Wednesday, December 28, 2016

India Cannot Become a Modern State

December 25, 2016

By Saeed Qureshi

Four major irritants will hinder India from becoming a modern developed state. The first roadblock is the poverty and huge galloping population of 1.27 billion and to provide jobs, houses and social inputs like health and education to the teeming millions. The second roadblock is the insurgencies or liberation movements. The third obstacle is the territorial disputes with neighboring countries and the fourth is the Hindu Nationalism and treatment of the minorities.
India has to go a long way before it can claim to be a modern nation where poverty and starvation, hunger and poor living conditions would have been stamped out or minimized. A modern India has to modernize its run-down infrastructure and stamp out social vices marginally or wholly.
Prime minister Modi with laudable record of developing the State of Gujrat as the chief minister may stumble in fruitfully addressing these grave issues. The steps such as banning of big currency notes and issuance of passports to those citizens who make latrines in their houses are not the lasting or worthwhile recipes to take off the robe of a third world country and join the rank of modern states such as Europeans.
Let us take a stock of the catalysts and factors that would wreck India and not only destabilize her but may keep her perpetually poor and backward. Admittedly, India is a great democracy and one of the leading countries with unbroken democratic traditions and institutions. But democracy alone is not the antidote to various festering sores that are distinctly visible on the body politic of India.
India’s huge burgeoning population and her lack of corresponding measures for the welfare and catering socio-economic needs of the people would explode into a downward economic backlash and a drift that would be utterly difficult to stem. India is dotted with shabby roads, a primitive railways system, disorderly traffic, dirty lanes and heavily polluted environment. It is bedeviled with appalling health and educational systems, it civic mess, its rampant corruption, and rabid bureaucracy, the culture of bribery and so one, may be compared with Pakistan but not with China and other modern and developed societies of the world.
With the grinding poverty and rather slow expanding industrial and manufacturing sectors and a saturation point reaching in agricultural produce, India would face an explosion that would be fatal to its economy. After all, when there is a wide gap and incompatibility between the resources and the countless mouths to feed, the outcome is certainly going to be dismal.
It would take several decades for India to create the infrastructure that the Chinese have created in barely three decades starting from the Deng Xiaoping era. As in China, India does not have a monolithic society that remains under a fixed order or discipline for the progress and advancement of their country. India religiously and culturally is a diverse society.
India is an energy deficient country, as Japan is. But can we honestly make comparison between the rapidity and consistency of growth of Japanese economy with that of India? Moreover, Japan’s population is much smaller than India’s. India cannot fully exploit her manpower and industrial potential because of the power outages, bureaucratic tangles, rampant corruption. The inadequate and decrepit infrastructure would remain a stumbling block to enable her to shape up as a modern developed country.
If expatriate Indians stop sending their remittances, which make a sizeable bulk of Indian foreign exchange, India might not be able to accumulate even this much of foreign exchange that it presently possesses.
India is beset with various secessionist or liberations movements. Since partition of the sub-continent into India and Pakistan in 1947, roughly there have been 9 secessionist movements striving to secede from India. These are Khalistan, Kashmir, Assam, Tripura, Meghalaya, Mizoram, Manipur, Nagaland and Arunachal Pradesh.
The separatist movements in various parts of India cannot be exterminated and would explode with full force as the time passes. Either India will have to grant these rebellious regions independence or these will wrest forcible separation from India. That may happen sooner or later. That would be in simple words the beginning of the disintegration of India. Even if these regions may not be able to separate, the simmering discontent against the Indian federation would remain there.
As long as India can manage to contain those breakaway movements through her army, these may remain in a low key. But the moment her oppressive and tight control loosens, there would be mayhem let loose against the Indian Federation in those turbulent regions. The most vigorous self-determination movement is being steadfastly carried out in Kashmir, a Muslim majority land whose future is yet to be decided by a process of plebiscite by the Kashmiris under the United Nations’ supervision.
India will have to resolve the territorial disputes with neighboring countries: on Tibet with China, on Kashmir and Kargil heights with Pakistan. water dispute with Bangladesh and liberating landlocked Nepal from stringent conditions.
It would be instructive to remember that if the powerful Soviet Socialist Empire can fall apart, how India can save itself from such an eventuality if she does not take far reaching remedial decisions. One is to give self-determination or self-rule or complete freedom to the ethnic populations demanding independence or self-determination. It will have to sincerely embark upon a friendly relationship with Pakistan and other regional countries.
The third factor is the Hindu nationalism which brooks no competitors in the realm of religion or faith. in 2002 the world had seen what happened to the Muslims in the state of Gujarat. In those bloody riots 790 Muslims and 254 Hindus were killed. Independent sources put the death toll at over 2000. Approximately 150,000 people were driven to refugee camps. Numerous women and children were among the victims; the violence included mass rapes and mutilations of women.
The lowest caste called Dillats or untouchables are treated worse than an animal. Hanuman (ape), Ganesha (elephant) cow, serpent and other animals are the most revered gods than a human with a low (also called Shudara) caste. Muslims and Christians are treated at par with despised Shudara.
The other is the caste system that breeds hatred and divisions and undermines the unity and is out of sync with the norms of equality and freedom being the hallmarks of modern societies. Despite Bollywood galore, the inhuman caste system, and imaginary mythologies would remain stumbling blocks in making India a modern state.
There had been at least three major wars between India and Pakistan on the issue of Kashmir and the India’s military intervention to create Bangladesh in 1971. The dormant hate and venom oozes out between the two people when a match is being played and at times of border clashes or when similar tensions mount between these two neighbors.
The Indian media pours out venom and scorn on Pakistan, its leadership and the very genesis of Pakistan. Vice versa Pakistan’s media traverses the same track. Unless there is a veritable change of heart on both sides, the peace in the region as well as the dream of good neighborly and cordial relations between the two neighbors would remain elusive.
There ought to be a real change of heart on both sides of the partitioned lands of India and Pakistan.

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