The agitation around “reunification” – Journal
PAKISTAN’s Foreign Ministry offered what sounded like a high-decibel response to the back-breaking comments from Mohan Bhagwat, the head of India’s right-wing Hindu RSS. He had, not for the first time, spoken of the need to undo the 1947 score.
The point is that the RSS is rallying its cadres to the dream of “Akhand Bharat” – a Sanskritized India built on mythology rather than history. Its ambitious map stretches from present-day Afghanistan to Myanmar. The design represents Hindutva’s wishful thinking and naturally locates Bangladesh and Pakistan within its borders as well as all of former Jammu and Kashmir, including Aksai Chin administered by the China.
Read more: “Publicity stunt”: Pakistan criticizes Modi for “twisting history” in score tweets
There are quiet (but firm) ways to deal with these occasional neighborhood irritants. During the debate over the dismantling of Jammu and Kashmir in August 2019, Interior Minister Amit Shah threatened to take Aksai Chin back from China. A short, low-decibel Chinese response was enough to keep the subject from coming to the surface again, by anyone in the Indian government.
The notion of Akhand Bharat involving Pakistan is a blast that refuses to come up. Former Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee carefully sacked it. The significance of Vajpayee’s visit to Minar-i-Pakistan in Lahore in 1999 is that a pro-Hindutva leader first showed respect to where the Pakistani resolution was passed in 1940 The visit involved a distancing from appeals to Akhand Bharat – as this, unnecessarily, for transitional political purposes, seemed to threaten to violate Pakistan’s sovereignty.
The notion of Akhand Bharat involving Pakistan is a blast that refuses to come up.
Vajpayee’s visit, foolishly opposed by Jamaat-i-Islami activists in Lahore, helped soften the notion of the childish RSS card in the public debate. The subsequent visit to the Jinnah Mausoleum by Vajpayee’s more right-wing colleague LK Advani further sealed the fate of the Pakistani aggressors. The world has seen Advani praising the founder of Pakistan, perhaps knowing that the lavish comments ran counter to his political background with the RSS. Advani’s disgrace in Hindutva’s fold began with this visit.
The arrival of a looser establishment since 2014 may have once again resulted in the hushed up discussion, but few would take it seriously. Farmers and civil society raise bigger issues that matter anyway. Therefore, why lose his temper in the face of meaningless comments, especially if they do not come from a responsible official?
A laughable parallel would be that of a Muslim revivalist group in Pakistan dreaming of the return of Mughal rule in India. That’s not to say that cataclysmic things don’t happen in a very fragile world. Its own president dissolved the formidable Soviet Union. Pakistan claims a moral interest in uniting with the Kashmiris in the valley. But he opposes the Tamils ââin Sri Lanka to seek a separate homeland. Elsewhere, key auxiliaries of sovereign nations have threatened to leave the folds in the UK and Canada, but without undue hard feelings.
The comments of Pakistan’s foreign ministry in response to an irritating habit of part of the Indians were not unlike the fears expressed in Karachi (the capital at the time) which Nehru noted empathetically. In one of his latest interviews, Nehru is quoted in Gunnar Myrdal’s Asian Drama, saying he would have liked a loose confederation with Pakistan. âBut if we do talk about it, they tend to take it the wrong way. This does not mean that the head of the RSS spoke in the language of Nehru, far from it. The RSS cannot see India without right-wing Hindu hegemony.
The idea of ââEurope-style open borders between India and Pakistan, however, is a dream of thousands of ordinary and well-meaning Indians and Pakistanis. They are tired of their untenable military budgets, preventable hostilities and the terrible consequences they inflict on their people. The point is, Bhagwat and his ilk despise Nehru. They aim to dismantle the edifice of a secular and benevolent republic that Nehru strived to build in India, no different from what Zia did with Jinnah’s dream.
It was Constitution Day in India on November 26. On that day, in 1949, Dalit lawyer BR Ambedkar presented the completed draft charter to the assembly. Two months later, the constitution was adopted and the day proclaimed Republic Day. Nehru had taken Ambedkar’s vision into account, and he made it known to the Constituent Assembly in January 1947.
âThe first task of this Assembly is to liberate India through a new constitution, to feed the starving people and clothe the naked masses, and to give every Indian the fullest opportunity to develop according to his abilities. It is certainly a great task. Look at India todayâ¦ The atmosphere is overloaded with these quarrels and quarrels, which are called communal unrest, and unfortunately sometimes we cannot avoid them. But right now the biggest and most important question in India is how to solve the problem of the poor and hungry. Everywhere we turn, we face this problem. If we cannot solve this problem quickly, all of our paper constitutions will become useless and aimless. “
This promise of democracy, justice, egalitarianism and the rule of law made the RSS laugh. Through his English spokesperson, Organizer, he declared on November 30, 1949: âBut in our constitution there is no mention of the unique constitutional development in ancient Bharat. The laws of Manu were written long before Lycurgus of Sparta or Solon of Athens. To this day, its laws as enunciated in the Manusmriti excite the admiration of the world and arouse spontaneous obedience and conformity. But for our constitutional experts, this means nothing.
Critics of the RSS say that Manu’s laws are mainly violent edicts targeting women and Dalits. RSS could do better than that to win the affection of a suspicious neighborhood. Likewise, even Nehru’s ruminations could become a threat to the citizens of both countries if they were not first conceived in a democracy, particularly underpinned by the equal rights of women and minorities on both sides.
The writer is Dawn’s correspondent in Delhi.
Posted in Dawn, November 30, 2021