Political Thought

Every man has a right to utter what he thinks truth, and every man has a right to knock him down for it. - Dr. Samuel Johnson English author, lexicographer

Saturday, September 27, 2008


Religious fundamentalism and religious nationalism are more appropriately applicable to religiously singular societies as in European Christian or West Asian Islamic societies. In Christian Europe, religious nationalism is weaker in the periphery where national identity was more secure and less aggressive. Where the origin myths of the nation which connect it to religion (e.g. Anglican Protestantism in the UK), are old and unions of nation and religion more relaxed, when external threat is not strong, then religious consciousness’ generally, as well as its relationship to nationalism are stronger (e.g. Greece, Poland, Belgium, Croatia), there also exist significant countervailing forces in the shape of the earlier institutionalization of secular-democratic discourse. Religion is the system of theological beliefs and dogmas. It is also a vital basis for identity formation. Religion is the moral force, which gives strength to a person or to a nation. Politics is the art of governance. If Politics is the last refuge of scoundrels and religion, the opium of the masses, any nexus between the two is bound to spell doom. Religion is the root of the most of the profound and permanent values of life while politics is about recognition and conciliation of opposing religion. This was the sole reason of introduction of secularism in Indian Constitution. The liberal democratic vision of secularism is generally seen as characterized by three principles:
1) Liberty and freedom of religion
2) Citizenship, and the right to equality and non-discrimination and
3) Neutrality and the separation of state and religion.

The first two principles have posed little controversy in the Indian context. Rather, the right to freedom of religion and the right to equality and non-discrimination are generally recognized as important constitutional values in their own right as well as a foundation of Indian secularism. The third principle i.e. relation between religion and politics, is the main cause of problem. To understand the relation between religion and politics it is necessary to understand the concepts of Toleration, and secularism/communalism.

TOLERANCE: The principle of Toleration is derived from the cultural traditions of Indian society. One of the major issues in the understanding of Indian history is the manner of cultural development and assimilation of various sections in cultural stream. The second is the nature of the state in India during various historical phases. As far as the first is concerned, two ideal prototypes have been put forward – first, the alleged assimilation of Dravidians into Aryans culture, and second, the assimilation of the Scythians, Huns, etc. in the Hindu fold later on. The whole situation changed significantly after the arrival of Muslims in India. In the words of Dr. R.C. Majumdar, “Muslims did not merge themselves into the pattern and the form with Hindus as single type of homogeneous culture.” For him both the communities were permanently divided into two powerful units, which did not prove amenable to a fusion or even any close permanent co-ordination. In the words of M.K. Gandhi, “India cannot cease to be one nation because people belonging to different religions live in it. The introduction of foreigners does not necessarily destroy the nation; they merge in it.” Though the statement given by the legend that it is impossible to assimilate the two religion is somehow, true but still the framers of Indian Constitution of India found the alternative of this problem i.e. Secularism. The Indian concept of secularism is different from Western one because it includes the concept of toleration as another important ingredient. Toleration has been cast as the characteristic of the Majority Hindu Community. Concept of Toleration needs democratization. This requires the delinking of Toleration with that of majoritarian and religious foundation.

SECULARISM: Secularism is the pressing issue in the contemporary Indian political system. In the multi-religious society like ours, secularism cannot be merely explained and understood as the separation of politics or the State from religion. It can neither be understood as an alien, intolerable, and modernist imposition of the Western concept of secularism on the Indian society. The Indian Constitution requires the State to equally tolerant to all religions. The Indian model of secularism, as envisaged by the founding fathers of neither supports the theory of ‘wall of separation’ advocated by Western oriented critics of secularism nor it stands for the theocratic fundamentalism approach or orientation of the statecraft. It is indeed an assimilation of the Nebruvian concept of a democratic state and the Gandhian politics of satya and ahimsa. An ethico-political approach to the statecraft is the need of the hour. A creative synthesis of the basic tenets of religious values and the western democratic norms and outlook can alone reinforce a sense of human solidarity and a common commitment to the core values of human civilization such as respect for life, liberty, justice, and equality, mutual respect, caring and integrity, what Gandhi calls a climate of creative co-existence.


We are living in the age of technology when distances of time and spaces have current and the vast big world of ours has become one global village.

Globalization is a process which draws countries of their insulation and makes them join the rest of the world in the march toward a new world order. It means the growing interconnectedness of the modern world. The increased ease of movement of goods, services, capital, people and information across national borders is rapidly creating a single global economy.

