Monday, 27 June, 2022
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The cat is finally out of the bag: Hindutva leaders’ utter disdain for the Indian Constitution

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No one should be surprised at Union minister of state Anantkumar Hegde’s remark on Sunday that “the BJP had come to power to change the Constitution” and that it would “do so in the near future”.

Hegde, a blunt-speaking politician who has a long record of preferring valour to discretion, has let the proverbial cat out of the bag in which it had been uncomfortably concealed. The Hindutvavadis’ critique of the Constitution is a fundamental one: their idea of its flaws lies in their core belief in the idea of a Hindu Rashtra, as opposed to the civic nationalism enshrined in the Constitution of India.

The RSS sarsangchalak and ideologue M.S. Golwalkar articulated this critique almost as soon as the Constitution was adopted. India’s independence from colonial rule in 1947, Golwalkar argued, did not constitute real freedom because the new leaders held on to the ‘perverted concept of nationalism’ that located all who lived on India’s territory as equal constituents of the nation. ’The concept of territorial nationalism,’ he wrote, ‘has verily emasculated our nation and what more can we expect of a body deprived of its vital energy? …And so it is that we see today the germs of corruption, disintegration and dissipation eating into the vitals of our nation for having given up the natural living nationalism in the pursuit of an unnatural, unscientific and lifeless hybrid concept of territorial nationalism.’

Golwalkar’s Bunch Of Thoughts argues that territorial nationalism is a barbarism, since a nation is ‘not a mere bundle of political and economic rights’ but an embodiment of national culture —in India, ‘ancient and sublime’ Hinduism. It sneers at democracy, which Golwalkar sees as alien to Hindu culture, and lavishes praise on the Code of Manu, whom Golwalkar salutes as ‘the first, the greatest, and the wisest lawgiver of mankind’.

Deen Dayal Upadhyaya, undoubtedly the principal ideologue of the Hindutva movement who is honoured and exalted daily by the BJP government today, identified the fundamental flaw:  India had written a Constitution imitative of the West, divorced from any real connection to our mode of life and from authentically Indian ideas about the relationship between the individual and society.

Upadhyaya felt the Constitution should embody a Hindu political philosophy befitting an ancient nation like Bharat, that reducing the Indian national idea to a territory and the people on it was fallacious. It was this sort of thinking, he argued sternly, that had led the nationalist movement, from the Khilafat agitation onwards, to turn towards a policy of appeasement of the Muslim community, a policy in turn sought to be justified by the need to forge a united front against the British. The RSS’s founder leader, Dr. K.B. Hedgewar (whose Marathi biography Upadhyaya translated) had pointed to the ‘ideological confusion’ this approach created. Muslim communalism, in his and Upadhyaya’s view, had become more prominent and aggressive, while Congress leaders bent over backwards more and more to accommodate them.

In building his case for a Hindu Rashtra, Upadhyaya specifically disavowed the existing Constitution of India. As Upadhyaya put it in Rashtra Jeevan Ki Disha: ‘We became free in 1947. The English quit India. We felt what was considered to be the greatest obstacle in the path of our effort of nation building was removed and were all of a sudden faced with the problem as to what the significance of this hard-earned independence was.’

Indian leaders tried to resolve this problem in the drafting of a Constitution. But in Upadhyaya’s view, their failure to conceive properly of the nation led them into error. ‘We aped the foreigners to such an extent that we failed to see that our inherent national ideals and traditions should be reflected in our Constitution. We satisfied ourselves with making a patchwork of theories and principles enunciated by foreign countries…. The result was that our national culture and traditions were never reflected in these ideologies borrowed from elsewhere and so they utterly failed to touch the chords of our national being.’

Having rejected its premise, Upadhyaya was scathing about the Constitution’s drafting and adoption: a nation, he argued, ‘is not like a club which can be started or dissolved. A nation is not created by some crores of people passing a resolution and defining a common code of behaviour binding on all its members. A certain mass of people emerges with an inherent motivation. It is,” he added with a Hindu analogy, “like the soul adopting the medium of the body.’

Upadhyaya asks three questions: were the people who framed the Constitution endowed with qualities of selflessness, an intense desire for public service and a deep knowledge of the rules of Dharma as the rishis were? Or did they formulate this Smriti of a free India under the influence of the unsteady circumstances prevailing at the time? Did these people possess originality of thought or did they have a tendency to primarily imitate others?

