A transparent road map
A great country and a great democracy need a well-articulated political philosophy, right?
A realistic foreign policy framework is also called for. These are some of the urgent priorities for India under Mr.Modi who is otherwise stirring the pot, so to say and yet the people seem to be still somewhat confused about the future path for India.
Now, the high profile Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe’s visit and the signing of the 12 billion dollar investment in bullet train and also the civil nuclear deals, let us hope that it all set to grow faster.
When we look at India now, what thoughts come to our minds? Mr.Narendra Modi won an absolute majority and for the first time after 30 years, there is a single party government in Delhi. This is a historic change.
But then Mr.Modi, given the last 19 months of governance what thoughts we have of this period.
For a politician who was given to incessant talking through his election campaign, we find suddenly lately the man is known for his studied or intriguingly deliberate long silences.
This, the PM does, whenever there are flare-ups in the polity. His party members, known as fringe elements have created quite a number of troubles. Many violent acts, communal disturbances and lately Parliament are not functioning. The much-expected faster economic development is held up.
Also, the polity is characterised not by any elevated sense of purpose but diverting issues by communal polarisation. The PM or his colleagues or even party or pariwar intellectuals (there are quite a few, party hoppers or original ideologues are not even talking out, no articulation, no ideology or new insights.
As it is, there is a paucity of ideas, even a poverty of ideas and new thinking in the country. What the PM talks is politics, but it is not high political vision, what Rahul Gandhi is talking is also his own personal concerns.
There is no tradition of serious political philosophies, there are new faces, younger leaders who are well-educated and even scholars and there are very many new political movements, electoral contest, by those who are in their early and late Thirties, as we see in Greece, Spain and even in Poland. We need to create a climate of intellectual interest in high principles of political ideas and political action and electoral contests. This type of new generation politics is not happening in India at present.
This we have to reverse and create a positive environment for creative political thinking and political action.
What stand out today are certain negative features like intolerance and the revolt of the intellectuals. The role and significance and why, even the clear need of intellectuals in shaping the society and public opinion and perceptions is not yet understood in India. More so now, under the new regime. Mahatma Gandhi is somewhat invoked, so too Ambedkar and even Nehru is invoked.
But what is new about the BJP political ideology? Constitution was invoked, secularism was not fully asserted and so too the other basic foundational ideas of democracy, parliamentary system of governance, individual freedoms and of course the economic philosophy.
Does the BJP believe in the capitalist economy, private investment, FDI and a non-exploitative capitalism as we all now believe? Or, is there any trace of left-over democratic socialism or any other versions of socialism or social democracy etc, doctrines of which we see many variations we see in the mature democracies of Western Europe?
The time is now right to understand more about the working of capitalist economic system. It should be a compassionate and caring capitalism.In India today, these ideas are still new and therefore we need a wider debate and discussions.
No debate, no discussions or clarifications or any new articulations from any one of the luminaries.To put it more bluntly, we see a sort of ‘muddling through’ by various hit and miss approach, if we can so put it.
Then, there is whole vast range of social issues from education to health, environment etc. India is a traditional society where certain institutions like castes and religions predominate in many of our modernisation processes.
This calls for a vast research and thought processes, involving fields like sociology, anthropology and even history. India is again a historical case of how a nation and society lost its uniqueness and independence and how colonialism overtook a people and whose very ethos, their own fundamental beliefs we almost destroyed and shuffled out by the process of alienation by an imperialism that left the people impoverished in various ways. Education is again a very important tool in India’s transformation and the study and interpretation of India’s history also calls for intellectuals to do their duty.
Then, one more important area, in my opinion, is foreign policy. Mr.Modi, surprisingly, as soon as he took charge went on a rush of foreign tours and engaged himself with high diplomacy and one single variation is his engagement with the Indian diaspora.Where he made it almost like a well-planned propaganda war and he wanted to show his foreign hosts, from Barack Obama and UK’s Queen Elizabeth he is a very different type of an Indian political leader. All this is fine. And this Modi foreign forays also call for what sort of new foreign policy the new PM wants to put forward before the world nations?
How far taking the overseas Indians as the target groups would help India to become a world power, if at all?