Globalization has witnessed a phenomena expansion in international trade flows and is characterized by the growth of transnational companies which now account for about a third of world output and two third of world trade.

Managed wisely, the new wealth being created by globalization creates the opportunity to lift millions of worlds’ poorest people out of their poverty. Managed badly, it could lead to their further marginalization and impoverishment. Neither outcome is predetermined; it depends on the policy choices adopted by the government intersociety. It developing countries like India are to effective systems of government and action against corruption, they need to ensure respect of human rights, and to promote security, safety and justice for all violent conflicts. Violence must be prevented and markets made work better for poor people.

Globalization gives added urgency to the tasks of strengthens government systems in developing countries.

Private capital is highly mobile and will go to where business can be carried out safely and where it can make the best return. Weak and ineffective states, with problems of corruption, inadequate structure and cumbersome bureaucratic procedure are not attractive destination for that flows. By contrast, those countries that apply rules and policies predictably ensure law and order; invest in human capital (particularly education and health) and protect properly rights, are likely to attract higher level of inward investment and trade to generate faster economic growth.

To successfully globalize, India has to shepherd its economy along two dimensions, building a world scale domestic market by opening its economy to upgrade itself. Both aspects of globalization require an active interaction with industrialized societies and multinational corporations.

India’s experiment with hybrid markets may have created a structural impediment to change. To unleash the potential, the country has to strive to develop a shared mindset and agenda, target some industries for special support, focus on quality as a national priority, allow mergers and acquisitions, allow Indian firms to invest in building , marketing and service infrasture in selected markets, focus on Industrial infrasture accelerate the privatization of the public sector, and pay attention to the political process in industrialized societies. For India to step up growth rates and address problems of poverty and unemployment there has to be strategy and vision. Globalization brings a variety of change, presenting opportunities as well as challenges both in economics and financial systems throughout the world. One fact is quite clear, the undeniable benefits of globalization are only available to the countries that best manage their economies.

Saturday, August 16, 2008

Secularism in India

In present day India, the concept of secularism always occurs in our minds along with its corollary, communalism.

In 1976, the 42nd amendment of the preamble of the constitution included the term secular to describe the Indian State. Thus, India today is a “sovereign, socialist, secular, democratic, republic.”

Indian constitution is framed with extreme clarity of its objectives. Indian being a secular state, according to the constitution, it has to observe an attitude of neutrality and impartiality towards all religions. This concept of a Secular State is founded on the idea that the state is concerned only with relations between man and man and not between man and God. The latter relation is a matter of individual conscience.

It should be pointed out that “secular” is a dubious term, capable of diverse meanings. One of its dictionary meanings is “concerned with affairs of the world” as opposed to religious affairs. This has caused much confusion in the study of political science and law advantage of this issue. This chaos was laid to rest by the Supreme Court of India when it stated that “secularism, in India, does not mean that the State should be hostile to religion, but that it should be neutral between the different religions and neutrality of the State would be violated if religion is used for political purposes, as it offends secular democracy.”

Thus, all religions can decide about what rituals and rites are essential to them. However, the court has the right to determine whether a particular right or practice offend public health or morality or contravenes any law of social, economic or political regulations. The constitution hence says that the country upholds no religion as State religion. In addition, every person is guaranteed the freedom of conscience and the freedom to profess, practice and propagates his/her religion.

Unfortunately, some religious leaders have many times, misinterpreted the above law and they have made assertions that the word “propagate” gives them fundamental rights to convert people, by any means. In fact in 1977, a Christian Priest had filed a suit against the Madhya Pradesh Act. This Act made it a penal offence to convert or attempt to convert a person ‘by means of force fraud or allurement.’ The very people whose ire was aroused by it are now using this same method.

Salman Rushdie rightly said, “Secularism in India, is not just a point of view, it is a question of survival”. This statement is true, as we know that India cannot afford to become a Hindu State and thus be repulsed by the majority of the world, which is Christian and Islamic. The 1984 genocide of Sikh community, the communal riots of Mumbai and extremely planned violence in Gujarat, in the post-Godhra period are all incidents that clearly show that India cannot have a State religion. It also brings to light the fact that there are some critical errors in our judiciary and political system.

The Constitution is contradictory in its ways of keeping politics and religion away from each other. In the preamble, India is declared a secular country. Later in the same constitution, it gives reservations to people on basis of casteism, a product of religion. The solution to this may lie in making it binding on all educational institutions to provide reservation based on economic status of the people. Politics today’s is based on religion-based vote banks. Analysts openly discuss the allegiance of so and so community to such and such party.

