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Mohan Bhagwat’s statement: A welcome step towards Counter-Radicalisation

Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS) head Mohan Bhagwat encouraged Muslims not to get “trapped in the cycle of fear” that Islam is in danger in India, claiming that all Indians have the same DNA. RSS chief further reiterated that Hindutva as an ideology does not promote lynchings and killings. Those who perform lynchings are going against the Hindutva. These remarks were made by the RSS chief at an event organised by Muslim Rashtriya Manch in Ghaziabad on July 4. Then, addressing at a book launch in Guwahati on July 31, Bhagwat reaffirmed his position, adding that Indians have been “living together for centuries despite different religions and food habits as our culture is one.” These remarks cannot be analysed in isolation; instead, they have to be contextualised within the politics of discord brewing since couple of years. Though the statement faced criticism from some quarters, yet these seem to be reconciliatory and acceptance of the uniqueness and diversity of Indian society.

The trajectory of Indian politics comprises of social cohesivity and inclusivity and acceptance of the distinctiveness of its social units. The RSS ideologue seems to be understanding the importance of internal cohesion for the growth and development of India regionally and globally. The recent years have seen a greater radicalisation culminating in anti-minority violence, islamophobia and social insecurity. The lynchings in the name of cow vigilantism and portrayal of Muslims as an existential threat to the Hindu majority have complicated the lives of minorities and led to their political and social exclusion.

Therefore this outreach to Muslims is significant and appropriate given the fact that unity, not discord, is a necessary condition for peace and progress. Bhagwat stressed on both Muslims and Hindus to believe in “dialogue not discord.” The RSS leader underlined that progress is impossible without national unity. The bedrock of unity should be nationalism and the glory of predecessors. “We are in a democracy. There can’t be a dominance of Hindus or Muslims. There can only be the dominance of Indians.” Mohan Bhagwat’s remarks reaffirm the Indian Constitution’s fundamental principles of religious equality, inclusion, and tolerance. It is necessary to recognise the need for peaceful coexistence and a diversity of culture.

This realisation on the part of the RSS chief is a welcome step in the process of deradicalisation which will reassure minorities freedom and social security guaranteed by the constitution. Indian Muslims understand that social divisions have no positive impact on their progress. And the same must be understood by the Hindu counterparts: aggression and threats must not be invoked frequently. Therefore, radicalisation must be circumscribed so that politics of division ends. The reassurance to minorities, particularly Muslims, must be followed by the termination of fear instilled in their minds which in turn would rejuvenate the idea of hormony.

However, the disharmony invoked by some hate mongers is deep-rooted. It will require a significant amount of time and effort to revitalise the vibrancy in social relations. Therefore there is a greater significance of such reconciliatory remarks coming from the majority and particularly from the RSS ideologue. Indian society must welcome these remarks and celebrate and cherish the diversity and continue to live as an example for the world.

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