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Let's make a great India, Part 3/3

....continued from the last post.....

Blitz: What social tasks do you see for Hindutva in the coming years?
LKA: Removal of internal discrimination in Hindu society on the lines of caste
and sub-caste will have to be a principal task before the Hindutva movement,
if Hindutva is to become acceptable to adherents of faiths that have not had
their origin in India. The first and foremost responsibility of those who
advocate this viewpoint is to see that the kind of injustices which have been
perpetrated by the Hindu society itself are completely redressed. Without this
there can be no real progress.

    I lay particular stress on another crucial task. Eradication of illiteracy
must become a matter of top priority for all socio-political organisations -
governmental as well as non governmental. Unless we promote primary education
in a big way, India's future generation will not be in a position to meet the
challenges of the 21st century. Alongside, the quality of education at all
levels must be improved. Without education, all dreams of making India a great
nation will come to nought. That is why I keep telling the Chief Ministers in
my party's governments, "If I were to tell your governments to accomplish only
one thing, it is: Improve education, with particular focus on spreading primary

Blitz: But what needs to be done to endear Hindutva to religions which have
not had their origins on Indian soil? In your recent press conference in
Bombay you had said that you would not do anything wrong to get the support
of Muslims. But is there anything right which needs to be done in order to
endear Indian Muslims to Hindutva?
LKA: To the extent that Hindutva can be explained to the country and to the
world as not in any way hamstrung by religious dogma, but being identifiable
with India's national interest, to that extent the followers of faiths which
have not had its origins in India can also be persuaded to identify with
Hindutva. What, after all, is the heritage of this country? What is the
contribution of the Ramayana and the Mahabharata and the Gita to the making of
India's history, tradition and social practices? What are the cultural under-
pinnings of this country?

   If Muslims think of these questions in an objective manner, without blindly
accepting the criticism of Hindutva by its detractors, they will realise what
the movement to which I belong is doing is neither anti-Islam nor anti-Muslim.
It will take its own time, but to the extent that we are able to ensure that
there is no discrimination between non-Muslims and Muslims, and to the extent
that our governments guarantee communal peace, Hindutva will also endear itself
to Indian Muslims.

Blitz: You said, earlier, that the word superpower has a negative connotation
for historical reasons. How do you understand power in the emerging global
LKA: Yes, the word superpower has come to have a negative connotation because
of its close association with military power. But that does not mean that we
should be against military power itself. That is why, the school of thought
to which I belong has been advocating for a long time that India should
become a nuclear-weapon state.

   Ours is the only party pleading that India build a nuclear deterrent of its
own, not because we would like India or, for that matter, any country in the
world to use nuclear weapon again. I hope and pray that the two bombs dropped
on Hiroshima and Nagasaki will be the last bombs thrown on any country. But,
at the same time, we are aware that in the conduct of international relations
today, sheer diplomatic experience shows that a nuclear power carries a greater
weight than a non-nuclear power.

   Similarly, we have always welcomed demonstration of power by the government
whenever it has served our legitmate national interest and has added to India's
strength - whether it is the police action in Hydrabad or the merger of Goa
with India or the nuclear explosion at Pokharan. On all these occasions, the
world has not viewed India's actions kindly, whereas I do think that after
each of these actions our position to deal with the world and solve our own
problems has somewhat improved. And therefore it is that, even though, in
totality, our objective should be to make India great, in the present world
context India cannot become great unless our country gains allround strength.

Blitz: It apprears to us that the present political system is a big stumbling
block in India's efforts to become a great nation. Many great leaders of the
freedom movement, like Gandhiji and Aurobindo, had a deep distrust of the
party system. Do you agree that today's competitive political system based on
political parties has been dissipating our national energies?
LKA: Having distrust of a certain system without being able to offer a viable
alternative can be extremely damaging for the country. And, frankly, despite
the shortcomings that I see in the present system of governance and even while
agreeing with your observation that party system dissipates national energies,
I am hesitant to suggest that we should do away with this system. For these
failings, I would not blame the system so much as the people who have been
running the system. I am inclined to rely on what Chrchill had to say: Parlia-
mentary democracy is a bad form of governance, but we have not been able to
find a better one.

Blitz: Looking at the nation's interests from a long-term point of view, it is
obvious that there cannot be two national mainstreams in politics. Your party
is trying to emerge as a national mainstream, but the Congress is showing no
signs of a total disintegration. Doesn't this point to the imperative of
closer cooperation between the Congress and your party, so that the coming
together of these two mainstreams can re-energise the national spirit, which
alone can make India great?
LKA: There was a time when, within the Congress, the two ideological streams
coexisted. They had Pt Nehru as well as Sardar Patel, Rajaji, Rajendra Prasad
or Gandhiji himself. Nehru represented a distinct ideological strand whereas
the others were different but still the two co-existed. Neither of them regard-
ed the other destructive of national interest. The unfortunate situation today
is that our viewpoint is supposed to be subversive of national interest and
there is a constant effort to isolate us. Of course, this also has its own
response; sometimes if adds to our strength. But it would be a happy situation
if these two strands of opinion keep competing and discussing and debating,
always keeping the national interest uppermost in their calculations.

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