2ndlook

India – Beyond Individuals

Posted in Current Affairs, History, Uncategorized by Anuraag Sanghi on January 26, 2008

Bhagvad Geeta4, 7Bhagvad Geeta4, 8“Whenever and wherever there is a decline in righteousness, O descendant of Bharata, and a rise of evil — at that time I manifest myself. To deliver all those who believe in goodness and to annihilate the evil, to reestablish righteousness, I will appear, in millennium after millennium.” Bhagwad Geetha IV, 7-8.

Who was Kalidasa? No one quite knows. After composing some of the best lyrical poetry ever, (in Sanskrit), little is known about him. His life lives in his works. Who was Ved Vyasa – the writer of Mahabharata? Or for that matter Valmiki! No one knows. About any one of these people.

Yet, whenever, India had needed, inspirations have come. To lead us … असतो मा सद्गमय From untruth to the truth … तमसो मा ज्योतिर्गमय … From darkness to light … मृतयोर् मा अमृतं गमय … from termination, to eternity …

Portrait Of Tipu SultanTipu Sultan unceasing opposition for more than 30 years (The Mysore Wars – 1767-1799) to the foreign rule before the 1857 War made the British rulers cautious about waging war in India. Immediately thereafter was the challenge of the Sikh qaum – led by Ranjit Singh. The death of Ranjit SinghRanjit Singh & Laili - His Favorite Horse in (1839) gave them another opportunity. Then followed the Afghan wars and the Sikh Wars (between 1839-1850). In 1857 was the India‘s first war of Independence.

From 1857 to the 1900, the British colonial government decimated Indian leadership. Bahadur Shah Zafar was sent to Rangoon. Rani Lakshmibai of Jhansi. Ahalyabai Holkar. Tantia Tope. Leader after leader came to the fore. And India continued to redefine itself.

Swami VivekanandaFrom feudal and hereditary leaders, the leadership slowly changed. From political to social. In parallel. In 1828, Raja Ram Mohan Roy formed the Brahmo Samaj. In 1875, Swami Dayanand formed the Arya Samaj. On 24th December 1892, Swami Vivekananda reached Kanyakumari – after travelling across India. He was entertained by rajas and the रंकDadabhai Naoroji (commoners) of his day.

Then followed the political leadership. Dadabhai Naoroji’s (Congress President in 1886, 1893 1906) research and quantification of the British Loot from India started a new set of leaders against colonial rule – and a new definition of India. Tilak’s demand for ‘swaraj’ and ‘swadeshi’ Lokmanya Balgangadhar Tilakgoods unnerved the colonialists. The colonial British Government deported Balgangadhar Tilak to Rangoon. He came back stronger than before. In other countries, when old leaders and rulers were removed or replaced, those countries descended into dictatorship, confusion, poverty. In India, we had wave after wave of leaders – and each time India moved forward. In a direction which has no precedents in world history.

What Happened In Other Countries

Why do Australia and Canada still acknowledge the British Queen as the head of the state? Spain has Juan Carlos I as its king! Did you know that Belgium has Albert II as it King? And Queen Beatrix rules over Holland (The Netherlands). King Akihito is venerated by the Japanese – and is the head of the state. Sweden is ruled by King Carl XVI Gustaf. Luxembourg has the Grand Duke Henri as its equivalent to a King! King Harald V lords over Norway! Queen Margrethe II rules over Denmark. The world still has quite a few monarchies – especially in the OECD. Why?

France removed and guillotined the monarchs – and they got Napoleon Bonaparte, as dictator! Russia tried – and they got 70 years of communist dictatorship. Italy asked King Victor Emmanuel III to go – and got Mussolini. The British exiled the Kaiser of Germany – and the Germans had to put up with Hitler thereafter.

Britain terminated the Turkish Ottoman Empire – and Turkey got a benign dictator, Mustafa Kemal Attaturk, and then not so benign dictators – and is yet to recover! East Europe (Romania, Poland, Czechoslovakia, Albania, etc) promptly started fighting with each other, within and without – after the kings were removed. China became communist after the last emperor – and still has a communist dictatorship. Iran, Egypt, Iraq, Libya, most of Africa, South America – same or similar story.

