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I have known Shri Murali Manohar Joshi for more than fifteen years and I have the greatest respect for him. Why ? For two reasons. The first is that he is a politician who has stuck to his ideals when he came to power, contrary to many of his peers, who got caught in the system and forget their initial aspiration.

Secondly, he is a man of seva. In ancient India, the concept of “Seva”, of service to others, was very predominant. It was then felt that the very action of forgetting oneself and giving one’s work towards the welfare of one’s brothers and sisters, was one of the most powerful tools to the realisation of the inner Self. Today, the tradition of Seva is being revived by many contemporary spiritual movements which are creating a new avatar for Hinduism. More than that, for the first time since independence, India has a Government which can boast quite a few Ministers, who are bringing back the practice of service to their country. That is to say, that they are not in power to fill their pockets, but put the betterment of “Mother India”, before their own petty self-interests, or even those of their parties.

One such politician is Dr Manohar Murali Joshi – and amongst all the NDA Ministers, he is the one who has been most targeted by the Press. Yet, Dr Joshi has a mission, an ideal – not for himself but for his own country. The first thing that Dr Joshi feels is that “Indians lack self- confidence”, this very modern and western bend of mind which says: “we can do it” and drives people to go beyond themselves to reach their goals. And it is true : Indians are often self-depreciating and are always comparing their countries to western nations and their achievements. “Yet, says Dr Joshi, we should tell our children that modern computers would not work unless India had not invented the concept of the zero, or that high grade steel in ancient India was so good that Alexander the Great wanted it to fashion his own sword, or that rhinoplastic surgery was performed in Vedic times, long before it was known in Europe”.

Manohar Murali Joshi also believes that Indians lack “esprit de corps”, the team spirit which makes a nation great. “Look at our hockey or crickets players, says Dr Joshi, they are great individually, but cannot perform well collectively on a steady basis”. Dr Joshi could also have added that Indians are probably amongst the most undisciplined people in the world: they always break queues, drive without thinking one second about the other, clean meticulously their own front porch, but throw their garbage in the street, and have hoarded so much black money that if it would surface, it would make India one of the richest nations in the world. And here again, the key is to educate : “It has been stated that Hinduism, being too individualistic a religion, is responsible for this lack of collective spirit, argues Dr Joshi, but nothing is further from truth”. And Murali Joshi to quote from Sri Aurobindo, India’s great avatar of the New Age: “Indian civilisation lived with a noble, ample and vigorous order and freedom; it developed a great literature, sciences, arts, crafts, industries; it rose to the highest possible ideals of spiritual knowledge “…

“It is the British, asserts Dr Joshi, who attacked and ridiculed Hinduism, which they rightly perceived as the main obstacle to their complete hold over India”. And he could have further said that they also created “Macaulay’s children”, Indians in body, but British in mind, whose descendants can still be found amongst Indian Intelligentsia ! “Hinduism is very community-oriented religion, contends Dr Joshi, as apart from the concept of seva, look how collective is our temple worship, with its bhajans, or how the old Panchayat system was democratic from the village all the way to the top (and not like today, where everything is decided in Delhi, with the villages having absolutely no say in anything).

What about the environment, which is so degraded today : tigers are being killed at the rate of one day, says a recent report; every year an area the size of France is deforested in India; and the holy Ganges is so polluted that it is not even fit for bathing. Are not those who defecate in the Ganges, cut their own forests and kill tigers, mostly Hindus ? “But on the contrary, replies Dr Joshi, the Scriptures tell us never to urinate in the Ganges, they enjoin us to plant trees at the time of festivities and not to kill animals. It is again the impact of ten centuries of colonisation which has made us forget this very Hindu respect of Nature”.

Finally, unless you educate Indian children about the greatness of their own civilisation, which taught the concept of seva, of collective discipline and respect for Nature’s bounties, there is no way that India is going to produce the leaps and bounds which she needs to become a superpower. You also have to rewrite Indian history, which basically has been crafted by British historians to further their claim of superiority on the “natives”, using false evidence, such as the theory of the Aryan Invasion, which all recent archaeological and linguistic discoveries are proving as false. The history of the independence of India, which has been concocted by Congress historians to show the Congress in the best light, should be reviewed too and Indian children should be told about the untold horrors of ten centuries of Muslim invasions so that they can face their own history.

And this is the task that Dr Joshi has set for himself in the true spirit of seva. Of course, “secular” historians and journalists, who often have such a Marxist-inspired vision of their country, will scream every time Mr Joshi makes a move towards “Indianisation” of what is basically a very bland copy of Western culture. But just think how seven years ago Dr Joshi had the guts to go and raise the national flag in Kashmir on 15th of August. Remember how he was reviled and ridiculed by the Indian Press ? Today he would be hero… “We can do it”…

Ultimately for me, MM Joshi is a man for the highest post of the country: he has the knowledge, he has the courage, he has the vision. What else can India wish for its future leader ?

François Gautier

* François Gautier, born in Paris, is a French journalist and writer, who was for fifteen years political correspondent in India and South Asia for Le Journal De Genève and subsequently eight years for ” Le Figaro “, France’s largest circulation newspaper. François Gautier has written several books: Un autre Regard sur l’Inde” (Editions du Tricorne), which has been reprinted twice since; “Arise O India” (Har Anand) 1999, “A Western journalist on India” (Har-Anand 2001), India’s Self Denial (Editions Auroville Press, 2001) and “A Guru of Joy” (2002, India Today Book Club).