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Politics, Policy and all things Digital about India

We must draw a line

For the background to this post, first read below

1. Background to this Open Call to Debate

2. Of Labels and Definitionsoffers a definition for what is Left Liberalism

3. Fallacy of using Identity as a Labelexposes the fallacy of Hindutva as an ideological label

4. A definition for the Center Rightthat is Progressive, Compassionate, protects both Hindu and Minority Interests by speaking for all of Middle INDIA thus pitching a big and wide Tent

5. The Debate on 14th March 2010Full Transcript of Center Right Hall hosted on CoveritLive and carried by Offstumped Community and Live Mint Blogs

First some reflections on the Online Debate from the day after

There were many lessons to be learned on the format of the debate , given the limitations of the medium and feedback from many of you. Future refinements of the format will have to focus on increasing the engagement with individual panelists, connecting the dots through the debate to drive coherence and of course as always maximizing participant satisfaction by pushing the envelope on Technology.

Looking beyond the format, 5 key takeaways from the content of the debate

#1 There is a significant gulf within the broad political space opposed to Left Liberalism

#2 Untamed Internet Activism remains a sore point

#3 There is no clear intellectual leadership visible on the horizon for taming this Activism and for taking it beyond the Internet

#4 Deep confusion over the Identity versus Ideology debate continues to persist

#5 Unclear at this time if this “structured engagement” can be sustained. We may well see some unintended consequences of this raw and untamed activism manifest themselves in the days to come, if we dont draw a line sooner than later.

Its about the future stupid

While many in the debate wanted us to look to the past, some others wanted us to look to the West, when we really should be looking at the future.

Have to credit @CenterOfRight for putting the future challenge into perspective

First time voters in 2019 will be a generation born in 2001 around or after 9/11 who are right now studying in 4th grade

The past maybe an inspiration and a guide, the West maybe a case study, but end of the day this exercise has to be about the future.

Standing where we are today, if we are not thinking ahead on the challenges, opportunities and the sense of history with which todays 4th grader and the many who probably are not even in school will be making political choices 9 years from now, then we will be irrelevant even before 2002 makes it to History text books (I am told it has already made it to political science text books by NCERT).

Hence the need to draw a line  here and now.

We must draw a line to

#1 end this Identity versus Ideology confusion once and for all

#2 make this about the challenges and opportunities of the future and not about righting history’s wrongs

#3 make this about capturing the mindshare and the imagination of a generation exemplified who will be making political choices 9 years from now and who’s memory on the most significant political events of his or her life at the age of 18 is right now a clean slate

Where must we draw the line

It is time for us to recognize that the political construct (psuedo-secularism versus Hindutva) of the 1990s is not just an anachronism but also a painful reminder of the baggage of the past.

We must also recognize that Political Hindutva of the 1990s 

#1 at its core was the product of deep insecurity and victimhood

#2 has been tainted by Adharma committed in its name.

#3 was spineless  in its failure to stand up to violence committed in its name

#4 was morally ambiguous in taking a clear stance on the primacy of Rule of Law and Justice in response to violence committed in its name

#4 was intellectually hollow in its failure to evolve an Intellectual Political Tradition geared for the challenges of this Century drawing on the rich tradition of Kautilya’s Arthashastra and others who followed him

Some have to tried to rationalize Hindutva as the Warrior Spirit needed to protect Dharma, while others have fantasised about Hindu thought in an Islamic body. This line of thought has been critiqued extensively by this blogger before. It suffices to say that

Just as Rajadharma as articulated over the Centuries was the Constitution for the State,  the Indian Constitution is the Rajadharma in this day and age.

The only “Warrior Spirit” to protect Dharma is that which the has Constitutional sanction. The only Right to bear Arms is that which is sanctioned by the Constitution. Even the Kshatriya of yesteryears had no blanket immunity to use their arms but for the protection of Dharma which in today’s context is the Indian Constitution.

What about Hindu interests

There are legitimate concerns on protecting and advancing Hindu interests. These concerns have to be addressed through Hindu Institutions. The State and politics must have no role to play in them.

It is ironic that those who claim to protect Hindu interests have done little to nothing in freeing Hindu Institutions from State Control.

Instead they have cynically accorded legitimacy to State Interference in Religion by advancing an overtly religious political agenda.

Yes there is a legitimate competition to Centuries of Hindu Thought in the modern marketplace of Ideas.

To compete in that marketplace

Hindu Institutions must be free of State Control

the Hindu Community must put its money where its mouth is

invest in bringing Modern Technology, Modern Governance and Management Practices to those Institutions

focus on creating Intellectual Assets, Social Programs for the future

- for that 4th Grader who will grow up in the world of Twitter, Facebook, iPhone and iPAD and

for that 4th Grader peers who will probably never see the face of a school and will likely suffer from deep Information Asymmetry

Let the 40,000 crores of TTD work on creating those Intellectual Assets and Social programs. Let us free TTD from Government and Political control.

Time to Say No

But that can only happen when we draw the line and say no to Political Hindutva.

Political Hindutva’s biggest contribution has been to legitimize a role for Political Parties and hence by extension a role for the State in within Hindu Institutions.

This has only ensured a stake for politicians in maintaining status quo within Hindu Institutions thus making them uncompetitive in the 21st Century’s marketplace of ideas.

It is time to draw a clear line by saying NO to the Political Hindutva of the 1990s.