In a recent article (The Hindu, Dec.11, 2015) two professors, one, from Japan and the other from USA, Rohan D’souza and Nissim Mannathukaren, have discussed how the Modi diaspora was organised in San Jose.
Under Pandit Jawaharlal Nehru, when India was relatively backward India mattered in the councils of the nations.The Nehruvian Non-Aligned Policy not only made India the central focus but also helped a large number of Asian and African nations rally round India for a cold war free world.
Mr.Modi is reportedly asking for other nations’ help to get a seat at the UN Security Council? How wise is this an approach and how the other nations can help?
Only those who are innocent can believe that the USA can change things at the UN. The very UN itself is now in decline, almost discredited. In fact, India must now do much of the foreign policy issues for itself. India must engage itself much more purposefully with the global issues. What are the unique Indian solutions to world problems?
How far India has played its role in the many recent issues like climate change conference. In the IS issues.Modi’s foreign forays, his engagement with NRIs, are done in Bollywood style, say the critics. Say the above quoted authors: Zionist Organisation of America (ZOA) helped to organise Modi’s San Jose Indians meet. Zionist groups that one can connect the many dots of Mr.Modi’s penchant for speaking to Indian disaspora.
In fact, Mr.Modi is definitely wrong to imagine that he can win friends and influence people by relying RSS linked Indians who won’t play any role in shaping domestic policy nor help shape the foreign policy. These have to be done here in India by people, concerned citizens. This can be done only by a democratic process and understanding political trends in major countries.
Power of Ideas
And also Mr.Modi must realise that ideas have their power. New ideas and new developments in older democracies, especially in Europe we have to adopt and incorporate the best practices so that Indian polity becomes progressive and in tune with the times.
War and Peace are very big areas where India has a good image, as being the land of Gandhi and Nehru. But then, in our own times what is new and what is big in India’s global policy front?
We have to revive many of the defunct instittutions, like the Indian Council for Foreign Affairs and also constitute many new groups for regions and come out with innovative ideas and proposals.
For instance, I was in Nepal not long ago and I saw the SAARC headquarters and I want in an found out their work. Very modest.
One thought ran through my mind when I was in Kathmandu, Nepal.
Asian countries in our post-Independent period, also more recently, there had been many upheavals, democratic government failed; dictatorships took various shape and people suffered.
Why not India moot as proposal to create a SAARC Parliament on the lines of European Parliament? Perhaps on an annual basis for discussing some broad democratic governance, economic development, environment etc.
At last some non-contentious issues like strengthening the democratic values, democratic roots, from running an independent Election Commission to registering and running parties and party funding, press freedom etc.
I am sure over the year’s people in these countries; all of them our neighbours would realise and appreciate our initiatives such as these. Even in the West, why, even in South East Asian countries there will be a resonance for such ideas. I was in Cambodia and Philippines and I found there are concerns about China’s rise and they all look forward to see India as a counterweight. Even Japan is concerned.
There is no end to innovation and there are always concerns over security, fear of aggression and also a search for collective security by small nations. Of course we have to engage with the big power, with the USA and Russia and other countries.
But then strong nations once thought they are strong only in terms of military power and economic strength. Now, the world seems to have changed.USA under Obama is very changed. No more military power alone matters.USA is very reluctant to engage in military action in Syriya. Russia and now Germany have sent the military to Syria.UK is also there.
But these are only limited interventions.
Diplomacy is also very powerful weapon.
Why not India plays a very active and activist role?
Be active and engaged.
India is world’s largest democracy. But then we have to match that claim with our global engagement.
What is Mr.Modi’s vision for India?
Or, for that matter what was the foreign policy vision of the Congress?
I would rather say that India must articulate the world issues more insightfully. Here I find a great lacunae and we seem to be satisfied with what we are doing right now. No, this won’t done.
We have to identify great Indian minds and the intellects and public faces and send them out as our ambassadors, diplomats for specific purposes.
In sum, Indian polity now cries for clarity of vision and a new sense of mission to make Indian democracy, with fairness to all sections of people, the Opposition parties are inspired by the fairness and due process of law.