Prof. Rasal Singh

Prof. Apoorvanand, a left-leaning academician from Delhi University has recently written an article (September 23, 2021), in Indian Express titled “Reading Golwalkar and Savarkar” wherein he expressed his views on the recent Kannaur University controversy. In his article, while advocating for teaching Savarkar and Golwalkar he has smartly equated them with Hitler and Mussolini. He has also talked about teaching the idea of Hindutva while comparing it with anti-human and monstrous ideologies: Nazism and Fascism. He further justified his stand by giving an argument that the historical circumstances, causes of origin, acceptance and dominance of such ideologies should be understood so that humanity can be saved from their re-occurrence. This comparative argument of his is highly objectionable and is a result of the ideological domination and superiority complex of leftist academics. It reflects their disconnection from the people and the ground reality whereby they audaciously reject the nationalist ideology on the basis of false and fictitious arguments and facts. In this background it is quite natural to suggest reading of two volume masterpiece research work ‘Savarkar : A Contested Legacy’ by historian Vikram Sampath (Penguin Publication) to such anti-Hindutva and anti-India intellectuals.
The issue in the debate resonates with the formation of a two-member committee formed by Kannur University that has recommended omitting some texts in response to protests staged by congress, left and IUML backed student organizations upon the inclusion of Savarkar and Golwalkar in the academic syllabus citing saffronisation of the academia.

Initially, the vice-chancellor had denied allegations of Saffronisation and very rightly said that the syllabus should have representation from all ideologies to allow students to critically analyze them with a comparative inquiry. He also said that the syllabus is meant for post-graduate students and not for school children, and that India’s best varsity’s Jawaharlal Nehru University and Delhi University too had included these texts in their syllabus. However, Prof. Apoorvanand doesn’t find any/much merit in his arguments. The VC later succumbed to political pressures. This is again a reminder of how political forces are responsible for creating and fostering a tradition of intolerance within the nation.

Just as including ‘Das Kapital’ in a course syllabus does not turn a university or its faculty and students into Marxists, it is absurd to equate the reading of Savarkar or Golwalkar with “Saffronisation”. Actually, Indianisation is synonym of saffronisation for the leftists intellectuals. It is quite fashionable among them to oppose this idea. Victor Hugo rightly observed that ‘No power on earth can stop the idea whose time has come’. Same way, none in the world can erase great historical figures like Veer Savarkar, Pt. Deen Dayal Upadhyay, Dr. Hedgewar, Guru Golwalkar, from mankind’s memory.

Unspeakable cruelties became state policy under rulers like Adolf Hitler, Mussolini, Joseph Stalin and Mao. Hitler, Mussolini, Stalin and Mao were all tyrants and mass murders. These dictators suppressed opposition with brute force, controlling the media, the police and government machinery to become absolute rulers with total power in their hands. How bankrupt is the idea to compare Savarkar and Golwalkar with Hitler, Mussolini, Stalin or Mao? Drawing comparison of Savarkar or Golwalkar to these mass murders is totally bizarre and an attempt to deny their role and contribution to the Idea of India.

Those who advocate removal of texts or excerpts on Savarkar or Golwalkar from Indian books on the pretext of glorification of extremist Hindutva, how come they don’t object to reading of Lenin, Stalin and Mao? As the intellectual fountainhead of the ideology of Hindutva, both Savarkar and Golwalkar are undoubtedly among the most contentious political thinkers and modern leaders who inspired masses greatly. They were the most vocal political voice for the Indian Nationalism and the Hindus. Savarkar and Golwalkar need to be taught not because of the argument given by Prof. Apoorvanand, but similar to Gandhi, Dr. Ambedkar, Nehru, Patel, Sardar Bhagat Singh, Subhash Chandra Bose, they have contributed significantly in the making of the ‘Idea of India’ and shaping of modern India. The tendency to accuse them as Nazist or fascist is nothing but a replay of an old colonial anti-India tactic. This is incitement! Ensuring that Savarkar or Golwalkar remain a villain as they are made out to be in the minds of many by erasing them from texts and banning their books, will continue to paint their uncharitable picture. This wouldn’t happen if students were actually allowed to read about them. It is a classic example of preventing the students from developing a critical understanding about various strands of Indian political thought.

Another canker in the system is textbook writing/ rewriting/ banning and syllabi restructuring that has been used for political propaganda for a long time. The roots are indeed in the colonial portrayal of Indian history by the British. The process of curriculum writing and rewriting has been going on since. The previous governments had constituted committees with left leanings essentially to counter any form of nationalist ideology. It is a matter of fact, most of the writing had been done to undermine the role of Sanskrit, Hindu culture and philosophy. But those who are creating furore now seem to had no problem with that, as we do not see any agitation on the issue by those parties or their student wing.

Many books have been banned completely or certain texts have been deleted, due to demands and outrage by certain political outfits in order to fit a said ideology. An example is the Chinese leader Mao Zedong who completely changed the idea of contemporary China which he called the ‘Cultural Revolution’. An entire chapter of the Cultural Revolution was taken out of the state-approved history books and replaced with Mao’s idea of the development of China. The parts about the protests against Mao and the government backed violence were deleted altogether. From pre-Independence era to date, history is full of instances, certain groups in India having ideological positions and interests that are aligned to their global masters turn a blind eye to their wrong doings, rather they support their actions even at the behest of the national interests. Till now, colonial and leftist thinkers had a monopoly on historiography. That is why they have been arbitrary in the selection, glorification and denial of ideologies and thinkers. However, when it comes to their own country, they voice serious concern over the inclusion of few texts written by Hindutva ideologues and termed them as “dangerous” for national interest. Why these double standards? India and Indian culture cannot be imagined by ignoring Hindutva. Indian culture has been liberal and inclusive; we should promote the representation and understanding of diverse ideas, which is not the case of left-liberals.

Undoubtedly, it is very difficult to understand how a culture of intolerance for nationalist ideology and Hindutva grew so rapidly in modern India and succeeded in vitiating the intellectual atmosphere so thoroughly. It was the spirit of inquiry that distinguished Indians from others and argumentation was the norm in our day-to-day life. It was not viewed with suspicion and no lack of respect was attributed to it. In order to say something is negative or positive, we have to flip the coin and see what is there on the other side of the coin! By not allowing books/ texts on Savarkar or Golwalkar, we are actually excusing young minds into believing something that we think is true for them while disregarding all the other impacts on their wholesome development.
As Margaret Heffernan rightly quoted, “For good ideas and true innovation, you need human interaction, conflict, argument, debate”.

Furthermore, the hegemony of colonial and left ideology in curriculum and textbooks also raises serious concerns. The Nationalist ideology has been the victim of this govt supported dominant combination. In such a scenario, the larger question remains – should students be hostages of colonial and leftist narratives, or is it high time a panel of neutral academicians came together to s the textbooks/ curriculum once and for all?
(The writer teaches at Central University of Jammu)