Why Hindus do not protest against Hindutva
This piece was written in early February at the peak of the Anti CAA/ NRC movement. While the context is now different, the issues remain the same
Disclaimer- while I was born Hindu, I haven’t identified myself as one for nearly 40 years.
“Why don’t Hindus* who are against Hindutava come out in protest against the atrocities Muslims?”, is a question often asked.
While one can argue about the futility of asking the questions to the few Hindus who are vocal against Hindutva, it is still a fair question. The answer, however, will be long and rambling, because of the nature of the question.
Hindus can be plotted on a convenient 2*2 matrix.
-Hindus who vociferously support Hindutva
-Hindus who support Hindutva but quietly
-Hindus who are uncomfortable with Hindutava, but remain silent
-Hindus who reject Hindutva and are vocal about it
While the bookends are the most vocal, the vast majority of Hindus fall into the ‘silent’ category. They keep their opinions to themselves. Some lean one way or the other, but many are undecided. Most of them also believe it is distasteful to have political views.
Though they are silence, it is their silence that ends up providing legitimacy to RW propaganda.
On WhatsApp groups and social gatherings, it is typically the pro-Hindutva gang that is most vocal. When a lone crusader speaks up against them, the rest of them gang up to silence the voice speaking against them. Since the majority are silent, the voices of dissent are systematically worn down, allowing fake news and misleading interpretations to flourish.
These voices that are vocal against Hindutva have, over the past few years, been eased out of most spaces. There is only so much vilification one can take, and at some point they have exited those toxic spaces, leaving the rest of them exposed to the misinformation campaigns.
While it is very hard for us to believe how it could be so, there are many otherwise sane individuals who genuinely believe that –
CAA is about giving citizenship to refugees, “hum citizenship dene ki baat kar rahen hain, lene ki nahin”
Article 370 was discriminatory to India, and should have been abrogated long ago
Lynchings are isolated incidents which must have been provoked
Police brutality during the protests were in retaliation to the burning of buses and other public property
These are people who reject the violence of Hindutva, but do not come out actively against it, because they do not comprehend how it is harmful to the fabric of society.
When the Constitution was in danger, Muslims came out in large numbers to protest against it. Why do Hindus not similarly protest against the excesses of Hindutava which is giving Hinduism a bad name.
To seek an answer that question, you have to first recognize that protests do not happen spontaneously. Someone needs to call for the protest, and mobilize people to attend. While there are a few individuals who come on their own accord, the majority come because they are mobilized. It is, most often, a religious or social leader who asks them to.
There are no such leaders for the Hindus. Most Hindus practice their religion at home. There are no weekly gatherings where a religious leader preaches to them. They do not belong to defined groups that meet regularly. Mobilizing them is not an easy task.
Equally important, there is no perceived urgency. Most Hindus do not recognize the immediate danger to the secular values of the nation. Fed on a diet of misinformation, they think we are overreacting. “Not so easy to form a Hindu Rashtra”, they say in all sincerity.
Is all lost? Maybe not.
Even if we cannot get them to protest, we can at least get Hindus to commit to speak up against it. We cannot win them over on all issues (most believe Kashmir is justified), and let us not even try.
Let us focus on why Hindutva should be rejected.
Getting the people who are silent to start speaking up is the single biggest thing we can do right now. Once these people start asking questions, it becomes more difficult for RW propaganda to be spread.
Let us focus on that. Needs patience and empathy, but not impossible.
* Upper Caste Hindus only