This history is why Canada and Australia cling to the skirts of British Monarchy.

Republican Democracy

America became one of the first successful Republican democracies – from 1789, when George Washington became the first elected President of USA. (70 years later there was a Civil War). America survived.

Israel, (propped up by massive US aid) is another country which has been a republican democracy for more than 50 years. Switzerland (with guaranteed neutrality from the European powers) is another in modern history to survive 50 years of republican democracy. Srilanka has been another country which has survived 50 years as republican democracy – but just about.

India is the youngest Republican democracy – and we have completed a historic 50 years as republican democracy – Jan 26th 1950, till date.

Gandhiji’s Conquest

But before the republic, came the unification of India – the crowning achievement of Gandhiji. Not the political union (achieved by Sardar Patel) – but the ideological union!

Garibaldi (united Italy), Bismarck (united Germany), Simon Bolivar (liberated and united South American countries) were unifiers who succeeded with the help of armies.

Gandhiji (armed with a walking stick) unified a larger India (and Pakistan) without an army. An India and a Pakistan – bigger than what the largest empire in the history of the world, the British Empire could not conquer with its armies.

One Clean Break

To make a one clean break from the feudal-colonial past – and succeed! That is a dream – never before in the history of the world. India made history – by surviving for 50 years with a republican democracy.

In 1947, India was a feudal society with more than 500 Kings and (some) Queens at the time of Independence. (No, the British did not rule over all of modern India). Large parts of India also had to change from a colonial mindset.

How Is India Unique

However, no other country has 15 official languages.

Switzerland has only 4. Sri Lanka’s Sinhalas do not want to accept Sri Lankan Tamils as full and equal citizens – hence the 20 year old civil war.

Social Equality

The liberation of Blacks in the USA is a 1970s phenomenon. It took non-violent protests (Martin Luther King) and violent threats (Malcolm X) for some kind of real emancipation and equity to come in.

Blacks in the USA legally got full and equal liberty only in 1964 after President Kennedy’s Civil Rights Act of 1964. Earlier in 1954, President Eisenhower had to send in the army (the National Guard). In the Cold War scenario, under international media glare, during the Little Rock School stand-off, Eisenhower (a Southerner himself) reacted. The Mayor of Little Rock, Arkansas closed down the school rather than de-segregate. De-segregation (between the Blacks and Whites) happened clearly and fully only by 1970-75. Non-violent protests by Martin Luther King (inspired by Gandhiji’s) till 1968 and violent threats by Malcolm X thereafter, made desegregation a reality. Not to forget Martin Luther King’s assassination in 1968. The eyeball-to-eyeball confrontation during the Kennedy years produced the Civil Rights Act of 1964.

But, Gandhiji’s first step, after coming back from South Africa, (many decades before India’s Independence, Unification and the creation of the Republic) was to start social reform against untouchability.

Enforcement – or Help

India and America, created their own constitutions without external enforcement. Republican democracy in Germany was imposed by the Allied Powers – hence their record is blemished.

Religions

In most countries, religion divides. In India, we are different. India has the world’s second /third largest Muslim population. The Indian Christian population is equal to that of most majority-Christian countries – excluding just a few big one like USA, Russia, Mexico, Brazil, etc. Buddhists number nearly 50 lakhs. Sikhs, Parsis (Zoorastrians), Bahais, follows their own religion. Iranians, Armenians, Jews, Chinese have come to India – when persecuted in their homelands.

Racism! Anyone?

No, thanks!

India has the Caucasoid stock – spread over the North and West India; Australoid stock spread over South India and the Mongoloid stock spread over of East and North East. There is also a very small sprinkling of the Negroid stock – less than 1%.

The Challenges Ahead

The challenges ahead are defence and economics.

India’s defence unpreparedness is beyond comprehension. Worse, is the lack of threat perception. Indians (sadly and truly) limit their threat perception to the Pakistanis – and the Chinese. with the world’s largest private reserves of gold India becomes a target. The resultant global and emerging threats are unrealised. We spend billions of dollars on buying arms all over the world – but our domestic arms industry is starving.

The second is economics. The world trade systems, financial agreements, currency management continue to drag down India – and many other countries. Navigating these uncharted waters successfully is the other.

