The aphorism "Vasudhaiva Kutumbakam – World in One Family" is quite often invoked by many high and mighty idealists to lay claims to high order civilizational and philosophical heritage as an alternative ideology to resolve endemic conflict proliferations worldwide.
None can deny the uniqueness of the concept with its focus on oneness, cosmic unity, morality and ethics. Unless there is reciprocity, it is not possible to effectively implement it. Mankind's history abundantly testifies futility of reciprocity, which is an imperative if the ideology of Vasudhaiva Kutumbakam is to guide the course of mankind's affairs. Ipso facto, wars and violence have always been endemic and will be so even in posterity. Let none suffer from illusions on the above count.
If the principle of reciprocity is not kept in mind then an ideal like Vasudhaiva Kutumbakam, which is our greatest strength based on the principle of self restraint, can turn into our greatest weakness. After all, national power today is assessed by the hard power of countries. Ironic, India too is pursuing hard power accretion to deter and dissuade adversaries.
Indian history offers many lessons to highlight woeful absence of reciprocity. Stating the obvious, treachery, intrigue, internecine wars of indigenous dynasties paved the way to Muslim invader Muhammad of Ghor to defeat Prithvi Raj Chauhan at the Second Battle of Tarain (1192) that resulted in Islamic consolidation in India.
In retrospect, alien – either the Muslims or the British – invaded to plunder the wealth of India by "divide and rule" policies. What does it imply? Lack of internal unity paves the way for exploitation by aliens, who have scant respect for the idealistic concept of Vasudhaiva Kutumbakam .
Otto von Bismarck ruminated that 'Only a fool learns from his own mistakes. The wise man learns from the mistakes of others." In retrospect, "Idiots refuse to learn from their own mistakes".
None can deny that the spectrum of intellectual critical thought swings between idealists, optimists, pessimists and pragmatists. To make sense out of differing views is vexatious what to talk of culling out and reconciling them in the current context and content of geopolitics in pursuit of power. Nonetheless an attempt is made to provide a perspective of realities.
However, today mankind is traversing in the throes of the "Kaliyug Age", most hawkish and predatory. "Might is Right" and "Survival of the Fittest by hook or crook" are real. Upholding "Dharma" may have been relevant during the Mahabharata era; but not in today's hawkish global security strategic environment.
Viewed in the above developing transformational and transactional strategic context, Vasudhaiva Kutumbakam conceived during the Vedic Age – Maha Upanishads (1200-1000 BCE) – when India's population could have been barely 25-30 million (169 million in 1800 AD) and highly insular from the rest of the world, is a highly idealistic or optimistic by original conception in Sanskrit language understood by civilized people, but unacceptable to uncivilized and uncultured people who cannot grasp its meaning and cannot be applied to them.
"Vasudhaiva Kutumbakam" was part of Maha Upanishads. And Bhagavad Purana of bygone ancient era hails it as the "loftiest Vedantic thought" – highly idealistic and utopian.
Basic understanding of the evolution of religion in India is vital to know more about "Vasudhaiva Kutumbakam". Interactions based on egalitarian and collective principles between various clans during 2nd millennium BCE (between 2000 through 1001 BCE) produced higher order philosophies during three periods: Vedic, Brahmanism and Hinduism. Brahmanism gradually evolved into Hinduism between the 6th and 2nd centuries BCE. Internal contradiction of religious philosophies followed during the above periods led to the emergence of two new religions – Buddhism and Jainism. Later, followed Sikhism, the Sakti Cult, Brahmo and Arya Samaj and many other philosophies.
In retrospect, the fusion of many different religious philosophies took place over a number of millennia's to cater for the politico-socio-economic needs of the then existing societies to assume the form of Hinduism – the religion practiced by the Hindus, a derivative of Sindu as labeled by the Arabs.
The religious philosophy of Vasudhaiva Kutumbakam is highly idealistic by conception. Its purpose is not imposition, but enabling understanding. The shift is from an “I-Thou” approach to an “I-We” approach: harmony of civilizations. And, not a clash of civilizations. Also, it should be based on holistic-Unitarian-organic approach, but not on individualistic- isolationist-dichotomous approach. Its end objective is harmony and peace.
Dharma is yet another highly idealistic universal principle in today's world due to competing religions to claim pole positions. "Sanatana Dharma (the original name of what is known as Hinduism today)" is yet another highly idealistic philosophy. After all, national interests override "Dharma". Nations invoke policies and strategies most appropriate to environmental contexts and contents – not "Dharma Centric". Thus, "Dharma or Sanatana Dharma '' as the bedrock of Vasudhaiva Kutumbakam philosophy is utopian and mirage.
