Bigoted sanghis are focused on drowning India's legacy

Only fascists claim to cleanse culture.

 |  2-minute read |   17-09-2015
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The cultural czar of India, culture minister Mahesh Sharma, and the NDA have been determined to recast the Nehru Memorial Museum Library (NMML), to diminish and distort the Nehruvian secular legacy. The Congress did not help because of their tardy and careless defence of the NMML. Despite knowing the Election Commission rules, the Congress delayed appointing a director of NMML, leaving the gracious and learned Mahesh Rangarajan out on a limb.

This suited the RSS, which was focused and not lackadaisical. They used the time to force the director out of office. This suits their agenda of diluting the secular plan in the name of adding "governance" to NMML. But what was Nehru's work and legacy? Wasn't it governance? Was Nehru just an intellectual gadfly, a writer of books on Indian history and politics?

Nehru was prime minister of India from 1947 to 1965. Along with BR Ambedkar, he played a notable role in the drafting the Constitution, wasn't this governance?

His government and party conceptualised and propagated the secular agenda. Isn't secularism part of governance? His fortnightly letters to all chief ministers, weren't those part of governance? The formation and development of the public sector, that creatively used public capital, and spurred industrial growth, not governance? Non-alignment, which made India a regional power and created a bloc from Indonesia, to Eygpt, to Yugoslavia, to counter Western imperialism, was this not governance?

So the inclusion of governance as filling an absence in the NMML, is a fantasy. It's not governance that is lacking in the NMML, but the domination of the sangh's notion of governance. But the sangh leaders and intellectuals are so bigoted and illiterate, that for them, the only governance is what they consider it to be. They have failed to push through the Land Acquisition Bill, after side-lining the UPA's much more humane version. Modi's "model" state of Gujarat, has collapsed. Its foreign policy outreach is cheered by NRIs, with little innovation or strengthening of India's international position. So, as Mahesh Sharma would say, we have got rid of "cultural pollution"!

Only fascists claim to cleanse culture, as they tried in Nazi Germany and fascist Italy, in the 1930s and 1940s. They did not succeed despite the Holocaust. Nor will this motley crew succeed. They may succeed in removing parts of Nehruviana and materials of the secular Congress, socialist, communist, Gandhian legacy, but the profound governance of the Nehru period, to which many contributed, is indelible. It will remain, because it touched the soul of India.


Kamal Mitra Chenoy Kamal Mitra Chenoy @kamaichenoy

The writer is an academic and activist.

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