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1

Why is it becoming more and more uncomfortable to live within one’s own country, among people that we took for granted shared our view of the world? 2014 marked the year in which family and friends turned into aliens and opponents. Conversations invariably broke down at the point where Narendra Modi was seen as the great white hope for India. No logic worked against a recitation of the wrongs of UPA 2, plus AAP not being mature enough or ready, plus the magic word – ‘Development’ that a likely BJP government was going to deliver. One’s misgivings about Hindutva had to remain as mere mutterings, among the pitying looks of cousins and siblings.

Now 2017 has arrived as the year in which it is impossible to be in a crowded airport or railway station without wondering how many of the people around you will look on with interest at a mob lynching some innocent, and perhaps even justify the act  with arguments if you dare to protest.  After all, on social media, it is educated and articulate people who are trolling any criticism of hyper-nationalism or Gauraksha. The deep discomfort in crowds of any sort makes me wonder if I am having a serious mid-life crisis, or my country has changed into something so unrecognizable that I have begun to believe the worst of my neighbours  and acquaintances.

My being a believer has fed much of my work, producing books on pilgrims and seekers, and finding faith resilient in the poorest toymakers and street vendors. Yet, today, I have also become uncomfortable with the religion I was born into because I feel no identification whatsoever with those who are making loud claims in the name of that religion with no regard for facts, truth, or the feelings of their fellow citizens. And, although this is a mere blip in our ongoing relationship, I have also begun to express increasing discontent and despair to my personal God in the face of what I perceive to be evil getting increasingly rewarded around me.

So many questions confront me on any given day.  Was a bottomless reservoir of hate and bigotry always present amidst our people? How do today’s lynch mob leaders tap into this with a single WhatsApp message and collect an instant crowd? How many who go by the label ‘Hindu’ actually rejoice at the wounding or death of a Muslim fellow citizen in our country? Visceral questions, with no easy answers.

Till a few years back, crowds meant something else for me.  As I  walked with Varkaris to Pandharpur, joined the immense human congregation at the Mahakumbh in 2001, met kaanwariyas at the Haridwar Shravan mela and at Deoghar in Jharkhand, climbed to Tirupati and Vaishno Devi, I saw the transformative power of collective faith. Caste distinctions recede on such pilgrimages, when the fellow believer begins to be called by a generic name – ‘Mauli’ on the way to Pandharpur, or ‘Bam’ on the way to Deoghar. Sharing of resources, helping others when they are weary or tired, breaking into a song of prayer together, all this is behavior that is par for the course on such journeys. All the years when I walked alongside them, I never saw the crowds of the faithful as potential murderers.

And yet, from recent events, it is obvious that some of the killers of Akhlaq and Pehlu Khan may also have been pilgrims at some point. As I think of the kaanwariyas carrying water and walking hundreds of kilometres, I can’t help but wonder at whether the ordinarily devout, the Durga Puja attendees and katha organizers have become members of predatory mobs?

Any attempt to answer this question must undoubtedly make us reflect on why we have failed to strengthen the secular fabric of India.  Prof. Ashis Nandy, who wrote An Anti-Secularist Manifesto in 1995, and who writes in his seminal essay The Politics of Secularism and the Recovery of Religious Tolerance, “I call myself an anti-secularist because I feel that the ideology and politics of secularism have more or less exhausted their possibilities”, has unpacked the concept of secularism painstakingly in the Indian context. Pointing out that religions in our part of the world have become split into religion-as-faith versus religion-as-ideology, he describes the latter as a “subnational, national, or cross national identifier of populations contesting for or protecting non-religious, usually political or socio-economic, interests.” For me, the religion as faith that I encountered as a pilgrim was distinct from the religion as Hindutva ideology that I abhor. The fudging of both by the SC verdict in the Manohar Joshi vs. N.B. Patil case in 1995 made it appear as if Hindutva was the sum of many cultural practices and beliefs, posing no threat to non-Hindus. But as we have seen so clearly in recent years, de facto Hindutva means aggressive posturing on the ground to pursue a nationalist agenda and protect distinct political and socio-economic interests.

