Who is afraid of Muslims making it to the UPSC final list? Apparently, the Savarkar-bhakt, editor-in-chief of Sudarshan News Suresh Chavhanke. Cracking the UPSC exam is the quintessential Indian dream – a ticket to social and cultural mobility. This Indian dream enriches the idea of India when a person who is not an upper caste Hindu makes it to the UPSC. But a Muslim government officer is an oxymoron for some. They can’t quite process it without adding the pejorative word ‘jihad’ to it.
When Indian Muslims are poor, they are touted as puncture wala; when they protest on the streets for their citizenship rights, they are identified and singled out by their ‘clothes’ by no less than the prime minister of the country; when they study in madrasas, they are berated as a community that doesn’t want to embrace modernity; and when they work hard to make it to the UPSC, it’s called ‘UPSC jihad’ and they are branded as “Jamia ke Jihadi”. The word ‘hate’ is the sum total of all these parts.
Addressing an event in Delhi in 2018, Prime Minister Narendra Modi had spoken about his idea of overall development, saying it’s possible only when Muslim youth have Quran in one hand and computer in the other. But Chavhanke doesn’t share that dream. He sees a conspiracy in the success of Muslim youth.
The Delhi High Court stayed the telecast of his TV show, which he claims would have been an expose of how Muslims are taking over by ‘infiltrating’ the bureaucracy. But that this can be said so openly means it will enter the endless stream of WhatsApp forwards in no time. After all, misinformation and hate doesn’t have to be aired on television in India today for it to exist and thrive. The fringe has become mainstream and captured the mindscape.
This begs the question: What is politically convenient today for the Hindutva hatemongers — that Muslims remain poor and uneducated or that they study, work and stake a claim in the promise of Incredible India?
‘I am a Bhakt of Savarkar’ — so declares Suresh Chavhanke before seeking to “honour” the Delhi High Court judgment staying the broadcast of his ‘Bindas Bol’ episode. He then proceeds to run a show on ‘freedom of speech’, opening phone lines for people to come live on his show and speak their mind while he littered the programme with terms like ‘Islamist conspiracy’, ‘gaddari’ (treachery), ‘ghuspait’ (infiltrator), and loot.
As Chavhanke went about narrating his views, motives and ‘journalism’ — which is to work towards a ‘Hindu Rashtra’ and ‘Akhand Bharat’ — and abusing ‘Owaisi’, one caller after another appeared on the show to question Muslims’ presence in India, abuse Nehru and Gandhi for Partition, and make various other communal remarks that are often found in WhatsApp forwards.
Chavhanke also expressed his anger against the IPS association, which chose to call out his hate. He ended the show by repeating the vow that he won’t stop and expose the ‘UPSC Jihad’ after getting clearance “from the same court and the same judges”.
On first glance, it would seem that the increased selection of Muslim candidates — from 4 per cent in UPSC 2018 to 5 per cent last year — is the source of his anger. But the repeated assertion of ‘Hindu Rashtra’ and the uncontrolled attack on Muslims shows how it’s part of the same Hindutva agenda that has come to define the last six years.
Making everyone a suspect
The only Muslim that Hindutva tolerates is one who speaks its language — news anchors such as Rubika Liyaquat and Sayeed Ansari, leaders such as Mukhtar Abbas Naqvi or Arif Mohammad Khan, or those who are in the armed forces, although it is not a guarantee their ‘loyalty’ won’t be questioned. The only other Muslim Hindutva groups seemingly like is a persecuted Muslim. The successful ones are part of an ‘Islamic conspiracy’.
To sustain this attack on the Muslim community, they need a new villain. And what better way than questioning their entry process into the powerful club of bureaucrats? In one stroke, everyone from an IPS officer to a diplomat serving the government becomes a ‘suspect’ in the eyes of ordinary Hindus.
It is not a surprise that Suresh Chavhanke received massive support from BJP leaders such as Kapil Mishra, Khemchand Sharma, Sarojini Agarwal and IT cell/Hindutva supporters on social media, with hashtag urging him to ‘keep at it’.
Going after Muslim bureaucrats
Sardar Patel had called the civil servants ‘the steel frame of India’. Several questions have been raised about the system and there has been a demand to improve their work culture over the years. But never has the civil services been divided along communal lines. Chavhanke’s targeting of the UPSC process dishonours the ethos associated with the system. It must not be forgotten that retired diplomat Syed Akbaruddin was lauded for his defence of India at the United Nations. He was no less than a celebrity while he was deputed there.
When Shah Faesal topped the UPSC exam in 2009, it was considered as a diplomatic win of the Indian government over dissenters in the Kashmir Valley. Similarly, Athar Aamir Khan became another success story from Kashmir in 2016 when he secured the second rank in the country. Then, in 2019, Shahid Raza Khan from Bihar cleared UPSC after graduating from a madrasa. All these examples break some or the other stereotype about Muslims.
Getting into UPSC is a cherished dream for many Indians. It is only after years of hard work and perhaps several failed attempts that one manages to enter the elite club. Attacking them based on their religion is a disservice not only to the civil services but also puts a question mark on everyone who cracks the UPSC code after breaking various societal and economic barriers.
Views are personal.