Any political alternative in India must have a well-defined ideology
India is at a vulnerable point of time!
In the domestic sphere. In the international arena. Our Prime Minister on a one more US jaunt. His countrymen don’t know for what purpose or goal?
No open articulation, no public opinion building either. Every citizen is in the dark.
An open democracy, an open society should be doing things differently.
Why the system has degenerated?
What else? There is a paucity of talent at the highest level. Leaders are groping in the dark and no one is able to articulate, think or speak or share ideas and opinions. This, in my view, is a dangerous trend.
When we, the people back in the country are reading about the targeted snooping of USA National Security Agency. The Snowden’s latest files revelation shows, reported The Hindu newspaper (September 23, 2013) that among the Bric countries, India tops the list in such .if we can say, illegal and unfriendly manner.
And we see that among the Bric countries the one that took offence at such unfriendly acts is Brazil and the Madam President, after 20 minute conversation, we believe that Obama initiated, the conversation came to an end without the visit taking off. So, the The Economist magazine article concludes we can take it as the summit, long before planned, was called off.
What about India?
We don’t have the guts or even the minimum protest and on the contrary we rush off at the mere mention that our PM might meet only on the “sidelines” a word often used by our diplomats that might mean anything, depending upon your own sense of self-importance or otherwise. So, this is India and it is where we are today in the international arena. Do we have friends and ideological cousins in the outside world? Who they are, if any?
As I see around and survey the world I find no one is outwardly of course discourteous, which would. No one, of course.
But that the same time to any sensible and self conscious Indian of some standing and some pride for being Indian, I find the way our leadership is leading India gives me so many disquiet feelings. For the simple reason I find that India doesn’t have any well-defined or well-definable set of values to stand by. I was almost to say that we have no values to cling by!
Yes, such is the disarray in which India finds itself. First, the unsettling day to day developments. For instance, take the Coalgate files miss case. Where are we now?
Judiciary in India and China
Is the Supreme Court of India independent enough to pursue the case to its logical end. The guilty would be fixed? The guilty would be published?
See what is happening in a supposedly Communist country like China. The high profile Bo Xilai is brought to the open court, the trial was conducted in open court, and he is now punished and given life sentence, hand-cuffed and led away!
Has the world’s most open and biggest democracy ever brought a minister to book?
The two high profile corruption cases today are the 2-G and the Coalgate files missing cases. The whole country is waiting in bated breath, so to say. Where do we go from here? From now to the coming 2014 general elections?
The Opposition BJP party is in a tearing hurry to capture power. Fine. But then there is also emerging dissidence within the Opposition ranks. Mr.Chandrababu Naidu, the Andhra Leader, had met the President of the BJP Mr.Rajnath Singh and the next day he had also met the non-Congress party leaders Mr.Sharad Yadav, the president of the JD (U), the Janata Dal and also the CPI leader and also, the senior Communist leader.
Mr.Naidu is a past master in the negotiations with the Third Front formation and as such many expect Mr.Naidu to forge a Third Front this time too.
The very important point, ideas and thoughts, here before me are: will the Third Front third time produce any viable, real alternative to the Congress and its allies and also to the BJP and its allies?
I have always felt, of course as a long time Congressman myself, that the Indian polity is such, such as it has matured, has also fallen back on some rational political evolution as far as political ideologies are concerned. Yes, the Congress has a long, 128 year history and traditions. In its long innings, first it was petitioning body, then after 1900s, under Dadha Bhia Nowroji, R.C.Dutt it came out with a sense of ideology, the long exploitation of Indian economic resources.
There was a powerful theme. Then came Gokhale and Tilak. This was the second phase. The third phase was when Mahatma Gandhi launched his non-co-operation movement and the breakaway of the three stalwarts who formed the Swarajya Party.
The fourth and last phase, according to my study of events and issues, was the Second World War and the 1942 Quit India movement and the coming of the Cripps mission, finally the partition and freedom. I have been reading a lot lately about the Second World War, the role of the countries and also the two theatres, one in the West, the other in the Far East.
After a recent visit to China and Philippines only I find lots of new information about how the Second World War was fought and won. The role of Japan, China, Philippines, Burma and India.
Here I have so many misgivings. How our freedom fighters failed to negotiate with the British and there is a view, strong view that India should have properly assessed the war as progressed in the South East Asia, America’s role.
If only India had met and negotiated with the Americans, with Roosevelt (as very much wanted by the Chinese sides<Chiang Kei Shek and even Mao who wanted to do so desperately) etc. who knows that India would have remained united today!
Now, why such a long story?
I believe that India, right now, is passing through a poor patch of leadership shortage. India is a mature democracy. Our youngsters of voting age are now in the majority in the population. But they are young. They might not be quite aware of the very seriousness of the trauma that India went thought because of the tragic happening of the India-Pakistan Partition.
There is so much pent-up anger at the very many communal passions. The anti-Muslim sentiment is also on the rise, woing to certain recent developments.
McCarthyism: no reconciliation to issues?
I needn’t elaborate. Also, the 1984 Shikh riots are still there. On the other side, there is no maturity in the present leadership ranks, in both ranks, either to seek reconciliation or some peace initiative. Instead, they talk of temple building or rewarding the suspected rioters.
In this atmosphere, there are also dire warnings from outside the world.
In a recent article, a book review (Frontline, Oct 4, 2013) A.G.Noorani warns about poor diplomacy that led to many disasters. One he refers, reviewing a book on the US diplomat (John Paton Davies Jr) assigned China in the 1930s to Chiang Kai-shek, the Americans didn’t understand and so the Nationalists lost, the Communists won. Even lately, the Taliban wanted to befriend Mac USA but the Americans (Karl Inderurth) spurned and so they went with the Al Quaeda.
The point is that how India should conduct its diplomacy with the USA.
USA can’t be taken for granted, right?
Our PM’s diplomatic skills?
Or, our own diplomatic culture? Mr.Noorani has much to say and it will pay much for the intelligent reader to know and benefit. The point is that the BJP is very McCarthyism, a sort of divisiveness, not for any reconciliation. The Congress party on the other hand is becoming more and more authoritarian, more arbitrary and of course totally undemocratic in its functioning.
No one individual need to be accused, as it is too late in the date. The situation today is such in both the camps. Now, for the Third Front.
I know Mr.Naidu briefly, once I had met in Hyderabad and talked with him when he as the AP CM. I was impressed and my impression to this day is that he is the most balanced leader. So too Mr.Nithish Kumar. There are others too.
Third Front ideology: Janata Dal to recapture the democratic values
The point is that the Third Front must have clear articulations about its basic ideology and also its agenda of action, if it is voted to power. The ideology, if I can say so, is what the original Janata party, and then Janata Dal stood for. To do away with the ills that came to haunt the Congress under Indira Gandhi. To restore the old values, democracy, freedoms, secularism etc. So, a right or left-centrist economics and social agenda. Public- Private Partnership capitalism, of course.
To restore the confidence of the foreign investors. To compete with China in economic growth. Inside India and outside India. Our domestic policy in shambles. Our foreign policy, the less said the better.
India is nowhere in the international scheme of things. On any of the major international issues. Why Indians are shy and tongue-tied all the time?
I have already indicated the nuclear deal can wait after the elections.
So too the pursuit of corruption in high places cases to their logical end. Pass the Lokpal bill, restore Lokayukta to all states. With these commitments if the parties approach the electorate, then, it is, in my opinion, a very credible alternative and agenda.
I hope this articulation finds echoes across the political divide.