Wednesday, May 21, 2014

RSS led by Modi in charge of India Part II: Domestic Policy

Where to look for the clue?

  • RSS world vision,
  • CM Modi led Gujarat Model
  • Modi’s Vision document,




Changes likely in school texts. In past, NDA Government and UPA Government have been involved in TextBook Controversy  with NDA pushing for elimination of what it perceives as Marxist biases while UPA pushing for elimination of what it perceives as saffronisation. BJP has claimed that it will change the history books, if it comes to power to correct “distortions introduced by Marxist historians” .
Changes one can expect:
  1. In History texts: In Modern History, one can look forward to a diluted Role to some of INC icons  (Nehru and dynasty in particular), more emphasis on RSS icons (Tilak, Savarkar, Golwalkar, Shyama Prasad Mukherjee, and so on) ;   Medievel History- greater emphasis on ‘Hindu’ part with projection of Muslim rulers as foreign invaders. Any such move will be resisted by academia, Congress and Left but with a simple majority in Lower House, one wonders what can stop BJP from pushing through these changes that it has always desired on ideological ground and can help it reap electoral dividends in future?
  2. Greater Stress on Indian Languages:BJP Manifesto talks about promoting Indian Languages:
English is not prefered by Modi himself. In Gujarat, Modi has denied English education to the poor till age 10. Gujarat’s government schools teach ABCD only in class 5. It may not possible to execute the same in Central Boards but greater emphasis on Indian Languages likely to be there.


Protect the Cow


Good days ahead for Gau Mata. What BJP Manifesto says:
Previous NDA Government’s effort to ban Cow Slaughter were defeated by her own allies . No such ally compulsion exists this time around. Mr Modi himself had raked up the issue of Beef exports in his election campaign . Beef Export Industry is already on tenterhooks 

A ‘Traditional’ and ‘moral’ media

BJP Art & Culture cell has already promised to promote Tradition in Bollywood.Previous NDA Government had reconstituted the Central Board of Film Certification that restricted on films/documentaries that showed Hindu Right in bad light or projected ‘immoral’ activities .Though UPA Government was no icon of liberalism on this front, things likely to worse under NDA.

Ram Mandir

If not handled properly, Things could get really ugly on this front. Under Previous NDA Government, Agitation for building Ram Temple reached its peak in 2002- it turned so bad that PM had to ask RSS to persuade VHP to back down (parallels here with Nawaz’s adventures with Punjabi Taliban?). The raised Communal tempers provided the fertile ground over which Gujarat's horrific rioting blossomed.
This time around, Ram Mandir was placed right at the top in Cultural Heritage segment of BJP’s election Manifesto for 2014 elections,
Ram Mandir
RSS has gone to the extent of demanding a law for the same. Mr Modi himself got into a controversy for invoking Ram in Faizabad District (only a few kilometre from Ayodhya)
Whether a BJP led Government actually builds a Ram temple in Ayodhya is not the real issue, the real issue is the all India communal frenzy (polarisation and violence) that raking of this issue unleashes.
VHP stormtroopers will raise the heat on this issue (atleast by the mid or end of the term, if not in the beginning itself). How the Indian society and Modi led Central State machinery responds to the crisis is anybody's guess.

Raam Ke Naam: Anand Patwardha's documentary on Babri Mosque Demolition


UCC is a long pending demand of BJP. What BJP Manifesto says:
Like banning Cow Slaughter, Previous BJP led NDA Government’s UCC initiative was blocked by allies . No such ally reliance exists this time. Mr Modi has dropped hints of implementing it but would be interesting to see if BJP can actually get beyond the rhetoric. It will have to overcome severe criticism- Parliamentary as well as Judicial, to push it through. Also, it is not clear what BJP can gain by killing her golden goose- that exposes ‘Secular’ hypocrisy of Congress & Left and nourishes the Hindutva narrative of Muslims being an alien barbaric community.



Big Infrastructure Projects

Likely to get a boost. Under Vajpayee Govt: National Highway Development Programme and Gold Quadrilateral of Roadways were launched. Among other things, Modi is promising a Golden Quadrilaterial of Bullet Trains and 100 smart cities. Such mega-infrastructure projects will serve well the core supporters of Mr Modi- Pro-Corporate/Business and Neo-middle classes of India and also polish the Global Power ambitions of Bharat Mata. 

PS: Large scale River Linking projects however likely to be mere hot air. The challenges posed by a democratic federal structure of Governance,  environmental costs and massive engineering put it beyond the capacity of Indian state.  

New States : 

One can look forward to newer states on India's map.Carving out new states only requires a simple majority in both houses of Parliament. BJP, as a matter of principle, has been backing formation of smaller states. Jharkhand, Chhattisgarh and Uttarakhand were created during the previous NDA rule. In Jammu & Kashmir, giving Laddakh a UT status has been BJP’s dream but more autonomy to J&K as articulated by National Conference is a big No. Darjeeling Lok Sabha seat was won by BJP- which is perceived as a victory for GJM-an organisation that has been leading a powerful Gorkhaland state movement for years. In Maharashtra, although BJP has backed carving out of Vidharbha but ally Shiv does not like it. Splitting of UP however is possible.


