PakAlumni Worldwide: The Global Social Network

The Global Social Network

Atal Bihari Vajpayee (1924-2018): Kinder, Gentler Face of Hindu Nationalism

Former Indian Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee passed away today in New Delhi, India, according to media reports. He was 93. He was seen as the moderate face of Hindu Nationalism. Mr. Vajpayee led Hindu Nationalists to their first-ever outright election victory with the majority of seats won by his BJP-led NDA (National Democratic Alliance) in the Indian parliament in 1999. He had briefly held the prime minister's job twice earlier but the third time proved to be the charm. His third term in office lasted from 1999 until 2004.

Hardcore Hindu Nationalist:

Vajpayee represented kind and gentle face of the RSS (Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh). Beneath the surface, however, he was a hardcore Hindu Nationalist.  He joined the RSS at the age of 16.  The RSS has sought to make India a Hindu Rashtra (nation) since its founding in 1925, a year after Vajpayee was born.

Vajpayee stoked hatred against India's large Muslim minority. In a speeches to Hindu audiences he said: "Wherever there are Muslims in large numbers, they do not want to live in peace."

In 2003 as Prime Minister of India, Vajpayee installed a portrait of  virulently anti-Muslim Hindu Nationalist leader VD Savarkar in the Indian parliament house in New Delhi.  Savarkar, in one of his books titled Six Glorious Epochs of Indian History, elaborates on why raping of Muslim women is not only justified but encouraged. Prime Minister Modi describes Savarkar as "worthy of worship". After getting elected to the highest office in India, Modi paid tribute to Savarkar by laying flowers at his portrait that still hangs in India's Parliament.

Savarkar has used revisionist Hindutva history to exhort his followers to rape Muslim women as payback for historic wrongs he believes were committed by Muslim conquerers of India. “Once they are haunted with this dreadful apprehension that the Muslim women too, stand in the same predicament in case the Hindus win, the future Muslim conquerors will never dare to think of such molestation of Hindu women,” he writes.

1971 India-Pakistan  War:

Vajpayee saw India's military victory over Pakistan in religious terms. He lavished praise on Indira Gandhi by calling her Durga, Hindu goddess literally meaning "the invincible",  on India's victory over Muslim Pakistan in the 1971 war in East Pakistan. `

Indian Muslims faced "insulting and provocative slogans" by Hindu Nationalists celebrating India's 1971 war victory over Pakistan. Here's an excerpt of a report from India:

"The chief reason for the resentment of the Muslims is that the event of the independence of Bangladesh and her severance of all ties with Pakistan was generally celebrated in India as if the 'victory' had been gained against the Muslims themselves. Insulting and provocative slogans were raised against them in public meetings in this country. A second reason is that the Muslims in general do believe that the war was primarily fought for the purpose of destroying the integral unity of Pakistan. Our Ministry of Information hands out all sorts of propaganda but does nothing to dispel the dejection and resentment of Indian Muslims" (Quoted in Sidq-i-Jadid; 21 January 1972).

Vajpayee's successor Prime Minister Narendra Modi has railed against Muslim rule of India by describing it as "bara so saal ki ghulami" (1200 years of servitude). Here's an excerpt of Modi's 2014 speech:

"Barah sau saal ki gulami ki maansikta humein pareshan kar rahi hai. Bahut baar humse thoda ooncha vyakti mile, to sar ooncha karke baat karne ki humari taaqat nahin hoti hai (The slave mentality of 1,200 years is troubling us. Often, when we meet a person of high stature, we fail to muster strength to speak up).

India-Pakistan Nuclear Tests:

Vajpayee ordered India's underground nuclear tests in 1998 to intimidate Pakistan and assert India's status as a nuclear power on the world stage.  Within weeks, Pakistan responded to those tests with six of its own, forever altering South Asian security.

Vajpayee threw away India's substantial conventional military edge over Pakistan by going nuclear.  It gave Pakistan the justification it needed to go nuclear a few weeks later, thereby achieving balance of terror with its much larger neighbor with a huge conventional military.

