Tuesday, September 12, 2017

Spondy, a short story

He understood the duplicities of human nature but never retaliated. Instead, he developed a serene-scornful smile as a shield against hurt.

Juggernaut Books

All Reviews for Spondy

VISWESWARAIAH: Excellent reading. Great writing, Randeep Wadehraji
P M Ganapati: A moving tale! Start to end, the pace is astonishing. And the finale is heart-wrenching. You will not be able to easily forget the protagonist Shashank - yes, I cannot call him by the name the traitor Dev has given. Excellent read!
Aarathi Iyer: The style of writing is highly captivating! The feelings of the main character Shashank has been depicted so well that one can relate to those emotions without just judging him on the basis of the allegations against him. I enjoyed reading it!
Santanu: This is the story of a brave man's struggles, written in incisive prose that takes us alongside the protagonist in a journey of discovery of the human nature ... it is a sad story made even more poignant by the fact that everything Randeep Wadehra writes seems so true. At the end, I couldn't but wonder why humans had to be so imperfect creations of Mother Nature
Bhawani Cheerath: An extremely sensitive portrayal of a life. The author has scored on effectiveness by choosing to make his sentences extremely brief at points, with a telling effect. While the human angst is conveyed the story does not weigh you down, but carries you along with the character sharing his experiences, keeping cynicism away. A craft that needs to be appreciated. More than just a 'Good Read'.
Amarjit: Excellent read... mesmerised!
Suresh Kumar: A unique writing touching upon our feelings in the course of life. It is a novel conception attempted by Waderaji. I wish well.
SITARAMAN K S: I was reading the life story of a good friend of mine in your words.
Srini Mohan: Wadhera does it again..to the Reader: carry to his virtual world
Narendran: Good story. Loved it. Liked the writing style of Mr.Wadehra.
Ramesh: Very poignant. I just loved the writing style. Hope to read more from this author.
Vivek Kumar: Nice play with words. The writer lays bare the human emotions.
Venkatakrishnan Ramachandran: Nicely written. Kudos to the author
N Kannan: Very poignant story. Reflective of real life. Great writing. The end was very moving.
Ganesan S: It is such a gripping narrative touching on the medical professions questionable ethics and the behaviour of all around you in the face of adversity. Very touching!
Km Subramanian: well written and makes for good reading. i strongly recommend
James Joseph: The author has literally lived through the trials and tribulations of the anti hero and that makes it engrossing
Ravikumar: A heart wrenching story, well written.
Srinivasan: Quite poignant. Very well written. The end was superb and touching. More such stories are welcome.
Saurabh: well written ... Enjoyed it !!
kaizad inspector: love it
Davinder: Trying to imagine how difficult it would be for an actor to portray such emotions, Wisps of smoke from joss sticks whorled their way to the ceiling, hit the languid fan, twirled away to hover on his serene-scornful face. The smile played up his luminous calmness, enlivened his lifeless lips. Nice character/pain description. Very interesting & repeat worthy read
C P RAVINDRANATH: Excellent piece of writing. The flow of thoughts is like the waters of a river: seamless. The imagery is superb. I enjoyed it as much as I did his earlier work "The Mangoman in the Republic of Bananas". Anticipating more such contributions from his stable.
r p subramamian: This is a powerful, deeply moving tale. The protagonist's story is one of great pain, physical and emotional, yet one of love and limitless courage too: narrated softly, starkly, like a Japanese water colour rendered with the finest of brushes. Brilliant.
Bindu Dighe: Very interesting and good
Harikumar: A straightforward story. I liked the narrative style as much as the message. Keep on writing; I want more of your stories.
Sangita Sahni: It seems so real...... As if every scene is playing in front of my eyes. Very well written.. All the best
Seema: Crisp narrative. Powerful imagery. Devastating critique of human nature. Extremely moving. Couldn't stop tears from flowing.
Umang Mehrotra: Enjoyed reading it!

copyright © juggernaut

Wednesday, August 9, 2017

Rediscover political morality and stem the rot


Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s intentions, patriotism and financial probity cannot be doubted. However, he will have to take ruthless steps against the spreading malaise in the party – which might well spread into the government.

