Author: Ashok Chowgule
Publication: Hindu Vivek Kendra
Date: November 7, 2015
I came into contact with some of the leaders and activists of the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh sometime in 1990. It is my good fortune that I found myself working for the Vishwa Hindu Parishad from the very beginning of my association. I have always felt that I should do something for the society that has given me so much, and being a part of the Sangh parivar enabled me to take my work to the next level. Today I am the Working President (External) of VHP, and I have come across so many people all over the world that are working for a resurgent Hinduism, that I feel that I should do even more than I am able to do at the moment.
I recognise that not everyone can be as active in a social organisation as I have been. There are other priorities, and being part of a social organisation, and that too on a voluntary basis, is not practical for most people. I have been fortunate that my circumstances has provided me with the the luxury of being able to devote so much of my time.
Ever since I joined, I have heard a lament from the leaders and the activist of the Sangh parivar that the intellecutals are a block for the organisation to move forward. At the same time, many of the well-wishers were saying that the negative publicity that the Sangh parivar receives turns many of the potential supporters away. I could not reconcile such comments with what I observed – the growth of all the Sangh organisations in their respective fields. I also observed that the activists and the well-wishers would belong the category who could be said to be influenced by the negative publicity. I, therefore, came to the conclusion that the negative projection was not really effective, except at the fringe.
An area of work that I decided to concentrate on was to try and put forward the Sangh world-view from the perspective of the Sangh. In this effort, I found that most of the intellectuals who were indulging in projecting the Sangh in a negative manner, were really not interested in listening to the Sangh. At the same time, with the Sangh method of mass contact, the message of the Sangh was reaching the people at large. Additionally, the many service activities of the Sangh, created a positive image of the organisation in the minds of those who came in contact with it.
After May 2015, when the National Democratic Alliance, led by Bharatiya Janata Party, won more than 300 seats in the Lok Sabha elections, the concern of managing the intellectuals amongst the Sangh parivar activists and the well-wishers increased exponentially. In the run-up to the elections, there were some analysts, like Swapan Dasgupta and Tavleen Singh, who had written that those who were projecting the Sangh in a negative way felt threatened if Narendra Modi became the prime minister. Modi was labelled as an outsider to the Delhi circles, and a cosy arrangement that existed would be threatened.
The larger question then is whether any organisation should manage the intellectuals, or whether the intellectuals should go about their task in a professional manner. By this I mean that the intellectuals should collect the relevant data by doing due diligence, analyse the data in a logical way, and present the analysis to the people. Clearly, those in the Sangh parivar and the well-wishers feel that there is injustice that has been done to the Sangh by the intellectuals, and hence the feeling is that there is a need to manage them.
But who exactly are these intellectuals that we are talking about. We can get a clue from the following article:
India’s Cultural Revolution
Baru talks a group called the Delhi Darbar and Nehruvian Elite (DDNE). He says, despite being advised to the contrary, both Narsimha Rao and Atal Bihari Vajpayee, when they occupied the seat of the prime minister of the country, decided to try and co-opt the group so as to reduce their nuisance value. Baru also says that Modi is trying to marginalise the group, and hence the group today is fighting back.
Nowhere in the article, does Baru talk about whether the group is doing something that is good for the nation. It seems to me that he considers that the pampering of the members is something that is their god-given right. He thinks that the society is obliged to pay them for being the member, and live a life-style which an ordinary (and hard-working) citizen can only dream that his generation after next could aspire to. He did not consider it necessary that the group should have a loyalty to the people, instead of their own agenda and ideology.
The manner in which DDNE have been going about their task can be observed from the following articles:
Hook, line and sinker: Modi’s media baiters laid a trap for him and he walked right into it
Author: R Jagannathan
Date: October 26, 2015
Campaign to bring Modi down is afoot (and why he is partly to blame for it)
Author: Minhaz Merchant
Date: October 30, 2015
The headlines reflect the essence of the articles, and they clearly say that the intellectuals are making a deliberate attempt to demonise the Sangh parivar in general and Modi in particular. There is sufficient indication in the articles that this is being done without any data or logic – that is there is an unprofessional behaviour on part of the intellectuals. The tragedy is that the two authors do not give any indication that they think that the intellectuals are going about their task in a manner that does little justice to the word intellectual. Even though the authors do not comment on the behaviour of the intellectuals, I get a strong feeling that they do not see anything wrong.
