Delivering his annual Dussehra speech to a gathering of Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS) cadres in Nagpur, Sarsanghchalak Mohan Bhagwat outlined some key challenges facing the country, and listed the changes that the country’s society and economy must undertake if “our ultimate goal” of “making Bharat glorious and prosperous” is to be realised.
What 2019 elections showed
Bhagwat started by looking back at the 2019 Lok Sabha election results. He said the main question before the 2019 election had been whether the BJP’s victory in the previous 2014 election was “a mere result of a negative political wave born out of the disenchantment against the previous government”, or whether Indians had “made up their mind to go in a specific direction”.
J&K: A long way to go
Bhagwat said that the government’s move to nullify Article 370, which gave Jammu and Kashmir a special status, “once again proved that it has the courage to fulfill those expectations and respect people’s sentiments and wishes in the interest of the country”. But, he stressed, that there is more to be done on this front.
“This effort will come to fruition only when justice denied under the influence of Article 370 is restored, injustices occurred are brought to an end. It will happen when our Kashmiri Pandits who were unjustly driven away are brought back and rehabilitated and allowed to remain secure, fearless, patriotic and Hindu,” Bhagwat said.
“Landing” on the Moon
Bhagwat said that Indian scientists had won global applause after they “landed” Chandrayaan’s Vikram lander on the hitherto unexplored South Polar region of the Moon.
Bhagwat cautioned that Indians should not get lazy because of these achievements because “There are some crises before us, which needed to be overcome”.
Threat across the border
He pointed to the threat along India’s borders, and said that while security alertness was better than before, “the number of guards and checkposts on land borders, and surveillance along the maritime border, especially on islands, have to be increased”.
The enemy within
Bhagwat spoke at length about the threat emanating from within the country. “The agents that cause many a trouble reside in the body,” he said. Over the past few years, there has been “a transformation in the direction of the thought process of Bharat” but many do not want this and continue to “distort” and “misinterpret” even the “well-meaning” policies of the government, he said.
In this regard, he pointed to how incidents of one community attacking another were sometimes “deliberately fabricated” and published with distortions. He claimed that “such incidents have not been one-sided” and “there are reports of incidents happening from both sides”. He did, however, add that “the Sangh has never supported the people who were involved in such incidents and it stands against each and every such incident”.
Yet, Bhagwat said that “by branding such incidents by the words like ‘lynching'” — which denotes “traditions which were alien to Bharat” — “efforts are underway to defame our country and the entire Hindu society” and create fear among the “so-called” minority communities.
He asked his audience to understand that “such a conspiracy is also being hatched”. He asked his audience to “keep away from talking in provocative language or indulging in provocative acts”.
He returned to the theme of the enemy within later in the speech as well.
On the economy
Immediately after this, Bhagwat moved on to India’s current economic slowdown, which he characterised, without providing adequate supporting data, as essentially the result of the global economic slowdown, and the trade war between the United States and China. He did not mention any domestic factors, especially government policies such as demonetisation, that have contributed to the slowdown.
While he praised the government’s recent efforts to boost economic growth, Bhagwat also mentioned that the government had been “compelled” to take steps that attract foreign direct investment, and carry out disinvestment in industries.
The importance of “Swa”
Bhagwat used the current economic impasse and policy mix to underscore how “we need to go to the basics and ponder. We have to formulate our own economic vision keeping in mind our requirements, profile and condition…”.
He said global economic thought did not have the answers: “We are lagging behind in thinking about this ‘Swa’ even decades after attaining Independence, the root cause behind this is the education system, which was contrived during the period of slavery to keep us slaves, and the same is being continued even after attaining freedom”.
India needs a new system of “dutiful” education, he said, which brings “pride about our language (Swa Bhasha), our attire (Swa Bhoosha), and our culture (Swa Sanskriti)”.
To ensure this, he said, there was need for “a radical transformation from curriculum to teachers’ training”, which “cannot be achieved through mere structural changes”.
Bhagwat blamed cultural degradation for ills like drug addiction, and of our “mothers and sisters” not being safe. While contrasting the present situation with a much greater past, he appeared to speak favourably of the practice of jauhar, or mass self-immolation by women.
“In a country where women were revered as mothers (matruvadparadareshu), where big wars were waged to protect the self-respect of women that became subject of the great epics Ramayan and Mahabharat, where martyrdoms like jouhar took place to safeguard the chastity, there the spate of incidents which are happening today indicates that our mothers and sisters are not safe and secure both in family and society; this is matter of shame for all us,” Bhagwat said.
While stressing the need to “make our mothers enlightened, self-reliant, and capable of self-protection”, Bhagwat also said that “the sanctity and decency of our culture is to be instilled in the men’s approach towards women”.