Sunday 21 July 2024

News Analysed, Opinions Expressed


Mera Desh: Aspirations & Anxieties


On achieving independence, our youth was ignited to fight against superstition. Today, the political leadership lights them to fight against reason and scientific temper and espouse tradition and blind faith as golden nationalist treasures.

India has experienced impressive shifts in economy, society and polity over the years and all these positive changes have been achieved through the path of parliamentary democracy. Despite shortcomings and contradictions, political parties and leadership have successfully gauged and molded the aspirations of the diverse segments and attempted to put the economy and society on the track to realize the aspirations. The era of Nehru, Indira, Rajiv and now Modi have seen the shifts in hopes and desires of people and each of these leaders skillfully led their parties to a clear majority in Parliament understanding the swings and responding to the same with bold initiatives.

Nehru to Rajiv

The Nehruvian age was where development was viewed as social equity and justice and hence public and social ownership took precedence in growth exercises. Those were the days of license raj and controls. Those were also the days to build up basic infrastructure in defence, irrigation, key industries, communication, science and institutions of higher learning. The entire edifice could be built later on due to these solid foundations. The dominant social attitude as reflected by public thinkers and middle class was to build a peaceful, modern, secular and democratic India. Indira Gandhi stirred up the aspirations of the poor, backward and suppressed and made it the strategic plank of Congress politics. This largely explains Indian economy becoming one of entitlements and subsidies and further strengthening of protection through policy of reservations and controls. It goes to the credit of Rajiv Gandhi for the swing to a liberal economy and technological mission which was articulated later by Narsimha Rao and Dr. Manmohan Singh. The buzzwords changed to free economy, decontrol and private capital which fuelled new aspirations amongst the youth and middle class. During this period too, the public thinkers, middles class and social leadership did not budge from the overall objective of building a peaceful, tolerant and modern India. At the same time, tensions and conflicts were growing on reservations with more castes or classes registering their demand. Political and bureaucratic corruption reached a high climax making the Congress party a synonym for corruption. Attempts to ridicule secularism received respectability and public thinkers espousing secularism, tolerance and freedom of expression were attacked as anti-nationalists.

Modi’s India

Probably, Narendra Modi and his BJP answered the new shift in aspirations of youth and the middle class. The development (vikas) plank of Modi and open thinking on technology with bold leadership disposition caught the imagination of the majority. Closed mind on social issues, restrictive societal attitudes and communal intolerance got probably buried under liberal economics and Skilled India vision of Modi. The BJP menu card and its marketing was effective political communication.

The worry today is not of India’s economic development but it is of inclusive growth and social development with scientific temper. Hero worship is not new to India and Indians but today’s is of a corrupted kind. There are very few public thinkers dissenting and the media supposedly the fourth pillar of democracy is succumbing to the Executive. Media has always been a watch-dog on the ruling government. Today, it is turning out to be the spokesperson and the lawyer for the King. The media is busy exposing the opposition political parties and anti-establishment forces rather than the powers aligned to the ruling. There are pointers that the ruling BJP is held as a sacred cow. Otherwise, how does one explain the media silence on the scandals in central government, scams in BJP ruled states, pre-demonetization land deals of BJP, the 2 crore job creation commitment, excesses of the Executive in universities, CBSE, judiciary, and autonomous national institutions. The criminal activity of the fringe elements as manifested in cow vigilante and road rage gets a mere mention without investigative reporting. Is media abdicating its rightful space with all its guns on opposition?

The call of the BJP for a “Congress mukt Bharat” cannot be dubbed as an election jargon and recognized as a right of a political party run on business lines. The way the BJP is getting prodigally organized, it looks like a commitment. We have seen how the BJP leadership has over turned the people’s mandate even in States where the party stands rejected by the electorate. Actually, a game intended for a token parliamentary democracy without opposition in the representative bodies.  Public thinkers and political leadership across political party lines need to examine and address this issue to save India from fascism with the sugar based coating of democracy.

 Demographic optimism

India can take pride of its demographic dividend as the youth, who are regarded as engineers of social progress constitute the major slice of our population. But, this needs to be read with a rider. The current trends in the mind-set and attitude of our youth do not guarantee the desired optimism. The youth are undoubtedly modern in consumption, dress and spending. This is outward modernity. The attitude of our youth in terms of women & work and women taking up business and political leadership is largely status quo. There could be exceptions but there is no major shakeup. Faith dominates over scientific temper and reason. On achieving independence, our youth was ignited to fight against superstition. Today, the political leadership lights them to fight against reason and scientific temper and espouse tradition and blind faith as golden nationalist treasures.

The future of India cannot be Modi type leadership or taking it global, Donald Trump for USA. For a modern, democratic and scientific India, we need a plural and multicultural political leadership along with public thinkers and media all aligned.

Disclaimer: Views expressed above are the author's own.

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Prabhakar Timble

Mr Prabhakar Timble is an educationist and a legal expert. He has served several educational institutions, especially as the Principal of Government College at Quepem, Kare College of Law in Madgao as well as couple of Management Institutes. He was also the State Election Commissioner of Goa.


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