You cannot stop the march of modernity, can you? No, you cannot. The world is changing and, therefore those still living in the past, wistfully reminiscing of a golden era long gone by, must revise their social, cultural and even political worldview. It is nobody’s case that we have to abandon our roots, over social and cultural heritage. No. It is a plea for harmonising that perception of ourselves with the fast changing global mores, technological as much as social and cultural.
Though we direct our message at the Sangh Parivar, it is not that there are no backward looking people in other places as well. Indeed, the Congress leaders would themselves find it indefensible if told of what their founding fathers had said in their time about social and cultural mores. The point is that everyone is a product of his time, nay, his generation. The most progressive leaders of an earlier era would be aghast at some of the changes that have taken place in the name of modernity. For example, it is hard to see the Congress leaders in the 50s and 60s approving of the same-sex marriage or the LGBT communities.
Therefore, to single out the RSS-BJP leadership for looking askance at the new-fangled western culture of the youths would not be fair. In this context, the fringe that opposes the celebration of Valentine’s Day must be made to appreciate the harmless nature of the occasion. They live in the past and loath to move with the times. It is just like the educated parents who still resent the growing custom of dating among their children and their late-night parties and merry-making.
Modernism is not that can be administered with the swallowing of a pill. No, it calls for a societal change in mental outlook. But change is always slow to come but inevitably it does come. Unfortunately, small inanities of a few claiming association with the Sangh Parivar are magnified manifold by the secularist-leftist media, especially in the English language print and audio-visual media. Why should a university in Uttar Pradesh play safe and declare a holiday on Valentine’s Day in order to avoid trouble by a handful of hoodlums is a moot question. Instead, it should have ensured that those who want to mark the event with the exchange of flowers or through social media messages are able to do it without any harassment. Declaring a holiday is surrender to the hoodlums. In any case, it is nobody’s business what two consenting adults do between them so long as they cause no harm to a third person or become a public nuisance.
Linked with it is the bigger issue. The Sangh Parivar ought to be able to let people be, let them eat what they want, wear what they want and generally allow citizens to exercise their fundamental rights without it arrogating to itself the role of an arbiter. The RSS needs to rethink its own fidelity to an ancient way of life in the 21st century. Having shed the khaki knickers for trousers after ninety long years, it now needs to shed its retrograde worldview. Moving with the times should be its credo, not trying to push the clock back to an unknown past. The RSS chief himself ought to be able to avoid faux pas, the kind that revealed itself in an astounding statement claiming that it can raise a parallel army. We are not given to abuse the RSS. No. We find that it has done a lot of good, especially at a time when the Congress was going haywire with its corrupt and craven agendas and there was little resistance to it in the country.
Yet, it is in its own interest that the RSS leadership shed its image as backwoodsmen living in the medieval times and constantly harking back to a golden era of which there was no historical evidence and, even if there was, which cannot be replicated in the 21st century. Modern education should inform the thinking of the RSS-BJP leadership so that it that it can play a stellar rule in shaping the country’s future.