Independence, Freedom, Democracy and other such myths

September 10, 2007

To be published by Rediff.

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Independence, Freedom, Democracy and other such myths

 

Rajeev Srinivasan is disappointed by India’s trajectory.

 

The usual suspects made the usual speeches on August 15th, 2007, mouthing the usual pure cant. But the sad fact remains that sixty years after the grasping imperialists left, India has comprehensively under-achieved on all fronts; all that has changed is the skin-color of the looters. Ten years ago, I was far more optimistic, and wrote about the coming Indian century; today, despite the obvious progress made on the economic front, I am overwhelmed by a sense of disappointment.

 

I have been discouraged by what I have observed in the last ten years. The loss of heritage. The disdain for autochthonous civilization. The perversion of the discourse in the country by Stalinist ‘intellectuals’. The regular terrorist attacks that cheapen Indian lives. The total non-reaction by government to oppression of people of Indian origin abroad.

 

And so I have come to realize that freedom is very different from mere independence. There is no freedom for the common man in India: not freedom from want, nor freedom of expression or thought, nor freedom to aspire to greatness, nor freedom from the ravages of endemic corruption. The State is so feeble that India can fairly be termed a failing State. The Indian State punches so far below its weight that it might as well not exist.

 

The failure is both domestic and global. Individual Indians are shackled, and the blunders of the past sixty years conspire to create a state of permanent slavery for the nation. That is the biggest disappointment of all: Indians aspire to mediocrity. Indians simply cannot imagine that they can recapture their historical primacy as the greatest innovators, the most prosperous nation on earth.

 

The facts are out there for anyone to read: for instance, economic historian Angus Maddison’s World Economy: A Millennial Perspective, an official European Union publication, shows that during practically the entire period 0-1700 CE India was the world’s richest nation. There is circumstantial evidence, too: the fact that every barbarian, from Alexander the Macedonian, to sundry Central Asians, to random Europeans, all invaded India. People intent on loot do not invade poor countries.

 

India is on the way to economic superpower-dom, according to the dramatic Goldman Sachs reports (Dreaming with BRICs and India’s Rising Growth Potential). And indeed, in the last few years, the world has recognized that India will be an engine of the Asian century, hyphenated with China (much, incidentally, to the latter’s chagrin).

 

But it is only foreigners who acknowledge India’s potential. Indians themselves are still colonized. Having destroyed indigenous education, the colonialists put in place a system designed to suppress creativity and produce drones who would toil for Empire. It drums into the minds of children the idea that everything native to India is worthless.

 

This project has succeeded beyond Macaulay’s wildest dreams (see his infamous Minutes) in creating a nation of the terminally confused. Exhibits A and B: India’s Finance Minister opined recently that India was always a poor country; some time ago, his boss, the Prime Minister complimented imperialists on the good they did! Aren’t these people economists? All they have to do is to read Great Victorian Holocausts: El Nino and the Making of the Third World to understand the appalling war crime, including the genocide of at least 20 million people, perpetrated on India by the imperialists.

 

Yet, in an example of undeserved tolerance towards rapacious foreigners, Indians shut their eyes to the dangers of Economics 101: choosing to only make butter, and no guns. We need guns to protect our butter. Thus the great dangers in the sustained and inexplicable efforts recently to make India for all intents and purposes a nuclear vassal of the United States.

 

Brought up to believe they are worthless, Indians aspire to be second-best. Only Indians go to the Olympics to be sporting losers, not to win: nobody else chants the meaningless mantra that what matters is participation; no, Virginia, the only thing that matters is winning. India seeks to play second fiddle to somebody, be it Americans, Chinese, Arabs, somebody, anybody. This is a disease that may have to be excised by large-scale lobotomies; or perhaps by burning down a certain university that is its epicenter.

 

India has been a hectoring busybody on the global stage, lecturing everybody on morality and virtue; it is also easy prey: a nation that can be induced to commit collective suicide through the expedient of buying off its media and politicians for chump change. The number of fifth-columnists in India has reached record proportions. India has ‘friends of America’, ‘friends of China’, ‘friends of Saudi Arabia’, ‘friends of the Vatican’ in high places, but hardly anyone is a ‘friend of India’.