On the Way Forward

We need to craft an Agenda that is looking ahead to the Challenges and Opportunities of the future.

The focus of that agenda has to be the Economic and Strategic reality of the future and not the insecurity and victimhood of the past.

Our Identity carries with it a sense of 4000 years of History. We must draw inspiration and guidance from that History while ensuring it doesnt weigh us down by its memory of the many mutinies within and the many slights from without.

This can be accomplished by drawing lessons of realism and statecraft from the rich Indian Political Science tradition advanced by Kautilya amongst others and combining them with experiences in challenging Left Liberalism from other Democracies.

More on that Roadmap for the future in the next post.

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Filed under: DesiPundit, Dharmayudh-2009, Flat World Hindutva, Left Liberalism, Narendra Modi, Nitin Gadkari, Progressivism, Shveta Chhatra

27 Responses

  1. Umesh says:

    Guys and hopefully some ladies ,I want to provide two small examples:

    Please catch this conversation
    @BDUTT says – all debates about mayawati steeped either in political correctness or political prejudice. both dishonest.
    @Vikram_sood responds – I feel so is our debate on secularism.

    When NDTV posted the headline of
    ‘Congress leader inadvertently helped terrorists’

    Check one response

    @thecomicproject wonder how that happens… gah!!! RT @deadpresident What a joke ! Cong MLA ‘inadvertently’ helped IM terrorists –

    I hope the above gets everyone into a good mood.

    Now to some serious talk –

    It is agreed that the future is the primary focus. There is no doubting that. The question is , what will be the defining medium of the future?

    The choice is between Internet and Cable TV. I know my answer .I do agree that some ground rules need to be set on the Internet.

    a) No disrespect to women.
    b) Measured response to provocations.
    c) Decide what to say. Don’t be impulsive.
    c) No raking up of fringe theories, however much we believe them.

    We can learn from offstumped, pragmatic_d, acorn on how to tweet.

    But, I don’t support silencing of the voices on the net.
    To an Outsider(hell, I’m one) , the thing that is visible ,is that,the Media is ruffled.Therefore this hash of articles demonising the IH or as swapan would say the JH.

    I will add, that, swapan dasgupta’s point is important. Don’t preach to the converted. He/She is anyhow with you. If he leaves u on a small slight he/she is not worth it. speak to the undecided.Understand their views.

    I might add, that, I did not vote BJP in the last election. Just did not vote , was travelling. Might not hve voted BJP if I had a choice. They are a bad choice in my state.

    cheers
    @umesh_dude

  2. hUmDiNgEr says:

    offstumped,
    “Hindu Institutions must be free of State Control ”

    I am really curious to know how exactly will this happen. Your intentions and objectives seem noble but you tread the path of impracticality and Utopian greed.

    “We need to craft an Agenda that is looking ahead to the Challenges and Opportunities of the future.”

    Who is this “we” here? Tweeple?bloggers?
    Let us stand on the ground and realize that policies are formulated by our politicos and these people have their vested interests in formulating each of them.
    Let’s say we can put pressure on them through think tanks and other such intellectual groups.But again, these groups have their own vested interests in bringing issues to the fore.
    A prime example is media.
    Rationality tells us that as a medium starts influencing political decisions, the medium is crowded and taken over by lobbyists and agenda pushers. It all boils down to money and power, some people put their personal interests ahead and very few put their national interest ahead.

    How do we find these few? it’s a catch 22, you don’t know a persons character until unless you give him power and authority. As a person starts becoming famous, we observe that he becomes more and more politically correct.

    I have a solemn request to make here. You use the word Dharma very frequently. I hope you have done enough research to understand the nuances of that word.
    I request you to use the word judiciously so that it doesn’t become a word like “secularism”.
    Veda Vyasa elucidates on the word through Sri Krishna in Mahabharata

    Dhaaranaad dharma ityaahur
    dharmena vidhrtaah prajaah,
    Yat syaad dhaarana sanyuktam
    sa dharma iti nishchayah

    Moreover, as I requested in my tweets to you, please use your mathematical background along with Dharma. A little bit of game theory, probability theory, statistical fundamentals would do a wold of good to your well articulated posts.

  3. psecular says:

    @humDinger

    Agreed that, things people talk here sound Utopian, but give me one instance where things were easy for people seeking what is just and truthful ?. This person here on this blog, unlike our mediocre maim stream media guys, is definitely following a more thorough, professional approach to things. I think, 1.setting ego and existing accomplishments aside for accepting that we do not know much about our own religion, world politics and history of Semitic cults 2. showing willingness to do necessary homework to engage in focused, irrefutable arguments are two things that most Indians must immediately inculcate. We have to inculcate these by putting in extra effort as our conventional educational framework doesnt provide us these skills. Our previous 2 generations may have had different excuses but this current generation has no excuse. To learn the facts and and to stand for the truth is our our duty, doesn’t matter what you want to call it.

  4. hUmDiNgEr says:

    @psecular

    “showing willingness to do necessary homework to engage in focused, irrefutable arguments are two things that most Indians must immediately inculcate”

    I have been asking for the same from the blogger. Ruthless logic and practical wisdom is what I am asking for.

