The difference between Hinduism and Hindutva is similar to that between unity and uniformity, Shashi Tharoor, MP, has said. Hinduism, he said, was being perceived in the recent times as an ideology that endorsed atrocious oppression of conflicting voices. He was taking part in a discussion on his latest book 'Why I am a Hindu' organised as part of the state government's Krithi Literary Festival at Marine Drive, Kochi here on Friday.
Hinduism was capable of accepting even conflicting voices that rose over the ages. Hindutva, a rather recent political ideology, meant to homogenize the entire population of this territory and it believed in oppressing and terminating the conflicting voices that it encountered, he said.
Commenting on the Sangh Pariwar agenda of banning art works portraying nudity in India, Tharoor said the aesthetics of nudity was always part of Indian culture and this was evident from the murals and ancient sculptures. “I am coming straight from Attukal Pongala. Roads and public places of Thiruvananthapuram are filled with the hoarding of the presiding deity of Attukal. Now, this is a country which chased MF Hussain for portraying our gods and goddesses in an erotic manner,” he said.
He said Sushma Swaraj, a BJP politician not from an RSS lineage, banned Fashion channel in India when she was union minister for information and broadcasting. “One would change the channel if s/he dislikes Fashion channel. It is not the government's job to remove a channel from the band. This is a country where erotic poems, scriptures and verses about gods and goddesses were written and circulated. Have a look at Geethagovindam, where the romance between Radha and Krishna has been detailed finely, involving erotic descriptions on their acts of love. So, Hinduism's principle is not about intolerance and street fights but of acceptance and unity,” Tharoor said.
Shashi Tharoor said the NDA's victory in the last union elections was not the victory of their ideology but that of the development card which they projected all along. “Narendra Modi won over a hundred seats than Vajpayee as he became the prime minister of India not because people were convinced of the Hindutva ideology but because of a hope in the agenda of national development which they projected," he said.
India had a majority youth population and the ruling class was, unfortunately, in its old age. Politics is seen as a full-time profession here, which is a unique thing about India. There should be a retirement for politicians, which would demand the entry of new faces and professionals into governance, Tharoor said answering a query from the audience.
“When I freshly joined Indian politics after my association with the UN, I used to ask many politicians I met, what their professions were. They were deeply hurt and felt insulted. Down here, politics itself is a profession, which starts from college days. This is one main reason why we do not have professional experts, academicians or technicians in our system of governance. I strongly stand for a retirement system for politicians, either after a fixed age or following the completion of a fixed number of terms in governance,” Tharoor said.
Fiction in the offing?
Answering a question about the possibility of a sequel to 'Why I am a Hindu,' Shashi Tharoor said the book shall stand independent and hence there wouldn't be a sequel to it. Moving on, he said his next book would be on Indian politics and would be released prior to the forthcoming union elections.
“While Hinduism was the most unguarded ideology which badly demanded a defence in the recent times, it is the current Indian politics that would need an interpretation. My next work will be a political one, detailing the nature and philosophy of present Indian political scenario,” Tharoor said.
Speaking about his regret of not trying to write fiction, Tharoor said fiction required a large amount of time and peace of mind. “Fiction requires a very high level of illusion. Of course, I do maintain a glass castle in my mind but suddenly when a petitioner comes to me describing his woes, my glass castle falls apart. Over a period of time, I realized that writing non-fiction is an easier job, which I do frequently. I have written 17 books so far and some of the upcoming ones will surely fall in the fiction genre,” he said.
Read more: Lifestyle | Why Shashi Tharoor is a Hindu, in his own terms | Book review