12. Vulgar nationalism
A consequence of this lack of self-developed understanding of the forces in
the field is that the Sangh is not able to discern objective allies and
enemies on the world stage, so that it is unable to make friends.
E.g., after liberalization and globalization became hot items, the Sangh
Parivar including the BJP has been multiplying and intensifying its attacks
on the USA. Time and again, Hindutva spokesmen have been presenting
the impersonal process of globalization as an American ploy to take over the
world (just as Westerners once depicted earlier developments in capitalism
as Jewish conspiracies to dispossess the workers and smallholders).
Much of their anti-Americanism could have been borrowed quite literally from
Leftist pamphlets of yesteryear, some of it also from Ayatollah Khomeini's
speeches; the only thing missing is the "Great Satan" label.
Meanwhile, these Hindutva exegetes of the globalization conspiracy have not
even bothered to notice that in the USA itself, globalization is being
criticized both from the Left and the Right. This movement spurns its
A similarly misguided exercise consists in blaming first the British and now
the Americans for Hindu society's problems with Islam. Like the
secularists, Hindutva authors systematically exaggerate the British role in
the Partition of India. The simple truth is that the British merely
made deals with an Islamic separatism which was very much there before their
arrival, and which is intrinsic to Islam. We can understand that the
secularists refuse to face this fact, but in the case of Hindutva spokesmen,
this refusal smacks of cowardice.
Instead of blaming Islam for Pakistani aggression, a whole lot is made of
the American arms which Pakistan is using during this aggression; as if it
is not the Pakistanis themselves who have chosen to buy and use these
weapons. Instead of focusing on ideological forces, the blame is put
on a country; in this respect, the creation of Pakistan comes in handy,
because instead of blaming Muslim fellow-countrymen for riots and bomb
attacks and Kashmiri separatism, one can now blame "foreign agents".
And when Pakistan feels too close for comfort, the blame can be shifted to a
more distant country, like Britain or the USA. This demonization of a
nation may be excusable in wartime fever (though it is itself a major cause
of wars), but it is definitely below the dignity of a columnist commenting
on world events from his armchair. Wherever we look in Sangh thinking,
we constantly run into this reduction of ideological problems to tribal
conflicts between "national" and "foreign" or "anti-national" forces.
What is painfully missing is a keen eye for potentially friendly trends
across the borders, such as the increasing awareness in US foreign policy
circles that India is the West's natural ally against the anti-democratic
regimes in Asia.
Equally painful is the absence of any serious understanding about Communism,
a key player on the Indian and world stages during most of the Sangh's
history. Communist critics of Hindutva take it for granted that the
Sangh is anti-Communist, but a perusal of Sangh publications does not
support this common belief. Thus, BJP economist Jay Dubashi, though
formerly a staunch critic of Soviet and Indian Communism, has actually
blamed the CIA for the break-up of the Soviet Union, a conspiracy theory
which is highly unjust to the freedom-loving sections of the former Soviet
empire's population and incredibly unmindful of the self-inflicted economic
breakdown which forced the Soviet leaders into
Any retrospective references to the Korea war, a UNO mission to save South
Korea from Communist aggression, routinely describe it as a case of American
aggression. Likewise, references to the Vietnam war ignore the fact
that the Americans merely intervened in an ongoing intra-Vietnamese war
triggered by Communist aggression; it may be true that the Americans
misunderstood Vietnamese nationalism (a non-Communist factor of opposition
to the American intervention), but the fact that their motive was the
containment of Communism should not be overlooked.
All through the Cold War, the BJS/BJP never once developed a global vision
of the Communist problem. The only BJP publication on Communism, the
24-page pamphlet The Great Betrayers by Krishna Lal Sharma (ca.1988),
devoted to a critique of the Indian Communist Parties, merely points out the
Communists' extra-territorial loyalties and their "misunderstanding" of
nationalism. Sharma argues convincingly that the Communists do not
accept Indian nationhood, and that whenever it suits their purposes, they
will twist nationalist discourse to promote "Bengali nationhood" or "Keralite
nationhood". Indian Communists are attacked for being
"anti-national", which is a correct allegation but hardly the whole story of
what is wrong with Communism.
For anyone who has met victims of Communism, it is simply shocking to read
what some spokesmen of the (allegedly anti-Communist) Hindutva movement have
to say about it. In the spring of 1996, after the Cuban Army shot down
two airplanes of Miami-based Cubans trying to help Cuban boat refugees, and
after China fired some shots in the direction of Taiwan in order to
intimidate the Taiwanese voters,
Organiser columnist and former Illustrated Weekly of India editor
M.V. Kamath wrote the following: "The United States has a unique record of
grave errors in the last fifty years (...) It tried to prop up Chiang
Kai-shek in Formosa and allotted the Chinese Permanent Membership in the
Security Council to his government.(...) It got into the Korean War and
sacrificed the lives of thousands of its young men in pursuit of a futile
mission to contain Communism.(...) The latest example is its support to
Cuban terrorists making illegal flights over Cuban air space, a brazen
example of international lawlessness (...) But nothing fazes the United
States which seems determined to break any law, commit any crime for
its own selfish ends."
This outburst of crude and obnoxious anti-Americanism calls for some
The American (in fact UNO) intervention in Korea was not a "futile attempt
to contain Communism". It was a rescue mission rendered necessary by
Stalin's unilateral aggression against South Korea, not by any
interventionist whim of the USA; and it was relatively successful, in that
it achieved its stated goal of freeing South Korea and called a temporary
halt to Communist expansionism.
