For last few days, two unfortunate and barbaric incidents dominated the discourse in the country. One was the barbaric daylight killing of Nikita Tomar in Haryana. The girl was being stalked by a Muslim boy, who along with his parents, was pressuring her to convert and marry him. After being unsuccessful, he shot the girl in broad daylight. The other case was the barbaric police action in Munger by Bihar Police on Hindu devotees. The action, captured in all its ugliness on cameras, left one young man, Anurag Poddar, dead and many other people critically injured.
Attacks on Hindus
These incidents are the latest in a series of attacks on Hindus, and unless paid heed to, the consequences of these attacks could be serious. It must be kept in mind that although Hindus have been under attack since at least the eight century, when Muslim Arabs came and raped, converted and killed Hindu population of Sindh and destroyed their religious places, it is only in modern times that the final assault on Hindus and Hindu Dharma has begun.
Islamists have tried to violently erase Hindus from the face of earth and have worked for that goal for over 1000 years in different parts of the sub-continent. They have succeeded in Afghanistan, Pakistan, Bangladesh etc. and even within Bharat in places like Kashmir valley, parts of Malabar, Mewat etc. However, Hindus gave a tough fight to Islamists in all walks of life. Under assault, Hindu Dharma gave rise to many warriors and saints who protected it with their deeds, teachings and their lives. Many Muslims, in Bharat and outside Bharat, continue this assault and as a result we see religiously motivated grooming of Hindu girls, riots, terrorism etc.
The character of assault changed after British came to control Bharatvarsha. They were cunning enough to learn from the mistakes of Muslims, but they also wanted that Hindu Dharma be replaced by their own religion. In their estimation, it would make Bharatiyas more loyal subjects, more eager to buy British goods and easier to govern. We are all aware that one big reason for 1857 was the British effort to convert Bharatiyas to Christian religion. After 1857, they worked on a more covert strategy and started targeting the roots of Dharma rather than direct confrontation. They started promoting divisions within Hindu society through various means and supported such persons who helped their cause. This too continues and has been explored with great care by Sh. Rajiv Malhotra and Sh. Aravindan Neelakandan in their book “Breaking India”.
Please note that there were exceptions to these general trends. There were Muslims who felt attracted to Hindu Dharma and partially adopted its teachings. Similarly, many British were well disposed to Hindus and Hindu Dharma and some even adopted it. There is a tendency to treat these exceptions as proof of goodwill of Muslims and British towards Hindus, but one should be careful in such generalisations. The retreat of Hindu Dharma from many places which have thousands of years of Hindu history is proof enough of the general trend.
After physical freedom from British rule, sadly, the attacks on Hindu Dharma continued and, indeed, increased. The British method of promoting divisions is now adopted by a wide variety of actors. They have been helped in this by their supporters in media, education system and entertainment. In fact, Hindus are ashamed in attributing anything positive to Hindu Dharma or describing themselves as Hindus. This points to a spiritual vacuum, which has been brought about by the operation of the secular, and essentially anti-Hindu, governance system.
Secularism as a tool of suppression of Hindus
Some people might be uncomfortable at the suggestion that secularism, specially our domestic variety, has contributed in the decline of Hindu Dharma and is often used as a tool for suppression of Hindus. But that is the uncomfortable truth Hindus need to face.
The concept of secularism has origins in European politics, where the population was almost 100% Christian and Church interfered in statecraft. Secularism was a reaction against Christian religious institutions to remove their influence in matters of state. In Bharat, in pre-independence era, Congress favored secularism in the, ultimately mistaken, belief that it would be able to carry Muslims along with it. The legacy influenced its post independence policies including in framing of the constitution. Even while the constitution was being debated, at least some were aware of the situation of Hindus. They did speak up in the Constituent Assembly despite the objections of Mr. Nehru and his friends. I would like to quote Mr. Lokanath Misra, a member from Odisha here. He said the following in the Constituent Assembly on 6th December, 1948 :-
“I accepted this secularism in the sense that our State shall remain unconcerned with religion, and I thought that the secular State of partitioned India was the maximum of generosity of a Hindu dominated territory for its non-Hindu population. I did not of course know what exactly this secularism meant and how far the State intends to cover the life and manners of our people. ….. Gradually it seems to me that our `secular State’ is a slippery phrase, a device to by-pass the ancient culture of the land. The absurdity of this position is now manifest in articles 19 to 22 of the Draft Constitution. Do we really believe that religion can be divorced from life, or is it our belief that in the midst of many religions we cannot decide which one to accept? If religion is beyond the ken of our State, let us clearly say so and delete all reference to rights relating to religion. If we find it necessary, let us be brave enough and say what it should be.
But this unjust generosity of tabooing religion and yet making propagation of religion a fundamental right is somewhat uncanny and dangerous. Justice demands that the ancient faith and culture of the land should be given a fair deal, if not restored to its legitimate place after a thousand years of suppression. Islam has declared its hostility to Hindu thought. Christianity has worked out the policy of peaceful penetration by the back-door on the outskirts of our social life. This is because Hinduism did not accept barricades for its protection. Hinduism is just an integrated vision and a philosophy of life and cosmos, expressed in organised society to live that philosophy in peace and amity. But Hindu generosity has been misused and politics has over run Hindu culture. …..Let us not raise the question of communal minorities anymore. It is a device to swallow the majority in the long run. This is intolerable and unjust.
