Why I Am Glad I Was At The Jaipur Dialogues This Year

by Arihant Pawariya - Dec 12, 2017 05:49 PM +05:30 IST
Why I Am Glad I Was At The Jaipur Dialogues This YearHawa Mahal in Jaipur. (Chetan/Wikimedia Commons)
  • In Jaipur Dialogues, the capital of Rajasthan has found the ‘right’ conclave to look forward to.

In the last three years, we have seen how the elements of unity – the elements that we took for granted, as a matter of fact, a day to day reality – have been mangled by the incumbent intelligentsia (not to be confused with the incumbent government) to the extent that these elements are now thought of as divisive. Those who used to vouch for ‘unity in diversity’ until recently have started ignoring unity while over emphasising diversity. No surprise, this is leading to proliferation of divisions.

Given this backdrop, The Jaipur Dialogues (JD), in its second edition, ventured to prove that the secular, left outrage brigade is wrong in painting nationalism, religion, education, history, national security as divisive. It did a wonderful job on this front right from the beginning of the conclave, which kickstarted with a beautiful rendition of Saraswati Vandana by Mohammed Aman.

What Is Dharma And Why It Is Necessary

Sanjay Dixit moderated the first session of day one on nationalism, which featured wonderful minds such as Narendra Kohli, Arif Mohammad Khan and David Frawley. Consummate dancer Sonal Mansingh brought the feminist angle in the debate, which sometimes appeared forced, but this lacunae, if it can be called one, was more than compensated by her charismatic personality and forceful oratory.

Khan was first to speak. In 1986, after Supreme Court’s Shah Bano judgement, the then prime minister Rajiv Gandhi chose to side with the Islamists than helpless Muslim women. Khan resigned in protest at a time when Rajiv Gandhi was at the peak of his political popularity. It speaks volumes of Khan’s conviction and strength of his character. Though he was introduced as an Islamic scholar, after listening to him, there was no doubt that that title didn’t do justice to his knowledge. He is undoubtedly an equally good Indic scholar.

Arif Mohammed Khan (AU Jaipur Dialogues/Facebook)
Arif Mohammed Khan (AU Jaipur Dialogues/Facebook)

Khan’s contention was that what religion means differs from person to person and tradition to tradition and religion as generally understood in the context of Semitic religions doesn’t apply to Indian tradition. It is not limited to books, dogmas, principles and places of worship. Study thyself, discover the divine as Patanjali’s Yogasutra tells us.

In same spirit, he recalled an Islamic tradition where the Prophet was asked which religion is best, to which he replied: religion of introspection. Another saying goes: One who knows his own soul, self, he knows the best of religion.

Khan then recalled Vyasa, who after studying all shashtras and puranas, told us: paropkar is punya and parapidan is paap (Doing good to others is good and hurting others is considered sin).

On the question of whether religion is an element of unity or division, Khan said that everything has both beneficial and painful aspects. A knife can be used to cut vegetables and it can also be used to take somebody’s life. He took Tulsidas’ help to elaborate: jaaki rahi bhavna jaisi, prabhu murat dekhi tin taisi (the goodness or badness is here, it’s not outside), Khan explained.

Explaining it further, he said that he has seen Muslim Personal Law Board using religion (Islam) to suppress and oppress women, to deny freedom to others but he has also seen that the same religion has had a liberating effect, which empowers women and doesn’t allow their suppression and oppression.

The only thing you have to be careful about, Khan cautioned, was not to hurt others. Other than this, everything is allowed in the law of the religion. That’s his understanding of religion. “I think one of the most despicable misuses of religion is using it to for personal use to come in power, as an instrument to get power, there can not be any greater misuse of this noble institution,” he added.

Khan made an important point which is relevant for the times we live in. He said that Bhagavad Gita’s emphasis is that His devotee is one who is neither fearful of anyone nor frightens anyone. When he sees someone getting killed on the roads in the name of religion (by those who call themselves gau rakshaks) he is reminded of the same mindset of Islamists who were after him for many years and made three murderous attempts on him. A listener knows Khan’s words are not those of an virtue signaller but of someone who has lived that frightful experience.

