Is a ‘Republic of South India’ really thinkable? – Utpal Kumar

Stalin with anti-Hindu bishop Ezra Sarguman.

Utpal KumarThe Modi government at the Centre can be accused of not doing enough to challenge the Left-liberal-missionary ecosystem that has been bent on decimating Hinduism and challenging India’s unity down South. – Utpal Kumar

Part One

Manu Joseph is a well-known journalist and novelist. He writes beautiful prose that often feels like poetry. He is leisurely to read and easy to comprehend. Last week, however, he wrote an article that seemed jarring at several places. Neither was it a leisurely read, nor was it a piece of clarity. For, this time, he wrote about an idea that he didn’t seem to comprehend, deliberately or otherwise.

The article, “A Republic of South India is not entirely unthinkable“, published in a Delhi newspaper on 1 May 2023, argued that “if the BJP grows more powerful, a new political superstar may emerge to lead the south away from the north”. The tone, too magisterial for a journalist, was that the north and the south of India are two poles that shall never meet. According to him, no one knows what keeps India together. “I have heard ‘English’, ‘cricket’ and ‘Bollywood’. I think there are no reasons,” writes Joseph. Maybe the only thing keeping them together is a “habit”. And then, he warns, “South India, too, is a habit!”

If you think this is an article on history, you are wrong. This is a hardcore political piece—it, in fact, dwells on contemporary politics. History, if anything, is its weakest link. So, what provokes the esteemed journalist-cum-novelist to come up with such a proverbial doomsday scenario for India’s unity and integrity? His abhorrence for Narendra Modi, of course!

“The Bharatiya Janata Party torments its rivals in a few ways. The least painful is when it wins elections fairly. Everything else involves a heavy hand,” thus writes Joseph, as he enumerates how other parties have accused the BJP of buying off their politicians, how Congress leader Rahul Gandhi has been disqualified from Parliament, how the BJP uses governors appointed by it to “paralyse states it does not run”, and how the BJP exploits the Enforcement Directorate to fix its rivals.

Let’s look at the contradictions. First, thank God, he did not question the veracity of the BJP’s electoral feats! There are many “liberal” who tread that dangerous path quite voluntarily. To the credit of the top BJP leadership, it takes a lot of effort to be poll-ready all the time. As for the Rahul Gandhi disqualification issue and the Left-liberal endeavour to link it with the BJP high-handedness, Joseph needs to understand that any such attempt leads to putting a question mark on the independence of the judiciary. Let the Western media live in the la-la land, but Joseph should have been more upright in conceding that India’s courts are far more autonomous and independent than even the American judiciary.

As for the misuse of the gubernatorial powers, the esteemed journalist showed either overriding ignorance or utmost prejudice. He just needed to look back in history to recall the Romesh Bhandari episode in Uttar Pradesh in the 1990s. There are many such incidents. But one episode that surpasses them all happened soon after the demolition of the Babri Masjid on 6 December 1992, when not just the Kalyan Singh dispensation of Uttar Pradesh but also the governments of Madhya Pradesh, Rajasthan and Himachal Pradesh were summarily dismissed through the misuse of Article 356. Interestingly, even the Supreme Court defended the move by accepting the “common thread” theory and said that states ruled by the same political party had felt the “same seismic vibration of unconstitutional action” by state governments during the demolition of the mosque.

If this were not good enough for Joseph, he could lcivilisationallyook back at Mrs Indira Gandhi’s regime as prime minister. She tops the chart of India’s prime ministers who imposed the most number of President’s Rule upon states. During her tenure from 1966-77 and 1980-84, the President’s Rule was imposed for a total of 50 times. This is where Joseph’s “strongman rule” falls flat: Mrs Gandhi’s democratic credentials need no elaboration, especially after her Emergency act, but how did India react to her 19-month draconian rule? In the 1977 Lok Sabha elections, while the Congress was almost decimated in the north, the party emerged more powerful in the south. Brush up your history again, Mr Joseph before indulging in D-day prophecies for India!

Also, what the author-cum-novelist fails to explain is that if a southern leader is so strong, why should he stop just in the Vindhyas, and not conquer the Gangetic north? Instantly, Rajendra Chola, the greatest of the Chola rulers who expanded his empire to Southeast Asia, comes to mind. Rajendra Chola, born to an illustrious father, Rajaraja Chola, wanted to anoint his new capital city with water from the Ganga river. So he sent his army on a long expedition from Thanjavur in Tamil Nadu all the way to Bengal. His army defeated many kingdoms en route, and brought back the holy water. He poured this water into a lake he built, the Chola Gangam, one of the largest man-made lakes in India till date.

