The Next Mission
December 6, 1992. I clearly remember the day. I was at IIT-Bombay meeting some professors to discuss a few ideas for joint projects. I had returned to India from the US seven months earlier to begin my entrepreneurship journey. Late in the afternoon that day, someone said I should go back home because a mosque had been demolished and there were reports of disturbances. That was an era where only landlines existed – no mobiles, no WhatsApp, no way to easily call and check with others what was happening. I took heed and left quickly in my Maruti 800. I managed to reach home safely and switched on the TV and saw what had happened. The Babri Masjid in Ayodhya had been demolished.
I was not in India at the height of the Ram Janmabhoomi movement and the Rath Yatra that took place in 1990. I had left for the US in September 1988 for my Masters in Electrical Engineering at Columbia University in New York. In the US, news from India was sketchy – it was either India Abroad (the weekly newspaper published from New York) or the fortnightly and delayed international edition of India Today. And frankly, I did not care much – my focus was on my job at NYNEX and then planning my return to India with an entrepreneurial venture. Politics was a distant world – stories in pages of print publications which I quickly skipped over.
It was only in 2009 that I became interested in politics and decided to proactively do something about it. India needed an economic transformation and I saw BJP as the best bet. The lack of prosperity could squarely be laid at the door of the policies of a succession of Congress governments since Independence – they had ruled for all but 10 years since 1947. The only efforts at real economic reform had been made briefly by Narasimha Rao and expanded by Vajpayee.
Even though Advani’s BJP lost in 2009, Modi’s BJP rode to power in 2014 and then again in 2019. The Ram Mandir agenda was never far from the core narrative. A historical wrong had to be righted in the minds of many Hindus. And that project was finally complete when the Supreme Court judgement in November 2019 handed the disputed land to a trust to build the Ram Janmabhoomi temple. A grand new temple will be ready sometime in early 2024, just in time for the next Lok Sabha elections.
For a Hindu majority scarred by a millennium of invasions, conquerors and conversions, the Ram Mandir verdict was a psychological victory, a civilisational triumph. Mission Ram, one of the core reasons for the BJP’s rise from 4 seats in the Lok Sabha in 1984 to successive majorities in 2014 and 2019, was finally complete. For three decades, Ram has held the BJP together, fuelled its rise and brought it power across large swathes of India.
It is now time to move on to the next civilisational project – bringing back India’s prosperity that history books talk about and which attracted traders and invaders. The extractive and exploitative policies of the British government were never fully reversed by successive Indian rulers. As a result, most Indians have never experienced large-scale, sustained prosperity. This must be our next focus – Mission Lakshmi, bringing wealth into the homes and lives of a billion Indians.
Mission Ram was about fixing historical injustices by righting the wrongs of the past. Mission Lakshmi is about a future for our children. Those who delivered Ram will not be able to deliver Lakshmi. It is time for a new union. This is the Nayi Disha Bharat needs – Ram to Lakshmi.