Good Governance: Need for focusing on main priorities of great Indian dream rather than trivial and retrograde

India is a big country passing through a defining moment in its history because of complex transitions in values, ideology and idea of India. Notwithstanding the best intents and motives of the government, unpleasant and heartbreaking things happen every now and then in one or the other part of the country. It breaks our hearts to see how encephalitis kills our children in the most brazen and brutal way (Gorakhpur) and people going to their homes through one of the most dependable means of transport, the Indian Railways lose their journey of lives midway meeting accident (Muzaffarnagar). Girls are not safe, even from higher middle class, while going to their workplace and coming back home (Chandigarh). A 10 year girl gets pregnant due to sexual exploitation by a relative and compelled to give birth to a child. A son kills his father; a husband kills his wife on trivial issues.  A working girl is trampled by racing cars while going to attend her duty in a hospital in the National capital. Political activists and whistle blowers are being killed in broad daylight. Half the Lok Sabha members have criminal antecedents and intellectuals seem to be sold out- be it universities or media!

Who is responsible for making our lives a hell?

The buck stops at escape goats- the helpless link in the chain of events-now mostly bureaucrats. The mighty, especially the politicians throw the blame on each other. Who is responsible-Government or people or both? Let’s stop the blame game and come to terms with serious issues encircling and troubling us because the societies which are afraid of examining themselves are condemned to degenerate. We are busy in trivial, the main concerns have lost our attention. Propaganda has come above governance and delivery.  Let’s courageously examine our follies and find way. The above mentioned sad events are not isolated events. If we regularly read our newspapers and watch television, it seems that there is an eerie continuity of the ugliness in our present day lives so much that we cannot ignore thing which shatter our hopes every moment. It seems that we are not reading the “Times of India” but reading “Hell Times” or watching “Hell TV.”

People say government is responsible, government says people are responsible. In fact both of them have their own share in degenerating life in India. People are not benchmarking their values and virtues from family to work place and to market place- they want all for them and their family members in the shortest and fastest way and no price seems bigger to them, even moral and ethical issues to achieve their unbridled and irrational dreams.

On the other hand government has become an agglomeration of ambitious people who despite their limitations want to be in power for ever; no matter if it amounts to permanent damage to the socio-economic and politico-cultural environment of the country, shattering the collective dreams visualized as tryst with destiny. Intellectuals today have generally relinquished their responsibilities as torch bearers and turned out to be stooges of people in power. Media has turned out to be a cheap entertainer and perpetual noise maker scuttling important news and issues. I am tempted to say “all of them sold out”, but I will not, because I can see that in polity, public and intellectual arenas still there are people who really love to be moral and ethical, patriotic and sensitive, no matter what price they pay. A time of introspection has come. We need to realize that it is time to set our objectives right and blame game will not serve any purpose. It is the time to dream together, sit together and take our own share of responsibilities if we fail our dreams and find collective and consensual ways to come out of the living hell we are facing every moment.

Will it ever be possible for the Prime Minister and Chief Ministers to be present in every heart shattering event for rescue? What is team India, where is team India? What is its role? Equally important question is whether we can/should absolve the government from its insensitivity, wrong priorities and above all accountability? What are the preferences and priorities of the government- main issues or trivial issues? Why things are so? Who is responsible?

What is good governance?

Good governance means that people and institutions in power and authority deliver the services unfailingly with care, quality and speed which they are supposed to do and keep their windows open to all the stake holders to complaint if there is any slackness and a quick redress system to address the complaints. Good governance is also about right priorities and preferences given limited time and resources and plethora of constraints. Good governance requires boldness in our national ambitions as well as prioritization of goals. First, we must win the fight against poverty within the next decade. Second, we must improve moral standards in government and society to provide a strong foundation for good governance. Third, we must change the character of our politics to promote fertile ground for reforms. (Gloria Macapagal Arroyo). This cannot be achieved as long as there is corruption and lack of accountability. The issue of corruption as we have taken up now in India is only a part of corruption- ill begotten money. But this is just an important symptom of corruption, not corruption per se. The root causes of corruption are socio-political, deep seated feudal attitude and colonial legacies- all freeing the people in power in social, political and economic arena from accountability. All kinds of dereliction of duties- dereliction of duties by common man/ worker or by bureaucrat or by politicians or by intellectuals- all fall in the category of corruption. Corruption is siphoning up of development money without audit assurance. Corruption is misleading people through media, speeches, provocations, and propaganda. Corruption is business without ethics. Corruption is teaching students or treating patients without ethics and morality. Fighting corruption is not just good governance. It’s self-defense. It’s patriotism. (Joe Biden). Corruption is the enemy of development, and of good governance. It must be got rid of. Both the government and the people at large must come together to achieve this national objective. (Pratibha Patil).

Are we pursuing the priorities of Indian Nation?

Is killing milch cows a big problem in India? Are Muslims not fond of milk, butter and paneer? Are they stupid enough to kill milch animals and cows? Facts are different. We know India as the biggest milk producer in the world, despite minimal institutional support. Are all Muslims pro Pakistan, anti- national or terrorists? Is love Jihad is the biggest problem facing the country of youth? Is Hinduism at threat? Are Muslims beneficiary of appeasement so they dominate places of power and wealth in India? Are scheduled castes of UP are creating problems against the upper castes? Are all tribal people and their supporters extremist and anti-national? Are all civil societies and non-governmental organizations are anti-national? Are all voices which criticize an ideology or government anti-national amounting to sedition? Should everybody take government policies uncritically? Is there a proximate threat of war with Pakistan and China or are the tensions new and they have now increased far more than earlier? Is foreign policy becoming hostage to domestic electoral machination?

Main issues versus trivial issues

For quite some time it is these issues which are reigning political discourses, TV talks and even most of the newspapers. We need to think whether these issues are really the primary and priority issues confronting India or the problem of low growth, low employment, inflation, lack of schools, colleges, universities and their falling qualities, lack of hospitals, lack of infrastructure, all weather navigable roads in rural areas, railways, ports, power supply, poor arms, ammunition and equipment of defense forces, lack of research and development, poverty, disease, malnutrition, gender inequality, social and economic inequality, agricultural distress, farmers suicides, non-performing assets in the banking sector, real estate crisis, and to cap it all an inefficient administrative and judicial system, moral crisis, etc?

Consequences of wrong priorities

If trivial issues become the main issues and main issues are put under the carpet, we cannot avoid the ugliness that break our hearts every day. We are fortunate that we did not admit our children in Gorakhpur hospital or we were not travelling in the ill fated train which met with an accident in Muzaffarnagar. We are fortunate that our daughters came safe to home from their universities and work places. But can we guarantee that next time we will not be the victims when things are not in order, when system fails and when trivial issues become the main discourse of our times leaving aside the core issues, because politicians have to do successful propaganda and social engineering to win the next elections. Common people are becoming fodder to illegitimate and immoral aspirations of the ruling elite. Let’s re-examine ourselves and our ways. History may seem to be mute for the time being, but it passes its judgments in due course. Let’s not do things, which shame us in front of mother India when we look back after say a decade. Future generations would not pardon us if we fail in our responsibilities in making India democratic and human. The colonial deprivations get vent in our ambition of being a super power, but what kind of super power we want to be is a relevant question.

Need for setting our goals right

Setting all discourses for ideological gains and electoral gains is a big problem. Emotive and provocative issues make good electoral dividends. These make good breaking news. Palpable politicians become more amenable to corporate sector designs of profiteering and crony capitalism. It can be seen how these combinations make an immoral but win-win coalition of interest.

Ultimate responsibilities lie with the people

If people do not use their wisdom and control, promises and slogans/ jumlas are successfully used by politicians to seek their favours like “bagula bhagat” does to cajole fishes into its trap. People often ping-pong (change positions) between political parties in the hope of solace- from secularism to Hinduism, from redistributive justice to market orientation. But still their hopes are betrayed.  The people, however,  cannot blame systemic failure on political leaders and governments.   They choose their government and in this sense they get the government that they choose or deserve. If people’s morality and discretion get polluted, we have third grade leaders. If people just get swayed by impulses, whims, fancies, propaganda without using their rationality and wisdom, and if they are guided by their own vested interests and narrow categories like caste, creed, religion, race and region, problems do not have any immediate chance to get solution. We are not only observing it; we can now feel it on our skins!

 Let’s come out of the cobweb of trivial issues

Trivial issues seem to have come to dominate for long, because people have started liking it till something bad happens to them. Politicians, media, business and mischief mongers know it. But people are unaware that they are becoming victims. Life, however, is not a cheap laughing programme on TV. It is a serious business. Living shallow is an index of moral degradation.  People, nevertheless, enjoy mocking on the men who are sensible and people who question and raise voices. Today we are not ready to accept any counter argument- one-upmanship is becoming the norm and in difference, revenge and retribution the natural consequence. The culture of debate and discussion is being despised. Many of the intellectuals have surrendered their principles for fear or greed.  This is making our life hell as chances of examination and course correction are rejected for “god worship” of the people whose credentials and intentions are doubtful. But there should be no confusion. If we choose, it is we who would, needless to say, suffer. As you think, so you become. And as you sow, so you reap. Our thoughts are guide to our action. And actions determine the outcome. If the main priorities are neglected and we start focusing on the trivial issues because our leaders say so, we turn out to be herds of sheep— dumb driven cattle!