In the post-Independence era, there was K. Kamaraj, a Tamil Nadu strongman who dominated national politics in the 1960s, especially after Jawaharlal Nehru’s death. He didn’t stop in the Vindhyas but subjugated the political landscape nationally. In fact, it was he who promoted the “goongi gudiya” (Mrs Indira Gandhi) in national politics. Similarly, in the 1990s, we had H.D. Deve Gowda who had no inhibitions in speaking in Hindi for his 1996 Independence Day speech!

The Cholas, when they had the wherewithal, fought hard to bring the Ganges water to the south. Why? Who would have stopped Kamaraj from taking up the Dravidian cause? And why did Deve Gowda go for Hindi rather than Kannada?

The answer lies in the civilisational notion of India. Bharat might not have been a nation in the physical sense of the term, but it remained one culturally for millennia. The traditional concept of a “chakravartin” king might explain that phenomenon. The Vishnu Purana makes a pointed reference towards that when it says: “Uttaram yat samudrasya, Himadreshchaiv dakshinam, varsham tad bharatam nama, Bharatee yatra santatihi” (The country that lies north of the ocean and south of the snowy mountains is called Bharatam, there dwells the descendants of Bharata).

It is this civilisational thread that keeps India united—not cricket, Bollywood or, worse, English! It is this innate unity that encouraged Adi Shankaracharya, born in Kerala, to establish tirthas (pilgrimage centres) across the corners of the subcontinent—from Joshimath in the north to Sringeri in the south, and from Dwaraka in the west to Puri in the east. It is this notion of unity that made Arun Shourie argue that although “the Mahabharata and the Ramayana describe warring states they are the epics of one people” (A Secular Agenda). It is this intrinsic idea of oneness that has ensured that only Namboodiripads from Kerala would be priests at Badrinath; those hailing from Karnataka would look after the Pashupati temple in Kathmandu; and, those looking after Rameshwaram would come from Maharashtra. Koenraad Elst explains this phenomenon in his book, Decolonising the Hindu Mind, “From hoary antiquity, the sankalpa locates the Hindu worshipper in time and space, notably in Bharatavarsha, in a decreasing scale of geographical regions down to the city or the region where the ritual is performed.”

It is this innate civilisational unity that makes the otherwise diverse people of the subcontinent one. It may not be apparent from the outside, but India remains one. The Westernised liberals may sneeringly look for that glue in cricket, Bollywood and what not, but the fact is it is the common civilisational heritage that makes India one nation.

There’s, however, an ominous sign that may imperil the unity of India that is Bharat, and push the South further away from the North. This may very much make Joseph’s predictions come true, but not in the manner he has prophesied. Modi isn’t the villain of the piece, though the entire political class can be accused of turning a blind eye to the impending disaster. More of that in the second article of this series. Till then India remains one, civilisationally as well as constitutionally. – Firstpost, 4 May 2023

Part Two

When senior journalist Manu Joseph wrote the article, “A Republic of South India is not entirely unthinkable”, on 1 May 2023, he accidentally hit the raw nerve. Accidentally, because though he was right about the threats of centrifugal forces being at play down south, he didn’t know the exact nature of the sinister design and also the players behind that. He, therefore, got the prescription and the treatment wrong.

Joseph, quite erroneously, just like most of his Western counterparts, puts the entire blame on Prime Minister Narendra Modi and his style of governance for setting in motion India’s centrifugal forces. The blame, instead, lies with sustained and concerted attempts being made by the “breaking-India” forces, led by missionaries, to incapacitate India’s civilisational unity. South India, especially Tamil Nadu, is in the throes of competitive harvesting of souls from evangelists of different hues, with covering fire being provided by the Western, Left-liberal media and intelligentsia.

The missionary forces are particularly targeting India’s troubled peripheries. This explains why Punjab has seen a spike in conversion cases. And Tamil Nadu, as per a study conducted a few years ago by the Centre for Policy Studies, a Chennai-based think tank, has been the most favourable state in India for the growth of Christianity. The population of Hindus, which constituted 90.47 percent of the state’s population in 1951, has come down to 87.58 percent by 2011. And if credible Tamil Nadu watchers are to be believed, the Hindu number is even lesser as neo-converts are now encouraged not to officially register their new faith. It’s a win-win strategy: One, the neo-converts can still claim the government’s welfare benefits; two, this allows the missionaries to remain under the radar; and three, the Hindu community, anyway prone to being indifferent to their larger religio-cultural SOS calls, can be hoodwinked to remain in its comfort zone.

