The year 1947 was a momentous one in world history. Gandhi became an international icon, and India got its independence.
This was the start of the setting of THE Empire- and all empires.
Along with us, Pakistan, the Middle East, and countries in south Asia and Africa, got a chance to rule themselves.
All aspired for Democracy, and all failed. Only we got it right. To some degree, at least.
Why? I ask you. Why?
I can think of three things, apart from the inherent goodness of our people. (Of course!)
- The Father Document– The Constitution of India. A masterly treatise, full of ingenious checks and balances, made by a bitter man, who had next to no belief in our own ability to rule us, as revealed by his later speeches and writings. It was one, which had a lot of alien concepts borrowed from the west, like Equality and universal individual vote.
- The Rational Son– Nehru. A westernised, agnostic, scientific and historically minded ideologue. He had a clear Ideology of Secular Democracy, and invented the word, Scientific Temper. A very atypical Indian, but he was enormously popular with the masses. In spite of Ambedkar being a bitter opponent, he made him write the constitution. He also deliberately made institutions like the Army, firmly subservient to the elected machinery.
- The Holy Ghost– The Ghost of Gandhi. The looming shadow of his death, the Martyrdom, served as a shade, under which, the nascent Democracy could take root and thrive. His dead body was a like ritual offering buried into the structure for good luck. The memory was an oceanic trench, where monsters from the past lay submerged, alive but quiescent.
Decades down the lane, all three pillars, have become weak. Constitution is seen for what it is- A Utopian vision, difficult for many to comprehend in spirit.
As for Nehru, everyone knows. Well- most know. The propaganda has been enormously successful.
The Ghost still lurks, but the memory is fading.
Now all that is left is- The ‘inherent’ goodness of the Indian people. We can sit back and watch, how that is going to play out. Interesting times! (Jimmy Mathew)