A lesson in opposites

Why doesn’t Karan Thapar dare to call anti-Hindutva by its name?

In an op-ed that wishes for Narendra Modi’s ‘sudden removal’, (via Offstumped) Karan Thapar writes:

Where does this leave the regional parties and the Left? They may retain their identity, even their present base, but they will have to line-up behind Modi or Sonia, in the saffron camp or the liberal/secular one. They may even have to submerge themselves within the broad appeal of the camp they belong to. [HT]

Now calling for parties to line-up against Modi is fine. But why the subterfuge? For neither Sonia Gandhi, nor the Left nor any of the regional parties are truly secular. And they are far from being “liberal”.

Secularism and Liberalism are lofty principles. The word that Thapar should use is anti-Hindutva. Will Thapar, Sonia Gandhi or anyone else in that camp dare declare that they are anti-Hindutva?

43 thoughts on “A lesson in opposites”

  1. It would be better if the Congress proclaimed itself anti hinduvta . Thankfully the Left parties do so .

  2. Nitin asks “Why doesn’t Karan Thapar dare to call anti-Hindutva by its name?”.

    Why should he do so? What’s in it for him?

  3. >>Now calling for parties to line-up against Modi is fine.

    It’s fine coming from a political activist. You expect better from someone who dubs himself a journalist. But of course, calling for a lineup against any person is way better and more sensible than a criminal exhortation to kill that person.

  4. What about u Nitin? Are u pro or anti Hindutva? Also let me know where INI is heading especially with the likes of Yossarin on board.

  5. RS,

    I’m anti-Hindutva. I thought that was clear.

    INI is a secular-right platform. Individual bloggers might have different views, or interpretations of this direction, but just as there are many interpretations of the national interests under a broad rubric, so will there be divergences on this issue.

    In fact a post on these divergences and political affiliations was planned for the last week of December. But that week, as you know, was consumed by altogether different issues.

  6. Nitin,
    Being one of ur blog’s oldest reader right from 2003, ur political leanings was very clear to me long ago. But just thought I would reconfirm it once again.

    For me Hindutvavadis and Islamists are the two sides of the same coin.

    If INI is a secular-right forum then I dont think there can be a place for someone like Yossarin for whom the likes of Golwalkar are heroes in it. Yossarin may be pro-market but certainly he is not for an inclusive India and that is a dangerous road to take for our country’s future.

  7. RS – how exactly are hindutvavadis and islamists part of the same coin?
    Hindutvavad is a reaction to pseudo secularism and its only natural given the amount of appeasement of the last 60 years.
    Islamic terror is nothing else but a natural expression of Islam and the culture of hate of the last 1300 years.

    How can the culture of guns, violence and failed states after failed states be equated with hindutvavad? If islamic hatred does not find its renaissance and if our fools do not stop appeasing them, then expect more Godhras…

    The RSS (and Golwalkar) teaches one to be proud of one’s culture, heritage and glorious traditions and while you may not believe it – this includes christians and muslims too after all they too were originally hindus converted by marauders.

  8. VN, by championing one religion in India and crediting it with so much, aren’t you leaving out other faiths? Are you not being parochial, bigoted and intolerant?

    I’d be more careful tom-tomming nationalism defined on the basis of any ideology that is also a religion, no matter how benign.

    I’d prefer the western notion of secularism applied in India. Individual rights to worship privately without state interference, and zero discrimination (both positive and negative) from the state or even any private bodies on the basis of religion (apart from caste, gender, age, disability etc). Such a notion is not only inclusivist, it would free Hindus of many restrictions they currently endure (temples under state control, no freedom to propagate own edu institutions etc) and bring it on par with minority faiths in terms of legal standing. Would also mean that terrorism investigations be carried out without religious sensitivities muddying the water and all that. WOuld take enormous courage to bring about such a change. After that, everyone can be happy, no?

    /Just wondering.

    Those calling for someone to be censored because of his/her parochial views are themselves being intolerant of diversity in opinion, one would think, no? Isn’t censorship of opinion bad in general or bad only when self-styled liberals say so? If a viewpoint is stupid or wicked, why not expose it to the sunlight of public opinion to disinfect it? Let those espousing intolerant views expose themselves in public, one would think, would be the best way to clean up this intolerance mess, eh? Unless that is, the tolerance/inclusiveness police knows its views don’t wash with common folk.

  9. VN,
    I am not goin to reply to u coz u dont deserve a reply. But if u insist u can consider first part of Sud’s reply as my reply.

