OffStumped For All Things Right of Center, Bringing a Right of Centre Reality Check to Indian Politics, News Media Reporting and Opinion now in Hindi अब आप के लिये हिंदी मे.

The Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh, RSS, the spiritual mentor of India’s principal opposition BJP, is observing what it calls the Janmashatabdi or Cenetennial year of its second chief and the man widely credited with its growth over the 3 decades post Indian Independence Madhavrao Sadashivrao Golwalkar or popularly known as Guruji. The centenary was wrapped up today with a grand event in Delhi called the ‘Akhil Bharat Ghosh Shibir’. The public rally at the event was attended by Vice President Bhairosingh Shekhavat who was the chief guest. The interesting aspect of the event was how savy the RSS had become at leveraging technology quite at odds with the media stereotype of the RSS as stuck in the last century. The entire event was webcast live on the internet in addition to a satellite channel http://www.shriguruji.org/GurujiVideoStreaming/video.php.

If the taint from unfair association with Mahatma Gandhi’s assasination was the nadir of RSS under Golwalkar, today should mark its zenith 3 decades after his death with the nation’s second highest constitutional authority presiding over his centenary. Golwalkar and his views have been the target of most criticism from the left which with active support from the mainstream media has been successful in tainting the ideology spawned by him as fascist. On the occassion of his centenary, Offstumped sets about to explore if history would judge Golwalkar or Guruji fairly.

To do so Offstumped turns to a “Bunch of Thoughts” http://www.golwalkarguruji.org/shri-guruji/thoughts/bunch-of-thoughts-book authored by Golwalkar. One of the challenges with how Golwalkar was interpreted and understood by those outside the sangh parivar fold is highlighted in the preface of this book. Most of  Golwalkar’s speeches were in chaste hindi which straight away puts first hand interpretation out of the reach of most in the english mainstream media and hence most second hand interpretations must be taken with a grain of salt, especially those coming from a left of center persuasion. This post from Offstumped will likely suffer from the same handicap but with tad greater credibility.

The book itself spans Golwalkar’s thoughts on his mission and vision for the RSS, challenges faced by India as he saw it in his time and how to go about the task of nation building. It is in the first section on the Mission that one gets appreciate the fundamental principles underlying most of his subsequent thought process. In essence his core philosophy boils down to a few basic beliefs some of which surprisingly enough are shared by Gandhi as well. Offstumped had in an earlier post on Gandhi http://www.bloggernews.net/2006/07/india-terrorism-lessons-for-pm.html explained how to Gandhi Anasakta or selflessness was the ultimate goal. Golwalkar’s core philosophy also stems from the same belief in selflessness and both Gandhi and Golwalkar share the Gita as the moral compass providing that path to selflessness. Why is selflessness important ?

In Golwalkar’s scheme of things as he outlays his problems with western capitalism and with Russian and Chinese Communism, Golwalkar lays out that the center lies in a balance between individualism and collectivism and that balance derives itself from selflessness in much the same way Gandhi views selflessness. Golwalkar then goes on to talk about his concerns with Democracy bereft of values and how it can degenerate into sectarian power politics of the kind we are witnessing today. Golwalkar’s antidote to such a Democracy is “Dharma” as laid out as the moral compass guiding the Philosopher King on right and wrong and truth. This notion of “Dharma” as the moral compass finds its echo many centuries later in the western thought process as well when Plato in his Republic.  Through Socrates as his protagonist, Plato lays out “Justice” and why a Democracy bereft of “Justice” leads to licentiousness and how Socrates’ ideal “Philosopher King” would look to “Justice” to provide the ideal Nation State. This notion of a “moral compass” based on values is very much in vogue in the west especially in American Right of Center politics.

