Firstly, I admit that I do not understand Integral Humanism and its relevance in today’s Indian society. Nor do I believe that half knowledge is worse than ignorance. But I do believe that the path to truth and righteousness comes from continuous learning. All solutions to our problems cannot come from one individual, doctrine, closed room or even country. If India has ever been successful in its past, it is because of our diversity, long history of worldly interaction and acceptance of better ideas. Why adopt a pure strategy when you can have a mixed strategy for a country with 1.3 billion population? Hence, I am a believer in individual liberty and tolerance. As only that enables us to adopt the best practices from around the world as suitable for our needs.
Back in 2014 a good Pakistani friend asked a disgruntled me about why I was not happy with the outcome of the Modi wave. My response to it would be susceptible to my own social echo chamber living abroad in Europe. Accepting the liberal bias in me, I tried to see the situation in the most optimistic manner.
Ignoring all the potential unfavorable social upshots, my concern was primarily on the unrealistic economic expectations. Amid all the corruption charges prevailing back then, a change in government was a necessity. But handing in the power to the next person in line who conveniently takes advantage of the political void did not seem like an optimal idea. Especially when the solution to the “Ache din” or better days seemed devoid of any efficient processes or criticism. Moreover it relied upon one man’s leadership qualities and his interpretation of another man’s ideas of Integral Humanism.
As days passed, my optimism turned to frustration. On one hand India was witnessing the Kejriwal way of doing things in Delhi which stressed upon innovation, social equality, unity in diversity and accountability. On the other hand a chain of command of hypocritical sycophants seemed to be only interested in consolidating more power at any costs. They seemed to ignore the long term repercussions of their actions while seeing only the short term electoral gains.
A lot of developments in the country since then have been motivated by this urge to gain just enough votes to win elections. In a huge and diverse country like India, winning elections require a lot of money and organizational strength. The Congress party that governed India for several years had their own way of collecting funds for this purpose. A method possibly entrenched in administrative and unorganized corruption. As long as political parties do not solicit you for donations, they should always have an alternative way to procure funds.
However, the BJP under the new leadership seemed to have come out with a more efficient funding and electoral winning mechanism. A method possibly focused on Corporates and Businesses for funds, while relying on low cost polarisation to help gain a loyal support base. To take on the legacy of the Congress party the BJP would need much more than sheer innovation to win. Hands would have to get dirty.
Everything makes sense when you look at the economics of winning an election without the obfuscation of media reports on rising social evil. A lot of these “below the belt” incidents are however very difficult to ignore. Incidents like violent cow vigilantes, Love-Jihad attacks, Anti-romeo squads, Anti-Pakistan sentiments, Boycott of Chinese goods, Rajputs offended by the film Padmavati, etc all appeal to a niche of the Indian voter base. There may not be a huge support for each of these baseless constructed issues. But on a consolidated basis they make up a significant percentage of loyal supporters. Appealing to the insecurity of the average Indian and selling him a story of Integral Humanism has become a very cost efficient strategy to win elections.
Many Indians may lack empathy to these issues as it does not affect them directly. Only when we are in the receiving side of the wrath of such manipulative politics do we see light and the need to stand up for what is really right.
Even within my own circles, a lot of people were very optimistic with the Modi wave. In spite of being smart and educated, many chose to ignore the rise in “intolerance” that was highlighted by Bollywood actor Amir Khan. They merely shunned these incidents as collateral damage for a greater economic good. As if you ignore the problem for long enough, the problem would go away! Personally, I seemed to witness a lot of favoritism for sycophants and hypocrisy which raised my doubts. This was certainly no recipe for prosperity.
Taking the example of the recent Padmavati controversy. If there was anything to be offended with that film then it would be making Ranveer Singh who plays Alauddin Khilji to look like a Dothraki from the Game of Thrones. But when important political leaders call out for gruesome violence against the artists for a dance sequence in a film, you realize that such desperate steps are just for the desperate electoral times.
The film gets conveniently delayed for the Gujarat elections. Moreover, the parliament winter session is stalled and top union leaders are completely occupied in the state elections. An American seaplane is brought over and our supreme leader garners all media attention for weeks in spite of other urgent issues prevailing in the country. Soon after the elections, the government aiming for a credit upgrade has depleted its fiscal budget and is forced to borrow a loan to barely get by in the financial year. Forget optimal, but how could this ever be an appropriate way to govern a country?
As an independent thinker, my concerns or criticisms have always faced a lot of opposition. If there is one thing I have learned in these past 3 years is that I need to keep calm and let the man with the plan do his job. I really wish to provide crucial feedback that can help make improvements in our society. But it seems like we have stopped running those feedback loops in India. I can instead just flatter the ruling party and be declared as a national hero.
How long would all of this go on? Hoping that as time passes more people would call out the bluff and demand accountability. But just like in the Trump -Hillary fight, the average Indian voter is determined against the dynasty rule. He is sick and tired of seeing so many airports and railway stations across the country named after the members of one family. If Rahul Gandhi wants a shot at governing the country, he has to earn it. Fortunately for him, his opposition has made it easy for him.
Nonetheless, most supporters of the BJP I have spoken with feel that there is no other alternative and hence they are left with no choice. When I question them further they bring up interesting theories. That Hindus from across the different castes and regions would be further united if they feel threatened as a group. But this really makes no sense at all if you think that every subgroup by caste or region could feel further threatened if you play with their fears. If you agree to be manipulated into fear against a group, then you need to understand that first they come for someone else and one fine day they come for you.
To understand that we human beings can be sorted accordingly in several ways to be divided and ruled, one must read more history. While our own history is full of such examples, world history provides a bigger data set of learnings.
Ignoring anything foreign due to some misinterpretation of an ideology is a risky move for Indians. And any successful long term investor would tell you that the best way to manage your risks is to diversify!