The recent discussions held between Shashi Tharoor and advocate J Sai Deepak at the launch of Tharoor’s latest book, “The Battle of Belonging : On Nationalism, Patriotism, And What It Means To be Indian” sheds some light on some important points of Indian History.
Who coined the term Hindutva?
Vinayak Damodar Savarkar, former Indian politician and leader of the Hindu Mahasabha who developed the Hindu Nationalist Political ideology is often credited and attributed to the creation of the word Hindutva but Advocate Sai Deepak uncovers the fact and reminded that Hindutva was not coined by Savarkar but by Chandranath Basu when he said, “Hindutva was not coined by Savarkar, Hindutva was coined by Chandranath Basu in 1892”.
On the Concept of Decoloniality
According to Sai Deepak, Mr. Tharoor’s book miss on the concept of Decoloniality, which is the concept of Post-Colonial people shedding the baggage of post-colonialism, trying to re-access the past, and not recreate, but re-inscribe the Past values to the institutions of the Present to chart an indigenous future, which is not possible in an integrated world.
So according to Sai Deepak, the idea is perhaps to create a hybrid future with a greater quotient of indigeneity as oppose to coloniality. He said, “the idea is to place the current movement and the awakening of this particular society within the larger canvas of what the global scholars refer to as Decoloniality”.
On the Comparison of Hindu-Rashtra to Hindu-Pakistan
Sai Deepak talked about the importance of the Dharmic Civilization, and that Constitution of India is a product of the fundamental spirit of the people of our land, which despite all the horrors of the partition, have done a superior job in protecting the minorities than our estranged neighbours. He criticized Shashi Tharoor’s attempt to portray India as Hindu-Pakistan in his book where India becomes a Hindu Rashtra or the Indians embraces Hindu Nationalism.
This comparison of Dharmic Civilization or Hindu Rashtra to Hindu-Pakistan, according to Sai Deepak, would be a great insult to the people of our country, as accommodation and respect of diverse cultures without conversion has been a tradition of the people of this land. “It is important for us to point out is because assuming for a moment that we did not have the concept of contemporary constitutionalism emanating from Europe even then Bharat as a civilization has always welcomed those people who are willing to live with us”.
On the Filter of Coloniality
The filter of Coloniality or Colonial Consciousness is mentioned by Sai Deepak in his book to contradict Shashi Tharoor’s view on Hindu tolerance. He says that this filter of Coloniality actively prevents the people of our country from accessing the specific values from our past by putting them in deep slumber in the name of secularism. He criticizes Shashi Tharoor’s reluctance of speaking about Kashmiri Hindus, political violence in West Bengal after the 2021 elections, pockets being created in Assam in the name of religion and the insurgency in the NorthEast, but Tharoor surprisingly puts the Hindus under constant scrutiny.
“There is a filter called Coloniality or colonial consciousness which actively prevents this particular country, and especially the majority of this country from accessing the specific aspects of its past and putting it in deep slumber in the name of secularism because just as you have a problem with the concept of tolerance so to speak,” he says.
On the Idea of Nationalism
Sai Deepak asserts that the idea of Nationalism should not divulge from the experience of a community. Indian Nationalism should not be compared with European Nationalism because Indian Nationalism stems from the experience and struggles of the Indian community against years of Colonial exploitation and is completely unrelatable to European Nationalism which has colonial roots. On Nationalism he says that “but it should not be divorced from the unique cultural experience and historical experience of any of any community, so nationalism, when sprouted by a European who is fundamentally a colonializer, is not the same as nationalism from Savarkar or anybody else who is the victim of colonialization at the end of the day..”
On the Moplah Massacre
Tharoor attempted to whitewash Moplah Massacre at the end when asked by an audience about his earlier reference to Malabar Hindu Genocide as a False memory, by giving the Moplah genocide the colours of a class struggle event of peasants and landlords and subject to various conditions and perspectives including geographical factors. Sai Deepak countered Tharoor’s arguments saying “How do you judge whether an incident has a communal, let say flavour to it or let say communal tinge to it or not, is not just on the basis of who was killed or who were the perpetrators but on the basis of stated goals and intentions”.