India is supposed to be a Hindu majority country. Narendra Modi, India’s Prime Minister since 2014, is supposed to be a Hindu nationalist. His party, BJP, is supposed to espouse Hindutva, the politics of Hindu identity. Currently, BJP also heads most state government in the country. Given this, an outsider wouldn’t be at fault to suppose that the present time is as yet the most favourable for Hindus to have a say in matters of policy, especially those related to religion and culture. The reality, however, is that such a supposition has no place in Modi’s India.
Under the current BJP regime, there is an ever increasing government interference in the affairs of private schools run by Hindu managements, and only of schools run by Hindu managements. Mind you, I am talking here of schools that do not receive a single paisa from the government. The provisions of RTE act passed by the previous Congress-led UPA government, and with active support from then opposition BJP, are now being implemented with a draconian rigour, especially in BJP governed states like Maharashtra. One such provision of the act is that 25% of seats in every class of every Hindu run school is taken over by the government and provisioned for the “weaker sections of the society” from whom the schools cannot collect any fee. As per the law, schools are to be compensated by the government for the costs they incur on these 25% students. But in reality, the government hasn’t been paying its dues and by some accounts, these pending payments amount to as much as Rs. 90,000 crores. The schools that deny admission to RTE students because they can’t afford the financial burden anymore, are being served closure notices. Ultimately, the result of this blatant robbery by the Indian state is that Hindus are being slowly pushed out of the education sector. And this is happening under the watch of the Hindutva party, BJP.
Meanwhile, the secular Indian state continues to run the affairs of Hindu temples with the bureaucrats and politicians treating them as yet another means of amassing illegal wealth. Since Mr. Modi became prime minister, numerous cases have come to light where precious temple wealth including antiques of historical value were stolen and smuggled, often by those entrusted with protecting them. Not satisfied with plundering the temples that are already under its control, in several states the governments have tried to forcibly take over temples managed efficiently by devotees for hundreds of years. One such example is the attempt by the communist government of Kerala to force its way into the Parthasarathy Temple in Guruvayoor. The state was thwarted by the devotees for the time being, but the communists seem determined to continue their aggression of Hindu heritage. In the neighbouring Karnataka, the state government appointed a Muslim to administer Hindu temples. When the devotees lodged a protest against this outrage citing law, the government’s response was to amend the law itself to facilitate intervention of non-Hindus in temple administration. In West Bengal, the state government appointed a rabid islamist to head the Tarakeshwar temple board. Despite persistent demands, the government of Hindu nationalist BJP has not shown any inkling to even discuss the matter of handing over temple administration to the devotees.
It could be a coincidence, but ever since Mr Modi’s ascension to the prime minister’s office, there is a greater interest in the various arms of the Indian state to “reform” Hindu culture and “civilize” our way of life. Supreme Court of India (SCI) banned the conduct of Jallikattu, under the pretext of cruelty to animals. The SCI also imposed restrictions on the height of Dahi Handi during Janmashtami celebrations, again because it was worried about the safety of participants more than the participants themselves. The judiciary also took it upon itself to decide on who can and cannot worship at Hindu temples; Hindus don’t seem to have the right to discuss that. For the last 2 years the West Bengal government has banned the Durga puja during the days that Muslims observe Moharram. There have been very persistent campaigns, generously funded by foreign money, targeting every Hindu festival – Holi wastes water; Rakshbandhan and Karva chauth are patriarchal; Diwali causes air pollution; Ganesh pooja causes water pollution; marriage are a display of wealth; every festival and celebration causes noise pollution.
What I have given here is an incomplete list of state-sponsored discrimination of Hindus. In each of these cases, and others, those that have assaulted the Hindu way of life had either the power of state machine behind them or of well funded social organizations or both. Hindus, on the other hand, disunited as they were, were left to fend for themselves. Those who ascended the pedestal of power with the help of Hindu vote left them in the lurch. It is by now established that Mr Modi’s sterling victory in 2014 was aided to a large extent by the consolidation of Hindu vote. He will yet need that coalition in 2019 if there is to be any hope of even matching the 2014 performance. So, then, what explains his disdain for the Hindu cause? What is the confidence that lets him take the Hindu vote for granted? My guess is that he believes Hindus have nowhere else to go; no other option but to back him.
This situation cannot continue any longer if Hindus, both as citizens and as a culture, aspire to survive in this country, and survive with dignity. A say and influence over government function is essential to safeguard the community’s interests. We cannot chronically be in a situation where one of the two major political parties actively works to undermine and criminalize the community while the other party offers nothing more than lip-service during elections. This can be corrected only if the Hindus assert their numbers into an electoral strategy. And that is the case for a political party that is unabashedly Hindu centric. The sole purpose of this party should be to influence government action in favour of Hindus. Though the title says Hindu Mahasabha, this blog is not intended to exert support to that outfit. It could be that or any other entity, it could even be the BJP, as long as it is prepared to adhere to the basic ground rule. This political party need not even be a national player like the Congress or BJP. It needs to have just about enough numbers to decide the survival of the extant government. To preserve our civilization and to pass our culture on to the next generation, it is imperative that every Hindu in this country works towards this goal. Or we risk becoming illegitimates in our only homeland.