    When a strategy or frame work is formulated, it is formulated on the basis of existing external and internal environment.
    Dharma does not mean you sit in isolation and work in isolation. If you invoke Chanakya, please learn from him to know the enemy first.
    Noble intentions are good but when you deal with rouges and scoundrels, your noble intentions do not save you from their schemes.

  5. fchiramel says:

    Awesome post, Offstumped- never thought I would get to say that! The broader BJP movement is at a fork, and now is the time to make those choices you mention. As Swapan Dasgupta has shrewdly realized, these choices have to made for the BJP movement to remain relevant.

    I had a question to those who invoke the “warrior spirit” to protect Dharma: isn’t that exactly what jihad started out as? Of course one can argue one’s particular interpretation of righteousness is superior to the other, but that is a dangerous path to start on.

    Best!

  6. offstumped says:

    @Humdinger – Agree the “idea” in isolation is not good enough. Hence the need for a realistic and achieveable Roadmap. I take your healthy skepticism as a good reality check. Let us just say we are not “Dead Spanish Communist Poets” :)

  7. offstumped says:

    @FChiramel – thanks, good observation in fact that is exactly what Hafiz Saeed preaches to rationalize Lashkar.

  8. B Shantanu says:

    Yoss: This comment was prompted by the remark: We must draw a line to…end this Identity versus Ideology confusion once and for all

    Allow me to disagree.

    Where you see confusion, I see the opportunity to being the two together….

    Without Identity at its core, any talk of Ideology woud not be meaningful in the Indian context.
    Why?
    Because in spite of the having the right to govern ourselves over the last 60+ years, we have still not come up with a coherent, consistent definition of what it means to be an Indian. Unless that is settled, we will continue to see deep fissures within the polity and society. I am not sure how any emerging movement can ignore these (existing and deepening) fissures.

    And a debate about identity will perforce have to re-examine the past…Such a re-examination is not about righting “wrongs” but about establishing the basis for creating/defining this sense of identity…

    I agree that this isabout capturing the mindshare and the imagination of a generation…who will be making political choices 9 years from now

    The over-riding need/political construct is not (need not) be about Hindutva vs. anything…It must be about what is it to be a Bharatiya? or an Indian?

    Or perhaps I am being obsessive about Identity?

  9. offstumped says:

    Shantanu – nobody will define it for us and no single definition will satisfy the 1000 odd sub-identities and we will end up with a Definition traumatised by Quotacracy

    Our problem lies in how little we identify with the Constitution in a popular sense.

    The Constitution has to be our Identity. We need to relate to it in a popular sense just like the Americans do with their Bill of Rights, Right to bear arms etc

  10. fchiramel says:

    B Shantanu,

    Let me interject w/ my humble opinion:

    “Or perhaps I am being obsessive about Identity?”

    I think yes.

    India’s problems have little to do with lack of identity, and a lot to do with 60 years of crony-socialism induced ineffectual governance & ineffective institutions- and ingrained public cynicism that nothing will change. Actually, by at least late 80s, a rather solid pan-Indian identity had started evolving, partly due to national TV and media, “Bollywood”, the greater stake states were getting at the Center, lesser resistance to Hindi in South, etc. Even though this identity fell loosely on Indians and did not threaten their multiple other identities, it was real and palpable, even among religious minorities and racial minorities (Northeast).

    To this evolving mix entered the explosive and disrupting Hindutva, facilitated undeniably by INC’s Muslim appeasing soft communalism, but quickly becoming a channel for historical prejudice. What it did was energize a segment of the population, and maybe some even envisioned that energy as a means to shaking off our soporific cynicism and effecting real change. Unfortunately, Hindutva had and has structural problems for thriving in a diverse population such as India.

    I personally think identity need not be defined at all for governance to be successful. It is only as important as you make it and largely a semantic exercise. The US of A, for example, has never had its “identity” resolved. Various definitions have been offered, lasted few decades and quickly became outdated – religious/ racial ones proceeding to ethnic (WASP,Italian Am, Irish Am, Black, etc), all of which have lost meaning among today’s burgeoning and transecting identities (Gay American, Biracial Am, Asian Am, Indian Am, Muslim Am, etc.). What is left are platitudes- melting pot, land of free, etc.

    India’s realities are different, but due to a shared diversity, similar too. Only once we have the bedrock of good governance, rule of law, unencumbered markets and minimal bureaucracy should we indulge in the luxury of debating identity – on op ed pages and academic journals, not on the streets of Bareilly or Ahmedabad. The big question is how do we get to the former, and to that end, politics of identity is a big distraction.

    Sorry for the long post.

    Regards.

  11. [...] Offstumped’s post attempts to chart a course for the future of what he calls the “broad political space opposed to Left Liberalism.” As laudable and difficult the endeavour is, the ideas he espouses in the piece leave many gaps in clarity, ignores crucial areas, and casually dismisses many vital points that need to be accounted for. [...]

  12. offstumped says:

    My rejoinder to Sandeep’s post above

    Thanks Sandeep for dedicating an entire post to Offstumped will take it us “Rediscovery of India”.

    My responses below

    #1 – On “Untamed Activism” – merely an observation on the gap between panelists and participants and a leadership vaccum. Doesnt imply anything more. Whether someone wants to lead and others want to be lead is a different subject.

    #2 On History – we are debating semantics here on “ideology” versus “strategy”. Broad point is you can debate ideology to death with the past as a reference point, but ideology here is the foundation for a strategy for the future. Those making choices in the future need to be able to relate to the ideology. It needs to be described in a manner that makes sense in their context in their day and age.