The alternative to saving South Korea would have been what India did to
Tibet at the very same time: when Mao's troops invaded, India treacherously
refused help. Kamath, who is hailed as a “veteran journalist” in the
Sangh Parivar did not know or ignored the fact that in 1950 India had voted
for the UN resolution for resisting Communist aggression in Korea and sent a
medical mission as India’s contribution to the Allied effort. The
alternative to saving South Korea would have been what India did to Tibet at
the very same time: When Mao’s troops invaded, India treacherously refused
to help. Kamath calls American policy "selfish" (ignoring that in the US,
interventionism has always been criticized by isolationists who argue that
their country should be more selfish rather than help other countries out of
trouble), but India's policy vis-à-vis Communist aggression in Tibet was
worse than selfish: rather than helping a friend and buffer state, it
preferred to damage its own interests by exposing its own borders to Mao's
armies. At the time, Nehru's despicable China policy was criticized by
the Hindutva circles, but it seems they have changed their minds.
Communist expansionism was at its peak, and if the American-led defence of
South Korea had not cooled Communist cockiness a bit, India would have been
the next target (an armed Communist uprising had already started in India in
1949). Without the rescue mission to Korea, and more generally without
the limitations clamped on the Communist powers by NATO vigilance, China
would not have retreated after its successful invasion of India in 1962, and
most RSS men would have breathed their last in Mao-cum-Namboodiripad's
concentration camps. When China invaded India in 1962, Communist
expansionism was already hampered by Soviet-Chinese hostility; even then,
India had to turn to the USA for help.
The Chinese membership of the Security Council was not "allotted" to Chiang
Kai-shek's Republic of China (RoC) by whimsical Americans, as Kamath claims;
the RoC held that seat by virtue of being one of the victorious powers of
World War 2 and a founding member of the UNO. As for the free Cubans
whose unarmed planes were shot down by Cuban Communists in international air
space when they were searching for boat refugees to help, it is simply
disgusting that Kamath calls them "terrorists". When RSS spokesmen
themselves dole out this label so carelessly, why do they complain when the
RSS is blacklisted by the ill-informed security forces of some Western
countries as a "terrorist organization"?
Kamath ascribes American policies to the "white racist supremacists who
make policy in Washington".
He does not make clear how this profoundly sinister motive explains the
preference of American officials (some of whom are black) for brown
Pakistanis over brown Indians. Mr. Kamath's allegations are in no way
different from those uttered in petty Leftist pamphlets. Those who
were under the impression that the RSS counted itself among the
anti-Communist forces, should realize that without too much exaggeration,
RSS anti-Communism can fairly be described as a notion invented by the
How can an otherwise capable intellectual like Mr. Kamath stoop to this
vulgar demonization of a foreign country? Mindless "patriotism",
known to be the refuge of scoundrels, reduces complex issues to a question
of "national" versus "foreign", rather than analyzing the ideological
forces in the field. Pretending that problems are essentially
non-existent (e.g. Hindu-Muslim hostility), or otherwise at least very
simple (viz. due to the evil foreign hand): that has become the focus of
Though the BJS used to support the RoC on Taiwan against Communist China,
the state with the Laogai slave labour camps, now M.V. Kamath in
Organiser supports China's right to take Taiwan by force. To him,
this is merely a matter of "national unity" and thwarting "American designs"
to keep China divided, as if he had never heard of the intra-Chinese civil
war between opposing ideologies which has created the present division of
China (the only American crime in this intra-Chinese conflict was that at
the critical moment, military aid to Chiang Kai-shek's legimitate Government
was cut off).
Kamath's hateful jibes against the RoC are representative of a tendency
within the BJP which concedes Beijing's right to annex Taiwan, the last
toehold of the legitimate RoC, by force.
Here, the BJP has thrown all considerations of principle overboard, and
settled for Realpolitik vis-à-vis big China and little Taiwan.
Or rather, it is worse than
Realpolitik, it is the product of a grave political aberration.
Any ideological consideration seems to have been discarded in favour of a
monomaniacal concern for "national unity": better the whole of China under
Communist rule than to allow a foothold to the freedom-loving Chinese at the
price of a temporary division. The Sangh simply refuses to study the
problem of Communism except in terms of the Indian Communists'
extraterritorial loyalties. This is a very crude and narrow-minded
type of nationalism. One wonders why the Sangh rejects the
Jamaat-I-Islami’s offer of a United India under Islam.
It is a different matter that many Hindutva spokesmen fantasize aloud
about a clash of civilizations between Islam and the West, in which they
expect the West will take care of Islam and relieve the Hindus from the
burden of facing Islam themselves.
Jay Dubashi: "We don't need foreigners to destroy us", Organiser,
M.V. Kamath: "A Myopic Policy", Organiser, 14 April 1996;
emphasis added. Remark that while the US never committed any
massacre of Hindus, and while Islam has killed millions of Hindus,
Kamath nor the
Organiser have ever used such strong language about Islam.
As any student of history could tell the BJP "anti-Communists", the
only mistake which President Truman made, was that he did not allow
General Douglas Mc Arthur to bomb the bases and supply lines of the
Chinese "volunteers", in which case the UNO forces might have completed
their success by securing the liberation of Communist-occupied North
M.V. Kamath: "The US threat to India", Organiser, 19 May 1996.
One wonders how the so-called "angry white males" would feel about this,
the people in the US who feel that their federal government is, on the
contrary, biased against whites.
M.V. Kamath: "The Question of Taiwan", Organiser, 7 April 1996.
Though I have not found this confirmed in an official BJP document, this
acceptance of Communist China's right to annex the Republic of China is
also the BJP's position, according to two members of the BJP's Foreign