by Amar Yumnam
There are three major challenges facing India today. First is the necessity for reinventing mechanisms for emotional integration of the country for long term and sustainable strength for moving forward. Second is the need to satisfactorily join in the development race in this globalised world, particularly in relation with the competition with our big neighbour China. Third is the need to broaden the base of India’s recently acquired economic power.
Interrelated Issues: While I have mentioned of three issues to be satisfactorily addressed, the three are very closely interrelated. The casteist Indian mental frame has been the biggest stumbling block to the emergence of a common framework for patriotism and the ethos based on that patriotism. In fact, the very heterogeneity of demographic composition and cultural ethos enriching the country demands that the mental frame for political economic interventions be not based on single and homogenous foundation. This must be the reason why in many countries even cities are allowed the liberty to enter into agreements with sovereign countries for trade and other relationships. The biggest flaw of Indian policy-making has been the lack of appreciation of the multiplicity of demography and culture and their accompanying ethos.
This has resulted in diverse results from the same policy interventions. While a particular policy or programme could be a success story in one part of the country, the same could be the source of widespread corruption in another part. Basic policy principle imposes the necessity of heterogeneity in the adopted policies and programmes as there are divergences in demographic, cultural, geographic and institutional characteristics across the country. Any attempt to reduce them to a singularity would result in policy and political economic disasters across the country. Indeed this is what has happened in this country where we have global outsourcing centres coexisting with areas completely unknown to and of the world outside. The basic fact however is that such a situation is definitely not a sustainable one, and indeed bad for nation-building.
This kind of a situation is bad for the country while competing in the race for development. This would only maintain a soft belly at the core of the national body polity as well as body economy. A family would be strong only if all the members of the family have well established capabilities in their respective areas of competence, and are more rather than less equally well placed. A village would have an unbeatable strength if all the households in it possess established capabilities for participation in social and economic production processes, and are more rather than less equal partners in the development of the locality. A province would be strong if all the villages and towns in it are characterised by proven capabilities, and share more rather than less equally in the efforts and fruits of development. The same principle applies when it comes to the country as a whole as well. But unfortunately, there has never been a political economic attempt in this country to instil and adopt such a healthy principle.
But now that India professes to be joining the big league of nations in so far as development level and speed are concerned, she can no longer afford to ignore the above principle. In other words, there is now the imperative for broad basing the development base and performance in this country. If this necessity is not fulfilled, there is every possibility of the recent growth experience getting completely negated by intractable issues of the polity; the country may move forward, but the nation would get a beating.
How To: The issue before us is how to go about it. In one word, the remedy lies in completely opening up all the regions of the country. If there are regions in the country where there are movements against the existing state, the complete cutting off of the land and people from interaction with the world outside can never be the solution. If there are rogue elements having unwanted relationships with foreign countries, the solution and a sustainable one at that is to create a people to people relationship and getting it stronger than the existing clandestine relationships. In this age of information technology and globalisation, putting restrictions on the larger population and land would only boomerang.
In this China emerges as the strong case for examination. To begin with, we must accept the fact that China is already far ahead of India in the development race. Not only is the growth pace faster in China, it is also more broad-based. Yunnan is considered the least developed province of China, but her capital city, Kunming, would beat any city in India in terms of facilities and organisation. When recently told that Yunnan was developing very fast, a professional colleague from the Yunnan Academy of Social Sciences commented that in fact it is developing so fast so that they sometimes feel it should slow down. Can any region or city in India afford to make such a statement? No there is none. The level and pace of development of China today are such that it would not be paying for India to ignore and antagonise the country.
It is at this point that India should base her relationships with the different countries of the world on the rich demographic and cultural heterogeneity of the country. New Delhi can never fully appreciate the ethos and perspectives of South East and East Asian population. It is exactly at such issues that New Delhi should take advantage of the presence of States like Manipur within the union. While New Delhi fails, it would not be a difficult task for Manipur to appreciate and collaborate with the ethos of the people of South East and East Asia. While New Delhi fails, Manipur can make India a success. Similarly, the resultant relationships would be good for these countries as well, for Manipur can relate more easily with these countries and enable them to appreciate the South Asian ethos better. Well, India and these countries can enjoy a win-win situation. The only need today is a change of India’s policy frame for a more broad-based approach. This is the only way to make the country stronger and create a healthy nation out of it.