driving one heavily rainy day towards my mother’s house last summer, my nephew asked me why india hasn’t taken off like USA or any first world society, if they produce such intelligent people whose expertise are always in demand.
a question i am pondering about always as it’s not a simple one.
consider some of india’s foundation stones:
1. the legacies of the british rule and earlier systems of rule that helps us to understand its geography and development
2. its nation-building and economic development that was presided over by nehru [1889-1964], then indira gandhi, his daughter, who served from 1966 to 1977 and then again from 1980 until her assassination in 1984, and is the second-longest-serving Prime Minister of India and the only woman to hold the office, then Rajiv gandhi. their rules took from the washington and westminster systems of gov’t.
the constitution of india was created to embrace democracy and federalism and to provide individuals with fundamental rights against abusive gov’t power. although nehru expected caste and religious identities to wither away in an aggressively modernizing india, it didn’t quite work out that way.
instead, caste identities were not dissolved and re-invented.
hindu nationalism has always had a strong cultural dimension so that the hindu-muslim tensions post independence do not seem to go away. the demolition of the babri masjid in 1992 in ayodhya followed by the mumbai bombings in 1993, then the 2002 gujarat anti-muslim pogrom proves that this grey zone is discoloring india’s nationalism and economic liberalization.
india is one of the world’s fastest growing economy and a beacon of high-tech modernity, but its threatening mutiny is women.
silence and teargas are still models of policing in india, while other so-called third world nations are putting out nuclear weapons.
the response of the ruling centre-left congress party to the protests in india was silence and teargas. “our model of policing is colonial,” a senior officer in south Delhi explained. but the colonialists left India 65 years ago and the country has moved on.
yet india remains stuck in old ways of thinking about various matters. but its greyist ‘areas of darkness’ to use naipaulian terms, are ‘women’ and the ‘caste system’ : these two mega forces will not permit india to fully move forward.