India that isn't Bharat: RSS chief’s take on rape is not funny

It shows the intellectually bankruptcy of leadership

akash

Akash Deep Ashok | January 4, 2013


Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh chief Mohan Bhagwat
Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh chief Mohan Bhagwat

It takes an intellectual’s vision to set things straight. When quasis and pseudos failed — even after banging their heads against the wall for many days — to come up with a clear perspective on the brutalisation of society in the wake of the Delhi gangrape, the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh sarsanghachalak (the supreme chief) Mohan Bhagwat rose over others like the sun over a fog-engulfed valley and proclaimed: rapes don’t occur in ‘Bharat’, but they occur frequently in ‘India’. 

Addressing a public meeting in Silchar on Tuesday, Bhagwat said, “Such crimes hardly take place in ‘Bharat’, but they occur frequently in ‘India’… You go to villages and forests of the country and there will be no such incidents of gangrape or sex crimes. They are prevalent in some urban belts. Besides new legislations, Indian ethos and attitude towards women should be revisited in the context of ancient Indian values.”

While the quasis and pseudos were still grappling with his two-nation theory, another member of the outfit’s political wing and Madhya Pradesh minister Kailash Vijayvargiya stirred another controversy by saying that women who cross their limits pay the price. Quoting Ramayana, Vijayvargiya said just like Sita was abducted by Ravana, a woman will be punished if she crosses her limits (Lakshman Rekha).

While “quoted out of context” excuses and apologies might follow and right-wing intellectuals might argue that the two don’t represent the wing’s viewpoint on the issue and are certainly not the most learned of the lot; what should not be ignored is the nature of the mindset that the shakhas breed. 

The ideal of the RSS, according to itself, “is to carry the nation to the pinnacle of glory, through organising the entire society and ensuring protection of Hindu Dharma”. We need to ask Bhagwat again which nation is that: Bharat or India? And which of his two nations votes for the BJP: India or Bharat?

But the Sangh’s existence is a study in dichotomy. While it claims it is opposed to caste system and endeavours to eradicate it from the Hindu society, its headquarters in Nagpur itself has long been a mute witness to a stringent Brahminical supremacy.

On the ideals of tradition and modernity, its plight is no different from the rest of the nation. Caught in the influx of transition, it is still in a denial mode — an ephemeral dilemma of duality where adherence to an earlier order eventually becomes utopian. 

Years ago when I was a fresh college pass-out and was offered to teach English grammar in a school run by the RSS in my hometown, the dhoti-clad garrulous principal had told me with a grin and an almost impish clasp of hands that my biggest incentive (of course, other than perks) would be that I would not be required to wear dhoti like all other teachers in the school. The other side of the story is also that the principal was visiting people to find good English and computer teachers for the school. 

Bhagwat’s and Vijayvargiya’s misquotes coupled with the ilk of Sanjay Nirupams and Abhijit Mukherjees do not make a case for the culture of political solecism. It indicates the birth of the new voter and redundancy of the existing political class. And unless they can reinvent themselves, their claim to leadership is flimsy.

After the assassination of Julius Caesar, the irate crowd baying for the blood of conspirators did not spare even Cinna the poet simply because his name was similar to one of the conspirators. And when he made his case by reciting his verses, the crowd beat him saying he made bad verses. 

An angry crowd can be dispersed only until they meet again. And if our politicians fail to reinvent themselves and change their language, that day would not be far.

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