How does India under PM Modi look to the world?

The backbone of this new India is the new, globally self-aware Hindu resurgence.

 |  5-minute read |   24-05-2017
  • ---
    Total Shares

My recently concluded lecture tour of the UK, Canada, and the US under the aegis of the Indic Book Club was an eye-opener in several senses. Though I’ve been lecturing at universities and academic institutions all over the world for over three decades, this was the first time that I was travelling at the behest of an organisation or a group.

Founded and initially funded by Hari Kiran Vadlamani, Singapore-based activist working for an Indic renaissance, now supported by other philanthropists, IBC is fast emerging as a global network of academics, authors, artists and activists who are seeking to discover and reconnect to their civilisational heritage.

To this end, IBC not only encourages new ideas and genres, but also offers a broad-based platform for their reception, dissemination, and appreciation.

Support

My visit was thus coordinated, much more convenient and comfortable, with logistical support and hospitality at most of the venues. More importantly, there were community as well as academic events, both of equal importance. Putting across academic alternatives is crucial to any new thinking, while community events are especially useful in meeting a large corps of volunteers and India-supporters overseas.

Ultimately, a judicious combination of both is necessary for a lasting thought revolution. What were the key takeaways from this experience?

The good news is that the idea of India continues to attract and inspire thousands across the globe. Predominant among India-lovers are, of course, members of the diaspora, especially in the US, where we have broken through the glass ceiling, as it were.

Indians and people of Indian origin have achieved unprecedented levels of prosperity, recognition, and self-confidence in America. They also have the necessary expertise and the will to make a difference to India. All these factors make them a formidable force for change. This was confirmed during the election of Narendra Modi in 2014, when overseas Indians played a key role.

modidiasbd_052417092143.jpgPredominant among India-lovers are, of course, members of the diaspora, especially in the US.

Luckily, India also continues to generate goodwill and support from large sections of non-Indians, especially in the advanced democracies of the world. It is a shining beacon, not just economically or politically, but culturally too in a world broken by hatred, violence, and fear.

The backbone of this new India is the new, globally self-aware Hindu resurgence. Despite jarring excesses or mistakes, it is this progressive and integral new Hindu identity that is perhaps the most far-reaching and exciting development, both intellectually and culturally. This upsurge, I agree, is still nascent and somewhat inchoate, but the forces that nurture and augment it are, thankfully, both robust and intelligent.

As to the ugly, there was one ungainly incident at a Canadian campus when a brother (and former JNU graduate) stopped, on ideological grounds, an official programme to which I was invited. Since I have already written about it, I’ll pass it over.

But the bad news is that India-haters and India-bashers also abound, not only in academia, but also in the community. Both are matters of grave concern.

In universities and campuses, there are organised and determined groups of anti-Indians, many traditional radical or neo-Leftists, often Indians themselves. They are inveterate enemies of the “Modi Sarkar”, as they claim to be of global capitalism and neo-liberalism, even if their own security and prosperity in their host countries are underwritten by the latter.

Their rhetoric is peppered by gestures to human rights, anti-imperialism, anti-racism, and on. But the bottom line is that they will support violent separatist groups and movements across India. Incidentally, their hatred for India is literal, even the word “India” is anathema. They advocate this specious and, some would add, mischievous neologism, “South Asia”.

Threat

The main India-hating threat in overseas Indian communities is the neo-Khalistani assertion, often in tandem with Pakistani Islamist operatives. The most glaring recent instance of this is the Liberal Party motion, passed by the Ontario Assembly on April 7, 2017, declaring the 1984 anti-Sikh riots as “genocide”, moved by Harinder Malhi, a Liberal Party Member of the Provincial Parliament of Ontario.

Elected in 2014 from the riding (district) of Brampton-Springdale, she polled 16,927 votes to defeat her nearest rival, New Democratic Party candidate Gurpreet Dhillon by a margin of about 3,400 votes.

Resolution

The resolution, which condemns “all forms of communal violence, hatred, hostility, prejudice, racism and intolerance in India”, is totally silent over the Khalistani terrorist violence. As many have pointed out, the resolution deliberately misused the word genocide, which is inapplicable in the context.

Ujjal Dosanjh, former British Columbia premier and federal minister, also a Sikh, accused Ontario premier Kathleen Wynne of “pandering to ethnic and religious minorities” and misusing “the term ‘racist’ to silence critics”. Neo-Khalistani groups thus exploited the ideological bad faith of left-liberals in Canada to slander India.

Almost as if not to be outdone, back home, Shiromani Akali Dal president Sukhbir Singh Badal “thanked” the Ontario Assembly on April 10, 2017, for “recognising the anti-Sikh riots in 1984 as genocide”: “We are grateful to the authorities and people of Ontario for this very touching gesture of compassion and solidarity,” he reportedly said.

The role of neo-Khalistani groups’ intervention in the recent Punjab Assembly elections is a matter that needs thorough investigation. Captain Amarinder Singh, current Congress chief minister, should be applauded for being perhaps the only leader of national stature to take an uncompromising stance against neo-Khalistanis.

One recurring thought I had — and for which I have not yet found a satisfactory answer — is why do they hate us so much? After all, a weak India also weakens Indians overseas, a fact that they very well recognise.

Also read: How Modi, RSS are turning the Indian abroad into a Hindutva bigot

Writer

Makarand R Paranjape Makarand R Paranjape @makrandparanspe

The writer is director, Indian Institute of Advanced Study, Shimla. The views are personal.

Like DailyO Facebook page to know what's trending.