New Delhi: The Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS) has found a world-famous face to promote its ideology across the seas — the late Nobel Prize-winning author Sir V.S. Naipaul.
Until now, the faces of Swami Vivekananda, Veer Savarkar, K.B. Hedgewar and M.S. Golwalkar have been used in RSS branding. But now, a campaign is being readied which calls Naipaul, the Indian-origin Trinidadian-British author and intellectual, a supporter of the same ideology.
Vidiadhar Surajprasad Naipaul was born on 17 August 1932 in Trinidad and Tobago, which is part of the island grouping better known as the Caribbean or the West Indies. He studied at Oxford University and settled in London, and wrote more than 30 books, beginning with The Mystic Masseur and including A Bend in the River and A House for Mr Biswas.
Naipaul was awarded the Booker Prize in 1971 and the Nobel Prize for literature in 2001.
He died on 11 August 2018, but remains a popular figure among Non-Resident Indians and Persons of Indian Origin.
Naipaul’s RSS ‘connection’
When the Babri Masjid was destroyed in 1992, Naipaul had labelled the incident something that would restore “balance” in society. But this wasn’t the only such statement he made, which is why RSS affiliates are now claiming he was one of their own, and have begun preparing a campaign built around him.
Soon, from panel discussions to social media, RSS supporters and ideologues could start quoting Naipaul’s statements.
A senior RSS functionary told ThePrint on the condition of anonymity: “Naipaul was very candid when talking about Hindutva. Some institutions are organising programmes to honour his ideas and his work, and people associated with RSS affiliates have participated in these programmes.”
On 6 December, the 27th anniversary of the destruction of the Babri Masjid, an RSS-associated organisation called the Institute for Nurturing Indian Intellect held a discussion on Naipaul at Delhi’s Constitution Club. Among the attendees were BJP Rajya Sabha MP Subramanian Swamy and Akhil Bharatiya Sant Samiti general secretary Jitendranand Saraswati, while RSS veteran Indresh Kumar sent a special missive.
A member of the organising body, who also didn’t wish to be identified, told ThePrint: “This was our first big programme associated with Naipaul. We are preparing to conduct many such programmes in many places across the country, in which we’ll present Naipaul’s views in front of people.
“We are also compiling his thoughts on Hindutva, and soon, we’ll publish them in the form of a book.”
Hatred for Islam, praise for Hindutva
Naipaul’s hatred towards Muslims and his love for Hindutva is clearly visible in his works as well as his controversial statements. He firmly believed that Islam enslaved people and tried to wipe out other cultures.
He had even said that the story of Pakistan is the story of terror — which began when a poet (Allama Iqbal) thought Muslims are so evolved that they should get a special place in India.
In an interview published in Outlook magazine, Naipaul had said the question of Indian secularism is not historically accurate.
“You say that India has a secular character, which is historically unsound. You say that Hindu militancy is dangerous. Dangerous or not, it is a necessary corrective to the history I have been talking about. It is a creative force and it will prove to be so,” Naipaul had said.
Answering another question, he had said: “There can be no reconciliation. Islam is a religion of fixed laws. This goes contrary to everything in modern India. Also, the convert’s deepest impulse is the rejection of his origins.”
But these were hardly the only occasions when Naipaul’s words created controversy. And it is exactly this pro-Hindutva, anti-Islam stance that has made him so attractive to the RSS as its mascot.