Hindutva and Hindu bias in India’s ‘secular’ constitution
Dr Pritam Singh
Visiting Scholar, Wolfson College, University of Oxford
During Indira Gandhi’s Emergency rule (1975–77) an amendment to the constitution (42nd Amendment, 1976) formally inserted the word ‘Secular’ (along with ‘Socialist’) as a characterization of the Indian republic. However, informally there has been almost a consensus among the political opinion makers in India that the Constitution of India, which came into force in 1950, has been a secular constitution.
This paper demonstrates that the secularism of India’s constitution is Hindu-tainted. Through this critique, an attempt is made to question the complacency of Indian secular opinion about the secular foundations of the Indian republic. I am not suggesting a rigidly fixed template of secularism which must be made the basis for evaluating the secularism of India’s constitution. Secularism as a concept and ideal is a contested terrain and I start from what might be considered the minimalist and possibly the least controversial norm, that a state and its institutions must enable equal opportunities to all individuals and groups in society.
Converting this norm to the sphere of secularism would imply that a secular state should, at least, treat all religious communities on an equal footing. A secular state could do better if it also goes further than this and makes provisions for safeguarding the numerically disadvantaged religious minorities. In assessing the absence or otherwise of Hindu bias in India’s constitution, I am using the less demanding definition of secularism, ie, equal treatment of all religious communities.1
Some sections of the progressive and secular opinion in India faced with the powerful rise of Hindutva forces since the 1980s believe that a campaign to emphasize that our constitution is a secular one can be used as an ideological weapon against the Hindutva forces’ attempt to transform India into a Hindu nation. I consider that this belief in the political utility of the constitution is not well grounded. I wish to argue that, although the Constitution of India has many admirable and historically progressive features, it has significant elements of retrogressive Hindu bias in it.
A point which I am not going to dwell upon here but is worth making very brieﬂy is that this Hindu bias must be seen in the larger context of the continuation of Hindu bias in the national movement for India’s independence,3 and in the world-view of most of the leaders of the movement, including Mahatma Gandhi.4 The rise of Hindutva forces can be considered more a continuation and deepening of that bias than a rupture with it. If the Hindutva forces have not made this claim self-consciously, it is mainly because of the intellectual poverty of the Hindutva ideologues. I have no doubt that it is only a question of time before the cleverer sections of Hindutva ideologues start invoking the heritage of the national movement in their favor.
They already do this in an eclectic manner when they promote Sardar Patel, KM Munshi and the others but they can be expected to do this in a systematic manner in the future. Had Mahatma Gandhi not been murdered by a Hindu fanatic, the ambiguous and contradictory nature of his thought would have made him a very valuable source of legitimacy for some version of Hindutva ideology. The anti-Hindutva forces can use the fact of his murder by Godse only in a tactical fashion against Hindutva organizations and even that, perhaps, for not too long. In the larger strategic scheme of things, Hindutva ideologists are quite capable of owning Gandhi as a Ram bhagat (devotee of the Hindu god Ram) and a great Hindu thinker, while disowning Godse as a misguided patriot.5
The progressive and genuinely secular forces in India need to recognize a bitter truth, namely that uncritically claiming a secular heritage from the national movement and the Constitution of India is to play a potentially losing game from the very beginning against their Hindutva opponents. What the progressive forces need to do is to project a truly secular and egalitarian perspective for India—a perspective which does not hesitate to subject the national movement for independence, its leadership and the existing Constitution of India to unwavering criticism where it is needed.6
Hindu bias elements in the constitution
Article 1. Name and territory of the Union (1) India, that is Bharat, shall be a Union of States.
The naming of India as Bharat reflected the power of the Hindutva-minded sections in the Constituent Assembly who wanted the name to reflect the ancient pre-British and pre-Muslim era of a ‘glorious’ Hindu past. This might be considered harmless cosmetic Hindutva but, if we bear in mind the alienating impact of this on non-Hindus, it is certainly not harmless. The famous British geographer of the Indian subcontinent, O.H.K. Spate, wrote: ‘In Hindu literature the sub-continent as a whole is styled Bharat-Varsha, the land of the legendary king Bharata; but it seems safe to say that there was little feeling of identity over the whole country’.7
According to Spate, “‘Bharat’… is used mainly by… the romantic Hindus.”8 In August 1949 a Hindu sanyasin went on a fast which she threatened to continue till her death unless two of her demands were met, namely that Hindi should be adopted as a national language and India should be renamed Bharat.9 According to Austin, “Nehru, among others, visited her. She broke her fast on 12 August, claiming that Nehru and other Congress leaders had assured her that Hindi would be adopted.”10 The fact that in the rest of the constitution’s text the word Bharat is not used again suggests that its insertion in the opening article was meant to suggest a word of huge symbolic significance.
Further, a member of the Constituent Assembly who was heavily Hindutva-minded in his political outlook (he claimed himself to be a Gandhian) highlighted the symbolic significance of the word Bharat by suggesting a more favorable positioning of it in the Article. Jagat Narain Lal (from Bihar) said: “I would have liked the name ‘’Bharat’ to come before India. It is a fact that ‘Bharat’ and India have come in, but I would have liked ‘Bharat’ to come before India.”11 The symbolic significance of ‘Bharat’ in the opening article was meant to suggest a sense of Hindu ownership of the new India—the India which was perceived to have achieved self-rule after many centuries of foreign rule. The name Bharat signified the birth of a new India, with whose government and state the Hindus felt a sense of identification.
The word ‘Union’ in the opening article was also consciously preferred over ‘Federation’.12 It does not have direct Hindutva implications but, once we understand the context of the use of the word, we can start seeing the Hindutva sentiments and arguments associated with this word. In the negotiations leading up to independence and partition the Cabinet Mission had suggested a plan in 1946 which envisaged India as a loose federation with a weak centre and relatively strong states, with residuary powers vested in the states. This federal framework had been suggested in order to accommodate the Muslim League’s concerns about the dangers of Hindu domination if the centre were to be too powerful.
This plan did not succeed for various reasons, the main one being the Congress’s resistance to the idea of a federation with a weak centre. This is what eventually led to the creation of Pakistan. Ayesha Jalal has demonstrated this very convincingly, although the majority of Indian historians still blame the Muslim League leader Mohammad Jinnah for partition.13 Once the partition plan was accepted, the Indian political leadership (at least the majority) was relieved that they could get on with their plan for a strong centre.
