Yesterday I attended a talk organized by Jamia Collective on its forum Guftgu. The speaker was Subhash Gatade a well-known Left-wing thinker. The topic of discourse was “New Dalit Uprising and Hindutva”. Gatade, in his talk, mentioned various movements that have taken place in the past and have acquired a new life in the present India under the banner of Dalit upliftment. The cases of Una Dalit thrashing, Rohit Vemula and the heated JNU uprising are some of the examples he mentioned. Gatade tried to present his case against Hindutva terrorism against the minorities. Most of his arguments rested on the idea that the BJP government and the RSS ideology backing it have been responsible for the recent spurt of attacks on the minority. He mentioned that the politics of cow, although a weapon that worked in the favour of the Hindutva cause of the Modi government, was proving to be a regressive policy in their “progressive” agenda. He also mentioned that the Dalits, although they had been part of the attacks on the Muslims during the Gujarat riots, have been recently distancing themselves from the right-wing Hindutva politics altogether. Recent attempts to appease the Dalits and other backward Hindu classes by the RSS have proved to be an utter failure. The RSS Kendras that were open in the backward areas to attract the population living there are now found empty. He also mentioned that PM Modi has recently tried to reconcile with the Dalits by speaking against ‘cow vigilantism’ and raising slogans like ‘kill me before you kill any of our Dalit brothers”. Such attempts of reconciliation are completely absent when dealing with the Muslim population. The treatment of the Muslims as “the other” is derived from their “Hindutva philosophy of Savarkar”, he mentioned. He also shed light on the possibility of Dalit-Muslim alliances that can uproot the Hindutva Terrorism and create a more secular nation. In all his arguments, he kept focusing on his efforts trying to prove his allegiance with secularism and anti-Hindutva forces. The similarities between the thoughts and ideas of Marx and Ambedkar were the focus of his entire speech.
After he ended his speech, the audience present was allowed to interact with the speaker and raise questions. One of the attendees enquired about the possibilities of uniting Dalits and Muslims against the Hindutva forces. To this Mr. Gatade replied that he was not sure whether such an alliance could work in the long run, but the short-term consequences of such an alliance can be strategically beneficial. In response to other questions, he stated the shortcomings of all the religious forces in the South Asia in suppressing the other religious minorities the way Hindutva lobby has been pursuing in India. I was amongst the last people to put forward my questions to him.
I asked Mr. Gatade that throughout his speech he has mentioned the problems with the Hindus, Muslims, Buddhists and all the other forces besides the forces of the Left. How could then he has missed out the terrors inflicted by the Leftist communist forces throughout the past centuries often leading to genocides and homicides? I reminded him that although today it is the West who has been responsible for destroying the Middle Eastern countries and engineering a consent in which Muslims are the only ones labelled as terrorists; organizations and nations that are Left-leaning have benefited from such manufactured consent the most. I asked him how he could forget the horrors inflicted by Stalin and Zedong on his own people. West has killed others in numerous numbers in their attempt to maintain their hegemony, but the institutions that have sprung out of your own ideology have been responsible for killing your own. Is this not even more despicable than the Hindutva and Western forces you so much loath. I also quoted from one of Dr Javed Jamil’s articles that the undue focus of the Left and Dalits on the Brahmanvaada is an irrelevant question for the present era which is dominated by the economic forces of the class of Baniyas. Out of the 100 richest men in India, more than 80 are baniyas. Would it not be right if your lobby corrects your stance against the so-called Brahmanvaada and concentrate your efforts in fighting off the Baniyavaada, which is most responsible for the economic disparity in today’s India?
In response to my sharp critique and remarks on his biased ideology, he accepted the shortcomings of the Left in the past and suggested that such shortcomings are responsible for the poor condition of the Left in the World today. But at the same time, he did not fail to defend the actions of Stalin and Zedong by stating that in the case of Russia it was Stalin that fought alongside the West against Hitler and ended the WW2, and China’s progress to be a reflection of the capability of communism to bring about positive change. One of the other attendees present there had raised an important question that how could the Left reconcile Marx’s dialectic materialism with the idealism of religion. Such antithetical philosophies have historically proved to be too difficult to reconcile. Gatade failed to even respond to such a philosophical inquiry.
The reader might think that I am fundamentally opposed to the ideas of the Left thinker, but this is far from the truth. I realize the historical importance of Marx and his philosophy who as Schumpeter in his book has described as the Prophet for the deprived classes. No intellectual pursuit of removing the problems in the world can ignore the critical analysis of Capitalism by Marx in a day and age where capitalism was at its zenith. But unfortunately, Marx could not prove to be an intellectual force capable of providing a solution for the ills and diseases of the world. His is no doubt one of the best diagnoses that cannot be ignored but it is in no way a cure for the disease. Marx’s incapability to develop an outlook that needed to have a place for Hegelian “idealism” proves the case that his hypothesis cannot be termed as the ultimate theory.
As regards to Gatade’s assertion that in the long run, the alliance of the Left and Muslims may not prove to be fulfilling its role is a fairly correct analysis, but not the way he perceives it. Muslims and Dalits are naïve that in their desperation to fight against the lesser evils they are more than ready to invite a greater evil in their homes. Religion to Marx was opium that forces the people to undertake actions that no rational man would otherwise. But effectively, Marxism has proved to be opium for the deprived. Left is fundamentally opposed to the idea of religion as a driving force of the society. They seem to compromise with the idea for the meantime as they are not in the position to be choosers, but as soon as the time would come where they will be able to do away with the religion they will not think twice. China, Russia, and North Korea are living examples where religious groups have been marginalized, oppressed and subjugated in the name of communism. The terrorist activities of the Leftists have been but ignored by the mainstream media in their effort to demean the Muslims throughout the world. The oppression of humans by Russia, China, North Korea is highlighted only to the extent that the West dislike communism, but Muslims and Islam are projected as someone and some ideology that requires nothing less than hatred and contempt.
I most certainly realize the problems with Hindutva and how its advance should be halted if the fabric of the society is to be protected from degrading into a form which will not be likable by the minorities. But I also know that in order to fight off a lesser evil we cannot be allies with a greater evil that may even become the cause of our own destruction as a religious community in the near or distant future. Second, we should try to understand the difference between Hindutva and the Sanaatana Dharma and try to convince our Hindu brothers to be a better judge between the two. As all the other religions Sanaatana Dharma does not promote violence. It is the political misuse of the religion that yields such problematic ideologies. Although the ideology of Hindutva and its supporting organizations has not become as forceful as the ideology of ISIS, directly and indirectly supported by the Western forces, in the future it will prove to be more difficult to combat than combatting the ISIS at the present. This is because the majority (almost all) of the Muslim population does not recognize radical Islam to be acceptable to the Qur’an, a lot of Hindus have started feeling that Hindutva is the correct understanding of Hinduism where more than protecting their own, destroying the other is more commendable. Third, we should understand that capitalism and communism are two faces of the same coin that have been responsible for mass murders in the recent past and continue to inflict such terrors in the present.
If society is to be protected, religious morality, prescribed in the various scriptures, needs to be promoted and its later political forms have to be completely revised in the light of the rejuvenated morality. Dalits should realize that if they become an ally with Muslims they will not only become a decisive force in the Indian politics but will also enjoy the association with the religion that was responsible for ending the culture of slavery and oppression 1300 years before the West. Islam in this sense is the pioneer of classless society.