दुर्वलस्य वलं राजा वालानां रोदनं वलम्  
वलं मूर्खस्य मौनित्वं चौराणामनृतं वलम्  

durvalasya valam raajaa vaalaanaam rodanam valam 

valam moorkhasya maunitvam chauraanaamanrutam valam 

King is the power of powerless, crying is the power of children, silence is the power of the fool and deceit is the power of thieves.
(From Chanakya Neeti)

Governance of a country requires effective systems and structures in place. For that, primarily but not solely, we have to have a Constitution that systemizes the government functioning, and spells out the rules, rights and duties for the government and the governed. Our Sanskrit texts have underscored the significance of Rajdharma on various occasions and in different scriptures. In today’s context, we can roughly translate Rajdharma as political morality, which has not been defined anywhere and yet we instinctively know when a politically unethical/immoral act has taken place. We all know that political morality is essential for the credibility of not just a political party but the entire superstructure of governance. Public opinion, societal belief systems and norms help ensure personal, social and political morality.  It is not only about individuals but also organizations, institutions and agencies that make up a polity.
Although corruption was embedded in our political system ab initio, the towering presence of stalwarts like Mahatma Gandhi, Nehru, Rajagopalachari, Rajendra Prasad, Ambedkar and many others kept the rot in check for a considerable period. Gradually, scruples in the political space evaporated under the heat of power and pelf. Although corruption’s benchmarks are difficult to identify, circa 1980 probably became the watershed year when Haryana CM Bhajan Lal, along with his entire cabinet, defected from Janata Party to Indira Gandhi’s Congress(I). One recalls how there was plenty of all-round amusement – occasionally bubbling into mirth – but hardly any outrage, except among partisans of the affected party. The indulgent media merely stopped at giving currency to the ‘aya ram, gaya ram’ jumla, tempering it with preachy and inconsequential op-eds. Since then, India’s politics and polity have come full circle with Nitish Kumar’s deft somersaults away-from-and-back into the BJP fold. He remains unfazed by Lalu Yadav’s colourful ‘palturam’ comment. But that should be the least of our problems because Lalu is no saint.

Nitish’s political promiscuity is only a symptom of the larger malaise which has gripped India’s body politic. No political party is free of this malaise. It is now a commonplace phenomenon to watch party bosses herd their flocks and sequester them into five-star resorts and hotels to thwart poaching by rivals on the eve of a crucial vote in a legislature, as it had happened in Tamil Nadu and, more recently, in Gujarat.
Politics in India has reached a stage where every political party applies ethical values to the actions of others but ignores its own. Politicians change ideological colours and political loyalties – not out of conviction but the compulsion to either stay in power or grab power from rivals. If you are already entrenched, you use means fair and foul, generally foul, to extend the entrenchment. If you are raring to get entrenched, obviously every deception, lie and crime become legitimate weapons for the purpose. This was a regular feature during the Congress Raj, and now it has become the hallmark of the Modi-Shah duo’s style of political functioning, be it in the Northeast, Uttarakhand, South India, Bengal or Delhi. The BJP has shed its traditional image of being the party with a difference.

We cannot dismiss the shenanigans as being of limited consequence. It is like the aftermath of a nuclear explosion – the ionising radiation causes pervasive decay and destruction. Since the BJP is now the ruling party, we must bring it under the scanner. One could accuse BJP, nay the entire Sangh Parivar, of being communal, regressive and fascist-neo-Nazi in outlook but one always admired its members of being scrupulously honest who practised principled politics. There were many who praised the RSS for its discipline and humanitarian work during natural calamities. Ever since the BJP has come to power, certain illusions have been shattered. We are now witnessing a radically different entity. The wheeling-dealing culture, which caused the INC’s fall, is now very much a part of the BJP’s practices. The way MLAs and MPs are purchased or browbeaten into joining/supporting the ruling party shows that the quest for absolute power has overwhelmed the conscientious adherence to scruples.

