Forceful Saffronisation

The recent protest that happened in Ramjas College reflects yet another imposition of forced ideology in our country. On 21 and 22 Feb Ramjas college was to organise a seminar called ‘Culture of Protest’. This seminar was to explore the representation of dissent in the country. Speakers like Umar Khalid, Shehla Rashid were invited to speak at the event. This infuriated the ABVP student’s union and they entered the ongoing seminar hall and started throwing stones at the audience and the speakers. Nevertheless the invitation to both the Jawaharlal Nehru students was cancelled; the Akhil Bharatiya Vidyarthi Parishad, ABVP still continued to engage in stone pelting and protesting against the event.

This is yet another attempt on the long going efforts of the ABVP to saffronise the Indian education system. It appears to be the sole aim of this student’s union, in which they have been indulged in since the BJP government came into power. Last year JNU was ruling the controversy when the students organised a cultural program against the hanging of Afzal Guru. Hyderabad University came into limelight when a Dalit student Rohit Vemula was reduced to a state where he was forced to commit suicide. The government wanted to change the minority status of Jamia Millia Islamia and Aligarh Muslim University. Faculties are being expelled if they are not working according to the government’s ideology. Recently a professor from Jodhpur University was expelled after he invited Nivedita Menon to address an event in his college. These instances justify that the ABVP has emboldened under the present power. Anything that goes against their ‘hindutva’ ideology is blatantly declared as ‘anti-national’. They don’t mind getting into violence to preserve their so called nationalist sentiments.

The ABVP abide by the Hindu nationalism that was introduced by Vinayak Damodar Savarkar in 1923 and was later adopted by BJP in 1989. According to Savarkar’s ‘Essentials of Hindutva’ a Hindu is one who was born of Hindu parents and regarded India as his motherland and holy land. His idea of a nation included every ‘Indian’ religion including Hinduism, Jainism, Buddhism, Sikhism but excluded ‘Foreign’ religions such as Islam, Judaism, Zoroastrianism and Christianity. It will not be fair if the student union continues with the similar ideology and views ‘Indian’ on the spectrum of religion.

Also ABVP is affiliated to Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh which was founded by K.B Hedgewar in 1925 with the aim of constructing a Hindu society. He was worried on the growing weakness of the Hindutva society. His idea of Hindu Rashtriya is what the RSS student wing is trying to propagate. Golwalkar who succeeded Hedgewar as the chief of the RSS said that only the ones who aspire to glorify the Hindu race and nation are true nationalist. He does not even hesitate in calling the rest others as traitors and enemies of the national cause. It is extremely dangerous for the country if its student’s union is following the steps of such religious fundamentalism.

Universities and schools are considered as a place where young minds bloom and emerge with new and progressive ideas. They should work together to establish harmony in the society. Hedgewar whose only concern was the weakening of hindu forces and Golwalkar who had his own definition of true nationalist should not be considered by the new generation. A country can not progress if its young minds are fed with such radical believes.

The country has already been a victim to this radicalisation with the Ram Janmabhoomi movement which further led to the unlawful demolition of the Babri Masjid. It was after the demolition of Babri Masjid that riots broke out in many parts of the country and series of bombs were blast in Mumbai in 1993. The demolition of Babri Masjid was the main reason that resulted in unrest in the Gujarat. The Godhra train was burnt with pilgrims returning from Ayodhya. This incident further incited the Godhra riots. Thus the dreams of the ‘hindutva’ forces for establishing a Hindu nation has never yielded anything better but deaths.

Such concept of majoritarianism and cultural hegemony is not appreciated by the liberal minds. The BJP itself officially adopted Hindutva as its ideology in 1989. Before this Syama Prasad Mookerjee, the original founder of BJP wanted to uphold Hindu values but he never favoured the exclusion of other communities. He asked for the membership of his party to be open for all the communities. When this was not accepted he did not even resist in resigning the party.

The ABVP frequently talks about nationalism and brands people with different mindset as anti nationalist. The debate of nationalism has gained importance for the past two years. The government at the centre and its student’s wing keep on questioning the opposition party and the others with ideological difference to prove their nationalism. But the question arises- Who defines nationalism? The country which such diverse population having differences in culture, tradition, language and even history cannot agree to the same subject. Differences are bound to happen. The culture and tradition of north India does not go in par with that of south India. The eastern part of the country has always been at the receiving end. Jammu and Kashmir is continuously in threat because of the AFSPA. The people in power cannot expect such groups to adhere to the ‘Nationalism’ as defined by them.

Nationalism cannot have a single definition and the same definition cannot be forced onto the entire country. The constitution makers were well aware of the vast differences that exist in our country. Therefore they came up with a sovereign socialist republic democratic and secular constitution.

The present government and its offshoot parties need to take into consideration all these factors before forcefully imposing their ideology and nationalism onto the country. Speaking against anything that violates the present order of the day does not count anti-nationalism. Every citizen of this country has the right to express and question the power. Dissent is an important attribute of democracy. It is a threat to a country’s democracy if the government is not giving its citizen the right to question.

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puniti pandey
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