The hegemony of one ideology is not Hinduistic and is a definitive threat.
The hypocrisy, along with chosen diversity, has got replaced with naked communal majoritarianism along with bigotry.
“Eight hundred years after it (power in Delhi) went away from Prithviraj Chauhan; it did not come back into the hands of a proud Hindu. It has happened after 800 years,” said Ashok Singhal, the leader of the Vishwa Hindu Parishad (VHP) at the conference attended by several union ministers and RSS supremo Mohan Bhagwat. This statement was about the BJP’s spectacular victory in the 2014 Lok Sabha elections, and ‘a proud Hindu’ was referred to none other than the Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi.
The last Hindu rule was that of Marathas, Peshwa Baji Rao II, and not of Prithviraj Chauhan. The Peshwas were infamous for their tyrannical Brahminical rule. The Shudras (untouchables) routinely received more severe punishment for even minor infringements. For fear that the shadow of Shudra’s body might defile Savarna (upper caste), the use of public spaces and thoroughfares was only available to untouchables during the hours of early morning and late evening. Mahars, a Shudra caste from Maharashtra, could only appear in public spaces with brooms tied behind their backs to sweep up their footprints, and pots on their necks to collect their spit so that Shudra’s saliva might not get on the pathway of Savarnas. The Peshwa rule ended with the decisive Anglo-Maratha war at Bhima Koregaon on 1st January 1818. Mahars, which were part of the British East India Company troops, fought valiantly to defeat their oppressors.
The Peshwas were Chitpavan Brahmin. All the Sanghachalaks of RSS have also been Chitpavan Brahmins, with one insignificant exception. RSS is the mother of all Hindutva organizations, including the political wing BJP, and is unequivocal about its agenda to make India a Hindu Rashtra. RSS’s ancestry and ideology are more cohesive with Peshwas than that with Prithviraj Chauhan. But the need to recall a Hindu King that existed 800 years ago despite a fresher history of 200 years old explains the divisive politics which was about to unleash immediately after winning the elections. The British East India Company defeated Peshwas, whereas Muhammad of Ghor defeated Chauhan. Hindus were about to take back their lost glory from Mohammedans; hence Chauhan fits better. Above all, the precise message was that the Hindu rule has returned.
What has changed?
Before 2014, it was the Congress that has ruled most of the time in India. There have been governments by other parties also including that of BJP led by Atal Bihari Vajpayee. But they all are clubbed together as Congress rule of 65 years because the new government intentionally distances itself from the erstwhile regimes. The previous governments were running under the garb of secularism. Now the time had arrived to discard the overused veil. Although India has always been under Hindu rule, it was soft Hindutva, which got replaced by hard Hindutva. Generic terms, ‘soft’ and ‘hard,’ must be clarified for a better understanding of Hindutva. So it is vital to know the specifics and the difference between them.
Imagine a river without fishes, a valley of flowers without bees, lush green fields with depleting underground water, or a smart city with unbreathable polluted air. Soft Hindutva too offers a range of diversity and liberty but with checks and balances to remain within the Brahmanical framework of nationalism. The tribals have the right to earn a livelihood without the right to own their forests. Dalits have the equal right to vote any candidate but from the list selected by Savarnas. Minorities can reach the highest positions of PM or President without decisive political power like a CEO appointed by the Board of Directors. One rule book for all that can be interpreted arbitrarily. Indians had adapted to this compromised fabric of democracy and secularism, and proudly call it ‘unity in diversity.’
Concealing M.K. Gandhi’s racist views towards black in South Africa or his belief in Chaturvarna (caste system), you get the messiah of non-violence, father of the nation. But post-2014, the assassin of Gandhi, Nathuram Godse, started becoming a revered figure. Rebuking Gandhi, citing half-baked historical references of one’s own choice, has now become vogue. Gandhi’s death anniversary was also celebrated as Shaurya Divas (Bravery day) to honor Nathuram Godse by staging the assassination by shooting at Gandhi’s effigy. The repudiation of Gandhi is not for the reason that the people have realized his racist or casteist views. The hatred towards Gandhi is because he is held responsible for making India secular and for losing the golden opportunity to make India a Hindu country. Extreme right-wingers believe Gandhi favored Muslims. They just can’t digest the fact, if the Islamic Republic of Pakistan was carved out of British India, why Muslims were allowed to stay in India. Their binary world has only two entities- Hindus and Muslims. If Muslims have Pakistan, Hindustan must belong to Hindus only. Their concept of nationalism requires no voice for Dalits, Tribals, Sikhs, Buddhists, Jain, Christian, etc. No one informed them, it was the shrewdness of Gandhi that the ‘transfer of power’ came into the hands of Savarnas to govern India like never before in the history of sub-continent.