Right thinking, right action

Are we sure that we are thinking and acting in right direction?  Are our priorities right? You cannot be retrograde and progressive at the same time or promote the rogue and be secure at the same time. Bereft of values and ideology, you lose all your control. You become a straw and just flow as the system takes you. It is only the chance that would decide your fate; the next day is for you to suffer and more so if you make mockery of wisdom and morality. You cannot have the cake and eat it too. You will have to sacrifice the trivial for achieving the main priorities of our country.  If you start liking trouble mongers, authoritarian leaders and manipulators, the future is crystal clear to see. Do not repent on sporadic accidents. If the way we think and act does not change, such accidents would be more frequent.  As you sow, so you reap. Governments will come and go but we cannot get our lost children and family members back who become victims of insanity and insensitivity of the whole system and its leaders who remain busy all the while in trivial issues or propagation of their skewed ideology. People are the last priority, votes are the first priority. Leaders today scarcely have time for governance. And when governance fails, accidents and mishaps are bound to occur time and again. It happened in the past, and the tradition continues, eluding achche din!

It’s time to take a pause and think. Let’s think what our priorities are and create effective pressure on the system to pursue them- question is not about right or left ideology, but about honesty and probity, integrity and accountability for both people and politicians. Indiscipline begins at the top, so said Loknayak  Jayaprakash Narain and it is visible! Politicians are changing ideologies as boats, indulge in irresponsible and dirty sludge fest and do not mind playing with the idea of India- tearing apart unity in diversity!  People as ever are followers, some commentators liken them with herds. Are we herds?


Celebrating 71st   Independence Day  Anniversary: Recommitting ourselves to the idea and collective dream of India

Things which start with a great cause and purpose gradually turn into rituals to be repeated in a monotonous and routine manner, losing their essence in due course of time. Just remember the “tryst with destiny” speech given by the first Prime Minister of India. Independence Day is an occasion to celebrate, dance and rejoice. This independence has come at a great cost. But at the same time we should also rededicate ourselves to the values and collective dreams which the freedom struggle stood for.

Is Celebration of Independence Day an Extravaganza?

Some people say that spending so much on gala and gaiety to celebrate Independence Day anniversary is extravaganza, which can be avoided for the sake of spending same money on providing basic amenities to the marginalized and excluded millions of Indians. It will be the best obeisance to martyrs who laid their lives in fight against the British Colonial power’s injustice, discrimination and exploitation.

I do not disagree that we should be sensitive and forthcoming in helping our brothers and sisters, who lagged behind in the race of development due to socio-politico-historical reasons. This is earnestly needed in our country where inter-personal and inter-regional inequality is so glaring. And without liberty and equality for all at least in terms of minimum basic needs, these celebrations are like mocking on those Indians who are still waiting to feel the beauty of freedom in terms of food, dignity and shelter.

Independence Day, moment for recommitting to the values of freedom struggle

  I disagree with extravaganza argument. I do not agree with the idea that we should not celebrate Independence Day anniversary for taking care of the “excluded”. Celebrating Independence Day has great significance in reminding us the values and collective dreams which the Indian freedom struggle stood for.   I feel that Independence Day is the time not only for celebrations and routine furling and unfurling of flags and political speeches, but also a moment of introspection, self examination, brainstorming and debates and discussions so as to do course correction by remembering those core values of freedom struggle and the collective dreams which India saw together at the dawn of independence. We should honestly go for heart searching whether we are right on the path that we had chosen at the time of independence and enshrined in one of the most modern and democratic constitutions of the world we have.

We have become more ritualistic in Independence Day celebrations and it often turns out to be a festival of VIPs watched by the common men. I was very happy to learn that some universities and government offices decided in the past to give the honour of unfurling the national flag on this occasion to senior sweepers and gardeners. But only symbolisms would not serve the purpose. We need to do more.

Indian freedom struggle is a great historical landmark

Indian freedom struggle is a great historical landmark, as important as European renaissance or American Civil war against slavery and racial discrimination. It was not another bloody fight to carve out a modern state in the territorial and military terms, but it stood for democratic and human values and methods which inspired many leaders later on to fight against injustice, discrimination and exploitation and to realize the goals of liberty and equality in other parts of the world. The non-cooperation movement, Civil disobedience movement and nonviolence became established text book methods of democratic means of protest and fight against injustice in all the parts of the world, even in erstwhile colonial powers. The message of Indian freedom struggle goes even beyond that. The supreme sacrifice made by young freedom fighters like Sardar Bhagat Singh, Rajguru, Sukhdev, Bismil, Chandrashekhar Azad, Subhash Chandra Bose are ever inspiring to the youth and millions of dreamers in India and across the world to fight fearlessly against injustice and exploitation and for a better tomorrow. There were tribal leaders, peasant leaders, students, villagers who not only gave a brave front for the cause of independence, but also sacrificed their lives. Life is worth only if we live and die for noble causes like freedom and equality.   Another significant lesson is that for a greater goal (that time it was freedom from colonial regime), all small differences should be set aside and a united and determined effort should be made to realize the most important priority or the collective goal of the nation.  It is unprecedented in world history that a diverse society like India with various castes, religions, culture, and language put forth a strong and united front against the mighty British and brutish colonial power to oust them from India and win freedom ultimately.

Political transition and degeneration in the last three decades

 In the last three decades or so the Indian political dynamics has drifted to identity politics- identity based on religion, caste, creed, region, language and culture. As long as identity politics leads to politicization and democratization for justice and equality, it is part of the democratic process. But when such tendencies lead to vote bank politics by polarizing people based on narrow categories of religion (secularism or hundutva), caste, creed, region and culture, it becomes detrimental to the idea of India and its unity and integrity. When majoritarian views and way of living is thrust on the minorities and the rich flourish while the poor and weak, rural folk and farmers suffer, it is a jolt to democracy and the idea of India. These questions are relevant and Independence Day is an occasion to deliberate on them.

Let’s think on meaning of liberty, idea of India and its present state in India

What is liberty or independence? Liberty is freedom from fear, injustice and discrimination. It is the environment that allows all citizens to explore their potential and grow to the fullest. It is freedom of speech, expression and faith. It is an environment of security of life and property, dignity peace and happiness. Liberty is, thus, an all encompassing concept. Do we have all these conditions available to us? We need to think. And if not, let’s be serious for course correction.

The Indian nation is pluralist and diverse in many ways. What binds it together is the idea of India that is broad hearted, accommodative, assimilative, and cooperative and pacifist. Live and let live is the basic philosophy. The spiritual fibre of India is made up of great ideas and philosophy. One is Sarvey Bhavantu Sukhinah, sarvey santu niramayah (let everybody prosper, let everybody be free from diseases). Second idea is Vasudhaiva kutumbakam (the whole planet is one family), the third and very important belief ingrained in Indian epics is Satyameva Jayate (Truth Truimphs) and the fourt and the lat one is Shanti Ohm, Shanti Ohm (let peace prevail). This is the Indian spirit that forms unique identity of India. The idea of India is the idea of unity in diversity. It is the idea of democracy and liberalism. It is the idea of love and peace. It is the idea of tolerance and fraternity. The Indian constitution gives immense thrust on justice, equality and progressive ideas through its various schedules and articles, more prominently the preamble, the fundamental rights and the directive principles of state. At this day of independence, let’s think how committed we are to these ideas and philosophy.

Today our collective dream is to make India prosperous, democratic, peaceful and technological and economic super power. Also we want to make India Jagadguru (teacher of world) in morality and ethics and humanity and justice. Politics is the process that takes the national dream to its fruition. Political goals should be tailored to match national ethos, national spirit and the idea of India. It should also match the hopes and aspirations of India.

What are the hopes and aspirations of India? India wants to be free from hunger and poverty and disease; it wants to be free from slavery and exploitation; it wants shelter and protection to all its citizens; it wants to have employment for the largest working age population that it boasts; it wants dignity, security and equal opportunity for its weaker sections, women, minorities, scheduled castes, other backward castes and the poor among the forward castes; it wants to be an industrial, military and commercial giant; it wants to play a bigger role in the world in values, morality and strategic issues. The list is long, very long. Mind you it is aspirational India.

Political Interest and national interest

But political interests are not always same as national interest. They may be or may not be. It is constant vigil and pressure of the people through wisdom and honesty that power hungry politicians are kept closer to the national goals. Today we see that political players are playing with the idea of India for mustering the required arithmetic for grabbing power. The time in which we are living is defined by how truths are manufactured through fake news, lies fabricated as truth through social media and people being driven like sheep through emotive ideas and issues to gain political mileage. The definitions of nationalism have been polluted by jingoism and majoritarianism. The definition of secularism has turned into appeasement for vote bank. The cause of Dalit; Scheduled Castes, Other Backward Castes or even Scheduled Tribe is being used to realize political power and to create new feudal lords in these categories who play deception to the cause of social justice and good governance.  In competitive politics, national goals become a façade, a slogan, a cliché (Jumla); reality however is the intense desire to remain in power by hook or crook to make money or to make money through crony capitalism to remain in power. See the panama leaks and find who’s who list of politicians across the world including India (although we do not have the full list except conjecturing in media).

We the people of India should realize that political goals of Indian political parties are drifting far apart from the national goals and it is time to stand up and unite for resistance against sinister designs against the Idea of India for winning elections. The precious energy, time and resources are being wasted on achieving ideological drift to right or left, without thinking its repercussions on the future shape and prospects of India. The intellectuals are sold out. Universities need tanks to promote patriotism, gau raksha (cow protection) would be a means to prove nationalist credentials and instrument for political parties to use the footsoldiers to hound the minorities for polarization (India is already the largest producer of milk, even before the gau rakshaks became more active). Foreign policy is made seemingly more aggressive to create a false sense of impending war to convert patriotism in jingoistic nationalism; it is a good way to hide failures to achieve national targets. On the other hand there are others who want to get political power in inheritance like a family business; there are others who are prisoners of ideology and indoctrination and not ready to come to the ground realities and find pragmatic meaning and relevance of socialism; and also there are others who use ideologies as boats to reach the seats of power and they are so pragmatic that they change their boats very often!