Khan then went back to Vedas to make his point that the purpose of religion was to make us more civilised and more humane. He quoted Rig Veda which said at the beginning of our civilisation: मनुर्भव जनया दैव्यं जनम्!

Khan said that in the Indian tradition, more than charity, what is highlighted is aham brahmasmi tat tvam asi, meaning, it is the same supreme being that dwells in me, dwells in you. Shiva dwells in everybody. “That’s why when I do namaste, I am not bowing down to you but supreme being in me recognises the supreme being in you,” said Khan ending his address.

Then came the turn of doyen of Hindi literature, Narendra Kohli, who taught the audience the difference between religion and dharma, which obviously are two very different things. More importantly, he explained the nuances of dharma itself and its different forms. “At the most basic level, we say dharma of agni is to burn, a student’s dharma is to study and so on,” he said. “There are different cults, ways of worship whom people follow as their dharma. Vivekananda in his Chicago address had explained that just like different rivers take different paths but eventually merge in the ocean, it doesn’t matter what way of worship or which ishta devta you prefer,” Kohli added.

Narendra Kohli (AU Jaipur Dialogues/Facebook)
Narendra Kohli (AU Jaipur Dialogues/Facebook)

Kohli then dwelt on the necessity of dharma. There is the independent state of atma and there is an atma which has become entangled in bondage. Atreya’s son Datta, who wrote Avadhuta, considers himself the creator as he sees supreme being in himself. On the other hand, Janak asks Ashtavakra the path to mukti and Ashtavakra asks him to renounce kaamna. Here the atma is not free and hence needs a path to mukti. Dharma is that path which helps us free our atmas from karma chakras. That’s its necessity. By this point everyone in the audience was so enthralled by Professor Kohli that they could listen to him for hours.

The professor then cited great personalities from our past who chose different dharmas to free themselves from the cycle of life and death. Buddha saw grief and reached the conclusion that getting rid of grief was the only way for mukti. Mahavir identified that inner enemies – kaama, krodha, lob and moh – clasped the atma and he chose the path of tapasya.

Professor Kohli said that many greats took an element and held fast to that as their dharma. For instance, Harishchandra considered satya as dharma. Shri Ram considered his father’s commands as dharma. When he went to Dasharatha and asked him what bothered him, Dasharatha simply turned his face away and said nothing. Then Rama asked mother Kaikeyi and she told him her two demands. She also didn’t say anything further. Even without an explicit order, Ram decided to go because he knew that the dilemma his father had got into could only be resolved once he went into exile. In our tradition, an ideal son or ideal student is one who follows the order without having to give one. Yudhisthira also follows pitra dharma. Dhritrashtra is father as well as the king. Since he asked him to play a game of dice, he goes knowing fully well the wicked ways of Shakuni and assured of a certain defeat.

Ramakrishna Paramhansa said that consider every living being as Shiva and do its seva and feel indebted that it gave you an opportunity to serve. That’s seva dharma. Vivekananda said that which can not be proved by logic isn’t dharma.

These all are examples of people diligently following one element as dharma, the professor explained.

According to Tulsidas, Professor Kohli said, dharma should strive to free the soul from karma chakra. How to do it? One way is through karma, second through gyaan and third through bhakti. The professor said that he believes karma is more important than all and that not karma, but its character must be sattvic.

When Arjun trembles at the thought of killing his own brothers and uncles in battle, Krishna exhorts him in the name of dharma. Arjun says he would rather prefer becoming a bhikshu (also a form of karma). But karma alone is not enough. Its character is equally important. It has to be sattvic. Hence, dharmayudha could be the only way. That’s how the professor explained his understanding of dharma.

David Frawley, awarded Padma Bhushan by the government of India recently for his stellar contribution to Indic studies, explained religion at three different levels. The first, he said, was religion in the form of rituals, dogma, faith, organised religion and social practices. Second, the spiritual and mystical practices defined in various religious tradition. Third, the way of self knowledge or self-realisation.

