By Saqib Mehmood
Apr 14, 2014
Narendra Damodardas Modi, 65 year old, is most probably the next prime Minister of the largest democracy of the world, India. Therefore, it is relevant to look at his past and present to predict what he will do in future. There is little doubt that as Modi occupies the prime minister’s chair; India is likely to get a new face, the face of Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS), which will definitely have far-reaching effects on India’s internal and foreign policies.
Modi is known to be an active member of Sang since he was an eight years’ old child. He used to go to Sangh’s meetings after school. At school he was best known to be a stubborn child, a born-politician, and a true servant and follower of Hindutva. The RSS ideology hinges on Hindu nationalism and protection and promotion of Hindu culture, communal violence, riots, suppression, and mass murders. From his childhood to this day, RSS and its ideology has remained the axis of his life and soul. If man, who has a deep belief in RSS and has been practicing it from his childhood, becomes prime minister of India, it is but natural and clear that he would try his best to implement the RSS ideology and manifesto in India. Or, at least, his cognitive construct, which is woven around the RSS ideology, will influence his decisions as a prime minister. So, to predict India’s internal and foreign policies under Modi, we have to look at the manual of the RSS.
The RSS was founded in 1925 by Dr. Keshav Baliram Hedgewar, a physician living in the Maharashtra region of India with a purpose to reorganize the Hindu dharma and to project it in an organized fashion. Dr Hedgewar, disgusted with Congress’s support of Muslims in Khilafat Movement, formed this organized violent political group with two objectives; to deny political space to the Indian Muslims to demand a separate Muslim state, and to unite all the Hindu political and non-political forces to form a united Bharat under the mantra of “Hindu Nation.” The founders of RSS were mainly from the upper-caste Brahmins, who wanted to protect and promote Hindu culture through political dominance.
The Sangh had a great admiration and inclination towards Adolf Hitler and Mussolini’s fascism. A most senior ideologue of RSS, M.S. Golwalker, in his book “We or Our Nation Defined”, published in 1939, endorsed and appreciated Hitlor’s massacre of Jews as part of his campaign to preserve German race and culture. He blatantly asserted that Hitlor’s method is “a good lesson for us in Hindustan to learn and profit by.” Same as Hitler and Mussolini, the RSS ideology was based on right wing, hardcore sense of Hindu nationalism, and an aspiration for a system where Hindutva would rule and other minorities or ideologies had no place to live.
From its inception, the RSS has opposed the idea of partition and never accepted Pakistan. M. G. Chitkara, a former advocate general of India and true believer and part of Sangh Parivar, wrote in his book ‘Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh; National Upsurge’ that the creation of Pakistan was a “great misfortune that struck out our motherland.” During the 1965 Pakistan-India war, the Karyakari Mandal (Centeral Committee of RSS) contended that peace and normalcy in South Asia is inconceivable without reunification of Akand Bharat. In the 1971 debacle, RSS and its affiliated organizations played a major role in provoking hatred and wrath among the Bengali masses against West Pakistan.
At present the RSS has various loosely connected organizations and groups working for the dominance of Hinduatva; such as Bharatiya Janata Party (Political wing); Vishwa Hindu Parishad (cultural mobilization wing); Bajrang Dal (para-military group); and Shiv Sena (violent fascist group). All these organization have a violent track-record and are known for planned violence and mass murders of minorities, particularly of Christians and Muslims.
Narendra Modi grew up with a cognition that was densely woven around the Hinduatva ideology. Throughout his life, he has been an active member of Sangh, often remaining underground for years and involved in covert violent activities against the forces of modernity and diversification in India. The Sangh has not only shaped him, but the world around him also. From the RSS lower ranks to the high positions, his deep belief in Sangh’s ideology and ‘prayer’ drove him, guided him and made him what he is today.
As a true believer and follower, he cannot forget the blessings of Sangh. He is bound to remain in line with Sangh’s ideology and is supposed to promote it. He has learnt a number of lessons from his seniors. Those who disobey or deviate from Sangh’s line are supposed to be punished mercilessly. A good example in this regard would be of Lal Krishna Advani, who was punished by RSS for praising Muhammad Ali Jinah during his five-day-visit of Pakistan in 2005. Modi did not support Advani, who had been his guru for more than four decades, over this controversy, because he knew that RSS has no mercy for those who disobey the RSS ideology. His belief is tightly bound by the unbreakable rope of Hinduatva. He is bound to remain a slave, cognitively roped slave of Hinduatva. Given his legacy and close kinship with radical right-wing groups, Prime Minister Monmohan Singh, in an interview recently said that in his opinion “it would be disastrous to have Narender Modi as Prime Minister.”