    #3 First point on PH – Point was not on whether said “insecurity and victimhood” were real or unreal, the point was to merely highlight what lay at its core, and you have agreed by saying they were real.

    #4 2nd point on PH – Sorry you have it wrong, We are talking organized Mob Violence which does not discriminate and we are not talking of Vigilante violence in your example. Mumbai riots, Ayodhya riots,Gujarat riots were not vigilante violence against misdeeds they were organized Mob violence which did not discriminate. Thats criminal and Adharma period and nobody must rationalize or Justify them.

    #5 On Tradition – have addressed this at length in the past, recommended reading White Umbrella – Indian Political Thought from Manu to Gandhi covers Manusmriti, Arthasastra, Sukraniti amongst others. Also you are falling for the literalism of Arthashastra to make your point. Continuing the tradition and making it relevant means taking the “time invariant” essence of the idea and applying it to today’s context.

    #6 On Rajadharma – You are once again interpreting it literally. My reference is exactly to the manner in which you have described on do’s and donts on the extent to which Laws of the land were codified in Arthashastra, Sukraniti etc

    #7 On Constitution and time invariance – This is an old disagreement on whether Dharma is time invariant or not. Leaving that aside Constitution is time variant and the 100 odd ammendments stand testimony to it, so what is your point ?

    #8 On Constitution and Dharma – Its the Law of the Land and it provides a Just means to redress greivances. You may disagree with a tenet here or there but if you are not accepting the Constitution as a legitimate mechanism for redressal of your greivances then my friend you are only One Degree away from Maoist Terrorists. That exactly is the reason why we must DRAW A LINE. Otherwise its hard to tell the difference between your argument and that of Kishenji’s. Yes you must accept the Constitution period.

    #9 On rebelliion – You make a massive leap. Emergency was the gravest constitutional violation in the sense that it had no just recourse within the Constitution. Even that was dealt with democratically without the need for armed rebellion. Nothing that came after raises to the threshold of emergency. So to rationalize political violence is simply unacceptable. Once again your rationalizing political violence is dangerously close to Maoist Terrorism.

    10. On your closing remark – There is no pretension of perfection here and hence this critique is welcome. But we must be truthful in answering the question –

    Whether the Constitution provides truthful and just means for redressal of greivances ?

    If your answer is yes then there is Dharma in it.

    If your answer is no then frankly that is where this Line must be drawn to distinguish between

    those who accept the Constitution for what it is and are willing to work within the confines of the Just means it provides for Grievance Redressal
    AND
    those who cannot accept the Constitution for its imperfections and will rationalize unjust actions for greivance redressal

  13. Palahalli says:

    fchiramel says – “I had a question to those who invoke the “warrior spirit” to protect Dharma: isn’t that exactly what jihad started out as? Of course one can argue one’s particular interpretation of righteousness is superior to the other, but that is a dangerous path to start on.”

    - Jihad is to battle, wage war, against non-Muslims either to subjugate them (convert or make dhimmi)to Islam or to eliminate them. This is not my personal interpretation; it is what is stated clearly, in the Koran. Therefore it is a sacred duty for a Muslim. He cannot turn away from a call to Jihad and still claim to be Muslim.

    The “Warrior Spirit” that I have spoken about elsewhere which can be termed the Kshatra spirit of the Kshatriya in Hindu dharma carries no such injunction to subjugate or convert or kill the non-Hindu. Every healthy society retains mechanisms that protect it by force of arms. That force is to be manned by people who have the required aptitude and inclination. These sort of people became Kshatriyas and for many, this became the family tradition. A martial tradition.

    There is no claim to rigtheousness vis a vis the Non-Hindu. “What we have suites us best. What you have may be the best for you.Therefore, let us be.”

    I hope I was understood.

  14. Palahalli says:

    Yoss says – “The Constitution has to be our Identity. We need to relate to it in a popular sense just like the Americans do with their Bill of Rights, Right to bear arms etc”

    - Glad you brought up the “right to bear arms”. This right has it’s roots in the American Revolution and the need was felt for Americans to retain their arms as illustration of their right to defend their rights from physical threats.

    The liberal trend in the US was always to abolish this right. The only ones fighting to preserve the right to bear arms are the traditionalists and conservatives based on their understanding of a unique American identity that gurantees such a right. This is so natural to a thought process that speaks of empowering people rather than the State. The reverse is true of the liberal project and so you see trends towards more Statism in that case.

    In closing, I’m not so sure the US liberals are very happy with their constitution as it stands.

    Their stands on the afore mentioned Right to Bear Arms, the ongoing debate about bringing in “anti-Hate laws”, Universal and Nationalized Heathcare etc prove the liberal discomfort with a self-empowered Society.

    Similarly, Hindu society will gladly accept those portions of our Constitution that speaks to it. The others are not even recognized, to connect.

    Thank you

  15. Palahalli says:

    fchiramel -

    “Actually, by at least late 80s, a rather solid pan-Indian identity had started evolving, partly due to national TV and media, “Bollywood”, the greater stake states were getting at the Center, lesser resistance to Hindi in South, etc. Even though this identity fell loosely on Indians and did not threaten their multiple other identities, it was real and palpable, even among religious minorities and racial minorities (Northeast).”