The consequences have been terrible. Many corrupt and criminal elements have infiltrated into the party. These will insidiously gnaw at the party’s vitals and ultimately push it into the quagmire of helplessness that would not differ from the one in which the Indian National Congress finds itself today. Another trend that has been gaining ground – to every right-thinking Indian’s horror – is the application of the ‘victimhood narrative’ to avenge real or imaginary injustices and persecutions in the distant past. The violence against defenceless – mostly poor – persons can spiral out of control, not because of any popular endorsement of such bestiality but because once the perpetrators realise that not only can they get away with murder but also lionised for such acts (this happened in too many places) by the party’s members, they will assert themselves more brazenly. And once the monster tastes power there is no knowing where it will end. Let us not forget that, no matter how you justify it, no terror can be virtuous; and you cannot enforce virtue through terror.

Witness the decay of Pakistani polity in the neighbourhood. It was supposed to be the land of and for the pure. The purity was supposed to come through virtuous living as prescribed in the Islamic scriptures. Gradually, coercion was used to tame the recalcitrant. When it failed to bear the desired results, terror became the ultimate instrument of enforcement. Now criminals are calling the shots there. Violence against the vulnerable minority groups, especially Shias and Ahamadiyas, is the new normal. And now that the worm there has begun to turn, a state of civil war prevails. To make matters worse, Hafiz Sayeed of the Jamaat-ud-Dawa notoriety has now set up a new party called Milli Muslim League, to be led by veteran JuD official Saifullah Khalid with the purpose of establishing in Pakistan 'a real Islamic and welfare state'.

Do we want a similar situation in India? It took the Indian State’s entire might to push back the separatist surge triggered by Bhindranwale – who represented a community that is not even 2% of the total population. But what would be the consequences if a Hindutva demagogue of similar charisma rises from among the rabble that is terrorising the contemporary India’s streets?

Something good is happening too. Thanks to the Modi regime, the nation is experiencing unprecedented positive transformation through long overdue reforms. We are witnessing streamlining of governance that will be more responsive to the citizens’ needs. Ways and means of introducing financial rectitude in the entire governance system are being introduced and regularly reviewed and fine-tuned. Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s intentions, patriotism and financial probity cannot be doubted. However, he will have to take ruthless steps against the spreading malaise in the party – which might well infect the government. Be it Chandigarh or Fatehabad or Maharashtra, not to mention Bihar, Gujarat, Jharkhand, UP and Rajasthan, the virus of entitlement is spreading. Some of the party’s powerful politicians and their progeny have behaved like neo-colonists. This virus must be stamped out before it becomes contagious.

Finally, some food for thought for the INC and its so-called liberal-secular allies: Have these parties lived up to the ideals of liberal secularism? If not, then what went wrong and where and why? What are the corrective steps needed to rejuvenate secularism in our polity? How and why has the ‘communal party’, BJP, become so popular today that it appears invincible? You cannot be dismissive about the successes of the Modi-Shah duo, they are gradually winning over those for whom the BJP was an ogre. You owe it to the country to purge all the decadence within the Congress Party, to rejuvenate the Gandhian-Nehruvian ideals and become a credible Liberal-Secular challenge to the Right Wing Conservative BJP. If you fail, history and coming generations will never forgive you.

We, the People of India, are watching the political shenanigans with a critical eye. Mend your ways, dear neta log, otherwise, you all will be cast into history’s trashcan via the ballot box.

Thursday, July 13, 2017

Petals in the breeze

This is where petals frolicked 
Pink clouds fluffed up
In the breeze 
A glance said it all
Amid kaleidoscopic silences

Time stifles the glances
Sun rays ricochet off dark shards
Of the shattered kaleidoscope
Pierce through crimson clouds
Air stands still

I wait for the petals
To break into a breezy frolic
And give my world
Its cerise hues again

Friday, June 30, 2017

Liberals in disarray, but is it the bigots’ last hurrah?

