New Delhi: The Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS) is a “nationalist organisation and is involved in the work of nation-building”, said Israel’s consul general in Mumbai, Kobbi Shoshani, in an interview published this week in Organiser, the English language publication linked to the Sangh.
Shoshani also said he was “hugely impressed” by the RSS, praising it as a firm believer in the peaceful coexistence of human beings.
Apart from this, the controversy over halal meat in Karnataka and the attendant bogey of ‘economic jihad’, Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal’s comments on the film The Kashmir Files, and concerns about unemployment — a theme continuing from the previous week — all featured prominently in the headlines of pro-Hindutva publications and the writings of some Right-leaning authors in the week gone by.
Shoshani on RSS
In his interview with Organiser, Shoshani commented on India-Israel cultural ties, similarities between the two countries, and bilateral relations, but also expressed great interest in, and familiarity with, the RSS in particular.
Shoshani was also a guest at the Vijayadashami function organised by the RSS at its Nagpur headquarters last year. Replying to a question about attending the event, he said, “during my previous visits to India, I had heard a lot about the RSS’s work; I had opportunities to visit a few projects run by RSS functionaries”.
“I was hugely impressed and wanted to get an insight into the organisation, hence decided to attend the function in Nagpur. I have gathered an impression that the RSS is a nationalist organisation and is involved in the work of nation-building,” he added.
‘End of public life is near’ for Kejriwal
Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal’s comments on The Kashmir Files, a Hindi film depicting the exodus of Kashmiri Pandits from the Valley in the 1990s, invited flak for allegedly mocking Hindu sentiments. Kejriwal had taken a dig at BJP leaders who were demanding to make the film tax free in Delhi — as has been done in BJP-ruled states — and suggested that filmmaker Vivek Agnihotri put it up on YouTube so that everyone could watch it.
In an article in Amar Ujala, Tarun Vijay, former editor of Organiser, wrote: “Ravan was a worshipper, but he made fun of Ram’s pain — and he was destroyed. Aurangzeb laughed when Banda Singh Bahadur’s six-year-old son was murdered by the Mughals — today he has been forgotten.” Baba Banda Singh Bahadur, an 18th-century Sikh military leader, and his son were tortured to death in 1716 under Emperor Farrukhsiyar, nine years after Aurangzeb’s death.
Referring to Kashmiri separatist leaders, Vijay added: “I have not even seen people like Yasin Malik and [the late Syed Ali Shah] Geelani laughing at the pain of Kashmiri Pandits the way it was seen in the Delhi Vidhan Sabha a few days ago. The end of the public life of those who are laughing at it has begun.”
Pakistan a ‘failed state’
Panchjanya, the Hindi publication linked to the RSS, called Pakistan a ‘failed’ state and democracy in its editorial, in the context of the current constitutional crisis.
A no-confidence motion by the opposition against Prime Minister Imran Khan was torpedoed by the National Assembly’s deputy speaker Sunday, after which Khan had President Arif Alvi dissolve the Assembly. The constitutionality of these actions is currently being considered by the country’s Supreme Court.
Panchjanya’s cover featured Khan’s face superimposed on a chess pawn, with the following lines written below: “In the changing developments in Pakistan, the stunned captain Imran Khan read the Marsiya (a lament for the dead) for the farewell of his government in the last over. He also tried to hit a sixer in the name of Islam at that last moment.”
The magazine’s editor, Hitesh Shankar, wrote, “Pakistan had to correct itself, but it took more risks from outside and created imbalance within. The thinking of Pakistan has been to feel enmity against India. It spoiled itself in its bid to teach India a lesson. They show Hindus as kaafirs and cruel people.”
Referring to Umayyad commander Muhammad ibn Qasim’s conquest of Sindh in the eighth century, he wrote, “But the reality is that till 711 AD, Hindu Rajput rulers ruled in West Pakistan. The ancestors and the cultural heritage, which could have been a positive source of motivation for them, were marked as enemies, and thus the nation cut off its own roots.”
Halal after hijab
Following the row over educational institutions in Karnataka banning the wearing of hijabs in class, other controversies have erupted in the state, with Hindutva groups attempting to “ban” Muslim traders from temple fairs and calling for boycotts of halal meat during the Ugadi New Year festival.
Specifically, they asked the Bengaluru-based ayurvedic firm Himalaya to remove the halal certification from its signboards, with a hashtag #BoycottHimalaya and accusations of ‘economic jihad’. The company has stated that none of its products contain meat, and that its products are halal-certified to meet the requirements of importing countries.
“Many Muslim organisations issue halal certificates by taking crores of rupees, and there is such a large section in the country and the world who buy any item only after seeing this certificate,” Arun Kumar Singh, the news editor of Panchjanya, wrote in an article with the headline ‘Stay alert with halal’.
