Wednesday, February 16, 2011

The Pharaohs of India

by Satya Sagar
February 15, 2011

"... India’s own big, united national movement against concentrated despotism happened during the time of their fight against British colonial rule. The presence of a single, identifiable enemy helped to mobilise a diverse range of forces around the sub-continent, even though the tragic Partition of India and Pakistan underscored its great weaknesses too.

The momentum of that grand struggle spawned the trappings of Indian democracy capped by a liberal and progressive Constitution, something that the Egyptians and Tunisians are demanding now. There can be no doubt about the importance and achievements of the Indian anti-colonial movement but all that is well and truly over now.

In the past six decades since Independence, slowly but steadily, every modern democratic institution in the country has now been shorn of its original intent or values, degraded and even destroyed by a deadly marriage between unprincipled politics and ill-gotten wealth. A marriage brokered by the vast state machinery of the Indian bureaucracy and police and guaranteed by the third largest standing army in the world. 

The educated Indian middle-classes, who could be the guardians of liberal democracy, are too busy feasting at this Big Fat Wedding reception of business and power to take notice. It is an unscrupulous gluttony paid for through the looting of ordinary Indian people, who don’t get even the leftovers of this orgy and suffer endlessly, often living inhuman lives or simply curl up and die. 

Many are protesting too and what is paradoxical is that while the Indian masses may not be together in one big national movement, everywhere you see people also continuously protesting against such despotism. Whether it is movements against land grab by corporations, dysfunctional governments, regional discrimination or oppression of ethnic, religious and linguistic minorities the Indian public is in permanent but scattered revolt. 

They have no single target to vent their ire upon because the targets are too many in a vast and diverse country like India, which is the size of many Egypts and Tunisias put together. There are not one but hundreds of Pharaohs like Hosni Mubaraks and Ben Alis strewn all around the nation, each running his or her own despotic fiefdom of business or politics or feudal control. 

The surface competition among these various Pharaohs as they fight over the loot gives ordinary citizens some space between the legs of the dinosaurs and the illusion that there is still some democracy left in the country. Look around carefully though and what you will find are multiple cartels of politicians, businessmen, feudal lords and state officials scratching each other’s backs while saving each other’s ass too. 

This is what Indian democracy has become, a coalition of homegrown colonialists fighting over an inherited Empire but carefully ensuring complete impunity to each other. Not a single important politician or businessman or bureaucrat in modern India has ever gone to prison for corruption or cheating the public of their resources or for that matter organizing murderous riots repeatedly.

At the same time India’s 1356 prisons are bursting at their seams, overcrowded beyond capacity with over 384,753 prisoners, as per 2008 figures of the National Bureau of Crime. Of these a whopping two thirds are undertrials, the highest proportion of such prisoners anywhere in the world, indicating a complete collapse of our criminal justice system. 

Most of these are from the Dalit, Adivasi and Muslim communities underscoring the racist and discriminatory nature of the current Indian Empire. As Dr Binayak Sen, the well-known health and human rights activist, has pointed out Dalits and Adivasis are also the biggest sufferers of the millions of deaths due to malnutrition that take place in the country every year. 

So on top of everything else Indian rulers are also guilt of nothing less than a silent, ongoing genocide, which the world has turned a blind eye to. ..."

Read the article here.

Comment: Thought provoking article. Presses me to remember the huge disparities between the rich and poor in India. And, the ongoing injustice of caste layered over class too.


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