By Udayan Namboodiri
The ?challenges before Hindutva? came up for some high-level contemplation at the informal inauguration of India First Foundation'snew office in New Delhi on August 29. The auspicious occasion was graced by the presence of three scholars from the United States who, being lifelong Swayamsevaks, have dedicated their careers to the propagation of Hindutva among Indian Americans.
They were Dr Mahesh J. Mehta, Director of the Hindu University of America, Dr Manohar Shinde, a renowed child psychiatrist who is presently Director of the Eating Disorder Institute of California, and Dr Ved P. Nanda, Director of International Legal Studies Programme of the University of Denver College of Law. The visiting intellectuals evoked respect not only by their deep knowledge of the politico-socio-economic realities which render circumstances ideal for the resurrection of a Hindu way of life in India, but also by their rich experience in working with varied organisations at home and abroad.
In their forthright presen-tations, all the three accepted that Hindutva is faced with a serious challenge in the aftermath of the defeat of the BJP in the recent Lok Sabha elections. The coming to power of the United Progressive Alliance has given the Marxist mindset a new lease of life. Islamic fundamentalists have jumped on to the bandwagon and are claiming legitimacy?indication of which is already flowing in the form of steps to repeal POTA and overlook the dangers of infiltration. The changing of history textbooks and the abuses heaped on the memory of Veer Savarkar are but minor manifestations of the larger crusade against Hindutva which is about to begin.
Actually, the aftermath of May 13 has seen many new converts who are shocked by the day-in-day-out abuse of the cherished national goals. The blood of patriotic Bharatvasis is boiling more than ever before. We must treat the electoral reverses as a temporary setback and rally the forces of cultural nationalism.
At this juncture, it is imperative that Hindutva reasserts itself. But to reach the masses it needs vehicles. Lacking political power, Hindutva suddenly finds itself on the defensive and no longer is its advocates in a position to assume important positions in academia and other institutions. The power of the media is now fully oriented to blasting our ideals and way of life. Hardly a day passes without the newspapers or TV channels making misinformed or downright calculated attacks on Hindutva. More often than not, the media is itself the basis of a disinformation campaign authored by the Stalinists.
Dr Mehta urged the Hindutva intellectuals to be aware of contemporary scientific tools which could help counter this pernicious campaign. ?We need to market our point of view?, he said. Much the same resonated in the presentation made by Prof. Shinde. In terms of making impact, Dr Nanda achieved the most. He made it amply clear that while there is no doubt among anybody anywhere of the increased relevance of Hindutva, there can be nothing achieved without ?articulation?. He gave a ringing call to those upholding Hindutva to sharpen their communication skills at this urgent hour.
True, there is quite a ?market? for Hindutva in an age when the Government of India is controlled by the twin evils of Marx and Macaulay. Cultural nationalism would find many takers, in fact more now than the levels attained during the Ram Janmabhoomi movement days, because India is in a situation where the old allies of the pseudo-secularists, namely the communists and the Islamic fundamentalists, are no longer aiding their benefactors from behind the scenes. They are in the open, capturing institutions in education and culture, manipula-ting the economy, controlling our national responses to terrorism and global developments. While earlier the communists were satisfied with the few crumbs thrown to them by an all-powerful Congress (like control over history academia and some universities), the decline in the Grand Old Party'sstrength has led to the ?tail wagging the dog?, instead of the other way round. The communists are openly dictating to a weak Sonia Gandhi-Manmohan Singh combine what they want done. And they are getting it done. Resultantly, all the economic progress achieved and national confidence gained through six years of BJP rule is already frittered away. The excellent macro-economic indicators bequeathed to this government by that of Shri Atal Bihari Vajpayee are now fast vanishing. Our cultural sensitivities are under renewed attack. Our history is being assaulted with new vigour. As for the madarsawallahs, they have already succeeded in blunting our resolve to fight Islamic terrorism. With Muslim Leaguer E. Ahmed as Minister of State for External Affairs, the country'sinternational image has taken a battering.
Under the circumstances, the field is ripe for harvest. But the farmer has lost his implements while the locusts are rapidly feeding on the ripe green produce. There is hardly an Indian today who rues the ?lost opportunities? of the Vajpayee era. But I find this defeatism unacceptable. It is my considered view that the present scenario offers more hope for Hindutva than ever before. The intellectuals must collect their wits and evolve strategies. They must keep two facts uppermost on their minds. One, this is the 21st century?we must take advantage of contemporary communication strategies which involve globalisation of our campaign. Two, there must be appreciation of the fact that more than half the population of India comprises people born less than two decades back. They are still largely ideologically untouched and their responses are based on media disinformation. Countering that should be easy if the first fact is honoured. To touch them, we need to adopt tactics which appeal to their youthful tastes.
Most importantly, ideology should be at the heart of the BJP'snew political initiative. Unfortunately, this is yet to happen. The history textbooks issue did not receive the importance it deserved from the tallest political leaders. The BJP should realise that it has no right to call itself a party wedded to cultural nationalism if it cannot defend its version of Indian history. It was sad to see the ?tainted ministers? issue receiving more attention than the excising of NCERT textbooks by Arjun Singh and his communist backers. On August 18, the government was put on the mat during a short-term discussion on the textbook issue by the BJP. But it was tragic to see the half-empty benches. This is a matter which is closest to the heart of the Sangh and one expected to see the BJP'sUpper House members turn out in full strength. Similarly, the abuse to the memory of Veer Savarkar by Congress minister, Mani Shankar Aiyar, a former communist himself, was allowed to pass. The Shiv Sena may have more than made up by formulating a highly effective mass movement on the streets of Maharashtra'scities, but the BJP'slackadaisical attitude came across quite sharp. Being a national party with infinite resources, it should have organised a Yatra to the Andamans with the resolve to restore the plaque which a BJP minister, Ram Naik, had installed in the Cellular Jail in the first place.
Those who talk of ?demoralisa-tion? in the Hindutva camp are way off the mark. Actually, the aftermath of May 13 has seen many new converts who are shocked by the day-in-day-out abuse of the cherished national goals. The blood of patriotic Bharatvasis is boiling more than ever before. We must treat the electoral reverses as a temporary setback and rally the forces of cultural nationalism. Hindutva intellectuals must realise that few apart from the downright anti-national needs are convincing about the truth contained in our ideals and vision. What is, however, necessary is to evolve ?chew-size? messages which should be dovetailed into a sharpened political counter-attack. (The author is Senior Editor, The Pioneer, and national spokesman of Siksha Bachao Andolan.)