And I am sure that another set of new leaders will arrive and take India forward to another level.

Sooner – not later.

Tagged with: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Republican Democracy – The Mirage!?

Posted in America, History, India, politics by Anuraag Sanghi on January 22, 2008
Post-British Raj India had a difficult choice - which political system to choose! (Cartoon by RK Laxman; courtesy - timesofindia.com).

Post-British Raj India had a difficult choice - which political system to choose! (Cartoon by RK Laxman; courtesy - timesofindia.com).

Is monarchy dead?

Why do Australia and Canada still acknowledge the British Queen as the head of the state? Even as Britain declined from a super-power at the end of WWII, to bankruptcy today.

Are there any real life monarchs left in any other ‘advanced’ countries?

Spain has Juan Carlos I as its king! Did you know that Belgium has Albert II as it King? And Queen Beatrix rules over Holland (The Netherlands). King Akihito is venerated by the Japanese – and is the head of the state. Sweden is ruled by King Carl XVI Gustaf. Luxembourg has the Grand Duke Henri as its equivalent to a King! King Harald V lords over Norway! Queen Margrethe II rules over Denmark

What role do these monarchs play? Will a modern country follow these monarchs? Surprisingly, Europe has not removed any monarchs in the last 50 years.

The world still has quite a few monarchies – especially in the OECD.

Why so many monarchs

After all monarchy is relic – an institution that should be dead! Right?

Monarchy is not cheap. Monarchs are expensive to maintain. Monarch’s can also be embarrassing – especially the family. Just look at Princess Diana! Her saga of bedroom romps and adultery became a reality show – before reality shows were born (Endemol, the Diana estate is coming after you!).

If they are figure heads, why waste time – and money!

The Difficulty Of Removing Monarchs

France removed and guillotined the monarchs – and they got Napoleon Bonaparte, as dictator! Russia tried – and they got 70 years of communist dictatorship. Italy asked King Victor Emmanuel III to go – and got Mussolini. The British exiled the Kaiser of Germany – and the Germans had to put up with Hitler afterwards. Spain reverted to monarchy after the end of Franco’s dictatorship.

After WWI, the Anglo-French alliance terminated the Turkish Ottoman Empire – and Turkey got a benign dictator, Mustafa Kemal Attaturk, and then not so benign dictators – and is yet to recover! After the demise of the Turkish Ottoman Empire, the Middle East was saddled with artificial kingdoms which have hot-spots of terror and instability.

East Europe (Romania, Poland, Czechoslovakia, Albania, etc) promptly started fighting with each other, within and without – after the kings were removed. China became communist after the last emperor – and still has a communist dictatorship. Iran, Egypt, Iraq, Libya, most of Africa, South America – same or similar story. The Nepalese have got their history wrong. Just look at Afghanistan next door – after the King Zahir Shah was removed.

This history is why Canada and Australia cling to the skirts of British Monarchy.

RK Laxman on the New Republic ...

RK Laxman on the New Republic ...

Republican Democracy

The modern desirable is Republican democracy – and every country wishes for one! Very few succeeded. A republican democracy does not have a titular king – hereditary or otherwise. The head of the state is elected – directly or indirectly.

In the last 250 years, just 6 countries succeeded with Republican democracy without a significant breakdown in the first 50 years. Of the six, Sri Lanka (pop. 200 lakhs) Switzerland (pop. 80 lakhs), Israel (pop. 75 lakhs) and Singapore (pop. 50 lakhs) are tiny countries to generate any valuable data, models, norms or precedents. In any other day, age and society, the republican-democracy model would have been laughed off – and not studied by millions.

America became one of the first successful republican democracies – from 1789, when George Washington became the first elected President of USA. 70 years later, the strains were showing – North versus South. America was on the verge of Civil War – the main cause of which was the desire of the Southern states to remain independent (due to tariff issues) or at best as a loose confederation – not a federal union (actually slavery was a side issue).

Israel, (propped up by massive US aid) is another country which has been a republican democracy for more than 50 years. Switzerland (with guaranteed neutrality from the European powers) is another in modern history to survive 50 years of republican democracy.

