Azadi Ka Amrit Mahotsav, meaning nectar of grand celebration to signify 75 years of India’s Independence from the British Colonial slavery, began on March 12, 2021, and will continue up to August 15, 2023. The Government of India also started a campaign Har Ghar Tiranga that is to fly the national flag on every house. Its end objective is to promote, advance and consolidate the spirit of “Nationalism” amongst the current generation of “We the People”.
Azadi means “freedom”; Amrit means “nectar”; and Mahotsav means “festival”. “Why and what for the much hyped celebrations by “We the People” sponsored and encouraged by all political parties? Common academically in the past to highlight that what we got 75-years ago is “Political Freedom for 34 crores” from British colonial Rule, more aptly, slavery. But, what about the strangulation of polity by the resurgent neo-dynasty’s and feudal lords?
Woeful lack of understanding of the true import of “British Colonial Rule” is real. Irrefutable fact is subjugation of South Asia by the “British Crown” between 1857-1947 virtually in all dimensions to include: political, social, cultural and economic. The British exploited—looted—natural resources and, in turn, exploited its markets—over £45 trillion. But, no corruption at all levels. In contrast, Indian rulers and leaders are exploiting the country, more aptly, looting the country. However, what was most destructive is the shift engineered by the British by imposition of their language and cultural values—total shift to Western modes and ways of life.
Most significant is the Islamist surge sweeping the mankind. Saudi Arabia and Iran are in the forefront of funding spread of Islam. The growth of mosques in the USA include: 1921—the first purpose-built Highland Park Mosque in Detroit and Michigan; 1934—Mother Mosque of America, in Cedar Rapids.
Scholars claim that India gained political freedom only on the stroke of midnight hour of August 14/15, 1947. That too betrays intellectual bankruptcy. For what we gained was freedom from alien or colonial rule only to be replaced by autocratic dynastic and feudal rule.
Everyone knows that India is a pluralist society: multi-racial, multi-ethnic, multi-communal and multi- cultural in composition. To consolidate and advance unity and diversity, mutual respect and tolerance, the two basic imperatives of pluralism, are vital. Yet, with utter disregard to them, vested interest groups are pursuing highly confrontational and adversarial politics, which are gnawing away at the very vitals of “idea” of India—unity in diversity.
Within India the clash of civilisations is real. The clash of cultures is real: cow dung of the Northern heartland vs. coconut of the Southern tracts vs. bamboo of the North East. Furthermore, the clash between ideologies, pluralism vs. nationalism is real. Add to it, the clash of religions: Hinduism vs. Islam vs. Christianity. If one is managed adroitly, another raises its ugly head to devour India. What is unfolding in a vicious way is the continuation of unfinished agenda of communal, ethnic, caste and class contest. When the conflict resolution spins out of control, they blame the people for the plight of the nation.
Today the economy of India is a middle income developing market economy. It is the world’s fifth-largest economy by nominal GDP and the third-largest by purchasing power parity
Pursuit of caste politics—caste polarisation—continues to play havoc with consolidating unity in diversity. Democracy has opened the doors to the OBC, SC, ST and minorities to forge political alliances to throw the traditional upper ruling castes out of power. A casteless society remains a mirage.
Society has become increasingly corrupt—both morally and materially. No place for ethics, morals and values. None is concerned with national values. Democracy stands distorted; socialism stands discarded; and secularism is the worst fraud. Ruthless and strong willed leadership alone can survive in the hawkish world of today.
One, demographic transition—natural growth rates, migrations both legal and illegal and conversion row—is the mother of all strategic internal security challenges. It is the rate and pace of change induced by demographic transition that is emerging as a key national security threat concern. Can India manage nearly 2 billion people by around 2050 in the face of dwindling natural resources? More importantly, when the inherited population proportion rates in 1951 between Hindu, Muslim and Christian communities are undergoing changes considered a major threat concern what with scarcity of resources and finite political power to share. The day is not too far off for yet another communal holocaust in modern India.
Two, having inherited social structure, leadership has failed to promote and consolidate true nationalism. People continue to trace and owe their loyalties on narrow parochial lines like being a Tamil or Telugu or Maratha, Sikh, Punjabi, Bengali and so on. Political parties and leaders for self aggrandisement have polarised society deliberately on narrow tribal, clan, caste, communal and supra tribal lines.
The social challenges inherited by Shri Narendra Modi and the BJP appear insurmountable. It requires tremendous dexterity to satisfy competing claims of vested interest groups for a fair share in status, wealth and power. “India First; India Best” may be a good slogan.
Leaders must avoid playing the politics of pseudo secularism vs communalism forever, if they are earnest to nurture unity in diversity. The desecration of the temple of democracy happens on a daily basis during sessions with utter disregard to loss of crores of rupees of taxpayer’s money.
