Assault on Reason

Systematic attacks on rational and independent thought as manifest in the recent killing of Dr. Kalburgi combined with the dubious efforts to re-write Indian history as can be seen in the re-naming of public roads and streets need to be seen as part of majoritarian and communal agenda of the NDA II government. They are part of a trend launched in 1999 with the Value education syllabus sought to be introduced by the then NDA I government. Scholars and activists like Teesta Setalvad, Prabhat Patnaik and Irfan Habib addressed a Press Conference organized by SAHMAT.

I would like you to introduce the ideological issue, to emphasis the ideological issue. We must realise that we are today governed not by the BJP as in the previous NDA government but by the RSS. And the RSS, from it’s inception had never concealed it’s admiration for fascism. It had praised, which leader Golwalkar had praised Hitler and the treatment of Jews and like treatment indirectly what Muslims should receive when RSS would be in power. So here we are dealing with, perhaps not an actual fascist but the par ambitious of being fascism. And one very important feature which they have in common with Hitler Germany is, the replacement they seek to make of history by mythology. Several of our journalist friends speak as if they are reading of history is different from the ordinary historians, that is not the case. The evolution of history, they have only construction of mythology. Don’t go far, go to the NDA textbooks of the previous regime. I said don’t go far, don’t go to their myth about arrogance; coming-going out of India and civilising the world. But come to their treatment of the national movement. If you read that book, you would think that Gandhi and Nehru made no contribution to India’s freedom. Its a surprise that they got elected. If you read NDA textbook, it would seem that only the Hindu Rashtra people, Savarkar and others made the worth while sacrifices. Nehru is all the time censored there and Gandhiji’s murder is not even mentioned. He is not an event. You can read that book. We are talking of today with the renaming of Aurangzeb. The book quotes Jawaharlal Nehru, the censor of Aurangzeb rightful right, that censor one which nobody could disagree with but they don’t quote Jawaharlal Nehru’s praise of Akbar. If you read that book, it would seem that Akbar was even worse than Aurangzeb. So they are replacing history with another kind of history. There could be many interpretations of historical facts one has to select but those facts should be there. They are inventing facts and this was exactly what the Nazis did. They invented history in which the Germans people rule the world. Now as an Aryans, as Indo-Harappians. How close our RSS friends are to that. RSS friends say Indo-Aryans going out of India, ruled of civilised world. They built the pyramids in Egypt and so on so far. Everything worthwhile was done and the Greek philosophy came out of the Upanishits. So they are just aping Hitler and their history therefore has also Hitler like paralysis. They are now Germanised saying that one should go to Puranas, one should go to Ramayan and Mahabharat for our history and therefore we must believe their rulers has Aeroplanes by which Rama returns from Srilanka but unfortunately that was constructed by Ravan not Rakshas, not by any Indo-Aryans. So there is slight fault in the Ramayana otherwise we had the aeroplanes although donated to us by Rakshas, as not build by us but we had aeroplanes. And therefore we have got this replacement and now that there would be an education commission and so on, this replacement could come. They will be again textbooks and I believe that in Gujarat and some other RSS, BJP governed states, such textbooks are already in use. And perhaps in central services, we would be asked, students would be asked, aspirants for civil service would be asked, we are the Aryans first went; which country they first went when they set-out India to the puple the world? In this atmosphere, the renaming of Aurangzeb road is a homely developed. That Aurangzeb can’t be everyone’s cup of tea, of course admitted. For Dalits, hardly any ancient Indian ruler can be admired. Satavahana, Gupta, every one said that we uphold the Varna Dharma, Varnashrama. We are opposed to the mixture of castes. This is in the Gautama Buddhist scriptures. So why are you naming Ships or Aeroplanes and so far after Samudra Gupta for instance or any other ancient Indian rulers? Clearly one should stand-up and say that this renaming effort is condemnable and should stop and should be reversed. Previously in the NDA regime, there were proposal to rename Allahabad and Lukhnow, whose owner Vajpayee has said, you have elected from Lucknow not Laxmanpuri and therefore they stopped but Laxmanpuri was well on the way to replace the historic name Lucknow. For Allahabad, not Prayag, some other name was formed, that scheme was dropped. Now there are this scheme will continue and this would gain become one way in which communalism will thrive. All newspapers are saying indirectly that before election, communal tension heats-up. They don’t say who is the author of the seating up on communal tension; in Bihar, UP, everywhere. You know who the authorities. They are now in the seats of power at the centre. Mr. Modi has a great credit of the greatest slaughter in communal violence next to the Delhi rights of 1984. He has that political bilayer of owner and I am sure that he has many imitators. It is therefore important that there should be determined opposition to the steps that are leading or that might lead India to position of semi-fascists or modern fascists. Mr Anil Moria spoke about capitalist support for Mr. Modi and sure there has been no other election in Indian history in which money-power get such a part. Remember also this is in common with the history of Nazi Germany. In 1933, all capitalists supported Hitler and after 1945, they said we made a mistake. You made a mistake and millions were killed, tens of millions. 27 millions died in Soviet Union. 7 millions Jews were slaughtered. You made a mistake. So the capitalist class in India has to answer. And we also have to see that we should have a democracy, where money should not play such a part. It is regrettable that the republic which came into being after our national movement should have seen the day when money swept such a large number of votes and elected to power a party which had through out oppose the national movement. RSS has at the distinction of not leading a single agitation against the colonial government. All their crimes, all their agitations were against the fellow community. I cannot forbear. Sorry if I am taking time but before I leave, I can’t forbear to share with you a joke that has come from Pakistan. In Dawn, a writer wrote that the trouble with Pakistan is it’s system. All countries, ex-colonies had a history of freedom movements against the rulers, Pakistan is the only country that has a history of struggles against fellow subjects. Not against rulers but fellow subjects. That fits RSS completely. They have only history in the national movement in which they took issues with fellow subjects. In 1947, they wished to clench Delhi of Muslims. It is a tribute to the government of the time, to Pandit Nehru, to Sardar Patel that they did not allow a single name to be changed. The roads named after Muslims remained as ever. For this they deserve all honor. When they deserve honor for this, what do they desire wish to renamed the roads in-order to substrate communal figures that we have to judge. Thank you very much.

