India is moving relentlessly towards an ascendancy of its Hindu majority. This is not just in terms of a cultural and religious phenomenon, though these aspects are not lagging for the first time, but a decided political makeover. So much so that, one opposition party after another, irrespective of its support base amongst Muslims and other minorities, is paying hurried obeisance to this country’s Hindu roots. Question is, are their me-too initiatives to build temples and statues, conduct temple visits, āratis and other Hindu rituals, substantial enough to convince and carry the day? Their attempt is to plump for a soft, non-assertive Hinduism, which may be acceptable to the so-called secularist, in tandem with the old reliable of Muslim appeasement.
The problem is the increasing lawlessness and rigidity of the Muslim, replete with wild calls to the community to rise up against the majority, hopes of breaking up the country, and praise for Islamic terrorists and Pakistan. It is no doubt fearful of losing its privileges of the decades since independence. The Muslims demand their privileges in return for the block voting they practice. The blatant insistence on a quid pro quo is offending Hindus and embarrassing the liberal-leftist-communist combines. It puts the dependent opposition parties — with most of them regional and confined to one state — over a barrel.
But it is understandable, because this arm-twisting worked quite well till the INC collapsed nationally for the most part, and absolutely at the Centre. Unfortunately, this backdrop greatly dilutes opposition gestures towards Hindus. This late acknowledgement of Hindu sentiments is meant to be sympathetic without endorsing the political muscularity of the Hindutva ethos and aspiration upheld by the Sangh Parivar.
It also seeks to steal some of the BJP’s Hindutva thunder from a polity that seems to have been awakened to its potential. Unfortunately, this is not a proper bandage and unlikely to do the job. The Hindu has long felt like it was being pushed out to the windowless storeroom in its own large house. The BJP, by way of contrast, will continue doing substantial things in addition to the CAA-NPR-NRC. Laws such as the Uniform Civil Code and the Population Control Bill are coming. Collectively they are designed to weed out illegal immigrants and begin to significantly raise the per capita income of this country.
Lakhs of crores of rupees are going into the creation and upgrade of infrastructure and the railways. Despite setbacks that the economy suffered mainly due to fiscal profligacy and loan defaults originating from the 10 UPA years, India has become a nearly $ 3 trillion economy in absolute terms. It is now the 5th largest economy in the world. India has overtaken France and Britain during the BJP’s watch already and is determined to power on to $5 trillion in GDP. That this too is likely to be powered by the services sector, already accounting for 60%, as opposed to the more traditional markers of the economy, is the shape of a new vibrancy that cannot be dominated by a slowing global economy.
Absolute poverty too has declined drastically over the last six years. The armed forces are being modernised and supported like never before, and the foreign policy of the country has become effectively nationalist and India first without demur or apology. Manufacturing under Make in India is showing results in defence manufacturing, steel, and electronics. Space technology, developments in science and communications put to practical use, clean energy, sanitation, education, health, are all delivering results. International diplomacy is now working markedly in India’s favour with old allies and new.
National icons, long ignored by the Congress, are being honoured at last, and there is a concerted effort to promote a wider study of India’s history and Vedic heritage, reaching out considerably beyond the Mughals.
All this put together is making the old political model of socialism, welfare, minority appeasement and economic profligacy obsolete. The tendency to call freebies a tool of progress and equity plays with the truth. This government too does much for the poor, but it is largely by way of providing enablers that promote growth. It has also plugged the leakages that have prevented the largesse from reaching its intended recipients. To turn this on its ear without regard to revenue generation is a formula for economic disaster.
By 2024, when the next general elections are due, many of the economic benefits of the Modi doctrine of infrastructure driven growth will be evident. In addition, there will be quite an array of Hindutva successes. Some driven by new legislation designed to curb the false secularism of the past. Others via transformation of places like Jammu, Kashmir, Ladakh, Ayodhya, Varanasi and the North East. The architecture of the seat of the central government is expected to be transformed by then too.
Even if the coalition of opposition parties is able to unseat this government in 2024, it will have little choice but to build on all that has been changed. Narendra Modi and his government will have left its mark on history for all the world to see. And the most notable aspect of it will be the righting of the wrongs done to the Hindu majority.
Epoch-making tenures cannot be wished away. When the late conservative prime minister of Britain Margaret Thatcher took over, Britain was largely but not entirely done with the tensions of religious enmity. It had dominated matters for centuries since Henry VIII broke away from Rome. Thatcher was prime minister from 1979-1990 and was initially confronted with a failing economy.
There were muscular trade unions nurtured by a post-WWII Labour Party in every sphere except the armed forces. Quite a few loss-making government-owned enterprises and services, also bitten by the socialist bug, dotted the sceptred isle.
Margaret Thatcher, described not only as the Iron Lady but in possession of the “lips of Marilyn Monroe and the eyes of Caligula”, knew what she had to do. She set about resolutely privatising utilities, deregulating the financial sector, the national airline, and anything else she could turn away from government control. She closed down loss-making coal mines. She took subsidies off the railways, the tube and the buses. She stood up to the European Union and its many one-sided dictates. She made common cause with Britain’s staunchest ally, the United States, then run by Ronald Reagan as President. She persuaded President Gorbachev to reform the USSR, leading, unfortunately for it, to its break-up. She promoted private ownership of property. She won the Falklands War.
Thatcher ran into a clamour of protests from the old order. Apart from marches and leftist jamborees, there were Gandhian fasts and the Irish Liberation Army (IRA) tools of the hunger-strike and the bomb. People died starving themselves, but Thatcher did not relent. The IRA even tried to kill her at Brighton in 1984, with a bomb that demolished part of the very hotel suite she was staying in.
Today, it is clear that Thatcher broke the back of the old mass- entitlement ridden Britain, at least for a time, and certainly reduced the extent of government welfare for good. But, in 2020, it can be seen that a lot of that socialism has crept back despite her eleven years in power. Today, the Brexit achieved Britain, limping once again from lack of economic dynamism and joblessness, is in some danger of breaking up.
There is confusion in the air with radical Islamism exploiting the liberal political ethos to try and establish a formal hold on Muslim majority boroughs in London and elsewhere. Ireland is trying to reunite, Protestant Northern Ireland and Catholic Eire. If it becomes one country, the United Kingdom will lose Protestant Northern Ireland. The age-old enmity between Catholics and Protestants has abated to a great extent as the hold of the Catholic church on Eire has waned. United Ireland will probably retain its links with the EU.
Scotland too is restive and seeking a fresh referendum to secede and keep its links with the EU.
India will not face a similar break-up simply because it has woken up in time to the minority threats, and elected a man like Narendra Modi, in 2014, and again in 2019. By 2024, the electorate will probably be sufficiently mindful of internal and external dangers to prevent any political collusion between India’s rulers and those who do not wish it well. If it is still the BJP that wins another term, the future of the Hindu majority and India will have to be substantially rewritten.