Thursday, November 12, 2009

Genesis of Pseudo-Secularism in India

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Pseudo secularism is one of the hall-marks of internal politics of Republic of India. Although it started from Khilafat movement of 1917, it achieved progressively greater practitioners and admirers in post-independence era. What is pseudo-secularism? What makes this particular meme and idea so popular in Indian socio-politics? Here is an attempt to analyse...

The Term -

Pseudo - False
Secularism - a system of political or social philosophy that rejects all forms of religious faith and worship. This is the actual definition of the term.

In India, however, this terms is used to mean Sarva-Pantha-Samabhaav (सर्व पंथ समभाव ) which means equanimity towards all religions.

Pre-Independence factors

After unsuccessful first war of independence in 1857, India was formally inducted in to British Empire and placed directly under the rule of British throne in London. The people who were born in subsequent times were educated by British in order to assist them in running this otherwise giant territory.

Indians are very heterogeneous groups which can be broadly categorized into Indics (people following the religions of Indian origin); Abrahmics (Muslims, Jews and Christians) and others (Zoroastrians, Bahai and others). Out of these, Muslims showed very less inclination towards learning English language and assimilating into the newly changed system. Large sections of Indics however, started the adapting rather rapidly. Here lies the origin of pseudo-secularism in India.

It is a synonym for sycophancy OR appeasement of some opinion OR social group for immediate social and political gains. Be it votes OR temporary peace.

This also arises out of necessity of Indics in British times to share power with different social groups across India. M K Gandhi first used pseudo-secularism as a tool to gain political mileage in 1917 during Khilafat movement when Muslims in India were protesting against British for their war against Turkey. It was further exacerbated by Gandhi and many other leaders of Indian National Congress in subsequent years of freedom struggle.

Post Partition and Independence Scenario

India was divided to give a separate nation for Muslims of subcontinent since Hindus and Muslims, according to Jinnah and Muslim league, could not co-exist peacefully. Hence, those Muslims who chose to stay in India should not have been privy to appeasement politics in coming years. But this was not the case. Why?

It again has its roots in great game for control of Central Asia and Indian Ocean simultaneously. Partition was facilitated by British to maintain their strategic presence in NWFP region for their hold on Central Asia and Middle east.

The elite of Pakistan, which fled from UP of India, was subservient to the west (Liaqat Ali Khan's three month stay in Washington,1950), and their only job was to keep ordinary Pakistani people frightened of impending Hindu invasion from east and subsequent danger that Islam will be in. Pakistan was based on one religion and prided itself as first Islamic republic. This was further helped by technological, political and economic perks from the west and Saudi Arabia.

With cold war raging, Pakistan grew more and more important. The creation of Pakistan had created confusion in the minds of Muslims in Indian subcontinent about their allegiance. This is less true for younger generations, but not for the generation which saw partition. They had witnessed the "Islam in danger" propaganda at its zenith. In case of Hindu-Muslim alienation, it would have been impossible to throw each and every muslim out of India, as they are quite dispersed.

India was not privy to defence and economic perks that Pakistani elite received from west when India invested heavily in development of educational, industrial infrastructure and implemented land-reforms. This was one reason for INC to endorse pseudo-secularism initially. Later on, when they discovered the voting pattern of Muslims, INC grew exceedingly sycophant. Hindu - votes are divided, Muslims, being an aggressive minority, vote in one block. This was further exacerbated by establishment of Nehru-Gandhi dynasty's rule in India as it became a necessity.

The catch was that Muslims had to be appeased just enough that they would consider owing allegiance to India more profitable than owing allegiance to Pakistan. It was the political compulsion of Power-Monger INC to suck up to minorities so that the two-nation theory which they opposed throughout and accepted at the last moment, emerges irrelevant.

The Road Ahead

Indian muslims were thoroughly fooled by these pseudo-secular historians and politicians. Pseudo-secularism was propagated in pre-independence era to suck up to masters. In post independence era, it was patronized and propagated to fool Indian Muslims.

Now that Pakistan is in deep shit, the need of pseudo-secularism is decreasing. The younger generation of Hindus who learn the real history not in text-books but from their families and internet and other sources, help towards this process. Thus, anguish against pseudo-secularists is slowly on rise. Pseudo-secularists have harmed Muslims much more than anybody else. The Sachchar commission report is testimony to this fact that inspite of Muslim-appeasement, their condition, by and large, is dire in Republic of Indian subcontinent. This is true for rest of Indian subcontinent as well.

India invested first 44 years in creating a sense of national integration, discipline for democracy and reinforced the identity of India and allegiance of all Hindus (non-abrahmics) towards India. It is a very great achievement on the part of India that every Indian today identifies himself as an Indian. This is particularly true about Indic people and considerably true about younger Indian Muslims born two-three decades after partition.

Furthermore, the geostrategic constraints have changed. USSR is no more, the value of Pakistan for US and UK dropped suddenly from important non-NATO ally to that of an international migraine and pain in world's ass. Thus all perks they received were stopped. This is where it started hurting them the most. They did nothing in those 50 years to build an identity apart from an "Anti-Hindu Identity".

