On 14th November, Friday, leading Indian journalist and politicians came together at London's Nehru Centre discussing the rise of “Hindu intellectualism” and “identifying with cultural heritage”.
Launching his book, 'Awakening Bharat Mata', Rajya Sabha MP Swapan Dasgupta said, “The Conservatives were once called a 'stupid party' by many. Similarly, Hindu nationalism and the pedigree of Hindu intellectualism has long been rubbished. But the narrative is different today.”
Discussing the perception of India that exists in the western media, Dasgupta picked up on the contentious issue of “cow slaughter and beef ban in India”. He said,
“In the western media the antipathy towards cow slaughter forms a part of the general mirth of India. Sometimes, it defines Indian exoticism but more often it is the subject of ridicule. I am not questioning about people's food habits. But it is fundamental to note that this was a crucial part of India's cultural resistance to colonialism. You find this cultural mobilisation from Vivekananda, Bankim Chandra and other such leaders.
“It would also interest most people to note that most of the legislature against cow slaughter was not introduced by the present BJP government but by the former Congress governments.”
Speaking about the factionalism that exists between the Nehruvian ideology which died with the collapse of the USSR, Dasgupta also spoke about the story of the emergent India which embraces as its rich cultural and Hindu identity.
Alongside, Dasgupta the event was also attended by journalist Makrand Paranjpe and newly appointed director of The Nehru Centre, Amish Tripathi. Dismissing the argument around the “Hindu-victim narative”, Paranjpe emphasised the diaspora to look towards the future. Discussing Dasgupta's book, Paranjpe read a part of an excerpt to the audience,
“The right is an omnibus term. It is not doctrinal. It is best characterised as a set of approaches and attitudes towards public life. This best summarises that the right actually represents a new but different ideology from that of Nehruvian Socialism”.
Dasgupta emphasises that 'Awakening Bharat Mata' is not about Hindu nationalism in power but explores social, cultural and political movements with the aim to encourage a more informed understanding of an idea that will remain relevant in Indian life. It seeks to identify the nature of Indian conservatism and identify its similarities and differences with political thought in the West.