The rise of a novel India
With 5 years of governance as testimony to his perseverance, Modi has admirably steered India’s civilisational march
In the last fortnight or more, the Prime Minister's final address to the 16th Lok Sabha has somehow been pushed into the background. At a time when the question is being repeatedly asked "Why Modi" both by those who wish India to remain a conglomeration composed of self-alienated and rootless individuals and communities and those who wish to see India socially, spiritually, economically and strategically self-rejuvenated; it is necessary to keep reminding ourselves of this historic speech. It was a speech that reinforced and reiterated the fundamental conviction that India's civilisational march was well underway and no amount of negative effort could arrest its advance.
For us, the defining question "Why Modi" is answered through these words of the philosopher Ram Swarup, written during the fiftieth year of India's independence. Ram Swarup was referring to how with the likes of Sri Aurobindo, Lokmanya Tilak and others, the struggle for India's freedom also became a movement for a deeper civilisational and cultural self-renewal, self-recovery and self-assertion. The old politics of acquiescence, of status-quo and of rejecting our deeper cultural fundamentals got eventually outdated. Ram Swarup's words spoken over two decades back, can quite comfortably be applied to understanding India's current rise and to also answer the defining question of "Why Modi"? He wrote how the "new spokesmen" taught that "India was more than a geographical entity, that it was a holy land, a sacred trust, a spiritual idea, a power of the spirit, even a deity; they taught that India was rising for the truth it embodied, for recovering its svabhava." This perspective, Ram Swarup argued, "galvanised the whole nation" and gave "deeper ideation to the independence struggle and deeper definition of India. It gave a new focus to Indian politics and set up new tasks, new goals." Two decades after these words were articulated, that same perspective has once more galvanised the nation and in it especially those who genuinely feel that a second struggle for civilisational self-renewal is now underway for India with Modi at the helm. Modi is and continues to be the best spokesman of India's civilisational quest.
The 16th Lok Sabha ended with Modi's moving address. What began with profound obeisance on the steps of Parliament five years ago, ended with the elevating, humbling and self-renewing message of "Micchami Dukkadam" – one of the most enduring messages which has sprung from the deep meditations of our sages in course of our civilisational march. When he had bowed down at the steps of Parliament in May 2014, Narendra Modi resolved that his government and ministers would be driven by the vision of true empowerment and inclusion, that they would offer their best to India's parliamentary tradition and democratic spirit and five years after that resolve, after having striven without hiatus to live up to that pledge, Prime Minister Modi concluded his first term, asking for forgiveness and forgiving others. In a sense, this was one of the highest points in recent times, in the annals of the Indian Parliament and governance.
That a Prime Minister who commanded such a massive mandate, who, without rest or respite, lived up to his pledge and promise, constantly strove to imagine, ideate, create and effectuate some of the most daring and innovative governance initiatives, who toiled to better and transform lives, whose popularity and acceptance among the ordinary Indians far surpassed that of any of leaders in recent times, also chose to end the first term of his parliamentary tenure with a genuine outpouring of humility, and acceptance reveals to us his actual and innate nature – a leader for whom India, India's national interest, her well-being, her progression, the welfare of her people is paramount, overriding and the only driving force. In his magnanimity, Modi asked for forgiveness, though seeking for forgiveness should have come from members of the other side who repeatedly abused him, showed disdain for his humble origins, poured derision on his struggles in life.
Contrast Modi's humility with the approach and behaviour of the other leader, the "Dynast" who only excels in weaving webs of lies and hurling abuse. Never has the level of political discourse degenerated to the current levels. A section of the opposition has united to oust Modi, what unites them is their capacity for abusing him, nothing more. To say that ideological alignment or governance vision unites them will be a travesty. What unites them is their hatred for Modi. On the last day of the 16th Lok Sabha for example, when the Unregulated Deposit Schemes Bill 2018, was being debated and passed, one had a foretaste of how the proposed "Federal Front" will function and synergise. The cracks were wide open with the leading constituents blaming each other of robbing the poor of their hard earned money. Congress blamed Trinamool Congress, TMC blamed CPIM and CPIM blamed both Congress and TMC, while other parties went ahead and supported the Bill to regulate the unscrupulous chit fund syndicates. This was but just a glimpse of the chaos and anarchy that the structure and idea of a "Federal Front" represents. Against this edifice of anarchy and chaos stands Modi and the solid record of his five years of governing India.
Against the spirit of "Micchami Dukkadam" stands the brazen arrogance of Congress, especially its president. The last five years was a phase which saw one of the most brazen expressions of "dynastism" with Congress first family led by its president, attacking and casting aspersions on pillar-institutions of the Indian polity. Senior officers and personnel of our armed forces have been attacked and called liars – in the manner in which Rahul Gandhi attacked the chief of the Indian Air Force on the Rafale issue, a sense of irresponsible and unaccountable entitlement has defined his behaviour. This same irresponsibility has been evident in the last few days when Congress resorted to parroting the language of Pakistan on the Pulwama terror attack.
But such behaviour is increasingly being challenged and submerged by the voice of India's civilisational re-assertion. The politics of subversion, the politics of perfidy as resorted to by Congress, in which nothing is sacred, in which subversive entities from within the country are goaded to challenge India's national security, India's sovereignty, her freedom, is increasingly being challenged by the ordinary Indian, the Indian who wants to see India emerge as a major power and player on the global arena.
India in the last five years, is not only a nation in search of lost greatness, it is a nation that is rekindling her spirit of civilisational greatness and spread, it is a nation that is systematically working to re-assert its essential civilisational identity and it is this assertion that has driven and inspired all actions in governance and politics since the summer of 2014.
The articulation of "Micchami Dukkadam", thus, is an expression of that goal, that objective that while India rises responsibly and peacefully, India rises as a crucial entity and constituent of global living, India rises conscious of her strength and potential, her rise can no longer be reversed or retarded.
Modi drives that rise, he directs it while India's civilisational spirit guides and inspires it.
(The author is Director, Dr. Syama Prasad Mookerjee Research Foundation, New Delhi. The views expressed are strictly personal)