Laws banning beef are not new to India, but new beef-ban laws are to India what the obnoxious blasphemy law is to Pakistan. Human beings are killed in Pakistan in the name of the holy Prophet. In India, they are lynched in the name of the holy cow.
Nearly a quarter century ago, when the Babri Masjid was demolished, Fahmida Riaz, a well- known Urdu writer, poet and feminist of Pakistan who had spent many years in exile in India with her husband and taught at the Jamia Millia Islamia, Delhi, had greeted the militant saffron brigade with her inimitable, soaked-in-sarcasm verse, Naya Bharat:
Tum bilkul hum jaisey nikley
Ab tak kahan chupe the bhai
Voh moorakhta, voh ghaamarpan jis mein hum ne sadi ganwai
Aakhir pahunchi dwaar tumharey
Arre badhai, bahut badhai
Pret dharam ka naach raha hai
Qayam Hindu raaj karoge?
Saarey ultey kaaj karoge
Apna chaman taraaj karoge…
Kaun hai Hindu, kaun naheen hai
Tum bhi karoge fatwe jaari…
Hoga kathin yahan bhi jeena…
Yahan bhi sabki saans ghutegi
Kal dukh se socha karti thi
Soch ke bohot hansi aaj aee,
Tum bilkul hum jaise nikle...
Hum do qaum nahin the bhai!
(You turned out to be just like us
Similarly stupid, wallowing in the past
You’ve reached the same doorstep at last.
Congratulations, many congratulations.
Your demon (of) religion dances like a clown/ Whatever you do will be upside down/You too will sit deep in thought and ponder/Who is Hindu, who is not/You too will issue Fatwas/Here too it’ll be difficult to live/Here too people will feel suffocated
This is what I used to think yesterday and get depressed/But today I can’t stop giggling
For you’ve turned out to be just like us
We are not two different nations/We are the same)
The “bhagwa bhais” are out in the open again, and they are ruling the roost. From Dadri to Delhi, the “Naya Bharat” she alluded to is in evidence everywhere.
Earlier, Sadhvi Niranjan Jyoti, a Union minister in the Narendra Modi-led government, announced that India is made up of just two kinds: “Ramzadas and Haramzadas”. Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh supremo Mohan Bhagwat proclaimed that the century-old Savarkarite/RSS maxim (“India belongs only to Hindus”) is now a reality. “This is our nation, this is our Hindu Rashtra,” Mr Bhagwat has often thundered, often. On “haramzadas”, however, he seemingly takes a benign view. After all they are “apna maal” (Mr Bhagwat’s words) to be brought back into the Hindu fold via the “ghar wapsi” abhiyan.
Rajeshwar Singh, RSS man in charge of Braj region, western Uttar Pradesh and Uttarakhand, and leader of the Dharam Jagran Manch, is ecstatic: “Just wait and watch. December 31, 2021, is the last day for Christianity and Islam in this country. We will finish Christianity and Islam in this country by December 31, 2021”.
Not content with the role of benign spectator, the state too is doing its bit to hasten the march forward of Hindutva. Laws banning beef are not new to India, but new beef-ban laws are to India what the obnoxious blasphemy law is to Pakistan. Human beings are killed in Pakistan in the name of the holy Prophet. In India, they are lynched in the name of the holy cow. In matters of fabricated faith, facts are irrelevant. Mere accusation is now sufficient for the lynch mobs on both sides of the border.
If insults, real or imagined, to the Prophet are unpardonable in Pakistan, so are insults to the holy cow in “Naya Bharat”. BJP MP Sakshi Maharaj said it best: “If someone insults our mother, we would rather die than tolerate it… for us it is Bharat Mata, our biological mother and gau mata”.
“Those opposed to yoga have no right to live in India,” proclaimed BJP MP Yogi Adityanath. “Those who can’t live without beef should go to Pakistan,” advised Mukhtar Abbas Naqvi. He’s Union minister of state for parliamentary affairs. “Muslims seeking reservations should go to Pakistan,” warns the Shiv Sena.
After all, Union culture minister Mahesh Sharma has said so: “In our culture, women of three generations cook food in the same kitchen... in Europe, a 16-year-old leaves home.” And, “I respect Bible and Quran but they are not central to soul of India in the way as Gita and Ramayana are.
And what can one say about the two-pronged “Bahu lao, beti bachao” abhiyan, exhorting Hindu youth to lure Muslim girls into marrying them to combat the alleged “love jihad” of Muslims marrying Hindu girls.
Dinanath Batra is now our guru for all that’s worth knowing. Mr Batra’s worldview is clearly shared by none less than the Prime Minister of India as was apparent from his speech at a function in Mumbai in December 2014: “We can feel proud of what our country achieved in medical science at one point of time. We all read about Karna in Mahabharat. If we think a little more, we realise that Mahabharat says Karna was not born from his mother’s womb. This means that genetic science was present at that time. That is why Karna could be born outside his mother’s womb”.
The commitment of India’s culture minister, Mr Mahesh Sharma, to bring back “gaya zamana” is total. “We will cleanse every area of public discourse that has been Westernised and where Indian culture and civilisation need to be restored — be it the history we read, our cultural heritage or our institutes that have been polluted over years,”
Mr Sharma pledges at an RSS meet to launch a countrywide movement to rid the nation of “sanskritik pradushan” (cultural pollution).
What’s part of our culture and what’s not? Easy: the Ramayana and Gita (unlike the Bible and Quran) are part of our culture, and will be made part of the school curriculum; no night out for girls as that’s not part of our culture. Most important.
After all, Union culture minister Mahesh Sharma has said so: “In our culture, women of three generations cook food in the same kitchen... in Europe, a 16-year-old leaves home.” And, “I respect Bible and Quran but they are not central to soul of India in the way as Gita and Ramayana are.”
And if ignoramus rationalists, atheists and communists such as Dhabolkar, Pansare and Kalburgi create hurdles in our reconnecting with our glorious past, culture and history, they just have to be swept out of the way.
As we march to our distant past, the Prime Communicator of India, who has much to say about “Make in India”, has finally broken his silence. Taking a cue from the President of India, he has asked us not to pay attention to “some small-time politicians” who are making “irresponsible statements for political interests...” But aren’t they are his own politicians, and isn’t it a shared political interest?
Sitting inside this paradise knitted by the Prime Minister’s words, and gazing across at Dadri and the saffron brigade, why does it feel like I’m in Pakistan, why do I feel like calling Fahmida Riaz and saying, “Haan! Hum bilkul tum jaisey nikley”?
(This article was first published in The Asian Age on October 8, 2015)