In the recent results of UP’s Civic and Mayoral Polls, yet again people have reposed their faith on the BJP, and Yogi Adityanath. Questions on the credibility of the government on issues like Secularism, Gau Rakshak etc have practically been dismissed by the people at large. Since 2014, most of the recent electoral expressions of the people’s voice have repeatedly hinted at the revival of the Civilisational view of India so powerfully, that artificially concocted concerns seem to be withering away in its face. It seems, perhaps for the first time, that scientific modernity and civilisational identity are orthogonal and can actually coexist in the success of our nation.
The other day I was reading a very insightful book by Douglas Murray, called the Strange Death of Europe. The book beautifully brings out what may possibly be a very fundamental death-wish afflicting the people of the continent in the context of recent developments. It possibly may be born out of Freudian Organic Elasticity towards death or may simply be the growing disillusionment with excessively materialistic pursuits. What is striking however, is that the European civilisation as we know it today is so young, hardly even in its ‘teens’. And it has taken just a few centuries for it to begin showing signs of suicidal fatigue.
Standing in stark contrast to Europe are two much older civilisations of India and China that weathered so many more battle scars and yet exhibit considerable, though varying, degrees of resolve to survive. It is not often realised but, it is simply too wondrous to imagine the intrinsic strength of these civilisations. What the fundamental ingredients to such longevity are, is a matter of separate deliberation.
The story of India over the last millennium is particularly relevant. Possibly attributable to a number of reasons, including a systemic societal degradation, India was defeated by a number of invaders, Islamic, and Europeans alike. The long period of foreign domination was characterised by two distinct governance patterns. While the Islamic rule relied on brutal physical suppression, the British period was possibly defined by a strategic, even subtler psychological suppression through crafted education and socio-economic systems. But the end goal of both, it may be argued was the total annihilation of all native Indic identities – both religious and cultural.
The interesting, and perhaps inadvertent offshoot of the British systems was the rise of the realisation, propagation and revival of civilisational pride, which arguably was impossible in the pre-British era of Islamic dominance. The tallest assertion of this self-confidence came from Swami Vivekananda, whose electrifying speeches jolted sleeping Indian generations.
Vivekananda formed that cornerstone on which millions of Indians felt the new India could be built. It may well be said that his works represented the modern philosophical expression of our long subdued civilisation.
Vivekananda’s conception of India was so gigantic that it sought to reverse the physical and psychological brutality of a thousand years and rekindle the civilisational pride that was nearly extinguished. Unfortunately, that philosophy never saw a political manifestation. There were glimmers of hope indeed – in Tilak’s utterances, in Bose’s optimism. But as history would have it, both were undone.
And so, when on the midnight of 15th August, 1947, India became independent, the political ideology that found itself governing the country was built on an inferiority complex inflicted with an almost pathological distaste for our civilisation. To it, India would rather be a concept born in 1947, and everything preceding the magic date was contemptuous.
What transpired 1947 onward has been only a more organised self-destruction through perpetuation of the disregard and disdain for India’s civilisational value systems. The ruling political dispensations collaborated with the Left inspired intellectual regime and built a nation ashamed of her identity and past. After seven long decades, it was pretty successfully imbibed into the very psyche of the average educated, urbanised Indian.
This politico-intellectual alliance operated unchallenged since independence, fundamentally because a paradigmatically different interpretation of India as a Civilisation found no expression. The entire establishment rested on the assumption of inferiority of Civilisational India and superiority of the India born in 1947. The propagation of this conception has always been central to the thriving of the entire class that benefited from incumbent systems.
On the other end, Vivekananda’s ideal of India was just too enormous for any one individual to assimilate, simplify and express – even if it was to be done to a country of a billion people who subconsciously still subscribe to that very philosophy.
2014 was a watershed year because, after about 67 years of Indian independence for the first time Vivekananda’s conception of India seemed to have found, howsoever minuscule, a political expression in the form of Modi. Large numbers of Indians who still could not understand Nehru’s conception of India characterised by an inherent inferiority complex, worship of English and West, and too self centered to put country first, found in Modi that conviction which hinted at the possibility of civilisational revival. This was unthinkable before 2014. Indians possibly had reconciled to the end of India as a civilisation.
Since May 2014 a bunch of campaigns clinically targeted at the demolition of this very political expression have been relentlessly executed. Be it Award Waapsi, No space for dissent, Ghar Waapsi, Gau Rakshak or such others. These are merely symptoms of an extreme, even suicidal, malice towards the possibility of Indian Civilisation in modern times. The fact that a Hindi speaking Chai waalah is running the country, speaking on matters of Economics, Science, Technology and to whom the world seems to be listening, is simply unpalatable to the incumbents. After all these were the exclusive preserve of English educated elite, beyond the reach of the ‘uneducated’, civilisational India.
Since the passing of Vivekananda in 1902, India had hoped for a political expression. This aspiration remained fearfully silent, ashamed of being mocked for over 100 years. But Modi has kindled a small hope. It is a relief that after more than half his term, people still see a small possibility of its realisation.
Lives of nations are complex but, there are two essential dimensions of progress – Scientific Modernity and Civilisational Value Systems. While Science imparts rationality, Value Systems impart unity and self-respect. The two are not mutually exclusive. As long as development and governance are not compromised, successive electoral verdicts, including the present UP civic polls, have firmly expressed India’s pride and respect of her civilisation.