— Arun Shourie Indian journalist and politician 1941
Context: The real crime of these eminences does not lie in the loss they have inflicted in terms of money. It lies in the condition to which they have reduced institutions. It lies in their dereliction – because of which projects that were important for our country have languished. It lies even more in the use to which they have put those institutions.
They have used them to have a comfortable time, of course. They have used them to puff up each other’s reputations, of course. But the worst of it is that they have used their control of these institutions to pervert public discourse, and thereby derail public policy.
They have made India out to have been an empty land, filled by successive invaders. They have made present-day India, and Hinduism even more so, out to be a zoo – an agglomeration of assorted, disparate specimens. No such thing as ‘India’, just a geographical expression, just a construct of the British; no such thing as Hinduism, just a word used by Arabs to describe the assortment they encountered, just an invention of the communalists to impose a uniformity – that has been their stance. For this they have blackened the Hindu period of our history, and, as we shall see, strained to whitewash the Islamic period. They have denounced ancient India’s social system as the epitomy of oppression, and made totalitarian ideologies out to be egalitarian and just.
They have belittled our ancient culture and exaggerated syncretistic elements which survived and made them out to have been an entire ‘culture’, the ‘composite culture’ as they call it. Which culture isn’t? And all the while they have taken care to hide the central facts about these common elements in the life of our people: that they had survived in spite of the most strenuous efforts spread over a thousand years of Islamic rulers and the ulema to erase them, that they had survived in spite of the sustained efforts during the last one hundred and fifty years of the missionaries and British rulers to make us forget and shed these elements, that the elements had survived their efforts to instead inflame each section to see its ‘identity’ and essence in factors which, if internalized, would set it apart. Most of all, these intellectuals and the like have completely diverted public view from the activities in our own day of organizations like the Tabhligi jamaat and the Church which are exerting every nerve, and deploying uncounted resources to get their adherents to discard every practice and belief which they share with their Hindu neighbours.
These intellectuals and their patrons have worked a diabolic inversion: the inclusive religion, the pluralist spiritual search of our people and land, they have projected as intolerant, narrow-minded, obscurantist; and the exclusivist, totalitarian, revelatory religions and ideologies – Islam, Christianity, Marxism-Leninism – they have made out to be the epitomes of tolerance, open-mindedness, democracy, secularism!