28 January 2009

Debating Hindutva

3 Indian Take readers have voted that Hindutva is a communal ideology in this month's poll. I invite these 3 readers (and others also) to send me any questions/doubts/queries they have about Hindutva. If you don't have any questions you can jot down your points on "Why Hindutva is a communal ideology" and send them to me. You can either e-mail me or put them up as comments to this post. If you don't want to reveal your name you can put up anonymous comments.

I will try to answer the questions and criticisms to the best of my ability. I want this blog to be a forum for discussing and debating Hindutva; I don't want it to become a one-way street.

23 January 2009

Obama, Vajpayee, Leadership

Barack Hussein Obama never ceases to amaze me. Just when I think I have seen the best of him, he goes one better. In the last two years I have read almost every major speech of his. Each time I have felt the same admiration and respect. His inaugural address on January 20th was a classic. The speech was vintage Obama – the breadth of vision, the deep understanding of his country's history and traditions, the lofty ideals, the clear spelling out of today's challenges, and the inspiring call to his countrymen to face them bravely. This was a true leader talking to his people.

As I read the speech I felt happy for America, and a little sad for my own country. I couldn't help wondering: When was the last time an Indian politician spoke like this? In the Indian context I have heard such noble ideas and sentiments being expressed only in the lectures (bouddhiks) given by senior RSS leaders. Has even a single Indian politician given a single speech like this? The only example I can think of is Atal Behari Vajpayee's 'Musings from Kumarakom' in 2001. It was not a speech but an article (part one and part two). And though it did not have Obama's soaring rhetoric, it was inspiring in its own way.

22 January 2009

A Right-Wing Revolution

In May 2007 Jonathan Chait wrote a brilliant article titled The Left's New Machine. It was about America's liberal bloggers (the netroots), and how they changed their country's politics.

Conservatives have crowed for years that they have "won the war of ideas". More often than not, such boasts include a citation of Richard Weaver's famous dictum "Ideas have consequences". A war of ideas, though, is not an intellectual process; it is a political process. As my colleague Leon Wieseltier has written, "If you are chiefly interested in the consequences, then you are not chiefly interested in the ideas." The netroots, like most of the conservative movement, is interested in the consequences, not the ideas. The battle is being joined at last.

As we have seen, the netroots movement has climaxed with the election of Barack Obama. The liberal revolution has culminated in the establishment of a new liberal order.

In India the situation is exactly the reverse of America. Here the Left is the establishment, and the Right is the underdog. Can we hope for something similar (to the netroots movement) to happen here? Can the Indian Right take a leaf out of the American Left's notebook? Can we have a right-wing revolution in India?

*Right-wing = Hindu/nationalist/conservative

20 January 2009

The Right-Wing Movement

In May 2007 Swapan Dasgupta wrote an insightful article about the state of the right-wing movement in India. What he said is relevant even today:

"After it first tasted power at the Centre in 1998, the BJP leadership went out of its way to acquire social respectability and shed its outlander status. Dispelling all fears of India being turned into a Hindu fascist state, the Vajpayee Government moulded itself as a conventional Right-of-centre regime.

Looking back, the NDA Government's tenure was marked by many missed opportunities. To my mind, two are particularly glaring. First, in focussing on the co-option of an establishment that had been nurtured by the Congress over five decades, the BJP lost sight of the need to craft a counter-establishment.

Second, in attempting to forge an elusive consensus, the BJP proved incapable of grasping the simple truth that compromises were being made by only one side. The BJP owed its spectacular growth after 1989 to its willingness to question the fundamentals of the great Nehruvian consensus. When it abandoned this combativeness for short-term respectability, it lost momentum.

In the process, the project of evolving a robust, intellectually vibrant Right-wing tradition also fell by the wayside. The Indian Right still awaits its moment."

17 January 2009

The New Indian Order

By Tarun Vijay:

"The creators of a new Indian order will certainly do it better. Have power, will win. That's the key to success. India is struggling hard, is bleeding and yet showing winner's traits. This inner strength is essentially the civilisational gift, which runs into our veins. Call it Hindu or anything else. It is the defining life force of all of us. Eliminating terrorism ruthlessly, recapturing land lost to the enemy neighbours, rejuvenating the economy and infusing new blood into our educational and agricultural sectors are the new markers of our unstoppable journey to power-peak.

"I see clearly a rise of the intense Hindu values once the present young generation takes over. To me, the Hindu Right remains the last hope and an instrument to revive the glory and the wonder of India. And we know, the best and the brightest still are found in the various folds and facets of this segment, if we can train our eyes to look beyond the political organisational framework.

"If those who qualify from IITs and IIMs leave their lucrative options abroad to join RSS work in Meghalaya or Port Blair, then we still have hopes for India's rejuvenation. If the youngest force on this earth finds a suitable job to work for scheduled castes and tribes as RSS pracharaks, then no power on this earth can stop the ongoing march of the people who believe in the good of all sans borders of faith, caste or creed.

"The most delighting factor of a new Indian order is the young faces in the camps of Swami Ramdev, in the discourses of Sri Sri, in the congregations of Mohan Bhagwat (the youngest CEO of the largest Hindu organisation on this planet), or glued to the deep knowledge banks of K S Sudarshan (chief of the Hindus' greatest consolidation).

