Politics of Hatred: Region, Religion and Hindutva
Book: Politics of Hatred: Region, Religion and Hindutva
Author: Kaneez Fathima
Publisher: Indus Publications, Hyderabad, Telengana
Year of Publication: 2014
Price: Rs 200
Mushtaq Ul Haq Ahmad Sikander
Hate has assumed new propositions and heights since the BJP-led government came to power in May 2014. The atmosphere for hate was prevalent much before BJP swept the general elections with an absolute majority. The atmosphere of hate will persist even if BJP is out of power because the issues that sustain this type of rabid hate have been kept alive by vested interests for a plethora of reasons. There is a need for sustained campaign to counter this hate, so as to safeguard the democratic traditions and credentials of the Indian polity, and act as a vanguard for plural, syncretic and tolerant culture, that is under siege at present.
The book under review is a collection of articles, essays and papers written over years by a Hyderabad-based young woman activist, Kaneez Fathima. In his Foreword, writer-activist Ram Puniyani, states, “It is a compilation of articles on current political issues. She has tried to capture the issues of the country which are relevant to the preservation of our democratic values, human rights and minority rights in particular. These articles can be placed in the framework of current times where politics in the name of religion has dominated the social scene. The stereotypes about religious minorities are major part of the current social common sense and to a large extent also determine the way our state apparatus operates and many political parties think” (p. 7).
In her Introduction to the book, Fathima clearly chalks out the trajectory of institutional injustice meted out to Indian Muslims since Partition, the threat of Hindutva, the reasons for backwardness of Muslims and how it can be rectified, “Muslims are in dire need of reservation in political, educational and employment sectors. Only then canthey uplift themselves and live a life of human dignity. Even the constitution of India guarantees equal rights to all irrespective of caste, class, religion, race, region etc. But the Indian government under the leadership of upper caste Hindutva ruling class has systematically deprived all the opportunities to the Muslim community along with Dalits and Adivasis, thus making them backward and illiterate. If the Indian constitution is followed to its true sense, no one will be backward, illiterate nor there will be any disparity between the communities. Therefore, there is dire need of concentration towards the conditions of these communities to bring them to the mainstream along with other communities” (p. 16).
While commenting on the partition of the Indian subcontinent, Fathima holds Mahatma Gandhi responsible alongwith other Congress stalwarts who according to her were Hindutva sympathizers: “It was basically Rajgopalachary who planned for the division of the country in the year 1943 and got it approved by Gandhi. Gandhi and Patel proposed Mountbatten for the division of the country on the basis of religion, so that when Muslims migrate to Pakistan, the upper caste Brahminical ruling class can maintain its Hindutva hegemony on the backward classes and indigenous people in India. Later Mountbatten invited Gandhi to discuss about the partition but for namesake, Gandhi opined that the country cannot be divided without the consent of Maulana Abul Kalam Azad and went to meet Mountbatten alongwith Azad. He made him sit outside the meeting hall, went inside and had discussions but one does not know what discussions took place inside but Gandhi came out and announced the decision that the country will be divided. It was completely against the thoughts of Moulana Azad, even then he obliged Gandhi and kept silent” (p. 25).
But such an allegation against Mahatma Gandhi cannot be justified. Fathima has not given any reference to support her views. It was basically Lala Lajpat Rai who in a series of 13 articles in 1913 had stated that Hindus and Muslims constituted two different nations. But the allegation that Gandhi was in consonance with other Congress leaders about partition is a far-fetched claim.
The truth is that Azad was disillusioned with Jawahar Lal Nehru more than Gandhi about the regressive developments in 1946-47.
Fathima then talks about the hegemony of Brahmins over Indian polity and how Muslim leadership was denied recognition of the contribution it had made in fighting British colonialism, and the chapter of Muslim nationalists who opposed both British and Partition was sidelined into oblivion. Fathima says, “True nationalists would never have proposed partition of the country, the conspiracy of partition itself proves who true nationalists were. Though India is called a democratic and secular country, no true secularism and democracy exists. If at all the so-called secular parties were democratic at least by their mindset, then the democratic values would have been given priority and constitutional rights implemented. After 66 years of independence, the worst conditions of Muslims and Dalits are the proof that democracy cannot be implemented in its true sense” (p. 34).
Fathima then draws parallels between Sardar Patel and Narendra Modi: how the Nizam of Hyderabad is being abused wrongly and his glorious contributions are ignored. The recent developments about Telengana movement, Bhagyalakshmi temple controversy, political parties in Hyderabad, media trials of Muslims, false implication of Muslim youth and torture of Muslims after every bomb blast are some of the issues she writes about very passionately in the book.
Fathima also writes about the problems of Muslim women who suffer because of the detention of their men, the economic ruin they face, how religious profiling and targeting Muslim men has become a problem for the Muslim community and the police atrocities ordinary Muslims face in their daily lives.
The reviewer is a writer-activist based in Srinagar.