Let me quote K.M. Panikkar, one of the leading figures in the Constituent Assembly. He wrote on May 1947:
“Federation with limited powers for the Centre, was an unavoidable evil in India, so long as the Muslim majority provinces had to be provided for in an all-India centre… It is no longer necessary to provide for the very large measure of power for the units, which a full union with the Muslim majority provinces would have rendered unavoidable.”14
This seemed to reflect a sense of relief that Muslim bargaining power had vanished and the centralizing agenda could now be implemented without any resistance. Nehru expressed similar views:
The severe limitations on the scope of central authority in the Cabinet Mission’s plan was a compromise accepted by the Assembly much, we think, against its judgment of the administrative needs of the country in order to accommodate the Muslim League. Now that partition is a settled fact we are unanimously of the view that it would be injurious to the interests of the country to provide for a weak central authority.15
Some other members of the Constituent Assembly went even further in articulating a Hindutva view of history as a justification for a strong centre. Jaspat Roy Kapoor and Ram Chandra Gupta (both from United Provinces) and Jagat Narain Lal (Bihar) argued such a position.
Kapoor said: “History undoubtedly proves that whenever there has been no centralization in this country it has been overrun by foreigners.”16 He dubbed anyone questioning centralization almost as a foreign government spy:
“The two fundamental things about this Constitution are the unity of the country and a strong Central Government… nobody should be sorry for it excepting one who would like to bring about confusion and chaos in this country because his sympathies may be lying somewhere else outside the borders of this country.”
Kapoor expressed his disappointment “about the special provisions for Kashmir”18 and concluded his speech with strong Hindu nationalist fervor: “Our motto and slogan hereafter should be: Bharat samvidhan ki Jayaho, Bharat Mata ki Jayaho”.19 Ram Chandra Gupta justified centralization as a response to the creation of Pakistan and then articulated a Hindutva-oriented view of Indian history in favor of centralization:
Prior to the partition of the country, it was thought that all the provinces should be practically independent of the Centre except in certain matters [of] defense, communication, etc—the residuary powers to vest in the units; but the partition did demand, and rightly demanded that Centre should be made as strong as possible. The Constitution has effected this change… A strong Central Government is the need of the hour… All along the ages, and our history bears ample testimony to this fact, the overmastering problem before India has been one of integration, and consolidation and uniﬁcation.20
Jagat Narain Lal equated more central power with national solidarity and said, “Time after time in history, we have found this solidarity being broken and India falling at the feet of the foreign conquerors.”21 It is not difficult to imagine that by ‘foreigners’, in this context, Kapoor and Lal were referring mainly to the Muslims. K.M. Munshi, in a weaker Hindutva tone than that of Kapoor, Gupta and Lal, also eulogized the virtues of “strong central authority” in the Indian historical experience.22 There were others (most prominent being Ambedkar) who also argued for centralization for different reasons. There seemed to be a convergence of positions: Hindu nationalists, secular Indian nationalists (Nehru) and Ambedkar all seemed to agree on the need for a strong centre for different reasons.
Although Ambedkar was a centralizer, he also played the most influential role in critiquing Nehru’s over-centralizing approach (mainly for economic reasons) on many issues. For example, he opposed and defeated Nehru’s view that a simple majority of the parliament should be able to amend some features of the constitution. He also showed a critical awareness of the fact that many of the centralizing features of the proposed constitution, in the framing of which he had himself played a key role, “invaded provincial autonomy”.23
There was, of course, strong opposition to the emerging consensus for a strong centre. This opposition came mainly from southern states: NG Ranga, K. Santhanam, Mahboob Ali Baig and Ramalingam Chettiar all opposed the move towards centralization.24 Prof Ranga said: “Centralization, I wish to warn this house… would only lead to Sovietization and totalitarianism and not democracy.”25 Mahboob Ali Baig argued for institutional mechanisms like the electoral system of proportional representation to safeguard the interests of religious minorities. He criticized the moves towards a unitarist political system: “In the hands of a Central Government which wants to override and convert this federal system into a unitary system, it can be easily done. Now there is a danger of this sort of Government becoming totalitarian. This is the danger in the form of the Constitution that is embodied in the Draft Constitution.”26
T.T. Krishnamachari, who was sympathetic to giving some powers to the centre in order to introduce uniform labour welfare measures (as proposed by Jagjivan Ram) and to maintain public health standards, feared that creating a strong centre “would also mean the enslavement of people who do not speak the language of the legislature, the language of the Centre”.27 He feared “Hindi imperialism” and “totalitarianism” as a result of centralization.28 Socialists H.V. Kamath and Prof. Shibban Lal Saksena made spirited criticisms of the many pro-centralization proposals, especially the ones relating to the president’s rule. Kamath looked upon these measures as a threat to democracy and characterized them as a Hitler-like takeover by the Union government.29
Some other well known critics of centralization were the jurist H.N. Kunjru and the United Provinces premier G.B. Pant who, “seems to have been the unofficial spokesman of the provincial premiers in the Assembly”.30 Kamlapati Tiwari criticized centralization from a Gandhian perspective: “The first fundamental defect of the Constitution appears to be that it is terribly centre-ridden… Everyone knows that effective power in the hands of the centre can only be based on military strength and the concentration of military power is the sure road leading to the complete destruction of popular rights. This is a historic truth. Our Constitution obviously presents this danger.”31
Regarding the Sikhs’ opposition to the centralization proposals, Justice Ajit Singh Bains has highlighted the well known historical fact that “The Sikh representative in the Constituent Assembly did not sign the Constitution of India as it had not given any autonomy to the states”.32 Hukam Singh, a Sikh representative, stated:
The Sikhs feel utterly disappointed and frustrated. They feel that they have been discriminated against. Let it not be misunderstood that the Sikh community has agreed to this Constitution. I wish to record an emphatic protest here. My community can not subscribe its assent to this historic document… In our Constitution, each article tends to sap the local autonomy and make the provinces irresponsible… The minorities and particularly the Sikhs have been ignored and completely neglected. The Provincial units have been reduced to Municipal Boards… there is enough provision in our Constitution… to facilitate the development of administration into a fascist State.33
Another Sikh representative Bhupinder Singh Mann (spelt wrongly in the CAD Oﬃcial Report as Man), said, “I will be failing in my duty if I do not give the reactions of my own community, the Sikhs of East Punjab, so far as this Constitution goes. Their feeling is that they can not give unstinted support or full approval to this Constitution.”34 Bains argues that the Sikh unrest in Punjab since 1947, and especially in the 1980s and the 1990s, can be attributed to this unitarist constitution which empowers the centre vis-á-vis the states.35 Bajpai captures the dominant Hindu majoritarian and nationalist mood in the Constituent Assembly debates and points out that “Minorities were referred to as ‘’disfigurement’’, ‘‘cancerous’’, ‘‘poisonous’’ for the body politic”.36 Khilnani notes “Hindu voices” had become “emboldened” in the Congress Party after the 1947 partition.37
Hindutva elements both before and after 1947 have been the most ardent proponents of strong centralization and Union power. Although there were other supporters of centralization, as pointed out above, if one were to construct a league table of support for centralization, Hindu nationalists would come out at the top. Strong central power in the Indian constitutional framework and the Indian political structure is associated, in the Hindutva vision, with strong Indian Hindu nationhood. Decentralization and minority rights are viewed, in this vision, with suspicion as potential threats to that nationhood.