Sikhs had a vast sovereign prosperous empire that became part of India after the annexation of Punjab by East India Company in 1849. Sikh leaders were very much part of the meetings and negotiations with Britishers before partition. Sikhs were verbally assured of the ‘glow of freedom’ by Nehru and Gandhi, which convinced them to join India. Sikhs leaders would not have agreed to join, had it been in their imagination that Punjab would face denial even for the basic demand of statehood when states on linguistic basis in the rest of the country would come up as a norm.
The hypocrisy of Congress helped to project itself as the representative body of entire India. Gandhi became the champion of untouchables and rallied to open the temple doors for them, which otherwise had remained closed for Shudras for many centuries. Muslim leaders like Maulana Abdul Kalam Azad comforted Muslims that India would be a secular with equal rights and justice for all. Had it been Hindu Mahasabha or RSS in the forefront, Dalits, Sikhs, Christians, Indian Muslims would never have joined them.
These sentiments can be felt from the words of Dr B.R. Ambedkar when he presented his case against the two-nation theory of the Muslim League and in favor of united India. He writes:
“Has not the governing class of the Hindus, which controls Hindu politics, shown more regard for safeguarding the rights and interests of the Musalmans than they have for safeguarding the rights and interests of the Shudras and the Untouchables? Is not Mr. Gandhi, who is determined to oppose any political concession to the Untouchables, ready to sign a blank cheque in favour of the Muslims? Indeed, the Hindu governing class seems to be far more ready to share power with the Muslims than it is to share power with the Shudras and the Untouchables. Surely, the Muslims have the least ground to complain of the undemocratic character of Hindu society….. Is it proposed that the Hindu Raj should be the rule of a naked communal majority? Are not the Musalmans granted safeguards against the possible tyranny of the Hindu majority?..... Confining ourselves to British India and taking account only of the representation granted to the territorial constituencies, Hindu and Muslim, in the Lower House in the Central Legislature under the Government of India Act, 1935, it is clear that out of a total of 187, the Hindus have 105 seats and the Muslims have 82 seats. Given these figures one is forced to ask, where is [any cause for] the fear of the Hindu Raj?
If [the] Hindu Raj does become a fact, it will, no doubt, be the greatest calamity for this country. No matter what the Hindus say, Hinduism is a menace to liberty, equality and fraternity. On that account it is incompatible with democracy. Hindu Raj must be prevented at any cost.”
Dr Ambedkar’s assurances to Mr Jinnah of the sacrosanctity of the legislature proved to be incorrect, and his worst fears are close to reality.
The difference between soft Hindutva and hard Hindutva is the same as it is between Gandhi and Godse. The hypocrisy, along with chosen diversity, has got replaced with naked communal majoritarianism along with bigotry.
Pre 2014, the governing class of Hindus displayed a lot of diversity (chosen diversity). Leftists, rightists, and liberals all had respectable representation under the flexible umbrella of Brahmanism. The innate characteristic of Hinduism is that it cannot be defined as one ideology. It’s a babel of varying and sometimes opposing ideologies. Vedant, Yog, Arya Samaj, Brahmo Samaj, Ramakrishna Mission, and many more had flourished along with the mainstream Brahmanism.
The journey from diversity to uniformity hasn’t happened overnight. It is backed by the successful experiments done by none other than the previous so-called secular regimes.
After the ‘Gareebi Hatao’ (Eradicate Poverty) slogan was exposed to be a sham, agitations engulfed the streets across the country. The first overt attempt to consolidate the power at the center was seen in the year 1975 with the declaration of national Emergency by the then Indian PM Indira Gandhi. But this proved to be politically detrimental as the resistance movements gave rise to rival political parties. So the need was to create internal enemies like Jews in Nazi Germany. Sikhs, a religious minority, were put into this political cauldron, which would eventually unite the countrymen to save the ‘integrity’ of Mother India.
Sikhs felt betrayed right after 1947. After the horrors of partition, in which 40% of the total community population got displaced, the struggle started for the creation of linguistic state Punjab. A limped state was formed only in 1966 without the capital city, many Punjabi speaking territories were left out, and the center kept the control of river waters, the only natural resource of the state. Loot of river waters was allowed despite Punjab being a riparian state, and against the rule book called the Constitution of India. A federal structure with shriveled state powers like a river without fishes. The arbitrary interpretation of the rule book furthered the agitations to demand greater state power within the ambit of the constitution. The struggle which had remained peaceful from 1947 turned into an armed struggle post the killing of Sikhs in 1978 by the Nirankari cult enjoying full political patronage. The God-men or Babas are an integral part of the Indian political system. They not only help the ruling class to consolidate the vote bank but also divert the attention of masses from the core issues to communal and ritualistic ones. In return, they get the impunity to amass wealth by every illegal means.
