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Saturday, April 4, 2015

We are all kar sevaks now (Archives)

Following article is taken from Indian Express Jan 4,1992 

                   WE ARE ALL 'KAR SEVAKS' NOW
                                       by Swapan Dasgupta
                                       (Indian Express Jan 4, 1992)

It is unlikely the American academic who coined the evocative phrase
'secession of the successful' had Indian society even remotely in mind. 
After the Dec 6 happenings in Ayodhya, however there is no better description 
for the relentless war being waged by a beleaguered political elite
against its own people. In the past three weeks or so, even as a leaderless
nation attempted to come to terms with its past, present and future, the
upholders of status quo have launched a vicious counter-offensive at the
very core of nationhood.

The magnitude and intensity of the assault are understandable. Whatever
may have been the calculations of the Sangh parivar on the morning of that
fateful Sunday, impatient and angry kar sevaks took matters into their
own hands and forced a new agenda on India. Hindu nationalism was always
an underlying political concern. On Dec 6, Hindutva became a state of
mind, the unifying ethos of an ancient nation groping for a modern identity.
The ramifications of this revolutionary break have not been sufficiently
grasped. With characteristic shortsightedness, disoriented secularists
persist in viewing the explosion as an ephemeral burst on fanaticism -
"the face of lumpenised India" - which is quite alien to the spiritual
and metaphysical concerns of Hinduism.

The assessment is partially right and horribly wrong. In many places, the
riots turned out to be the occasion for settling scores and expressing
latent anti-Hindu or anti-Muslim prejudices. But the breakdown of law and
order was momentary, and despite continuing tension in many areas, the country
has rapidly returned to normalcy. Change and violence are not necessarily

What has, however, altered beyond recognition is the self-image of Hindus.
The kar sevaks did not merely demolish the symbol of alien arrogance,
they simultaneously overturned the ingrained Hindu mindset of defeatism,
masquerading as moral superiority. Gandhiji had initiated the process by
harnessing Hindu passivity to a satyagraha against colonialism, which
literally guilt-tripped the British into leaving India. Unfortunately,
the transfer of power was not accompanied by a corresponding social 
resurgence and Jawaharlal Nehru's socialistic trust merely succeeded in
transposing a set of "modern" values on a people still burdened by a
mental servitude.

What is pejoratively labelled "pseudo-secularism" was not merely
minority appeasement. That is only a small aspect of the perversion.
The central thrust of Nehruvian consensus lay in consciously disavowing
Hindu pride. It purposely prevented Hindu society from overcoming the
burden of centuries of subordination. India's post-independence
development was flawed because culture nationalism was kept out of the 
purview of nationhood, and Hindu renaissance detached from the
political agenda.

On Dec 6, Hindu society was confronted with its own audacity. Initial
confusion soon gave way to bellicosity once it became painfully clear
that the remaining obstacle to national fulfillment was a political
establishment completely out of sync with the prevailing mood. The gap
between state and civil society has further increased with constant
secularist shenanigans aimed at rubbishing India to its own people.
The pious platitudes on Doordarshan, the self-flagellation by 
deracinated intellectuals and left wing McCartyism have merely
reinforced popular unease with a regime which would rather abolish
the people rather than elect a new one.

Involuntarily removed from the political arena, even L. K. Advani seems
to have underestimated the extent of Hindu disquiet. His depression
at the breakdown of the Sangh parivar's discipline and his lament at 
not being able to abide by the assurances given to the Supreme court
suggest an unfortunate reluctance to come to terms with the great leap
forward in Hindu consciousness. It is no longer a question of the RSS.
BJP or even the Sangh parivar in its entirety. At stake is the future
of Hindu parivar of which the sants and the RSS are but a small component.
Veer Savarkar grasped this distinction as early as in 1923. "Hindutva", he
wrote, "is not a word but a history. Not only the religious and spiritual
history of our people as at times it is mistaken to be by being confounded
with the other cognate term, Hinduism... Hinduism is only a derivative,
a fraction, a part of Hindutva... Failure to distinguish between these two
concepts has given rise to much misunderstanding".

History, a RSS leader told me at Ayodhya, on that decisive Sunday, "does not
merely happen; it is also made to happen". Circumstances have forced India
to break with its own degrading lack of self-esteem. It can fritter away
the oppurtunity through lack of leadership and mindless populism, thereby
precipitating savage secularist reaction.

Alternatively, it can overcome residual squeamishness and prepare to face
the future with certitude. After December 6, there is little scope for
dithering. Metaphorically, we are all kar sevaks now.


Anonymous said...

The analyses was spot! but the prediction was not. One would have expected a consolidation of the gains made in 1992 in the intervening 22 years, however it appears that the discourse is back to square one. A singular failure of the Hindutva movement has been its inability to translate street action into intellectual discourse and occupy public mind space, like the Republicans have successfully done in the United States. Two things are needed for that to happen: 1. a band of informed and articulate English speaking votaries of Hindutva 2. a reformation of Hinduism that gives it a more aesthetic character. Apart from L K Advani, there has been no leader in recent memory who can stoutly & logically defend Hindutva in precise English. In the absence of a suitable successor to Advani, the likes of Sadhvi Niranjan Jyothi and Giriraj have taken upon themselves to fill in.

The task though begun in 1992 remains discontinued.

Mohan KRK said...

This is one your finest pieces - actually one of the finest pieces that I read while growing up and it shaped & influenced my thinking profoundly. Thanks much!