Hari Om! Modi ji,
I am taking the liberty of writing to you as a humble citizen of Bharat with a pronouncedly nationalist mindset. I am well aware that you may not be in the right frame of mind to pour over the thoughts of a commoner. The brutal national lockdown caused by the global spread of a Chinese pandemic with a steadily spiraling death count has obviously put you to unimaginable pressure. This is obviously not the best time to write. But we journalists follow an informal norm of doing an overview when a government completes a year in office. Hence, the letter.
A crisis of this magnitude brings in its wake the chance to change the course of history. To quote Shakespeare, “There is a tide in the affairs of men which taken at the flood leads on to fortune. Omitted, all the voyage of their life is bound in shallows and in miseries. On such a full sea are we now afloat.”
The objective of the letter is two-fold, one long term, the other immediate, and I am stating it upfront without mincing words. First, to impress upon you the need to set in motion the process of restoring in right earnest our ancient dharmic values and identity as a preparatory step towards the advent of a modern Hindu Rashtra. A rashtra in which people of all religions are welcome to stay with full democratic rights as long as they acknowledge that Bharat is a Hindu nation. Just as Saudi Arabia, Pakistan, Iran, Iraq, UAE etc. are Muslim, and the United States and England predominantly Christian. This, despite the steadily spreading tentacles of Islam right across Europe and America in the last two decades. Second, to urge you to focus your entire politics on ensuring that no anti-Hindu formation ever comes to power again at the Center.
If the Constitution has to be amended or overhauled to bring about a Hindu Rashtra, so be it. This is exactly why we elected you, twice. A nation’s Constitution is not the Word of God. Thomas Jefferson said some men look at Constitutions with sanctimonious reference and deem them like the Ark of the Covenant – too sacred to be touched. A document incorporating the fundamental political principles on which the nation is to be governed is only as good as its acceptability and contemporaneity. The Constitution we adopted in 1950 is postulated on the British ideal of secularism whereas the spirit of Bharat is predominantly spiritual.
This is the land of ancient rishis who left us a timeless legacy of wisdom to walk us through every stage of life. There is no body of shaastra greater than the Vedas and Upanishads. Does our Constitution reflect our heritage? To begin with, the Preamble should have been restored to its original wording in the last six years. This would have driven home the message of the shift in the political narrative. The Opposition may have stymied the move given your party’s lack of majority in the Rajya Sabha. But I doubt if the thought of bringing back the original Preamble crossed your mind.
Seventy years of counterfeit secularism has destroyed our cultural underpinnings and given birth to generations of self-loathing Hindus ignorant of their past, and hurtling towards a vacuous future. Efforts have to be made to reeducate them and rejuvenate their faith. Bharat was partitioned in 1947 on religious lines. Its survival as a Hindu majority nation therefore necessarily rests on how effectively you protect the Hindu interest. If you don’t do it, who will? Though some progress has been made with the passage of the Citizenship Amendment Act, and the abrogation of Article 370, the anti-CAA protests seemed to have hobbled your steps.
Shaheen Bagh should not have been allowed to happen regardless of the reaction it might have elicited in the liberal media. It was badly handled. Expecting the Delhi poll to be a referendum on the fire-eating speeches of desh-drohis deceptively waving the tricolor and reading the Preamble at a three-month long roadside demonstration was a blunder. The BJP was never slated to win Delhi given the rudderless state of the local unit. The East Delhi riots could have been avoided had you acted in time.
The sad developments cast a baleful influence on our tough-talking home minister, Amit Shah ji. He has barely uttered a word since the Delhi defeat, presumably at your behest. Many feel he is depressed and demoralized. And now this coronavirus thingy has deepened the gloom. The lack of a far-sighted political agenda beyond winning elections is beginning to worry.
Dovish statements emanating from the Sangh are sending confusing signals. Hindus and Muslims may have a common ancestry but not a common bond. Islamists have a single point agenda: Ghazwa-e-Hind, and this is not a classified secret. We still don’t know where we are headed. The lines of an old Hindi 1960s song come to mind: “Nikle thhe kahan jaane ke liye, pahunche haiyn kahan maloom nahin. Ab apne bahakte qadmon ko manzil ka nishaan maloom nahin...” Newbies in the job market are frequently asked during interviews where do they see themselves in the next 10-15 years. Only the clear minded come out with a focused response. The question is equally relevant in the context of a nation. On the answer rests our future.