What one could conclude from these two articles is that Modi was not smart enough to out-manoeuvre the intellectuals in what is essentially a game being played. Merchant goes as far as making some recommendations to the Modi about what the latter should be doing. But neither even deal with the issue of whether the intellectuals should be changing their behaviour.
Here it needs to mention that Narsimha Rao’s attempt to co-opt the DDNE was met with only partial success, and that of Atal Bihari Vajpayee had failed almost totally. In fact, at the time Swapan Dasgupta wrote that the BJP leaders were seeking a certificate of secularism from the very people whom they labelled as pseudo-secular.
Previously, the BJP chief minister of Madhya Pradesh, Sunderlal Patwa also decided not to pamper the Bhopal (the capital of the state) equivalent of DDNE. Anil Sharma, the Bhopal correspondent of The Times of India (May 6, 1992) wrote: “The Madhya Pradesh chief minister, Mr Sunderlal Patwa, has always asserted that it is not an absolutely necessity for the press and government to have cordial relations.” One would have thought that Patwa should be applauded for this assertion. Instead, the article is titled: “BJP’s Assault On Press In MP”, clearly indicating that the correspondent and the publication thought that Patwa was doing a terrible thing. And, the above three authors, with respect to Modi, also seem to be saying that Modi is doing a terrible thing in not managing the intellectuals.
Sharma in his article, in explaining how the Congress governments pampered the Bhopal equivalent of DDNE, by saying the following: “It cannot be denied that the print media really flourished under the Congress government patronage, with special press complexes coming up in major towns and land being allotted to newspaper owners at throwaway prices…During the Congress rule anyone merely registering a weekly newspaper could get government accommodation and a standard quota of advertisements. The term Alter Press, where the same text was published only with a different masthead to gain multiple government advertisements for the same person gained currency during the period. Journalists and newspaper proprietors had a major say in the transfers and postings of the bureaucrats and this proved lucrative for them. Apart from other benefits, journalists travelling abroad for any reason would get government assistance to the tune of Rs 25,000.”
Just before the declaration of the May 2014 Lok Sabha election results, the late Vinod Mehta contemplated a situation of Modi as the prime minister vis-à-vis the intellectuals. He wrote: “Here we come to a tricky issue. What is the ideal or even workable relationship between politicians and journalists in a free society? This is a subject I have visited before and I am happy to inform readers that my position remains unchanged. I believe it is positively dangerous for journalists and politicians to get too cosy, or become friends. In such a relationship, the odds always favour the politician. It is the journalist who gets ‘used’. Unfortunately, Indian journalists, especially Delhi journalists, consider becoming friends with a politician a great honour. They boast about it. If he happens to be a cabinet minister, the honour is doubled.”
The quote is from the following article:
Media: The Turn Of The Phrase
May 12, 2014
and it is worth reading in full. Mehta narrates how the cosy relationship has led to the media trying to influence the appointment of ministers at the behest of Neera Radia, similar to what the media in Bhopal did with respect to the bureaucrats.
If the members of DDNE wish to project their own agenda, let them do it through organisations that are not funded by the society, either directly through universities and such institutes, or indirectly through media. Let them seek support from like-minded people who have the necessary financial resources, or even political parties. Let there be complete transparency so that the people at large know the bias through which they project their views to the society. Misusing institutes that are supposed to be unbiased will cause serious harm to the society.
For a robust democracy, there is a need for vibrant institutions that are manned by professional intellectuals. If they do not undertake their duty in the way they should, the political class will have little fear of being accountable. When they take upon themselves a task of demonising a section of the political leaders, whether the leaders are in the executive or not, they will be doing serious harm to the society. Mahatma Gandhi was asked about his view on a bill of rights. He said: “Begin with a charter of Duties of Man (both M and D capitals) and I promise the rights will follow as spring follows winter.”
Let alone the Hindu Right, the intellectuals should not allow anyone to manage them. They should do their duty to the society.