Hindutva is a pre-requisite for progress in India.

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The victory of the BJP in three states out of four in the recent assembly elections has been projected as having been achieved by keeping Hindutva on the back-burner. At the same time, the analysts have recognised the excellent performance of the party in the vanvasi areas. They have acknowledged that this is due to the consistent work being done by the Sangh parivar organisations like Vanvasi Kalyan Ashram. What they do not want to acknowledge is that the basis of the work of VKA is Hindutva.

The problem in India is that discussions take place without first setting out the definition of terms. Thus, a party which aligns itself with the Muslim League is called secular, but one which projects Hindutva is called communal. And a party, or a group of parties, which opposes the BJP is called secular, even if the party or the group is heavily into vote-bank politics.

Justice requires that not only the guilty are punished, but the innocent are not harassed. Also, true peace is achieved not merely by absence of tension, but also by the presence of justice. Hindutva is ensuring justice is done to the Hindus. And in so doing, it does not position itself as against anyone, except those who want to cause harm to the Hindus and Hinduism.

So to discuss Hindutva in context of progress, one has to first set out the parameters of Hindutva. As proponents of Hindutva, we set out the following as the main ones:

* A belief in Ekam Sat Viprah Bahudda Vadanti.

* Reconstruct the temples at Shri Ram Janmabhoomi, Shir Krishna Janmabhoomi, and Shir Kashi Vishvanath.

* Introduce Uniform Civil Code.

* Abolish Article 370.

* Modify Articles 25, 26 and 30 in the Constitution to remove special privileges given to state-funded minority run educational institutions.

* Give temple management to the people.

* Do away with the Haj subsidy.

* Teach history in the right perspective.

* Accept that Shri Ram, Shri Krishna, Rana Pratap Singh, Chattrapati Shivaji Maharaj, etc., are genuine national heroes.

* Restore ancient Hindu sites, so that there is a genuine pride in our history

* Formulate economic policies which encourage indigenous entrepreneurship.

* Ban cow slaughter

* Show no mercy for terrorists.

* Ban religious conversions and prevent foreign preachers from coming to this country.

Before dealing with the issues, we would like to state that the order listed does not indicate the priority, nor is the list exhaustive.

The principle of Ekam Sat Viprah Bahudda Vadanti (Truth is one, sages have located many ways to achieve it) is the essential spirit of Hinduism. It does not divide the people into those who achieve salvation and those who do not. It says that a person has to find his/her own way to salvation through a proper spiritual exercise. It expects a person to accept that another can have his own path which is valid for him/her. It is an inclusive concept.

The issue of reconstructing the temples at Shri Ram Janmabhoomi, Shri Krishna Janmabhoomi and Kashi Vishvanath is with an objective of returning to the Hindus what is legitimately due to them. The original temples were deliberately destroyed so as to provide Hindus with an ocular reminder that they are slaves and that Islam rules even over holy Hindu sites. Asking Hindus to bear the sight of the monument of their slavery is a sure sign of wanting to continue the tensions that has persisted on this account, ever since the destruction of the temples. The Hindu generosity is exemplified by the fact that the return of the thousands of others are not sought.

Hindus have made sincere efforts at trying to find a peaceful solution to the problem. In the recent past, Hindus have been involved in negotiations with three prime ministers of India – Shri VP Singh, Shri Chandrashekar and Shri PV Narsimha Rao. In addition, many well meaning people have made genuine efforts to find an amicable solution – the one by Swami Jayendra Saraswati, the Kanchi Shankaracharya, being the latest one. In each case, the efforts were vetoed by an obscurantist Muslim leadership with the active support of those who call themselves as secular. In the ultimate analysis, a policy of vote-bank and an appeasement of the minorities has scored over justice to Hindus.

The present status of the civil codes in India leave much to be desired for all communities. Adoption is available only to Hindus, while the members of other communities can at best be guardians. This causes big problem when it comes to the issue of inheritance and other rights of the adopted children. The divorce law for Christians was only recently modified to make it gender just, while in Islam the woman is at the mercy of the man. We grant that there are certain aspects of Hindu laws that need modification. A holistic exercise needs to be undertaken to do justice to all section of the society.

It is necessary to abolish Article 370, to achieve true integration of Jammu & Kashmir with the rest of India. Also, it is necessary to recognise that the article was intended to be a temporary one, as the heading in the constitution clearly states. Jawaharlal Nehru, in response to Shri Atalji Vajpayee in the early 1960s, stated that the article is being eroded and will soon vanish. The large funds allocated to the development of Jammu & Kashmir have been used to line up the pockets of the local politicians and administration, and the Article 370 comes in the way of effective dealing with the issue.

Shri Jagmohanji, in his book “My Frozen Turbulence”, has catalogued the various reasons for doing away with the article, and also adequately established the huge maladministration that is prevalent in the state.

Articles 25, 26 and 30 in the Constitution give special privileges given to state-funded minority run educational institutions. This is against the principles of true secularism. Also, there is no way to control any mismanagement of such institutes, which is detrimental to the students of the institutes. Obviously, in such a situation, the quality of education will suffer.

