Hindu’s never accepted any reforms in its religious practices. Setting minimum marriage age, banning Sati or Dowry, widow remarriage was met with stiff resistance from various Hindu organisations and think thanks esp. Hindu Mahasabha. One of the biggest reason for the 1857 freedom struggle was attributed to British trying to Romanize Indian culture through religious reforms and hence British did not try much to enforce or pass on new religious laws from 1857 to Independence. Even today, the government has been lobbying Supreme court to not criminalize forced sex with minors brides.
RSS Guruji & its second leader M. S. Golwalkar wrote a book We-or-Our-Nationhood-Defined and I was intrigued by its 5th chapter (pg 100 to pg 109). Probably this chapter throws light on why suddenly Indian government is interested in religious reforms & women empowerment when it comes to triple talaq, and minority.
If, as is indisputably proved, Hindusthan is the land of the Hindus and is the terra firma for the Hindu nation alone to flourish upon, what is to be the fate of all those, who, today, happen to live upon the land, though not belonging to the Hindu Race, Religion and culture? This question is too very common and has its genesis in the generous impulse of so many Hindus themselves, that it deserves at least a brief answer.
At the outset we must bear in mind that so far as ‘nation’ is concerned, all those, who fall outside the five-fold limits of that idea, can have no place in the national life, unless they abandon their differences, adopt the religion, culture and language of the Nation and completely merge themselves in the National Race. So long, however, as they maintain their racial, religious and cultural differences, they cannot but be only foreigners, who may be either friendly or inimical to the Nation. In all ancient Nations i. e. all those who had a well developed National life even before the Great War, this view is adopted. Though these Nations practice religious toleration, the strangers have to acknowledge the National religion as the state Religion and in every other respect, inseparably merge in the National community.
Culturally, linguistically they must become one with the National race; they must adopt the past and entertain the aspirations for the future, of the National Race; in short, they must be ‘”Naturalized” in the country by being assimilated in the Nation wholly. Naturally, there are no foreigners in these old Nations, and no one to tax the generosity of the Nation by demanding privileges, as ‘Minority communities’ in the State. It is this sentiment which prompted the United States of America, England, France and other old Nations to refuse to apply the solution of the Minorities problem arrived at by the League of Nations, to their States. The avowed reason for their declaration, that the decision of the League was not binding upon them, was that its application might shatter the unity of their empire and create uncalled-for difficulties, by rousing the demon of separateness and variegated interests of the distinct minorities, which had been so long laid at rest. The same sentiment has been expressed in the speech of the American Representative to the League, on the occasion of discussing the advisability of applying the “Minorities” decision to all the countries in the world. He said, there are no distinctive characteristics in respect of Race, Language and Religion between the elements forming each of the peoples of that continent (America). Uniformity of language throughout the territory of each American State, complete religious tolerance combined with a completely natural assimilation of emigrants by the principal mass of population of each of the States, have produced in them natural organisations, of which the collective unity is complete. This means that the existence of minorities, in the sense of persons with a right to the protection of the League of Nations, is impossible “. It is worth bearing well in mind how these old Nations solve their minorities’ problem.
They do not undertake to recognize any separate elements in their polity. Emigrants have to get themselves naturally assimilated in the principal mass of population, the National Race, by adopting its culture and language and sharing in its aspirations, by losing all consciousness of their separate existence, forgetting their foreign origin. If they do not do so, they live merely as outsiders, bound by all the codes and conventions of the Nation, at the sufferance of the Nation and deserving of no special protection, far less any privilege or rights. There are only two courses open to the foreign elements, either to merge themselves in the national race and adopt its culture, or to live at its mercy so long as the national race may allow them to do so and to quit the country at the sweet will of the national race.