David Frawley (AU Jaipur Dialogues/Facebook)
David Frawley (AU Jaipur Dialogues/Facebook)

Religion is a very loaded term, he said. Frawley said that there is a great diversity of practices in India and some of them may be objectionable to some but the solution is not in anti-superstition laws which Karnataka is trying to implement. These kind of laws, he explained, didn’t exist in India before the British nor do they exist anywhere else in the world despite people believing in all sorts of irrational things such as virgin birth or miracles.

Dr Frawley made an important point that the same old colonial stereotypes about India and Hinduism that the British and missionaries emphasised are today coming out from Indian liberal media (as well as the New York Times) and Marxists.

Sonal Mansingh, in her address, lamented the fact that all feminine forms have been ignored while discussing religion. For her, dharma has only one meaning: unconditional love. In her address, she referred to Yudhisthira as paplu for betting away his wife. To this, Professor Kohli registered a strong protest. Kohli, who considers Yudhisthira to be hero of Mahabharata, said that wife was a legal property of a man during that period and Draupadi had become a slave the moment Yudhisthir became one. But Shakuni explicitly asked Yudhishthir to bet the last remaining asset he had. The game rules were clear: it could not be over until you have bet everything you own. Only Dhritarashtra – king and father – could order it to stop but he didn’t. Yudhisthir was not in the wrong. However, this defense of Dharmaraja failed to satisfy the Ms Mansingh.

Sonal Mansingh (AU Jaipur Dialogues/Facebook)
Sonal Mansingh (AU Jaipur Dialogues/Facebook)

“Jab Prayag mein Yamuna Ganga mein milti hai to wo Ganga banke nikalti hai, usse Ganga Jamuni nahi kehte”

Sandeep Balakrishnan was the moderator of the second session on nationalism. He has done a great service by translating the giant of Kannada literature, S L Bhyrappa’s seminal novel Avarna into English. Those who have read his translation can’t thank him enough.

Balakrishnan used the Indian freedom struggle period as a backdrop to explain nationalism. He said that nationalism did not merely exist in its outward physical manifestation such as political rallies, demonstrations, etc but also expressed itself in numerous ways in paintings of Abanindranath Tagore, poetry of Subramanya Bharati, novels of Bankim Chandra Chatterji and so on. “Nationalism was a living experience on the stage of this country’s life. This story has never been told in full. It was this story that moved a gigantic scholar such as Will Durant to come to India and he witness an ancient civilisation struggling to search its lost soul,” Balakrishna said.

Balakrishna quoted Prof S Srikanta Sastri, who wrote, “The culture of India, like the country itself, is indivisible and timeless. Just like its indivisible geography that stretches from Kashmir to Kanyakumari, Kashi Vishweshwara to Rameshwara, from Bindumadhava to Setumadhava, Indian culture too represents this indivisible continuum from the age of rishis of Vedas all the way to Ramakrishna Paramhansa.”

This cultural unity was considered by British as a big obstacle to their designs on the country, Balakrishnan said. “Nationalism has now not only been degraded but made into a term of abuse. And decades and decades of denigration has given the country specimen like Kanhaiya Kumar,” he concluded.

Veteran journalist Shekhar Gupta, who spoke next, transported the audience to the 1960s when many doubted India will last for long. He said that it was the most depressing period in modern Indian history. In 1962, China trounced India. In 1964, Jawaharlal Nehru’s death was seen at the time a big blow to stability of the country. Then, the 1965 war with Pakistan happened. Before that, Kutch skirmishes were going on. On top of all this, back to back famines plunged the country into ship-to-mouth existence. Then in 1967, the Nathu La skirmish took place. Internally, Naga insurgency was at its peak. Gupta told that the Nagas had more automatic rifles in Naga hills than the Indian Army. “In fact, they brought the first automatic rifles on the subcontinent (from China) even before the Americans gave it to Pakistan,” he said.

