Author: – Karthik TS.
Let us assume we start making a list of successful companies that do not have a brand identity. Almost everyone will bet that such a list will be filled with white space. Humans have always had the affinity to listen to stories and that’s what brands do in essence – convey powerful stories.
Do countries have brand identities too? Yes, most notable ones do, and it’s known with a slightly different name, Grand Narrative. It’s much more sophisticated than a company’s tag line or a logo.
It must be inclusive, make every citizen proud, irrespective of their ideological leanings and influence governmental decisions in such a way they do not harm the reputation or contradict the narrative.
Most importantly it should produce and promote influential leaders from the country.
The American Grand Narrative
American Exceptionalism, which states that Americans are exceptional people who are the best at everything and posits therefore America as a nation is superior to all other countries in the world, is an ingrained thought into all Americans right from their school days irrespective of their backgrounds. The American Grand Narrative is not a mere tool to stroke nationalistic sentiments with empty rhetoric but has been the trigger for many American innovations in almost all fields like the semi-conductor revolution, software & internet technologies, bio tech, movies & entertainment, sports and the list can be extended to numerous other fields under the sun (Ref 2).
It’s no wonder why such a Grand narrative keeps churning out influential leaders at the global level like Thomas Edison, Abraham Lincoln, Henry Ford, Bill Gates, Steve Jobs and even very recently Mark Zuckerberg. America today is a world leader in every field because of its ability to produce such influential people spread across different generations.
Problems with the American Leadership – Adharmic Leadership
Notwithstanding all the leadership qualities American influencers possess, the world today is at the crossroads with respect to following such a leadership, not because of its inefficiency or incompetence but mainly due to the destruction it has brought about to this planet approximately in the last one hundred years.
To stamp their authority and assert their pride, many American leaders from different fields have played a part in promoting too much consumerism, environmental destruction and in many cases even invading foreign countries in the guise of protecting human rights !!
The promotion of mindless consumption and the resulting environmental impact on the planet is abominable. All this for “fake” economics, is nothing but Adharmic leadership .
Even American environmental activists are true to this Grand Narrative, their only goal is to establish themselves as world leaders in saving the environment rather than save the environment. (Ref :1)
Bharat as an Alternative – Dharmic Leadership
Now is the best of all times for Bharat to influence upon the world with its unique brand of Dharmic leadership and steer the proverbial ship out of troubled waters. Vegetarianism, yoga & meditation and Ayurveda that promotes a more holistic lifestyle could have been (or rather should have been) the principles that Bharat applied to lead the rest of the planet out of this pandemic called COVID 19. Unfortunately,
Despite all of these being an integral part of the Hindu culture and civilization, our country is not well-placed from a global stand point to provide credible leadership and guide the rest of the planet. This is due to the contemporary Indian mindset of aping the worst of the West.
Affluent and influential Hindus, instead of being pioneers and leaders for motivating the next generation are today rather promoting the same western thinking that is systematically disengaging India from its Hindu civilizational roots.
Examples are people like the Infosys founder’s Murthy Classical library of India that appointed Sheldon Pollock (who habitually demeans the Hindu culture and calls Sanskrit a dead language) to translate India’s literary works from Sanskrit (Ref 11 & 12).
Similar arguments could be built against the proud donors for the Harvard Tamil Chair a few years ago to translate and promote ancient Tamil texts We cannot quote a single instance of an American businessmen seeking an Indian academic’s assistance to promote American culture. If the mindset of “influential” Indians is subservient towards the West, how can one expect an ordinary citizen to feel motivated about his or her culture?
The present generation of Indians living in India and abroad are not able to become influential global leaders like what we see in the case of United States. True, we have produced outstanding individuals who through their hard work, smart minds, discipline and other high personal values have become CEOs of big American corporations. However, despite all the talent there is no global search engine or social media company head-quartered in Nagpur or Bangalore founded by a proud Bharatiya! Why? Simply put, people like Mark Zuckerberg had role models like Bill Gates and Steve Jobs from the previous generation and the next generation of American entrepreneurs already have the Facebook founder or Elon Musk as their role models. While we continue to wait for our own Zuckerberg to start his social media company, we often miss the point that we never had our own Steve Jobs to motivate the present generation and this goes back even further to the previous generations.
Despite having an ancient civilization with immense scientific, spiritual and economic progress in the past, there is a clear lack of swadeshi role models, promoting Dharmic leadership since 1947.