The political issue of Punjab was presented as a law and order problem. Law and order disturbances do not require a political solution. It needs to be dealt with the brutal force, and so it was done by bloodiest army assault on the Sikh’s holiest shrine Sri Darbar Sahib, Amritsar, along with at least thirty other Gurdwaras in June 1984.
Leftists, rightists, and liberals all got united to support and cheer the Iron Lady. Indira Gandhi had secured a definitive mandate for the Lok Sabha election scheduled in 1985. Prime Minister, who was criticized for revoking the civil liberty during Emergency, was now being praised for brutality done with the micro-minority. She had ‘saved’ the country from the internal enemies, the traitors. Saving a Hindu country from the ‘extremist’ Sikhs was a task much greater and pious than ‘Gareebi Hatao.’ But the atrocious act of army invasion was not an end in itself; it proved to be the catalyst of the decadence of Indian politics and democracy that we see today.
Indira Gandhi was assassinated on 31st October 1984 by her Sikh bodyguards in retaliation of the army attack on Golden Temple. Her son Rajiv Gandhi took charge as PM. His leadership was tested over the next days as organized mobs massacred the Sikh masses across the country with connivance of Indian Police. Indian Police can always be trusted for assistance in targeted killings. The whole world witnessed the expertise of Delhi Police during violence against Muslims in Delhi in Feb 2020 as their actions got captured through several mobile videos. There were no mobiles in 1984, but witnesses recorded the unspeakable ways of connivance. As per official figure, approx 3000 Sikhs were killed in Delhi alone, though the unofficial numbers across the country are in many thousands. Indian masses rewarded Rajiv Gandhi with 411 seats out of 542, the largest Lok Sabha majority to date.
The stalwarts in BJP saw this as India’s first collective Hindu vote. The unprecedented electoral victory was of Congress at the organization level, but ideologically, this was the victory of Hindutva. To extend the ideological success to its polity, BJP needed to create another internal enemy, a bigger enemy. There cannot be a better fit than Mohammedans of India, the biggest minority of India, to be vilified as the descendants of Muhammad of Ghor.
To outmaneuver the Gandhian Congress, BJP slandered it to be a Muslim-appeasing party. Although under the governance of Congress, the condition of Muslims remained even below that of Scheduled Caste and Scheduled Tribe, comprising just 2.5% of the Indian bureaucracy despite constituting 14% of the total Indian population, as per the Sachar Committee report submitted in 2006. The Congress, which ensured that Hindu mythologies of Ramayana & Mahabharta reach every Indian household, was besmirched to promote Mughal history. People who hardly knew anything good about Mughals loved to believe that Congress has wrongfully made them experts of Mughal History. Goebbelsian, along with hate, works every time everywhere. ‘If you repeat a lie often enough, people will believe it, and you will even come to believe it yourself.’
‘Hindu in danger’ is the cliché that is often used to denigrate the minority appeasing vote bank tactics of the so-called liberals, the tactics which otherwise are mere posturing. This fear-mongering helps to justify the supremacy of extreme right-wingers and maintain an uninterrupted flow of hate.
The first major Hindu mobilization favoring BJP resulted in the ‘Ram Janambhoomi Andolan.’ Hindus were made to believe that Mughals in 1527 had erased the temple built at the birthplace of deity Rama and replaced it with mosque, namely Babri Masjid (mosque of Babur). Lord Rama is revered as Avtaar of Treta Yuga, a mythological period that existed at least one million human years ago, which otherwise corresponds to Ice Age.
6th December 1992 witnessed another low in the politics of independent India when thousands of karsevaks, Hindu activists mobilized by VHP, gathered at the site of Babri Masjid, Ayodhya. The sixteenth-century mosque was demolished by the overzealous Hindu karsevaks vaulting the domes of the historic site amid the slogans of Jai Shree Ram (Victory to Lord Rama). The slogan would be embraced as a war cry in all the upcoming expeditions of Hindutavis under the mega project of Hindu Awakening.
Muslim pogrom of Gujrat 2002 further established the supremacy of BJP on Hindutva. The organized mob killed approx 2000 Muslims across the state. The role of state police, as usual, was no different than that during the Sikh genocide in 1984. This time the revenge was on Muslims for the killing of 58 Hindu karsevaks at Godhra railway station who were returning by train from the Ayodhya, where they had gone to advocate building a Ram Temple.
