For the background to this post, first read below
2. Of Labels and Definitions – offers a definition for what is Left Liberalism
3. Fallacy of using Identity as a Label – exposes the fallacy of Hindutva as an ideological label
4. A definition for the Center Right – that is Progressive, Compassionate, protects both Hindu and Minority Interests by speaking for all of Middle INDIA thus pitching a big and wide Tent
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.