Photograph of Anil Chawla



Author - Anil Chawla

The article about crisis of ideology generated some very interesting comments. I reproduce here all the comments received. I have not replied to any of the comments. You, the reader, can make your own judgement. The only exception is in the case of Mala James, who did not comment and asked me a direct query.

With Best Wishes and Regards,

Anil Chawla

August 2004

Hi Anil

AS long as "lack of ideology" does not result in corruption it should not be a problem.

In fact it is better not to have a ideology - as this allows the Governing bodies to operate in a logical way.

Guiding principles (like those in the Constitution) are all that we need as ideology. Part of the confusion today is due to needless confusion between governance, economy and ideology.

E.g. the decision not to send troops to Iraq by India is a logical one - and taken due to national self interest. Also the decision to calibrate the criticism of US invasion to Iraq is a logical one. And India's strategy of using US MNCs to arm twist the US administration in 1998-99 to remove sanctions post nuclear tests was a logical one.

On the other hand - India''s trusting the Chinese in 1962 - was an illogical decision taken due to ideological leanings.

Logical decision making is good always. Ideology is good after 2 pegs of whisky.

We all need to have permanent interests. No permanent friends - no permanent strategies.

Suhas Nerurkar
IITK CS 1986

Dear Anil,

Your article "CRISIS OF IDEOLOGY IN INDIAN POLITICS" is superb and timely.

Anish Poojara

Dear Anil,

I read your article. It is not only true, good and down to basics from Gandhi to present one,s. Though to me Gandhi was not a politician, he was every thing but a politician and to some extant even Nehru was'nt.

Well keep the big candle of hope burning to enlighten fellow friends. In the same context I remember some where Osho ( Rajneesh )wrote that one must look forward only to a living Master ( Teacher-Spritual)and he explained how Great masters of yore like Krishna, patanjali, La zsutsu and even Buddha have become redundant rediculus and obsolete, though their teachings , philosophy was absolutely functional for the times. Same is the case for Gandhi.

Alas for our times there is no living master worth his credit.And that is the sole reason for the politicians for behaving in the manner they are acting bereft of any values.

Ravi Kishore
South TT Nagar - Bhopal

Dear Anil,

I do read all your articles and I do agree with you that there is crisis of ideology in the indian political parties. However some argue that self interest amongst the politicians to get to power may force them to work for the benefit of the people as well in view of the electorate becoming more demanding. This perhaps illustrates that both the main parties fought the last election on development plank.

You are doing good sevice to the people of India by intiating debate in your own way on vital issues.

My best wishes,

Krishan S Chopra

Dear Anil,

Your analysis of Indian political parties was thought provoking.

Before I give my response, I would like to say that no ideology, if it has to withstand the test of time, cannot remain in a frozen state. Every ideology has to go through different stages of evolution, more so those which govern political parties. This has to be kept in mind before commenting or judging any political ideology.

Let me respond to a few of the issues that you have raised.

Gandhism: Yes, Gandhi was an overwhelming figure in the Indian political scene. In fact, his was such a powerful personality that it virtually reduced into irrelevance the work done by his seniors. Even Gandhi was aware that his ideology cannot remain static if it is to remain relevant. Gandhi’s emphasis on villages as the central focus of the country’s development has been reinforced even by the 2004 Lok Sabha elections’ verdict. Those perceived by people of having neglected the rural sector were thrashed clearly and loudly. This is why the Union Finance Minister had to say now that the coming Budget to be filed in February 2005 would be rural-centric. Of course, this is not the first time one hears such a statement. Still, the point is that an important facet of Gandhism is still relevant and will continue to be. There are many more. I will stop with this observation on Gandhism.

Congress party and ideology: Congress party has been a coalition of different social, cultural and political forces. So, whatever ideology it had at one point of time was determined or influenced in some way or the other by these forces.

The party, at its 1956 Avadi session, declared that it wanted to obtain a “socialistic pattern of society.” Here, each word was important. The party did not use the term “socialistic society” but “socialistic pattern of society.” My understanding is that Nehru was well aware that even by the mid-1950s, in the erstwhile West Germany, the Marxists, under the banner of Social Democratic Party, had abandoned their original doctrine but chose to adopt a more liberal approach. Keep in mind, Nehru was for a “mixed economy” wherein there would a role for private sector as much as for public sector.

By the time Indira Gandhi came to power, things had become different. But, if you read P.N. Dhar’s book on her (Dhar was her Secretary between 1970 and ‘77), you would know that she started off as an advocate of ‘liberalization.’ This was why she went in for devaluation of Indian rupee. She had changed her tune and acquired the image of a ‘socialist’ because of certain political reasons and events. The United States presidents, Be it Lyndon Johnson or Richard Nixon, were extremely cold or hostile to her. This made her to lean towards the former Soviet Union and that influenced her political thinking heavily.

BJP and RSS: I do not think the RSS is in a state of confusion as far as its ideology is concerned. Its blind anti-minorityism has been the governing ideology. This has not changed a bit. In fact, it only acquired greater strength. As for the BJP, my reading is that Vajpayee attempted to make the party more acceptable to wider sections of society and free the party from the ‘clutches’ of Sangh Parivar. But, that has not succeeded. On the contrary, the party finally lost electoral support from its core voters. This was articulated by Advani in his address to the National Executive held after the elections.

To sum up, every political ideology has its growth cycle. This cannot be wished away. And, if some one is going to call one phase of the cycle as the crisis of ideology in Indian politics, he has got every freedom to say so because ours is a free and democratic society.


Dear Anil,

I commend on the article you had written. As it is long, I skimmed it. Below are the comments I made to my college mates of 40 years ago!

Wish you the best.

