Sunday, November 12, 2017

Is the Indian Nation near an inflexion point?

Note: These are my personal views and not those of my employers, Tata Consultancy Services

For a long time, as my earlier articles testify, like many others, I have raised multiple doubts about how the Indian nation does not represent the fair interests of dalits. The quality of representatives given to dalits by the Pune-pact, the systematic ignoring of caste issues in court cases preventing the formation of jurisprudence for caste discrimination law, the lack of differential legal support to secure the legal rights of the disadvantaged have been pointed out by many others too. I had articulated the Manifesto of the common Ambedkarite as my suggested route for emancipation. But things have near a critical inflexion point. Let me explain.

The continuing slide in India's ranking in focusing on the condition of its poorest is being shouted down by loud proclamations about India's increase in the ranking for ease of doing business. Increasing the ease by relaxing the rights of the weak is designed to favor those already doing well. Despite coming to power promising more jobs for all, that does not seem to be a priority. The strategy of this government is to focus on investing in development of the strong, so that trickle-down development occurs for the weak, but the way it is working out is that the weak are being killed off due to the trickle down development not occurring. And the deaths of the weak are being used to justify further investment in the development of the strong, so that the development trickles down. The need to link everything to Aadhar and PAN for all transactions except for high value jewellery is the clearest example of this. Things are designed to transfer wealth from the weak to the strong.

Moreover over recent days, I fear that the nation has taken a turn for the worse. There are multiple dimensions to the malaise. The Chandrashekhar Rawan and Kancha Illiah episodes indicate the deep problems in the executive apparatus. The misapplication of the NSA to a case where the court granted bail placing Mr Rawan in jail, where he may soon die and the placing of Kancha Illiah under house arrest are indicate that Justice is a pipe-dream for the champions of the disadvantaged. The representatives of the majority community, emboldened with three years of power seek to subdue the minorities by force. Given the disarray among the opposition, the Pune-pact and the potential fraud in the electoral process alluded to by many, the emboldening process is only accelerating. The calls for reviewing the constitution and questioning the fundamentals of the constitution are becoming more frequent and strident. But one hoped and wished that the core judiciary was strong and would not let the constitution be put to risk. This article and the whole Justice Karnan episode is representative of the deep problems in the legal apparatus, which make me more worried.

India has so many alternative versions of history, each designed to manufacture a political unity. The Congress has its version, RSS has its own and the BAMCEF has its own. The social media posts questioning all the history that I was taught without providing adequate evidence have made me suspicious of all of these guys. Academic history, previously a handmaiden to the Congress is currently a handmaiden to the RSS and hence a waste of time. I reject all these debatable pasts. The time has come to define political unity by the destination vision. Do we want the Ram-Rajya of the RSS, where different caste partitions of India pursue history determined destinies, or do we want the Begumpura defined by Guru Ravidas, or do we want to pursue to vision laid by our constitution in the real sense? We need crisply designed  destination visions to choose from.

I hope I am wrong, but I suspect that all of us, irrespective of which past-determined formation we are part of, will soon need to choose among a set of alternative destination visions. Some well defined, some-ill-defined and sadly some of the options may be revisions of the constitution. That has been the game of those who have seized power. Be prepared. Think through what you want India to be. Else when the time comes, you might make a wrong choice or you might incorrectly encourage a wrong choice among others.

Bhimrao Ramji Ambedkar...may his tribe increase (a la Abou Ben Adam).


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