People's Democracy

(Weekly Organ of the Communist Party of India (Marxist)


No. 21

May 23, 2004

   Start Undoing The Saffronisation Damage Now

Intellectuals Demand Clean Up Act By New Govt


Academics and cultural activists have called upon the new United Progressive Alliance government assuming office at the centre to immediately take steps to undo the damage which the six years of BJP-led government has inflicted in various sectors of the country, particularly the academic and cultural bodies of the country.


Addressing a news conference, organised in New Delhi by SAHMAT on May 20, eminent economist, Prabhat Patnaik, historians Arjun Dev and D N Jha and theatre personality M K Raina said the damage was of “enormous proportions” and  control operations must be set in motion without any loss of time.


Prabhat Patnaik said the verdict of the people was for “repairing of these damages” and the new government must undertake the task in right earnest. Giving instances of the anti-people policies of the NDA government, he said it exported foodgrains at throwaway prices when millions of countrymen were dying, disinvested public sector undertakings at low prices and made moves towards full capital account convertibility. The “unholy alliance between the global capital and Hindu communalism” was established, he said, when the stock markets crashed at the collapse of the BJP-led government.


M K Raina underscored the need for “cleaning up the muck in all educational and cultural institutions”. The new government should “unleash freedom of activity”, Raina said.


Historian Arjun Dev said the damage in the field of social sciences, in general, and history, in particular, was massive. It not only poisoned minds but totally distorted history. Giving the genesis of the saffron penetration into a variety of institutes from the ICHR, NCERT, to institutes of advanced studies to even banning history books on the freedom struggle, he said this has to be undone and what has been distorted in the new books must be corrected after proper evaluation. The number of non-academic appointments to key bodies have to be also probed he said.


The meeting also raised the demand that the Gujarat chief minister Narendra Modi be tried for his crimes against the minorities.



The full text of the statement released at the news conference is as follows:


THE resounding and clear verdict of the people of India, epitomised by the verdict in Gujarat is clearly against the politics of hatred and division and a plea for humane and just governance. The Gujarat genocide of 2002 repulsed and horrified both the people of Gujarat and India, even two years ago. In December 2002 also 49 per cent of Gujaratis voted against the political peddling of hatred despite state intimidation and terror. Yet the ruling NDA and the BJP government in Gujarat shamefully did not accept moral and physical responsibility for the carnage and gloated over their electoral victory which came after the violence.



Now, two years later, the stand of all right thinking Indians, regardless of caste and creed, stands vindicated. In the just concluded elections, the Congress contesting on a secular platform has got a majority in 92 assembly segments as against 90 by the BJP in Gujarat. The people of India have now decisively shown that the divisive politics of communalism has no lasting space in India. What all Indians want is a life of dignity and peace, a harmony that has deep and civilisational roots in this land. While welcoming this verdict, we urge the next government to undertake measures to ensure justice to the riot victims in Gujarat to undo the damage done to institutions with the appointment of RSS men in key posts, to desaffronise education and to create and maintain an atmosphere of harmony in which creative endeavour is not endangered by the lumpens of the Sangh Parivar.


In the last year alone there have been attempts to stifle creative and scholarly expression as witnessed in attacks on Habib Tanvir in Madhya Pradesh, vandalism at Bhandarkar Institute in Pune, and attacks on artists and artworks in Surat by the vandals of the VHP and Bajrang Dal to list just a few instances. A democratic society has to weed out such bigotry.


The Supreme Court judgement in the Best Bakery case confirms what the secular groups and citizens have been saying in relation to providing justice to the victims of state-sponsored communal violence in Gujarat even after two years of the worst-ever carnage. The tragedy of Gujarat was compounded by an unrepentant administration and executive described as ‘ modern day Neros’ by the judgement. 


The six years of BJP-led government’s rule have been a period of unmitigated disaster for all national level academic and cultural organisations over which the BJP-led government exercised its authority. Their autonomous academic and professional character was subverted and they were converted into instruments for implementing the blatantly communal agenda of BJP and its parent organisation – the RSS – and its various ‘educational’ and ‘cultural’ bodies. Within a short period of its coming to power, the BJP-led government appointed persons who were totally committed to the communal ideology of BJP and to implementing BJP’s communal agenda to head almost every national level organisation. The compositions of the various bodies of these organisations was changed to ensure that there was no deviation in their activities and programmes from the communal agenda which the BJP had set for them.


It is incumbent upon the new government to immediately take steps to undo the damage which the six years of BJP-led government’s rule has inflicted on the various academic and cultural organisations of the country.  We urge upon the government of the United Progressive Alliance to take the following steps at the earliest.


It may be added that these are among the initial steps that the government must take to undo the damage done by the BJP-led government to academic and cultural organisations.  The inquiry committees to be set up to look into their functioning and activities will uncover many more misuses of authority and programmes to serve the communal agenda which would need to be appropriately addressed.