Courtesy the indefatigable Sh SV Raju, editor of Freedom First, comes this excerpt re. the recent controversy triggered by Goa Dy CM’s statement about his being a “Christian Hindu”. Read on (emphasis added)…
Francis D’Souza will be glad to know he is in good company, in fact distinguished company!
When I read this I was reminded of an article..first published in…Quest in 1961 on the occasion of the 150th birth Anniversary of Rabindranath Tagore. In his article Atma Parichaya -(Introducing Oneself)–(written in Bengali and translated by Buddhadeva Basu) Tagore said something similar to what the Goa’s deputy CM is quoted as having said and for which he refused to say ’Sorry’ and thereby has incurred the wrath of a padre.
Gurudev Tagore said inter alia “…I was born into the Hindu society and have accepted the Brahmo sect; if I wish I can go over to another sect, but to another society I cannot belong… With the history of no other society would I have this sense of identification? We can transfer a fruit from one basket to another, but on a different branch we cannot grow.
“Do I than claim that I remain a Hindu even if I become a Christian? Certainly I do, and to me this is quite beyond dispute. No matter what the orthodox Hindus may say about it, Kali Charan Banerjee was a Hindu Christian, and so was Jnanendra Mohan Tagore before him and Krishna Mohan Banerjee as well. These men were Hindu by nation and Christian in faith. Christianity was their complexion, but in substance they were nothing but Hindus. There are thousands of Bengali Muslims whom Hindus perpetually label as non-Hindus, and yet the truth about them is that they are Hindu Muslims.
… “The words “Hindu” and “Muslim” do not have a similar connotation. Islam is a particular religious creed. But Hinduism is not. “Hindu” is a term for the consummation of the Indian nation... From long ago has it come down to us , passing through centuries and the same sunlit horizons, carrying along with it the same rivers and forests and mountains, and saturated with that sequence of attacks and responses which constitute the history of our mundane and spiritual lives. In that word is contained all that we are in our bodies and our souls. From this deep flowing stream no one is cast aside simply by virtue of his having become a Christian – neither a Kali Charan Banerjee nor a Jnanendra Mohan Tagore.
“The nation is larger than the creed and goes much deeper too; changing one’s beliefs involves no change in one’s nationality. The nation to which I belonged when I believed in the mythological story of creation is still mine, although I believe in the modern and scientific version of that story.
…“It will be argued that a Muslim is a Muslim for all that, whether in China or Persia. Not that I know much about the Chinese Muslim, but I dare say that he is in many ways quite different from his Indian counterpart, although there is a certain agreement in religion. …
And so goes on Tagore with his Atma Parichaya, which I found an absolute learning experience. Having read Tagore I could understand what the Goa CM was trying to convey. If you wish to read the full article reprinted in two parts, please visit www.freedomfirst.in , select archives and click Nos. 530 and 531 to read “ Introducing Oneself (Arma-Parichaya)” by Rabindranath Tagore. The text excerpted above is from FF No. 531.
Somewhat Related: A nationalism rooted in Sanatan Dharma
Came across a new buzzword today – “inclusive capitalism“. Not surprised given the great concern in the minds of many about the unequal distribution of rewards/benefits of capitalism..Apparently even the IMF has jumped in the fray..So doubly refreshing (in this environment) to read the views of Dr Pirie (President, Adam Smith Institute). Excerpt from the website (emphasis added):
“When people forgo current pleasures and invest instead, hoping to gain by providing goods and services people might want in future, we call it capitalism. It has generated the wealth that has lifted large parts of humankind from subsistence and starvation, and has enabled us to fund life-saving medicine, education and the arts, as well as opportunities and material comforts.
Just as democracy can be corrupted by repressive populism, so can capitalism be perverted by “rent-seeking” – when people seek to gain more than the goods and services they produce are worth to others.
Sometimes they use political influence to sustain monopolies or to prevent new entrants and innovators from competing for custom. Sometimes they use governments to provide subsidies from taxpayers, or to prohibit cheaper imports.
Sometimes they do deals with governments that provide taxpayer funds to cushion losses derived from incompetence or recklessness. These forms of crony capitalism detract from capitalism’s real benefits and achievements.
What capitalism should now do is to free itself from these rent-seeking perversions and spread its benefits as widely as possible.
It should act against anti-competitive practices to give people instead the power of free choices between competing goods and services. It should spread ownership of capital and investment as widely as possible through such things as personal pensions and individual savings accounts.
It should lower the barriers to entry so that everyone can aspire to start up a business to bring goods and services to others. It should seek a tax system that rewards success rather than punishing it.
Capitalism should become inclusive, making it as easy and as attractive as possible for as many as possible to set aside some part of present consumption in order to invest some of their resources and their time in providing goods and services that others will want. It should become true capitalism.”
