In his victory speech on May 23 2019, Narendra Modi 2.0 yet again demonstrated yet another proof that he’s the Master of timing. With the casual swagger of a strategist and leader at the peak of his powers, he declared that even the Megharaja (literally: king of clouds, meaning rain) had blessed the BJP’s massive, consecutive mandate. And some minutes later, dropped a completely unexpected bomb that delighted millions and mortally stunned a few thousands. With the selfsame airy apathy, Narendra Modi in so many words, nonchalantly, publicly chucked the remaining shreds of secularism into the dustbin. An outcome-come-true, for which millions had toiled, suffered, and sacrificed for over four generations. Hope was their only strength, determination and persistence, their only fuel.
This is history unfolding before our own eyes. Spectacularly.
The choice of Narendra Modi’s words was almost mantic when he said that “between 2014-19, the full secularist jamaat had completely stopped using the word secularism.” The word jamaat means “assembly” or “gathering” or “congregation” of the Islamic Faithful. The well-known implication of this is straightforward: in India, secularism=Islamism. Narendra Modi’s statement is an echo of Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath who in 2017 said:
I believe that the word secular is the biggest lie since Independence. Those that have given birth to this lie and those that use it should apologise to the people and this country. No system can be secular. Political system can be sect-neutral. If someone were to say that government has to be run by one way of prayer, that is not possible. In UP, I have to look at 22 crore people and I am answerable for their security and their feelings. But I am not sitting here to ruin one community either. You can be sect-neutral but not secular. [Emphasis added]
Change and reform in public discourse and politics is a slow, gradual, systematic, and painful process. The word “reform” is meaningless unless it is accompanied by the word “conserve.” Any reform is useless and dangerous even, if it doesn’t conserve the enduring values of the past…the best of tradition, in other words.
Nothing illustrates this better than the journey of the word “secularism,” after India attained independence.
As early as 1951, a now obscure thinker and writer, Anthony Elenjimittam first used the word “pseudo-secularism” to launch a direct attack against the Jawaharlal Nehru-led Indian National Congress Party, accusing its leaders of practicing sham secularism. Here’s how he saw through them so early:
- At a time when our shallow political leaders, in the name of secularism and opportunist politics, are deliberately shelving aside the eternal and immortal treasures of Indian philosophy and religion, it will be the task of the new nationalist forces, notably the RSS , to vindicate these human values in their own exemplary lives and, then, through a nation-wide campaign to resurrect the dynamite of Indian metaphysics with a view to giving infinite vision and horizon to the youth of the country, to appreciate the best and eschew the dross…from what is transmitted to us as the sum total of Indian culture and civilization…
- These national springs, however, are not that amorphous and colourless secularism of our British-trained leaders…
- When the present de-nationalizing fad of commercial secularism is got over, and the truly national, patriotic and humanistic forces have taken control of the Government, revolutionary steps are to be introduced in the educational life of [India]…
- Our secularists have seen and studied but the surface-layers of Western ways of life…these secularists have roots neither in the East nor in the West, and they would like to drag the rest of the country into their miserable plight. What they really ought to have done is not to shout for a colourless secularism, but to reconstruct themselves and their country on the basis of ethical principles, on the basic elements of self-restraint and sense-control…
- They preach secularism to their adherents and friends, simply because secularism would mean downright denial of India’s past history, of the great names in Indian history…like Buddha, Asoka, Sankara, Chanakya, Manu, Yajnavalkya…
- If any politician or statesman thinks that he could wipe out religion and reinstate his secularist fad on the throne of Dharma…then…they will fall and fail. [Philosophy and Action of the R.S.S. for The Hind Swaraj: Anthony Elenjimittam]
Years later, to his everlasting credit, Lal Krishna Advani popularized the term “pseudo-secularism” and eventually made it a mainstay of Indian public discourse. Beginning roughly in the mid-2000s, the term “pseudo-secularism” was accurately equated with “secularism.” And with Narendra Modi trashing the word “secularism” in his 2019 victory speech, the journey of the term has come a full circle. It took more than half a century but that’s precisely the way of Sanatana Dharma, akin to the Akshaya Vata Vruksha, akin to Ganga, akin to the Bhakti Marga which held Sanatana society together in times of extreme distress.
Indian secularism could have never been successful or sustained for so long but for the brute might of the State starting right at the Prime Minister. Even in its original home, the post-Christian Europe, it has endured for less than five centuries, a mere blip on the vast canvas of Time. We’re living witnesses to how almost all of Europe is crumbling on a daily basis to Islamic immigrants…secularism has failed miserably to offer any coherent response, let alone defense to this scourge.
