No, These Do Not Make The Nation Interesting: The non-ingredients for nation-building

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By: Amar Yumnam

Some recent manifestations of typical Indian governance style and political economic character are of critical implications for Indian polity and nation-making. First, we have the statements of key officials of home administration and security, one in Delhi and another in Imphal. Second, we have the unfolding revelations of the murky behaviour relating to the preparation for the forthcoming Commonwealth Games.
First Case: In the first group we have the statement of the highest official of the ministry responsible for looking after home affairs. While responding to a query as to how the Indian government look at the extortions on the most significant national highway linking Manipur with the rest of India by a group now in peace talks, he responded so readily that the group calls it taxation. He might have thought that he was being intelligent enough to counter the pointed question with a straight reply. But the response established beyond doubt the casual and callousness with which the government based in the central megalomania look at the critical issues of huge implications for the life and times in the periphery.

The second display of the same administrative character was visible in a response made on the similar question by a responsible official of the same ministry in a press conference in Imphal. He responded that the megalomaniac centre was not aware of it earlier. This response is ridiculous on two counts. First, this is absolutely different from the response of the highest official in Delhi who said that the highway collectors call the system taxation; the ministry has lots of internal home-work to do. The second is that if they were not aware of it despite the existence of the practice for all these years, it was a case of their looking the proverbial other way or it could be plain collapse of Indian intelligence system. In either case, it contrasts pretty well with the long-adopted perspective of national security while dealing with the issues of the region; it is a plain case of megalomaniac security rather than development of the border backwaters.
The damaging effect of this governance failure should not be lost. For all these years, efforts have been put in place to replace the primordial and traditional nationalism of the region by an imposed larger nationalism. Such efforts demand sincerity and putting in place of an effective instrumental mechanism from the side of the central Megalomania for the Ruritania. This is all the more important in a context where the ruritanian political class indulge in free swing from the Scylla of traditional primordial identity to the Charybdis of instrumental imposed nationalism purely for personal gains. In other words, the image of the megalomania created among the populations of the ruritania is significant for the kind of nationalism the country wishes to build.

Second Case: The second case relates, as mentioned above, to the deluge of information on corruption while preparing for the Commonwealth Games scheduled later this year. This has sunk the Indian image quite a few significant notches down her arch rival (from the Indian perspective for China does not seem to take India as a competitor but rather an inferior rival) China. China had prepared, staged and displayed so wonderfully well to the comity of nations her competence and capability to host mega international events, like the Olympics. Now look at India: she cannot even prepare for the much smaller event like the Commonwealth Games without involving interests of personal aggrandisement. The national image and commitment cannot be allowed to exist without being polluted by personal interests; or rather the former has to be subservient to the latter.

Besides this damage to our international image and honour, the domestic impact too is equally injurious. All these years, the megalomaniac government and powers that be have been taking a moral stand and advising the ruritanian administration to be more efficient and control corruption. Now at one stroke the moral stand and strength of the megalomaniac government has been compromised. This definitely is a big blow to the polity-wide efforts to establish a common nationalism and generate a singular national identity. The impact on the ruritanian society is two-fold. First, people in the backwaters of the ruritania, population in the periphery, have all along been looking up to the megalomaniac government with the trust that the social diseases closer home would sooner or later be addressed by her (megalomaniac government at the centre). Now this trust does not have any foundation any more. Secondly, though not propounded in public, the powers that be in the ruritania would now justify and indulge with greater aggressiveness in their art of personal aggrandisement. Nationalism would now have implications for personal material advancement and nothing else.

Whatever the ultimate outcome, whether in the megalomania or the ruritania, of these processes, we can be sure of two things. First, the nation-building process has as of today got a beating. Second, the hopes of the common men have been jeopardised and their trust on the system has now been subject to rethinking. These are all costs India should try not to incur at all at this juncture. Anyway, now that the damages have been caused, we earnestly look towards the emergence of a truly nationalistic leader whose strength is founded on sincerity and polity-wide perspective.

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