The modern industrial civilisation has witnessed two World Wars. The researchers of war have yet not been able to estimate the magnitude of casualties/deaths—both military and civilian—which occurred in these two World Wars. The estimated figure of people killed in both World Wars is between 10 to 15 crores. World Wars I and II were preceded and succeeded by many major battles. Wars of independence were invariably fought by all the colonised countries. Even the Cold War that began after the end of the World War II and lasted until the dissolution of the USSR, has been described by the scholars as a special kind of world war. Cold War was also characterised by a large number of deaths. There have been many direct and proxy wars during and after the Cold War involving sometimes two countries and sometimes five-six countries. In many wars of the nature of internal conflicts such as those that followed the dissolution of Yugoslavia, civil war was accompanied by racial massacre. In the last few decades, Islamic terrorists have redefined the concept of war which now includes the features of traditional war, counter-war and civil war. In response a new concept of ‘War Against Terror’ (WAT), has emerged which is global in nature.
India also played a role in these ongoing wars. Being a British colony, India participated in the two World Wars, even though the participation was limited in nature. In 1942, India fought a direct war against the colonial power. In 1942, according to Dr. Lohia, 50 thousand patriots were killed by the British. In the middle of World War II, under the leadership of Subhash Chandra Bose and in collaboration with the Axis countries, the Azad Hind Fauj (INA) fought the freedom struggle of India in its own way. After independence, in 1948, 1962, 1965, 1971 and 1999 India fought wars with its two neighbours—Pakistan and China.
So long as imperialists continue their loot, wars will also keep on occurring. The looters will continue to wage wars against the countries that are looted. Simultaneously, the imperialist forces will keep forcing these countries to wage wars against each other and will also fight amongst themselves for the dominance of various resources. Further, the brokers serving the interests of the imperialist powers in the countries looted by the imperialists will keep waging war against the working classes of their own countries. Therefore, wars are inevitable so long as this exploitative capitalist system exists.
Forgetting the danger posed by war, a section of the Indian civil society on the one hand dreams of India becoming a superpower, and on the other hand, works itself into a frenzy over patriotism and exhortations about war. In this context, the situation has now become catastrophic—it attacks in groups, sometimes even alone, ‘the hidden traitors in the house’. It has become common practice that such elements of civil society openly abuse even women in the name of patriotism.
Clearly, the civil society of India does not know its country. Nor does it feel any sincere attachment to it. It cannot even think of making any sacrifice for the country. In spite of this, it is afflicted with patriotism and war hysteria, and poses as if it is the sole master of the whole country. While these groups term themselves as civil society of India, their members would be termed as illegitimate citizens of India if they are tested on the touchstone of the Indian Freedom Struggle and the Indian Constitution. In the words of Kishan Patnayak, an enslaved mentality has irreparably dented their minds. Over the past few decades, this pathology shows no sign of abatement, rather it has been growing in intensity with the passage of time.
With the making of ‘new India’ with the New Economic Policies, patriotism has possessed the civil society like a ghost. Simultaneously, its already narrow sense of citizenship has became narrower, and the virtues of humanity have eroded. The fact is known to everyone that the resources and labour of the country have been robbed by corporate capitalism during the last three decades. Under the rule of Narendra Modi, this process has become transformed into naked plunder. The private sector is being promoted at the expense of the public sector against the spirit of the Constitution. All democratic institutions are being destroyed. Democracy is changing into a mobocracy. India is stuck badly in the clutches of neo-imperialism. These deeds of the political leadership, which have resulted in the loss of freedom, the Constitution, the resources, the labour and the constitutional institutions could not have been done without the collusion of the civil society. But the civil society is not ready to accept the blame of becoming a traitor and slave of the imperialist forces. For obvious reasons, as the same civil society has unjustly enriched itself—socially as well as economically—over the last three decades. As the treacherous conduct and slavery of the civil society of India increases, its pompous display of patriotism will also take new forms. The corporate capitalism will readily and fully sponsor such performances, so that the vast population devastated by this robbery continues to be intoxicated by the drug of patriotism. The civil society will continue to tell this deprived and excluded population that the cause of their problems is not the loot of corporate capitalism, but the Muslims. However, the impact of this jingoistic atmosphere is such that even Muslims do not want to be behind anyone in the race of showing patriotism!
