When Narendra Modi gave the slogan “India first’’ the most excited support for it came from non-resident Indians, particularly NRIs living in America. The Hindutva NRI’s ardent “Indian nationalism”, not nationalism of the nation where they are living, either as citizens or as green card-holders, is well known. Now they should be very happy that Modiji has taught Donald Trumpji — the presidential candidate of the grand old American Republican Party, a slogan of his election campaign. For the first time in history, an American leader has learnt from an Indian leader how to encapsulate a nationalist slogan — “America first”. Should not we — and more so the Modiites in America — be happy about this development?
One of the key elements of the Hindutva NRI’s nationalism is opposition to liberalism (which they call left-liberalism). They hate the idea of pure “left” more than they hate the idea of pure “liberal” as “leftism’’ (meaning Marxism) asks for equal work and equal wage for all able-bodied people of a nation. The Hindutva NRIs think they are more equal than the American blacks and Hispanics. They also assume that leftism opposes migration and double citizenship, whereas “rightism” (meaning Modi-ism) gives that right without any ambivalence. Modiji promised double citizenship and the American NRIs would get it. Perhaps Trumpji would ask them to go back.
Interestingly, while Bernie Sanders was challenging the liberal Hillary Clinton from the left, the Hindutva NRIs were quick to jump into the campaign trail of liberal Hillary. If we go by their ideological prescription for India, which includes the grand idea of “India first”, they should be staunch supporters of Trump’s “America first”. Why then do they hate the right wing Trumpji? After all, he is as much of a bigot-nationalist as Modiji.
Modiji’s “India first” slogan was given keeping the Indian Muslims and Christians in mind. The unstated idea was that for Muslims and Christians India is not first. For Muslims, “Pakistan is first”, for Christians “Vatican is first’’. Though Trump also hates Muslims he has in mind the Indians and Chinese living in America, who do not believe in America first. Trump believes that Indians should go to India and Chinese should go to China and keep shouting “India first” and “China first”.
If Modiji wants to build a fence on the Pakistan border, Trumpji wants to build a big business wall around the whole of America. Even this wall business, Trumpji learnt from Modiji only. For the first time, our PM is giving creative ideas to American presidential candidates also. Should we not celebrate such an “idea” export enterprise? Some of us left-liberals do not have enough brains to appreciate Modiji here and Trumpji there. Should not Sri Sri Ravi Shankarji and Ramdevji go there to enlist support for the Indian brainchild in America and ask the NRIs to support him?
Some great NRI researchers living in America, working around the Hindu American Foundation, found out (in a book called Breaking India) that several Christian and Muslim organisations and their friends living in India are conspiring to “break
India” into four nations (curiously called Dalitistan, Islamistan, Christianistan and Hindustan). Assume that Trump and Republican Christians think that the Hindu American Foundation is conspiring to break America and to inject idolatry and polytheism into their Christian monotheist fatherland. Would they be wrong? It is a known fact that the Republicans are as conservative anti-idolatry Christians as the BJP wallahs are ardent idol worshippers. If the Hindutva NRIs love their motherland while living in the American fatherland, why can’t Americans love their own fatherland while doing big business with the Indian motherland?
News is trickling down that the Hindutva NRIs are worried about the possibility of Trump winning the election. These are the ones who wrote thousands of abusive social media messages on facebook and twitter against whosoever has argued that nationalist jingoism of the Hindutva type is actually anti-national. It needed a quick American learner like Trump to make them realise that if he wins the election India would have more re-migrated un-employees.
Let us not think that the Chinese will be sitting ducks as the great Hindutva Indians are. The Trump Wall cannot stop the builders of the Great Wall. China knows how to handle a hundred Trumps but the maverick Trump can make his Hindutva friends dance. India is still dependent on America for many things. If a third world country like India could think that through Hindutva ideology it can bend America to support India against Pakistan, they are mistaken.
The Hindutva NRIs were happy with the Indian cow slaughter ban while enjoying the meat and milk of American cows. They were also very happy that the Hindutva rulers believe in the demolition of mosques and building of mandirs in their place. But by learning from the same Hindutva ideology, if the Trump forces demolish Hindu temples in America and build churches, what will the Hindutva wallas do?
That is the reason why in a globalised world it is better to work around liberal democratic values, which do not accept the demolition of other cultures and promotion of jingoist cultures. Hardly anybody imagined that a man of Trump’s bigotry could win the Republican primaries. The Hindutva forces must realise that they too are a minority in many countries. If the Hindutva forces could say that those who eat beef must go to Pakistan, the Trumpites can say that pure vegetarians should go to India.
Migrants who live in other countries should not enthusiastically support communal jingoistic politics back home. Americans might not allow the Trump kind of “America first” to come to power because they cannot imperil their democracy and liberal values. Without realising what would be in store, Indian voters elected Modi to power and now all democratic institutions are under stress. The people’s food culture, higher educational institutions, pro-people welfare schemes are in crisis.
If the Hindutva Indian Americans are honest, they must rally round Trump. But we know that they are terrified by Trump’s neo-Nazi nationalism. We hope that at least they would realise that the Indian minorities are also human beings like them with a desire to live in peace.