The so-called secular governments have taken over the management of various Hindu temples, particularly where the devotees give large sums of money as offering to the deity. Only a small sum of money is needed for the management of the temple, and the rest is often used for political purposes. The money is also used as a budgetary support of the state, and not for propagation of Hinduism.

At the same time, the same principles are not used when it comes to churches and mosques. There are many examples where there is misuse of the funds of such religious places of worship. But in the practice of politics of vote-bank, such institutes are not touched.

The provision of the subsidy to the Muslims who go to Haj on pilgrimage is part of the programme for appeasement of the community, particularly its obscurantist leadership. It goes against the principles of secularism. Furthermore, insult is added to injury when Hindu pilgrims have to pay extra charges to visit their places of pilgrimage.

Hinduism is the oldest surviving civilisation. People who have studied it in a genuine manner have admired it for the high levels of intellectual thought that has been achieved. Past becomes an excellent guide to what can be achieved in the future. When the people of India are taught that there is nothing in their past that they need to be proud of, they become disengaged from their civilisation. In the process, the essential unity of the people of the land is also destroyed. Instead of creating empathy with each other, a spirit of unhealthy rivalry is created.

Therefore, there is a need to teach history in the right perspective. For example, the people have to be told that there was no Aryan invasion, the Islamic invaders created havoc, the Goa Inquisition nearly devastated Hinduism, etc. In the process, the objective is to tell the events factually and not to create hurt in some sections of the society – in any case, how telling the truth causes hurt is not fathomable.

Being the oldest surviving civilisation, even after the huge vandalism that has been suffered, there are many ancient Hindu sites which speak of the glory of our history. To inculcate a genuine pride in our history, it is necessary to restore these monuments, from which we can all receive inspiration to bring India back to the rightful place in the world community.

Every country needs role models who can be emulated. This not only gives pride to the people of the country, but also makes them more tuned to the civilisation. Thus, it is necessary to accept that Shri Ram, Shri Krishna, Rana Pratap Singh, Chattrapati Shivaji Maharaj, etc., are genuine national heroes. The attempt to denigrate their memories is a clear sing of trying to wean the people away from their past, and thus create an artificial image of themselves.

Hindutva asks for formulation of economic policies which encourage indigenous entrepreneurship. What is being asked for is not favours, but to remove the obstacles that exist in conducting of business. What has been done in the name of globalisation is that the policies have often put the indigenous entrepreneurs at a disadvantage. More so when precious little is being done to move towards a genuine internal liberalisation. Furthermore, nothing is being done to address the issue of corruption which is one of the most anti-development feature of any economy.

Hindus worship cow as a sacred being. The cow is provider of not only milk, and fertiliser, but also many medicines. Therefore, it is not only a case of sentimental attachment, but also has significant economic merit.

Terrorism is a method used by our enemies to try and bleed our society, not only in terms of economic development, but also to create social tensions. Terrorism is another cause for reducing the level of development. When there was a recent terrorist attack in Mumbai, the prices in the stock exchange fell. Such terrorist have to be dealt with firmly and without any mercy. In addition, those who show mercy to the terrorists should also be placed in their rightful position.

Religious conversions cause a huge amount of social tensions. Even those who are in an active programme of conversion intensely dislike when their own members adopt another religion, even when it is done without fraud or pressure. Such tensions diverts the attention necessary to work out programmes for economic development. Thus there is a need not only to ban religious conversions, but also prevent foreign preachers from coming to this country.

Economic and social development are activities which the Hindus have not neglected, given that there are proper policies put in place. Immediately after independence, the people of this country gave Nehru an opportunity to put his vision of creating what he called temples of modern India in place. They gave him sufficient time to show that his vision causes not only economic development, but also social progress.

History clearly indicates that Nehru failed on both accounts. However, his followers, instead of admitting the mistakes, blamed the Hindus for the slow progress until 1980. They postulated that there was something deficient in the Hindu civilisation that is holding the country back – clearly implying that we have to move away from our cultural norms if there has to be development.

While Nehru set about putting his plans in action, the Hindus decided to keep the Hindutva issues in the background. However, the Hindus could not be denied either development or Hindutva. So, beginning from the early 1980s, even as they aggressively put the Hindutva issues in the forefront, they did not neglect development. The empirical data clearly shows that the Hindus are able to function at multiple levels. They have whole-heartedly adopted the Shri Ram Janmabhoomi movement, and also grew at the high rates of growth, increased the literacy levels, etc.

Yes, there is much more that we can achieve. But can this done by people who have no moorings to their civilisation? Can we motivate the people of this land by telling them that their ancestors were primitive people, and that for economic progress we need to look outside? Can we do this by negating history and glorifying invaders who came here not only to destroy the people but also the civilisation? Can this be done when there is no justice or in a climate of social tensions?

We do not think so. For a holistic development of the society, many issues have to simultaneously dealt with. Putting effective economic policies in place, and getting the benefits of these policies, can happen only when people feel confident about themselves and when there is justice. And justice demands that Hindutva be the central point of our programme to place India in the rightful place in the world community.