The ideals of patriotism projected by the civil society keep changing from time to time. But in all this, there is one constant—the faith of civil society in capitalism. For the past few years, its ideal is Narendra Modi and the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS). Take the RSS first. Ever since its establishment, the RSS has always claimed to be patriotic. It is said that God’s bounty is boundless. Today’s God is corporate capitalism. With its grace, RSS is distributing certificates of patriotism today! It claims that its army of his volunteers is willing to defend our borders even before the Indian army! That the bunkers made from cow dung will repel China’s invasion of Doklam! Nation-protecting yagnas will safeguard the nation! Soldiers should be made to read Gita–Ramayana to enhance their bravery! Through some of his leaders, it even says that soldiers are meant to die in the security of the country. And also that by the atmosphere created by the deaths of soldiers, how many seats will be won by BJP in the upcoming Lok Sabha elections! Its workers are caught while spying for the Pakistani intelligence agency ISI, but that does not affect the patriotism of the RSS! Because in its eyes they are ‘holy sinners’!
Narendra Modi, whose government allowed 100 percent Foreign Direct Investment (FDI) in the defense sector soon after he became the Prime Minister, explains that the traders take more risk than soldiers for the country! He also says that business runs in his veins! ‘Patriotic’ businessmen are seen running with him in the country and abroad! Probably in one such run, Narendra Modi one day went to meet Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif without any official program! In the Rafale aircraft deal, the name of the public sector company Hindustan Aeronautical Limited (HAL) was removed and replaced by the newly formed company of industrialist Anil Ambani! He openly and proudly declares his friendship with his industrial friends; the interests of businessmen are paramount for him, provided they are big businessmen!
Such a Narendra Modi is the ideal of patriotism of the civil society of India; it worships him unquestioningly. So, Narendra Modi too considers himself to be above the questions and is confident that his worshippers are capable of taking care of all the tasks. Even after the terrorist attack on security forces in Pulwama on February 14, he was busy in shooting for a film being made on him, inaugurating events and giving speeches to the election rallies, leaving his worshippers to handle everything.
A little discussion about the Pulwama attack must be made here. The first task after the terrorist attack should have been to launch a serious investigation into it, which would have resulted in the discovery of some clues about it. But nothing like this happened in India; even the number of soldiers who were martyred in the attack is not clear to the people – some reports claim 42 died, others 44 or 40. If the Pulwama attack happened due to same lapses on behalf of the government, as admitted by the Governor himself immediately after the attack, then it should have been honestly investigated, accountability fixed, and culprits punished as per the law. But sadly, the cacophany war cries drowned February 14. The death of these para-military soldiers has no value, because they were not members of the civil society fattened by the loot of corporate capitalism. Yes, it was possible to use them for doing politics; and that has been done.
In a democracy, the military establishment works under the political leadership. But at the same time it is also necessary that political leadership does not work under the pressure of imperialist powers at least in the matter of security of the country. The Indian Air Force (IAF) entered into Pakistan in pre-dawn hours on February 26 and dropped bombs at the training camp of the Jaish-e-Mohammed (JEM) situated in Balakot. Before the attack occurred, the President of America had given a statement that India would do something big to avenge the Pulwama attack. In retaliation to the IAF action, the Pakistan Air Force (PAF) entered Indian territory and attacked a military base. IAF aircraft scrambled to intercept them, but in the ensuing dogfight, an Indian MiG-21 fighter aircraft got shot down. The pilot Abhinandan Varthaman ejected, and landed in Pakistan’s territory. The US President again said that a good news will come from Pakistan. Soon after, the Indian pilot was released by Pakistan.
