In the Name of National Integration
Comrade Radek, whom Stalin liquidated in the late ‘thirties, was a Communist intellectual endowed with acid humour. He coined many jokes at the cost of the Communist Party and the Soviet State. One of these jokes which did the rounds in Moscow was as follows:
One day Comrade Radek stood stark naked in the Red Square in broad daylight. A courageous citizen approached and asked him, ‘Aren’t you afraid of the police, Comrade Commissar?’
Radek stared at him, and shot back, ‘Police? Where is the police?’
The citizen pointed towards a number of policemen positioned on all sides of the Square, and said, ‘There is a policeman. There is another. And yet another Why, the whole place is crawling with policemen.’
Radek replied, ‘You can see them. I can’t. I am a party member. I am not supposed to see them. For party members there is no police anywhere in the Soviet Union.’
The ruling class of secularists and socialists in India today is in a similar situation of ideological blindness. It is not supposed to see the violent waves of Islamic imperialism surging all around it. That would be a sacrilege and a serious slur on its reputation as progressive, liberal, and large-hearted.
It is in the living memory of this ruling class that Islamic imperialism became a blood-thirsty monster, and carved out large limbs of the motherland on our East and West. It is in the living memory of this ruling class that Islamic imperialism ‘cleaned up’ its separate state of Pakistan from the ‘curse’ of Hindu infidels. And it is under the very nose of this ruling class that Islamic imperialism, aided and abetted by petro-dollars, has started claiming for itself the rest of India as well, by a right of conquest in the past.
Islamic imperialism has only to dispute the fact that India is a Hindu homeland, and that the age-old Hindu society constitutes the core of the Indian nation with which non-Hindu communities should get integrated.
Our ruling class of secularists and socialists immediately starts seeing Hindu society as a heterogeneous mass divided by race, religion, sect, caste, class, language, dress, food habits, local traditions, manners and mores, and what not, and united by nothing better than a shared slavery under the erstwhile British rulers!
It is of no avail to tell this ruling class that the British rulers were acutely aware of a deeper unity informing the vast and variegated fabric of Hindu society. It is not convinced by any amount of evidence that the British rulers did all in their power to undermine that unity in pursuance of their imperialist interests.
This ruling class has inherited many things from its British mentors. It has inherited the British state system in which the ‘natives’ who do not know the English language and the modern Western lore, have no say. It has inherited the British style of high-living which sets it apart from the ‘seething mass of poor and illiterate humanity’. It has inherited the British psychology of paternalism which persuades it that it alone knows what is good for the ‘common man’. Above all, it has inherited the British ‘moral responsibility’ for protecting the ‘Muslim minority’. The only thing it has managed not to inherit is the British awareness of a deeper unity which holds the Hindu society together.
It is, therefore, logical for this ruling class to assert, rather aggressively, that Hindus have never been a nation. It is also logical for this ruling class to proclaim that it is too late in the day for Hindus to become, even try to become, a nation. India, we are told, is now a land of many races, religions, and cultures. The best that can be done under the circumstances, they say, is that India evolves a ‘secular nationalism’ based on a ‘composite culture’. The ruling class is prepared to preside over the birth-pangs of such a nationalism. The exercise is eulogised as ‘national integration’.
It is significant that harangues for ‘national integration’ become hectic, almost hysterical, in the wake of every street riot staged by Muslims. Our ruling class immediately starts hurling long-winded sermons on Hindus - stop being communal killers of a helpless minority; get rid of this big-brother behaviour; protect the lives and properties of your younger brethren; respect the religious and cultural rights of Muslims; and so on.
This ruling class never waits for the findings of enquiry commissions it has itself appointed to look into the causes of earlier communal riots. It does not remember or manages to forget the findings of many enquiry commissions which held that almost all riots were started by Muslims.
Hindus are expected to listen to these lectures from the ruling class with bowed heads, and with an orgy of moral self-reproach. Woe betide the irreverent Hindu who questions the legitimacy of these lectures, or who cites the evidence of enquiry commissions. He is not only a ‘Hindu communalist’ and a ‘Hindu chauvinist’ but also a ‘reactionary’ and a ‘revivalist’, putting the future of ‘secular and democratic India’ in jeopardy. The ruling class is joined in this chorus by some pious people like the Gandhians according to whom such an unrepentant Hindu is not a Hindu at all. There is a lot of tongue-clicking all around.