People the only hope

The only hope at this crucial juncture of India’s political history is people who need to set alternative narratives by creating pressure for the political parties to achieve our national goals and collective dreams. On this Independence Day and on all future Independence Day celebrations, we the people should pay our homage to the martyrs of freedom struggle and recommit ourselves to the values and idea of India for which they sacrificed their lives. Let’s not be like herd of cattle or ship. Let’s think on this auspicious occasion of Independence Day: Are we really committed to the idea of India and our collective dreams? If not, let’s think what we can do to achieve these ideals, if not for any reason, just for the sake of mother India and its teeming millions?

One of the benchmark idea of India and collective dream of India is articulated in the famous “tryst with destiny” speech of our first Prime Minister Pd. Jawaharlal Nehru.

Tryst with Destiny Speech of Pd. Jawaharlal Nehru

“Long years ago we made a tryst with destiny, and now the time comes when we shall redeem our pledge, not wholly or in full measure, but very substantially. At the stroke of the midnight hour, when the world sleeps, India will awake to life and freedom. A moment comes, which comes but rarely in history, when we step out from the old to the new, when an age ends, and when the soul of a nation, long suppressed, finds utterance.

It is fitting that at this solemn moment we take the pledge of dedication to the service of India and her people and to the still larger cause of humanity.

At the dawn of history India started on her unending quest, and trackless centuries which are filled with her striving and the grandeur of her success and her failures. Through good and ill fortune alike she has never lost sight of that quest or forgotten the ideals which gave her strength. We end today a period of ill fortune and India discovers herself again.

The achievement we celebrate today is but a step, an opening of opportunity, to the greater triumphs and achievements that await us. Are we brave enough and wise enough to grasp this opportunity and accept the challenge of the future?

Freedom and power bring responsibility. The responsibility rests upon this assembly, a sovereign body representing the sovereign people of India. Before the birth of freedom we have endured all the pains of labour and our hearts are heavy with the memory of this sorrow. Some of those pains continue even now. Nevertheless, the past is over and it is the future that beckons to us now.

That future is not one of ease or resting but of incessant striving so that we may fulfil the pledges we have so often taken and the one we shall take today. The service of India means the service of the millions who suffer. It means the ending of poverty and ignorance and disease and inequality of opportunity.

The ambition of the greatest man of our generation has been to wipe every tear from every eye. That may be beyond us, but as long as there are tears and suffering, so long our work will not be over.

And so we have to labour and to work, and work hard, to give reality to our dreams. Those dreams are for India, but they are also for the world, for all the nations and peoples are too closely knit together today for anyone of them to imagine that it can live apart.

Peace has been said to be indivisible; so is freedom, so is prosperity now, and so also is disaster in this one world that can no longer be split into isolated fragments.

To the people of India, whose representatives we are, we make an appeal to join us with faith and confidence in this great adventure. This is no time for petty and destructive criticism, no time for ill will or blaming others. We have to build the noble mansion of free India where all her children may dwell.

The appointed day has come – the day appointed by destiny – and India stands forth again, after long slumber and struggle, awake, vital, free and independent. The past clings on to us still in some measure and we have to do much before we redeem the pledges we have so often taken. Yet the turning point is past, and history begins anew for us, the history which we shall live and act and others will write about.

It is a fateful moment for us in India, for all Asia and for the world. A new star rises, the star of freedom in the east, a new hope comes into being, a vision long cherished materialises. May the star never set and that hope never be betrayed!

We rejoice in that freedom, even though clouds surround us, and many of our people are sorrow-stricken and difficult problems encompass us. But freedom brings responsibilities and burdens and we have to face them in the spirit of a free and disciplined people.

On this day our first thoughts go to the architect of this freedom, the father of our nation, who, embodying the old spirit of India, held aloft the torch of freedom and lighted up the darkness that surrounded us.

We have often been unworthy followers of his and have strayed from his message, but not only we but succeeding generations will remember this message and bear the imprint in their hearts of this great son of India, magnificent in his faith and strength and courage and humility. We shall never allow that torch of freedom to be blown out, however high the wind or stormy the tempest.

Our next thoughts must be of the unknown volunteers and soldiers of freedom who, without praise or reward, have served India even unto death.

We think also of our brothers and sisters who have been cut off from us by political boundaries and who unhappily cannot share at present in the freedom that has come. They are of us and will remain of us whatever may happen, and we shall be sharers in their good and ill fortune alike.

The future beckons to us. Whither do we go and what shall be our endeavour? To bring freedom and opportunity to the common man, to the peasants and workers of India; to fight and end poverty and ignorance and disease; to build up a prosperous, democratic and progressive nation, and to create social, economic and political institutions which will ensure justice and fullness of life to every man and woman.

We have hard work ahead. There is no resting for any one of us till we redeem our pledge in full, till we make all the people of India what destiny intended them to be.

We are citizens of a great country, on the verge of bold advance, and we have to live up to that high standard. All of us, to whatever religion we may belong, are equally the children of India with equal rights, privileges and obligations. We cannot encourage communalism or narrow-mindedness, for no nation can be great whose people are narrow in thought or in action.

To the nations and peoples of the world we send greetings and pledge ourselves to cooperate with them in furthering peace, freedom and democracy.

And to India, our much-loved motherland, the ancient, the eternal and the ever-new, we pay our reverent homage and we bind ourselves afresh to her service. Jai Hind .”


Competitive Politics:  Burial of Ideology, middle class confusion and tired intellectuals

Competitive politics refers to competition between different political ideologies and parties for getting a chance to implement their vision of growth and development. In a sense electoral politics is always competitive. The quality of electoral politics is, nevertheless, determined by the reason and values that drive the politicians. Basically politics is a means to change and progress. But it has fast turned into politicking, gaming and opportunism to retain power. Ideology no more guides politics, it is pragmatism and permissiveness that do; opportunism is in its full play in the name of real politics. Middle class is excessively obsessed with self interest and is confused while and intellectuals are either tired or afraid. The times are not only different, but dangerous as well.

Politics has many purposes. It is a means to give expression to and realize people’s aspirations. It is a means to fight against injustice and inequality. It is a means to give voice to the weak and voiceless. It is a means to get representation in the power structure and decision making process. It is a means to arbitrate between different interest groups. It is a means to be in power and authority. Politicians are sometimes driven by their own personal interest, i.e., protecting or expanding their own business interest by remaining a part of the power system.

Ideological Commitments are on burial path

When competitive politics becomes a battle for power and authority bereft of values, ideological commitment and a vision for unity and integrity, the goals of change and progress are relegated to the back seat. Today politics has become a power game without any firm commitment to ideology or values. Politics of convenience and populism instead of conviction and seriousness about socio-economic issues has become order of the day. The politicians are taking contradictory stands at various points of time and consistency is missing. Although they apparently display commitment to truth and values, they resort to propaganda and maneuver to achieve their immediate goal, i.e., remaining in power at any cost. They join hands in the name of secularism or removal of corruption, but very often change their stand on the issues according to convenience. Values become a vale and power game becomes the real underlying force in the politics of the day. This trend is visible from Uttarakhand to Arunachal Pradesh, from Goa to Bihar and further to Gujarat. The political parties have lost their credentials for such kind of inconsistent and incoherent behavior. Politicians forget their historic roles in these changing times and put priority to their own personal aspirations- winning elections and then remaining in power. If Lalau Prasead is an outstanding example of seeking personal rentals in politics, Nitish Kumanr is an outstanding example of opportunism absolving his historical responsibility regarding ideological battle.

The present government at the centre has a rightist ideology which is different from the leftist or centrist ideology embraced by the left parties or congress party respectively. In a democracy all the ideological strands should get a chance to be heard or elected through democratic means. However, in the wobbly and crowd led democracy of India, ideological debate and discussions are marred by emotive and divisive issues, often taking undemocratic and violent routes. Populism, fake news, social media led uneducated opinions and the mainstream media, with a penchant for sensationalisation and breaking news syndrome, have done disservice to the cause of democracy. Everything that is done for remaining in power is justified in the name of ideology, principles and values, but deep inside politics has become hostage to self interest and coalition of interests, authoritarian tendencies and populism.

Politics has become victim of strife of interests

Ambrose Bierce in “The Devil’s Dictionary” defines politics as strife of interests masquerading as a contest of principles; the conduct of public affairs for private advantage. That is what is seen today in India and many other parts of the world. Indian Political parties and leaders are using the two planks of corruption and development, to lure people for votes, but these tools are used selectively to bog down the political rivals on the one hand and allure the people in the name of clean governance. The claim of cleanliness is used as facades and so are principles to justify irrational or selfish actions or political vandetta.

