New Delhi: The Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS) is wading into the ongoing debate about the definition of a minority, supporting Assam Chief Minister Himanta Biswa Sarma’s comments about Hindus declining as a share of the population in several districts of his state.
Sarma also said last month that his government favours redefining the minority status of religious groups district–wise, instead of taking the whole country into consideration.
On the cover of Panchjanya, the RSS-affiliated Hindi journal, is a question mark encircling a skull cap. Below, it poses the question, ‘Who is a minority?’ An article in this edition also asks Muslims to be “responsible”.
“This is part of the central ideology of Muslims, that everyone should accept their religion — although in today’s era of ideological liberalisation, Muslims have to cooperate and live with other religions as well. But in Assam, Muslims are in the majority, and a place is influenced by the largest community living there,” writes author Aslam Beg.
“It is also often said about Muslims that they demand their rights, but forget about their duties. In this case, Muslims need to prove morally that they are responsible and they can prosper, and let other communities live with them peacefully,” he adds.
In addition, historical claims about mediaeval Indian military technology, ‘Atmanirbhar Bharat’ and social justice, and Sri Lanka’s economic crisis were among the subjects that dominated the pages of publications affiliated to the RSS, the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), and sister organisations, as well as the writings of some Right-leaning authors.
‘Muslim population up 10%, Hindu population down 11%’
The spectre of Hindus turning into a minority has been a constant refrain for Hindutva groups. In another, data-based article, Panchjanya claimed that Hindus have become a minority in nine districts in Assam.
“In four decades, the state’s Muslim population has increased by 10 per cent, whereas the Hindu population has decreased by 11 per cent. This increase in the population of Bangladeshi-origin Muslims indicates that the day is not far off when the indigenous people lose their rights and become a minority in their own land,” the article claimed.
Another piece expressed concerns about the Muslim population “increasing in Jammu and Kashmir”, and about how, despite being a minority in terms of population, Hindus in the Union territory don’t get minority rights.
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Vijayanagara used rockets against Mughals, says JNU scholar & ABVP member
Indians were familiar with the use of rockets in war, and they were deployed by the Vijayanagara army at the Battle of Talikota in 1563 “against the Mughals”, claimed Sabareesh P.A., author of A Brief History of Science in India, published by RSS-affiliated publication house Garuda Prakashan (Rockets were indeed used, but the Battle of Talikota took place in 1565 and Vijayanagara was facing an alliance of the Deccan Sultanates, not the Mughal Empire).
Sabareesh is a PhD research scholar at the Centre for Studies in Science Policy, Jawaharlal Nehru University (JNU) and a zonal convenor of the Akhil Bharatiya Vidyarthi Parishad (ABVP), the RSS’s student wing. Organiser, the RSS-affiliated English journal, published an excerpt of his conversation with Panchjanya editor Hitesh Shankar.
“The gradual evolution of war rockets as an offensive projectile instrument and weaponry in warfare was common amongst the Marathas and Mughals. The cylinder of the rocket was made of iron, and rockets were notably used in defending forts and also formed an important part of the Maratha military at the Third Battle of Panipat in 1761 against the Afghan forces,” Sabareesh said.
He also claimed that the Taj Mahal was originally a Hindu king’s palace with a “temple type of architecture” that was later acquired by Shah Jahan (That Raja Jai Singh did give up the land and that he had a haveli or mansion there is known).
“Badshahnama, the important, literary court document of the Mughal emperor Shah Jahan, shows that he had originally acquired the building, which we today call Taj Mahal in Agra, as a palace from Raja Jai Singh of Jaipur for the reburial of Shah Jahan’s queen, Mumtaz Mahal, in 1632,” said Sabareesh.
“Raja Jai Singh of Jaipur had previously inherited the palace as an ancestral property from his grandfather Raja Man Singh, which initially had a temple type of architecture. It was after the procurement of the palace from Raja Jai Singh by Shah Jahan that the palace was converted into a mausoleum with necessary Islamic religious adaptations,” he added.
Social justice, ‘RSS campaigned for Ambedkar’ & steel sector
While Panchjanya had several articles about religious conversion and Hindu population figures, its English counterpart, Organiser, discussed social justice and inclusion in its cover story.
“The government sits on the top of a tower of expectations and is looked upon as representing India’s awakening self. It is worth remembering that on 12 May 2020, Shri Narendra Modi declared a third stage in the developmental efforts of post-Independent India — the “Atmanirbhar Bharat (self-sustaining India)”; after the two failed mutually conflicting experiments of Pt Nehru’s Russian model of socialism and Dr Manmohan Singh’s US model of globalisation,” the article said.
Dr B.R. Ambedkar has also been given space in this week’s edition of Organiser as his birth anniversary (14 April) is approaching. An article claimed that the RSS campaigned for Ambedkar during the Bhandara byelection in 1954, when the Congress, led by Prime Minister Jawaharlal Nehru, opposed him.
In its April edition, RSS-affiliated trade union Bharatiya Mazdoor Sangh’s magazine Vishwakarma Sanket quoted its representative, D.K. Pandey, on wage revisions for steel-sector employees.
Speaking at the National Joint Committee for Steel, Pandey said that if employees in the steel sector had to bear any losses, then the local BJP MPs would also have to bear the consequences.
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‘China’s debt-trap strategy responsible for Sri Lanka crisis’
The Swadeshi Jagran Manch’s co-convenor, Ashwani Mahajan, wrote in Organiser about the political turmoil and economic crisis in Sri Lanka, holding China’s “debt-trap strategy” responsible for it.
“Behind Sri Lanka’s crisis is China’s old strategy of debt trap. China has trapped not only Sri Lanka but many more countries. The story starts with Sri Lanka accepting China’s proposal to develop the Hambantota port without undertaking any feasibility study,” he wrote.
Mahajan claimed that China had given Sri Lanka five loans amounting to $1.26 billion for the development of the port, with interest initially at 1 per cent or 2 per cent, but later escalating to 6.3 per cent with short repayment periods.
“After that, China invested $1.4 billion in the Colombo Port City Project. Billions of dollars in loans have been given to Sri Lanka by China for developing a seaport, airport, highways and power stations. By 2020, Sri Lanka’s total liability to China had increased to about $8 billion (2020), but these projects are far from earning adequate revenues for debt servicing, even today,” he added.
“Sri Lanka has applied for International Monetary Fund (IMF) assistance, but it is well known that IMF debt comes with conditions and those conditions are mostly against the borrowing countries. Therefore, other options will also have to be considered. The Government of India, in addition to just lending in this matter, can also try to help Sri Lanka restructure its debt,” he suggested.
‘Unification of Delhi civic bodies will spare Delhi from AAP’
Panchjanya has also supported the Delhi Municipal Corporation (Amendment) Bill, 2022, to unify the capital’s three civic bodies. It argued that the Aam Aadmi Party government in Delhi was constantly adding to the corporations’ troubles, and putting the blame on the BJP.
“Now the Delhi government won’t be able to say, ‘This is not our work,’ and deny funds,” editor Hitesh Shankar wrote.
“If we look at all the big capitals in the world, only the central governments make laws for them. If a new leader is elected, it does not change anything,” he said, taking a dig at Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal and his allegations of loss of autonomy.
(Edited by Rohan Manoj)
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