Gupta carried on. In 1966, Mizo National Front invaded Aizawl and declared independence. They were on the verge of overrunning the deputy commissioner’s house, treasury and Assam Rifles’ garrison. That’s when Indian government under Indira Gandhi used air power on its own citizens. When all this was happening, Akali leaders Master Tara Singh and Sant Fateh Singh were repeatedly going on fast unto death demanding Punjabi suba. During that period, India hardly had any friends in the international arena. In the middle of all this, Tamil separatism emerged.

Nationalism, Gupta said, was under threat and it is thus no surprise that many predicted the breakup of India. He said that today all that is past and India is at its most secure state in its entire recorded history.

Kashmiri activist Sushil Pandit spoke next. In his address, Pandit questioned Gupta’s premise. He asked from which perspective can such a claim be made when 70,000 Kashmiri Hindus were turned into refugees in their own country despite the nation having nuclear weapons, a vibrant press, judiciary and a population of 90 crore (at that time). He pointed out that there are at least 500 mini-Kashmirs developing all over the country at present where Hindu population has dwindled into minority. The calm is only on the surface.

Sushil Pandit (AU Jaipur Dialogues/Facebook)
Sushil Pandit (AU Jaipur Dialogues/Facebook)

From Khilafat to the recent agitation for Rohingyas, Pandit talked of concession after concession given over the years by which we have compromised on the idea of nationalism. “You say China will not fight India. What did it want in Doklam? It keeps poking to test your will power just like herd of jackals try to test the ability of an elephant to retaliate,” Pandit said.

Pandit pointed out how the country’s boundaries have shrunk in the past century alone. In 1932, Sri Lanka was separated. Until 1937, Burma was part of British India. Until 1947, Iran used to be our neighbour. However, he said that at present, the real danger may not be at boundaries as the nature of warfare has changed. “The target will be digital infrastructure, power grids, railway signalling systems, cyber attacks on economy, mobile phones – all are imported. How prepared are we today on these fronts?” Pandit asked pertinently.

He said that culture is key marker of nationalism. So are language and shared history. The highlight of his speech was when he exposed thoroughly the bankruptcy of so-called Ganga-Jamuni tehzeeb idea. Jab Prayag mein Yamuna Ganga mein milti hai to wo Ganga reh jaati hai, Ganga Jamuni nahi (When Yamuna flows into Ganga at Prayag, it comes out as Ganga and not Ganga-Jamuni). He cautioned not to divide the culture into parts. Pandit said that composite, syncretic culture is contradiction in terms. It’s an oxymoron. “Our nationalism is not hanging in thin air. It has its culture, languages, civilisation and great personalities. It can’t be divided up,” he said.

“History is our memory. If we don’t know who we are and where we come from, we can’t know where to go”

Dr Manoj Dixit moderated the first session of the second day on education and history. T V Mohandas Pai gave the first presentation. Pai is a former member of the board of directors at Infosys and the Chairman of Manipal Global Education. His non-profit foundation, Akshaya Patra, feeds mid-day meals to lakhs of students, daily. Pai, in his address, said that education is the process of creating an identity for a civilisational people and keeping it going so that young people in the society understand where they came from, who they are and can define their identity by understanding their roots. “If you become a rootless culture, if you don’t know where you come from, you will not know where to go. There will be no intellectual activity, less creativity,” he added.

“India doesn’t have group salvation culture but an individual salvation culture. Education is the process for individuals to go on their own paths to discover for themselves what they are and live happily,” Pai said, adding that India must have a core identity of its own. “Americans created an identity for themselves, what they call as American exceptionalism. The British, the French have a sense of themselves, the Japanese are rooted in their culture. China is the middle kingdom. Look at India, where are we? We are so confused,” Pai said. “The battle is for the mind. We are going to be a $10 trillion economy, We must get a hold of our own identity and define our own Indian exceptionalism,” he added.

One couldn’t help but think that no nation has achieved greatness on borrowed culture and identity. Can we expect to achieve greatness by hating our roots and create a great civilisation using a language borrowed from the British.

Pai said that no country oppresses its majority like it is done in India where we are told that being Hindu is communal. He said that the leftists have learned the art of controlling the minds of the people by controlling education and the output that is coming out of places like Jawaharlal Nehru University is before all to see.

