A Dialogue and the Need for a Hindu Think Tank

First, let us read a dialogue between two persons speaking about the Hindus. We may call the first person, a pro-Hindutva person and the second one, an anti-Hindutva person. (The source for this dialogue is presented at its end)

Pro Hindutva: It is best to understand the overall scenario as a marketplace – a marketplace for religious products and consumers. In this market, Christianity is the market leader, Islam the challenger brand (Pepsi to Christian Coke), and Hinduism and other religions the niche players, even though Hindu numbers are not small enough to be called niche. It is niche only because Hindus are concentrated in a small geography in south Asia.

When Coke and Pepsi battle it out, it is the smaller players like Thums Up and Mangola that are squeezed out since market share for the big two can be grown only by focusing on winning converts from the smaller players.

India and China are the biggest markets for growth for Product Jesus and Product Mohammed (Or Allah, if you like). China is a closed market, and growth can happen only surreptitiously, and that leaves only India as the biggest market worth exploiting.

Anti Hindutva: Hinduism is thus served best by freeing its parts from the whole so as to create new wholes that will work more coherently. Whether these mini-Hinduisms will survive or perish depends on how fast they are able to adapt to change and modernise themselves for the new age.

Some of the demerging parts will become new religions, and possibly better ones. Some will deal with caste better than others. Even politically, trying to pretend that 80 per cent of Indians are Hindus of one kind is counter-productive. It denies benefits that minorities get by being small. Small is beautiful.

Pro Hindutva: The reality is this: not just Sikhism, but even Islam and Christianity ultimately did not address or create inclusive areas where Dalits and other castes are part of one integrated community. This is why despite the official claims of church and mosque that Hinduism is responsible for caste inequities, they themselves demand reservations for Christian and Muslim Dalits. It is an indirect admission that caste is effectively independent of religious structure, though there is also a close nexus.

Put simply, just as it is foolish to blame Africans for giving us AIDS, it is pointless blaming Hinduism for caste, even though this is where it may have originated. Where caste originated should not be a source of perpetual guilt for Hindus. It is now everybody’s problem, not Hinduism’s alone.

Anti Hindutva: Caste remains a problem as long as we try and aggregate them into one Hindu whole. But if each caste is free to be a religion of its own kind – which is the idea of the dera – we can lose our collective guilt on caste and do the right things. Even politically, trying to pretend that 80 per cent of Indians are Hindus of one kind is counter-productive. It denies benefits that minorities get by being small. Small is beautiful.

Pro Hindutva: The unusual thing about India is that its innate pluralism allows intemperate Hindu-baiters to be labelled as progressives, and not as Hinduphobes. The Christian west masks its subtle Hinduphobia by generating and spreading horror stories about rapes, caste violence and other kinds of ‘atrocity” literature.

Anti Hindutva: The problem lies not with the Hinduphobes, but with Hindus themselves. The Christian/Islamic products are easier to peddle in the Indian market.

Pro Hindutva: India’s “secular” media and demographers like to play chicken with religious affiliations data. And so it needed a “communal” demographer from the Centre for Policy Studies (CPS), Jatinder Bajaj, to point out a huge demographic bulge in Kerala’s Muslim population in the 0-6 age group, both in terms of share of live births per 100 population and in terms of rising shares in the 0-6 age group.

According to 2015 data, Bajaj points out that Muslim share in all live births per 100 is 41.45 per cent compared to the Hindu share of 42.87 per cent, indicating that despite being only half the Hindu population, Muslim share in births is nearly the same. In Kerala, the Muslim share between the two census periods rose from 24.7 per cent to 26.6 per cent, and in West Bengal from 25.2 per cent to 27 per cent.

Anti Hindutva: The Hindu response should speed up the de-patriarchalisation of Hindu society, and enable women to enter all fields of religious, social and economic endeavour, including by bringing in more women to run temples, training them as priests, and by formally de-emphasising all rites and rituals that discriminate against women.

Hinduism’s biggest challenge comes not from rival religions, but the Left.

Rather than focus on beef politics and lynching the odd cow smuggler or two, the main message of Hindutva groups should be to aggressively pursue social integration, with Dalit upliftment, and not anti-Muslim sentiment, becoming the core focus.

