India is reinventing itself – Amar Bhushan

Republic Day India

Amar BhushanCynicism does not make a nation achieve greatness. India has always had caste, religious and social conflicts but survived well. … India is well on course to play out transformational politics. – Amar Bhushan

If you are an avid watcher of Indian news soap opera, a keen follower of elitist columnists, politicians in the Opposition or a BJP leader starved of Modi’s favours, you may wonder if it is worth waiting for so long for apocalypse to come. At the centre of their frustration is a man called Narendra Damodardas Modi who evokes either intense hatred or blind adoration. Trust them to inform you that with GDP dropping, unemployment rising, manufacturing sector limping, exports flattening out, black money returning with vengeance and demonetisation and GST dealing a body blow to the business, economy has been shattered beyond recovery.

Social justice and cinematic freedom have also become scarce. No wonder, Jignesh Mevani, the Vadgam mascot of angry Dalits, is left with no choice but to incite violence to seek better opportunities for his community. Similarly, Patidars, Marathas, Jats and similar caste groups have no future unless they snatch reservation from the jaws of ‘insensitive’ Justices. Poor Sanjay Leela Bhansali cannot screen Padmaavat without theatres being bombed by Karni Sena.

Secularism, the lifeline of apologists, is also in tatters. Muslims cannot illegally trade in cow or eat beef. Their boys cannot love, marry and convert Hindu girls. Madrasas in Kerala cannot recruit young boys to fight for ISIS with hawala funds. Muslim males have to live constantly under fear of prosecution should they divorce their wives at will. If Telangana chief minister earmarks reservation for Muslims and Karnataka chief minister celebrates ‘heroism’ of Tipu Sultan, they are vilified.

Such has been the atmospherics that Mamata Banerjee, a favourite of illegal Bangladeshi immigrants and Muslim warlords, has to hold Brahmin ‘sabhas’ and Rahul Gandhi, a hereditary secularist, has to proclaim himself a Shiv Bhakta and get aarti organised in Ram temples of Gujarat. In fact, India has now become a hub of saffron terrorists. The Karnataka chief minister has confirmed what his senior colleagues, Sushilkumar Shinde and P Chidambaram had long suspected; RSS, Bajrang Dal and Vishwa Hindu Parishad are terrorist organisations and BJP has numerous terrorists in its cadre.

Even the foreign policy is in a mess. Nepal, Maldives, Sri Lanka and Myanmar have lately far bigger Chinese footprints. Beijing has fully ‘adopted’ Pakistan and been keeping Indian security forces occupied along Sikkim and Arunachal Pradesh border so that Pak Army can exfiltrate terrorists in the Valley. In the absence of a coherent Pakistan policy, the Valley is burning in high-rising flames and cease-fire violations by Pak Army, and casualties of our security personnel and civilians have recorded an all- time high. For Chidambaram, Kashmir is now a lost cause and the only way to retain some ownership of J&K is to rewrite the instrument of accession and concede what terrorists and separatists want.

The sum total is that living in Modi’s India at one’s own terms is extremely difficult, with CBI, NIA, ED, UIDAI and Income Tax Department working overtime. But cynicism does not make a nation achieve greatness. India has always had caste, religious and social conflicts but survived well. Hindus are also deeply hurt and annoyed but have patience and wisdom to outlive the historical prejudices and contemporary scorn. Kashmir, Pakistan and China are no major worry. A new-look defence and security forces can take care of these geographical vagaries.

We need to take note of the buzz around building a New India. The Swachh Bharat Abhiyan has become infectious. Thousands of skilled youths have taken to entrepreneurship. Number of those wanting to do something for the country is swelling. You sense an urgency to break free of lethargy and stereotypes and an impatience to imbibe tomorrow’s technologies to benefit the common man. Millions who did not have access to bank have now their account and can use it to receive loans for starting small businesses.

Digitisation of money transaction has taken off to dizzy heights and tax payers’ base has expanded dramatically. The thrust on economic and educational empowerment of women across all religions is phenomenal. To those in BPL category, giving free LPG connections and money to build houses are breakthrough initiatives.

My labourer summed it up when I went to have a meal at his new house. With lump in his throat, he said that he had never dreamt of having gas and a pucca roof over his head in his lifetime. The northeast states, another area of years of neglect, are witnessing massive infrastructure build-up. Elsewhere, roads, rail, air and telecommunication connectivity are expanding at a rapid pace. There is really no need for us to fear the doomsday prophecies. India is well on course to play out transformational politics. – The New Indian Express, 20 January 2018

» Amar Bhushan is a former Special Secretary at RAW, New Delhi.

Indian Air Force