In the 2019 elections, Indian voters will have an opportunity to dismantle an ecosystem that kept them in desperate poverty for nearly half a century after independence. Better labelled as the “C3 Ecosystem”, it is an almost organic entity throttling civilizational renewal and socio-economic transformation. What is this “C3 Ecosystem”? It is the still dominant ecosystem generated by a triangular and incestuous relationship, consolidated since 1947, between:
- Congress party dynasts and their flunkeys, who have dominated the political scene almost totally – and invested a lot of political capital as well as government funds on strengthening the cult of the Gandhi family;
- Communists, who provided the ideological underpinnings with a socialist sheen, while perpetrating a system for the Maoists to thrive in – and covering it all in the garb of secularism, through effective control over the educational institutions.
- Converters of Abrahamic faiths who saw, in the social terrain that emerged as a result, fertile ground for the “harvesting of souls” – and thus developed a symbiotic political relationship with the Congress (vote-banks), alongside ideological inter-connections with the Communists (activist priests).
In theory, the objectives of all the above were variously described as the “upliftment of society”, the “ending of poverty”, “the furtherance of social reform”, “ridding India of the caste system” and so on in multiple permutations. In practice, very little was done for any of the above; and whatever was done happened in spite of this ecosystem, not because of it.
The carriers of the lifeblood of information within this ecosystem formed its final pillar, the Fourth Estate. This was, and is, a comprehensively compromised network of journalists, anchors, owners and the like. They were dependent on the state and party funds that helped prop up their (often very fancy) livelihoods, at a time when secular socialism did not permit the free-wheeling capitalistic media sector that we have today.
The people in this group were sometimes slaves and sometimes facilitators but mostly opportunists. Today they are the paragons of virtuous journalism in India, and many more have joined their ranks. In social media, a very large population views this group as a sort of slimy fifth column.
The C3 ecosystem, which quickly replaced the British colonial structure, soon understood that maintaining existing divides between people, and exacerbating them, was a perfectly workable way to keep themselves in power. And the easiest way to do this was keep the population in poverty, so they were easier to misguide, enrage and manipulate. Each segment of the ecosystem benefited from this. Here is how:
The Cult of the Gandhi Family was developed over decades of careful image management, and of patronage creep into every institutional nook and corner. This resulted in a network super-structure of financially lucrative two-way dependencies that kept out virtually everyone else who did not buy into this cult, or at least pretend to. Poor people look-up to dynasties, and revere them, much more easily than do educated and self-dependent individuals. They much more readily vote for the image and for promises that will be unkept from a dynasty than from an unknown who looks and talks just like them.
So “Garibi Hatao” notwithstanding, nothing was ever done to fundamentally address the vast and painful poverty of India. The person who finally set the wheels of real structural economic changes in motion was PV Narasimha Rao – a leader beloved of many, except the Gandhi family. Sonia Gandhi, born a Roman Catholic in Italy, did not allow Rao cremation space in New Delhi. He was not a Gandhi, you see, and perhaps she sensed that what he had done would eventually be the undoing of the family cult.
The Communists thrive in poverty, and only in poverty – unless, of course, like the Chinese, they just retain the name and become capitalists red in teeth and claw. But our Communists have neither the gumption, nor the political courage, or even the political unity within their own party to truly make such changes. So they remain stuck to the Urban/Rural Naxal model, which they have been wedded to from the start.
The Urban Naxals sing the praises of socialism and developmental indices, keeping the intelligentsia in thrall with khadi kurtas and soft voices. The rural Naxals try to overthrow the state with revolutionary songs, brutal killings and tactics that resemble those of the genocidal Khmer Rouge.
That they managed to keep doing this for so many decades, pulling the wool over so many eyes, is testament to the foreign support they had as well as the viability of the ecosystem they plugged into. That the common man in India, nevertheless, saw through it and rejected it so strenuously is even more of a miracle – though they continue to survive in stubborn pockets. But their vote shares began running out almost as soon as the Rao reforms began to deliver results.
The Converters, from the two proselytizing Abrahamic faiths, are a much subtler group – and they have been around much longer than the other two. It is not for nothing that the Church in India, which reflects the religious aspirations of less than 2.5% of the population, is the second largest landowner in the country. It is important to note that these are not two monolithic groups and that there are several sects in each that do not get into the business of conversion in any serious way. It is also important to note that the Muslim organisations are less aggressive proselytizers than the Christians, despite their numbers.
Yet it is equally important to internalise the reality that the aggressively converting organisations are not independent entities. They take their marching orders from headquarters in Europe and the US. The power wielded by these groups, as an integral part of this C3 ecosystem, can be seen clearly, and frequently. For example, compare the alacrity with which Hindu gurus and swamis are arrested, prosecuted and sentenced with the tardiness and lackadaisical approach taken towards priests or imams who are accused of similar crimes. The recent episode of alleged nun-rapist Father Franco Mulakkal is an egregious case in point, but not the only one.
Poverty is the absolutely necessary seedbed of conversion activity. It is at this level that souls can be harvested on the cheap, an investment with returns in perpetuity. If people start to move out of poverty, as they are doing at a very high rate (about 44/minute as per a Brookings Institute study), then the harvesting of souls becomes much more complicated and certainly more expensive. It also undercuts a very fundamental response to questions about the morality of conversion activity – which is “if you Hindus cannot take care of your poor, why do you complain if someone else lifts them out of poverty”? Of course, this ignores the fact that Hindus were rendered exigent by Muslim invaders and Christian colonialists, who wore their faith on their sleeves – but that’s another story for another time.
Why The Modi Government Is So Reviled By The C3 Ecosystem
Seen in the above context, it is understandable why the C3 ecosystem is now fighting with every means at its disposal, internally and externally generated, to come back to power again. Anywhere possible. They see their sectarian vote-banks, ideological bases and their soul seedbeds disappearing with every passing year.
This was already happening by 2004, consequent to another five-year run by the NDA. This might explain why between 2004-2014 the economy appears to have been deliberately driven into the ground through a combination of crony capitalism, corruption and cynical politicking – on steroids.
Today, Congress politicians are pledging a roll-back of key Modi government policies when (not if) they take over in 2019. Be certain that the old Congress system of patronage and privilege will return immediately, and they will punish with a very personal viciousness those whomever they saw as weakening the ecosystem. And certainly, ordinary Indians will stop leaving poverty behind at the rate of 44 people/minute.
Critics of the Modi government, including some BJP supporters, must note what that will mean. And when there are complaints that the focus is only on development, and not on “core” issues, it must be understood that there is no security or strength for the “core” so long as poverty reduction is not addressed with absolute priority.
On the contrary, when the poverty issue is addressed steadily and powerfully as the government has been doing, then addressing the core issues become a matter of course. See, for instance, how pointless the whining about the Sardar Patel statue has been, and how quickly the name change from Allahabad to Prayagraj disappeared from the front pages. Development enables the core.