It is no surprise that one encounters seemingly antithetical assertions about the relation between the two — for example, that nationalism is intrinsically secular, and that it is intrinsically religious; that nationalism is of a fairly recent origin, and that it emerged in a period of intensified religious feeling.
Hindu nationalism has been collectively referred to as the expressions of social and political thought, based on the native spiritual and cultural traditions of historical Indian subcontinent. Some scholars have argued that the use of the term “Hindu nationalism” to refer to Hindu Raṣhṭravad is a simplistic translation and is better described by the term “Hindu polity”.
Both nationalism and Hinduism can designate a whole world of different things, any attempt to conjoin both by references to Hindu nationalism or Hindu Rashtra, or the relation between the two, are likely to be tenable, interesting, or even meaningful. It needs to be specified that while the word Hindu is an adjective, rashtra is a noun.
The term rashtra cannot be conflated with the Western concept of nation, which is of a fairly recent origin, possibly not more than two hundred years. On the other hand, the term rashtra in the Hindu ethos is several millennia old. Rashtra essentially meant the society with its cultural and civilizational mores, its core beliefs, traditions, practices and also prejudices. The earlier ignorance of the prehistoric sub-continent, and of course, European colonial rule meant that historical facts of oldest culture and civilisation were ignored. Hindus were looked upon as incapable of reflection and without history. It is probably this Western colonial worldview, so assiduously kept alive by their secular-Nehruvian-Marxist disciples long after independence, which has led to ignorance and misconceptions about Hinduism and Rashtravad in India.
Contrarian views have been sought to be suppressed by the Leftist cabal that is entrenched in the media and academia. Yet, all their efforts have been unable to obscure the fact that Hindu political thought has a spirit, a milieu, an atmosphere of its own as different from its Western counterpart. The Hindu personality, temperament, outlook and indeed ethos, are different from what one finds in the West. Hindu thought does not fall under any of the accepted categories of Western speculation. It stands by itself. So does the concept of rashtra.
Nationalism involves faith in some external power, feelings of awe and reverence, and ceremonial rites, focused on the flag. However, the concept of rashtravad in India, in marked contrast to its Western counterpart that stresses more in demarcation of boundaries and exclusion of people who do not subscribe to a particular worldview, is more inclusive. This follows from the Hindu ethos and wa y of life.
As far as the modern nationalism is concerned, it bears iteration that ethnicity and nationalism have been characterized as basic sources and forms of social and cultural identification. As such, they are ways of identifying oneself and others, of construing sameness and difference, and of situating and placing oneself in relation to others. Religion, too, can be understood in this manner. Religion too provides a way of identifying and naming fundamental social groups, a powerful framework for imagining community, and a set of schemas, templates, and metaphors for making sense of the social world. Like ethnicity and nationalism, secondly, religion can be understood as a mode of social organization, a way of framing, channeling, and organizing social relations. Religious nationalism is at work in a wide range of settings, including the U.S, India, Iran, Israel, Palestine, Turkey, Algeria, Egypt, and Pakistan. Contemporary discussion has Christian fundamentalism, Hindu nationalism and touches on Jewish nationalism, though sustained attention must be paid today to Islamist movements, for understandable reasons. Islamist movements invoke a putatively homogeneous pre-political identity (the ‘umma’ or community of Muslims) that ought, on some accounts, to have its own state, a restored Caliphate. They hold that public life should safeguard and promote the distinctive values of this community. They seek to awaken people to their ‘true’ identities and to bring culture and polity into close alignment. They protest against the ‘infidel’ rule of non-Muslims over Muslims or of governments that are only nominally Muslim; and they seek to purify the polity of corrupting forms of alien influence (moral, cultural, or economic). In these and other ways, Islamist movements partake of the underlying ‘grammar’ of modern nationalism even when they are ostensibly anti-nationalist or supra-national. Another important fact is that most Islamist movements, although they work through the state, are not oriented to the nation. In the Indian way of life, dharma plays an important role and the basis of our day-to-day life is dharma. Political leaders right from the beginning felt that if there is any possibility of retaining unity in India, it should be by remaining secular. That is why Gandhiji had been preaching brotherhood among the different re¬ligious groups. Nehru was a strong supporter of secularism. Their efforts could not divorce dharma from politics. Rather, in politics, vested interests started exploiting caste and religion for gaining political advantage. Even after the division of India into Pakistan and Bharat, because of the two-nation theory religious fervour could not be extinguished because the memories of Partition haunted the minds of the people. India has managed to avoid becoming a theocratic state solely because of the Hindu character of its culture and people. Theocratic states have been established in Pakistan and the Middle East, which have today become a threat to the world.