If secularists have been unable to make such distinctions clear in the minds of citizens and voters, it is futile to once again hold Amit Shah and Narendra Modi responsible. Instead, it is clearly a result of secularists’ refusal to engage with questions of faith and identity in any meaningful way.  To many, religion and the way it is expressed around us seems too messy or backward to bother with. When I wrote in my books about the visible expressions of faith I had experienced first-hand, I often had friends wonder why I found the melas and the kaanwariyas so fascinating. Modernity, a desire for development, and a secular outlook means for many in my social milieu a complete disregard for the inconvenient, bedraggled, jugadu hordes of poor pilgrims struggling to reach temples and deities and holding up traffic in the NCR.

Kanwariyas
Kanwariyas

For such people longing for a ‘developed’ India that will leave all such messy struggles behind, a vote for Modi in 2014 actually meant a vote for an increased role for the private sector without the ball and chain of environmental safeguards dragging down corporate India. The rights of tribals and displaced communities, the increased disparities of income and the contrasts in urban India between utter comfort and utter despair didn’t cause upper middle class urban Indians to lose much sleep. As a society we have lived for far too long with the twin evils of entitlement and deprivation, and nothing in our environment encourages us to think beyond the interests of our family, caste, or class. Protecting secular discourse was not a priority for too many, unless it represented an attack on their own personal freedom.

Today when I share with my journalist friend Rahul Pandey a frustration with the lack of any political opposition to the tactics of the BJP, he says, “Na Ram hai, na Bam, sab chhalava hai.” (There is neither Ram, nor the Left, it is all wholesale fraud and deception.) He refuses to accept that the BJP is winning elections only on the basis of their WhatsApp armies.  “Why would WhatsApp work without any real work being put in?” he asks me. “The VHP have gone door to door, in village after village in UP, and tied dharm-raksha-sutra (Save your faith bands) around the wrists of lakhs of people in their homes. Which party can claim such cover? The Sanghis have conducted Swachhata Abhiyan (Cleanliness campaigns) in village after village. Their workers and volunteers remain visible to the public at all times. This is what makes their WhatsApp mobilization work.”

The Sangh and its affiliates have also perfected the art of silent communication at religious events with a cultural significance.  My activist friend Arvind Murti says, of a recent event around the Thrissur temple “I was there recently on an occasion where at least fifty thousand people were present, and a host of cultural activities were being put on. Not a single political leader from either the LDF or the UDF was present. The only visible leaders were from the Sangh umbrella organizations. It made me acutely conscious of how secular parties are missing important opportunities for communication by disregarding such occasions and festivals.” I knew exactly what he was talking about because I have been at the chariot festival of Chennai’s Kapaleeswar temple, when thousands of people converge in Mylapore in a completely apolitical celebration. However, the volunteers of VHP are still milling about among the people, distributing water and butter milk sachets. Somewhere, in interpreting  secularism as a lifestyle that shuns the mention of God or religion, secular parties and leaders have distanced themselves from  cultural practices that deliver their countrymen to the Sangh without protest or effort.

For Prof. Ashis Nandy, secularism and tolerance can only be recovered by re-connecting with the ideals of faith, not by denying them. He points to Gandhi as the believer whose compassion and tolerance stemmed from his religion, not in spite of it. For millions of poor Hindus, who have felt excluded from the prosperity of their secular, modern fellow citizens, the Sangh gives honorifics and titles that bring a role of prominence as an anti-Romeo squad member or a Gau Rakshak. Such actions may actually be bringing these people a legitimacy whose importance we are unable to comprehend from a position of eternal privilege.  If secularism’s goose is not to be well and truly cooked in India we have to prepare to move once more among our people and ask them the questions that matter. For this, it seems, we can depend on no political leader or party.

So if we are to reclaim the ground we have ceded to those who always talk of ‘hurt sentiments’ and explain each violent mob attack as an expression of the people’s emotions, we need to attack the idea of Hindus as victims. We need to bring such questions as the ones below in the public domain, whether through Whatsapp, social media or conversation. The idea of the majority community being victims in their own homeland is the biggest falsehood of the Sangh, being used to perpetuate fear and hatred in equal measure. ‘Have you ever been stopped from worshipping your favourite deity, or doing pooja in your homes?’ is something we can ask fellow Hindus. ‘If not, why do you feel insecure in your own home and country?’

‘Who are the people telling you your homes are in danger, your women are in danger? Don’t you believe your God is powerful enough to protect you and your family? Why then pick up arms and who do you want to attack?’

‘When you rush to attack and kill, whether for money/recognition/reward, don’t forget that you will have to account for it before your God. Yeh kaun sa Bhagwan hai  jo kisi insaan ko maarne ke liye majboor kar raha hai?

