External Affairs

MEA’s Latest: BJP the ‘Only Alternative’, Only Hindus Are ‘Spiritual’

Book on Deendayal Upadhyaya published by external affairs ministry says the BJP is the only political alternative in the country, Hindu thought is Bhartiya thought, and only Hindu society can be spiritual.

External affairs minster Sushma Swaraj (PTI); RSS ideologue Deendayal Upadhyaya (MEA); Foreign secretary S. Jaishankar (PTI)

On September 22, 2017, a few days before the birth anniversary of RSS ideologue and Bharatiya Jan Sangh founder Deendayal Upadhyaya, the Ministry of External Affairs uploaded an e-book with the title Integral Humanism on the home page of its official website.

Apart from being shoddily written and edited, the e-book – which external affairs minister Sushma Swaraj describes as the product of the “hard work of MEA officials” – falsifies independent India’s early political history and shockingly describes the Bharatiya Janata Party as the only political alternative for the country.

Sample this strange text:

“When India’s struggle for freedom was covered under the shadow of two-nation theory, at that time in 1942 he started his public life through Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh. He engaged himself in Sangh-work as an excellent organiser, writer, journalist and orator…

“The democracy of the country required a capable Opposition; Bharatiya Jansangh (sic) emerged as a strong Opposition in the first three Lok Sabha elections. He made full preparations so that with time this Opposition becomes alternative …

“From 1951 to 1967 he remained the general secretary of Bharatiya Janshangh (sic). He got the responsibility as President in 1968. Suddenly he was murdered. Only the party, Bharatiya Janata Party, developed by him became the political alternative.” (emphasis added)

Pages 24-25 of Integral Humanism, e-book published by the Ministry of External Affairs, September 22, 2017.

In the original Hindi, which the e-book also contains, that last sentence sounds even more blatant: उनके द्वारा विकसित किया गया दल, “भारतीय जनता पार्टी” ही देश में राजनैतिक विकल्प बना (‘Unke dvara viksit kiya gaya dal, ‘Bharatiya Janata Party’, hi desh mein rajnaithik vikalp bana’). This line is more accurately translated as: “The party that he helped develop – the BJP – became the only political alternative in the country.”

Is this merely sloppy writing and translation or is an attempt being made to promote the BJP at the taxpayers’ expense?

Is it the job of the Ministry of External Affairs to declare which party is the political alternative for the country? Is a ruling party allowed to misuse the institutions of government, not to speak of public funds, to publish and distribute party political propaganda?

Upadhyaya never held public office and never won an election to parliament or a state assembly. He never took part in the freedom struggle. His sole claim to fame is that he led a political party whose legatee rules India today.

The foreword of the e-book has been written by Swaraj, who has a reputation for political restraint and fairness. Surely she cannot approve of the MEA becoming a mouthpiece of the BJP? And what has happened to the senior officials of her ministry, whose duty is to serve the country and not any political party, and who are respected around the world for fighting tooth and nail over every word and comma that goes against the national interest. How could they have signed off on such a publication that undermines the democratic system of the country?

The introduction also distorts the reality of the first three parliament when it asserts that the Bhartiya Jan Sangh “emerged as a strong Opposition in the first three Lok Sabha elections”. In the elections of 1951-2, 1957 and 1962, the Jan Sangh won 4, 4 and 14 seats respectively. The actual Opposition to the Congress was the Communist Party of India, which won 16, 27 and 29 seats respectively.

‘Pearls’ from Upadhyaya’s thoughts

The MEA’s e-book is part of a big push the BJP and RSS are making to provide themselves with some sort of respectable ideological cloak. Their actual gurus – K.B. Hedgewar and M.S. Golwalkar – are too well known and too controversial to withstand critical scrutiny but Upadhyaya’s life and views are largely unknown and can thus be used to make the Sangh’s Hindutva philosophy more palatable to a wider audience, perhaps even an international one.

Upadhaya was born in 1916 but the only act of significance that the MEA’s brief hagiographical account can record about the first three decades of his life – when the best of his generation were fighting for India’s freedom against the British – is that he joined the RSS in 1942.

The rest of the book is a summary of Upadhyaya’s ‘integral humanism’, a pastiche of homilies strung together, mostly harmless and tautological but some that contradict the Indian constitution – Eg. ‘No fundamental rights … are eternal. They are all dependent upon the interest of society. In fact these rights are given to the individual in order that he may perform his social duties’.

Hindu thought, Bhartiya thought. Credit: MEA’s e-book, Integral Humanism.

