Monday, March 21, 2011

And so it goes. But whither?

Admit it or not, like it or not, India is still in a loosely federated semi-feudal flux. At the centre rules a royal family anointed by history. Currently, there’s a much maligned puppet regent. The various states (erstwhile “provinces” and “princely states”) are now fiefdoms – some of them supporting and others hostile in varying degrees to the central rule. There are pockets of armed revolts notably in the North East, Kashmir and the Naxal corridor. Frankly, things haven’t changed much since the days of the British Raj. There has only been a transfer of power from the departing British to their chosen Indian successors: the English- speaking middle class and crony capitalists. Some of these worthies insist that India is a successful working democracy despite evidence to the contrary. Fortunes are being made by hook or crook and the guilty seldom get punished. Juggad (innovative resourcefulness, improvisation, ingenuously devised jerry-rigged solution finding), resilience and survival tactics are much valued in a situation of perpetual shortage of wherewithal particularly among the less affluent. The recent WikiLeaks about the Congress Party buying votes to get the Parliament’s nod for the Indo-US nuclear pact on 22 July 2008 give a surreal tinge to what goes on in this country. Is the tsunami of corruption, abuse of political and economic power the tsunami of corruption of frightening proportions, ongoing abuse of political and economic power, unbridled private expropriation of public wealth with government collusion, lack of access – particularly for the poor – to public services and, last but not the least, ever-present terrorism and militancy as a reaction to the unbearable injustice of it all turning India into a full-fledged banana republic? Is the “India Shining” hubris of Middle India also a major contributing factor? Take a guess.