Now let me discuss the areas which require immediate attention if we are to chart a definitive course toward creating a strong Hindu rashtra. Little or nothing has been done on these issues in the last six years.
POPULATION: A TICKING TIME BOMB
First things first. Modi ji, you were the first prime minister to dwell at length on this albatross round our neck from the ramparts of the Red Fort in your I-day address in 2019. No sop, scheme, reform, or policy regardless of the size and spread will ever be enough in a country with an exploding population. Farmers will keep dying, encephalitis and other diseases will keep killing newborns, health facilities will remain ramshackle, joblessness will keep growing, water shortages will keep worsening, and ground water resources will keep drying up. Projections that we may outstrip China’s population of 1.43 billion by 2027 are frightening. To say that our population growth rate decelerated to 17 per cent between the 2001 and 2011 census or that fertility rates of women are inching southward cannot be a source of comfort. The bitter truth is that it is just not enough.
Unchecked rise in births has made us an ungovernable bheed-tantra with its attendant consequences on law and order. News of outnumbered policemen being stoned and chased away by crowds is no longer a novelty. It happens every other day, especially in Muslim dominated areas. The problem of illegal immigration is inextricably linked to it. Executing the CAA thus cannot be held up for any longer than necessary. The NRC too will, sooner or later, have to be drawn up.
Niti Aayog is supposed to have come out with a draft of a new population policy, but the last I heard was that it was still holding brain storming sessions to get suggestions. Please appreciate that it takes nothing less than 20-25 years for population control measures to show results. China adopted a one-child policy in 1979-80 which set it firmly on the road to becoming an economic power house by the turn of the 21st century.
Bullying people into forced sterilization as during the Emergency is obviously not the solution. But there are no soft options. Formulating penal measures in the shape of economic disincentives is a must. It is all very well to try inculcating behavioral changes by educating poor, illiterate women on the benefits of contraception, or disburse prophylactics to their husbands, but it doesn’t work in practice. Those living on the margins are lulled into believing that more children mean more earning hands in later years.
Money, regardless of color, or its equivalent is the only bait the needy readily bite. Reward couples who opt for sterilization after birthing a second progeny. Deny sops, be they in education, jobs, or ration cards to those electing to have a third. Make the incentive attractive enough to nullify the likelihood of refusal. Cars were gifted to couples with more than four kids in the erstwhile Soviet Union to encourage them to have more children. This was done to encourage baby-making to reverse the alarming decline in population. Surely you can offer a TV, refrigerator, or some other useful household item with a long shelf life.
Let’s admit it Modi ji. A militarily weak Hindu Rashtra sandwiched between two dangerous enemies, China and Pakistan, in the north will remain a source of perennial stress and sweat. Neither will never allow us to live in peace. Nepal, Bangladesh and Sri Lanka too cannot be trusted given the growing Chinese influence in all three countries. Neglect of national security for decades has brought us to a pass where we cannot handle a combined onslaught. There’s really no point bluffing ourselves.
Our ground forces at 1.4 million may be the world’s largest, but that is an illusory advantage. China has halved its standing army and shifted its focus to acquiring and developing cutting edge technology for its air force and navy. The sky and sea will be theatres of future wars, with the nuclear option a determent. Human participation will be minimal. Beijing’s growing aggressiveness in the South China Sea is the surest sign of its expansionist maritime agenda.
Blame for compromising our defenses lies with the venal Congress. But for how much longer can we go on accusing them? You have been in power for six years, but the effective size of the defense budget has hovered between 1.5 to two per cent of GDP. Today it stands at slightly over Rs 4.7 lakh crore. This sounds impressive, but is woefully inadequate since around 60 per cent of the allocated budget is spent on paying salaries and pensions.
Some progress, admittedly, has been made in acquisitions for the Army. The $4 billion howitzer buying spree is welcome. Imagine an army whose artillery went un-replenished for 30 years, thanks to the long shadow cast by the Bofors scam. However, it is the Indian Air Force (IAF) with its outdated fleet of Sukhoi 30 MKIs and obsolescent MIG 21s that is the real cause for concern.
