Weekly Update: Monarchy Walking Into Sunset? And Hindutva’s Self-Goal
The British Monarch, Her Majesty the Queen, a wonderful person because she never says anything beyond platitudes, almost always smiling, celebrated her 70th year on the British throne cutting ribbons and handing out ribbons, on the throne of the Commonwealth wheeling around the world cutting ribbons and wheezing around a few other countries , such as Canada and Australia, cutting ribbons. The 70-year Jubilee was a four-day affair with every world media showing some, all, or a bit of the four days. Music and hand waving, army march pass and street parties etc were all packed into the extended programme of celebrations. The Royal family glowed in the adulation. Even the baby royals were there to lap it up. Perhaps the leaders of many a country, must have been wondering, ‘Why can’t I have some of that’. Perhaps some will now organise a yearly jamboree of them being in power. Modiji next?
Everyone enjoyed it, except the thousands British who are anti Monarchists and want to turn Britain into a Republic. And those who are indifferent, but sulked in their front rooms as family members wanted to watch Her Majesty, while they wanted to watch football, or anything else, even Peppa Pig. And the failed exodus of thousands who had tried to escape but were returned from airports as flights were cancelled. They had to suffer watching four days of celebrations they were trying to get away from.
Or the many in the world, who remembered on these day the oppressions, atrocities and destructions visited on their communities by British colonialism in the name of the Royal family. For them, the scenes of HMQ and family smiling, while their cultures and nations are just about recovering from the poverty and near extinction, must have been a bit painful. Or as many saw HMQ and family sitting on gilded carriages, diamond studded tiaras and opulence built on treasures taken from their lands. Where are the crown jewels from, or the financial wealth of UK from?
Before colonialism, India reportedly had 25% of world’s wealth alone. In 1947, it was a country begging for food and development funds. That story is the same in many other parts of the world.
Still, as the Brits like reminding, they brought the railways to the countries. In this Jubilee year, countries should be grateful to the Empire and Royals for little mercies, so what if at the end they got poverty in return. But then how Russia got the Trans Siberian Rail, the longest railway, without British imperialism must be the eight wonder of the world.
However, Empires eventually fragment and end. Emperor Romulus Augustus is remembered for losing the mighty Roman Empire. Emperor Bahadur Shah lost the great Mughal dynasty. Both are known as losers. Queen Elizabeth 2nd, took power in 1952. By 2022, she has managed to lose almost the entire British Empire, the biggest Empire in the history of the world! Only the British can make the loss of an Empire as a triumphant victory! If Queen Victoria had extended the Empire to one where the sun never sets, Queen Elizabeth, has reduced the Empire to one where sun rises and sets at predictable times.
The Roman Empire lasted some 1400 years. The Mughals lasted a little over 300 years. From start to finish, the British Empire lasted a mere 200 years, largest and the shortest. There are many reasons for it. Many of those still exist within the British Royal family as Meghan will tell you.
The disintegration of the Empire hasn’t ended. The Commonwealth is a bit fed up with being told to be democratic but to accept the Queen as the non-elected permanent head. Many want to leave and others want rotating Presidents of Commonwealth. The Queen, they say will be the last one.
Within Britain itself, only 40% of the younger generation want to keep the Royalty. There are concerns that Royalty is seen as an anachronistic symbol of a brutal and oppressive past in British history. As the imperially drenched older generation ingrained with pomposity fades into the big sky, it seems increasingly possible the Monarchy too will fade as the last relic of an age, glorious to some, inglorious to others. It doesn’t matter how many song and dance shows are staged to make Royalty appear benign, its destructive shadow from the past lingers scattered around the world and its role in propping the class system in Britain remains. Sometimes soon that past will fade as did other empires. Unless David Icke is right, then we are in another realm.
Hindutva’s New Tava Missile
Hindutva is sometimes an aimless, groundless, mindless rocket that tends to whirr around from time to time spinning like a top falling off the edge and hitting an unsuspecting beetle beneath. It seems it has now entered that space between terracotta and chaotic neutrons where verbal travel is directionless.
No one really knows what Hindutva is, so its most fanatic adherents usually make it up as a sum of their prejudices, hates and mythical glory.
A couple have taken a pot shot at Prophet Mohammed now. Boom. It was easy beating up ordinary Muslims going about their daily business and even killing a few to end Kaliyug and revive a creationist past from 6,000 years ago when allegedly only ‘Hindus’ lived in Bharat in Dwapar Yug. The Muslim nations turned a blind eye calling it domestic issues and cultural idiosyncrasy, except Pakistan which has a few hundred of its own similar domestic issues as wannabe Mullahs beat up Shias, Christians or occasionally other communities.
The problem with Hindutva is that there is no word Hindu endogenous to the civilisation of South Asia. It is an exonym made popular by Islamic invaders as they settled in the region. Therefore Hinduism has no coherence, no philosophy, no central belief. Hindu was just a name for those who didn’t convert to Islam and Hinduism for everything that was not Abrahamic in South Asia. Then it was given a Royal stamp by British imperialist. Hindus as a category became part of census. All the very profound but different indigenous worldviews, philosophies and belief systems, such as Vedanta, Shaivism, Advaitism, Vaishnava, Carvakaism, Sankhya, Nyaya etc were packaged into one by the lazy British in a version of the usual, ‘they all look alike’.
It is difficult to develop a meaningful political ideology from an exonym or a category of convenience for the census. ‘Hindutva’ nevertheless was born to give Hinduism and Hindus an ideological identity. It is mostly an ‘anti everyone else’ ideology drawing boundaries. So hating those who don’t call themselves Hindus is part of it. They include Muslims, Christians, secularists and sometimes even Sikhs.
This time the ‘knock them down’ policy went a bit ballistic as the perpetrators hit the hypersonic missile button. Unfortunately the missile has boomerang engine.
Muslims tolerate many things, including blowing each other’s mosques, killing each other in the name of cleansing the faith, chopping heads of apostates. But attacking Prophet Mohammed suddenly unites them all. Outsiders sometimes fail to see this.
Salman Rushdie, still neurotically living and writers of Charlie Hebdo still drawing on State funds for protection should have cautioned the Hindutva forward charge brigade to know the boundaries of their favourite past time. Muslim nations stopped bombing each other (Yemen etc) and decided to stand up united for a few seconds. One by one they are lining to get an official apology from the Indian State.
At stake is $350 billion trade or part of it, a loss of goodwill from Middle East nations, and an opportunist take by Pakistan to fill in the job market that might emerge if Indian workers are sent packing home. Indian products are already being boycotted in some Middle East countries. India may have to quickly behead Nupur Sharma or at least give a humbling apology. It’s quite a feat having played some remarkable diplomatic dexterity around Ukraine only to land in a problem of its own making and attract the ire of 52 Muslim countries. It’s all in Modiji’s hands now. On the other hand the few seconds of ire may pass and pensioning off the two Generals of Hindutva might just do the trick.