Yet another annual August 15th where we celebrate yet another progressive step towards realizing Nehru’s tryst with tyranny. The nation calls it Independence Day but nobody asks, Independence from what? From British tyranny? To which I question in turn: do you prefer home-grown tyranny over foreign tyranny? Because that’s what we’ve been living under for the past 65 years.
If you think tyranny is an extreme term to use, consider these.
India today is home to one-third of the globe’s poor. In 1947, the average annual income in India was $619. In the same year, China’s stood at $439, South Korea’s at $770, and Taiwan’s at $936. However, in 1999, India’s average annual income was a paltry $1818 while the figures for these countries were: $3259, $13,317, and $15,720 respectively. People attribute this horrific economic retardation to “centralized planning,” “red tape,” and “License Raj” but these are polite terms for state-instigated economic tyranny.
Under the Congress-led UPA, the state has steadily turned into a multi-tentacled monster that has, over the past 8 years, encroached upon individual freedom bit by bit. Cut back to those glorious days where the Congress party secured two-thirds majority election after election, which enabled it to enact any brazen legislation. Those days are over forever for any party today. Hence, the Congress has tweaked the script to keep its tyrannical agenda in tune with the times. The slew of “Right To” legislations that we’ve seen are aimed at achieving three things: keep the poor poor if not poorer, further extend state interference into the private domain, and further divide an already-divided Indian society against itself.
A related area is press freedom. India’s record has gotten progressively, consistently worse on the Press Freedom Index published annually by Reporters without Borders. While it ranked at 105 in 2006, it ranked 131 in 2011. Yet another indicator of how much less free we’ve gotten in just five years. We’re just 30, 27, and 43 ranks away from Pakistan, Saudi Arabia, and China respectively. And none of these countries are democracies. In the last two or three years, the online media—blogs, and social media especially—critical of the ruling class has faced the fury of Union ministers like Kapil Sibal who had no qualms admitting that he wanted to censor the Internet (hilarious but equally scary). However, press freedom is a little tricky to measure in India given that the mainstream English media is a handmaiden of the ruling Congress party. It has shown on occasions too numerous to count that it willingly self-censors, and brands and abuses opposing or alternate viewpoints. Press freedom impinged by sections of the press itself.
There has been no opposition of any sort to the unconstitutional NAC. It is astonishing that nobody has so far, asked a basic question: under what provision of the Constitution was the NAC set up? Why hasn’t anybody asked who or what law empowers the NAC members to draft legislations that impact the entire nation, especially when every single legislation passed so far has proven to be all-encompassing disasters?
The rule of law is all but dead ever since the UPA took over in 2004. The last eight years have seen the maximum cases of law-breaking at the highest levels. Sitting ministers have gone to jail in unprecedented numbers, a new low inaugurated by the Congress-led UPA. Communal riots inspired by violent ideologies, urban violence, and attacks on women have become everyday affairs. National security has been thrown to the winds—the UPA government is pusillanimous towards Islamic and Maoist terror attacks and it continues to heedlessly encourage illegal immigration.
These are but small samples but are highly illustrative of the kind of tyranny we live under.
The word “tyranny” conjures up images of torture chambers, concentration camps, and deadly jails. However, the best form of tyranny is that which lulls people into thinking that they’re actually living in paradise.
This is the Nehruvian brand of democratic tyranny, which continues to thrive. The Nehruvian legacy must count as the most successful and enduring myth-making exercises throughout the world. He is hailed as a lofty democrat but showed no compunction in holding the Prime Minister’s seat for 17 years and for sowing the seeds of dynastic succession. His democratic sensibilities saw the first ever unconstitutional dismissal of the Left government in Kerala. His intolerance for democratic dissent gave us the free speech-stifling 1st Amendment. His socialist economic planning resulted in perpetuating poverty. His thrust on education stopped at creating the IITs but it equally ensured that primary and secondary education languished forever. His foreign policies ensured that India had no friends (unless you call the erstwhile USSR a friend) in the whole world and worse, had alienated all her neighbours, and created the perpetually-bleeding Kashmir problem. Every nation-building endeavour that has failed has the dark imprint of Nehru’s hand.
And so it is with a mixture of immense sadness and outrage that we notice the fatal results of Nehru’s assays to redeem the pledge he took on behalf of his countrymen at midnight, August 14, 1947.
However, the most disastrous of them all is the fact that Nehru’s tryst with India’s destiny has culminated in having a foreign hand that pulls the strings of the head of the Government of India. The Indian Freedom Struggle characterized as a struggle against British imperialism takes on a new meaning in this light.
Meanwhile, Happy Independence Day. Or whatever is left of it.