Prime Minister Narendra Modi had claimed that for 75 years since independence, talking about and fighting for people’s rights have weakened India. Modi stressed that for the next 25 years, Indians must forget their rights and pursue the path of sacrifices, hard work and penance to build a strong nation by the time the country celebrates 100 years of independence. Modi’s claim that the focus on rights made India weak stirred a controversy.
Modi said: “In the last 75 years, we only kept talking about rights, fighting for rights and wasting our time. The issue of rights may be right to some extent in certain circumstances, but neglecting one’s duties completely has played a huge role in keeping India vulnerable.”
“India lost considerable time because duties were not accorded priority. We can make up for the gap which has been created due to primacy about rights while keeping duties at bay in these 75 years by discharging duties in the next 25 years”, he added.
The prime minister was addressing the launch of ‘Azadi Ke Amrit Mahotsav Se Swarnim Bharat Ke Ore’ (Towards a golden India through the immortal festival of independence) programme organised by the Brahma Kumaris, a Brahminical evangelist organisation that works as one of the outreach mediums of the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS), the nucleus of the Hindutva fascist universe. The festival is linked with the government’s initiative to celebrate the 75th anniversary of India’s independence from British colonial rule.
Ironically, Modi, whose dispensation is allergic to the term “Azadi” (freedom) and considers it seditious, has been celebrating this “Azadi Ke Amrit Mahotsav Se Swarnim Bharat Ke Ore” with a hype. The reason behind the celebration is to divert the common people’s attention from the crisis-ridden economy and to bedazzle them with a revisionist history of India, which will glorify the RSS’s role by concealing the fact that the organisation had vehemently opposed India’s anti-colonial struggle and national aspiration for freedom.
The Brahma Kumaris has been carrying out guerrilla marketing for the RSS, with which it has very cordial ties. As the evangelist organisation has a good rapport in the corporate world, ruled by upper-caste Hindus, it ensures that the Hindutva ideology permeates through these organisations and thereby inspire their people to validate a caste-based orthodox religious order.
Since his tenure as the chief minister of Gujarat—when he was banished from most public platforms due to his notorious role in the 2002 anti-Muslim pogrom—Modi has been hobnobbing with the Brahma Kumaris. He inaugurated one of their pilgrimage centres in 2013 and delivered a communally-incensed speech there. The Brahma Kumaris had earlier also invited veteran communal hatemonger and BJP leader LK Advani to its programme.
Modi’s ruling Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) is the parliamentary outfit of the RSS, and it uses its legislative powers to turn India into an official “Hindu Rashtra”—a theocratic dictatorship of upper-caste Hindu elites—to realise its parent body’s agenda. According to this “Hindu Rashtra” agenda, the constitutional rights won by the people, especially the Dalits, who are ostracised by the Brahminical caste hierarchy, the tribal people and other marginalised castes and communities, through incessant struggles and bloodsheds, shall be replaced by the caste-based privileges and social hierarchy shall be officially organised according to castes.
This “Hindu Rashtra” agenda excludes the Dalits, the tribal people, the minorities and other marginalised people from the ambit of rights and only leaves them with the task of fulfilling “duties” with penance for the “nation”, which is the Brahminical fascist state under the command of big capitalists and feudal landlords who buttress western semi-colonial rule on India.
Since coming to power in 2014, the Modi regime has been attacking the people’s hard-won rights. Moreover, through reductions in social spending, by unleashing pro-corporate reforms in agriculture, through draconian pro-capitalist labour reforms, and a nefarious citizenship matrix, the BJP government is trying to turn the working masses into cheap slave-labour of the big corporate houses and their feudal allies.
It’s to ensure that the government’s neoliberal “reforms” don’t suffer setbacks due to popular movements like the farmers’ movement that forced the BJP government to retreat, that now Modi is saying that the focus on rights made India weak. As his government wants unconditional subservience from the common people, it wants to desist them from exercising their democratic rights and exist as docile beings in the “Hindu Rashtra”.
No wonder, Modi’s emphasis on duties, after claiming that the focus on rights made India weak since 1947, came soon after Oxfam’s recent inequality report exposed how the wealth gap has widened in India due to the unbridled corporate appeasement policies of his regime. Also, this new revelation came soon after his speech at the World Economic Forum in Davos, where he welcomed big foreign capital to India.
As the RSS—which was founded by the agents of Benito Mussolini and the British Secret Intelligence Service to sabotage the anti-colonial movement in British India and prevent its Bolshevisation—has no penchant for democracy, rights of the people and the concept of equality, which are alien to the Brahminical caste hierarchy-based ruling system, therefore, it’s quite normal for someone like Modi, who had been raised in the citadel of the Hindutva fascist camp, to denounce the people’s, especially the working class’s struggle for rights, democracy and equality. The fascist ideology that Modi follows demands the complete submission of the individual to the state and non-stop discharge of their “duties”.
In his “Bunch of Thoughts”, the RSS’s longest-serving former head MS Golwalkar, revered by the Hindutva fascist camp as “Guruji”, had undermined the concept of “rights” for which the workers and peasants struggle in a “nation” that’s ruled by a handful of the rich. He emphasised on “duties” of the citizens towards the supreme “nation”—indistinguishable from the state—and subjugate the “rights” to such “duties”.
