Modi’s Corporate/Ramrajya will need a Ravan too (part 1)


Narendra Modi, a Prime Minister-designate, taking part in an elaborate puja. SOURCE/Telegraph

The recent election victory and assumption of premiership by Gujarat’s three time Chief Minister Narendra Damodardas Modi (born 1950) in India has created ripples throughout South Asia and world with strange kind of hope and fear. Of course, the final verdict is history’s prerogative, certain educated guesses are possible to predict with some certainty.

Gandhi’s Ramrajya

In South Asia, in modern times, the most important politician to introduce religion into politics was Mohandas Karamchand Gandhi (1869-1948). It was not that pre (or post) Gandhi religion didn’t play a role in politics or other important politicians (Hindus, Muslims, and others) were scrupulous enough to avoid this path. What was different, and also sad, about Gandhi was his power to influence a great mass of people on an unprecedented scale.

“By political independence I do not mean an imitation to the British House of commons (1), or the soviet rule of Russia or the Fascist rule of Italy or the Nazi rule of Germany. They have systems suited to their genius. We must have ours suited to ours. What that can be is more than I can tell. I have described it as Ramarajya [Lord Ram’s rule] i.e., sovereignty of the people based on pure moral authority.”

The Muslim minority wouldn’t have felt so insecure if Gandhi had kept his religion out of politics. In addition, there were good chances that secularism would have become a strong feature of public life in South Asia and the partition of India could have been avoided. Not only that, he also sidelined M. A. Jinnah (1876-1948)(Mohammad Ali Jinnah) a hardcore secularist, a rarity in South Asia. Later on Gandhi, Nehru, and the Congress party left Jinnah with no option but to demand a separate state for Indian Muslims, an absurd idea, because many of the Muslims and Hindus in dozens of ethnic groups were closer to each other than to their co-religionists from other ethnic groups. Jinnah, however, was not the first one to suggest that in India, there were two nations, Hindus and Muslims.

In 1923, Vinayak Damodar Savarkar (1883-1966) of the Hindu Mahasabha had proposed a two-nation theory. Basically, Savarkar’s Orwellian reasoning boiled down to this: All Indians are equal, but some Indians [that is, Hindus] are more equal than others [Muslims].

Ramrajya needed a majority, more correctly, a solid majority in order to flourish unhindered.

Dr. Bhimrao Ramji Ambedkar (1891-1956), born in an Untouchable family, was, with his firm determination, hard work, and scholarship from Gaekwad of Baroda, able to reach Columbia University in the United States. He fought for the upliftment of his community, and in that regard, on 13 August 1931, he met Gandhi in Bombay (now Mumbai) and asked:

“Everybody knows that the Muslims and the Sikhs are socially, politically, and economically more advanced than the Untouchables. The first session of the Round Table Conferences has given political recognition to the Muslim demands and has recommended political safeguards for them. The Congress has agreed to their demands. The first session has also given recognition to the political rights of the Depressed Classes and has recommended for them political safeguards and adequate representation. According to us that is beneficial to the Depressed Classes. What is your opinion?”

Gandhi replied:

“I am against the political separation of the Untouchables from the Hindus. That would be absolutely suicidal.”

Why suicidal? Because in one person one vote democracy, the more people you have in your fold, the more votes you collect, and the more power you get to exert. Gandhi saw Untouchables as voters (like corporations see human beings as consumers). Gandhi was a shrewd politician plus, being a bania (a caste of traders, money lenders, etc.), his calculation doubled up, that is, a separate block of Untouchables would lesson the power of the Congress party.

Ambedkar was extremely critical of Hindu religion and the caste system. A copy of the Hindu religious text Manu Smrti (“Laws of Manu”), which is in favor of the high caste Hindus but is very nasty towards the Untouchables, prescribing cruel punishments, was publicly burned by B. R. Ambedkar on 25 December 1927. Gandhi acknowledged the problem, and as usual, opted for a few pleasing gestures rather than attacking the problem at the root. He patronized Untouchables by giving them the name “Harijan” (people of God) and fought for their entry in high caste temples where their entry was forbidden; however, he refused to fight to eradicate the caste system because he believed that it would disturb the harmony – in other words, it would harm the status quo.

“I believe that caste has saved Hinduism from disintegration. But like every other institution it has suffered from excrescences. consider the four divisions alone to be fundamental, natural and essential….”

And to force the British and Ambedkar to forget the separate electorate for the Untouchables, he went on a hunger strike! Imagine the “Mahatma” going on a hunger to deny some rights to the people who have been suppressed by the high castes and treated like animals for centuries! Ambedkar lost. He was bitter that Gandhi blackmailed him.

William L. Shirer of the Chicago Tribune was bewildered by Gandhi’s readiness to fast unto death so that the untouchables couldn’t get the reserved seats in the provincial legislatures, as promised by the British.

“You must not be startled by my presuming to know the interests of the depressed classes more than its leaders.” “Though I am not untouchable by birth, for the past fifty years I have been untouchable by choice.”

You can’t beat Gandhi.

Gandhi denied that he was looking for a Hindu majority.

“Do not believe for one moment that I am interested in the numerical strength of Hindus.”

But then the following statement clearly shows Gandhi’s communal side, and it must have been a revelation for many people when Gandhi expressed his fear of Untouchables’ uprising (Mahadev Diary, August 21, 1932 entry and Joseph Lelyveld p.229):

“They do not realize that the separate electorate will create division among Hindus so much so that it will lead to bloodshed. Untouchable hooligans will make common cause with Muslim hooligans and kill caste Hindus.”

The numerical strength of high caste Hindus greatly outnumbered the combined numbers of untouchables and those outside the four castes plus the Muslims. Yes, Muslim hooligans would have given a good response to the high caste Hindu hooligans but would have lost because they were a minority. But Untouchable hooligans! They were so crushed by the high caste Hindus that it is hard to imagine them rising against the powerful high caste Hindus. This was Gandhi’s way of supporting (and getting support) of the upper caste Hindus without saying so.

(The Untouchables or Dalits and Other Backward Castes (OBCs) have made some advances, but still in many places, the upper caste Hindus teach them lesson by raping their girls and women, destroying their houses and properties, and burning down their villages.)

B. R. Gowani can be reached at


(1) After seizing power in 1958, of course, with the United States’ blessing, Pakistan’s General Ayub Khan had declared:

“We must understand that democracy cannot work in a hot climate. To have democracy we must have a cold climate like Britain.

Every dictator has an interesting excuse for not sharing power with people.

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