The American President, Barack Obama, has already embraced the Indian Prime Minister, Narendra Modi, in the highly girdled airport in Delhi. This is the second jaadu ki jhappi between the leaders of two nations with similar global interests. Obama’s country has been the world’s moral police since the second world war and Modi’s India aspires to wrench that hegemony.
About two decades ago, Samuel P Huntington wrote in his famous and controversial book, The Clash of Civilizations and the Remaking of World Order, that “If at some point India supplants East Asia as the world’s economically most rapidly developing area, the world should be prepared for extended disquisitions on the superiority of Hindu culture...” Interestingly, Huntington added that the disquisition would have to be about “the contributions of the caste system to economic development” and a fundamentalist assertion of indigenous culture. Huntington was not a divinatory astrologer but a Harvard University professor of political science. When he wrote those words India was still struggling to grow up from what was mockingly labelled as the Hindu rate of economic growth. And now India has succeeded in creating a new caste system: a duplicate of what Obama’s country created originally.
Narendra Modi became the Prime Minister at a time when India had already achieved what Huntington calls “material success.” So it is easy for the Prime Minister to proceed to what Huntington predicted as the natural outcome: “cultural assertion.”
The double jhappi between the leaders of the two global superpowers is more significant than the semi-literate Sangh Parivar missionaries of medievalist travesties such as ghar vapasi may ever be able to comprehend. What Modi is trying to show the world is that India is not merely an economic superpower but also America’s competitor.
But what is the competition about? That’s the billion dollar question really. Is it an assertion of the Hindu civilization, as Huntington argued? Or is it a political dominance, an assertion of power?
“Cultural assertion follows material success,” wrote Huntington. “Hard power generates soft power,” he added in the same sentence.
That is exactly what Modi is trying to do. He won’t be satisfied with mere material success. He is like Hitler who will not be contented with anything less than racial garv. That’s why he kept mum when the religious institutions of the minority communities in the country were vandalised time and again in different parts of the country including the national capital soon after he ascended the throne in what his minister, Venkaiah Naidu, wanted to be rechristened as Indraprastha or Hastinapur. That is also why he keeps mum on issues like ghar vapasi. That is also why the Central Board of Film Certification is being infiltrated with RSS minions. Even the Central Board of Secondary Education has been similarly infiltrated and the history textbooks are being tinkered with.
And yet, Modi is not a man to keep mum. It is simply not in his nature to do that. As an Aam Aadmi Party leader, Kumar Vishwas, said yesterday, “There was one prime minister who never spoke for ten years and there is another now who doesn’t stop talking.” And yet, Modi chooses silence on certain issues. We (should) know why.
He won’t say. He would rather hug Barack Obama in what the most famous magazine of the latter’s country (which put Modi on its cover a couple of years back and called him “the most polarizing politician in India”) labels “a Soviet-style jamboree” and engage us, the gullible citizens, with Man ki baat on the All India Radio.
Wish you all a highly entertaining, patriotism-injecting, goose bump-raising Republic Day.