Golwalkar wrote: “Today we hear everywhere the clamour for ‘rights’. All our political parties too are rousing the ego in our people by constantly speaking of their ‘rights’. Nowhere is there any stress on ‘duties’ and the spirit of selfless service. The spirit of co-operation which is the soul of society can hardly survive in a climate of assertion of egocentric rights. That is why we are finding conflicts among the various component parts in our national life today, between the teacher and the taught, the labourer and the industrialist, and so on. It is only by an assimilation of our cultural vision that the true spirit of co-operation and consciousness of duty can be revived in our national life.”
The views of Golwalkar’s are embedded in Modi’s mind as well as in the minds of all his RSS comrades. Though the RSS had openly invalidated parts of Golwalkar’s “Bunch of Thoughts”, in their regular functioning, both the RSS and the Modi regime continue to practice what was preached by the “Guruji” without any modification. Modi’s statement at the Brahma Kumaris’ event stating that focus on rights made India weak, exhibited that undaunted faith he and his coterie has in Golwalkar’s teachings.
This super-glorification of duties of the citizens, motivating them to sacrifice their “self” and to adopt a path of “hardwork” and “penance” to build a “stronger nation”—the term “nation” used interchangeably with the “state”—wasn’t any discovery by Golwalkar or his contemporary Hindutva fascists like Vinayak Savarkar, rather, the roots of this doctrine can be found in Mussolini’s “Doctrine of Fascism” (1932). In this infamous work, the Italian fascist dictator and the founder of the obnoxious and toxic ideology, glorified the duties of the citizens and criticised the idea of fighting for rights.
Mussolini wrote in 1932: “Fascism sees in the world not only those superficial, material aspects in which man appears as an individual, standing by himself, self-centered, subject to natural law, which instinctively urges him toward a life of selfish momentary pleasure; it sees not only the individual but the nation and the country; individuals and generations bound together by a moral law, with common traditions and a mission which suppressing the instinct for life closed in a brief circle of pleasure, builds up a higher life, founded on duty, a life free from the limitations of time and space, in which the individual, by self-sacrifice, the renunciation of self-interest, by death itself, can achieve that purely spiritual existence in which his value as a man consists.”
The passage quoted above shows how Modi’s assertion that for 75 years the people’s focus on rights made India weak can be traced back to Mussolini’s idea of life, “founded on duty”, “…in which the individual, by self-sacrifice, the renunciation of self-interest, by death itself, can achieve that purely spiritual existence”. The RSS, which was founded on the basis of Mussolini’s propounded theory of fascism, has been negating the importance of the popular struggles for rights and freedom since its foundation.
The Hindutva fascist camp vehemently opposes human rights, civil rights, minority rights and gender rights. Like any sternly fascist camp, it also advocates unconditional subjugation to the Brahminical state and the caste hierarchy, while opposing any popular dissent against power. Thus, the Hindutva fascist camp can be found openly hobnobbing with the Zionist terrorists while advocating genocide of India’s minority Muslims or calling for the violent subjugation of the Kashmiri, Manipuri, Naga and other people. No wonder, Modi is simply carrying forward the banner of Mussolini in the 21st century, better than his Italian counterparts.
From calling those fighting for the people’s rights “Andolanjivis” to imprisoning activists, intellectuals and journalists under draconian anti-terror law Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act (UAPA) and censoring critical voices, taming the media, etc, Modi has been exhibiting his allergy to democratic rights and social justice. On the one hand, by unleashing the neoliberal economic reforms, the BJP under Modi has been trying to ruin people’s lives, while on the other, it’s snatching away their rights, and even disenfranchising them, to ensure that these people can’t resist the Hindutva fascist onslaught on their lives and livelihoods.
For Modi, who subscribes to the RSS’s toxic ideology, maybe the focus on rights made India weak since 1947, however, when his BJP-led Union government is celebrating India’s 75th year of independence with much fanfare by spending money from the public exchequer, then he must remember that it was the realisation that rights are paramount vis-à-vis the duties that made the people of the Indian subcontinent burst out in several rebellions. When combined, these rebellions and resistance struggle formed a chain of anti-colonial struggles that had frightened British imperialism.
It’s only because of the people’s realisation of their rights that they fought against the tyranny of Indira Gandhi during the national emergency from 1975 to 1977. The RSS could become mainstream from a fringe organisation by exploiting the public outburst against Mrs Gandhi’s attempt to rob them of their rights. The numerous struggles waged by the workers and the peasants for rights, socio-economic and political, helped the toiled people to win a few rights for themselves.
Even the equality guaranteed to Indian citizens by the constitution is a result of the people’s democratic struggles to realise their rights. The votes that empowered the BJP to form a government with Modi as the prime minister, were also cast because it’s a right won by the people.
Modi may not have a penchant for people’s rights and may continue to assert that the focus on rights made India weak, but every time he makes such a claim, he reveals the thread that connects his fascistic regime with the ideals propounded by Golwalkar and Mussolini. It’s imperative for India’s future that such toxic ideology is vanquished while such a fascist government is defeated through the people’s democratic struggle for a better socio-economic order.
An avid reader and a merciless political analyst. When not writing then either reading something, debating something or sipping espresso with a dash of cream. Street photographer. Tweets as @la_muckraker