Rise of Rightwing thought: Will Modi sarkar usher in a new mainstream?

With a BJP government that appears to be much in favour of folding-in members of like-minded ideological institutions into its government, the rightist school of thought has an opportunity to dominate mainstream political discourse.



In an article in today's Times of India, Dr Anirban Ganguly, Director of Dr Syama Prasad Mookerjee Research Foundation, an organisation associated with the BJP, is hopeful that the Narendra Modi government will allow rightwing thought to flourish across educational institutions, where it has been, over the last decades, arguably sidelined by Nehruvian liberalism.

"We need to have our own institutions. We need to nurture a corpus of intellectuals. But more importantly, there is a dire need for opening up of intellectual discourse, for creating a level playing field. This will have to begin with existing public institutions. There should not be a fear among scholars in a public institute that if they take a right-wing line, their promotion will be stopped," Ganguly says.

Though in the same article, Dipankar Gupta points out that right-leaning "In the political stream for the last couple of decades now, there has been no Leftist thought in economy or strategic affairs. Rightwing has ruled there- be it a Congress or a BJP government. It's only in the socio-cultural sphere that rightwing is still trying to find space."

But there is no doubting the rise in the fortunes of rightwing thinkes. Modi has already begun roping in intellects from right-leaning think-tanks. In fact, at a book release earlier this month, Modi had said, "the input of intellectual think tanks should be substantially enhanced for better policy frameworks," adding that universities should be actively involved in research and analysis of the developmental process in order to contribute in the best possible way for policy-related decisions.

In fact, two top officials in the Prime Minister's Office - National Security Advisor Ajit Doval and Principal Secretary Nripendra Misra - have been picked from Vivekananda International Foundation (VIF), an organisation that is linked to the RSS through Vivekanada Kendra.

The purpose of the Kendra, according to its website, is to promote the Indian cause at the international level. It's website reads: "An initiative for inter-civilisational harmony through dialogue and understanding for building international understanding through Indian wisdom, thereby promoting the Indian cause at the international level," where it states its goal as being: "Indian mission at a global level is the only alternative".

The PMO could appoint more officials from the same organisation. Former RAW chief CD Sahay, former urban development secretary Anil Baijal, former ambassador to Russia Prabhat Shukla and former vice chief of air staff, Air Marshal (retd) SG Inamdar are those likely to be inducted into the Modi government.

And it's not just VIF. There are many think-tanks that were set-up either before or during Modi's election campaign that could slowly find prominence in the BJP-government. An article on Outlook Magazine lists out some of these organisations: Arthkranti Pratishthan, Niti Central, Deendayal Research Institute, Rashtriya Seva Bharti, Friends of BJP, Citizens for Accountable Governance, India Policy Foundation, Centre for Policy Studies, Public Policy Research Centre and Rambhau Mhalgi Prabodhini.

Citizens for Accountable Governance, which was first set-up as an apolitical organisation, soon found itself drawn towards Modi during the Statue of Unity campaign that Modi had led in 2013. "We made up our minds by December 2013, we wanted to be formally a part of Mr Modi's election campaign," a member of the organisation, who chose to remain anonymous, told Firstpost, adding that they are now hopeful that they will find a place in Modi sarkar.

The Deendayal Research Institute, which was set-up in 1989 by Nanaji Deshmukh, has found favour with Modi, who reportedly replicated its cow protection programme in Gujarat. The organisation leads research and project implementation in 500 villages in Chitra­koot on the Uttar Pradesh and Madhya Pradesh border, with projects—ranging from irrigation programmes to promotion of self-reliance.

The mainstreaming of a right-leaning intellectual agenda will also receive a boost from the middle class that has already shown their support for the BJP by giving it a massive 282 seat mandate in the Lok Sabha elections.

"The burgeoning middle-class (at 400 million and counting) will fuel rightwing thought. After all, they have made a big contribution in Narendra Modi's victory. As the middle class acquires prosperity, it will think of identity which will help creation of an independent discourse," says Shaurya Doval, Director of India Foundation, another think thank associated with the Right, he told the Times of India.

Updated Date: Jun 19, 2014 13:36 PM

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