How cultural-political vision of BJP, RSS for new India is coded in Nirmala Sitharaman's Budget speech

While the Opposition was trying to shout down such mentions, the government was using a financial jargon and technicality-packed Budget speech as a code for the cultural agenda of new India.

Abhijit Majumder February 03, 2020 16:19:27 IST
How cultural-political vision of BJP, RSS for new India is coded in Nirmala Sitharaman's Budget speech
  • Sitharaman underlined heritage as the driving force of tourism in India and announced the setting up an Indian Institute of Heritage and Conservation with deemed-university status

  • She proposed to transform five archaeological sites namely Rakhigarhi in Haryana, Hastinapur in Uttar Pradesh, Dholavira in Gujarat, Sivasagar in Assam and Adichanallur in Tamil Nadu into tourism attractions

  • There are other covert social-cultural-political codes hidden in the Budget speech and one such is raising marriageable age for young women

During her Budget speech on Saturday, Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman released a projectile at the beehive of Left-colonial historical narrative. For the first time in Parliament, ‘Sindhu-Saraswati civilisation’ was mentioned – and mentioned proudly – instead of the customary ‘Indus Valley civilisation’.

The Opposition reflexively broke into an uproar. And by doing that, it again fell into the trap of ceding not just nationalistic space, but defying concrete scientific evidence which has traced our civilisation back by over a thousand years.

Colonial and Leftist historians had limited the Indian civilisation to merely the Indus Valley, while recent excavations at the Rakhigarhi site in Haryana have been established much older, thriving cities. And while the Left historians repeatedly shrugged off Saraswati as a mythical the realm of reality.

How culturalpolitical vision of BJP RSS for new India is coded in Nirmala Sitharamans Budget speech

Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman presenting Budget in Lok Sabha on Saturday. ANI

The other round of boos went up from the Opposition benches with the finance minister mentioned Harappan coins.

While the Opposition was trying to shout down such mentions, the government was using a financial jargon and technicality-packed Budget speech as a code for the cultural agenda of new India.

It was not just the repeated mentions of Sindhu-Saraswati civilisation or Harappa seals. Sitharaman underlined heritage as the driving force of tourism in India. She also announced the setting up an Indian Institute of Heritage and Conservation with deemed-university status and building eight museums as cultural showcases.

Most importantly, the finance minister proposed to transforms into tourism attraction five archaeological sites namely Rakhigarhi in Haryana, Hastinapur in Uttar Pradesh, Dholavira in Gujarat, Sivasagar in Assam and Adichanallur in Tamil Nadu. Each of these is witness to India’s rich pre-Islamic culture and ancient, often pre-historic, legacy. The Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) strongly feels our glorious past has not got its due from the Nehruvian polity and intelligentsia, for whom the road through past stops at India of Ashoka, Akbar and the British.

There are other covert social-cultural-political codes hidden in the Budget speech. One such is raising marriageable age for young women. This could set the ground for a two-child policy that the government is likely to consider bringing soon, and ultimately, a Uniform Civil Code replacing personal laws which still allow Muslims to have four wives at the same time.

While both higher marriageable age and two-child policy will apply to all sections, these will affect Muslims more since the community’s fertility rates remain higher than all others despite an across-the-board dip. India’s Muslim population has grown from 9.8 percent in 1951 Census to 14.2 percent in 2011, while Hindu numbers have fallen from 84.1 percent to 79.8 percent.

Demography is already India’s fiercest battleground, with the introduction of the Citizenship Amendment Bill and the looming nationwide National Register of Citizens (NRC), which Union Home Minister Amit Shah has promised to bring soon.

The BJP and Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh's (RSS) cultural vision of India is well-coded in the 2020-21 Budget. The finance minister's speech was about numbers, but not just financial ones.

Follow full coverage of Union Budget 2020-21 here

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