But to simplify it, secularism in India was and remains a vulgar ode to the deluded fantasies of a failed Nawab named Jawaharlal Nehru. In theory it sounds childish. When uttered, it is a dirty word. In practice, it is fatal.
Consider history. There is a direct correlation between the progressive collapse of the Nehru dynasty and the collapse of secularism in India. And, consequently, the decimation of Communism-Marxism in India. A carefully buried truth of history is the fact that after the Emergency, then after Indira Gandhi’s re-election in 1980 and more urgently, after Sanjay Gandhi’s death, she had begun a conscious and open decision to eschew secularism and became “overtly Hindu,” performing Havans and Yagas and going on Tirthayatras with some kind of a renewed vengeance. The icing on the cake: her blunt snubbing of the Communists in 1981-82 which had radiated shockwaves among the Reds in those days. The Far Left maniac and later, I.K. Gujral’s Man Friday, Bhabani Sen Gupta had characterized her as one of the “bourgeoise forces” and wrote that
Indira Gandhi…has declared that Marxism has no place in Indian democracy. She seems to be determined to translate that icy piece of rhetoric into deadly missiles of political action.
But it was under the Rajiv Gandhi regime that the secularists-Communists-Marxists bared their Red fangs dripping with blood. Especially as the Ramjanmabhoomi Movement picked up steam. The entire Far Left cabal including alleged historians and academics like Romila Thapar, D.N. Jha, Bipan Chandra, Irfan Habib et al committed brazen and public crimes against history, ably supported by friends and allies in the media, government, and the rabid lobby of hardcore Islamic fundamentalists. They were indirectly responsible for the destruction of the Babri Masjid, not the so-called Hindutva militants. The fact that they could blackmail Prime Minister Rajiv Gandhi—who had 400+ seats in the Lok Sabha—with impunity shows the frightening levels of unelected and unearned power they wielded. Of course, not one of these eminences have been punished so far because…secularism is sacred and any crime committed to serve its end is actually an act of virtue.
Recall the names of just two icons of secularism that this cabal lauded: Imam Abdullah Bukhari and Syed Shahbuddin. These, among the other worst specimens of Islamic fundamentalismwere secularists in the Nehruvian definition of the term. The fact that this vile galaxy of intellectual blackmailers of Indian polity were so heartless as to lobby Rajiv Gandhi to overturn the court’s judgement and inflict cruel violence on Shah Bano, an old, impoverished and helpless Muslim woman is the everlasting monument to their infamy. Salman Rushdie, the high school prose writer standing on his hindlegs in service of his own former colonial masters, could survive a ban. Shah Bano?
For the longest time and for what it is worth today, the secularism of our secularists stops to a screeching halt just outside the marbled steps of the nearest mosque.
The most recent evidence of this fact is a foul article in Shekhar Gupta’s The Print extolling the electoral victory of a Muslim mafia don in Uttar Pradesh. We can logically expect The Print to next publish a laudatory essay on Dawood Ibrahim who saved secularism by bombing buildings in Bombay.
Anything to save secularism. Including praising
Indian Pakistani Prime Minister, Imran Khan. In the aftermath of
Pulwama and then Balakot airstrikes, the secularists were more concerned about
Anything to save secularism.
The same secularism that for more than half a century snatched Hindu territory and gifted it to Muslims and Christians. The same secularism that rewrote Hindu laws without the consent of Hindus to the detriment of Hindus. The same secularism that variously normalizes, condones, justifies, and even encourages Love Jihad. The same secularism that deracinated four generations of Hindu children and made them commit crimes against the sacred memory of their own ancestors who fought to preserve their Dharma and Desha.
Until Narendra Modi burst on the political stage in 2014.
In a conclave in 2013, when asked what secularism meant for him, Narendra Modi gave a simple two-word answer that left no room for any further debate: “India first.” Like his political strategies and moves, it is nearly impossible to corner him. And in 2019, he has chucked secularism in the dustbin. Where it belongs.
Today, the sputtering embers of secularism
can be seen in the green flags that overwhelmed the streets of
Wayanad on May 23 2019 celebrating Rahul Gandhi’s “victory.” And in its graveyard:
Postscript: I’m reminded of a rather delicious epitaph that Byron wrote on the death of Viscount Castlereagh:
Posterity will ne’er survey
a Nobler grave than this:
Here lie the bones of Castlereagh:
Stop, traveller, and piss!
Substitute “Castlereagh” with “Secularism.”