Ten years ago, I was far more optimistic, and wrote about the coming Indian century; today, despite the obvious progress made on the economic front, I am overwhelmed by a sense of disappointment.
I have been discouraged by what I have observed in the last 10 years. The loss of heritage. The disdain for indigenous civilisation. The perversion of the discourse in the country by Stalinist 'intellectuals'. The regular terrorist attacks that cheapen Indian lives. The total non-reaction by government to oppression of people of Indian origin abroad.
And so I have come to realise that freedom is very different from mere independence. There is no freedom for the common man in India: not freedom from want, nor freedom of expression or thought, nor freedom to aspire to greatness, nor freedom from the ravages of endemic corruption. The State is so feeble that India can fairly be termed a failing State. The Indian State punches so far below its weight that it might as well not exist.
The failure is both domestic and global. Individual Indians are shackled, and the blunders of the past 60 years conspire to create a state of permanent slavery for the nation. That is the biggest disappointment of all: Indians aspire to mediocrity. Indians simply cannot imagine that they can recapture their historical primacy as the greatest innovators, the most prosperous nation on earth.
The facts are out there for anyone to read: For instance, economic historian Angus Maddison's World Economy: A Millennial Perspective, an official European Union publication, shows that during practically the entire period 0-1700 CE India was the world's richest nation. There is circumstantial evidence, too: The fact that every barbarian, from Alexander the Macedonian, to sundry Central Asians, to random Europeans, all invaded India. People intent on loot do not invade poor countries.
India is on the way to economic superpower-dom, according to the dramatic Goldman Sachs reports (Dreaming with BRICs and India's Rising Growth Potential). And indeed, in the last few years, the world has recognised that India will be an engine of the Asian century, hyphenated with China (much, incidentally, to the latter's chagrin).
But it is only foreigners who acknowledge India's potential. Indians themselves are still colonised. Having destroyed indigenous education, the colonialists put in place a system designed to suppress creativity and produce drones who would toil for the empire. It drums into the minds of children the idea that everything native to India is worthless.
This project has succeeded beyond Macaulay's wildest dreams (see his infamous Minutes) in creating a nation of the terminally confused. Exhibits A and B: India's finance minister opined recently that India was always a poor country; some time ago, his boss, the prime minister, complimented imperialists on the good they did! Aren't these people economists? All they have to do is to read Great Victorian Holocausts: El Nino and the Making of the Third World to understand the appalling war crime, including the genocide of at least 20 million people, perpetrated on India by the imperialists.
Yet, in an example of undeserved tolerance towards rapacious foreigners, Indians shut their eyes to the dangers of Economics 101: choosing to only make butter, and no guns. We need guns to protect our butter. Thus the great dangers in the sustained and inexplicable efforts recently to make India for all intents and purposes a nuclear vassal of the United States.
Brought up to believe they are worthless, Indians aspire to be second-best. Only Indians go to the Olympics to be sporting losers, not to win. Nobody else chants the meaningless mantra that what matters is participation; no, Virginia, the only thing that matters is winning. India seeks to play second fiddle to somebody, be it Americans, Chinese, Arabs -- somebody, anybody. This is a disease that may have to be excised by large-scale lobotomies; or perhaps by burning down a certain university that is its epicentre.
India has been a hectoring busybody on the global stage, lecturing everybody on morality and virtue. It is also easy prey: A nation that can be induced to commit collective suicide through the expedient of buying off its media and politicians for chump change. The number of fifth-columnists in India has reached record proportions. India has 'friends of America', 'friends of China', 'friends of Saudi Arabia', 'friends of the Vatican' in high places, but hardly anyone is a friend of India.
Yes, there is formal independence, but there is no freedom. There is, for instance, no respite from the State religion, some baffling animal called 'secularism', which basically means total apartheid against large groups of people.
The State excels in perpetuating the most ridiculous system ever invented: A chimera that combines all the vices of Communism and Capitalism and none of the virtues. The idiocies and inefficiencies of the first and the thievery and inequities of the second; but not the iron discipline and will nor the unshackled flair for getting ahead. The State has interfered in everything it has no business being in: running airlines, hotels, and so forth; and it has been practically invisible in everything it is the one and only provider of: infrastructure, defence, social programs, human rights. Crony capitalism and the license raj run rampant.
The State has also failed to provide basic human necessities: the infamous 'bread, clothing and shelter' that every government has promised loudly but never delivered. People in many parts of India are opting for privatized education, water supply and road-maintenance -- fed up with State incompetence, indifference and inefficiency, a testament to how badly the State has performed.
It is obvious that wherever the State exited -- or never interfered in, not realizing that here was yet another opportunity to screw up royally -- the native genius of the people has enabled India to thrive: for instance, in telecommunications, in information technology.
The Indian State, in sum, is predatory. It preys on the very people it is sworn and duty-bound to protect and nurture.
Nor is there democracy in India, other than some strange beast that has the paraphernalia and form, but not the substance of rule of, by and for the people. Instead it is of, by and for the brown sahib, who is only interested in self-aggrandisement.
There is little to cheer about 60 years after power has been grabbed by Macaulay's children, the said brown sahibs, almost every one of them a crook willing to sell the national interest down the river. They have perpetrated a crime against humanity by preventing 400 million Indians from climbing out of poverty and by creating a personality-cult-ridden, corrupt, failing State.Comments are welcome on my blog at http://rajeev2007.wordpress.com