One of the readers wrote the above as a comment on a Frontline article. It would deserve no attention whatsoever had it not been becoming a dominant perspective in the country. What the man is saying in short is: India belongs to Hindus and the others have no rights.
The view in the comment is rather self-contradictory. On the one hand, the writer is saying that India is superior to the “40” Islamic countries because Hindus are “by nature secular.” On the other hand, he is arguing for saffronisation of the country. This contradiction is inherent in most right wing perspectives these days. That is because people know that Hindutva is essentially an unwholesome ideology founded on hatred and little else.
However, what really intrigues me is not the hatred that underlies the ideology or not even the contradictions exhibited by its upholders. When people argue that the majority is right or that the majority have all rights, I cannot but laugh.
First of all, the majority are seldom right. There is nothing called a group mind. A group cannot think uniformly. The group’s decision is just an approximation, a compromise. Decisions made by the majority are good for choosing a leader or the colour of a flag. When it comes to serious matters, especially those with moral implications, we can’t go by the majority. As Mahatma Gandhi (whom the right wing loves to hate) said, “In matters of conscience, the law of the majority has no place.”
Secondly, who are the majority? The notion that all the Hindus in India form a homogeneous majority is simply wrong. There are thousands and thousands of Hindus who do not support what the Sangh outfits do. How many Hindus in India support the attacks on the people belonging to minority communities in the name of cows or other such things? A few thousand disgruntled people are trying to impose their will on the nation and calling it the majority will. They use religion as a tool in the process because religion has the power to evoke powerful sentiments.
Bertrand Russell argued time and again that no opinion becomes legitimate simply because the majority support it. In fact, what the majority supports may often be absurd or silly when subjected to logical analysis. In the words of Russell, “in view of the silliness of the majority of mankind, a widely spread belief is more likely to be foolish than sensible.”
This argument that the country belongs to the majority and that the majority have all the right to decide what others will eat, speak, worship, etc is the best illustration of what Russell said. What’s more ridiculous than a bunch of mediocre people gathering with lathis in hand and enforcing some savage notions on a nation in the name of religion and culture and then claiming the sanction of majority for such deeds?