Youth Arise, Defeat Communalism
Bhagat Singh’s Martyrdom Day--R Arun Kumar
“WHEN the fate of the country is being decided, the fate of individual should be forgotten” – Bhagat Singh As far Modi's gaffes are concerned, they are not over yet. This is something that is expected in an election season. Unfortunately, Shaheed-e-Azam, Bhagat Singh too is not spared. Discussing his vision of India in 2022, 75 years after Independence, it seems Modi recalled the 'contribution of the revolutionaries' who had sacrificed their lives during the freedom struggle – a difficult proposition for a person who represents an organisation that kept itself away from the freedom struggle. During the course of his oratory, Modi claimed that Bhagat Singh, Sukhdev and Rajguru had spent time in the Andaman jail! Searching for truth or facts in Modi's speeches is akin to searching for a needle in a hay stack, with the probability of finding a needle more. Alas, truth and facts are a premium in Modi's speeches. With Bhagat Singh's martyrdom day - March 23 approaching, there will now be a bee-line of leaders, both qualified and unqualified, to pay homage to the great martyr. Everybody will try to acquire Bhagat Singh and his comrades for their political benefit. Already we are hearing many who are promising to sacrifice their life for the country, just like Bhagat Singh. In this context, it is not a bad idea to revisit some of the ideas of Bhagat Singh and locate him in his proper place and prevent his misappropriation. Bhagat Singh is a declared atheist and he had written a lengthy leaflet on the subject explaining the reasons for his belief (or non-belief). Modi, given his historical knowledge, might not be aware of this leaflet, so it will be a great service to the country, if his IT team digs up a web edition and forwards him a copy. A cursory reading of the leaflet makes it clear why the 'saffron brigade' is denied the right to touch him even with a barging pole. In spite of well-knowing this fact, they want to 'cash-in' on the iconic status of Bhagat Singh for furthering their communal agenda. Bhagat Singh was clear on his views about communalism. In an article titled Sampradayik Dange aur unka Ilaj (Communal riots and their solutions), he clearly spells out his disdain for politicians who indulge in communal politics and incite communal riots. He clearly argues for separation of religion from politics and pointing to the role of media in fighting communalism, writes: “the real duty of the newspapers is to educate, to cleanse the minds of people, to save them from narrow sectarian divisiveness, and to eradicate communal feelings to promote the idea of common nationalism”. For certain sections of the media and corporates running them and rooting for Modi, this might be difficult to digest. Even for Modi, who proudly claims himself as a Hindu nationalist, this idea of common nationalism or Indian nationalism is a bitter pill to swallow. Expressing his anguish on communalism, Bhagat Singh writes: “there are a few sincere leaders, but their voice is easily swept away by the rising wave of communalism”. He identifies sections of the media, whose, “main objective seems to be spreading ignorance, preaching and propagating sectarianism and chauvinism, communalising people’s minds leading to the destruction of our composite culture and shared heritage”. He wants this composite culture and shared heritage of our country to be protected at all costs. On the other hand, BJP and its parivar declare the aversion for this composite culture, with their idea of 'one people-one nation'. Their revered guru Golwalkar is clear when he unambiguously stated: “The foreign races (all non-Hindus, according to them) must either adopt the Hindu culture and language, must learn to respect and hold in reverence Hindu religion, must entertain no idea but those of the glorification of the Hindu race and culture, i.e., of the Hindu nation and must lose their separate existence to merge in the Hindu race, or may stay in the country only subordinated to the Hindu nation, claiming nothing, deserving no privileges, far less any preferential treatment – not even citizen’s rights”. Modi cannot mask these ideas by paying lip-service to Bhagat Singh and his comrades. Bhagat Singh clearly identifies the economic reasons behind the growth of communalism and communal riots. In another context, he states: “the narrow-mindedness of all the communities in general are always exploited by the foreign enemy”. Questioning about what can be the probable cure for this disease of communalism and riots, he answers: “Now, if at all there is a cure for all the riots, then it can be brought about only by changing the course of direction of Bharat’s economic trajectory...But, it is difficult to bring about a change in the current economic conditions...That is why people have to consistently fight the government and until the government is changed, they should not rest”. Clearly, Bhagat Singh sees the class interests behind the spread of communal venom and in order to strike at the root of the problem, he calls upon for rousing the class consciousness of the people. He writes: “Class consciousness is required to ensure that people do not fight among themselves. It has to be made very clear to the poor, working class and peasants that their real enemy is capitalism. That is why they have to safeguard themselves from its stranglehold. The rights of the all the poor – be they of any caste, colour, religion or region – are the same. Your wellbeing is in overcoming all these differences and remaining united, and strive to take the reigns of power into your hands. With these efforts, you will lose nothing; with these efforts, one day your chains of bondage will get cut and you will have economic independence”. This is indeed what is needed in our fight – targeting both neo-liberal policies promoting crony capitalism and Modi's brand of communalism, which is sweetly called 'Gujarat model'. For some of the big corporates openly displaying their support to Modi, he is a messiah and Gujarat model of development is the recipe for profit maximisation. Today, we are living in a situation where the communal forces are increasingly threatening the secular fabric and the unity and integrity of our country with their claim to power. In this background, it is once again the duty of the youth, a demographical majority, to save the country. Bhagat Singh concludes his article stating that the youth are increasingly getting disillusioned with 'such politics'. He expresses confidence that once the youth of the country realise the dangers of communalism, they will rise against such divisive politics and safeguard the unity of the country. “The good news is India's youth are distancing themselves away from such religions which preach hatred and animosity between each other. The youth have become so open-minded that they do not see the people of the country through the prism of religions – as being Hindu, Muslim or Sikh – but see them primarily as humans first and then as Indians. With such kind of thoughts taking root in Indian youth, we know that the future of our country is bright”. This is Bhagat Singh's call to the youth of our country: “Youth, ye soldiers of the Indian Republic, fall in: do not stand easy, do not let your knees tremble. Shake off the paralysing effects of long lethargy. Yours is a noble mission. Go out into every nook and corner of the country and prepare the ground...Respond to the clarion call of duty. Do not vegetate. Grow”!