Article 25. Freedom of conscience and free profession, practice and propagation of religion (1) Subject to public order, morality and health and to the other provisions of this Part, all persons are equally entitled to freedom of conscience and the right freely to profess, practice and propagate religion. (2) Nothing in this article shall effect the operation of any existing law or prevent the State from making any law…
(b) providing for social welfare and reform or the throwing open of Hindu religious institutions of a public character to all classes and sections of Hindus…
Explanation II. In sub-clause (b) of clause (2), the reference to Hindus shall be construed as including a reference to persons professing the Sikh, Jaina or Buddhist religion, and the reference to Hindu religious institutions shall be construed accordingly.
The Article 25 (2) (b) fundamentally undermines the secular character of the state in favor of Hindus. If one adopts a strict definition of secularism, namely the separation of state and religion, this is an unambiguous violation of secularism. Even with a looser definition of secularism, the so-called Indian version of equal treatment of all religions, it violates secularism because of the clearly expressed special interest of the state in favor of “social welfare and reform” of the Hindu religion.38 Why should a secular state be concerned about the social welfare and reform of only one religion? Why should a secular state be concerned with social welfare and reform of only Hindu temples?39 It seems that the overriding concern behind these social reform measures was to prevent the exodus of the dalits (literal meaning ‘oppressed’ and referring to the lowest caste strata in the Hindu caste system) from the Hindu fold.40 This was an instance of active state intervention to consolidate Hindu identity. Pratap Mehta has rightly emphasized this point:
The Indian state has used state power to consolidate Hindu identity in more ways than one can list. The state, for the first time, created a territorially uniﬁed body of Hindu law, transcending numerous regional divisions. Supreme Court judges not only promulgate public purposes; they act as authoritative interpreters of Hindu religion, defining what is essential to it and what is not. The state runs thousands of temples across the country, appropriated in the name of social reform or financial propriety.41
Explanation II above reflects a Hindu assimilationist perspective towards the Sikhs, Jains and Buddhists in India. The welcome accorded to this clause by Jaspat Roy Kapoor illustrates this assimilationist attitude: “One very good thing which I have found mentioned in Article 25(2)… This includes the Buddhists among the Hindus… This is a provision of which I am particularly happy.”42 All these three religious communities have, in varying degrees and at different points in time, protested against this section of the constitution.
During the Akali agitation of the 1980s even a moderate and the most pro-Hindu Akali leader, Parkash Singh Badal, joined the Akali protest against this clause of the constitution. He led a procession of Akali volunteers in Delhi which burnt the pages of the constitution containing this clause. Singh has discussed the political significance of this phase of the Akali agitation.43 In a paper, “Secularism in India: a critique of the current discourse”, Anwar Alam has examined the definition of Hindu in the context of the Hindu Code Bill of 1955. His examination of the bill as a move towards Hindu homogenization and assimilation is particularly striking because it took place during the Nehru era, the era most often advertised as the golden period of secular Indian nationalism.
According to Alam, “the Hindu Code Bill produced a tendentious legal description of a ‘‘Hindu’’. It included Buddhists, Jains and Sikhs despite their protest.” It included anyone in the definition of a Hindu who was not a Muslim, Christian, Parsi or “The negative description of a Hindu, as one who was not a member of the four excluded religions, produced a Hindu so tightly manacled to his/her birth that even non-belief could not provide an exit. Even though the Constitution provided for the right of non-belief and atheism, the reformed Hindu law took away the freedom of legal self-definition and self-designation from individuals born in Hindu families.”44
This was clearly a legal move by the Indian state to construct a consolidated, homogenous and assimilationist Hindu identity. Alam’s examination of the cultural policy of the Indian state demonstrates that “the Brahmanical features of Hinduism were deliberately selected, promoted and projected at the national level in a manner that, for all practical purposes, blurs the distinction between Hindu nationalism and Nehruvian secular composite nationalism”.45 Taking his story further to the more open “Hindu card” policy of Indira Gandhi in the 1980s, he notes (quoting an article by Sumantra Bose) that, after Operation Bluestar, Mrs. Gandhi had publicly stated “that Hindu dharma [faith] was under attack from the Sikhs”.46
Article 48. Organization of agriculture and animal husbandry. The State shall endeavor to organize agriculture and animal husbandry on modern and scientific lines and shall, in particular, take steps for preserving and improving the breeds, and prohibiting the slaughter of cows and calves and other milch and draught cattle.
The specific insertion of “prohibiting the slaughter of cows and calves” in the constitution, as one of the directive principles of state policy, was an unmistakable reflection of the religious preferences and powers of the dominant upper caste Hindus among the constitution makers. This specific inclusion also meant the exclusion of the preferences of others for whom the cow did not signify what it did for some upper caste Hindu groups.
