The congress is absolutely correct when it says that the “Idea of India” is in danger. And that another term for the BJP and Modi will mean the end of India as we know it.
To decipher these fears, we have to consider two angles – (1) the nature of power and (2) Maslow’s hierarchy.
The Nature of Power
In politics, as in everything else, power is everything. This is true of even the most mundane things.
A simple illustration: A man with a perceived higher social standing will naturally attract more mates, friends and opportunities. And can also more easily get away with things than a person who is further down the hierarchy. This is because at some level people desire to be influential/famous (thus the rise of Facebook etc.), and to feel that they are special. However, most people aren’t and the only way that they can be special is by riding the coattails of the influential and the famous. Fame by association is the name of the game.
People will latch on to and claim any person, ideology, religion etc. that validates them and their feelings of self-worth among their peer group or superiors.
And conversely if something invalidates an individual or a group, they would become its bitterest enemies and fight for its total annihilation.
This perfectly explains the story of India’s elites, thus far.
These individuals came of age when India and Hinduism were severely crippled and reeling from multiple invasions. It was no longer vital and dynamic and had long ago ceased being a power center. The west, represented by Anglo philosophy, culture, systems and language were pre-eminent.
Is it any wonder then that the Indian elites gravitated towards those systems? After all, who would wish to identify with a supposedly dead and weak religion and an impoverished nation? Remember: if something invalidates an individual or a group, they would become its bitterest enemies and fight for its total annihilation. And so it was with elites who formed the left and the Congress, not to mention, the ecosystem that eventually coalesced around them.
Reams have been written about the anti-Hindu laws and legislation passed by these elites as well as the pseudo-secularism that they indulged in, so we won’t rehash that in this article. Our concern will only be with the current state of India, and what the future possibly holds.
Now, going back to the beginning, the Congress is very right in saying that the “idea of India” is in danger. Its “idea of India”.
The Congress represents the successor state to the British Raj. It was run, managed and furthered by individuals who were brought up to see the world, and themselves, through western lens. They ran the country exactly as the British had done, using the same policies and systems. This was done to the detriment of the non-elite citizens – who formed the majority.
Under this clique, English was patronized and given a position of prominence, this enabled the elite to perpetuate their hegemony over the masses.
It is this “India” that is in danger. All the power, control, influence, money et al that the elites and their puppeteers had amassed is now in danger of slipping away for good. This is the real reason behind the Congress’ and the “ecosystem’s” hysterical onslaught against the BJP. All other moral slogans are just empty noise intended for the gullible. It’s highly unlikely that the “minorities” would be in any greater danger under the BJP, for example.
The Congress is well aware of the nature of power and knows that once it has been out of power long enough, it’ll cease to retain or attract individuals. There will be an exodus to the new power source, as is already evident. Such is human nature.
Now, regardless of the BJP coming back for a second term, we need to realize that the pendulum has probably swung the other way for good. This brings us to the second part and the other force that is operating on the Indian public and altering India as we know it:
The American psychologist Maslow’s contention was that every individual has a hierarchy of needs, and once his needs at a certain level are met, he moves on to a higher level and so on, till he self-actualizes – becoming the best version of himself and is comfortable with self and others. Maslow represented this hierarchy in the shape of a pyramid with the lower level needs like safety, food, water etc. at the bottom and self-actualization at the very top.
We can explain India using this theory. At the bottom of the pyramid, an individual is stuck in a loop of just tending to his very basic needs – food, shelter etc. (the famous roti, kapda aur makaan), he doesn’t have the time or the inclination to aspire for higher things like philosophy, ideology, history or identity.
This was the situation that the average non-elite Indian found himself in, since independence. He was largely dependent on government largesse. The government itself functioned in a zamindari manner. And laws and regulations were put in place to keep the individual perpetually beholden to the government and to crush entrepreneurship and prosperity. This is the MO of most third-world dictatorships who deliberately keep the populace involved with lower-order needs so that they never self-actualize and become threats to the system.
This is why whenever and wherever the Congress has been in power, economic development is the last thing one can expect.
The Congress eventually had to go in for economic liberalisation in 1991 due to its shoddy mismanagement over the preceding decades. And that planted the seeds that would eventually bring BJP to power – for when an individual no longer has to worry about basic needs, he starts thinking about his roots, identity and his place in the world.
This is also why the BJP under Modi has been excessively focused on Vikas.
This has slowly been happening since liberalisation, and will be accelerated with an additional term. More and more individuals are going above the bottom layer of the pyramid and reaching the top, and when they do, they see a resurgent India and Hinduism – not the eyesore that the older elites saw. Remember: People will latch on to and claim any person, ideology, religion etc. that validates them and their feelings of self-worth among their peer group or superiors.
The core of India was always Hindu, but it lacked the material and intellectual power for reasons that are too lengthy to dwell on at the current time. Now, with the topmost layer in sync with the core, the time is ripe for resurgence.
At all stages, the polity of a country is indicative of the state of the country itself – Congress represented the confused, battered and rootless India. This was true of both the elites and masses.
As SR Goel put it, “In this perspective, Pandit Nehru no more remains the progenitor of Nehruism, on the contrary, he becomes one of its more prominent products” .
BJP represents a more developed and evolved Bharat in touch with itself.
This is just a reset of India’s operating system.
There is now a top-down as well as a bottom-up force working on re-defining the “idea of India”.
So, barring any unforeseen circumstance, the pendulum has swung irrevocably to the other side. Even in the unlikely scenario that the BJP doesn’t come back to power, and an anomaly like 2004 repeats itself, some other nationalist, Hindu party would – down the line. The future of India is Bharat, whether that would be achieved politically or through other means is anybody’s guess. The genie has been let out of the bottle.
We can conclude that the Congress represented the India of yore. BJP and any other future political party would represent the Bharat of today.
In the future, BJP itself might morph into a centrist party that leans left (a la the Congress of today), and more reactionary parties will take its place as the nation moves towards the top of the pyramid and reclaims its true identity as a country that is perhaps similar to Japan – Modern, but not a cheap western copycat.
The current elites would either be forced out or bend the knee to the new emperor (highly unlikely, as Modi so far hasn’t shown any such inclination). Their progeny would definitely be in the nationalist camp. We can already see the great switching of sides with the number of artistes openly coming out in favour of the BJP. This wouldn’t have even been in the realm of possibility a few years back. The “first family” is also a public target of jibes, something inconceivable earlier.
We can also see the beginnings of a new ecosystem around the new power source.
And as for the minorities, they would negotiate their own terms with the BJP as they did with the Congress. We will definitely see an exodus of minorities to BJP, as it occupies Congress’s space.
All said and done, these are interesting times and we are lucky to witness them. As lucky as those in the past who lived through the ending of one age and the starting of another – think the end of the Mauryan empire and the beginning of the Shunga empire. Or the end of Maratha rule and the start of British control over India.
Of course, change doesn’t happen overnight. It doesn’t play out like the portrayals in books where a chapter ends with the collapse of one ruler and the next chapter starts with the crowning of his successor.
Change is slow, imperceptible and creeping. But a constant.