Feb 26, 2024
Feb 26, 2024
BJP leader Narendra Modi (L) gestures to supporters as he sits with his mother Heeraben Modi
on her front porch after seeking her blessing on May 16, 2014 in Ahmedabad, India.
The costliest poll campaign in history is over. The BJP and NDA have won a comfortable majority. BJP leaders predicted the formation of a stable and purposeful government. In the year 2012 America conducted the most expensive election in its history. Candidates and parties spent around USD seven billion of which the Obama team and the Romney team accounted for two billion. In India’s recent election if one adds the unaccounted money spent the projected expenditure could exceed USD seven billion. The expenditure as well as the use of technology deployed in Mr. Narendra Modi’s personal campaign exceeded that of his American counterparts. This indicates how significant this election was in the eyes of the global community. The source of funding of all main parties may remain obscure. But the intervention during elections by foreign powers in the process was unprecedented and glaring. Never before had delegates from 45 nations openly endorsed a prime ministerial candidate as they did Mr. Narendra Modi. Never before had the President of a nation sought a meeting with an aspirant in the midst of the campaign as did the German President with Mr. Arvind Kejriwal. After global economy, get ready to welcome global politics. The trend is irreversible.
Media reports describe how foreign governments keenly watched the Indian poll and expressed hopes that Mr. Modi’s ascent to power would change India’s economy to make it a sorely needed investment destination for global capital. That explains the enormous aid extended to him through NRI conduits settled abroad. That is not to suggest that Mr. Modi’s success owes only to them or that foreign influence will necessarily be malevolent. Mr. Modi displayed phenomenal energy and put it to the best use of what he was capable. But these realities need to be recognized to assess prospects of the future. As of now poll results suggest the following changes that could alter the nature of politics and India’s destiny.
First, the Congress is dead. I had earlier described Mr. Modi’s call for a Congress-Mukt Bharat meaningless. It was limited to the defeat of the UPA. The political role of the Indian National Congress should have been long over. Mahatma Gandhi had demanded this on his last day. The past must be reappraised and the role of the freedom struggle icons demystified to recognize their human errors. Only by recognizing the past might we formulate the present in order to chart the future. For the current Congress leaders, many of whom are talented, to remain politically active they must reinvent their party. Trends suggest the creation of an Indian Federal Congress as one possible option.
Secondly, the role of the RSS will have to change. Mr. Modi’s agenda scripted by his global mentors is not compatible with declared RSS goals. The demands for a Uniform Civil Code, Article 370 in Kashmir and the construction of a Ram Temple in Ayodhya are not primary issues on Mr. Modi’s plate. These would have to be resolved by the RSS itself through discussion with different stake holders. With RSS leaders like Mr. MM Vaidya offering a reasonable approach, success seems achievable. Mr. Mohan Bhagwat would have to alter the views of many of his members about Hindutva if the RSS is to play a relevant social role. The Supreme Court ruled that Hinduism is not a religion but a way of life. It is a way of life in which all communities participate and to which all communities have made some contribution. Therefore the Sangh Parivar will have to focus on promoting all Hindustanis and not just Hindus. This would go a long way to help Mr. Modi’s government forge new ties with Pakistan and Bangladesh and reclaim the cultural nationalism of ancient Hindustan in the avatar of a South Asian Union.
More difficult to address will be the goals of the RSS backed Swadeshi Jagran Manch which are at odds with the economic agenda favoured by Mr. Modi and his global big business supporters. Both agendas may have their plus and minus features. The core concerns of both agendas would have to be addressed through give and take and through fusion of respective policies. It is a daunting task but achievable. Mr. Modi would need to resist big business pressures for quick and easy growth in place of slower growth that has more long term benefits.
Thirdly, a big challenge facing the new government would be the need to defeat terrorism and stabilize relations with immediate neighboring countries. Global business interests would opt for economic growth that might even compromise India’s strategic and security interests. The new government would have to guard against that. The government must learn to chart its own course in foreign policy and influence the emerging world order by offering its own inputs. There is enormous potential for a great Indian role in shaping a new world order provided the government has the vision to think out of the box and the will to act. There is a huge new generation of young Indians with access to information as never before. It seeks change. It is willing to dare. It is for the political leadership to respond.
