How the West defines India – 2


In the first part (How to West Defines India – I ) I had discussed the role the West plays in every aspect of Indian life today and how it influences our cumulative (as a nation and society) self-image. Now let us try and delve further into the specifics of this “Struggle between the Left and the Right” in this Indian context (who seem to be at constant loggerheads vis-a-vis their stand on the West).


So what is this struggle all about?


With the two groups (or various alignments of the two thereof) at loggerheads since at least the past twenty five years (perhaps longer), it must boil down to acquiring a basic understanding of the questions — “What's the reason for this struggle? Where is this leading us?”


Perhaps many a great thinker of our times has given this a shot and concluded a great many things with varyingly bombastic or humble/humbling implications of this phenomenon. I'm going to merely call it like I see it…


This Great country of ours – India became what it is today (a modern Nation) due to a concerted effort to battle a common set of enemies – namely Western Imperialism and it's various cohorts. The struggle against foreign rule tied otherwise “non-cooperative” groups of Indian people together under the yoke of self determination.

But this struggle for self-determination needed a proper understanding and fluency with the mechanics and nuances of this Western Imperialist entity. What the British did (inadvertently) was to enforce Western Education on the Indian populations, thus actually hastening the eventual demise of their authority (in fact, I would be inclined to believe that if Western education hadn't been implemented in India, the Brits could have ruled longer than they did). But the advent of Western education soon gave the already chafing Indian thinkers, middle-class intellectuals the ability to build up an arsenal (socio-political), albeit gradually, against the very Benefactor/Abuser (British Raj) using the tools that were meant to subjugate.


Anyhow, before I meander too far, let me come back to the topic…

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This concerted effort aimed towards the removal of Western Imperialism from India, required the leadership (of the Freedom Struggle) to get steeped deep in Western ideas, philosophies and Cultural nuances. Since the Education system was (understandably) biased towards the then Ruling class (West), the Indian students also picked up great many misconceptions and insecurities as part of their struggle. “Could this have been in any other way?” we might ask ourselves. I happen to think there wasn't another way.


The “Old India” was already dead (from since 200 years back), and the “New India” was but a mutant child of the West anyway!


(Parts of “Old India” however, survived, in the minds and principles of a handful of communities and people, but that is a story for another day…)

So, with the end of the Second World War, and as a result of Global and local (British) economic circumstances, and a by now polished (and well versed in Western concepts) Indian Freedom struggle, the British had to leave India.

“Hooray! All celebrate…” right? Wrong!

The decade immediately following Indian independence was a busy one of the then Leadership of India. Engrossed in the process of nation building, perhaps no one stopped to think about the Implications of this Western Education (and it's associated baggage) on the future generations of Indians. The insecurities, the feelings of inadequacy that was imprinted onto the Indian psyche (as to where we stood in comparison to the erstwhile Masters), resulted in the leadership (including Politicians, Intellectuals, Media) taking positions in various degrees of alignment (and misalignment) with the West. That's why, all of Indian thoughts (post Independence) still continued to be driven by our (Indian) views of how we were being perceived by the West. The concerted effort that brought India together as a modern Nation (the common nemesis of Western Imperialism) was gone, so then, what would become the whipping post?


Ergo, the Left, NSEL (Not-so-Extreme-Left) camp and the Right wing at each others' throats.


NOTE: I'm not saying that the Left or the Right didn't exist before Independence, but they now turn on each other (with the NSEL sitting the fence), as a result of the lack of a common enemy.


Was/Is there another way out?


Indeed, that is a very pertinent question. While it is relatively easy to analyze any particular situation in retrospect, sometimes such a review is required for the benefit of future generations to come.


So, the Left, NSEL and Right wingers, instead of trying to rip each other's throats off should have tried to do something for their political and social constituencies. Call me a cynic, but I haven't really seen evidence of any valid work done since after the 1960's (post old-school Congress' demise). At which point, the Congress (I) party (under the stentorian guard of Mrs. Indira Gandhi) had become a deviant, totalitarian regime (or was in the process of turning into one – the grand finale of that chapter being the Emergency) – the hangover of which they are still suffering from (albeit sans the absolute power of the 70's and 80's).


How could the various political alignments tried to improve their lot? By working on the ideals they upheld and helping the Indian populace get to a position of power and sustainability.

Well I shouldn't say that any of these groups did not do what they set out to do. The Left Wing had transformed two of India's most productive states into dismal failed (the natural outcome of the virulent ideology they were based upon) states of Kerala and West Bengal (especially the latter).


The British Raj had methodically destroyed the indigenous tools of trade, technology and infrastructure. Indeed, it is a proven fact that India hadn't seen a famine before the arrival of the British and hasn't seen one since their departure. The extensive Irrigational canal system (network that criss-crossed large portions of India's landscape) were abandoned to accommodate the Railroad system that the British touted as one of their greatest contributions to India. What efforts had they taken to connect various parts of India were purely from a selfish reason of maintaining absolute control.

So when India became Independent in 1947, the first decade was spent in organizing the nation and fighting a war with the surly neighbor to our West. The subsequent decade should have been dedicated to developing Infrastructure (a-la the US)…instead we had Pandit Nehru turning Arms factories into touchy-feely Basket weaving units, rejecting logic which was so highly valued by our ancestors (the entire philosophical school of Nyaya, Kautilya's ArthaShaastra, etc are based purely on that) for some silly ideals that Socialism was/is.


The reason the US is the behemoth it is today people, lies in it's Founding Fathers' stand on letting natural instincts (not saying they all should be equally valued) and the course of natural selection hold sway over Socialism or similar ideologies.


If the Indian Government had spent time and money on building India's Infrastructure (and by that I don't mean the flawed, milk-soppy mishmash of Semi-Intellectual BS that the NSEL in part stands for), India's future interests would have been well served.


  • Build good roadways and a comprehensive Highway Network.

  • Build/improve the Sea ports and their capabilities.

  • Build/improve the Railroad system

  • Regenerate the Irrigation system (network of Canals)

  • Build/invest in Airports in strategic locations all over India and Air-transportation system.


These were the Pillars of Strength that drove the US growth and rise to the Industrial, Financial and Military superpower status. These are the Pillars that have driven China's growth in the not-so-distant past. The only Government and Prime Minister who had the vision to think about this, unfortunately was not allowed to see his vision come to Fruition (although, my last check on the NHAI website showed that the Golden Quadrilateral and NSEW Highway projects are progressing – albeit not as fast as it would have under Mr. Vajpayee).


You, dear reader, might be tempted to say “It's easy to think of these things in retrospect”. But my response to that would be — “If the leaders of a Nation fail to see visions and lack the gumption to follow them to their natural conclusion, we deserve such losers for having elected them to power”.


While it might be fashionable to stand in the midst of a group of Intellectuals and “tsk-tsk” about the state of rural India and how Socialism is so necessary to balance the scale, it is impractical (as is the concept of Socialism) and dangerous. Social accountability and equanimity should rise naturally – as is true in Nature, so will be true in Society. What we need today isn't the divisive fighting within India's political and Intellectual sections vis-a-vis the West and it's image of us, but a united Front (albeit being a democracy with differences being voiced), going back to the roots of what was our original source – the Glorious Natural Way (call it Rta, Dharma or Tao) that led Bharata in through the realm of darkness (which engulfed the rest of the Ancient world) into the realm of Wisdom and light.


More to follow in the Third and final part of this article.

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