Views & Reviews
Unmasking “The Hoax about RSS in Nagaland”
In today’s politics of India, one cannot set aside that religion and globalisation are mutually exclusive. That is, in post-Congress India, more than ever religion, politics, and power are dynamically interwoven: Morals and culture, religious mission and political finesse. Such a paradox was not devoid in Medieval Christendom, with its Christian fundamentalism, nor in Islamic theocracies at different points throughout history. To this day, the lines between religion, politics, and power remain not only dynamically interwoven, but indistinguishably so.
“The hoax about RSS in Nagaland,” a recent article published in local dailies, and authored by a “Life long worker of RSS who has spent forty years of his prime life in service of Nagas of Nagaland stationed at Kohima” is in itself a political statement par excellence. It is also questionable. Has religion become a force for political motivation in today’s India? With the progress of time, without putting up a front, how long the BJP’s creative tension with the RSS sustained the thin lid in the face of economic liberalisation and global politics is telling. If one is ethically honest, can anyone of us (that is, Hindus, Muslims, Buddhist, Jains, Jews, and Christians) afford to ignore the RSS mission of designed vindictiveness to single out those in the margins of faiths, culture, and practices? At the heart of the creative tension lies fear and loyalty, and while this is understandable to a sectarian mentality, the world does not necessarily agree that it must be the only way.
A man who has lived a sacrificial life of service for over forty years is to be admired and anyone would not expect unfair words as “Church sponsored NNC”, and “Kashmir way in Nagaland.” Claims by the author of the article cited above must be honestly and critically uncovered. In the past, the author has stated categorically that the seed of the Naga “insurgent” movement lies with the “foreign missionaries.” Without any bias, one can look at the historical records and classified documents to confirm if this is true. To the best of historians’ research, the missionaries educated and taught the Nagas and other non-Nagas in India to follow Christ, to live better lives, and to love one’s neighbors. Similarly, the statement that the “RSS played its constructive role in bringing out peace in Nagaland” is one that Naga readers and those who have kept up with Naga events in recent times will find puzzling, if not brazen. Who, then, is the intended audience and what is the intended purpose of “The hoax about RSS in Nagaland”?
Without any doubt, the average people in India from different religious affiliations know what needs to happen now. In any cultural and religious plural setting, fundamentalism of any kind is a hazard to a society and nation. If anyone reading this article thinks that we, as Christians, are excluding Christianity, this is false. We make no qualms to admit that many movements and individuals under the guise of Christianity have led to a shameful testimony for its adherents all over the world. Closer home, the co-opting of Christian religion to a political ideology has fashioned an ideological justification for a means to an end. The legitimatisation of politics by religious fundamentalism is a civil religion. Coupled with this, all patriotism fuelled by hate and maliciousness leads to terrorism. Must we all not reflect honestly?
India today is a power to be reckoned with in the world. However, one must question how sustainable it is for a democratic nation to be callous to civil freedoms and ethnic minority rights in the name of goals and ideology. Can we as individuals and groups live freely and peacefully when those that hold power avoid taking genuine responsibility, whether to the denial of freedom of religion, or the violence perpetuated through speeches, perceptions, and crafted narratives? The dangers of politics today will arise from an attempt to unify and systematise what is actually plural and un-systematisable. Such a manifesto obscures the plurality of beliefs, interests, and aspirations without bounds of creative imagination of political models.
On a positive note, world religions have always played a vital role of moral force and action. They bear the visions of common good and human flourishing. To be known as “religious” one must embrace and articulate orientation toward the divine. In this, religions are an indispensible part of politics and hence a solution to humanity’s quest for meaning. Can one be true to the words of RSS Chief Mohan Bhagwat? “[There is] scare-mongering by some being done that there is a danger to minorities because of us. This is neither the nature of Sangh nor of Hindus. Sangh resolves to stand on the side of brother, amity and peace.” How humanity longs for such a beautiful quote to universally materialise!
Akumsangla Aier, Athisu Sani, Ellen C. Konyak, Imliwabang Jamir, Pangernungba Kichu, Sashinungla Pongen, Sashi Jamir, and Zavi Nisa
(A Theologically Trained Team)