The term “Hindutva” is derived from the two terms “Hindu Tattva”, which literally mean “Hindu Principles”. Now the question is: what are Hindu Principles and what comprises the “Hindutva” Outlook? To answer this question we would have to begin with the history of the Hindus. The history of the Hindus is the history of a civilization which has developed in its natural state, without interruption, since antiquity. Its age is dated many thousands of years. Hence Hindu history is a prototype of how human civilization would have looked, if civilization all across the globe had been allowed to develop in its natural state. This is the relevance for us to study Hindu Civilization, Hindu History and Hindu Culture. The evolution of Hindu Civilization can be considered to be natural and continuing as there is no last messiah in the Hindu world view. In fact this is what distinguishes Hindu Civilization from the rest. And this is why Hinduism is called a Living Idea, guided by the sum total of human wisdom that is not considered to be embodied in one person, or one book, or one period of human history. Hence the term “Living”. Hindutva is the articulation of this idea of continuity of freedom of thought from which emerge the multifarious Hindu Principles.
Two instances of Hindu Principles that symbolize the outcome of freedom of thought are the pronouncements made not today, but four thousand years back by unnamed rishis that, “This world is one family” (Vasudhaiva Kutumbakam) and that “The Universal Reality is the same, but different people can call it by different names” (Ekam Sat Viprah Bahuda Vadanti). In these two proclamations made in ancient Hindu India, we see the seeds of globalism and freedom of thought, four thousand years before the world was to become the global village of today.Thus in its true essence, Hindutva is a stridently assertive rational-humanist line of reasoning. And it is this essence of Hindutva that we have kept in mind, while developing this website. At the level of practice, the Hindutva outlook boils down to upholding righteousness (Satguna) and fighting ignoble attitudes (Durguna). Taking the liberty of definition, we can describe the practitioners of this outlook as “Heenam Naashaayati iti Hinduhu” (Those who uphold righteousness and fight ignobleness are Hindus).
Thus, far from being a narrow nationalistic doctrine, Hindutva is in its true essence, “a timeless and universal compilation of human wisdom”. Hence it is also called “Sanatana” which means, something that is “forever continuing”. It is this Hindu way of life that sustains and guides its philosophy of rashtra.
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Budget focus on rural economy and agriculture
Agriculture and rural sector have been the backbone of any economy in the world and more so especially in India. The revival and dominance of the Chinese economy started with the strengthening of the farmers. Even developed economies of the world give special and protectionist treatment to agriculture. Reviving and strengthening the agriculture sector and rural economy have suddenly become very important for the present government given the fact that elections are increasingly being influenced by the rural voters more than the urban voters. Even from sheer economic prosperity point of view, Indian economy depends on a robust rural and agricultural growth more than probably the industrial production and service sector. Little wonder, that the Finance Minister has more than once emphasized that agriculture will be the prime area of focus.