In plain and simple language, therefore, national integration has come to mean only one thing, namely, that a meek Hindu society should get integrated with a militant Muslim millat. One waits in vain for a voice which so much as whispers a why in the face of boisterous Muslim bigotry. Muslims have a god-given right to go on raising accusing fingers at the Hindus for refusing to give them this or that. And the Hindus have a god-given duty to go on conceding every exclusive and imperialist claim of an incurable fanaticism.
The results of this ‘national integration’ patronised by our ruling class over the past many years are there for every one to see, except, of course, its authors who are under an ideological compulsion not to see them. Caste which was for ages the most cohesive factor and a sure source of strength for Hindu society, has been converted into a cancer which poisons the very springs of our politics. Regionalism fostered by local patriotism, missionary machinations, and sectarian separatism has assumed alarming proportions such as imperil the very unity of the motherland. And Islamic imperialism has become many times more self-confident and self-righteous than on the eve of Partition.
The Character of Hindu Unity
The only stumbling block which has so far stood in the way of this ‘national integration’ promoted by our ruling class is the spirit of unity that still survives in Hindu society.
It is quite some time that Hindus lost the consciousness of their spiritual centre which unites their society, culture, and way of life. The only source of Hindu unity now is a consciousness of common history, particularly the history of freedom struggles fought against Islamic and British imperialism.
Hindu society still takes pride in its great past when it made major contributions to the spiritual, cultural, philosophical, and scientific wealth of mankind. Hindu society still cherishes the memory of its great sages, seers, saints, scientists, scholars, soldiers, and statesmen. Hindu society still remembers the days of its distress when it had to struggle ceaselessly and very hard against horde after horde of Islamic invaders who not only slaughtered, burnt, pillaged, and enslaved but also tried too foist by force its own brand of barbarism.
It is this common consciousness of its history which prevents Hindu society from accepting the Mamluks, the Khaljis, the Tughlaqs, the Bahmanis, the Sharqis, the Sayyids, the Lodis, and the Mughals as native dynasties on par with the Mauryas, the Sungas, the Guptas, the Cholas, the Maukharis, the Pandyas, the Palas, the Rashtrakutas, the Yadavas, the Kaktiyas, the Hoysalas, the Sangamas, the Saluvas, the Marathas, the Sikhs, and the Jats. Hindu society can never concede that Jaypala Shahiya of Kabul, Maharani Nayakidevi of Gujarat, Prithiviraj Chauhan of Delhi, Jayachandra Gahadvad of Kanauj, Singhanadeva of Devagiri, Vikrama Pandya of Madura, Prolaya Nayak of Andhra, Harihar and Bukka and Krishnadevaraya of Vijayanagara, Maharanas Kumbha and Sanga and Pratap, Shivaji, Banda Bahadur, Maharajas Surajmal and Ranjit Singh, who resisted the Islamic invaders, were petty local chieftains conspiring for personal gains. Hindu society honours these heroes as freedom fighters against Islamic imperialism, in the same way as it honours its freedom fighters against British imperialism.
The Character of Islamic Imperialism
That is what causes no end of trouble for our promoters of ‘national integration’. The Muslim component of the ‘composite nation’ has serious objections to this Hindu view of history and hero-worship. Muslim Indians are not at all prepared to take pride in any period of pre-Islamic Indian history, or honour any hero who flourished in that period. They want the pre-Islamic period of Indian history to be disowned even by Hindus as an ‘era of darkness’. This, they swear, is demanded by the scriptures of Islam. But, at the same time, they want Hindus to honour criminals, gangsters, mass murderers, criminals and tyrants like Muhammad bin Qasim, Mahmud Ghaznavi, Muhammad Ghuri, Alauddin Khalji, Muhammad Tughlaq, Sikandar Lodi, Babur, Aurangzeb, and Ahmad Shah Abdali. They also expect the Hindus to denounce as disgruntled rebels, if not as traitors, the medieval Hindu heroes who resisted and ultimately routed Islamic imperialism in India.