Tamil Nadu’s demographic change hasn’t been confined to the areas near Kanyakumari, which in the past 100 years have seen the Christian population rise from 30.7 percent in 1921 to almost 50 percent today. (In fact, if George Ponnaiah, a controversial Roman Catholic priest from the region, is to be believed, the Christian numbers in Kanyakumari “have crossed 62 percent. Soon we would be 70 percent”.) Other areas such as Coimbatore, Thanjavur, Tiruchirappalli, Dindigul, Coimbatore and Nilgiris, Sivaganga, Ramanathapuram, Tirunelveli and Thoothukudi, too, have witnessed a substantial rise in Muslim population.

However, more than the missionary activities down South, especially in Tamil Nadu, it is the deeply entrenched anti-Hindu ecosystem—a byproduct of the Left-‘liberal’-missionary nexus—which is threatening to create a divide that has not been there civilisationally. Originally a colonial-missionary construct, post-Independence, the Dravidian movement warriors—again in collusion with evangelistic forces—have perfected this language of divide.

So, when Periyar, in 1953, broke the idols of Lord Ganesh, and his ideological successor, former Tamil Nadu CM M. Karunanidhi, called Bhagwan Ram a “drunkard” in 2007, the two were merely aping the colonial-missionary narrative to target Hinduism to forward their politico-ideological objectives. Without denying the excesses of the caste system, the fact remains that most campaigns against Brahminism were organised and orchestrated by those inimical to Hinduism per se: A Brahmin was targeted because he was seen as a symbol of civilisational Bharat. The missionaries attacked him because he was regarded as the biggest hurdle in winning “India for the Christ”—a fact attested by Abbe J.A. Dubois in Hindu Manners, Customs and Ceremonies. The British saw him as a rallying point of Indian nationalism rising against colonial rule. Worse, post-Independence, the Left-Dravidian forces have joined hands to villanise him, for he seems to epitomise everything that they detest.

One can unravel the true nature of anti-Brahminism in Tamil Nadu—which V.S. Naipaul categorically classifies in his book, India: A Million Mutinies, as a movement of the middle castes, and not all non-Brahmin castes — from the fact that it offered no protection to lower castes. In fact, some of the most brutal attacks on the Scheduled Castes took place post-1967 during the DMK regime. In 1969, for instance, 40 Harijans were burnt alive by Thevars, a powerful middle caste.

South India has a long history—and a deep conspiracy—to decimate Hinduism, of course in the name of Brahminism. There has also been a serious and incessant endeavour to assimilate Hinduism in South India into Christian history and theology. Even an apocryphal saga that places St. Thomas in India in 53 AD has been invented to suggest Christian influence on Tamil culture and spirituality. It has been said that the Tamil classics, such as the great Thirukkural, were composed under Christian influence — but got debased later under ‘Aryan’ manipulations and interventions.

Even the Hindu fine arts were not left alone. Here’s a cautionary tale for the liberal Hindu. As the book Snakes in the Ganga, written by Rajiv Malhotra and Vijaya Viswanathan, shows, the rich and the powerful should choose institutions wisely (especially the Western ones) for charity, for they might actually be paying for writing the obituaries of their own people, culture and civilisation; likewise, the gurus of the fine art too need to choose their shishyas astutely. For there are artists who learnt ancient Indian dances under traditional Hindu gurus to later actively work to de-Hinduise, or rather Christianise, them. Rani David, a well-known Bharatanatyam dancer, is a classic case in study. Even more glaring is the saga of Leela Samson, who learnt Bharatanatyam from Kalakshetra. Rukmini Arundale had set up this revered institution to not just rescue the ancient dance form from the colonial-evangelistic interventions, but also acknowledge its innate Hinduness. As fate would have it, Samson became the head of Kalakshetra in 2005, and suddenly she became uncomfortable about the spiritual roots of Bharatanatyam. A year later, she stopped her students from participating in an Art of Living event in Chennai. The reason: “This function is concerned with Hindu religion,” she said matter-of-factly.

If the actual conversion of Hindus on a large scale weren’t bad enough, this de-Hinduisation, or rather Christianisation, of the South Indian mind through selective tempering of their religious, cultural and artistic ethos is creating an enemy within. It has created a section of people who may physically be Hindu but think and act like the adversaries of India’s civilisational and constitutional unity. They act as Trojan horses without even knowing it.

It is in this backdrop that a republic of south India is very much possible—and the blame for this rests primarily with the thriving Left-‘liberal’-missionary ecosystem. If at all, the Modi government at the Centre can be accused of not doing enough to challenge these forces that have been bent on challenging India’s unity and decimating Hinduism down South. Maybe for the government, the liberation of Hindu temples from immoral state control can be a good starting point. And, it’s a low-hanging fruit too. – Firstpost, 6 May 2023

Utpal Kumar is Opinion Editor of Firstpost and News18, Mumbai.

M. Karunanidhi with Catholic bishops of Tamil Nadu.
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