Narendra Modi, a dedicated RSS member, was appointed Chief Minister of Gujrat in Oct 2001, who was then a lesser-known face. Incidents of killings of Hindus in Godhra followed by three months extended rioting with targeted killings of Muslims in several districts of Gujrat dominated his tenure before the next state elections in Dec 2002. One may ask the question of what good he did in his 15 months tenure as CM that he was again appointed the CM candidate by BJP and what the Hindu majority saw in him that they voted him back to power? Well, the answer is no different for why Rajiv Gandhi had won with such a historic mandate. This electoral phenomenon explicates how minorities are cornered in India under the benign mask of democracy.
Muslim pogrom, followed by electoral victories, had established Narendra Modi as a ‘proud Hindu’ who deserve to handle greater responsibilities and fulfill the aspirations of Hindu Rashtra.
Hindu diaspora’s awakening
Indian diaspora has always been the true ambassadors of India. Sikhs or Kashmiris protesting outside Indian consulates or embassies are always snubbed as a fringe. The majority of the white-collar Indian diaspora belongs to Savarna, upper-caste Hindus, coming mainly from the urban areas, in a proportion similar to their presence in India in bureaucracy, legislators, capitalists or other noble jobs. Dalits are required in India to run the factories, plow the fields, or clean the streets and sewage. They are bereft of resources to escape the Brahmanical trap to explore dignified opportunities within or outside India.
The Indian privileged class has managed well to keep the world obscure towards the oldest and largest discrimination on Earth. Many of the Savarnas are genuinely disconnected from the problems faced by millions of poor and Dalits residing in India. Their upbringing also has to blame for their indifference towards oppressed classes, imagine Sidhartha Gautam without charioteer. But almost every proud Indian believes that raising issues on the national or international stage brings a bad name to their beloved country, a country whose citizenship they have surrendered in exchange for the lifestyle of a host country. Their silence towards atrocities on minorities or Dalits comes out from the lesson of nationalism, which ideologically goes parallel with Brahmanism. The crux of this lesson is that anything pro-Dalit or pro-minorities is anti-Hindu, and anti-Hindu is anti-national.
But of late, a visible behavioral change can be seen in the Hindu diaspora. Silence has now been replaced by counter-protests, venomous trolling, and blatant Islamophobia. The confidence has come out from the notion that the status of India has enhanced (close to becoming superpower) after Mr Modi coming to power, and the dream of Hindu Rashtra is close to realization. That’s what the majority of the news channel blabber the whole day. So the nationalist Hindu diaspora is contributing in every best way for the last push.
An apparent political alignment has emerged with that of conservatives, although the immigration benefits that the Indian diaspora enjoys is mainly due to liberal policies. The alignment was quite visible in the recently held elections in the US, UK, and Canada. This political inclination hasn’t come from the desire to do any good for their host countries. It is the extension of domestic politics back home and is to satiate the thirst for hate towards Sikhs, Kashmiris, and Muslims.
What’s the danger?
The past few years have seen several agitations from different sections of society. Dalits, which became foot soldiers during Ram Janambhoomi Andolan, have now realized that the temples belong only to Savaranas, and their only purpose of inclusion is to project higher Hindu numbers. The appalling migration of the millions of migrant laborers, an outcome of brutal lockdown to tackle the Covid-19 pandemic, ever seen in recent human history has even dissolved the ministration of numbers. Dalit leaders not only have become vociferous against the Brahmanical system but are publicly embracing Buddhism or other religions. The impression goes as if Dalits are Hindus as long as they are ignorant.
Liberals and leftists who supported the oppression of Congress against Sikhs, have finally come in support of Dalits and Muslims. The most vociferous resistance of the Hindutva is coming from none other than the genuinely secular Hindus. Journalists, historians, advocates, artists, and many social activists have been raising their voices of dissent as the last-ditch efforts to hold the ground. Many of the prominent speakers on the stages of anti-CAA protests were Hindus, who came openly against the discrimination with Muslims. Hindu thinkers are contending to liberate Hinduism from the powerful fist of Hindutva. They spare no chance to distance themselves from the ideology that is compassion deficient and has no regard for human values.
But the dissenting voices within Hindus are not visibly effective, as they represent individual efforts, not the community efforts. In contrast to this, Sikhs as a community have come up to stand along during every humanitarian crisis, be it helping Rohingya refugees, empathizing for Kashmir, strongly opposing CAA, or challenging Islamophobia. Many Sikh organizations have disbanded the war-mongering nationalism against Pakistan, which even the Muslims of India dare not to. But there isn’t any Hindu religious organization that has supported secular Hindus. In fact, the Hindu mainstream has fished out dissenting voices labeling them anti-Hindu, and so anti-national.
