If the age-old saying “united we stand, divided we fall” is the basic mantra that holds a nation together, Indians have the least such spirit in their thoughts and doings. In ancient times it was the Kings and Kingdoms that divided us. Then it was the turn of invaders and occupiers to keep us divided. Among the occupiers, it was the British that excelled in their ‘brilliant’ ways of divide and rule. And when an opportunity presented before us to have our own government, we drafted a constitution that segregates Indians into majorities, minorities, scheduled castes, scheduled tribes and what not. Though our constitution makers were kind enough to provide at least some directive principles to work towards national integration, the subsequent law makers rivalled one another in further dividing the society for their own gains. With the latest amendments to our constitution, Indian nation and Indians stand completely divided socially and economically into forward castes, backward castes and even other backward castes. Democracy as practised in India has failed as a form of ideal government for a billion strong people who have the cultural and economic potential to ‘rule’ the whole world. Instead we are fast degenerating into a country where anything can be done at anytime anywhere by anyone, either Indian or foreign. Quite ironically, the only factor that unites Indians now is the physical fear from Pakistan and China.
Politics of Divide
If the colonial British were past masters in their patented policy of ‘divide and rule’, the subsequent breed of Indian politicians peer in the degenerative policy of ‘divide and win elections’. It goes to the negative credit of Indian politicians that none of them have ever presented a draft bill in the parliament which will treat all Indians as equal before any piece of legislation. There are always preambles to divide Indians on the basis of region, religion and nowadays castes. The concepts of minorities and secularism, which are integral parts of western democratic systems, are creating havoc in Indian nation as square pegs in round holes. If all Indians are to be treated as equal in every respect, where is the need and relevance of special provisions for minorities? And if all religions are equal and the Indian nation has no conventional religion of its own, what is the logic of secularism? The only class of people who are interested in these divisive concepts are the politicians and that too for winning the elections. And once elected, these ‘secular’ politicians forget the common man and vie with one another to get maximum benefit for their religion, family and region.
The current politics of divide in India can be overcome only by electoral reforms. If the viewpoint of every one is to be reflected in the parliament, there should be representatives from all sections of the society. The best way to achieve this is to go in for proportional representation. The monopoly influence of some sections over electoral politics, which is nothing but getting votes by hook or crook, is shunning popular voice to be heard in our parliament. Family politicians and professional politicians are nothing but the visible forms of undesirable developments in our electoral system. If major political parties are allotted seats in the parliament proportionate to the votes they could garner, we can expect to have representation from all sections of the society. There would be no need for the state to enact laws reserving seats for women or dalits. It would be upto to the political parties to do so and they will be forced to do it. The only aspect that needs to be ensured is to have regular democratic elections within these parties. And why not make it mandatory to use the same Election Commission to ensure free, fair and periodic elections in each of the recognised political parties? The populist politics of divide can be eradicated once for all from our country in no time.
Pride the Past
There are certain basic facts about successful nationhood that many ‘learned’ Indians do not want to accept. One of them is the pride factor about our own past. Even a small country like Japan could literally rise from ashes after the nuclear holocaust only and only because of their immense pride about their past. It is not that everything about Japan in the past was good and golden. They too had their own self-defeating customs and cultural debacles. But all of them are always proud about the good aspects of their great history. In psychology we have established that no human being without self-respect can become a successful one. Similar is the case with nations. Unless and until all Indians, irrespective of their present status, feel proud about the positive elements of our 5000 or more years old history, India cannot regain its rightful leadership among world nations. Those who do not respect themselves can never expect others to respect them.
For many Indians, the major stumbling block in feeling proud about an ancient India is the religious aspect of it. This can easily be overcome if we realise the simple fact that Hinduism is only a way of life, quite unlike the other established religions which are organised and well defined. For an all inclusive Hindu way of life, anyone who is worthy of being worshipped is considered an incarnation and Ishwar is present in everything animate or inanimate. That is exactly why India and Indians had no inhibitions, nor reservations in receiving messengers, missionaries and migrants from any part of the world. For an impartial observer there is nothing that is objectionable about ancient India in how it treated all the foreign ideologies and men. Indian shores always welcomed new ideas and ideologies, unlike many other nations that are still reluctant to open up. The knowledge based society of ancient India was so proud about its rationality and robustness that it never had any fears about its sustainability. Even today there are plenty of novel ideas lying unexplored in our ancient texts for anyone willing to research with an open mind. All that is required is a bit of pride about our own past.
India and China were at the same ‘bus-stop’ of opportunities twenty years back. Both had the same potential and resources to excel, and India had the added advantage of more exposure to international skills. When the bus of developed nations came by, we refuse to climb claiming so many excuses. Our leftists had problem with the colour of the bus, some influential sections had problem with the driver and some other sections had reservations on the conductor. The communist but nationalistic leaders of China had no such problems. In the interest of their nation, they were determined to get in and take their rightful place inside the bus. What is it that is missing in our political leadership, but found in abundance in countries like China, Japan and Germany? It is not knowledge, skills or expertise. It is only the national spirit and love for the nation.