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Hindutva, Nationalism, and Facism
Some of the current problems in J & K can be traced to the surging Saffron
wave in India
Nyla Ali Khan
In the wake of Modi's reprehensible attempt to stoke the flames of communal hatred
and sectarianism in Gujarat and the judgement of the Lucknow branch of the
Allahabad high court regarding the Ram Janmabhoomi site, our memories of the
Ram Janmabhoomi agitation of 1989 are refreshed. A disused sixteenth century
mosque in Ayodhya, the Babri Masjid, was demolished by Hindu supporters of the
Saffron movement who hoped to construct a temple, the Ram Janmabhoomi, on that
site. Hindu-Muslim riots swept Northern India in the wake of the Ram Janmabhoomi
agitation. In the case of the majority Hindus, the militant Hinduism that the Ram
Janmabhoomi movement incited challenged the basic principle that the nation was
founded on: democracy. Community was evoked in order to create nostalgia for a
fabricated past that was meticulously contrived. The progressive attempts of left-
wing activists were challenged by the construction of a mythic history asserting
national tradition in a classically fascist form. In this nationalist project, one of the
forms that the nullification of past and present histories takes is the subjection of
religious minorities to a centralized and authoritarian state.
Some of the current problems in J & K can be traced to the surging Saffron wave in
India. From the 1970s onwards, the effective generation in the Kashmir Valley came
to be the new educated middle class which was witness to the tremendous work of
their predecessors toward communal amity traceable to hundreds of years of
collective zeitgeist, but found themselves victims of unemployment and a decrepit
infrastructure. They were witnesses to the rising Saffron wave in India. They were
witnesses to an All India Party struggling to capture power at the centre and
foregrounding in their election manifesto their aim of demolishing a mosque in
Ayodhya, Uttar Pradesh. The Brahmins of Kashmir, popularly called Kashmiri
Pandits, getting central government jobs in a ratio out of proportion to their
demographic percentage, compounded this feeling.
From the 1970s onwards Islam became resurgent at the international level. After the
Islamic Revolution of 1979 in Iran, the "secular" government of the Shah of Iran was
ousted and he fled the country in disgrace and ignominy. Political unrest in the
Soviet Union generated a demand for independence by its Central Asian republics of
Kazakhastan, Turkmenistan, Uzbekistan, Kyrgystan, and Tajikistan, which resisted
even offers of a federal or confederate connection with the erstwhile Soviet Union,
resulting in their independence in 1991 and the formation of a Commonwealth of
independent states comprising different racial, linguistic, ethnic groups of people.
The ultimate surrender by withdrawal of the massive forces of the former Soviet
Union from Afghanistan in 1989 after having been an occupation force in that
country for ten years with enormous fire power instilled in the youth of Kashmir a
feeling that no military might can keep a resistant people tethered to another by
For more than sixty years the Kashmir conflict has remained like a long pending
case in a court of law between the two nuclear giants in the Indian subcontinent,
India and Pakistan. The Kashmir imbroglio has worsened partly out of
disillusionment that was generated by perceiving the hollowness of Indian
secularism, partly out of the ignominy that Kashmiris felt in being tied to a
government and a polity that is getting increasingly religionised. The insurgency in
Kashmir grew into a low intensity warfare made lethal by the firepower of India,
accompanied by killings, assassinations, plunder, pillage, rapes, taking of hostages,
counterinsurgencies, and ambushes. The backcloth has remained the same for the
past twenty years, which is a recipe for disaster. The history of the past twenty
years on the subject has ceased to be history; it has degenerated into statistics and
data: number of landmines, number of ambushes, number of suicide attacks,
number of abductions and rapes. But Kashmir has not moved an inch further than
where it was in 1989; on the contrary, the alienation in Kashmir is greater; the
brutal killings have increased; and the psychological wedge between the people of
India and the people of Kashmir has become wider.
As the results of the 2008 J & K assembly elections showed, none of the mainstream
political parties elicited a particularly ecstatic or loyal response from the electorate.
In a replay of history, the Congress with a total of 17 assembly seats and the NC
with a total of 28 assembly seats formed a coalition government. The NC had the
same number of seats in 2002 when it shunned the possibility of power-sharing and
chose to sit in the opposition in all probability because neither Farooq nor his son,
Omar, had a chance of heading the government as the former had not contested the
election and the latter lost by a big margin to an obscure green horn. It could have
been politically fatal for Omar to allow anybody else in the NC to taste blood. The
same holds true for the PDP where the father-daughter duo would not want anyone
else in their party to taste blood either, both parties contributing to the installation
of democratic monarchy. This brings to my mind a couplet of the celebrated poet-
philosopher Allama Iqbal: Hum ney khud-shahi ko pehnaya hey jumjoori libas, jab
zara adam hua hay khus shinas-o khud nigar (We have adorned our royal selves
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with a democratic attire, the moment man gained self-confidence and political
sagacity). The outcome of the election has reinforced the religious, regional, and
provincial ruptures in the political fabric of the state.
The increasing communalisation of Indian politics is a juggernaut that annihilates the
myth of secularism in India. As a poignant reminder to the student of Indian history
and subcontinental politics, I would like to point out that Jawaharlal Nehru observed
in the Constituent Assembly of India that the greatest danger to India will not be
from Muslim communalism but from Hindutva which could potentially become
expansionist and communally belligerent.
(The author is grand-daughter of Sheikh Mohd. Abdullah and Visiting Professor
Department of English, University of Oklahoma)
Eating a live bulb..!
With people becoming more and more intolerant to those who eat non-veg, and
certain states banning the slaughter of bulls and bullocks, my friend a diehard non-
vegetarian decided he would become a veggie. "One might as well get used to
something before it takes you by total surprise," he said as he looked up a mango
tree, "I have told my cook to cook those leaves for lunch!"
"That's a mango tree," I said, "You eat the fruit and not the leaves."
"You can't put those leaves into a curry?"
"Only raw mangoes," I said, "you eat the ripe ones raw and cook the raw ones!"
"This is very confusing," said my friend as he scratched his head and stared at the
ripe mangoes on the tree. "What happens if I eat the leaves?"
"I don't know," I said.
"What happens if I ate the raw mangoes raw and put the ripe mangoes into a
"No idea," I said helplessly.
"What about cauliflower?"
"What about it?" I asked.
"Do I eat it cooked or uncooked?"
"You can't eat it uncooked," I said disgustedly.
"I'm sorry I didn't know," said my friend, now beginning to look a little worried,
"What about this fruit?"
"It's a carrot," I said, "it's not a fruit it's a root, which is eaten as a vegetable!"
"A root eaten like a vegetable but not a vegetable?" asked my friend, "so it's
allowed isn't it. I mean as a vegetarian I can eat it?"
"Sure you can," I said patting him on the back.
"This vegetarianism business is going to be a long journey," he said.
"Is it okay if I eat this vegetable?"
"It's not a vegetable," I said looking at the onion he was holding out to me.
"It's a fruit?"
"No," I said.
"Let me guess, it's a root?"
"No," I said, "it's a bulb!"
"A bulb," said my friend throwing the onion away, "Dammit Bob, I don't want to get
electrocuted while eating! I thought being a vegetarian was safe?"
"It is," I said.
"And do you eat the bulb cooked?"
"Raw," I said patiently.
"I think I need expert advice before I get into this vegetarian business!"
"I agree," I said.
"Maybe it would be better if everybody became non-veg!" said my friend.
"Ssssshhh!" I said, "Don't say such things so loudly, you may be
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