The media bent themselves backwards covering the 3rd International Yoga Day. Photographs of people in various asanas at various iconic locations - from the Great Wall of China to Machu Pichu littered on-line and off-line media. Cities across the world carved out space and time for their inhabitants to practice this ancient form now seen as an exercise. The Indian Army had their soldiers perform postures along the country’s snowy borders, the Indian Navy had their sailors perform asanas on board their ships, the Indian Air Force could not find any asanas to perform in the air. The Prime Minister of India crowed that Yoga binds the world. It would seem that the Prime Minister, like every other proud India, has laid claim to the power of Yoga. Unfortunately, enlightened as he may be, Modi like the rest of his brethren are willy-nilly ignoring the worlds willingness to try out something alien to their culture. They choose to repudiate the global open-mindedness that results in the acceptance, respect and practice of Yoga.
It appears as if Prime Minister Modi is doling out largesse to the rest of the world. The imagery of the world being gifted by India does make many Indians proud. Be that as it may, is the very reason for such benefaction the predilection for recognition, something which Modi of the ruling Bhartiya Janata Party (BJP) and their ideological fount the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh covet so hungrily? Should there therefore be pride in such an oblation when the underlying rationale is more selfish and less selfless?
There is a concentrated endeavour to internationally showcase and promote this land as being a societal and civilisational cradle. The need to be acknowledged and celebrated as being some kind of originator and an original bolsters the argument of this lands glorious past and validates attempts to return to this bygone era. The process to regress to this much heralded glorious past requires divisive repression of minorities. Thus even as Modi feeds of the world’s multi-culturalism to promote Yoga, the idea of diversity, its, practice and respect is dying in India.
One can see this trend. What began as a sly mudslinging has now become sinister and life threatening. The word secular was morphed to ‘Sickular’, while liberals were branded as ‘libtards’. However, now people identified as such face death by proponents of the Right Wing Hindutva philosophy. In the recently concluded meeting of Hindu organisations, Sadhvi Saraswati is quoted saying seculars will be the first to be attacked.
This conclave which this individual was part of deliberated on ways to ensure that India would be converted to a Hindu state by 2023. People at this conference also disavowed the Indian Constitution and stated that the constitution for India was written by Ram and Krishna. They also demanded the public execution of those consuming beef. One would have drawn strength and comfort from the thought that it was the fringe speaking if it were different from what elected BJP politicians have been voicing. These politicians are suggesting the death sentence for those found guilty of slaughtering cows. States ruled by the BJP have in place laws that provide for life imprisonment, while police in some of these states plan to use parts of the National Security Act in such cases.
Today, it is hard to ascribe the location of the fringe. Is the elected government part of the fringe or the fringe part of the elected government?
It is disconcerting that the international multi-culturalism that Modi and his ilk enjoy and manipulate is not accorded or practiced in India. The Prime Minister of India, the RSS and the proponents of the so called Hindu Rashtra should learn from the acceptance of plurality and diversity that has resulted in the global celebration of Yoga. But it seems that they would rather use this multi-culturalism abroad to achieve their own saffron hued mono-cultural xenophobic wonderland at home.