Religious bigotry as an instrument of politics made its presence felt during the final stages of India’s struggle for freedom. Jinnah, a liberal and non-practicing Muslim, injected the virus of bigotry into politics, resulting in India’s partition. While religious bigotry assumed monstrous proportions in Pakistan, India remained a shining example of secular co-existence for almost six decades. But gradually the virus started infecting our body politic too. Caste and language based chauvinism has been buffeting our polity ever since 1947, but the Khalistan movement marked the advent of religious bigotry in a big way. Immediately thereafter the Babri Masjid violence heralded the Hindu bigot’s arrival in the country’s political mainstream.

Is Liberal India now heading towards its grave or will it return rejuvenated in all its pristine glory? Are we witnessing Hindu bigotry’s nascent stages or is the sudden spike in communal violence in recent months bigotry’s last hurrah?   

It all began with assaults on JNU and other prominent educational institutions. The purpose was to carve out a niche for the hitherto marginalised ideology in crucial opinion-making sectors of our polity, and wipe out rival ideologies from the campuses. If, in the bargain, anarchy prevails, so be it.

Of late, attacks on persons belonging to minority communities, especially Muslims, have become endemic – rivalled only by the violence against Dalits. Not that these were absent during the pre-Modi era, but now its character has changed. Be it flogging of Dalits in Una or killing of Ikhlaq, Junaid and several others – excesses are being committed by a new breed of criminals who can only be described as “non-state actors” or “deniable associates”. They appear to have blessings of powerful elements within the current political establishment.

Fortunately, India’s liberal DNA is irreplaceable and indestructible. Whenever aberrations in the form of illiberal practices, coercion and violence marred our polity, its strong liberal-democratic ethos took corrective actions to set things right. Witness the post-Emergency ouster of Indira Gandhi’s regime. This ethos dates back to our hoary past when interaction between the temporal and the spiritual generated enduring, deep-rooted liberal values. In modern times, common Indians instinctively understand that liberalism is vital for regulating the competing aspirations in such a manner that individual self-interest becomes compatible with the larger social good. But, various regimes since independence have been unable to meet these aspirations in full.

After our independence, the reformist culture, first introduced and nurtured by the likes of Raja Ram Mohan Roy, Gopal Krishna Gokhale, Mahatma Gandhi, Babasaheb Ambedkar etc, gained greater traction, leading to introduction of universal franchise and genuine egalitarianism. Our constitution made strong provisions for the protection of minorities, deprived classes and other vulnerable sections of the society. During its nascent stages, the Indian democracy was fortunate to have a liberal visionary like Pt. Jawaharlal Nehru as Prime Minister. He ensured that the fruits of vision and hard work of the Indian Constitution’s architects were not only preserved but also turned into the polity’s enduring salient features.

Nehru’s socialist inclinations were in harmony with his democratic and liberal beliefs – despite his admiration for the Soviet model of economic planning and development. However, his Fabian Socialism had its limitations. It is true that he was able to build enduring and invaluable infrastructure that provided powerful underpinnings to subsequent economic growth; but, it is equally true that he failed to nurture private enterprise. Consequently, when India’s economic growth began to stagnate, the state infrastructure failed to meet the challenges of fashioning new roadmaps or innovative developmental models. This failure was compounded by the absence of truly worthy successors to his legacy. The next generation of political leadership could not meet the economic, political and social challenges confronting the country. Nehru’s Centrist-Left-Liberal political narrative was subverted by a more inflexible leftist politico-economic narrative.  