Related Posts: Unbridled Capitalism? Why Socialist economies always fail, Prof Bhagwati on inequality and why Karti Chidambaram should read Friedman.
In Lutyen’s Delhi hushed tones speak of a new bugbear in town. Such is the fear that even ardent & otherwise proud Hindus will try & avoid uttering the word – lest they be shunned and ridiculed. The word is ‘Hindutva’.
But fear was not what prompted this post. It was a question triggered by an email from a friend (who shared this fear). He asked, is Hindutva really appropriate in a liberal context? That question pretty much summed up all that is wrong with our understanding of the word. It also explains the fear.
But is Hindutva really anti-liberal? Or does it denote one of the most tolerant faith/belief system, a tradition that can provide moral order and an ethical compass for the planet? How did a word that literally means the essence of ‘Hinduism’ become so mangled?
Can Hindutva really become the basis of a liberal government? Can we reconcile Hindutva with modern-day classical liberal thought? Can Hindutva become the basis of an inclusive non-denominational, national identity?
Turns out it can. But first we need to remove the blinkers. And understand the ‘essence’ of what we call ‘Hinduism’ (which in itself is a misleading, incomplete and lazy description of the great traditions of our civilisation).
What is the essence of these traditions? I believe the essence is ‘freedom’. Freedom of thought, of belief, of practice. Freedom is what underpins this great belief system. So deeply ingrained is this idea that Swami Vivekananda, famously asserted, “All of Vedanta is the assertion of freedom”. Indeed the liberal ethos in India owes its very existence to the long traditions of tolerance of the other in Sanatan Dharma. Pluralism is inherent to Indic traditions; being different is ‘normal’. So how can Hindutva be exclusivist?
Is this strong undercurrent of freedom enough to make ‘Hindutva’ a short-hand for liberal ideology & polity in India? Not quite.
What about the ‘politics’ of Hindutva, you may ask? How can it be relevant in the context of governance? Here, I shall borrow from the grand tradition of Raj-Dharma, the tradition that states quite unambiguously that the state exists to ensure prosperity and security for its citizens; that national interest lies in the well-being of all; that “kings who perform Raj-Dharma selflessly, following the prescribed code of crime and punishment, and who treat their subjects even-handedly..get the highest position that may be available to a true sanyasin“; that “DandaNiti” requires state power be used to protect the weak against coercion and exploitation by the mighty.
Here are the seminal concepts of rule of law and equality before law – clearly enunciated in texts that date back to several millenia. Only the stubborn will doubt that the philosophy of Hindutva encompassing Raj-Dharma can be an excellent guide in matters of governance and statecraft.
What about the liberal stance on economic matters?
Here, I quote Mario Gómez-Zimmerman writing about “The Capitalist Structures of Hinduism”: “(In India, throughout the centuries) the play of particular economic forces was not over regulated and, more significantly, the individual was considered to have rights before the state….The socialist concepts of equality and a classless society are completely rejected by the Varna system…Hinduism never denies the right to property… The attainment of wealth, although embodied with a social function, is considered a praiseworthy personal achievement.”
Gómez-Zimmerman is hardly alone. Numerous others have commented on this aspect of Hindutva. And how can I ignore the concept of “Artha” – one of the four Purushaarthas in ‘Hinduism’? or the second line in the Chanakya Sutra: “Dharmasya moolam Arthah” meaning the basis of all “Dharma” is “Artha” or wealth (also resources, means).
There is much more of all this – and far more insights – in our ancient wisdom & traditions. It is time we stop feeling embarrassed about our heritage. Time instead, to start feeling proud of the civilisational continuity. Time to start feeling proud of the essence of this tradition. Time to start feeling proud of Hindutva. Jai Hind, Jai Bharat!
Related Posts: Hindutva & Liberalism (the original post; now Part I); A slide presentation on “The Political Philosophy of Hindutva”
Video of a brief talk on this topic delivered in presence of Sh Koenraad Elst. Also read: Hinduism is 100% anti-Socialist.
Finally, an interesting and relevant excerpt on ‘Nationalism’, courtesy Nitin Pai:
Let’s start with an axiom: all individuals are free, and from this freedom, they possess certain inalienable rights. They possess these rights and freedoms at all times, but in a state of nature, their ability to enjoy the freedom and exercise the rights is circumscribed by their individual power. In Indian philosophy, the state of nature is termed as matsya nyaya, or the law of the fishes, a condition under which the stronger fish eats the weaker fish. “..