 

Yes, there is formal independence, but there is no freedom. There is, for instance, no respite from the State religion, some baffling animal called ‘secularism’, which basically means total apartheid against large groups of people.

 

The State excels in perpetuating the most ridiculous system ever invented: a chimera that combines all the vices of communism and capitalism (and none of the virtues). The idiocies and inefficiencies of the first and the thievery and inequities of the second; but not the iron discipline and will nor the unshackled flair for getting ahead. The State has interfered in everything it has no business being in: running airlines, hotels, and so forth; and it has been practically invisible in everything it is the one and only provider of: infrastructure, defense, social programs, human rights. Crony capitalism and the license raj run rampant.

 

The State has also failed to provide basic human necessities: the infamous ‘bread, clothing and shelter’ that every Government has promised loudly but never delivered. People in many parts of India are opting for privatized education, water supply and road-maintenance – fed up with State incompetence, indifference and inefficiency, a testament to how badly the State has performed.

 

It is obvious that wherever the State exited (or never interfered in, not realizing that here was yet another opportunity to screw up royally) the native genius of the people has enabled India to thrive: for instance, in telecommunications, in information technology.

 

The Indian State, in sum, is predatory. It preys on the very people it is sworn and duty-bound to protect and nurture.

 

Nor is there democracy in India, other than some strange beast that has the paraphernalia and form, but not the substance, of rule of, by and for the people. Instead it is of, by and for the brown sahib, who is only interested in self-aggrandizement.

 

There is little to cheer about sixty years after power has been grabbed by Macaulay’s children, the said brown sahibs: almost every one of them a crook willing to sell the national interest down the river. They have perpetrated a crime against humanity by preventing 400 million Indians from climbing out of poverty and by creating a personality-cult-ridden, corrupt, failing State.

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20 Responses to “Independence, Freedom, Democracy and other such myths”

  1. svenkatesh Says:

    Excellent article. Apparently the Indian government consists mostly of the unemployed and unemployable who are all career politicians with absolutely no integrity. Why else would a man of Manmohan’s education and background allow himself to be dictated to by an unemployable. (I hesitate to say “housewife” since even a housewife has to have some skills if she wants to be efficient). How could a party which constantly reminds us of its hoary past, allow itself to become a handmaiden to a family with no qualifications except the overriding ambition to retain power at all costs?

  2. sssm Says:

    Hi Rajeev. I came across your article on Rediff. I hope you don’t mind my blatant critique, as I’m sure you are expecting people to respond. While you make some valid points, I find your tone questionably visceral and extreme. I find this article to be pretty sloppy and poorly written. There is no room for reflection, or nuance. I’m not sure you’ve really thought through your opinions and ideas before putting them on paper and publishing it for the whole world to see. You talk about the perpetual sense of colonisation of the Indian mind-but you seem (at least from this article) to be the beacon of Indian self-hatred and defeatism.

    I’ve never read anything else by you, so I don’t know if this is even worth writing to you. Perhaps you write in this sensationalist style to draw attention to yourself (in the vein of Ann Coulter or some such character). So I won’t push it any further.

  3. mishraka Says:

    Rajeev!

    I read your article. It’s excellent. I concur with every bit of what you have written.

    A possible solution to the problems facing India and indians at large is that every Indian is educated to the extent that he can analyze the issues more objectively. It will change the political landscape and lead india on its path of glory which is long due.

  4. susaimuthujames Says:

    This is a great article that expresses authors views nicely. Though most of the points are agrreable, some are not.

  5. abhishek01 Says:

    There are two kinds of animals in India today.

    One is the tiny, unfortunate minority born with the congentinal defect of patriotism- for whom nothing matters but that India should surge ahead, that being an Indian should be a matter of pride. For this minority suffering in pain, nothing matters – not what is your religion, state, caste, gender, but that all the efforts of everone should help in building a great nation which we had the singular misfortune to dream of. For them, the time seems to be slipping away for India. For them, everyday is a cruel assualt of their dream.