The cherry picking of some politically beneficial corruption cases of opposition camp and ignoring or even covering up corruption cases of the people close to power happened in the past, and it is happening even today. Panama papers and opaque accounts of Indian political parties tell the same story. Corruption should be despised, development should be embraced. Does any political party at any place differ in opinion? But in reality it is very difficult to understand why a series of cases are opened against opposition party leaders while many of the ruling party cases are covered or put into cold bag. Why advocates who are public figures as well, fight cases on arbitrarily high charges to save people who harmed public interest or violated the rule of the law. It is very superfluous argument that right to access to justice should be available to all (it is available to the rich and powerful already) and expertise should be rewarded (but public figure advocates should morally not take cases where public interest is seriously violated). Who are the people who pay public- figure advocates lakhs of rupees for pleading for an hour in the court of justice? Why they pay so much? Are they common man? Many public figures advocates appear for companies like union carbide and Sahara where serious public interest is involved. It is not just professional commitment, but big money that attracts such advocates. It is morally not justified for a public figure. Public figures are also seen closely with business interests, which would otherwise be welcome indicating that the policy makers are accessible to businesses that generate wealth and create employment. But there is a moral hazard and conflict of interest and it is not hidden how things move in the Indian democracy or for that matter even in case of other developed democracies like the US, South Korea, or socialist countries like Brazil. Corruption therefore is not what is apparent; there are many hidden forms of corruption. As long as somebody does not come into the legal net, s/he is not corrupt. Thus, it is the ability to manage the papers; images and proximity to power that save or wreck a leader. The prerequisites of becoming a political leader and funding of elections are such in India that everybody is in the same boat, i.e. opaque manner of mobilization of funds (and keeping it with political parties or in family accounts as a matter of convenience, choice and cleverish move). In fact it is a just a matter of chance that somebody is detected to have managed illegal funds successfully without allegation of corruption while others fail in doing so. Both of the cases are corruption, the difference is that some are detected and some remain undetected. Corruption is bad because it breaks the morale and self esteem of hard working citizens of the country.

Real politics: Naked Truths

Real politics has come to its naked best, not only in India but elsewhere as well. The Americal President is a living example how he is confused amidst his own people and promises, none of which has so far been effectively achieved. Appointments, sacking and reappointment are going on without any serious consideration to policies and implementation. People are getting fade up, even in the republican file and ranks. In the same way, politicians today seem to be devoid of any ideology or value even in India and are jumping like rats from seemingly sinking boats and joining the most prospective ships irrespective of ideological differences. India is a standing example of this phenomenon, more so since 2014, when a right wing government came to power with massive votes by reducing opposition to a level where it is not even technically qualified as an opposition party in the parliament. Today the ambitious politicians, seeing a better prospect to win elections, are curious to join the ruling party throwing away their ideological allegiance. Some of them like Nitish Kumar forgot their historic responsibility to nurture the alternative ideology which he claims to stand for.  He is known as Mr. Clean and Vikas Purush (development man), it is hard to understand why at this crucial juncture of ideological struggle in the country, he scuttled the boat of opposition. Only reactive politics and politics of convenience explain this. That is an ideological betrayal. His name appears in this betrayal now, but he is not alone. There are many who have done it in past and there are many who are waiting. Should we celebrate the burial of ideology in the Indian politics?

Victory of political craft over ideology

A series of events in India exemplify victory of political craft over ideology- from Uttarakhand to Arunachal and further to Goa and Bihar, and now to Gujarat, it is abundantly clear that the only political ideology today is to remain in power by hook or crook. Nevertheless, this is not new and mother of all this has been the Indian National Congress post 1970. The politics of polarization, vote bank, nepotism and favouritism can be traced back to those years of political transition when the Indian National Congress lost its ethos of freedom struggle days.  Finally in 2014 the other side of political ideology, i.e., the right wing defeated congress in the same game of cunningness and maneuver on the back of huge discontent with the way the Indian National Congress governed in recent past marked by corruption and cronyism  and extremely orchestrated use of social media by right wing party for political propaganda.

Politics is not an end, but a means.

Politics is not an end, but a means. It is not a product, but a process. It is the art of government. Like other values it has its counterfeits. So much emphasis has been placed upon the false that the significance of the true has been obscured and politics has come to convey the meaning of crafty and cunning selfishness, instead of candid and sincere service (Calvin Coolidge, Have Faith in Massachusetts). In this light if we see the achievements of the new government, we are not enthused with confidence. The new government promised achhe din (good days). People voted them in with huge trust. Some new slogans, some rechristened old welfare policies, some claims and patchy reforms that have been delivered. But emphasis on propaganda rather than real work is visible every moment.; if at all this was meant by achhe din, this is only the repetition of the past, big promise, hollow delivery!  After three years of rule of the new right wing government many people feel that they have fallen to fire from the frying pan.

The party that promised value based politics, employment, growth, reforms and human development has not shown any big shift in the paradigm except for symbolism and some patch work or old wine in new bottle in the name of reforms. Some of the old institutions were destroyed without putting any better or at least comparable institution in place (planning commission was replaced by niti ayog) and those universities and professors have been hounded which do not favour right wing thinking. The situation further becomes accentuated by appointing right wing administrators who give irrational advices such as proposal to cut admission to advance courses, putting tanks inside universities for awakening patriotism and rewriting history on untenable facts and logic like saying that Dr. Ambedkar wrote the Indian constitution on dictation (meaning he was not qualified to think) of some other enlightened members of the constituent assembly. The loyalists and right leaning bureaucrats of the government have replaced Mahatma Gandhi in government calendars and other places, some even claiming that the present PM is a bigger mass leader than Mahatma in hideous connotations. An ideological battle is welcome, that is the beauty of democracy, but nasty tricks and degeneration in the level of debate and discussion is ominous. Vigilantism, intolerance and fabricated truths are as bad as pseudo secularism, appeasement and indifferent governance. People are utterly disappointed due to ominous signs of authoritarianism, political vendetta, vigilantism and attack on freedom of speech or different political ideologies. Some of the leaders are also trying to popularize superstition and myth, even at the stage of National Science Congress.

Politicking replacing politics is an ominous sign

Politics and politicking are different. Politics allows different stands of thinking and experiments with cooperation, tolerance or educated differences. Politicking is using dirty tricks to usurp power with hidden agenda. The quality of politics should be judged by its outcome- whether it delivers development with justice, whether it helps to unify a country or disintegrate it, whether it leads to peace and happiness etc. If politics leads to gaming, suppressing free voices, rewarding only the loyalists, promoting myths and superstitions, forcing propaganda and autocratic vision on people in the garb of principles, this is dangerous. Today, those who question the flawed or skewed visions are gagged by high handed and inappropriate use of law and power machinery, even sedition laws. The new brand of politicians has the cunningness to force their propaganda and autocratic vision on people in the garb of principles. Foxes are being described as Machiavelli and Chanakya. The times are really difficult!

The focus of politics today is on different ways of polarization- majority polarization by playing on emotive exhortations against the minorities, schedule caste and the OBC leaders. The total attention of political parties has shifted to propaganda and maneuver.  Political craft and not ideology or value is driving politics in India more than any other time in the past except emergency years.   The leaders have no iota of repentance even if their brand of politics leads into violence and bloodshed, even if they ditch their ideology and mentors, even if they tell lies to the people, even if they embezzle public money.

Cutting across the political parties, politicians have the audacity to demean rationality and intellectuals who speak critically. Laughing on Amartya Sen or relevance of redistribution is one example. In fact in the last two decades intellectuals have been banished by all the political parties, only the cliques and loyalists have got chances to interact with the top leaders for policy making or adorning places or posts that matter. The signs are dangerous. Intellectuals of different hue and colour should be allowed to articulate and express their alternative visions of progress and change. History has shown that is the only path, which modern and growing societies adopt.

Intellectuals still have a role to play and more than ever

While all the above mentioned ills are creeping into the political system, pseudo or coward intellectuals are either surrendered or seemingly have lost faith as if the end of history has come. Alas, there is no Socrates to say truth even if it amounts to sacrificing life or Jayaprakash Narayan, who can stand up and loudly cry for a “total revolution” to reject all what is unjust and anti people.

Professor Krugman once remarked that politics determine who has the power, not who has the truth (The Australian Financial Review, September 6, 2010). This is a reality in confusing times which puzzles the contemporary youth who want to seek what is right and what is wrong, whom to follow and emulate and whom to reject. The youth seems to have surrendered to fabricated truths and social engineering of the political parties instead of nurturing the spirit of enquiry, questioning and resisting the lure of retrograde ideas. They have in fact become victims of the conspiracy of the political parties. If a political party does not have its foundation in the determination to advance a cause that is right and that is moral, then it is not a political party; it is merely a conspiracy to seize power. (Dwight D Eisenhower, speech, March 6, 1956). This must be brought to the people. Intellectuals today seem to be tired or afraid. They act as the beacons of light to guide the generations to right path. When they become greedy and fearsome, the society is bound to be confused because it derives its wisdom from trash and lies of the social media. The intellectuals must have the elements of a sage (philosopher)- free from the mundane and full of courage to bring out reality and truth among the confused and the misguided, come what may. No price is big  to pay for truth and light.

Hypocritical and directionless aspirational middle class

Middle class has become a fence sitter and it conveniently changes sides according to the wind blowing. This is contrary to the notion of middle class as the source of leadership- the leadership factory. Middle class is educate, economical independent and it has the wisdom to understand right or wrong. However, in these dark and difficult times, the middle class has chosen either to be vulgarly self conscious and selfish and to “look away” from the bitter facts of life in which the common man has been thrown. Middle class has become increasingly compromising, permissive and self seeking and chosen to be closer to the powerful and remaining a ardent supporter of a very skewed, heartless and brazen growth narrative without thinking for those Indians for whom every moment is a moment of uncertainty and battle for survival. People are afraid of talking about redistribution, secularism and freedom of speech.  Oligarchy based on loyalty rather than talent is the choice of the leaders for governance.  Some people wonder why only 3-4 leaders seem to govern a big country like India, others just being in the cabinet for name sake or singing psalms that pleases the chief.