The leftist policies too failed to meet popular aspirations, leading to wistful, almost romantic, allusions to Netaji Subhash Chandra Bose’s nationalist persona. However, there has been lack of clarity regarding the essentials of his ideology. Was Netaji a fascist, as some political observers have been asserting? That seems hardly believable, given his political DNA as a Congressman. It is true that Netaji was impatient with the slow deliberative and chaotic democratic processes as exemplified at the 1939 Congress session in Tripuri, near Jabalpur in the modern Madhya Pradesh, where he called for revolution if the party’s six-month ultimatum to the British bore no results. Indeed, he was a great admirer of the more orderly and authoritarian attributes of Nazi Germany and Italy. But there is no evidence that he himself was a racist or a fascist. Was he a pragmatist and a visionary? Even that is doubtful, given the fact that he had put all his eggs in the Axis basket – an inadvisable move, given the propensity of these powers for annexing whatever they conquered and treating the locals as subhuman species. All we can say is that Netaji was an ideologue imbued with patriotism without any distinct ideology. Those who claim that he was a better alternative to Nehru would do well to ponder over this aspect. His love for authoritarianism would not have worked in the post-independence India, given the huge web of fault-lines across the subcontinent. And, no, he could not have prevented the emergence of Pakistan either, because the Hindu-Muslim divide was historically deep and unbridgeable, contrary to what our secular ideologues are fond of asserting. As for his social and economic philosophy, we have hardly any inkling.

Communists in India could have become a powerful ideological alternative to the Indian National Congress, if only they had Indianised their worldview. They toed the Soviet line throughout India’s freedom struggle. When the Soviet Union joined the Allies, the communists’ anti-imperialist ardour cooled down perceptibly. Their ideology of violence too was antithetical to the predominant Gandhian narrative of peaceful, nonviolent struggle for freedom. They further damaged their credibility when they called Netaji a traitor and openly condemned Satyagraha and Ahimsa – the twin weapons deployed by Gandhiji to gain freedom for the country.

After independence, too, the communists remained dependent upon the Soviet Union and Maoist China for their ideological inspiration and material sustenance. They miserably failed to grow roots in the Indian economy’s unorganised sectors. Thus, the farm labourer remained exploited and mired in poverty. Our communists were happy to run trade unions related to banks and public-sector industries. They remained archetypal ‘bhadralok’ petty bourgeoisie. The two states they ruled predominantly – Kerala and West Bengal – became graveyards of economic enterprise. However, post-Nehru India saw them gain strategic influence over India’s economic policymaking as evidenced by nationalisation of banks, virtual throttling of private entrepreneurship and state interference in almost every aspect of human life and endeavour – even deciding what one could watch on television or hear on the radio.

What about the Hindu Right? Interestingly, the RSS founder was himself a former Congressman. Hedgewar participated in the Khilafat movement (1919-24) and went to jail during his days as a Congress worker. He founded the RSS in 1925 and kept his organisation away from the freedom movement. A few individuals from the RSS who went to jail as freedom fighters had a mission, viz., recruit Congress workers in the jail for promoting the RSS agenda. Something similar was being done by the Muslim League too. In fact, these outfits had frequently collaborated with the British for disrupting the Congress-led freedom movement, which was gaining mass popularity. How RSS or any of its allied outfits could ever be trusted to run the country on modern, progressive lines?

Thus, befittingly, the Indian National Congress won popular mandate to steer India out of dire straits during its first six decades of existence. If the Congress lost out to the Hindu Right eventually it has more to blame itself than any extraneous factor. Lethal blows rendered to liberal values during Indira Gandhi’s era sowed the seeds for the BJP’s eventual rise. First signs of this appeared during her tenure’s initial years when the 1967 general elections resulted in Swatantra Party becoming main opposition party in the parliament. This experiment failed, but the seeds remained – waiting for the right clime for germination.

The Indira Gandhi brand of populist economic policies had pushed India towards the brink of economic bankruptcy. This was when Prime Minister Narsimha Rao and his Finance Minister Manmohan Singh arrived on the scene. They began the process of opening up the Indian economy, necessitating its integration with the larger processes of globalisation. By embracing the market economy, privatisation of PSUs became necessary. Reforms in governance too were initiated subsequently. Since populist policies were being put on the back burner, politicians had to cede the policymaking space to technocrats – something they were loathe to do earlier.

