Hindutva and the Rise of Modi

The enemies of India are all ganging up to discredit the BJP. Its political leaders and supporters are being labeled as fascists and anti-minority. The minions of the West-the Arundhati Roys and the Romila Thapars- have mobilized themselves to discredit the BJP.

Hindutva and the Rise of Modi

The enemies of India are all ganging up to discredit the BJP. Its political leaders and supporters are being labeled as fascists and anti-minority. The minions of the West-the Arundhati Roys and the Romila Thapars- have mobilized themselves to discredit the BJP. Many media houses have nothing positive to comment on the return to government of the BJP in a landslide victory. To better understand the success of the BJP it is critical to study Hindutva, the ideology that underpins and drives the success of the BJP.

Hindutva is an ideology that embraces the history and traditions of India as integral to the Indian society. It embraces all ideologies that are not antagonistic to the geographical integrity of the nation. It is cautious and weary with groups that are agents or subsidiaries of foreign interests.

Hindutva was coined by Vinayak Damodar Savarkar (1883-1966), a Hindu nationalist in 1923. This ideology was shaped by him while he was serving a life imprisonment in the Andamans for sedition against British Rule of India.

In 1925 Keshav Baliram Hedgewar (1889-1940) founded the Rastriya Swayamsevak Sangh-National Volunteers (RSS) in Nagpur, India. A graduate in medicine, Hedgewar was active in the struggle against British Rule and served several prison sentences.  

Photo : Dool Hanomansingh

While serving a prison term, Hedgewar noticed the orderly and efficient manner the prison guards responded to security threats.  Subsequently, he underwent a thorough study of Indian history and discovered that the Indian soldiers fought for the Raja and when the latter got killed, the army surrendered. In the case of the British, he noted, the army fought for the country; and when a soldier who was carrying the flag died, another took up the flag and marched forward.

Dr Hedgewar realized that the only way India can be a powerful nation was to unite the majority Hindu population. His objective was to inculcate discipline among Hindus. His strategy was shakha-a regular meeting daily for one hour in the morning and one hour in the afternoon. With a handful of youths, a shakha or branch was started in Nagpur.

 At the beginning and closing of shakha, the volunteers chanted a Sanskrit prayer bowing their heads to the dwaj or flag, not a personality.  The assembly incorporated games that were played for fun with an aim to build team work. Geets or patriotic songs were sung and there was always a boudik or inspirational message.

Love for India was foremost among the objective of the RSS. Dr Hedgewar realized that India has to be protected from enemies both within and without, and, only a united Hindu community would ensure a strong India.

Caste and sectarian divisions were shunned by the RSS. Everyone participated without the need to identify social background or sectarian loyalty. This bonding of Hindus continued. Regionalism, class and language separations were also checked. The RSS became a unifying force.

The RSS volunteer or Swayamsevak saw Mother India as a living goddess and serving her and her children as the highest dharma. No sacrifice is too big for these volunteers. Many died in the struggle to rescue and lift Hindus out of the morass they have fallen into.

A social oriented organization, the RSS was the first response when there were natural or manmade disasters. When Pakistani soldiers, disguised as tribals, invaded Kashmir immediately following independence, the Indian army wanted an airstrip cleared of snow to land troops and requested sixty volunteers from the RSS; 600 came forward. The volunteers took supplies-foods and ammunitions-across enemy lines- to the Jawans. When Andra Pradesh was devastated after a cyclone and thousands of homes were destroyed and millions displaced, the RSS undertook to build houses.

The engine that powers the RSS is its band of dedicated pracharaks (full time volunteers). These pracharaks give up their careers, leaving their families behind, dedicating their energies to social work in politics, trade unionism, education, poverty eradication, etc.

Shyam Prasad Mukherjee (1901-53) was one of the early pracharaks. A minister of government in the Nehru cabinet, Mukherjee left the government because he did not like the latter’s handling of the Jammu and Kashmir issue. In 1951, with the help of the RSS, Mukherjee founded the Bharatiya Jana Party.

Deendayal Upadhyaya (1916-68) was another volunteer that became a pracharak in 1942 and later became political leader of the Bharatiya Jana Sangh, the forerunner to the Bharatiya Janata Party.

Nanaji Desmukh distinguished himself by conducting rehabilitation work among the Vanvasis or forest dwellers of Chitrakoot.  Rama spent twelve of the fourteen years in exile as a Vanvassi. His journey through Chitrakoot was interpreted as an empowering force, for wherever Rama went he defeated evil and empowered the people. With this philosophy Nanaji dedicated his energies to empower the people of Chitrakoot by building houses, schools, hospitals, etc.

Narendra Modi, Political Leader of the BJP and Prime Minister, was a pracharak with the RSS. It was during his service in the villages that he was seconded to Delhi to work in politics. Later he was appointed Chief Minister of Gujrat and his outstanding performance propelled him to the position of Political Leader of the BJP and later Prime Minister.

The choice of the BJP by the majority population of India to lead India did not come about overnight. It was the pioneering and dedicated toil of several million volunteers. Their ambition is not office but to serve the people of India. While it is acceptable for Prime Ministers to take holidays, Modi has not taken one so far.

BJP is corruption free. Modi is known for his austere life style. His declaration of his assets reveals a man who is foremost a Swayamsevak or servant of people.