The middle class is silently observing the misdemeanors of the so called grass root leaders. What happened recently in Bihar or in the past in Uttarakhand, Arunachal or Goa and what is happening in Gujarat now indicate that democracy has degenerated into winning elections or seats of power. Manufacturing of mandate by social engineering, playing on the fault lines of Indian nation on divisive and extremist planks (jingoism) against the spirit of India will be a costly proposition.

It must be remembered that for some leaders in both the sides of political spectrum, it is the question of winning or losing 2019 election; however, more important issue is the destiny of India and the fate of the very idea of India. And it looks to be in danger. A right wing answer to excessive use of caste politics or over play of the idea of secularism by erstwhile ruling parties was a part of the process of democratization. But the idea of positive discrimination, socialistic and egalitarian goals, and secularism and redistribution policies were not premised on bad motives. True, they were over played for vote bank while governance got the back seat. So the previous government lost its credibility. Today a counter narrative is being perpetrated in the name of narrow and skewed vision of nationalism, terrorism, majoritarianism, tradition and culture. This is equally despicable and dangerous. Will the middle class muster the courage for self examination and search for a more balanced narrative? It is pertinent to quote here Barak Obama (interview, MSNBC, September 25, 2006) – “I always believe that ultimately, if people are paying attention, then we get good government and good leadership. And when we get lazy, as a democracy and civically start taking shortcuts, then it results in bad government and politics.” That is what the Indian middle class is doing!

Often there are claims that since we have people’s mandate and majority in the democratic institutions, all our acts should be taken as right. The middle class falls into the trap of this justification.  This is a flawed logic, which Plato pointed out way back. Even today the chances of democracy turning into “mobocracy” are not remote. See what is happening day in and day out in the name of people’s mandate and majority.  Henrik Ibsen in his well known “An Enemy of the People” goes on to say- “ The majority is never right. Never, I tell you! That’s one of these lies in society that no free and intelligent man can help rebelling against. Who are the people that make up the biggest proportion of the population — the intelligent ones or the fools?” Does the intelligent middle class understand that!

What is the answer?

The answer is using modern democratizing tools than promoting majoritarianism and retrograde divisive and flawed ideological assault on institutions. Three year versus 70 years is a propaganda based on lies and revenge. Growth and change are continuous processes and every new government comes to power mainly due to the failure of the previous governments in the expectations that they would take forward the idea of change and progress by consolidating the achievements of the past and building on them and not by discrediting them altogether. Idea of India should live and prosper. That is the only benchmark of success or failure and nothing else. The only motive that can keep politics pure is the motive of doing good for one’s country and its people (Henry Ford, “Party Politics”, Ford Ideals).

Essay Ethics

What differentiates you from the crowd?

The crowd is driven by the external elements eg. fashion, popular beliefs and convenience. The wise are driven by character and virtues, no matter how difficult their path is.  The crowd is always propelled by narrow self interest and greed.  The wise people are driven by purpose, passion and conscience. The crowd is short-sighted (only see the present), the wise men have a vision they see present in the context of future outcomes). No doubt the best preparation for tomorrow is doing your best today. But, we must try to visualise the future of our choice before acting.  The thought process of the crowd and the wise differ. It is rightly said- What we think, we become. (Budhha). Crowd is insecure, fearful and suspicious. The wise people are confident, they think positively, optimistically, creatively and fearlessly. The crowd has a closed mind, the wise have an open mind. The crowd behaves with impulse without control, the wise follow their impulses with control. The crowd takes things on the face value and gives judgment; the wise examine the facts and events before making a judgment. The crowd quits in the slightest of difficulties, the brave and wise endure the difficulties. Crowd is confused; wise people have clarity of purpose. The crowd can be driven like cattle, the wise can be driven only by meaning and purpose of an act. The crowd wants both- to eat the cake and have it too. The wise make a choice between alternatives, compare the opportunity cost of alternatives available, and make up their mind to sacrifice all opportunities but the best and they exercise the best; thus, wise are ready to make sacrifices to achieve their goals. The crowd takes life as a choice-less journey, the wise wake up every morning to choose joy and happiness over negativity and pain.


Difference between Nationalism and Patriotism

The debate about nationalism and patriotism has been hitting up in India and elsewhere due to a rising trend of right wing politics. The US presidential election, the French presidential election, Brexit by UK and even the increasing vigilantism and minority bashing in India has been some of the recent byproducts of rising right wing super nationalist arguments facilitated by increasing use of social media in an era of post truth, i.e., fabricated facts or denouncement of existing rational thinking. Man is a social animal and every society has its own identity based on culture, language, religion and values. Nationalism is a consciousness and awareness that binds people together around culture and values of a society, patriotism also does the same. But nationalism is the by- product of feeling of “rivalry” and  a sense of “superiority” of one society against the other, while patriotism is based on the feeling of affection towards one’s own society and culture without any having any feeling or sense of rivalry and superiority against the other. In modern societies, fast movement of men and material and process of settlement and resettlement has led to cultural transition and assimilation (and this process is not only contemporary, it has taken place throughout history), turning societies a cultural cauldron which gives birth to multi-coloured or rainbow societies. At the same time democracy and recognition of human rights have become the defining benchmarks of modern societies where the principle of non-discrimination is taken as a desired goal of all democratic welfare states. The idea of narrow nationalism (born of rivalry between countries in the process of evolution of modern state, especially during colonial period and inter-war years) has come under threat- a nationalism based on majoritarianism, minority-bashing, sub-feudalism and status quo in social and governance structures- is finding multiculturalism and progressive liberal democratic idea of “live and let live” as a  threat very difficult to digest. They are trying to over blow the issues of threat to security and integrity of the country to promote a type of narrow nationalism to realize their political goals at the cost of peace, prosperity and democracy of the countries. India has also seen such tendencies in recent times. It is in this context this beautiful exposition on nationalism and patriotism is reproduced from the website here for the clarity of understanding of students in general and for the essay paper in the civil services (mains) exam in particular.    

Nationalism and patriotism both show the relationship of an individual towards his or her nation. The two are often confused and frequently believed to mean the same thing. However, there is a vast difference between nationalism and patriotism.

Nationalism means to give more importance to unity by way of a cultural background, including language and heritage. Patriotism pertains to the love for a nation, with more emphasis on values and beliefs.

When talking about nationalism and patriotism, one cannot avoid the famous quotation by George Orwell, who said that nationalism is ‘the worst enemy of peace’. According to him, nationalism is a feeling that one’s country is superior to another in all respects, while patriotism is merely a feeling of admiration for a way of life. These concepts show that patriotism is passive by nature and nationalism can be a little aggressive.

Patriotism is based on affection and nationalism is rooted in rivalry and resentment. One can say that nationalism is militant by nature and patriotism is based on peace.

Most nationalists assume that their country is better than any other, whereas patriots believe that their country is one of the best and can be improved in many ways. Patriots tend to believe in friendly relations with other countries while some nationalists don’t.

In patriotism, people all over the world are considered equal but nationalism implies that only the people belonging to one’s own country should be considered one’s equal.

A patriotic person tends to tolerate criticism and tries to learn something new from it, but a nationalist cannot tolerate any criticism and considers it an insult.

Nationalism makes one to think only of one’s country’s virtues and not its deficiencies. Nationalism can also make one contemptuous of the virtues of other nations. Patriotism, on the other hand, pertains to value responsibilities rather than just valuing loyalty towards one’s own country.

Nationalism makes one try to find justification for mistakes made in the past, while patriotism enables people to understand both the shortcomings and improvements made.


The Idea of India- Hindutva and Hinduism

Today there are real threats to the idea of India- more from within than from without. In the competitive politics, the fault lines in the Indian society are being overplayed by the politicians to extract electoral advantages; it doesn’t matter to them even if this affects the fabric of India which is primarily identified by its remarkable “unity in diversity”. For acquiring the seat of power, the politicians are out to do  disservice to the country by posing one caste against the other, one religion against the other and one ideology against the other without any space for a healthy debate on the idea of India, difference between Hinduism and Hindutva; secularism and appeasement; participatory democracy and authoritarianism; shared national dreams and ultra nationalism, role of education and conformism, discipline and right to criticism, self adoration (megalomania) and self examination (honest assessment and analysis), truth and propaganda (post truth) etc. Tolerance has become the main victim of headstrong irrationality and people are turning into crowd from thinking beings. The leadership and ideas expected from the middle class is not coming up. They are busy in promoting their own interest under the façade of national interest and involved in god worship, gods that keep them in a convenient relationship with power structure. Cronyism and personal loyalty are acceptable but an effort of soul searching and honest questioning is not. That gives birth to two tendencies- unnecessary and misplaced noise on one hand and a heart breaking silence (where it should not be) on the other.

The idea of India is vast and varied, but still there are some eternal traits that define India. One of the greatest masters of India’s history and culture, Swami Vivekanand said, “Our sacred Motherland is a land of religion and philosophy – the birthplace of spiritual giants – the land of renunciation, where and where alone, from the most ancient to the most modern times, there has been the highest ideal of life open to man. Each nation has a theme; everything else is secondary. India’s theme is religion. Social reform and everything else are secondary.”  For Mark Twain,  “India is the cradle of human race, the birthplace of human speech, the mother of history, the grandmother of legend, and the grandmother of tradition.” India is viewed as a great nation where deep knowledge and great wisdom about life was nurtured and cherished since ancient times.   It is an ancient society and culture and its contributions to the humanity are immense in religion, spiritualism, education and science. Albert Einstein rightly said that the world owes a lot to Indians who taught it how to count without which no worthwhile scientific discovery could have been possible. Another important aspect of the ancient Indian society was its open and free environment where problems were discussed (shastratha) and solutions (samadhana) were found with collective efforts and with open mind. The Great German scholar, Max Mueller was very impressed by the innate wisdom and intellectual fibre of the Indians. He has gone to the extent to say that ‘if I were asked under what sky human mind has fully developed some of its choicest gifts, has most deeply pondered on the greatest problems of life, and found solutions, I should point to India.’ All  these references point out about the fundamental make up of India.

