The fast-tracking of the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS)’s civilisational agenda, especially with regard to its core goal of the abrogation of Article 370 as well as visible progress on the other two issues of Ram temple and Uniform Civil Code, appears to have translated into the strongest-ever endorsement of the ruling BJP in all governance and matters, including its  handling of the economy. Barring a few caveats on “Swadeshi” and self-reliance, the BJP’s ideological parent has blamed the current economic slowdown on global factors such as US-China trade war.

“Slowing down of the world economy has left its impacts(sic) everywhere. Many countries including Bharat have to suffer the resultant of the ongoing global trade war between the US and China. The government has taken many initiatives to tide over the situation in the last one-and-a-half months. This gives a definite indication of the government’s sensitivity towards people’s interests and its prompt and proactive attitude. We will definitely come out of this so called recession. The personalities leading our economy are competent enough,” said the RSS chief Mohan Bhagwat in his annual address on Vijayadashmi.

The RSS chief’s invocation of Dattopant Thengdi, the RSS’s radical ideologue and founder of the Sangh’s several critical front organisations – the Bharatiya Mazdoor Sangh, the Bharatiya Kisan Sangh and the Swadeshi Jagran Manch – who was vehemently opposed to globalisation, FDI, disinvestment, even computerisation et al is significant. While the theoretical framework of what constitutes “indigenous” or “Bharatiya” economic paradigm is not exactly clear, it is a recurring theme with the Sangh which seems to repel both the market-led capitalism and Marxian/socialist constructs.

For the moment, however, the Sangh chief feels “the government is compelled to take such steps such as allowing FDI and disinvestment of industries”. In implementing “welfare policies” at the lower level, it has suggested “avoiding unnecessary stringency”, an indication that it would like more public spending and less preoccupation with the fiscal deficit.  These minor censures apart, the Sangh chief gives an unequivocal thumbs-up. An exposition on the meaning of swadeshi does not make any pointed references to trade liberalisation in the context of RCEP.

Given that the RSS controls the biggest farmers and trade unions and has a stronger cadre base than any other political party or organisation, this is the Government’s cue for ushering in structural and labour reforms with relative ease. Unlike in the Vajpayee-led NDA government, there are no signs of pushback now. Expressing satisfaction with the progress towards “Bharat” (‘New India’ as a socio-cultural construct), the Sangh chief has relegated economic policy to an afterthought which he suggests needs to developed on “indigenous” lines.