Even in the political space, most Indians would say M.K. Gandhi is their role model (even if they really don’t think of him as one) simply because the rest are either considered controversial or their contributions are too insignificant according to the present-day narrative. Too much obsession about Gandhi in the academia, has subdued the contributions of many other great freedom fighters including the valiant efforts of Netaji Subhash Chandra Bose. Imagine a Bharat where we read in our history books about how Bose was instrumental in achieving the independence and the one where Sardar Patel was our first Prime Minister? Gandhi being a role model was good for his times and suitable in certain circumstances even today, but we need to adapt our strategy according to evolving situations.
Our heroes from our Itihasas, Ramayana and Mahabharat exemplify this principle. Both Rama and Krishna are avatars of Vishnu but had completely different approaches to defeating their enemies because of the change in times.
How can a country that does not have adequate role models and leaders to inspire its own people provide leadership to the globe in times of a crisis?
How can a country that sees the real reason for its independence (Netaji Subhash Chandra Bose’s contribution to the British leaving Bharat) only as a conspiracy theory, be successful in bringing transparency and clarity to its people that are essential qualities for any leader? Well, it cannot be a world leader unless India can produce strong, assertive and well-meaning leaders who have a clear understanding of their identity.
Why aren’t there enough number of true Bharatiya leaders in influential positions? Before answering this question let’s also acknowledge that there is no Bharatiya Grand Narrative (BGN) to unite and inspire people under one Bharatiya umbrella. It’s no coincidence that there is no BGN and no leadership from present day India. The latter as we saw in the case of the U.S, is completely dependent on the former.
Current Indian Narratives
Today there are multiple narratives that provide an identity to an average Indian. It can be the traditional Dharmic narrative based on a Vedic framework, a secular country that is based on Western values, the Islamic narrative which implies that Bharat’s culture attained its zenith during the Islamic rule and finally the narrative of India being an artificial collage of many smaller countries something like the Soviet Union post WWII (Ref 2).
We can reject the last narrative because it goes against the very grain of a Grand Narrative to instill pride and confidence. It rather promotes a divisive mindset where every single entity (by religion, caste, language or geography) within India claims exclusivity over the rest. The Islamic narrative is another centrifugal force that rids Bharat of its unique Hindu civilizational identity, makes an amalgamation of all the Islamic nations in the South Asian region and tries to establish an artificial Islamic entity with India at the center (or may be not!).
The secular one following Western ideals is the present-day narrative most commonly used by many educated and economically affluent Indians living in India or overseas. It’s a convenient one for various reasons but most important of all, it suppresses the Difference Anxiety (Ref: 10) of an average educated Hindu mind when being amidst his/her western educated peers, by painting a non-religious, trying-to-be-cool picture. While this narrative has been built up by the media and the Left leaning intellectuals alike for the last seventy years, it has not produced the desired results for India in becoming a global power.
There are a couple of major problems with this narrative
- It always forces India to look up to the West for leadership and approval of her actions or even writing her own history because the concept is an imported one. If we buy products from a third party, we must maintain and handle them only according to their user manual. Otherwise they will break and stop working.
- Secularism has no place in a country like India which is built on a civilization of open architecture where different cultures can co-exist with ease by absorbing from and contributing to this architecture
To exemplify the second point, we can see for a fact how Parsis, Jews, Sikhs, Buddhist and Jains have integrated well within the framework and have no problems with the Hindus from a religious stand point. However, the same cannot be said of Islam and Christianity and therefore the word Secularism was added forcibly to the constitution’s preamble during emergency without any consultation with the elected members of the Parliament. Neither did the original preamble have the word secular nor the word can be found anywhere else in the Indian constitution.
It is evident that the secular narrative is an unnatural one, thrust upon India by the left leaning centers of power, both in politics and academia, through passing of discriminatory laws (like the ones where Hindu temples are controlled by the state but not the Church and Islamic places of worship) and writing distorted history.
Before creating a Bharatiya Grand Narrative, the existing narratives should be thoroughly exposed for their hidden Breaking India agenda and that can be done only by deep institutionalized research of the opposing side’s (Marxist, Islamist, Christian and Post Modern) ideologies and approach. In traditional Sanskrit terms, this is called Purva Paksha (Ref: 4). Adi Shankara could not have defeated the Mimamsa scholar Mandana Misra in a debate without doing a purva paksha of his philosophies. This ability to debate at an intellectual level is mandatory for bringing back our own knowledge systems into the forefront. On a lighter note, this would mean our generation today should learn to quickly come out of this culture of forwarding memes and rather spend more time doing research!
