The three Malcontents : Mallika Sarabhai, Shashi Tharoor and Jung

published on September 21, 2011
Dr. Vijaya Rajiva

A program on CNNIBN (Face the Nation) presented a cross section of the ‘beautiful people’ and the liberal elite : Mallika Sarabhai, the danseuse, Shashi Tharoor the Congress MP and Mr. Jung, the vice chancellor of a Muslim university. In addition there was a lawyer from Gujarat. It was an interesting spectacle to watch as three of the above whom one can call the malcontents, represented the way the liberal elite of India are responding to Shri Narendra Modi’s fast. Some are just confused, some are angry, some are repeating the tired old liberal rhetoric, but all are still reeling from the shock of finding that their hate campaign against the Gujarat chief minister is fizzling out, both because the legal process is under way (as opposed to their vicious propaganda) and because the idea of a Sadbhavana resonates with Hindu India.

Shri Modi described Sadbhavana as a method of ensuring peace and communal harmony.  Needless to say, this melodious Sanskrit word and its resonances do not sit well with Macaulay’s children. They have continued the post colonial dominance of India with their ill conceived attack on anything that even vaguely suggests Hindu India. It does not matter what the issue is, the agenda remains the same, whether it is about social justice (witness Arundhati Roy’s constant refrain about the Brahmanic Hindu state, a misnomer if ever there was any !) or now their refusal to acknowledge that Sadbhavana is a good thing afterall.

Shashi Tharoor (he of the bedroom eyes, as one admiring Tehelka reporter put it a few months ago ; for the record a woman admirer) looked faintly uncomfortable at the fact that he had to defend the Congress position, even though he made the disclaimer that he was not speaking as a Congressman but as a private individual. His first blip was arguing that a fast should be a  Gandhian one of penance. Gandhiji was punishing himself in his great fasts, not merely responding to colonial injustices , he said. Shri Modi’s fast does not fit into this category, he said. The Gujarati lawyer had no difficulty in pointing out that the fast in Hindu tradition can be many things, amongst which it can be a celebration. In the case of the Modi fast it was a celebration of a continued communal harmony that has existed in Gujarat for the last 9 years ( The previous Congress regimes had seen many a communal riot).

Sarabhai, the danseuse, did not break out into the bizarre laugh (unlike on previous occasions) that seems to have become the signature of many of the Congress women (and their camp followers, with Renuka Chowdhari coming to mind). One has to be grateful for small mercies. The fact that the Congress can no longer produce women of the stature of Sarojini Naidu is a sad reminder of the shabby state of the once glorious Indian National Congress; the depths to which it has sunk. It has been described by neutral observers as being the most corrupt government which independent India has had. And as for the women politicians the less said the better, starting with their head eminence grise.

Sarabhai fortunately did not laugh this time round. However, she went into a tirade against the Modi fast. She quoted some dubious statistics about the lack of economic welfare for the lower classes. And her great misstep was to ask the rhetorical question: can building roads help if a poor pregnant woman cannot reach her hospital? Once again the lawyer from Gujarat patiently pointed out that roads help everybody and that Sarabhai was confusing separate issues. Well planned development is a must for India and the solution is to take all segments of society along and this is precisely what Shri Modi is attempting to do.

Vice Chancellor Jung spoke with a bitter heart and used that word thrown about indiscriminately  and injudiciously : fascism. He should have done better than that if he was truly interested in the welfare of his community.

It was by now clear that all three malcontents were not seriously interested in the welfare of the people of Gujarat, regardless of their religion or ethnicities. They were caught in a time warp and trapped in their own agenda, the defeat of Narendra Modi, through a hate campaign. On this particular program they were  determined about their agenda, although disguised under the rubric of welfare issues, moral issues etc. On other venues people like Teesta Setalwad openly continued the malicious propaganda. On an NDTV program she literally shouted down her BJP opponent with her shrill voice and would not let him talk (the beleagured anchor Barkha Dutta pleaded for calm, but to no avail). Tharoor’s bland suggestion that Shri Modi should offer an apology (for something he is not guilty of !) was simply a disguise for their next step, the bringing down of the Modi government. That ploy is not going to work. The Indian judicial system is working, after all.

Senior journalist Swapan Dasgupta has correctly pointed out that the Congress way of secularism, the pitting of minorities against the majority is not the way to go. Indeed Shri Modi is highlighting what has obtained in Gujarat in the last several years, the social and economic welfare of all communities/citizens of Gujarat. This is the secularism that one wants. Here, one can also point out certain anomalies in the Indian Constitution. It is not clear why a secular republic should uphold Personal Law, or why there is no Uniform Civil Code. The beginnings of minorityism versus the majority can be traced to this first fatal flaw.