    Then there is another mammoth majority- for whom everything is a ‘critique’, a ‘discussion’. Everything can be discussed, justified, thougt over, compromised. For them things are hunky- dory. Even if India were to be imprisoned in gutters tomorrow, they would find reasons to feel comparative happiness with other countries in the gutter, pointing out the defects of countries not in the gutter, and distributing the spoils of the gutter- first to themselves, then their family, then their caste and then their region, and finally throwing some crumbs to the country and then feeling an orgams of ecstacy at their patriostism.

    It is really dificult to make this majority understand anything. They cant understand what the problem of the restless minority is. They strike them as naives, hyper-nationalists and unncessarily worked up fellows.

    This ‘everything is fine’ majority- millions of whom work day and night in corrupt government offices, others who go about amassing wealth and furthering careers to the exclusion of everything else, many of whom have shut themselves up in a coccoon, this is the majority that is India, and this is the India they have created, and notwithstanding their occasional superficial outbursts, they are fine with it. The country- loving minority gets taken in by the loud compaints that emanate sometimes from this quarter, because they think they are like them, and are speaking from the heart. But they are not. There is no genuine anger inside them. The next day they will be discussing the latest movies, matches, office gossip etc.

    My point, to sum it up is this – there is a majority that is fine with everything and a minority that is not. And both have different perceptions of the same world. And since a country is built by the majority, you know what this world will continue to look like, now and in the future.

  6. saiswa Says:

    Rajeev, I think the time is right for you to read the “Hind Swaraj” by Mohandas Gandhi. Gandhi came to the same conclusions as yours on freedom a long time ago. The difference is that he was the eternal optimist, believing that everyone had infinite potential and to be good.

  7. ramasoma Says:

    I dont accept your article. We are growing and we will be superpower and will achieve our ex presidents dream by 2020. Your article is simply bullying India giving reasons to escape rather than helping our country to be a economically strong country

  8. Nita Says:

    I like the way Rajeev writes, his insights and wit, but I must say that this is not one of this best. There are some sweeping statements made in this article, and if there is anything I feel uncomfortable with, it is sweeping statements.

  9. vishalsaxena209 Says:

    Excellent article! Rajeev has well articulated all that I have been fuming about for past few years.
    IIT Madras (my alma mater) has produced many nationalists like Shri Rajeev and I hope it will continue to do so. I pray that his hard hitting comments break through the thick skulls of the Indian intelligentsia.

  10. trustmealways Says:

    Excellent article Rajeev. I cannot agree more, and I am close to 50. I graduated from IIT Kharagpur in 1983 (M.Tech). Thanks to Joyti Basu I could not get a job at WEBEL (West Bengal Electronics Limited). The then WEBEL supremo, Nandan Bhattacharya chastised me and told me that I should try abroad. It came true.

    Rajeev, its the genes we have within us. Look, hordes of barbarians came and overran us. Its in our blood to genuflect, submit and convert !

  11. ajit75 Says:

    Excellent article, could have been even more hard hitting, “Hey Ram what have i done” is what Gandhiji perhaps would have remarked if he were to be alive today. This country is nothing but a Frankenstein monster which has been let loose upon the hapless people with politicians, beaurocrats , police machinery serving as its arms, limbs etc.
    Irony is if these are the sentiments of common IT guy living in metro who has gained the maximum from the IT /economic revolution in this country, what about the majority who have been left behind .