Schemes, Statues, cities, infrastructure based on muscular Hindu leaders of Past, RSS icons and Ancient Indian personalities & places: 

NDA is already talking about renaming or scrapping some of the present schemes. Among other things, Previous NDA Government installed V D Savarkar’s portrait in Central Hall of Parliament right in front of Mahatma Gandhi’s portrait. In past, BJP has also protested for renaming certain cities (Ahmedabad to Karnavati and Allahabad to Prayag). 

Savarkar's Portrait, Parliament's Central Hall, 2003


Sedition charges, Reinstatement of POTA,stringent Anti-Terror measures and assault on Free Speech: 

A Modi Government may worsen the already precarious conditions for Free Speech in India. Apart from RSS' narrow brand of nationalism, Mr Modi is perceived as an authoritarian administrator who muzzles his critics with full prejudice.


Jammu & Kashmir: 

What BJP Manifesto says:
Mr Modi has already announced return of Kashmiri Pandits as his key issue of action. Abrogating Article 370 has also been BJP's stand all along, however this would require Constitutional Amendment- which in turn requires support of special 2/3rd majority in both houses, which BJP alone doesn’t have, though by bringing in some new allies broader alliance of NDA may reach that figure in Lok Sabha. But even then, the numbers may still not add up in Rajya Sabha. Another stumbling block could be the Judicial Review as National Conference has  insisted that abrogation of the Article would open the case of State's accession to India. Any autocratic step towards abrogation of Article 370  holds potential of precipitating a major crisis in Kashmir Valley. In Past, Modi has engaged in jingoistic acts in Kashmir. Will it be any different this time? Are we looking at a new mature Modi? Anybody's guess

PS: Have covered only few broad points on domestic front where Modi's policy may significantly differ from  UPA Government. Thoughts on Foreign Policy to follow in Part III...


  1. +1 Good post. Here is a RSS/BJP agenda that you missed out on:
    "Similarly anti-conversion campaigns targeting Christians seem paradoxical and parodic in their demand for Acts of Religious Freedom which literally entail religious unfreedom. Recently, the BJP leader of Andhra Pradesh, Venkaiah Naidu stated that the ‘BJP will bring an anti-conversion law to ban religious conversions in the country if it is voted to power in 2014 General Elections’.

    In Gujarat, the Modi regime, which effectively presided over the pogroms against Muslims in 2002, also passed the anti-Christian Gujarat Freedom of Religion Act (2003), a notch that bolsters its anti-minority credentials. It is also worth it to remember that the so-called national conversation about conversion was initiated by then Prime Minister Atal Behari Vajpayee in the 1990s. That call for conversation was an incitement to violence. The 1999 Human Rights Watch report correlated BJP electoral victory in Gujarat in 1998 with the violence against tribal Christians in that state by Sangh Parivar organisations such as the Bajrang Dal and the RSS. In fact, the Human Rights Watch report states that the attacks against Christians across the country had increased significantly since the BJP’s Central Government electoral victory.

    A decade later and anti-conversion laws have been passed in states such as Chattisgarh (2000), Gujarat (2003), Himachal Pradesh (2006), and Rajasthan (2008). This is a consequence of the mainstreaming of Hindu nationalism since the 1990s. The 2006 Himachal Pradesh anti-conversion law was a Congress initiative. These ‘Freedom of Religion’ Acts suggest the protection of religious freedom by checking conversions by force or fraudulence, and target conversions to Christianity. But as many human rights organizations and scholars have pointed out, anti-conversion campaigns and laws have less to do with fraud and more to do with violence against Christians. While this violence gained media attention in December 2007 and in August/September 2008 in the states of Orissa and Karnataka, it continues to escalate and make the news intermittently in other states."
    The anti-conversion stance of BJP is the one reason why some Buddhists campaigned against them:

  2. Agree on Anti-Conversion bills. State Governments have indeed passed such laws citing preservation of indigenous tribal culture or maintaining communal harmony. But I am not sure if in India's federal structure, Parliament has the authority to pass the same for entire India.

    As for violence against existing Christians (new conversions very few), again I agree there have been some horrible violent Anti-Christian incidents in past but perhaps here one needs to make a distinction between Christian tribals of Central India and the other Christian communities of India. Christian tribals of Central India and missionaries working among them have indeed been targeted by local Hindu chauvinist groups.

    But Largest concentration of Christians in India are located in South and North-East where they are a relatively well off section (even form comfortable majority & dominant communities in Meghalaya, Mizoram and Nagaland). Not an apologist just that there is a regional angle plus unlike Hindu-Muslim, Dalit-dominant caste, Tribal-NonTribal violence; there is little history to major protracted passionate Hindu-Christian sectarian violence in South & NE (no Christian Nationalist led Partition, no Crusade/Dharamyudhha or paranoia of rapidly rising Christian numbers). Though small in numbers, Christians have been good at adapting to modernity and also very well integrated in broader Indian society and State. Will Sangh ideologues be successful to change these equations in future? To be frank, I do not know.

    PS: I do recall Modi's Anti-Christian tirade against then Chief Election Commissioner J.M. Lyngdoh in past but interesting to note that this time Naga People's Front and Mizo National Front part of NDA.