    U did make it very clear that I am not welcome at ur blog sometime back. Even RoW was given the same message that day.

  10. Sud,
    I am not calling for censoring anyone. I thought INI as a secular right platform should have only bloggers with such views and not the likes for whom Golwarkar and Savarkar are heroes. Such ppl can have their own platforms.

  11. RS,

    INI has to be open to various strands of opinion that speak for the national interest. As you might have read in the inaugural editorial of Pragati, I believe that neither (claims to) intellectual monopoly nor ideological pigeonholes should get in the way of thinking about the national interest. It’s not an ideological free-for-all, but it’s also not an exclusive monotonal perspective.

    More in an upcoming post.

  12. Thank you RS for echoing my concerns and thanks Nitin for clarifying. I’ve not been following INI for that long and wasnt comfortable raising this but was hoping somebody would. Am not very familiar with Yossarin’s writing but am similarly uncomfortable with Sandeep’s association with Pragati and some opinions of Atanu Dey on matters not relating to economics.

    Could you consider having somebody from IndianMuslim.in for example to anchor some section of Pragati, or regular posts on it.

    Avoiding flirting with Hindutva ideology has an inherent benefit, conversations on INI may then avoid communal constructs incongruous IMHO with Indian National Interest.

    I am not denying the presence of such sentiment as quoted above, or their rights of expression even. Just suggesting they have more than sufficient platform, elsewhere on the Web. Sandeepweb for eg. I have found Sandeep to be very knowledgeable on matters concerning Hindu faith.


  13. I thought INI as a secular right platform should have only bloggers with such views and not the likes for whom Golwarkar and Savarkarb are heroes.

    I can only say one thing.
    You may need help.
    You are not aware.
    All such help flows from the self and from one’s mind, not from Nitin’s or Yossarin’s or anyone else’s blogs.

  14. I think RS’s and other suggestions of censoring and removing people from INI who believe in Religion, and organizations like RSS is completely ridiculous. These thoughts are born out of the mindset that all religions are same … “islamist” and “hindutav” are same. Hindusim is a religion like Christianity or Islam yada yada yada … essentially your typical Indian.

    I wonder how can we help educate people on the thoughts that Hinduism/Hindu Culture is the soul of India. One cannot separate Hinduism or “Religion” from India.

    RS I would urge you to go beyond superficial understandings of Hinduism/Hindutva/Golwalkar and read before making any kind of decisions … start by scanning http://www.golwalkarguruji.org

  15. Jai,

    Thanks. It’s good to get frank and forthright reactions from regular and longtime readers.

    As a platform INI is open to new bloggers coming on board, and that was another point that my year-end post was supposed have made. But we’ll risk making the same mistake as our government if we decide to invite a Muslim to give a Muslim viewpoint, etc.

    As for Pragati, despite what you might think of the contributors or editors, I believe the views and ideas expressed in the articles are the ones that matter, and the ones I urge you to judge the publication by.

  16. Agree with you Nitin. My discomfort with the backgrounds should not color my opinion of their articles in Pragati, or subsequent discussions about those articles – which I have found quite appropriate to an INI theme.

    Largely align with Sud at #9. I wish I could avoid reading -* on INI blog comment space , esp the Acorn’s *- about Xtians and Muslims being converted Hindus (converted by marauders no less) as if that is somehow a pre-requisite to legitimize their claim or rights to this land.

    Such commentary could be drawn by, or a natural corollary to, or an indicator of, INI going right-wing in more than the economic sense and unfortunately blogs do get judged by who hangs out there regularly, nearly as much as whats getting posted there. Avoiding a certain ideology would send such traffic elsewhere (and there are plenty of such places IMHO, they wouldnt necessarily feel deprived).

    But yes such calls do amount to censorship. While I still hope you will consider guest posts across wider spectrum on Pragati I withdraw my observations about the current contributors.


  17. There is a big difference between Hinduism and Hindutva. Hinduism has nothing to do with Hindutva b’coz Hindutva is political Hinduism which is same as political Islam professed by Islamists. Both are dangerous for our country b’coz both feed off each other for their growth. If they are not stopped then we will have a Frankenstein’s monster to care of like the one in Pakistan today.

    If INI should have different strands of opinion that speak for national interest then how about some commies too on INI? After all they too have a vision for the country.

  18. RS,


    I knew that would come. Hence the sentence: “It’s not an ideological free-for-all, but it’s also not an exclusive monotonal perspective.”