Individual efforts of influencers have failed to become community voice, because all the Hindu religious organizations, within or outside India, have come under the control of Hindutva. The messages disseminating from these organizations have uniformity with only one school of thought. The hegemony of one ideology is not Hinduistic and is a definitive threat to Hinduism.
Hindutavis were shocked when they received severe backlash from the Arab countries for the abominable Islamophobe blaming Muslims for the spread of Coronavirus in India. Dozens of Indians living in UAE, Saudi Arabia, and other Arab countries faced imprisonment, repatriation, and termination from the jobs. A similar backlash was seen in Canada and New Zealand also. The targeted Islamophobe during the pandemic was just another episode of the long series that started with several ghastly lynchings of Muslims and Dalits by Gau Rakshaks (cow protection vigilantes). The abrogation of Article 370 in Kashmir, the passing of discriminatory Citizenship Amendment Act (CAA), anti-Muslim riots of Delhi in Feb 2020, were other highlights. By now, Hindutavis, who had assumed themselves invincibles, were not prepared for the backlash. Even the omnicompetent statement, ‘this is the internal matter of India,’ could not be repeated.
International media has started pondering- ‘What is JSR?’ Humble Hindu salutations like ‘Ram Ram’ or ‘Jai Ram Ji ki’ have been replaced with ‘Jai Shree Ram’ (JSR) that not only represent aggressive traits but sadistic too. Unfortunately, the majority of the Hindus have proudly embraced the tumbling as a renaissance phase.
VD Savarkar, a protagonist of Hindutva ideology, defines the intriguing term as follows:
From the word “Hindu” has been coined the word “Hinduism” in English. It means the schools or system of Religion the Hindus follow. The second word “Hindutva” is far more comprehensive and refers not only to the religious aspects of the Hindu people as the word “Hinduism” does but comprehend even their cultural, linguistic, social and political aspects as well. It is more or less akin to “Hindu Polity” and its nearly exact translation would be “Hinduness.”
What if the ‘Hindu Polity’ has become more or less akin to fascism with the traits of intolerance, sadism, and bigotry, and the same has overpowered all the religious schools or systems of Hinduism, isn’t this a threat? How can a school of religion be the opposite of compassion? Hinduism is in real danger from none other than Hindutva itself.
In the current times of pandemic with despair, panic, and hopelessness all around, superstitions and supernatural fantasies become reliever of spiritually weak people but this takes society backward. Presenting a chapter of the book, ‘Sole Enemy of a Sikh, Brahmanism’ to explore the mentality behind this in the light of Gurbani.
Many times, such incidents took place that is beyond human understanding. People often attribute such events as miracles. The priesthood often exploits this weakness of human naiveté, resulting in the exploitation of common man. There is no denying that the power of faith has a profound effect on humankind and enables it to withstand the greatest calamity. The Sikh has to put complete faith in the Guru, with which the Sikhs attain the supreme state of ‘Nirbhau’. That is why ardaas (prayer) is part of every Sikh’s daily routine.
Medical science also uses the power of a patient’s faith to evaluate the effectivity of drugs. Without being informed to the patient, the patient is given a drug resembling medication without actual ingredients of the drug (such as sugar pill); its effect is checked against the actual medication. In many experiments, the patient gets cured just by sugar pill because of his faith in medicine and the doctor. This phenomenon has been dubbed the ‘placebo effect’ by medical science. But likewise, when the so-called saints give medicines or amulets to their disciples, and if that brings good effect due to placebo, people get exploited considering it as a miracle.
Science gives an explanation of many such events, and many of them may not be answered. The point is not to debate whether miracles actually happen or not. The point of the discussion is— being influenced by miraculous stories, human beings expect miracles to evacuate them from hardships, which makes them spiritually weak and enslaves them. This takes them away from the Divine Command ‘Nirbhau’. When a man’s belief makes him weak due to fear and hatred instead of empowering him with the virtues of Nirbhau (fearless) and Nirvaer (without hate), then it is called superstition or blind-faith, not faith.
In Christianity, for bestowing the title of sainthood to someone, prerequisite is to present proof of any obvious miracle. Miracles are very important in Islam also. For Muslims, the spring water of ‘Zam-Zam’ in Mecca is of great importance because the incident of the eruption of spring is related to the miracle by Prophet Ismail, son of Prophet Ibrahim. However, Gurbani candidly rejects the importance of miracles.
