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Monday, July 16, 2018

Fifth Column: Not right but wrong

The RSS has long been described as right-wing or, since the ascent of Donald Trump, the alt-right.

Written by Tavleen Singh | Published: December 25, 2016 12:18:54 am
Narendra Modi, Congress-BJP, demonetisation, demonetisation news, income tax raids, currency ban, new notes, Modi-demonetisation, Indian Express Prime Minister Narendra Modi (File Photo)

A bizarre consequence of the Prime Minister’s currency replacement exercise has been that it has exposed his RSS comrades to be closet Marxists. They have not only appeared proudly on national television to speak of an ‘egalitarian’ society as the final aim of demonetisation, but have even used Marxist jargon. So the expression ‘neo-liberalism’ has been used to denounce the economic reforms of the Nineties that brought India the only real prosperity she has ever known.

Clearly the great changes that occurred in the last decades of the last century went unobserved in Nagpur. So RSS ‘thinkers’ seem not to have noticed that Marxist economic policies caused the collapse of the Soviet Union and were abandoned by China and Eastern Europe. These thinkers appear also not to have observed that India has remained poor and decrepit because in our emulation of the Soviet Union we handed the keys of economic growth to officials. This led to statism, stagnation, corruption and socialist feudalism that brought the mighty Congress Party down to its lowest point in the 2014 general election.

Candidate Narendra Modi was given a full majority by the people of India mostly because he exalted prosperity and not poverty. When in his first speech from the Red Fort he announced the abolition of the Planning Commission, he signaled the end of central planning. It was this Soviet-style institution that gave Delhi bureaucrats the illusion that they could dictate every detail of India’s development. In attempting to do this from fine, colonial bungalows and mighty sandstone edifices on Raisina Hill they made terrible mistakes that political leaders usually paid for.

They built for ordinary Indians the worst schools and hospitals in the world, thereby denying people the tools with which to fight poverty. This suited the political party they have served for nearly all our years as a modern nation, since socialist slogans have long been just a beard for feudalism. Check the pedigree of nearly every young Congress MP if you need to ascertain this.

The RSS has long been described as right-wing or, since the ascent of Donald Trump, the alt-right. And it is perhaps when it comes to cultural and religious matters but not when it comes to economic ideas. Before its current talk of ‘neo-liberalism’, its economic thinking was reflected in an organisation called the Swadeshi Jagran Manch. One of the leading lights of this dubious body, S Gurumurthy, has lately been seen a great deal holding forth on the benefits of the Prime Minister’s currency replacement programme.

Some years ago I remember reading an article by him in which he talked of how Indian farmers should concentrate on growing coarse grains like millet. As someone who prefers coarse grain, the article interested me, but I was equally intrigued by how farmers could be forced to grow something that did not bring them a profit. That can only happen when in the name of the proletariat a dictatorship gets created. In democratic countries, it is not possible to force people to do anything they do not want to do. Not even go digital. But now that the Prime Minister has forced this upon us in one brutal move, we must hope that he moves forward as assuredly with more reforms.

He must bring together a conclave of BJP chief ministers and ask them what they have done to improve public services. He must ask them if there has been visible improvement in schools and hospitals. If their cities have abided by his Swachh Bharat programme and if villages have started to provide urban services as he promised. He must ask if they have invested in tourism infrastructure. This was something candidate Modi spoke much of but too little has been heard of it since he became Prime Minister. The reason why investment in tourism can transform economies is because the infrastructure needed is exactly what India needs: roads, telecommunications, sanitary public areas. Our ancient monuments and spectacular beaches and mountains can do the rest.

If the RSS had attracted real thinkers and economists, they would have noticed that the best way to preserve our ancient (and criminally neglected) heritage is by investment in tourism. Sadly, the RSS has remained trapped in a time warp that has stunted it, and so if the Prime Minister wants to bring India prosperity and progress, he would do well to ignore the teachings of his alma mater and learn from other countries. Those who put their faith in democracy and free markets have thrived and succeeded in providing their people with the tools to compete anywhere. Those who built their ideas on Marxist and socialist principles have ended up destroyed by officials who built stagnant behemoths instead of fine corporations. In India we should know this well since we tried to walk down this same road.

Follow Tavleen Singh on Twitter @ tavleen_singh

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