“That’s why many companies are launching many of their products in the market by taking halal certificates from them. This economy has become huge. Only Muslims are getting the benefit of this. Maybe that’s why C.T. Ravi considers it to be economic jihad,” Singh wrote, referring to the BJP general secretary’s comment.
Former IPS officer M. Nageswara Rao, who says his mission is to secure “equal rights for Hindus”, wrote a thread on Twitter arguing that the RSS and the BJP are polarising Karnataka’s society over “pseudo-Hindutva”.
THREAD on RSS-BJP polarising Karnataka society:
1. In Jan 2022 #HijabRow erupted from nowhere as if Müslïm girls were not wearing it before.
Massive protests were held by both sides and a young Hindu boy #Harsha was mûrdërēd.
And the issue died as suddenly as it erupted.+
— M. Nageswara Rao IPS(R) (@MNageswarRaoIPS) April 1, 2022
Organiser also published a report from Karnataka on incidents of non-Hindus not being allowed near temple premises.
“The Hindu activists argued that non-Hindus are owning chappal (footwear) shops on the premises of Sri Anjaneya Temple in Upparpet, in the central area of Majestic in Bengaluru. Though the lease period expired in 2014, the shopkeepers have continued their businesses in an unauthorised manner to date,” it wrote.
“A state-level Hindu activist said, ‘We believe in the constitution but Muslims don’t believe in this. When the high court had banned hijab, many Muslims violated the HC order by taking part in the bandh. When they don’t respect the constitution, we don’t believe in buying items from them. So, we have decided why Muslims should do business in Hindu programme,’” it added.
‘Demographic dividend will go to waste if talents are not utilised’
Pro-Hindutva organisations are also examining the problem of unemployment. The Swadeshi Jagran Manch’s co-convener Ashwani Mahajan wrote an article on addressing these challenges.
“This problem can’t be attributed to one or the (sic) government policies; it’s the cumulative effect of misdirected economic policies adopted by successive governments in independent India, first in the name of socialism and misdirected policy of globalisation and privatisation, later after 1991. Today the need is to move forward towards a permanent solution to this problem, instead of doing politics on this issue,” Mahajan wrote.
“We have (sic) largest number of youth in the world and are called ‘Youngistan’ and rightly so. It is believed that this situation in our country is going to remain till 2042. Today the youth population in the age group of 15 years to 29 years is 28 per cent of the total population. But if we are not able to utilise the talents and skills of these youths properly, then this demographic dividend will go to waste,” he wrote.
Mahajan added that employment has been declining because small traders, artisans and traditional businesses engaged in agriculture and small enterprises were “completely ignored during globalisation, privatisation and liberalisation”.
He further said that a new campaign launched by the Swadeshi Jagran Manch, and other RSS-affilated organisations, “will try to inculcate the spirit of entrepreneurship development among the youth instead of searching for jobs”.
‘AAP is not an alternative to BJP-Congress’
In an article in Panchjanya titled ‘Bade be-aabroo hokar, har kooche se ye nikle’ (they left every street with great humiliation), paraphrasing legendary Urdu poet Ghalib, Right-leaning author and journalist Pradeep Sardana targeted the Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) after its victory in the Punjab assembly election last month.
“Some of the AAP leaders are claiming that the entire country has accepted the ‘Kejriwal model’. An illusion is also being spread that AAP has become the third-largest national party in the country. Some people have started calling AAP an alternative to the Congress, while some have started calling AAP an alternative to the BJP,” he wrote.
“The question is, what is the basis of these claims? Since these claims have been made after the recent assembly elections, it would be expedient to scrutinise their results. Apart from Punjab, Kejriwal and his AAP have faced a humiliating defeat in the other states where elections were held,” wrote Sardana, going on to attempt to demonstrate that AAP had performed poorly in the states other than Punjab.
Govind Raj Shenoy, another Right-leaning columnist, joined the voices criticising Kejriwal and his governance model.
“Kejriwal was shot to fame during the ‘Anna Andolan’. He said in his famous speech, ‘I think all problems lie in the Chair (power). Whoever sits on it becomes corrupt. It’s possible those agitating against corruption today might end up as corrupt after sitting on the chair.’ Prophetic words! Aam Aadmi Party has given tickets to corrupt officials who helped Robert Vadra. They’ve been accused of selling tickets and Rajya Sabha seats to the highest bidders,” Shenoy wrote in Organiser.
“Having abused PM Modi [as a] ‘coward and psychopath’ on Twitter, Kejriwal has become too touchy these days and filed a case against BJP youth leader Tajinder Bagga for criticising him. Practically, Kejriwal has done everything he protested against before 2013. The ‘Chair’ has changed the ‘Aam Aadmi‘ into ‘Khaas Aadmi’,” he added, referring to the charges against Bagga for allegedly promoting communal enmity.
(Edited by Rohan Manoj)