Hindi, Hindu whatever: Please give us respite from this frivolous debate
The name of the country is not an unsettled existential question for the country.
‘Hindi’, ‘Hindu’, ‘Indu’ whatever – does this country need a debate like this in the first place? What’s wrong with ‘India’ or the good old ‘Bharat’? If at all we are so desperate to calling ourselves something different, why not make it, say, ‘Abracadabra’. Admitted, it’s a bit odd, but trust our intellectuals to come up with creative prose, circuitous logic and malicious reading of history to justify such a name. They never give up, even if they appear a tad foolish. Who knows after repeated mention in unending media debates we may even begin liking the name.
Come on guys, let’s grow up. We certainly have better things to do than work ourselves up over a name. That we allow such a debate to be foisted upon us shows us in poor light. We live in dumbed down times alright but do we need to get sucked into every dumb discussion that happens around us? Our complex past throws up enough confusing information to trigger a thousand arguments, conflicts and ideological skirmishes. There will be groups ready to make capital – political or otherwise – of every note of dissonance in the narrative of our history. It does not make sense for us to dignify each conflict by a reaction. They keep laying traps for us and we never fail to walk into those. Can we say ‘stop this nonsense’?
This might sound a bit cheesy, but we are proud to be Indians. The word ‘Indian’ may sound flat but it has an elevating quality about it. It does not carry sinister connotations, it does not rouse suspicion and it is not innately exclusive or divisive in character. It’s beautiful in its simplicity. Bharat and Bharatiya, too, are similar. They remind us of the depth of our culture and history without being mean or spiteful in intent. Both are better than the word ‘Hindu’ any day. Why then this debate over calling Indians Hindus?
In hindsight, so many senior BJP and RSS leaders mentioning ‘Hindutva’ or ‘Hindu’ so openly these days cannot be mere happenstance. For a group which loves to make propaganda an essential weapon in its ideological battle, such utterances have to come with a design. After a few more months of noise, if someone venerable in the great extended sangh ‘family’ comes up with a suggestion that India or Bharat should be called by a different name in sync with its historic-genetic character it should not come as a shock. The government in power would not hesitate to oblige.
Bringing the word ‘Hindu’ to the name of India serves the ideological concept of continuity of the Hindu civilization across centuries. This is something close to the revisionist vision of the right wing groups. It is possible their next move would be to blank out the 65-odd years after Independence, calling it an aberration in the continuity theme. If right wing historians have their way they might call this period the Dark Age, the only bright spot being the six-year rule of the NDA government. Maybe we are stretching the point too far here, but the point is the majoritarian agenda often works out in this fashion. And the traits are visible already after the BJP-RSS victory in the general elections. If anybody has cared to notice, over the last three months the activities of the Hindutva groups have been attracting more attention than those of the government in power. This is just the beginning.
Coming back to the original point, the name of the country is not an unsettled existential question for the country. In any case, changing it amounts to nothing more than ideological point-scoring. The 21st century India should be discussing issues more serious and contemporary in nature. Narendra Modi came to power promising fresh thinking and new ideas for the future. He should not allow the frivolous agenda of others to cloud his vision. While he is at it the countrymen can manage without being called Hindus. Abracadabra would be as fine with them.
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