Anand Patwardhan: If Hindutva is Hinduism then the Ku Klux Klan is Christianity
The filmmaker’s speech at the Dismantling Global Hindutva conference being held from September 10-September 12.
By Anand Patwardhan
Before I begin let me read a reply I sent to one of the many who cautioned me in the last few weeks.
All the hate mail I received went directly into my trash. Your letter represents a genuine concern, so I’m replying.
I was also once a student in America and understand that diaspora Indians face racism and discrimination and need to feel a sense of pride about their land of origin. This is natural. The question is, can we choose what to feel proud about and what to feel ashamed about so we become agents of positive change?
I feel proud about Mahatma Gandhi and the inclusivity he practiced in the name of Hinduism, not through ritual, but by deed. He was perhaps the first (in quotations) “upper caste” Hindu to insist on manually scavenging night-soil and not depend on the lowest ranked to do the jobs that were considered unclean and impure.
Towards the end of Gandhi’s life he strongly advocated inter-caste marriage so future generations would be free of caste. And he died a martyr to the cause of bridging the Hindu-Muslim divide so meticulously nurtured by British colonialists.
I feel proud about Dr Ambedkar, born a Dalit and subjected to discrimination, who broke the taboo against education, earned doctorates abroad and returned to India to lead the struggle for an egalitarian world. He headed the drafting of India’s Constitution and became our first Law Minister. Later, with thousands of followers, he converted to Buddhism, a religion that did not believe in caste.
I feel proud about Abdul Ghaffar Khan also known as Badshah Khan, or Fakhr-e-Afghan, or Frontier Gandhi, whose legendary non-violent fighters named the Khudai Khidmatgars, faced British massacres with the greatest bravery of the entire Independence struggle. Badshah Khan never compromised his ideals and spent half of his adult life in prison, first in British India and then in Pakistan.
I feel ashamed about the upper caste conspiracy against Gandhi that began after 1932 when an agreement between Gandhi and Ambedkar granted reservations for scheduled castes and tribes. In this period temples and village-wells were thrown open to Dalits, temporarily raising hopes of a Renaissance. Angered by this, a gang of upper caste men started a series of assassination attempts on Gandhi, the first being a bomb attack in Poona in 1934.
After six failed attempts, the seventh succeeded in 1948. VD Savarkar was named as “the mastermind” by an approver, but was acquitted for lack of supporting evidence. Only after Savarkar died in 1966 did the evidence surface in the Kapoor Commision Report.
Today there is much to feel proud and ashamed about in India. Just as in the USA one can feel proud about the “Black Lives Matter” movement and all those who fight for disarmament and peace, and against climate change. But one can only feel ashamed that the USA for its short-term interests created religious jihad. Today after spending trillions of dollars and extinguishing thousands of lives it has surrendered to its own creation.
There is more to say but I would urge that you attend the conference with an open mind. You will hear things that may surprise you in a positive way or hear things that may upset you, but use each to do more research. More research, in all directions, can never hurt.
Let us feel proud not of the 1% that have lived for centuries by enslaving and exploiting others but of the 99% who despite being denied opportunities, are in the process of finding their voice.”
Courtesy: The Scroll
Note: This news piece was originally published in scroll.in and use purely for non-profit/non-commercial purposes exclusively for Human Rights objectives.