No great knowledge of religion or scriptures is needed to counter the majoritarian poison of the Sangh. All it needs is nudging the people to tap into their own faith of God being their protector, not the other way around. After all, in the crowds of pilgrims I used to travel with, each was seeking his or her own liberation, however hard and arduous the journey was.

Unfortunately, around a bend in the path and in our nation’s history, many of these seekers met not the God who would provide ‘mukti’, but the politician who demanded eternal slavery of mind and soul.

So are we, privileged and educated Hindus, up to having these conversations among ourselves?

Originally published here.

Satirical futuristic fiction narrated by @strategerist to express his frustration with the Hindutva epidemic of cow protection and the associated violence and insanity.

This is the story of a future when India is to be Gourashtra and cows have fundamental rights and can vote.


11

Historical documents establish that Netaji Subhash Chandra Bose opposed the Hindu Mahasabha as well as the Muslim League as communal and acted to prevent their growth and membership in the Congress. This is contradictory to the attempts of contemporary right wingers to appropriate his legacy.

For quite some time now, there have been attempts by Right Wing Hindu Organizations to portray people like Subhash Chandra Bose and Sardar patel in different lights to destroy the image of Jawaharlal Nehru and the legacy of Indian Secularism. Although they have mastered the art of rewriting false history, there are some things that cannot be changed. One of them is the relationship Subhash Chandra Bose had with Hindu Mahasabha.

Throughout Bose’s writings and speeches, he referred to congress Hindus as the nationalist Hindus and the likes of Hindu Mahasabha as communal, and every time equated them with the muslim league. In fact, it was during the presidency of Subhash Chandra Bose that the congress banned the dual membership of Congress and Mahasabha.

Bose wrote a editorial in his forward bloc weekly on May 4, 1940 under the title of ‘Congress and Communal Organizations’.
‘That was a long time ago’, he wrote, ‘when prominent leaders of the congress could be members of the communal organisations like Hindu Mahasabha and Muslim League. But in recent times, the circumstances have changed. These communal organisations have become more communal than before. As a reaction to this, the Indian National Congress has put into its constitution a clause to the effect that no member of a communal organisation like Hindu Mahasabha and Muslim League can be a member of an elective committee of Congress.’

Thus, in Bose’s estimation, Hindu Mahasabha was ‘Communal’ and to be placed in same brackets as Muslim League. Indeed, he mentioned Hindu Mahasabha before Muslim League every time he referred to Communal Organisations.

When Syama Prasad Mookerjee joined Hindu Mahasabha, Dr Mookerjee wrote in his diary that Bose met him and told him if he went about building Hindu Mahasabha as a political body in Bengal, “He ( Subhash Chandra Bose) would see to it, BY FORCE IF NEED BE, THAT IT WAS BROKEN BEFORE IT WAS REALLY BORN.”

Later, Bose came true on his words that he was not adverse to using force and intimidation to put Mahasabha down. In the words of Balraj Madhok, a leader of Mahasabha at that time, ‘Subhash Chandra Bose with help of his supporters, decided to intimidate the Mahasabha by use of force. His men would break-up all Mahasabha meetings and beat up the candidates. Dr Mookerjee would not tolerate it. He got a meeting announced, to be addressed by him. As soon as he rose to speak, a stone hit him in his head, and he began to bleed profusely.’

When Subhash Chandra Bose was forming INA. ‘Hindu nationalists’, instead of helping him were hand in glovess with British. Hindu Mahasabha, under Savarkar’s leadership organised recruitment camps for british armed forces. As Savarkar said, ‘Whether we like it or not, we shall have to defend our own hearth and home against the ravages of war and this can only be done by intensifying the government’s war efforts to defend India. Hindu Mahasabhaites must, therefore, rouse Hindus ESPECIALLY IN THE PROVINCES OF BENGAL AND ASSAM as effectively as possible to enter the military forces of all arms without losing a single minute.

The above material suggests that Bose considered these so called Hindu Organisations Communal, and this was only till 1945. If Bose was alive to see the later activities of these organisations, I wonder what he would have said or done.

This article was originally published at fakkad.in by Garvit Garg.

