Invitation:Hindutva Essay Contest

The Examined Life is hosting an essay contest open only to self-described supporters of Hindutva. Please write a thousand word essay on any of the following topics:

  1. In the India of my dreams,  M F Hussain will be in jail and Taslima Nasreen will be granted Indian citizenship.
  2. In the India of my dreams, both M F Hussain and Taslima Nasreen will be free to speak their minds.
  3. In the India of my dreams, there will be no pseudo-secular people, no militant Islamists, no leftists and no children of Macaulay. So the question of what to do about M F Hussain and Taslima Nasreen will not arise, because there will be no one left to ask the question.
  4. In the India of my dreams, there will be no pseudo-secular people, no militant Islamists, no leftists and no children of Macaulay. As Hindutva is less of a philosophy and more of a debating tactic to point out the hypocrisy of everyone else in the world, Hindutva won’t exist either.
  5. I cannot write an essay on topics 1 to 4, because the person who is setting the contest has not set a similar essay contest for pseudo-secular people, militant Islamists, leftists and for children of Macaulay. This means that there is no need for me to explain how Hindutva translates to public policy.

If you write the essay, please leave a trackback or a comment. Judges and prizes to be announced later.

24 thoughts on “Invitation:Hindutva Essay Contest

  1. Aren’t topic number 4 and 5 the same?

    Both would involve defending the “Jao pahele uss aadmi ka sign leke aao…” Deewar-ish argumentative style of Hindutva adherents.

  2. Well the votaries of Hindutva cannot get any relief whatever they do right? If they had not supported Taslima, she would have either had to end up taking refuge in Europe or handed back to the fundamentalists in Bangladesh. Surely, none of the so-called secularists were ready to be seen publicly supporting her right to express her views in the way they were supporting Hussain. The motivations of the Hindutva brigade are suspect but so were those of the so-called secularists in case of Hussain. The outcome will hopefully be good for both.

    The kind of hate propaganda being spread by leftists against Taslima was quite an eye-opener. I think this time the people who should be criticized are the so-called secularists and leftists. First these hypocrites and then the Hindutva hypocrites. Letting of the so-called secularists easy will only bring up more such situations in future.

  3. Chetan, you are right, but I wanted to cover as many bases as I could think of.

    The question is: Is Hindutva a philosophy to be adopted in India or is it just a tactical weapon in the war against leftists, secularists, macaulayists, etc.? If it is the latter, then your defence makes sense. If it is the former, then we need to know how the philosophy of Hindutva will translate to policies on every day matters. So far, all I have seen by way of defence of Hindutva is counterattacks.

  4. Is there any real philosophy in Indian politics? I don’t think there is any long-term perspective on anyone’s part. No vision, no plan nothing. To me it has always seemed to be a tactical weapon. I do not claim to know everybody in power. But what I have seen are greedy, selfish short-termists on all sides.

  5. Which is why I prefaced all but one of my topics with “In the India of my dreams”. I was assuming that just as a sincere communist would have a dream of India as a communist country, a sincere Hindutva supporter would have some dream.

  6. Hmmmm,

    I guess I’ll sign up as a “Hindutva” supporter. I’m ambivalent about essentialism so I’ll just go with what I think the pseudo philosophy means and how it translates to policy.

    I think majority of Hindutvawadis would like a state somewhat like Anglican Britain in that it has all the regular “bill of rights” kinda freedoms but also state affiliation with the church — “Hinduism” in this case, although I do not view this favorably.

    Personally, in the India of MY DREAMS, both Taslima and Mr Hussain will be free to release whatever torrent of syllables they wish to utter. It is no business of the State to police speech. Since the India of my dreams meme implies the end product of a policy and not the transitional workings, I will neglect some thoughts.

    In the India of my dreams, the ministry of Human Resource Development will exist no more and Arjun Singh shall rot in a minimum security prison somewhere. Education shall be left entirely upto the enterprising energy of private citizens of India many of whom no doubt will re-ignite passion into studying ancient India including but not limited to new scholarship on Sanskrit, private contributions to study archeological sites, and the hundreds of thousands of manuscripts that are rotting under State control. And oh yeah the ASI shall also have its teeth broken (it shall exist to very ocassionally “protect” some cultural artifact, at other times I trust the Coase theorem).

    The state shall not dare control any religious institution. Though I may favor the State blocking Arab capital flowing into Indian religious institutions (mosques madrasas) or they may be examined, until the jihad menace is over. Its important to clarify that this shall be kept completely in the domain of “national security policy” and not educational policy. As such, it shall have nothing to do directly with religious instruction in any institution. Therefore, this shall be in the same area as tariffs or duties to be levied as fit.