The rest of the chapter on Mission goes further into cultural questions and some may take issue with Golwalkar’s comments on western cultural stereotypes. But the core question that haunts Golwalkar’s many critics and continues to be the BJP’s bane when in power is should that “Moral Compass” become an instrument of state policy and that too one enforced by a Central Government. While Golwalkar does not address the issue head on for to him the Mission was much larger than about the code of conduct for a political party in government. But however Golwalkar gives very clear hints on how he would have addressed this issue had the question been posed in his time.

Golwalkar provides these hints by first coming strongly against the practice of Democracy and Socialism where all power lies vested in Centralized Bueraucracies. Golwalkar sees centralized concentration of power as a tyranny against the rights of the individual. This right here is a very powerful element in his thought process that unites him with Right of Center Libertarians world over. Golwalkar then goes onto elucidate his strong faith in local governance and the panchayat system and the role of local government in decision making that directly impacts the individual. So in Golwalkar’s scheme of things it should be left to the local communities to decide for themselves what is right and wrong for them and not for a centralized bureaucracy. This is very much in line with what one sees in the United States be it on issues like banning same sex Marriages or abortion, the overwhelming majority view is for local communities to be the judge on what is best for them and deciding the same and not for the Federal Government.

This line of thought of Golwalkar including his rejection of reactionary or negative Hindutva is a repudiation of how the present day RSS and its adherents like the SJM have tried to thwart economic reform and try to enforce a cultural agenda through the Central Government. Golwalkar extends the same thinking on the tyranny of Centralized Governance to why the Government should play no role in business and why Governments should get out of the business of running businesses.

So why then one may pose the question one sees this wide gulf in India between those to the Right of Center on Economic Issues and those to the Right of Center on Socio-Cultural Issues.

Part of this is the baggage of history and the unfair taint associated with the Gandhi assassination. To a large extent this baggage was shed with the Vajpayee lead NDA Government heralding a wave of economic reforms coinciding with a resurgent India on the global scene. This brief period between 1997 and 2002 saw the socio cultural Right attract positive vibes from the economic Right until the 2002 Gujarat riots following the Godhra train burning. The politico-correct economic Right just did not have the appetite for a close association with the socio cultural Right lest they be tarred with the same taint and hence the gulf further widened.

Can there be a bridge between the socio cultural Right and the economic Right ?

A fair and objective assessment of Golwalkar could provide that bridge and that is exactly what Offstumped has attempted to stive for with its formulation of a Flat World Hindutva http://offstumped.nationalinterest.in/2006/11/27/rajnath-relected-bjp-chief-where-is-the-bjp-headed/. It is Offstumped’s contention that on fundamental core beliefs one to the Right of Center can agree more with Golwalkar than disagree. On the crucial question of what role should ideology have on Governance which is where the gulf between the socio-cultural Right and the economic Right lies, Golwalkar provides the answer that it should be upto Local Communities to be the final arbiter and not for a Centralized Bureaucracy.

This answer can be the basis for the two Rights of India to work together to a common goal. For the BJP and RSS shorn of Arun Shourie, Swapan Dasgupta and a Chandan Mitra  are desperately short of intellectual talent to take on the Left. The economic Right who dwell the unknown corridors of Delhi based Think Tanks like CCS and Liberty Institute may preach Ayn Rand and Milton Friedman to an apathetic but with few takers in the political realm.

A coming together of the two on the basis of the principle that

“Freedoms are important but they must be balanced by a moral compass however that moral compass cannot and should not be imposed by a Central Government but instead be left to Local Communities to decide for themselves”

will be ideal for the Right of Center Agenda in India.

Offstumped Bottomline: Golwalkar has been barely understood and mostly stereotyped by the overwhelmingly left of center intelligenstia and mainstream media. History will have to judge him fair by taking an objective and Right of Center view of his formulations. Such an objective view has the potential to bridge the gulf between those to the Right on economic issues and those to the Right on socio-cultural issues. Such a coming together is critical for securing the Nation’s Strategic Interests and for providing a viable Right of Center Political Alternative to the Congress and the Communists.

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