    And –

    “facilitated undeniably by INC’s Muslim appeasing soft communalism”

    - How can this be? If there was a “pan-Indian” idenity amongst minorities, what was the Congress looking forward to by pandering to their specific identities? Not making sense.

    The so called neuve “Pan-Indianess” that folks like to talk about is actually the age-old Hindu framework in play. This feeling of familiarity amidst people of such tremendous diverseness is not at all new. Our history is testimony to this fact. Somehow, the minorities and especially Muslims and certain segments of Christianity don’t seem to fit in within this framework no matter how its sliced and diced. That’s the question liberals should ponder.

    “Unfortunately, Hindutva had and has structural problems for thriving in a diverse population such as India.”

    - Where do you see these “structural problems” in a diverse population?

    “India’s realities are different, but due to a shared diversity, similar too. Only once we have the bedrock of good governance, rule of law, unencumbered markets and minimal bureaucracy should we indulge in the luxury of debating identity”

    - I have never really understood this total disconnection. Is there no such thing as cause and effect? I have heard ppl speaking of handing over our country to the Japanese so that they can create or replicate efficiencies “just like they did in Japan”! That is what the above statement reminds me of.

    Our institutions grow from ourselves. From what we are. They are a part of “us”. If they are any different we will never be able to maintain them for long. We are likely to corrupt it. This has to be an organic process and not a mechanical one. Perhaps difficult to reclaim, but that’s the way to go.

    Thank you

  16. fchiramel says:

    Palahalli,

    “Every healthy society retains mechanisms that protect it by force of arms. That force is to be manned by people who have the required aptitude and inclination. “

    Mr. Osama B. Laden does not claim to be waging his unholy war to convert people to Islam; he claims to be doing it to avenge humiliation and destruction of Muslims and their lands by non-Muslims. Fits aptly your definition of Kshatriya in his own mind. Exactly my point about the dangers of such logic.

    “How can this be? If there was a “pan-Indian” idenity amongst minorities, what was the Congress looking forward to by pandering to their specific identities? Not making sense.”

    I talk about a pan-Indian identity “that fell lightly”. And my worldview allows for the existence of fundamentalist Muslims, and otherwise. I have known enough Muslims to make that distinction. Also, you should do better than point out Koranic references- that one has been done to death. If I had more time, I would cite you reams from a non-Islamic religion that calls for death of non-believers and idolators and strict supra-national adherence, but is never mentioned in Hindutva circles- like Israel’s official religion. If I had even more time, I would tell you how jihad, itjihad and other textual meanings have been interpreted differently by different people and in different times, including ours. Not as simple as you make it out to be.

    “Somehow, the minorities and especially Muslims and certain segments of Christianity don’t seem to fit in within this framework no matter how its sliced and diced. That’s the question liberals should ponder.”

    I think the liberals have pondered and resolved this. There will always be minor annoyances- from the Muslim side, Hindu side, and elsewhere but the great intellectual argument has been resolved. Partly as a result, the Indian Constitution was written. Have you wondered that the problem may also be Hindutva’s strict requirements of Muslims? A movement one of whose leading lights considers it “alien races” worthy of “not even citizen’s rights” could have a few warts of its own?

    “Our institutions grow from ourselves. From what we are. They are a part of “us”. If they are any different we will never be able to maintain them for long.”

    Even if the definition of “us” – and that which separates us from the Other- is not as unanimously resolved as you seem to think, I broadly agree to your point. And nothing in my limited understanding of “us” appears antithetical to good governance, rule of law, unencumbered markets and minimal bureaucracy. And this insistence that “us” is only that which we did a few hundred or thousand years ago – and not what we may do now, next or in the near future- strikes me as needlessly ideological. Like jihadists claiming that the only truth is that which was revealed to the PBUH dude in a cave 1500 years ago, and should be literally adhered to! In neither case am I trying to minimize the significance of the past, but only saying that empirical reality and commonsense – not some unbending dogmatism – should dictate our actions.

    Have a great weekend!

  17. Palahalli says:

    “Mr. Osama B. Laden…et al”

    - Mr Laden clearly states his intention is to;

    1. See the complete evacuation of all infidels from the Islamic world – (Btw, these infidels are there on the invitation of Muslim rulers who want to preserve themselves against the likes of Mr Laden and his innumerable supporters. I need not remind anyone the obvious. These rulers (classes) are in a hopeless minority and can sustain themselves only by force. Ironical.)

    I also have other views on what the US should have done instead of trapping itself in Iraq and Afghanistan on it’s crazy “spread democracy” nonsense. But that’s for another day.

    2. To establish a world-wide Caliphat and ensure subjugation by/to Islam

    The Kshatriya does not seek the expulsion of “infidels” for the fact and neither does he seek the subjugation of the world to….what???

    All that the Kshatriya is mandated to do is to protect and preserve his society’s ability to live by it’s Dharma.

    The Kshatriya also has his Dharma and that ensures he cannot transgress rules/codes in the execution of his duties.

    So your analogy is wrong. If you must compare the Kshatriya to something, try the Samurai.

    “I talk about a pan-Indian identity “that fell lightly”…et al”

    - Obviously, nothing is simple. Therefore I cannot also allow your simple-minded thesis to go unchallenged.

    My citing of that Koranic injunction was to show not theological sanction but practical application we witness these days.

