Nothing in Indian politics has dismayed me recently as much as a report (The Hindu, November 22) on the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh’s success in attracting 600 middle-class professional families in Noida to a late-night education-cum-entertainment event featuring preacher Satyanarayan Mourya. Each family paid Rs300 to attend it. Mourya is a crasser version of Ritambhara. He speaks (http://communalism.blogspot.in/2014/11/india-rss-outreach-show-with-baba.html) execrable language while attacking Muslims, and invokes Hindutva pride by claiming that ancient India gave the world geometry and airplanes, besides mastering space and nuclear technologies, achievements that today’s youth have all but forgotten under the evil influence of modern Western culture.
All those who expected Prime Minister Narendra Modi to deliver on his election-campaign promise of cleaning up Indian politics of money power and crime, making a break with short-term caste-and-community calculations, and placing merit above personal loyalty, would be sorely disappointed at his cabinet reshuffle, including the induction of 21 new ministers.
The collapse of the Berlin Wall 25 years ago abruptly brought to a close what the historian Eric Hobsbawm famously called the “Short 20th Century”—short both because it began late, with the Russian Revolution of 1917, and because the historic epoch it marked ended a decade before the century’s close. Humanity’s greatest success in overthrowing capitalism in one country, and making its working people arbiters of their own fate by creating new modes of organisation of society and economy and a novel state form, ended in catastrophe as the USSR disintegrated and international socialism effectively ceased to exist.
When Bharatiya Janata Party leader LK Advani famously said of the media during the Emergency that “when asked to bend, they crawled”, he received widespread praise from the intelligentsia and even from people opposed to the BJP’s ideology—because he spoke the truth about the loss of independence and professional integrity on the part of the Fourth Estate and other institutions. Today, not just the media, but leaders from the fields of education, culture, healthcare and law, are crawling before the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh without even being asked to bend
I’m glad to be an Indian, but I’m not a chest-thumping nationalist. I can understand and appreciate why many Indians (or for that matter, other nationals) emigrate and become naturalised citizens of other, typically developed, states. What I find it hard to understand is why some of them choose to represent their adopted homelands’ governments as officials, even ambassadors, to the countries of their origin.