Is India decaying?

India was great in the past. Its past glories, nevertheless, cannot justify the present failures or a flawed vision about its future.  Shashi Tharoor succinctly articulates what India is –   “India is not, as people keep calling it, an underdeveloped country, but rather, in the context of its history and cultural heritage, a highly developed one in an advanced state of decay.” The stage of decay is quite visible in the way Indian discourses have narrowed down to caste, creed and religion and the place for humanism and especially women and children, all said and done, is on decline. The country has been fast turning into a hedonist crowd where the crudest meaning of individual and national development has become an overarching consideration while the new Indian crowd has developed a habit of looking away socio-economic ills such as poverty, inequality, violence against the women, downtrodden and minorities. The place for alternative thinking, questioning, dissenting etc. is shrinking. Electoral victories are being used as certificates of morality and ethics while in winning elections all benchmarks of grace and discipline is broken. And the most confused class is the middle class, which not only indulges in white collar crimes and siphoning off of development money but also indulges into the hypocrisy of fighting against corruption and poverty. There is no difference in the left and right side of political spectrum. If a sex scandal happens under the nose of the left party rule in Kerala, it too happens in Naliya in Gujarat and it becomes passing news. It is sad to see how a call for alternative politics by the left and civil society led politics also lost its path!

The vision of future of India is a vision of aspirational India – a vision about a peacefully living pluralist society with freedom and liberty and a craving for excellence in each facet of life social, political, economic. The future vision of India would be an India where nobody would be compelled to sleep empty stomach under the sky as homeless and destitute, no daughter would die in womb and molested in the streets, no mother would die during child bearing or after, no child would be illiterate and stunted, no school and hospital would be without basic utilities and professionals, no section of Indian society would be afraid of anything and could leave with respect and dignity. But we can see how some people want to establish a different kind of hierarchy and authoritarian regime in the name of converting India from a wrongly understood notion of “soft state” to a “hard state”, reverse the wheels of history to establish their flawed concept of Hindu Rashtra and create artificial barriers for minorities and the deprived classes. There are thousands of beautiful ideas to work for India’s beautiful tryst with destiny rather than forced change in the future vision of India and its priorities. But the fight is not for betterment of India , but for getting the seat of power through electoral gimmicks.

India is inherently immortal, threats are artificial

One thing which needs to be noted that in the past India faced many challenges and aggressions, but every time it rose from ashes and that its endurance, flexibility and great power of assimilation which define its core values. From Alexander the great to Muslim invaders and later to the British and other European conquerors, India survived by its very inherent cultural and spiritual resilience. India is great because of its power of assimilation and accommodation without diluting its originality, viz, Indianness. Even western historians agree on this thesis. William Dalrymple in his White Mughals: Love and Betrayal in Eighteenth-Century India says rightly that India has always had a strange way with her conquerors. “In defeat, she beckons them in, then slowly seduces, assimilates and transforms them.” And this is a unique feature of accommodation, assimilation and resilience in Indian culture which enables it to live beyond the decay that time brings. It is not palpability, but strength. We should not forget that India has produced great emperors like Chandragupta, Asoka, Samudrgupta and Akbar, all of them were not just great warriors but more than that! They thought about peace and harmony, art and culture, virtuous life and about a just and fair system. Great religions were born in India, viz, Hinduism, Budhism, Jainism, Sikhism and Sufi movement. In fact the concept of democracy and welfare state has many of the seeds traceable to ancient India’s religion and culture.

The idea of India

 When we think about the idea of India today, we see India as a rising power and emerging economy with potential to become the next super power, as clearly exemplified by the efforts of other powers to willingness to collaborate with India at one level and at another level contain it. There are aware that India has come a long way and now poised to be rising- power. The potential of India as an economic and technological power cannot be underestimated. But potentials are not realized automatically. Is the aspirational India aware how much of our energy is being dissipated in trivial issues and unwarranted propaganda to fulfill the agenda of a few people for remaining in power? Does it make a great sense to change the name of Planning Commission to NITI Ayog, or to change the name of Nirmal Bharat Yojana to Swachha Bharat Yojana or to rechristen National Manufacturing policy 2012 and Small and Marginal Enterprises Act 2006 into seemingly new programmes called Make in India and Skilling India (which are basically components of the erstwhile programmes)? In fact more important than symbolisms is to implement these programmes in true spirit rather than making loud claims of giving new visions. Statesmen are not made by propaganda; they are made by performance and character.  In the political battle of erasing the past symbols and perception, should the fate of India be left on “breaking news” media and noise of the vested interests? It will not take much time that the authoritarian tendencies and fringe elements take a central place in India throttling its great potential.  The old order was rotting and needed replacement, but that does not mean that it was so hopeless in last 70 years that the new regime in three years can do what was done in the last 70 years! It is post truth.

In modern India the idea of India has been articulated in the Indian constitution (both preamble and directive principles) offering equality before law and freedom to every citizen irrespective of religion, caste, race and region. The Preamble of the Indian constitution says: WE, THE PEOPLE OF INDIA, have solemnly resolved to constitute India into a SOVEREIGN SOCIALIST SECULAR DEMOCRATIC REPUBLIC and to secure to all its citizens: JUSTICE, social, economic and political; LIBERTY of thought, expression, belief, faith and worship; EQUALITY of status and of opportunity; and to promote among them all FRATERNITY assuring the dignity of the individual and the unity and integrity of the Nation; IN OUR CONSTITUENT ASSEMBLY this twenty-sixth day of November, 1949, do HERE BY ADOPT, ENACT AND GIVE TO OURSELVES THIS CONSTITUTION.

Directive Principles of State Policy (Article 38 to Article 51 of the Indian constitution) aim to create social and economic conditions under which the citizens can lead a good life. They also aim to establish social and economic democracy through a welfare state. These principles on the other hand ensure that the State shall strive to promote the welfare of the people by promoting a social order in which social, economic and political justice is informed in all institutions of life. Also, the State shall work towards reducing economic inequality as well as inequalities in status and opportunities, not only among individuals, but also among groups of people residing in different areas or engaged in different vocations.

Both of these – the preamble and the directive principles of state policy act as a check on the government, provide a yardstick in the hands of the people to measure the performance of the government and vote it out of power if it does not fulfill the promises made during the elections. But today if the voting patterns are anlysed, the effect of these yardsticks is less than the impact of caste, religion, propaganda, emotive issues and personality cult. People either do not know or they are simply not bothered. Career, wealth, fun and frolic remain to be the highest measures of success, a meaningful and purposeful contribution to the nation and society takes the back seat. People caste their votes on the issues which maximize their own benefit than collective benefits and shared dreams of India.

Competitive politics of vote bank: Secularism andHindutva

 Although the idea of India represents a modern state and a liberal democracy where state aims at development and welfare of all its citizens with liberty, equality, justice and fraternity, today India is observing many divisive forces in operation due to electoral compulsions and competitive politics.  These tendencies are operating at caste, religion and region levels and sometimes also expressed through sub-national aspirations. Such tendencies were found even in the pre-independent India. At that time some Muslim leaders felt that since Hindus were in majority, they would ignore the interest of minority if India won freedom. Two leaders led the group that had such apprehensions – Muhammad Ali Jinna and Iqbal- and they articulated “two- nation theory”. The ‘two- nation theory’ was the basis of partition of India and creation of the state of Pakistan. But Indian leaders like Mahatama Gandhi, Jawaharlal Nehru and Khan Abdul Gaffar Khan etc. articulated a cohesive vision for a democratic and secular India and a country with unity in diversity with the provision of directive principles of state and fundamental rights firmly rooted in the idea of liberty, equality, justice and fraternity. There was anger due to two nation theory and demand for partition of India- both before and after India got independence. Mahatma Gandhi was against the Mac Donald Award for separate electorate and boycotted the first Round Table Conference. The Hindu Nationalist leaders even during freedom struggle wanted to respond to two- nation theory in the same coin, i.e., isolating Muslims and making India a “Hindu Rashtra.” But they could not succeed in their agenda.

Once again there is an effort to assert the “Hindu Rashtra” construct and impose it in different manners. Secularism, one of the most demarcating features of Indian republic is under threat. It is happening partly because the practice of secularism in India has been discredited over a period of time due to its misuse for electoral gains through appeasement of minorities and vote bank politics of Congress, especially after Mrs. Indira Gandhi came to power. There is an iota of truth, but appeasement of the minorities has neither led to the improvement in their living standard nor in their dominance in business and power structures. Therefore appeasement of minority as well as criticism of appeasement- both are based on empty claims and lies. One group claims to favour the minorities for votes and the other group criticizes minority appeasement to polarize Hindu votes. Myths like minority adding to population of India more or minorities doing anti national activities and participation in terrorism is overblown.

Madhav Godbole in his undelivered BG Deshmukh memorial lecture 2016 (EPW, April 9, 2016) rightly pointed out, “There is a great deal of talk in the country about the appeasement of minorities in general and Muslims in particular but socio-economic indicators of Muslims brought out by Justice Sachar Committee brings out convincingly how this so-called “vote-bank” of some political parties has remained at the margin all these years. It is shocking to see that Parliament did not have time to discuss the findings of this report as also the major recommendations of Justice Ranganath Misra Commission report.” He further added, “Secularism was expected to bring about the integration of the diverse elements of Indian society. But, it is a travesty that the majority community as well as the minorities is dissatisfied with it. In fact, the concept of secularism has lost all credibility.”

