Professor Satya Narayan Misra in Bhubaneswar, May 21, 2024: Rahul Gandhi, flaunting a copy of the Indian Constitution and, assuring the minorities and backward ward sections of the society that their rights would be protected, and Mr. Modi riding a wave of Hindu nationalism brings to memory the contrasting perspective of Dr. Ambedkar and MS Golwalkar.

BR Ambedkar piloted a Constitution, based on equality and brotherhood while Golwalkar, the RSS ideologue wanted the Indian Constitution to be based on the ancient Indian scripture Manusmriti. Since Mr. Modi is an unabashed admirer of Golwalkar, it is ironic how he makes Mr Ambedkar a centerpiece of his political campaign. Politics, as they say, is the art of the possible, where both Modi and Rahul swear by Ambedkar.

India’s ongoing general election has become the proscenium where the theatre of the absurd is played out by its principal actors. Golwalkar was an ardent admirer of both Hitler and Mussolini and was particularly moved by the ideological link between the Manusmriti and the philosophy of Nietzsche who, in turn, had inspired Hiler. To keep up the purity of the race and its culture, Germans purged the country of the Semitic races, the Jews. The worst about the new Constitution, Golwalkar wrote, is that there is no Bharatiyata about it.

Manusmriti is the scripture that is most worshipable after Vedas for our Hindu nation, based on our ancient culture, customs, thoughts, and practice’. Some of the tenets of Manusmriti are: women are an embodiment of the worst desires and deceit and should never be given freedom, and the Sudras have been prescribed only one occupation, to serve meekly the other three castes. Killing a woman, a Shudra, or an atheist is no sin. No wonder Dr Ambedkar burnt the Manusmriti and called it a ‘fountainhead of obscurantism, anti-Dalit and anti-women.’ He ensured equal rights for all Indian citizens, irrespective of caste, sex, religion, or place of birth’ and protection of those citizens who were oppressed section and minorities in an unequal society.

On 12th December 1949, as Ram Chandra Guha notes, a group of RSS protesters burnt the effigy of Ambedkar. Golwalkar argues in his book Bunch of Thoughts that territorial nationalism is barbarism. A nation is not a bundle of political and economic rights, but an embodiment of national culture, ancient and sublime Hinduism. He sneered at democracy which is alien to Hindu culture and lavished praise on the code of Manu, as the greatest and wisest lawgiver of mankind. Deendayal Upadhaya wanted that the Constitution should embody a Hindu political philosophy, befitting an ancient nation like Bharat. He wrote “We aped the foreigners to such an extent that we failed to see our national ideals and traditions. Hinduism has been enslaved by inappropriate Westernization”.

‘Our Constitution, like an English child born in India, has become, Anglo-Indian in character, instead of being purely Indian.’ The absence of the Hindu Rashtra idea in the Constitution was unacceptable for these RSS ideologues. Ambedkar responding to these vicious tirades against the Constitution wrote: If we wish to preserve the Constitution in which we have sought to enshrine the principles of government of the people, by the people and for the people, let’s resolve not to be tardy in the recognition of the evil that lies across our path, nor to be weak in our initiative to remove them’. Savarkar rejecting the national flag had said: It can be no other than the Bhargava (saffron flag). Pate was repulsed by RSS indulging in subversive activities.

Though Ambedkar said ‘that democracy in India is only a top-dressing which is essentially undemocratic ‘he never lost faith in Parliamentary democracy, rule of law, universal suffrage, and equality of all citizens in free India and firmly scripted them in the Indian Constitution, unlike Gollwalkar & Deendayal who wanted an unequal India based on ancient scriptures, languages like Sanskrit, Hindu supremacy and second class status to minorities like the Muslims. It is indeed most disquieting that echoes of Deendayal and Golwalwalkar are heard when the nation celebrates Constitution Day on 26th November. In a concept note in 2022 by the ICHR, it equates India with Hindu Rashtra.

Bibek Debroy, PM’s Chairman of the Economic Advisory Council calls the Constitution a colonial legacy and questions provisions like secularism, justice, equality, and liberty. K Santhanam, a prominent member of the Constituent Assembly had observed “The constitution must usher in a social revolution which will take India out of medievalism based on birth, religion, and community and reconstruct a modern foundation based on rule of law, merit and secular ideas. The resurrection of ideas of Golwalkar goes back to the medieval obscurantism of a society based on deep prejudices against women and minorities, which is the bedrock of Manusmriti.

Granville Austin in his epic commentary on the Indian Constitution ‘Working a Democratic Constitution’ (1999) observes that ‘democracy, social revolution, and national unity are three strands that form a seamless web. ‘The nation has to realize its goals in the Preamble which puts primacy on liberty, equality, socio socio-economic justice for all its citizens where a secular spirit should permeate and fraternity and brotherhood bind all its citizens. Despite the economic prosperity that we have achieved, rising inequality, lack of employment opportunities on a large scale, and most importantly denial of equal opportunity to avail of quality education, health care, skill, and vocational training bedevil makes discourses like Hindu Rashtra extremely toxic.

The famous sociologist Andre Beteille wrote: A constitution may indicate the direction in which we are to move, but the social structure will decide how far we move and at what pace. Quite clearly a social structure based on religious divide will only drive us in a path of disaster. Instead of one nation, one religion, and foisting cultural homogenization, the time for fostering brotherhood was never so keenly called for.

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