Now Tagore is anti-national too!

Now Rabindranath Tagore, too, has come in the gunsight of the RSS.  An RSS leader who heads the organization’s educational wing, the Siksha Sanskriti Unnayan Nyas, has sent a five-page list of ‘objectionable’ books and words to the National Council of Educational Research and Training (NCERT), recommending that they (the ‘biased and baseless’ textbooks) be removed from school curriculum. What takes the breath away is in the ‘ban list’ figure Tagore’s famous poem “Where the mind is without fear” and another named “Juta Aviskar (inventing the shoe). The RSS reportedly has strong reservations about Tagore’s article on Nationalism because, according to it, in this work of Rabindranath “an attempt has been made to show a rift between nationality and humanity.” This, obviously, is an unpardonable ‘anti-national’ crime.
The wave of intolerance, bigotry and jingoist Hindutva that is sweeping in the country is now threatening to weaken the unity of the polity and portraying everyone – irrespective of his or her religion – who differs with the ideology or world view of the Sangh Parivar as an anti-naitonal. The demonization of Tagore, along with that of many others, is of a piece with the attempt to rewrite history books by deleting from textbooks passages mentioning the Gujarat communal riot of 2002 in which around two thousand Muslims were killed. This presages a situation that developed in the Germany of the nineteen thirties when works of Goethe, Schiller, Bertolt Brecht and dozens of other luminaries in the world of literature and the arts were banned and bonfires were made of their books.
The particular poem of Tagore that has incurred RSS wrath dreams of a country “where the mind is without fear and the head is held high” “where the clear stream of reason has not lost its way into the dreary desert sand of dead habit”; “where the mind is led forward by Thee into ever-widening thought and action, into that heaven of freedom, my Father, let my country awake.” Obviously, the RSS and all its affiliates that make up the Sangh Parivar do not want an India where her citizens are without fear and hold their heads high, where the mind is led into ever-widening thought and action and where a clear stream of reason flows freely without being impeded by outdated, divisive and regressive ideas. That was the “heaven of freedom” that Tagore envisioned for India. The RSS does not share Tagore’s vision of India as a heaven of freedom. They have their own definition of ‘freedom’ that imprisons all citizens and makes them fit into an ideological strait-jacket.

Wednesday, 26 July, 2017