Confusing times and overwhelming propaganda

The times are rife with confusion created by politicians of all hue and colours- right, left or centre. While the rightist -Hindu politicians have successfully run propaganda against the concept of secularism and socialism, the Centre and Left politicians have failed to develop a counter- narrative because of loss of their credibility.  There was no doubt vote bank politics in the past, based on secularism and caste groups. But the beauty of idea of secularism itself cannot be sullied because it was misused. Still the social media and traditional media- both are helping such propaganda against the very notion of secularism by citing appeasement policy of the Congress Party in the past and over blowing it. They shower praises on hard core Hindu leaders and even run news and articles to support the thesis that the Hindus and Hinduism are under threat of minorities, especially the Muslims.

Hindutva versus Hinduism

Contrary to the vote bank politics based on secularism in the past, today there is vote bank politics based on Hindutva, which is, despite being different from Hinduism,   branded as same.  Analysts differentiate between Hindutva and Hinduism. Hindutva or political Hinduism is about using Hindu identity to grab power and hegemony. Hinduism is also known as Sanatan Dharma and it is different from Hindutva. Hinduism is a great religion with huge philosophical and spiritual wealth about life, living, ethics and virtues.  There is need for Indians to know this, and especially for the young India that Hindutva and Hinduism are not one and the same. Rather than becoming violent “mobs” indulging in religious superiority and inferiority squabbles, as desired by the Hindutva bandwagon, Hinduism makes one wiser, saner and rational. It is necessary for the young India to understand this difference for the sake of Hinduism as well as unity and integrity of the country. They should form an educated opinion and not be like dumb driven cattle misled by today’s political propaganda.  There is overwhelming trend among intelligentsia and the fourth state to support the Hindutva wave in confusion or vested interest in the name of Hinduism. This is dangerous to the very idea of India. An effort is being made to confuse Sanatam Dharma with Hindutva, but they are different.

Sanatan Dharma

Sanatam Dharma or Hindu religion in its noblest form is an eternal way of virtuous living. It is different from political Hinduism or hindutwa. The Sanatan Dharma form of Hinduism is loved and cherished by both- the hindus and non-hindus. But Hindutva is a political formation, a category which is being used as a means for political mobilization through hidden or explicit aim of polarization; so the idea of India is facing new challenges. The same kind of situation arose during the freedom movement when two broad streams- Gandhaian method and hindu nationalists approach-to freedom movement came almost at loggerheads. Although the goals were same, i.e., mobilisation of Indian people against the injustice of the British empire in India, the two approaches were different in method and implications. Today Hindus are in numerical majority as well as in commanding position of power and authority (due to majority in parliament and government in more than a dozen states). This has given a fillip to the idea of Hindutva. It is colliding on many occasions with the hard earned idea of India.

Hindu Rashtra

According to liberals, the Hindu Rashtra can be imagined as a cultural system evolved due to synthesis of various cultural and religious traditions and reforms over thousands of years. However, today the rampant version of Hindu Rashtra is based on ultra nationalism and an idea of existence of an “enemy” community and a “perceived and created threat to Hinduism”. The latter school believes in the dictum of an “eye for eye” or “tit for tat” keeping in reference the ultra fundamentalist or divisive minority leaders, which in fact do not represent all of minority community. But doing so helps the right wing political parties in political mobilization and winning elections.

Hindutva: Current trends

The recent trends are disturbing because there is a widespread unquestioned support to hard headed divisive idea of Hindutva. Look at the remarks of the supporter of new UP CM.   “Agar UP mein rehana hai to yogi yogi kehna hai” (If you want to live in UP, you have to utter Yogi yogi). Announcement of reward on harming Mamata Benerjee, Chief Minister of West Bengal by a youth leader of BJP and other acts of vigilantism and violence are some of the examples of ominous signs today. Media appears unconcerned or interested in promoting Hindutva- by choice or by compulsion- rather than Hinduism. The coverage of misdemeanors of headstrong Muslim leaders is given wide and immense coverage to create bitterness among majority Hindus and help the right wing’s “concept of enemy and threat to Hinduism” thesis. A big section in media seems incliuned to promote the concept of Hindu Rastra than a secular India. An average educated fellow can easily understand that if a good concept or precept is misused it does not turn bad. It needs good practitioners.

For example Sonu Nigam’s tweets on Azaan and noise pollution have blown into a big controversy. Media has tried to over blow it as it did in the case of Amir Khan and Shahrukh Khan for their personal views on vigilantism and minority bashing/ their views on Pakistani artists, as if they were anti national. It helps in making a false perception of Muslims as enemy. This trend is ominous and dangerous, but popular media generally has no problems, it sees the new trend silently or even appreciating. It brings a bitter truth about media and intelligentsias’ lust to side with anybody who is in power, no matter what is at stake. Today the coverage and sympathy which Gaurakshaks get in media is unprecedented. The assessment of the new Chief Minister of UP started from day one as a messianic leader for his anti Romeo squad, or measures against so called “illegal” (or minority) meat sellers, or talks about CM’s reactions on spitting pan or even sudden inspection of a police post – all these cosmetics was taken so seriously by the media as the proof of a “great leader’s avatara” that they devoted their main spaces on them keeping aside more important issues. The Economic Times remained ahead of all others in this messianic depiction of the Central leadership and the new Chief Minister of UP.  They are afraid of losing clout with government by talking about violence against the lower caste and minorities; who knows the authorities may blame them   for sedition! They sometimes claim their journalism as courageous and truthful; we can see the truth is contrary.

What happened in Puna, Dadri or recently in Alwar (bloody attack on minorities by Gaurakshak mobs chanting Hindutva slogans) was given a scanty treatment with indifference, as if they do not matter.  It is difficult to understand why they do so in such a partisan manner. Perhaps it is because of the dominance of feudal and Brahmanical order (ruling elite) in media and power structures and also vested interest of corporate sector, which owns a big part of media.  If some Muslim headstrong says something, Indian media is these days in the habit of making a mountain out of the molehill. But media not only shuts its eyes, it also glorifies the divisive and communal utterances of Hindutva leaders.  See the utterances of the PM during UP elections – Gaon mein kabristan banta hai to shamshaan bhi banna chahiye, Ramzan me bijli aati hain to Diwali me bhi aani chahiye. Bhedbhav nahi hona chahiye (If a graveyard is constructed in a village, then a cremation ground should be also built, if electricity comes during Ramzan, it should come during Diwali too. Many from the media applauded – look first Modi ji played development card and now in the third phase of UP election, he is playing Hindutva card! How smart he is!  Such remarks are aimed at emotionally charging the majority Hindus by implicating other political parties in the name of discrimination. Media forgets that Statesmen are more known by character and leadership traits and not by winning elections. The Hindutva (not Hinduism) agenda was visible to a seer, but media continued to revel into Modi’s ability to play political cards! A Hindu seer of Mathura’s Goverdhan Peetham Shankaracharya Adhokshajanand Saraswati termed Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s remarks on desirability of similar power supply situation in the state during festivals of different religions as one leading to “communalisation of politics” and rued the poll panel’s alleged silence over it. Who could be in favour of discrimination? Will it pay any political party to do so? The narrative was simply meant for creating a schism between two communities in a subtle way for political gains. And In this context, Amit Shah’s remark during Bihar election is worth remembering. He said: Do you want the return of Jungle Raaj-2? If by any mistake BJP loses, victory and defeat may be in Bihar, but fire crackers will go off in Pakistan. Is it not a communal utterance dividing voters on the basis of religion? Is it not harmful for the idea of India? If the same logic is applied by different politicians to polarize their constituencies on the basis of narrow categories like caste, creed, religion, language and region, the very idea of India would come under threat. But the politicians today are in competition of degeneration and they are little bothered what happens to the unified fabric of modern India. And communal symbolisms still continues unabated and unquestioned because the opposition is not able to communicate with people effectively about these dangers of the trend.

Like all other communities, every Hindu has a right to be as much political as others are. The problem is not in politics, but politics of bullying or mob hysteria. There is a continuuam from Puna to Dadri and to Alwar, when persons belonging to minority community faced brutal attacks of the majority vigilante groups for no valid reason. In Gujarat there were attacks on scheduled caste people by Gaurakhshaks.  They are not “fringe elements” as claimed by the ruling party, but their ground workers getting full-fledged tacit or explicit support.  The political Hinduism today has become very aggressive as many political figures are over-trying to use their Hindu identity and majority status to assert their legitimacy and right to be in command or power with regard to each and everything. They are daring even to question right to life by imposing restriction on food and clothing.

The major concern today is about those political Hindus who in the name of Gau Raksha (saving cows) or nationalism (describing all dissenting views as anti-Hindu or anti- India or their acts as terrorism or sedition) or bullying and subjugating minorities in the name of patriotism (forced chanting of vande mataram or Jai Shri Ram for example) through vigilantism, taking law in their hands to punish minorities in violent and undignified manner or creating fear among them. This trend is a very dangerous and ominous sign for the future of democracy in India. The middle class and media are also helping this trend to progress and take roots. The Indian middle class seems to be a lost case. They have very feeble voice and only an urge to realize their self interest in the shortest span of time. If silence helps, they don’t mind. They don’t mind even supporting the evil as long as their interest is protected.

