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Let's Build a Great India, Part 1/3

Few concepts in recent years have galvanised such a fierce national debate as
Hindutva. And no one has personalised that debate as much as BJP President
LK Advani. Recently, Blitz brought out a special issue on the Republic Day
and called this issue:SUPERPOWER INDIA: MAKE THE DREAM HAPPEN. For this issue,
Blitz specially interviewed Advani ji in order to elicit his views on what
constitutes Hindutva and whether it has any inspiring ideas to offer for taking
India out of the present crisis and closer to its destined greatness and glory.

Here I reproduce this interview in its entirety.


L.K. Advani in Blitz, January 29, 1994

Blitz: Advaniji, is it right to dream of a Superpower India?
LK Advani: If the word 'superpower' or 'great power' were to be replaced by
'great', I presume that it would convey what you have in mind. For historical
reasons, the word superpower or great power conveys a certain negative meaning.
This is so because of the background of half century of cold war, when two
superpowers dominated the world for their own selfish reasons. As a result, the
word superpower came to be associated with military strength, which, I am sure,
is not what you had in mind when you conceived of this Special Issue. What we
should aim is to make India a great nation.

Blitz: What is your vision of a great India?
LKA: It is essentially of a nation which commands the respect of the world and
also its own respect, and which is able to fulfil the aspirations of its
people. These aspirations found expression in the course of India's struggle
against the colonial rule. So it was believed that with the onset of Indepen-
dence, these aspirations would be fulfilled and, in course of time, India would
acquire a global stature commensurate with the greatness derived from its
ancient glorious past and its immense potential for the future. That vision
is still valid.

Blitz: In flesh and bone terms, what does the vision of a Great India consti-
LKA: It is what makes of our Constitution envisioned- the dream of a country
which has political, social and economic democracy, which guarantees justice
to all, and one in which there is peace and harmony. It is the kind of vision
which is contained in the preamble to the Constitution and which, prior to
independence, Gandhiji used to describe as Ram Rajya. It is this vision of a
society in which, apart from the fulfilment of the material needs of the
people, the country would be able to become respected in the world, as Swami
Vivekananda conceived, even in spiritual terms. In fact, he used the word
'spiritual socialism' to describe this vision.

    What Swamiji had in mind is that the Western concepts of capitalism and
socialism are confined to material needs, whereas happiness of society depends
very much on that society and the individual being at peace with himself, which
peace will not come merely from fulfilment of material needs. The fulfilment
of the material needs cannot be disregarded. But, at the same time, both the
individual and society should have the capacity to rise above fulfilment of
their material requirement.

   For example, there is a contradiction between how the West pursues happiness
and growth and how we, ideally, would act for the fulfilment of values we
cherish. In the West, there is nothing wrong about pursuit of unrestrained
ambition. That is, indeed, considered a big spur to social development. But it
is only in India that the highest ideal is selfless duty: you do your duty,
don't worry about the fruits thereof, as the Gita says. In India, this value
commanded the highest respect in society.

   The ancient concept of a Brahman was that he was wise, but not rich and had
no power. The Kshatriya had power, but he was not highest. The highest was
someone who had renounced material well-being, but who was wise and tried to
attain some spiritual height. Now, if these ideals can be translated in real
life, then India does not become a replica of what is supposed to be the best
in the West. If we become a replica of the USA or any 'successful' Western
society, I do not think that would contribute to real happiness. When we think
of greatness, we think of greatness of the kind which commands respect all over
the world, not merely because of material prosperity, which is a must, but
because of the higher values we cherish.

Blitz: Isn't it true that the fulfilment of the people's material needs is a
prerequisite for the individual's and society's higher development?
LKA: It is true, there can be no doubt about it. Without the fulfilment of
basic material needs, an individual cannot attain any spirituality. As they
say, Bhukhe bhajan nahi hoy gopala (A hungry man cannot do bhajan). Religious
leaders like Vivekananda have stressed that alleviation of people's misery is
the principal task of any society. It is unfortunate that even after 45 years
of Independence, we cannot ensure even the minimum needs of our common people.

.....to be continued....

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