Kancha Ilaiah, a dalit scholar and activist, considers the cow protection measures by the state as spiritual imposition by upper caste Hindus on dalits and non-Hindus. He argues: “Indians do not live with one mode of scriptures. We have the Buddhist scriptures, we have had the Bible as a living book for 2000 years in India. The Quran has been in India for more than 1000 years. The Dalits in the spiritual realm have more aﬃnity with Buddhism and Christianity than Hinduism. In their spiritual realm, the cow is not sacred. How can Hindutva forces impose their spirituality on others?”47 He condemns this as “cow nationalism” of the Aryan Brahmins and counterposes to it the “buffalo nationalism” of the dalits because, in his view, the black colored buffalo represents the dalits and the Dravidians.48
According to Smith, “The cow protection legislation is undoubtedly the result of Hindu communalism: the coercive power of the state is pressed into the service of Hindu religion, to the detriment or at least inconvenience of beef-eating Muslims and Christians.”49 The political philosopher Pratap Mehta calls cow protection “the most symbolically potent of Hindu demands”,50 while Harkishan Singh Surjeet, the General Secretary of the Communist Party of India (Marxist) (CPI (M)), considers that the strong Hindu revivalist outlook in a section of the Congress leadership was responsible for including the cow protection provisions in the constitution.51 Jagat Narain Lal had provided an unhesitating Hindu majoritarian viewpoint in the CAD for justifying “the banning of cow-slaughter”. He said: “The majority of the people of the country hold the cow sacred. They hold very strong views on this question.”52
Article 343. Official language of the Union. (1) The official language of the Union shall be Hindi in Devanagari script.
Article 351. Directive for development of the Hindi language. It shall be the duty of the Union to promote the spread of the Hindi language, to develop it so that it may serve as a medium of expression for all the elements of the composite culture of India and to secure its enrichment by assimilating without interfering with its genius, the forms, style and expressions used in Hindustani and in the other languages of India specified in the Eighth Schedule, and by drawing, wherever necessary or desirable, for its vocabulary, primarily on Sanskrit and secondarily on other languages.
The importance accorded to Hindi language and especially to the Devanagari script and the Sanskrit language in the constitution reflects the strong pro-Hindi and pro-Hindu bias of a very powerful section among the constitution makers.
David Lelyveld highlights the legacy of the Gandhi and Nehru led national movement on this question, which reveals several degrees of closeness between the Congress tradition and the Hindutva tradition. A passage from Lelyveld helps to demonstrate this point. According to Lelyveld:
[Gandhi] supported Hindi or Hindustani as the national language, the language that would take the place of English for communication between Indians of different linguistic backgrounds. In that spirit, Gandhi campaigned most vigorously for Hindi in the South, establishing in 1927 the Hindi Prachar Sabha, a network of teachers and a body of teaching materials aimed at teaching Hindi to speakers of Tamil, Telugu, Kannada and Malayalam, all in the name of patriotism and national service. Ignoring anti-Sanskrit sentiment in Tamil Nadu, Gandhi argued that the common Sanskrit vocabulary would serve to bind the languages of India together. At the same time, Gandhi advocated that all Indian languages be written in the same script, Devanagari, in order to make them easier to learn.53
It is necessary to mention here that many other statements by Gandhi and Nehru could be cited to reflect their conciliatory attitude towards Urdu and non-Sanskritized Hindi. Nehru was particularly sympathetic to Urdu and felt an emotional bond with the language and its script. Both Gandhi and Nehru were genuinely worried about the negative consequences of Hindi extremism for India’s unity. However, both of them eventually succumbed to the pressure of the pro-Hindi forces in the country.54 The often contradictory and ambiguous nature of Gandhi’s many political positions was reflected in his position on Hindi and Devanagari script also. If, on one hand, he feared that imposing Hindi in Devanagari script would harm national unity, he also believed, on the other, that promoting Hindi in Devanagari script was in the interests of building a uniﬁed Indian nationalism. He eventually seems to have veered more towards the latter position.
Sadhana Saxena, in an excellent paper “Language and the nationality question”, has criticized the oppressive role of Hindi, her own mother tongue, as a link language in crushing the growth of several mother tongues in “the so-called vast Hindi belt”. She points out that the Constitution of India disenfranchised these non-Hindi mother tongues by excluding them from the Eighth Schedule (ES), which lists only 14 languages (Assamese, Bengali, Gujarati, Hindi, Kannada, Kashmiri, Malayalam, Marathi, Oriya, Punjabi, Sanskrit, Tamil, Telugu and Urdu). In 1967 Sindhi, and in 1992 Konkani, Manipuri and Nepali, were incorporated in the ES, bringing the total to 18.
The Brahmanical Hindu bias speaks loudly and clearly through the Constitution of India when one notices that Sanskrit, which is the claimed mother tongue of only a few hundred people, is included in the ES while none of the tribal mother tongues such as Santhali (3.6 million), Bhilli (1.25 million) and Lammi (1.2 million) etc are constitutionally recognized.55 Saxena has pointed out that the 1981 census data listed official figures for Hindi speakers at around 260 million, but that this number was arrived at by grouping several widely spoken tribal languages under Hindi.56 Hindi has been further privileged over the other ES languages by according it the status of National Official Language, the language of the Union and of centre state exchanges.
The Hindi lobby was very powerful during the pre-1947 period but it became even more powerful after 1947. The Hindi lobby had become so arrogant after 1947 that some of the Hindi fanatics opposed constitutional recognition of any other language apart from Hindi. One such fanatic, Ravi Shankar Shukla, a member of the Constituent Assembly and the prime minister of the Central Provinces, characterized the move to give official recognition to non-Hindi languages as a “reactionary provision” because, according to him, such a provision would “delay the introduction of Hindi as the Official Language of the Union”.57 T.T. Krishnamachari of Madras decried this “Hindi imperialism”. He said, “I refer to this question of language imperialism… I would, Sir, convey a warning on behalf of the people of the South… that there are elements in South India who want separation… and my honorable friends in UP do not help us in any way by flogging their idea ‘‘Hindi imperialism’’ to the maximum extent possible.”58
Non-Hindi linguistic groups had to unite against this Hindi imperialism. According to Krishnamachari and Mrs. Durgabai Deshmukh, both members of the Constituent “We had these languages [non-Hindi languages] listed in the Constitution to protect them from being ignored or wiped out by the Hindi-wallahs.”59 Although the non-Hindi linguistic groups succeeded in getting this constitutional recognition for their languages, they could not prevent the pre-eminent status of the “Official Language of the Union” being accorded to Hindi. Austin summed it up aptly: “It was one of the unfortunate coincidences of Indian history that Hindustani was a northern language and that it was given special status by North Indians, like Nehru, Prasad, and Azad and by north-oriented Gujaratis like Gandhi and Patel.”60
Alok Rai characterizes this constitutional victory of Sanskritized Hindi “as a vehicle of ‘’national’’ aspiration for a regional upper-caste elite”.61 He translates a piece of Hindi poetry, which captures the emotive link between Hindi and Hindutva imagination:
If your well-being you really want, O children of Bharat!