Upadhyaya’s implicit answers to these questions were in the negative: the constitution-makers were not figures imbued with selflessness and dharmathey were overly under the thrall of the turbulent politics of that era, and their minds had been colonised by Western ideas. The founding fathers of the Republic of India were largely Anglophile Indians schooled in Western systems of thought; their work revealed no Indianness, no Bharatiyata.

The Constitution, therefore, was to him a flawed document, one incapable of guiding India towards the path of Raj Dharma. In fact, it condemned Hindus to slavery: ‘Self-rule and independence are considered to be synonyms. A deeper thinking will bring home to us the fact that even in a free country, the nation can remain in slavery.’ The Hindu nation had been enslaved by inappropriate Westernisation.

The Constitution’s core conception of the nation, in his view, was fundamentally not Indian at all: ‘in the constitution, as it is now, it is the sentiments of the English that have found better expression than those of the Indians,’ observed Upadhyaya. ‘Thus, our constitution, like an English child born in India, has become Anglo-Indian in character, instead of purely Indian.’

The absence of the Hindu Rashtra idea in the Constitution was unacceptable for him. This makes all the more curious the enthusiastic zeal with which his devotees today, from Prime Minister Modi on down, swear by it and celebrate every milestone in its adoption. If Upadhyaya had not been cremated, he would be rolling over in his grave.

Anantkumar Hegde has at least ended the hypocrisy and showed us the Hindutvavadis’ real intent. This can now permit an honest debate about the Constitution and its true value to pluralist India. He should be thanked.

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  1. PRADIP BISWAS, FILM SCHOLAR, INDIAN EXPRESS COMMENTS: Congratulations, Shashi. It is nice to peruse your analytical posture about BJP and its PANDORA’S BOX that relates to bumpy HINDUTVA-ISM, breeding more insanity. BJP never understood the purport of Pluralistic democracy and hence it drew all Sadhus, Sants and RSS into its fold.
    Primary task of BJP regime is to dismantle the democratic structure of our Constitution!!!!

  2. There seems to be a concerted effort to gauge the nation’s appetite for Hindutva. After this trial balloon, another honourable union minister showed off images in the Indian Constitution which purportedly proves that it was for all intents and purposes Hindu, rather than secular. This is a very slippery slope.

  3. I agree with this though i back a secular democracy. This is about our constitution..i always have my theory on this which is the same except the hindutva part. Father of indian constitution or the one who supposedly have written, is/was one of few who knew english so copying became easy for him. Yes anglisized indian, who studied english, with half english cultural mind bend had wrote n gone. Now we need to mend it. I am not recomnending an over night change..amendments of rule is required n let us not shy away from it. Any nation is recognized for n by its cultural values n let us uphold them.

  4. Nothing is above the integrity and security of a nation , not even Constitution.Constitution is a tool to protect above mentioned things.Secularism is important for pluralistic modern nation but sadly in India it is not Secularism in a true sense.Secularism is practised in corrupt form in India.Secularism is in practice completely opposite of it’s meaning.Infact Secularism has become a threat to the integrity and security of nation.It is misused for the political gains but in a longer term it will be a disaster for a nation.Secularism is becoming hurdle in rooting out problems such as terrorism, overpopulation because Secularism means appeasement in India.
    India is not secular because of Constitution but Constitution is secular because of indian culture of plurality.India has been a secular long before Constitution came into existence.The word cannot make nation secular or communal.The culture and traditions make it.And most importantly india is secular because of Indian religions.If the way of worshipping and concept of God is religion then every person has his own religion from thousands of years in India and this is the main reason people of India have been respecting every religion.
    Today’s Indian Secularism is certainly not good for the country because it is not Secularism in reality.So if anyone expresses his thoughts which is reality , it’s his right.And Mr.Hegde is not alone.There are many who agree with his thoughts.Afterall isn’t it a democracy?

  5. When a certain MP from J&K most often makes some anti-national remarks by supporting Pakistan, nobody from the opposition parties raises any objection like this way. My question is that-‘Aren’t those antinational remarks against the constitution or for HEGDE is from BJP’? What is wrong with amendment if it done constitutionally? Was not it done before?