  12. arunav1305 Says:

    Fantastic. You might argue that you are bothered only about India but i have lost faith in the word Democracy (as preached by the World leaders these days, where they invade a country to instill democracy while they leave onoy destruction). There is no democracy in the whole world.
    A simple fact is that these so called MP’s dont even work every day but they only recently voted for a salary/benefits increase for themselves. I saw an article in NDTV yesterday that there has been no discussion held (due to the Nuclear deal fracas) for the last couple of weeks. If the issue was the Nuclear deal, they havent even discussed that issue as well. Why should they get the priveleges for not doing their work? Why do we vote them into power? Ultimately, it boils down to one point. Where there is power there is corruption. This happens everywhere in the world. In western countries, the politicians (read thieves) wear suits and commit crimes while our politicians do this wearing traditional indian clothes. No difference what so ever. At least the western world can thrive like this because of their infrastructure and the prosperity they established over the years. We are only emerging.God save the Common Man

  13. syadav Says:

    Dear Rajiv,

    A country which used live by Ship to Mouth phenonmenon not 40 years back , a country which refused to explode
    nuclear bombs before china , a country which has never attacked any other country for last two thousand years,
    a country whose people were never a part of the governance and were happy paying taxes to the mighty kings- Indian, greeks, turks, muslims , moghuls, burmese, nepalese , chinese , portugese, dutch, french , british. How can you expect it to become active after a passive and submissive phase of 1000 years. A country which gave assimilated thousands of tribes who came to loot but lost their identity in the Indian subcontinent. How can you make it reactive.

    But you are right that democracy doesnot mean being unanimous with the competetor’s /Rival’s logic. We become good even at the cost of loosing our Land , people , wealth and rights . India should learn to be assertive and that has to come from social engineering.
    and that is happening. The lower strata which was deaf and dumb has become active and you can see the likes of KR narayanan and Mayavati on the national scene.
    Things shall change but we have to be patient and educate ourselves. Education shall pave the way for the nation. It would make every one accounatble towards the fundamental /national duties and less hungry towards the fundamental rights.

    lets be optimistic.

  14. pkprasan Says:

    I agree with Rajeev with regard to the lack of freedom in an independent country like India. He is definitely not a nay sayer when he depicts a pessimistic situation. Ground realities are different from the stories published about GDP growth and foreign investments in the press.

    Corruption is rampant but the educated aren’t complaining. I guess we have to use our voting rights carefully henceforth to elect representatives who mean business and who are not corrupt.

    I lived abroad (in singapore) for almost 10 years and relocated to bangalore. I bought a property here and to get the property registered in the corporation I had to visit the office on every saturday for 2 months. The government website (www.bmp.org) says that one can register the khata(property registration) in 7 days under the suvarna khata scheme (golden khata scheme). After evasive replies from the case workers, I gave up and took the easy route (bribe the cheap bastards). I got my work done and the papers were delivered to my house. I didn’t dare complain about the case worker because I know fully well that his boss is more corrupt than him and its no point complaining.

    Practical problems in government offices are never highlighted in the press. Guess the press here is on the payroll of political parties too.

    God bless this country.

  15. drvnv Says:

    Hi Rajeev

    I fully agree with you. By posting my comments I do not mean that I hate my country,but it rather depicts my helplessness that nothing is possible by single hand. I agree with your view of license raj and beaurocracy, which should be for the people and is working in opposite way. You will find that any task undertaken is on paper only. Slowly oour politicians and beaurocrats have mastered the art of DRAMA. In kalyug,as said by Rajnishji in one of lectures== In kalyug, if you do a drama(NATAK-just pretend),you will always ne successful. So u have the beaurocrats and Politician always cutting the ribbons and never ever return to assess the followup. Take the example ,true example of Health Ministry of Gujarat. One of the Beaurocrat and the minister,seems to have determined that they will show on records that the hospital system is not functioning well and so the premise should be handed over to other private partners……..its ridiculous…because of this many people have turned away to be in government service and many have left the Medical colleges; I wonder what will be the quality of doctors in future.That is the reason good people ,efficient and hardworking people take the the route to west where their work is always appreciated……..Anyway I would suggest that a seminar should be kept on this matter ,first by asking the views and then selecting the best of it and allow them to do a paper presentation……..of their work submitted.I also would like to say that in India, Press ,politician and beaurocrat work hand in hand.I have never come across a press which highlights a common people’s voice against any politician or beaurocrat……….i wish I could write more…..Vijay Vaidya

