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War on words



October 10, 2019 00:02 IST

Updated:


October 10, 2019 01:08 IST



October 10, 2019 00:02 IST

Updated:


October 10, 2019 01:08 IST


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What matters is the taking of human life, and not the Sangh’s name for it

The annual Vijayadashami speech of its chief, the Sarsanghchalak, outlines the thinking of the RSS on critical issues. As incumbent chief Mohan Bhagwat noted on Tuesday, until 2014, these speeches did not attract much attention. In the speech that spanned domestic politics, education, economy, foreign affairs, and culture there was nothing that would surprise those who have followed the Sangh. But those views are today consequential as they get translated to state policies, under Prime Minister Narendra Modi. Mr. Modi, a former RSS pracharak, and the Home Minister were recipients of praise for ending the special constitutional status of Jammu and Kashmir. Mr. Bhagwat termed this year’s Lok Sabha election results a demonstration of a new resolve of the country. The Sarsanghchalak said too much discussion on the frail health of the economy would only cause more negativity. A thread in his one hour speech was that certain enemies of the nation were trying to defame and weaken it. Some “chutput” — small — incidents get publicised as lynching, which to him is a conspiracy to defame India, as “both sides are involved in such acts”. Lynching is a western construct, he said.

The RSS chief is very particular about the words that are to be used and avoided, going by his speech. He insisted that India’s culture, heritage, diversity and life could be encapsulated in the word Hindu and no other word, including Bharatiya, could be a suitable substitute. A considerable part of his speech called for unity, harmony, and dialogue among communities and sacrifice for the country. But he reiterated his position that such a worthy pursuit could be termed only Hindu Rashtra — the fundamental tenet of the Sangh. Whether or not there is an equivalent word for lynching in any pristine indigenous language, what should concern anyone interested in the reputation of India, that is Bharat, is not the label but the act that is being described. That act, which Mr. Bhagwat tiptoed around with verbose obfuscation, is mob violence against hapless individuals, mostly from the minority religious communities or Dalits. It would be reassuring to know that the act of lynching is alien to India, but unfortunately, the ire was more against the word than against the act. Explaining the concept of Swadeshi, Mr. Bhagwat said India would not hesitate to accept from foreigners what it does not have and cannot do without. If lynching is a videshi act, then it might need a videshi label too. But this war on the word is reflective more of a concern about India’s reputation in the eyes of the world than of any alarm at the underlying acts of sectarian violence. For the sake of Bharat’s reputation, lynchings, by whatever name, must stop.

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Printable version | Oct 10, 2019 3:08:47 AM | https://www.thehindu.com/opinion/editorial/war-on-words/article29629640.ece

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