ACCORDING to me, India is at the crossroads of destiny today: Either we take the path to break out of shackles acquired from a millennium of occupation of the nation by foreign religion-driven invaders, and cemented by Nehru and his successor-clones as Prime Ministers, or we continue tread on the road to further assimilate these shackles in our mindset and ultimately again surrender to our foreign tormentors.
What are these shackles? These are four dimensional:
(i) A bogus foreign imposed concept of Indian identity that has made youngsters get divided on artificial distinctions such as varna, jati, region and language. Hence on our Agenda we must shape and wield our youth into a united Virat Hindutva—imbibed Hindustani.
(ii) A reluctance to retaliate against terrorists, hijackers, brutalisers of the women, and other aggressors for fear of disturbing their personal status quo, or risk of losing what we have left. As a consequence we have become passive and docile instead of having virat gunas, of courage, sacrifice, and tenacity.
(iii) India has a huge youth population which make us a strong candidate for a demographic dividend. But our rudderless youth imbibed in Nehruism is increasingly fixated on material progress even at the cost of sacrificing spiritual values, leading youth to become greedy for cash to throw around, and to accumulate wealth by hook or crook, thus become corrupt, and soon degenerate.
(iv) A lack of an Indian language for a national idiom of communication, the lack of which is forcing us to communicate in a foreign language with each other across the states. This makes for low grade titillation and night club brawls as the currency of modernisation, and by peer pressure compelling thereby our youth to become westernised and immoral.
How then to unshackle ourselves and India become Virat Hindutva—imbibed Hindustan?
(1) Indian Identity
In today’s India as a nation state, youth are confused if India is a British imperialist by-product, or is an ancient nation of continuing unbroken civilisation. In other words, is the word ‘India’ used the same way that we today use the word ‘Africa’ or ‘Europe’ to denote a sub-continental region of separate nations and cultures, or was India always a nation of one culture of a people with a common history?
The battle to settle the answer to this question is on today between the nationalist Indian and the internationalist liberal or how to be a nationalist Indian and keep at bay the internationalist liberal of Nehru’s vintage.
We are one indigenous people according the recent DNA genetic studies. Every nation thus must have an identity to be regarded distinct. The youth of India have to be inculcated with that outlook and thus accept Hindutva as the foundation of India’s culture.
Following Samuel Huntington’s contribution to definition of an identity of the two components: Salience, which is the importance that the citizen attributes to national identity over the other many sub-identities. Second, Substance, which is what the citizens think they have in common, and which distinguishes them from others of other countries.
Salience in India is imbedded in the concept of Chakravartin, which Chanakya had spelt out with great clarity, while Substance is what Hindus have always searched for and found unity in all our diversities in, thanks to our spiritual and religious leaders, especially most recently Swami Vivekananda and Sri Paramacharya of Kanchi Mutt.
And that substance in Indian identity invariably is the Hindu-ness of our people, which we now call as Hindutva. Thus our Agenda for Change must include the youth accepting that an Indian is one who is a Hindu or one who acknowledges that his ancestors are Hindus. This concept would include willing Muslims, Christians, Parsis and Jews. Thus, religion of any Indian can charge, but not the Hindu-ness or Hindutva.
We should invite Muslims and Christian youth to join us Hindus on the basis of this common ancestry or even their voluntary return to our fold as Hindus, in this grand endeavour as Hindustanis, on the substance of our shared and common ancestry.
For this we have to jettison our adherence to birth-based varna and jati which blocks re-coverts to Hinduism from assimilation in Hindu society.
Hindutva has to be inculcated in our people from values and norms that emerge out of a Hindu renaissance, that is, a Hindu theology which is shorn of the accumulated but unacceptable baggage of the past, as also by co-opting new scientific discoveries, perceptions and by synergising with modernity.
Deendayal Upadhyaya outlined how to modernise the concept of Hindutva as follows:
“We have to discard the status quo mentality and usher in a new era. Indeed our efforts at reconstruction need not be clouded by prejudice or disregard for all that is inherited from our past. On the other hand, there is no need to cling to past institutions and traditions which have outlived their utility”. This is the essence of renaissance.
This is the only way that Hindustan can become a modern Hindu Rashtra.