Although AB Vajpayee’s NDA carried forward the Rao-Singh formula, economic reforms gained momentum during Manmohan Singh’s UPA regime. But, inexplicably, things veered back to the old ways, most probably because the Congress High Command lost nerve at the prospect of losing its traditional vote banks which were emigrating to casteist outfits like SP, BSP, JDU etc. Communists regained influence over policy making, especially in the UPA’s second term. Corruption scandals burst forth like pestilence and the left-liberal intellectualism began to plummet in public esteem.

This decline was accompanied by the decay of left-liberal intellectualism. Faced with the challenges of 21st Century and the aspirations of the Indian youth, the leftists just turned into witless spectators mouthing obsolete shibboleths that had no relevance to the emerging social, economic and political realities. This opened up space for the Rightist ideological narrative. But they too appear mired in medievalism.

Luckily, thanks to the push by India Inc., Narendra Modi’s government is exerting itself to modernise governance-related structures and systems. It is trying to implement its election eve promises of providing less government, less bureaucracy, easier rules and providing primacy to citizens’ needs and aspirations. But the obstacles are daunting, given our bureaucrats’ colonial mindset, and the vested interests – both in the opposition and BJP – who prefer status quo that ensures them privileges that would make even the authoritarian Putin green with envy. And this is where original ideas based on indigenous ideology could have become handy.

The BJP has yet to develop a coherent ideological narrative for ensuring regular streaming in of new ideas for development and governance. With the relaunching of C. Rajagopalachari’s Swarajya magazine a hope is kindled that we may witness the arrival of Liberal-Right intellectualism. Rajaji was much respected for his liberal and progressive ideas. He believed in a liberal democratic welfare state, secularism, cultural pluralism, religious tolerance and coexistence. Wary of leftists, he was a liberal democrat with progressive and pro-people worldview. Clearly, his idea of economic developmental model had to be markedly different from that of Nehru’s. Rajaji’s Swatantra Party could have become a credible alternative to the Indian National Congress, but the extant political environment was hostile to his worldview. He must be smiling with satisfaction now that India is moving away from povertarian leftism.

Our universities and intellectuals, dominated by the left, have been stagnating for too long. When was the last time a genuinely constructive original idea was formulated by our leftist intellectuals? Your guess is as good as mine. But will the Liberal-Right be any better? Or will it become a prisoner of cultural-religious Hindutva politics? Only time will tell.

However, one thing is for certain. The current rule of the bigot cannot go on indefinitely. While India can do with Rightist economic policies, accommodate and assimilate some of its cultural philosophy, it shall and must reject the bigotry that is presently a dangerously burdensome part of the Modi regime’s baggage. And the onus is on our Prime Minister Shri Narendra Damodardas Modi.

Postscript: - Often, on TV debates, one is amused by the seriousness with which some of the news channels’ anchors take themselves. As if they are arbitrators of India’s destiny. The media has been substantially growing in India since 1990s. The print media, television, websites, blogs, Twitter, Facebook etc should have ensured development of quality public opinion-making narratives. But, neither our media nor the intellectuals favoured by them inspire much confidence, thanks to the issues of reputation and credibility. What was ethical commitment earlier has now metamorphosed into a profession, a career and, in some cases, a mercenary enterprise. There are honourable exceptions, which not only prove the rule but also highlight it in stark political-propagandist colours.

And that has been the Liberal-Democratic-India’s abiding tragedy.

Saturday, June 17, 2017

To Dad

To dad

Memories play with the mind
Of your youthful laughter
Full-throated ghazal singing
To banish exhaustion
Or just for fun
When life turned grim
With gleam in the eyes
You navigated the family
Across fate’s straits
The world celebrates Father’s Day
Once a year
We’ve been doing it
Every moment of our life
But not enough
To thank the unstinting
Provider and protector

Friday, June 9, 2017

The Breakup

The breakup

Memories flirt with fantasies
Pummel passions
Shrink time and space
Steps falter
Along the familiar path
Sun slinks away
Flowers die on black grass
Buried in dusky shrouds
Under your distant gaze
I search your smug face
For love
That never was

