Which of the saffron brotherhood’s legacies can be the most damaging for the country – the anti-Muslim sentiments, which it routinely fosters, or its weird “pseudo-science”? A measure of its animus towards the Muslims was evident in the glorification of a convicted killer, Shambhulal Regar, in a tableau brought out by the Vishwa Hindu Parishad in Rajasthan on the occasion of Ram Navami. Regar is now in jail for attacking and burning alive a Muslim labourer while castigating him for “love jihad”. Speaking on the incident on TV, an RSS spokesman focussed more on the “threats” posed by “love jihad” involving Muslim men and Hindu women than on the killing.
To explain what drives an average saffronite to spew venom against Muslims, a netizen has written: “Warning: Islam is not a religion, but a political ideology which incites hate, violence, intolerance and terror. Islamists are terminators. You cannot reason with them. They do not feel remorse or pity or fear. And they absolutely will not stop, ever, until all the infidels are dead or have submitted to Islam.” (The blogger’s indebtedness to the language used in the sci-fi film, Terminator, is obvious.)
Islamophobia was the basis of the Hindutva lobby’s formation and its rise since the 1990s when it held the Indian Muslims responsible for all of the country’s misfortunes, starting from its “subjugation” by the invaders to the destruction of temples to the partition of the country to the present-day terrorism.
Little wonder that a saffron stalwart, Vinay Katiyar, MP, would like all the Indian Muslims to leave for either Pakistan or Bangladesh since their presence in India poses both an immediate security threat and a gradual reduction of the Hindus to a minority status because of the exponential growth of the Muslims via their four wives. As Narendra Modi once said about the Muslim families: hum panch, hamare pachis.
It will not be easy to eradicate this poison of communalism which appears to have infected a sizeable section of the Hindus if the venomous outpourings of the saffron trolls and of some television anchors are taken into account. Impressionable young minds cannot but be vitiated by this propaganda of hate. But how will such minds respond to the drivel which is being peddled by saffron “scientists”? The cornerstone of their bizarre ideas is available from the claims made by a saffron blogger who says that Hindus had mastered aviation technology thousands of years ago.
The evidence of this achievement is said to be provided by the vimanas mentioned in ancient Sanskrit epics which were capable of interplanetary flights, according to the writer. The reference to thousands of years is problematic because the last Ice Age ended only 10,000 years ago, but let that be. It is outlandish claims of this nature which were presented at one of the annual science congresses which made the Nobel laureate Venkataraman Ramakrishnan describe the conclaves as a “circus”, vowing never to attend them again.
The latest Science Congress has seen similar outrageous claims such as that the gravitational waves will soon be renamed as Narendra Modi waves and that the gravitational lensing effect will become known as the Harsh Vardhan effect. Harsh Vardhan, incidentally, is the Union Minister for Science (!) and Technology, who had argued that the Vedas had a theory which was superior to that of Einstein’s E=MC2. The minister’s other claim to fame is his assertion about the virtues of cow’s urine which, when mixed with cow dung, cow’s milk, curd and ghee, becomes a nourishing meal. According to him, experiments are being carried out on the efficacy of this concoction.
The latest science congress also saw assertions about the Kauravas of the Mahabharata having been test-tube babies and that scientists like Einstein, Newton and Stephen Hawking were all wrong. Much of this would have been laughable if this indulgence in voodoo did not carry the potential of deepening the traits of irrationality and superstition which still exist and occasionally lead to the killing of old women branded as witches or to child sacrifice.
Reports of such medievalism generally emanate from the dark hinterland of the BIMARU states. It is not surprising that in keeping with these regressive trends, the director of an ayurvedic department in UP has said that eight medicines have been prepared using “gau mutra” which can be useful in treating liver ailments, joint pains and immunity deficiency.
Like the cow, astrology and vaastu, the “science” of dwellings, are the Sangh Parivar’s other obsessions. Out-patients departments in some hospitals in BJP-run states are advising patients on the basis of these two subjects while a “vishwavidyalaya” in Bhopal is promising pregnant women the child of their choice and gives them the chance to write their child’s destiny in the foetal stage. More than the ease of doing business, India may soon demonstrate the ease of being pre-modern.
Amulya Ganguli is a political analyst. The views expressed are personal.