It also means re-writing older smritis or writing new ones according to the times we live. In the Yajnavalkya Smriti, for instance, it has been stated that whatever is considered as Dharma in one epoch if not suitable for people in another, should be let go (Ref: 6). However, such a Smriti cannot contradict the Vedic Framework since all the Smritis are to be based on this framework. It’s very similar to the analogy of a new law getting invalidated in the courts if it fails the Constitutional validity test (Ref: 8).
In addition to reforming the Smritis, our ancient texts on Astronomy, Ayurveda and Arthashastra should be brought back to life alongside bringing back Yoga into the Hindu fold. A more holistic approach of applying the principles of Yoga, that includes the highest goal of Moksha, and not just as a means of maintaining a fitness regimen, should be brought back to life. Study of Arthashastra should be made mandatory in the classrooms of social sciences and economics. It talks about spies, establishing courts and a judicial system, widow re-marriage, dealing with corrupt bureaucrats, defining qualities of a good minister and many other aspects of maintaining a harmonious society. The most fascinating point about Arthashastra is the fact that Chanakya acknowledges the existence of similar works even before his times and that his work is only an extension of the earlier works (Ref: 7).
Above all, the true history of leaders who fought a valiant battle against our colonizers, be it the Muslim rulers or the Europeans, should be in our history books instead of chapters that glorify our invaders. While it is undeniable that invaders are part of our history, they do not define who we are as a civilization.
Today, there is a systematic and massive loot of all the glorious aspects of Hinduism by scholars and intellectuals in the West and even by Indian intellectuals who are educated and in positions of power. This is a continuation of where the British left off. The theory is simple, disengage the likes of Yoga and Ayurveda from Hinduism, rip the scientific progress made by ancient Hindus and mock them as myths & fantasies, while in parallel study these in the background and imitate them to suit the Western audience.
How many of us have studied in our school books that zinc distillation was first carried out in India around the 12th century CE? (Ref: 5). The architectural wonders of the temples in southern India, are a testimony to the civil Engineering feats ancient India had achieved when the western world was busy fighting crusade wars! Not only did we build these in India but also in countries like Cambodia and Indonesia.
The question one should therefore ask is: “Why are we taught to be embarrassed and ashamed of our identity instead of being taught the positive aspects of our civilization, which are innumerable?”
Role of the Government
To bring back many of the past contributions and glory into the Indian narrative, individual efforts alone will not suffice. As individuals we have limited reach to bring systemic and institutionalized changes. Hence, the government has a crucial role in bringing about policy changes with respect to our education and encourage academicians who have done extensive research on these areas within their individual capacity to write the true Bharatiya narrative. Institutions like Nalanda and Takshashila should be built again for today’s generation. The words Secularism and Socialism, that were inserted into the preamble unconstitutionally should be removed as a starting point. The fake Aryan-Dravidian theory should be banished from our text books and all the Breaking India agenda-s need to be exposed.
Instead of making hyperbolic unverifiable claims about flying airplanes and nuclear weapons in our Itihasas, the government should play a role in spreading the true essence of Dharma
Once a Bharatiya Grand Narrative has been established based on our civilizational ethics and values, it will bring about a transformational change in our mindsets as a society. Once this change in mindset of how we see ourselves has taken place, there will be no stopping of Bharat becoming a world leader. Given today’s scenario, the world is desperately looking for an alternate leadership that would reverse the adverse effects of consumerism and that of establishing one’s superiority over the rest in the name of exceptionalism.
For the sake of a more peaceful, prosperous and happy planet, we need Bharat to step up her game.
The perennial Manthan of the “DharmaKshetra, the Kurukshetra“ needs to be kept alive …
- Planet of humans: https://www.youtube.com/watch?time_continue=3&v=ZafDsNv5x0g&feature=emb_logo
- Shri Rajiv Malhotra lecture: https://rajivmalhotra.com/wp-content/uploads/2018/04/Weaving-Indias-MAHAKATHA-Grand-Narrative-for-the-21st-Century_RML-20Mar2018.docx-1.pdf
- Shri.Cho Ramaswamy’s Hindu Maha Samudiram – Tamil, Vol-II, Chapter XII
- Shri.Cho Ramaswamy HMS Vol-II Chapter 13 to 17)
- Shri. Cho Ramaswamy’s HMS, Vol-II Chapter 14
- YouTube lecture of Shri.Rajiv Malhotra on IGN: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=iQMzRf1vEWg
- “Difference anxiety refers to the anxiety that one is different from the other — be it in gender, sexual orientation, race, ethnicity, religion or whatever else.” – Shri. Rajiv Malhotra