  16. rajeev2007 Says:

    folks, thank you for the various comments. i may not be able to respond to each of you individually, given paucity of time, but i appreciate your kindness in writing comments here.

    nita, first a belated thank you for the nomination for ‘thinking blogger’. i appreciate it, although i was quite at a loss as to how to continue the thread since i really don’t come across five blogs that i read on a regular basis. anyway, you object to my sweeping statements. but i hope you agree there is an element of truth in them. i feel strongly that the so-called freedoms available in india are illusory, in a maslovian sense: self-actualization only comes to someone with a full stomach. the state has failed in supporting agriculture, which is a core competence for the nation; it also has purposely let the other core competence, intellectual property, be dissipated, for instance by destroying the study of sanskrit. and so on. anyway, i don’t think there is much by way of freedom in india, because there is absolute mind-control by the government (to wit, the ideologues) and the media. they tell us what to think. and usually that thought is that we are nobodies, and that we need to suck up to some great power out there. i know america pretty darn well, and let me say categorically that americans are not 7 feet tall (well, ok, except for shaquille oneal and pals). but in indians’ colonized minds, americans, chinese, et al are superhumans and indians are meant to serve them. it’s the same attitude of blind worship — propagated by the media — about those worthless cricketers. i mean, can you take any country seriously where the most important news is about a silly game?

  17. trustmealways Says:

    Rajeev,

    India is a basket case. According to what I have read, its very bad times, and signs show that kalikaal is on its full swing.

    Can you speculate what would happen to USA, if they just continue to be sporting with the Muslim population ? Already Europe is reeling with the segregation; tremors caused by Allah are being felt everywhere. If this happens in USA, will it be the fated Islamic Republic of United States of America ?


  18. Hi Rajeev,
    I commend you for this article, but to be fair to everyone, why dont you balance it with the remediation of the problems. In particular please address changes that we need to make
    a) Mentally,
    b) Sociologically
    c) economically
    d) Culturally
    and more for us to regain our lost glory.

    Today we are all convenient philosophers and drop quotes from the Gita when it suits us or talk about the glorious past when challenged.

    Yes we do have our Chanakyas, the ChandraGuptas, the Rani of Jhansis, the RajaRajaCholas and the Ashokas, but in the current climate, they dont blossom and hence they fade away….

  19. rajivhs Says:

    Inspite of Rajeev’s sweeping statment and his pesimism there is some truth to the state of India. I have often wondered my self what a task force, with the goal of accelarating India’s progress to development, would do to “fix” India’s problems.

    When I look at the developed countries the population is more literate than developing countries. To educate more people we need to have a better economy where well paid jobs are easily available so that people can afford leisure and children will not have to work. To have a better economy we need to have a free market with minimum regulations and government owned enterprises.

    Rajeev mentioned how our govermnment has hurt the same people it promised to serve, in this, he inherently has a remedy to India’s problems which is to have a free market.

  20. r969mayasingh Says:

    i think that in India democracy is only for highly placed people. they have money they can buy executive for their interest, they can buy legislative to enact laws for them, they can buy judiciary to get justice in favour of them.

    common people has just get a lolypop.

    common men are going on to ask from executive, from legislature and they are fighting their cases in courts from years to years and from generation to generation but common men get entrapped in “BHULBHULAIYA” of legal jungle.

    however there are examples that supreme court has taken action on postcards , but they are just examples and most the common litigants left with no hearing.

    most of the population is not getting the benefits of India growing than what is the use of democracy.

    we can not choose our president and prime minister directly. we can not take back our MP’s who are working for Industrialists and mafias and making money and not working for the common man.

    todays MP’s and ministers are not better than bad kings and bad jagirdars who have been thrown out for democracy.

    we see in Nepal today there is one king and after democracy we will see there several kings like girija prasad koirala, prachand(whose son is billinoire).in Nepal this is not a fight of democracy but it is a fight for vested interst.


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