Mask of an Indian Political Identity

What is the distinctiveness of Indian politics and the political individuality of an Indian; similar to Democrats and Republicans in the US or the Conservative and the Labour party in the UK? The crisis of this missing identity is rooted in a sharp disconnect between high aspirations and low endeavour made by the people. On one side, people take on combative posture to express their thirst for change, while on the other; they are arrogant and hell-bent on hanging on to personal status quo.

India is an ideological regime reflected in her official characterisation – SOVEREIGN SOCIALIST SECULAR DEMOCRATIC REPUBLIC. India calls herself a “republic” but renders the term ambiguous through modifiers. A “republic” is “sovereign” and a “republic” is “democratic.” The double-barrel modifier “sovereign-secular” renders the term “democratic-republic” meaningless. The term “socialist” makes India an ideology-based regime. The pretension behind all these labels is that rather than being the art of solving the problems of people, politics is a means of advancing the real or imagined goals of an ideology.

Political identity of India is based in synthetic myths of recent coinage. From being a SOVEREIGN DEMOCRATIC REPUBLIC in 1950, India changed to SOVEREIGN SOCIALIST SECULAR DEMOCRATIC REPUBLIC through the 42nd amendment to the Constitution made in 1976. This genesis for this change lies in the period of “Internal Emergency” when the Constitution of India was suspended and held hostage to the autocratic rule of late Mrs Indira Gandhi. The change was made during the democratic vacuum left with all the political leaders imprisoned, a space the Communist Party of India filled with little difficulty.

Unlike classical revolutions that witness genuine and often prolonged conflict between opposing ideologies, the Indian revolution making a transition from SOVEREIGN DEMOCRATIC REPUBLIC to SOVEREIGN SOCIALIST SECULAR DEMOCRATIC REPUBLIC happened so quickly and so easily as to deprive even its leaders from the possibility of creating a revolutionary biography for themselves.

Another thing the Indian regimes had is that they did not depend on income from taxation, and therefore they could regard their people as expensive and bothersome extras. Further, India is the founder of the so-called Non-Aligned Movement. NAM was established in 1961 in Belgrade, Yugoslavia through an initiative of the Indian Prime Minister Jawaharlal Nehru and the Yugoslav President Josip Broz Tito. In such context India had retained some memory of the Cold War as regime sympathetic to the Soviet bloc and opposed to the so-called Free World led by the United States. The umbrella term for the NAM hodgepodge is “Third Worldism,” which means presenting Western democracies as enemies while trying to benefit from the economic, social and cultural possibilities they offer.

The successive Congress regimes had hated the American “Great Satan” but the Congress leaders sent their children to the US for study and their old ones for medical treatment. Many top leaders and officials of the Indian Republic have their money, often ill-gotten, laundered through Swiss banks and hold properties in the UK.

Indian regimes have created a rent-seekers class – people who live from the rents they charge, rather than from labour – whose chief function is to provide at least the illusion of a popular base for them as the inheritors of Gandhi legacy and as “family of martyrs.”

Indian regimes have failed to develop credible and enduring institutions capable of arbitrating conflicts and clashes of ideas and interests inherent in every human society. This is why the outcome of India’s current crises depends on the confrontation between the “chowkidaars” and the “country-fathers.”

That is what happens to what one might call “short-term” socio-political systems from the Nehruvian India (Non-aligned magnanimity) to the Shastri’s India (Jai Jawan Jai KIsan); from Indira’s India (Garibi Hatao, Indira Lao-Desh Bachao) to Morarji’s India (Ek Sherni, Sau Langur, Chikmagalur, chik….); from Rajiv’s India (Jab tak sooraj Chand rahega, Indira tera naam rahegaa) to VP Singh’s India (Gali gali mein shor hai..) and so on.  All such “short-term” identities end in a span of time that must be regarded as brief in broader historic terms. In them, everything is intense, everything including the inevitable fall.

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Published by

Mukul Gupta

*Educator, researcher, author and a friendly contrarian* Professor@MDIGurgaon

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