What should we do? Pai suggested some remedies. “First, we need many many authors who write history based on evidence to counter these narratives. There is a lot of evidence on Goan inquisition, we must write on this and promote history books such as written by Bharatiya Vidya Bhavan. It’s an 11 volume book. We must give such books and popularise them. Second, in universities which are dominated by the left, we must create two departments to compare different religions and must create a department for Indian civilisational studies. Lastly, we need more debates and discussions. We must counter attempts at cultural appropriation. India is the only civilisation where civilisational debate is set by people outside the country such as Wendy Doniger and her children in India,” Pai said.

T V Mohandas Pai (AU Jaipur Dialogues/Facebook)
T V Mohandas Pai (AU Jaipur Dialogues/Facebook)

Professor Makkhan Lal spoke next. He recalled an episode of Kaun Banega Crorepati from early 2000s where an IT wizard who appeared on the show couldn’t tell who gave Gita gyan to whom in the battle of Kurukshetra. Nor could his friend who he called for help. “Has something gone wrong at home?” the professors asked in introspection.

Why should we study history? He recalled an incident from 1987, when a University Grants Commission chairman had come for an inauguration at Aligarh Muslim University and he said that “history doesn’t give us anything. It only creates animosities.”

The good professor explained that history is one’s memory. It’s one’s identity. “Imagine a person who has lost his memory. Does anyone matter to such a person? Can he relate to his parents, family and village? He can’t be left alone. He doesn’t know where to go. Now imagine a country without memory,” the professor said, with ‘dobara mat poochna’ expression on his face.

The professor then tore into historian Ramchandra Guha without naming him. “Someone writes a book about makers of modern India. There are 25 personalities named in the book and Sardar Patel doesn’t make it into the list. Imagine that,” he said.

Speaking further on the way history is taught in India where our own achievements are never taught, professor Lal talked at length about Baudhayana, Katyayana, Bhaskar 1, Bhaskar 2, Brahmagupta, Suryasidhanta, and so on. The professor told us that, in Sulbasutra, value of Pi is given as 1.4142156, while modern value is 1.4141153!

On such forgotten discoveries, he recommended a book on ancient foundations of modern sciences written by Dick Teresi. As it turns out Kepler was only restating what was mentioned in Surya Siddhanta.

“People ask me that I should write books for children to inculcate cultural values. I tell them I write books which give sanskaar to parents”

Professor Narendra Kohli was next. He said the current education system is such that the whole focus is on destroying a child’s maulikta. “Vivekananda said everything is inside, you just have to find it within. In current education system, the knowledge is forced from outside,” the professor said. Every guru proves his nirarthakta. He can’t give anything to student. Everything is inside. But today, gurus ram information down children’s throats.

He lamented the behaviour of parents today. When kids ask questions to their parents or teacher, it is taken as disrespect. “People ask me that I should write books for children to inculcate cultural values. I tell them I write books which give sanskaar to parents,” Kohli said.

On the question of language, he said that it is the carrier of civilisation. “If we don’t know our own language then we can’t know what’s in our culture. If someone tells us what is our culture, how can we counter it as we don’t know even the language,” the professor explained.

To illustrate, he quoted Tagore who said, “Vyay ke badhne se aayu aksheen ho jaati hai”. Though, in English, both vyay and aayu are translated as age. However, they are not the same. With language, we have lost our words. With words, we have lost our concepts, and the knowledge that came with them. The audience at the Jaipur Dialogues was eating out of his hands.

On the question of Indians not writing their history, he said it was not true. Our history writing was different, he said. “In our tradition, king protects the state and rishi protects the nation,” said the professor.

How? Another story. “Vindhyachal starts rising, vowing to pierce through the sky. Rishi Agastya tells the mountain that he was going to the south and not to rise till he comes back. He never came back. Many can say it’s a myth. But if we go deeper and understand the meaning behind it, the country was being divided into two parts. A rishi went south and stopped it. We need to understand how our history was written. We have kept it in this form,” the professor put it lucidly.