    It is not my case that such injunctions exist only in Islam. However, we have Jews and we have Israel and therefore, if your deductions are logical, you must prove that they are acting on their religious injunctions.

    Size matters. So do inclination and opportunity. Circumstances matter too. All of these are propitious where Islam/Muslims are concerned.

    You speak of interpretations. I shall give you one example to mull over.

    There is a loud band-roll made about the Darul Uloom – Deoband’s fatwa against terrorism. This fatwa is supposed to be path-breaking in terms of the Mullah’s clear break from “so-called Muslim” terrorists.

    I suppose you have read that fatwa. If not, I sincerely hope you do. Won’t take much time though –

    http://darulifta-deoband.org/viewfatwa.jsp?ID=5677

    Fatwa: 826/766=D/1429

    Allah says in the Holy Quran:

    وَلا تَقْتُلُوا النَّفْسَ الَّتِي حَرَّمَ اللَّهُ إِلا بِالْحَقِّ

    Take not life, which Allah hath made sacred,

    In Islam, it is haram to take life of an innocent.

    Allah (Subhana Wa Ta’ala) Knows Best

    Darul Ifta, Darul Uloom Deoband
    ______

    This in response to a pretty detailed query -

    Question: 5677 (India)

    “What does the holy Quran say regarding the terrorists who in the name of Islam are spreading terror and killing innocent people and also waging a war against our own country. How should they be treated? What should the general muslims do if they have any information on such kind of people.”
    _____

    Does this satisfy you? I’ll tell you why it does not satisfy me. That’s because Islam still decides who is “innocent”.

    Yes, I know all about the various “interpretations” down the ages and you should know that the Darul Uloom is one of two revered Islamic centers in the world. The other being Al Azhar in Egypt.

    Yes, you are correct. All this is not so simple.

    “I think the liberals have pondered…et al”

    - I’m surprised. Our Constitution came into being, 1950, some two and a half years post a horrific partition and independence. What have the liberals pondered and resolved? The issues of partition or the mangling of our Constitution, which btw Babasaheb Ambedkar wanted to burn as he thought it useless?

    Rhetorical for sure but illustrates the humongous problems liberals have created for our body politic.

    I like how you put it – “There will always be minor annoyances- from the Muslim side, Hindu side, and elsewhere..” Little wonder we remain in such hot soup.

    Amazingly you cite Golwalkar’s 1939 book “We, or our nationhood defined”, which was published two years before the shoah became known to the world in 1941. You expect Golwalkar to anticipate horrendous events when liberals cannot learn lessons from blunders already committed?

    Here’s the quote –

    “To keep up the purity of the Race and its culture, Germany shocked the world by her purging the country of the semitic Races — the Jews. Race pride at its highest has been manifested here. Germany has also shown how well nigh impossible it is for Races and cultures, having differences going to the root, to be assimilated into one united whole, a good lesson for us in Hindusthan to learn and profit by.”

    He says “Germany shocked the world” and “how well nigh impossible it is for races and cultures, having differences going to the root, to be assimilated into one united whole…”

    Where do you think he’s wrong? I don’t know what you will say about Ambedkar’s “Pakistan or partition of India”, where he is so scathing and blunt.

    You imply Golwalkar’s pro-Nazi inclination when you probably know he supported the foundation of Israel. How would you square that off? Ah yes, I know. Zionism = Nazism.

    Did you also know that this book “We….” is not in circulation and the Sangh and Golwalkar himself never owned it beyond a point in time?

    I wish they did. But that’s the Sangh’s problem.

    “Even if the definition of “us”…et al”

    - Your comparison of traditionalism with Islamic jihad etc is tendentious. Looks like you are merely and somehow trying to flatten the world.

    But let me cut to the chase now;

    good governance – Sure but what model of governance will our people be able to relate to?

    rule of law – Sure but what are the laws that must govern our conduct?

    unencumbered markets – Straightforward and in keeping with the Dharmic ethos

    Minimal bureaucracy – Straightforward and in keeping with the Dharmic ethos

    Hope this helps and excuse the long post.

    If I sound sarcastic in parts its only because I’m human and tire of arguments I think are made without much thought and rigor.

    Thanks

  18. fchiramel says:

    Palahalli,

    Your last response, unlike most of your posts, was a bit less coherent. Or, you read things into my post I never meant? Anyway I could not understand the relevance of several points you were making apparently in response to my post.

    For example, my citing Golwalkar’s statements was only to highlight an aspect of the Hindutva view on minorities, and to show how the ideology cannot blame only Muslims for problems in the Hindutva-Muslim dynamic- in response to your assertion that Muslims and Christians don’t fit in. In my citing, my object was very restricted and it was not to bring attention to Golwalkar’s approval of Hitler or National Socialism.

    I have never condoned Islamic extremism. I think we are both agreed that it is extremely evil. However, I find it interesting that almost every Indian and international commentator has felt that compared to radicalization of Muslims in many parts of the world in this age of al-Qaeda, Indian Muslims have been largely left out (this includes commentators who fall on the “right” side of things).

    I happen to think many of your views are extremist, and condoning of violence. Like other extremist ideologies, you try to make the case that in your specific exceptional circumstance, violence is justified. You make several textually referenced points that may be consistent within your own ideology, but will not cut outside of it. It is like an erudite evangelical being surprised his extensively scripturally referenced arguments do not convince the skeptic, because he cannot fathom disagreement on first principles. I think we have a similar situation here – we have disagreements not on detail but on underlying philosophy.