Then chant for ever but these wordsHindi, Hindu, Hindustan!62
The Constituent Assembly members who were Hindi extremists were, generally, also Hindu nationalists who “envisaged the new India in terms of the glories of the ancient Hindu kingdoms”.63 Purushottam Das Tandon, Seth Govind Das, Balkrishna Sharma, G.S. Gupta and Dr. Raghuvira were some of the leading Hindi extremists who were also known to be Hindu revivalists. G.S. Gupta had a long association with Arya Samaj. Dr. Raghuvira contested the parliamentary elections in 1962 as a Jan Sangh (precursor of the Bharatiya Janata Party) candidate. Many of the Hindi/Hindu nationalists worked within the Congress Party.
Some of the Hindi extremists, like Algurai Shashtri, V.D. Tripathi and Prof. S.L. Saxena, were secular and socialist in their political outlook but their Hindi extremism, which took the form of opposition to English, Urdu and other non-Hindi languages, brought them closer to the sentiments of the dominant Hindi/Hindu nationalist tradition.64 The special constitutional status accorded to Devanagari as the script for the Hindi language reflects the strong bargaining power of the Hindutva-minded lobby in the Constituent Assembly. Alok Rai provides a brilliant historical overview of the contestation over the script issue. He shows that, although Kaithi script was more widely used than the Devanagari script, Kaithi was dumped in favor of Devanagari because of the latter’s perceived closeness to Brahmanical Hindu identity.
He points out that the Bengal Provincial Committee reporting to the Education Commission in 1883–84 had spoken up in favor of the Kaithi precisely on the grounds that it was widely in use. He highlights an interesting aspect of data provided by Vedalankar on this issue. According to Vedalankar, the number of primers in the schools in North Western Province in 1854 that used different variants of the script were: Kaithi 77 368, Devanagari 25 151, Mahajani 24 302.65 But, according to Rai:
Kaithi was unacceptable to the Nagari/Hindi propagandists. It appears that there were some crucial disqualifications that attached to Kaithi. It was perceived to have some association with Hindustani rather than with Sanskrit. It was, moreover, known to Hindus and Muslims alike and so might not have appeared ‘pure’ enough to proponents of the Nagari variant—Devanagari, no less, the script of the scriptures. Perhaps most crucially, for instance, it could not serve as a basis of ‘differentiation’.66
Another dimension of the Devanagari script, namely that it was also known by another name “Babhni, the script of the Brahmins”,67 signifies further the upper caste Hindu bias of the constitutional provision regarding the Devanagari script. The linguist Suniti Kumar Chatterji has highlighted the Hindu cultural significance attached to the Nagari script by the supporters of the script. He has pointed out that the first society established to propagate the cause of Hindi in North India was named as Nagari Pracharini Sabha (Society for the Propagation of the Nagari Script) because, in his view, “the Hindu thought leaders in Northern India realized the importance of the Nagari script for the maintenance or preservation of Hindu culture”.68
According to Brass, the religious attachment of Hindus to the Nagari script is “profound”.69 Krishna Kumar has highlighted that the Hindu revivalist Arya Samaj provided the inspiration behind the setting up of the Nagari Pracharini Sabha. He points out: “A biography of Shyam Sunder Das, the founder secretary of the Nagari Pracharini Sabha, has recorded that the idea of starting the Sabha had come from a speech delivered by Arya Samajist preacher, Shankar Lal… Hindi soon acquired the title of “Aryabhasha” [the language of the Aryas] in Arya Samaj parlance, and its Sanskritized form became a part and parcel of the movement’s vision of a reformed Hindu society in which Vedic ideals would be practiced.”70
The third component of the Hindu bias in the constitutional provision on the language issue is Article 351 quoted above, which specifies the duty of the Indian central state to promote the vocabulary of the Hindi language by relying primarily on Sanskrit. The proposition that “Sanskrit is a dead language”71 would outrage Sanskrit enthusiasts. In their imagination Sanskrit represents the glorious spiritual richness of the Hindu heritage and is a key to unifying the Indian Hindu nation. According to Rai, “Sanskrit belongs certainly at the level of myth, where it is the literal and always-already perfect language of the gods.”72 The known Hindu revivalists in the Constituent Assembly had argued passionately for giving the primary importance to Sanskrit eventually accorded to it in the constitution. In the words of these Hindu revivalists, “The highest dictates of nationalism require that our terms of any technical value must be based on Sanskrit. This way lies the linguistic unity of India.”73
The Hindu, Hindi, Devanagari and Sanskrit lobby managed to put a powerful stamp on the Indian constitution and thus inflicted a damaging blow to its secular content.
This paper has attempted to demonstrate that the Constitution of India is not a document which the secular and progressive forces in India can use unproblematically against their Hindutva opponents. This constitution has several elements of Hindu bias in it. The symbolic insertion of ‘Bharat’ in the opening article naming the country; the provisions for strong centralization supportive of Hindu nationalism; the active intervention of the state to consolidate Hindu identity through reform of the Hindu religion; the definition of ‘Hindu’ supportive of a Hindu assimilative agenda towards Buddhists, Jains and Sikhs; cow protection; pre-eminent status for Hindi in the Devanagari script and special importance for Sanskrit are all features of the constitution which make its secularism seriously Hindu-tainted. It is time for the uncritical celebratory references to the secularism of India’s constitution to cease and for the compromised nature of its secularism to be recognized.
Recognizing the Hindu bias in India’s constitution helps to show that Hindutva in India is widespread and deeply rooted and goes beyond what is represented by the Hindutva group of organizations known as the sangh parivar. It could be called institutionalized communalism akin to the phenomenon of institutionalized racism in Western societies. Institutionalized racism is more than that which is represented by racist political organizations. Institutionalized racism in Western societies manifests itself through a whole range of institutions in these societies. Similarly, institutionalized communalism in India is embedded in and manifests itself in varying degrees through a range of societal and state institutions like the civil service, police and the other security services, prisons, legal institutions, media, culture, arts and education.74
Examining and combating institutionalized communalism demands an interrogation of communalism in each one of these institutions.75 Examining Hindu bias in the Indian constitution is an instance of an examination of institutionalized communalism in one key and foundational institution of the Indian state and society.
1 A Sen deﬁnes secularism in similar terms as symmetrical treatment of different religious communities in politics. See AK Sen, ‘Secularism and its discontents’, in R Bhargava (ed), Secularism and its Critics, Delhi: Oxford University Press, 1998.
