Hindutva will harm, even destroy India: Guha

Guha asks south Indians to reject Hindi chauvinism
Last Updated 19 December 2019, 08:48 IST

Even as the notion of Hindutva sweeps the nation, an eminent historian cautioned that there is nothing Indian about a philosophy that runs contrary to the established Indian pluralism.

Ramachandra Guha, best known for his sweeping biographies of Mahatma Gandhi, described Hindutva and Hindu nationalism as an idea which takes its inspiration from 18th and 19th-century European nations which sought to create national power through identifying a common enemy and by promoting the idea of one language, one culture and one leader.

"In such nations, such as pre-modern Britain and France, all regional languages were quashed in favor of one language - English or French, depending on the country, which was followed by the identifying of one common enemy. In Britain, the people identified the French as their nemesis; the French, in turn, considered the British in the same vein," Guha said while speaking in the city on Wednesday night.

These forms of nation-building contrast sharply with that of India's founding, which coalesced around the enlightened post-world War II ideals of religious, equality, respect for other people and a deep commitment to pluralistic democracy, Guha elaborated.

"Among several aspects of the founder's values was the acknowledgement of our shared diversity, which meant that Aryans, non-Aryans, Dravidians, Pathans, Chinese were combined into one people. A second value was the realization that our country was not perfect and that mistakes needed to be pointed out and a third postulated, patriotism, was a product of the love of community, and ultimately the nation," Guha said.

"All these values are being supplanted by Hindutva, which postulates that Hindus are superior to all others, that Hindi is superior to other languages and that a true Indian must hate Pakistan," he added.

By this, Guha appeared to be making a call to Indians to reject linguistic chauvinism.

Although the historian started his talk by cautioning the audience that he would not be speaking directly about the Citizenship (Amendment) Act (CAA), Guha touched upon the subject at the end, saying that people should protest against it peacefully and restore the plural values upon which our country was built.

In a thin-veiled reference to Mamta Banerjee-led TMC's vociferous condemnations of CAA, Guha said, "We should not look to political parties to lead [such protests]."

(Published 18 December 2019, 17:11 IST)

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