Foundations of Misery
Part-II, India After Nehru
In the first part of this two-volume series “Foundations of Misery, Part-I: India, 1947-64” we dealt with the Nehruvian era. Unfortunately for the millions of Indians, particularly its poor, Nehru, despite his best intentions, ended up as an all-round comprehensive failure. (As the proverb goes: The road to hell is paved with good intentions.) We had synopsized those failures in the last chapter of Part-I ‘Summarising the “Invention”’.
Nehru unwittingly laid the foundations of India’s misery. Sadly, his dynasty reinforced those blighted foundations. This part covers that post-Nehru period of calamitous reinforcement. Not comprehensively, but selectively—picking up only those aspects considered critical if India has to rise from the depths to which it has been consigned. Consciously avoiding verbosity and many details, the coverage is deliberately as brief as possible, to make the book more readable.
One aspect of the Nehruvian era that was left out in Part-I is covered in this part in the chapter “Mental Slavery”. That’s because the concerned aspect spans across both the periods.
Patriotism means to stand by the country. It does not mean to stand by the president or any other public official, save exactly to the degree in which he himself stands by the country. It is patriotic to support him insofar as he efficiently serves the country. It is unpatriotic not to oppose him to the exact extent that by inefficiency or otherwise he fails in his duty to stand by the country. In either event, it is unpatriotic not to tell the truth, whether about the president or anyone else.
― Theodore Roosevelt
What is THE critical factor for assessing a country or a political party? Its economic philosophy, its economic vision and its economic policies.
Are one or more of these the factors that make a country poor or prosperous: climate, geography, location, abundance of natural resources, race, history, “type of people”, “character of people”?
NO. None of these.
What matters is the economic system chosen. All those countries, irrespective of these factors (climate, geography, race, “character”, ...), who adopted “competitive capitalism” have prospered and are part of the first-world, like the US, Canada, the UK, West Europe, Japan, Taiwan, South Korea, Singapore, Australia, New Zealand. China prospered post-Mao after it junked Maoism and adopted a form of Free Enterprise Economy. It is worth noting that not a single socialist or communist country has ever prospered.
Raja Vyapari taya Praja Bhikhari. – Indian Proverb
Mr Jawaharlal Nehru returned from Cambridge with notions of how an all-governing interventionist state can force people into happiness and prosperity through socialism...He sticks to this bias in spite of the demonstration of world experience against it...I hate the present folly and arrogance as much as I hated the foreign arrogance of those [British] days.
— C Rajagopalachari (Rajaji)
Sardar Patel, Rajagopalachari and Rajendra Prasad were opposed to socialism. If only they had led India after Independence, rather than Nehru, India would have been a prosperous first-world country long ago, and it would hopefully have been saved from the debilitating feudal Dynastic democracy, that is at the root of all miseries.
It was the mercantile-industrial capitalism that led to democracy. Democracy did not evolve out of monarchy, oligarchy, feudalism, socialism or communism. The latter have only curbed freedom. Competitive Capitalism/Free Enterprise Economy and democracy go together.
It’s not as if there is a menu of systems, and one can choose which to adopt—socialism or communism or their different flavours, Gandhiism, capitalism, and so on.
Free enterprise and capitalism were not something that were first theorised, then planned, and then implemented or rammed down. They evolved as a sequence of civilisational growth, were taken cognizance of, and then theorised after the fact. Facts and practice led to the theory, and then the theory enhanced the practice. Thereafter, it was a beneficial evolving cycle, each helping enhance the other. Democracy, in turn, evolved out of free enterprise and capitalism; and again there was a cyclical effect between the two, each helping enhance the other.
In comparison, there is nothing natural, organic or evolutionary about Socialism, Communism or Gandhiism. They are all highly deficient artificial constructs incapable of practical success because the human civilisational evolution is just too complex, and there are far too many variables and too many unknowns for any artificial construct to contend with.
The term “Hindu rate of growth” is highly inappropriate and unfair, besides being derogatory. Post-independence low rate of growth was thanks to Nehru-Indira-Rajiv’s policies. It should rather be called the “Socialistic or Nehruvian or Secular or NIDP [Nehru-Indira-Dynasty Policies] Rate of Growth". The rate of growth during the pre-independence colonial period, was even less. In fact, it had even turned negative during several long periods! Why was the rate of growth then not called the “Colonial rate of growth” or the “Christian rate of growth” in a pejorative sense?