Seen from a purely technical perspective, our air force will be hard put to take on Pakistan and China in a prolonged combat. If the IAF still manages to give a black eye to Pakistan as during the Balakot episode in 2019, the credit goes to our brave pilots who don’t bat an eyelid despite the technological disadvantage. Yes, you managed to ram though the Rafale deal despite Rahul Gandhi’s idiotic bid to scuttle, but can 36 jets delivered in annual lots of eleven from this year help fob off a major attack?
Our squadron strength is down to 32 from the 42 which the IAF hypothesizes as imperative in a two-front war. The addition of 36 Medium Multi-Role Combat Aircraft (MMRCA) 2.0 Dassault Rafales will add two squadrons by 2022 by which time it will be the turn of the MIG 21s to be superannuated. Even if we accept with alacrity Dassault’s offer of 36 more Rafales, restoring the old strength of 42 squadrons is next to impossible. IAF’s current requirement for MMRCA 2.0 is 114 fighters, 96 of which are supposed to have been Bharat assembled Sukhois. Their Beyond Visual Range (BVR) missile capability is markedly less compared to MMRCA 2.0. The Navy too has its own need of 57 fighters.
The latest revelation that the IAF’s gaping gap will be filled by HAL Tejas under the Make in India initiative is a bolt from the blue. HAL needs to be encouraged, but it would be unwise to abruptly shut the import route till the company has attained the minimum global standard. Not even a full squadron has been delivered in all these years. Putting all our eggs in HAL’s basket will at best be foolhardy if not outright dangerous. The nation’s air security cannot be risked since we have fallen way behind our enemies.
Modi ji, I still recall the first speech you gave at a massive ex-serviceman’s rally at Rewari (Haryana) after being officially declared the BJP’s candidate for prime minster in September 2013. You said when you were in Class 6 you wanted to study in a sainik school. Being poor you saved two rupees to order a prospectus. When you told your family of your wish, your father said the expense was beyond his means. Such was you regard for the army that in 1965 you legged it to Mehsana when told that our soldiers would be passing through. You served our jawans tea and snacks for several days. Even as an RSS pracharak you loved visiting cantonments to interact with soldiers. So much so that they became your extended family. Even after assuming charge as PM you were seen chatting with them in fatigues.
Clearly there are solid reasons why we thought you would give the army the importance they deserved. Our jawans were openly insulted and pelted with stones by locals in Kashmir. But you never spoke up for them in public. Our army is the backbone of the country. They stake their lives to defend us. We cannot do without them. Especially now when they are engaged on several fronts to keep our internal and external enemies at bay. They deserve the best in weapons and allowances. Our military means more to us than those self-seeking bozos in the bureaucracy.
CONSTRICT THE BUREAUCRACY
Now that I’ve dropped the name of the treacherous lot identified by their collective name, I am put in mind of what the famous British TV host and satirist, David Frost, said of their pernicious influence. Once it is understood, said he, that politicians are nothing but PROs for their publicity shy bosses, the permanent secretaries, Parliament and politics becomes intelligible. How right was he!
Modi ji, the bureaucracy is a tough nut to crack. As someone said the civil servant is a missile which doesn’t work, but cannot be fired. He has a difficulty for every solution. Wish you had seen the superb 1980s sitcom Yes, Minister, and its sequel Yes, Prime Minister. Or read its bestselling text. It would have taught you to negotiate the landmines placed in your way. We are well aware that part of the reason why you may not have accomplished as much as you wished in your first term is due to the obstreperousness of these hard-nosed, poker-faced men lolling at their desks in North and South Bloc and other assorted mansions in the capital. Most of them have still not come to terms with the power shift in 2014.
Seventy years of a work culture anchored in red tape cannot be changed in a few years. The late 19th century Northcote-Trevalyan model on which the British civil service, forerunner of the ICS/IAS, was built was a product of its times. Its success was in good measure attributed to its effective response to political change. Quite apart from being untouched by the canker of corruption, it was committed to British public service, and willing to implement policies sanctioned by the cabinet. Above all, it was politically neutral. Something which cannot be said of the IAS, most of whose officers belong to the detestable Khan Market gang. The system is still choc-a-bloc with Congress poodles who will never change their ways. They are generalists lacking in domain expertise. They work on personal loyalties, not core competence.
