Hindus, who have been tormented for centuries by Mughals, looked up to the revamped and rejuvenated BJP in 2014 with hope. The government led by Prime Minister Narendra Modi is definitely aware of the grievances of the Hindu community
The Bharatiya Janata Party won the 2014 elections on a strong wave of development promises and Hindutva. The core voters of the party have always held certain expectations towards the Hindu causes. A lot of critics, as well as some articles, claim that the “core” voter is upset with the party because apparently those issues have been “ignored.”
However, data tells a different story. It is surely not a case where “nothing” has been done. Since coming to power in 2014, the NDA government has done its utmost to reciprocate the extensive support it has received from the Hindu community. A keen eye would spot that the government has also undone several policies that had been set in motion by previous governments, that were deemed unfair by a vast number of Hindus.
Hindus, who have been tormented for centuries by Mughals, looked up to the revamped and rejuvenated BJP in 2014 with hope. The government led by Prime Minister Narendra Modi is definitely aware of the grievances of the Hindu community. We shall take a close look at the various steps that the government undertook since 2014.
Artifacts/idols stolen from India returned by USA, Australia
Sensing value in artifacts and idols, a smuggling ring was active in our country and many old sculptures were stolen. They now find a place in museums across the world. It is ironical that Hindus pay entry fees to see their own gods, which were either stolen by the British or by smugglers. A concentrated effort was put by the government to bring back the “Hindu heritage. With the help and assistance of some pro-Hindu organisations, significant success was also achieved. One of the idols that were brought back to India was a priceless bronze idol of Lord Ganesha (estimated to be 1,000-years-old), a statue from the Chola period and a Mauryan-dynasty statue.
These steps are important for the revival of Hindu sentiments. This, coupled with the spread of Gita by encouraging foreign leaders and delegates to read it, has definitely helped.
Revival of ancient Hindu ethos
Renaming towns and villages and destroying temples was a very clear strategy of the Muslim invaders. Till date, there are 704 cities/towns/villages in our country which have names of Mughal invaders. There are 251 places named after Akbar, 61 places named after Babur, 11 after Humayun, 141 after Jahangir, 177 after Aurangazeb, 63 after Shah Jahan.
These towns were renamed from about 1526 to about 1707 with the sole intention to remove the historical traces from the psyche of Hindus. The current government, with an intention to revive the old lost glory, renamed Allahabad as Prayagraj, Faizabad as Ayodhya and Mughal Sarai rechristened as Pandit Deen Dayal Upadhyay Nagar. There is no doubt that a lot of towns are yet to be covered but this is definitely a great start.
Spreading Yoga across the globe
Yoga is a gift by Hinduism to the world. Yoga ensured there is unity of mind and body, thought and action, restraint and fulfillment, harmony between man and nature, and a holistic approach to health and well-being. On September 27, 2014, PM Modi urged the United Nations General Assembly to adopt a day as the International Day of Yoga. This is a significant push towards soft Hindutva. Today Yoga is connecting a tremendous number of foreigners with Hinduism. This, coupled with the fact that foreign delegates, like the Japanese PM, are being shown Ganga aarti and temples, is also seen as a great push towards expanding the awareness of Hindu culture.
Protection of cow
The cow is not just sacred but is treated as “mother” by the Hindus. Cow protection is an important aspect and a major political issue as well. With this in mind, the government introduced the GOBAR-Dhan Yojana under which it aims to collect cattle waste and solid waste from farmers for sale to entrepreneurs, who thereafter, will produce manure, biogas and bio-CNG from the waste. A Niti Aayog study claims that this will lead to an increase of 10% in the incomes of the farmers. Indirectly this will also ensure that cows are well managed and cared for. When the farmer has an income and owing to his “faith”, he can provide for better facilities for his livestock. Going ahead the government has also banned the sale of cattle to slaughterhouses across the country. One of the primary reasons why a farmer was forced to part with his cow was his low income and that the maintenance of livestock was difficult for them. Taking a further and an unprecedented step, the BJP-led Uttar Pradesh government passed an order for the closure of “illegal” slaughterhouses and banned cow smuggling, protecting the livelihood of lakhs of Hindus in the state that are engaged in animal husbandry. This move is significant because this state accounts for the maximum number of illegal slaughterhouses in our country.
Hindu pilgrimage and infrastructural needs
Conducting pilgrimages is an important aspect of the Hindu way of life. Haven’t we all faced issues of bad roads and dirty facilities at various important sites important for Hindus? The government accorded approval for “Swadesh Darshan Scheme”, wherein infrastructure is being built around places of tourist interest under the umbrella of 15 themes such as Buddhist Circuit, Krishna Circuit, Spiritual Circuit, Ramayana Circuit and Heritage Circuit.
Under Swadesh Darshan Scheme the ministry of tourism has sanctioned 70 projects for Rs 5,708.88 Crore in 29 states and UTs. In fact, 30 projects / major components of these projects are expected to be completed this year itself. Under Ramayana Circuit Sitamarhi, Buxar, Darbhanga in Bihar are identified initially for development. In Varanasi, old temples which were either encroached upon or hidden from public access, are being reclaimed by the government and they are being accorded the respect and sanctity that they deserve. Many sacred ponds and lakes are being cleaned and revived. The beautiful ghats along the Ganga in Varanasi are now clean and they have received maximum attention and support from the government. Not just the old heritage, the state of Uttar Pradesh, led by the BJP, has also planned to build a 221-metre statue of Lord Ram in Ayodhya, making it the world’s tallest statue.
