ANICA MANN KAPUR | 3 FEBRUARY, 2015
What Kiran Bedi Teaches Us About Hinduism And Politics
OXFORD: Kiran Bedi’s constituency in Delhi is Krishnanagar -- formerly Dr. Harshvardhan’s stronghold and a BJP constituency since 1993. Krishnanagar was the setting for Kiran Bedi’s recent road show, or Jan Sampark Yatra, which Ravish Kumar filmed for NDTV. A distinctive showed a man with a loudspeaker calling people out on the streets to bless Bedi for the upcoming Delhi elections. It was a thin crowd. Kumar claimed that mobilisation was not necessary as Krishnanagar is a BJP stronghold. The road show itself was rough and chaotic, slowly completing its drive through the constituency’s narrow lanes.
A particular shot showed illegal wires pulled between houses, clouding the view from the street. While the road show proceeded, a man with a loudspeaker was heard screaming slogans such as ‘Chappa Chappa- Bhajapa’ which in coloquial hindi means, “every part must be run by the BJP.” Loud patriotic songs filled the air, aimed at impassioning people towards their decision to vote. Ravish Kumar arm in arm chatted up an RSS pracharak who was noticed to have been working during college hours. He claimed blatantly on camera, his classes were going on.
Such is the need for BJP to fill spaces and garner a crowd. They have constantly been seen to resorting to the RSS manpower. And Kiran Bedi has been very open with her affirmation of RSS work in ‘uniting’ India. It is this romanticized association that has given RSS a pump in man power with larger intakes. Gita Colony alone has 7 branches of RSS which has expanded since 1993. People on the street were noticed speaking of BJP and RSS’s hindutva agenda in very passionate way as someone even speaking of adopting hindutva as the only way left for the country to proper. A very dangerous presumption.
It become important here to clarify the meaning of the term hindutva. In sanskrit the word can be parsed hindu+tva, tav being the neuter abstract suffix displaying a sense of ‘-ness’. Hence it would literally translate as Hindu-ness. A term coined by Vinayak Damodar Savarkar inhis 1923 pamphlet Hindutva: Who is a hindu?, alongside terms like Akhand Bharat, Sangh Parivar, etc. He was also arrested and tried for the conspiracy of Mahatma Gandhi’s assasination. He claimed:
"We Hindus are bound together not only by the tie of the love we bear to a common fatherland and by the common blood that courses through our veins and keeps our hearts throbbing and our affections warm, but also by the tie of the common homage we pay to our great civilization - our Hindu culture" Fifth Edition 1969 p91 (Internet Archive PDF p108)
This statement makes a clear glorification of one religion- Hinduism among the many that survive and also founded in this country such as Sikhism, Buddhism, Jainism, and other foreign imported religions. It claims the importance of Akhand Bharat, but inhabited by hindus. Hindus currently only form about 70 percent of the population with a manageable minority numerically speaking. Since the coming in of BJP multiple conversion controversies have sprung up frequently in the short time since the beginning of their rule.
Hinduism; a modern term for highly divisive set of sects,which come under the umbrella of hinduism. It was born in the geographical region of modern day india but by a group of migrating people called the Aryans. Currently the term "Aryan" is used among Hindu nationalists to refer to the Hindu people as indigenous to India, in contrast to the Indo-Aryan migration-theory. A highly disputed terminology but leans linguistically clearly towards to the migration theory.
This political mentality seems to be taking root in India with more and more people believing in the power of the BJP and achieving this. Enjoying the glamorous news with Modi feasting with world leaders, an illusion seems to have taken form in the minds of the people where tangible basic questions are abandoned before romantic larger pictures of a glorious future.
It is indeed from the sight of Kiran Bedi’s rally shown in Ravish Kumar’s interview on NDTV one should evaluate the real workings of BJP. While on her road show, focus was put on the neighbourhood and houses. Loose wires, narrow undulating lanes with rampant electricity thievery, bad sewage leakage, and garbage everywhere was seen. As a previous IPS officer, she did not take immediate note or speak generally about the problem solving plans for the constituency in specific. She spoke of her plan in Haryana of resurrecting villages with solar energy. She mentioned it briefly but did point towards a website - www.navjot.com for more details. This website is defunct. She spoke of other generic things like have faith in her, give her vote for a better future.
Among many efforts to get the BJP waxed and shining for its new run in the city, recently Infosys and Vision india foundation have launched the Mission Safer India website which is not an investigative agency but one that connects the police and the complainant. A short sighted, virtual website that will achieve very less in the future. This is so because, people who can afford a computer and in turn check this website and its services online, would have enough money to pay off the cop to fast track his complaint. A very common method of achieving results with the police in India.
Kiran Bedi too has been accused of corruption in the past and is within the same system. And should be in general clear with her posh house in Uday Park. And IPS officer is always complaining about the lack of payment. Her house is nestled in an upper class colony of the city, but it seems very improbable for her to have settled there with a lower middle class salary.
The issue which this website serves to solve, is mostly among the poorer sections, who would know little if nothing about this effort by the government, unless they are informed on a regular basis by the neighbouring government institutions.
It is important now with this new government to shift their efficiency towards, solving basic fundamental issues before reaching beyond to a larger image of the country. A country and its people should be led to evolve into refined and responsible citizens in an organic manner. Role of religion should be the last concern at this juncture. The government and the Chief Ministers should be held accountable for making visible change in the everyday workings of a common man. The role of the MCD must be clarified and made more important in the city of Delhi which is struggling with congestion and hence imploding into itself, much like Kiran Bedi’s own colony- Uday Park.
(Anica Mann Kapur is reading the MPhil in Classical Indian Religion at the University of Oxford).