Can Hindus Self-Govern Competitively?

Lessons from the Nithyananda Scandal-II

 The Christian Church has the longest continuous history of governance, with a tremendous track record of protecting its interests under all circumstances. Its history of corporate governance is not only remarkable amongst religions but also when compared to commercial multinational corporations. Most people are unaware that it was the Church that first invented many of the corporate management procedures, norms and laws in use today by multinational corporations. The Church floated the first commercial multinationals as well, such as the Knights Templar, centuries before the British East India Trading Company and other multinationals emerged using similar methods.

I have studied with interest the governance systems of various Christian denominations for over a decade, both formally in seminary courses and through my attendance of various Church conferences. The Church has learned a great deal through trial and error and has thus become robust. The proof of this lies in its ability to survive even after hundreds of scandals in its history. Its latest scandals involve many thousands of minor children who were sexually abused by hundreds of priests in dozens of scattered locations across the world. This went on for a period of many decades and was systematically covered up by its leadership at the highest levels. Yet the resilience of the Church in protecting itself is amazing.

While Western secularists have led the charge against the Church, India’s so-called secular media, intellectuals, NGOs and government have remained mostly quiet. By comparison with the Church scandal, the relatively lesser abuses by Hindu gurus turn into major sensations as though it was some kind of terrorist attack. (The real terrorists, meanwhile, do not always get hounded with the same intensity.) This is not meant to defend Swami Nithyananda (“SN”), whose resignation I was the first person to call for many weeks ago. When I did my journalistic investigations in early March this year, I wrote that one of my main interests was to figure out lessons to be learnt about Hindus’ ability to govern their institutions and protect their collective interests in the modern world.

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