Can Hindus Self-Govern Competitively?

Indian Reality and Rigid Orthodoxy

Those who adopt the orthodox posture rigidly (with ridiculous claims like Hindus should not live outside India) also condemn all attempts to professionalize the governance of Hindu institutions. But they must note that Indian laws require compliance with regulations pertaining to trusts, societies and associations. And that these laws are based almost entirely on Western corporate rules of governance which originated nowhere else but in the Church. In other words, whether we like it or not, it is not Dharmashastras or Arthashastras that provide the legal methods for governance in India.

Besides, there is much our gurus can learn from modern corporate governance, and our tradition has a long history of assimilating new ideas from everywhere and adapting itself. Manu himself said that smritis are meant to be revised and rewritten for each period of time and each new context. Parroting old smritis (such as the recent condemnations of Hindus based outside India) might serve narrow selfish interests, but this fossilized approach is not how dharma has functioned for many millennia. There is a clear history of dharma that shows change and evolution, many trial and error approaches, speculative writings and debates, and so forth.

The scandal of SN provided an opportunity to test how Hindus might collectively respond in crisis management, and what mechanisms and institutions they might have along the lines of the World Council of Churches and various other bodies that other world religions have developed. Could a Hindu body be brought in to play a responsible role, either an institution or a panel of elders, such that there would be fair play by the system and not unchecked prosecution by an utterly biased and corrupt media? This role would not be in lieu of courts but alongside them, as a sort of voice of authenticity adding objectivity and analysis in support of the legal due process.

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