The other day a friend of mine said “What India is witnessing is a rule of radical Hinduism, like radical Islamic, radical Christian and radical Buddhist rule in the world at different phases. In any radical religious party or organisation’s rule democracy does not survive”. I did some research on this question of radical religion ruling the state and its relationship to democratic institutions. I found that my friend is absolutely right.
The rule of the Catholic Papaldom in Europe did not allow democratic institutions to survive. The Pope and the Bishops thought the state should be ruled by the Biblical laws but not by secular laws. That led to emergence of Machiavelli, who created an utopian Prince and Thomas Hobbes who created a Leviathan to counter the radical religion. Both these utopian rulers rejected religious authority. That led to several civil wars in opposition to Pope and Bishop controlled state power. It was in this civil war John Locke, Voltaire and Rousseau emerged and constructed theories of democracy. In this process non-religious (in some cases anti-religious) constitutions were written. It was in this process that the British parliament came into being and though with an unwritten, evolved constitution governance and banned the use of word ‘God’ in the parliament.
In the process the Catholic fundamentalist religion was split and the Protestantism spread, which was more liberal, pro-poor and pro-slaves. Respect to production and labour centered, as against leisure centered, discourse advanced production. That process in conjunction with democratic polity stabilized modern democracy and individual rights and freedoms. Capitalism advanced because of democracy.
In the Budhhist world—China, Japan, Vietnams, Koreas and Myanmar—religion and secularism always clashed. That either led to success of communist one party rule or military dictatorships. Rule by Buddhist canonical laws never evolved a proper democratic constitutionalism. The crisis in Myanmar is good example.
In the Islamic world many countries did not overcome the radical Islamic view that the state must be run by the Quranic laws not by a secular constitution written for the purpose of running the state apparatus. Every Islamic country is in a major crisis. This engendered an Arab Spring in the 2010s but they have not overcome the problem of radical Islam, which keeps on arguing that every aspect of human life should be run by only the Quranic laws. The notion of human right has not yet got stabilized in the Islamic world.
The Bharatiya Janatha Party has not emerged on its own. It is an off-shoot of radical Hindu Ratriya Swayamsevak Sangh. This organization believes like radical Christians, radical Islamists and radical Buddhists that there is no need for secular constitution other than Veda, Kautilya’s Arthshastra and Manudharma shastra. The BJP under the guidance of the RSS administered the country roughly about 10 years now (Vajpayee rule including). In these 10 years it encountered several tension with the democratic constitution. In its rule its forces did many things that directly that confronted the constitution and tried to enforce Mandharma principles.
Unlike the Christian, Islamic and Buddhist nations India—which they define as a Hindu nation—has caste system that negated even the basic spiritual rights within that religion. The constitutional governance gave at least political rights to the Dalits, OBCs and Adivasis, which the Hindu texts denied. Three communities feel that the constitutional governance made them weak—the Brahmins, Banias and Ksatriyas (BBK). These forces are against reservations, anti-atrocity laws, man-woman equality. Many equality oriented laws reached the SC/ST/OBC sections because of the secular laws and governance.
The anti-constitution and pro-radical Hindu forces were/are also strong in the Congress but Pundit Nehru, though was a Brahmin, opposed radical Hindu system in principle. Secondly, the Congress was an independent political party, without getting controlled by any radical Hindu structure like RSS. The Hindu Mahasabha tried to control it but Mahatma Gandhi and Nehru managed to disconnect that link.
Many thought that the RSS/BJP rule will go against only Muslims and Christians. But the Dalit/OBC/Adivasis find that it goes against the interests of them more. The Muslims and Christians have global Muslim, Christian support because there are large number of nations that belong to those religions. The SC/OBC/STs have no outside support or pressure.
After 2014 elections, these forces trusted Narendra Modi because he claimed that is an OBC and will stand for their development. But he is not Nehru or Indira Gandhi to run the system on his own. Nor is the BJP a Congress that runs by individual’s direction. It is run by a radical Hindu network mainly consisting of BBKs.
From among Ksatriyas only V.P Singh stood by the OBC/SC/STs and none was/is so firm on social justice like him from the position of PM.
In the BJP the administration is actually run by Mohan Bhagawat, who does not believe in the constitutional safe guards. Though Arun Shourie like pro-radical Hindu intellectuals are not happy with Modi but are comfortable with the radical Hinduism, that runs counter to constitutionalism.
By taking position against the SC/ST atrocity Act the radical Hindus want to set the OBCs against Dalits. The radical Hindus think if they win one more election with the support of the OBCs and BBKs, they can slowly dismantle the constitutional institutions and bring a dictatorial radical Hindu rule.
They will, then, abolish all reservations, all protective laws. The Shudra/OBCs then find themselves in classical position. The capitalist economy that has been set in motion will get crashed but the radical Hindus do not bother about that because the other world—Swargasukhas– Hindu theory will keep them intact.
Like the Muslim dictators they will amass wealth. Capitalism as an economic system is not Hindu, as it is not Muslim but it is basically Protestant Christian. Like the Libyan Gaddafi or Pakistan dictators like Zia Ul Haque and Pervez Musharraf the Hindu dictator and BBK forces can amass lot of wealth.
Normally the radical religious rulers do not think about production, distribution and welfarism. In India except Ashoka, no other ruler bothered about good production, distribution and people’s welfare in the past. The radical Hindus have no respect for Ashoka.
That was the reason why Nehru brought back Ashoka’s symbols. But the radical Hindus are opposed to all those Welfare symbols in the state structure—Ashoka chakra in the flag, three lion logo on the notes and so on.
The Dalit intellectuals and the middle class that emerged out of reservation system have understood this. The 2 April 2018 Bandh and ‘Dalit Spring’ mobilization happened with that larger fear. Once the constitution is gone, they will be pushed back to the pre-Independence status. The OBCs, because of several cases against them under the SC/ST atrocity Act, are willing to support the radical Hindu agenda. There is no well developed Shudra/OBC intellectual force in the country to foresee the future. But once this constitution goes the Shudra/OBC position also slips back to pre-Independence status.
Many signals of the radical Hindus gaining ground in every wing of the governance are out there. The legislative and executive bodies are completely under the control of radical Hindus. The judiciary slowly is moving in that direction.
How to save the situation? It is beyond my capacity to prescribe.