Wednesday, March 1, 2017


     Gurmehar Kaur has today become a rallying point. A student of Delhi University, she exercised her right to publicly state her opinions. In response, dozens of Page three gimmicksters and an few ministers jumped into the bandwagon to answer the 20 year old. 

     If the sinisters are threatening physical violence to her, Mr Minister of home seems to have donned a clairvoyant's robe to diagnose her mental state. In this theatre of the absurd, a few people seem hell bent on twisting the meaning of freedom of speech. It is an absolute right. Period. This fundamental right is guaranteed by the constitution of India. Period. The constitution does not subscribe to threat of violence. Speech and expression are in itself abstract, hence benign occurrences -whereas actions are tangible and the potential to have malevolent manifestations. 

     As for the Mr Minister, suffice to say that he voluntarily ceded his free speech right on the day he took oath of office & secrecy. This oath is administered in view of the sensitive information a minister gets privy to. His free speech right is substituted by discretion during his ministerial tenure. 

     The epicentre of this storm is the Akhil Bharatiya Vidyarthi parishad which is a declared subsidiary of the Rashtriya Swayamsewak Sangh. To understand ABVP's actions, it is imperative to understand the ideological moorings of its parent body, the RSS, in an objective manner because there is flurry of debates for and against the Sangh. 

     In this din, there is a need to dispassionately see similar occurrences across history around the world, their objectives and their behavioural pattern - for readers to arrive at a logical conclusion.

     Sangh-like establishments around the world by their very nature are communal organizations. Communal here being an ideology which overtly stresses on liturgy (particular way of worship) and Organization here meaning a confederation of homogeneous people who openly advocate gaining political power to achieve the purpose.

     A critical difference between an organization and an institution is that -heterogeneous people constitute an institution and they are more concerned about rendering social service driven by duty consciousness - whereas organizations are more concerned about attaining power & dominance.

     The second yet very important characteristic of any communal organization is when it is out of power, it demands equality/privileges for itself but when in power, it imposes its own supremacy over others.

     Another irrefutable trait of organizations is that during times of social emergencies, when the majority population is immersed in overcoming the emergency - these organizations propagate and indulge in cultural activities. However, once the social emergency phase is over, they declare their own monopoly over patriotism.

     Classic examples of such uncanny behavioural pattern are galore -especially National Socialist German Workers Party's role of indulging in cultural activities in the 1920's when majority Germans were trying to rebuild their nation after its defeat in WW 1. The same party declared its monopoly over patriotism in 1940's in a resurgent Germany. Or the actions of Italian Socialists during 1910's when Italians were going through an economic crisis whence Socialists initiated cultural programs. But by 1920's with the crisis over, the Socialists anointed themselves with supreme nationalism.

     Such examples are found aplenty in the Arab world, esp Iran. While Iranians were demonstrating against the western crony Shah in 1970's, Basij Mostazafan propounded cultural activities. But the moment the Shah was overthrown in 1979, the BM claimed ownership over patriotism and is till date in power in Iran. In the case of Afganistan, in 1991, While ordinary Afgans were struggling to get rid of Soviet Backed crony regime and the resultant chaos after Soviet withdrawal, The Talib propounded cultural activities by opening religious schools. But by 1994, when an interim government was in place in relatively calmer times, Talibs claimed sovereign ownership over their queer brand of religious patriotism and went on to usurp power too. 

     Sangh's historical evolution as well as behavioural trajectory reflects that although it existed during pre-independence era, its primary activity then was to promote cultural programs (including the times during freedom struggle). However, post 1947, it changed track swiftly to promote, propagate as well as claim nationalism as its USP which it continues to do unto this day.

    Today as Sangh backed BJP is in power, it is but natural for Sangh to project as if its idea of India has gained constitutional validity. From here on its easy. Either my way or the highway, any divergent view can be dubbed treason.

The objective of this piece is not to be critical of any organization. This narrative is just a juxtaposition of similar organizations around the world, more so now, because this has become national discourse.

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