Ofcourse, the question can be legitimately raised as to whether one should talk about a secular Hindu nation, as opposed to the ‘secular’ composite state that some liberals talk about. What do they mean by ‘composite’ ? A continuation of Personal Law ? No Uniform Civil Code ?No other secular democracy allows for this. Why only in India are the liberals demanding this anomalous situation ? By contrast, the case for speaking about a ‘Hindu’ nation is legitimate, not only because of the size of the majority population but because of the antiquity of Hinduism which long predates any of the monotheistic faiths or the two Occupations, the Islamic and the British. Like it or not, India is a Hindu country with a long cultural tradition of several millennia. That tradition included the peaceful absorption of various other cultures in syncretism. After the horrors of invasion which entailed murder and mayhem, the country resumed its ongoing identity as a Hindu country. This, no doubt, will continue during the present era.

Guru Golwalkar and other Hindu nationalists have argued correctly ( in the present writer’s view) that only in their religious/spiritual faith can individuals pursue their own dharma. A non Hindu who is a citizen of India has to fuflfill his/her national responsibility, civic duty to society and family responsibilities, like the majority Hindu population. Only in their faith can they choose any path that satisfies their spiritual, religious or theological urges. This is a central aspect of all democracies today (especially national responsibilities and civic duty) and it is not clear why the Beautiful People jump up and down  when this is mentioned. The Left is also equally culpable in this regard. Here, the idelological blinkers that they wear are inhibiting them from taking a clear pro Hindu stand. The present writer has written about this drawback and the origin of this  in other articles. Witness Mr. Yechury’s current hostile remarks about Sadbhavana, not to mention the consistent inability of the Left to shed their ideological blinkers. How could a Leftist/Marxist even begin to understand the meaning of Sadbhavana ? Did not that world historical figure say about British rule in India that whatever its iniquities Britain was a progressive force in India where man who should be the master of Nature fell down on his knees and worshipped Hanuman the monkey and Sabala the cow ? (Karl Marx, British Rule in India  1853. Marx’s limited  humanism was borrowed from the Greek sophist Protagoras who said : Man is the measure of all things !

Despite Marx and despite the Left, Hindu India will continue to worship its several million gods and goddesses . Polytheism is the enduring feature of Hindu culture and shows no signs of being overwhelmed by monotheistic gobbledygook !

Shri Modi is on the right track. The Sangh Parivar’s inspirational figure Guru Golwalkar has talked about the creative future of Hindu India. Scholar Dr. Shrinivas Tilak explains this succinctly in his recent book Reawakening to a secular Hindu nation (2008):

“Golwalkar posited that the present day Indian society and nation would need an equivalent of the modern notion of civil religion that is nevertheless rooted in Dharma and the civilization of India. This would require a conscious reformulation of Dharma to make it more acceptable to the majority of Indians as well as one that is more compatible with the needs of a modern secular state. The move to reawaken to  and to recreate a Hindu nation would not be one of return to a primoridial unity as it once existed in ancient times but rather of rebuilding a compatible structure without eliminating the new existing diversity, plurality, or individuality.

If the tradition is to be reconciled with the secular and democratic needs of the state in today’s India with the belief and behavioural patterns of India’s diverse population, its symbols must be reformulated through a process of transformation and transvaluation.

By transformation Golwalkar understood the retaining of certain structurally recognisable features of the symbol but changing other aspects of its form. Transvaluation would mean retaining the form of the symbol but interpreting it to have a meaning other than the traditional meaning.” (18-19)

This is a challenging task for Hindu India, especially young modern Hindus. And why not ? The Western democracies routinely invoke their ancestral lineages : the Magna Carta, the French Revolution, the Rights of Man (Thomas Paine) and above all their Judaeo Christian heritage. There is no reason for Hindus to roll over and play dead, even and especially when there are charges of communalism, parochialism etc. against them. The Beautiful People, the liberal elite , Macaulay’s children and the Left cannot be expected to support this project. Indeed all opposition can be expected from them. Hindus must understand this opposition and face it and struggle against it.

These are  the internal forces that operate in this baleful fashion, not to mention the external forces that are fishing in troubled waters or are actively aiding in the destabilization of India. Modern Hindus must be alert, not so much on behalf of Hinduism. The present writer has observed on many occasions that Hinduism has survived for millennia and will continue to so survive for many more. However, the aam admi Hindu will suffer needlessly, as seen in the shocking events of June 4, 2011 let loose by the diabolical orders of the troika.

The modern Hindu has an obligation to prevent the repeat of another Rajbala( paralysed for life by the actions of evil forces operating on Indian soil) or the post colonial endless theft of Hindu land and temple wealth which disappears into the pockets of corrupt bureaucrats and politicians who endorse the most corrupt government that independent India has known.

The task for the modern/contemporary Hindu is two fold: (1) resist the consortium of forces that seek to impoverish, destroy and exploit the nation, (2) build the Hindu nation on dharmic principles. In this latter task the Indian Constitution can be welcomed and enriched by the principles of Hindu Dharma.

(The writer is a Political Philosopher who taught at a Canadian university). 

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