Mischievous wordplay

Why ‘Developmental Hindutva’ is a misnomer.

Written by BHALCHANDRA MUNGEKAR | Published: May 9, 2017 12:10 am
Modi, Narendra Modi, Yogi Adityanath, Developmental Hindutva, Globalisation, economic globalisation, religious globalisation, cultural globalisation, hindutva, Hindutva BJP, BJP development, Indian Express, Express column Prime Minsiter Narendra Modi.

At the end of his political career, S.A. Dange, one of the founders of the Communist movement in India and a veteran trade union leader, discovered “Marxism in Vedanta”. I, like many non-communists, respect Dange’s progressive thinking. But this “invention” was most disappointing. I recollect Dange here because recently, Sanjaya Baru has come up with the innovative idea, “Developmental Hindutva” (IE, April 14). Briefly put, Baru finds Jawaharlal Nehru’s emphasis on “composite culture” as “ a clever cop-out which avoided a direct link between India’s civilisational attributes and its ancient, dominant and, in many ways, defining religion, namely Hinduism”.

Baru says Modi came to power on a “developmental” plank, while Yogi Adityanath won on a “Hindutva plank”. He considers this dichotomy false and ventures to strike a balance between the two. Baru considers “teaching of yoga and singing Vande Mataram as aspects of Hindutva” and expects the non-Hindus “to easily live with” them.
Baru’s innovation is absurd.

No modern Indian political leader, including M.K. Gandhi, grasped, with such enormous clarity, the essence of India’s 5,000-year-old civilisation and contextualised it for building a “modern Indian nation state” as Nehru. Of all his contributions, Nehru’s determination to make India’s “composite culture” the foundation of the country’s nationhood in the face of stiff opposition from some of his Congress party colleagues — let alone sections of religious bigots — is the most enduring. The Constituent Assembly debates show that when there was no agreement even on the name of the country — “India” or “Bharat” — Nehru struck a balance by agreeing to the nomenclature, “India, that is Bharat” — the latter being the symbol of India’s cultural and civilisational roots and heritage.

Now about “Developmental Hindutva”. It’s common knowledge that “development” (economic growth) encompasses a much bigger canvass with social, economic, political and cultural factors — with their inter-related dynamics — collectively enriching the overall standards of a society. It implies creating a more rational, tolerant, inclusive, just and equitable society. Development would also imply strengthening all possible channels of communication among various socio-cultural groups. This does not rule out socio-cultural and religious differences in society. Rather, it implies “co-existence” in the midst of such differences.

According to V.D. Savarkar — who coined the term “Hindutva” — and M.S. Golwalkar — the chief ideologue of the RSS — unlike Hinduism, “Hindutva” is a political ideology that aims to establish a “Hindu Rashtra”. Muslims and Christians do not fit into the scheme of the “Hindu Rashtra” (“Bharatvarsha”), because, though India is their janmabhhoomi (place of birth) and karmabhoomi (place of work), it is not their pitrubhoomi (fatherland, land of origin) and punyabhoomi (holy land). Therefore, they are parakiya (outsiders). Hindutva is thus an exclusivist doctrine, narrow in its nationalistic essence, divisive in its consequences. It is therefore superfluous to equate Hindutva with singing Vande Mataram, teaching yoga or doing surya namaskar.

Since its inception in 1925, the RSS has never deviated from this fundamental ideological premise. This explains the aggressive stand of the Sangh Parivar-affiliates towards Muslims after 2014. Muslims are held responsible for the Partition of the country (a half-truth); they are assumed to be loyal to Pakistan (absurd, as they opted to stay in India); their population is said to be growing faster because they are polygamous — members of the Sangh Parivar argue that one day, Muslims may outnumber Hindus (wild conjecture) — they are accused of being cow killers and so on. Right after taking office, Yogi Adityanath clamped down on “illegal abattoirs” in UP. This is an attack on the sources of livelihoods of Muslims — most abattoirs are owned by Muslims, though a large majority of wholesale traders of beef are Hindus.

The education system is being tampered with and India’s history is sought to be rewritten. Progressive inclinations and dissenting voices are opposed — that explains the attack on JNU, the best Indian university even by the standards of the Human Resource Development Ministry itself.

Hinduism is different from Hindutva. It is not only a religious belief system but also a civilisation that evolved over time. Despite all its infirmities, such as the ignominious caste system, untouchability and the subjugation of women, Hinduism has been the single major component of India’s culture and civilisation for almost 5,000 years. Indian civilisation could adapt to modern challenges because of its ability to churn out mutually conflicting worldviews. The internalisation of democratic values by the people of India can be ascribed to such a “composite” culture.

Nehru made strenuous efforts to make this composite culture the foundation of inclusive development. One can debate its achievements, but it is hard to challenge the core philosophy of modern India. Hindutva is the antithesis of Hinduism.

It threatens the foundations of inclusive India. It’s time for every Indian to introspect and choose between “Hindutva” and “development”.

The writer is former member of the Rajya Sabha and Planning Commission

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  1. Raman Govindan
    May 13, 2017 at 1:07 pm
    EVR Periyar was the best thing to have happened to the Hindus of Tamil Nadu in the last 100 years. EVR Periyar. was an hesis to Golwalker of RSS! he vigorously opposed supers ions, caste prejudices, untouchabilty, emphasized secular and science education for one and all, advocated Inter caste and very simple marriages and widow's marriages, family planning, girls education and employment. besides the employment of non brahmin as temple pujaris, and zero ritual one too. he was very harsh with words on the forward castes but it paid off. Tamils are less infatuated with other religions and cultivated rational secular and scientific at ude among them. he was for Tamils one, what Martin Luther for protestants Christians. he taught them self respect, not overtly admire color of skin, facial feature, imbibed the value of education and literacy. his efforts and leadership pays continuous dividend to them.
    1. M
      Mohammed Khalid
      May 11, 2017 at 9:46 am
      Who is Golwalkar or Sarvarkar to decide who belongs to this country. Who gave them or the RSS the authority. Hindus or Hindutvavadis are also equal citizens of India. Muslims did not migrate from Arab world we have lived as long as any Hindu has lived so this land belongs to me. I can choose and follow any belief. BJP and RSS should be thankful to congress for giving them this platform where educated children use twitter, facebook and WhatsApp to promote Hindutva and hate for other beliefs.
      1. R
        May 10, 2017 at 5:43 am
        Nehru, his clan and followers (like this author) attempted cultural genocide at unprecedented scale on Hindus by trying to erase their Hindu iden y and tried to replace it with a "composite iden y" in which everything Hindu was shamed and everything Muslim or Christian was glorified. Little did these twits realize how resilient Hinduism is. Hindus are now waking up to the monumental fraud perpetuated upon them. Authors like this and his friends will be crushed in the tsunami of Hindus rising up to take their rightful place in human history.
        1. R
          May 10, 2017 at 5:31 am
          Nehru's leadership and family's dominance of Indian leadership was the worst curse on India. This author is a typical nehruvian twit. Human garbage like this and his dim witted ideas have no place in modern India.
          1. A
            May 10, 2017 at 12:08 am
            Thank you sir for enlightening us! We know now our next goal is to make India as a Hindu state , then only we the majority has a hope to survive. Thank you sir. Pl keep writing this kind of articles and push us to the wall so that we will achieve our goal to make India as a theocratic state.
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