An IDC Analysis 


New Delhi, 17 December 2002

Its Effect on the Defence Services  

The nation appeared to be shell shocked by the massive BJP victory in Gujarat and India's intelligentsia and many educated upper middle class persons never expected the BJP to romp home with such a strong majority. Even the exit polls did not depict such a large margin for BJP and the results saw decimation of the small parties. A two or three party democracy is the norm in most advanced countries, and one day India too may see this emerge. Hence an introspection and analysis are in order, and we table a view offered by one of our contributors. The national dallies have presented outstanding editorials and the subject is relevant for the Services too.

Input Received from Author Ranjit Rai

"Having lived in Singapore for four years and studied the astute Leader Lee Kuan Yew, I  was most impressed by his view that when one stands for an election, one must win at any cost. He even recommended espousing a cause that would make the voter vote in one's favour, even if the party did not believe in that cause. Lee espoused trade unions to win elections but once in power he broke them, because he believed that once in power the party must do what is good for the Nation, to remain in power. Otherwise trouble is bound to follow. 

Therefore in my book  "Indians -- Why We Are, What We Are " published in 1998 by Manas in a chapter titled "The Enigma Indians Battle", I wrote the following:

"The Indian character, is subconsciously ruled by the Caste system, Hinduism and Karma. The ordinary Hindu is deeply swayed by Hinduism, and there are no binding pre-ordained edicts or laws but a myriad of optional rituals, ceremonies and numerous Gods to choose from; to worship.  Confusing to the modern generation as to why, yet true. In fact the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) the single largest party in the Parliament, is attempting a revival of Hinduism under the slogan of Hindutva for Hindus, to garner the votes of the majority on emotive basis.  It has organised "Rath Yatras" (religious journeys) throughout the country permitting religion and politics to merge, a dangerous mix. If it is a ploy to gain power it needs to be accepted, but if it is xenophobic it is to be viewed with caution."

Today, what was written in the book four years ago when BJP first took office in a shaky manner is still valid, but with greater power in their hands it is hoped that the BJP and its affiliates the VHP and Bajrang Dal will use similar strategies to garner votes, but do what is good for India in the long run and not destroy the secular framework ordained by our founding fathers and scripted in our Constitution."

IDC Comments

There have been tomes written by philosophers including Fredrick Nietzsche that mixing religion and politics beyond a point can be counter productive though in the short run, since the baser feelings of the populace and pride are massaged, there is a feel good factor within the majority. In an election minority does not matter so much, if the majority can be swayed. This is exhilarating and we subscribe to anything that can give pride to a nation even if it is religion. A majority of Hindus especially in Gujarat and elsewhere are  experiencing that feeling.  

We wishe to go further and plan to look into the effect of this polarisation on the Armed Forces, as religion has little place in the Services, especially in mixed Battallions of the Army, the Air Force and the Navy. The Indian Navy has been very careful on this subject and has done well all along. However this aspect needs to be studied more deeply so that no ill will generates into one the finest Armed Forces of the World, and the minority feel they are not treated as unequal. The Armed Forces of the nation are the last bastion of India's future.

We also report that a Seminar on "LIVING TOGETHER SEPARATELY -- CULTURAL INDIA IN HISTORY AND POLITICS", is being held at Jamia Millia Ismalia University till 21st December, funded by the Ford Foundation and Jamia Millia. There are six foreign political scientists, fifteen Indian intellectuals and many Muslim professors who are debating the issue. Their initial deliberations suggest that the Gujarat result via the Hindutva plank, was a one off aberration which they say cannot be repeated, unless Godhras take place in other states. 

Another view was that India after partition is groping for Syncretism identity, so such confusion and upheaval will take place till every citizen of India feels secure. There will not be harmony among communities and Muslims and minorities may form Ghettos. This would be untenable in the long run.

Many other interesting issues of social significance came up and Joya Chatterji a Historian from LSE explained the trauma of partition in Bengal to appreciate Gujarat and the plight of minorities. A Professor from Australia had studied the Sindhi experience and another from USA explained the Luckhnawi Nawabi experience. This  conference was organised months ago but because of Gujarat results the subject is finding great interest and the Preliminary session at the India International Centre Auditorium on 18th evening was over full. We invite comments.

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