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Guruji’s non-conflicting formula for minority assimilation

WebdeskJul 09, 2021, 08:52 AM IST

Guruji’s non-conflicting formula for minority assimilation

                                                                                                                                                             S. Gurumurthy 


The most farsighted, sagely contribution of Guruji to national integration was his uncompromising intellectual campaign that national integration was possible only by assimilating the minorities into the national mainstream [1].

Guruji’s concept of assimilation of minorities was founded on the integrating principles recounted in the earlier parts of this series and recapitulated briefly here: First, the nation in India is cultural, not religious (2) which the Supreme Court has accepted (3); second, all Bharatiyas, including Muslims, are descendents of common ancestors (4), a fact which even Islamic Pakistan’s official history accepts(5); third, behind the apparent diversity of people, there is a subtle underlying unity(6), which the Supreme Court has accepted(7); the subtle underlying unity constitutes the way of life and the basic or mainstream national culture of India (8) which is endorsed by the Supreme Court (9); that basic culture is Hindu in character (10), which too is endorsed by the Supreme Court (11); the nation in India is not just a bundle of political and economic rights (12); the Hindu culture is not to be equated to Hindu religion (13) which is also endorsed by the Supreme Court (14); all religions now in this country have been welcomed, protected and fostered by ancient Hindu world view of acceptance of all faiths (15), which was also noted by the Supreme Court (16); no one has been ever discriminated on religious grounds in this country. (17), a point again noted by the Supreme Court (18); he cannot be the son of the soil who does not recognise the rights of another to follow any religion (19); cultural assimilation is Indianisation (20) which is also noted by the Supreme Court (21); Indianisation does not amount to Hinduisation in religious sense (22) which is also endorsed by the Supreme Court (23); the Hinduism or Hindu culture does not affect the development of common culture as common culture develops around core or basic culture (24), which was also recognised by the Supreme Court (25); the Hindu concept of State has always been secular (26) and the Supreme Court said confirmingly that Hindutva may protect secularism (27). On the above premises Guruji founded his concept of assimilation and asserted the understanding that all citizens of India, including the minorities, have common cultural duty to the nation (rashtra dharma), to the society (samaja dharma), and to their ancestors (kula dharma), none of which interferes with his personal right to follow any worship that suits him best (vyakti dharma), constitutes the essence of assimilation (28). Guruji had to wage an intense intellectual battle against all calumny to keep alive this integrated formula for assimilation for the future discourse to benefit by.


Gandhi and Nehru had affirmed Guruji’s view on the assimilation of minorities.


Now read this speech. “I am proud of India, not only because of her ancient magnificent heritage, ...... India’s strength has been two fold: her innate culture which flowered through ages, and capacity to draw from other sources and thus add to her own. .......There is a continuous synthesis in India’s real history, and the many political changes which have taken place have had little effect on the growth of variegated and yet essentially unified culture. I have said that I am proud of our inheritance and our ancestors who gave an intellectual and cultural pre-eminence to India. Note the words, “proud of India” for “her ancient magnificent heritage”; India’s “innate culture that has flowered through the ages”; there is “continuous synthesis in India’s real history”; India’s “variegated, yet, essentially unified culture”; “proud of our inheritance and our ancestors”. Unifying culture, cultural nationalism, assimilation – the core ideas of Guruji’s – are manifest in this speech. Was it Guruji’s? No. Sardar Patel’s. Gandhiji’s? No. The speaker was Pandit Jawaharlal Nehru! Where? At the convocation of Aligarh University in 1948!(29) Earlier, in his Independence Day address, Pandit Nehru spoke of India “as a symbol of unity in diversity”, of its “capacity to assimilate” and of “ability to reconcile the irreconcilable.”(30) So, Guruji’s views on cultural nationalism, common ancesty and assimilation were identical to Pandit Nehru’s. Did Pandit Nehru drop talking about it later, because it would have identified him with RSS? In his fundamental work Hind Swaraj written by Gandhi in 1909, he said that India was one nation from time immemorial. Answering the question whether the introduction of Mohammedans not unmade the ancient nation, Gandhiji said: “India cannot cease to be one nation because of those belonging to different religions live in it. The introduction of foreigners does not necessarily destroy a nation; they merge in it. A country is a nation only when such a situation obtains in it. That country must have a faculty of assimilation. India has ever been such a country..... those who are conscious of the spirit of nationality do not interfere with one another’s religion. If they do they are not fit to be considered a nation.”(30) Even thirty years later, in 1938, Gandhiji found ‘nothing to make him alter his views expounded in’ the Hind Swaraj in which these views were written.(31) So Gandhiji had remined firm on nationalism and assimilation.