To better enjoy their rights and freedoms, individuals trade-off a part of their freedom for the security offered by a state. Hence Kautilya writes
People suffering from anarchy as illustrated by the proverbial tendency of a large fish swallowing a small one (matsyanyayabhibhutah prajah), first elected Manu, the Vaivasvata, to be their king; and allotted one-sixth of the grains grown and one-tenth of merchandise as sovereign dues. Fed by this payment, kings took upon themselves the responsibility of maintaining the safety and security of their subjects (yogakshemavah), and of being answerable for the sins of their subjects when the principle of levying just punishments and taxes has been violated.[Arthashastra I:13]
…The upshot is that the state is necessary for the practical enjoyment of individual rights and freedoms. The survival and security of the state—often termed “the national interest”—is directly connected to the ability of citizens to enjoy their freedom. Put in another way, the “national interest” is the well-being and development of all its citizens.
Excerpts from The liberal DNA by Pratap Bhanu Mehta (emphasis added):
First, liberalism places the freedom of individuals, their presumptive equality and claim to be treated with dignity at the centre of attention…our political culture far too often immobilises the claims of individual freedom in the face of community identity or group coercion, putting at risk assorted values, from freedom of expression to gender equality…Diversity should be an outcome of individuals freely exercising choices. The Congress cares for diversity but not freedom. The right cares for neither diversity nor freedom.
Second, liberalism has a presumptive faith in citizens. ..The state knows better than the citizens; citizens cannot be trusted to make choices. ..this distrust of citizens is licence to micromanage them. ..No liberal society can flourish on the basis of a pervasive distrust of citizens.
Third, liberalism distrusts concentrations of power, wherever they are found. Nothing has damaged Indian liberalism more than the idea the left has propagated, that Indian liberalism simply replaces the power of the state with the power of the large Corporations. ..temperamentally, a genuine liberalism has been as suspicious of the monopolies and inordinate influence of private actors as it is of state power. It also believes in what Michael Walzer once called the Art of Separation: ..Politics has to be shielded from economic power, considerations appropriate to culture have to be shielded from politics and so on.
Fourth, liberals are not radical democrats. But they recognise that participation is necessary to secure rights, foster a sense of citizenship, prevent power from becoming remote, and for producing decisions that are legitimate. For this reason they are committed to forms of self-government where possible.
Fifth, liberals’ presumption is towards well-regulated markets. But the state has an important role in protecting the vulnerable and enhancing the capabilities of citizens. But the test of such an intervention is whether it enhances the citizen’s ability to participate in the economy, society and politics, not whether it keeps them tethered to a debilitating dependence…
Related Post: Yeh Liberal Agenda Kya Hai?
A few of you may have already read recent posts on my friend and FTI colleague Sanjeev’s blog about our visit to Haridwar and meetings with Swami Ramdev & members of Bharat Swabhiman. I was barely able to make the visit (planned in the middle of my “Tirth12″) but in the end it was MahaDev’s wish that I be there and I did manage to spend a very fruitful albeit intense 1.5 days at Patanajali YogPeeth.
During the conversations with Swami Ramdev, I mentioned the 3 tenets that underpin my political ideology:
- We must all believe that we are Indians first (in other words, give primacy to our “Indian” identity) हम सब भारतीय हैं |
- We must put country above all. राष्ट्र सर्व-प्रथम | (I separately discovered Swami Ramdev has been publicly talking about राष्ट्र सर्वोपरि)
- We must strive for Equal Opportunity not Equality. समान अवसर न कि समानता |
I also had the opportunity to talk about my work over the last few years, ever since I took the decision to devote the rest of my life to political reform and activism in India. And I was very proud to mention my soul-mate’s (& my daughter’s) full support in this daunting task and endeavour. Sanjeev has written extensively on the visit and I am taking the liberty of reproducing extracts from his 2 posts on this (emphasis added).
These are *very* heartening developments – to say the least. FTI’s collaboration with Bharat Swabhiman, under the guidance of Swami-ji has the potential to transform our movement towards political and systemic reform. Exciting times lie ahead and I am hopeful that something good, tangible and substantive will come out of these deliberations. There is obviously a lot of ground to cover..but as you will notice from the extracts below, a solid beginning has been made. Now, onwards! My dream of “Reclaiming India” appears to be taking shape..
Stay tuned for more on this in the weeks to come.. wish me luck and pray for our success..Together, we will win! Jai Hind, Jai Bharat! Without further ado,
*** Extracts: Sanjeev’s notes on recent meetings w/ Swami Ramdev (emphasis added) ***
…In this regard, based on discussions over more than two weeks, I am pleased to report that some representatives of the Anna and Swami Ramdev team have been happy to engage with me and the Freedom Team of India, more broadly. This willingness to discuss is perhaps the result of the many years of preparation and commitment that FTI brings to the table. In addition, FTI has already formed a very close and cordial relationship with Lok Satta
…I believe that the common ground between all “good” groups could be found on the basis of a common vision document
…As part of the vision, we could all potentially agree on reducing the unnecessary role of government, and insist that government undertake its primary role well: that of security and justice.