Indian analyst Krishna Kant explains his country's policymakers blunder as follows: "Nuclear weapons have reduced Pakistan defense cost while we (India) have been forced to spend tens of billions of dollars to acquire latest military hardware in a bid to retain the edge. Its shows in the defence budget of the two countries since 1999 nuclear blasts. All through 1980s and 90s, Pakistan was spending around a third of its government budget and 5-6% of its GDP on defense, or about twice the corresponding ratios for India. After going nuclear, Pakistan’s defense spending decelerated and its share in GDP is expected to be decline to around 2.5% in the current fiscal year, slightly ahead of India’s 2%. This is releasing resources for Pakistan to invest in productive sectors such as infrastructure and social services, something they couldn’t do when they were competing with India to maintain parity in conventional weapons."

Agra Summit:

In 1999, during Indian PM Atal Bihari Vajpayee's visit to Pakistan, both countries agreed to the Lahore Declaration and pledged to make joint efforts for peace and stability in South Asia. The Kargil war came months later and proved to be major setback in this effort.

Contacts between India and Pakistan resumed at the highest level with talks in New Delhi between President Pervez Musharraf and Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee in July 2001.  A.S. Dulat who has served as Chief of India's Research and Analysis Wing (RAW) and as Special Director of India's Intelligence Bureau told Indian Journalist Karan Thapar of India Today that the Musharraf-Vajpayee meeting resulted in agreement on Kashmir and other major bilateral issue but still ended in failure.  He put the entire blame for its failure on India's Deputy Prime Minister LK Advani. Here's an AS Dulat quote from the interview:

“This is when L. K. Advani surprised Musharraf by asking for Dawood Ibrahim. This took Musharraf back and a shadow was cast thereafter on the Agra summit.” “As Mr. Mishra put it: “Yaar, hote-hote reh gaya … Ho gaya tha, who toh.”

Rise of Hindu Nationalism: 

The rise of Hindutva forces that began with Vajpayee's 1999 election victory is tearing India apart along caste and religious lines as the country celebrates 71 years of independence from the British colonial rule.  Hindu mobs are lynching Muslims and Dalits. A recent  Pew Research report confirms that the level of hostility against religious minorities in India is "very high", giving India a score of 9.5 on a scale from 0 to 10. Pakistan's score on this scale is 7 while Bangladesh's is 7.5.

Chart Courtesy of Bloomberg

Summary:

Atal Bihari Vajpayee represented kind and gentle face of the RSS (Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh). Beneath the surface, however, he was a hardcore Hindu Nationalist.  He led Hindu Nationalists to their first-ever outright election victory with the majority of seats won by his BJP-led NDA (National Democratic Alliance) in the Indian parliament in 1999.  Vajpayee saw India's military victory over Pakistan in religious terms. He lavished praise on Indira Gandhi by calling her Durga, Hindu goddess literally meaning "the invincible",  on "Hindu" India's victory over Muslim Pakistan in the 1971 war in East Pakistan. Vajpayee ordered India's underground nuclear tests in 1998 to intimidate Pakistan and assert India's status as a nuclear power on the world stage.  Within weeks, Pakistan responded to those tests with six of its own, forever altering South Asian security. Vajpayee threw away India's substantial conventional military edge over Pakistan by going nuclear.  It gave Pakistan the justification it needed to go nuclear a few weeks later, thereby achieving balance of terror with its much larger neighbor with a huge conventional military.

Related Links:

Haq's Musings

Disintegration of India

Who's at Fault in India-Pakistan Conflict?

1971 India-Pakistan War

Dalit Death Shines Light on India's Caste Apartheid

India's Hindu Nationalists Going Global

Rape: A Political Weapon in Modi's India

Hindutva: Legacy of British Raj

India's Superpower Delusion

Riaz Haq Youtube Channel

VPOS Youtube Channel

Views: 59

Comment by Riaz Haq on August 18, 2018 at 5:45pm

India's Wrong Step
The death of a former prime minister highlights the moment when the country lost its race with China.


https://www.bloomberg.com/view/articles/2018-08-18/atal-bihari-vajp...

India’s political divides increasingly look unbridgeable. Yet, when former Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee died last Thursday, he was mourned even by those who had been his opponents in life, whether within or outside his Bharatiya Janata Party. His successor, Manmohan Singh, compared his vision to that of India’s first prime minister, Jawaharlal Nehru – the highest compliment a member of the Congress Party can give. And Narendra Modi, whom Vajpayee tried to sack in 2002 as chief minister of Gujarat after thousands died in riots there, walked behind his cortege as it rolled through quiet Delhi streets.

