The change as envisioned by JP Narayan still has familiar roadblocks to contend with in its path.
S. Srinivas is a historian and researcher who has worked for over a decade as a lecturer; assistant editor for Quarterly Journal of Mythic Society as well as a journalist. He was awarded a Ph.D. by Bangalore University for his thesis on the History of Civic Administration in Bangalore(1862-1950). Currently, he is fully engaged in writing on topics pertaining to ancient India.
Jayaprakash Narayan spoke of total revolution way back in 1975. The initial euphoria among the people about witnessing radical changes in the country after the formation of a new government by the Janata Party soon evaporated as the people who were in charge were the same ones who once occupied important positions in the Congress party led by Mrs. Indira Gandhi. The same old bureaucracy, the same old policies continued and nothing changed; the Janata Party was like an old wine in a new bottle. Hence if at all a new India has to be built, people who are passionate about it should first think why it failed earlier and what precautions one has to take so that their movement/campaign does not fizzle out. Some of the factors which I feel are responsible for hindering a change in India are the following.
Divide and rule policy
In order to stay in power and prevent questioning their failures, the Indian government has learnt the art of dividing Indians in the name of caste and language which it has learnt from the British who ruled India for 200 years. See how the Congress government during the peak of Anna Hazare’s anti-corruption movement incited people belonging to some caste, to express their displeasure for constituting a committee to discuss the features of the Lokpal bill, without having members belonging to that caste in the committee. By using caste, the government overawes political activists especially those belonging to forward castes.
Lack of ideology
The concept of nationalism is required for a society/nation to stick itself together. The rise of nation states in Europe was based on the belief that people inhabiting in a particular place for a long period, speaking a common language, worshipping common heroes, sharing common beliefs, myths, having common likes and dislikes constitute a distinct group and hence entitled to lead an independent life. Though Hindu religion, philosophy, common myths and Sanskrit language has religiously, emotionally and culturally unified Indians, politicians who have led successive governments in India feel shy of their Hindu background and belittle Indian tradition and culture. While Pakistanis take pride in their Islamic background, Indians feel inhibited to proclaim their Hindu heritage. Distortion of History which is taught in schools and colleges is another cause which fails to evoke a sense of pride among the Indian youth.
Indifference of priestly class
Muslim maulvis/imams and Christian padris vehemently support proselytization, don’t allow anyone to speak ill of their religion and take up the leadership of their community during times of crisis. But Hindu priests do their work mechanically with indifference towards educating their devotees morally or culturally and have poor knowledge of Hindu philosophy, trained mostly in Aagama Shastras (about the modes of worship in temples) and performance of rites for householders. They should campaign and highlight the social evils plaguing Hindu society. together with undertaking proselytization on a priority basis just as the Muslims and Christians do.
Reluctance of Middle-class to Act
All over the world political revolutions and changes in governance were made by the middle-class intellectuals who took the initiative and leadership of the movement for creating a new political order. In India youths belonging to the middle class have mostly been drawn towards Marxist ideology and not towards nation building. Moreover, by the time they became aware of the rotten political system they would have already been entangled by family responsibilities. Political activism is a full-time activity and they find it difficult to participate leaving their jobs. Moreover in India, educated parents don’t like their children to participate in political activities as they fear that their political rivals may physically harm them. Disenchanted with the system, many youngsters migrate overseas while some resort to writing letters to the editors or blogs expressing their concern over the state of affairs. Some of them who go a step further form association or become RTI activists. They may also hold demonstration by holding placards and participate in discussions on television channels. And after that what next? For all their activities they get publicity but once other sensational news item breaks out the TV channels abandon them and their cause as they are left in the lurch with their work coming to a standstill. One thing which the educated middle class forgets is that Indian politicians have become so thick skinned that no amount of publicizing their criminal activities, holding demonstrations or even the Supreme Court ordering investigation against their frauds/irregularities can rein them from their nefarious activities. They use their money power, muscle power and flaunt their caste identity to browbeat one and all. Moreover, it is their own species that are in the ruling government and in the opposition and being feathers of the same bird, they flock together. Indian politicians are past masters in garnering votes from the gullible Indian masses and getting elected to office and hence have no fear of the ballot.
Lack of action
We Indians are famous for discussing everything under the sun and now technology has made it possible for us to write and comment. But what India needs now is action and not talking. We have to come out of the safe comforts of our homes, be ready for any eventualities. All over the world political changes have taken place only through resistance. This is not something to abhor as common-sense tells us that exploiters and criminals who are well entrenched in power are not ready to give up their authority so easily.
Indians are also known to live several decades behind the present times, whether in strategy or preparedness. For instance, the RSS was started in 1925 with an object of establishing a Hindu Rashtra. But even after nine decades it has not succeeded in its goal. Whereas the Muslim League which passed a resolution to have Pakistan in 1940, achieved it in 1947, i.e. within seven years. The Indian press paints the RSS as a militant organization but the dreaded weapon possessed by them is a lathi. (Nowadays even petty criminals possess automatic weapons).
In order to express our dissatisfaction with the authorities over an issue we stone buses, window panes of buildings, burn vehicles or rubber tyres and what not to expect some action. This shows the childish behaviour of Indians as emotional outbursts are common. If you have observed, if a child falls and start crying, in order to console the child, the mother strikes at the ground and admonishes as though the ground was responsible for the cause of the child’s fall. This act of the mother satisfies the child and it stops crying. Though they look like a grownup, most Indians behave immaturely. They are naïve to believe that these types of acts would make the authorities agree to their demands. These so called educated youngsters who are exposed to the happenings all over the world even don’t realise that if at all the politicians in India go scot-free even, it is only due to the protection provided to them by the police force.
It is strange that in India with the majority of population being Hindu, people chant the mantra of peace when it comes to showing their sincerity towards fighting evil forces. Maybe the peace chant is a veil to cover their cowardice as they don’t mind resorting to violence for petty matters. When all Hindu gods including female goddess bear weapons and fight against evil and with Lord Krishna himself urging Arjuna to fight against evil, why does a Hindu hesitate? Devout Hindus recite Gita daily in their houses and many have memorized it. But when it comes to its practical application they backtrack in the name of ahimsa.