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Has the RSS revived Golwalkar’s plan for Muslims?

A demonstrator in Delhi in December 2018 marks the anniversary of the demolition of the Babri Masjid. Ever since Modi came to power, Golwalkar’s plan for dealing with Muslims has festered and crept across India. SAJJAD HUSSAIN/ AFP/ GETTY IMAGES
30 March, 2022

Around the time when Prime Minister Narendra Modi held a roadshow in Ahmedabad after the Bharatiya Janata Party’s massive victory in the 2022 assembly elections in Uttar Pradesh, the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh quietly revived one of the most controversial formulations of MS Golwalkar during its annual conclave in the same city—the one that sought to strip Muslims of their rights as citizens. “Series of dastardly acts revealing communal hysteria, rallies, demonstrations, violation of social discipline, custom and conventions under the guise of the Constitution and religious freedom, inciting violence by instigating meagre causes, promoting illegal activities, etc. is increasing,” the RSS said in its annual report, released during the conclave on 12 March. “There appears to be elaborate plans by a particular community to enter the government machinery. Behind all this, it seems that a deep conspiracy with a long-term goal is working … All out efforts with organised strength, awakening and activeness to successfully defeat this menace before the unity, integrity and harmony of the society is the need of the hour.”

It is obvious that the report is talking about Muslims, India’s largest religious minority, and is preparing the grounds to question the very existence of the “Constitution and religious freedom,” which, it claims, are being misused as a “guise.” The core of the RSS’s new thesis is that the rights that the Constitution grants to Indian citizens are on the edge when it comes to Muslims. The report has set forth, although in a convoluted form, the central elements of Golwalkar’s formulation. The clearest uncensored expression of Golwalkar’s thought can be found in his book We or Our Nationhood Defined, in which he unambiguously compares the Sangh’s project of a Hindu Rashtra with Adolf Hitler’s anti-Semitism by prescribing the mantra of total assimilation or ethnic subjugation for minorities.

“To keep up the purity of the Race and its culture, Germany shocked the world by her purging the country of the Semitic Races—the Jews,” Golwalkar, the second sarsanghchalak, or chief, of the RSS, wrote in his 1939 book. “Germany has also shown how well-neigh impossible it is for races and cultures, having differences going to the root, to be assimilated into one united whole, a good lesson for us in Hindusthan to learn and profit by.”

Having declared non-Hindus to be foreign races, Golwalkar prescribes a solution similar to the Nazi approach to Jews for minorities in India:

From this standpoint, sanctioned by the experience of shrewd old nations, the foreign races in Hindusthan must either adopt the Hindu culture and language, must learn to respect and hold in reverence Hindu religion, must entertain no idea but those of the glorification of the Hindu race and culture, i.e., of the Hindu nation and must lose their existence to merge in the Hindu race, or may stay in the country, wholly subordinated to the Hindu Nation, claiming nothing, deserving no privilege, far less any preferential treatment—not even citizen’s rights.