With regards,

Ratnam Chitturi

-----Original Message-----

Dear URP,

This is an interesting article on the subject. He hits right on, on many points. There is politics, and there is political science. Politics existed from the beginning of humanity. Political science began with Socrates.

In the West, especially in the US, political science has advanced in both breadth and depth. This is where "Think Tanks" come into picture.

Unfortunately, in India, political science is hardly practiced. Politicians find much comfort without the rigors of science. Just the same, this is a lot easier, if the citizens are kept illiterate.

Both literacy and scientific rigor in politics are essential for the life of the common man to improve.


With regards,

Ratnam Chitturi

Dear Anil Ji,

I read your captioned Article. I am a Swayamsevak and quite agree with your understanding of RSS and its limitations (in your views). I wish RSS could fill the vacuum in religious and social reforms of Hindus. Having said that, I am of firm view that RSS did right in not diversifying into that area. When the RSS was set up (1925) survival of Hindus from Hindu leaders suffering from acute inferiority complex was more urgent. And the founders of RSS were not authority on Hindu ideology to whom the people would listen about Gita or Ramayan. No offence meant to any person but thousands of Vivekananda would not be able to secure territorial integrity of any nation which one well equipped Army whether having any religious idea or not would be able to do. America or for that matter USSR, Japan, Germany (and now China) etc. had no religious support in their growth as Nation.

I think we give too much importance to religion. For RSS (these are my personal views) Hinduism is just a mean to organise whom they consider Indians and their cause is, well being of these Indians in political, territorial, social and national terms. Let the institutions meant for religious teaching do their job. RSS would be more than happy to provide them safety, financial resources, political backing etc. Ram would not have won the war without Hanuman. Let every body not try to become Ram. India need more number of Hanumans and Lakshmans.

Thanks and regards,

J. P. Agarwal


Another master piece based on research and clear understanding of the political history of India. Keep up the good work. I am forwarding this email to a wider group so that you get feedback from non IITians as well.


Dear Sri Chowla

Perhaps a point to be considered when discussing ideology, is the origin of the concept of ideology itself.

Prior to the advent of 'nation states', a concept evolved in medieval Europe, society there engaged for centuries in interminable warring among tribes whose essential culture revolved around the barbaric and forceful acquisitions of territory, livestock and human capital as slaves.

Some semblance of civilisational culture began to permeate the region with the advent of Christianity, whose essential ethos of love, sacrifice and the heavenly hereafter. This however was rapidly usurped to sanctify and legitimise the essential barbaric underpinnings of society. Kings now had the organisational genius of the clergy, and both were wedded in a lust for power on a scale not witnessed before.

The religious ethos thereby became victim to temporal priorities. Its spiritual evolution stalled and civilisational refinement found expression in essentially materialistic ways. The engine for such movement relied primarily on strife and these codified into structures known as 'nation states'.

The pillars of nation states rested on well defined ideology. Up until the separation of church and state in the late 18th century, ideology provided organisational direction and legitimacy to extremely repressive regimes throughout Europe. When the voyages of exploration began in mid 16th century leading to the dark ages of colonialism, the enslaved swathes in Asia, Africa and America had no competing mechanisms to counter the onslaught.

Really? you may ask. Did Asia not have its kings and bloody wars from the the bygone ages of Ramayana and Mahabharatha?

Yes there were superficially similar parallels (to Europe) with some very fundamental differences ... none such wars characterised society's essential values, which were guided rather by values (not ideology) arising from the Sanatana Dharma. And an overarching difference was that the gospel of the land was never organised dogma.

Speeding the discussion now to freedom after a millennium of enslavement - the predicament Indian society faced was an enormous estrangement with its old ways of dharmic rule - witness the magical allure of the Gandhian way, without perhaps quite knowing why. After all we had competing alternatives - Subhash Chandra Bose, Ram Mohan Roy and the Brahmo Samaj, The Theosophical Society etc. Perhaps at that juncture there was also the realisation that such methods (exclusively dharmic ways) may not withstand the realities of an adharmic age. Witness the insincerity of our idelogical neighbours, hence the new spangled experiments with secularism, socialism and so on.

In a nutshell therefore we have empowered ourselves with alien ideologies that are in essential conflict with our cultural ethos, and this is further exacerbated by our wanton state directed neglect of such ethos. Turning our back on what constitutes the essential Indianess, our continued disregard for the Puranas, the Ithihasas etc can only lead to the continued anarchy that you describe in your article.

Ashok Menon

Politics ,it is said, is the art of the possible. Politics and politicians cannot just be wished away. While I agree what you say about the BJP the party had to do all that it did only to capture power and retain it. I have my sympathies for the party only because all the other political forces in the country are pathologically ranged against it. It must also be admitted that it is the only party with some vestige of ideology sticking to it.


Dear Mr.Anil,

It is quite interstintg to read your article. Will you please give an Idea about how a model ideology should be to make the country strong, educated sensible and motivating its citizens to be self- reliable?

I surely beleive that you must be having a concrete ideology in your mind. You may be wondering how to bring it in to practice. Why dont you share it among Aims India Members who are harbouring the same thoughts and cursing themselves to be a part of the present ideology?

With Anticipation,

Mala James

Reply to Ms. Mala James

If I had to give a short reply to that question, I would refer you to the Declaration of Samarth Bharat Party.

Please read the Declaration and let me know your comments.

Thanks and Regards,


August 2004

For the original article "THE CRISIS OF IDEOLOGY IN INDIAN POLITICS", Please click here.

Please write to me your comments about the above debate.

ANIL CHAWLA is an engineer (and now a lawyer too) by qualification but a philosopher by vocation and a management consultant by profession.

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