He himself is the Supreme, Master of all; wealth and miraculous powers are external (hindering) tastes. (Guru Granth Sahib, Mehl 1, page 6)
Riches and miracles are all attachments; through them, the Naam (virtues) does not come to dwell in the mind. (Guru Granth Sahib, Mehl 3, page 593)
Without the Naam (virtues), all eatables and wearables are worthless; cursed are miraculous powers, cursed are miracles. (Guru Granth Sahib, Mehl 3, page 650)
Not only Guru Sahib describes the desire to attain miraculous powers as external tastes, attachment, and curse; but Guru Sahib explains the original miracle as well:
That alone is miraculous power, and that alone is a miracle when boon of Carefree (relaxed) mindset is bestowed.
O Nanak, when the Naam (divine virtues) abides in the mind of the Gurmukh (Guru’s disciple); this is miraculous power, this is a miracle. (Guru Granth Sahib, Mehl 3, page 650)
When the seeker imbibes the divine virtues of Ekankaar under the aegis of SatNaam, this is indeed one of the greatest miracles.
But what is the reason that despite so clear ideology, the Sikh history, which we often hear, is filled with miraculous stories? Someone portrays Guru Nanak Sahib oozing blood from the breadcrumbs in one hand while milk from the other, some narrate story about turning of Mecca (Mecca is the name of the city, Kaaba is the religious place), some talk about Guru Gobind Singh Ji doing penance at Hemkunt in his previous birth, someone shows Baba Deep Singh Ji running with his head in his left hand, some narrate the story of Rajni’s limped husband getting healed by taking dip from the holy tank and many more such stories.
To understand what the mentality behind these miraculous stories works, it is important to understand the cobweb of Brahmanism. Brahmins have written voluminous scriptures filled with mythological stories and have been preaching them fervently. Many gods and goddesses have been imagined. One deity flows the Ganges River out from his Jatas (tress), another has an elephant’s head on its body, one puts the sun in his mouth, there’s one who destroys the enemies with a Sudarshan Chakra (supernatural Beyblade), and a goddess with eight arms destroys the demons. These stories certainly filled the pockets of the Brahmins, but they had a very poor impact on society. These miraculous stories broke out as a curse on society. Because ordinary man distanced himself from the Creator, the virtues of which he can never adopt. People began to look to supernatural powers for the smallest of their problems. Horoscopes, amulets, mantra chants, and many other rituals became the backbone of faith in order to overcome the minor obstacles of life. The spiritual condition of the masses turned towards decadence. Where the priesthood exploited the spiritually weak society, there was also a loot by invaders. The invaders not only plundered the country’s wealth, but also dishonoured the womenfolk.
But in Sikh history, where the First and Sixth Guru Sahibs were imprisoned by Mughal emperor Babur and Jahangir, Fifth Guru attained martyrdom in Lahore prior to which was brutally tortured, then Ninth Guru attained martyrdom at Chandni Chowk in Delhi, Tenth Guru sacrificed his four sons, all for sovereignty and the protection of faith. Due to Guru Sahib’s lead by setting the example, the conduct of the Sikhs became so strong that even mammoth tasks appeared small before them. As a result, the chains of slavery were broken, and Khalsa Rule under the leadership of Baba Banda Singh Bahadur was established. It was one of the most unique events in the history of mankind. But the miraculous stories of the Guru Sahibs have also become a curse for Sikh society today. Sikhs too have got trapped in rituals under the influence of miraculous stories. People are expecting to fulfil their wishes with fake rituals, such as parroting of Gurbani, observing days like full moon, no moon, and bathing in ponds of historical importance, service to so-called saints, worshipping of graves, and so on. If someone argues that a man cannot hold his severed head in his hand, then the reply is, if the elephant’s head can be fixed on a man’s body, then why not? This is to justify a lie resorting to another big lie.
In the year 2014, the prime minister of India Narendra Modi made a statement at a conference of scientists that plastic surgery in India was from the ancient times, Lord Ganesh being evidence, because only a surgeon would have attached an elephant’s head to Ganesh’s body. The statement was ridiculed in the world over, but none of the Ganesh devotees protested arguing that they worship Ganesh as lord considering it a miracle, while the prime minister referred to him as a patient who was treated by a plastic surgeon of that time. Not the patient, but it is the doctor who cures illness receives the honour in society. How can there be opposition? The belief in miracles not only spiritually weakens the human being, but the intellect becomes shallow and so the ability to ask questions is eliminated.
In today’s Sikh society, there is an influx of arrogant Malik Bhagos who have gathered wealth through corruption or dishonest ways. So-called saints are often seen enjoying the hospitality of these Malik Bhagos, as they can’t see blood oozing out of their bread. In fact, even at Guru Nanak’s time, there was no bleeding from Malik Bhago’s bread. But how could caste-arrogant Malik Bhago be able to endure that Guru Nanak Sahib has rejected his lavish meal and hospitality in his Haveli (mansion), but preferred to stay in the shack of Bhai Lalo who was not only poor but also from the so-called low caste? It was a huge blow to the pride of Malik Bhago. No one had informed him this before that as per the divine law, a low-caste poor man managing to eat roti of millet (kodra) through honest means is way greater than the dishonest upper-caste rich man. The wealth collected by dishonest means which is the entitlement of the poor is actually the blood of the poor in the eyes of Guru Sahib, but so-called saints of today lack the vision to see this blood:
If clothes are stained with blood, the garment becomes polluted.