  6. Shashi Tharoorji has made a very good analysis. as he wishes, lets have debate with honest scholars, apolitical ones.

  7. Well whats the harm in having a fair debate in this changed political scenario. And now even voters have started thinking. It would be good to have a debate. Lets us see how many scholars are having great ideas for ‘ever changing’ India. And whats their contribution to the society or this country.

  8. The BJP style of HINDUVATA will create bundle of problems for the party. So much so that they would regret on their thoughts that may give rise to blame game.

  9. Who told you that constitution is perfect it doesn’t need to be changed?? You assumed that it is perfect simply for the reason that it was created a by person with whom you share your ideology, your thoughts.
    Now second question, why do you think that BJP and RSS are in existence, reason lies in you again, because people like the writer of this article is in existence. Party like TMC, Congress, CPI/CPM are in existence, who shamelessly keep on blaming Hindus for everything in this country. We are even called terrorist in our country. You would happily turn the blind eye to all the wrong doings of Muslims but tag Hindus as terrorist, even when you it is not true.
    Now comes the question why do you do it. Two reasons you are influenced by the left ideology and second you want to sell your “uttershit” article. You can continue to do what are you are doing, just don’t call yourself a journalist.
    P.S.: Our Constitution needs a change very badly now. It is far from perfect and Extremely irrelevant given the age and time we live in. We need more stronger Constitution that is free from crap like secularism and a constitution which focuses on our nation’s interest.

  10. Point of this article is that Hindu Rashtra is opposed to the civic nationalism, Hindutva does not embrace all and Indian constitution does not have western influence? Really interested to smoke that stuff, do let me know, erudite eh

  11. Ever since BJP came to power the country has been restless.communal harmony is extremely endangered. I still don’t understand why this rhetorics.can these people drive away all the minority communities.Instead can’t they take them together? That’s where our strength lies.Hope sanity prevails.

  12. Which ever way the debate ends and which ever side wins – will it result in better healthcare, roads, housing, improved public services, improved quality of life, equal opportunity for everyone, lesser corruption and greater dignity to the common man? Are these issues not worth debating. Don’t they deserve nation’s attention and spotlight.

    Are we just reduced to craving for the past – the glorious imagined past. Is the political class intellectually bankrupt and have nothing to offer for defining a new india or are they scared to define the new india. India needs visionaries, leaders and statesmen who can define the new India. I believe, today’s political leaders (across party lines) just need the conviction that a new india, a more inclusive india is waiting to be defined on terms which will lead towards a better life for its people.

    At the same time, pray that the people also guide the political mandate through increased demands for the public good and not let fringe (either left or right) hijack the mandate.

  13. Universal brotherhood and peaceful coexistence should be the ideals of our society which is essentially multi cultural and multi religious. Sanatan Dharma gave the clarion call of वसुधैव कुटुम्बकम I.e. universal brotherhood. Chauvinistic ideas are anti Sanatan Dharma.

  14. “So the name of India got linked to the Indus River. The Persians followed the Greeks and named India after the river. But they followed the original Sanskrit name for Indus, and derived Hindu from Sindhu. In old Persian, “s” sounded like “h”. That’s why the word “Hindu” doesn’t appear in the four Vedas, the Upanishads and the Buddhist scriptures. Hindutva is not a religious idea, but a far-right political ideology, just as Zionism is the far right political ideology of Judaism.”

  15. Ideas no matter where they come from should be celebrated but in India anything that resembles a Western idea is considered wrong or not Indian. Ideas if they are good should be relished no matter where they come from. Democracy is a great idea and one that the entire world should accept. The framers of the Indian constitution did a great job writing a compromising democratic document. The RSS was banned and should be banned again with their one way India attitude. If you are born in India you are Indian no matter what religion you are. The Hindutva propaganda must be stopped before their ideas become reality. Being a Hindu means you accept others religious beliefs not the lies that the RSS and BJP are telling. Changing the constitution will create major problems for all Indians!

  16. Pseudo secularism was the cause of partition and the same ideology led by Congress and Left will destroy India unless it is declared a Hindu Rastra. These secularists don’t preach Indian Muslims who have failed to integrate into mainstream despite given chance to live in India instead of being kicked out to Pakistan or Bangladesh which they had demanded and wrested for themselves in the name of religion.

    • Please go ahead and make Hindu Rashtra but spare Dravida Nadu. We didn’t sign up for Hindu Rashtra seventy years. Sorry

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