Sri Lanka has been another country which has survived 50 years as republican democracy – but just about. With a civil war for the last nearly 20 years, with a changeover from parliamentary democracy to presidential, has struggled along.

India is the youngest Republican democracy – and we have completed a historic 50 years as republican democracy – Jan 26th 1950, till date.

Gandhiji (Photo courtesy - Hindustan Times) Click for larger image.

Gandhiji (Photo courtesy - Hindustan Times) Click for image.

Gandhiji’s Conquest

But before the republic, came the unification of India – the crowning achievement of Gandhiji. Not the political union (achieved by Sardar Patel) – but the ideological union!

Garibaldi (united Italy), Bismarck (united Germany), Simon Bolivar (liberated and united South American countries) were unifiers who succeeded with the help of armies.

Gandhiji (armed with just his walking stick) unified a larger India (and Pakistan) without an army. An India and a Pakistan – bigger than what the largest empire in the history of the world, the British Empire could not conquer with its armies. It is unclear what exactly was Gandhiji’s country model for India. Though he talked of village-based Ram-Rajya, was it unique and different भारत-तंत्र Bharat-tantra or like the sanitised Western country model that India under Nehru finally adopted.

One Clean Break

To make a one clean break from the feudal-colonial past – and succeed! That is a dream – never in the history of the world. India made history – by surviving for 50 years with a republican democracy.

Famine, War, Religion, Language - Could India survive? Cartoon by Illingworth; source and courtesy - cairsweb.llgc.org.uk). Click for larger image.

Famine, War, Religion, Language - Could India survive? Cartoon by Illingworth; source and courtesy - cairsweb.llgc.org.uk). Click for larger image.

In 1947, India was a ‘feudal’ society with more than 500 Kings and (some) Queens at the time of Independence. (No, the British did not rule over all of modern India). Large parts of India also had to change from a colonial mindset.

The language conundrum

However, no other country has 15 official languages. No other countries even had the courage to think of that.

Various US state governments outlawed all languages – except English. This was finally set aside after the matter reached the US Supreme Court (read Meyer vs Nebraska). The USA gathered some courage to start timidly with more than English only after seeing India’s success with 15 languages.

Switzerland has only four. Sri Lanka’s Sinhalas do not want to accept Sri Lankan Tamils as full and equal citizens – hence the 20-year-old civil war.

Leadership

The British Colonial administration tried to take control of India by removing an entire generation of royalty – Bahadur Shah Zafar, Tipu Sultan, Rani Lakshmi Bai, Tatiya Tope, Rani Ahalyabai et al. This should have left India rudderless, with a vacuum at the top – based on European history.

But what was unprecedented in the modern world history, was a new band of first-generation political leaders who cut their against the British. Balagangadhar Tilak, Lala Lajpat Rai, Bipin Chandra Pal, Subhash Chandra Bose – and of course, Gandhiji.

And after 1947. After the departure of the British. Gandhiji was assassinated in 1948. Sardar Patel was no more by the end of 1950. Ambedkar in 1956 and in 1958, Maulana Azad passed away. Thus apart from Nehru, the entire leadership of India was no more, 10 years after Mountbatten’s departure.

Universal Suffrage

In India, universal suffrage in 1950 started from the very first election in sovereign India.

Universal suffrage came to the USA, Britain, France, Belgium, Canada, Australia after a long struggle. The USA had to pass the Nineteenth Amendment in 1920; Italy in 1945; Canada in 1940; France gave women the right to vote in 1945; Switzerland in 1971 gave its women the right to vote in all elections. These “advanced” countries, gave women the right to vote after a long struggle. India’s respect for its female citizenry is best demonstrated by universal adult franchise from the very first day – without any feminist activism.

How could India manage this?Social Equality

Black emancipation in the USA is a 1970s phenomenon, 30+ years ago event – and not 200 years ago as this article in New York Times seems to make out.

It took non-violent protests (Martin Luther King, inspired by Gandhiji) and violent threats (Malcolm X) for some kind of real emancipation and equity to come in. In the Cold War scenario, under international media glare, during the Little Rock School stand-off, Eisenhower (a Southerner himself) reacted.

