India Undone!

What is the news coming out of India today as I sit down to write this (Aug 3, 2023)? Wont attach pictures to this post because seeing those images of burning churches and people getting lynched is personally triggering for me!

Manipur in the North East has been burning for 3 months now with targeted violence against the Kuki Christians and Modi Govt has adopted a policy of stoic silence on the issue. NOT ONE WORD! And across last week, Communal Violence erupted across the states of Haryana and Rajasthan triggered by the “Cow Protection Brigades” setup by the RSS in every city. And then there was the case of a Police Constable shooting sleeping passengers on a Train in cold blood because they *looked Muslim*. In the South of India, where the RSS-BJP lost their last southern bastion Karnataka a few months ago, the RSS attempted to inflame communal tension against Muslims using the “Love Jehad” trope and against Christians by using the “mass conversion” trope. BJP MPs who remained silent as Manipur erupted in flames flew down to Karnataka to stage protests and inflame passions with vitriolic speeches. This was last week!

RIGHT NOW as I write this, I see reports of fresh violence breaking out again in Nuh, barely 50 kms away from the hep, cosmopolitan center of Gurugram! Gurugram itself saw communal riots last week. In short, the RSS, clearly triggered by the loss of Karnataka and jittery about losing Federal Elections in 2024, has been busy lighting communal fires across the country in cooperation with a compliant Media. It has been the standard Modi-RSS model since 2002 – inflame communal passions against Muslims/Christians and polarised voters will vote for them!

So what has changed? NOTHING! This has pretty much been the story since Modi came to power in 2014 – The systematic destruction of Democratic Institutions, the use of Mass Media and platforms like Twitter/WhatsApp to spread disinformation and inflame communal passions, the undermining of Parliament and the Constitution – all in the pursuit of implementing the RSS ideology of so-called “Hindu Rashtra” – Aryavarta – an idyllic fantasy world of our “5000 year old Aryan culture” stretching from Afghanistan in the West to Cambodia in the East! One ruled by a strong, powerful man who represents the Aryan ideal!

So Nothing has changed since last week eh?! A lot actually! With every passing week, the United India that was built since 1947 is slowly being dismantled brick by brick. And if things continue the same way, there will be no India left! Let me explain!

Unlike Germany and Italy where these experiments in Lunacy were tried before, India is not a unitary state bound by a common culture or language! There are 30 official languages and 100s of individual dialects like Magadhi and Tulu! There are 4 major religions: Hinduism, Islam, Christianity and Sikhism. The culture and food is not the same either. There is no such thing as “Indian cuisine”! What passes for “Indian cuisine” in the West is mostly food from the north Indian state of Punjab. Every single state in the Indian Union has its own distinct cuisine, culture and independent history. The state of Kerala, where I come from, was never part of either the Vijayanagara or Ashokan empires which are often quoted by RSS propagandists to define the borders of “Aryavarta”! The only thing that we do have in common is that the British came in and took over the sub-continent bit by bit and gave us the gift of the English Language!

When the British left in 1947, they gave the states the choice to become independent or to sign up to the Indian Union. Many signed up, drawn to the secular, nationalist appeal of Gandhi and Nehru who worked to unite this disparate region into a unified, federal, secular republic. Kashmir, Hyderabad and Junagadh States which did not accede willingly were integrated with military action. States like Kerala and Karnataka in the South also did not join the Indian Union till 1949! The states of the North East (except Assam) did not become part of the Indian Union till the 1960s! The Indian Airforce was using Canberra bombers and Gnats fighters to forcibly integrate the area well into the late 60s! Sikkim was an independent kingdom till 1971 when it was forcibly annexed! Sri Lanka, Myanmar and Thailand all chose not to join the Indian Union and are independent countries today!

What united those of us who joined then? Nehru, a man the RSS and Modi both hate, sold the idea of a secular, Westminster style democracy based on Federal principles which many former princely states bought and signed up to. Each state would run its own affairs except for Foreign Affairs, Defense and Currency. These principles of Federalism were whittled down later during the rule of Mrs.Indira Gandhi -arguably India’s first experience with dictatorship. But even Mrs.Gandhi stayed true to core values of Secularism and diversity in cultures that made up the Indian republic.

The RSS vision of a unitary state OTOH – united only by Religion, speaking one language Hindi, and governed not by a Democratic constitution but the rules of Manu written 2000 years ago – runs contrary to the Nehruvian idea of India that was in place till 2014. And will that vision work in a country with the diversity of India? Can it work?

Let us forget the examples of Polish-Lithuanian, Byzantine and Austro-Hungarian empires – those are far, far away! Closer home, we have a country that tried exactly that same experiment in “unification” – Pakistan in the 1960s tried to impose Urdu on the whole of Pakistan when a majority of Pakistan spoke Bengali, Punjabi and Sindhi. How did that experiment end? A massive bloodbath in 1970 followed by a large part of the country seceding to form the modern day Bangladesh.

The one important learning from Pakistan and other examples above is that shared Language, Culture and history are more of a binding and unifying force than religion can ever be! Democracy, Constitution and Liberal values are not weaknesses but strengths! A strong, central leader like Hitler, Mussolini or Modi is not a unifying force but a force of Division, Death and Destruction!

Fill in the blanks -> Repeating the same mistake and expecting different results is the definition of _____!? Those who don’t learn from History are ______ !?

Personal anecdote – My ex was a Hindi speaking, “pure Aryan” Brahmin with fair skin and blue eyes, from the state of UP in the North and I am a dark-skinned, Malayalam speaking “Nazarene Christian” from the state of Kerala in the South! The common language was English but our culture, food habits and even religion were otherwise completely different. He learnt a bit of my language by watching Malayalam films and I learnt Hindi culture by watching Hindi films. He came to Church with me for Easter Qurbana and I went to a dozen Hindu temples with him! I introduced him to “Kerala Beef Fry” and he introduced me to Paneer (ugh!)!! Different language, culture, food habits and religions – But much like India before Modi, we somehow found a way to stay together, bound by common interests like filmmaking and a shared vision for the future! Once Modi came to power however, he came under the trance and became a “bhakt” (Believer) – “India has been paying a ‘Democracy Tax’! 15 years of Fascist dictatorship will make India a superpower babe!” end of quote! 🙄

In many ways, my personal story is a parallel to what is happening in India today! We have very little in common anymore to keep us together! Our culture and language is completely different, We are looking for different things and have a different vision for the future! The more developed Dravidian states in the south have a common genetic code, shared culture and speak a similar language. We have little in common anymore with the Aryan North! Punjab State in the North has more in common with the Punjab province of Pakistan, Bengal in the East has more in common with Bangladesh than it has with rest of India – common language, cuisine, culture, traditions and history! The RSS has systematically broken the binds that bound us together. 😢

The fires that the RSS is lighting today in pursuit of solidifying their hold on power is only tearing what is left of the social fabric that once bound India together! How much longer will this cycle of violence against minorities continue? How many more Churches and Gurudwaras will be burnt down? How many more mosques will be demolished before people rise up and see the real issues hidden in the burning embers – skyrocketing inflation, unemployment and corruption?!

So I have no hope whatsoever of India staying united in the future! The damage to the social fabric done in the past 10 years can be repaired, but somehow I don’t see that happening! Like the former Soviet Union, with every passing day, India seems to be clearly headed for a tragic and bloody civil war! And If the RSS manages to retain power in 2024, expect the end to be even more bloody!

RIP! 😢

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