RSS remains quite optimistic about the way the new world order is going to pan out post-COVID-19. It feels that it is the beginning of a new golden era for India, writes Arun Anand for South Asia Monitor
The Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS) - seen as the ideological fountainhead of India's ruling BJP - has always been wary of China due to the fact that it is run by an authoritarian communist regime. The anti-communist stand of the RSS has been well known in the past. And it isn’t without reason. The organisation feels that communist regimes are undemocratic and non-transparent and this has been documented around the world.
The RSS is of the view that China has been pursuing an expansionist policy which is not only reflected in the geo-strategic moves of expanding influence in India’s neighbourhood but also in terms of its growing clout in international institutions. India has the capability to challenge this 'hegemony' and in the post-COVID-19 world; the rest of the international community is also likely to back New Delhi on dealing with the larger impact of what is now being called "Chinese virus".
As far as COVID-19 is concerned, the RSS agrees with the views expressed by many across the globe that China appears to be primarily responsible for this calamity. Beijing wasn’t transparent enough to alert the world in advance and muzzled information about the spread of coronavirus within China.
However, the first and foremost priority of the RSS, right now, is to ensure that the lockdown announced by Prime Minister Narendra Modi is implemented successfully. More than 100,000 RSS volunteers are working on the ground to ensure the distribution of masks, food items, and other essential supplies to people who need them but cannot access them because of the lockdown.
The second priority of the RSS is that Indian society shouldn’t fall into the trap of the Hindu-Muslim divide, especially in the wake of the violation of various health safety norms by Tablighi Jamaat, a global Muslim outfit known for its ultra-orthodox ideology.
RSS joint general secretary Dr. Manmohan Vaidya specifically said that the actions of Jamaat members shouldn’t be held against Muslims. So the RSS, sticking to its old stand, continues to oppose radical Muslims who are opposing the lockdown while supporting the progressive sections which are an integral part of the nationwide effort to fight COVID-19.
As far as the post-pandemic scenario is concerned, the RSS believes that the world order is not going to be the same on the other side of this fight. The Chinese hegemony in the economic sphere is going to get a big jolt. Most of the developed countries are likely to take out their major investments from China as it no more remains a friendly investment destination. It is now a dangerous and unpredictable destination as the Chinese government didn’t share any reliable data in time to save the rest of the world from the onslaught of the coronavirus. So the reputed business-like approach of the Chinese establishment has come under intense global scrutiny. The biggest beneficiary is likely to be India. It has handled the ongoing health crisis much more efficiently than any other country in the world, especially in the developed world. The government has been fully transparent and supportive of international e-commerce companies like Amazon in this hour of crisis.
Thus India can become a major manufacturing hub replacing China in the next couple of years. The Indian economy is in for a major renaissance. All that is required is for the country to build the capacity to absorb foreign investment. With a clear majority in the Lower House of Parliament and capability to pull off legislation in the upper house of the Parliament, and with the Bharatiya Janata Party government’s installed in around half of the Indian states, India provides a stable, transparent and viable destination to do business for rest of the world. The most important factor in this is the policies of the Modi government which has been able to do the balancing act by protecting the interest of the indigenous players while inviting the big companies and FIIs from outside.
So, one can say that the RSS remains quite optimistic about the way the new world order is going to pan out. It feels that it is the beginning of a new golden era for India. The way India has led in the fight against COVID-19 by helping many countries by sending medicines to establish it has made it a major global power now. The rest of the world looks up to India to fix what they feel is the ‘China problem.’
However, while going ahead, the RSS may also focus a little more on changing the current economic policy paradigm which is more consumption-driven. It feels that Ricardo’s ‘Comparative Advantage Theory’ is no more relevant for the world and it is time to look for a policy framework that isn’t driven by reckless consumption. The emphasis on increasing consumption to increase demand and hence fuel the economic growth stands challenged. India can offer a new solution to the rest of the world as far as a more sustainable economic growth model is concerned. And this is going to be something which neither China nor any other developed or developing nation can match.
(The writer is CEO of RSS-affiliated think tank, Indraprastha Vishwa Samvad Kendra, New Delhi. The views expressed are personal)