Reluctantly,in 1954, he sent in the National Guard to Little Rock, Arkansas for some kind of de-segregation. The Mayor of Little Rock, Arkansas closed down the school rather than de-segregate. The eyeball-to-eyeball confrontation during the Kennedy years produced the Civil Rights Act of 1964. For a 100 years after the American Civil War, the Black people in the USA were still subject to 2nd grade treatment – any measure of liberty came only after 1964.

But Gandhijis’ first step, after his return from South Africa, (many decades before Independence, Unification and creation of the Republic) was to undo the social calcification (resulting in untouchability) due to 200 years of colonialism .

Enforcement – or Help

India and America, created their own constitutions without external enforcement. Republican democracy in Germany was externally imposed – by the Allied Powers. Singapore has used extreme laws to disallow any other party and leaders to pose a challenge to the ruling party and get elected. When Japan took the first step away from LDP rule, with a non-LDP government, after 45 years of LDP rule – it took Japan 20 years to recover.

How long would India last ...?

How long would India last ...?

Religious Divide …

India has the world’s second /third largest Muslim population. The Indian Christian population is equal to that of most majority-Christian countries – excluding just a few big one like USA, Russia, Mexico, Brazil, etc. Buddhists number nearly 50 lakhs. Sikhs, Parsis (Zoroastrians), Baha’is, follows their own religion. Iranians, Armenians, Jews, Chinese have come to India – when persecuted in their homelands.

Racism, anyone?

No, thanks!

India has the Caucasoid stock – spread over the North and West India; Australoid stock spread over South India and the Mongoloid stock spread over of East and North East. There is also a very small sprinkling of the Negroid stock – less than 1%.

Hence, to have a functioning republican democracy without a break for more than 50 years puts India in a different league.

The Challenge Ahead

The challenges ahead are defence and economics.

India‘s defence unpreparedness is beyond comprehension. Worse, is the lack of threat perception. Indians (sadly and truly) limit their threat perception to the Pakistanis – and the Chinese. With the world’s largest private reserves of gold India is a target – all over again. The resultant global and emerging threats are unrealised.

The second is economics. The world trade systems, financial agreements, currency management continue to drag down India – and many other countries. Navigating these uncharted waters successfully is the other.

Does India have the intellectual leadership and strategic intent to create solutions?

Divide et impera (Cartoonist - Paresh). Click for larger image.

Divide et impera (Cartoonist - Paresh). Click for larger image.

Divide et impera

The disturbing thought is fact that the Western ‘nation’ model has been such a huge failure. How many countries have been successful in this quest for ‘nationhood’?

Vietnam suffered from a prolonged war (1956-1976) – and finally peace had a chance after 20 years of war. Korea remains divided. The Cyprus problem between Turkey, Greece and the Cypriots has been simmering for nearly 100 years.

The role of the Anglo-Saxon Bloc, in Indonesia, the overthrow of Sukarno, installation of Suharto and finally the secession of East Timor is another excellent example. The Israeli-Palestinian conflict (1935 onwards) will soon enter its 75th year. The entire Arab-Israeli-Palestinian conflict is a creation of the Anglo-French-American axis. The many other issues in the West Asia and Africa are living testimony of the Western gift to the modern world.

The track record

Closer home is the Kashmir problem. After 60 years of negotiations, India-Pakistan relations have remained hostage to the Kashmir issue. Similarly, between China and India, the border issues remain 60 years after the eviction of Britain from India.

The Anglo-Saxon habit of partitioning countries is a disaster!

  1. Cyprus between Greece and Turkey
  2. Israel between Palestine, Jordan and Syria
  3. Chinese Singapore in Malaysia
  4. Northern Ireland out of Ireland
  5. Two Koreas
  6. Taiwan and China

and of course a Pakistan out of India.

With a benign, ‘democratic’ dictator like Lee Kuan Yew, in the frame, the Singapore out of Malaysia is too small and too short-term a success to make any impact.

Post Script

Interestingly, Arun Maira, wrote in Times of India, on 20 Feb 2008, one month after this post, ” Our Constitution gave the right to all adults, regardless of race, religion, sex or income to vote. It was a very bold step. Blacks in America got their rights later, and women in India got the right to vote even before women in some Western European countries did.” He continues, “Therefore, we must give thanks to those who brought us safely from independence to 1991 and built our foundations.”