Any attempt, therefore, to apply Vasudhaiva Kutumbakam as guidelines for foreign policy and security strategy postures with utter disregard to prevailing global security environment is doomed for disaster. Reciprocity is an imperative in international affairs if one wants to forge peace.
Realpolitik, that is, a system of politics or principles based on practical rather than moral or ideological considerations must, therefore, form the basis of India's foreign policy particularly with regard to admission of refugees of alien religions from other countries. Pragmatic thought processes must govern strategic approaches; but not egalitarian idealistic philosophies.
What are current realities of conflictual rivalry between the three religious philosophies/political ideologies and their likely course in posterity? To recount, Christianity was much later in development (Jesus was born between 6 and 4 BCE and crucified in AD 30 or 33). Christianity claims that the full truth has been revealed 2000 years ago only to Jesus Christ by the one Supreme Being (called God in English), and therefore truth is only with his Church. All must become Christians and follow what Christ said, if they want to be saved from hell.
Islam was much later development in 622 AD. Islam claims that the final truth has been revealed some 1400 years ago to Prophet Mohamed by the one Supreme Being (called Allah) and therefore Islam is the only true religion. All must become Muslims and follow what Prophet Mohamed said, if they want to be saved from hell.
Today, all three religions in India are locked in a grim fight to gain ascendancy with Sikhism too locked in the battle. India faces a grim challenge from within exacerbated by external actors. Let none suffer from illusions on the above count.
Add to them, three politico-economic ideologies in conflict with each other: liberal and democratic; leftist and autocratic; and Islamist political Ideologies. Human rights, particularly women's rights is yet another critical issue.
Let me highlight experts views that Ideological approaches by nature are different from philosophical approaches. Ideologies are exclusive and based on the attitude: “I am right, you are wrong.” The philosophical approach is that of “also”: “I am right, you may also be right.”
Ipso facto, Islamist political ideology is "revolutionary" strategy of Islamizing society through exercise of state power, or alternately a "reformist" strategy to re-Islamizing society through grass-roots social and political activism. Islamists emphasize the implementation of Sharia, pan-Islamic political unity, the creation of Islamic states, or the selective cleansing of non-Muslim influences; particularly of Western economic, military, political, social, or cultural nature in the Muslim world.
The triumph of the Taliban over the American led INSAF in Afghanistan is today viewed by quite a few as civilizational blow and almost cultural defeat – “the worst capitulation of Western values in our lifetimes” or "end of an era of Western liberalism and democracy "or “a defeat of Western ideology.” Liberalism is the root cause.
Radical Islamists are hell bent upon reclaiming their lost glory and spread their religion global wide by al Jihad or Technology Age Crusades. For tactical or strategic reasons, they may offer temporarily a "New Image" – strategic retreat to moderation. After consolidation in Afghanistan, they are mostly likely to collude and resume their offensives into vulnerable neighboring nations particularly liberate Kashmir in the immediate context.
Finally, the issue of providing shelter, safety, and security to the migrating exodus of Afghan refugees fleeing from the Taliban regime from Afghanistan invoking Vasudhaiva Kutumbakam as justification is the most heinous fraud on Hindu community.
The real issue raised in social media that needs to be squarely addressed is simple. When there are over 52 Muslim majority countries with Islamic State credentials, surely they must be the first ones to provide shelter to refugees and advance their rehabilitation and resettlement in their domestic backyards by giving asylum.
For example, Pakistan, Turkey, Iran and Saudi Arabia competing for dominant status in the Middle East region must first accept refugees. Add to them, all Muslim neighboring nations like the Gulf Countries, Iraq, Syria, Central Asiatic Republics (Tajikistan, Uzbekistan, Turkmenistan, Kyrgyzstan and Kazakhstan), Egypt, Sudan, Libya, Malaysia, Indonesia and others. Even Russia and China must accept Afghan refugees since they too have Muslim minority dominated provinces.
First, the Muslim countries neighboring Afghanistan must share the burden of Afghanistan refugees. Next only other nations with the U.S. and the NATO countries accepting all those who worked for them during the past 20 years.
Yet another significant factor that must govern India's policies is the land bearing capacity. With nearly 140 crores of population soon, India is mired in poverty, unemployment besides caste, communal and class conflictual divide. By adding more one sided communal numbers, one is only compounding the challenges and accompanying risks associated with them.
In sum, India political and policy decision makers must not get carried away by the idealistic philosophy of Vasudhaiva Kutumbakam to conflate the prevailing communal divide. Even in exceptional cases on purely humanitarian grounds, India should give transit temporary visas only keeping in view of the irrefutable fact that children born to them would claim natural citizenship status.