‘Global Warming meets ‘Gobar Rashtra’

Gorakhpur Child Treatment encephalitis

As I glanced through the doom and gloom of the daily news one morning I came upon a dire new report on climate change, which predicts the human species may disappear by the year 2050, as the planet becomes much hotter and unlivable. Very bad news indeed, but something about that year ‘2050’ rang a bell in my head – what else is supposed to happen around that time?

I soon realized 2050 is also when the ‘Hindu Rashtra’ –the mythical land of Hindu supremacy – which I prefer to call ‘Gobar Rashtra’ -or ‘Bullshit Nation’ –  will be fully established, as per my neighbor Mishraji’s claim. He should know, as it is his Rashtra after all – shared with a few Singhs and Agarwals – the rest of the nation comprised of second class citizens.

So, in 2050 when the Gobar Rashtra is finally and formally announced, in other words Amit Shah is crowned Emperor of Hindustan forever, – bingo! – global warming will incinerate him and all his followers to ashes, like dried cow fertilizer in fire! And that will leave the rest of us at peace to chase the latest Apple gizmos with our meagre savings.

Ok … I agree the rising temperature in New Delhi – both literally and politically- has started affecting my brain badly. But the point of recounting this loony idea of global warming zapping the Gobar Rashtra is simply that:

a) There are hell of a lot of other things happening in India and globally that are worse than a bunch of right-wing thugs winning (or stealing) elections. I mean it is not the end of the world like climate change threatens to be. So, let us put the 2019 Indian election results in some perspective.

b) To think of events and trends we don’t like as doomsday scenarios is invitation for personal paralysis. There is no point in giving up well before the enemy has stabbed you in the heart, shot you in the brain and poisoned your digestive system for good measure. We will fight these blokes and ‘blokinis’ (the ugly Sadhvis I mean) till the very end.

c) The real challenge we face is what are we supposed to do between now and 2050, when all life ends – it promises to be the longest 30 years ever in human history. It is a good idea to start working immediately.

One reason I am compelled to dwell on this theme of global warming and Gobar Rashtra is really because of a conversation I had a few days ago with a journalist in New Delhi. It went something like this:

“How are you?”, she said. An innocuous enough question.

Despite the terrible heat that afternoon, my polite response was, ‘I am quite well, thank you’.

“Oh! You are fine despite the election results?” she retorted, with an accusatory look, reserved for traitors who survive in the midst of a massacre.

Taken aback, all I could mutter was ‘Well, I am sorry I am not yet dead”, before moving on.

I understood she was deeply upset, but the assumption behind her question was also disturbingly strange – the sweeping victory of Narendra Modi in the 2019 elections meant everything was lost in the battle against Saffron Fascism now. And the way to deal with the situation was to roll in dust and writhe with visible pain. I suppose the logic was, such public display of suffering would magically convert into a national and even global moral force, that would oust Modi and Co.  from power.

I quite strongly beg to differ. The way to beat Saffron Fascism does not lie in self-flagellation, lamentation and going around looking like a martyr well before someone has actually killed you.  A better response may be to do something about it through brutally honest, self-critical analysis; good quality research; building organization; and relentless engagement with social issues.

I mean is there any shortage of battles to be fought in this dump of a nation that India has been for so long? Even as I write this, the headline news on my TV screen is of over 100 children in Bihar’s Muzaffarpur who have allegedly died of encephalitis – I say allegedly because no one still has a clue what’s really happening. On the other hand, in Bengal doctors are striking because – forgive the pun – patients have been striking them too often. The truth being that both doctors and patients struggle routinely with overcrowded hospitals, abysmal infrastructure, shortage of health personnel – apart from lack of trust between all involved.

In other news, there are people getting stabbed in a metro like Chennai, fighting over meagre supplies of water as industries and hotels shut down due to the crisis. In Bundelkhand the drought situation is far worse, but they have no software firms to close down, so the media ignores them completely.

While epidemics and droughts happen once in a while, on a more routine basis a huge number of problems plague Indian citizens – stark poverty, malnutrition, air pollution, road accidents, occupational health hazards, ecological degradation, violence against women, exploitation of children, caste discrimination – the list is truly endless.

Not one of these issues is going to figure on the agenda of the Gobar Rashtra types – in fact their aim is to obfuscate and hide the real causes of many of these problems – from wealth inequality, the racism of Hindu upper castes, corporate manipulation of policy making and in the more global context – India’s growing role as the ‘coolie’ of US and Western imperialism.