Those who suck the blood of human beings, how can their consciousness be pure? (Guru Granth Sahib, Mehl 1, page 140)
The condition of Sikh society today is very pitiable. The Indian constitution rejects our independent identity and considers us as Hindu. People who committed genocide on Sikhs in 1984 are not only moving freely, but are also ruling the state. The Sikhs, who once were the ruler of a vast empire, are being ruled by their killers today. Punjab’s water is being looted, and the land is fast progressing to become a desert. The need of the hour is to reject the hope for miraculous powers, embrace the virtue of Nirbhau (fearless) by raising the conscience through the teachings of Gurbani, and improve the future of the Panth embracing Chardikala (higher spirits).
What demonetization did to black money, lockdown will do to Coronavirus.
On the evening of March 24, PM Modi announced lockdown for 21days starting from the next day that is 25th March and said, "If the situation is not handled in these 21 days, the country and your family could go back 21 years. If the situation is not handled in these 21 days, several families will get devastated forever. Hence, you must forget what going out means for the next 21 days." India reported the very first case of Coronavirus as early as January 30 but the first-ever address by PM on the pandemic came on March 19 for the call of voluntary lockdown for a day on March 22 and was named ‘janta curfew’ (people’s curfew) which is now seen as a preparation for total lockdown that followed three days later.
Such addresses by PM Modi are not the first of its kind. He has the distinction of not addressing a single press conference in his till date six-year tenure as the Prime Minister but has delivered several monologues, many of them under the title ‘mann ki baat’- mind speak.
But the announcement of lockdown finds close resemblance with the announcement he made on November 8, 2016, for demonetization which banned high currency notes from the next day with the agenda to hit at black-money. Both Demonetization and Lockdown gave a few hours’ notices to the public and so both resulted in immediate panic. While demonetization announcement made people rush to jewelry stores, real estate agents to purchase high-value assets before the currency gets redundant, lockdown announcement resulted in people flocking for pharmacies, groceries to store essential as much as possible. In both of the announcements narrative of establishing ‘only one solution’ as the panacea of all evils dominates. As ‘cash transaction’ was made the only cause of black-money and so demonetization comes up as the solution. Likewise, ‘isolation’ is propagated to be the only way to fight Covid-19 and so three weeks lockdown, a brutal lockdown, comes up as the solution, the only solution.
After more than three years of demonetization, it’s no more a secret the irreparable damages that demonetization has brought to the economy with no impact on black money. Now, even the government does not mention demonetization episode at any platform, just like to live with the narrative that it was ‘a decision with some flawed implementation but with good intention’. But before the 21 days lockdown is also going to be reduced to the legacy of ‘a decision with some flawed implementation but with good intention’, it will take its toll heavily like never seen before in the recorded history of Indian sub-continent, and has already started the signs. What demonetization did to black money, lockdown will do to Coronavirus.
Social distancing without physical distancing
Social distancing is the term generally used for isolation as a measure to prevent the spread of the virus. But this can be confusing in the Indian context, as social distancing has always been here and exists for more than three thousand years. People are maintaining social distancing between the upper caste also known as ‘swarna’ from the lower caste, known as ‘shudra’ or Dalit. There’s a noticeable distance between them in every sphere of life- occupation, housing, education, health & justice. Hence the term social distancing may not represent the right chord in India, it's more appropriate to use the term ‘physical distancing’ as a preventive measure against the coronavirus.
Mainstream media has effectively convinced its mass viewers that ‘isolation’ is the only solution and so other important aspects like- testing, treatment facilities like ventilators, and safety of doctors through Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) all have become non-issues. Entire communication has been limited to make lockdown a success. Indian citizens have comfortably digested the chronicle- because the Indian health system is not equipped to tackle a pandemic so we have no other option than a complete lockdown. The government is happy with this narrative as it exonerates it from its core responsibility and in the case of an outbreak, experts say is imminent, the entire blame would be on the public for not following the lockdown directives properly.