    I see you claim to be a traditionalist. The one Indian traditionalist I have extensively read about is Gandhi. Quite a bit after GoI propaganda had made him a mind numbingly boring person in my mind. Gandhi’s spiritual traditionalism is quite in contrast to the Sangh’s and your own, as you would know. It always amazes me how the same foundational sources can lead to widely differing and contrasting interpretations. Religious extremism of all kinds is only one example.

    I wish you had spared patronizing statements like “tire of arguments..made without much thought and rigor”. And unfortunately since it is the eve of the work-week, and this is already a very long post, I cannot address your post point-by-point.

    Hopefully we will run into each other another time and I can make you see the light : )

    Best wishes!

  19. Palahalli says:

    fchiramel –

    My intention was not to sound patronizing. Sorry if you got that impression.

    With respect to Golwalkar’s quote; if you have not read the booklet “We, of our nationhood defined”, the only other references you will find to that quote is in liberal hate articles likening Golwalkar and consequently the Hindu movement as one that drew/draws inspiration from Hitler and Nazism. Therefore my reposte.

    But even then, there is nothing in this quote that can be taken exception to. This quote is also not “blaming” Muslims or minorities but given the facts, being logical. It is certainly not wooley and “hopeful” and liberal. It is a realistic assessment of the given situation.

    I don’t know how you can say Muslims in this country have been “left out”. In a recent talk show Zakir Naik, who has a huge following amongst Muslims here, would not even acknowledge the criminality and complicity of Osama Bin Laden. The others, as I have shown in that fatwa, are happy to rationalize and deflect. All of this tells another story. I have not yet touched upon the “Indian” Muslim circuses of the SIMI and IM.

    You may call me extremist and even condoning of violence – those are mere words; but what I state is simple and in simple terms.

    If our disagreement is wrt underlying philosophy then I would ask of you to show me how your philosophical principles have succeeded in resolving our outstanding issues. Therefore my rejection of your rather bald assertion of liberalism having resolved the “great intellectual argument”. It has done nothing of the sort. In fact all that liberalism has succeeded in doing is to make use of it’s fortuitous hegemony to exacerbate issues and the intensity of human follies on a daily basis. That’s no exaggeration.

    You are correct in saying a convinced liberal(?) cannot fathom disagreement on first principles. In fact the clinging to these first principles (I see them as liberal premises) is almost suicidal. “We shall take this to our graves” kind of thought process is a mind closed.

    On the other hand you seem to have misread my Hindu Traditionalist viewpoint. This is non-ideological and is grounded in what sustains our society. Always evolving upon need and not changing upon fashions of the day. That is the reason I see Hindutva as Hindu Kshatra Dharma personified – ie Hindu politics that protects the Dharma of it’s various castes and tribes….of the other three Varnas.

    It is wrong to view Hindutva as Hindu”ism” incarnate or something that is equal to Hinduism. It is merely one very important manifestation of Dharma.

    Gandhi was hardly a traditionalist even though it is easy to read his radicalism as somewhat traditional because of the language he used. His interpretation of the Gita was unique to himself and not shared by even Tilak, whose interpretation was more in line with our tradition. Gandhi can perhaps be described orthodox in parts but not traditional in his philosophy.

    The one thing I wish for is that this debate has both sides talking and responding to issues raised.

    I havent seen much of that happening as yet.

    Thank you

  20. [...] part continues examining Offstumped’s post on drawing a line. After mistakenly equating Dharma/Rajadharma with the present day Indian Constitution, he talks [...]

  21. offstumped says:

    My rejoinder to Sandeep’s Part 2

    The guy in the village wont understand “deep study” either :)
    That quip apart, tad disappointed with the critique for being thin on the alternatives offered. My response below.

    1. On constitutional sanction to minorytism justifying majorityism – Two wrongs dont make a right. If we claim to be better than the next guy, we must offer superior alternatives and not benchmark ourselves with the next guy

    2. On marketplace and competition – Sandeep misses the point completely. This is not an analysis of Sanatan Dharma, its an analysis of the marketplace :). Whether one chooses to participate in it, accord legitimacy to it, or consider beneath ourselves is a completely different matter. To suggest the marketplace doesnt exist or to believe there is no competition of ideas is to be in denial of reality. It is immaterial whether one thinks it is correct or wrong to view Sanatan Dharma as a mere idea in a marketplace. The reality is practitioners of Sanatan Dharma cannot ignore the existence while at the same time ask for State protection from the threat of that marketplace – e.g. anti-conversion laws.

    3. On State control of Temples and effectiveness – Sandeep is right magic wont happen overnight, nobody has suggested magic will happen. Ending State control however is a pre-requisite Step 0 before magic can even be expected to happen.

    4. On Political Hindutva and State control – Sandeep is right Political Hindutva started as a reaction to Nehruvian Institutionalization of State control. No dispute there no suggestion either. Problem with Political Hindutva is not its motivations but in its solutions. Political Hindutva did not evolve a viable alternative to state control. Its solution to RJM of Federal Legislation was merely more State control with the underlying assumption being Nehruvian State control was bad, Hindutva State control will be good. That is where it legitimized State Control.