Unfortunately, he goes on further to say,The only inclusive national party we have perhaps is the Congress party, which helped create the country we now celebrate.” His advice is that one party, the Congress, should give India a vision. It does not matter, which party he selects. India’s vision, my dear, Mr.Maira I thought was made by all of us.

8 months after this post, another writer, whose usual inclination is Westward, Jaithirth Rao, an MNC-banker, examines, the entire monarchy and republican debate – without once talking about modern India’s success. As above, he talks about the Afghan history. Further, he says,

“societies which have multiple fissures and fractures along ethnic, religious and social lines are far better off with a constitutional monarchy where the sovereign is a convenient and comfortable symbol transcending different groups within the country and providing a unifying symbol. ”

So, Mr.Rao, would you like to examine, question and understand how India is the longest surviving republican democracy – with its fissures and fractures.

Gurcharan Das, comically asserts, that India’s democracy and the Republic “is a British legacy. Before that we were a collection of communities and kingdoms.” The concept of Bharatvarsha in the Ramayana and Mahabharata are also British. Chanakya’s ‘aryadhwaja‘, Shankaracharya’s ‘chaar dhaam‘, are all a British legacy.

While Britain has been unsuccessful in creating a national identity for itself, (it may break into Scotland and England) is of no relevance to Shri Das. The fact that no other British colony was successful in becoming a republican democracy is also irrelevant for Monsieur Das. But, for Shrimaan Das, banging his head at the altar of British Greatness is an act of faith. Your multinational roots show, Das Mahoday!

India’s Silent Revolutionaries

Posted in Business, Current Affairs, History, India, Media, politics, Satire by Anuraag Sanghi on December 9, 2007

“Mr. Bond, they have a saying in Chicago: “Once is happenstance. Twice is coincidence. The third time it’s enemy action.” Ian Fleming, in Goldfinger.

In 60 years of post-colonial India, 3 significant developments will win the award for deepest impact – but least appreciated or known.

Potti Sreeramulu - Spirit Of The Linguistic State Reorganization (Image source - hindu.com). Click for larger image.

Potti Sreeramulu - Spirit Of The Linguistic State Reorganization (Image source - hindu.com). Click for larger image.

1953 – The Language Genie

An issue on which the colonial rulers ‘set up’ the new rulers of India for failure was on the contentious issue of language. Rightly, the colonial rulers pointed out that there never has been a successful country with so many languages.

Nehru, Subhash Chandra Bose were all for one national language – much like numerous western countries, whose success they so wanted to rival or exceed. And the language of their choice was Hindi.

What kept Europe divided, amongst many things (not that they need help), is language. Belgians (a country with 1 crore population; smaller than Chennai) are being prepared for probable split between the Flemish and the French speaking populations. Canada has been at the precipice for 100 years – torn between two languages. The Balkans , homeland of Alexander the Great (who wanted to make one world), have been at each other for the last 80 years – after they became independent of the Ottoman Empire.

There never has been a country, in modern history, which has had 2-3 languages, without splitting at the seams. One man, who is forgotten and who made a difference was Potti Sreeramulu. A believer and follower of Gandhiji, he pushed Nehru for re-organising India on linguistic lines. Nehru vacillated. Potti Sreeramulu, like Gandhiji, went on ahunger strike. Nehru ignored Potti Sreeramulu’s hunger strike. Potti Sreeramulu died.

The ground swell of international (and also domestic) opinion forced Nehru’s hand. He was left with little choice. And India has since then been administered on linguistic lines. This has given enough space for every sub-culture – without diluting their renewed Indian identity.

In the meantime, Indians have become adventurous in their integration. Idli and Dosa are a part of a Punjabi households and salwar kameez have become popular in Kerala. Hindi film industry is second only to Telugu film industry.

If India had followed colonial administration’s advice of one national language, Tamil Nadu would definitely have seceded in the 1960’s. Ask Sri Lanka. I do hope that Malaysia does not make the Sri Lankan mistake.