Finally, India suffers not just from poor leadership but from a flawed political system. No leader under the prevalent system can deliver desired governance. India needs systemic reform. The government would need to revisit our original un-amended Constitution and reinterpret its provisions in the light of all the distortions that were allowed to creep in. Many spurious amendments would need scrapping. Many neglected Articles and Directive Principles of the Constitution would have to be vigorously implemented in order to introduce real democracy. All other aspects of policy become relevant only after a fit instrument for governance has been established.
The new government would have to accomplish all this. Much will depend on how Mr. Modi performs. He has indicated that he seeks reconciliation with political rivals and a new national consensus to achieve his goals. In 1977 India had opportunity to usher a democratic revolution. That opportunity was missed. 2014 offers another opportunity. Will Mr. Modi seize it?
Image (c) gettyimages.com
More by : Dr. Rajinder Puri
|Actually, Puri-ji, if national character does not improve, nothing much can be achieved, whatever be constitutional provisions. We do not have national pride. Gandhi drove away Netaji Subhash, who called him Father of the Nation. Communists called him Tojo's dog. Whom? One of the greatest patriots all time in history. Some citizens of this country will not utter Bande Mataram. M N Roy, a communist and a great humanist spoke of similarity of Communism and Islam. One part of the country can be gone into temporarily only. Vast majority of the country is impoverished and we have no qualms about that. We need a tough Master-ji as Narendra Modi-ji said in one of his addresses during election campaign. We all know what is good for the country; but we are not self-disciplined like the Chinese people. That is sorely need; as much as the constitution.
|Terrorism springs from fear. If we can give a comfortable feeling to the sections of people who are prone to terrorism, terrorism will go. For that, equitable opportunities have to be created. Science books have to be written in vernacular languages and gist of religions have to be written in a common book of key religions in different languages and should be made compulsory reading in secondary and senior secondary classes. Once an understanding is built about various religions and science, attitude of people will change. All religions carry a body of knowledge which are incompatible with a modern human societies. People have to understand that. Finally, development should be equitable. Then and only then violence in the inner recesses of minds will go. Terrorism too will go. Shri Narendra Modi can do this.
|The statement, Rajendra Puri-ji, "Congress is dead" does not auger well for this country. Though, Gandhi-ji wanted this, that I believe, was out of frustration. Like Ramakrishna Paramhansa's Vivekananda, Gandhi-ji's Bhaav-Shishya (idea-child) was Nehru. What Gandhi-ji did to Subhaash, was avenged by God. All of us have bad points. Bigger a man, bigger is his mistake. (Nehru's mistake was China). Naturally, Gandhi-ji had to pay for his mistakes. What you said, a Federal Congress is just. But a Mulayam. a Mayawati, a Mamata, a Jayalalita, a Biju, a Nitish Kumar, a Tarun Gogoi can not form a Federal Congress. Their ego and regional stature will not allow that. Gandhi-Nehru-Gandhi stamp could keep Congress alive. Sonia & Rahul are unequal to the task. Rahul, in an interview with Jayanta Ghoshal of Ananda Bazar Patrika vibed correctly though. But such a Congress as envisaged by Rahul will take time to build. It can be build in ten years time. Jairam Ramesh, Nandan Nilekani, Jyotiraditya Scindia, Rahul Gandhi, Sachin Pilot, Sandeep Dixit, Milind Deora, Abhijit Mukherjee, Chidambaram's son will be able to do that in a decade. The process can be accelerated, if Sonia and Chidambaram are given the reins of the Congress in the first few years. But will Congress have that patience and wisdom? It should have. The younger breed should constitute a new younger Congress. If Sonia-Manmohan could rule for ten years, let Congress give Narendra Modi that much time and engage themselves in constructive politics meanwhile. Let them rein in best professional brains also. That is the need of the hour for the sake of the country.
