Monetising the temple gold – the VHP view
For the last few years, there has been a talk in the media about monetising the temple gold to help solve some of the economic problems our country is facing. Such suggestions were made earlier also. The Vishwa Hindu Parishad would like to provide its views on the subject.
The debate misses one major issue – namely, a discussion how the country landed itself in the mess it undoubtedly is in. If we do not do this analysis, then we are not going to find solutions of an enduring nature. It is also necessary to identify those (whether politicians, the 'analysts', etc.) who created the mess. The objective of this second exercise is to ensure that there is a principle of accountability. They were entrusted with the task of managing the economy, and the society paid them handsome salaries, well above the average national wage, for it. Either they should publicly admit their mistake, explain why they made the mistake and ask for forgiveness, or they should be kept outside the system so that they cannot continue to do any more mischief.
There is the story of a person who was looking for something under the light of an electric post. When a passer-by asked him what he was looking for, he said it is the keys to the car. After helping to search for a few minutes, the passer-by asked the other person where he could have lost the keys. The latter said in the market place. Surprised, the passer-by asked why is he looking under the electric pole. The answer was that it is now dark in the market place.
Another important point in the debate is that there should be a clear recognition that the wealth of the temples is the property of the deity, and not that of the temple management. It has been provided to the deity out of devotion by the followers, without anyone forcing them to do so. It has been provided out of the hard earned money by the followers.
There are some allegations that some of the money is made illegitimately by the follower. The deity has no way to know this, and it is the task of the concerned government authorities to take suitable action against the follower, by following the due process of the law. The deity will not put any obstacles in the way of the authorities.
We will not be letting out a state secret if we state that the economic mess is not the creation of the Hindu samaj. In fact, we can clearly state that the mess has been created by those who have an ideological opposition to the Hindu philosophy and civilisation. They instituted a system of governance and economic management that was alien to the cultural norms of the Hindu civilisation.
What is worse is that when their plans turned out to be a disaster for the nation, they had no qualm of blaming the Hindus. In the late 1970s, when the planners were asked why India was growing at the rate of 3% from 1947 till then, Prof Raj Krishna, one of the economist who was part of the system that managed the economy, absolved the real culprits and coined the term ‘Hindu Rate of Growth’, so that the blame is apportioned to the Hindus instead. His ideological colleagues lapped it up, and those occupying the intellectual space, also being of the same ideological disposition, found it to be a rational explanation for the then depressing situation. If there was even an iota of intellectual honesty amongst these supposed intellectuals, they would have admitted their mistakes. The Hindus would not have asked them to return the salaries that were paid to them – the Hindus are magnanimous to a fault.
A letter writer to The Sunday Times of India, R C Mody, has nicely put in a few word what Prof Raj Krishna meant. Shri Mody wrote: "The term was coined ... to describe the inability of the Indian economy to grow at more than a modest 3 per cent per annum, through a large part of the planning period, when other economies were growing at a much faster pace. He attributed this to the philosophical temperament of most Indians, their belief in contentment and lack of killer instinct." (August 6, 2000)
No one asked Prof Krishna how did the Hindus who settled abroad, and with minimal financial resources, acquired the necessary killer instinct to do well for themselves. No one asked him in the 1980s, when there were some feeble attempts to remove the shackles on the Hindu entrepreneurship, how did the same Hindus in India acquire the necessary philosophical temperament to achieve a growth rate of 5%.
Prof Krishna passed away in early 1990s, so he could not be asked what happened to the Hindus when they decided to grow by 7% and subsequently by 9%. But then, and importantly, those who accepted the term thoughtlessly never even considered that they should explain to the Hindus, and the nation, why they did not question Prof Krishna's rationalisation. Many of them still think that blaming the Hindus for the low growth rate till 1980 is truthful.
Of course, there were many in the Hindu Right Wing, in particular amongst the activists of many of the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh organisations, who did put the issue in the right perspective. One of them was K R Malkani of the BJP. But, as is happening today, their views were censored by those who controlled the gates of the main stream information flow, for purely ideological reasons. It would have been most uncomfortable for them to allow the people to know the truth.
The true spirit of the Hindu entrepreneurship in India has been captured by Paul Johnson when he wrote: 'Under the socialist regime of Jawaharlal Nehru and his family successors the state was intolerant, restrictive and grotesquely bureaucratic. That has largely changed (though much bureaucracy remains), and the natural tolerance of the Hindu mind-set has replaced quasi-Marxist rigidity.' ('Want to Prosper? Then be Tolerant', Forbes, June 21, 2004.)
