The suggestion on continuing dialogue with our neighbours, particularly with Pakistan, coming from staunch proponent of Hindu organization like Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS) has surprised many a rational scribes, secular thinkers and political analysts. They were not very much disturbed with the support extended by the RSS to Narendra Modi government at the end of the just concluded three-day marathon ‘Samanvaya Baithak’ in New Delhi. They are more perturbed because the RSS referred to Pakistan and Bangladesh as ‘brothers’ in the extended South Asian family and wanted Modi government to resume dialogue to sort out issues between the two.
Briefing newsmen after the end of the three-day meeting RSS Sahsarkaryawah Dattatreya Hosabale said Pakistan and other neighbours were “formed out of the same body that is India” and that there was a “need to discuss how to improve relations with people related historically and geographically vis-a-vis India’s neighbours”. Pooh-poohing the animosity and acrimony between the two neighbours Hosabale said “such things happen in a family….between brothers” but one should move on and work for improving relationship.
He explained this with a parallel in Mahabharata where Kauravas and Pandavas were brothers and the efforts made then to establish the order (dharma Sansthapana). He said “India is part of SAARC and has family-like cultural relations with neighbouring countries, be it Nepal, Sri Lanka, Pakistan or Bangladesh. It was one body which was divided to form Pakistan and Bangladesh. It is natural that people living there are part of the same family”. Now given the perception about RSS vis-a-vis its perceived stance on the Muslim issue in India, this suggestion definitely raised many an eyebrows amongst the progressives, secularists and rationalists and maybe even amongst the Hindutvavadis. For, it is the general perception that RSS believed in the concept of “Akhand Bharat” which included parts of subcontinent that were amputated from it. Talks with Pakistan, therefore, would not find any takers within the RSS at any point of time, they believed.
This is particularly so against the background of nationwide observance of “Akhand Bharat Diwas” by RSS-inspired organizations to keep alive the memories of partition and to pledge for undoing that in the future and realise the dream of ‘Akhand Bharat’. But, those who know RSS from close quarters are aware of the fact that this suggestion did not appear out of the blue. It was put forth by none other than the late M S Golwalkar alias Sri Guruji, who was known for his strong views against the vivisection of the motherland years before.
Interacting with the newsmen in New Delhi in April 1966, Golwalkar replied to a question seeking his views on permanent solution to the Indo-Pak dispute. He had advocated a sort of forming a loose federation with the neighbouring countries, especially Pakistan to ensure peaceful atmosphere in the sub-continent. “We were one in the past. Because of some unfortunate developments, we have become two. Let us become one again. That will solve the problem,” he had said.
Similarly, his successor the late M.D alias Balasaheb Devras also had voiced similar views on having normal ties with Pakistan and Bangladesh. Even former Jan Sangh President Pt. Deendayal Upadhyay and socialist leader Dr Ram Manohar Lohia in 1964 had also suggested similar approach to normalize the ties between the two neighbours.
Both Upadhyay and Lohia had said that the partition was based on artificial basis and piecemeal approach to resolve the Hindu-Muslim issue. The RSS, like Rishi Aurobindo, believed that this artificial and unnatural partition will have to go if India were to become a world leader in the future.
The RSS also believed that non-Hindus in Indian subcontinent were part of the larger Hindu family and share ancestors, culture, languages, traditions and rituals with the Hindus. If this is realised then there is no problem in bridging the emotional gap created by the vested interests in the past. The 1857 War of Independence was fought by the Muslims and Hindus jointly as Indians. Religion never came in the way. Many Moulvis and sadhus spread the message of freedom to the soldiers and common men alike, inspiring them to sacrifice for the freedom for the motherland. The unfortunate divide between the two communities resulted in tragic partition of the country causing huge devastation of human lives and material property.
During the Janata Party rule post 1975 Emergency was considered to be the best in the bilateral relations between the two neighbours. Former Prime Minister Atal Behari Vajpayee was the Foreign Affairs Minister then in the Morarji Desai government. Later when he became the NDA Prime Minister his efforts to normalise ties with Pakistan were reciprocated with Kargil misadventure by the Pakistani leadership. At present when India has a government that is run by people fully entrenched in the Hindutva ideology, the efforts to normalise relations were initiated by the Prime Minister right from his swearing in ceremony. Modi had invited all the heads of the neighbouring states to that grand function; attended SAARC meeting in Nepal, visited all the neighbours except Pakistan, and launched a number of positive steps to achieve development of the region.
However, Pakistan is not responding to these sincere and honest efforts of the Indian government to have peace in the subcontinent. Continuous terrorist attacks, unprovoked firing along the border, and other such activities have raised serious doubts on its intentions of having peaceful relations with India. Narendra Modi has followed Vajapyee in dealing with Pakistan putting special emphasis on improving ties with that country. He is at the same time live to the difficulties in the process of securing peace because these hindrances have their roots in the tragedy of partition of India.
Despite being honest and sincere in his approach towards seeking peaceful relations with Pakistan, Prime Minister Modi is also criticised by the hawkish approach of some of the national security experts and elites towards Pakistan and that of the media which is injecting a daily dose of anti-Pakistan discourse in one or the other form into the national psyche. It would have been in the fitness of things to have allowed the government of the day to continue with its efforts to establish peace with the neighbours. The RSS suggestion, therefore, has come at a proper time. It would help clear the weather and ensure support to the government to pursue its coherent approach towards Pakistan. From this point of view, the RSS suggestion deserves to be welcomed.
By Virag Pachpore
About the Author:
(Former President of International Centre for Cultural Studies Virag Pachpore is a widely acclaimed political analyst, commentator, media trainer, social activist and writer. He has written well-researched books titled “The Indian Church?” (2001), “Jesus, Christianity and Swami Vivekananda” (2013), “Liberation Theology” (2014), and “Indian Muslims and National Perspective” (2006) and Christian Missionary activities in India. He is engaged in Inter-faith dialogue with Muslims and Christian groups in India.)