    Article 370 shall not exist. The defense sector shall be completely liberalized and a “military industrial complex” like that in the USA shall be allowed to foster with necessary safeguards.

    The whole of CPI(M) leadership shall do lunch with Mr Arjun Singh in prison.

    Internal security forces will be modernized and professionalized. Strong institutional safeguards will be built in to minimize police brutality and maximize efficiency.

    The word “caste” shall be purged from the State. The State shall be blind to caste not only in name but also in deed. No identity card or government form shall have the word “caste” in it. Ditto with religion.

    All public data on sectarian lines shall be purged or simply not updated in following censuses. Without data, the filthy State busybodies shall be rendered toothless.

    Thats all I could think of till now. I’m sure I missed a lot that I would’ve come up with in idle thought.

  7. HiAgain,

    Did my essay have “crazy” ideas? I’m bewildered. And here I thought it contained mostly libertarian ideals. I guess libertarian ideals are crazy even on this blog.


  8. You want a “military-industrial complex”? What’s libertarian about building a national-security state? What does it have to do it with Hinduism? What is so libertarian about war and oppression?

    Your ideas about caste, sectarian matters etc do not take into consideration the ground realities.

    PS: I am not a libertarian. So I am the odd one out here and I have nothing to do with blogger Ravikiran. I am just a commenter.

  9. Tushar, you are right. Your ideals are mostly libertarian. Even libertarians are divided on just how much military might the government should accumulate and to what extent the government should be bound by constraints of law outside the country.

  10. I’d like to read more essays on one of these topics. Ravikiran, as always, has put up the various perspectives with great clarity. Someone, please write, no?

    Just curious to ask you a few things (if I may). I think you’ve opted for the fourth topic which more or less debunks the notion of Hindutva as an ideological position. But you say, ‘I’ll sign up as a “Hindutva” supporter.’ Is that why you use double quotes? What do you mean when you say you are “ambivalent about essentialism?”

    P.S. I am a total ignoramus when it comes to politics, and woke up — so to say — to things such as these just recently.

  11. Zero,

    Essentialism is the belief that any philosophy or more generically a “term” has an “essence”.
    The statement “Islam is xyz” is essentialist by nature.

    Ravi has therefore raised an excellent question with this post. What exactly is Hindutva? What are its policy prescriptions? what do those railing against ‘pseudo-secularism’ exactly have as a positive agenda?

    As I’m not aware of any solid discussion on this from Hindutvawadis themselves, I venture my own brand of libertarian hindutva, and that may well turn out to be contradictory.

    And HiAgain,

    Like it or not…theres only two ways to produce things – by government or private enterprise. Im guessing youre not an anarchist or even an anarcho-capitalist, hence you support the need for a military. Thus, you also support hardware procurement for the military. Here we can either use government agencies like we do now or let private enterprise free and let it carry us ahead in the military sphere. There is no third choice, HiAgain. Therefore I strongly support institutional checks on private contractors and the defense ministry for complete transparency (at least in theory).

    Oh and about Hinduism?? MY take from the Hindutva debate is that many of the Hindutvawadis concerns and complaints and railings are based in fact though many are not. THose that are true point towards libertarian solutions in my book, such as the railing against control of Hindu temples and (allegedly) contributing Hindu funds to churches or mosques.
    Same goes for caste calculus which is increasingly made deadly and worse by politicizing caste and fanning the flames of the dirtiest sort of rent-seeking possible.
    Privatisation of education potentially solves this.

    Same goes for hindutva railing against “marxist” education and suppression of some “true indian history”


  12. I believe that we need a military to defend our country. Creating a military-industrial complex would create an entrenched special interest that needs wars for its “growth”. Tying profits directly to war is a recipe for disaster. We will become a nation addicted to war, creating strife wherever possible, killing innocent people and send our own poor to their deaths.

    If you think that institutional checks would work, you are naive. In the real world they don’t. We will end up creating a monster that will end up destroying our country. Look at Pakistan or western countries.

    You are seduced by notions of national glory and superpower status. Millions of people in our country have standards of life equivalent to those prevalent in Sub-Saharan Africa. Building these special interests to serve the fantasies of a small elite and a grasping middle class would be the biggest atrocity we would commit on our own citizens.

