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A new re-laying of India

By Dr Anirban Ganguly
August 14, 2014 18:13 IST
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Narendra ModiThe capital’s ever-shifting power class remains unsettled and unnerved seeing the power, favour, nepotistic and quid pro quo pillared superstructure gradually crumble under Narendra Modi’s watch -- the only mantra that seems to be taking centre stage is that of performance, implementation and delivery, says Dr Anirban Ganguly.

When Narendra Modi ascends the Red Fort ramparts on August 15, he will be the first prime minister, born after Independence, to address the nation on its Independence Day.

It is not this alone that will stand out as a first, the fact that Modi is the first prime minister to have grown outside the Nehruvian fold -- political as well as intellectual is another and perhaps more substantial first in the history of post-independent India. It shall in a sense signify -- what had become apparent on May 16 -- the advent or at least the heralding of the second age of India after independence -- the post-Nehruvian era.

It is an era when newer ideas of India shall at last be articulated and given scope, an era that perhaps will truly announce the rise of India -- as a civilisational-state.

It is for the first time, after a long gap, that the aspirations of young India, an India which, while increasingly blending with the waves of globalisation yet prefers to remain culturally and civilisationally rooted has begun to find expressions in the language of public and political discourse.

Narendra Modi speaks an earthy language, a language that perhaps lacks the sophistication of the accented home de lettres, but which nevertheless, leaping across barriers and dimensions, reaches out to young India exuding a conviction rarely heard in the last decade or so. The occasion of Independence Day offers an ideal setting to reiterate that conviction.

In many ways the journey so far, in the last 60 plus days, has been one of aspiration and of hope. The first and most striking aspect that has, in a sense, shaken the shallow foundations of our national politics is the end of the emphasis on a false secularism -- a secularism which jettisoned its essential spirit of religious equality manifested through a true spirit of compassion and brotherhood and instead catered to and nurtured a false culture of religious cronyism through the politics of vote-banks and minorityism.

So profound has been the impact of this changed mandate that it has led some of the leading voices among the progenitors of vote-bank politics in India, to rethink, introspect and question the utility of this denominational political culture that has been practised to the detriment of the health and texture of our national fabric. The lexicon of minoritysm versus majoritarianism is itself gradually getting obsolete and diluted amidst Modi’s sustained and unequivocal call of ‘development with and for all’.

Those who had thought it to be an election war cry gimmick continue to remain disappointed and confounded by seeing it being implemented in actual practice.

Despite the din and noise created by the 44 odd benchers and their intellectual drum-beaters who had predicted, from western pulpits, the descent of doomsday for India and the world if Modi came power, the last months have been a period of quiet consolidation, determined performance and one-pointed focus -- a tenacious approach to clearing the Augean stable. Much remains to be done and undone but at least the first firm steps have been taken and the overgrowth has begun to be cleared.

The capital’s ever-shifting power class remains unsettled and unnerved seeing the power, favour, nepotistic and quid pro quo pillared superstructure gradually crumble under Modi’s watch -- the only mantra that seems to be taking centre stage is that of performance, implementation and delivery. All those manning the system seem to have been bound by that simple yet grinding commandment.

Unlike most other times, elected representatives this time, at least those who have won under Modi’s watch, are being reminded and seem to be reminding themselves that they have been voted in to articulate and express the peoples’ voice, that they hold their parliamentary seat as a trustee of the peoples’ faith and therefore every moment of their parliamentary life counts and must be an effort to reflect the democratic aspirations of the people. Modi himself, by bowing down at the steps of Parliament lived that dictum, again through a first in the annals of India’s parliamentary tradition.

Those who had seen the rise of a fascist India in his victory, kept silent and sullen at that profoundly symbolic act they had not anticipated, refusing to even feebly applaud thus displaying that they lacked a spirit of true balance and fair play.

By systematically and widely reaching out to India’s neighbours and to other countries which aspire to create an alternate world order, the Modi government has infused new life into the vision of the rise of India as a civilisational state concerned for the growth and prosperity of that region which was once counted as being part of her civilisational contours and world-view. A genuine spirit of concern has imbued Modi’s travels to India’s neighbourhood; a spirit which sees all members of the region as equal partners in the area’s growth and development that India, under him, wishes to initiate and push.

His transatlantic travel, undertaken in this short span, seems to be inspired by the vision of seeing India emerge as a major pole in an increasingly multi-polar world. The achievements at BRICS, the holding of ground on WTO, the successful rescue of beleaguered Indians from the clutches of the ISIS are early indications of the gradual fruition of that hope nursed by voiceless millions -- of seeing India assume a new role in shaping the twenty first century world order. Cynics may see this as a bloated reading of Modi’s initial days but then cynics have never been known to understand or usher in civilisational shifts.

All in all these are times of great and lasting change, when the foundations of a new India are being re-laid anew, it is as Tagore described in his immortal anthem for India, a new dawn and awakening, “রাত্রিপ্রভাতিল, উদিলরবিচ্ছবি” - the night is turning into day and the sun in all its resplendent glory is rising, while a gentle breeze steeped in auspiciousness blows pouring in the energies of a new life – পূণ্যসমীরণনবজীবনরসঢালে - and an India that was asleep is awakening - নিদ্রিতভারতজাগে.”

Perhaps that true dawn, long ago foreseen by the poet laureate, is about to break at last -- the past months have generated that long held hope.

Dr Anirban Ganguly is director, Dr Syama Prasad Mookerjee Research Foundation, New Delhi.

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