Indeed in no constitution of the world right to propagate religion is a fundamental right and justiciable….If people should propagate their religion, let them do so. Only I crave, let not the Constitution put it as a fundamental right and encourage it.”– Sh. Loknath Misra in Constitution Assembly 06.12.1948
It must be noted that the unlike the present text of constitution, draft constitution had Rights Relating to Religion in Articles 19 to 22. Currently, Art. 19 to 22 constitute various Rights to Freedom and the rights relating to religion are now in Article 25 to 28, and Sh. Loknath Misra was essentially criticizing these.
Reading these lines today, we are amazed to see how prescient Sh. Misra was! The future has turned out exactly how he predicted it would be. Secularism has become a slippery slope and various parties have long made it a byword for minority appeasement. Hindu Dharma, in turn, has been made a taboo and the secular state uses all its might to suppress and regulate it. This can be seen in the state control of temples and daily instances of suppression of Hindus, the latest seen in Munger.On the other hand, the hostile religions of Islam and Christianity are already in the process of swallowing the majority Hindus. They are able to do so as the Constitution gave them special rights which are not available to Hindus, or the rights given to them were interpreted or amended by courts and governments to privilege these so-called minorities over Hindus.Thus, the current situation points to the need for special laws to protect Hindus and Hindu Dharma.
Why special laws to protect Hindus and Hindu Dharma ?
Some people may ask that what is the need to have laws to protect Hindus in a Hindu-majority country. After all, there are about a billion Hindus in Bharat and they should have confidence on their own strength. However, this is a specious argument. There are many arguments that make a case for special treatment of Hindus and Hindu Dharma in Bharat.
Around half the countries in the world have a declared preferred state religion or ideology. Many of them are Islamic countries of the Arab and Middle East area, but many are in Europe and other parts of the world. This includes countries like UK, Denmark, Italy etc. Different sects of Islam, Christianity, and Buddhism are state religions in many countries and Jews have Israel. Many of these do follow secularism but declare the special status of a religion that has played a major part in their history and society. US is officially secular, but decidedly Protestant Christian. US Presidents have designated spiritual advisors and even a body called Evangelical Advisory Board. There is no reason Bharat cannot do so too, even if it requires major constitutional changes.
It must be noted that all the neighbours of Bharat, without exception, give primacy to some religion or ideology. Everyone knows about Afghanistan and Pakistan but Bangladesh also gives primacy to Islam despite calling itself secular. Sri Lanka is considered secular, but it gives primacy to Buddhism since 1978. Bhutan has Vajrayana Buddhism as state religion. Myanmar is officially secular but evangelism is banned and Buddhism is protected in the country. Nepal is another secular country, but the constitution bans conversion explicitly and makes promotion of conversion a punishable offence. Even Maoists agreed on this point! Its constitution defines secular as ” ‘secular’ means protection of religion and culture being practiced since ancient times and religious and cultural freedom.” Thus protection of Indic religions is enshrined in the constitution. China abides by the ideology of Communism. Only Bharat is the country in the whole neighborhood with no official religion or consistent ideology! All we have is a mish-mash of borrowed ideas like secularism and socialism under the opaque ‘Idea of India’ umbrella, which our Constitutional moralists interpret as promoting any and all anti-Hindu ideologies.
Hindus, including members of other Indic religions, all around the world consider Bharat to be the land that will protect them in times of trouble. Bharat did that when we took in, and continue to protect, Hindu refugees from Bangladesh, Uganda, Afghanistan and Pakistan etc. As the last refuge of Hindus, Bharat should have special laws for protection of Hindus and Hindu Dharma. Indeed, the recent Citizenship Amendment Act was a step in this direction and government needs to continue taking such steps and not be deterred by anti-Hindu forces. This protection includes protection of Hindu girls from grooming and also a ban on Christian & Islamic conversion.
Anti-Hindu propagandists have spread the idea that Hindus are hegemonic and Christians and Muslims are oppressed in Bharat just because they are numerically less. However, the truth is far from that. Large parts of Bharat have been ruled by Christians and Muslims in the last 1000 years. They are definitely not at a disadvantage against Hindus, and in fact enjoy rights that Hindus do not. They are also supported by powerful foreign Muslim and Christian countries, individuals and organisations. Hindus on the other hand have no such backing and are are losing ground in their spiritual homeland.
Unless the government steps in to protect Hindus and Indic religions, the expansionist religions would continue to target and damage us. The radical changes in demography of north eastern states, Kashmir valley, Kerala, tribal heartlands, West UP, Andhra Pradesh, Assam etc. in the last 100 years and even outside Bharat in Bangaldesh and Pakistan in the same period should concern all Hindus. Our ancient culture, which gives Bharat its identity, is dying for want of government support. Earlier, native Kings and temples supported such culture but patronage is now exclusively in the hands of a secular state which actively discriminates against Hindus on such matters due to its constitutional limitations.
Hindus were 84% of the population in 1951 and reduced to 79.8% in 2011. We are likely to be around 75% in the next census. In many states and regions, we have lost majority in this period. In absence of any support, Hindus might lose the majority status in another 60-70 years. Even in the areas where we are a dominant majority, our youth are being rapidly de-Hinduised through concerted legal, academic and culture wars.
Is that a Bharat that we want to leave to our descendants? Would there even be a Bharat if such a situation comes to be? These are the questions that cannot be put off any longer.
This post was originally published in HinduPost.
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