Pro Hindutva: If one were to take a cue from the last livestock census carried out in India (dating to 2012), the numbers point towards the need for more protection for the cow, not less, especially for the indigenous variety.

Anti Hindutva: Today, in the age of farm mechanisation, we don’t need cows to farm. Chemical fertilisers have replaced animal dung, though it may still find new uses in organic farming. The buffalo has supplanted the cow as an efficient provider of milk, not to speak of cross-breeds that offer higher yields for longer periods of time. Cow urine is still used in Ayurvedic medicine, and as there is a revival of interest in this area of healthcare, there could be some hope here. But the farmer derives less from a cow than before, and not allowing cow slaughter – either covertly or overtly – means farmers will slowly stop rearing cows. The anti-cow slaughter laws, in fact, probably are hastening the demise of many Indian cow breeds. A doubling of farm incomes can happen more easily with buying buffaloes, which offer higher-fat milk, than cows.

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All the sentences of this dialogue are cited from articles (Indexed below) written by R. Jagannathan, the Editorial Director of Swarajya, a magazine that cares about Indian civilisation, keeping them true to the context.

This apparent contradiction highlights that the problems have been rightfully identified by Jagannathan but the solutions are not well-researched and often shallow. Take the example of his recent article,  ‘Will Breaking Up Hinduism Into Its Parts Preserve It Better Than Trying To Keep It As One?’ in which he argues for disbanding Hinduism and creation of different new religions along caste lines to save Hindu ideas.

We do not need to go far to see that such an attempt happened in Tamil Nadu where Brahmins are viewed as part of almost a different religion (Brahminism) compared to non-Brahmins (called the Dravid religion). The end result is that even the rituals belonging to Dravid religion are in crisis with Jallikattu being banned between 2014 and 16 by the Supreme Court. The Dravidian movement was not mildly concerned about their heritage during that time. The massive rise of Christianity in Tamil Nadu can perhaps be linked to this breach from the Hindu identity.

The so-called Hinduism -lite is a complete failure in Bengal where the traditional festival of Durga-Puja was reduced to a social occasion, or in Kerala where Onam, the festival of Vamana-avatar was reduced to a secular social festival. In both cases, Hindu population is dwindling and Islamist threats are looming ever larger. As regards Kerala’s problem, de-patriarchalisation of Hindu society as suggested by Jagannathan is making Hindu girls simply more vulnerable to “love Jihad”.

Having said all the above, we do not doubt the sincerity of Mr. Jagannathan but merely highlight the point that survival of a civilization requires meticulous analysis of the threats and figuring out their remedy from a grounded yet intelligent perspective. This is not a job for an editor who is required to offer his views every day whenever an issue comes to the forefront of news on a variety of issues. We require an independent think tank without any obligation to any political party or organisation or person, and which will be solely concerned about strategizing civilizational survival.

Less number of words. But well-researched words.

Reference:

Jagannathan’s Articles:

  1. Even While Calling Out Hinduphobia, It’s Important To Develop A Hinduism Lite. < https://swarajyamag.com/books/even-while-calling-out-hinduphobia-its-important-to-develop-a-hinduism-lite>
  2. What Hindu Response To Adverse Shifts In Kerala’s Religious Demography Should Be. < https://swarajyamag.com/politics/what-hindu-response-to-adverse-shifts-in-keralas-religious-demography-should-be>
  3. Not Islam, Not Christianity, It Is The Left That Is Particularly Inimical To Hinduism. < https://swarajyamag.com/politics/not-islam-not-christianity-it-is-the-left-that-is-inimical-to-hinduism>
  4. Not Just Hindu Sentiment; There Is A Strong Economic Case For Gau Raksha < https://swarajyamag.com/economy/not-just-hindu-sentiment-there-is-a-strong-economic-case-for-gau-raksha>
  5. Cow Politics: If BJP Wants To Lose 2019, This Is The Right Way To Go About It < https://swarajyamag.com/politics/cow-politics-if-bjp-wants-to-lose-2019-this-is-the-right-way-to-go-about-it >
  6. Will Breaking Up Hinduism Into Its Parts Preserve It Better Than Trying To Keep It As One? <https://swarajyamag.com/culture/will-breaking-up-hinduism-into-its-parts-preserve-it-better-than-trying-to-keep-it-as-one>

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