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  India unraveling  


By: Dr.Gautam Sen
June 13, 2006
iews expressed here are author’s own and not of this website. Full disclaimer is at the bottom.


(Prof Gautam Sen has formerly taught political economy at the London School of Economics for more than two decades.)

Secularists and communists may imagine they somehow control India’s future, but this belief is a chimera. Perhaps they are smart enough to know the truth, but too cynical to care. India is spinning out of control and the spoils of political office are likely to evaporate suddenly. How exactly this will come about is not entirely clear, but there are historical precedents that provide pointers.

The decisive antecedent pre-condition is the inability of the ruling order to retain domestic control and ward off external predators militarily. This is how Mogul primacy ended for India in devastating chaos during the eighteenth century, after the grand rewards of imperial conquest. But such a grim scenario is inevitably preceded by a collapse of political authority and the credibility of the ruling order. India is now in this perilous phase as the public standing of its ruling order ebbs. There is now real prospect of accident and design unfolding in combination to disable state power and curtail its political reach significantly.

Various regional political factions across India are engaged in savage competition for the spoils of office. Very little else motivates their endeavors except corrupt enrichment, chicanery and criminality to seize power, however temporarily, and crass bribery to hold on to it, no matter how briefly. After each abysmal episode the ruling groups, barely distinguishable from each other, emerge shamelessly enriched. What these regional political parties also share with each other, beyond the desire for rule by themselves and their families, is a singular lack of any conception of India’s nationhood. Yet they are a critical influence on policy at the federal Centre and vying for the ultimate crown of dominating national government itself.

The Congress party in power at the federal Centre today is remarkably similar to the regional political parties seeking to replace it. In fact, they run the country jointly as partners in crime. The nominally national Congress only differs from them in the inconsequential detail of having its constituents less geographically concentrated than the largely regional political parties, be it the malevolent communists, the unspeakable celluloid Tamil monstrosities or indeed the cartoon strip nationalists of the Hindu fold. Shorn of pomp and symbolic pretensions, the name of the game in New Delhi for the incumbent ruling combine is to create the conditions for Rahul Gandhi’s anointment as the next celestial authority in India. The second preoccupation is to manage foreign affairs with sufficient sleight-of-hand to stop the national apple cart from being embarrassingly overturned.

It is possible that India’s diabolical international predicament will not turn into immediate rout and Rahul Gandhi may claim his rightful place in India’s embryonic monarchy. The prime minister himself may not be interested in cash or sexual conquest, but he suffers terribly from the third affliction of humanity, which is to be in the public eye. This is the equivalent of the fifteen minutes of sordid fame that the country is paying for so very dearly. He wields no political power and a sort of Page Three fame apparently suffices. In the pursuit of such dishonorable ambitions, the meaning of secularism been twisted beyond recognition. A supine media connives, eager for crumbs from the table of the ruling family and its shameless minions. However, neither India’s faltering durability, for the present, nor the new Sun King’s impending accession are likely to stop the rot as far as its long-term future is concerned. The indefensible OBC reservations that do nothing for the many underprivileged of India, and inflict grievous injury on many who are also underprivileged, but capable, will be remembered as the critical moment when India’s endgame began.

It is a tragic final denouement for India’s future as a polity and economy when the only persevering social structure was delivered a mortal blow. In a country in which few things work properly (from domestic plug points to road lights, to pick two things randomly) and virtually nothing in the public sector functions effectively the resilient Indian family’s deepest aspiration has just been criminally decapitated. The ruling elites cannot provide adequate electricity at any price nor an airport in the national capital that does not fill one with despair, nor schools that have toilets or even teachers. Yet they allegedly occupy the moral high ground and spew arrant nonsense about secularism and communal harmony.

Despite its many faults, the Indian family alone has overcome the formidable obstacles placed in its path by a dysfunctional State and vicious ruling order to educate their children. Modest middle and lower middle class family incomes and awe-inspiring parental efforts, often against overwhelming odds, have lovingly nurtured human capital and turned around an economy with dim prospects. Even a driver on five-thousand rupees a month is prepared to send his two little girls to a school that teaches only in English by allocating a fifth of his monthly income. If there were no goddess of learning she would have to be contrived and imagined in gratitude, for infusing such a noble thirst for learning in ordinary Indians. This is why the possibilities of applied science are infinite like the skies above our bowed human heads.

The grotesque policy of swingeing reservations that does nothing for the majority, which does not receive basic schooling, can only have been undertaken by people of very low intelligence. But these are the same people whose village cunning led to the office-for-profit debacle that continues to haunt their very own hold on political power. The insane reservation policy, based on rank political opportunism and illiterate conjecture, will trigger socio-economic mechanisms that may well kill the goose currently laying golden eggs despite the brigandage under the garb of socialism and humanity. Such a policy measure is also likely to provoke dangerous disaffection among the many that cannot escape to foreign universities, unlike the children of politicians, who themselves go abroad for medical care too. A hard look at the origins of the brutal civil war in Sri Lanka is a salutary reminder of how one reaps as ye sows when a sense of injustice burns in the hearts of those who understand it and have the wherewithal to respond.

A vast swathe of Indian citizens has been effectively disenfranchised and no longer owes any loyalty to the Indian State and its overseers. A fundamental right of paramount importance has been taken away from them. The right to education and the recognition of fair criteria, which must mean that merit remains pre-eminent, has been erased. The rightness of reservations at the margin has been replaced by complete marginalization of merit. No matter what social class and economic circumstances, the accident of birth will deny the children of many of the poor their basic rights on grounds of Caste alone. Such a policy echoes the exclusion of Jews from German higher education in the mid-1930s merely because of their religious identity. Why should these young people feel any commitment to a society that has in unison, across the political spectrum, declared outright war on them?

For a start, they would be justified in refusing to join the armed forces since those being granted extraordinary unmerited privileges should now defend the country they are vindictively making exclusively their own. Nor should any of the excluded Castes join the police or indeed the bureaucracy. In this free for all dog eats dog world that their fellow citizens and their venal representatives are determined to bring about, something will give. In all likelihood economic growth will falter and India’s defense will be in the supposedly competent hands of affirmative action candidates alone, including the so-called minorities, already imperiously demanding special privileges, eager to displace all semblance of fair play. Which foreign predator will soon find irresistible the prospect of re-uniting with their co-religionists and an army of the reserved ready for monotheism, free of the burdens of Caste?

Such demands for reservations have an old history, from government jobs for Muslims in late nineteenth century Bengal to separate electorates, followed by partition itself. The young and talented of all Castes should begin a long march towards any Indian state that promises them elementary justice in exchange for their prodigious intellectual skills and the economic success that will cascade as a result of it. They will also have the last laugh when the children of politicians in the forefront of casteism are displaced themselves by those for whom nothing but reservation matters. Their India will surely prosper without the presence of so-called upper Caste oppressors, some cleaning public toilets in Delhi while harassing rich OBC ministers and successful entrepreneurs part-time. The resulting weakened federal India may eventually find its individual parts going their separate ways. Those who strive primarily on the basis of merit need have no inclination to pay taxes to the rest of the country, denying their basic human rights simply because of their Caste.

Dr.Gautam Sen

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