2 The Constitution of India is available at the website http://constitutionoﬁndia.nic.in/coiweb/ welcome.html. I have also used PM Bakshi, The Constitution of India, Delhi: Universal Law Publishing, 2002 and Constitution of India, Lucknow: Eastern Book Company to verify the exact wording of the articles of the constitution. All the three sources had the same wording.
3 ‘If the mainstream of the nationalist movement has been secular, it has also stimulated Hindu revivalism and a tendency to identify with patriotism’. M Galanter, ‘Secularism East and West’, in Bhargava, Secularism and its Critics, p 237.
4 Let us look brieﬂy at Bhikhu Parekh’s take on this: ‘Neither Gandhi nor many other Congress leaders could look upon the Muslims as anything other than ex-Hindus’ (p 299). ‘Although Gandhi himself never put it this way and would probably have disowned it, he tended to equate India with the pre-Muslim Hindu India and deﬁne Indian identity in Hindu terms. For him India’s history began with the arrival of the Aryans and continued for several thousand years during which it developed a rich spiritual culture. It was rudely interrupted by the arrival of the Muslims and then the British, and was to be resumed at Independence. The Muslims and British periods were largely aberrations made possible by Hindu decadence, and had little impact on India. The Muslims were little more than converted Hindus or ex-Hindus whose religion was but an icing on their essentially Hindu cake. And as for the British rule, it imported an alien civilization unsuited to the Indian genius and which the culturally revitalized Hindu India must reject’ (p 308). See B Parekh, ‘The legacy of the partition’, in A Singh (ed), Punjab in Indian Politics, Delhi: Ajanta Publications, 1985. Two interesting studies, with different approaches, of the interface between Hindutva and Indian politics, including the Indian national movement, are C Jaﬀrelot, The Hindu Nationalist Movement and Indian Politics, London: Hurst, 1993; and S Joshi & B Josh, Struggle for Hegemony in India, Volume III, Delhi: Sage, 1994. Brass describes very vividly the Hindu bias in Gandhi’s thought and practice: ‘Gandhi himself was, in a sense, the most successful of the Hindu revivalist politicians, but his great stress in bringing the Hindu masses into participation in the nationalist movement, by infusing Indian nationalism with the symbols of Gita, the ethics of non-violence and the promise of Ram Rajya, was also his greatest failure, for his revivalism had no appeal to Muslims’ (p 127). See P Brass, Language, Religion and Politics in North India, London: Cambridge University Press, 1974.
5 Nanaji Deshmukh, a leading Hindutva ideologist, in a document entitled ‘Moments of soul searching’, dated 8 November 1984 and circulated by the Hindu supremacist organization Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (National Volunteer Force—RSS) soon after Indira Gandhi’s assassination, gives an indication of the line of revisionist rethinking (‘soul searching’) on the part of the Hindutva forces. He writes, ‘on January 30,1948 a Hindu fanatic who was a Marathi and had no relation with the RSS, rather was a bitter critic of the Sangh, committed unfortunate killing of Mahatma Gandhi… We ourselves saw how selﬁsh elements, who were well acquainted with this incident, deliberately declared a murderer to be a member of the RSS and also spread the rumor that the RSS people were celebrating throughout the country death of Mahatma Gandhi, and thus they succeeded in diverting the love and the feelings of loss and hurt in the hearts of people for Gandhi.’ This document has been reproduced in full in S Islam, Undoing India: The RSS Way, Delhi: Media House, 2002, pp 53 – 60. It is worth noting here, in passing, that in this document, Deshmukh endorses Rajiv Gandhi, Mrs Gandhi’s son, unhesitatingly: ‘he [Rajiv] is entitled to get full cooperation and sympathy from the countrymen, though they may belong to any language, religion, caste or political belief… so that he can take the country to real prosperous unity and glory’ (ibid, p 60). A similar revisionist view is discernible in an interview given by Prof Rajendra Singh, a former RSS chief, to Outlook magazine (19 January 1998) published from Delhi. In this interview he makes a mild criticism of Godse by characterizing him as a well intentioned nationalist whose killing of Mahatma Gandhi was the wrong method to achieve his goals. To the question ‘What is your opinion about Nathuram Godse who killed Gandhi?’ Prof Singh replied, ‘Godse was motivated by [the philosophy of] Akhand Bharat. Uske mantavya achhe thhe par usne achhe uddeshya ke liye galat method istemal kiye [His intention was good but he used the wrong methods]’. This interview has been reproduced in Communalism Combat, 11(100), August 2004, p 19.
6 In an Indian Communist Party (CPI (M)) booklet containing articles by Harkishan Singh Surjeet, Prakash Karat, Prabhat Patnaik, AG Noorani and Harish Khare, all the contributors made good criticisms of the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) government’s politics in setting up a Constitution Review committee. However, in their attempt to criticize the BJP, they all adopted a defensive attitude towards the existing Constitution of India. Khare even entitled his contribution ‘Leave the constitution alone’. In the whole booklet there was only one criticism of the existing constitution, made by Surjeet. He rightly pointed out that ‘the strong Hindu revivalist outlook in a section of the Congress leadership also forced the inclusion of cow protection in the Directive Principles. This initial compromise with obscurantist forces was, in the later years, extended to dangerous lengths… The later assumption of power at the centre by a rank communal party like the BJP, was a natural corollary of this compromise’ (pp 18 – 19). See CPI (M), Subverting the Constitution: The RSS-BJP Gameplan, Delhi, 2000. The Communist Party of India (Marxist) is the biggest and the most inﬂuential of all the communist formations in India.
7 OHK Spate, India and Pakistan: A General and Regional Geography, London: Methuen, 1963, p xxvii.
8 Ibid, p xxi.
9 G Austin, The Indian Constitution: Cornerstone of a Nation, Delhi: Oxford University Press, 2004, p 293.
10 Ibid, p 293. Although Austin’s account of the incident is silent on whether her other demand for the renaming of India as Bharat was accepted by Nehru and other Congress leaders who visited her, it nonetheless highlights the strong emotive association of the Hindus with Bharat.
11 Constituent Assembly Debates: Oﬃcial Report (henceforth CAD), 12 Vols, Delhi, 1946 – 50, Vol XI, 25 November 1949, p 948.
12 Bhattacharya has brilliantly captured the context and the process of this change from ‘federation’ to ‘Union’. See M Bhattacharya, ‘The mind of the founding fathers’, in N Mukarji & B Arora (eds), Federalism in India, Delhi: Vikas, 1992.
13 Ayesha Jalal, The Sole Spokesman: Jinnah, the Muslim League and the Demand for Pakistan, Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1985.