(2) Virat Hindutva
Patriotic Hindu youth should understand the present structural limitation in the theology of Hinduism, that is individualism, is mistakenly taken as apathy, but it is now required of us to find ways to rectify it for the national good.
It is worthy of notice that, recognising this limitation, Hindu spiritual leaders in the past have from time to time come forward to rectify it, whenever the need arose e.g., as the Sringeri Shankaracharya did by founding the Vijayanagaram dynasty or Swami Ramdas did with Shivaji and the Mahratta campaign. Such involvement of sanyasis is required even more urgently today.
In fact, this is the real substance of India as Swami Vivekananda had aptly put it when he stated that: “National union of India must be a gathering up of its scattered spiritual forces. A Nation in India must be a union of those whose hearts beat to the same spiritual tune…. The common ground that we have is our sacred traditions, our religion. That is the only common ground… upon that we shall have to build.”
(3) Demographic Dividend
When a country starts having economic development, population growth begins to accelerate not because families start having more babies but because infant mortality sharply declines and expectation of life rises—people start living longer. This means that the death rate of a developing country quickly declines and faster than the birth rate declines. This leads to an acceleration of population growth, and since 1951 till 2000 was regarded as a “problem”.
Today we no more refer to population growth as a problem but as a ‘demographic dividend’. Why? Because modern economic growth is not more about more capital and more employment, but about more innovation—news ways of combining capital and labour through new technology. For example the difference between the postman and email via internet.
India has the possibility of a demographic dividend because in the next several decades the average age of the country will be relatively young while the ratio of younger people to retired persons will be favourable. Young people from universities are the vehicles of new innovation.
India therefore must take steps such as educating its youth, fixing infrastructure and lowering corruption levels to bring this demographic dividend to fruition.
India thus has the potential for a demographic dividend, if its Agenda for Change calls for investment to educate its large young population for acquiring skills, in infrastructure, and works to stop corruption so that competition and merit can triumph over cronyism..
But there and pitfalls ahead: India’s developing story based on reaping the demographic dividend is now marred by some unintended developments, principally illegal immigration mostly Muslims from Bangladesh and the higher population growth of Muslims within the country.
Muslim society, if not ready to confront the orthodoxy of clerics, wallows in retrograde practices which retard economic growth. It is not poverty that is the reason for Muslim backwardness. From Tunisia to Indonesia, oil revenues have vastly reduced poverty to levels prevailing in developed countries.
Yet these countries have not produced any innovation worthy of note, or a world class university despite no shortage of funds, since they are cleric dominated nations. Turkey, Iran, and Pakistan at one stage inspired the thought that these nations would be trend setters in modernity, liberal tolerant thought, and gender equality. But one by one they have capitulated archaic practices, intolerance, and crude gender discrimination.
This is infecting Muslim majority areas such as Kashmir and Northern Kerala, and even in districts and town Panchayats. Hence, the illegal immigration of Muslims from Bangladesh and a fast growing Muslim population without it being willingly co-opted into the enlightened questioning Hindu ethos of India, would be a drag on economic progress of the nation, and later, become the enemy within. India’s most precious Demographic Dividend then would turn sour and divisive like in Lebanon.
That is why amongst Muslim youths in India it should be our Agenda for them to adopt the Hindutva ethos of a questioning mind and to proudly accept the truth that they are descendents of Hindus.
For all of us, national identity should be first priority and all other sub-identities of low priority.
(4) Developing Sanskrit as a Link Language
Sanskrit and the Devanagari script, in addition to the mother tongue and its script, will one day in the future, be Hindustan’s link language. In the Agenda for Change, the youth must be afforded the opportunity to learn Sanskrit as an alternative to Hindi.
All the main Indian languages have already a large percentage of their vocabulary common with Sanskrit. Even Tamil, which is considered as ancient, has 40 per cent words in common with Sanskrit. The scripts of all Indian languages are derived or evolved from Brahmi script. Hence, in the Agenda there has to be a commitment to re-throne Sanskrit with Devanagari script as virat Hindustan’s link language, and which is to be achieved through Hindi in a compulsory 3-language formula of mother tongue, Hindi, and English in all schools with a steady Sanskritisation of Hindi’s vocabulary till Sanskritised Hindi becomes indistinguishable from Sanskrit and thus replaced by the latter.
(The writer is former Union Law Minister)