"Temple or no temple, gods or no gods, the only factor that must matter is the survival of a Hindu India – unabashedly, unapologetically assertive and Himalayan in its heights. It means everyone. It means all faiths and colours."

06 January 2009

Samuel Huntington and Hindutva

Samuel Huntington, author of Clash of Civilisations (1996), is no more. Before reading his book I had been interested only in philosophy, and not in religion. Some snobbery was at work here: 'high-brow' philosophy vs 'low-brow' religion. But Clash of Civilisations powerfully brought home the importance of religion in today's world. I realised I had some catching up to do. I re-read the Bhagavad Gita and read the Quran. I also brought a Bible from home, but didn't make much progress with it.

Samuel Huntington's achievement was to remind people that our world is made up of civilisations – civilisations based on specific religions/cultures. His book was an important blow against secularists and multi-culturalists. He correctly identified India as a Hindu civilisation. Not that Hindutva needs an endorsement from a foreign scholar. But some Indians accept the truth about their country only when it is stated by a Westerner, especially an American.

PS: "Clash of Civilisations" has an interesting history. In 1989 – the year the Berlin Wall fell – Francis Fukuyama (a student of Huntington) wrote an article in the National Interest called "End of History". The article argued that history had ended with the triumph of free-market democracy. 3 years later he expanded his article into a book of the same name. The next year his teacher wrote an article in Foreign Affairs called "Clash of Civilisations". It argued that history was far from over, and that religion/culture would play a central role in the post-ideological world. The article provoked a lot of controversy and debate. 3 years later Huntington expanded his article into a book of the same name.

03 January 2009

India's Greatest Kings

Question: Who were the greatest kings of India?
Answer: Ashoka and Akbar.

Our textbooks and our establishment (i.e., Marxist) historians have been parroting this line for many years. Sometimes explicitly – like the Q&A above. Sometimes implicitly – these are the only two kings whose names are suffixed with 'the great'.

But is this correct? What makes a king 'great' anyway? We can list the requirements that must be met for a king to be called 'great':
A) A reasonably large kingdom
B) A reasonably long rule
C) Military strength
D) Peace and stability
E) Economic prosperity
F) Achievements in arts and science

Even a casual glance at India's history reveals the following kings who meet these requirements comfortably:
1. Chandragupta Maurya (320 - 298 BC)
2. Samudra Gupta (335 - 380 AD)
3. Harshavardhana (606 - 647)
4. Pulikeshi II (610 - 642)
5. Amoghavarsha I (814 - 878)
6. Rajendra Chola (1014 - 1044)
7. Krishnadevaraya (1509 - 1529)
8. Chhatrapati Shivaji (1674 - 1680)
9. Ranjit Singh (1780 - 1839)

So we see that India has had many great kings. Then why this obsession with Ashoka and Akbar? One can guess what the answer is. Amartya Sen does us a great favour by stating it explicitly in his book Argumentative Indian. He says: "India's two greatest kings were Ashoka (a Buddhist) and Akbar (a Muslim). So how can anybody say that India is a Hindu country?"

Yes. That's what this is about. By upholding a Buddhist* and a Muslim as the only two great kings of India, the Leftists seek to deny Hindu India its glorious past and its legitimate claim to greatness. Thereby they seek to deny this country its true heritage and its true identity. What a lie! And what a motive behind that lie! The fraud – and the cynicism behind it – takes one's breath away. But the Ashoka-Akbar myth is not an exception. It is just one of a multitude of lies churned out by the Leftist propaganda machine in its war against this country's soul.

*There's another lie here: saying that Buddhists are not Hindu.

PS: The last two kings in the list may not meet requirement F. But we must remember the special circumstances and the special contributions of these two kings: They established independent kingdoms at a time when the country was in the clutches of foreign rulers (Mughals and Afghans + British, respectively).

01 January 2009

Shri K S Sudarshan

I am just back from Bagalkot, where we had a two-day meeting for the RSS workers of North Karnataka province. The meeting was graced by the presence of the Sarsanghachalak (chief of the RSS) Shri K S Sudarshan.

In the last session of the meeting the Sarsanghachalak answered questions asked by the attendees. The questions were on diverse topics ranging from the global economic crisis to climate change and terrorism. The Sarsanghachalak answered each question patiently and in great detail, impressing everybody with the breadth and depth of his knowledge. But for me the real kicker was the last five minutes, in which he spoke about how India is poised to become a great nation once again.

As I listened to him, a strange feeling swept over me. It wasn't just the clarity and logic of his words (there are others who are also clear and logical). It was more. It was the wisdom of a man who had gone beyond knowledge. It was the simplicity of a man who had gone beyond complexity. For the first time in my life I felt I was in the presence of a rishi – a sage. Till now I had only read and heard about rishis. For the first time I felt I was sitting in front of one, seeing his face and hearing his voice*.

Sudarshanji (77) has been a swayamsevak for 68 years, and a pracharak for 54 years. They say great men are not born but made. Made, that is, by years of single-minded service, sacrifice, dedication and devotion. I am not an emotional guy who is swayed easily. But even a hard-nosed engineer like me is forced to admit that this is not an ordinary man.

People usually refer to the Sarsanghachalak as 'RSS leader' or 'RSS chief'. But he is not just a leader or a chief. He is a sage, a rishi.

*The only other person about whom I feel like this is Dr Shivakumar Swamiji of Siddaganga Mutt.