During his tenures as Chief Minister of Gujrat, Modi has so many controversies on his account including communal mass murders, grave human right violations, and planned riots and violence. There are numerous allegations on him such as supporting and covering the massacre of Muslim community in Gujarat in 2002 in which thousands of Muslims including women and children were killed by right-wing Hindu groups. Though he is a good and reputable administrator, the inventor of so-called ‘Gujarat Development Model’, it is important to note before giving him apologetic concessions that though Gujarat has seen growth, but very little development. Many research studies reveal that in Modi’s tenure, Gujarat has lagged behind the other states in tackling infant mortality, in reducing poverty, and increasing literacy. In 2006, there were reportedly even more under-nourished children in Gujarat then in 1993.
However, besides all that, the question is; how would the foreign policy of India go under Modi’s rule? What will be implications for regional stability and security, should Modi embark upon implementing the RSS version of foreign policy?
In Islamabad, though little attention has been given to the Indian elections both in governmental and media circles, thanks to adverse internal security situation. Nonetheless, in some serious circles, people do look at Modi’s election as a future Prime Minister of India with suspicions and concerns. Personality evaluation and analysis do predict that given Modi’s legacy and dynamics of Indian internal politics, the future of Pakistan and India relations is not much bright; and suggest that Pakistan, at least at this time, must review, evaluate and analyse its relations with India, especially in two aspects; terrorism and Kashmir.
Modi’s dilemma will run along his cognitive and rational compulsions. Apparently, Modi will try his best to expand the Gujarat Development Model to other states of India, because it simply suits him as it has in the past. And, to expand it across India, Modi will have to create an environment of stability both internally and externally, which will definitely result in some accommodations and trade-offs. However, the cognitive factor along with likely overwhelming influence of RSS and other Hindu conservative pressure groups will also try to shape his behaviour and decisions. Reportedly, Modi’s right-hand man Amit Shah, known as master strategist, the man whom Modi trusts like no other, has been banned from addressing public meetings for stoking communal tensions in western part of Utter Pardesh. So, these types of aides and friends will definitely influence Modi during taking decisions on internal and external matters. Modi will have to deal with this dilemma very cautiously because defying either side would result in an unpleasant or challenging situation for him.
Another question, which is extremely important as far as the strategic stability in South Asia is concerned, is how Modi will behave at the strategic level? A few days back, in a roundtable in Islamabad, the nuclear experts were trying to conceive different scenarios and their impacts on strategic stability between Pakistan and India. Unfortunately, all scenarios and guesstimates were hinting on one or two certain developments. One, Modi will enlarge both the civilian and military nuclear programmes. Second, he will reorganize the conventional and strategic mix to have a more aggressive and proactive force posture. In a recent interview, Modi asserted that he will “follow a two-pronged independent nuclear programme, unencumbered by foreign pressure and influence, for civilian and military purposes.” Moreover, in BJP’s election manifesto, it is also mentioned that the BJP government will “revise and update” India’s nuclear programme “to make it relevant to challenges of current times.” This uncontrolled revision and updating would definitely result in uncontrolled and un-interfered expansion of India’s civilian and military nuclear programmes. Moreover, there is also news that under the Modi government, India will also review and update its stance on ‘no first use’ which will most likely result in adoption of ambitious and aggressive development and force postures both at conventional and strategic levels. What effects it will have on strategic stability between Pakistan and India is a question worthy of discussion before Modi climbes up the prime ministerial Chair.
In a nutshell, every state in the region or outside is concerned over the prospects of Modi’s election as the new Prime Minister of India, as is Pakistan. How Modi’s cognitive and rational instincts interplay and what comes out of this play will define the future dynamics of the region. Islamabad is curious about Modi’s ambiguity over lingering issues between India and Pakistan such as Kashmir, terrorism, trade, nuclear doctrine and Afghanistan. No matter what turns out in future, one thing is interesting and equally dangerous; an RSS diehard is going to define the stability of the most volatile region in the world.
The Views expressed in this article are of writer’s own and do not necessarily represent those of the CPGS.