Modi Sarkar, ji­hadis and In­dia’s po­lit­i­cal Right

Bureaucracy Today - - GUEST COLUMN - By N VITTAL (N Vittal be­longed to the 1960 batch of the In­dian Ad­min­is­tra­tive Ser­vice. He is one of the emi­nent pub­lic ser­vants of In­dia. He held im­por­tant po­si­tions in the Gov­ern­ment of In­dia, the most prom­i­nent of them be­ing the PESB Chair­man and chie

It is of­ten be­lieved that en­gi­neers tend to lean right­wards in their pol­i­tics. In a new book En­gi­neers of Ji­had, so­ci­ol­o­gist Diego Gam­betta and po­lit­i­cal sci­en­tist St­ef­fen Her­tog back up that gut sense with data. Ac­cord­ing to their find­ings, Is­lamist rad­i­cal­ism and other far-right move­ments are dom­i­nated by en­gi­neers, doc­tors and those with tech back­grounds, while Left-wing move­ments draw peo­ple from the hu­man­i­ties and so­cial sciences.

They state three traits which ex­plain this de­vel­op­ment. “Po­lit­i­cal psy­chol­o­gists have found that three traits are cor­re­lated with be­ing right-wing and con­ser­va­tive: these traits are to be eas­ily dis­guised (say by cor­rup­tion of cus­toms or by per­ceived so­cial de­viance), to be strongly in favour of one’s eth­nic or re­li­gious in-group and against in­fi­dels and im­mi­grants from other cul­tures, and to be in­tol­er­ant of am­bi­gu­ity and un­cer­tainty – some­thing that psy­chol­o­gists call ‘need for clo­sure’.

We have in our coun­try sec­u­lar es­tab­lish­ment in­tel­lec­tu­als who equate the RSS with ji­hadis. Saf­fron ter­ror was an is­sue bandied about some time back. This was in the con­text of the 2014 Lok Sabha elec­tions and the years when the UPA ruled the roost for a decade.

It is no se­cret that Prime Min­is­ter Naren­dra Modi has been a life­long mem­ber of the RSS and very closely con­nected with Hin­duism. One of his ti­tles was Hindu Hri­day Sam­rat. In his me­te­oric rise from be­ing the Chief Min­is­ter of a State (Gu­jarat) to the post of Prime Min­is­ter, tech­nol­ogy and tech­nocrats played a very sig­nif­i­cant part.

The sec­u­lar es­tab­lish­ment in­tel­li­gen­tia al­ways be­rates the RSS as a fas­cist or­ga­ni­za­tion. The controversies about its in­creas­ing in­tol­er­ance fall in this cat­e­gory.

While there are many el­e­ments in the RSS and the Sangh Pari­var which may be shoot­ing off their mouth, when it comes to Naren­dra Modi him­self he has never sup­ported or ex­pressed sym­pa­thy for such aber­ra­tions. That is be­cause along with the Sanghcha­lak Mo­han Bhag­wat, he has been re-in­vent­ing the RSS. Their fo­cus is on mak­ing Sanatana dharma In­dia’s own unique home grown phi­los­o­phy which had stood the test of time. The ba­sic con­cept of Sanatana dharma has a global and in­clu­sive phi­los­o­phy (Va­sudeiva ku­tum­bakam). It is also open-minded to ac­cept that there could be dif­fer­ent ver­sions of the same truth (ekam satyam vipra bahuda vatanti).

Thirdly, it is the only phi­los­o­phy which vi­su­al­izes en­ter­tain­ing two con­tra­dic­tory ideas si­mul­ta­ne­ously. For ex­am­ple, the Brah­man is sup­posed to be smaller than the atom and at the same time big­ger than the uni­verse. This qual­ity is called the power of aghatita ghatana – the power of com­bin­ing con­tra­dic­tions.

It is in­ter­est­ing that the de­vel­op­ment of nu­clear tech­nol­ogy in the 20th cen­tury at ev­ery stage had an echo of this con­cept. Be­gin­ning with the con­cept of the na­ture of light which has the char­ac­ter­is­tics of par­ti­cle (pho­ton) and wave (Louis de Broglie) and Op­pen­heimer’s re­call­ing Chap­ter 10 of the Bhag­vad Gita when he wit­nessed the mush­room cloud at Las Alamos as a nu­clear bomb was tested, mod­ern physics rep­re­sent­ing one of the high­est ad­vances in sci­ence in­di­cates that not all tech­nocrats may have the third trait de­scribed by Gam­betta and Her­tog –that of in­tol­er­ance to­wards in­tol­er­ance and am­bi­gu­ity, some­thing that psy­chol­o­gists call the need for clo­sure.

One can, there­fore, never equate the RSS as some of the sec­u­lar crit­ics have done and con­nected with saf­fron ter­ror. Ji­hadis may be con­nected with ter­ror­ism but not def­i­nitely Sanatana dharma. And Sanatana dharma is what both Modi and Bhag­wat seem to be shap­ing.

Most of the In­di­ans per­haps sub­lim­i­nally carry in them atavis­tic mem­o­ries of their cul­tural her­itage. This may ex­plain the at­trac­tion of NRIs and the tech­nocrats of our coun­try to­wards Naren­dra Modi. n

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