Assimilation: Society integrates multiculturalism; states enforces integration


After World War II, the west, guilty of genocide of Jewish minorities and with no common potential within to assimilate minorities, began advocating multiculturalism, which ignored the critical idea of common mainstream culture, on which the concept of assimilation was founded. The doctrines of assimilation and multiculturalism are two diametrically opposite poles. Assimilation is a social function, which ensures social and cultural integration of the nation. But multiculturalism is a political function and a legal and constitutional alternative which forces integration and fractures and undermines national society. Multiculturalism appoints the State as arbiter between different sub-cultural sections of the national society – and in the process it de-legitimises the very concept of mainstream national culture and mainstream national society. But, as we shall see in detail later, the experience of the West, which fashioned multiculturalism and fancied it as lot, has demonstrated that multiculturalism first undermines, later gradually destroys, the mainstream national culture and society and finally makes national integration a function of just law, with breach of it as just a law and order issue. This approach has created indigestible minorities who threaten the very foundation of some western nations today.(32) Therefore, idea of assimilation of minorities, where the mainstream national society and core or basic culture play the integrative role, contradicts multiculturalism. There is vital difference between the state-society relation in the West as compared to state-society relation in Asia, particularly in India. In the West, after undermining the Church, the State has virtually eliminated the society in the natural sense of the term – now what is substituted for the naturally evolved society is civil society which is nothing but State registered collectives like clubs, association and the like. Margaret

Thatcher said that there is nothing like society at all.(33) In family-oriented countries like India, where individualism is subordinated to the family, community and society, national integration is largely a social function – the State alone cannot and is unable to bring about integration through only through the Constitution and law and order. In India, with with just 12,800 police stations for some 6.5 lakh villages and towns(34), the State alone cannot ensure and enforce social and national integration by law and law and order machinery. Where the society is fractured like in Jammu and Kashmir, certain areas of North-East India, the law and order machinery of the State itself itself can only prevent or deal with law and order issues. Therefore, the law and the law and order machinery can only enforce national integration whereas only the social process achieves integration by assimilation.


Assimilation turns bad word after Gandhi and Nehru; Guruji’s lonely battle to keep alive the idea of assimilation


But for want of intellectual exposition and defence at higher levels of national leadership after Mahatma Gandhi – and after Pandit Nehru stopped talking about assimilation later – the concept of assimilation of minorities gradually became an inelegant word in national discourse depicted almost as annihilation of minorities’ culture. This was thanks mainly to pseudo-secularism slowly replacing genuine secularism in national politics post Independence. Another reason for the national discourse to turn against the idea of assimilation was the emergence of multiculturalism in Western discourse in 1960s. Guruji had to fight a lonely battle to keep the concept of assimilation alive. And the West which underwent an experiement of multiculturlism and exported that experiment to India, is now reverting back to assimilation.(35) How sagely is Guruji’s contribution to national and global discourse can be understood by seeing how the West which generated the idea of multiculturalism is now going back to assimilation of minorities as the solution to its growing minority – read Muslim – problem.




(1) Bunch of Thoughts [BT] p218; (2) BT p45; (3) Hindutva Case p1130/31; [4] BT p169;

(5); (6) BT p73;

(7) Hindutva case p.1128/29; (8) BT p51/72/78; (9) Hindutva p.1127-8/30/31; (10) BT p45;

(11) Hindutva 1131; (12) BT p45; (13) BT p72-73/137;

(14) Hindutva p1127/29/30/31; (15) BT p51/421; (16) Faruqui Case p.658 (17) BT p166;

(18) Hindutva p1128; (19) BT p673; (20) BT p646; (21) Hindutva p1130;

(22) BT p646; (23) Hindutva p1130; (24) guruji/interviews/shri-gurujis-interviews/our-cultural-characteristics; (25) Faruqui Case p.658;

Hindutva p1131(26) BT p215/6; (27) Hindutva p1132;(28) BT p173/74; [28] Speech at the Annual Convocation of the Muslim University at Aligarh (U.P) January 24, 1948 Volume 6 of Independence and After; A Collection of Speeches, 1946-1949; (29)

(30) Hind Swaraj Navajivan Publishing House 2009 p289; (31) MK Gandhi Hind Swaraj and Other writings. Centenary Edition. Cambridge University Press. (32); (33);

(34); (35) Bam-Hutchison, June. “Race, faith, and UK policy: A brief history”. Institute for the Public Understanding of the Past, University of York. Retrieved October 2. 2012.

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on Jul 09 2021 09:56:03

all such fine talk on multiculturalism will fail against the stubborn religious feelings of muslims Christians who are ever ready to assert they are foreigners

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