In keeping with Upadhyaya’s attempt to gloss over the ‘Hindu’ identity of Hindutva by using words like ‘Dharma’ and  ‘Bhartiya’, the quotes or summaries – it is not clear how the contents have been assembled – in the MEA’s e-book also explains his philosophy with the use of these euphemisms.

However, after defining Dharma as “eternal principles that sustain an entity”, the book leaves the reader in no doubt that one is talking about Hinduism: “Our scriptures tell us that to follow the Vedas, to act according to the fundamental principles of our scriptures, to entertain truthful and pious thoughts and thus to develop the virtues in us is Dharma.”

The use of the phrase “our scriptures” in an MEA book is odd, to say the least.

Most disturbing is the neat equation the MEA makes at the end of the e-book between “Bharatiya thought” and “Hindu thought”:

“Nature provides mankind with all the means and resources for its nourishment and protection. Nature itself is a part of God, This is how we all are inalienably united with the Ultimate. This is the essence of Hindu thought. Bhartiya thought. Deendayalji named this thought only integral Humanism.”

The Hindi version of the text notes: “मानवता की एकता की आधार आध्यात्म होगा। आध्यात्म केवल भारत व हिंदू समाज के पास है। … एकता के आधार की रक्षा के लिए हिंदू समाज के संगठन का कार्य अपनाया है।”, i.e. ‘Spiritualism is the basis for the unity of humanity. Only India and Hindu society has spiritualism… In order to defend the basis of this unity of humanity, Hindu society has begun the work of organising itself.”

These peculiar theories may form part of Upadhyaya’s life and work but they represent the thinking and philosophy of a political party, the Bharatiya Janata Party, and its parent body, the RSS. Let them publish and circulate this sort of literature to their heart’s content. Please keep the MEA out of this.

  • Amitabha Basu

    The slogan and propaganda :”India is Indira and Indira is India” of the Emergency era is now being resurrected by the Sanghis as “India is Hindutva and Hindutva is India”, with Upadhyaya’s ‘Integral Humanism’ being tom-tommed rather than the earlier Sanghi bible ‘Bunch of Thoughts’.

  • Anjan Basu

    The MEA e

  • Anjan Basu

    The MEA e

    • http://socioproctology.blogspot.co.uk/ windwheel

      The XP Division did have some proper journalists when Nehru first mooted it. But the IFS Mandarins was jealous of the good postings given to this cadre and so killed it off. The IAS did the same thing to a Technocratic cadre started a little later.
      The Indian MEA is widely known to be worthless. It is understaffed, over-stretched and demoralised. Individually, the IFS officer may be quite bright- Vikas Swarup for example. Collectively, they have been set up to fail and fail is what they doggedly do.
      The XP division’s Ambedkar comic book is far funnier than this one. Modi worshipping a golden statute of the Dalit leader is priceless.
      ‘International diplomatic quarters’ don’t read XP Division publications. Nobody, apart from Siddhartha, does. The question is, why does he do so? Time was when he launched incandescent jeremiads at Modi accusing him of command responsibility for genocide. Now he is lamenting the bad English of some Clerk in Shastri Bhawan and expressing his own deep distress that some Hindu yokel talked to other yokels about how Hinduism was about serving poor people many years ago. Since those Hindu yokels created a cleaner, less corrupt, less outright crazy, cadre based party which, because India is a Hindu majority country, ended up running the country, it is perfectly legitimate for the MEA to project the founder of that party as a good bloke rather than some sort of Nazi nutjob.
      Economists agree that the Harvard Econ Dept screwed up Yeltsin’s Russia. There are one or two good Economists there- Roland Fryer for example- but there are also a lot of senile Rothbard Law exemplifying shitheads of Amartya Sen level stupidity. Modi was right about the Ivy League. Kaushik Basu is at Cornell. Thankfully Panagariya has got the memo and gone back to Columbia. Hopefully, India has woken up to the fact that Econ is now a Junk Social Science. Put some greasy Seth in charge if you want sensible policies. Nobel worthy Economists are better utilized as a spittoon. Swacch Bharat demands no less. You bhadralok probably don’t chew paan or practice outdoor defecation. This is because you are deracinated and have lost touch with your Hindu roots. True Hindutva permits spitting and shitting only on Ivy League economists. Mind it kindly. Return to the pulpy breast of motherland to imbibe the pure milk of Spirituality sans Sexy Shenanigans! Also murli Manohar Joshi. Murli him but good.

