By Siddhi Jain
New Delhi– In the book “Sanghi Who Never Went To A Shakha”, author Rahul Roushan, who is a former journalist and media entrepreneur, captures winds of change in the socio-political narrative and shifts in political dynamics in contemporary India in the last few decades.
Published by Rupa Publications, the new release explains the changing ideological landscape the youth of today were witness to while growing up, through the lens of the author’s personal life.
Analysing, “Why Hindutva as an ideology is no longer anathema and what brought about this change”, Roushan’s book aims to answer, among others, a key question: “Why did a country that was ruled for decades by people espousing Nehruvian secularism suddenly began to align with the ‘communal politics’ of the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP)?”
The book is the retelling of some historical events and how those events impacted the journey of Roushan and countless people like him. The book looks at factors like education, media, technology and obviously, electoral politics, which played a key role in this transformation. The book also touches upon some of the personal experiences of the author, both as a media entrepreneur and a journalist.
According to the book’s synopsis, the first time Roushan was called a ‘sanghi’ — literally meaning someone who is a member of the right-wing RSS (Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh) or its affiliates — he felt deeply offended. From then to now, what makes him write a book and adopt that tag for himself?
“I have adopted the ‘Sanghi’ tag, because I thought it was a waste of time trying to fight such tags or labels thrown at you. Labels are primarily thrown to discomfort and silence you, so that you lose your original line of thoughts and arguments. Even though I’m not any member of the RSS, and in fact, I have listed out a few concerns and disagreements I have with the Sangh in the book itself, I feel no moral pressure to keep clarifying that I’m not a Sanghi i.e. I’m no longer offended by that term.”
“I decided to write the book so that it defeats the purpose of such labelling, which is to distract or stop a person from exploring or expressing contrarian points of view. The book is about those points of view and contrarian takes on various issues, mostly contemporary sociopolitical issues, which are supposed to be at odds with the so-called ‘liberal’ narrative,” Roushan told IANSlife.
He adds: “I thought to pen this book as it is important to capture contemporary developments — especially the rise of Hindutva politics and narrative in the last decade — which has also resulted in the BJP scoring handsome back-to-back Lok Sabha victories of its own. While the same has been done in the shape of various articles, social media posts, op-eds, etc., the bulk of those have been written toeing the same old “liberal” narrative. I wanted to provide a counter perspective and an alternate narrative, and thus the book came about. The book captures this change in sociopolitical narrative and shifts in political dynamics. I happen to be one of those who experienced this change, and I decided to chronicle it. In order to keep it relatable and readable, I’ve fashioned this as the ideological journey of an individual, but it’s essentially a re-telling of contemporary history and the ideological journey of an entire generation.”
Reading at times like an autobiography, and often like a collection of intellectual essays, the book features a whole range of themes — “politics, society, religion, education, media, internet, history, narratives, and many more”, in the author’s words.
“How to weave them all in a single book in a single narrative was going to be a challenge, but I think I have been able to do it. I must make it clear that every one of these topics actually deserve independent books on themselves as such, and I don’t offer my book as the final commentary on these subjects. However, a person will be able to gain a decent understanding and insights into the relevant aspects is something I can definitely guarantee!” (IANS)