A Young PV Narasimha Rao1991 – Problems From Outside

Rajiv Gandhi came back from Sriperumbudur in a coffin. Assam problem seemed beyond resolution. The common Indian had given up on Punjab. The 1984 anti Sikh riots only strengthened the negative outlook. Kashmir was simmering. The Indian electorate had given a fractured mandate. A hung Parliament.

Indian economy was going downhill – and nothing seemed to get the economy out of the “Hindu rate of growth”. India was on the verge of a debt default. Indian debt was downgraded by western rating agencies. The Asian Tigers had done wonders – under US tutelage. China was furiously reforming – and succeeding at it. USSR India’s faithful ally, was breaking up. Corruption was endemic and every politician was an Untouchable – nobody or anything could touch them. There were no laws. Many across the world shook their head and could be heard saying, “I knew … I told you … It had to happen …”

All bets on India were off.

A “intellectual” politician, was called back from retirement – to become Prime Minister PV Narasimha Rao. Forgotten today.

By 1995, he set up India for today’s growth. In a matter of 4 years, he cleared 40 years of cobwebs. The direction that he put India on has been now been followed for more than 15 years – with great success by more than 5 Prime Ministers. His biggest success was accountability. Heads of administration do not appear in a court of law – which PVN did. Election Commission, CAG, Supreme Court acquired fangs – earlier docile shadows of their purported design of BR Ambedkar.

Naidu And Vajpayee1992 – The New Paradigm

One of India’s chronic under performer, Andhra Pradesh got a new Chief Minister – N. Chandra Babu Naidu. In the next 9 years, Andhra Pradesh moved in the Top 5 investment destinations.

Technology savvy, focused, driven – he changed the political idiom in India. State governments now pattern themselves along Naidu’s lines. Privatisations (instead of expanding public sector), tax cuts (instead of increases), administration automation (instead of increased recruitments), hand picked bureaucrats with a development agenda (instead of personal loyalty agenda earlier) were the cornerstones of his strategy. His state administration reform agenda convinced PM Vajpayee to commend Naidu’s template to other state governments to follow.

The Source

These 3 reformers were from Andhra Pradesh – carved out of the earlier Nizam state. The Nizam state was the largest Indian state (in Europe or any other part of Asia, it would have been a few countries) – ruled by an Indian ruler. The last Nizam of Hyderabad, considered at one time the richest man in the world, was also a very simple man. Famously, he never threw away half smoked cigarettes – frugality for world’s richest man. Especially, when other Indian Nawabs out did each other with their spending and peccadilloes in London and Paris.

Andhra Pradesh (most of) was not administered by colonials. Hyderabad is the largest modern Indian city – without a history of Colonial administration. Kolkatta, Chennai, Bangalore, Mumbai, New Delhi were cities ruled by Colonial India administration before the creation of the Indian Republic.

Indian consumer companies test market their products in Hyderabad frequently – as it lends itself to the Indian idiom. Other major metros (with a history of colonial administration) many a time give a “false positive”. Andhra Pradesh supports the world’s largest film industry – bigger than Hollywood and of course, Mumbai film industry.

Two significant creative minds were adopted by Hyderabadis as their cultural mascots. One was Allama Iqbal of “सारे जेहान से अच्छा हिंदुस्तान हमारा” “Saare Jehan Se achcha Hindustan Hamara” fame.

Chirkan, the second mascot, is the “poet” of dirty ditties. Chirkan was the irreverent break from the feudal and colonial Indian mindset – before the Indian Republic.

His rhymes on Qutub minar (a phallic symbol of feudal /colonial majesty of another era) have been repeated by every school child as his very own. He was feted at cultural events – and was a legend in his lifetime. His “sher” on a princess (the Nizam’s daughter) is repeated by schoolboys even today with raging hormones. It is to the Nizam’s credit that Chirkan was not persecuted – but given a token punishment of banishment from Hyderabad.

Forgotten today by the mainstream, Chirkan’s books still circulate in the underground. Chirkan’s rhymes and jokes spread to all of India. 75 years later, every teenager makes his rites of passage with Chirkan’s jokes. Most of Mumbai film industry’s dirty jokes are a take off on Chirkan.

%d bloggers like this: