October 16, 2003
Last 50 years have seen various nations emerging from occupation by
foreign civilizations. Their social dynamics during the occupation
reflected one of people who were either treated as slaves or servants by
the occupying powers. The occupying powers, no longer colonizers, are
still the leaders when it comes to many indicators of progress and
achievement, while their former colonies, to the most part, continue to
Where is India placed in this evolving dynamics? For the discussion here,
I am going to categorize people broadly in terms of belonging to Slaves,
Servants and Ruler category. As we will see, this is a useful
The Fijian Experience
The British rulers brought along a large number of Indian plantation
workers (in the Servant category) to the Fiji islands. Coming decades saw
Indians move into commerce and get their children better educated. When
the British left the islands eventually, Indians, constitution about 45%
of the population (almost all of the rest were native Fijians), were
dominating the bureaucracy, education, and commerce.
When the British were ruling Fiji they constituted no more than 5% of the
population. But Indian population, constituting more than 40%, allowed the
country to be ruled by the natives. Also, there was hardly any Indian
representation in the Fijian military; it was in complete control of the
The natives, slow to catch up with the ways of modernity were resentful of
the Indian domination. When Indians formed a government, displacing a
native led government for the first time, the natives fought back with the
native controlled Fijian army taking over the reigns of power.
What had happened?
The Indian population in Fiji never had any ruling experience – it was in
the process of trying to come out of the Servant category. If Indian
population had the ruling experience it would have made sure that the
natives wouldn’t dominate the Fijian military. Also, it would have built
bridges with the native community.
When can one assume a country to have a significant population belonging
to the Ruler category?
In my opinion, a country is acknowledged to have such a class if it can
market a consumer product at the international level that requires complex
engineering. The idea is that by being able to do so, it has class of
people that can dictate terms or “rule” so to speak.
It can be seen that only with the recent advent of being able to compete
in the area of information technology, India has generated a class of
population in this Ruler category. But the bad news is, this level of
competence is yet to permeate among most other institutions, including its
political and governing class, and its military.
The seeds of generating this Ruler category was formed in the 1950s when
quality engineering institutions of higher learning were formed. This
shows the importance of education in converting a nation from
Slave/Servant category into a Ruler one.
Outside of India, Mauritius and Caribbean, with very substantial Indian
populations have yet to form pockets of Ruler class. This is probably
because they lack quality institutions of higher learning.
Thugs, not Rulers
Pakistan is a nation that continues to take “initiatives”, especially when
it comes to terrorism. Where does it fall?
Lacking in an educated and skilled population, it clearly doesn’t fall
into the Ruler category we just discussed. It in fact acts like a thug
vis-à-vis India and takes on the role of servant when it comes to Western
countries or even Saudi Arabia -- its terrorism benefactor.
Indian Diaspora in America
The Indian Diaspora in America started off in the professional category,
owing to immigration requirements and now even has a substantial
entrepreneurial component. Hence to the most part it is in the Ruler
This expatriate Ruler population has played a major role in the recent
developing of Ruler class among the Indian software industry – by acting
as a bridge between America and India.
Many of the NRI have come to understand the extraordinary challenge India
faces in developing its economy in one hand and fight off the draining and
expensive terrorist war waged by Islamic groups. In the coming years, I
see more of them actively involved in trying to help their extended
families, by helping India win this war. To let the Islamic fundamentalist
thugs win would reflect badly on all of us, not speak of the human tragedy
such a win will lead to.
From Servants to Rulers?
The Fijian experience should be an eye-opener, especially for Hindus. You
are only as strong or as weak as your community. The massive ethnic
cleansing of Hindus from every Muslim majority area of South Asia confirms
this observation. For a weakly institutionalized religion such as
Hinduism, its strength lies in transforming its population into a
predominantly Ruler category.
The current generation of aging Indian leadership of Vajpayee-Advani team
represents leftovers from the Servant age. Nothing indicates from their
background that they have progressed into a Ruler category on their own.
This team’s mode of operation has been tentative and apologetic – a
hallmark of belonging to the Servant class.
Indian approach to the war on terror reflects the fact that the Servant
class leads it. A leadership belonging to the Ruler class would show
initiative, focus, and be strategic in his/her approach (New Ideas for a
New War). After all, by definition, the Ruler class knows what it takes to
compete. Only a Servant ruling class would overlook the significant
military and economic advantage India has over Pakistan and allows itself
to be dictated and terrorized.
Among the new generation politicians, Narendra Modi speaks and acts like a
leader in the Ruler category. A man of vision, and a competent one at
that. Jayalaitha Jayaram is one other individual who falls in this
category. So is Praveen Togadia of VHP.
For India to sustain a strong economic growth -- a necessary requirement
to convert most of its population into the Ruler category -- it has to be
able to put a stop to Islamic terrorism. But to achieve that India needs a
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