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Bharat, Dharma and the law: Colonial enslavement of the ‘modern’ Indian minds

Will the Centre show the boldness and preparation it has on Article 370, in revamping legal education and allied subjects to do justice to the Indic civilization’s profound and universalist contribution to truth and justice, which is the essence of Dharma? 

As the Republic of Bharat, the successor civilization State of Bharatavarsha, celebrates its 73rd Independence Day, the Hon’ble Supreme Court of India is hearing arguments in the Shri Ramjanmabhoomi case almost on a day-to-day basis. Judgements in the Shri Padmanabhaswamy Temple case and in the Review Petitions in the Shri Sabarimala Ayyappa Temple case are yet to be pronounced.

This is apart from the fact that the Shri Jagannath Temple of Puri also finds itself before the Supreme Court, whereas for some reason arguments are yet to commence in the Writ Petition filed by the Late Shri Swami Dayananda Saraswathi Ji challenging the Temple Control Legislations of Tamil Nadu, Puducherry, Andhra Pradesh and Telangana which give ‘secular’ State Governments overarching and unbridled control over Temples and Temples alone. Add to this the fact that there exists this mind-bogglingly discriminatory and patently absurd legislation ironically titled The Places of Worship (Special provisions) Act, 1991, which prevents the victims of medieval barbaric invasions from reclaiming their places of worship and heritage, one has to wonder, how did things come to such a pass after the Indic civilization survived repeated attempts over a millennium to wipe out its existence and memory? 

The colonial mind of ‘modern’ Indians

Perhaps, there is no one answer to this question. But it would be fair to assume that despite having overthrown the overt foreign yoke in 1947, the yet-to-be-decolonized Indian mind is significantly responsible for the state of affairs, which is the assessment of several scholars of Indic origin as well as Indic-minded scholars of foreign origin. The typical ‘modern’ Indian mind still seeks validation on benchmarks set by the erstwhile colonial master, which it has internalized so deep within its consciousness that it has come to accept them as not just the normal but also the ideal. So much so, that to this incorrigibly colonized mind, every strain of Indic thought is boorish, superstitious, casteist, misogynist, elitist and unscientific, each of which is an irrebuttable presumption.

In other words, neither facts nor logic can overcome these presumptions of the enslaved mind, which is why the ‘modern, secular and scientific’ Indian mind has cut out for itself the noble task of civilizing the native. Of course, the qualifier is that this intervention is reserved exclusively for adherents of Indic faith systems. Everyone else is immune and exempt from this noble venture since (a) either they don’t need it or (b) such intervention cannot be fit in the curious definition of secularism that this enslaved mind has fashioned for itself. 

It is this enslaved mind’s need to identify itself as a ‘constitutional patriot’ because it sees nothing of value before the coming into existence of the Constitution, and therefore, the only way forward, according to it, is to ruthlessly sever all ties with the Indic past, and if possible, re-interpret or even invent the past through its colonized civilizing lens. Nothing would warm the cockles of this mind more than performing the act of severance with the Indic past in halal-compliant fashion, for it crinkles its nose at the very mention of jhatka. How is this long-winded farrago (courtesy Shashi Tharoor pronounced with an accent) relevant to the introduction of the piece? Let us discuss.

The legal system’s approach to ‘civilise the natives’

Well, of all Indian institutions, the Indian legal system’s approach and attitude to Indic thoughts, traditions and institutions, in fact to the Indic way of life itself, is that of a colonized mind with a penchant for ‘reform’, which is the politically correct term for a patronizing intervention to civilize the native, and which is clearly a never-ending exercise. Almost every aspect of the Indic way of life, right from marriage to succession to religious traditions and even festivals, has come under the scanner of this uber-reformist exercise, more often than not without understanding the Indic perspective, but on occasion rightly so without a doubt. After all, even a broken clock is right twice a day. 

One school of thought traces the problem of the colonized Indian legal system right to the Constitution. To be honest, I am not sure if this diagnosis is correct. That does not mean that I am sure the diagnosis is incorrect. I am genuinely undecided. That said, if I was forced to take a position, I would have to say that I am of the tentative and inconclusive view that the problem is largely attributable to the training imparted to those who interpret and enforce the Constitution and in general the laws of the country.

The early foundations of ignorance

In your formative years, when you still have oodles of idealism and a streak of rebellion, if you are taught as part of legal education or otherwise that logic, reason, democratic values, free speech, fundamental rights, equality, the concept of rule of law, gender equality, the value of individual freedom, secularism, truth and justice are all foreign imports, and there is no attempt on the part of the curriculum to even explore or encourage exploration of the contribution of Indic thought to these areas, you naturally assume that this civilization has had nothing of value to contribute on these fronts. 

This coupled with the unadulterated venom that is spewed against the Indic way of life through history and political science curricula in schools, colleges and law schools, which are invariably taught by individuals of Marxist persuasion, with no room for ideological diversity even for appearances sake, one should not be surprised when every Indic institution finds itself in the dock forced to prove its worth on alien anvils to an audience which starts with the presumption that you are unworthy of protection and existence, until proven otherwise, which is almost always never. Clearly, no repealment of any existing legislation alone is going to undo the incalculable but hopefully not irreparable harm that a brazenly colonial approach to legal education and law has caused to the Indic society, its worldview and its way of life.

The solution

What, then, is the solution? A complete and simultaneous overhaul of history, political science and legal curricula, regardless of the tsunami of backlash it is bound to elicit from well-entrenched individuals and institutions of Marxist persuasion, who have come to view these domains as their fiefdoms, and which are out of bounds for anyone with a different ideological proclivity, so much for their professed love of dissent, diversity and free thought. Disappointingly, the draft National Education Policy 2019 is woefully inadequate in its analysis/diagnosis of and a prescription for legal education, which is limited to a single paragraph, despite the fact that law is all-pervasive and impacts every sphere of life, and so does the Supreme Court.

Will the Centre show the boldness and preparation it has on Article 370, in revamping legal education and allied subjects to do justice to the Indic civilization’s profound and universalist contribution to truth and justice, which is the essence of Dharma?

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J Sai Deepak
Engineer-turned-lawyer. Arguing Counsel, Supreme Court of India and Delhi High Court. IIT Kharagpur Law School alumnus.

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