After 20 months of the Narendra Modi rule, tongues are wagging about his government not delivering. But an honest analysis brings out a different picture. He might be found wanting on many fronts but the probity in governance he has introduced at the highest level is almost unparalleled in three decades or so.
His government is the first in many years which has virtually wiped out the role of middlemen and corporate houses in the framing of government policies and contracts, particularly those involving big money.
One of the main reasons behind India’s economic backwardness and poverty has been slanted economic policies influenced by corporate houses that resulted in a significant part of the government revenues being directed to the coffers of the corporate houses. So, by cutting the role of corporates in policymaking, Modi has indeed delivered a unique performance in recent history which will ensure more funds in the days to come for the purpose of true development and poverty alleviation.
The second factor behind India’s poverty is the holes in the delivery of government schemes as a result of corruption. Modi has tried to tackle this too by giving the cleanest bureaucracy in Delhi in many years. So, he has taken the most sincere and hard steps against the two factors that constitute the main causes behind India’s poverty.
So what was Modi’s biggest blunder in the past 20 months as the prime minister? Most would agree it was his gesture of going to Pakistan to wish happy birthday to his Pakistani counterpart Nawaz Sharif and then inviting the wrath of Jaish-e-Mohammed (JeM) and the Pakistan Army resulting in the death of seven Indian soldiers at the Pathankot airbase.
When the movie Veer Savarkar was released the then Gujarat chief minister Modi went with his entire cabinet to see the movie. But the film was only on Savarkar's role as a revolutionary. It had nothing on Savarkar the Hindutva ideologue or better described as the "father of India’s national security". And that is the irony regarding Savarkar and those from the Sangh Parivar, including Modi, who swear by his name.
It isn’t Savarkar the revolutionary, but the Savarkar who predicted long ago almost all the national security problems India is facing today - whether it is the threat from China or Pakistan or the dangers emanating from the north-east or Muslim appeasement - who is more relevant today.
Conversely, all these problems are due to misplaced and self-defeating humanism of Mahatma Gandhi and Pandit Nehru. Had Modi studied and followed Savarkar - the "father of India’s national security", he would not have ever committed the mistake of going to Pakistan for Nawaz Sharif's birthday, in what was Gandhian diplomacy wrapped in the name of Chanakyaniti.
For under Savarkarian diplomacy (diplomacy and national security are in a way intertwined) India should have taught a lesson to Pakistan and put fear in its heart before extending an olive branch to a not-in-command Sharif. Extending an olive branch to Sharif before Pakistan had acted against at least one of the three villains responsible for the death of hundreds of innocent Indians – Hafiz Sayeed, Zakiur Rehman Lakhvi and Dawood Ibrahim – would have been a big "no" under Savarkarian strategy.
Soon after he came out of detention of 12 years and rigorous imprisonment of 14 years and assumed the presidentship of the Hindu Mahasabha, Savarkar warned that Muhammad Ali Jinnah was fast moving in the direction of partitioning India in favour of Pakistan and the Congress response to it was very weak. This was at a point when Jinnah had himself hinted at Pakistan only once or twice.
In 1940 when Jinnah started playing his games with pronounced vigour in favour of his objective, Gandhi and Nehru openly vowed that India will have to be partitioned on their dead bodies. But Savarkar had smelt the rat. He predicted that the die called Pakistan had been cast and that Gandhi and Nehru would give in to Jinnah's partition plan by their meek actions despite their chest-thumping. His prediction was based on weak-kneed response to Jinnah’s designs by Gandhi.
Sarvarkar was again proved correct seven years later when India was partitioned. After Pakistan was born, Savarkar made another prediction: “Till a nation based on religious fanaticism exists beside India she won’t ever be able to live in peace.” On that Sarvarkar is true to the dot today.
Savarkar predicted the 1962 India-China war eight years earlier in 1954
Savarkar's most astonishing prediction was on the India-China war. He predicted the 1962 Chinese invasion of India eight years earlier in 1954 after reading Nehru’s soft response to China after its invasion of Tibet in 1950. When Nehru came out with the soft pro-China doctrine of Panchsheel even after the 1950 Chinese intrusion in Tibet, Savarkar issued a statement: “After what China has done to Tibet kowtowing to the Chinese would whet its appetite. I won’t be surprised if China feels emboldened to swallow Indian land tempted by India’s weak-kneed approach”.
Eight years later when China invaded India inflicting on it a humiliating defeat, Savarkar's small band of supporters felt elated in an age of Nehru-worship that their leader had lived by his word, that though he had lost to the Congress in the political debate and also failed to prevent the partition, he was happy that Mother India would see him as a faithful son who had tried his best to prevent her division. During that phase of partition Savarkar had issued an interesting statement that became very famous later. In an emotional speech he said: "It is better to stand in the last row of patriots than in the first row of betrayers (alluding to those whose policies and weak strategy caused partition)”.
