The RSS is taking the right stance w.r.t. NGOs supported by foreign funds. It would be folly to think that foreign countries fund these organizations for purely humanitarian reasons.

But there’s a catch. In a nation of foreigners, who is a foreigner and who isn’t?

The Gujarat High Court has famously, and correctly, declared Hindi as a foreign language in Gujarat.

The obvious corollary to this is that Hindi speakers are foreigners in Gujarat.

The next obvious corollary is that the speakers of every language are foreigners in states other than those to which that language is native. Because, you see, Hindi and Gujarat aren’t special in any way.

In most cases, this means a person from one Indian state is a foreigner in another. That includes the Prime Minister, the President, everyone.

They’re all Indians, of course, but they’re still foreigners in states which speak a language that’s not theirs. This appears like a dilution of the word foreign, but we’ll have to live with it. India is not a typical nation anyway.

Returning to the question of NGOs, if one extends the RSS’s argument, no NGO must operate in more than one Indian state. One such NGO that must go is the RSS itself.

Finally, why should we consider a trans-state GO (governmental organization) sacrosanct? After all, making a mistake legal (by removing the N in NGO) doesn’t make it a non-mistake.

I mean, foreigners are foreigners irrespective of the means of transport they take to arrive at the port of entry. It’s immaterial whether they take an NGO-ship or a GO-plane.

What am I suggesting? Just this: we must take state autonomy seriously. Every Indian must take state autonomy seriously.

Not to mention, even the RSS must take state autonomy seriously. Their own arguments, taken in conjunction with the Indian Judiciary’s understanding of what’s foreign and what’s not, lead to this conclusion.

India’s states are equivalent to full-fledged nations elsewhere in the world. The way to keep India strong and united is to treat the states as autonomous entities having come together for a common purpose.

That’s not the historical background of India, but that’s the way we need to think moving forward.