Unmaking Of A Great Power In The Making…
Sixty-five years after Independence, the ‘functional anarchy’ is now increasingly becoming dysfunctional as disorder spreads across the Union of India.
Midway, even before she could rise and despite the potential, the Indian dream of becoming a great power is coming unstuck due to acute helplessness on display and poverty of leadership at the Centre and the states.
Rapid decline in governance, the crumbling civil administration, the collapse of the policing mechanisms, the divisive vote bank politics and the unprecedented plunder of the treasury are resulting in volcanic disruptions and debilitating internal turmoil.
Unruly religious forces with belief in extreme philosophies unleashed by various political parties for short-term gains, coupled with equally uncontrollable, well-armed and entrenched sinister groups like the Maoists will ultimately rule the roost with “political power growing from the barrel of a gun”.
Indian leaders had neither the vision nor the political will to integrate and consolidate the Union to make it a cohesive ‘whole’ based on rule of law, progress and prosperity for all. The result is the emergence of thousands of isolated compartments based on regionalism. Religion, caste, tribal and non-tribal, dumb inner line permit systems and grant of special status to Jammu and Kashmir and the feudal Khap Panchayats are now taking their toll.
If the vitals of a system can be weakened and hollowed due to our inability to govern, our enemies may not find it necessary to impose on us a war of attrition. In the coming years, the growing threat of internal upheaval will, in all likelihood, outweigh external threats.
In the past six-and-a-half decades, the self-serving sins committed by Delhi’s decadent ‘Mughal Darbar’ have led to civil strife, which is becoming uncontrollable. The deep despair now prevalent among the citizens of India is the beginning of the unmaking of a great power that was in the making.
In times to come, India will be ruled by various groups of mafia, and will begin to resemble Pakistan, if the trends are not reversed firmly, quickly and prudently. Ultimately our adversaries will control these factions of mafia by pitting one against the other!
Is it possible to reverse these self-inflicted suicidal trends leading to the demise of the Union?
It is an uphill task that looks impossible but is ‘doable’. With reasonably ‘honest’ and ‘determined’ leadership, India can be put back on track. In a democracy, for the leadership to maintain an average level of honesty reflects the power of the will of the citizens. If citizens are vigilant and ensure that the public and the media maintain sufficient pressures, the government machinery will tend to remain functional. Otherwise the self-serving platitudes and the loot will continue.
The silver lining is that despite every shortcoming in men and material, the apolitical Indian Army has physically kept the Union intact by its sheer presence on the periphery, despite the collapse of the civil administration and the consequential raging internal civil strife. Despite New Delhi’s sheer apathy and neglect, the Indian military has, so far, succeeded in keeping the enemy at bay too. The truth is that the military is the only institution of the state that remains relatively functional and effective, the rest are under various stages of disintegration primarily due to the astronomical levels of corruption.
The breathing space provided by the military allows a temporary reprieve so that New Delhi can get its act together before the Union sinks into an irredeemable position of harsh unmanageable internal strife akin to the one that exists in Pakistan.
Democracies in the West have brought majority of their citizens in the fold of middle class by operating the equal opportunity clause, which included the right to education. They created intelligently all-round surplus opportunities for their citizens to prosper.
Ironically, our leaders have divided the people of this nation doling out reservations policy as ‘favours’. These policies have accentuated the differences between groups on religious grounds leading to internecine conflict over crumbs aggravated by an economy of shortages.
Vote-banks politics is directly responsible for keeping the majority below the poverty line and in a perpetual grind. During elections, one is aghast to see on television the pathetic state of prime political constituencies such as Amethi and Raebareli practically frozen in poverty of the 1950s. The politicians and the ‘babus’ have successfully befooled the ‘gullible’ have-nots for the last sixty-five years.
With the spread of electronic media, the have-nots have understood that they were cheated and organised themselves into groups wielding political power. Such groups are now rising literally with the help of muscle power demanding equal rights. Had the have-nots been included in the progress graph of the country since inception, India could have avoided the huge turbulence it now faces.
Success of sinister forces such as the Maoists and other mafia groups is the result of the incompetence of self-serving administrative machinery that is mired in corruption. Stunned, unnerved and unable to handle the ugly situation, the civil administration will take recourse more frequently to call in the Army to rescue it from a scenario, which the former has created over a period of time in nexus with politicians.
The Indian Administrative Service (IAS), responsible for the developing chaos, is the core group in the administrative machinery. In spite of being the most unskilled segment within the government, it enjoys unprecedented powers! The scientists manning ISRO are skilled. Every government doctor is a professional and every military officer is highly trained in war-fighting and displays unparalleled administrative proficiency in the face of adversity
The ability of military officers to govern efficiently by virtue of the training imparted has inducted the soldier, sailor and the airman into the middle-class lifestyle. On the other hand, sixty-five years later, the majority of the constituencies in rural areas under the ‘babus’ continue to live in abject poverty, illiteracy and increasing lawlessness.
As they hold the key to policy-making, the ‘babus’ have created the mess we are in today. Thus, it is necessary that training be imparted to make them move from the unskilled to the skilled segment within the government if India desires to be a power worth reckoning with.
In order to be respected as a ‘coveted service’, it is essential for the IAS to possess a repository of expertise that will help it create an enabling environment for the citizens of this country. The IAS will need to acquire specialist skills in multiple areas to be able to govern successfully a diverse country like India. As a primary policy-making body in the country, the IAS must draw and maintain the best pool of talent.
Direct recruitment of officers of IAS should, therefore, be limited to fifty per cent of the intake, the balance being drawn from different professions such as political scientists, economists, doctors, scientists, military, police and the private sector. The direct recruits must compulsorily be made to attend a course in management (MBA) within five years of their joining service in order for them to acquire executive proficiency.
Another component crying out for total transformation is the police, a vital instrument of civil administration. The police force in India is ill-equipped, ill trained and mired in corruption.
Despite the fundamentals of the Indian economy being strong, it has fallen apart on two counts. The intensity of the plunder of the treasury at all levels of the administration within a short span of time has led to economic gloom. The other reason is the huge cost of the ‘freebies’ being distributed by the desperate politicians to garner votes—all at the expense of the over-burdened taxpayer.
The ‘India Story’ has thus evaporated into thin air. Instead we now are in the midst of a rapidly developing massive civil strife. Internal security will remain under increasing stress. The external security situation is already under strain. In future, collapsing structures of civil administration will lean more and more on the Army to bail them out. It will not be a surprise if the Army has to raise a permanent Corps of Rashtriya Rifles in aid of the civil administration to help it douse self-ignited internal fires.
To calm the internal turbulence and allow the civil administration to recoup and transform itself, will be a time-consuming process. With the enemy attracted by the internal turbulence, the Army will need to hold the enemy at bay to create breathing space that will enable the politician, the civil administration and the people of the country to recover their poise, balance and cohesion.
It would, therefore, be prudent to equip the military at this stage with the best weapon platforms that will generate confidence and create deep offensive capabilities on the ground to ensure our adversaries are not tempted to fish in troubled waters!
By Bharat Verma
(The author is Editor, Indian Defence Review)