Cow protection is a non-violent and cultural issue and its importance has been acknowledged through history by many Muslim rulers in the medieval period. However, there is also a section of Indian intelligentsia, predominantly left-liberals, who, in convergence with a class of anti-Hindu intelligentsia in the West, have been trying to use it as an opportunity to attack Hindutva, Modi and the RSS, on the one hand, and also to subvert the demand for prohibiting the slaughter of cows on the other. They are trying, however in vain, to infuse a "guilt conscience" among those who consider cows the emblem of our culture by blaming them for directly or indirectly instigating lynching.
Can there be a bigger travesty than this! National leaders like Jay Prakash Narayan and Vinoba Bhave, who the Prime Minister also invoked in his speech, were great votaries of the ban on cow slaughter. There is no doubt that lynching is a form of terrorism, a torture of the helpless, whatsoever the reason might be. This is also true that no society is completely free from crime, even lynching. But there is complete unanimity among people of the country against lynching. Unlike the US, where racial tyranny of the whites lead to undiminished cases of lynching and also unmitigated support for it, in our country, not even an irresponsible person claimed or supported it. The British newspaper, The Guardian, reported killings of 258 blacks in the US by white racists and not less than 173 cases of lynching in Brazil in 2016. Not merely this, the state representative of Mississippi, Karl Oliver, reacted to the threat to destroy the statue of confederation by giving a call to lynch those "who burn books and destroy historical monuments" on his Facebook post in May 2017. The western media undoubtedly stood against racism, but the exaggerated observations of newspapers like the Washington Post on lynching in India shows they are victims of a conscious amnesia.
But the crisis is much deeper and any shallow analysis will not lead us to a constructive conclusion. There are two critical factors which need to be understood. One, Indian society has not completely shed feudalism and obscurantism, and despite all the claims of modernity and capitalist developments, these two evils still perpetuate. Beside political and legal assertions, social actions are required. The cases of witch-hunting in Jharkhand and Odisha show insensitivity as well as a collective failure to protect human life from obscurantist forces. Similarly, the vestiges of feudal classes, deluded by their superior caste identity, are responsible for most of the violence against Dalits, irrespective of political parties in power. Organized communal riots, features of earlier decades, are now almost history, but the happening of micro-communal incidents is undeniable. It is here that left liberals use their dominant propaganda skill to defame Hindutva by linking all perpetrators with their imagined version of the 'Hindu Right', by which they mean RSS and BJP or some other Hindu organizations. It is here that the other reason becomes no less significant, i.e., the role of left liberal intelligentsia.
In the Indian case, progressiveness and left liberal mean toxic tendencies of anti-RSS-ism and the present generation of such intellectuals owe this to their predecessors, though there is one fundamental difference between then and now. In the past, among left liberals, there was the presence of people among them who recognized self-critique. Now there is none. There is an interesting example. In 1968, there was the First Convention against Communalism organized by the Sampradayikata Virodhi Committee led by Subhadra Joshi, a Congressman with a left tinge. The chief guest, JP, intervening during the proceedings, objected to the anti-RSS venom of the speakers who treated RSS as a synonym of communalism. In another seminar on Character of RSS organized by the same group in January 1978, none other than a CPM member, Jahoor Siddiqui, opposed fatuous arguments against the RSS by socialist leader Raghu Thakur who alleged the suppression of minorities. He intervened, "There was no Golwalkar in Muzaffarnagar, Pipli and Turkman Gate during the Emergency."
Erosion of honesty among intellectuals has led to the institutionalization of the binary. That is the reason the lynching of 26-year-old Sujith in Kerala before his elderly parent, the communal frenzy in Malda, or the murder of Prashant Poojari in Bengaluru did not appeal to the collective left-liberal conscience. Because Sujith and Poojari were connected with the RSS, and in Malda, the victims were Hindus. In every society, there has been the presence of the far right and far left but they do not get legitimacy through mainstream intellectuals. But India is an exception. The left liberals stand for Naxals who represent the far left, and they legitimize the far right by projecting them as the mainstream right through their power of propaganda.
There is dialogue deprivation among right and left intellectuals and the blame falls upon the latter. They presume RSS as non-legitimate, make no effort to know it because they have concluded it as fascist and communal. This is a convenient tool to create various hysterias which we have been witnessing. Therefore, dialogue on TV channels is non-penetrating and people sitting together remain unacquainted. An example will show where are left liberals in India. In Latin America, the left-right divide does not come with ideological untouchability. Garcia Marquez and Octavio Paz represented emerging discourse on the left and right respectively in the '80s. They lived in seven miles apart and were opposed to each other, but had admiration for each other. This is the real challenge of India's intellectual class.
(Prof Rakesh Sinha is associate professor, Delhi University and honorary director, India Policy Foundation.)
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