Thursday, May 22, 2014

More instances of nationalism as a misstatement of Hindu concerns

Time and again, also after Narendra Modi's historic election victory, we see a correct pro-Hindu message take an erroneous nationalist turn which detracts from its original pro-Hindu intention. This is precisely as the Nehruvians want it: they have always tried to channel the Hindu energies towards an anachronistic anti-Britishism, sometimes transformed into an anti-Americanism, and far too many Hindus have merrily taken the bait.

The occasion is the Indians (repeat: Indians) appearing on Western TV stations or in Western newspapers to send an anti-Modi and anti-Hindu message. Instead of taking that message on, some Hindus change it in their imagination towards a neo-colonial message, bringing in Sonia Gandhi as the reason why a Western TV station would broadcast this anti-Modi message. The West is said to dislike Modi because he is an antipode to Sonia Gandhi. Well, I am a Westerner, live in the West and follow a broad scala of Western media, and I can say with a 100% certainty that the Western anti-Modi sympathies have nothing whatsoever to do with the person and provenance of Sonia Gandhi, much less with being anti-native.

Was Manmohan Singh any less native? Is Arvind Kejriwal more foreign than Modi? For anti-Modi Indians and for their Western dupes, Modi is not insufferable because he is native (so were most preferred alternatives) but because he is seriously pro-Hindu.

For the umpteenth time, I catch Hindu activists in the act of living in an imaginary world, an anachronistic worldview where the political equations and the nationalist high ground of the colonial age still prevail. Even at this auspicious hour, the chance of a lifetime, but with battles ahead, I can see Hindus charting a purely imaginary topography for their Kurukshetra. They are preparing for an imaginary battle, and meanwhile setting themselves up for yet another defeat in the real world.

It is not that anyone minds Hindu spokesmen being anti-white. We are so used to it that it only evokes a yawn. Of course, anti-white rhetoric has bad connotations by now: any African dictator who has his own failed policies to defend, will blame his failure on "white" machinations and the heritage of colonialism. As this is dead since more than a half-century, it becomes more and more anachronistic, but it is still tried. So we associate anti-white rhetoric with evil and failure, but otherwise we are quite numb when we hear it. Indians who vent anti-white rhetoric think themselves very brave, for they are actually doling out a kick to the long-dead horse of white colonialism. Hear that, Mr. Viceroy?! But far from being brave, they are Don Quixotes attacking imaginary foes all while leaving the real foes in peace.

The wrong thing with anti-white rhetoric must not be understood in moralistic terms; "anti-white racism" or so. The bad thing about it is that it shows how Hindu activists are still not ready for victory in the real world. In their imaginary world, the West is plotting against India and using the secularists and minorities as sepoys. In the real world, the West is only modestly interested in India, but is being turned anti-Modi by the Indian secularists and the minorities (some of which are but the Indian franchise of multinationals, esp. the Christian and Islamic communities).

If the secularists didn't control the bottleneck of information on India, the West would be far less anti-Modi. Without a constant stream of anti-Modi propaganda (for which the Indian anti-Modi forces might engineer communal riots), you will see the West turn business-like towards Modi soon enough. Like the East India Company of the early years, the West only sees India in business terms, and a thriving India, meaning Modi and not Rahul or Kejriwal, might actually be good for the world economy including the West.

Another very recent remark was from a Hindu who hoped that the Christian Churches in India would transform themselves into an "authentic Indian Church". Ah, so the problem is that the Churches are not sufficiently "Indian"? And an authentic Church will be less interested in convertig the Hindus? Naïve Hindus seem to think that the mission is a ploy by foreign nations. In reality, Christianity uses nations until they lose power, then it crosses the floor to whatever new power comes next. If India becomes powerful, the missionaries will become great patriots -- and all the more eager to convert India. So, thinking in term of "national" vs. "foreign" is a sure way to misconceive the problems Hinduism faces. Nationalism is a misstatement of Hindu concerns.

What will be the reaction to this? Perhaps everything has changed on 16 May, but if previous experiences are still valid, the silent or stated reaction among many readers will be: "He is a white devil", "he is secretly a missionary agent", "he must have a Himalayan ego for daring to doubt our infallibility", "he this" and "he that". The one thing missing will be introspection. Nobody is saying: "We are devising a strategy for victory, and this man's feedback observes that we are doing something wrong. Let's see if he has a point. Let's improve our strategy and gear up for victory." The more usual reaction among internet Hindus is effectively: "We are heading for another defeat, and we won't let this white interloper snatch this defeat from us. We have an inalienable right to our defeats!"


Unknown said...

Dr Elst, A lot of the ills of the hindu "internet warriors" can be attributed to the fact that Hindu society has lost the faculty of rational reasoning - the nativity of the Indian Church being a classic case. Is it alright with these fools if the Church is agressively nationalistic but remains committed to convert all the Hindus? In that case we Hindus can all become Muslims and we will have our Akhand Hindustan in no time.
I hope, Dr. Elst, that you continue with your factual observations disregarding these outdated "nationalists". When will they realise that the conflict is civilisational and has nothing to do with nationalism.

Bhuvan said...

Hindus have to sharpen the faculty of critical thinking. A questioning attitude is a must. This has been dented over many generations by a custom of excessive deference to elders and established norms in society.

We owe a great deal to the VOI authors and other voices like the philosopher Daya Krishna for challenging established mores in history, politics and philosophy. Hopefully, this legacy shall be strengthened and carried forward.

Vraja said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Vraja said...

There are 5 types of western (or non-Indian) reaction to Modi and the BJP.

1. Major Media reaction
2. Minor Media reaction
3. Talking heads on news related TV (called pundits in America)
4. The average person
5. Those educated to some degree on India.

1. Major media is reacting differently depending on the media company. Some push the idea that Modi is a "Hindu nationalist" who is creating fear of Hindu authoritarianism in the intelligentsia in India. Others don't really push that idea and may just mention Modi had some problems that are resolved and has a lot of support. It seems that whichever narrative they are pushing is dependent on the the type of media, i.e. what is their purpose and audience; who owns them, etc. There is no "established narrative" where all major media is peaking in one voice.

2. Minor Media we see the same thing.

3. Talking heads on TV are more likely there to create ratings for the show, so the shows will more likely invite people who will try to stir up rancor.

4. The average person outside of the subcontinent knows nothing of Indian politics and if asked about the Gandhis would think you are talking about Mahatma. Modi or the BJP or Hindutva would illicit a blank stare.

5. Educated people who know something of India are few outside of Indian culture, most of those are either going to be interested because of business or because of spirituality - either way they are not going to be swayed by media reports.

Does that mean there is no conspiracy by the west? No, I am sure there is, just like there is a conspiracy against all countries by western corporations.

Corporations around the world, at least the biggest ones, conspire to remake the world into one where they can exploit as much as possible. India, like China, is a big target because of the potential for cheap labor. They are not anti-Hindu, in fact many or most have family members who practice yoga and travel to India for spiritual reasons - Indian spirituality is big among the 1%.