5

I am an atheist, but was Hindu by birth in a family that studied the dharma and followed it to its best. My father refused to do kanyadaan in my second marriage (in spite of the priest insisting that proper marriages have one), because a kanyadaan can be done only once for each daughter. This was later endorsed by the head priest of the temple where my father in law works. My mother-in-law does the full bells and whistles of made (special Brahmanical rules for purity that involve bathing, pure clothes, avoidance of touch of impure people - including other Brahmins not currently in that state, and more). I grew up knowing half the Gita by heart and I dare say I can still recite along - simply from hearing it so much. I grew up immersed in Hindu philosophy discussions under a man who had devoted his retirement to the study of religion and philosophy. I dare say I have a passing knowledge of what is respect for Hindu traditions and what is an insult.

This can be a long and varied debate, but the bottom line is, Brahmins cannot rule as per Hinduism. Sanyasis cannot chase material pursuits, including wealth and power. Whether a religious state is desirable is an entirely different debate as is you not minding because you "trust" them, but Brahmins in ruling positions in the government is already a mockery of Hindu beliefs.

Uma Bharti, for example is a self declared Sanyasi (is there any other kind?). Sadhvi Niranjan Jyoti, Sakshi Maharaj or even Yogi Adityanath are some more.

A Sanyasi is one who has renounced Maya Moh. A sanyasi who desires votes that lead to a position of power is not a sanyasi, but a fraud and an insult to Hindu beliefs. Sanyas is not a joke. At least not for those claiming to respect Hindu traditions.

Sadhus are ascetics. They have dedicated their life to the pursuit of moksha.

The duplicity is extensive. For examples, the torch bearers of Indian nationalism are the creation of an organization that chose to not fight India's colonizers, choosing instead to focus on fighting the Muslims of the occupied Bharat, which now is the very breath in their lungs, since they don't have to risk anything to stake a claim. How can an entity that choose to abstain from fighting for freedom claim to be the real heir of the resulting free identity?

Where do the traditions of the RSS come from? I am not aware of Hindu traditions of shorts as uniform. It could be argued that dress changes with time, but shorts are still not accepted as traditional wear among the Hindus of India. On the other hand, shorts are a common garment in uniforms in the west.

The views of the RSS commonly echo Christian and Islamic beliefs, including lack of importance to caste (in theory), condemnation of women as "fallen" - a common theme and usual first assumption for any RSS supporter seeing a woman they do not like. The Artha shastra actually recommends a more severe punishment on one who insults a prostitute, but then that isn't what the supposed Hindu nationalists respect, is it? They see a prostitute as a bad woman and in fact call women they don't like prosititutes.

Hindu nationalists have a severe contempt for sex. RSS Pracharaks must be brahmacharis (abstaining from sex and marriage), which is probably what caused Modi to dump his wife and pretend to never have entered Grihasthashrama. It is a good fantasy, but the stages of life don't have a "rewind" button. A grihastha - man who marries and sets up home with wife can no longer be considered Brahmachari.

Speaking of Brahmacharis, RSS is full of bachelors in the land of the Kama Sutra, which is devoted to desire. Marriage (and bearing children) is a responsibility in life according to Hindu beliefs (also why Hindu parents tend to obsess over it). An organization of bachelors is basically one that prevents the natural cycle of life.

How can such apabhransh (violation/impurity) be considered representative or even respectful of Hinduism?

I understand many followers of the current cartel in power think of this blog as an unreliable and biased source. They are urged to ask their parents, gurus or anyone whose knowledge on Hinduism they respect the following questions:

  • Is it acceptable for a sanyasi to rule, campaign, or even prefer one government over another?
  • Is it possible to become a brahmachari after entering grihasthashrama?
  • Why do Hindu parents pressure their children to marry and tend to not approve of decisions of extended bachelorhood?

Hear the answers from an authority you trust - which is likely not me - and decide for yourself if you are being told the truth about the religion of this landgrab or you are being conned by using your love for your UPBRINGING to serve political goals of cunning strategists.

I do not believe that a religious state is compatible with India's constitution. To disregard the constitution is as good as a conquest of India by a completely different rule, which is what I believe is going on. However, I believe in democracy and it will mean that citizens wanting a religious state must also have voice. But perhaps citizens who want a Hindu Rashtra need to ask themselves whether what is being advertized is actually even respectful of Hinduism, let alone being an ideal Hindu rashtra.

