Tuesday, January 28, 2014

Ambedkar's Three Warnings About The Future Of India

Adapted from Ramchandra Guha's - "India After Gandhi"

Longer essay by Guha here.

On 25th November, 1949, the day before the Constituent Assembly wound up its proceedings, the chairman of the Drafting Committee, B.R. Ambedkar made a speech summing up their work.

He ended his speech with three warnings about the future.

1. We must abandon the method of civil disobedience, non-cooperation, and satyagraha (popular protest). Under an autocratic regime, there might be some justification for them, but not now, when constitutional methods of redress were available. Satyagraha and the like, were nothing but the grammar of anarchy and the sooner they are abandoned, the better for us.

2. Unthinking submission to charismatic authority. To quote John Stuart Mill, who cautioned citizens not "to lay their liberties at the feet of a great man or, to trust him with powers, which enable him to subvert their institutions."

3. Not be content with 'mere political democracy' but, work towards ridding the country of inequality and hierarchy.
"Country was going to enter a life of contradictions. In politics we will have equality and in social and economic life we will have inequality. In politics we will be recognizing the principle of one man one vote and one vote one value. In our social and economic life, we shall, by reason of our social and economic structure, continue to deny the principle of one man one value. How long shall we continue to live this life of contradictions? How long shall we continue to deny equality in our social and economic life? If we continue to deny it for long, we will do so only by putting our political democracy in peril."


All three are (unfortunately) as topical today as they were over 60 years ago. 

From the jan-andolan (people's protest) the erstwhile India Against Corruption initiative, led by Anna Hazare, Arvind Kejriwal and others, which was symptomatic of the first warning. Holding an elected government to account through not the electorate but a public demonstration confined to a particular geography and hence, representing a narrow strata and class of society.

The second is all around a lauh-purush (iron man) and 'decisive leader' narrative around Narendra Modi, whose social & economic track record at best, can be described as patchy. But unfortunately, these records have not been critically examined by a wider range of the electorate who have cornered themselves into a Hobson's choice.

Finally, the last warning is for the electorate themselves and related to both of the prior warnings. When our own narrow interests and topics for outrage do not converge with the larger society, there is bound to be an eventual conflict for the soul of the nation. The extreme left-wing driven Maoist conflict affecting 40% of the country (by land area) is but an outcome of this (continuing) social and economic inequality that finds little mindspace in the case of other otherwise self-proclaimed conscientious citizens mentioned above.

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Tuesday, January 21, 2014

Man's World Magazine Predicts Narendra Modi's Rise in 2002

Link to Article - Courtesy, @daftari

Some surreal stuff here - selected passages with my comments inline.

On RSS - the puppet master, and Modi's symbiosis
And although as chief minister he may not speak against the jurisdiction of courts in the Ayodhya matter, that is the position he holds—it is a matter of faith and the faith of the majority must prevail. “Hindoosthan mein rehna hai to Vande Mataram kehna hoga” is to Modi the essential principle of accepted socio-political behaviour. In fact, so well and deeply dyed in khaki is he that whenever one needed to get a sense of what might be happening in the often off-limits bull pen of the RSS, Modi was the man to go to—if there was one man among the general secretaries of the BJP who knew the workings of the RSS mind, it was Modi. Not always because he had information but because he had the instinct; he thought like one of them, he was, and is, one of them. And he wouldn’t move a millimeter to pretend he isn’t. 

On the now infamous BJP's Goa conclave - how the BJP caved in and determined its (as yet, unfulfilled) destiny
To believe that Modi is averse to chief ministership is to also believe that he had arrived at the Goa summit of the BJP in midsummer, scarred by his short fling with governance and ready to give up and return to the backroom. Quite on the contrary, he came to Goa determined to hold on in the face of mounting demands—even from sections within the party—that he be sacked. He had come not to submit but to dare. The mayhem of Gujarat had not been a consequence of his inexperience and inefficiency, it had happened at his bidding. It was not a lapse, it was a deliberate design. And now the gauntlet was before the party. It either committed itself to Modi and his politics or risked losing not only Gujarat but also earning the wrath of its hardline bosses in the Parivar for whom Modi had already become the latest pin-up.

On AB Vajpayee - the 'liberal poster' of the Sangh for who he truly was
Modi came to Goa riding a tide and he swept the party with it. Proof? Prime Minister Vajpayee, the Liberal, rounded off the Goa convention with a speech that might have rankled in his own ears later. Wherever Muslims go, he said, they create trouble, they have become a problem the world over and Gujarat was no exception. The menace in Gujarat was not Modi and his mobs, the menace was “Muslim terrorism”.

On the use of 'net' - if you were being compared with Chandrababu Naidu then you must be doing something really right. Also note, the lack of absence of the term "social media"
One does not know if Modi has funded this website, but there is no doubt that he has used the net far more effectively at promoting himself than any other chief minister in the country, Chandra babu Naidu included. 

On the obsession with Patel and ahem his 'youth' - Statue of "Unity" and a certain Saheb's snoopgate
Besides his love for poetry, Modi also seems quite enamoured about the fact that he, at age 52, is very young. On the official government site he is referred to as a ‘young political leader’, while  www.narendramodi.com describes him as a ‘Young Indian Statesman’. Modi’s other obsession of course is Sardar Patel. Narendramodi.com in fact has a section called ‘Know Your Sardar’ where a picture of Modi morphs into Sardar Patel at the click of the mouse.

On websites devoted to him,which no doubt have his blessings, Modi at age 52 loves being described as ‘The Young Indian Statesman’, a ‘Poet- writer’ and most importantly as ‘Sardar’ after Sardar Vallabhbai Patel.

On the the love of the netizens for the Dear Leader - awesome prescience from the author in the last line
And finally Vikramidtya Daga provides the ultimate encouragement, “You have done a great service to the Gujarathi Hindu community. My humble request is if you could also do this to the entire Hindu community by trying to become PM. I am currently not voting for BJP in my state, but if you stand for PM I will vote for BJP.” Lal Krishna Advani better watch out.