Almost a year after taking over the mantle of president Mr Rajnath Singh was today re-elected BJP President for a three-year term until 2008 with no challenge to his candidacy for the top post in the party. Former Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee and former Deputy Prime Minister LK Advani greeted BJP president Rajnath Singh after his re-election. Singh took charge when Advani had to step down after attracting the ire of RSS and resentment in the BJP ranks in wake of his referring to the Muslim League founder, Mohammed Ali Jinnah as a ‘secular’ leader. Amidst celebrations, fireworks and drumbeats, at the party headquarters on Sunday, Singh was re-elected unopposed, ahead of the crucial assembly elections in four states, including his home state UP. Both Vajpayee and Advani credited Singh for the party’s success in the recent civic elections in UP and assembly and LS by-elections in Bihar and Madhya Pradesh.

As Rajnath Singh assumes the mantle once again buyoued by the recent wins of the BJP, the alarm bells have started ringing in the mainstream media. Leading the charge is the Communist Rag Tag “The Hindu” edited by closet communist N. Ram which in its editorial “BJP back to form” has come up with preposterous arguments to criticize the BJP for its rally in New Delhi on the Afzal Issue and for its actions in Parliament on the Arunachal Pradesh issue. Keeping good company to the communist rag tag, was known congress hack Pankaj Vohra in the stealth congress mouthpiece “The Hindustan Times” where Vohra all of a sudden discovered the vices of political rallies in the wake of a rather successful BJP rally.

The rate at which the mainstream left of center media is getting worked up over these developments is but a sign of the growing anxiety within the Left of Center axis of evil as the Manmohan Singh dispensation nears the half way mark. Offstumped examines the question of what should be Rajnath Singh’s mission and vision as he leads the charge through 2008.

The question of Mission and Vision for the principal Right of Center party is one loaded with dilemmas and contradictions. Reinforcing these contraductions is the BJP MP from Gorakhpur Yogi Adityanath. While the BJP is holding its National Executive meet in Lucknow on December 22-24, Adityanath plans to do his own things in his constituency, organising a Vishwa Hindu Mahasammelan and Virat Hindu Sangam there during the same dates. Along with the representatives of 970 Hindu organisations, around 10,000 sadhus and saints from various corner of the country would participate in the Adiyanath show. The message from Adityanath to Rajnath Singh was if the BJP really wanted to win over the confidence of the Hindus, then it would have to focus on cultural nationalism rather than political issues. It is messages like these that have fueled speculation in the media on whether the second term for Rajnath Singh meant greater hold for the RSS on the BJP.

In the wake of the recent UP Civic Polls, Offstumped had strongly argued that for a Right of Center party like the BJP it can ignore its base only to its peril. Based on this premise, Offstumped had argued that the BJP must base its agenda for the upcoming polls firmly on ideology. The debate however is will the base be motivated by a narrow interpretation of ideology as argued by the likes of Adityanath or is the base likely to be motivated by a broader interpretation. While the Minority Appeasement of the UPA and the Samajwadi Party is energizing the base it would be foolish and myopic on the part of the BJP to lose sight of the bigger picture on the evolving aspirations and expectations of the base. If Lalu’s ouster in Bihar had much to do with the misgovernance of his wife’s regime the success of the BJP-JD(U) combine had also to do with a new approach to Governance rooted firmly in reforms. As Rajnath Singh looks to chart out the next 2 years of his Presidency he would do well to formulate a broader interpretation of Hindutva that goes beyond cultutal nationalism to encompass right of center economics and approach to governance.

Offstumped’s formulation for such a broader interpretation of Hindutva is what Offstumped calls Flat World Hindutva.

Let me first begin by explaining what we mean by Flat World Forces or Forces of Globalization as they relate to the concept of a Flat World. These are forces which have rendered Geography and Distance as irrelevant and have enabled Access to Markets, Information and Resources anywhere in the world possible. The effect of this twin combination is that a no-name company called Infosys based in India is able to compete and win against an established incumbent in the USA. Now the same forces operate in the reverse direction to the aid of a Multi-National or a Missionary in India competing against native businesses or native religions and win because they have better access to Markets, resources and information.

