Modi Sarkar, jihadis and India’s political Right
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