Shades of Sameness
The Right Wing discourse on the subcontinent is led entirely by persuasions of different theologies. From the Jamaat-e-Islami and its ilk in Pakistan and Bangladesh to the BJP Parivar combine in India and the Bodu Bala Sena in Sri Lanka.
Each are wed to ideas of superiority, obscurantism and revisionism. All are couched in deeply religious and spiritual terminology and each and everyone pretend to the the defenders of the ‘True’ idea of their nation.
They each deride minorities, despise the communists and are baffled by any opposition to their divinely (or at least textually driven) sanctioned wisdom.
One disastrous consequence of this has been a total lack of right wing academic thought or real politik. Right wing policies are more often than not religious bigotry couched in legalese, the Pakistani blasphemy law is the most vividly horrifying example of this.
In India, what is even wilder, is the fact that the few rational right wing academics, the same thinkers who were crucial to the rise of the BJP political fortunes are now pariahs for a newer, more muscular breed of right wing thought that doesn’t even bother with academic debate or scholarship.
Arun Shourie who was the darling of the right wing was recently abused vilely, and his differently abled son mocked, by this new horde of right wing nationalists. Sudheendra Kulkarni, once key aide to the one of the tallest political leaders independent India has produced, has been physically attacked and smeared with ink.
Even as each of these groups talk of their own exceptional-ism, to the independent observer the similarities are mind boggling. Not least in their revisionism and glorification of a past or scientific abilities with no ground in reality. And in that spirit, here are a few.
Right associated individuals and ‘think tanks’ in India have made many outlandish claims of scientific in the last 2 years from respectable platforms.
Ancient India was performing I.V.F
Inter-planetary travel was common in ancient India
Ancient India was performing reconstructive surgeries including cross species transplants
Over in Pakistan though, the Muslim nationalist Mullah brigade has these gems:
Using genies as a source of sustainable never ending energy
Water fueled cars which were foiled by evil oil companies
The Quran is the only book needed to understand Physics, Biology, Pharmacology, Chemistry, and anything other ‘science’
Let’s leave the economics alone. Economic thought at the RSS office and the Jamaat e Islami sites is so convoluted that in private they agree that is why they have aligned themselves to free market forces.
Then we think about their cultural and social mores and appropriations of individuals who in their lifetime had nothing to do with their cause or ideology. In India the list of ‘reclaimed’ Greats include:
Sardar Patel, the very man who banned them
Bhagat Singh, far left by any standards
In Pakistan the list is as baffling and includes:
Jinnah, a chain smoking, drinking, womanising Shia. ‘Nuff said
Iqbal, a poet philosopher who was a fervent supporter of secular education
On their views on women?
They are equal But different
They have certain ‘ordained’ roles
How about sexuality?
Should we bother go through the list?
In fact, recently the Indian Supreme Court decided to revisit a discussion on a law that criminalizes homosexual sex and which is used to target and persecute sexual minorities in India. Fair enough. Man kind has always had members of the LGBTQ in our midst. Kautilya (also called Chanakya) in his treatise on governance and statecraft, the Arthashastra, prescribes a punishment for homosexual encounters, offering proof that mindsets may not have changed, but humans will always seek to express their sexuality, no matter how furtively. So sexuality we can safely say is not a ‘western construct’ or ‘import of filth’.
The interesting bit? The coalition of litigants who composed opposition to the trashing of Section 377 of the Indian Penal Code. The Christian, Muslim, Hindu and other religious groups who are normally at each other’s throats. If that doesn’t talk about how its just different shades of religious protectionism, from green to saffron, that have taken over the right discourse then nothing else will.
Just shades of sameness.