Many had hoped that when India gained independence from British rule 70 years ago, its local leaders would carry on in the forward-thinking direction that their colonial masters had instituted – one that should have ushered in a new era of development as a free nation. But 70 years later, we continue to witness a country that is progressing in a fashion, but nevertheless persistently in conflict with a multitude of societal problems, enormous ingrained poverty and shocking economic disparity – and a sense now of degenerating back to its tribal and irrational past that predates its founding
Much of India’s problems are cultural coupled with a conflicting dynamism that just can’t seem to work in harmony – with 645 distinct tribes that adhere to separate belief systems and superstitions – all of which are rooted in a primaeval past. Recent events in Indian socio-political life document these missteps which have now defined the new norm of Indian politics and decision-making rhetoric. It is for this reason why we argue that India has been kept perennially poor and diseased – thanks to the socio-political ineptitude that its current leaders seem oblivious to acknowledge, let alone address. Independent thinkers or those who dare to speak out invariably meet with a sticky end.
Last year, on November 8, 2016, Prime Minister Modi abruptly announced the demonetisation of all 500 and 1000 banknotes of the Mahatma Gandhi series. What the Indian government had hoped for with the demonetisation of the Rupee – to curtail the shadow economy and crack down on the use of illicit and counterfeit cash turned out to be what others had feared. It was an executive action that lacked planning and foresight and got millions lining up at banks to convert their cash into legal tender. This utter stupidity rolled back the Indian economy into oblivion as the government had not prepared for a country where 95% of consumer transactions remain in cash.
Because of the tribal and sectarian divide in Indian politics – there were no consultations among its parliament members: the Rajya Sabha (Council of States) and the Lok Sabha (House of the People).
Little discussion was made with banks or economists – with only a few up among the ruling elite hi-jacking the knee-jerk move on behalf of 1.3 billion people (and yes, these are the same people who control India's nuclear button).
Siphoning off these banknotes into demonetisation reared the economy into a state of trauma – with millions jobless as employers had no cash to pay for salaries; micro entrepreneurs into bankruptcy with no available funds for capital and input costs; and a consumer economy into partial disintegration, leaving buyers with no money to exchange for goods and services.
An Indian leadership that is not aligned to reflect the underlying character of India’s society will have to be the unpleasant genie in the bottle bringing havoc and instigating conflict, rather than allowing for a bright Indian future. The British colonialists had seen this and in effect set the standard that had positively affected Indian society. In doing so, its colonial masters integrated the tribes under one empire and one rule that always dealt to “communicate” conflict with a democratic and rational demeanour.
Modi and recent Indian events are nothing but symptomatic of the malaise that the nation is going back to a medieval, violent and superstitious precedent or until it tears itself apart on regional religious and sectarian lines. The future of India in our view is troublesome to say the least. Despite all the hoopla, we do not buy the argument of an economic power to rival China, and nor should you.