Professor Kohli said that if the history or geography of the nation is not taught right, then the sense of nationalism will not get inculcated no matter how many songs we sang. “That’s why education system has to be improved and those who come in the way should get punished,” he thundered.

Sankrant Sanu, the speaker after Professor Kohli, emphasised on the need to educate the children in their mother tongue. His contention was that English, which is considered to be an asset in the country, is actually a major reason why our children are doing so badly. He said that a cursory look at top countries in gross domestic product (GDP) per capita shows that most of those on the top have their own language as medium of instruction.

He said that English is touted as a language that helped us gain prominence in information technology (IT) but it’s simply not true. Countries like China, Korea and Japan are far ahead of India in terms of technology but impart education in their own languages. He said that Europe too took off when medium of instruction started shifting from Latin to vernaculars like the French, German, and others.

J Sai Deepak, who is an arguing counsel in the Supreme Court, delivered his speech next and brought the focus on the solutions instead of endlessly discussing the problems. Sai said that the gates of judiciary are open to everyone and the Constitution is not the preserve of the left. Those on the right of the political spectrum should also approach courts for redressal of their grievances.

“Their strategy is to bleed us by thousand cuts. And our response to that is thousand bandages”

Three-star general of the Indian Army, Lieutenant General (retd) Syed Ata Hasnain was the prominent speaker in the last session of Day 2 on security. The primary focus of his talk was to make the people aware of the threats away from the border, deep inside the country.

He explained the genesis of Pakistan’s doctrine of bleeding India by thousand cuts and how it does so by continuously exploiting the faultlines of the country. The main arsenal in this war is fomenting divisions by misinformation. General Hasnain said that everyone knows about Pakistan’s ISI, ISPR is not known to many, which is the agency that actually operates against India under the radar. He referred to many examples of propaganda that the agency indulges in by creating videos that create fissures in the society, through all sorts of fake news. And this will only intensify as more and more technology spreads. General Hasnain said that even in Israel one can witness so many Pakistanis going and speaking against India and its policies.

Lt. General (retd) Syed Ata Hasnain (AU Jaipur Dialogues/Facebook)
Lt. General (retd) Syed Ata Hasnain (AU Jaipur Dialogues/Facebook)

The General spoke mainly about two threats that India must look out for: the lone wolf kind of attacks taking place all over Europe where the terrorists don’t need weapons, bombs or bullets, but can just hire a truck and use it as a weapon to kill so many people. And second, the suicide bombing phenomenon that is rampant in the Middle East, Afghanistan and even in Pakistan including the use of child jihadis, which India has escaped. “If the radicalisation spreads to that level in India, where children feel motivated enough to blast themselves, we will have a big problem on our hands and a matter of concern,” the General said.

Sushil Pandit also endorsed the General’s statement saying that most of the challenges to India’s security are internal. The asymmetric war that is going on against India has caused death of more soldiers than all the four direct wars with Pakistan combined.

“We are fighting a defensive war. Their strategy is to bleed us by thousand cuts. And our response to that is thousand bandages,” Pandit put it succinctly. One of the biggest problems, he said, was that we haven’t done the diagnosis of the problem right. This has always been our weakness.

Pandit highlighted three areas where he sees India’s security vulnerability. One is demography. Hindus had to leave the valley because they were highly patriotic and the terrorists couldn’t have carried out their jihad with Hindus present. Similarly, there are many areas in the country where migration of patriotic people has been accepted and people of a certain faith have been allowed to become dominant. He said that there are more than 60 districts where it has become difficult for the majority community to live. They are selling their properties and leaving and the country seems completely indifferent to it.

Second is vulnerability of mission critical infrastructure. Third is psychography. “What is our attitude. How does your political class perceive the challenges. What had happened if Doklam had happened when IK Gujral was PM? In 2004, 2005, 2006, 2007, we were a signature away from signing on four point solution. What mindset made Manmohan Singh agree to concession in Sharm-el-Sheikh on Baluchistan? What is that weakness? Psychography helps one understand all this and how propaganda can be effectively carried out,” Pandit explained.