That is the only sound view on the minorities’ problem. That is the only logical and correct solution. That alone keeps the national life healthy and undisturbed. That alone keeps the Nation safe from the danger of a cancer developing into its body politic of the creation of a state within the state. Prom 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 separate existence to merge in the Hindu race, or may stay in the country, wholly subordinated to the Hindu Nation, claiming nothing, deserving no privileges, far less any preferential treatment -not even citizen’s rights. There is, at least should be, no other course for them to adopt. We are an old nation; let us deal, as old nations ought to and do deal, with the foreign races, who have chosen to live in our country.
In the new states created after the war, however, such an assimilation had not been achieved, nor was there any prospect of its being achieved in the near future. All the same, this tried solution of the problem of the foreign races, should have been as a rule applied everywhere. But the League of Nations struck another note and formulated the now famous minority treaties – and laid down certain general propositions, which have been acclaimed as “the public law of the world.” (Arthur Henderson’s speech-page 24, monthly summary of the League of Nations, Jan. 1931 ) But not without many an apprehension and misgiving. The authors of the solution knew how beset it was with grave dangers, and yet they hoped that these treaties would serve as a first step, their declared object being “to secure for the minorities that measure of protection and justice, which would gradually prepare them to be merged in the national community to which they belonged.” (Sir Austin Chamberlain’s speech at the League Council on 9th Dec. 1925. quoted by Dr. Radhakumud Mukerji).
This risk, which the League ran certain states into, has been vividly expressed by Paul Fauchille in his speech at the League Council on 9-12-25. He said, “this is a solution (the minority rights solution) which perhaps is not without certain dangers; for, if equality of treatment of all the inhabitants of a country, is an element of political and social peace, the recognition of rights belonging to minorities as separate entities, by increasing their coherence and developing in them a sense of their own strength, may provoke them to separate themselves from the state of which they form a part; and in view of the right of peoples to dispose of themselves, the recognition of the rights of these minorities runs a risk of leading to the disruption of states”.
Prophetic words! How true they sound today after the recent developments in Europe, under the very nose of the League of Nations! The disastrous fate of the unfortunate Czechoslovakia (to which as promised, we now refer) proves beyond the faintest shadow of a doubt, how hollow were the League’s hopes and how justified the fears of Paul Fauchille. And yet the decision of the League on the minorities’ rights was the most equitable and just, that could be conceived of. But even this just and equitable arrangement, instead of fostering the assimilation of the minorities into the National community, only served to increase their coherence and create in them such a sense of their own strength, that it led to a total disruption of the state, the Sudeten German minority merging in Germany, the Hungarians in Hungary, in the end leaving the National Czechs to shift for themselves in the little territory left unto them.
Let us be forewarned, lest the same story repeat itself in our Country. Our modern solution of the minorities’ problem is far more dangerous. It confers untold rights not only on those who by their number and years of residence (we doubt it) may be considered according to the League as minorities, but also on all else, howsoever few or recent in their settlement-rights and privileges far in excess of the minimum advocated by the League. The natural consequences are even now felt and Hindu National life runs the risk of being shattered. Let us take heed and be prepared. We will not dilate upon this danger here, as it is outside the ambit of our work; we leave it to the reader to think for himself and read it in the developing events. We only remind him that it was not for nothing that all experienced Nations refused to adopt this decision of the League; that it is not for nothing that they refuse to recognise any elements entitled to separate treatment, that they insist on subordinating all to the general National life-religious, cultural, linguistic, political, that they lay so much stress, on the foreigners, either cutting their old associations and merging in the body of their National race in; every way, or deserving no right what-so-ever, no claim to any obligations from the National race. And having thus reminded him, we leave the reader to ponder over the Czech affair and find out for himself how; our National life is in even a much greater danger.
But enough of this. We refer, on the problem of minorities, our reader to “India and the League of Nations Minority Treaties” by Dr. Radhakumund Mukerji, M. A. Ph. D. and return to our subject. Indeed these questions arise in discussions about a “State” we are out to understand the Nationhood of Hindusthan, which done, all questions regarding the form of “State” shall be worth entrusting to the “Nation” as we find it to exist.