The Sangh and VHP are on the right track. If you believe in Hindutva, you must create the intellectual capital to support the idea.
One of the major arguments used by Left-wing polemicists to delegitimise the views of the Indian Cultural Right is that they have no intellectuals among them. Modern historian Ramachandra Guha has said this often enough, and Left historians have refused to acknowledge any history written by culturally-rooted intellectuals in the past by simply branding them “communal”. This includes the likes of R C Majumdar, K M Munshi and Jadunath Sarkar, among others.
The arrogance of this group was exemplified by a statement of Sanjay Subrahmanyam of UCLA, who told The Times of India in an interview in 2015, that the “BJP has always had an intellectual deficit. Their best intellectuals are apparently Arun Shourie and Madhu Kishwar. That’s about as good as they get… They are scraping the bottom of the barrel when it comes to intellectuals. They don’t even have good Sanskritists…”.
It didn’t occur to either Guha or Subrahmanyam that the Left-liberal clique dominates the academic hierarchy and few promising intellectuals from the other side are ever allowed to enter the portals of a Jawaharlal Nehru University, or other institutions of similar repute (or disrepute).
However, one criticism that is difficult to deny is that the Sangh Parivar – as opposed to a growing band of India’s non-Sangh, intellectual Right – never put great faith in developing an intellectual class of its own. Happily, this period of drought at the core of Hindutva ideology is about to end.
The Vishwa Hindu Parishad (VHP), until now best known for its stewardship of the Ram temple movement, is building a Vedic university in a 40-acre plot of land in Gurugram, Haryana. Called the Ashok Singhal Ved Vigyan Evam Praudyogikee Vishwavidhyalaya, the university will begin operations from the next academic year, while the campus itself will come up in phases.
While the name sounds as if the emphasis will be on teaching holy texts and such-like subjects – which is not far off the mark – the underlying emphasis is on the Vedic method of teaching rather than just a focus on scripture.
The subjects to be offered for study in the first academic session next year include agriculture, architecture, environmental science, palaeography, warfare, internal security and maths. Each subject, of course, has an Indic name to it, with agriculture being called krishi tantram, and warfare yudh tantram.
To ensure that the education is in alignment with regular state-recognised curricula, the university will follow the new National Education Policy of the Human Resources and Development Ministry, which is open for comment in the public domain, but yet to be given statutory effect.
Named after the late Ashok Singhal, who served as the VHP’s international working president for more than two decades, the Vedic university will gain or lose credibility based on the kind of faculty it appoints to key positions.
While one can expect the usual shouts of derision from the Left-Lutyens cabal no matter who is appointed, one hopes that the key faculty and administrative heads are well recognised scholars and intellectuals with a solid body of research of writings of their own.
We will have to wait and see what happens here, but clearly the Sangh and VHP are on the right track. If you believe in Hindutva, you must create the intellectual capital to support the idea.