Freedom demands a price, and the INDIA conglomerate must be willing to pay it. It’s time for them to recall the iconic slogan of the three musketeers: “All for one, one for all.”
A forked destiny broods over the republic, beckoning it this way or that. No eight or so months in the history of post-Independence India may ever have been as terminally fraught as those that confront “we the people”.
Bolstered by its victories in Ayodhya (Ram Mandir) and Kashmir (Article 370), a forthright right wing now makes bold to float the agenda dearest to its ideological heart, namely, the rewriting of the constitution of India – not just to erase from its Preamble the terms secular’ and ‘socialist’ but to inscribe a new definition of the Indian state as a Hindu Rashtra.
This is sought to be done in ways by now characteristic and familiar: get religious pointmen to begin a grassroot propagation. Dhirendra Shastri, for instance:
Also, nudge friendly ‘expert’ voices to prod contention among the literati.
A third and perhaps the most infectious outreach is offered by comprador corporate-electronic media channels where a host of young anchors and reporters are now mentally primed to energetically project the virtues of official thinking. Often, all day long.
The agenda is being couched in converging ways: first, that the allegedly monochromatic cultural reality of this ancient land must find place as the informing principle of the political state; and then, by linking that in a most instructive marriage to the ‘giant strides’ being made by the motherland in the universe of “development” – both ‘facts’ ostensibly requiring the drafting of a new constitution.
The second argument is mere chimeric fodder meant to entice the gawking nationalist base, high on pride at India’s alleged global leadership in order to obtain middle class assent on some spurious economic ground to the transformation of the state into a strong, sectarian entity. Never mind the pathetic indices on hunger and malnutrition, record levels of unemployment, unconscionable inequalities of income, rampant anaemia among lactating women, the embarrassing need to feed free grains to some 80 crore Indians, a shameful per capita purchasing power parity ratio next to the countries of the developed world.
Bear in mind that the Indian constitution has already seen some 106 amendments in 70 years, while the world’s leading economy, the US, has made no more than 27 since 1787; the Japanese none at all, while the British do fine without a written constitution. In other words, the least changes have taken place where development has been the highest.
So much, thus, for the specious propaganda that rapid economic development requires a new constitution altogether. Not ‘development’ but a congenial religio-cultural architecture requires the scrapping of the constitution as we now have it. And wouldn’t the corporate owners of the state love a circumstance in which sundry contentions among an unthinkingly consuming populace were put to final rest by a terminal sleight-of-hand such as a rewritten constitution?
The plain and telling fact is that the coming general election of 2024 is likely to be India’s parallel to the German elections of 1933. Golwalkar’s lauding of the Nazi regime (see We, Our Nationhood Defined, 1938) remains a lodestar to remember as we conceptualise the menacing froth now afloat.
The INDIA conglomerate
Clearly, while the coming together of 26 political parties into a conglomerate instructively captioned INDIA, is reflective of their understanding of the mortal nature of the prospect that now confronts the democratic republic, that understanding must attain to a recognition (an anagnorisis) that were they to fail for petty reasons, they may not have a second chance for a long time to come.
If they sink, they will all sink, though some may fancy their clout in their own strongholds. Let them not complacently believe that a third mandate to the RSS-led right wing will not after all see any systemic recasting of the state. That sort of delusion has been experienced before in other parts of the world, to the catastrophic detriment of the human race.
In our own case, were such a constitutional transformation to occur, we may come to relive harrowingly enlarged scenarios of that which now obtains in Manipur and Haryana. Let it never be forgotten that while democracy is never the need of the expropriating classes, it is nothing less than a lifeline for the masses. Freedom demands a price, and the INDIA conglomerate must be willing to pay it. It’s time for them to recall the iconic slogan of the three musketeers: “All for one, one for all.”
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