Wednesday, 1 February, 2023
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As India gears up for Deepavali, Hindu Right press warns against ‘flare of wokism’

ThePrint’s round-up of how pro-Hindutva media covered and commented on news and topical issues over the past few weeks.

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New Delhi: With Deepavali around the corner, the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh-affiliated journal warned its readers about what it called a “flare of wokism” and advised them to watch out for “intellectually colonised minds”. 

In its latest editorial, the RSS mouthpiece claimed that what began as an “awakening” against social and racial discrimination has morphed into “another movement to promote negativity, divisions, and rejections through the cancel culture”. 

“From how Deepawali [sic] has nothing to do with Sanatan Dharma to how it is essentially a Brahminical and patriarchal celebration, celebrities and intellectuals will serve us all kinds of narratives through a chocolate-coated, half-hearted knowledge, combined with a sinister agenda,” the editorial said. “Soon you will read ‘Laddoos are bad for health’, ‘Milk and milk products in Bharat are adulterated’ and ‘anything prepared in ghee is unhealthy.”

Instead of “getting carried away by wokes”, the editorial told its readers that it was essential to “awaken to our cultural heritage and culinary values associated with it”. 

In his opinion piece, also in Organiser, Swadeshi Jagaran Manch national co-convenor Ashwani Mahajan claimed multinational corporations (MNCs) have cornered the market
for Hindu festivals.

“The public must opt for products of local manufacturers like traditional sweets and customised clothes stitched by local tailors as well as consumer durables made by domestic industries, during festive times,” Mahajan wrote. 

“By purchasing domestically produced goods, especially those produced by local industry and artisans, we can boost employment and income generation in India and prevent the country’s invaluable foreign exchange from going abroad.”  

An RSS affiliate, the Swadeshi Jagran Manch promotes indigenous goods and has been critical of MNCs and foreign direct investments in the past.  

Besides these, Right-wing editorials and opinion pieces also wrote about the Karnataka hijab row and the issue of whether reservation for ‘Scheduled Castes’ should be extended to religious converts.

Also Read: Crackdown on PFI will ‘curb spread of Islamic radicalism’, says Hindu Right press

Modi and his ‘Hindu symbolism’

In his column in Naya India, Right-leaning author-journalist Hari Shankar Vyas criticised Prime Minister Narendra Modi for having inaugurated the Ujjain temple corridor for mere “symbolism”. 

Prime Minister Narendra Modi inaugurated the first phase of the ‘Shri Mahakal Corridor’ on 1 October.     

“The country’s first prime minister used to lay the foundations of industries and opposed the restoration of temples at the government’s expense. Whereas the current Prime Minister is selling the industries built during the tenure of the first prime minister to private hands and is actively participating in the restoration programmes of the temples,” Vyas wrote. 

He was also critical of Modi’s “Hindu” look, complete with a tilak and a rudraksha neckpiece. 

“Atal Bihari Vajpayee was also a prime minister from the BJP [the Bharatiya Janata Party] and a favorite leader of Hindus. He also did the politics of Hinduism. India [former] deputy prime minister L.K. Advani was also a Hindu hruday samrat [the emperor of Hindu hearts],” Vyas said in his editorial.

“Long before this, Pandit Deendayal Upadhyaya or Syama Prasad Mookerjee also raised the flag of nationalism [and] talked about the interests of the Hindus.” 

But none of these leaders ever wore their Hinduism so visibly, he said. 

“Remember their faces. Does anyone have such a picture of them in mind, in which these people are wearing a tilak? Taking a dip in the Ganges? Worshiping the temple with water in a lota [vessel] or worshiping Mahadev in the temple’s sanctum sanctorum by installing a multi-camera setup?” he asked. 

Ambedkar didn’t convert to Buddhism for revenge’

Right-leaning editorials also wrote about B.R. Ambedkar in the aftermath of a controversy surrounding a mass religious conversion event in Delhi on 7 October. 