    But since when did commies believe in the “national interest”? They believe that the national interest is just a way for the ruling class to assert its own interests at the expense of the proletariat (see my post fisking Achin Vanaik). This is borne out in practice where their political positions have favoured China, the Soviet Union or whoever they are batting for, at India’s cost.

  19. Nitin, I am not comfortable with the machinations going on here to label and brand people. The objective is to discredit INI blogs. The dramatis personae are the usual suspects, most propminently the alter egos of a certain communist blogger. This communist’s own blog is left in peace by visitors, despite its persistent apologetics for terrorism, Muslim communalism and Marxist bigotry. But obviously such courtesies are not to be extended to those that the blogger and his “friends” are intolerant of. A free comments policy is a good thing, but perhaps it’s time to isolate the provocateurs by flagging obvious flame-baits as such.

    Btw, I appreciate the understated way in which you resisted the attempt to introduce sectarianism into INI blogs. If you could have writers from a site as brazenly communal as IndianMuslims, why not invite a Syed Shahabuddin or a John Dayal also to blog for INI? Not to mention, of course, Praveen Togadia and Praful Bidwai!

  20. Zail Singh,

    I’m fine to answer these questions, whoever asks them. Since we are expressing opinions, I think it is fair for readers to ask where we stand. In fact, as I mentioned in an earlier comment, I wanted to post on this issue last week (unfortunately, Mrs Bhutto’s assassination put other issues on our place). Yossarin too has responded by writing post to declare just where he stands.

  21. As I see it, The Indian National Interest is committed to, well, the Indian national interest. I’d therefore expect INI to welcome ALL views which are committed to the advancement of Indian national interest, regardless of the ideology or political affiliation of the holder of those views. If the critics making noise on this thread weren’t so blinded by their own intolerance of views or ideologies they hate, they’d notice that INI has measured up to this expectation admirably well.

    Take the latest issue of Pragati for example. Its leader article is written by Amit Varma, one of those on the “secular-right” conforming to the new, fashionable paradigm of “economically conservative, politically liberal”. What he says in his article ought to be music to the ears of our noise-making brothers. To wit:

    “Realise that Hindutva is not equal to Hinduism. As Ranjit Hoskote once wrote: The roots of Hindutva do not lie in Hinduism. Rather, they lie in a crude mixture of German Romanticism, victorian puranism and Nazi methodology”.

    Ranjit Hoskote works for that dogmatic communist rag The Hindu, which virtually justified the Nandigram massacre. It’s hugely unlikey he wouldn’t know that Marxism and Nazism are two sides of the same coin — several academic theses have been written showing the stark similarities between the two ideologies. Both have achieved identical results for example in terms of the scale of genocides they perpetrated. Amit Varma doesn’t obviously have problems with quoting someone who’s wedded to a Nazi-like ideology, and Pragati obviously doesn’t have problems publishing Amit Varma. Why? Because Amit’s views fit in with INI’s mission. India’s national interest lies in discarding “socialist” and statist policies, and Amit believes so too.

    INI is a set of “right of center” blogs; Nitin makes that very clear. Now show me a leftwing blog or media entity that is open-minded (ie, NOT bigoted) enough to present a favorurable view of, say, that which gives lefties twists in their knickers: Hindutva.

  22. Well, first of all, we should first know what exactly is Hindutva {Hindu + Tatva. Tatva is essence in English}.

    Part of the problem is the prevalence of the articulations put forward by the left-islamic combine on Hindutva and the complete failure of the Hindu movement to combat this propaganda. So lies, manipulations, fraud and deceit have prevailed in our understanding of Hindutva. If we understand Hindu as representing the Indic civilization and not as a “religion” as understood by the semitic religious ideologies, complete with a book, prophet and God….than we come closer to understand the Tatva, the essence.

    So what now is the Tatva, the essence of this Indic Civilization that has survived for 5000 years. Each understanding would be different. As each reading would be different. The Tatva is the religion of Self-Knowledge, the realization of the self through the practices of Gyan, Bhakti and Yog. The Tatva is also vasudhaiva kutumbakam, the whold world as one big family. The Tatva would always, always stand for the highest and the best ideas and insights expressed by the great seers of Indic Civilization. This Tatva is the great inheritance of every Hindu in this world.

    The Left-Islamic combine, along with the Faux liberals can mount an information campaign to associate Hindutva with Nazism and denigrate it. But to borrow a phrase from marxists, the march of history ultimately would make them redundant.

