Let us talk about weaknesses of the Hindu ethos. In the process, I am adopting a
methodology which is popular in the field of management.Managers call this a SWOT
analysis. S stands for strengths, W forweaknesses, O for opportunities and T for threats.
Political science does not often use this tool of analysis. Let us see how far we get by
trying this technique.
The purpose of identifying weaknesses is to make sure that they are
removed as far as possible. It might be possible to overcome only some of them. For
instance, Hindu tolerance is often misread for weakness, for the unwillingness to object
or to resist. Similarly, non-violence is not understood by everyone. Some might even
mistake it for cowardice. To them, non-violence would impress only if the Hindu was first
seen to use force.
The problem is not confined to the individual or the group but is
magnified to the international level. Most countries, deliberately or implicity, follow a
policy of armed persuasion which means that the country should appear to be stronger than
it is. But India has the image of being weaker than it is. The resulting confusion makes
the conduct of relations with the others, whether countries or communities, unnecessarily
difficult. When a Hindu argues over an issue with a Muslim, he could leave the latter
confused. Indo-Pak dialogues also suffer from such a confusion. This is all essentially at
home since we in the subcontinent, are mostly the same people. Imagine how the foreigners
of another continent could be confounded.
The Indian war record has been uneven. Led by the British or by officers trained in the
British tradition, the Indian soldier has covered himself with glory. But prior to that
the Indian armies have suffered more defeats than won victories. Leadership by Muslim
kings made no difference. The defeat of Ibrahim Lodi by Babar in 1526 A.D. is an example.
Nadir Shah and Ahmed Shah Abdali inflicted a similar fate on the Mughals who were the
progeny of Babar himself.
Ancient India has many an invention to its credit but hardly any in the
sphere of war. Evidently, Indian civilisation has taken insufficient interest in military
affairs. There is comparatively little military literature or strategic discussion. This
lacuna is not merely a Hindu characteristic. There are few political theories except what
appears in the Mahabharata and the Arthashastra of Kautilya.
Hindutva has shown less interest in politics and governance than
desirable, especially when one remembers that the sub-continent was invaded again and
again. Little wonder that the British ruled nearly 40 crore Indians with not much more
than a lakh of white men at a time. All votaries of Hindutva must recognise this
The caste system is viciously divisive. It is a serious weakness which
is difficult to overcome unless Hindutva rises to a strong enough identity to supercede
the narrowness of casteism. There is nothing indelible about caste. It began as a
surviving identity of a new settler group which was absorbed into the Hindu fold in
ancient times. The Gujjars, the Jats, the Lohanas or the Meos are examples. The broad
classification of society into brahmin, kshatriya, vaishya, shudra and others was on
professional lines like a division of labour. All perhaps relevant and useful in older
times, but now for long obsolete and in fact harmful.
One reason why caste has a special attraction to the Indian is perhaps
his slavish complex developed over the last eight centuries of alien rule. If a person
does not belong to a top caste, it does not matter so long there is a caste below him. The
Jatav is not desperate so long as there is the Valmiki below him. With perhaps a similar
motivation, the Kapol bania caste in south Saurashtra has two sections, namely, 16 and 12.
Although they intermarry, the 16 feel reassured that they are superior to the 12.