14 Quoted by Bhattacharya, ‘The mind of the founding fathers’, p 99.
15 Ibid, p 96.
16 CAD, Vol XI, 21 November 1949, p 760.
17 Ibid, p 762. From the context of the debate, it is clear that the reference here is to Pakistan.
18 Ibid, p 762.
19 Ibid, p 763. This can be translated as ‘Victory to Bharat Constitution, Victory to Mother India’.
20 CAD, Vol XI, 24 November 1949, p 920, emphasis in the original. Austin, The Indian Constitution notes that at one stage of the debate on the issue of residuary powers, it led to communal polarization ‘with Hindus claiming that residuary powers should vest in the centre and Muslims strongly holding the opposite view’ (p 196).
21 CAD, Vol XI, 25 November 1949, p 946. Lal was one of the three-member Linguistic Provinces Commission in 1948, which had argued against the creation of linguistic states on the grounds that such states would harm the interests of Indian nationhood. Austin, The Indian Constitution, p 242. As a votary of strong centralization, he reiterated his opposition to the demands for the creation of linguistic states and said that he ‘strongly held the view that if a redistribution of provinces has to take place, it should be carried out on an administrative basis’. CAD, Vol XI, p 947. The Hindu nationalist organizations in post-independent India have almost always taken a similar position on the reorganization of states. Secular linguistic nationalism is viewed, and viewed correctly, by Hindu nationalists as a threat to the consolidation of a singular Indian Hindu identity.
22 CAD, Vol VIII, pp 927 – 928. Munshi, an early associate of Gandhi, later became one of the founders of the right-wing Swatantra Party and was president for many years of Bharatiya Vidya Bhavan, a publication house that promotes Hindu culture in India and abroad.
23 See Austin, The Indian Constitution, pp 262 – 264.
24 Bhattacharya ‘The mind of the founding fathers’, pp 100 – 101.
25 CAD, Vol VII, 9 November 1948, p 350.
26 Ibid, 8 November 1948, p 296.
27 Ibid, 5 November 1948, pp 234 – 235.
29 CAD, Vol IX, 3 August 1949, pp 135 – 142 for Kamath; and pp 142 – 145 for SL Saksena.
30 Austin, The Indian Constitution, p 315.
31 CAD, Vol XI, 23 November 1949, pp 863 – 864.
32 Ajit Singh Bains, ‘Punjab situation’, in PV Rao (ed), Symphony of Freedom: Papers on Nationality Question, Hyderabad: All India People’s Resistance Forum, 1996, p 179.
33 CAD, Vol XI, 21 November 1949, p 753.
34 Ibid, p 722.
35 Bains, ‘Punjab situation’.
36 R Bajpai, ‘Constituent Assembly debates and minority rights’, Economic and Political Weekly (EPW), 27 May 2000, p 1839.
37 Sunil Khilnani, The Idea of India, London: Penguin, 1997, p 29. These ‘Hindu voices’, Khilnani points out, had gone to the extent of demanding ‘that the Indian state should explicitly declare itself defender of the interests of the nation’s Hindu majority’ and that powerful Congress leaders like Sardar Patel and Rajendra Prasad had called for ‘the dismissal of Muslim state oﬃcials, and suggested that there was little point in the army trying to protect Muslim citizens’ (p 31). This distrust of the minority community oﬃcials was revealed again at another critical point in the history of independent India. During the anti-Sikh carnage in Delhi in 1984 after Indira Gandhi’s assassination, the Sikh police oﬃcials in the Delhi police were disarmed and taken oﬀ duty.
38 Bajpai sums up very cogently the two conceptions of secularism as debated during the framing of the Indian constitution: ‘More generally, secularism was regarded to imply the exclusion of religion from the political domain: religion, it was argued, should be a ‘‘personal matter’’ for citizens, restricted to their individual and associational private practices. Another conception of secularism as separation between state and religion was that of state impartiality between diﬀerent religions: the state would not give preference to any particular religion’ (p 182). See R Bajpai, ‘The conceptual vocabularies of secularism and minority rights in India’, Journal of Political Ideologies, 7(2), 2002, pp 179 – 197. The state’s interest in the welfare and reform of religious institutions exclusively of the Hindus articulated through Article 25 militates against both these conceptions of secularism.
39 For an examination of several layers of the state–religion relationship, see DE Smith, ‘India as a secular state’, in Bhargava, Secularism and its Critics; and Smith, India as a Secular State, Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press, 1963. For a critical appraisal of Smith, see M Galanter, ‘Secularism East and West’. For a refreshing analysis of the role of religion in the domain of the economy, see B Harriss-White, India Working, Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2003 and for a comparative view of the role of religious and secular institutions in India and America, see R Archer, ‘American communalism and Indian secularism’, EPW, 10 April 1999. J Chiriyankandath, ‘Creating a secular state in a religious country: the debate in the Indian constituent assembly’, Commonwealth & Comparative Politics, 38(2), 2000, pp 1 – 24, employs the term ‘deliberate ambiguity’ to explain the co-existing character of religion and secularism in the Indian constitution.
40 ‘Much of the upper-caste eﬀort in reforming caste was, and still remains, motivated by the desire to consolidate Hinduism. The idea was that as the lowest castes became politically conscious, they would dissociate themselves from Hinduism, if it did not reform itself.’ P Mehta, The Burden of Democracy, Delhi: Penguin Books India, 2003, p 58.
41 P Mehta, ‘Why the BJP is calm: what would a Hindu state do that the secular state has not done already?’, The Telegraph, 4 March 2004, emphasis added.
42 CAD, Vol XI, 21 November 1949, p 762.
43 P Singh, ‘Akali agitation: the growing separatist trend’, EPW, 4 February 1984, pp 195 – 196.
44 A Alam, ‘Secularism in India: a critique of the current discourse’, in P Brass & A Vanaik (eds), Competing Nationalisms in South Asia, New Delhi: Orient Longman, 2002, p 95. For a review of this, see P Singh, ‘Political economy of nationalism: minority left and minority nationalisms vs mainstream left and majority nationalism in India’, International Journal of Punjab Studies, 9(2), 2002, pp 287 – 298. 45 Ibid, p 101.