Friday, May 26, 2017

Fifteen Years for Prime Minister Modi

Fifteen Years for Prime Minister Modi

Economic reforms have been set in motion, as epitomised by the implementation of GST. Surface transport infrastructure is being upgraded at a never before pace. FDIs are flowing in. New industrial projects are on the anvil. Power generation capacities are being enhanced. There are also reports of providing quality medicare and education for all. But these are long gestation projects. We will have to be patient…

When a polity is caught in the maelstrom of debates focusing on its fundamental character, rest assured, great changes are in offing – for better or worse. This is what we are witnessing in India presently. Long held beliefs are not sacrosanct anymore, vigorous efforts are being made to re-evaluate national icons, and the polity as well as the media are being polarised like never before. Strangely, all this has not caused any outrage among the majority of people. The response from intellectuals too is neither unequivocal nor undivided.

Ever since independence, India has been negotiating strange and perilous contradictions. Despite its pluralistic nature, the polity failed to facilitate significant variety in socio-political narratives. There was a near unanimous tilt towards the left-liberal worldview. Since the left-liberals had been monopolising the national narrative on almost every aspect of our polity, we hardly got contrarian viewpoints on history in general and our independence movement in particular. Similarly, there was little by way of reimagination of various systems and structures pertaining to governance, education, economic development, handling of political dissent and even insurgency. It was considered heretical to question the wisdom of the extant political establishment and its intellectual mentors, who had actually reduced themselves to the status of courtiers.

Undeniably, there was vigour in the initial years of India’s independence – a vigour fortified with Nehruvian idealism that put a fractured and traumatised nation on the path to unity and self-discovery. Great and enduring national assets were built – be these multipurpose dams, nuclear establishments, sophisticated IITs and IIMs, or new urban centres. Although Nehru had envisioned a substantial role for the private sector, things went astray after his demise. The burden of living up to his weighty ideals was obviously too much for our effete elite, and hypocrisy replaced the earnest naïveté. His vision was subverted and a perverse form of ideology ushered in an era of romanticised poverty. It became fashionable to identify with the underdog and profess empathy with the suffering humanity.  Economic policies became povertarian instead of becoming prosperity oriented in approach. As a result, while the poor stayed poor, the rich became richer, as did the bureaucrats and politicians.

A new ruling elite emerged that developed a vested interest in keeping India backward, underdeveloped and poor. Corruption became our national character. Democratic ethos was quietly buried and a political mutant replaced it; it was neither an oligarchy, autocracy nor socialism, although our Constitution assures us that we are a Sovereign, Socialist, Secular Democratic Republic. But in practice we have been witnessing medieval feudalism married to fascism garbed in socialism with all the traits of an anarchy that naturally favoured the rich and the powerful.  

Unsurprisingly, political dynasties became the norm both at the centre and in the states. This was further complicated by the rise of strong leaders who formed parties that fully exploited the mindboggling faultlines that exist in our country. SAD, DMK, AIADMK, SP, BSP, JDU, BJD, TMC… the list is endless. They all claim to be secular. They all profess to be people oriented. And they all promise good governance. But, all of them are essentially exploiting partisan sentiments of the masses for the benefit of the few. Even our Grand Old Party, the Indian National Congress has fallen to this syndrome of dynastic rule plus cynical exploitation of faultlines for gaining and retaining power.   