DISCLAIMER: Please note that transcripts for Newsclick are typed from a recording of the program. Newsclick cannot guarantee their complete accuracy.


Rough Transcript: Teesta Setalvad

Friends, What Anil Modia and Irfan have said, I just like to re-emphasis first the complete paradigm shift in what is dictating our education and cultural policy and I would urge friends in the media to look at the history of this paradigm shift. It hasn’t come about over night. Many of you journalists might have been witnessed to the first NDA government, some of you may not. I just like to take back to the time because we had the first such attempt meeting in 1999, when you had a certain kind of value education policy sort to be brought in the minority NDA government, at which point, state education minister had walked out of the meeting with HRD minister; at the time Murli Manohar Joshi. Following which, there were agitations allover the country and I still recall one amazing convention we had at the old Zehmat when the Zehmat was in the old office. When education ministers and politicians of all parties had attended, when we looked at the communalisation of education, it is worth revisiting back time, simply because a lot of what we are seeing today is takes-off from that period. In 1999, we did a first analysis of a Gujarat State textbooks. When we did that analysis of those textbooks, we saw that, those textbooks had been in operations since 1989. Now this is a bit important because when do we step-in, when do we see the impact, when do we see the actual communalisation working out in the polity, when people actually started articulating things about who has the right to be Indian, who has the right to citizenship, is because history has taught in a certain way and social studies taught in a certain way in then Gujarat. It continues to be taught in that way today. You have young leaders emerging from that state to say that Hindu belongs to this country but not other people, not other caste, not other religions. It is an attempt what kind of history that taught and this is why extremely dangerous trend that we are seeing. Dinanath Shiksha Bacha Andolan Samithi’s 4,00,000 textbooks and 40,000 schools are now been there for an year and quarter but I don’t think any social auditors have been performed as what impact this has had. Because they have been pushed down some texts in Gujarat, what impact has on young people thoughts, do they grow up to believe, what are their social relations and are they able to actually believe-in what India was born as which is a nation that rejected religion based nationhood, as our constituent assembly debates clearly lay out or a nation with today RSS like us to believe has accepted religion based nation to. I think that is the crux of the matter today which needs to be looked at as such. In the central advisory body of education meeting post 2004, there was a committee set-up and I would urge some of you to look at that committee. A committee set-up to recommend there should to be an All Indian Textbook Board that examines the kind of texts that are taught in schools, not just in state schools but also privately owned schools by religion-social-political organisations and the recommendation of that committee were never implemented. And all of us are seeing today, the morning walk murders and of course Dabholkar, Pansare and Dr Kalburgi is the latest but there was an other morning walk murder we also saw in Gujarat in 2003, which is Arin Pandya’s murder, quite out of context and quite different. But our intelligence and law and order machinery which seems to be able to get to the bottom of every other crime soon or later as the Bombay mega crime at moment tells us two years later, somehow cannot trace killings when it is coming to Dabholkar. Dabholkar’s family and the Communist Party of India had been telling the authorities in Maharashtra repeatedly that the extremist, I would say the organisation like Abhinav Bharat etc published extremely virulent writings saying that we will kill Dabholkar, we