  • Chandrasekaran

    It is not the issue of MEA or HRD ministries plunging into publication of book on DD Upadyaya. It is the travesty of truth/history which BJP is hell bent to do for the simple reason that the cap of RSS is seen sans feathers of its role in freedom struggle. Savarkar begged pardon before British to jump prison. RSS did not approve of national anthemn, nor did it hoist national flag till eighties. Given the questionable role of Sushma in having stood a surety for IPL scamster Lalit Modi, her prologue for the book looks ridiculous.

  • Gautam Verma

    Power is writing history and philosophy. So power will erase it but the wrong that people in power does are always borne by innocent.

  • http://socioproctology.blogspot.co.uk/ windwheel

    Nehru took a personal interest in the setting up of the External Publicity Division of the Ministry of External Affairs. It was always meant to promote a National ideology of a specifically Indian sort and to offer it as the basis of Indian Foreign policy doctrine- e.g. Non Alignment, Panchseel, etc.
    Siddhartha asks- ‘Is it the job of the Ministry of External Affairs to declare which party is the political alternative for the country?’ The answer is yes. It is the job of the XP division of the MEA to show that the ruling party is the political alternative chosen by the people of India for themselves. Not to do so imperils Indian sovereignty.
    His next question is whether ‘ a ruling party is allowed to misuse the institutions of government, not to speak of public funds, to publish and distribute party political propaganda?’ The answer is no. If Siddhartha has any evidence that the booklet is ‘party political propaganda’ he is welcome to approach the court to challenge the action of the relevant Dept. as ultra vires. He has no such evidence. As he very well knows the BJP did not exist when this ‘philosopher’ died. The booklet is okay and serves a good purpose- viz. it shows that this guy was not some Nazi nutjob but just a harmless yokel expounding some silly Gandhi/Nehru/Yadav type humanistic drivel.

    Siddhartha thinks ‘the best of (Deen Dayal’s) generation were fighting for India’s freedom against the British.’ This is nonsense. Back then, not all Communists were worthless. They fought against Fascism abroad and infiltrated Trade Unions etc in a manner which actually benefited the working class. The senile gerontocrats stayed in prison because they were incapable of making any positive contribution and this was beneficial to them once the Brits realised that the game was up and needed to cut a deal to save their investments. At that point, the Communists were slaughtered or co-opted.
    The RSS was not good at ethnic cleansing. Congress excelled at it. The RSS lacked casteist credentials- interdining with ‘Achooths’, chee chee!- whereas Congress possessed impeccable Manuvad credentials. How could some Deen Dayal compare with Radhakrishnan- a proper Tambram like Siddhartha himself? Later, the Brahmins took refuge in the Communist party which has done a superb job of keeping the Shudras in their place. Even the Naxals prefer to use the Dalits as cannon fodder while courting the dominant castes.

    Siddhartha believes that Upadhaya’s thought ‘contradicts the Indian constitution – Eg. ‘No fundamental rights … are eternal. They are all dependent upon the interest of society. In fact these rights are given to the individual in order that he may perform his social duties’. Is he correct? Does the Constitution say that fundamental rights are eternal? Not the Indian one. Perhaps he is thinking of the Constitution of the country of which he is actually a citizen. India has a doctrine of Constitutional autochthony, not some Deist notion of eternal inalienable rights endowed by the Creator. Indeed, some Indian religions deny that there is a Creator.

    Siddhartha writes- ‘In keeping with Upadhyaya’s attempt to gloss over the ‘Hindu’ identity of Hindutva by using words like ‘Dharma’ and ‘Bhartiya’,- this is very strange. Why would the fellow have wanted to ‘gloss over’ Hindu identity? He was a Hindu. His followers were mainly Hindu. He was living in a Hindu majority country from which well educated Muslims- like Rushdie’s Dad- were fleeing, so why would he need to use an euphemism for the word ‘Hindu’? Perhaps Siddhartha thinks it is a dirty word. No doubt, he was bullied in America for being a Hindu. Poor fellow. The heart bleeds.

    Siddhartha, though an American citizen, is a great expert on India. He says ‘However, after defining Dharma as “eternal principles that sustain an entity”, the book leaves the reader in no doubt that one is talking about Hinduism: “Our scriptures tell us that to follow the Vedas, to act according to the fundamental principles of our scriptures, to entertain truthful and pious thoughts and thus to develop the virtues in us is Dharma.” Bravo! That cunning Upadhyaya tried to pull the wool over our Mayo College boy, but thanks to his Tambram genes, he was able to see through the subterfuge! These guys talking about ‘Hindutva’ are, in the main, Hindus! It turns out that ‘Bharatiya’ means ‘Indian’! How dare the MEA publicise the writing of a person who belongs to the Hindu Religion who, moreover, was Indian!

