Thursday, January 26, 2017

Republic Day Musings: Face to Face with Reality – 'Desh Agey Barh Raha Hae....'

Thinking of a fresh blog as part of my offerings as the Republic Day musings, I am reminded of a famous quote from Shakespaeare’s ‘Hamlet’: There are more things in heaven and earth, Horatio, than are dreamt of in your philosophy”.

India is marching ahead ! The Indian Independence, transformation into a ‘republic’ and subsequently a matured democracy is certainly one such phenomenon – wherein more things “do happen” beyond comprehensions. Let us examine how are we perceived from across the border – in Pakistan.  India is always presumed as an adversary and a strong one. Hence Pakistanis, since the partition have always nurtured the idea of a need for a ‘strong’ Pakistan – that can take on India. The thrust on centralization of the establishment in Islamabad led to over dependence on the military. In its part this contributed towards “democratic deficit” for Pakistan, as argued by author Christophe Jafferlot in his book ‘The Pakistan Paradox-Instability and Resilience’. 

But how has India emerged as nation over last 70 years? In the persective of new US President Donald Trump, India is certainly an important player and will be his key ally in a possible long run war to contain China. But if China continues to expand its global outreach and the American administration confines more in domestic policy, India could be looking towards friends like Israel and Japan, another Asian power which is not comfortable with China’s rise.


Prime Minister Narendra Modi without naming China has lately spoken about “rising ambitions and rivalries” in Asia. All these combine to underline the global importance of India.
The global interest of India is definitely not linked to the rise of ‘Moditva’ phenomenon in Indian politics although the present regime has tried to give some definite directions – however. The interest about India has expanded manifold in last two decades because of the way harsh economic realities today dominate the world. India’s human resources is a vital reality, so is the inherent economic resilience power. Prime Minister Narendra Modi without naming China has lately spoken about “rising ambitions and rivalries” in Asia. All these combine to underline the global importance of India.
The global interest of India is definitely not linked to the rise of ‘Moditva’ phenomenon in Indian politics although the present regime has tried to give some definite directions – however. The interest about India has expanded manifold in last two decades because of the way harsh economic realities today dominate the world. India’s human resources is a vital reality, so is the inherent economic resilience power.

Reality can have metaphorical content; that does not make it less real, says Salman Rushdie’s booker prize winning book ‘Midnight’s Children’.
Mark Tully, former BBC man and longtime India watcher I had interviewed in 1998-99, had caustically said, people of India and also in many parts of the world assume that India will march ahead braving its numerous problems – provided it learnt well to do with its under-performing bureaucracy.

India has changed and changed in more ways than one during the last two-and-half years under Prime Minister Narendra Modi, who is not very popular with Indian intellectuals and the media. “Desh agey barh raha hae…” is more than a symbolic slogan even as Modi detractors would bring in demonetization and other issues to suggest that the country has declined. Mamata Banerjee and Rahul Gandhi think alike these days.
But the Modi administration has brought in some changes and even made armies of work-shirkers in bank employees – work beyond their normal duty hours for weeks. “The entire work load of Modi’s domentisation drive was shouldered dutifully by the bank employees,” says a family friend of mine – whose charming wife and a respected Boudi of mine is a banker. Left to her, it is another debate – my favourite sister-in-law often would say she works “more” than her husband. Now, that’s personal! 
Burj Khafila turns Tri-Colour: A new chapter in Indo-UAE ties

Moving on, India’s march as envisioned by the policy framers today is not about only winning – but about winning it convincingly. In the process, often, my fear is the Modi admirers, the ministers and Modi’s close confidants are today also captives of 
their own propaganda. 
But talking about the 68th Republic Day, one must refer to the Presidential address – the last one from Pranab Mukherjee.
An articulate politician with all virtues of a snobbish Bengali, Pranabda left a parting shot for Prime Minister Modi. And as a known Modi-bhakt, I don’t grudge – the President rightly did his job. The Governance is not about 'glory' of ruler, propounded President Mukherjee. He cautioned against glorification of individual leader(s) or even race and pointed out in no unambiguous term that 'happiness' and well being of the common people should involve a right synthesis of outcome of
economic and non-economic parameters.
One of my predecessors left on my table a framed quotation which reads (and I quote): “The object of government in peace and in war is not the glory of rulers or races but the happiness of the common man," he said in his customary address to the nation on the eve of the Republic Day.
        Happiness is fundamental to the human experience of life, said 81-year-old Mukherjee, whose tenure would end in July and added: "Happiness is equally the outcome of economic and non-economic parameters. The quest for happiness is closely tied to sustainable development, which combines human well-being, social inclusion and environmental sustainability”.


The personal glorification is edifice of Indian politics. It was also during so called ‘democratic’ Nehru era – when even Bollywood patriotic songs and picturisation on patriotism was linked to Chacha Nehru. There would be comparisons of Jhansi Rani and Bhagat Singh with country’s first Prime Minister. 
Nevertheless, the moot point is Modi should himself stay away from ‘personal glorification’ even as – one does not grudge the essential part of it because otherwise he will not win votes.
But the focus should be on work. Some lapses he could have avoided must have been avoided. The Land Bill was an unnecessary confrontation his regime indulged in even as the role of opposition Congress and other parties on this was not appreciable either. To me, making it a sheer prestige issue was a mistake from either side. Prime Minister Modi must deliver and his detractors would like him exactly do the opposite.

Nevertheless, on social front, it goes without saying – religious pluralism is part of India’s genes. It must be cherished but the emphasis on ‘appeasement’ as being undertaken by Mamata Banerjee too is unwarranted. Actually it only adds to insult the greater wisdom of Muslims in her state. There’s no justification in giving Ram-Dhenu ‘rainbow’ a new ‘sickular’ name. That’s also one kind of fundamentalism.
The polity of ‘sickular establishment’ is also thus rooted in contradictions. The minority polarization actually leads to the reverse of ‘majority’ polarization.  India needs to be careful about it. Pakistan had presumed that Islam plus Urdu language and hatred towards India of ‘kafirs’ would sail it through. Today, it faces serious threats including existential ones. 


Secularists in India need to draw some lessons. They must ponder: Why BJP emerged in the centre of Indian politics latching onto the Hindutva ideologies.
They believe they were always on the right side, but then why did the majority Indians reject them?  (ends)

    


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