Had India embraced Competitive Capitalism and Free Enterprise Economy after independence, rather than the successful-in-no-country poverty-perpetuating socialistic claptrap, India would have been a prosperous, first-rate, first-world country like Singapore, South Korea, Australia by 1980.
Unfortunately for the millions of poor, hungry and wretched of India, the Nehru-Indira Dynasty condemned them into the black-hole of copycat socialistic quagmire and callous-colonial-kleptocratic babudom.
Part-reversal of those world’s-worst-economic-practices by the wise non-Dynasts like Narsimha Rao and Vajpayee dramatically turned hopelessness into hope. However, with the return of the Dynasts as UPA-I and II and their rollback to the bad-old-ways, Rao-Vajpayee kindled sunshine of hope again turned into gray cynical hopelessness.
Much was expected from the new kid on the block full of young fresh faces—AAP. But, the party’s economic policies seem to have been hijacked by the predominance of pink-to-red-hot jholawallahs.
What then is the difference between the AAP and the Congress plus similar other parties? Only that AAP is sanctimonious, holier-than-thou and is so far not corrupt. But, that’s because it’s a new party, not yet corrupted by power. Would it remain so? Only time can tell—not their loud protestations and self-certifications. But, telling white lies, being abusive, defaming others without evidence, and spreading misinformation to gain unfair advantage (in getting votes and power) is also a form of corruption. Corruption is not only about accepting money. If my conscience does not prick in telling destructive lies and being abusive, would it prick when I graduate to also accepting money?
However, AAP deserves credit and kudos for practically demonstrating that even a new political party can win elections without the hitherto-considered-must-negatives (money-power, muscle-power, enticements, casteist or communal propaganda,...), if they can convince people they indeed have something positive to offer. It is also creditable that they have managed to attract many good candidates, with excellent background and clean records, for Lok Sabha elections.
Corruption is certainly an important issue, but if it is a serious political party which wants to take India out of its depth, it can’t be the only issue or even the main issue. The foremost issues have to be economic policies; good governance; implementing wide-ranging economic, administrative, police, judicial and electoral reforms; external security and foreign policy; and internal security, including tackling the red-corridor and the northeast. Reforms themselves would take care of the major avenues of corruption.
In the context of AAP, MMS (Man Mohan Singh), AK Antony, and the like, it is well to remember that honesty is a basic requirement, a pre-requisite for a job, it is not a qualification, nor a measure of competence. Can you employ a driver who is honest, but is rash and not quite skilled at the wheels? Further, personal honesty is not enough, professional honesty is the real test. Professional honesty demands you ensure the conduct of those under you is also honest and above board. Personal honesty is easier as it concerns only yourself; while professionally honesty is difficult—it requires guts and competence to manage, evaluate, judge and control those under you, and ability to withstand pressure, if any, from your peers and seniors.
What about BJP? Would it prove to be better than all the others? BJP of the BJP-Old-Guard-At-Delhi is not much different, though perhaps relatively better. However, Narendra Modi does bring a breath of fresh air and a ray of hope. Modi is honest and has an excellent track record. What would really happen, one can’t predict, but for the sake of the nation, one does ardently hope he would deliver and do to India what he has done for Gujarat, and much more. One only hopes the Swadeshi-Jagran-Manch-types won’t come in the way.
One also hopes he would bring such communal harmony and peace in India, like he has done during the last 11 years in Gujarat through good governance that the communal cards of the parties like the Congress, the SP and others would go defunct. Among the reasons these parties are so rabidly anti-Modi is their genuine fear that by doing a Gujarat (post-2002) on India he may indeed make communalism a non-issue denying them their vote-banks. Establishment-friendly leftist–“secularist” intellectuals and a section of the media are also ferociously anti-Modi afraid their positions and privileges and interests would be adversely affected.
The DDC [Dynasty-driven Congress] can’t countenance others. They think they have an inalienable right to misgovern India... And they feel they are not finished with India yet—there is still a great scope to take it further to dogs.
Madam Prime Minister, can you tell this august House why Indians are successful everywhere in the world except under the rule of your government?