    Als, classifying oneself as Anti-Hindutva can be very problematic. The only people who would classify themselves as Anti-Hindutva are the hardcore islamists and the communists, both expansionist ideologies with India as their unfinished agenda. They would have a hard time in their plans. The Hindutva-vadis stand in the way.


  23. I am appalled at the effort to silence an point of view. There are many forums dedicated to fashionable left liberal causes Jai, why sadden them by directing their traffic here.

  24. One of the problems with being obsessed with one ideology is that everything related to that will be forcibly justified and anyone who doesnt subscribe to that ideology will be heaped with uninformed personal insults !!

    I do not know why “sudden removal” is construed as assassination call? Uma Bharati, ML Khurana were “suddenly removed” by the BJP ( maybe Kalyan Singh also qualifies) because they were perceived to be thinking of themselves as bigger than the party. Something that Modi also can be accused of & thereby “suddenly removed” !! Why the fuss?

  25. Thanks Oldtimer, I read that piece from Amit Varma’s site link. From the thread I realize I am supposed to be lefty, liberal(?), communist, comrade etc. but regretfully I am not aware of Ranjit Hoskote and hardly follow the Hindu. Sorry if I have disappointed anybody.

    Anyways this is getting way off-topic. On topic I want to conratulate Nitin for the precise term Anti-Hindutva to describe Sonia and the Left.


  26. Well, it’s not just that Thapar’s call for murder is not the point of contention here. People are clamouring for INI to define itself as “anti-Hindutva” rather than as secular/liberal!

    Because, rewind: Thapar claimed that the Modi vs Congress/Left arrangement is a Hindutva vs secular/liberal fight. Nitin showed that this is a wrong binary, because Congress/Left are neither secular nor liberal, and that the contest mooted by Thapar is really between Hindutva vs anti-Hindutva.

    At this point our aggrieved friends jump in, and demand to know of Nitin: is he anti-Hindutva or not? Note: NOT whether he’s secular/liberal or not!!

    As freudian slips go, this is as good as any. Our agitated friends don’t stand for secularism. If Nitin had declared himself in favor of (their brand of) communalism and intolerance, everything would have been hunky-dory here. How’s that for an interesting thought?

  27. >>>But since when did commies believe in the “national interest”?

    Communists also look at society from an essentially economic perspective, a discarded one at that. Since the demise of Soviet Union, their dogma is good for nothing, not just national interest. That should disqualify inviting communists on INI. Their practical behavior, such as the one cited by Nitin, just further buttresses their disqualification.

    >>>Cynic,”I do not know why “sudden removal” is construed as assassination call?”

    Because of the following rider that accompanies Thapar’s exhortation-“And whilst he’s with us.” Khurana and Uma are still “with us” after their “sudden removal” as interpreted by Cynic. Why does Thapar think that Modi won’t be “with us” after his “sudden removal”?

  28. Socal,

    You are making a conspiracy theory where none exists !! 🙂
    “While still with us” simply means while still in power or relevant player in power politics.

    I am sure KT has that much education ( Doctorate from Oxford, I understand) to know about the choice of words and its implications as a responsible journalist. He hasn’t shown any political leanings to a particular ideology as well. So this storm in a teacup is just that.

  29. Cynic,

    Shouldn’t your nickname be “Credulous” instead? 🙂

    But seriously, if KT has so much education and experience in the mass media, shouldn’t he have know that how readers interpret his words is more important than the goodness of his heart.

    So what is he? An lousy writer or something altogether more sinister. Cynicism should suggest the latter, no?

  30. Gullible,

    I don’t mind whatever be my nickname ! 🙂
    And a couple of people on the net misinterpreting it doesn’t really matter !! You think it wouldnt have raised a ruckus nationally if indeed most people read it the way you have?

    Tell you what, if there was a “KT Fans club” ( Or for that matter “I hate Offstumped club), then that group would say offstumped heading ” KT must be fired” is also a call to kill KT that too by executing him by a gun squad !! 😀

    But we know better !! Don’t we? 🙂

  31. If it was an “I Hate Offstumped Club”, they might even go on to suggest that the Right Wing is so frightened by Modi’s overpowering influence over the voters and the consequent influence over the party, that they are not just wishing, but even suggesting such a thing to people by finding easy scapegoats in media! 😀

  32. Cynic,

    One doesn’t need Oxford education (Thapar?) to gauge the difference between Modi and Uma Bharati — or, Khurana — for that matter. Quite specious to say Thapar was conjecturing on such naive reading of Modi’s election.