46 Ibid, p 100. The Bose article he cites is Sumantra Bose, ‘Hindu nationalism and the crisis of the Indian state: a theoretical perspective’, in Sugata Bose & A Jalal (eds), Nationalism, Democracy and Development, Delhi: Oxford University Press, 1998. An analysis of Operation Bluestar, the Indian army operation at the Golden Temple at Amritsar, and its aftermath would stretch the scope of this paper too far but it might be worth pondering over whether it marked a shift from an assimilationist approach towards the Sikhs to a confrontational or even selective liquidationist approach in the 1980s and 1990s. For an examination of how the policy of state power the Sikhs had to confront has determined the cycles of violence and non-violence in their history, see P Singh, ‘Violence and nonviolence in the Sikh struggle for survival and political power’, paper submitted to the Annual Conference of the British Association for the Study of Religions, Harriss Manchester College, Oxford, September 2004.
47 K Ilaiah, ‘Cow and culture’, The Hindu, 25 October 2002.
48 K Ilaiah, Buﬀalo Nationalism: A Critique of Spiritual Fascism, Kolkata: Samya, 2004, passim.
49 Smith, India as a Secular State, p 489.
50 Mehta, ‘Why the BJP is calm’.
51 See CPI (M), Subverting the Constitution, pp 18 – 19.
52 CAD, Vol XI, 25 November 1949, p 948.
53 D Lelyveld, ‘Words as deeds: Gandhi and language’, in Brass & Vanaik, Competing Nationalisms in South Asia, p 181.
54 Nehru expressed his helplessness to protect Urdu from the onslaught of the Hindi lobby. He said in a speech in 1948, ‘if my colleagues do not agree, I can not help it’. Quoted in M Hasan, Legacy of a Divided Nation: India’s Muslims since Independence, London: Hurst, 1997, p 159.
55 Figures from S Saxena, ‘Language and the nationality question’ in Rao, Symphony of Freedom, p 292. 56 Ibid. For a review of this, see Singh, ‘Political economy of nationalism’. It is worth adding here that not only the tribal languages but even Braj, Avadhi and Maithili were also included in the Hindi fold. Avadhi, Braj and Maithili have their own distinctive character but have been relegated to the status of dialects of Hindi by privileging ‘Khari Boli’ as the oﬃcial Hindi. What greater irony could there be than that Braj, which was a Bhasha (language), should become a boli (dialect) of the Khari Boli. There are strong voices of protest against this unfair denial of the status of language from many linguistic groups in North India, the area characterized as the Hindi region. Perhaps the denial of the linguistic diversity of North India was to foster a homogenous linguistic identity among the Hindus there. I owe this point to Prof Satya Pal Gautam of the Philosophy Department at Punjab University, Chandigarh. Paul Brass, Language, Religion and Politics in North India, has provided an excellent account of how the struggle of the Maithili speakers to get constitutional recognition for their language was defeated by the Hindi nationalists. He points out that some Maithili speakers used the term ‘Hindi imperialism’ to decry the Hindi nationalists (p 113). According to Brass, ‘A Maithili ‘‘devotee’’ put it, ‘‘the wolf of Hindi wants to swallow the whole of the language of north Bihar’’’ (p 70). Brass has also discussed, though in less detail, the role of the Hindi movement in denying constitutional recognition of the Bhojpuri and Magahi languages.
57 Austin, The Indian Constitution, p 298.
58 CAD, Vol VII, 5 November 1948, p 235.
59 Austin, The Indian Constitution, p 298.
60 Ibid, p 274. It is another unfortunate coincidence that one is forced to observe that in contemporary India the strongest regional blocs of support for Hindutva forces come from North India and Gujarat. 61 A Rai, Hindi Nationalism, Delhi: Orient Longman, 2002, p09.
62 Ibid, p 90.
63 Austin, The Indian Constitution, p 284.
64 Ibid, pp 284 – 285. See also Rai, Hindi Nationalism, for his comments on the Indian socialist leader Ram Manohar Lohia’s Angrezi Hatao (Remove English) agitation of the 1960s (p 117). Brass, Language, Religion and Politics in North India, also discusses the proximity of SSP (the Socialists) and Jan Sangh as proponents of Hindi in Uttar Pradesh and Bihar (p 271). The shared sentiment of Hindi chauvinism among Hindu nationalists and some North Indian socialists in that period could be a clue to understanding the seemingly paradoxical behaviour of some Indian socialists openly aligning with Hindutva forces in India in the past decade and a half. Some Indian Gandhians also get roped into this shared space of Hindi enthusiasts opposing ‘Western’ English.
65 S Vedalankar, The Development of Hindi Prose Literature in the Early Nineteenth Century (1800 – 1856 AD), Allahabad: Lokbharti, 1969.
66 Rai, Hindi Nationalism, p 52. See also Vedalankar, The Development of Hindi Prose Literature.
67 Rai, Hindi Nationalism, p 53.
68 SK Chatterji, Indo-Aryan and Hindi, Calcutta: Firma KS Mukhopadhyay, 1960, p 241.
69 Brass, Language, Religion and Politics in North India, p 186.
70 K Kumar, The Political Agenda of Education, Delhi: Sage, 1991, p 128.
71 Austin, The Indian Constitution, p 264.
72 Rai, Hindi Nationalism, p 77.
73 Quoted by Austin, The Indian Constitution, p 283.
74 I tested some of these ideas on institutionalized communalism and racism ﬁrst at the workshop on 1984 Anti-Sikh Pogroms organized jointly by the Centre for South Asian Studies, Coventry University and the Association for Punjab Studies (UK) on 30 October 2004 at Coventry University. I am thankful to the workshop participants and especially to Vrinda Grover and Urvashi Butalia for their very useful reactions and comments.
75 For an early attempt to examine institutionalized communalism in the media in the context of the Punjab crisis in the 1980s, see P Singh, ‘Role of media’, in A Singh, Punjab in Indian Politics; P Singh, ‘Punjab and the government media’, EPW, 12 January 1985; and Singh, ‘AIR and Doordarshan coverage of Punjab after the army action’, EPW, 8 September 1984. Vrinda Grover provides a useful contribution towards examining institutionalized communalism in the police and judiciary. V Grover, ‘Prejudice and democracy: law, police and anti-Sikh massacre, 1984’, paper presented at the Workshop on 1984 anti-Sikh Pogroms, Coventry, 30 October 2004. B Cossman and R Kapur are also taking steps in this direction. See especially their excellent chapter 2, ‘The Supreme Court Hindutva judgements’, in Cossman & Kapur, Secularism’s Last Sigh? Hindutva and the (Mis)Rule of Law, Delhi: Oxford University Press, 2001.