Eminent intellectual Kaushik Basu: "A specter is haunting India. Hinduism is under attack from within--by those claiming to be its champions"

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Eminent intellectual Kaushik Basu: "A specter is haunting India. Hinduism is under attack from within--by those claiming to be its champions"

Post by Rashmun on Thu Jun 22, 2017 10:52 am

A spectre is haunting India — of heightened hatred, communalism and a retreat from knowledge, science and creativity. Left unchecked, these forces can engulf our better sense and harm India, not just in terms of society and culture, but even economic development and growth.

India has long been a poor country, inching up from what the World Bank officially labelled as “low-income” to the “lower-middle income” category in 2007. Yet we had a disproportionate presence in the world’s intellectual space, in the domain of culture, cinema, science and religion.

As a researcher working in Delhi in the 1980s, I remember going to international conferences and being surprised by the large presence of Indians. For a low-income country, this was indeed most remarkable. It was a tribute to India’s intellectual achievement and open-society character. As if this early intellectual investment was ultimately paying off, the Indian economy began to grow well from the mid-1990s, picking up steam in 2003 and again in 2005, after which it remained for several years on a high growth path, well over 9 per cent per annum, which took the country to the middle income cluster.

Unfortunately, in recent times, its global stature in the world of knowledge, science and culture seems to be eroding. A disproportionate amount of global news and writings on India is now related to cow slaughter, gau rakshaks, anti-romeo squads, banning momos, religious intolerance. There is a noticeable drop in India’s visibility in important global debates, from diplomacy and international economic and monetary policy to other urgent concerns of our time...

This is why people, and most importantly political leaders, who want India to do well and flourish ought to sit up and try to change course before the damage becomes endemic. This new communalism and xenophobic aggression stems, paradoxically, from a sense of inferiority about one’s own community and nation. People suffering from this, sadly, begin to imitate the very nations and groups they castigate and criticise...

The tragedy is that what the Hindu fundamentalists and bhakts are pushing India towards is a travesty of the original bhakti movement which began in Tamil Nadu in the 6th century, and stressed the personal nature of religion and emphasised the philosophy and syncretism of Hinduism.

In the mid-19th century, Karl Marx marveled at the remarkable resilience of Hinduism. Whereas in many developing countries, as colonialism spread, the early religions vanished, in India Hinduism withstood repeated attacks and domination. It was non-aggressive but strong. Every time the foreign powers left, there was Hinduism, sometimes a little wilted but ready to sprout again...

What we are doing now is attacking the religion from within. Marx may have been right about Hinduism’s resilience to outside attacks but what we risk now is irreparable damage by the very people who claim to be its champions. Hyper-nationalism is a manifestation of an insecurity about one’s place in the world, whereby you want to shape your country and religion in the image of the very countries and religions you claim to detest...

The standard response of the trolls on social media to anybody who questions their ideology is to tell them to go away to Pakistan. Looking at the list of Indian intellectuals, scientists and thinkers who have come under this kind of attack, one thing is clear. If this advice is taken seriously, Pakistan will become the world’s highest IQ nation.

http://indianexpress.com/article/opinion/columns/resisting-the-moral-retreat-hinduism-communalism-culture-indian-economic-growth-4715804/


Rashmun

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