Coming nearer to our own times, Muslim Indians are not prepared to honour Hindu rebels and revolutionaries who fought for freedom against British imperialism. They denounce as ‘show-boys’ of the Hindus those few Muslims who cooperated with the freedom fighters. But they insist that Hindus should honour as freedom fighters the revivalists of Islamic imperialism such as Shah Walliullah and Syed Ahmad Barelvi, or separatists like Sir Syed Ahmed Khan and the Ali Brothers, or murderers of Hindus like the Wahhabis and the Moplahs, or secessionists like Mohammed Ali Jinnah.
In the field of culture, Muslim Indians harbour only a feeling of indifference, if not of contempt, for the Sanskrit, Prakrit, and Vernacular literature of ancient and medieval India. They have no use for Indian philosophies and sciences even when a lot of their own Islamic lore is borrowed from these sources and only dressed up in Arabic or Persian. They denounce Hindu spiritual traditions as polytheism and pantheism. They show no appreciation for Hindu masterpieces of architecture, sculpture, and other plastic arts. It is only in the field of music that they have shown some appreciation, simply because there has never been any Islamic music as such and many Indian musicians happen to be converts from Hinduism to Islam. The more orthodox Muslims frown even on this Muslim fondness for Hindu music.
But when it comes to what they regard as Muslim culture, they want Hindus to be as enthusiastic about it as they are themselves. They want Hindus to raise a non-stop wah-wah to the ‘wealth’ of Persian and Urdu poetry, and accept as national heritage even the compositions of a Hindu-hater like Amir Khusru and a promoter of Pakistan such as Sir Muhammad Iqbal. They want Hindus to go into raptures over the beauties of Muslim architecture, miniature painting, calligraphy, culinary arts, dress, demeanour, and what not. They insist that Hindus should hail all this Islamic heritage as an inseparable part of the national heritage.
The Nature of National Integration
Our ruling class cannot see any justice in the Hindu consciousness of its pre-Islamic past, nor any injustice in the Muslim insistence on glorifying an inglorious interregnum in India’s long history. The only way which this ruling sees out of what it calls ‘the communal strife’ is that Hindu history should be substantially diluted and tailored to the needs of Islamic imperialism, and that Muslim history should be given a liberal coat of whitewash or even made to pass muster as national history. This has been the main plank in the platform for ‘national integration’.
Hitherto this Experiment with Untruth was confined mainly to Muslim and Communist ‘historians’ who have come to control the Indian History Congress, the Indian Council of Historical Research, and even the University Grants Commission. Now it has been taken up by the National Integration Council. The Ministry of Education of the Government of India has directed the education departments in the States to extend this experiment to school-level text-books of history. And this perverse programme of suppressing truth and spreading falsehood is being sponsored by a state which inscribes Satyameva Jayate on its emblem.
Mrs. Coomi Kapoor has given a summary of the guidelines prepared by the National Council of Educational Research and Training (NCERT) in the Indian Express date-lined New Delhi, January 17, 1982. She writes: ‘History and Language textbooks for schools all over India will soon be revised radically. In collaboration with various state governments the Ministry of Education has begun a phased programme to weed out undesirable textbooks and remove matter which is prejudicial to national integration and unity and which does not promote social cohesion. The Ministry of Education’s decision to re-evaluate textbooks was taken in the light of the recommendations of the National Integration Council of which the Prime Minister is Chairman. The Ministry’s view was that history had often been used to serve narrow sectarian and chauvinistic ends.’ Accordingly, ‘Twenty states and three Union Territories have started the work of evaluation according to guidelines prepared by the NCERT. In September (1981), two evaluators from each state attended a course at NCERT headquarters in New Delhi. The evaluators are now scrutinising the relevant texts in their home states and submitting their reports. The evaluations will be examined by an expert committee appointed by the state.’
We shall examine and evaluate the guidelines laid down by the NCERT in the chapters that follow.