Searching For The Best Idea Of India

Searching For The Best Idea Of IndiaAn election officer applies an indelible ink mark on the finger during voting, at a polling station, in Jahangirabad on 28 November 2018 in Bhopal, MP. (Mujeeb Faruqui/Hindustan Times via GettyImages) 
  • There is a glaring disconnect between the 70-year-old Indian state and the 5,000-year-old Indian nation.

    Who is to say which idea of India is correct?

The recent assembly elections have again brought to the forefront our vacillating efforts to search for the idea of India that is the most appropriate for our well-being.

I wish that the ground level conditions prevalent in India today were such that a constructive interchange between (any) party in government and (any) party in the opposition were of the type that normally prevails in a true, healthy democracy for there is no doubt that democracy is the best form of government.

Today, the fundamental problem we face in our country is that the idea of India proposed by the party in government and the main opposition party are in stark contrast. There is no common ground—not even a bit.

This lack of an intersection is what has polarised the environment to such an extreme extent that any civilised discourse between political parties and even between ordinary citizens with differing political views is becoming increasingly impossible.

The main opposition party has not done well for itself if its record over the last 70 years is any indicator of its performance. There may be those who say that 70 years is not enough to test the opposition party’s idea of India, and that it has done well enough. This is a matter of opinion.

The current ruling dispensation has been in power for far too short a period to really say anything about whether or not their idea of India is more suited this ancient country.

One idea of India is based on an ancient tradition, history, fact, fiction and custom. The other is based on our Constitution, a document written 70 years ago by a group of well-meaning, largely educated people. The first model is time tested. The second model is so new that one can hardly hope that this document is a perfect one. One should not make the mistake that it is written in letters of stone.

And, yet, what is clear is that there is a glaring disconnect between the 70-year-old Indian state and the 5,000-year-old Indian nation.

Who is to say which idea of India is correct?

Or would either model work if the extent of corruption were not so all-pervasive? And that it's a matter of corruption rather than the Constitution itself which is at fault since 1947? And that the Indic model too would fail in the presence of endemic corruption?

In the end, the idea of India that we the people must choose is the one that lifts us up the ladder of progress, education and enlightenment in the shortest possible time. It's about economics finally. And all of us are groaning today because the economy is struggling—each and every single one of us citizens of this most unfortunate country.

What would the writers of the Constitution say if they were allowed to have a peep into the India of 2019?

Gautam Desiraju is a Professor of Chemistry. He was in the University of Hyderabad between 1979 and 2009 and in the Indian Institute of Science, Bangalore since then. He was the President of the International Union of Crystallography between 2011 and 2014.


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