He emphasised that the great challenges of the world could not be solved ‘by fighting but by acting together’.
At the Bali G20 Summit, Prime Minister Narendra Modi played a stellar role. Without his efforts the Bali Declaration would have been a hugely fractured one.
India has now become an expert at organising large and vastly important international conferences. The beginning was made in 1983, when the Non Aligned Countries Summit and Commonwealth Summit were held in New Delhi, under the chairmanship of Shrimati Indira Gandhi. Over 40 heads of state and government attended.
I was Secretary General of the NAM Summit and Chief Co-Ordinator of Commonwealth Summit. The late Queen Elizabeth inaugurated the Commonwealth Summit.
Prime Minister Modi took over the Presidentship of G20 on 1 December for a one-year term.
President Joe Biden on last Friday said that he would back “my friend Prime Minister Narendra Modi” during India’s G20 presidency for taking forward the sustainable and inclusive growth. President Biden quoted Prime Minister Modi about India’s G20 agenda that would be inclusive, ambitious, action-oriented, adding that “India is a strong partner of the US and I look forward to supporting my friend Prime Minister Modi during India’s G20 presidency.” This, if I am not mistaken, is the first time a President of the United States has called India’s Prime Minister a friend.
President Richard Nixon used foul language against Indira Gandhi in 1971 during the India-Pak war, in which Pakistan was soundly defeated and Bangladesh was born.
Prime Minister Modi said priorities would be shaped in consultation with not just the G20 partners, but also “our fellow travellers” in the Global South. He emphasised that the great challenges of the world were climate change, terrorism, pandemic that could not be solved “by fighting but by acting together. India’s G20 agenda will be inclusive, ambitious and decisive. Let us join together to make India’s G20 Presidency a Presidency of healing, harmony and hope. Let us join together to shape a new paradigm—of human-centric-globalisation.” Noble words.
Let me end by quoting from one of our ancient prayers:
“Common be your prayer,
Common be your end,
Common be your purpose,
Common be your deliberation,
Commons be your desire,
Common be your hearts,
Common be your intentions,
Common be the union among us.”
When the Bharat Jodo (India has not fallen apart) Yatra reached Maharashtra, the leader of the Yatra, the likable Rahul Gandhi was reported to have made critical remarks about V.D. Savarkar—that he helped the British. What was the necessity of dragging his name in during the Yatra?
Savarkar, while studying in London, met the 40-year-old Gandhi, who makes a reference of this meeting in his autobiography. Savarkar passed his Bar-at-Law examination the same year, but was not allowed to practice. He was arrested in London on 13 March 1910 and deported to India. From 1911 to 1924 he was in the dreadful Cellular Jail in the Andaman’s. His cell was tiny and his treatment appalling.
In 1924, he was transferred to Ratnagiri Jail. Conditions were better than the Cellular. On 1 March 1927, Mahatma Gandhi met Savarkar at Ratnagiri.
I hold no brief for Savarkar. I was against a stamp being issued with his photo on it, during Shrimati Indira Gandhi’s regime. His portrait hangs in the Central Hall of Parliament, opposite that of Gandhiji.
Savarkar invented the word Hindutva. Savarkar was arrested on 5 February 1948 after Gandhiji’s assassination on 30 January 1948. Nathuram Godse was the murderer. Godse considered Savarkar as his guru. On 10 February 1949, he was acquitted and released.
Now I come to Pavan Verma’s excellent and riveting book, “The Great Hindu Civilisation”, published in 2021. He mentions Savarkar’s name 35 times. Pavan Verma is both critical and laudatory of Savarkar. He pitches into M.S. Golwalkar and his pro-Nazi book, “We or Our Nationhood Defined”. I once quoted from Golwalkarji’s book in the Lok Sabha. I asked Advaniji if he agreed with the author’s views. He avoided a direct answer.
Pavan grants that Savarkar was a patriot. “His burning passion was to see an India free from Britain rule, and he paid a very high price for the courage of his convictions.”
Here is a telling and powerful quote: “The truth is that where transformation of Hinduism into a modern and progressive religion was concerned, Savarkar was nothing short of a revolutionary… He was resolutely against the caste system…and the practice of untouchability… His dismissal of scriptural injunctions was devastating.” Savarkar said, “With all due respect to them, they need to be discarded… I will not allow them to become fetters in my feet and retard my progress towards modernity…” He was against cow worship, which attracted abuse from orthodox Hindus. Savarkar: “Elevating an animal that eats garbage and passes excreta anywhere and everywhere to the status of a Goddess is in my view insulting to both humanity as well as divinity… The urine of an animal suddenly becomes soul purifying to us!”
I must frankly add that the other side of the Savarkar coin is far from agreeable or acceptable.