5

If there is anything and anyone the Hindu fanatics in India owes allegiance to, it is a fantasy nation that Hindutva wants to build on the carcass of a diverse and vibrant India. That Hindu Rashtra, the Utopia where every human failing ceases to exist right along with diversity, which embarrasses supremacists. In the meanwhile, they will settle for attacking anything that goes against what they perceive to be "against" this Utopia - be it gender equality or the very existence of minorities. In a country that exists in perceptions, it is damage done to perception that is the cardinal sin. Flaws are to be concealed and not addressed. And then of course, many flaws are actually features and not bugs in a country bent on reducing its entire existence to a mythically uniform religious identity. In a country where masses thrive on superstition and arbitrarily defined morality as exhibition of virtue, it is rather easy to herd minds into a pen of thoughts using carrot and stick.

In the high altitude deserts in extreme North India, where barren expanses of Ladakh, Spiti, Zanskar and Changthang are interspersed with very scarce grazing, goatherds herd their flock into small stone compounds that are rather like a large room without a roof. The idea is to keep the flock warm and safe and easy to guard during the night, in a land where dissatisfaction with grazing or even getting spooked (very easy there) can have your livestock covering tens of kilometers overnight to feed or flee. And with nightfall, the flock does stay contented, warmed by the shared body heat, unable to see temptations beyond their prison given the high walls and the dark.

And every once in a while, a snow leopard gets around the guard of the ever watchful goatherds and flees taking a hapless goat by its throat and scaling the high wall easily with its burden. The wall was never impossible for the snow leopard and nor would you want it to be impossible for the snow leopard, leaving him trapped all night with the entire livestock instead of making off with one. The wall is merely to keep your goats in one place, so that they are easy for you to retain possession and control of.

And it is indeed a superior method of keeping your livestock safe. They stay warm through the night in some of the most extreme places on the planet. They do not lose weight or suffer the stress of fleeing predators. It is perfect for that place.... unless you start asking absurd questions like what the goats really want. Do the goats want to spend their nights in prison? What if they want the right to choose to life free and die at the hands of a predator as is the nature of life?

It is about utility. The goat is a possession. Livestock. Living, but property. No one is asking the goat if it wants the right to free bleat or health services. It is put in a place where its bleating doesn't matter, and health is more about not losing numbers to deaths without profit than saving the goats.

This isn't unlike the Hindutva movement being peddled by the RSS-BJP machine and its affiliates (or indeed any other con based on nationalist identity - be it the Nazis or Islamists either). The method is simple. The idea is to harness the unquestioning endorsement of a majority of the population for profit. The profit isn't intended to go to the "property" - the masses that get herded into a pen of thoughts in the dark, safe and comfortable in their make believe "protection", that is more about control. The profits will go to those who herd the goats into the pens daily.

The methods of nationalist fanatism of any hue are the same. Convince the majority population that the largest minority is a problem (too small and the profit is also too small). Also the target population must ideally have some kind of xenophobic process too, so you can show evidence of it as proof of a conspiracy and justification that the hate mongering is actually necessary to survive. Build the idea of threat, instill a strong sense of victimhood. Use every justification available however farfetched. For example, Christians in Pakistan (and sometimes India) suffer the punishment for the colonizing British atrocities in our past and the imperial America in the present. Never mind that Christians in India and Pakistan are such a small number that them being an overpowering influence on anything has to be a joke. Christian missionaries being a threat to the majority religion is also a popular theme. Never mind the utter absurdity of either country emerging from decades of British Colonization without still having any significant number of Christians. If the allegedly forceful missionary conversions didn't succeed in denting major religious populations in either country when natives had little more power than slaves, what in the world are missionaries going to do with zealot riddled majorities in power? Ironically, both the Indian and Pakistani zealots use many Christian concepts as a mark of their virtue too.

