rediff.com

NewsApp (Free)

Read news as it happens
Download NewsApp

Available on  

Rediff News  All News 
Rediff.com  » News » India needs to return to Dharma

India needs to return to Dharma

January 26, 2014 11:14 IST

A scene from the Kumbh Mela. Photograph: Vijay PrakashWithout civilisational moorings, India, more a sub-continent than a country, could not exist.

Primacy of Dharma has been the cornerstone of Indian civilisation, argues Colonel Anil A Athale (retd).

Republic Day is a time to celebrate and also a time to introspect; this is an attempt at looking at the challenges of the future.

India is a 'civilisational' State. We have a distinct worldview, arts, culture, languages, philosophy and aesthetics that are unique to the sub-continent. Jawaharlal Nehru, our first prime minister, called it the silken thread that binds the people of our country.

In fact, without civilisational moorings, India, more a sub-continent than a country, could not exist as a country. Europe, that has much less diversity than India, is only now taking the first baby steps towards integration.

Primacy of Dharma has been the cornerstone of Indian civilisation.

But in the name of 'inclusive' policies and labelling anything to do with the majority as 'communal', India's social fabric is being torn asunder.

Starting separate schools for the minorities, adding newer groups (Jains) to a category called 'minorities' and dividing society into ever smaller groups is a sure way to hell paved with mal-intentions.

One of the best methods to deal with social divisions is integrated schooling. The United States that faced a major problem of race-related divisions is a prime example.

The American supreme court ended segregated schooling in 1954. But finding that separate schooling had become part of urban settings, in 1971 the US courts ruled on compulsory integration by 'busing' children from outside neighbourhoods to create a mixed classroom.

As an observer of the US attempts at racial integration from 1991 to date, I have no hesitation in accepting that the US has come a long way in solving the race problem. President Barack Obama's election has put a seal on this remarkable achievement.

But instead of following the US example, our dynastic ruling elite, many of them having studied in top US universities have been busy dividing society for political gains.

To call this 'inclusive' policy is the height of Orwellian doublespeak. But such is the stranglehold of Stalinist Leftist mafia on the levers of power in imperial Delhi that this is being peddled as the only path for harmony.

Dharma has often been wrongly translated as religion or faith and our Western influenced grandchildren of Macaulay (the father of the British education system in India who aimed to create 'natives to run our empire') decided that India is to be 'secular' or Dharma Nirpeksh (in Hindi).

Dharma to an Indian is the right path/duty/nature. Thus, there are several 'Dharmas' -- for instance, Rashtra Dharma or patriotism, Pitru Dharma or fatherly duties et al.

Unlike the Western notions of book-based faiths, the decision on Dharma to be followed and its interpretation is left to an individual. The main function of the State is to uphold Dharma.

Dharma defined not as religion, but one's duty in life.

This is in direct contrast with the Western view that sees the State as a necessity to control and regulate the competition between men.

Thomas Hobbes, the 16th century English philosopher in his work Leviathan, thus postulates that state as a mediating agent is virtually a prior requirement for civilised existence.

In the absence of a State, according to Hobbes, it is a war of everyone against everyone and man's life, nasty brutish and short. Even the social contract theorists like Jean-Jacques Rousseau accept the primacy of the State.

In the Indian view, social order is self-regulating and as mandated by Dharma and not the State. But on the one hand the so-called 'secularists' reject the Indian model and also use a distorted Western model.

If the State has to bring about socio-economic changes it cannot afford to be seen as partisan.

Prime Minister Manmohan Singh recently stated that while the media may criticise him, history may judge him differently. History may or may not forgive him for economic failures, but the effects of his internal polices will be long lasting and disastrous.

In the last 10 years, his regime scaled new heights in a divisive approach and vote-bank politics. On December 9, 2006, addressing the National Development Council meeting in Delhi he asserted, 'The minorities, particularly Muslims, must have the first claim on resources.'

This was not mere rhetoric. Soon enough, his government began schemes of discriminatory scholarships, grants and even bank loans exclusively targeted at the minority.

The government under his leadership has divided poverty, illiteracy and backwardness on the basis of religion. The so-called 'targeted' approach in plain words is basically discriminatory sops.

Imagine a poor villager's son/daughter belonging to the 'majority' community studying in the same class, with similar paucity of resources, s/he has to do with her/his own means. But in the same school another student belonging to the 'minority' gets a scholarship.

Under the pretence of 'inclusiveness', the United Progressive Alliance has torn asunder the fabric of social harmony.

Instead of applying a 'secular' criterion like income, geographical location, parental literacy etc, the prime minister and his government has gone around dividing the social ills and problems on minority/majority basis.

The Muzaffarnagar riots a few months ago were a warning of things to come.

As someone who has dealt with communal violence, one can vouch that once the lawlessness spreads to rural areas, even the most efficient and impartial army will not be able to establish peace.

It needs to be borne in mind that India has moved in double quick time from an agrarian rural society to the post-industrial information age. This change is not uniform and is unevenly spread across and even within a given region.

This rapid change has produced 'disorientation' at the individual level that has produced a tendency to group violence for multiplicity of causes.

Samuel P Huntington in his study of developing societies had pointed out how India that was much poorer than Argentina had nevertheless sustained a democracy while Argentina continued to grapple with dictatorships.

Huntington, though, did not acknowledge that the stability of the Indian system and democracy were a product of Indian values and culture that accepts dissent and diversity.

Unfortunately along with the various other changes and influence of the West, Indian values are on a constant retreat.

All States exist to defend the core values that are enshrined in the Constitution. The basic aim of the State system is to acquire means to preserve and defend the core values.

The supreme reason for which the State of India exists is the acquisition and maintenance of means, economic, political, military, abstract or concrete to preserve and further national aims/core values. These are:

  • Primacy of Dharma or moral sense of life, both individual as well as collective.
  • Defence of objects of reverence, both mundane as well as abstract, notions and beliefs which shape our perceptions.
  • Promotion, creation and preservation of an environment for the growth of an individual to attain excellence without boundaries.
  • All encompassing coexistence, between man and nature, between man and man, within the nation, region and the world. Coexistence and tolerance of diversity is not a strategy, but an enduring principle.

If we adhere to our core values that are enshrined in our Constitution, India has a bright future.

Image: A scene from the Kumbh Mela. Photograph: Vijay Prakash

Colonel Anil A Athale (retd)