Saturday, February 12, 2005

Developmental Issues In India

This essay deals with the subject of the developmental problems facing India; because of the length of the essay it will be broken down into parts. The parts that make up the broad subject area will be a) Political, b) Economic, c) Social, d) Other general and e) conclusion. The principal motivation for writing this essay is to collate my own thoughts upon the subject area, as well as lay out my thoughts in the open so that they may be subject to criticism, remarks, suggestions etc. Most of the essay is based upon my own reading, thinking and observation; however, direct experience is totally absent. Because of this serious deficiency the ideas expressed and conclusions drawn maybe incorrect. It may turn out that my observations and understanding itself maybe incorrect because of innate biases and prejudices. Therefore, serious constructive criticism is most welcome and will be invaluable.

Part I: Political-

Although the present Indian political system consists of numerous political parties, in the broad sense it looks like there is a two party system in place. The Congress and its allies make up one of them and the BJP and its allies make up the other. The Congress party labels itself and its allies as "Secular" parties, implying therefore that the BJP and its allies are "non-secular". Thus, there exists a dichotomy of ideology in the Indian political setup.
For almost forty years the Congress party was in power. It parented the socialist policies that impeded our nation’s growth and which made our economy chug along at the so-called "Hindu rate of growth". Corruption in government became a way of life and this and some other factors led to the criminalization of politics. It seems to me that preserving democracy was the lone great achievement (of course Indira Gandhi did become a little adventurous at one point) during the Congress’s time in power. Mr. Nehru and his advisors/planners must be given a lot of credit for this, especially when you realize the serious challenges faced by our country in those times. There is no country that obtained or became free at the same time we did that is democratic or has the semblance of growth that we have today. I am beginning to realize that it was no simple thing to fend of the challenge that the US posed, through its CIA and other agencies, in many ways during the 60’s and 70’s. Most of the credit for this surely belongs to the bureaucrats rather than the politicians.
The party itself is full of hypocrites and sycophants who seem to have a greater talent at bootlicking and sloganeering rather than at creating and implementing effective policy. It is said that this is the first time in India’s democratic history that the locus of power lies outside of the prime minister. Sonia Gandhi being at the center of power makes that extremely shameful for all of us. The ministerial positions are occupied by the same old geriatrics that implemented socialistic policy! Hoping for anything good from them is only self-deception and na├»ve.
The BJP and its allies were in power for only about 6 years. The BJP tries to build its support base through what it calls "Hindutva"; and ofcourse it is the political front of the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS). Being a Hindu (although agnostic but a proud one) and seeing things like the rampant conversions by christian missionaries and such other, make one tend to have a soft corner for the Sangh Parivar. Although on the face of it, it seems like they are doing a lot of good, I have some lurking misgivings about the Parivar. I am beginning to suspect that they bring up the Hindutva notion because that is their sole source for achieving power. Ideologies have never fed people and they never will. The Sangh Parivar demands conformity to its views and it may turn out to be like the diabolical conformity that the Nazis demanded. Moreover, who are they to be laying sole claim to the great religion and way of life of Vedanta and Hinduism? I am also reasonably convinced of their involvement in the murder of Mohandas Gandhi; that they deny as well as produce ideological justification for that act is most appalling. Because of all this I am of the opinion that the Sangh Parivar is a threat to the democratic and culturally diverse development of India.
Both the parties are led by very old men; it is many other old men all beyond their 70’s who are influential within the parties. Right from the lowest local levels their politicians and political leaders ("netas") hold decadent sway over society. So what options do we, common people like you and me have? On one hand we have a sycophant cabal that anoints a foreign lady as a sole authority over the fates of a billion people and on the other we have conforming ideologues who want to morally police us.
Can we hope for wide ranging, effective development that gives our nations’ citizens the quality of life and opportunities they crave? I think not. We cannot hope to achieve our aspirations and see the level of development that we want to see as long as the present groups govern us.

(Note: There might be a delay in posting the remaining parts because of academic pressures)

1 comment:

Sridhar said...

Nice one. Eagerly looking for the remaining parts. I think that if the political parties differ in state government and central government it will also hinder the developments in the state due to lack of cooperation between the parties. I am not sure how the democracy works in other countries. Do they also have different political parties in each state? Do they also have chief minister and prime minister positions?