Evolving the right vision for tomorrow’s India
By Hari Jaisingh
Nobel Prize-winning writer V. S. Naipaul has said that ours is a wounded civilization. He wondered:
“…whether intellectual for a thousand years India hadn’t always retreated before its conquerors, and whether, in its periods of apparent revival, India hadn’t only been making itself archaic again, intellectually smaller, always vulnerable.”
This is a narrow view of looking at India. In a way, India might be vulnerable, but it is socially volatile. It knows how to contain the fire smouldering within. It has also tremendous capacity to absorb shocks, overcome handicaps and fight against social and economic ills.
Some thinkers, such as O. Chinnappa Reddy, have attributed the perpetuation of the unjust social system to the philosophy of Karma and spiritualism. Chinnappa Reddy may be right to a certain degree. However, what is not being realised is that prejudices and superstitions can be fought if the thinking class plays its role honestly. Equally important is the need for political leaders to play their cards correctly and combat economic and religious tyranny. In this context, former Indian President S. Radhakrishnan has said:
“It is the duty of every patriotic person to resist. In our country, we have to resist despotism on every side.”
It may, however, be asked: how complex are ground realities? The Indian scenario is surely complex, with economic, religious and social tyranny having a free play in the absence of concerted efforts to channelize social and religious forces in the right direction.
Viewed in a larger perspective, the goals and objectives of Rahul Gandhi’s Bharat Jodo Yatra are unclear. On the face of it, it is Rahul’s personalized brave new world.
Senior Congress leader, Jairam Ramesh has said that the Bharat Jodo Yatra has ensured that the Congress is now setting the political narrative in the country and is sharpening the ideological basis of the party along with the Congress President Mallikarjun Kharge, which he refers to as ‘jugalbandi’. Jairam Ramesh’s special praise for Rahul’s yatra does not have much basis. Further, Kharge has stated that the youthful Congress leader has given a new direction to the party’s political discourse, while Jairam Ramesh states that the yatra has put the BJP on the ‘backfoot, disturbed and nervous’.
True, curiosity about Gandhi has been a major factor in bringing the crowds during the yatra. However, the question uppermost in the minds of political persons is whether this curiosity would actually help revive the party’s lowkey morale.
Even amid high spirits, nagging doubts persist among Congress supporters and workers about the party’s current state of affairs. They are not sure of the revival of the Congress to its past glorious period. They are also not sure whether the yatra would help end the party’s larger message against the politics of hatred and division. Regrettably, what we see today is a singular mix of religions and politics, which seems set to divide both hearts and minds.
More than 75 years ago, British imperialists left the Indian shores. Still, the question that arises is why Indian leaders have not been able to take requisite corrective steps to reverse the colonial practice of dividing the people? Therefore, not much can be achieved by Rahul Gandhi’s yatra, which is not well-focused on the issues and problems faced by today’s common citizens.
What we see today is misguided religious zeal and the absence of all-inclusive economic development and educational opportunities for the common men. We seem to reiterate the same old theories, repeat the same old platitudes and reaffirm the same old hopes that are repudiated with unusual haste.
Looking beyond, what is required is the evolution of a balanced vision of a modern India that should hold all communities together, as eminent thinker P. N. Haksar had once suggested. Today’s India needs an emphasis on the evolution of Indian nationhood as a forward-looking modern entity that is rooted to the soil and civilisational values of this great ancient land of Bharat, that is, India.
December 23, 2022
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