Why India needs to mix foreign policy with Hindu ethos and heritage to regain footholds in neighbourhood
India should pursue ‘smart power’ to expand and restore Hindu culture in the subcontinent; this will also help corner China
Prime Minister Narendra Modi delivered the concept of “Panchamrit” at Glasgow. It consists of five elements that can help fight against global warming and climate change. “In the midst of this global brainstorming on climate change, on behalf of India, I would like to present five nectar elements, Panchamrit, to deal with this challenge,” Prime Minister Modi said. The announcement of the five key commitments at the world stage was among the first such by Modi. Among the key announcements, he said that the country would strive to achieve net zero emissions by 2070.
The Panchamrit concept has emerged from the Hindus ethos. At the same time, several American states have begun celebrating October as the Hindu Heritage month. Several US states, including Texas, Florida, New Jersey, Ohio and Massachusetts, have proclaimed October as the Hindu Heritage month, noting that Hinduism has “contributed greatly” to America through its unique history and heritage.
The respective declarations issued recently from the office of the governors of various states, Congressmen and Senators noted, “Communities of the faith have long served as beacons of hope, sharing their beliefs and bettering their communities through service; improving and inspiring the lives of thousands of followers around the world. Hinduism has contributed greatly to our state and nation through its unique history and heritage.”
Hindu heritage and culture are thousands of years old; it is our duty to share it with the world and pass it onto the next generation. The acceptance of the Hindu Heritage month would help the world understand the larger issues facing the planet and try to solve them through the Hindu way of resolution.
This article is an attempt to find out what the Hindu view of the world order is, and why it is necessary to weave the relations with neighbours through the texture of the Hindu order.
The modern world order had seen different shades, dictated by successive imperialist European powers from the 19th century to the 21st century. The polemical world got divided on ideological ground, which was categorised as Left and Right. The communist regime was put into the category of Left and the capitalist route was identified as Right. Both amassed whopping arms and ammunition across the world; they also tried to create a bullfight scenario among their satellite states.
The post-World War II order was violent and disturbing. The end of the Cold War had seen more dictatorial trends and unruly behaviour of America. The new trend of the 21st century world order talked about changing the axis from west to east but is not very different from its earlier format. China is now using the same methods and techniques which were earlier being used by Britain and America. The Chinese approach during the pandemic has shown how the Dragon could be reckless and dangerous to world peace and existence to humanity!
The Hindu world order is neither Left nor Right. It consists of both. RSS Sarkaryavas (general secretary) Dattatreya Hosabale said that the geographical, religious, and political divide of Left and Right and East and West have blurred. The integral of the Hindu world order is based on the essence of humanity, which was shown by India during the 1971 Bangladesh liberation war when thousands of refugees took shelter in India. Similar is the premise for the ‘One Sun, One World and One Grid’ proposal. The idea of India is the idea of humanity, not merely the geographical confinement of a particular community or people.
To begin with, South Asia could be a starting point. The region has a complex geography and mixed cultures. Historians called it a melting pot of different cultures like Hinduism, Islam, Christianity, Malay and Chinese. Largely, it is made of Hindu culture. Not merely South Asia but more than 54 countries spanning from the Himalayas to the Indian Ocean were born out of Hindu culture. The archival evidence testifies this truth.
In Asia, there are two major contenders for power — China and India. China has invariably adopted tricks to weaken Hindu culture in India’s neighbourhood. Not just the number of Hindus drastically declined in Pakistan, Afghanistan and Bangladesh, but Hindu’s ethos and culture were also ruthlessly uprooted by successive regimes in India’s neighbourhood.
The crucial question is how we can stop this. First, just the soft power won’t be enough. Even the father of the soft power concept, Joseph Nye, later modified his idea into smart power, wherein he mixed soft power with hard power. India needs to pursue smart power to expand and restore Hindu culture in the subcontinent. For this, a new brigade of intellectuals needs to be identified.
Fifty years of research and seminars in and around the world on Indian culture must be reviewed, most of them overtly and covertly acted to undermine the salience of Hindu culture. Surprisingly, most of these seminars and workshops were funded by Indian funding agencies like the University Grants Commission, the Indian Council of Social Science Research (ICSSR) ICHR, etc.
Under the mandate of the new education policy, all these funding agencies should take up the challenge to regain Hindu culture. People-to-people contacts should be initiated not merely with South Asian countries but with almost 54 countries where imprints of Indian culture are deeply ingrained. Finally, universities and institutes must play a leading role in helping people across the region understand Hindu culture.
There is no doubt that the wave of Hindu culture in the subcontinent will bring prosperity and development. That is the spirit of the ‘neighbourhood first’ policy. After becoming an independent country, Bangladesh demanded satellite data from India in 1972, which was blatantly denied on the ground of national security. In 2014 while taking oath as Prime Minister Narendra Modi advocated for a joint satellite for South Asian countries. This change of mindset needs to be aggressively pursued. India should mix its foreign policy with Hindu ethos and heritage to regain its footholds in the neighbourhood. This will help corner China too.
The writer is a professor of Political Science, IGNOU, New Delhi. Views expressed are personal.
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