Day in and day out, it becomes clear that if there is anything and anyone the Hindu right wing in India owes allegiance to, it is a fantasy nation that their movement tries to build. That Hindu Rashtra, which will be the Utopia every human needs for the perfect existence. 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 property – 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 methods too are the same. Convince the majority population that the second largest population minority is a problem (too small and the profit is also too small). Also the target must ideally have some kind of similar 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. Ironically, both the Indian and Pakistani zealots use many Christian concepts as a mark of their virtue too.
This 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.
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 environments where Muslims are actually missing, 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.
[Update: India completed this phase with the election of Narendra Modi as the Prime Minister of India]
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 yesterday 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 well deserved. Sympathy for them is a sign of treachery to innocent 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.
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.
Any questioning of religion becomes fair game for organized attacks. The brainwash is so absolute, that the vilest crime will get defended without question, deflection, comparisons and sheer hate compensating for any argument. What the debate lacks in quality it more than compensates with quantity and the sheer threat of violence. 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.
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. “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 – if that ends, the leaders end. You’re in forever till you escape. 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 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 not the butchery market that sets meat prices. Goats are kept for meat, not worship.