SINCE becoming free of British Imperialist rule in 1947, modern India’s ideological space had been, for four and half decades, dominated and circumscribed by the patronage of the Soviet Union and its socialist command economy framework with little room left or tolerated in the then mainstream of thought for a different ideological perspective that was rooted in India’s civilisational past.
This commitment to an alien authoritarian ideology was a disaster because the Soviet model became discredited and collapsed in 1991 and the Soviet Union itself dissembled into 16 countries. During the forty years 1951-91 under the Soviet model, India’s GDP grew at the mere 3.5 per cent per year causing huge unemployment in India’s youth. Other countries not following the Soviet model such as Japan and South Korea rose from the destruction of World War II to become global economies by 1985. The youth of India also found that the spirit of inquiry permitted in a democracy conflicted with the socialistic controls, and also stifled their entrepreneurship.
With the collapse of the Soviet Union in 1991 and the evaporation of its patronage in India, the main Left-leaning intellectuals found themselves in disarray and many like Amartya Sen migrated abroad, principally to the academia in the US, leaving behind an ideological vacuum. That vacuum has not been filled yet. The youth today want to know what ideology to follow. Young India wants thus to know what Agenda to follow for a happier and productive life.
The world has seen three main ideologies in the nineteenth and twentieth centuries. These are Capitalism, Communism, and Democratic Socialism. The United States, the U.K. and some West European countries have practiced Capitalism. The USSR was a prominent Communist country and China remains one. Scandinavian nations have adopted Democratic Socialism. All three have not made their peoples happy, and are inappropriate and unsuitable for India’s civilisational foundation..
All three ideologies are one-dimensional and materialist in character. Although through materialism, some nations have been able to raise the standards of living of their peoples, the countries adopting these ideologies have failed to make their people happy. In the United States and Europe, the economic prosperity achieved has been admired by all, but the social problems created in the process have begun to raise serious questions about whether the achieved economic growth is worth the price paid by society. No wonder, their peoples are taking in a big way to yoga, meditation and even Hinduism. The ashrams of our revered Swamijis are full of foreigners especially from the West.
A certain consensus is now taking shape all over the world that material progress cannot stand alone, and has to blend with spiritual values to make national development meaningful to the people. Even Communist China has now adopted the concept of ‘Harmonious Society” of blending material progress with Confucian and Buddhists values. This harmonisation is the milleniums-old premise of Hindu civilisation. Pure material progress as today’s globalisation represents, produces new kinds of exploitation replacing the old degeneration of human decencies, leading to a “rat race”. The youth are thus bewildered naturally by it.
On the other hand a purely spiritually minded society is not a viable concept. Society needs to eat and live tolerably well. Material progress is thus necessary, but it must not be an end in itself. Therefore for a happy contented and better prospects for the Indian youth, a blend is necessary, between pursuit of material progress and the adherence to spiritual and moral values. This should be our goal or what in India we call as Sanatana Dharma. Imbibing this dharma means developing Hindutva.
Hindutva is a concept that reflects the broad spiritual ethos of India, an ethos fostered by many great rishis, yogis and sanyasis, and their diverse teachings but which is of one spiritual vision. The word Hindutva was first explicitly used in the political domain by Veer Savarkar to define Indian nationalism. Deendayal Upadhyaya in his Integral Humanism outlined how to modernize the concept of Hindutva in keeping with the times, as a renaissance:
“We have to discard the status quo mentality and usher in a new era. Indeed our efforts at reconstruction need not be clouded by prejudice or disregard for all that is inherited from our past. On the other hand, there is no need to cling to past institutions and traditions which have outlived their utility”.
Thus the Agenda for the Indian youth today must include imbibing Hindutva. Muslim and Christian youth of India can also be a part of this Agenda if they acknowledge the truth: that they are descendents of Hindus, and that their ancestors followed Sanatana Dharma.