    Thapar has clearly let it be known which side he’s on, in the very same article. Makes it futile to parade his neutrality over Modi issue.

    As for the media and Oxbridge circle that Thapar dwells in: they have proven quite well over the past few years, that when it comes to Modi, anything is par for the course, and no calibration of words is needed nor is there any cost associated. One only needs to ask as to how many heads have rolled past the atrocious analysis peddled by the media about Gujarat elections? Speaks volumes about their professionalism.

    Hatred for Modi makes it affordable for many to be facetious about his life. Only time will tell if it was a storm in a teacup or a wilful overlooking of a gathering storm. 🙂

  33. I second what CD1 has put down in a succint manner. Personally I had to cross the Rubicon of secular mindset to jump into the realm of Hindutva(whatever it means). My understanding of Hindutva and my taking to it is to save Hinduism from internal and external onslaught. The sole reason being that the establishment (read Congress and Communists and Secularist) had had a craftily designed program to eliminate self-pride by making Hindus feel guilty for every historical accident our country had faced. This strategy of shifting of blame, though not explicitly, along with deliberate attempt to shield any achievement and contribution of Hindus to this country and the world has been very successful in softening concerted opposition to Congress and Communists alike. Between them they tacitly agree to be each other’s political enemies but wouldn’t want others to oppose them. Hindus, as a vote bank, are the real threat to these people and hence would go to any length to consolidate anti-hindu votes and ensure the sustenance of division amongst Hindus. Arjun Singh wasn’t concerned about OBC’s plight for the last 55 years of Congress rule. His focuss was to divide Hindus in Madhya Pradesh and buy the loyalty of the majority OBC community there to help his son win elections and become Chief Minister. At the same time he wanted reservation for Muslims in the Army. Then they instituted Sachhar committee after a Muslim in America wrote a book on how police force behaves during communal riots in India. This is a clear act of subversion and perfidy to weaken any opposition.

    To me all this affects Hinduism and its followers. People often say Hinduism is stronger and can withstand onslaught but for one who has a modicum of understanding of international politics would realise that 40% of our population is poor and are really vulnerable to these soul harvesters. Only a determined government with a long term view on unity and integrity of this country can tackle this organised crime. To me this conversion business is social engineering and we have seen all through history that any social engineering is bound to fail catastrophically. Look at Soviet Union(communism), Pakistan, Bangladesh(West Pakistan), Srilanka(ethnic cleansing), Burma, China(a looming danger always awaits this country) and so on.

    India will remain as one as long as Hindus are in majority because they have shown the tolerance it takes to coexist with others but any other religion becoming dominant will tear this country apart.And for that reason I want Hindus to unite to save this country. Also as a Hindu I have the right to protect my people and its culture too.

  34. The dramatis personae are the usual suspects, most propminently the alter egos of a certain communist blogger. This communist’s own blog is left in peace by visitors, despite its persistent apologetics for terrorism, Muslim communalism and Marxist bigotry.

    Very intriguing. Who might this mysterious blogger and its alter egos be? Inquiring minds would dearly love to know.

    More seriously about what else has gone on on this page: I don’t believe anyone should be taken off INI, or in any other way not be allowed to voice their opinions. As someone I had many wrangles with once wrote to me — and taught me — “it’s a marketplace of ideas out there.” Like with any marketplace, may the best and most appealing ideas win.

    Besides, I’ve always felt the greatest weapon against what I might consider absurdity or bigotry is not shutting it up, nor even flinging more of it back; instead it is the very fact of airing it, so that people can see for themselves what it is. And airing itself often tends to tone down absurdity and bigotry.

    On another note, since it has come up: I’ve also always felt that those who pronounce with certainty that some others don’t have the national interest in mind are themselves unsure about the meaning of such words as “national interest”, “freedom”, “openness” and so on.

    I’ve had numerous disagreements with Nitin who runs this blog, as he will vouch for. I also think that some of what he says ignores some realities about India, and therefore must be countered. But I’ve never once thought “When has Nitin had the national interest in mind?”

    I like to start by believing that everyone on this page, and more generally everyone I meet, wants good things for the country. (Sometimes their actions make me change that belief, but that’s another story). My hope is that more of the arguments and debates we see around us can be conducted in that spirit.

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