— Arun Shourie Indian journalist and politician 1941
Context: Caste is real. The working class is real. Being a Naga is real. But ‘India is just a geographical expression!’ Similarly, being a Muslim of course is real – Islam must be seen and talked of as one block of granite –... But Hinduism? Why, there is no such thing: it is just an aggregation, a pile of assorted beliefs and practices –... And anyone who maintains anything to the contrary is a fascist out to insinuate a unity, indeed to impose a uniformity, where there has been none. That is what our progressive ideologues declaim, as we have seen. In a word, the parts alone are real. The whole is just a construct. India has never been one, these ideologues insist – disparate peoples and regions were knocked together by the Aryans, by the Mughals, by the British for purposes of empire. Anyone who wants to use that construct – India – as the benchmark for determining the sort of structure under which we should live has a secret agenda – of enforcing Hindu hegemony.
This is the continuance of, in a sense the culmination of, the Macaulay-Missionary technique. The British calculated that to subjugate India and hold it, they must undermine the essence of the people: this was Hinduism, and everything which flowed from it. Hence the doggedness with which they set about to undermine the faith and regard of the people for five entities: the gods and goddesses the Hindus revered; the temples and idols in which they were enshrined; the texts they held sacred; the language in which those texts and everything sacred in that tradition was enshrined and which was even in mid-nineteenth-century the lingua franca – that is, Sanskrit; and the group whose special duty it had been over aeons to preserve that way of life – the Brahmins. The other component of the same exercise was to prop up the parts – the non-Hindus, the regional languages, the castes and groups which they calculated would be the most accessible to the missionaries and the empire – the innocent tribals, the untouchables.