The course of recently concluded monsoon session of the Parliament, with vitriolic and venom spewed against each other, reconfirms such a skewed view. Debate, conciliation and consensus, key components of a vibrant democracy, are an anathema for the elected representatives. They claim to be leaders, but they do not believe in decorum, probity and propriety and respect for the ‘Chair’. A day is not too far off that their behaviour may rebound and hurt them on the rebound by the crowds on the streets.
Waiting for an opportunity, the pseudo secular opposition political groups are bound to exploit such opportunities to regain political power. “India’s Democracy” of today is “triumph of criminals and scoundrels”, whose extravagant lifestyles living in fortress type bungalows surrounded by gunmen and escorted in convoys of vehicles and privileges make even the “Maharajahs” of the past to pale into insignificance. Neo-Maharajahs and neo feudal are lurking around everywhere today in Indian democracy to exploit the situation for self aggrandisement. Following closely behind in extravagance is the bludgeoning bureaucracy, the judiciary and the security forces. They too have least concern for the lesson of mankind’s history that economy cannot forever sustain an over stretched government machinery.
Modi and the BJP, therefore, face a most bizarre political situation to overcome. Democracy has been hijacked by criminals and scoundrels as elected representatives. Its root cause is very well recognised. No Eureka. Money and muscle power decide electoral outcomes at all levels. No sight of electoral reforms on the horizon. More talk for public consumption; and no action. The talk of public funding is foolhardy; economy cannot sustain it.
Next, few realities of the economic dimension. 75 Years ago, modern Indian inherited “destroyed economy”. Ipso facto, the British destroyed the supremacy of the Indian goods. Indian handicrafts lost both domestic and foreign market.
In particular, Indian handloom weaving industry was hit by the industrialization in England and eventually collapsed. The British goods succeeded ultimately in penetrating into the Indian market through its machine made goods.
Claiming to be the guardians of law and order besides custodians of peace and tranquillity, police forces are in total disarray due to lack of professionalism. They are turning into law violators
Few facts are recounted to provide a balanced perspective. Regression of economic growth during the Mughal era (1600-1700) was real. The GDP had grown by only 22 per cent, that is, at an annual growth rate of 0.20 per cent. Next, during the British East Indian company rule from 1700 to 1850, the GDP grew 39 per cent, that is, 0.22 per cent annually. And, from 1850 to 1947, British India’s annual growth rate of GDP was 0.55 per cent. In 1990 international dollars, it grew from $125.7 billion to $213.7 billion, a 70 per cent increase.
India’s economic growth rate was termed as “The Hindu rate of growth” that refers to the lower annual growth rate that stagnated around 3.5 per cent from 1950s to 1980s, while per capita income growth averaged around 1.3 per cent before the economic reforms of 1991.
The combination of protectionist, import-substitution, Nehruvian Fabian socialism (gradualist and reformist instead of revolutionary), and social democratic-inspired policies governed India until 1991. The economy was then characterised as Dirigisme. It had extensive regulation, protectionism, and public ownership of large monopolies, pervasive corruption and slow growth.
As of 2022, the GDP per-capita is $2515.4. According to the International Monetary Fund (IMF), on a per capita income basis, India ranked 142nd by GDP (nominal) and 128th by GDP (PPP). However, today the economy of India is a middle income developing market economy. It is the world’s fifth-largest economy by nominal GDP and the third-largest by purchasing power parity (PPP).
Internal Security Threat
On the internal security front, an awesome total of 179 insurgents, militants and terrorists, abetted and aided by state and non state actors, have laid seize to the nation. As per South Asia Portal of Terrorism, they include a total of 116 groups in the North East with 36 in Assam, 39 in Manipur, 3 in Nagaland, 2 in Mizoram, 5 in Meghalaya, 30 in Tripura and one in Arunachal Pradesh. Add to it, 36 militant groups in J & K, 12 in Punjab besides 6 Left Wing Groups spread from Nepal to Kerala in the Red Corridor and nine other groups. Around 71 of them belong to Islamist groups with 36 in J & K, 18 in Assam, 6 in Assam and others. The figures do not include the Indian Mujahedeen, the SIMI and the recent JuMB in Bengal.
Such is the harsh reality of modern India after 75-years of independence. Despite “Great Blunders” by successive PMs, none can deny that modern India has overcome many challenges in the past. It is good to gloat over achievements of being the largest democracy in the world. Except for the economy, all other power dimensions are suffering from atrophy or entropy. Serious introspection is vital to promote social unity and resurgence of sacrificing political leadership in service of the society. Otherwise, the collapse of modern India will, if it does not change its course!!