|Before I react to other points of respected Rajinder Puri-ji, I want to point out, like "RSS policies are not compatible to global demands", Gandhi's khadi too was not compatible with Industrial society. Tagore differed with Gandhi on this account. Khadi was a kind of symbolism. Likewise, Hindutwa too is a kind of symbolism. Foreign rulers brought in a culture of anti-idolatry. Bharat had no culture of destruction of places of worship. Ramkrishna Paramhansa amply described this by saying "Jato mat tato path", which in Hindi would translate to: "Jitni dhaarna, utnaa hi marg" and in English "as many ideas, so many ways". India, right from the beginning is married to Bahutwabaad, i.e., multiplicity in religious thinking, though I understand Ajatshatru killed many Buddhists. Nehru and his progeny being neutral as far as religion was concerned, there arose a contradiction of sorts in public space as Indians on an average are religious. As Pakistan was carved out of India on the basis of religion, Nehru and Congress always wanted to prove that India is for everybody. However, an Indian in general was never reconciled to the concept of Pakistan. And therefore Hindutwa raises its head every now and then. It is a reactionary thought. If muslims carve out Pakistan, then India is for Hindus! Bangladesh has made amends by declaring itself a secular country only recently under Sheikh Hasina. If Pakistan too does the same, though Jinnah took such a posture, much of Hindutwabad in India will go. The onus is on Pakistan. But will they brave this? They should, as the world has changed in three generations. Further, Kashmir has been a bone of contention. If Punjab and Bengal could be divided, why Kashmiris and for that matter Pakistan and India jointly can not decide to de-politicize the issue of Kashmir? Once Pakistan takes such a stance, Pakistan and India will not be at loggerheads. See the irony. It was Andhra Pradesh, because of which states of India were reorganised on the basis of language. Now the Telegu speaking state is bifurcated into two! So if Pakistan make efforts to erase its past memory and consider India its elder brother, itself having established a separate family, but not forgetting its father, the Brihat Bharat, Hindutwa and fear of muslims will go. I hope Shri Narendra Modi will show the way.
|It is an wonderful article when a poet Editor analyses with the best investigaitive mind enriched by political acumen. Yes, India is not for Hindus only, it is for Hindustanis, or all that live in India. This is a big challenge for Modi and his lieutenants of Hinduttva known as RSS. The RSS policies are not compatible with the global demands.The article raises some vital questions . Kudos RK ji.
|First of all we should stop calling India as Hindustan. This gives a false impression about India. Officially, India is Bharat. It is North Indians who refer to India as Hindustan and cause immense damage to the Nation. It is the Persians who called us Hindus. They meant people leaving East of Sind. S pronounced as H has converted Sind to Hind and thus the word Hindustan was coined. I hear Raja Ram Mohan Roy, father of Modern India, was the first Indian who used the term Hindu, because at that time court language was Persian and Raja Ram Mohan Roy was educated in Persian. He learnt, I am told Sanskrit and Baangla later, for Modern Baangla was Pandit Ishwar Chandra Vidyasagar's creation. Educated Indians should be careful in using terms. We should forthwith stop using the term Hindustan. Correct name of our country is Bharatbarsha. What is Hindustani language is substantially Urdu. The credit of official and correct Hindi goes to Pandit Jawaharlal Nehru and Suniti Kumar Chatterjee. I shall react to your other points, Puri-ji, later.
|An apt appraisal of the emerging scenario.
Let us heed it
|>Hinduism is not a religion but a way of life. It is a way of life in which all communities participate and to which all communities have made some contribution<
Thus it would appear Hinduism is inclusive of all religion, Christianity and Islam included as paths to God. This inclusiveness has recently been reciprocated by Christianity in its Roman Catholic form in the ruling of Vatican 2 that all men are capable of achieving holiness who have sincere faith. Islam may not appear to be so accommodating, but under enlightened Islamic rule there is freedom of religion, though Islam assumes dominance, defining the Islamic state. It is this trace of dominance that overrides the theory of equality of faiths in any given country and that manifests itself in religious structures, church, temple or mosque. The Ram temple would signify Hinduism reinstated as a dominant national relgion: it is not just a statement within accepted plurality of belief, but virtually non-inclusive, and one can understand the inhibitions of the newly elected national leader to so polarise perception of India both at home and in the global context of nations. .