– a revealing parliamentary question to Indira Gandhi
One Oleg Kalugin of KGB, who became the head of the Counter Intelligence in 1973, remembered India as a model of KGB infiltration of a Third World government. The most shocking comment of Kalugin about India was that it was as if the entire country was for sale! He even recalled an occasion where the demand of an Indian minister for $50,000, in exchange for information, was refused by the Soviets, as they claimed they already had more than enough information!!
–based on “The Mitrokhin Archive II : The KGB and the World”
The current Indira regime, founded on 25 June 1975, was born through lies, nurtured by lies, and flourishes by lies. The essential ingredient of its being is the lie. –Opinion, a Mumbai magazine, on the Emergency of 1975-77
It was a State off-limits, a government that hijacked the whole edifice of the state, a ruling party and leader who in effect treated the state as their personal estate... It was one big swoop overtaking the whole country, spreading a psychosis of fear and terror with the new upstarts storming away through whatever came their way, pulling it all down and calling boo to it all. And it happened in this country after 28 years of democratic functioning.
–Rajni Kothari, on the Emergency of 1975-77
Indira Gandhi gave the election slogan “Garibi Hatao! (Remove Poverty!)” What could be more hypocritical? Was it some other political party ruling since independence that had caused “Garibi (poverty)”? Garibi was thanks to her father's disastrous policies; and she indulged in more of the same.
There is a weirdly funny sense of déjà vu when in the current election campaign Rahul Gandhi talks of “Removing Corruption!” Who has been responsible for the mega corruptions in the last decade?
Many of the economic reforms required now in 2014 comprise turning the clock back to 1969—the pre-Indira period, since Indira asserted herself 1969 onwards and inflicted heavy dose of debilitating socialistic policies.
The focus of our socialism is... To attain these ends, we believe the State must control the commanding heights of the economy...
– claimed “economic liberaliser” Rajiv Gandhi
If he [Rajiv] was not the author of the order to ‘teach the Sikhs a lesson’, he did nothing to countermand it. – Khushwant Singh on 1984 anti-Sikh attacks
When a tree falls, the earth shakes under it...
–Rajiv Gandhi on 1984 anti-Sikh attacks
Rajiv Gandhi was apparently so unconcerned that he did not even think it necessary to express regret on the attacks or sympathy with the victims in the parliament. As in the Bofors later, all probes and enquiries were aborted and the guilty were not brought to book. Some of the alleged perpetrators were rewarded with better posts, promotions or ministries.
...Rajiv Gandhi had 400 MPs, a Supreme Court verdict, and a liberal Muslim (Arif Mohammed Khan) willing to bat for him. That he still flunked it may be attributed either to a lack of a sense of history or a lack of a robust commitment to liberal principles—or perhaps both.
–Ramchandra Guha on Shah Banu Case
...But he [Rajiv Gandhi] watched the massive cover-up in India and Sweden and did nothing. Many Indian institutions were tarred, innocent people were punished while the guilty got away. The evidence against Ottavio Quattrocchi was conclusive. ...bribes paid by Bofors landed in Quattrocchi’s account which he subsequently cleaned out because India said there was no evidence linking him to the Bofors deal... Whenever the public prosecutor Ekblom and I heard of any Indian visits to Stockholm, we would speak to the media expressing our desire to meet them. Can you imagine a situation where no one from India met the real investigators of the gun deal?...
–Sten Lindstrom, the then head of Swedish police, on Bofors
If thousands of freedom-fighters won us freedom; if the Nehru-Indira Dynasty plunged India into poverty and economic disaster; then it was Narsimha Rao who ushered in economic freedom—the Second Freedom.
Why rule for the sake of ruling if there is nothing specific to achieve.
“Manmohan Singh is an honest man in a pecuniary sense, but not in the high political-moral sense, as someone who wants to correct wrongs in governance by taking on dishonest people or practices.
– Comment by a former senior secretary
quoted by Vinod Jose in The Caravan magazine of 1 October 2011
...But the image of the scrupulously honorable, humble and intellectual technocrat has slowly given way to a completely different one: a dithering, ineffectual bureaucrat presiding over a deeply corrupt government...
–Simon Denyer in The Washington Post of 5 September 2012
The biggest menace threatening India is not poverty or backwardness or corruption or lack of governance or socialism-babudom, but feudal dynastic-democracy, because that is at the root of the former deficiencies, and is the foundation of India’s misery. The principal hazards of dynasty politics are: it discounts merit and prevents competent from rising; it thwarts internal democracy in political parties, so vital for a healthy democracy; dynastic politics, nepotism, institutionalised corruption and non-accountability go together; it has a vested interest in continuance at the expense of the nation.
