THE whole debate about Hindutva or indeed any cultural nationalism ideology, stems from a discussion bordering on disagreement, on if a Government is merely an administrative economic entity or should it have cultural tentacles. Assuming, political environment, where politicians are honest and sincere, much as such an assumption contradicts our day to day observation, political parties that deem themselves to be secular, would hold an ideology that Government must stay away from religion. On the other political parties that lean towards cultural nationalism, hold a belief that Government cannot be neutral on matter of religion and that role of Government cannot be circumscribed to mere administration and economic matters; by extension government has some role in religion – the precise extent can be debated.
When one dissects these ideological proclivities, without being victim of political polemics, an ideology of cultural nationalism, such as Hindutva in Indian context, does not seem an entirely abominable view point even from a secular point of view. Of course, the secular government by definition stays clear of religion arguing for separation of state and religion.
But then one must question, what constitutes religion; of course religion could be defined differently from a very spiritual definition that it constitutes relationship of a person with God or soul. On the other hand religion could be more loosely held to be a way of life, which includes worship, but does not exclude language, music, dance, literature of a group of people.
Considering the latter definition, even so-called secular ideologies must perforce due to respect of popular opinion lean towards a kind of cultural nationalism. It is for instance downright impossible for any Indian Government, even strictly secular, to be impartial towards forms of dances – Russian Ballet, versus Bharatnatyam. If it is entire acceptable for seculargovernment to promote, say in Indian context, Kathak over Spanish Salsa, why is it abhorrent to consider that government should have a leaning towards Hinduism – a way of life – over an alien Islam, respectable as it in itself is.
But these are theoretical arguments that prove that secularism is almost next to impossible when one considers a definition of religion to not merely limit itself to a person’s relationship with God, but include all the cultural tentacles such as language, dance, cuisine, habits, dress and all that defines one nation as distinct from another.
However we live in a practical world, where political expediency and opportunism is a norm rather than an exception. In such a dog eat dog world, one does not have the luxury of hoping that one’s intellectual arguments, however sound will find ready acceptability. If one does not want to risk being tore down to shreds, one should keep one’s feet on ground and attempt what is possible rather than what is desirable.
For political organisations in India that lean towards cultural nationalism, termed Hindutva, by many, and eschewed by few, there is a need to find marriage between cultural nationalism and secularism. This marriage of convenience is almost a compulsion considering electoral arithmetic as it pans out in pan India context.
Now if one entirely digresses from the lecture on political science to an equally interesting lecture on physics, we have learning from there that can be aptly adapted to resolve the political dilemma in Indian context. Students of Physics would recollect that light displays dual nature. Light can be seen to be particle as well as wave. Similarly political entities that lean towards Hindutva must display dual characteristics – be recognised as pro Hinduism, yet be acceptable to political forces that pretend strict secularism.
Of course there could be arguments that such behaviour displays insincerity; but the other option is to be recluse from governance and government. This dual behaviour is necessary for political organisations leaning towards Hindutva, to not deviate from ideology, but to ensure political application of such an ideology. Bereft of this walk on the rope, Hindutva will remain merely an ideological fantasy, without any firm grounding.
And what unites Hindutva and strict secularism, is the common ground of non violence. If forces of Hindutva promise and deliver on non violence, there is no reason why Hindutva should be unacceptable to secular political forces. And the non violence should not be circumscribed to merely physical non violence, but include non discrimination as well as forcible imposition of one culture over people subscribing to another.
If individuals subscribing to Hindutva manage this art that can be likened to the dual nature of light they have political future and political survival. This does not call for compromising on Hindutva, but merely requires one to master the adroit artistry of being able to manage a phenomenon that can be only compared to the dual nature of light which physicists recognise as a wave as well as particle.
Hindutva cannot remain a mere theoretical arm chair philosophy. For Hindutva to survive, live and thrive requires political artists, who can shake hands with secularist and capitalise on their support to promote an ideology that can’t be theoretically argued against, but finds severe political opposition.
A mere ideological purity does not achieve anything. One does have luxury of intellectually contemplating uncompromising ideologies; if one is unable to translate ideology into a governance mechanism; this requires getting political support from those who deem themselves to be opposed to such ideology. One needs to learn the art of building a house from bricks that people throw at one.
Of course displaying dual nature, akin to dual nature of light that adroitly transits between wave and particle, may invite criticism of being a ‘Mukhaota’. But better a ‘Mukhaota’ than merely ideological purity without practical political support.