Saturday, September 22, 2012

The Indian Re'pub'lic - where the pub meets the relic!


Indian Republic is 65 years old.   Young nation, governed by one of the best constitutions written in the shortest possible time - 2+ years.  Most nations were born during this time but took years to find their feet.   And it is also a less known fact that India is one of the few countries with two national days.

Colors that flutter,
represent glory and clutter...
So much for facts.   Our growth over these years has been chequered.   A country which was envisaged as a 'self sufficient' or a 'swadeshi' nation by the Father of the nation, and given a socialist skew for an economy by the first prime minister, had a taste of autocracy from his daughter and almost sunk and sold against gold in the late nineties.   Then the nation opened up, assured in capitalists and then hit upon a growth path - driven by the services sector predominantly.  Then this seemed to peak in the 'India shining' story of the BJP, but somewhere paled out by the non-inclusion of the masses.

The GOP was back again in power - sounded an all-inclusive growth story line.   Then finally a series of scams - not sure that it was really the 'inclusive' growth everybody meant - from the CWG, 2G and more recent Coalgate, being unearthed, stunting the India story further.   Then, out of the blue, it seemed the silent and sleeping head of the country woke up and shook the foundations of the country, already reeling under inflation with a slew of proposals that invited foreign investments once again.

And all along the way, the Indian polity has used religion, caste, monies, reservation and all and sundry to seize power.   Regional, caste based formations have become increasingly powerful - having a say in both national, foreign and economic policies of the country, fragmenting the decision making power at the Center.

The GOP seems to best option, just because it is better shepherded and has a strong head - almost dictatorial;  but the party has been mostly left, trying to please vote banks, with occasional spasms of bold decision making.   The other alternative, BJP,  had the best chance to be a strong alternative at the turn of this century, led by possibly the best prime minister in many decades, but after that internal chaos, and loss of identity has made it a chaotic cripple.   The left that is nearest to a national alternate, has been left - out in the cold, losing its relevance - left in the annals of history.
The Parliament represents the character of the nation!

The regional parties, with whimsical and mercurial satraps, give no hope to raise to the level of  national statesmanship.   And increasingly, unfortunately, this would be an increasing irritant in India's political journey.   Multi-party democracy is the single biggest retarding factor of growth for this country.

But the positive aspect of this is that while everybody bends the rules, the boundary is not crossed - we are a corrupt nation, but not a condemned nation.   Some level of civility is still left.   There are still the checks and balances.   But the dismay here is that there is clear dichotomy - a nation that gave its most wanted terrorist a fair trial, even when some bayed for blood, at the same time, has to wait endlessly to conclude on the death sentence of the attackers of Parliament.   A satirical cartoonist is arrested on sedition, but a sycophant group of the GOP celebrates its leaders the same way.

Such is this nation of myriad colors, opinions, flags and flavors.    Ours is a culture of measured liberalism.   A nation of confused capitalists, selfish socialists.   A nation of rituals and liberals - where the pub meets the Relic!

-Ashok Speaks


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