The fourteenth Finance Commission recommended that there should be an increase in the states’ share of the total central tax collection. Accepting this recommendation as a step towards cooperative federalism and considering the fact that more than half the state governments are ruled by the BJP or their allies, the centre readily increased the state share. But correspondingly many central schemes were also withdrawn or their outlays curtailed. The states began allocating the central tax component to urban schemes like roads and water supply and other urban requirements. This considerably reduced allocation to rural and agricultural schemes. Rural economy, already witnessing a setback as a result of demonetisation and introduction of GST, was left cash-starved. As a result of this, the farm sector abandoned all new inputs in the sowing season. Naturally, the agricultural production saw a drastic fall and consequential lower growth in the wholesale price of agro products. The anti-inflationary measures, much to the benefit of the urban population, kept the wholesale price lower but came as a dampener to the farmers.
Many of these factors have forced the farmers to take back very little from the mandis. The rural expenditure by the states was about fifteen percent in 2005-2006 and rose to thirty-six percent in 2014-2015 but came down drastically to an all-time low of about eleven percent in 2016-2017. The Finance Minister in his budget speech has recognised this fall in rural expenditure and promised to allocate more for the farm sector. Many of the reports prepared and released by the agriculture ministry highlighted the alarming figures pertaining to widening gap between agricultural production and income levels.
Realising the urgency of the situation and needs of the farmers, Finance Minister Arun Jaitley has provided increased institutional credit target for agriculture for the financial year 2018-19 amounting to Rs 11 lakh crore from Rs 10 lakh crore. This will allow the government to step up the efforts to ease availability of funds to the farmers and for the agriculture sector in general. The recent events have highlighted the discontent among farmers who have to increasingly depend on secondary sources such as local money lenders for small loans and accommodation money, highly detrimental for them as well as the rural economy.
The Finance Minister has reiterated the government’s resolve to treat agriculture sector as an enterprise. This means the farmers’ income has to go up in proportion to their land holding, crop pattern, and investments such as input cost etc. In a way, agriculture should be treated as an industry and subject to all the factors of production, sales, and consumption.
Keeping in view the importance that agriculture has assumed, the finance minister has carefully crafted this budget with maximum emphasis on rural and agriculture sector.
The proposal to implement MSP for all crops is a very encouraging one, especially for the farmers as most of them, depend on multi-crop farming. Besides, the MSP has been increased to 1.5 times of the production cost. This will immensely benefit the small and marginal farmers who account for almost 86%. But there are two issues here. One is that the system of determining the cost of production is a very cumbersome one and is usually decided by a set of people who are directly concerned with agriculture. Again they take a very long time, sometimes as much as six to eight months to decide the cost of production and the MSP based on it. Another factor is the multiplicity of produce. In these circumstances, by the time the MSP is decided and implemented, the market has changed and the demand-supply position would have altered.
The budget also proposes to upgrade Grameen Agricultural Markets and APMCs that are the lifeline of the agriculture. There are also incentives for Women Self help Groups to undertake organic farming. All over the world organic products have a good market. But this will also require tweaking of the pesticides and other inputs that go into organic farming.
The Budget has also allocated 2000 crores for building rural infrastructure mainly to assist in agriculture. This is no doubt a welcome step but the amount is woefully small compared to the requirement. Anything less than two lakh crores for rural infrastructure should be considered insufficient if one has to do a sincere and sustainable job.
The provision of ten lakh crores as a credit to farmers with 60 days interest waiver and an increase of NABARD fund to 40,000 crores is also a welcome step. The idea of setting up smaller Krishi Vigyam Kendra for soil testing and extending other advisory services to farmers will be seen as a very constructive step if they are implemented with all sincerity and monitored properly.
The proposal to set up dedicated micro irrigation fund under the supervision of NABARD with an initial corpus of 5000 crores is also a very encouraging step. This again will help in identifying and bringing non–irrigated land into the fold of arable land.
The first Budget after the announcement of GST has come as a huge relief to farmers and is expected to give a fillip to the rural economy and the agriculture sector which has witnessed many stressful years.
About the author:
The author is member of the National Executive Committee of the BJP and an expert commentator on economic and strategic issues
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