09 February 2009

Hindu Nationalism and Economic Freedom

I had suggested that Hindu nationalism and economic freedom are (or should be) the two key components of right-wing Indian politics. The first provides the political-cultural agenda, while the second provides the economic agenda. What is the nature of the relationship between the two? Is it just a marriage of convenience between the alternatives to the Nehruvian system (secularism + socialism)? Or is there a more natural and harmonious relationship?

If there is one value that Hinduism has stood for in its 5000 years of history, it is freedom. Freedom of thought, freedom of belief, freedom of practice and freedom of worship. This freedom was not confined to religion and philosophy. Hinduism being a holistic way of life, this central value of freedom permeated other spheres of human activity as well – including politics and economics. True, the political and economic freedom enjoyed by people in ancient India was very limited by today's standards. But it was the best that could be achieved in the monarchical state of the agricultural era.

Freedom is a central Hindu value. And freedom includes not just political freedom, but also economic freedom. So Hindu nationalism (Hindutva) and economic freedom are perfectly consistent with each other. The two are complimentary ideologies/doctrines. Together they form what should be the core of right-wing politics in India.

Right-wing = Hindu/nationalist/conservative

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