ANAND PATWARDHAN | 28 APRIL, 2016
The Khudai Khitmatgar's of Today
MUMBAI: We are all aware of where the internal danger to our secular, democratic fabric lies, so I will not repeat all this except to point out that it no longer lies in any single party or organization. Today an ideology based on hate but disguised as “love for Mother India” has penetrated the deepest sections of every traditional pillar of democracy – the executive, legislature, judiciary and media.
After the ghastly trauma of Partition and then, the murder of Mahatma Gandhi in 1948, we were lulled into believing that the worst was over, that communal fascist forces had been named and shamed and they would not rise again. But they did, working quietly for decades until they mustered enough force to show their face in public again. These forces can be called Brahminists as long as we remember Dr. Ambedkar’s distinction between the insidious ideology of Brahminism and individuals that happen to be born into the Brahmin caste. The corollary is that even non-Brahmins can perpetrate Brahminism. If we do not understand that the biology of caste is less important than the ideology of caste we will not be able to distinguish between friends and foes.
Today the mother body that nurtures the Brahminist ideology has begun to expand its caste base. The RSS, the largest and fastest growing NGO in the world, has spawned other groups, connected and unconnected, that pose an even greater threat to humanity than the mother body itself.
How was this achieved? Internationally in the last two decades, aided by the collapse, or capitulation, of the Soviet Union and China, a war has been waged on the world by an axis comprising of the USA, Israel, UK and Saudi Arabia, backed at times by various other powerful nations that collectively serve an international arms lobby whose sole aim is to perpetuate war, or the threat of war, external and internal. They have all made the simplistic but tautological calculation that as vital natural resources like oil, water and assorted minerals on this planet rapidly deplete, the only way to corner the remaining stock is by military might. I say tautological because the act of building up and deploying military power further erodes the planet’s depleting resources, apart from pre-occupying scientists whose knowledge and creativity could have otherwise served the cause of just and sustainable technologies.
This international axis and the arms lobby that runs it, is directly responsible for most of the wars being fought in the world at present, internal and external.
In the early 1990’s when the Berlin wall came down and Gorbachev was willing to sign all manner of peace pacts, it is Reagan’s America, controlled by the military industrial complex that refused the peace agenda and began to militarize outer space. It had earlier imported Islamic Jihad and Saudi Arabia’s Bin Laden into Afghanistan and Pakistan in order to defeat godless communists. The fallout in our region was that armed jihadis entered the Kashmir valley, which until the late 1980’s had only seen non-violent protests for better governance and greater autonomy.
In Iraq in 2003 this axis overthrew the dictator Saddam Hussain whom they had earlier armed to the teeth, by pretending that Saddam had “weapons of mass destruction”. It is this act that gave birth to ISIS and it is ISIS or the fear of ISIS that has been used to run ever more wars, from Libya to Syria.
On the economic front the “liberalization” process that began in the 1980’s consolidated in the next decades as WTO GATT cast its net wider. India, then led by Congress, capitulated and what has happened to its Jal, Jungle, Zameen (Water, Forests, Land) is history.
The arms industry and its relatives have many needs. Apart from minerals, fossil fuels and water, they also need to control education and popular culture in order to spread vulgar commodification. World business is a highly integrated, coordinated mechanism with unimaginable economic power. To quote a statistic from 2007, the total volume of trade by private corporations world over was over $1171 trillion; 20 times greater than the combined earnings of all the countries in the world !
Any strong, secular democracy has always been anathema to imperialists and neo-colonialists out to destroy sovereignty. Having destroyed the fabric of democracy in Pakistan via Islamization, is it too far fetched that the axis of evil is now supporting the same destruction in India, via Hindutva?
What is fully home grown and what is externally fertilized and nurtured is not always easy to separate. In the year 2000, a BJP led NDA government in a shocking surrender of sovereignty, gave permission to the FBI to open its office in India. This was before 9/11. What followed after 9/11 was a worldwide surrender of civil liberties in the name of “fighting terror”.
Let us take the infamous Intelligence Bureau and the rapidly-getting- more-infamous National Intelligence Agency. Their top leadership acts as if it is fully commandeered by hard core Hindutva. These seem to work undercover when a non-BJP government is in power but become openly pro-active when the BJP comes to power. When an honest officer like Maharashtra’s ATS chief, Hemant Karkare finds incontrovertible proof that many, if not most, of the bomb blasts and terror attacks attributed to Islam-inspired terrorists were actually the handiwork of Hindutva, we see what happens to Karkare in November 2008 in the very midst of his revelations. Karkare had solved the Malegaon case and was on the brink of further major breakthroughs. On the heels of this came the confession before a magistrate of Swami Aseemanand who provided information on this and other terror cases involving Hindutva. Today after Karkare’s murder and BJP’s return to power, many of these cases are blatantly unraveling before our very eyes. In Gujarat “clean chits” fall like manna from the sky. In Mumbai a public prosecutor who was following Karkare’s cases is unceremoniously replaced and reveals that she was asked to “go slow” after his death. Confessional statements by Hindutva leaders made before a magistrate go “missing” and over 40 witnesses against Brahminists like Col. Purohit turn hostile.
We face a dangerous enemy that is capable of murder and has demonstrated time and again that it gets away with murder. Even today murder threats have been issued and procuring a venue for this assembly was made painfully difficult.
The only choice before us is to unite all forces that can possibly be united against hatred and corporate and communal fascism.
In doing this we have to be generous with those whose particular understanding and emphasis may differ from ours. History beckons us to shelve ego problems that are endemic to all alliances and joint actions.
Our alliance must include not just Marxists and Ambedkarites but all those who know why Gandhi, Dabholkar, Pansare, Kalburgi, Rohith Vemula and so many others lost their lives and who killed them. Apart from organized parties it must draw into its fold living symbols of resistance like Medha Patkar, Soni Sori, Irom Sharmila, Binayak Sen, Sandeep Pande, Teesta Setalvad and SP Udaykumar, to name just a few who tirelessly work for a just and secular democracy. It must also include those who have no fixed ideology but desire the freedom to think freely.
In my personal opinion, in the face of an international arms trade- driven communal fascism, only an unshakable, unbreakable, and expressly non-violent (both in word and in deed) movement can win back the hearts and minds of our people. We must become the Khudai Khidmatgars of today !
Jai Bhim, Laal Salaam, Jai Jagat !
(Anand Patwardhan is a noted filmmaker)