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India: A Case Of Socio-Political Critique And Ideological Insularity

Whereas Pakistan is amidst different demons of new times, India has propped up a tale of ideological insularity within. How far the reality is far – it’s a far cry to say, writes Usman Waheed.

The ongoing crisis between India and China may generate an unprecedented internal frenzy. Internally, India is already heading on the path of cultural-unitarism with militant undertones. The effects may loom large on the internal canvas with more sense of exclusivity than inclusivity or diversity – and the process has already set-in.

Our world fell to ideological unilateralism in two phases – the Russian withdrawal from Afghanistan. And then well after 9/11. Now it’s a world of competing interests but within the same ideological discourse. Be that as it may, this unilateralism has procreated an emergent and internal value of ideological insularity in states on the spurs of growth. It has happened owing to lack of internal value system to harness the forces unleashed by capitalist forces.

It says that all that is, is ancient and aborigine and whatever is foreign (internally; within a particular culture) has to be purged. Such definitions are highly subjective, emotional and selective. India fits in this particular case. Whereas Pakistan has demons of its own to fight, somehow, India is committing the same blunder as Pakistan for different reasons altogether. Now, it reads the ‘Only-Nation Theory’ in case of India.

British India, in practice was essentially a type of garrison state — perpetual fears of insecurity, both internal and external were intrinsic to its rulers’ consciousness. Its institutions were calibrated, thus to perform the service deemed fit by imperial interests, insecurity being essential. Whereas the leaders of new nation states carved out of British India were to have umpteen problems in running the nascent states, they had one herculean and paramount task at hand. It was to exorcise the ghost of this garrison state and transform the new countries into democratic polity. The situation was further compounded by the fact that the theatrical enactments of Cold War which were being played out off-shore, were in these regions. Pakistan contracted the contagion of existential insecurity in a way, India did not in a way.

Besides failings that were many, it was the genius of Pandit Nehru and his aides who could perform this
tremendously marvelous job of laying down the foundations of democracy in India, which had never been democratic, never indeed in the past.

I wonder, and wonder rightly, if the progeny of Indians is building upon the spadework so assiduously laid by Pandit Nehru. I doubt! They are oblivious, nay thanklessly careless to this feat of genius, which is little short of providence, ever done to them. India is in a strange grip of fancy; a “Tharoor-ized” fancy, we may say. Shashi Tharoor though right in many a sense and an intellectual in his own right has theorized the colonial past with a new spirit of revisionism on genuine grounds.

However, his is a narrative and not a discourse and should never be bought as one. When coupled with messages movies like “Tanhaji” and “Panipat” lay across, it is a recipe for blatant disaster. These neo-heroes are imbued with a militant spirit and one wonders how different they are than the resurrected apparition of Mehmood Ghanznavi.

Internally, India has become abhorrent even to those culinary arts which it finds not ‘Hindu’ (the word Hindu here is used in cultural sense). As the cities are being renamed in strange ethno-socio-centrist spirit, saner voices like Urmila Thapar and Irfan Habib are being huddled to the corner.

Though not ideal yet near ideal; one needs to understand if India has relatively apolitical state institutions, it is to the credit of its initial political leadership. Field Marshal Carriappa, first Indian C-in-Chad political views to the extent that he favoured controlled martial-law in parts of India as were rife with political dissent. General Thimayya, the most celebrated general had the audacity to by-pass the command channel and rally other services’ chiefs (navy and air force) against the defence minster Krishna Menon. Once out of office, he spewed venom against the political leadership to the then British High Commissioner which the latter cabled off to Britain, in verbatim.

The reality is grimmer. Partly, I emphasize ‘partly’, 1962 Indo-China debacle happened since some generals did not have a will to fight and had theoretical ideas about war. During the crisis, Nehru never wanted a foreign military aid as he feared it would commit India to international partisanship. However, frantically he did approach the US under immense pressure and produced the wish-list of Indian military leadership. On seeing the list of required armament, the Americans remarked, “Churchill with no weapon worth the name had won the war but you want all the weapons while retreating” and “You are defending your country. Not having a picnic. March your tanks through”.

No wonder the fine institutional balance in India will go slipshod one day at the altar of its capitalist devour. Ultra-national analysts are the new priests of this phenomena in India. A strange ‘quasi neo-imperial’ wish to revisit history is rampant in India, thanks to ‘for-all’ medium of social media. Long before current Indo-China skirmishes, Nehru-Menon duo were already being blamed squarely for the 1962 Indo-China debacle. The same is being done now where a lot of suave and articulate ex-generals are charging the atmosphere with salvoes like ‘platan ki izzat’ and ‘namak ka qarz’.

The matter has given new spark to the old but inane and no-scholarly debates. Thanks to this capitalist devour of India which it owes to American friendship. The last shreds of democracy in South Asia may give way to naked and peroration economic competition that suckles on international military-industrial complex and corporatization. In what is to come smaller states like Pakistan will have hard times ahead.

We are living in paradoxical situations. Globalization has somehow muddled the water-tight ideological delineations of nation-states. Ironically, these states do not match the institutional strength to contain the tectonic shifts that are taking place with this; another, forceful conversion of faith.

It’s like opening up yet closing in; a paradox of manners. Whereas Pakistan is amidst different demons of new times, India has propped up a tale of ideological insularity within. How far the reality is far – it’s a far cry to say.


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