    Siddhartha is a very good boy. Instead of reading comic books he reads books published by the MEA- well, that is one explanation for his mental retardation. He says-
    ‘The use of the phrase “our scriptures” in an MEA book is odd, to say the least.’
    An Upadhyaya is a guy who teaches Scripture. That’s what the word means. Is it any and every Scripture? Nope. Just certain Scriptures. When such a guy addresses his students or acolytes he uses the phrase ‘our scripture’ in a particular context. When a book compiled from his sermons or disquisitions is compiled and published by a Govt. body, is it really the case that the Govt. body is endorsing everything in that book? No. The MEA might just as easily publish a booklet on the centenary of Mother Theresa in which the sentence ‘Christ commands us to serve the poor’ appears. This does not mean the Ministry is saying Indians must obey Lord Jesus Christ. Still, those naughty XP Division clerks have made our Siddhartha uneasy. He says-

    ‘Most disturbing is the neat equation the MEA makes at the end of the e-book between “Bharatiya thought” and “Hindu thought”:
    Why should this disturb our American savant? Did he think Bharatiya thought was wholly divorced from Hindu thought? Perhaps he believes, as did his ancestors, that Untouchability is a good thing, a Hindu thing. Bharatiya thought condemns it. Is this what makes it so disturbing?

    “Nature provides mankind with all the means and resources for its nourishment and protection. Nature itself is a part of God, This is how we all are inalienably united with the Ultimate. This is the essence of Hindu thought. Bhartiya thought. Deendayalji named this thought only integral Humanism.”

    Perhaps Siddhartha is on safer ground when he impugns the following sentiment- ‘ ‘Spiritualism is the basis for the unity of humanity. Only India and Hindu society has spiritualism… In order to defend the basis of this unity of humanity, Hindu society has begun the work of organising itself.” The problem here is that every Religion and Ideology asserts a particular world historical responsibility which falls uniquely on the shoulders of its adherents. It is of the essence of imperative statements that they prescribe an urgent conceptual tie to action for a limited class being actually addressed. If this were not the case, a concurrency or free rider problem arises.

    Siddhartha ends his article on a waspish old womanish note- ‘keep the MEA out of it’, as if the XP Division of the MEA from Nehru onward has been producing alethic material or a high standard. The fact is a political party which gains power Democratically gets to define the ideology guiding the Nation. It may be purely dynastic as under the previous administration. It may be anti-casteist and thus, in the view of the author, anti Hindu, as is the case currently. It may be whatever the author likes if he relinquishes his American citizenship and gets elected PM by a grateful electorate stunned by his act of self-sacrifice.

  • kujur bachchan

    Through this single blatant and unethical act, the party in power has given a severely damaging blow to the assiduously nurtured prestigious institution of the MEA. One is disillusioned to find that the senior mandarins of the MEA have feet of clay.

    Moreover, even if conceding reluctantly that the ruling party in power does have the prerogative to do what they like and how, one is perplexed at the shoddy way it has been done. Ministry of External Affairs’ is known by another name, ‘Ministry of Excellence in Spoken and Written English’. Were those IFSs with Ox-bridge accents not agreeable to chip in with their impeccable English? If that was the case, was the manuscript assembled by the nationalist worthies at Nagpur?

    This brings us to the next puzzle. Does the name M J Akbar sound familiar? You guessed it right. It is he, the Minister of State for External Affairs. One can find faults with MJ Akbar’s turn-coat politics; his proximity to LK Advaniji and; his convenient transformation to a house-slave from a one time crusader-journalist. But Mr Akbar cannot be faulted on his excellent command of English language. I had been an admirer of his writings, which I now miss. Coming back to the puzzle, the question is why didn’t the BJP use Mr Akbar’s outstanding literary skills to draft the manuscript of the booklet on Deendayal Upadhyaya. Was it because the BJP considered it irreverent to the sacred memory of Deendayal Upadhyaya?

  • Anjan Basu

    You are not missing much, I can assure you!

  • Anjan Basu

    You are right: we need to recognise and respect all those who have contributed to Indian democracy and her democratic institutions. Deendayal Upadhayay was not one of them by any stretch of imagination. On the contrary, his political/social though is not just forgettable, but in effect pernicious. So Indians have justifiably either forgotten about him or have rejected his social philosophy outright.