This conditioning is also the toughest phase, because this is where most of the work is needed to achieve a complete overpowering of perception over verifiable reality so that the perception seems fact and the reality invisible, or at best the exception to the reality. Naturally, it is not easy to convince people that even if they have never been threatened by a Muslim, nor anyone they know in real life has been threatened, Hindus are, in fact at the brink of extinction because of them. It helps if you can find someone who has had a grudge with a Muslim. Be it a rude rickshaw driver or a murderer to show them the "reality" of Muslims. If you cannot find such links, then you must look at a vividly reported dramatic injustice against Hindus and get other Hindus to feel a kinship with the victims on the basis of religion instead of "OMG how awful" alone. Of course, in the "post truth" world, it is more efficient to simply invent outrages triggered by Muslims with false, selected or manipulated reporting. It is fairly easy to get pliable media to make entire careers out of discussing the injustice of triple talak to Muslim women with Muslims being less than 20% of the population, women being half of that, women who are married being fewer, those who'd want a divorce being still fewer and those who find the divorce done through triple talak to be unjust to them being a further smaller fraction of the whole. Our eagerness to save Muslim women from their men is outstripped only by our willingness to excuse our proud tradition of marital rape from being threatened by law. It is easy to unleash anonymous trolls commenting on the age of Ayesha when she married Mohammed in a country where 84% Of 12 Million Married Children Under 10 Are Hindus, right now. Living. Not in some ancient past which had its own life expectancy and morals and rights.

It helps if you can promote the Hindu religion and get people doing rituals and talking about it, so any Hindu wrongly killed is easier to connect with a common factor (Muslim for Islamic countries). It helps to have polarized and seggregated environments where the majority religion rarely has meaningful interactions with minorities, so anything said about them cannot be easily verified through actual interaction before repetition turns the disinformation into a concrete perception of reality. Naturally, all this is not easy and it fails for a large many people and only a few are successfully conned. So, for any nationalist con, propagating this sense of injustice and continuously recruiting more minds to replace those that question and realize they are being gaslighted being no longer being susceptible. Which is how you will ALWAYS find a constant narrative of victimhood in public space reaching out to people, offering sympathy for all their suffering and telling them who is the real cause and how this one entity is working hard to end the problem they are facing. With skill, you can point out any sin of any symbol of your "oppressing minority" anywhere in the world to remind about the existential threat. For example, the juvenile rape accused in the Delhi Gang Rape is a .... you guessed it! MUSLIM!!! Never mind that he was accompanied by 5 ADULT Hindus. He was "most brutal". And the others were praying for her well being? But there you have it. Muslim found. Talk about it enough, and it is human nature to associate rapist with Muslim.

India completed this phase with the election of Narendra Modi as the Prime Minister of India. We are now in maintenance mode, with daily lessons on how Muslims in particular are a problem, but it no longer is absurd to level illogical accusations based on identity. It is the Muslims who will have to fight them off and explain how they are innocent. Watch TV. I actually heard Sambit Patra (I think) say on some TV channel "Does the Quran say loudspeakers must be used?" as though the vedas have written that garba nights must have loudspeakers. It is absurd and illogical, but the masses are now convinced that everything Muslim needs to be questioned for national well being.

Once your majority population is successfully fooled into being threatened into extinction at the hands of the minority, the rest is simple. Correct the imbalance. "Survival" becomes about exterminating that dangerous oppressor. Aggression against them is necessary defense. The RSS once called for Hindus to keep weapons in their home to "defend" themselves against "jihadis". We now have school books showing a picture of a Muslim as a terrorist in schools. Any crime against them is gleeful collateral damange - if they prove that the person killed couldn't be termed guilty of anything that could cause outrage - otherwise it is just plain deserved. Sympathy for them is a sign of treachery to the innocent and oppressed victim majority. Sanatan Sanstha, a Hindu supremacist organization with an agenda of turning India into a Hindu country published a press release by Hindu Jagruti Samiti, an extremist propaganda outfit and affiliate calling for the death penalty to anyone who objected to the death penalty for "terrorist" Yakub Memon. A conviction and hanging that had been highly controversial including questions raised by ex judges and former head of the R&AW, now departed, that was published after his death. So essentially, this amounts to violent lunatics making open calls for the deaths of some of the most imminent people in the country for criticizing lack of rigorous process of justice.

Once a significant part of the population is conned into believing the tale, or at least believing that the zealots are making a "genuine" effort for "good" and merely "wrong methods" or "misguided" that can be overlooked (read "not punished") in the interest of the larger problem in the larger picture of them actually being victims, you can cash that in with "correcting wrongs". Riots, massacres, demolitions, persecution through policy, discrimination in public space.... you create a permanent "second class citizen", who can be exploited at will. And twice per whim in the run up to elections.

