By Parag Amalnerker
India’s journey post-independence needs an objective analysis for any meaningful view on the “Idea of India”
The idea of America has been built upon the innate belief of Americans for Freedom and Liberty. This does need to be looked at in the context of slavery that existed in past though. The idea of Britain from the 1800’s grew into one of building an empire with an undercurrent of racial superiority.
While every country is entitled to their Idea, India sadly was held hostage to Congress’s idea(s) of India over the decades. The pattern was never designed to unshackle India to let it achieve its potential greatness but subvert it to propagate the self –serving dynasty. It would not be far- fetched to say that the Idea of India has been shackled for over five decades, which in many ways is an almost irreparable time loss.
Let’s deconstruct the attributes of the Idea of India painted so far:
The world ideally expected India to rise to the occasion post- Independence but Nehru‘s please all ambivalence bereft of a long term vision chose to set- up the Planning Commission on the lines of the Gosplan of the Soviet Union. He would also imitate the Soviet Union by drawing up Five Year Plans. At the time of drafting the first Five Year Plan, Nehru was ambivalent and talked of a mixed economy that would accommodate the private sector.
However, as his power grew, he imposed controls on the press while progressively decreasing the economic freedoms of the people. As a result, the voices of dissent got muffled, and even some opponents of socialism, who were Nehru’s colleagues, defended the nationalization of industries in order to be in Nehru’s good books.
Instead of recognizing it as an instrument of furthering National Interest, India chose to become part of an ambivalent NAM movement. India was always USSR aligned (all defense procurement then) and Pakistan was aligned to America and yet both were part of NAM. Countries with dubious human rights records like North Korea, Iran continue to be a part of NAM. It never really did have a charter and neither did it dissuade both the superpowers then from anything that they wished to do, all it was reduced to over the years was a platform for weak and in some cases failed states to cry on each other’s shoulders. Times changed, the world became unipolar and the Cold War ended.
One must grant here that the Congress recognized the potential of the word Secular and exploited and misused it to its advantages for decades. The usage was a vitiating twist which served to create unrest. It has been used to perpetrate a certain dimension of identity politics that has tried to obstruct the growth of aspirational India and of aspirational politics. The Shah Bano case, the banning of Salman Rushdie’s book are but a few examples of how the Congress party allowed this skewed sense of secularism to thrive and spread.
Dynasty vs. Merit:
It is not hard to see why India could accomplish so little in-spite of the wealth of talent, size and scale that it has. Mediocrity breed mediocrity and the Gandhi dynasty ensured that no independent thinking talent ever attained leadership roles. Be it the most recent revelation by Sharad Pawar in his book that Sonia never wanted an independent thinking person at the helm, be it the plight of PVNR (P.V.Narasimha Rao) who has all but been erased even from Congress history or even now when we see the likes of Shashi Tharoor, Sachin Pilot, PC with superior acumen and pedigree genuflect to the forever in the making Rahul Gandhi. This part is important as mediocrity engulfed India as a whole where there was no premium on ideas, talent or for that matter spine.
Subversion of Institutions:
The imposition of Emergency by Indira Gandhi in June 1975 actually took the mask of what was being done behind the scenes till then and continued till they were absolutely voted out in May 2014. While the Shah Commission report and all that transpired during those dark years has been in cold storage for years, institutional subversion both overt and covert has had telling consequence on India’s fabric and will take years to get undone. The recent reactions to the HC squashing the appeal of Gandhi’s in the National Herald case and asking them to attend the summons issued by the lower court had the Congress repeatedly saying that the PMO is behind this. Even when it is clear that the facts do not support this wild allegation, it is clear that it stems from their own history of subverting Institutions to target Individuals and establishments over decades. Modi being amongst some who were always kept on their toes by having every agency go after them repeatedly.
The list of scams that have almost become the grammar for India globally is too long to delve into here but Bofors, 2G, CWG, Antarix and Coal are clear indicators that the Congress so ably led by the Dynasty never followed transparent policy led decision making thereby vesting individual discretion with the reigns eventually leading to we know who so that India could be pilfered rupee by rupee making India’s foundations weak.
Focus on Banking- Vote “Banks”:
It is saddening to say the least that even now India’s political discourse (the Gandhi’s particularly) has to forever pay obeisance to these two sections – Poor and Weak! Just how do these two sections exist even after six decades of Independence in such abundance is a question that India must ask the dynasty! Keeping the poor in continued poverty by doles and not skill empowerment, keeping the minorities segregated without integration into the mainstream and creating an artificial bogey of communalism reaped dividends for decades. India actually had a “National Integration Council” set up by the Congress and yet it keeps threatening that India’s unity and diversity is under imaginary and artificial threat every other day!
It was therefore overdue and critical that the PM , Modi himself sought to draw attention to the “Idea of India” during his concluding remarks on the Constitution debate in this session of the parliament. It is imperative that we do not let self –defeating attributes of the Idea of India run unchallenged anymore. India has been deprived of much of its potential both domestically and internationally all these decades and it is time for a resurgent and visionary Idea of India to come to the fore. This Idea of India is taking shape over the last 18 months in a cohesive and visionary manner and needs all strength and support from all right thinking citizens.
India cannot be held hostage to a shallow, mediocre idea – wrapped up in scaremongering anymore.
(Parag Amalnerker is a strategy and marketing professional and is passionate about nation building, he focuses on incisive analyses on geo-politics, current affairs and economics. He can be followed at www.twitter.com/Indiaunfolding |www.facebook.com/sticker. Rant)