Narendra Modi, Pradhan Swayamsevak – Part II

Waiting for pivot

Before we continue where we left in the previous article, a minor digression – many Modi supporters who are of Minarchist/Hindutva bent, are disappointed with the direction of this government, for justifiable reasons (I include myself in both categories). They usually console themselves by claiming things will be different in the second term and that we will get substantial actions. That is a possibility. Modi, after all, has a penchant for dramatics. Considering the suddenness of demonetization or surgical strikes, this raises hopes of supporters. In other words, they are expecting a sequel which is better than original, a dark knight to batman begins, so as to say. However, I am sceptical if this would really happen. I am rather expecting “Fast and Furious” franchise, hugely successful but highly predictable. My scepticism has to do with my reading of Narendra Modi.

Reading Narendra Modi (And Sangh)

In the previous article, I dismissed the ‘secular-liberal’ jeremiad of Modi being some reincarnation of Hitler. That was accompanied by fulsome praise for his personal attributes. This article is going to be far more critical of the man. It might be just me, but I dont think, simple explanation exists behind the man. I think he has a layered and sometimes conflicting personality and motives.

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Although this article focuses on Modi as a person, it is also a reflection on broader Sangh culture (refer to the title). This is to be expected, considering how Modi and Sangh are entwined, both Modi, the quintessential Swayamsevak, as a product of the project as well as him being the architect of the ongoing shift in Sangh’s direction.

So just who is Narendra Modi?

Narendra Modi, The Ascetic King

Anyone with even a superficial knowledge of Modi’s life can’t miss the ascetic streak. He left his family in his teens, joined Ramakrishna Mutt aspiring to be sanyasi when dissuaded by his guru for being meant for bigger things, he joined Sangh as life-long pracharak.

His choice of Sangh was not an accident. Sangh since its foundation has been inspired by the ascetic ideal.

Ascetic as king may sound appealing, especially considering the alternatives who are busy stealing Italian marbles and hoarding designer purses. Yet, this ideal is not without its drawbacks, foremost being a misunderstanding of Sanyas itself. Sanyas commonly understood is the renunciation of worldly pleasures, the ultimate aim of which is to become a Yogi. However, renouncing worldly pleasures is just half the measure to become Yogi in the true sense. A person also needs to conquer his emotions which are not directly connected to material possession, such as pride, envy, which remain an obstacle to the fulfilment of attainment.

A Sanyasi which has not conquered his ego is susceptible to it, in fact, he is more vulnerable than a common man of the world because he is self-conscious of his achievement (successfully renouncing material attachment). His ego in effect can lead him astray from his objective.

Broadly speaking this ascetic arrogance has become ingrained in Sangh culture where the belief that merely nationalistic instinct is sufficient for national revival, with any effort to cultivate knowledge and ideas not only unnecessary but detrimental to Sangh project. To borrow from the American lexicon, what we are witnessing is the epistemic closure of Sanghi mind.

In Modi’s case too, there is an unquestionable pattern of overconfidence discernible in his attitude. In my opinion, it is his overconfidence which drives many of his actions or inactions, rather than some super secret plan (which many of his starry-eyed supporters are wont to believe).

Narendra Modi – Agile Man

One of the rather uncharitable remarks about Agile methodology deployed widely in software development is it encourages an obsessive focus on implementation to almost exclusion (determinately so) of any explicit design process

One consequence of Sangh aversion to any form of ideological pursuit is, its agile mindset, that is its sole focus on action.

This, I believe is a misreading of Swami Vivekananda’s famous exhortation, “Arise, awake, and stop not till the goal is reached”. Sangh and many others take this to a call of immediate action, in preference to deliberation. To them, this is a directive for karmayoga. Yet this misses the context. At the time India had been under foreign rule for better part of millennia, and many found themselves helpless over the situation, it was under these circumstances that Swami exhorted to shed the diffidence and intellectual paralysis and strive confidently in whatever capacity possible to achieve the goal. And yet it would be a mistake to construe this as eschewment of intellectual pursuit. As the original shloka states, “to approach great and learn”.

Indeed it would be nothing less than astonishing if Swami Vivekananda implied otherwise, for he was one of the most formidable philosopher of India in his time, a time which is remarkable by the presence of intellectual giants astride public conscious.

In order to gain a meaningful insight into Karma Yoga, it is first necessary to understand SwaDharma as a precondition and to understand swadharma, examined thought is necessary.

To Be Continued…

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