As dynasties began to corner power in almost every state, neo-feudalism became the new normal in the nation’s political life. Its institutions of governance began to be systematically subverted and commandeered to serve the privileged few. In this, they were ably served by our bureaucrats – who had imbibed the culture of Jee Huzoor during the British Raj and were now giving it full play to serve their current political masters. So, in less than three decades after independence, India became a neo-colony of Brown Sahibs. These were the people who actually believed that they got India its independence. Therefore, they were entitled to rule it any which way they wanted. This sense of entitlement was inherited by their progeny too. Thus, was born an aristocracy more exploitative than anything India had witnessed during even the British times. Their children received the best of education in foreign lands either at the cost of public exchequer or subsidised/financed by foreign countries. That they also got the cushiest of jobs in MNCs or Indian PSUs goes without saying. In the INC’s socialist India there were, and continue to be, educational institutions for the super-privileged. Here, it’s not just state-of-the-art educational infrastructure, but a whole range of facilities fit for royalty which are being provided. Facilities for golf, horse riding, swimming are usually afforded as are airconditioned classrooms where there are hardly five students per teacher. Latest educational hi-tech aids are available. Who foots their bill? Are our babudom’s salaries that high? And the politicians, how do they rustle up funds for sending their wards to such luxurious educational institutions? Your guess is as good as mine. But, just compare this with the ’real’ Socialist India where schools, overflowing with students – often eighty per class – have been functioning under trees. Where teachers are ill-trained and educational aids are absent. Where ‘senior’ students and even peons double up as teachers.

Since the neo-aristocrats had no stake in them, the educational institutions in India began to decay even in the supposedly better provided urban areas, the public utility services – such as they were – stopped being of much utility to the common man. Hospitals, schools, public transport, water supply, electricity generation… you name it and it stank. Worst of the lot were the police and other security agencies who were treated more or less as the politician’s henchmen to terrorise the common man into perpetual submission, to settle personal score and silence and intimidate opponents.

But even as these neo-colonialists were behaving as if their reign would never end, something inexorable was happening. A new, aspirational middle class emerged; its members exposed to foreign lifestyles. They realised how many of the current highly prosperous countries were in fact way behind India on development index just a few decades back. The reason for their phenomenal progress was the quality of political leadership and governance. This didn’t merely make the burgeoning Indian Middle Class impatient but positively enraged. This is when Modi arrived at the scene. He had dreams to sell, and he sold them well like a consummate dream merchant. The Indian voter began to virtually worship him.

However, contrary to what some informed analysts aver, it would be far-fetched to draw the parallels with the rise of populist-rightist western political outfits like Donald Trump’s Republican Party, Sweden Democrats, the National Front in France, the Party for Freedom in the Netherlands and others on the far right that advocate that their once open countries closed up and turned inward. I say this because, whatever be the subtext, Modi never openly propagated xenophobia. His perceived anti-minorities stand reflects the average Indian’s disgust with the Congress brand of secularism which accentuated communalism for vote-bank purposes.

When he came to power, Modi had dreams, but no clear roadmap to India’s growth. He could convince the masses about the serious drawbacks in the functioning of the UPA regime, but what alternatives did he have to offer? For this lack of alternative vision and narrative one must squarely blame the right-wing intellectuals. They focused on the flaws of the UPA but had nothing to offer for removing those flaws. Therefore, Modi wisely continued with all the economic policies and programs and reforms designed by Manmohan Singh, after making some cosmetic changes – and understandably so.

Economic reforms have been set in motion, as epitomised by the implementation of GST. Surface transport infrastructure is being upgraded at a never before pace. FDIs are flowing in. New industrial projects are on the anvil. Power generation capacities are being enhanced. There are also reports of providing quality medicare and education for all. But these are long gestation projects. We will have to be patient for the results – which will show up provided the government takes on the challenges that remain on several fronts. Unemployment is rising. Agricultural growth is disheartening. If these are not serious enough, the nation is witnessing the rise of a new class that feels entitled to play with the country’s law and order. Unprovoked and uncontrolled violence against defenceless citizens can be dangerous to the country’s stability. It can also hurt our international profile as an attractive destination for investment. The last thing we want is the rule of mobs.

There is an urgent need to overhaul our police system, to reform the functioning of judiciary and to assert the rule of law to obliterate anarchist tendencies permanently. Our law and order machinery must be highly efficient and responsive. We need the state to re-establish its supremacy, which good governance alone can ensure.

PM Narendra Modi has his task cut out. And, from all indications, he is aware of this. All he needs is time and cooperation from his political opponents from within and without. As for us voters – let us give him fifteen years at the helm.