A similar observation was made by the late Prof John Kenneth Galbraith in the early 1960s, when he said that India is a functioning anarchy. Though he was criticised for it, he had actually meant it in a positive way. When, in 2001, he was asked about this term, the professor said: "I wanted to emphasise the point, which would be widely accepted, that the success of India did not depend on the government. It depended on the energy, ingenuity and other qualifications of the Indian people. And the Indian quality to put ideas into practice. I was urging an obvious point that the progress of India did not depend on the government, as important as that might be, but was enormously dependent on the initiative, individual and group - of the Indian people. I feel the same way now (as I did some forty years ago) but I would even emphasise it more. We've seen many years of Indian progress, and that is attributable to the energy and genius of the Indian people and the Indian culture." (Outlook, August 20, 2001)
It was this spirit of entrepreneurship that enabled the Hindus to make the best us of the opportunities wherever available. During the socialist regime, it was not just Jawaharlal Nehru and Prof Krishna who were the offenders. There were others, including the previous prime minister, Dr Manmohan Singh. Those who blamed, and continue to blame, the Hindus for the 3% growth rate till 1980 hail him as a liberaliser. However, he has never admitted his own role in creating and managing the socialist regime. And, hence, whatever little he did was not on the basis of conviction but responding to a situation. Dr Singh was trying to find the keys under the lights of the electric pole and not where they were lost.
The Hindus have proved their willingness to make sacrifice for the well-being of the nation, and will work hard to utilise the little opportunities to open up the economy. They will not demand that they should be given the first right over the resources of the nation. Nor will they blow up even the truly communal attacks against them out of proportion. The Hindus have the necessary sense of moderation, and know that it is the nation that should come first.
But, if they are continued to be held responsible for the economic mess, the Hindus will speak out - with much politeness but without sacrificing truthfulness. They will point out that the managements of the temple are in the hands of the politicians who have zero interest of the devotees at heart. They will point out that even today the cash donations are deposited in government securities, which the state governments are using as a budgetary support, to cover their own financial profligacy. They will point out that the government control of the temples has been abused by the various political parties, particularly those who wear the badge of secularism proudly on their sleeves, for dispensing favours to their supporters. They will point out that the politicians have done very little for the temples themselves, barring a few notable examples like what Shri Jagmohan did for the Vaishno Devi temple in Jammu & Kashmir.
In 1962 when China attacked India, the Hindus made the sacrifice, even to the extent of some Hindu women donating their mangal sutras to help preserve our nation and hence our civilisation. They did the same in 1971, when India had to help the people of Bangladesh to overthrow the tyranny that was unleashed on the people of that country. They will do so even now. But they want to know what is being done for the real problems that exist.
Again, it is not a state secret that the previous UPA government, over a period of ten years, was responsible for the present state of the Indian economy. While all this was happening, ‘analysts’ who today make loud proclamations of the mess, did not raise their voices. Many of these ‘analysts’ are projecting that monetising of the temple gold will solve the problem. This is absurd. Even before thinking about monetising the temple gold, there are many small and simple steps that the government can take.
The VHP would like the government to initiate these steps. True reforms are not just relating to opening the economy for foreign investment, going even to the extent of disfavouring the Indian investor. True reforms are removing the shackles that are applied in the day-to-day running of the business. True reforms means to trust the Hindus that they will do good for the nation, rather than forcing them to ask permissions, particularly from those politicians who work hard against the interest of the Hindus.
The VHP would like the government to control the five-star activists, who work under the label of NGOs, and receive funds from abroad. There are many NGOs who are working in a silent manner, receiving support from the Hindus in India and abroad, who are doing yeoman service to the society. But the ones who are publicity-seeking hounds undertake their activities only for their own pecuniary benefit.
The VHP would like the government to ask the newstraders (we would not go to the extent of calling them prestitutes, though it may not be an inappropriate term) if they want to help the government to work towards improving the society. Or do they think that it is their dharma to use all sorts of means (even if they are grossly unethical and unprofessional) to try and put political obstacles in the way of the NDA government. They have to be reminded that they are able to maintain their luxurious life style only by the funds provided by the society, either directly or indirectly. They have to be told that their loyalty should be to the society and not to their ideology.
In a recent address to the office-bearers of the VHP, Bhayyaji Joshi, the Sarkaryavah of the RSS, said that India does not seek to be a super power. India would like to be a responsible and contributing power. The VHP knows that there are many in the present government who have the true interests of the society in their heart. The VHP would like to be a part of the process which will lead to once again realising the greatness of our civilisation.
(Ashok Chowgule is the Working President (External) of the Vishwa Hindu Parishad, India.)