    5. Application of Western Thinking – Sandeep is guilty of the same leap he accuses me of here :) there is no basis to draw this conclusion on State control or on falling for any trap. There are a zillion belief systems that get lumped within the term Hinduism, each with its own ishta-devata and a diversity of traditions and rituals. That is the reason there cannot be an overarching central control. Sandeep would do well to look at previous posts on this subject on role for Local Community and Local Government in managing religious Institutions.

    6. On inclusivity Hindus managing Muslim institutions – dont see the relevance nor do I understand this abstraction called “deracination” that is bandied around fashionably these days. Arent we guilty again of applying a western concept of “Race” :) I am afraid any construct based on the western notions of “Race” lends credibility to Aryan Dravidian racial divide and other British inspired canards. This is a digression from the subject of debate.

    This is why this critique is tad disappointing. For it doesnt offer alternatives but instead rests its defence on you not being Indian enough, Hindu enough, westernized and deracinated.

    7. Fully agree with Sandeep on reference to Shankara and course corrections. Agree when he says it must be done. But he is silent on who must do it and by implication perhaps suggests political hindutva and State must do it. Therein lies the gulf for I suggest Strong Hindu Institutions like TTD free from state and political control must do it.

    8. No dispute with Sandeep’s Conclusion on Identity. He misses the point on the fallacy of Identity though. Mobilizing based on Identity is not the issue but the issue is Identity doesnt lead to Ideology or Interests. There in lies the fallacy and limits of Identity politics. Mobilize by all means on Identity but be clear wherefrom the Policies arise for lack of coherence and clarity on that leads to Identity being abused and misused to pursue agendas that are counter to one’s interests e.g. Communal Socialism.

  22. B Shantanu says:

    @Yoss, you wrote: “Nobody will define it (Identity) for us..” Sure we will have to do it ourselves…

    and “no single definition (of Identity) will satisfy the 1000 odd sub-identities and we will end up with…” How do we know without even trying? Has any attempt been made? Has a communication happened? Has there been any discussion on “Identity”?

    Is it not ironic (and odd) that even as countries with a strong sense of history, culture and homogeneity are having a debate around Identity (I am thinking of France here), we seem to shy away from it?

    You say, “Our problem lies in how little we identify with the Constitution in a popular sense.” I disagree with that…but even if I were to concede that point, I refuse to share that blame…The blame must lie on the door of those who have systematically and uninterruptedly debased the sanctity of this document over the last several decades.

    As you are well aware, this is NOT the constitution that the Constitutent Assembly signed up for!

    And just how can a 60-yr old document that has been tampered with numerous times become a basis for Identity? I don’t think it can.

    ***
    @fchiramel: India’s problems have little to do with lack of identity… I don’t agree with that…The sense of alienation that you see around you (try North-East, think J&K) – that is the direct result of not having put any effort into developing a shared sense of belonging – of being. Don’t you agree?

    I am not saying that ALL the problems that we face today are due to a lack of emphasis on identity. But I do feel that this is one of the biggest challenges that we tend to shy away from

    And where did I talk about Hindutva? In fact in my conclusion I specifically mentioned that: The over-riding need/political construct is not (need not) be about Hindutva vs. anything…It must be about what is it to be a Bharatiya? or an Indian?

    We may dream of the “luxury of debating identity – on op ed pages and academic journals”, the reality is that this debate must happen in the open, on the streets, at the corner chai-stalls, in the popular press and in the native context….not in English, not on twitter or on facebook.
    It may begin that way…but it is unlikely to be settled that way.

    ***

    And finally, on OS’ last comment (above): “Mobilizing based on Identity is not the issue but the issue is Identity doesnt lead to Ideology or Interests. There in lies the fallacy and limits of Identity politics.

    Very strong assumption of failure here – and possibly some misunderstanding. Identity is important – not because it can substitute for a framework to govern (which is what I suppose a loose definition of ideology would be) but because it can ensure that such a framework/ideology – call it what you will – is rooted in the milieu of the land.

    Identity, can provide a context and it will directly impact “interests” – as in whatever does not promote a sense of shared identity cannot be in the national interest.

    I hope that also answers to your point about “…be clear where from the Policies arise”.

    This is not about Identity vs. Ideology. That was your position We must draw a line to…end this Identity versus Ideology confusion once and for all

    As I had said in my previous comment, “where you see confusion, I see the opportunity to being the two together…”

    P.S. Somewhat off-topic but since this has been mentioned, some of you may find this post on “Jihad” and its meanings thought-provoking. I am open to learning about alternative interpretations:

    Am cross-posting this on Sandeep’s Part 2 post as well (and for good measure might compile it into a blog post soon).

    Thanks OS, Sandeep and ALL commentators for a great discussion…I am looking forward to further responses.

  23. [...] For a background on why this question was posed you can read the below. Why we must draw a line to say NO to Political Hindutva [...]

  24. @Offstumped

    Great article. I have been through many Hindutva right wing blogs and have read the incessant vitriol on them. I think it would do them a world of good if they read this article.

    Your assessment of the political Hinditva is bang on. I wish we had a few more bloggers such as yourself on the internet.

    Glad to have come across your blog.

    Cheers!
    AD

  25. [...] is with great concern I write this open letter as a well wisher and as someone who has seen the Sangh closely from the age of [...]

  26. [...] the Internet increases over time the challenge for the BJP and the RSS will only get worse unless a clear line is drawn in their own self [...]

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