India’s poverty is self-inflicted, thanks to the self-destructive policies followed, even though prescriptions for prosperity were available off-the- shelf for many years, and there were any number of real, practical examples to go by. Had Nehru’s government focused on its primary responsibilities and desisted getting into business, had it allowed the freedom to public to do business, had it followed free-market economy, India would have shot into double-digit growth rate in the 1950s itself—such were its advantages over other countries—and would long since have been a part of the developed first world, rather than still being a poor, pathetic, struggling, limping, third-world country.

While the developing countries of SE-Asia, which had been far behind India in 1947, raced ahead at 9–12% growth rate or more and became highly prosperous, with infra-structure rivalling western countries, India plodded along at what was derisively referred to as the Hindu rate of growth of just 3%, and became a basket-case, begging aid and food from all. However, the term “Hindu rate of growth” is highly inappropriate and unfair, besides being derogatory. Let us examine why?

One: The “Nehruvian rate of growth” . The low rate of growth was thanks to Nehru-Indira-Rajiv’s policies. If rather than the “Hindu rate of growth” it was called the “Nehruvian rate of growth” or “Nehruvian socialistic rate of growth” or “NIDP [Nehru-Indira-Dynasty policies] rate of growth”, one would have no quarrel.

Two: The “Colonial rate of growth” . The rate of growth during the pre- independence period, the colonial period, was even less! In fact, it had even turned negative during several long periods!! Why was the rate of growth then not called the “Colonial rate of growth” or the “Christian rate of growth” in a pejorative sense? As per the Cambridge University historian Angus Maddison, “India’s share of the world income fell from 22.6% in 1700, comparable to Europe’s share of 23.3%, to a low of 3.8% in 1952.”

Hindu-India had been highly prosperous in the past, thanks to its massive “Hindu rate of growth”, which is why first the Muslim hordes from the northwest of India, and then the Western countries invaded it. Until the rise of the West, India was possibly the richest country in the world, which is why it presented an irresistible target for the ravaging Muslim hordes, and then the West. Why then was the term “Hindu rate of growth” not used in an adulatory sense?

Three: How do you explain the recent growth rate of over 9%? The same India, after only part junking of the Nehru-Indira-Rajiv socialistic policies, reached a growth rate of over 9%! Junk more of the Nehru-Indira socialistic policies, and the growth rate will rise to double-digits.

Four: Absurdity of religious-cultural connotation . Many Islamic countries prior to the world demand and discovery of oil were very poor. Was their growth rate called the “Islamic rate of growth”? The growth rate during the dark ages of Europe was static or negative, when during the same period India was immensely rich and progressive. Was it ever called the “Christian rate of growth”? Sri Lanka and Myanmar have had long periods of no growth or measly growth. Were they castigated for being under the spell of the “Buddhist rate of growth”? China’s growth rate after going communist and till the end of the Mao-period was pathetic. Was it termed the “Atheistic or Communist rate of growth”? Why associate “Hindu” with a rate of economic growth unless there is an ulterior motive of deliberately showing Hinduism in bad light? Of course, many use the term unfeelingly, without being conscious of its implications.

Five: Nehru vs. Hinduism . Nehru was an agnostic, and was more English than Indian, more western than eastern, more “something else” than a Hindu, and therefore it is grossly inappropriate to name a rate of growth, which was thanks to him and his dynasty, as “Hindu”.

Six: Why not “Secular” rate of growth? Nehru, Nehru-dynasty and company have raved ad nauseum on “secularism”, without ensuring it in practice. Why not credit the growth rate thanks to them as the “Secular rate of growth”?

Seven: Socialism vs. Hinduism . Hindu-India has had long tradition of free international trade and commerce, and of liberal religious and world view. Such an ethos can never accept the Big Brother denouement or the run-up to it. There is an age old Indian proverb: Raja Vyapari taya Praja Bhikhari . That is, people become beggars when government enters into business. A belief in self-reliance and an overweening socialistic state on the part of Jawaharlal Nehru and Indira Gandhi actually did India in, rather than something that had anything to do with Hinduism.

Eight: Socialism vs. Mahatma Gandhi and Others . Mahatma Gandhi was no socialist. Nor were the other stalwarts like Sardar Patel, Rajaji and Rajendra Prasad. All the four—Mahatma Gandhi, Sardar Patel, Rajaji and Rajendra Prasad—quite unlike Nehru, could be considered as also representing the Hindu ethos, and perhaps precisely for that reason they were against socialistic claptrap of Nehru.

Nine: A camouflage . In any case, using “Hindu” as in “Hindu rate of growth” in a pejorative sense is not only insulting, it camouflages the real reasons—Nehruvian policies.

But, the question arises as to why did the term “Hindu rate of growth” gain currency? Well, here are the reasons.

One: Raj Krishna . The term was reportedly coined by the economist Raj Krishna to draw attention to the embarrassing rate of growth during the Nehru-Indira period. India being predominantly populated by the Hindus, he called it the “Hindu rate of growth”. But, of course, he didn’t mean it to be insulting to Hinduism.

Two: Blame Hinduism rather than Socialism . Indian politicians and bureaucrats never wanted to admit that the fault lay with the socialistic apparatus. Why blame self? Especially, why blame something on which you have fattened yourselves? The leftists, socialists and communists got prized slots in the government or government-aided organisations, societies and universities, and dominated the intellectual discourse in India. The whole band didn’t mind the blame shifting to the religious-cultural heritage.

Three: The Secularists . For certain class of intellectuals the touchstone of secularism is whether you can be abusive to Hinduism. The term “Hindu” in “Hindu rate of growth” serves that purpose. It serves for them the double purpose: camouflage the ills resulting from socialism, and be also hailed “secular” the cheap way—by casting a slur on Hinduism.

Four: The Colonialists and the India-baiters . Other groups, which received the term with glee, lapped it up, and enthusiastically promoted it to disparage India, were the colonialists or those with the colonial mind-set or the brown sahibs, or the India-baiters. Give power to the Hindus, and what you will get is the “Hindu rate of growth”! Had the Raj continued, things would have been better!!

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