Chardham Mahamarg Vikas Pariyojna is a project of the central government to improve the existing condition of highways in Uttarakhand. In this project, the government will upgrade and develop the road which connects all four 'dhams', i.e., Gangotri, Yamunotri, Kedarnath and Badrinath. The Rs 12,000-crore dream project will turn 1,100 km of damaged highways of Uttarakhand into an all-season road. The project is divided into seven packages and is expected to be completed soon.
Furthermore, the railways have started their final survey for Char Dham rail connectivity project in May 2017. Hindu pilgrims can visit these places by not just roads, but via railways as well. The railways have launched a special tourist train called ‘Ramayan Express, which will cover four important destinations associated with the life of Lord Ram in a 16-days tour package spread over India and Sri Lanka.
There are also special new trains for pilgrims visiting Vaishno Devi shrine during Navratras, and access to important Hindu pilgrimage sites like Kailash-Manasarovar are easier because of opening up of Nathu La pass route is solely to the credit of this government. Taking a step further and using immense goodwill, the government has built with foreign governments, direct bus service has been started between Janakpur in Nepal, the birthplace of Sita, and Ayodhya, the birthplace of Lord Ram. In one his speeches PM himself mentioned this, and as per news reports, the pilgrim footfall in this site has gone up manifolds. PM Modi announced Rs 1 billion to develop Sita's birthplace as well.
Under PRASHAD Scheme, 41 religious sites have been identified for development in the country. Rs 727.16 crore was sanctioned for the development of 41 religious sites till date.
Taking firm stance to address Hindu causes
In an unprecedented step, the government through the Home ministry sent an advisory underlining need for comprehensive security arrangements at the Sabarimala temple after the Supreme Court passed a verdict allowing women’s entry into the temple, which upset a lot of Hindus across the nation. The Kerala state BJP unit and party president Amit Shah accused the Left government in Kerala of trying to "destroy" Sabarimala temple and the "Hindu traditions". Shah said the BJP will not allow the CPI(M) government to "gamble with Hindu faith", thereby taking up the Hindu cause and pilgrims sentiment head-on. Hindus throughout the country took the SC judgment as an interference in their religious practices.
Special focus for Ganga, the holiest of rivers for Hindus
For Hindus, Ganga is sacred and is personified as the goddess Gaṅgā. She is worshiped by Hindus and they believe that bathing in the river causes the remission of sins and facilitates Moksha (liberation from the cycle of life and death), and that is the status and stature of the river in Hinduism. The National Mission for Clean Ganga (NMCG) was launched under this government which has sanctioned a total of 105 projects of sewerage infrastructure in Ganga basin states at an estimated cost of Rs 17,484.97 crores for river cleaning and Ganga rejuvenation.
Out of these, 25 sewerage infrastructure projects have so far been completed resulting into creation of approximately 421 MLD additional STP capacity through construction/ rehabilitation and approximately 2,050 km new sewer lines have been laid. The rest of the projects are under different stages of execution
The river water quality monitoring carried out in 2017 indicates improvement in water quality trends as compared to 2016. The dissolved oxygen level is improving at 33 locations and is above the quality requirements of 5 mg/l. Biological Oxygen Demand (BOD) levels are reducing which is an improvement, at 26 locations and coliform bacteria count is reducing which is an improvement, at 30 locations
Nitin Gadkari has claimed that 70-80% of the Ganga will be clean by March 2019. He further reiterated that “It is a general perception that nothing significant is being done under Namami Gange Programme but this is not correct.” I wanted to specifically highlight these aspects as well. Not just the Ganga, other sacred and important water bodies like the Yamuna are also being taken up as priority projects and infrastructure is being built to address chronic issues.
To fight the Christian conversion mafia which used the money to lure poor families out of the Hindusim realm, the government cancelled licenses of about 20,000 NGOs which used to receive huge funds from foreign evangelical organisations and were active in the tribal belt. The known modus operandi of these organisations was to target the poor and use their pain to advance their religious influence. In this regard, I would even consider the Aawas Yojana (to provide house for the poor), Aayushman Bharat, LED bulb scheme, gas cylinder scheme as pro-Hindu, because it definitely raises the standard of living of economically backward Hindus who are being targeted by Christian conversion mafia with the lure of even small things like samosas.
Be it the removal of the Haj subsidy, the end to minority appeasement politics or aggressive push to drive out illegal Rohingyas and Bangladeshi’s via National Register of Citizens, the government has taken a lot of steps which address the Hindu causes. I have tried to highlight the same. Is this enough? Obviously not. Are they working in the right direction? Like I said earlier, data say yes. A lot more can be done and as the saying goes, Rome wasn’t built in a day, and much more can be done and will be done.
Last Updated 5:05 PM IST