Santan Dharma or Hinduism is different and great

 Hinduism is one of the oldest religions in the world predominantly being practiced in India. However, there are followers of Hinduism outside India. With almost a billion followers, it is also the world’s third largest religion; Hindus comprise about one-seventh of the world’s entire population. Its origins lie in the vast Indian subcontinent. While it remains the majority religion in India, with over 800 million adherents, its spiritual, cultural, social and linguistic influences extend across the globe; over 60 million Hindus live outside of India in 150 different countries, including in the UK (around 700,000) and North America (over 2 million).

“Hinduism is also known as the “Sanatana Dharma”, or an “Eternal Way”. Today it has four main denominations: Saivism, Shaktism, Vaishnavism and Smartism, each with hundreds of lineages. They represent a broad range of beliefs, practices and mystic goals, but virtually all concur on certain bedrock concepts (Hinduism Today magazine)”.  “They represent a broad range of beliefs, practices and mystic goals, but virtually all concur on certain bedrock concepts. All Hindus worship one Supreme Reality, though they call it by many names. There is no eternal hell, no damnation, in Hinduism, and no intrinsic evil–no satanic force that opposes the will of God. Hindus believe that the cosmos was created out of God and is permeated by Him–a Supreme Being who both is form and pervades form, who creates, sustains and destroys the universe only to recreate it again in unending cycles. Each soul is free to find his own way- whether by devotion, austerity, meditation, yoga or selfless service (Swaminarayan temple, London).”

No monolithic form, yet there are core virtues and values

 When it comes to define Hinduism by monolithic character and static features, it seems impossible because in the course of its evolution Hinduism became wider and deeper in its faith and belief patterns as well as developed the capacity to be liberal and accommodative. It does not believe in fundamentalism, yet it has some basic virtues and values in its core, found in all its strands. If we try to understand how Hinduism is practiced and understood in contemporary times, the two illustrations given below help us.

 Open to reforms is the power of Hinduism

There is wide gap, as in all other religions, in Hinduism between preaching and practice. In Hinduism God is in every particle and all living and non-living organisms are various expressions of the same parmatman (God). By this logic, exploitation of one human being by the other or misconduct with other animals or inanimate objects is a deviant behavior. In due course of time, the Hindu religion was excessively dominated by rituals and priests, which Mahatma Budhha criticized and gave an alternative vision of religion and its purpose. It must, nevertheless be noted that Hindu religion has never been closed to new ideas and averse to discussing justice and fairness etc. But it cannot be denied that there were also phases of misinterpretation and injustice in Hinduism in the past. The verna system might have been articulated as a judicious division of labour in society on the basis of skills and duties in the beginning, but in due course, this gave birth to the notion of upper caste and untouchables and undeserving (shudras). A kind of racism within Hinduism started and it was practiced till independence dawned on India. The constitution of India has removed untouchability. Even in the past there were criticism and protest against untouchability. There were Bhakti movements and religious reforms in the past questioning untouchability and dehumanization of the suppressed classes. People from the same religion fought against injustice and exploitation; threy did not buckle in front of wrong practices of tradition. They were not ant national. And today also semblance of those conflicts exists on ground. The likes of Venmula or Kanaihya Kumar exist!

Hinduism bounced back by reforming, reinventing and accommodating new ideas and values. The Das (servant) movement and the Sufi movements are excellent examples of capacity of Hinduism for self searching and growing. These ideas preceded much applauded renaissance of the West!  This has been one of the reasons of survival of Hinduism since ancient times, despite many attacks. Hinduism has immense innate quality to consider reforms and adopt it. Today once again novices, so called fringe elements and greedy politicians, are doing disservice to the great religion of Hinduism by confining it to their narrow and self seeking interests, especially political power.

Pluralism and secularism are the essence of India

The makers of modern India firmly believed in the pluralist and assimilative nature of Indian culture. They also believed that growth and development would bind India together and India’s road to progress lies in the modern “idea” of a “secular” nation built on the democratic structures and principles that post-Enlightenment Europe created for itself. Now there is an increasing tendency to challenge these premises. The glorification of past is important for any country to seek the roots of its identity. Nevertheless the glorification should not lead to justifying each and everything in the name of religion and culture even if they do not serve the utilitarian or practical purposes of our time or which do not stand the moral and ethical test. In extreme cases some people also advocate reversing the time machine back turning the wheels of history to a phase which was dominated by Hindus or constructing Hindu Rashtra.  They deny the fact that India was unified visibly along the line of modern state, partially during the British regime and later by the Indian constitution in post independent phase. And constitution of India is seular, just and progressive, not regressive as imagined in the concept of Hindu Rashtra.

Madhav Godbole says in his lecture: It is disconcerting to see that, in recent times, serious questions are being raised about India’s secularism. It is for the first time since independence that the Hindu Rashtra ideology is being talked about so openly, defiantly  and persistently. It is interesting to note that Jawaharlal Nehru had made his position clear on Hindu Rashtra way back on 6 September 1951: “It may sound very nice to some people to hear it said that we will create a Hindu Rashtra etc…Hindus are in a majority in this country and whatever they wish will be done. But the moment you talk of Hindu Rashtra you speak in a language which no other country except one can comprehend and that country is Pakistan because they are familiar with this concept. They can immediately justify their creation of an Islamic nation by pointing out to the world that we are doing something similar. Hindu Rashtra can only mean one thing and that is to leave the modern way and get into a narrow, old fashioned way of thinking, and fragment India into pieces. Those who are not Hindus will be reduced in status. You may say patronisingly that you will look after the Muslims or Christians or others as in Pakistan they say that they will look after the Hindus. Do you think any race or individual will accept for long the claim that they are looked after while we sit above them?”

Choose your role models carefully

It is very important for the youth today to choose their icons and role models carefully. We do not need RSS or BJP or Congress or left parties to know the meaning of Hinduism or the idea of India. Nobody can be a better guru than Swami Vivekanand.

In these confusing moments, it is time to remember what Swami Vivekanand, one of the greatest modern spiritual gurus and masters of Hinduism, who said in a letter written to Alasinga Perumal (dated 20 August 1893) during his journey to the West – “No religion on earth preaches the dignity of humanity in such a lofty strain as Hinduism, and no religion on earth treads upon the necks of the poor and the low in such a fashion as Hinduism. The Lord has shown me that religion is not in fault, but it is the Pharisees and Sadducees in Hinduism, hypocrites, who invent all sorts of engines of tyranny in the shape of doctrines of Pâramârthika and Vyâvahârika. According to him the three essentials of Hinduism are belief in God, in the Vedas as revelation, in the doctrine of Karma and transmigration. Hinduism is a positive religion. It is not based on negativities. Swami ji has explained that one point of difference between Hinduism and other religions is that in Hinduism we pass from truth to truth—from a lower truth to a higher truth—and never from error to truth. Swami ji believed that any religion should be dynamic, growing and accommodative. He said- “Chemistry ceases to improve when one element is found from which all others are deductible. Physics ceases to progress when one force is found of which all others are manifestations. So religion ceases to progress when unity is reached, which is the case with Hinduism. In everything, there are two kinds of development—analytical and synthetical. In the former the Hindus excel other nations. In the latter they are nil.” He explained the broad-heartedness in Hiduism thus- “There is this difference between the love taught by Christianity and that taught by Hinduism: Christianity teaches us to love our neighbours as we should wish them to love us; Hinduism asks us to love them as ourselves, in fact to see ourselves in them.” He was critical of authoritarian view of Hinduism. He explained this beautifully thus: “All sectarian religions take for granted that all men are equal. This is not warranted by science. There is more difference between minds than between bodies. One fundamental doctrine of Hinduism is that all men are different, there being unity in variety. Even for a drunkard, there are some Mantras—even for a man going to a prostitute! The fault with all religions like Christianity is that they have one set of rules for all. But Hindu religion is suited to all grades of religious aspiration and progress. It contains all the ideals in their perfect form. For example, the ideal of Shanta or blessedness is to be found in Vasishtha; that of love in Krishna; that of duty in Rama and Sita; and that of intellect in Shukadeva. Study the characters of these and of other ideal men. Adopt one which suits you best.” Lastly, Swamiji believed in oneness in the creation. He nicely explained it thus: Individuality in universality is the plan of creation. Each cell has its part in bringing about consciousness. Man is individual and at the same time universal. It is while realising our individual nature that we realise even our national and universal nature. Each is an infinite circle whose centre is everywhere and circumference nowhere. By practice one can feel universal Selfhood which is the essence of Hinduism. He who sees in every being his own Self is a Pandita (sage).

Nobody can give a better idea of India than the brave heart and glorious son of India Sardar Bhagat Singh. See what he wrote in his prison diary about vision of India- “The aim of life is no more to control the mind, but to develop it harmoniously; not to achieve salvation here after, but to make the best use of it here below; and not to realise truth, beauty and good only in contemplation, but also in the actual experience of daily life; social progress depends not upon the ennoblement of the few but on the enrichment of democracy; universal brotherhood can be achieved only when there is an equality of opportunity – of opportunity in the social, political and individual life.”


The very notion of Hindutva is affront to the above mentioned ideas of Hinduism (Swami Vivekanand) and India of our dreams (Sardar Bhagat Singh). We have great people and great wisdom in our history. We should rely on them and not on the power hungry politician of any party.  At this juncture of critical time in the history of India  youth cannot afford to be indifferent or ignorant, lest they would be driven by politicians as dumb cattle. Think, understand and progress on the right path, go for course correction if mistakes happen, that is Hinduism, substantially different from political, monolithic and violent Hindutva.