will kill Pansare. Such texts has been issued in writing by the organisation in their name but somehow no linkages have been made and investigations have not progressed. We have now tweets on social media when after Kalburgi’s murder saying that, one more academic and independent thinker has been threatened in Mysore. But the kind of outrage that these killings should seen somehow is not evident because I think its linked to the fact that, we are still not able to react to the fact that, what governance that today is, an unconstitutional ideology which does not believe on the very foundation of this country, the RSS. Somehow we are not able to react to that sharply as wish to do. That which RSS is governing this country, RSS that is formulating the culture of educational policy of this government and it is an extremely dangerous scenario. When we talk about Aurangzeb, coming from Maharashtra I do of meeting of Shivaji. Now I would like some of you to look at this book which Pansare brought out first in Marati ‘ Who was Shivaji ‘. He has annexed to it the letter written by Shivaji to Aurangzeb, extremely courtesied letter invoking Islam as a religion, the Quran, etc makes it quite evident that his quarrel and battle with Shivaji was not a religious one, it was on the issue of the collapse and the whole question of smaller land holding rulers not been able to pay taxes which was exclusively seems to be in his eyes by the Mughals. You have in this book a very important reference to a Maharashtrian historian called Naren Kurulkar, who was also by the way one of the most amazing translation of the Manusmriti and Naren Kulkur writes not just about Shivaji but also about Aurangzeb and said that how can we don’t ever talk about the Korpare, the Nimbarkars, the Yadav, the Savants that Survis who the greatest opponent to the Shivaji’s rule. And all these happened to be Brahmins. Shivaji was not from the ruling caste or ruling class, even to get his coronation done yet to get gaga but from Banaras and what in modern terms call they bribed 40 lakh gold coins to get a large scale. These are facts of history, where chronicled in the Sabha substronicals which are contemporary resources, long before the other historians wrote on Shivaji. So I think what is the motive behind this renaming? We all believe that Abdul Kalam should have got a pride of place somewhere in the nation’s capital but what should it have been at the space of Aurangzeb? what is that meaning in terms of what sort of Muslim you are privileging and what you are not?  And this good Muslim, good Hindu, bad Hindu kind of politics that embarrassingly been played out, is something that I think today huge challenge before intellectuals, huge challenges before the state. Anil rightly said that the last election did not see a glowingly part for the Indian media, particularly television media which seem to have account to a campaign to get one man into power. Can India’s media today reclaim it’s rightful place at the fourth state in the democracy? A democracy that was born despite and in-spite of the partition in 1947. The constitute assembly debates carried on through that 18 months period when the subcontinent was partitioned. And look at those debates on the preamble to our constitution. And such sagacity you see in those debates. There was no thought, right, left or center believe that the preamble of the constitution should not be what it is today. There was complete concurrence on that. It was not just matter of principle but matter of deep pragmatism that made us all resolve that this country will be secular democratic republic, and not despite the pains and killings of partition become a religion based nation. Where are we today in the context of that history? As to be as journalist not have a duty to constantly remind our readers and viewers that who governs India today actually the forces that not just did not contribute, not contribute to the shackles against the colonial powers but our inherently in their world view and key constitution. Thank you.

