Hindus in Hindu Rashtra: Eighth-Class Citizens and Victims of State-Sanctioned Apartheid. Anand Ranganathan. BluOne Ink. Pages 135. Rs 399.
One of the big failures of Hindus relates to their historical inability to fight unitedly for their collective rights.
We have often focused on settling scores with the near rival by aligning with civilisational enemies, which ultimately leads to the loss of collective rights — rights that are vital to preserving our Dharmic core.
Worse, after Independence, Hindus have chosen to ignore their constitutional and other handicaps, choosing instead to focus on economic progress at the individual and group levels. We are scripting our own civilisational demise.
Anand Ranganathan, scientist, author and nemesis of the political hypocrites who appear on prime time TV channels every news-night, has written a slim volume to remind Hindus of what they are up against.
Running barely into 135 pages, including Foreword, Prologue, Epilogue, Afterword, notes and an index, the book (Hindus In Hindu Rashtra: Eighth Class Citizens and Victims of State-Sanctioned Apartheid) can easily be read cover to cover even on a short-distance flight.
But don’t go by the small size, for it packs a mighty wallop — wallops as good as the verbal blows Ranganathan rains on his opponents in two-minute (plus “just 30 seconds”) interventions in TV appearances.
With this book, Hindus now have the ammo to take on their intellectual opponents.
It also calls out those who claim to be fighting on for Hindu causes but end up reinforcing the same religious 'apartheid' that is baked into our 'liberal' Constitution, our various laws, our judicial verdicts and day-to-day 'secular' discourse.
Ranganathan explains the use of the word 'apartheid', as it is not just about appeasement of 'minorities'. He writes in the prologue: “No, the issue…is not appeasement. The issue is apartheid. The issue is of state-sponsored, state-sanctioned discrimination against a particular community. And that community is the majority community — the Hindus”.
The eight chapters list five laws that discriminate against Hindus, and three other supporting pieces that result in this discrimination.
These include the judiciary’s exclusive focus on Hindu reform and protection of so-called minorities, the inability of the state to protect even the lives and liberties of Hindus (as in Kashmir), and the control of academic institutions by Leftists and secularists who glorify even rulers who tormented and converted Hindus on an industrial scale.
The five 'apartheid' laws that Ranganathan mentions are those that allow the state to control temples (and only temples), the Waqf Act, which gives Waqf boards extraordinary powers to claim and expropriate properties claimed as belonging to the Waqf (with very little legal remedies), the Right to Education Act (which imposes obligations only on majority institutions), and the Places of Worship Act, which stands in the way of Hindus reclaiming temples that were forcibly demolished and built over by Islamist rulers, often using the same building materials.
The question that Ranganathan does not explicitly seek to answer is why a majority community puts up with this discrimination?
This is where I have a minor quibble with the author, who chooses to think of Hindus as a majority, when every Hindu is Hindu in his own way. Hindus are not organised like a majority community.
The words majority and majoritarian emerged in a European context, where the Westphalian model defined the nation-state as having a common ethnicity, language, heroes and enemies.
In this model, protection of minorities becomes important, for they are technically outside the concept of the nation-state even though living within.
Moreover, the primary schism in Europe was the religious one between Protestants and Catholics, where states with one kind of religious majority often oppressed the other.
This has never been the case in India, and Hindus were never Hindus based on scripture, or having a historical founder and holy book.
Hinduism grew from the ground up, where spiritual ideas, religious traditions, rituals and practices evolved differently in different geographies. But once travel and the institution of the pilgrimage enabled these ideas to interact and borrow from one another, Hinduism emerged as the common descriptor.
Hinduism’s core ideals are about plurality, acceptance of religious and other differences, and an ability to let and let live. Atheism is also acceptable, and this is what makes Anand Ranganathan, a self-professed atheist, identify with Hinduism.
These core principles are, however, not the basis on which the two Abrahamic religions expanded to become global majorities. It was done by adopting predatory, imperialist and expansionist strategies as key to global dominance.
The Yogi’s ideals were always at variance with the ideals of the Abrahamic Commissar, whether religious or irreligious.
In short, Hindus are not a majority in the way Europe created its own local majorities. We are a loose aggregation of spiritual and religious ideas, with a common willingness to accept difference and divergence.
We are not easily able to differentiate between benign differences — as between Dharmic religions — and dangerous ones, which seek to eviscerate and destroy our civilisational values.
We are not a majority, but a confederation of minority spiritual and religious practices and traditions that cannot easily defend our common civilisational interests.
This is what makes the idea of Hindutva vital for our collective renaissance. Hindutva is not about creating a theocratic state, but about building a larger sense of Hindu identity that can defend its collective interest and reduce internal fault lines.
This is what the Abrahamic religions see as a threat to their predatory instincts.
Despite this quibble, I strongly recommend this book to every Hindu looking for ways to understand what he or she is up against, and build a common sense of purpose to defend our plurality, our Dharmic civilisation.
The book has strong endorsements from Indic historians like Meenakshi Jain and a foreword by J Sai Deepak, lawyer and indefatigable fighter for Hindu causes.
The book is already a best-seller, but Hindus should buy and read it in order to internalise the challenges they face, and gear up for collective action.
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