The row, which erupted after a video of hundreds of people converting to Buddhism at Ambedkar Bhavan went viral, eventually leading to the resignation of Delhi Minister Rajendra Pal Gautam.    

In an opinion piece, RSS-affiliated Hindi journal Panchjanya claimed Ambedkar advocated Hindu society’s unity and that his conversion to Buddhism wasn’t an act of revenge. 

“He had no role to play in accepting a religious philosophy that had renounced Hindutva and become its enemy,” the opinion piece said. “Babasaheb was very careful that religious conversion shouldn’t lead to a conversion of nationality. Ambedkar believed that Hindutva gives the message of universal peace through peace, friendship, and justice. So Buddhism gives the message of universal friendship through wisdom, modesty, and compassion.” 

It also said that Ambedkar rejected “the mask of secularism”

Jihadi mentality and religious fundamentalism are a risk to the entire human race and the world,” the Panchjanya said. “These thoughts expressed by Babasaheb about 75 years ago are useful for the entire human race.”

It also published an article by Right-wing author Sabareesh P.A. about the meeting between RSS founder K.B. Hedgewar and Mahatma Gandhi. In his article, Sabareesh claimed that the meeting was “kept away” from the social, cultural, and political discourse of India.  

The article also featured an excerpt from a conversation between Hedgewar and Gandhi. 

Gandhi asked, ‘Your organisation is commendable. I’m aware of the fact that you were a Congress worker for many years. Why didn’t you form such a volunteer cadre under the aegis of a popular organisation like the Congress’,” Sabareesh wrote. 

“It’s true that I’ve worked in the Congress,” the article quotes Hegdewar as responding. “During the Congress session of 1920 when my friend Dr. Paranjpe [Laxman Vasudev Paranjape, RSS’s acting chief from 1930 to 1931] was president of the Swayamsevak Dal, I was also the party’s secretary. After this, both of us tried to create such a volunteer base within the Congress but did not succeed. That’s why I started this independent organisation.”

Reservation not for the converted, says VHP

Opposing ‘Scheduled Caste’ status to religious converts, the Vishwa Hindu Parishad (VHP)  said that since Abrahamic religions claim to have no caste distinction, the Supreme Court reservation can’t be extended to them.

In a press note published on its website a day before the central government appointed a commission to examine the issue, the VHP said it was willing to participate in a consultative exercise on the subject. 

“In 1950, the Constitution (Scheduled Castes) Order was issued making it clear that only Hindu Scheduled Castes would get reservation facilities,” the VHP said.  “Despite this, Christian missionaries and Islamic organisations have been making constant efforts for their irrational demands to extend this facility to converted SCs. We [won’t] allow [them] to snatch the constitutional rights of SCs,” the note, attributed to VHP working president Alok Kumar, said. 

Hijab row

In an opinion piece for One India on the ongoing hijab debate, former BJP Rajya Sabha MP Balbir Punj compared the Islamists of Iran with the Indian Left. 

“Today, the ‘Left-Liberal’ pack in India and [the] draconian Iranian regime are on the same page,” Punj wrote. “Both are invoking faith to put down women. What the pack is doing to Indian women now, it had done the same to Iranian women in 1979-80. The modus operandi and arguments being used by the pack to push the women back to slavery are sickeningly familiar.” 

The Supreme Court’s split verdict on the Karnataka hijab row came at a time when anti-hijab unrest have been widely reported from Iran.

He claimed that the ongoing hijab controversy in India had nothing to do with either a woman’s right to “choice” or the headscarf being an essential part of Islam.

“It’s a ploy by the ‘Left-Liberal’ gang to demonise BJP, with collateral damage to India’s global image — whose timing, unfortunately for the gang, has gone horribly wrong — following unforeseen developments in Iran,” the Delhi-based columnist

(Edited by Uttara Ramaswamy)

Also Read: Independence not result of Congress efforts & satyagraha alone — Hindu Right press lauds RSS role


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