He was the first to warn about the danger to India’s security in the north-east
In the 1930s, when Muslims in East Bengal (now Bangladesh) started settling in the Brahmaputra valley mainly because of livelihood problems in East Bengal, the local population raised a hue and cry and the Hindu Mahasabha came out in its support. In the early 1940s, when a hot debate over the issue was still on, Nehru said, "Nature abhors vaccum, meaning where there is open space how can one prevent people from settling there?"
In reaction, Savarkar issued a diametrically opposite statement which has proved to be his masterly prediction. He said: "Nature also abhors poisonous gas. The migration of such large numbers of Muslims in Assam threatened not just the local culture but would also prove to be a national security problem for India on its north-east frontier." The ever-increasing Muslim population of Assam which now stands at more than 30 per cent and the frequent communal clashes in the state because of increasing Muslim domination proves how correct Savarkar was.
National security: Difference between Savarkarian vison and Gandhian vision
The former plugged all holes, but the latter left holes in the name of humanism.
One of the closest to Sarvarkar’s vision on security was late prime minister Indira Gandhi. But being originally from the Gandhian school, she committed blunders even in successes. For that India is paying a price till this day. After our great victory against Pakistan in 1971 under her leadership, Indira had 93,000 soldiers as captives. And yet she couldn’t settle the Kashmir issue because then Pakistani prime minister Zulfikar Ali Bhutto virtually fell at her feet during the Shimla meet and reportedly begged for mercy promising to settle the issue soon after – a promise which he made only to abuse in the true Pakistani spirit.
Moreover, in the Shimla agreement he even got back from Indira the area in Sindh that India had won, thus triggering an exodus of one lakh Sindhi Hindus to India. Some of them had sympathised with the Indian victory and invited the wrath of the Pakistanis. Clearly, had Indira followed Savarkar fully she won’t have ever committed these blunders.
The queer case of the RSS
Often the Sangh Parivar’s responses on national security issues are flawed. Former prime minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee gave ample examples of it while dealing with Pakistan. Now, even Modi has demonstrated flaws in his Pakistan strategy. The seeds perhaps lie in the confusion created by Gandhism in the Sangh Parivar. The RSS adopted Gandhi in the 1960s when its second sarsanghchalak Guru Golwalkar entered Gandhi’s name in RSS’ morning prayer which has the names of India’s great men as well its great rivers and mountains.
In doing so, the RSS was driven by two things. One, Gandhi’s economic vision, simplicity, mass-awakening strategy and his ideas like trusteeship (meaning a businessmen should ideally consider himself only as a trutee of his personal wealth and also spend it on the poor). And two, it also adopted him in a bid to ward off the old charge from the Congress that RSS men were the killers of Gandhi, as Nathuram Godse was a senior RSS worker before he joined the Hindu Mahasabha.
The upshot of the blind Gandhi-bhakti model adopted by the RSS closed all doors for encouraging an honest debate on Gandhi that would appreciate his economic policies and the loftiness of many of his aims, but at the same time not hesitate in acknowledging that in his pursuit of forging human values he had given rise to grave dangers to India’s future with his comprises with pan-Islamist Muslims - going as far as calling Maharana Pratap, Chattrapati Shivaji and Guru Govind Singh misguided patriots in 1925 in order to please the Muslim leadership.
What is worse, even when the Congress continued to indulge in dirty comprises with pan-Islamist Muslims many decades after independence, the RSS couldn’t muster the courage to trigger that debate on Gandhi, thus keeping not just its cadres but even its leadership ignorant.
So, today the RSS cadres barring some exceptions are as ignorant about Savarkarian predictions on India’s national security problems as much as the Congress cadres. The RSS extols him only for his role as a revolutionary while not focusing on the other side of his character which is more relevant today. Interestingly, BJP president Amit Shah is an exception. He has studied the "other side" of Savarkar and acknowledges it.
Ideally, the RSS should have explained the true Savarkar to the world when there is a race amongst the Left lobby to project him as a communal or divisive figure as against the truth, which is that he had given ample space to the Muslims and Christians in the manifesto of the Hindu Rashtra he had visualised.
The fact is that he was against radical Muslims and Muslim appeasement and not against moderate Muslims and had given ample proof of that even as the president of the Hindu Mahasabha. Had the RSS done so, Savarkar’s security vision would have automatically unravelled before the nation. The masterly biography of Savarkar by late Maharashtrian writer Dhananjay Keer throws ample light on most of these issues.
Significantly, Savarkar’s take on national security is like a faultless radar capable of detecting every threat, whether external or internal. Clearly, it is still not too late for the Sangh Parivar to adopt Savarkar’s vision fully and save India from future chaos on security front.