DISCLAIMER: Please note that transcripts for Newsclick are typed from a recording of the program. Newsclick cannot guarantee their complete accuracy.

Rough Transcript: Prabhat Patnaik

I just want to make four points. Firstly, all these incidents which we have listed in the press release and which have been touched upon, which all of you know are the incidents, which should not come to us as surprise. We have at this moment in the country a group of fascist elements who are in ruling positions. We do not have a fascist state, mercifully; if we had, I wouldn’t be speaking to you here. But on the other hand; if you have fascist element in power, then it is no surprising that they would like to proceed to go to the construction of fascist state. That is exactly what is happening. A part of this process of fascification is the destruction of reason and one very important symptom of this destruction of reason is the obliteration of the distinction between history and mythology. If the Prime Minister of the country acknowledges, believes that, Ganesha proves that we actually knew plastic surgery in ancient India, then we have actually obliterated the distinction of history and mythology and we have proceeded considerably towards making respectable process of destruction of reason. Now this is something, my second point is that, this classification needless to say run completely contrary to the last century of struggle and progress that this country has made. The social emancipation movement of Ambedkar, Phule and others, the anti-colonial struggle verbose complimenting one-another in a process of progress towards the notion of equality. And ultimately the constitution that comes out is one that defines as it where terrain of equal citizens; a fraternity of citizens all of who are equal. It is that which quantifying it’s verbose of democratic, republic and secular character of the Indian polity. Now anything which privileges one community over another, anything which privileges one root over another, is something that is destructive of this notion of citizenship and therefore, it is actually carrying this back to a point where, we were 100 or over a 100 years ago. It is completely contrary the direction of movement of this country and of course it is for the danger. The third point I want to make is, this danger which is going to increase over time. If we find the analogy, it is quite important that Germany became Nazified because of the acute economic crisis of the 1930s and the mass unemployment it had generated. Now it is a fact that the Indian economy too is one which is progressively slipping into an economic crisis, in which even the kind of jobs that have been generating from the middle classes. Let alone the poor. We know the peasants have been committing suicides, we know the working class has in fact been ruthlessly suppressing at this period but forget about them. At any rate, neo-liberalism from 1991 onwards had given a certain hope to the middle class loose because all kinds of jobs in particular sectors were opening up. The crisis is going to be, even that is no longer going to be available. And consequently in a period like this, there would be much more fertile ground for fascist forces to strengthen themselves by pitting one segment against other; by saying reservations are bad; you are not getting job is because Dalits are taking your jobs and so on. And of course, at the same time, as far as the rich are concerned, they vote. The corporate capital is concerned, in a period of crisis, they can make themselves better off by appropriating other people’s property, exactly like the land ordinance promises that they would. So precisely, the phase we are intervening now is a phase in which these kinds of elements are going to get a phds. The first point I want to make is against this, the kind of resources which are required for a struggle. For instance, the intellectual resources required for a struggle which are systematically being destroyed through the destruction of the institutions. The institutions are very important because ideas come from universities, ideas come from institutions and if you destroy institutions then fundamentally you become dependent on the advanced countries, dependent on Europe, dependent on America, for borrow ideas and those borrowed ideas are not going to tell us which way to progress for our societies is concerned. And therefore, these people who talk most in terms of India’s glorious past otherwise our real responsible idealogically for this subservient this country would be having in the coming years towards the metropolitan country, towards the metropolitan society. Putting hand pits second with mediocre people in-charge of academic institutions ensuring that, those people destroy any scope for rational discourse in the institution where they head, are ways of destroying the institutions, ways of destroying the ideas. Ultimately, it is anti-colonial ideas that give rise to anti-colonial struggles, it is an fascist idea that gives anti-fascist struggle. When the destruction of ideas, then the scope for struggle thereby certain you will take. And consequently before the fascification of society proceeds any further, it is important for all of us to stand up and oppose it. Thank you.

DISCLAIMER: Please note that transcripts for Newsclick are typed from a recording of the program. Newsclick cannot guarantee their complete accuracy.