In this special series, we will delve into the historic growth of Indian fascism — the Hindutva fascism — and its ties with global fascist movement with which it shares outlook and organisational ties.
Part 1: From Christchurch terror attack to way back in history – Understanding Hindutva fascism
The world has been mourning the white-supremacist fascist terrorist attack on two mosques in New Zealand’s Christchurch on 15 March 2019, where 50 Muslims were killed when they were offering their Friday congregational prayer. However, unsurprisingly, the RSS-led Indian Hindutva fascist terrorist camp celebrated the incident with much fanfare, like the western white-supremacists and the Zionist terrorists. Many of the prominent Hindutva fascism supporters, rabble-rousers and social-media influencers, who support the incumbent Narendra Modi-led BJP government, shamelessly defended the terrorist attack on the Muslims by vilifying the community as a harbinger of terrorism and violence.
Banned by the micro-blogging site Twitter for hate speech earlier, a certain advocate was found featuring in a video shared by Hindutva thugs, in which he tried to legitimise the Christchurch terror attack and build up support for the white-supremacist fascist terrorism that’s blistering at an epidemic proportion throughout Europe, North America and Australia. Many other Hindutva flag bearers were found lambasting the Muslim community for purportedly waging a “jihad” against the non-Muslim world by citing western propaganda and justified the terror strike as a method to resolve the problem.
These type of propaganda became viral on social media platform Facebook as well. Though these platforms worked swiftly to delete the video of the terrorist attack, nothing was done to curb hate speech and profanity that was spewed by the Indian Hindutva fascist terrorists on social media. No action was taken by the Indian government’s security agency against these communal vitriol mongers and terrorism supporters, though it’s claimed that India has “zero tolerance policy against terrorism”. What stopped the government machinery from taking action against the culprits if not an open pact with them?
This display of unapologetic hatred against Muslims isn’t an isolated incident or a deed of few fringe elements, rather, as an institution, the Indian government and the state machinery endorse the jaundiced views of these Hindutva fascist terrorists. As these narratives go quite well with the ruling party’s political line and its poll propaganda, therefore, the state machinery unapologetically stood behind those who openly expressed their support for a terrorist killing Muslims in New Zealand.
Prime minister Modi wrote a letter of condolence to the New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern, calling the attack an “act of terrorism” and expressed his grief. This was an official letter and was written following due protocols as the head of the government. However, as Modi has turned social media, especially Twitter, into his default press release publisher, it was expected that apart from a letter to his Kiwi counterpart, the prime minister would at least tweet a few lines condemning the terrorist act by using the same cliche that he reiterates whenever the menace of terrorism strikes anywhere in the world. Alas! Such a tweet became a lacuna in the prime minister’s daily communication, despite reports of seven to nine Indian citizens being killed in the terrorist attack.
The prime minister disappointed those who expected such a condemnation of white-supremacist terrorism from someone like him when the elections are less than a month away and the support of the hardcore Hindutva fascist elements and ruling classes is quite essential for the BJP to retain its dominance over India. Not a single word of condemnation of the terrorist attack on Christchurch came from Modi; even his government didn’t take any action against those who have been justifying the barbaric crime on social media and internet. The BJP or the RSS didn’t say what actions it will take against those who have been celebrating the New Zealand terror attack. This nonchalant attitude isn’t quite surprising to any non-liberal sane mind that’s aware of the intricacies of Indian politics.
What keeps Modi silent on the issue of such a terror attack that has killed people of his own country? Why Modi and the Hindutva fascist camp have not condemned the Christchurch terror attack? Why are the Hindutva fascists celebrating a white-supremacist terror attack, when the killer’s manifesto names Indians as one of the major threats to European civilisation apart from Chinese and Turks? How can someone celebrate the killing of their own by a foreign terrorist? The answer to these questions lies in the toxic political ideology of Hindutva fascism and its severe effect on the minds of the Hindutva indoctrinated terror-mongers.
To understand the complicity between the white-supremacist fascism and Hindutva fascism, one needs to delve deep into the history of fascism globally and its influence on India. The Hindutva fascism isn’t a monolithic block that can be defined by citing the example of the Modi regime or its parental body — the RSS — which is called the fountainhead of Hindutva fascism. It’s a fascist ideology, that’s a collaborative project in which each has provided according to their own to put up a large canvas, saffron and grotesquely reactionary.
The Hindu, Hindu Nationalism and Hindutva Fascism
Like evolution of species, before the multitude of Hindutva fascist organisations following a rickety narrative came into existence, the religion named “Hindu” was formed by the British colonial rulers when they started enacting laws according to religious customs of all major sects and communities in India. The British colonial rulers’ categorisation of the Hindu religion, absolving all non-Abrahamic faiths in it, including different religions like Sikhism, Buddhism, Jainism and the pagan tribes, was driven by the Brahminical upper-caste feudal landlords and comprador capitalists’ aspiration to remain in the “majority community” despite being numerically inferior vis-a-vis the Bahujans, ie the ostracised Dalits, the lower-caste shudras, the tribal people, Muslims, Christians and followers of other non-Brahminical religions.
To hold the compartmentalised caste blocks together and promote the interests of the comprador upper-caste Hindu capitalists, it became necessary to carry out some reformation of the religion. Thus, from the Arya Samaj movement to Vivekananda’s Hindu arousal movement, all started under the aegis of British imperialism.