The reality of Hindu ancestry of all Indians has been scientifically established in the research of Ramana Gutala and Denise Carvalhosilva, titled “A Shared Y-Chromosomal Heritage between Muslims and Hindus”.(4).
The Journal of Human Genetics (January, 2009) published an Indian genetic researchers’ report titled: “The Indian origin of Paternal Haplogroup Riai Substantiaties the Autochthonous Origins of Brahmins and the Caste System.” (5)
It shows that Brahmins, Scheduled Castes and Tribals, and Muslims and Christians of India all show a common genetic ancestry. The age of this yet- to-be-determined common parentage goes back, in India itself, to at least 9,000 years and possibly 20,000 years, leaving no genetic support for the migration into India theories, including the Aryan-Dravidian theory concocted by the British Imperialists.
The second item on the Agenda of Young India must be to usher in a new modern leadership steeped in democratic values, that can meet the challenges of globalisation, terrorism and foreign religious conversion.
There are three essential ingredients of effective democratic leadership: vision, dynamism and integrity. By vision it is meant the ability to take not merely a regional or party view of issues but to look upon them in a national perspective in a vast and varied country, despite that it is inevitable that elected representatives will be committed to certain regional problems and demands. This commitment requires the development of the five dimensions of Intelligence namely cognitive, emotional, social, moral and spiritual intelligences. I have written about it in these columns earlier. By a combined development of these five intelligences the youth must strive to make India once again a great global power.
The second essential ingredient of effective leadership is dynamism, by which I mean the ability to function actively both in the physical and the intellectual sense with a sense of history, and thus make decisions in the national interest by rational and calculated risk-taking. Dynamism is essentially thus youthful moral vitality and decisiveness, without ambivalence and procrastination, and with a capacity to take calculated risks. Placed as we are at a crucial juncture of international history, the emergence of a more dynamic leadership both at the Centre and in the States is a prerequisite for a real breakthrough to progress.
Dynamism hence implies the intellectual capacity to think and act in bold terms. The world in which we live is globalizing at a fast pace. In the last three or four decades science and technology have transformed the face of this planet, and today mankind stands at the crossroads in which one path could lead to death and destruction while the other points the way to a possible unprecedented progress and prosperity.
At a time like this our political leadership must possess the intellectual equipment and dynamism necessary to grasp the immensity of the challenge and boldly take the decisions that are required. The impact of change on a traditional society sets up tensions which call for a high degree of political acumen if the two extremes of continued stagnation and violent revolution are to be avoided.
Decision-making under risk is an essential component of dynamism, and with its checks and balances it becomes all the more necessary that in a democracy, leadership should possess the courage and the capacity to take firm decisions upon important matters without dithering or prevarication.
This is not to argue that youth and dynamism necessarily go together. All of us know many ‘young’ politicians who lack vitality due to their social dissoluteness, while some elderly persons-Jayaprakash Narayan, Morarji Desai and Charan Singh were examples- retained an essentially youthful vitality and probity until the very end. It all depends on the lifestyle one leads.
The third ingredient of true leadership is integrity. In one dimension this implies honesty in financial matters. It should be unnecessary to stress this, but corruption at various levels of society continues to be one of the gravest challenges that democracy faces in this country. India is already ranked near the bottom of nations by a corruption index complied by Transparency International. But integrity is also required in a deeper sense is as much as it represents a genuine commitment to democratic ideals and fundamental rights, and not merely to the outward forms of democracy. A democratic leader has to justify in every way the confidence of his electorate, and must have the capacity to share their pain and sorrow, their hopes and aspirations. This genuine empathy is not possible unless he possesses integrity in this sense of the term.
All who have been in public life know of those moments when the problems surrounding them appear insurmountable, and their means to deal with them grossly inadequate. There are times when darkness gathers such as during the Emergency (1975-77), and one despairs whether the dawn will ever break out. It is at such times that one has to call upon those inner reserves of strength and power with which every human being is potentially equipped but which requires a spiritual evolution to realise. It is such a leadership that Young India needs today.