As per the article “World’s Only RDC” in India Today’s issue of 12 August 2013, Japan, which had almost the same GDP as India in the early 1950s, grew so fast that by 1980, India’s GDP was a mere 17% of Japan’s. Japan grew at massive 18% annually during the 15-year period starting 1965 and took its GDP from 91 billion dollars to a mammoth 1.1 trillion dollars by 1980. In 1982, India’s per capita income was 39% higher than China’s; but, by 2012, it had become mere 24% of China’s—during the period China’s per capita income grew 30 times, while India’s grew mere 5 times. South Korea’s per capita income is currently 1400% that of India, although at the time of our Independence it was on par! While India is variously terms as a DC (Developing Country) or LDC (Less Developed Country) or UDC (Under Developed Country), the article finds India uniquely as a RDC—Refusing-to-Develop-Country.
Faced with a plethora of negatives and with little positives to show for the overlong Dynasty-rule, the unabashed defenders and apologists of the establishment and the Dynasty come up with innovative “it could have been worse” counterfactuals: But for the Dynasty, India could have fallen apart, it could have been a military dictatorship, it could have gone the way of Pakistan, ... What if someone posed an alternate counterfactual: Had India been lead by other than the Dynasty after independence, it would have been a much more united, strong, rich, prosperous, first-rate country, with hunger and poverty a distant memory, and would have joined the first-world countries like the US, the UK, Singapore and Australia by 1980!
Among the very basics expected from any government is safety for its citizens, particularly the vulnerable sections like the minorities, dalits, women and children. This is fundamental. Other things come later. Communalism and casteism would have become non-issues within a decade of independence had there been good governance and strict enforcement of the “rule of law”, coupled with mass-education and mass-campaigns. However the terms were turned into weapons to commend or condemn parties and people, and to create vote-banks. If a party claims to be secular, the touchstone of its credentials ought to be “governance”, and not its words and self-certifications. Like one measures GDP or poverty-index, one needs to also measure Governance Index (GI)—it is GI which would actually reflect Secularism Index (SI).
It is important to realise that managing a country as large and as complex as India requires deep knowledge of India's different regions and people, its politics, its administration, its economy, its culture, its history, its strengths, its weaknesses and its international relations; intelligence to absorb them, experience to manage, competence to deal with complexities, and wisdom to take right decisions. Do the Dynasty scions measure up? Certainly not.
In the interest of the nation, an iron law should be laid down: First prove your leadership competence in a public or private or political organisation or an NGO; then as a minister in a state or at the Centre or as a chief minister of a state for at least five years; and then only a candidate should be allowed to put himself or herself up as a prime minister.
We study, analyse and implement risk-mitigation in all walks of life: finance, banking, management, software, health, transport, real-estate, security and so on. Practically, no segment is left untouched by it. However, when it comes to the biggest risk of all—that of the position of the prime minister—we seem to be casual, rather criminally callous.
Looking to the miserable state of India, one would have expected a powerful medium like television, with its vast reach, to highlight problems and issues. But, no. The Indian TV channels are happy broadcasting inanities. News for Indian news channels are only some odd things happening at New Delhi or Mumbai. It is as if India of the other metros, over a thousand cities and towns and over six hundred thousand villages does not exist. News is mostly what some political bloke said or what BCCI or IPL did. And, what sort of discussions they have? Gossips based on guesses. 9pm news and discussions on most news channels seems like post-dinner prattle and time-pass. Most TV debates are as pointless and predictable as the Saas-Bahu serials.
A typical intellectual is a staid, leftist, “secular” intellectual who does not have anything much different to say from the hundreds others like him. It’s like the RSS-types or the communists: all speak the same stale language. A typical Indian intellectual is a conformist who has learnt what types of opinions to vent and what sort of stand to take to be accepted as an “intellectual”. He is not a rebel, he knows which side the bread is buttered.
In India, you just have to get familiar with the “leftist, anti-American, pro-Arab, anti-Israel, ‘secularist’, Hindu-baiting, Muslim-apologist, Nehruvian, JNU-type” refrain and jargon to qualify as an intellectual. It’s that easy. No serious knowledge or expertise or research work or analytical ability or originality or depth or integrity is required. Besides, it is safe. Others won’t heckle you.