In a world which is going to be increasingly influenced by these forces one must adapt to leverage these forces to one’s advantage and to not be rendered irrelevant by these changes. Now Infosys which was benefiting from the effect of flat-world forces in acquiring competitive advantage from its foreign competitors could have lobbied with the Indian Government for Protectionist Laws that prevent its foreign competitors from setting up shop in India and thus eliminating the home ground advantage it had. But Infosys did not, it instead to take the challenge in stride and decided to focus on how to continously innovate and re-invent itself to further take advantage of the flat-world forces in order to continue to win against foreign competitors in the USA while not being unduly worried about their setting up base in India.

So there is a lesson here to be borrowed by the Indian Right. That lesson is that Politcal, Socio-Cultural Philosophy of the Indian Right will be challenged by these very same forces in multiple ways bringing into question the relevance of this philosophy as it manifests in Public Policy/Governance and Socio-Cultural Movements/Institutions.

So the question is whether Hindutva in its current form that Philosophy that can manifest itself in the most relevant manner in Public Policy/Governance so that its adherents are equipped with right economic and security environment so that they can effectively live, compete and win in the face of Flat World Forces. Also in Socio-Cultural situations can its adherents continue to draw inspiration, direction and their moral compass of right and wrong to thrive and prosper in a world dominated by flat world forces and dont lose faith in it and abandon it in favor of other socio-cultures ways of life or theologies which have been more effective in leveraging the flat world forces to their advantage

Hence the need for a critical look and re-invention of the underlying philosophy and how it manifests itself in Public Policy and Governance as well as in Socio-Cutural issues.

HINDUTVA IN PUBLIC POLICY AND GOVERNANCE

To date the manifestation of Hindutva in the sphere of Public Policy and Governance has been primarily to right the wrongs of the past century and to the extent it has been a philosophy that emerged from a position of weakness, seeking a position of strength. That perhaps was essential in the context of the Political Environment of the last century. This century is different. The mood in the country is different. The mood is no longer about wrongs of the past. The mood is about the future and the boundless opportunities of the future as demonstrated by the phenomenal success of Indian Enterprise and Indian Knowledge Capital. So the narrow interpretation of Hindutva is out of sync with the mood of the nation. Rather than INSPIRE AND INSTILL CONFIDENCE AND FURTHER THE CAUSE OF POLICIES AND GOVERNANCE THAT EMPOWERS INDIA STRATEGICALLY AND ECONOMICALLY the focus of Political manifestations of Hindutva in its narrow form is very limited and is rooted in the past.

Hindutva as a guiding philosophy needs to provide a philosophical compass to the party in governance on key issues like reservations in  the private sector, foreign competition, role of government in everyday life, importance of local governance when confronted with situations like the sealing issue in Delhi.

The BJP can afford to take opportunistic positions on these key issues and respond with muddled policy prescriptions. This will inevtiably lead to utter confusion in the political adherents of Hindutva to the point where you hear multiple voices on all other issues and the only issue they are united on is opposing the UPA’s Minority Appeasement policies.

These are the issues that will continue to matter in the future. So Hindutva in its current form needs to broaden itself as a strategic nationalistic philosophy with a sound economic point of view which can guide and shape the political agenda that is relevant to the issues of the 21st century.

Offstumped Bottomline to Rajnath Singh: Congratulations on the second term. But the job is not yet done. The ideology must broaden its focus and become a proactive change agent. It must provide 

A VISION AND STRATEGY ON HOW TO DIFFERENTIATE AGAINST THE LEFT OF CENTER FORCES WHILE APPEALING TO ALL INDIANS WITH ITS STRATEGIC AND ECONOMIC VISION

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