    There is caste discrimination even today. I have seen so many complaints regarding the private sector where people of certain communities apparently hog all the jobs. Before Indira Gandhi nationalized many industries, a lot of corporations were filled with people of the similar communities and others were shut out. Even today the poor and the so-called lower castes are shut out in many aspects. Providing affirmative action is a quick and dirty way of bringing people up to a higher competitive level. We cannot wish away caste. It is a reality in our society. It better to acknowledge it and work with it. We cannot wish it away by removing all mention of it.

    I do see some of the concerns brought up by Hindus that you mentioned. Of course these are political issues. They cannot be wished away because they are related to religion. But building a capitalist edifice is not the way to solve problems. Capitalism destroys culture. It is parasitic on culture and values.

    It is always interesting to see people from the new middle class, the ones who benefited most from the state-subsidized egalitarian education system and state-imposed checks on elitism, rant against state-subsidized education and creation of elitist special interests. One should never forget ones roots. Why create glass-ceilings for oneself? Or is this a fear that the majority poor will one day rise up to your level if they have access to the same benefits that you had?

  13. HiAgain
    you skirt issues and issue such grandstanding old tired cliches that its laughable, no offense. “Capitalism destroyes culture” etc etc. I suggest you read some. Start with Cowen’s “In Praise of Commercial Culture”
    Infact you are so terribly ignorant of what “capitalism” is that its impossible to continue this discussion.
    Though I’m not suggesting you start with the classical liberal canon (John Stuart Mill etc), you do need to understand economics to continue any further meaningful discussion on culture and capitalism.

    And back to the “military industrial complex” you skirt the issue. So what is the alternative? Like I said you either use private enterprise or bureacratic organisation. If you admit that any institutional checks will not work, I guess we can also scrap Democracy and admit that the anarcho capitalists are right?

    Again all the crap about “glass ceilings” etc….educate yourself. You might even find Becker’s seminal 1957 paper on taste based discrimination in a market. You might also want to read Friedman’s Capitalism and Freedom especially the chapter on capitalism and discrimination.

    And of course reservations have worked soo handsomely that we have the absolutely perverse phenomenon of people rioting to be declared “backward.”
    Again, educate yourself before spouting common cliches. Nuanced arguments can be made against capitalism in all those instances, but yours are not them.
    I guess after Indira Gandhi declared “garibi hatao” we really dont have anymore garibi either, eh?

  14. BTW I’ll cede you the term “military industrial complex” I guess that already has negative connotations as well as denotations. So suffice it to say I support privatisation of the defense industry. Thats it.

  15. lol! Educate myself? You suggest? Understand economics?

    Quoting big names and using exotic words in wrong contexts do not make for a solid argument.

    I have been through your “libertarian” phase myself. I can actually see myself and I am humble enough to laugh at what I used to be.

    There is no skirting of issues. There is no need for privatization of the defence industry. Even in the US, almost all new research related to defence and science is funded directly or indirectly by the government. There is no reason to publicize the costs and privatize the profits. Such a model is nothing but subsidies for the rich.

    Since you have filled yourself to the brim with Friedman (lol!), John Stuart Mill and Becker’s papers, I now suggest that you read some Marx to set yourself right. It might give you a semblance of balance.

    Don’t be an unthinking fanatic. Ideologies are for fools.

  16. If we didn’t have affirmative action, there would have been Naxal uprisings all over India. Affirmative action combined with land reforms have worked well in building stable societies where they were implemented well.

    As for ‘nuanced’ arguments against capitalism, it will be just a repeat of what I have done several times. I am gotten tired of it. There is no point in convincing you. You are not powerful to make any change to the world. The powerful people who preach free-market policies do change their tune when they themselves are affected adversely. They seem to understand the world from the perspective of a power game. The good news is that some of them blog and their fears and true feelings are sometimes exposed. Its quite funny to see that. So all in all our argument is a pointless exercise.

  17. Oh yes Marx to set oneself straight. Yep, thats what one needs. lol glad to know u’re thoroughly in the deluded camp.

  18. And yes completely proving your thorough ignorance of anything capitalist, you say that “almost all new research related to defence and science is funded directly or indirectly by the government”..
    Ummmm, yes thats the point Einstein. Whether you want to CONTRACT OUT defense production or not.
    Marx ate ur brain.

  19. lol! Temper! Temper!

    You have missed so many arguments of mine. Why don’t you go back and reread what I wrote?

    Have you ever read Marx? Not Groucho Marx but Karl Marx. Good read, I am telling you. Widen your horizons.

Comments are closed.