Monday, 30th October 2017

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Ideas at War

A statesman had once said that youth is a blunder, manhood a struggle and old age a regret. In the case of India, a septuagenarian nation - it turns 71 today- the regrets may well be explained by a peculiar set of contradictions. In spite of an impressive growth rate, the country is yet to win its battle against poverty seven decades after its creation. India possesses some of the world's richest ecological hot spots; yet it remains unmindful of the wilful decimation of its environment. Centres of quality education remain out of reach for the dispossessed. The health of this populous country is managed with meagre allocations in the budget. Discrimination on the basis of caste and gender and its attendant violence continue unabated. These failings, undoubtedly, have been shared by every elected dispensation since Independence. Curiously, the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party can stake claim to a unique achievement. No other government has faced such consistent criticism for imperilling the idea of India itself.

  • Published 15.08.18
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A statesman had once said that youth is a blunder, manhood a struggle and old age a regret. In the case of India, a septuagenarian nation - it turns 71 today- the regrets may well be explained by a peculiar set of contradictions. In spite of an impressive growth rate, the country is yet to win its battle against poverty seven decades after its creation. India possesses some of the world's richest ecological hot spots; yet it remains unmindful of the wilful decimation of its environment. Centres of quality education remain out of reach for the dispossessed. The health of this populous country is managed with meagre allocations in the budget. Discrimination on the basis of caste and gender and its attendant violence continue unabated. These failings, undoubtedly, have been shared by every elected dispensation since Independence. Curiously, the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party can stake claim to a unique achievement. No other government has faced such consistent criticism for imperilling the idea of India itself.

The Constitution is the bedrock of Indian democracy. The nation's founding fathers had invested this precious document with such foundational principles as equality, amity and inclusion to guide the then fledgling republic. There is reason to believe that adherence to Constitutional values does not seem to be a priority in New India. The rift between the government and minority communities, which include some of the most vulnerable citizens of the country, is palpable. This cannot be a sign of either equality or inclusion. The genie of communal bigotry seems to have escaped from the bottle too. Data suggest that there has been a marked spike in communal violence ever since the BJP rode to power. Equally discernible has been the ruthless intimidation of dissenters: journalists, politicians, activists and students. There is also concern about the erosion of the autonomy of the court and the media - the pillars of a democracy. This body of evidence can only lead to an unsavoury conclusion: that the dream of India as a robustly democratic, egalitarian and liberal society is under threat. The nation is expected to elect a new government in the near future. That electoral contest would bear political as well as ideological undercurrents. For the citizens would have the crucial responsibility of choosing between two conflicting ideas of India.