08 February 2009

Rise of the Indian Right

In 1947 India became free after a thousand years of foreign rule and slavery. It was a golden moment, and an opportunity to reclaim our lost genius and resume our civilisational mission. But it was not to be. Jawaharlal Nehru, our first Prime Minister, was an Indian only in name. Mentally, culturally and intellectually he was a Westerner. So instead of building a modern nation on the foundations of our ancient civilisation, he foisted two alien ideologies on us: socialism and secularism.

Socialism and Nehruvian secularism were the two great frauds perpetrated on Independent India. Socialism denied us our economic freedom, shackled our entrepreneurial energy, and kept us poor. Nehruvian secularism completely disregarded Hinduism's tolerance and universality, deprived Indian nationalism of its positive content, and gradually degenerated into pseudo-secularism (anti-Hinduism).

It took us more than four decades to even begin to get rid of these two plagues. Two cataclysmic events (in two consecutive years) struck decisive blows against the great Nehruvian consensus. The first blow, against Nehruvian secularism, was the rise of Hindu nationalism – expressed in the Ayodhya movement of 1990. The second blow, against socialism, was the economic reforms of 1991. The Ayodhya movement of the late 1980s reached its climax in 1990 with L K Advani's rath yatra. The movement – and the response to it – marked the awakening of a nation. Indians became aware of their identity and proud of their history, culture and heritage.

Together these two events signalled India's shift to the right: the first one politically, and the second one economically. Note that these two developments are independent of the fluctuating political fortunes of the BJP. The BJP will continue to win some elections, and lose some others. But Hindu nationalism and economic freedom are here to stay. Victor Hugo said, "The invasion of an army can be resisted, but not that of an idea whose time has come." Hindutva and economic freedom are ideas whose time has come.

Achin Vanaik wrote an insightful article in 2001 on the rise of the Indian Right. Though it is a Leftist critique, it is still worth reading.

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