words. Erudite. Quite a bit his own man. Friends and foes fear him in equal measure.
Tarek Fateh (@TarekFatah) isn’t often seen on TV these days. But his value lies in exposing the “muddled” mindset of Muslims. He defends Islam but believes it’s hostage to Mullahs and Jihadis. He doesn’t as much spew venom as he spits it. Few have put Islam under as sharp lens as he does. If Islam needs a “Reformation”, Tarek Fateh could be its’ Martin Luther.
Pushpendra Kulshreshtra (@Pushpendraamu @PushpendraKul ) has kind of burst on consciousness in recent times. A former journalist, he is excellent in front of camera. Has a good grounding in Quran. History is his armour. Logic his shield. Words his halberd. He is a rage amongst Hindi-speakers and that’s a sizeable number to help the team’s cause. Needs to be more Social Media savvy though: Has two twitter accounts!
Post script: These 11 are in people’s eyes. But the support staff and philosophers are no less significant. Madhu Purnima Kishwar (@madhukishwar) is unlucky to miss out the first XI. Rahul Roushan (@rahulroushan) and Nupur J. Sharma (@UnSubtleDesi) are excellent for OpIndia. I like Abhijit Iyer-Mitra (@Iyervval) too. Yaajnaseni (@yaajnaseni) is a rising star but you won’t believe it looking at numbers who follow her on Twitter. Vivek Ranjan Agnihotri (@vivekagnihotri) and Shefali Vaidya (@ShefVaidya) are popular. Among philosophers, True Indology (@TlinExile) is brilliant. Dr Koenraad Elst (@Koenraad_Elst) is without peer. Rajiv Malhotra (@@RajivMessage), David Frawley (@@davidfrawleyved) and Subhash Kak (@@subhashkak1) all are shining lights. Go out and look for them if you don’t already.
Osaduddin Owaisi, a Muslim hardliner known for his legal wordplay, was brought to his knees by the combine of Times Now’s Rahul Shivshankar and BJP spokesperson Dr. Sudhanshu Trivedi on Ayodhya issue on Tuesday night debate.
Owaisi’s spacious argument was that Kapil Sibal was representing Sunni Waqf Board in the Supreme Court in the capacity of a lawyer and not from Congress; similarly as Ravi Shankar Prasad and Arun Jaitley have represented their respective clients in the past even though they are the members of the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP).
(The same argument was stressed by Congress spokesperson Randeep Surjewala, chewing his words more than in his usual irritating style and flashing documents as Moses might have recounted the 10 Commandments in Exodus 20).
“But then why make a political argument that the Ayodhya hearing be postponed till after the ’19 General Elections? Doesn’t it show him (Sibal) as a political front of Congress? Why not stick to legal recourse? Doesn’t it show a lack of faith in India’s top judiciary?” Owaisi was questioned. Losing his cool by the minute, Owaisi said he didn’t fear as much Hindutva revivalism as Hindutva and the effect a majoritarian rule could have as it happened in (Nazi) Germany.
While Dr. Trivedi made a pertinent point on Hindu philosophy (“We have instances of one brother following another in the Forest; a heir-apparent abandoning his right on kingdom bowing to wishes of his father—unlike other faiths where son kills father and brother kills brother”), Owaisi’s sly reference to Germany needs a rebuttal. This is the last recourse Hindu-baiters employ to paint them as “Hindu fascist/Nazi forces.”
Since very few of us have the time or energy to verify these allegations, they acquire kind of a life of its own. Such a narrative would become more and more dominant till the next General Elections in 2019. It must be confronted with hard facts time and again.
Owaisi, who was dubbed by author Taslima Nasreen as a Muslim Extremist, is not alone in this fake tirade.
Communist leader Sitaram Yechury renamed RSS as Saffron Shirts (even though the RSS uniform has no saffron) or SS in a sly reference to Hitler’s dreaded paramilitary group. [i] Sonia Gandhi and other Congress leaders have done so in the past. [ii]
In Adolf Hitler’s Mein Kampf, the word Hindu or any term for any specifically Hindu concept, does not figure anywhere. “India” figures only twice.
As for the adoption of Swastika (or hooked cross) as party symbol, it was Hitler’s attempt to counter Communist “hammer and sickle” as a logo of his own party. It bore no resemblance to Hindu’s quest for inner control from one of his of outward physical dominance. [iii]
Further, there is no Hindutva theory on race purification, no biological divergence of the Hindu-Muslim conflict and no Hindu programme on eugenics.
Still, the Hindu-haters attempts have persisted all along. At the time of Ayodhya history debate in 1990-91, VHP-mandated scholars had mentioned a 19th century Germany archaelogist Dr. A. Fuhrer to further their claims. Quickly enough, the vicious propaganda turned it into an evidence of VHP’s admiration for the Fuhrer!
Owaisi need be told that if anything, the Muslim League before Independence was viewed to have a similar outlook on Hitler and Nazi Germany by none other than Jawaharlal Nehru, as mentioned by BR Nanda in his book, Gandhi and his Critics :
“When Nehru returned after a brief visit to Europe in 1938, he was struck by the similarity between the propaganda methods of the Muslim League in India and the Nazis in Germany.”
Nanda wrote further that “the league leaders had begun to echo the Fascist tirade against democracy…Nazis were wedded to a negative policy. So also was the League. The League was anti-Hindu, anti-Congress, anti-national…the Nazis raised the cry of hatred against the Jews; the League had raised its cry against the Hindus.” [iv]
Though this piece is not about Hindu-Muslim viewpoints, it must be said in passing that the RSS and Hindutva forces, against whom Owaisi mouths his venom, have never commented on the intrinsic value of Islam as a religion even though by popular admission, Islam is narrower, more regimented and less freer than Hinduism.
For example, Muslim countries are less repentant about having treated non-Muslims under their rule as a lower class of human beings. Such has been the case against the Hindus in Pakistan and Bangladesh.
Thousands of Christians were killed in Indonesia, in East Timor and in Sudan; substantial Copts were killed by Muslims in Egypt; Algerian Islamicists targeted Catholic priests in 1990s. Christian natives too have committed since against Hindus in Fiji but neither any Muslim or Christian country is ever termed as Fascist/Nazis. (Thanks to Dr. Koenraad Elst for these facts).
Communists have killed far more people in numbers than Hitler ever did. Did British colonial powers kill less number of Indians than Hitler ever did in his Holocaust?
Yet, the tag of being Fascist/Nazis has never been applied against an Islamic or Christian country after World War II. Hinduism, in contrast, is tolerant and accommodating, never looking for outward expansion, and thus an easy target for this tirade.
Those who call Hindutva as Fascists or Nazis, ironically are clearly in alliance with ideologies whose record against Humanity leaves much to be desired: Communism and Islamism.
I conclude this piece with a delicious chuckle: all these secularist champions—who fear-monger about supposed Hindu fascism—need be told that Hitler himself was a secularist!
The European history of the last half-millennium has shown that modernity (Renaissance, Enlightenment, French and American Revolution, French Third Republic etc) has gone hand-in-hand with secularization. Hitler too had continued with the secular policies of Bismarck’s Kulturkampf. All along, Hitler had kept religions in its place.
i] Pseudo-Hinduism Exposed, CPI (M), Delhi, 1993, Page 1
[ii] The Saffron Swastika, Dr. Koenraad Elst, Page 28
[iii] The Swastika, Malcolm Quinn, Page 129
[iv] Gandhi and his Critics by BR Nanda, Page 88