“Pakistan was finding strategic depth in Afghanistan, they have certainly found it in India in its intelligentsia, media, academia, bureaucracy and public intellectuals,” he added.

Taking the discussion further on Pakistan, Sushant Sareen made a pertinent point that if India wanted to sort out that problem, there were enough ways and solutions but there’s no will. No prime minister learns from the bad experiences of his/her predecessors and every one tries to initiate peace and then has to back down. Our fundamental problem is that the problems that we should be looking for solutions to are ignored. Instead we dedicate finding solutions to problems that can’t be solved but only managed. “Our problem is education system which is completely broken. Look at our municipal services which affect us in our day to day lives. But these are the problems no one wants to solve. We take a very myopic view of history, there is almost a contempt for it. We think it is past and won’t repeat but it always does in different forms, with different characters,” Sareen said.

Sareen said that evolutions in military technology are happening throughout the world but just like in the past, we aren’t bothering to catch up and that’s why despite all the valour we lost in some wars. Sareen termed the Indian Administrative Service (IAS) as a national security problem. He said there is resistance to change at every step. “Until we reform IAS or make it more dynamic, no security issue can be resolved. That’s the reality we must recognise. Police reforms can’t happen. Army modernisation can’t happen. Because a person who passed a very lousy exam 30 years ago thinks he will rule the roost and decide how the country is run,” Sareen said.

“The diversity of clothing and food is of no significance. What matters is that our culture, identity and values are one”

On the last day, the speakers were such who need no introduction. Subramanian Swamy, R Jagannathan, Tarek Fatah, and Rashtriya Swayamsewak Sangh member J Nand Kumar delivered their addresses on elements of unity and diversity in the country at the last session moderated by Shefali Vaidya.

Nand Kumar said that we must first identify fundamental values that unite us as a country and then if we wish to strengthen the unity of the country, we must support those fundamental values and elements which are working to uphold those values. Tarek Fatah focused on the elephant in the room – Pakistan. He said until it is there, India’s problems will keep rising. Fatah said that the Islamic country must be undone. He suggested five measures to move towards that objective. He said that since Gilgit Baltistan – the territories occupied by Kashmir – are considered by India as its sovereign part, it should appoint members of parliament for that region. He also recommended that India recruit soldiers from Baloch exiles and deploy them on Pakistan border.

Swarajya Editorial Director R Jagannathan said that people on the left only like to focus on diversity, divisions and differences rather than unity. He said that since in the Western world, as more prosperity spread, the role of religion has reduced and as a result there are only three markets left for proselytising religions to fight for and they are Africa, China and India. Hence, there is going to be a lot of fight between Islam and Christianity, who see the world in binaries, to gain space in India. This, he said, will lead to all sorts of problems. He added that our focus should be on the elements of unity if we want to counter those of the left who just want to emphasise the elements of division.

Subramanian Swamy, the star speaker on the panel, made a most profound point when he said that the elements of diversity that are highlighted such as diversity of food and clothing is irrelevant and what matters is the unity of culture and values which are embodied in Hindutva such as special place for women in society, the respect for parents, the emphasis on not just material gains but also on spiritual development, the importance of sacrifice, our rituals, our sense of dignity. Swamy said these values are what are common in all of us throughout the country. These are the elements that unite us. The diversity of clothing and food habits, Swamy said, is immaterial and of no significance. What matters is our identity and that is one. Swamy concluded by saying that United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization prepared a list of 46 civilisations and today, out of all of them, only Hindu civilisation has stood the test of time. And protecting it is a responsibility of all of us.

The second edition of the Jaipur Dialogues was a highly educational experience where one got to learn a lot from exemplary luminaries, personalities and acharyas in whose presence one can only feel humbled and blessed. Jaipur, in JD, has found the ‘right’ conclave to look forward to. One hopes the next edition will be bigger and grander and would provide us with another opportunity to sit beside many gurus and get educated.

Arihant Pawariya is Senior Editor, Swarajya.
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