Swarajya is perhaps one of the most articulate voices in the Indian media right now, along with The Takshashila Institution’s Pragati. A strong voice of the conservative and libertarian spectrum Indian thought, it is interestingly more progressive and liberal than most of our left-‘liberal’ media houses. Where on one side you see the crassness of Arnab, the childish insults of the Sardesais and Sagarikas, the pedestrian page 3 preoccupations of Times of India, the brown sahib’s guilt of the Hindu, Tehelka & the Outlooks, on the right side of the spectrum (pun intended) you see the reasoned and articulate voices of Bibek Debroy, Nitin Pai, Swapan-da, Arvindan Neelakandan, Rajiv Malhotra et al.
Most people could be forgiven for taking Swarajya to be one of the crop of new media houses springing up all across the landscape, but it was actually established way back in 1956 by the acolytes of C Rajagopalachari, India’s last Governor-General and the founder of the center-right Swatantra party to counter the socialist and anti-federal policies Nehru’s Congress government was pursuing. Both the party and the magazine had folded up by the 80s leaving behind a vacuum that was barely filled by the mouthpieces of the Sangh. But as the Modi wave took off in the 2010s, the suppressed spectrum of nationalist, libertarian and conservative voices from inside India and the diaspora could finally break free of the shackles imposed by the western leaning Indian english media & marxist academic clique.
As the resurgence of the BJP and the new right continued, think tanks like the Takshashila institution and the Vivekananda International Foundation were established, the latter becoming the de facto brain trust of the new Modi government. These institutions and its publications (like TI’s Pragati) started quickly dismantling the monopoly of high brow Indian thought that for more than 50 years was the bastion of the marxist JNU historians and socialist economists (notably Amartya Sen and Jean Dreze who has now lost the narrative to the Columbia university duo, Arvind Panagriya & Jagdish Bhagwati). Whereas in the last few decades Swapan Dasgupta & Arun Shourie were some of the rare articulate voices from the right that managed to get its views out, the 2010s saw a tsunami of right voices (pun intended) that even made Sagarika go into with panicked outbursts against the #internethindu. The battle for reclaiming the narrative is far from over, as everything from reforms in the economy to education system will first encounter the well trained leftist response long before the voices from the right rush in. In a healthy democracy that India is slowly transforming into, we will ideally see both sides of the spectrum balancing each other out across the academic, political and media landscapes. This resurgence is also being played out across the Indian/Hindu diaspora as it reclaims the narrative once lost to the left and the foreign, but that is a topic for another time.
“India has always existed for humanity and not for herself and it is for humanity and not for herself that she must be great.”
~ Sri Aurobindo