During the tenures of all the Prime Ministers of India after Indira Gandhi, the fate of India has rested with America. On October 1, 2001, JEM attacked the State assembly building in Srinagar, in which 27 people were killed and 60 were injured. The then Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee wrote a letter to the then US President George Bush pleading with him to persuade Pakistan to stop training terrorists on its soil. By then, 9/11 had happened and Vajpayee had been first after Britain’s Prime Minister Tony Blair to join America’s ‘new war’ against terrorism. But despite that, America stood with Pakistan then, and supports it even today. That America can dictate to Pakistan is understandable, but how can it give directions to India?
The civil society has been continuously clamouring for war ever since the Pulwama attack of February 14. There has been no war, neither was it ever going to take place. Meanwhile, more than 50 Indian soldiers have been martyred in a fortnight. We still do not know with certainty if we killed more terrorists than this number in the air strike across the border by the IAF. The bombs dropped in Balakot by the IAF were purchased from Israel. The war-mongers, in their enthusiasm for war, have not cared to ask why is it that we have suddenly started buying arms from Israel, instead of from Russia as earlier? Will India’s security forever be predicated on weapons purchased from abroad? Will the security of India be left in the hands of private companies established by crony capitalists guided by the lust of profit at the expense of the Public Sector? Will America, the ‘Mecca’ of civil society, which has been worshiping it for the last 40 years, stop giving arms and other financial assistance to Pakistan? And, will India become a superpower on the strength of the purchased weapons?
Considering RSS and Modi as their ideal for patriotism is not limited to the RSS/BJP camp followers only. There are a great number of ordinary people who, though they are not associated with the RSS, are also influenced by its ‘nationalist’ propaganda. And then, there are the highly educated professionals and government officers who, despite all their capabilities, are essentially political illiterates. All these people provide a great deal of strength to the RSS/BJP brand of patriotism.
The secular progressive camp of the civil society is against the RSS/BJP brand of patriotism. But it has been relegated to the margins. They are not able to do anything other than repeating some of the known cliches and facts against the RSS/BJP or make fun about the ‘devotees’ of Modi on social media. There are several reasons for its weakness. The most important reason is that by being a covert supporter of corporate capitalism, it automatically stands with the RSS/BJP. Apart from this, its strategy of waging a sustained ‘war’ against the RSS also strengthens the RSS/BJP. Its opportunistic behavior with non-BJP political parties and leaders hinders the efforts of the progressive stream to create a decisive alternative to corporate capitalism and thus brings lasting benefits to the RSS/BJP. Most of the intellectuals and activists of this camp who fight for social justice and equality increase the political power of the RSS/BJP by abusing Hinduism and its Gods/Goddesses. There are also individuals and groups in the secular–progressive camp who are always full of anger against the Indian State. In their anger, they forget to make a distinction between the governments formed in the Indian State and the State itself. Their anger often leads them to opposition of the Indian State itself. This only goes to the benefit of the RSS/BJP. In recent times, an ‘ideologically neutral’ group has also emerged that has actually been born from the womb of corporate capitalism directly. However, its brand of patriotism is identical to that of the RSS/BJP.
In the last three decades, the secular progressive camp has not been able to create a patriotic narrative different from the RSS/BJP. Till there exiss an authentic alternative, the fake, hollow and hypocritical brand of patriotism of the RSS/BJP is bound to prevail, and that is what is happening. Till this situation exists, the country cannot be freed from the real crisis before it—the neoimperialist stranglehold over freedom. This is the big ‘achievement’ of the RSS/BJP that, by making an alliance with corporate capitalism, it has provided credibility to cowardice and enslavement.
Meher Engineer: A Requiem for a Man of Reckonable Height Meheryar Hosang Engineer was born on December 20, 1940 in