A peculiar character of the Indian comprador bourgeoisie, who were born out of the colonial womb, has been their liberalism regarding economy while adhering to strict feudal conservatism in the spheres of politics, society, etc. Both Hindu and Muslim social-reformers of the 19th century, portrayed as the “pioneers of Indian renaissance” by the Indian rulers so far, have been socially conservative. Yet, those among them who opposed some social evils like sati system or advocated women’s education, like Raja Ram Mohan Roy, Ishwar Chandra Vidyasagar, Sir Syed Ahmed Khan, had to face strong vitriol from the conservative ruling blocs, despite having the patronage of the colonial rulers.
It was at the beginning of the 20th century, when a popular movement started in the Bengal province against the evil design of the British imperialism to divide the province into two parts with a divisive communal agenda, that the need to distract and deviate any nationalist outrage was felt by the British rulers. The upper-caste Bengali Bhadralok community began a massive movement in the urban areas, burning British commodities, and many taking to militant revolutionary struggle by assassinating British government staffs to oppose the colonial hegemony. The frightened British imperialists first tried to suppress the movement by unleashing state violence, failing which they tried to ensure that the Muslims are segregated from the Hindus, who were at the forefront waging the struggle, by forming the Muslim League in 1906.
With the formation of the Muslim League it became easy for the British colonial rulers to spew communal hatred among the people and incite riots. The Muslim League adopted the Two Nation Theory propounded by Sir Khan in the 19th century, which gave an opportunity to the British imperialism to vilify the Muslims as enemies of Hindus and thereby paved the way for the Hindu Mahasabha, founded in 1915 by turncoat revolutionary VD Savarkar, along with Hindu comprador bourgeoisie like Madan Mohan Malviya and Lala Lajpat Rai, a disgruntled Congress leader. The Hindu Mahasabha laid the foundation of the Hindutva fascism at least a decade before the formation of the RSS and had been a major political force in India until the 1960s, when it was finally cast into oblivion by the RSS’s rise.
VD Savarkar coined the term — Hindutva — by mixing Hindu identity with the nationality of an Indian nation, which has been since depicted as a goddess. Bengali upper-caste bureaucrat-turned-author Bankim Chandra Chattopadhyay’s fictitious work Anandamath, which played a crucial part in arousing the anti-colonial nationalist fervour among petty-bourgeois revolutionaries, was used by Hindu Mahasabha to build up its version of nationalism. The Hindu nationalist idea, which earlier played a progressive role in arousing the Bhadralok community against foreign oppression, became a reactionary weapon under the Hindutva fanatics, who — as stooges of British imperialism — used the occasion to deprive it of any revolutionary and anti-colonial essence.
The Hindu nationalism used fictitious claims from the Anandamath and other sources to depict the narrative of a glorious Hindu past of an Akhand Bharat, a land from where the Aryans, claimed to be the superior race, originated and spread all over the world. It was claimed that the real enemies of the Hindu nation was the Muslims and Christians, who have stolen the wealth and glory of the Hindus. It called for a revival of the Hindu culture and restoration of a Hindu state founded on Brahminical hegemony.
A Hindu goddess Bharat Mata, narrated in Anandamath and earlier revered by revolutionary militants, was turned into a cult for Hindu nationalists and Vande Mataram, a song in the fiction, became the war cry, with even the Congress using it as its slogan. Following the international fascism’s trait in later years, the Bharat Mata, a vulnerable woman and mother, was shown under threat from the “other” — ie the Muslims, Christians and those who are secular.
The threat quotient was intensified to spread the xenophobia, which is still continuing, and the Hindu “sons” of the vulnerable Bharat Mata are called upon, even now, to save her honour from the Muslims, Christians and other enemies. The concept of Bharat Mata, plagiarised from Chattopadhyay’s Anandamath, is used in a sheer patriarchal way to show women as weak, vulnerable and in need of masculine protection. This patriarchal and feudal masculinity, quintessential of the Hindutva’s Hindu, has been an aspiration for generations of Hindutva fanatics across different organisations to become feral and boisterous.
However, though the Hindu Mahasabha and the Muslim League were quite well splitting the Indian people on religious lines to weaken the anti-colonial struggle, the 1917 November Revolution in Russia and the growth of Bolshevik revolutionary theory, which started weaning a large number of youth, frightened the British imperialism, which took up the task of building a militant organisation to thwart the menace of communism and foment communal trouble. To serve this goal, the British colonial rule and its infamous Intelligence Bureau (IB) formed the RSS with turncoat nationalists from Brahminical castes at its helm in 1925. Since then, in the last 94 years, the organisation have been a crucial support system for colonial and neo-colonial rule in India.
One of the major differences between the RSS and the Hindu Mahasabha, despite their similarities in many other things, has been the RSS’s strategy of building a movement from the grassroots calling for a Hindu Rashtra (Hindu Nation) and the Hindu Mahasabha’s frantic attempt to replace the Congress and become the political alternative for the upper-caste Hindu feudal landlords and comprador capitalists of colonised India. Other differences were over leadership, strategy and tactics of the two organisations. While the Hindu Mahasabha unapologetically spilt the beans and shared its political vision of getting a share of state power from the British imperialism, the RSS wanted to work from the backstage and use different offshoot political outfits for ventriloquism in the political sphere.
To be continued