Then there are the RSS types. Despite diverse geographic regions and dozens of languages in India, you have to credit them for managing to speak in one language. They have their own elaborate mythology, both on India’s past going back thousands of years, and on the contemporary India. What happened to India with a golden past? Why is Kaliyug India weak, poor and wretched? Character! Lack of character! We need to first build character. Our mission: character-building across India. No questions asked. Such a brilliant non-mind-straining diagnosis-remedy pair—uncomplicated, straight-forward and simple, and easy to absorb and repeat and spread! Blasphemy, if someone were to counter-question: “Why Australia of the characterless convicts progressed to be a first-rate, first-world country?”
India’s Baffling Mental Slavery
You come across building names like Blooming Heights, Delphi, Glen Gate, Kensington, Somerset...; street names like Orchard Avenue, Ridge Street... Advertisements in property pull-out pages of newspapers have firang faces gazing out. Have we run out of Indian names and faces? Or, are Indian names and faces not hip!
Actors, directors and sundries of Hindi movies, rather than talking in Hindi about their Hindi films, always make it a point to converse only in their atrocious English. No Hindi in Hindi-movie award functions! Only English—broken or otherwise. Even the titles of Hindi movies are mostly in English: A Wednesday, Blood Money, Dirty Picture, Don2,... Also the titles, credits and castings at the beginning and at the end of Hindi movies.
Sample the names of the various points at Matheran hill station: Hart Point, Mount Barry, Malet Road, King George Point,... all English names. Strangely, no point is named after the persons who made Matheran a popular hill-station by constructing a railway line in 1909 on such a difficult, steep, hilly terrain and running a toy train on it, all with their own investment! Why? Because, those persons happened to be Indians—Adamjee Peerbhoy and his son, Abdul Hussain. What a shame!
It was only when Bulganin and Khrushchev of the USSR visited India in late 1955 that India changed the names Kingsway to Rajpath and Queensway to Janpath in New Delhi, lest the guests feel shocked at our slavishness! However, Khrushchev did not fail to notice the statue of King George V opposite India Gate when driving down Rajpath, and wondered why the relic still stood. Strangely, it was only in 1968 that the statue was removed, and that too upon public outcry!
Bengal Club in Kolkata did not allow Indians till a decade after Independence! Breach Candy Club in Mumbai continued with its sign “Dogs and Indians not allowed” well after Independence!! Khushwant Singh wrote that he was turned away from Madras Club because he was wearing sandals. In another context he wrote that their group was invited to Delhi Gymkhana for a cocktail only to check whether they were properly anglicised and fitted-in!
Our TV and print media keeps referring to the area of Raisina Hill, Rajpath, and so on as Lutyens’ Delhi, after the British architect, Edwin Lutyens, and there have even been grand receptions for his descendents in Delhi from the President down; little realising that Lutyens had utter contempt for India and the Indians, and wrote very insultingly about them like: “...but the low intellect of the natives spoils much and I do not think it possible for the Indians and whites to mix freely and naturally... They [about an Indian minion] ought to be reduced to slavery and not given the rights of man and beaten like brute beasts and shot like man eaters...’
What did the “famed” British judicial system do to Reginald Edward Harry Dyer, the butcher of Amritsar, who massacred over a thousand and injured many more at Jallianwala Bagh in 1919, and who gave a “crawling order” whereby all Indians using a certain prominent street in Amritsar had to crawl 200 yards on all fours, lying flat on their bellies. Nothing. He was tried by the Hunter Commission, but got away without any punishment—he was only censured. As if that was not enough, upon his return to Britain he was presented a sword of honour and a purse for being "the saviour of Punjab"! In the film Gandhi of David Attenborough, the director shows the trial of Dyer to impress the audience the world over the grandness of the British judicial system; without revealing that Dyer received no punishment, and was rewarded back home!
You hear educated people talk appreciatively of the author Rudyard Kipling. But, what that character, without any conscience, had done? Claiming that Dyer (of Jallianwala massacre) was the man who had saved India, he had started a benefit fund for Dyer, raising over £26,000! A class of Indians is so shameless, slavish, and lacking in self-respect that it wanted to convert the house where Kipling lived in India into a museum!