It will be a case of over-simplification to say that India is in revivalist mode. The ideology that draws masses to the saffron brigade has its origin in the fact that modernity was introduced in India under the colonial auspices. Thus, we have (i.e. the revivalist) come to associate modernity with colonialism. Hence, to regain and maintain our identity we find it necessary to thwart modernity. We have repeatedly felt the need to bear all external signs of our ‘Indianness’ as proof of the fact to the world.

The brand of Hinduism preached by the Saffron Brigade sees only Hindus as essentially Indians. However, their concept of Hinduism also seems to have evolved from the times of Marathas and not from Vedas.

Although, the number of believers may be few, and people like me who wish to be comfortable with their father’s name are a majority though our vocal chords lack strength. Our rebellion to this New Age Hindutva, shows action only in mere sad nodding of our heads and heated intellectual debates. The question that is forced upon us today is, ‘Does being more tolerant, make me less Indian?’ Secularism has been, for a long time now, associated with soft shoulders and warm hearts. Secularism now has to become hard nosed. The need of hour is to insist that law applies to everybody equally. Faith cannot be allowed to undermine the constitution, nor should bigness of heart substitute for letter of law.

India is highly complex organism of many centuries, many languages, many regions, many races, many movements and migrations, the ups and downs of history, the shifts in geography, the rise and fall of governments – complications and contradictions arising from all possible kinds of interactions between the dimensions of space and time. The past has to be perpetually discovered, the present has to be constantly investigated and the future is a receding mirage, never yielding to our optimistic prognostications. We are indeed passing through turbulent times because it is not clear to us what the moorings of our culture are, even what kind of India we want to build.

Golden Quotes

“Destiny is not a matter of chance; it is a matter of choice: it is not a thing to be waited for, it is a thing to be achieved.” (William J. Bryan).

“I have nothing to offer but blood, toil, tears and sweat.” (Winston Churchill).

“For purposes of action nothing is more useful than narrowness of thought combined with energy of will.” (Henri F. Amiel).

“You give but little when you give of your possessions. It is when you give of yourself that you truly give.” (Khalil Gibran).

“People are usually more convinced by reasons they discovered themselves than by those found by others.” (Blaise Pascal).

Wednesday, August 6, 2008

CURRENT INDIAN POLITICAL THOUGHT----Nature Of Challenges To Egalitarian And Secular Ideologies

Struggles against inequality and exploitation have been launched in various forms since the beginning of civilization. The rise of religions like Buddhism in northern India in the sixth century B.C. was, in fact, the first challenge to brahamanical social order based on rigid unequal social order. However, egalitarian ideas in the pre-modern periods remained with in the confines of the religious domain. Buddhist, bhakti and sufi sects provided a liberal and humanitarian interpretation to the orthodox religious beliefs and pleaded for more humane treatment to the downtrodden people.

It was only with the rise of Renaissance and reformation movements in Europe during the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries and the political economy of capitalism that provided the secular foundations to struggles for freedom and equality. Religious for all persons, separations of state from religious activities, rule of law. Overthrow of privilege-based on equality and freedom have been the foundation of nationhood in modern times. Political stability in the western countries and their economic progress largely is largely due to national consensus on these values. Equality (legal, political and social) and freedom are the dogmas in the west today. Secular political democracy is deeply entrenched there and the only agenda for their politics is economic growth.

However in the developing countries the ideals of secularism and democracy are very nascent. Anti-imperialism had provided the basis for nationhood till the collapse of the Soviet Union. Secularism and democratic ideals of freedom and equality have been consciously adopted as strategies for consolidation of nation state. Anti-imperialism, secularism and egalitarianism together alone can provide the foundation for nation-state, democracy and development in the developing countries. This has been the essence of Nehruvian model and the philosophy of the Indian Constitution. The preservation of national unity and parliamentary democracy in India for over five decades has largely been due to political development guided b the troika of anti-imperialism, egalitarianism and secularism.

The collapse of the Soviet Union, along with the collapse of Communist model of development, and the rapid expansion of globalization had led to erosion and withering away of the ideologies of anti-imperialism and egalitarianism all over the world. Despite a very complex relationship between power and ideology one thing is very clear that without power its corresponding ideologies find it very difficult to survive. With the buoyant global capitalism in the uni-polar world led by the USA the progressive and pro-people rationalist ideologies are on the retreat.