The Indian Administrative Service, Modi ji, has outlived its utility. It is one British leftover sorely in need of a radical overhaul in job content and tenure. But since it cannot happen anytime soon, I suggest you introduce a few innovations to process decisions faster.
To begin with make lateral appointments of domain experts from Secretary level upward. The Chief Economic Advisor (CEA) should be renamed the National Economic Advisor (NEA) and given the status of a cabinet minister like the National Security Advisor (NSA). The CEA currently plays second fiddle to the Secretary (Economic Affairs) when in reality his writ should run through every economic ministry. He alone should coordinate with the cabinet minister of each ministry which has a bearing on our economics. Reporting to him should be specialist economists from other disciplines like banking, agriculture, labor, transportation, environment etc. All these areas have their global linkages, practices, and assessments.
The NEA ought to be the PM’s main point man in matters of economic policy. This is necessary in an era where nations are divided in trading blocks, and engaged in economic hostilities to further their interests. The NEA should be given a free hand to devise strategies to deal with them. Ideally, he should be a macro economist with a global perspective. Someone with a deep understanding of our economy as well as our competitors’; plus the network spread to access data emanating from each country. We need a worldly-wise economic advisor who has the PM’s ear, not a business school or bank economist with a narrow vision. The Niti Aayog has the trappings of a multifaced NEA, but is inhabited by the usual suspects with no domain expertise.
The post of a National Education Advisor and a National Technology Advisor, both of cabinet rank, will also need to be created if you want to extract yourself from the vice like grip of the bureaucracy. But I will deal with this in another letter.
DECONTROL HINDU TEMPLES
Modi ji, this is a burning issue handed down to us by the British, and brazenly continued by J. Nehru, the prime minister who wore his secularism on his sleeves only to turn a blind eye when Hindu interests were involved. Given your image as the Hindu Hriday Samrat, most of us had thought, and justifiably, that divesting Hindu temples of government control would be among your priorities. The looting of our places of worship by the secularists to further their nefarious agenda of minority appeasement needed to be stopped. Hindus are angry that not an inch of progress has been made by your regime to undo the decades of injustice even as churches and mosques continue to employ their free-flowing funds from Rome and Riyadh to help the Break Bharat forces.
Hope you realize that the main reason why Hindus are disunited and willing tools of foreign propaganda is the failure to imbibe in them a respect for our culture and traditions. Things might have been radically different if temple donations were used to build vedic centers, pathshala, gaushala, vishwa-vidyalaya, to further sanatan culture. The British had their reasons to keep us divided, but what has the first real “Hindu nationalist government” after Independence done to restore equity.
I am deeply aware that there are ticklish legal problems. Freeing temples of government control impacts the revenue of states. Which is why none wants to give up their hold. Mammoth sums of money pour into coffers of the Sai temple at Shirdi or the Shri Siddhivinayak temple in Mumbai, not to speak of the ancient temples in the South. The money is diverted into building canals, bridges, and run government educational institutions. The land on which these temples are built is state-owned. Both land and education are state subjects. There is no way in which the Center can steamroll its way through. But states need to have been brought on board just as they were on GST. Taxing temple proceeds and then diverting them into minority specific schemes like renovation of churches and community halls for Christians as in Karnataka is scandalous. Hope the private member’s Bill tabled in the Lok Sabha by your party’s MP and ex-cop, Satyapal Singh, in this regard for a second time is given the importance it deserves.
The greater danger is the increasing demand from communities within the Hindu fold (eg. Lingayats) to be given minority status to escape the tax net and rid themselves of government interference. The Ramakrishna Mission, which you once wanted to join, is the biggest purveyor of Hindu culture, but not counted as Hindu. If this is allowed, will it not, sooner or later, reflect in the Census figures, to the detriment of Hindu interests.
Modi ji, hope my weak words strike a chord. You are the best thing that happened to this country since Independence. The damage done to our nationhood has only begun to be repaired. A lot more needs to be done. Cementing the gains of the last six years calls for proactive action on all the issues touched upon. The forces of construction and destruction have always run parallel in the course of history. Problems, disasters, tragedies will keep snapping at our heels, but a way has to be found to forge ahead.
The soul of Bharat is eternal. Aham Brahmasmi!
Om Namah Shivaye
Sudhir k Singh
25 May 2020
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