…After conducting significant due diligence at Patanjali, I now support Bharat Swabhiman and the broad goals of Swami Ramdev. Of course, there are some issues that need resolution. But there are no integrity or other such moral issues. Instead, Swami Ramdev’s team is so highly above board that they match FTI in their insistence on total integrity
If..a combined movement of good people doesn’t ultimately arise in 2013 (and soon!), then India is going to be in for a dangerous ride, given the severe mismatch between people’s expectations and the tragic reality of daily life in India.
I’m not going to wait for such a combined group to establish. FTI will try (subject to internal agremeent) to work with Bharat Swabhiman in the first instance to develop a national movement for reform.
As this combined effort between FTI, BS and many other groups grows, other liberal groups may find it worthwhile to join hands in some form or shape.
…Although inconsistent with FTI’s strategy, this might be a necessary intermediate step in the journey to achieve 540 independent FTI member candidates in some future parliamentary elections. Unfortunately, the situation in India is so dire now, that we can’t wait for perfection. Indeed, when I’m rejecting other people’s utopian ambitions, I must also discard my own utopian ambitions. The country needs and DEMANDS change. Right now. It can’t wait till everyone masters their preferred approaches.
…FTI members like Shantanu Bhagwat will now start working almost full time to bring our ideas into the public domain through TV debates and the like. To the extent I can join them in some way, I’d be very keen to participate in such educational activity.
As I indicated in my previous blog post on this subject earlier today, Swami Ramdev has been most responsive of the three main “good” groups that want to reform India’s governance. His responsiveness is far greater than even Lok Satta’s. This has been not just amazing, but entirely unexpected.
1) FTI members have made THREE speeches, and participated in key events
Swami Ramdev not only let me speak (almost impromptu) to thousands of Bharat Swabhiman members, his institution arranged to relay this speech on Aastha channel and uploaded it on youtube. He also requested me to make impromptu comments at Jantar Mantar.
…These speeches were a major opportunity for me and Shantanu to suggest key messages of liberty and good governance into the public debate.
Just a few days after these two speeches (and many meetings), on 29 December morning, after the brave woman Nirbhaya died, Swami Ramdev requested me and a few other FTI members to sit at the yagna he performed to honour the memory of Nirbhaya. He had so many other key personnel and guests, but placed me, Supratim and Shantanu in key positions at theyagna. It was an unprecedented and humbling honour.
…He then requested Shantanu Bhagwat to deliver some comments at the yagna, which Shantanu did as well as one could hope for – talking strongly about the respect that women deserve in India.
In brief, while FTI has been able to get some interest and attention from the Anna group, our natural affinity with Swami Ramdev is much deeper. In particular, there are only a few policy disconnects with Swami Ramdev, and none whatsoever on integrity or even on his approach to reform. One thing Swami Ramdev does very well is that he consults widely with the best people in India before forming an opinion.
According to me, Swami Ramdev is not only a level 5 leader (the ONLY one I’ve found in India in my lifetime- even greater leader than Verghese Kurien), but a CITIZEN who takes his responsibilities for India VERY SERIOUSLY.
2) FTI’s logo is imprinted in the Bharat Swabhiman vision booklet
I was also delighted to be requested by Swami Ramdev for him to be allowed the use of FTI’s logo (Sone Ki Chidiya) on the Bharat Swabhiman vision document released two days ago.
This logo – which represents the best that India was in the past, and can be in the future – now forms part of the document which will reach one lakh people across India.
3) My main suggestions regarding minimal role for government form part of the Bharat Swabhiman vision booklet
In addition, if you recollect, I made many suggestions in my vision speech at Patanjali Yogpeeth. A key suggestion was that government should not needlessly meddle with citizens who want to produce something of value. Instead, government should strictly perform its core functions well (e.g. law and order). I also mentioned (this is a key KPI also mentioned in BFN) that we need to bring back the Indians who have fled India, and THEREAFTER attract the best brains from the rest of the world.
Guess what, these ideas were included personally by Swami Ramdev in his vision document. If you go to page 37 of the BS vision document, you’ll find paragraphs that reflect most of my suggestions outlined above.
In brief, Swami Ramdev is willing to listen to suggestions and even incorporate them into his vision. In a matter of days. Once he is convinced, he ACTS.
Nowhere else among the groups of “good” people working to reform India’s governance, is such flexibility, such willingness to listen, and such agility, found.
…I’m a keen admirer of Swami Ramdev now (regardless of whatever I might have said or thought in the past – let those thoughts remain as a reminder of the hasty opinions one can sometimes form through misinformed media writings). Who knows – if things continue in this direction I might even consider joining Bharat Swabhiman (as an overseas member, perhaps, initially), in addition to my Honorary membership of FTI. Please click here to download the Bharat Swabhiman vision document (in Hindi; ~ 7MB).
As I mentioned above, stay tuned for further developments & updates on this in the weeks to come.. wish us luck and pray for our success..Together, we will win! Jai Hind, Jai Bharat!
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