Just about every publication in America has written about the sweeping victory of Shri Narendra Modi in the massive all-Indian election. But virtually all of the coverage is about the visible. As a “Rasik”, we prefer to get to the essence.
Go back to last week, last month, last year and you will find that every US-British publication described Shri Modi as a “polarizing” or “divisive” figure. None of them tried to explain on Friday how such a “polarizing” man could unite the entire country & sweep the largest & most diverse election in world history.
All these publications have taken pains to describe India as a deeply divided or fragmented society of many “castes” and religions. The absolutely stupidest comment came from an Associated Press article that, as we recall, said India has many cultures and asked whether Narendra Modi would be able govern all these cultures. The unspoken thought was classically colonial – that only a White European would be able to successfully govern this fragmented country of multiple cultures (?), multiple religions and multiple ethnic groups or “castes” in British lingo.
Go back 100 years and you will hear exactly these same thoughts, these same assumptions from the British colonial occupiers of India and from British-obedient Indians who depended on them. That was the time when Mohandas Karamchand Gandhi was beginning his struggle for the independence of India. Where others saw fragmentation, he saw core unity. When others were sunk in pessimism about the divergences within India, Gandhi was optimistic about bringing all Indians together in a joint cause against the British colonials.
He did it just as many others had done so in the four millennia before him. He focused on Dharma, Indian Dharma, Hindu Dharma – the core unity that is the foundation of the country that is India, the core unity that underlies & permits the visible diversity of Indian society. Read the words of Gandhi, study the tactics of Gandhi and you see the same methods that have been used by Saints, strategists, and leaders for millennia. Now look at Narendra Modi’s campaign in this election. You will see the same vision of core unity of India and the same unifying appeal of Dharma, the vision of Mahatma Gandhi.
India is really a simple society. India can be defeated and occupied by dividing Indian society. This is what all colonial occupiers, British-Mongols-Turko-Afghans, have done. The methods are also simple. Set up conflicts between Indian groups via religion, “caste” and language. Institutionalize these conflicts by administrative, monetary quotas or preferences. These proven colonial tactics have been followed by Indian political parties since India’s physical independence. Their chosen mode has been to build coalitions between the various subgroups to get the necessary majority or size on their side.
Where was this most visible? In the undeveloped states of North India and most importantly in the massive state of Uttar Pradesh, the state that delivers 80 seats to the Indian Parliament or 15% of the entire parliament. UP has been won by building “caste” based coalitions for the past 20 years or so. So much so that the “national” parties like BJP and Congress had been virtually eliminated from UP.
India is really a simple society. Indians can win and defeat foreign occupiers by uniting. And the obvious and only solution to unite the various “caste” divisions was and remains the appeal of Indian or Hindu Dharma. The embrace of Dharma is what transformed Gujarati leader Mohandas Gandhi into India’s Mahatma Gandhi and Gujarati leader Modi into India’s Prime Minister.
This approach is not be confused with “religion”-based movements or appeals to any religious icon. Dharma is far deeper and broader than religion. Dharma is the architecture of a just ethical society dedicated to the development and well being of people. Remember Gandhi began his movement with the Sva-Deshi drive, a drive in which he urged Indians to burn their clothes imported from Britain and wear clothes made with Indian cloth by Indians. His message was about generating jobs in India’s rural areas by trading within India. His tactic was to reverse the many British trade practices that had impoverished India like by shipping Indian cotton to UK at cheap prices and selling expensive British clothes made from Indian cotton to Indians.
Narendra Modi used the same integration of economic development & Dhaarmic appeal to unite India, especially UP. His mantra was “Sab ka Saath Sab ka Vikas” or “Unity among all Development of all“. And he reminded people how he had developed Gujarat – “Gujarat etle Vikas, Vikas etle Gujarat” or “Gujarat means Development, Development means Gujarat“.
We all see the results. The two parties that succeeded via “caste”-coalitions were wiped out in a state synonymous with “caste” and Modi’s BJP won 71 out of 80 seats. Virtually no body had expected such a sweep of UP. After all, BJP had disappeared from UP in the past few years.
What Mahatma Gandhi began doing 100 years ago and what Narendra Modi has now begun was also done 2.300 years ago. North India was divided at that time in a number of Gan-Rajya or democracies run by people’s representatives. It was a decent system but without a federal structure to unite the different Gan-Rajya within a central military or foreign policy. The great Indian strategist Vishnu-Gupt Chanakya and his military colleague Chandra-Gupt Maurya used the attack of Alexander on today’s Afghanistan to unite all Gan-Rajya into the first federal rule in India.
India is really a simple society. Vishnu-Gupt’s message in 320 BCE was the same as Gandhi’s message in 1920 and the same as Narendra Modi’s message in 2014 – Unity under Dharma and Economic Development for all people. Read it in the words of Vishnu-Gupt himself in ArthaShastra, the earliest known treatise on economics. political science, & statecraft:
प्रजा सुखे सुखं रादन्य:
Prajaa Sukhe Sukham Radnyah
In the happiness of people lies happiness of the Ruler
प्रजानाम च हिते हितम्
Prajaanaam ch Hite Hitam
In the success/benefit of the people lies the [ruler’s] success/benefit
And how do the Ruler achieve such success or benefit?
अर्थ एव प्रधानः
Artha (a silent) ev Pradhanah
Only Economics is paramount
अर्थस्य मूलं उथानम्
Arthasya Mulam Uthaanam
The root/foundation of Economics is Development
ं हि धर्मकामं
Artha-Mulam hi Dharma-kamam
Dharmic aspirations/works are indeed rooted in economic [development]
Read the words of Narendra Modi, hear the words of Narendra Modi and you will hear these central concepts of Vishnu-Gupt Chanakya from 320BCE. As we said, India is really a simple society.
What did Vishnu-Gupt achieve with his colleague Chandra-Gupt Maurya? A great society, economically vibrant, militarily dominant, and a beacon of Dharma, ethics & pluralism for the world.
(Maurya Empire – 265 BCE)
This physical, material, and Dhaarmic success is where Narendra Modi wants to take today’s India. The Indian people got it and that is why they came together in unity to elect him.
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