Lokayat: Fighting Fascism
Lokayat is an activist group and forum based in Pune that is part of the larger anti-globalisation movement and upholds the principles enshrined in the Constitution of India. This forum looks at the impact of the liberalisation of the Indian economy after 1991 and the consequences of running an economy on the bases of profit maximisation of giant foreign and Indian corporations at the cost of the poorest people of this country. Highlighting the Directive Principles of the Constitution of the Indian State, Lokayat aspires to build an egalitarian society where each person has adequate means of livelihood, minimising income inequality and the wealth gap, and raising the standard of living of each citizen in this country. It is concerned with the increasing dispossession of the poor, the takeover of land, forest, water and resources to build Special Economic Zones (SEZs), the increasing privatisation of the public sector, the stranglehold over Indian agriculture that is resulting in the deaths of thousands of farmers, the consequent end of small businesses, the closure of affordable hospitals, schools, banking services, the decreasing jobs in the market, and finally, the ecological catastrophe that lies in the wake of this endless loot of resources. This forum has a vibrant cultural wing and organises seminars, talks, film screenings, song concerts, street campaigns, plays, rallies and dharnas on these issues to reach out to people and raise cultural consciousness.
Lokayat’s women’s wing, Abhivyakti, organises campaigns and programmes on the various aspects of gender inequality and the social roots of violence against women. Their prominent campaigns have included efforts to ensure education for all, to fight Foreign Direct Investment (FDI) in retail, to fight sexual harassment and the commodification of women, to eradicate corruption in a globalised world, to fight the onslaught of nuclear energy and for the justice of the victims of the Bhopal Gas tragedy. Lokayat also regularly publishes booklets in Hindi, English and Marathi on the impact of fascism, the neoliberal attack on education, the attack on rationalists like Narendra Dhabolkar, M.M. Kalburgi and Govind Pansare, the impact of the economic policy of the state, the assault of multinational corporations on the Indian market, the subjugation of women, Brahmanical rituals that exploit the most marginalised communities, and the impact of global warming. Lokayat regularly posts videos of the programmes it organises as well as short films on these issues on their YouTube page so these can be shared widely.
Rabin Mondal, Relation / via DAGModern
Here is an extract from Ram Puniyani's essay "The Spectre of Fascism", part of Lokayat's publications for the Lokshahisathi Sangharsh Yatra, which proceeded from Pune to Dharwad on September 21-24.
The British colonised India, systematically looted and plundered the country, destroyed its vibrant industry and agriculture, and turned its cities into ruins. With the objective of dividing the people of our country in the name of religion to facilitate their rule, they distorted Indian history and came up with a fraudulent theory that projected medieval India as being under the despotic rule of Muslim kings who subjected Hindus to immense persecution. This then served as a justification for British colonialism—that they had come to liberate the Hindus from Muslim tyranny. The RSS has appropriated this distorted colonial history and shamelessly propagates it, as it helps to create the social conditions for implementing its fascist agenda.
It is amazing how many people believe in this rubbish propagated by the RSS as history. But it has been doing so for nearly 90 years now; and as its idol, Goebbels, stated,
"If you tell a lie big enough and keep repeating it, people will eventually come to believe it."
Apart from demonising the Muslims as "historical enemies" of Hindus, the RSS for decades has been spreading malicious propaganda about the Muslims, such as that they have four wives and a dozen children, because of which their population is rapidly increasing and they are conspiring to ultimately become the majority in the country and take it over and make it a Islamic country. This propaganda has been going on for so many decades that it has become established as a kind of social common sense—most Hindus believe this. The reality is quite the opposite, and has been brought out in several surveys. The 1961 Census was the last one to look at marriages by religion and community. That survey found that incidence of polygamy was the least among Muslims, with just 5.7% of the community likely to practice it. Hindus actually had a higher incidence rate of polygamy, at 5.8%. Subsequent data also confirm this. A survey carried out by the government in 1974 put the polygamy figure at 5.6% among Muslims, and 5.8% for upper-caste Hindus. Research by Mallika B. Mistry of the Gokhale Institute of Politics and Economics in Pune in 1993 also concluded that “there is no evidence that the percentage of polygamous marriage (among Muslims) is larger than for Hindus.” [i]
As regards population growth rates, Census data show that while the share of Hindus in the total population has marginally decreased from 80.5% to 79.8% over the decade 2001–11, the share of Muslims has marginally increased from 13.4% to 14.2%. But what is more important is that not only is the decadal growth rate of both communities declining, the decline has been sharper among Muslims than Hindus over the last three decades! As shown in Table 1, the decline in the growth rate for Muslims—4.9 percentage points—is greater than that for Hindus—3.1 percentage points—as compared to the last decade. While the Muslim population is still growing at a faster rate, the gap between the two growth rates is decreasing and the two rates are beginning to converge over time. [ii]
Table 1: Decadal Growth Rate (%) [iii]
But Census data also reveal that there is nothing like a “Hindu growth rate” and a “Muslim growth rate”; it is nothing but fundamentalist propaganda. Fertility rates vary from region to region, depending upon factors like female education, availability of health care, and employment opportunities. Thus, Bihar has 15% Muslim population while Kerala has 25% Muslim population. Yet, in 2001–2011, Bihar’s overall population grew by 25% while Kerala’s population grew by 5%—that is, despite the fact that there are more Muslims in Kerala, the overall population growth rate of Bihar was five times the growth rate of Kerala. [iv]
Post-independence, the RSS has also been targeting Christians as enemies, and claiming that Christian missionaries are converting innocent Hindus to Christianity in large numbers. The census figures convincingly debunk RSS propaganda. The Christian population has remained constant in the country at 2.3% during the past two decades. [v]
The doctoring of mass consciousness that the RSS has been doing for the last so many decades through its innumerable fronts and tens of thousands of activists has enabled it to polarise the communities. It has made them think of themselves first as Hindus, Muslims or Christians rather than as citizens of a secular country, and has established in the minds of Hindus that Muslims and Christians are their enemies and have been so for centuries.
With the coming to power of the BJP, the RSS and the various fronts spawned by it have intensified the spread of their communal propaganda with great speed.
[i] Rohan Venkataramakrishnan, “Muslim Women and the Surprising Facts About Polygamy in India”,
July 8, 2014, scroll.in
[ii] Poonam Muttreja, “Population Growth Slowing for All; On Sex Ratio, Muslims Better Than Hindus”,
August 27, 2015, indianexpress.com
[iv] Chitra Padmanabhan, “Muslims Up, Hindus Down: The Perils of Reading the Census as Sensex”,
August 27, 2015, thewire.in
[v] “India's Population at 1.21 billion; Hindus 79.8%, Muslims 14.2%”, August 26, 2015, business-standard.com
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