India, which was derided as elephant with "Hindu Growth Rate of 3%" suddenly started growing economically at very high rates after 1990. The new Hindu generations started learning about the real history and started asserting their angst. I won't comment on the morality of incident, but the destruction of Babri-structure was evidence of aggressive assertion of Hindu-culture which was not seen after demise of Sikh empire. This was not a reaction, this was something more subtle.

The latest evidence of decreasing pseudo-secularism is Muslims voting for Narendra Modi in Gujarat assembly elections. There are millions of Muslims, who now realize that they were fooled in the name of religion. In spite of the Godhra controversy, the developmental projects of Modi were undeniably true and honest. And Modi builds roads and destroys everything illegal that stands in path of good road - be it Mosque or Temple or tree.

Today, all Indian Muslims can see for themselves what deep shit Pakistan is in, thereby it should progressively make their choice easier and easier about allegiance towards India. However, it will be too early to comment on that as long as the strangle-hold of Mullah-Qazi power structure is strong on minds of poor Muslims in India. But I hope and think that relevance and need of pseudo-secularism will go on decreasing with time in India.


Chiron said...

Dear Abhijit,

I really don't think that Khilafat movement actually served any ulterior motive apart from gaining political mileage for MK Gandhi.

1. Muslims were already stake-holders in national struggle. Jinnah-Congress Lucknow pact of 1916 is evidence to this statement. Hence support to Khilafat movement had no effect whatsoever in overall picture of Islamic participation in freedom struggle.

2. On the contrary, given the stature of Gandhi which he rose to subsequently, somehow legitimized the Khilafat movement which was unnecessary.

3. This legitimization of Khilafat had deeper effects on Muslim world-view and subsequent Pakistani world-view. Why should Indian muslims protest against British for fighting Sultan of Turkey? Why do they have such allegiances when after couple of years, Khilafat was OVERTHROWN BY TURKISH PEOPLE THEMSELVES UNDER KEMAL ATATURK PASHA.

4. And why should Hindus support an idea OR forced to support an idea which has been detrimental to them and India in previous 6 centuries. The support by Gandhi gave a tacit nod to the very idea of owing an allegiance to some political entity other than India. This idea later gave birth to partition.

5. "Pseudo-Secularism" was a tactical tool. Given the emergent picture, I think that this will go on becoming progressively irrelevant. But for that to happen, the Indic elite in Gangetic plains must wake up from slumber of millennia. The cultural glue of Indic civilization is more than enough to hold this subcontinent together politically. This has happened on many occasions previously.

Ace said...

I agree the Khilafat movement did not serve any purpose for the country. But to say that Gandhiji wanted to derive political mileage by supporting it, would be wrong. The congress werent in power. Gandhi didnt have any ulterior motives, except using the muslim leadership to woo their bretheren in the national political mainstream (Note, barring a few individuals, majority of the muslims werent wholeheartedly supporting the national movement).the british too were playing a divisive card to separate the hindus and muslims. Gandhis intention was to bring together hindus and muslims. nothing wrong with that?

Chiron said...

Yes, but in spite of Khilafat, barring few individuals, most of the Muslims still remained aloof from Indian freedom struggle.

In fact, people from today's NWFP and East Bengal were more patriotic and participatory than Muslims of UP and Ganga-belt, for whom this movement was primarily addressed.

Maulana Muhammad ali and Maulana Shaukat ali were both from Rampur in UP. These were the people who actually caused Partition and for whom Khilafat movement was addressed.

M K Gandhi did not participate in this movement to accommodate those Muslims. In fact, both Hindu mahasabha and Muslim League of Jinnah opposed this movement during that time as political farce.

Gandhi eventually succeeded in bringing many Muslims under the sphere of INC and away from Muslim league, but this again proves a strictly political motive and nothing about brother-hood which you are arguing about.

I have not commented on moral aspect of whether pseudo-secularism should be practised or not. This article only deals with genesis and propagation of this tendency and its patterns. The results of this policy (both good and evil) are for everybody to see and judge for themselves.

But the facts show that Gandhi's support to Khilafat movement out of political necessity ended up propagating the trait of pseudo-secularism in space and time of India.

Ace said...

But all in all, I still liked your article. I regularly read your blog , only because it is thought provoking.
Keep it up !

Chiron said...


I guess, We agree to disagree..

I do agree that Gandhi from 1920-1940 was the best thing that happened to India since long long time...

He screwed things up before 1920 (IMHO - Khilafat)..

He Screwed things up after 1940 (quit-India and subsequent power-bartering with ML and British)

But whatever he was in the 20 years of Indian awakening was sheer genius and state of art...

Ace said...

I agree, its not so easy to comprehend an enigmatic personality like Gandhi.A genius who at times found himself so irrational and obdurate.Gandhi was a definate paradox.
I believe in the latter phase of his life he became a prisoner of his own image and persona.

Chinmay 'भारद्वाज' said...

Good article dude...