Government has successfully run such campaigns in the past also. One of the flagship projects of the Modi govt was called Swatchh Bharat Abhiyaan which was the cleanliness & sanitization drive. PM Modi’s most dominant part of his every speech was ‘if 125crore people of the country decide not to spread litter, then no power on Earth can stop making India clean.’ In other words, if you see garbage piled up near to your house, you know whom to blame. The entire Swatch Bharat campaign was run on such slogans. There was no space in the mainstream media to debate on the investment done by govt to procure cleaning equipment, recruitment of more cleaners, enhance the working conditions of cleaners and tackling manual scavenging. So, there is no visible change after more than five years of the campaign except that Indian rivers have become more polluted, air quality has further degraded and litter all around. The 125 crores failed to do their job properly.
India so far has one of the lowest coronavirus testing ratios in the world. India has approximately 1 doctor per 1500 citizens. In rural India where two-thirds of the Indians live and rely almost solely on government hospitals, the ratio is 1 doctor to more than 10,000 people. India has 2.3 intensive care beds per 100,000 people, and 30,000 to 40,000 ventilators nationwide. This is in addition to the severe shortage of PPE. On the day of Janta Curfew, many came out on the streets beating utensils and dancing in groups, though Modi had appealed to clap or beat utensils only from the balconies as a show of gratitude for doctors. But the public responded more enthusiastically. A lot of gratitude was showered but without surety of safety for doctors. In between, there are instances of landlords asking doctors to leave their rented accommodations as doctors can bring coronavirus to their homes. The government hasn’t shared any concrete plans to address the core issues except the announcement of a mere Rs15000 crore package to strengthen healthcare with not much detail.
The first few days of lockdown shows that it may not serve the purpose of physical distancing, but will enable social distancing to the next level. Tens of thousands of daily wagers and migrant workers, the majority of them are Dalits, are leaving for their homes into the deep rural parts of the country. The place where they belong, far away from the urban civilization which is designed for the privileged class. They were in urban areas to run factories and construction work. With the closure of these, they are not required now and will be called back as and when required.
They have embarked on an arduous journey to their homes. Their journey range from 50km to 500km which can take 5 to 10days, on foot. There’s no public transport, no trains, no buses, as part of disciplined lockdown. So they have to travel on foot. Many are carrying infants on their shoulders, some holding malnourished hands of toddlers along with a bag of household items. Some have few currency notes in their pocket, many don’t. Lockdown also has little options of food their way back as most of the dhabhas / eateries are closed. At many places, state governments, NGOs, Sikh organizations, other religious organizations & individuals are organizing free food for them but all these efforts are insufficient considering the magnitude of the situation. Physical distancing becomes irrelevant at these free kitchens. Thousands can be seen flocking at the state borders hoping to get some transport. Lately, some state governments have arranged buses for them. A 1.5-meter safe physical distance norm cannot be applied here either practically or mathematically. This lockdown has ensured that the virus reaches every village of the country which otherwise was restrained to the urban areas.
The concept of ‘Work from Home’ applies to the minuscule population of India. We are talking of millions of people who are daily wagers and migrant laborers who are left with neither ‘work’ nor ‘home.’ We are talking about the huge population for whom a loss of day’s work means they might miss the meal for the day, and we are talking about 21 days lockdown. Finance Minister announced a 1.7 lakh crore relief package for 800 million poor people for 3 months which is less than 1% of India’s GDP. This was too little too late. Mathematically per person, it comes out to be Rs 2125 for 3 months or Rs 24 (0.32 US$) a day assuming 100% of it trickles down the corrugated bureaucratic pipeline.
Covid-19 is believed to kill 2 to 5% of the infected population, but hunger kills 100%. Very soon people in India would start dying by hunger and famine before coronavirus could catch them. We are just a few days away from the major food riots. Though PM Modi in his address assured that no one needs to worry about essential commodities, but at the same time using the word ‘curfew’ several times. Indian Police who is trained as per the legacy of colonial rule understands ‘curfew’ better than ‘lockdown with essential commodities’. So at various places police were seen stopping the transportation of essential items. Many instances have been reported of police beating mercilessly people moving around even for the purchase of essential commodities. In rare cases, the public also gets the chance to beat the police.
This migration will ensure that urban areas are cleared of poor, Dalits and migrant laborers. A perfect social distancing. This will ease out the pressure on the urban hospitals and the privileged people can be treated a little better. Mainstream media will do its job of focusing on the urban areas and blackout the news from the poor rural, where there are almost negligible health services, ventilators or ICUs remains a far cry, the poor do not even expect these things. They know they don’t deserve equal health facilities.
The times of riots, famine, and health crises are great opportunities for rulers to tighten the grip on society and ensure that democratic institutes are further crushed in the greater national interest. The government will do everything right, there may be a flawed implementation but with good intention. The government cannot be blamed if the 125 crore population failed to do their job properly.