31 October 2014

Chacha Modi

Did Nehru create a Modi?
Our first prime minister Jawaharlal Nehru was enthusiastic about 'developing' India. Present Prime Minister Narendra Modi too is showing great enthusiasm for 'development'. So is Modi a new avatar of Nehru?
I feel there is an important distinction which motivates their development dream, but also a significant common-ness among these two leaders. The latter is a cause for concern.
Not much should be made of the fact that Nehru fancied state-dominated enterprises, while Modi fancies a private capital dominated enterprise. Actually, both prime ministers are following the popular trend of their times.
The 1950s and 60s were a period of humane, welfare state thinking - even western capitalist nations in Europe developed strong state welfare programmes during that time. Today's political climate is quite the reverse; it is dominated so much by a mercenary capitalistic thinking that even communist China is developing capitalist expertise..
The welfare tendencies of 1950s were based upon socialist idealogy which developed in Europe following the work of Karl Marx. It was materialistic, limited, flawed, but nonetheless it was a philosophy, a vision for a better world, and was studied and followed by intellectual-politicians who believed that it would result in an egalitarian society. Nehru was one of them.
In contrast, the urge and tendency of today is simply profiteering, it is bereft of an idealogical vision of society. Individuals from Adam Smith to Milton Friedman are quoted, but they are no philosophers, they are propagandists for a mercenary system and therefore are favourites of the business class.
Between the 1950s and now, what the modern system has done is to brainwash academia and detach economics from philosophy. So there are no philosophy pupils guiding nations today, there are only economists or modernists or developmentalists - and all three are the same thing.
The modern politician is moulded to be mediocre; intellectual passion and commitment to a philosophical vision is no more a requirement. From Bush and Obama to Blair and Cameron, to Manmohan and Modi, there is ample evidence of this monoculturization of mediocrity.
So there is a distinction in the motivation behind the developmental approach of the Nehru-era politician and the Modi-era politician. In the first, a desire for a particular type of society led to a modification of the economic system, while in the modern age, it is a desire for economic profit which is the basis for modifying the face of society (and ecology).
But yet, both Nehru and Modi share a common-ness which is significant - both share a gross ignorance of Indian reality and of Indian social economics. Both have rejected any Indian solution based on an Indian world-view, and are dependent on foreign models.
Nehru rejected outright the wisest man of all, Mahatma Gandhi, who asked him to see and understand the tradition of the Indian village community, the need for local solutions, and not to copy western models. Nehru did not listen and went ahead with his socialistic, centralized, design.
Modi does not have a visionary to advise him, but there is a group within his own  RSS - the Swadeshi Jagran Manch (SJM) - and other NGOs and Civil Society groups , which are demanding less globalization, less foreign money, more local manufacturing and chemical-free agriculture. But Modi is not listening, he seems enamoured of foreign expertise and methods, be it American, Chinese or Japanese.
It may appear strange that two people seventy years apart and from two ends of the social spectrum should both be equally ignorant of India's traditional social economic methods and have no confidence in it. One of them is highly educated, from upper class and upper caste, while the other has minimal schooling and is from a modest economic class, but both show no confidence in India's culture and tradition, and its own thinkers, and are dependent on foreign methods. Isn't that strange?
With Nehru, one may say that this is because of his intensive western exposure and foreign education. But what about Modi? Why is a non-English speaking, not overtly westernised person also behaving the same way? And here we reach the point of irony - it is the superficial 'modern' education system perpetuated by Nehru which has resulted in not one, but a million Modis in the country. In the decade following Independence, Nehru had a great opportunity to completely overhaul the highly destructive British system of schooling which was creating an elite which had no confidence in itself. He had the opportunity to adopt an Indian Basic Education Programme; some 20,000 of such schools were actually running then, inspired by Gandhiji's Buniyadi Shiksha, which integrated local education with local community systems. Instead, our first Prime Minister discouraged these schools, and they withered away gradually.
Thus, by cutting our citizens from their local roots, what modern education has delivered is millions of disabled Indians. They may be literate, some partially, some more so, but they are all handicapped. They do not carry the mettle of their local communities, they do not have the social, economic, cultural and humane strengths which comes from being rooted. How can we claim we are educated when we thus disabled?
The same may be happening in other nations too, but globalising a wrong does not make it right.
An important lesson for us from the history of Nehru to Modi is this false education system we have thrust on the nation. It is false because it destroys diversity of thought and experience and ways of looking at the world - it subsumes our rich local tradition and confines all minds to a single story. Which is why, whether we have the Congress or BJP or Abc or Xyz, all political parties show little skill in resolving local issues locally, state issues within the state and national issues wtihin the nation. They are always looking to outsiders to solve their problems, and this surrendering of sovereignity has been disguised with the imported cloth of 'development'. In that sense, Rahul Gandhi and Narendra Modi and Chidambaram and Jaitley are all quite alike, they are similarly 'educated' and will therefore have similar notions of 'development'.
About the Aam Aadmi Party, I cannot say. Yes, it came as a breath of fresh air, and it claims it will bring about changes at a fundamental level. But for this, a clear, alternate vision of education and social economics is essential.
Meanwhile, this forceful ambition to 'develop' the nation may well prove to be destructive. And with Modi's bulldozing approach, the destruction may be quick and severe, because it appears that he has little patience for views which differ from his. And this is a matter of great concern for the nation now, because knowingly or unknowingly, our present Prime Minister can cause very great harm, very very quickly.
But he cannot help it; he is educated thus. Thanks to Nehru.