If all these burning issues are going to go completely unaddressed by the incumbent government or politicians- who exactly is supposed to douse them? Can this be an opportunity for those opposed to the Gobar Rashtra to do something about it? I know you and I are not in power and we have very few resources on hand – but how the hell do you expect to change political realities or come to power any day, if not by tackling these problems now?

While many of the issues mentioned above are typically linked to ensuring efficient governance or allocation of resources – there are larger conceptual issues also that need to be taken up by those, who may not be able to put boots on the ground but can apply mind to complex questions.  These are the so-called ‘narrative’ – the big and long picture –  that motivates and guides people to work, converting them into unpaid rebels for a cause – whatever that cause may be.

Do we have a clear conception of what is India, where it is coming from and where do we want it to go? What exactly is our story of India – beyond the tired rhetoric of ‘unity in diversity’, the pretense that ‘all Indians are born equal’ or the fantasy that all will be well ‘if only the Constitution were properly implemented’? Does India need to remain one country or a loose federation of many nations? How about declaring Adivasis as the original people of India and registering everyone else as foreign citizens? What about forging a political union with the rest of South Asia? How is the surge of right-wing fascism in India linked to similar trends around the world?  Can we shut down Facebook and Twitter completely to recover our peace of mind while denying the enemy their favorite weapons of mass distraction?

How do we beat the ‘stickiness’ of the caste system, especially in its graded inequality avatar – in which the oppressed constantly turn against each other?Can we pass a law to confiscate all savarna property – since they claim to be born ‘superior’, why do they need any additional form of wealth?  What are those ‘bunch of thoughts’ and set of actions we need to flush Saffron Fascism down the toilet sink? Do we know enough about our opponents and how they operate for us to be able to strategize their defeat?

Some things we do know, among them being what drives the hardcore Hindutva activist –  primarily a quest for savarna or upper-caste Hindu supremacy. This is sought to be achieved by whipping up nostalgia for ancient ‘Vedic’ glory, high-decibel claims of making India a global power and a pseudo-nationalism, which aims to pulverize Pakistan and all other ‘foes of the nation’ – with sheer sound energy.

That these characters are essentially cowards and bullies is evident from their using Indian Muslims and other religious minorities as scapegoats to cover up their own lack of talent in anything except telling cock and bull stories or doing hit-and-run attacks on unarmed targets.  In fact, it is precisely their deep sense of inferiority and weakness,that provokes them into exaggerated displays of patriotic frenzy and tall claims about their own size, strength or influence. ‘Where was your holy Vishnu chakra when Mahmud Ghazni came raiding Gujarat? No, the Congress was not in power then, but Amit Shah and Modi’s ancestors must have surely been in hiding!’

And while on the subject, let me say what I really think about the very idea of the ‘Hindu’a.k.a ‘Gobar Rashtra’. It is nothing but a cunning myth, that has been created by savarna ideologues to rally supporters and scare opponents. “Ooh! The Hindu Rashtra cometh – lefties, Muslims, Christians, Adivasis, Dalits – go hide!”

No, I am not at all  denying the growing assertion of Saffron Fascist groups all around or the dangers they pose – particularly to minority populations- but only pointing  to the psychological warfare dimension  behind the term ‘Hindu Rashtra’. The more you use the term as if it were a reality, the faster it becomes a reality – like an ancient Hindu demon that springs to life with every drop of blood you spill from it. The very first step in resisting the ‘Hindu Rashtra’ is to just ignore it – stop giving it any recognition or currency – cut off its supply of oxygen in the form of free publicity. If you want, call it the ‘Gobar Rashtra’ like I do.

And instead of getting mesmerized like frogs before a snake – do realize if you can stay calm and coolly deconstruct these Knickers from Nagpur, who want to reestablish Peshwa rule in India – they are an eminently beatable lot. The British whipped the Peshwas so badly two centuries ago that they remain the best of friends till today – there is nary a whimper against our most recent colonial masters from these ‘warrior Brahmins’.

And while I don’t have much hope from the Gobar Rashtra’s leftist or centrist opponents, who are too confused or compromised today, I do think it is only a matter of time before their bluff will be called by new political forces rising from Indian soil – aided by all of us taking up as big a part of the puzzle as we can handle in one go.

And I think we can easily do all this well in time before 2050. We just can’t allow the Amit Shahs of the world to have their gobar cake and heat it too!

Satya Sagar is a public health worker and journalist who can be reached at [email protected]


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