Any questioning of religion becomes fair game for organized attacks. The brainwash is so absolute, that the vilest crime will get defended without question, with deflection, comparisons and sheer hate compensating for any argument. What the debate lacks in quality it more than compensates with quantity and sheer multi-pronged intimidation. Three rationalist murders increasingly look like they will tie in with the Sanatan Sanstha, yet the ruling government cannot bring itself to act against them in any manner, with politicians being evasive or downright supportive, while supporters come all out in support of what basically amounts to a confidence trickster with a very very violent agenda. Sanatan Sanstha gives arms training to its sadhaks. No problem. There are parents whose sons and daughters got brainwashed into joining the Sanstha and have never returned. They are adults. But the adults aren't allowed to meet own parents without Sanstha officials. It does not matter. The support is absolute. Wrongs are merely the habit of one who objects to crimes - which to the brainwashed Hindutva mind are not crimes at all and are merely undue attention given to the life and limb of undeserving people.

For that matter, most right wing outfits do. Recent days even saw children on the streets carrying swords for Ramnavmi. Apparently worship of Ram is incomplete without weapons. Which is utter nonsense, and basically amounts to saying that till this procession happened, no one worshipped Ram. Never mind that Ram carried a bow and arrow and not sword. Entire new violent traditions are manifesting out of thin air as "necessary" for religion.

Now here's the catch. The goatherd being the region's biggest livestock owner doesn't mean that the goat gets to set market prices or enforce vegetarianism, or at least ban slaughter of goats. The goat still sleeps in the pen, gets butchered for meat, sold for money, sacrificed on occasion and so on. This mythical Hindu rashtra is for the rulers, not the cannon fodder that is being exploited to make it happen. In the meanwhile, for every fanatic hothead with a thirst for violence who may or may not harm Muslims some day, there is a terrorised Hindu family who must tiptoe around him or be harmed. The last year or so has been rife with murders of right wing supporters - at the hands of fellow right wing fanatics. This is no coincidence. In a society with a majority of Hindus, while the eposodic threat of radicalized Hindus may seem higher for Muslims, the people who would have to live with these Frankenstein's monsters 24/7 will largely be Hindu. Sheer exposure guarantees that they will be a bigger threat to Hindus than Muslims. But then threats to Hindus don't really matter. They are simply propaganda fodder to madden Hindus into needing revenge. It isn't like BJP has so much as warned Bajrang Dal or various other affiliates responsible for murders of BJP workers. Of course if the murderers were Muslim, and often even before the murderers are found to be Hindu, the propaganda machinery kicks into action claiming the threat to Hindus from Muslims. This vanishes without a trace or so much as an "oops" when right wing fanatics turn out to be responsible for the murder.

"Bhakts", as the blind supporters are now called were never intended to be more than cannon fodder, and the day they become inconvenient for the ruler, they will be culled as easily as the Muslims they help cull. The government will call it acting in a responsible manner and not tolerating breaking of law even by own supporters and even get a halo out of it.

This rashtra isn't going to give ruthless, hate filled leaders a personality transplant and make them believe in universal harmony and co-existence just because of a government change. Vasudhaiva kutumbakam was never supposed to be about killing people till only those you can be harmonious with are left. These leaders coming to power is not going to mean that the relentless sense of victimhood tormenting you is going to end - EVER - if that ends, the leaders end. You're in forever till you escape. If you run out of Muslims, there will be other religions, castes, political affiliations. Someone must always be the enemy or a savior is pointless. Such an existence is not designed for security of Hindus, because threat to Hindus is what keeps it alive. Pakistan got started on this easily and with less resistance due to circumstances of identity of birth and regional politics. They have run out of paranoia on India-Hindus, East Pakistan, Jews, almost done with Ahmadis and Christians, in the middle of Shias and Balochistan and getting started on liberals. There is always an enemy within. Without it, nationalist zealots of the Hindu rashtra or any rashtra cannot survive. There is no such thing as a fundamentalist state that has reached its perfect state of existence.

Your car isn't going to give more mileage on cheaper petrol and pothole free roads just because of the beliefs of leaders. they aren't going to stop profiting from whatever drives their wealth and corruption today. The world is going to be the same, the hate is going to be the same, the persecution and targeting of people is going to be the same. The people profiting from the control over power will change, but that is completely irrelevant to you - even if you support them. A bhakt is the goat to profit from, a perverted, mutated cannibal goat eating other goats even, but never the one who sets meat prices. The day a bhakt asks for all threats to Hindus to be opposed is the day he will be a target too. Goats are kept for meat, not worship.