1399 words Essay on India – A Nation in Crisis

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India today is going through a period of tremendous turbulence. The old consensus has broken down, the momentum of the freedom movement has petered out and a new equilibrium has not yet reached. There is a complex set of political, economic, social and psychological factors with some very disturbing manifestations.

The growth of violence in our society is most unfortunate, whether it is individual crime collective acts of violence, terrorism or violence of that nature. Religious and caste factors are assuming menacing proportion. Instead of becoming great healing, soothing and uplifting thoughts which the great religions of the world should be, they are still a divisible factor.

Assassinations have played have with our leadership; they have changed the face for Indian politics. In fact, the four basic assumptions on which the Indian State was founded – democracy, socialism, secularism and non-alignment – are all in various stages of collapse.

Indian democracy is a tremendous experiment – the growth of political awareness in India has been fantastic. Wherever you go today, whether it is a remote hamlet in Madhya Pradesh, a village in Ladakh, or an Island in Lakshadweep – the people of India have been drawn into the democratic processes. It is also quite significant that Indian women have played a remarkable role in the freedom movement. All this is certainly true.

Also, our democracy did give us until recently stability in the Centre and smooth transfers of power. However, 9th, 10th, 11th, 12th, 13th, and 14th Look Sabha have not been given a clear-cut majority, as a result of which we have a coalition government in a row. Democracy, of course, is all about majority rule. Therefore, this is a serious development. The growing violence in our elections, private mafias that have now grown up in industrial centres in many of the States is also matters of deep concern. If you are going to deprive or deny the common people of India the opportunity to vote freely, then surely to that extent you erode the legitimacy of the entire democratic system.

There is the growing clout of money power in elections. In panchayats elections, in assembly elections, in parliamentary elections, lakhs and crores of rues are spent. Where foes all this money come from? If you use black money for the elections, you are poisoning at the source other very springs of your democratic polity. How then do you expect to have an honest government or an honest polity? Corruption today in India has become not only acceptable; it has virtually become an accepted way of life.

We have to become one of the most corrupt societies anywhere in the world. This corruption now has reached proportions where it is menacing and threatening out democracy itself, because money power really makes a mockery of free rigging even on a state-wise basis and growing violence, the situation in our democracy is a dangerous one. If these trends are allowed to continue, it can well result in the erosion of the acceptability, credibility and legitimacy of our democratic process.

If we continue to have a hung Parliament, then we may even have to consider moving into a different type of system, either the French system or a new evolution of the Indian democratic system.

In India, there are still areas which are extremely poor; there is grinding poverty in many areas. According to NSSO’s latest 55th round survey, poverty ratio is estimated at 27.9 in rural areas, 23.62% in urban areas and 26.10% for the country as a whole. Through the latest survey reveals a significantly reduced number of poor, at about 260 million of the total inability to check the population explosion. This has been one of the great disasters and tragedies of free India.

In 1951, in the first census taken after independence, our population was 361 millions. In 1991, it was 860 millions and was growing at the rate of over a million people a month, crore and a half of people every year. According to Census 2001, our population is 1027015247. India will overtake China as the world’s most populous country by 2030. Five years earlier than was previously expected.

That is, we are adding one Australia every year to our population. How are we going to abolish poverty? All this talk of poverty abolition and reservations in jobs – what meaning does it have when you have millions of people coming into the job market every year, and you are unable to provide for them? We still have 1, 00,000 villages in India with no drinking water.

Why our social revolution is remains unfinished? Why is it even today that there are temples neither where Harman’s are nor allowed Togo? It is a shame and a disgrace.

We need a cultural revolution, but not in the Maoist sense. Not in the destructive, negative sense of China. Bit in the creative sense of the Indian renaissance, he sort of revolution that took place in Bengal in the middle of the 19th century – with Raja Ram Mohan Roy, Keshab Chandra Sen and Ishwar Chandra Vidyasagar, with Bhandarkar and Ranade and other great reformers with people like Bal Gangadhar Tilak and Sri Aurobindo, the great seers and visionaries, with Vivekananda and Ramakrishna. That is the sort of renaissance that we require if we are going to build a truly great country.

Unfortunately the word ‘secularism’ has been taken out of context. Secularism in Europe was born out of the conflict between the Church and the State: Render unto Ceaser what is Ceaser’s render unto God what is God’s. What we really mean, what Mahatma Gandhi meant, was “Sarva Dharma Smabhava” – equal respect for all religions.

Four of the world’s great religions were born in India – Hinduism, Jainism, Buddhism and Sikhism; and four great religious came to us from West Asia – the religion of Zarathushtra, the prophet of Iran, the religion of Moses, Judaism, Christianity and Islam. Christianity came to India a thousand years before it reached Europe and 1500 years before it reached America. So this is a nation with a pluralistic tradition.

We have to always nurture a multiplicity of faiths – “Ekam Sat Viprah Bahudha Vedanta” – as the Rig Veda says. The truth is one, the wise called it by many names. But, unfortunately secularism has been interpreted in a negative way. Inter-religious, inter-faith impulses are built into many of us. But what is happening today is that there is again a sharp and growing confrontation on the basis of religion. This is something which is extremely dangerous.

Superimposed upon that, as if we did not have enough problems already, some of our nation conceived of India as a multi-religious society, where all religions would flourish important, ultimately erode and become a personal matter. On the contrary, what has happened is, caste and religion are becoming major political factors.

We have to use religion in a creative manner. The message of religion is love, compassion and harmony and helpfulness, not conflict. If you once again go back to the age of jehads, crusades and dharmayuddhas, we will tear apart the fabric of this nation. Therefore, secularism needs a total restatement in a much more positive form.

Finally, the fourth pillar of our polity is non-alignment. When it was started by Jawaharlal Neheru, President Tito and President Nasser in the fifties, the world was poarised and there was the necessity for a third path. There was no reason why the newly freed colonial countries should line up like in the Mahabharata either, with the karakas or the Pandavas.

There was third option provided to call themselves members of the non-aligned movement. But now nonalignment does not exist because non-alignment assumed a bipolar world which has disappeared.

But that does not mean that India does not have a role to play in the world affairs. Her size, her cultural continuity, her extraordinary vivacity and pluralism make it important that India should play a role. She should play that role in the entire world but much more in SAARC. SAARC must become much more significant than it is today.

So, we have democracy, socialism, secularism and non-alignment in varying degrees of collapse. Our system needs wide-ranging upgrading and modernisation on many fronts. There have been many amendments to the Constitution. But more and more people seem to feel that instead of piece-meal amendments there should be an attempt to look at eh whole Constitution again.


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