In the troika mentioned above the ideologies of anti-imperialism and egalitarianism have been discredited under the spell of capitalist propaganda and the secular ideology has been left alone to struggle for its survival. The capitalist propaganda has succeeded in replacing the Non- aligned agenda of New International Economic Order by the agenda of globalization and replacement the goal of egalitarian social order by the manta of growth and efficiency. All this has led to the systematic withdrawal of state from all sectors of social development and the consequent weakening of secular fabric of socio-political order.

With the loss of political power by the progressive social forces the ideology of progress has suffered a setback and attempts are on to subvert the very meaning of development and secularism. The global menace of the rise of Islamic fundamentalism and terrorism of Al-Qaida and the present upsurge of Hindutva’s majoritarian communalism in India may be viewed within this context. Al-Qaida has justified its global terrorism as a fight against domination of the West and Hindu aggressive communalism has sought its justification in the majoritarian response to cross-border terrorism being launched in the name of Holy Jehad. Islamic fundamentalism and terrorism is trying to occupy the international political space vacated by the ideology of anti-imperialism and the social reactionary and communal forces are bent upon occupying the domestic political space in India vacated, a least temporarily, by the Indian National Congress.

Fundamentalism of any religious denomination is essentially fascist in character, as it demands conformist behavior patterns on the part of the members of its religious community. The attempt to impose a dress code, cultural policing, tampering with the History text books with the help of hand picked loyal scholars, substituting myths for history and the latest distinction by Vishwa Hindu Parishad between secularists and pseudo-secularists. Hindus and pseudo-Hindus smell of the fascist agenda of Sangh Parivar.

Fundamentalism is also thoroughly opposed to egalitarian values and gender equality. It is not incidental that the Sangh Parivar had opposed the Hindu Code Bill and reform of exploitative Hindu social institutions. They legacy of Brahminical social order id inalienable from Hindutva. The BJP-BSP alliance in U.P. and the latest attempt by the BJP to project B.R. Ambedkar as being opposed to Muslim through its manufactured lies is not able to wash off its Manuvadi roots. Instead, these only affirm the irrevocable marriage between communalism and privilege based unequal social order. Communalism in its latest avatar in the post-mandal Indian politics seems to be a clever ploy to hide the anti-egalitarian and anti-democratic agenda of conservative social elites. It was for these reasons that communal forces among both Hindus and Muslims did not take part in the freedom movement and, instead were competing with each other in hobnobbing with the British imperialism in order to win their favour. Today also Indian and Pakistani establishments are competing for favor from US imperialism. Despite history and ideology being against them, the BJP has been emboldened by its successful communal polarization in Gujarat. The plus points on its side are: the passive acceptance of BJP’s domination by power and perks hungry NDA allies, clarity regarding ideological and political objectives in the strong network of cadre based faternal organizations, political cynicism and a political character of the middle classes and the advantage of having its control over the state apparatus at the Centre. The secular are unfortunately divided on the matter of power sharing, lacking clarity of vision and political objectives, little orgainisational base, ineffective propaganda machinery and hangover of anti-secular and communal forces on the matters of economic policy have further narrowed their ideological distinctiveness.

Communal polarization of the Indian society has been the most important item on the political agenda of the BJP since the days of the Hindu Mahasabha and the Janasangh. After success in this Endeavour in Gujarat they are talking of repeating post-Godhra experiment in other parts of the country. Its attempt to demonize the whole minority community with the blessing of the prime minister has posed the real threat of Nazi type of terror of the state. Fascism shall deny rights and liberties to all citizens though it may begin with minorities.

Complacent attitude of the intelligentsia and the middle and upper classes is really disappointing. How long their political cynicism will continue to provoke the political space to the BJP and cause irreparable damage to the society and politics of India? Will the intelligentsia and the middle classes awake to the grave danger?

Thursday, July 24, 2008

Letter by a Political Lover

Ruler of my Life

To forget you is impossible as it is for a Democratic state to enclose the space of establishing fundamental rights. This force of Mutual co-operation between us is far stronger than the force of SAARC, because it is not a matter of National Interest. Your suggestions are like the Directive Principles of my policy. Your personality is same of as of charismatic leader, under which the masses of a country mobilize. Your smartness of using power is considerably helpful to you for maintaining sovereignty on my heart. I really need your support for working the Parliament of my life. Let me assure you that I am waiting for you similarly as a Marxist waiting for the Revolution of the Proletariat’s. It is possible that you do not believe in the concept of natural rights but as a citizen of my Democratic heart you should think about your moral duties.

So, awaiting a favorable decision,

Philosophically yours