As the first Indian prime minister not from the Congress Party to complete a full term, Vajpayee’s place in history is assured. Behind the mourning was a certain nostalgia; many remember his time in office as an enchanted moment, the high-water mark of confidence in India’s future. The country declared itself a nuclear power and survived the sanctions that followed. It was opening itself to investment and seemed to have weathered the Asian crisis of the late 1990s. It seemed reasonable, then, to put India and China in the same basket as rising powers.

Today, a decade and a half after Vajpayee was voted out, that optimism is a thing of the past. India has moved too slowly and let too many people down too often; many here now wonder if it has missed its moment entirely. You could blame Modi for this situation, or Singh. But, in fact, the foundations for this failure were laid during Vajpayee’s administration – and by his defeat in the polls.

This isn’t to say that Vajpayee’s government wasn’t reformist: It had more market-friendly ministers than any government since. It opened up the telecommunications sector, invested in roads and highways, and defused the fiscal time bomb that India’s state pensions were becoming.

But, the one moment you can point to as emblematic of the opportunities that India missed came in early 2001. Vajpayee’s finance minister, Yashwant Sinha – now a trenchant critic of Modi – had proposed that India’s draconian labor laws be relaxed. Criticism was widespread, including from within his own party. Eventually, Vajpayee backed off and the promise to amend labor law went unkept.

Vajpayee’s decisive turn away from reform of the world’s most restrictive market for labor – not to mention land and capital – is the biggest reason India went on to lose to China the race to become the world’s manufacturing hub. In the years since 2001, world trade in goods exploded, even as India continued to de-industrialize. It was just too difficult to run a decent-sized factory in India.

Larger companies needed government permission to fire even one worker. India became an IT services superpower; trade and telecom fired up its growth rate. But the country signally failed to create the manufacturing jobs that became the foundation of the Chinese miracle. Under Vajpayee, India backed away from the only path that leads to prosperity.

At the time, this was hard to see: As I said, we all felt optimistic. Vajpayee tried to distill that energy into a single two-word slogan in his 2004 reelection campaign: “India Shining.” When he lost, many assumed it was because of a backlash to that reform-friendly rhetoric.


That was never really an accurate explanation; indeed, Vajpayee himself said after the loss that the Gujarat riots were responsible. Yet the fear that economic reforms would be electoral poison has haunted Indian politicians ever since. Even Modi, with more political capital than Vajpayee ever had, has been overly cautious. One crack from his opponents that he was running a “suit-boot” government, too close to rich businessmen, was enough for him to turn into a red-blooded economic populist.

Comment

You need to be a member of PakAlumni Worldwide: The Global Social Network to add comments!

Join PakAlumni Worldwide: The Global Social Network

Pre-Paid Legal


Twitter Feed

    follow me on Twitter

    Sponsored Links

    South Asia Investor Review
    Investor Information Blog

    Haq's Musings
    Riaz Haq's Current Affairs Blog

    Please Bookmark This Page!




    Blog Posts

    Pakistan's Insatiable Appetite For Energy

    Pakistan's consumption of oil and gas has rapidly grown over the last 5 years, an indication of the nation's accelerating economic growth. Pakistan is among the fastest growing LNG markets, according to …

    Continue

    Posted by Riaz Haq on November 15, 2018 at 2:00pm — 3 Comments

    Pakistan's Scientific Output Doubles in 5 Years

    Pakistan's quality-adjusted scientific output (Weighted Functional Count) as reported in Nature Index has doubled from 18.03 in 2013 to 37.28 in 2017. Pakistan's global ranking has improved from 53 in 2013 to 40 in 2017. In the same period, India's WFC has increased from 850.97 in 2013 to 935.44 in 2017. India's global ranking has improved from 13 in…

    Continue

    Posted by Riaz Haq on November 12, 2018 at 3:30pm — 2 Comments

    © 2018   Created by Riaz Haq.   Powered by

    Badges  |  Report an Issue  |  Terms of Service